Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 24, 2016

“Freedom’s Light: Short Stories” available for pre-order

This anth0logy was originally meant to be released on Thanksgiving Day, but instead is now available for pre-order. Just $2.99 will get you fifteen freedom-themed short stories, including my own “The Tenth Righteous Man” (previously unpublished).

51ndmowrrl-2

From the members and associates of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA) comes Freedom’s Light, a collection of short fiction that celebrates the human yearning for liberty. These stories will extol the value of human rights and the sacrifices of those who defend those rights. This collection features works from a wide variety of genres and a diverse set of authors, including Hugo Award nominee Brad R. Torgersen and 2016 Dragon Award winner Nick Cole. Freedom’s Light will entertain us and elevate the humanity we all share.

I am thrilled to be sharing billing with Brad R. TorgersenNick ColeMarina Fontaine Matthew SoudersLori JaneskiDaniella BovaBokerah BrumleyA.G. WallaceHenry VogelChris DonahueTom RognebyCarol KeanArlan Andrews, and W.J. Hayes. Editing duties were handled by Kia Heavey  and by Contagious Edits (heh). The book is also the debut of the Victory Fiction imprint, the publisher of which also handled layout and cover design.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 18, 2016

Materialism vs Purposeful Life: Trump, Bannon, and Teilhard de Chardin

Lots of thoughtful stuff in this one (via Sarah Hoyt).

Jeb Kinnison

Lots of interesting reading today as Trump’s victory has focused attention on the assumptions that led to underestimating his chances.

The media spin is working toward delegitimizing him further by casting his advisor Steve Bannon as an alt-right, antisemitic, neo-Nazi éminence grise. This isn’t backed up by much evidence other than guilt-by-association, with Breitbart the junkyard dog of new media flouting the rules of political correctness. But having rabid commenters and hosting some incorrect writers like David Horowitz does not make a media conglomerate or its managers antisemitic, antigay, misogynist, or otherwise the spawn of the Devil, which is what is being implied.

Alan Dershowitz went on MSNBC to decry the antisemitism charge:



The reliably rational Scott Alexander marshals the evidence that Trump is racist-sexist-etc and finds it wanting in his post, “You Are Still Crying Wolf.”

Bannon spoke and answered questions in 2014 at a conference hosted by the…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 16, 2016

Michael Barone: “Double negative” voters decided election

The always incisive psephologist (electionologist, if you like) Michael Barone has lots to say about the US Presidential election. One point stands out, both in deciding the outcome and in why so many pollsters had it wrong.

Normally, “double-positive” voters — those who rate both candidates positively — break along party registration lines, and so do “double-negative” (or “they both s*ck”, if you like) voters.

But while the “double-positives” behaved largely as expected this year,

 According to the exit poll […] 18 percent of voters were “double negatives,” that is, had negative feelings toward both Clinton and Trump. Of these 18 percent, 49 percent voted for Trump and only 29 percent voted for Clinton, with 22 percent saying they picked another candidate or not answering.

[That] split as a percentage of the entire electorate was 9 to 5 percent, a 4 percent margin. Assume that was the split in each target state, rather than the 7 to 7 percent under my default assumption. If you subtract 2 percent from each close state from Trump’s percentage and add it to Clinton’s, you have Clinton carrying Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have 101 electoral votes. That would give Clinton a 329-209 majority in the Electoral College. As Nate Silver pointed out on FiveThirtyEight.com, that’s a big difference.

In retrospect, observers (and the Clinton campaign!) might have had a better understanding of the election if we had all drilled won and looked more closely at the preferences of the “double negatives.” My hypothesis why they split for Trump: it was a change year, and most “double negatives” wanted change.

Barone also discusses the astonishing incompetence with which the Clinton campaign was led. For instance, Hillary did not make even one appearance in Wisconsin after the primaries, as the campaign assumed that state (which hadn’t gone GOP since Reagan) was in the bag anyway. Elsewhere, it was pointed out that rural voter outreach was delegated to a single staffer sitting in Brooklyn. Also:

The 70-year-old Bill Clinton apparently repeatedly advised Clinton campaign chairman Robby Mook and others to campaign in white working class areas. The 36-year-old Mook spurned — perhaps ridiculed — his advice. None of this going after men who wear trucker hats unironically; let’s show Brooklyn-type Millennials that supporting Hillary is really cool.

Also, how productive was the use of media celebrities?

My guess is that these days, when practically all entertainers are liberal Democrats or farther left, it doesn’t strike most voters as worthy of any attention when several of them appear for a Democratic candidate like Hillary Clinton. All the more so at a time when the entertainment aimed at universal audiences, like 1930s and 1940s movies and 1950s and 1960s TV, is extinct, and when entertainers appeal only to niche audiences.[…] How many undecided voters or low-propensity-voting Democrats in Pennsylvania even know who Lady Gaga is? How many are impressed that actors in “The West Wing”, whose last new episode aired in 2006, support Hillary Clinton? I get it that entertainers can draw large audiences, and I get it that Hillary Clinton (to judge from photos) loved these event. But how did they actually help her campaign?

And in his trademark deadpan fashion:

[Hillary] may have been the first nominee (I don’t know if anyone has done the numbers) to appear at more private fundraisers than in public campaign rallies. One reason for all those fundraisers was to get more money to pay for ads on television — even though technology gives viewers many ways to avoid them these days. Another reason may be that the candidate just loves to spend time with admiring rich people in rooms ready to be photographed for Architectural Digest than she does in often tacky public venues filled with a regrettably large proportion of ordinary people.

Ouch. There’s much more at the link, and Michael Barone announces future updates.

UPDATE: Implicit in Barone’s remarks is that Trump underperformed Romney in some red states, while he obviously outperformed him in battleground states. (Thus, his popular vote totals are close to Romney’s, see my previous post.) Trump’s overall campaign budget was something like a third of Clinton’s, but apparently very well targeted.

Related: Obama twists the knife in Hillary Clinton’s disastrous campaign. The moneygraf:

“You know, I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa,” Obama said Monday. “It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points.”

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 14, 2016

CLFA November Booknado!

Check out this month’s new releases and special offers from fellow CLFA authors!

The Zwyckyverse

The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance is running it’s Novermber Booknado, featuring two recent releases that I edited, plus another one by fellow Superversive Literary Movement founder L. Jagi Lamplighter. Check them out if you’re in the mood for a refreshing read:

The November CLFA Booknado churns across a darkened literary landscape, demolishing tired, old, ideologically Progressive pap and blasting fresh fiction choices all across the land! Pick up one of our featured titles today and join the movement.

Click on the book image to learn more and shop!

(Titles are considered new releases and/or sold at featured promotional price points as of November 14 and 15, 2016.)

NEW RELEASES

Keeping the Faith (Book Two of the John Fisher Chronicles) by William Lehman
It was suposed to be an easy case, a good way to “get back on the horse” and because it looked like a ‘Thrope case, it was right up Detective Fisher’s alley. Of…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 14, 2016

US presidential vote numbers 2000-2016 in one chart

Sometimes a picture (or a data table) does say more than a thousand words. Regardless of how you feel at the outcome, have a dispassionate look at this graph:

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Data for 2000-2012 are from the FEC, preliminary data from 2016 from Wikipedia — the latter are subject to some change but not enough to matter at the resolution of this graph. Now focus on the stretch 2008-2016 to identify some trends:

  • the GOP vote is remarkably constant over the last 3 elections
  • the D vote is trending downward from the historic 2008 mark, with a sharper drop this election.
  • the overall third-party vote is trending upward and increased notably this election
  • overall voter participation is dropping
  • From 2008 to 2016, the D party lost 8.6 million votes, while the GOP posted a small increase of 0.3 million (probably a bit more when we’ll have final numbers).
  • The Libertarians, on the other hand, are now big enough that in a “French” system with a runoff election, they’d have found themselves kingmaker. (I know, this is a hypothetical, as people’s “tactical voting” behavior would be quite different in such a system.) Regardless of how one feels about the party or its candidate, that is no mean achievement.

Some more commentary to follow later.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 12, 2016

Some thoughts on electoral college vs. popular vote election

As it stands, while Trump has won a resounding victory in the Electoral College (on track for 306 electoral votes vs. 232), HRC is on track to win a slim plurality (about .5%) of the popular vote. This will be the 5th time in US history that this happened, and the 2nd in my lifetime.

Some now decry the very existence of the electoral college. The reasons for its creation by the Founding Fathers — in a federal republic wary of ‘dictatorship by the 51%’ — have been discussed at length by others. I will confine myself to some practical observations.

1. Any ‘first-past-the-post’ system (FPTP) system can produce outcomes like this: theoretically, it is possible for the Tories or Labour in the UK to win a plurality of the popular vote and a minority of House of Commons seats. [There is no direct election of the Prime Minister in the UK.] As a concrete example of what happens in another FPTP system, the following graph illustrates the actual difference between percentages of the popular vote and of the House of Commons in the 2015 UK Parliamentary Election: the inner piechart represents popular vote, the outer piechart elected MPs.

A few observations:

  1. the difference between Tories (blue) and Labour (red) is greatly amplified in the number of seated MPs;
  2. the Scottish National Party (yellow) has way more seats than its share of the popular vote
  3.  the UK Independence Party (purple) barely has any representation in the Commons despite pulling a much larger share of the popular vote than the SNP.  (The SNP enjoys regional dominance in Scotland, without significant presence anywhere else.)

According to Duverger’s Law in political science, FPTP systems tend to produce two-party regimes. (In turn, of course, both major parties tend to become coalitions of groups that in a proportional representation system would set up shop for themselves.)

Currently, the US Presidential Election is effectively a variation on the above piechart, with 538 electors getting appointed across fifty-something constituencies — 48 states, DC, and the peculiar arrangements for the two remaining states of ME and NE.

2. Of course, both parties adjusted their campaign strategies to the current system, focusing their efforts on battleground states and spending fairly little effort on states that are solidly in their or the opponent’s camp. In a competition for the popular vote, both sides would have run very different campaigns, with much more of a focus on CA, NY, and TX, and less on small-population battleground states like New Hampshire.

Conversely, many people would change their “tactical voting” habits in a popular-vote system. Many who live in “safe” blue or red states (we’re registered in TX) but are unhappy with both major candidates now will stay home or vote third party (in this cycle, most such votes went to the Libertarian ticket) or even for joke candidates like Vermin Supreme. On the other hand, if they are living in battleground states, they feel some pressure  to not “waste their vote” on a third-party contender, and thus hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. In a single-district popular vote election, they would have no such incentive.

Methinks, a popular vote race would on balance produce a much larger vote for 3rd-party candidates (Libertarian, Green, hardcore Conservative,…) at the expense of the two major parties. Indeed, somebody who fails to obtain the D or R  nomination might be more inclined to run as an independent.

It is not at all clear that HRC supporters would get the outcome they desired in a declared popular-vote election (as distinct from retroactively processing a FPTP election outcome as PV). How would a PV election between HRC, Bernie Sanders running as a Socialist or Independent, Trump, and Gary Johnson (plus lesser candidates) turn out? It’s a hypothetical, but to say election of HRC would not have been assured would be an understatement.

NB: France, where the President holds power comparable to that of the POTUS, in fact instituted a runoff election between the two top vote getters, two weeks after the initial election. The contender who places third in the initial round often becomes something of a kingmaker by endorsing one or the other of the runoff candidates.

3. Moreover, if we’d start electing the POTUS by popular vote totals, why stop there? Why not go all the way to proportional representation at the federal level? Elect the House by popular vote tally? Or, failing that, at least by State rather than congressional district? This would put an end to gerrymandered districts, but also dilute the importance of the two major “uniparties” as smaller parties would suddenly find themselves holding the balance of power in the House. Some of us would even applaud this; on the other hand, parliamentarians in such a system are much less personally beholden to their constituents.

Summarizing: those HRC supporters, Trump haters, partisan Democrats, and (but I repeat myself) MSM journalists who suddenly have discovered the virtues of the popular vote might be singing a quite different tune if this were actually implemented systematically, rather than conveniently applied ex post facto to the present unpalatable outcome.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 9, 2016

Les déplorables, or : the dogs refused the food

There is a hoary joke told in marketing classes about a pet food corporation hiring an ad agency to flood the zone with a marketing campaign for their new dog food.

Months later, millions of dollars have been spent on TV ads, full-page ads, promotion teams, etc. Yet sales are still in the toilet, stores are returning unsold merchandise.

CEO: “I don’t understand! We did the biggest marketing campaign ever! How come?”

VP for sales: “There was only one problem.”

CEO: “What?”

VP for sales: “The dogs won’t eat the food.”

This is exactly what happened. The DNC spent an astronomical amount on a campaign to sell dog food that the dogs wouldn’t eat anymore.

Many people may point to Wikileaks as what did HRC’s campaign in. Yet I personally think she signed her electoral death warrant when she wrote off nearly half the country as a “basket of deplorables”. This is the sort of unforced error made by people who live in a New Class bubble and have lost touch with the people on the ground. It is the same sort of reason why Shimon Peres z”l — undeniably an exceptional statesman, whose legacy was strong enough to survive even the Oslo disaster — was said to ‘be capable of losing an election against himself’.

Say what you want about Trump, but he undeniably has his finger on the pulse of a large section of the electorate that is feeling ignored at best by one side, and demonized at worst by the other. One that is, in addition, bearing the cost of policies beloved of New Class virtue signalers, of transnationalists, of crony-capitalist big business, and of client populations of the Anointed.

The people who saw Trump as a savior may be grasping at a straw. Many of the economic and social disruptions ongoing or coming are in my opinion beyond the power of any president to fix. (For instance, the manufacturing jobs that went to China will eventually be automated out of existence.) Yet at least, Trump is perceived as lending a sympathetic ear, even though he himself is a crony-capitalist big businessman. Politics is a game of perception, whether we like it or not.

Those of us who feared and loathed the tranzi-left agenda would not need to be mobilized anyway. What Trump pulled off is primarily to motivate people who’d given up on politics entirely to not only go the polls again, but to actually prod others into going. Bill Clinton — a genius at the perception game, whatever his numerous other faults — could have walked over Trump had he been eligible to run.

What happened here is part and parcel of a phenomenon seen across the West: a repudiation of the New Class elites (the “Inner Party”, if you like) by that part of the electorate that is neither a client nor an aspiring member (“Outer Party”). Rather than the usual facile explanations in terms of xenophobia etc., I believe something much more fundamental is at work. Paraphrasing an immigrant from the former USSR: “people grumbled at the Czar, but they put up with him as long as he kept hunger and foreign invaders away. Once he couldn’t deliver even that anymore, his days were numbered”. Likewise, Europeans may put up with the unelected postnational, postdemocratic Eurocrats, and with their national technocratic elites, as long as they are perceived to substantially ‘deliver the goods’. Right now they are being perceived as not only not delivering the goods, but of forcibly silencing any little boy who dares say that the emperor has no clothes on (cf. the recent ham-handed attempts at official censorship in Germany) and indeed of being in it only for themselves and their peers.

A number of others have pointed out that a major political realignment is taking place in Europe: the traditional left-right axis is being replaced by an elitist transnationalism — nationalist populism axis. A similar process appears to be playing out in the US: it struck me at times how Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seemed to have more common ground than either had with Hillary Clinton (or, across the aisle from her, with WSJ editor Bret Stephens and his peers). You may applaud this, or it may fill you with anguish: one thing is clear, the elites are no longer able to make the dogs eat the food. A Bret Stephens (whose past work I have often expressed admiration for) not only has a tough time selling globalization and open border policies to somebody from Flyover Country who saw their job to outsourcing abroad and can no longer pay their bills — increasingly he either no longer has a common language with them, or writes them off entirely.

The increasingly shrill and outré attacks in the leftist agitprop popular media on cultural values dear to  the soi-disant ‘deplorables’ certainly caused a backlash: I have a feeling, however, they were more the icing on the cake than the driving factor when it comes to the great mass of voters.

A large part of the political-media complex has been micturating into too many people’s shoes while telling them it was just raining. When those who protested were also accused of urophobia, then finally written off as irredeemable ‘deplorables’, that was the best recruitment for a Trump-style politician one could imagine. Had Trump lost, four years from now the political-media complex might be facing something that would make them nostalgic for the very man they now demonize.

May G-d bless the American People and the President-Elect, and imbue him with the wisdom and especially the intellectual humility that will be needed for what is shaping up like some very stormy years to come.

 

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers!

And while I’m updating, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the IT debacle that plagued the Romney get-out-the-vote operation on Election Day 2012: ORCA, the killer whale app that beached itself. (First-person story at Business Insider, originally at Ace of Spades; CNET story; Ars Technica story and sequel )

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 7, 2016

Remember Tomorrow

“Il faut choisir… entre le mal et le pire.” (We must choose… between bad and worse.)

Whoever wins, I fear an ill wind will be coming.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 23, 2016

Writing updates: two short stories

Two short stories will be published soon. “One second chance deserves another”, a tale of love and the golden rule, will shortly go live just went live on Liberty Island.

Another, a piece of historical fiction called “The tenth righteous man”, will be included in the upcoming CLFA anthology, “Freedom’s Light”, which will be published by Victory Books.

In the meantime, a first draft of an espionage thriller came back from alpha reading, and I have started work on a romance novel set in modern Israel, which explores a love story across the secular-religious divide.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 19, 2016

It’s the October CLFA Booknado!

It’s time for another CLFA Booknado!

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

Right about now, who couldn’t use the age-old reliable escapism that can only be found in a good book? Just in time to address Silly Season malaise, the CLFA is proud to present our October Booknado. Shop through the listings below to discover conservative, libertarian, and alt right-friendly New Releases and books priced at $1.99 or less (even some Freebies). Click on any book picture to read more details and shop. Enjoy!

New Releases

Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland (The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment Book 3) by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Third Book of Unexpected Enlightenment: It’s Halloween at the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, and Rachel Griffin is stirring up the dead! (See “$1.99 or Less” category below to get Book 1 – currently FREE.)

Dragonblood: A Collection of Short Stories by Sarah A. Hoyt
From the trenches of WWI where the Red Baron just can’t help turning into a dragon, to the desert sands of…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 11, 2016

Our “Betters” Know Better Than The Rest Of US

Or: how the disconnect between the Capitol and the Districts, or between the New Class and the rest of us, is leading to “peasant revolts”. This is not just a US phenomenon: it is happening across Europe. A ruling class that is both ever more arrogant and ever less able to “deliver” *will* engender such a backlash. Of course, they may vote something in power that is just as bad as what they had, or even worse — but the current ruling class will have none to blame for that but themselves.
PS: the SCOTUS ruling he is referring to at the end concerns the “sick chicken case” (Schechter Poultry Corporation vs. United States).

 

The Arts Mechanical

Not really according to this from the NY Post.

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 5, 2016

Romancing the Genre

A pretty good and concise “Young person’s guide to fiction genres” by Sarah A. Hoyt

madgeniusclub

Hold on to your hats, ladies, gentlemen and cicadas.  Today we’re discussing genre.  Since I have this problem TYPING genre where my finders want to insert a d after the n and switch the e and r, we’re in for a wild and wooly ride.

I was going to start a series today on how to make a book “real”.  “Real” is a quality you can embue your fiction with, mostly by not relying on cliches for how a situation is described, but also by reaching deep in yourself to when you experienced a similar situation.

However I realized I had another post on my mental list, which I hadn’t ticked out yet, and which, judging by some of the newby discussions I eavesdrop in, on FB, is desperately needed.

If I had a dime for every time someone approaches me and says “My erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy isn’t selling and I…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 29, 2016

End of an era: Shimon Peres (1923-2016)

The Times has a mostly fair-minded obituary. Peres may not technically have been one of Israel’s Founding Fathers (the way David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin were), but he was the last living representative of “the founder generation” of Israeli politics.

A protégé of David Ben-Gurion’s, he started his career in the final years of the Mandate as the person in charge of arms acquisition for the Haganah, and continued to act in that capacity after the founding of the state and the Haganah’s transformation from the pre-state militia  into the IDF.  In 1952 he was appointed deputy director general of the Ministry of Defense, becoming director-general (and de facto minister) in 1953 at the age of 30. He has been a mainstay of the Israeli political landscape for over six decades, ending with his term as  President (a mostly ceremonial position) from mid-2007 until mid-2014.

There is a Hebrew saying, acharei mot kedoshim (after their death, saints) — a pun on the titles of two consecutive Torah readings, acharei mot (Leviticus 16-18) and kedoshim. (Leviticus 19-20). “Do not speak ill of the dead,” if you like. I am however reminded of Oliver Cromwell, who told a painter to paint his portrait, “warts and all”. Paradoxically, because Peres was too great a man to need hagiography.

In his early career, Peres made tremendous contributions to the Israeli defense establishment and the security of the State. The Israel air force, Israel Aircraft Industries, RAFAE”L (Hebrew letter word for reshut le-pituach emtza’ei lechima, Weapon Systems Development Authority), Israel’s alleged nuclear deterrent… all came about on Peres’s watch. In 1959 he was first elected to the Knesset on the Mapai (mifleget poalei eretz Israel, Party of the Workers of the Land of Israel) ticket, and became Deputy Defense Minister (again, de facto minister, as Ben-Gurion officially held the portfolio himself).

In 1965, Peres, Ben-Gurion, and Moshe Dayan broke away from Mapai as  a new ticket Rafi (reshimat poalei Israel, Israel Workers List). After the Six-Day War, Mapai and Rafi merged into ha-Ma`arach (the [Labor] Alignment), and Peres joined the cabinet first as Immigrant Absorption Minister, then as Postmaster General and Information Minister. An intense rivalry with Yitzhak Rabin (Chief of Staff during the Six-Day War, later ambassador to the US) started with their competition for the Defense portfolio. After the Yom Kippur War and the resignation of Golda Meir, Rabin became Prime Minister and Peres Minister of Defense. Ironically, Peres was then the more hawkish of the two, fostering settlements in the disputed territories on the one hand and green-lighting the daring Entebbe Rescue on the other hand.

Peres never fared well at elections: an old Israeli joke was that “he could run against himself and still lose”. He always felt more in his element in the boardroom and carrying out diplomacy (sometimes incognito) with the high and mighty than on the campaign trail. He succeeded Rabin as party leader following the latter’s forced resignation over a (by today’s standards picayune) financial peccadillo: Rabin had maintained a US bank account from his days as ambassador, which had about $2,000 in it. (The law prohibiting Israelis from maintaining foreign bank accounts would later rightly be wiped off the books.) Peres’s triumph was brief: the general election put Menachem Begin’s Likud in power, and consigned the Labor Alignment to the opposition for the first time in history.

Peres had another shining moment after Begin’s “I cannot go on” (eineini yachol `od) resignation following the Lebanon War (and the demise of his wife Aliza Begin, to whom he was deeply attached). In the following National Unity Government, Peres and the Likud finance minister Yitzhak Moda’i put a stop to the hyperinflation that was ravaging the country. Under the coalition agreement, Peres started out as PM and Begin’s successor Yitzhak Shamir as Foreign Minister: after two years, the two men traded posts. Peres engaged in ample “behind the scenes” diplomacy in that era — something at which he excelled.

Following another narrow loss at the polls, the national unity coalition was continued, now with Shamir as PM all the way through. A failed scheme by Peres to topple the government in favor of a coalition of the left wing with fervently religious parties entered the Israeli political lexicon as ha-targil ha-masriach (“the stinky maneuver”, a term coined by Rabin).

After Rabin led Labor to victory in the 1992 elections, Peres became Foreign Minister in  his cabinet — the two erstwhile rivals established a surprisingly good working relationship until Rabin’s assassination. Here his main legacy became the Oslo Agreements — which must have “seemed a good idea at the time” but would become ashes in the mouths of so many of us.

Peres’s party was widely expected to win the election in the wave of sympathy and mourning following the Rabin assassination. True to form, he lost again, and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu became PM for the first time.  Former Chief of Staff Ehud Barak replaced Peres at the helm of Labor and three years later led it to victory in the polls, but left Peres on the sideline as Minister of Economic Cooperation.

Following the collapse of the Camp David Talks and the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Barak lost a direct election for Prime Minister to Ariel Sharon. Peres brought Labor into Sharon’s coalition, thus forming another national unity government and holding the Foreign Ministry once again.

His record as foreign minister was mixed. While his personal diplomatic skills are undisputed, FM insiders have told me he devoted little attention to the ministry’s hasbara (“explanation”, PR) activities: he was quoted as saying that a good policy sells itself, while a bad policy cannot be sold. (It is fitting that my interlocutor, who generally is opposed to Netanyahu’s policies and favors those of Peres, acknowledged Netanyahu’s running of the ministry was much more effective.)

When Sharon founded a new centrist “Kadima” party and pursued a policy of unilateral disengagement, Peres followed him to Kadima and became his ally. After Sharon was rendered permanently unconscious by  a cerebral hemorrhage, Peres became deputy PM under Sharon’s successor Olmert.

Peres had earlier run for the post of President (the largely ceremonial head of state of Israel), but lost to Moshe Katzav in the Knesset vote. Katzav was ultimately forced to resign, and eventually imprisoned, in a sexual harassment scandal. Peres threw his hat in the ring again, successfully this time. His tenure as President restored dignity and prestige to the office, friend and foe agreeing he was perfect for the position.

Throughout it all, Peres remained a workaholic with an extraordinary drive, an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and an energy level that belied his age. It was widely assumed that Peres would either die with his boots on, or shortly after finally having to retire.

On a personal note: Across Peres’s triumphs and failures, and the many decades of his career, the one constant feature that stands out to me is his fascination with science and technology. Even just a couple of years ago, he could still be relied upon to hold forth to philanthropists, VC types, and foreign dignitaries on nanotech, renewable energy, virtual reality, you name it.

Some loved him, some hated him, many of us did both at one time or another. The prophet of the New Middle East, the ‘indefatigable schemer’ (chatran bilti nil’e, as Rabin called him in his memoirs), the arms master of early Israel, the father of our nuclear program,… he was all that and more. A man larger than life. Once there was a giant. May his memory be blessed.

PS: movie buffs might be interested to know that Peres (born Szymon Persky in Vishnyeva, present-day Belarus) was a second cousin of Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske).

Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 28, 2016

It’s the CLFA September Booknado!

New releases and a couple of $0.99 bargains by fellow CLFA authors

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

booknado-grfx-600wide

Raging across a darkened land, the CLFA Booknado rips out stale, lefty establishment fiction by the roots and blasts in the new, the positive, and the bargain-priced! Batten down the hatches; the long-suppressed winds of culture change are blowing free in a whirlwind of fresh air!

Click on the book image to read more & shop:

NEW RELEASES

  The Sacred Stars (The Shadow Space Chronicles Book 4) by Kal Spriggs
Ensign Alannis Giovanni must confront alien foes and enemies from her past to save the lives of her shipmates and unravel a mystery ten thousand years in the making.

  Woe for a Faerie: Keepers of New York (Book One) by B. Brumley
One choice changed my world…

  Torchship Pilot by Karl K. Gallagher
When war breaks out, a freighter crew has to do missions a warship can’t do.

  A Moon of Their Own by Dwight R. Decker
Trapped in an orbiting…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 18, 2016

Kindle Countdown Deal, “On Different Strings” until Sunday

On Different Strings  and several other books are on Kindle Countdown Deal, starting today, at $0.99. Wednesday Afternoon, it will go up to $1.99 until the end of Saturday, when price will revert to $2.99.

Basic RGB

Bookhorde.org called it a “Genre-busting love story” 

On Different Strings is a book that is hard to pigeon-hole. It is love story that challenges preconceptions and leaves the reader questioning common wisdom. It is also a bit of a suspense thriller. And there is an element of Kafka.[…]

This is the Amazon blurb:
Guitar virtuoso Amy Ziegler ekes out a precarious living as a teaching assistant in the Mays College music department. One day a mysterious older student shows up: Ian Keenan, an engineering professor and closet songwriter. Opposites attract, and music is the language of the spirit.

Each is passionate about music, and each has been deeply wounded in love. Thus a weird yet wonderful friendship grows between the reserved English academic and the outgoing small-town Texan girl who grew up in poverty. Each secretly starts yearning for more, but the world has other ideas. Soon they become caught in a maelstrom between rivals, exes, their own pasts, activists, and campus bureaucrats. Will the rapids tear them apart, or will love and sanity prevail?

Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 17, 2016

An Embarrassment of Books- Freerange Oyster

A bumper crop of books at FreeRangeOyster’s book promo, run regularly at Sarah Hoyt’s place.

According To Hoyt

An Embarrassment of Books – Freerange Oyster

Welcome back, Huns and Hoydens, to another fabulous weekend Promo Post! I’ve been inundated with submissions this week, mostly new names and faces. Behold, Hoyt’s Horde expands! We hope all of you newcomers will stick around: the Horde of Huns is a fun crowd, and we always like having fresh mea- er, new blo- that is, we like to meet new people. With the influx there’s quite a variety in this week’s selection, so whatever your taste it seems likely you’ll find something. What a great time to be a reader!

Since we’ve got so many new folks, a bit of housekeeping. For a book to be included, I need a link to its Amazon page. If you have it listed elsewhere (see Mary’s new collection below for an example) then send me a link to each of those pages. Links are all…

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Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 15, 2016

Genre fiction, or: why a love story isn’t the same as a romance

Two very different book bloggers almost simultaneously sent me assessments of On Different Strings (KindlePaperback). They agreed on one thing if pretty much nothing else: it is not a romance. Or as one put it “It’s a love story, not a romance: there’s a difference[…] I know it when I see it.”

Then it dawned on me: it’s a small-r romantic novel but not a big-R Romance, similar to the difference between a small-l libertarian and a big-L Libertarian, or between small-c conservative and big-C Conservative. (In other words, between generally subscribing to certain principles of a movement and being a card-carrying member.) Or, permit me a musical metaphor, between rock music with richer harmony and several rhythm or mood  changes, and (genre) progressive rock. Or between mainstream rock with more aggressive guitars and flashy soloing, and (genre) metal.

ODS centers around a budding relationship between two at first oddly matched people, their developing love, and the conflicts with their environment that ensue. That fulfills a necessary condition for a genre romance, but not a sufficient one — genre romance readers expect certain “boxes” to be ticked. Moreover, a microcosmos of subgenres exist, each with their own conventions. (I am reminded of the proliferating subgenres of heavy metal music and the arguments between their respective fans ;)) Romance Writers of America defines the major subgenres here, while  the RomanceWiki has a much more fine-grained list. http://www.romancewiki.com/Romance_Sub-Genres

Going through the latter, I find ODS has some elements of several:

  • a suspense subplot, which is not central enough to qualify as romantic suspense;
  • a contemporary setting (a present-day college campus), but without the explicit (and repeated) sex scenes that have become the norm in contemporary romance;
  • some cultural and social observations as one might find in a mainstream romance (which is a different subgenre from contemporary romance, little did I know)
  • some inspirational elements, but a poor fit for Christian romance or the copycat Orthodox Jewish version;
  • strong musical elements, but not a genre rock’n roll romance;

The only romancewiki.com category it truly fits would seem to be novel with strong romantic elements. Indeed, “Genre-busting love story” was the title of a recent review.

Now if I had decided from the outset to conceive this as a general fiction book with strong romantic elements, rather than billing this as a big-R Romance novel, then I might have wished to plane away some of the courtship material earlier in the book, and have gotten a tighter work overall.

Conversely, if I had from the outset decided on a category big-R Romance and not naively misunderstood how this differs from a love story, I might have had to sacrifice some subplots in favor of expanding the romantic bits, and elaborating on some aspects of the developing relationship that are presently underplayed. For instance: Ian, the engineering professor, had musical aspirations of his own — which is how he initially met his guitar tutor Amy, after all. Our cyber and real-life friends include many such mixed artistic-professional couples, and generally they make the same pact as Ian and Amy (sometimes with the genders reversed): Ian focuses on continuing to be a solid provider and sacrifices his own artistic aspirations, so Amy can fully focus on developing her music. However: this aspect is implied more than spelled out — and a genre romance reader would expect this aspect to be elaborated upon, yea even belabored.

And thus we live and learn…

Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 15, 2016

In honor of Battle of Britain Day

 

The above is a montage of aerial combat scenes from the movie “Battle of Britain“, set to the Iron Maiden song “Aces High” (lyrics). Churchill’s immortal words form the intro.

Also in observance of the day, here is an interesting documentary on the Polish RAF squadron during the Battle of Britain.

“The few, the proud…”

 

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 14, 2016

BookHorde review of On Different Strings: “Genre-busting love story”

 

Bookhorde.org just published this review of On Different Strings (Kindle; Paperback):

Genre-busting love story

On Different Strings is a book that is hard to pigeon-hole. It is love story that challenges preconceptions and leaves the reader questioning common wisdom. It is also a bit of a suspense thriller. And there is an element of Kafka.  […]

 

Go and read the full review here.

https://www.amazon.com/Countdown-Valkyrie-JULY-ASSASSINATE-HITLER-ebook/dp/B00DN5U49Q/

This book is an underrated gem. I’ve read quite a few tomes on the history of the anti-Nazi underground in Germany, starting (back in my teens) with Hans-Bernd Gisevius‘s inside story “To the bitter end”, a book as entertaining as it is self-serving. Peter Hoffmann at McGill University has written more scholarly treatments, but this volume, at less than $5 in eBook, offers a concise and very readable one-book summary.

The title tried to create a tie-in with the movie “Valkyrie” (on which Hoffmann worked as a historical consultant). Readers looking for a lot of material on the July 20 Plot (a.k.a. Operation Valkyrie) and its leader Col. Claus Schenk, Count von Stauffenberg, will not be disappointed. Yet many of the earlier plots are covered in some detail. Allow me a brief summary of some that really stood out.

In the lead-up to the Czechoslovak adventure, a number of senior army officers around the ousted Chief of the General Staff, Ludwig Beck, and Abwehr second-in-command Col. Hans Oster had planned a putsch, as they expected a major debacle in a battle against the fairly well-armed Czech Army, especially if the French intervened on their side. The cravenness of the Chamberlain and Daladier governments led to Czechoslovakia falling in Nazi hands without a shot being fired, albeit in two installments: Sudetenland at first, the rump state second. This unexpected success gave Hitler (y”sh) a boost and took the wind out of the sails of the would-be putschists.

On Nov. 9, 1939, just minutes after the Führer had prematurely left the Munich beer hall where he had delivered a speech on the anniversary of his abortive 1923 coup, a powerful bomb went off, killing over a dozen people and wounding many others. The bomb maker was a journeyman and clock maker named Georg Elser, a lone wolf (with clear signs of being “on the spectrum”) who had patiently hollowed out a space in a pillar behind the speaker’s rostrum and concealed a bomb with redundant detonator clocks of his own design and construction.  (The explosives were pilfered at a quarry where he had taken on a job for that purpose.) Elser was caught while trying to cross the border into Switzerland: he was interrogated for years, as the Gestapo could not believe he had acted alone and kept looking to pin the operation on British intelligence. In fact, SD-spy master Walter Schellenberg, posing as an anti-Nazi Wehrmacht officer, managed to entrap two British MI6 operatives , thus ensuring Whitehall would never want anything further to so with anti-Nazi conspirators in the Wehrmacht.

Elser, who was shot near the end of the war as the Allies were approaching, acted out of left-wing political convictions. The French-speaking Swiss Maurice Bavaud, on the other hand, was a devout Catholic who sincerely believed Hitler was the Antichrist and that killing him was his religious duty. He attempted to shoot him during a commemoration parade in Munich but was, ironically, prevented from getting a clear shot at the target by the arms of other spectators suddenly going up in the Nazi salute. He was caught while trying to get a free ride on a train to Paris, confessed, and was guillotined in 1941.

Two men actually planned suicide bombings. Cavalry captain Rudolf Baron von Gersdorff  had been recruited, shortly after the invasion of the USSR, into the conspirator cell around Henning von Tresckow and his adjutant Fabian von Schlabrendorff at Army Group Center headquarters. The most revolting part of Gersdorff’s duties was coordination between the army and the  SS Einsatzgruppen (mass murder squads) operating in their rear: while there is no evidence he was an eyewitness, he must have been aware of what they were doing. On March 21, 1943, Gersdorff was to give the Führer himself a tour of captured Soviet weaponry at the old Berlin armory. He arrived with a bomb in his pockets — captured British plastique explosives, with a 10-minute ‘time pencil’ detonator. The tour was scheduled to last 30 minutes: Gersdorff primed his detonator, thinking within 10 minutes he and his target would be blown into the next world. Alas, Hitler rushed through the exhibit in a few minutes, leaving Gersdorff with a bomb about to go off, but no target. He rushed into a restroom and managed to yank out the time pencil just before the acid had eaten through. Gersdorff survived the war to later found a voluntary ambulance and emergency relief service, the Johanniter Unfall-Hilfe (St.-John’s Accident Assistance), under the auspices of the Lutheran branch of the Knights Hospitaler — the Johanniterorden, in which his family had been very active and he himself was an Honorary Commander.

Another would-be suicide bomber was Capt. Axel Baron von dem Bussche. He joined the underground after witnessing the machine-gunning of the Jews of Dubno — he even wanted to strip out of his uniform and join the victims. Being over two meters tall with poster-boy “Aryan”  looks, he was to model the new Army uniform and greatcoat design for the Führer — and planned to hide a suicide charge in it, this time with a five-second detonator taken from a hand grenade. His plan was to embrace his target and blow them both up. As fate would have it, the train on which the consignment of uniforms ‘traveled’ was destroyed in an Allied air raid, and the event called off. von dem Bussche returned to the front shortly after, was severely wounded in battle (he lost one leg) and spent the remainder of the war in hospitals and convalescence. He survived the war to later become a senior official in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany.

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin (son of another conspirator, and related to both Field Marshal Paul-Ewald von Kleist and the 19th-Century Romantic poet and playwright Heinrich von Kleist) was to make a third suicide bombing attempt, but the Führer canceled his appearance at the last minute.

Yet another noteworthy plot was actually shown briefly at the beginning of the movie Valkyrie. A bomb with a time pencil was hidden inside a case ostensibly holding two large bottles of Cointreau liqueur, which was given to one of Hitler’s adjutants, Lt. Col. Brandt — who traveled with the Führer on board of the latter’s personal FW 200 “Condor” plane — to take with him to Berlin for handing over to Gen. Helmuth Stieff who had supposedly won a bet for this liqueur. Alas, the cold during the flight appears to have caused the detonator to malfunction, and the bomb did not explode. Fabian von Schlabrendorff flew out to Stieff  the next day to go retrieve the infernal device. (Brandt would later succumb to his injuries from the July 20 bombing.)

(Cinematographic note: In the movie, Junkers JU 52 passenger/transport planes — airworthy specimens of which still exist — were shown instead of the Condor, as well as of the Heinkel 111 on which Stauffenberg actually flew to Berlin.)

As one can see from all the “von”, “Graf” (Count), and “Freiherr” (Baron), many of the military plotters were scions of noble families with long military traditions. Yet I was not quite aware, until reading the book, of several of the linchpins in the plot being related by blood or marriage. For example: Col. Henning von Tresckow, the center of conspiracies at Army Group Center, was a first cousin of his adjutant and co-conspirator Fabian von Schlabrendorff (who survived the war thanks to a miracle, see below);  Col. Cäsar von Hofacker, at the center of the Paris cell, was a first cousin of Stauffenberg; while the Protestant theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the brother-in-law of Hans von Dohnanyi, one of the main conspirators at the Abwehr (as Military Intelligence was called). A number were devout Christians, either Lutheran (Tresckow, von dem Bussche, Bonhoeffer), or Catholic (most notably Stauffenberg himself). [The book does not point out that quite a few were knights in the Johanniterorden — not such Gersdorff as described above, but also von dem Bussche, Kleist, and others.]

Motivations are shown in the book to be varied. Most of the officers initially approved, enthusiastically or grudgingly, of the new regime. Some turned against it after the first foreign adventures (e.g., the deposed Army Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Wilhelm Beck), or in the wake of the railroading of Field Marshal von Blomberg and Col.-Gen. Baron von Fritschopponents of the invasion plans who had been ousted on trumped-up morals charges. Others joined the underground after witnessing atrocities (e.g., von dem Bussche), yet others after seeing myriad comrades die due to Hitler’s grandiose and ever more dilettantish, delusional, and disastrous military decision making. Sure, there were also some ordinary malcontents, such as Berlin police chief Wolf Count von Helldorf who had been passed over for promotion. And yet others, who at first had approved of the war of expansion, wanted to “save what could still be saved” when the tide of war had decisively turned against Nazi Germany. Yet at the other extreme, the linchpin of the Army Group Center conspirator cell, Col. Henning von Tresckow, explicitly stated that an attempt on Hitler must be made on moral grounds even if it were hopeless: “Then, just as G-d would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men, He will spare Germany.”

Much ink has flowed about the July 20 plot, which is covered here in great detail. Without rehashing the story, it is worth emphasizing that this was not a mere assassination plot but a comprehensive takeover plan with three components: (a) the assassination itself; (b) the installation of a new government representing all Weimar-era democratic parties as well as the military; (c) a plan for subduing the SS and Party leadership and asserting military control over the capital and other nerve centers — under cover of a contingency plan named Unternehmen Walküre [Operation Valkyrie] for deployment of the Ersatzheer (Reserve Army) against an uprising by the myriad foreign forced laborers in Germany. Part (c) was only implemented thoroughly and efficiently in Paris: in Berlin itself, desultory planning and indecisive leadership led to disastrous results, such as radio stations remaining under the control of the loyalists. Alas, the decisive, practically-minded, and seemingly utterly fearless Stauffenberg could not be in more than one place at a time.

The author addresses the question why none of the attempts succeeded. He points to the near-miss of the Elser bomb, as well as the successful assassination of “the Butcher of Prague” Heydrich (y”sh) in 1942, as factors that led to (a) a drastic reduction in public appearances of Hitler; (b) ever more elaborate security measures, with physical access increasingly being limited to only the most trusted parties (Stauffenberg, as the chief of staff of the Reserve Army, was invited at situation conferences at Führer Headquarters); and (c) the Führer deliberately introducing an element of unpredictability in his schedule, showing up early or late for events, or canceling appearances at the last minute.

Sudden access interdictions forestalled, for instance, the March 11, 1944 attempt of Capt. Eberhard von Breitenbuch. An aide to Field Marshal Ernst Busch at the time, he was to accompany his boss at a briefing for the Führer at the Berghof. He would of course have to hand over his service weapon before entry, but had concealed a pistol elsewhere on his person, with which he planned to shoot Hitler. Alas, the SS guards had been ordered, earlier that day, no longer to allow aides into the conference room. Unlike many, Stauffenberg had fairly frequent access — he was the Chief of Staff of the Ersatzheer (Reserve/Replacement Army), subject to insistent queries as to how he proposed backfilling the mounting losses on especially the Eastern Front. (At the time of Valkyrie, Operation Bagration, a.k.a. the Destruction of Army Group Center, was in full swing.)

It surely did not help matters that the concept of operational security apparently was  unknown to some of the  key plotters, most notoriously to civilians such as the prime minister-designate, deposed Leipzig mayor Carl Goerdeler. But also some military men such as Stauffenberg’s own adjutant, Lieutenant von Haeften, were maddeningly loose-lipped, making one wonder just how many of them were under Gestapo surveillance.

My personal theory is that SS chief Himmler (y”sh) knew of the plot, but allowed it to proceed, hoping to either become the next Führer in the event of success, or to greatly strengthen the position of the “loyal” SS against the Wehrmacht in the event of failure.

Some anecdotes fall into the “unlike reality, fiction must make sense” category. Let me single out three. (1) The revised Valkyrie plan was typed up by Mrs. von Tresckow and Gen. Olbricht’s secretary at the Bendlerblock, named Margarethe von Oven. Both ladies wore gloves while typing and handling the documents, to avoid leaving fingerprints. Ms. von Oven was arrested and held for two weeks, then released. (2) While recovering from his war injuries in North Africa (including the loss of his right hand, his left eye, and two fingers on his left hand), Stauffenberg refused morphine and preferred to endure excruciating pain rather than run the risk of becoming addicted. The “Valkyrie” director reportedly struck that passage from the script as “nobody will believe this”. (3) On the very day that Fabian von Schlabrendorff’s show trial before the Volksgericht kangaroo court was to take place — which almost certainly would have ended with an agonizing execution by no-drop hanging the same day — an Allied air raid struck the building, and “hanging judge” Roland Freisler was killed on the spot when the ceiling collapsed under a direct hit. When the case came to court again under Freisler’s successor, the Allies were approaching, and the judge acquitted Schlabrendorff on a peculiar technicality — his confession had been obtained under torture, and was therefore technically invalid even under the Third Reich’s perverted legal code. Upon his ‘acquittal’, Schlabrendorff was immediately taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, then moved ever further South until his group of ‘prominent prisoners’ — which was to be executed by their SS guards in the event of imminent capture or escape — was rescued by a regular army group under Wichard von Albensleven, who then handed them over to the approaching Americans. Schlabrendorff eventually became a Supreme Court judge in the Federal German Republic.

The book is well-edited: once or twice I had a “fact checker asleep at the wheel” moment, such as the reference to a “Brigadier-General” — a nonexistent rank in the Wehrmacht, where the table of ranks jumped straight from Oberst (full colonel) to Generalmajor, with an additional rank of Generaloberst (“Colonel-General”) sandwiched between General and Field Marshal. Such lapses are, however, thin on the ground.

All in all, if you are only going to read one book about the German anti-Hitler resistance, this would be an excellent choice.

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