“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 Just $2.99 will get you fifteen freedom-themed short stories, including my own “The Tenth Righteous Man” (previously unpublished).


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!

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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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.”

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.)


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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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:


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.


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.

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 )