Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 20

On December 20, 1901, former Emperor of Mexico Benito Hermión arrived in Spain, three weeks after boarding an Argentinian oil tanker in Tampico, Mexico.

On December 20, 1915, Judge Homer Mattfield of the Mexico Tribunal announced that a final verdict in the Chapultepec treason trials would be handed down on January 5, 1916.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sobel Wiki: The Three-Cornered Hat

This month's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the 1875 Mexican elections, the most momentous in Mexican history, and the last democratic elections to be held in the U.S.M. in the nineteenth century.

In discussing the formation of the U.S.M. at the September 1820 Mexico City Convention, Sobel praises the wisdom of Andrew Jackson: "With remarkable foresight, Jackson knew that to have a nation of Mexicans controlled by a numerically smaller, though more energetic group like the Jeffersonians, would do damage to the best qualities of both peoples. In such a situation all Mexicans would be reduced to the status of a permanently occupied people. In time, this would lead either to rebellion or despair, and in either case, the Jeffersonians would be the losers."

And yet, that is precisely the nation that Jackson created. The official language of the U.S.M. is English, presumably preventing the country's Spanish-speaking population from taking part in national politics. By the 1870s, the U.S.M.'s Mexicano majority is ready to rise up against the Anglo minority that has been running the country since Jackson's day, and the 1875 elections are the spark that ignites the flame of revolution.

Senator Carlos Concepción (or Conceptión, as Sobel bizarrely spells his name) of Chiapas is the leader of the radical wing of the Liberty Party, and he is determined to end Anglo rule of the U.S.M. once and for all. When he fails to win the Liberty Party's presidential nomination, he and his followers split from the party to form a third party called the Workers' Coalition. When the Workers' Coalition fails to win the presidential election in August 1875, Concepción forms a revolutionary movement called the Moralistas and launches a guerrilla war to overthrow the Anglo-dominated government. Concepción seems to be on the verge of succeeding in September 1881 when a coup d'etat brings the dictator Benito Hermión to power. Hermión crushes the Moralistas, but in the course of his twenty-year dictatorship, he himself ends the Anglo domination of the U.S.M. Every Mexican president elected in the twentieth century is Hispanic.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 9

On December 9, 1879, the Mexican Senate met to choose a successor to the recently-assassinated President Omar Kinkaid. Sobel states that the Senators genuinely wanted a person who could heal the divisions in the United States of Mexico and assure a continuation of constitutional government, but couldn't find anyone who fit the bill. Senate Minority Leader Thomas Rogers was a suspect in Kinkaid's assassination, but refused to withdraw his name from consideration. Rogers was able to gain a plurality of votes, but was unable to command a majority over the course of several ballots. In the end, Rogers finally agreed to the selection of a compromise candidate: Senator George Vining of Jefferson, an unambitious sixty-seven year old member of the majority Continentalist Party.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 7

On December 7, 1879, Mexican President Omar Kinkaid was killed by a thrown bomb during a parade (Sobel does not make clear whether Kinkaid was taking part in the parade or merely observing it). The assassin's identity was never discovered.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 4

On December 4, 1793, the state of Jefferson held its first elections to the 42-seat Chamber of Representatives under the recently-ratified Lafayette Constitution. The franchise was open to all free males owning more than £5 in property. Although Sobel doesn't mention how many voters participated in the election, the total white population of Jefferson at the time, including women and minors, was approximately 43,000.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't let them win

Time for another embedded music video at the Johnny Pez blog, because that's a thing we do from time to time. From 1986 comes Crowded House with "Don't Dream It's Over."

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 3

On December 3, 1931, the Mexico City Times published an editorial praising former President Emiliano Calles, claiming that "Emiliano Calles was doubtless the greatest president this nation ever had."

On December 3, 1970, Robert Sobel interviewed historian Stanley Tulin, discussing the reorganization of Kramer Associates under President John Jackson, and Jackson's successful effort to prevent President Pedro Fuentes from limiting K.A.'s control over the Mexican government.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 1

On December 1, 1928, North American Governor-General Henderson Dewey announced a major study of the National Financial Administration "to see how this important agency may better serve the interests of the nation and its people."

On December 1, 1940, British forces aided by poor weather conditions narrowly defeated an attempted amphibious invasion by the Germanic Confederation, the first major defeat suffered by the Germans in the Global War.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 30

On November 30, 1953, North American Govenor-General Richard Mason gave a vitavised speech in which he inadvertantly coined the phrase that would be applied to his administration and to the national mood of the 1950s: the New Day. Mason had recently returned from a world tour to see first-hand the devastation wrought by the Global War. He spoke movingly of the suffering he had seen, and of the many lives that Mason Doctrine aid had already rescued. In fact, Mason was so overcome by emotion that he broke down in tears and was unable to finish, his last words being, "We must lead the world to a new day!"

(Due to a typographic error, Sobel gives the date of the New Day speech as November 30, 1950.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 29

On November 29, 1938, North American Governor-General Douglas Watson gave a speech at the Liberal Party's national convention. Watson claimed that the administration of his predecessor Henderson Dewey had played a much greater role in supporting the Galloway Plan than was known at the time, pointing out that more families relocated within the C.N.A. without assistance from the Galloway Trust than did so with its aid, and that only 29.7% of those who emigrated received more than N.A. £40 from the Trust, while 31.8% requested none at all. "If the truth were to be told," Watson said, "the Dewey government was more instrumental in aiding emigration than the Trust."

Watson's speech was reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 28

On the morning of November 28, 1901, former Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión bribed the captain of an Argentinian oil tanker to give him passage to Spain. Sobel suggests that Hermión was maneuvered into choosing the oil tanker by agents of Kramer Associates, pointing out that the ship was owned by K.A. and the captain was an employee of the company.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 27

On the evening of November 27, 1901, former Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión entered the port city of Tampico, six weeks after fleeing the Imperial Palace disguised as a butler. Although he didn't realize it, Hermión was accompanied by agents of Kramer Associates who had been keeping him under observation since his flight.

On November 27, 1939, ten days after the fall of Paris, the French government surrendered to the Germanic Confederation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rangers of the north

According to, in the five months since I e-published my novelization of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, I've sold a grand total of two copies. Which is two more than I thought I'd sell.

I can't help noticing, though, that neither of my readers has posted a review of the book on Amazon. Readers, if you're reading this, go ahead and tell the world what you thought of the book. Even if you didn't care for it and only give it a one-star review, that's still better than not having any reviews at all. This is definitely a case where there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 23

On November 23, 1899, the government of Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión recognized the Provisional Free Russian Government of Premier George Tsukansky as the legitimate authority in Siberia. The Provisional Free Government had been formed by Siberian Administrator Admiral Ephraim Small out of former Russian political prisoners who had formed the Free Russian Brigade to fight alongside the Mexican invaders in the Siberian campaign of the Great Northern War. As Sobel notes, Tsukansky was perfectly willing to allow Free Siberia to become a Mexican puppet as long as Mexican troops protected the breakaway republic from the Tsarist army.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The psychopath factories

The internet is abuzz about this story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone about Jackie, a freshman who was gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia in 2012. The university administration, and even Jackie's own friends, discouraged her from going to the police, and in the end, none of her assailants suffered any consequences.

The reason why is simple. Assaulting women is the whole point of college fraternities. These organizations exist to shape the characters of the future business leaders of America, and the way to succeed in business is to be a psychopath. Raping women teaches these future corporate executives and Wall Street traders that they are the untouchable elite, and that everyone who isn't part of their elite is a commodity to be used and discarded as they see fit.

In a follow-up story, Rolling Stone reports on UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan's announcement that the university's fraternities have been suspended until the beginning of the spring semester in January 2015. And what will happen then? In a word, nothing. The frats perform a vital function in our society, and that function requires them to train their members to be monsters. The fraternities will continue to operate as they have always done, and women like Jackie will continue to be used to teach the brothers how to become America's psychopathic business elite.

In a way, Jackie's experience was an important learning experience. It has given her a foretaste of the life she will live in a country run by her assailants.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 22

On November 22, 1965, Mexico City attorney Raphael Dominguez was inaugurated President of the United States of Mexico by his predecessor, Vincent Mercator. Dominguez was the sole candidate for president in a sham election held by Mercator, winning only 14.7 votes out of 31 million cast. The late Admiral Paul Suarez, who had narrowly won the last democratic election in Mexico in 1950, received some 9 million protest write-in votes. After Dominguez' inauguration, Mercator joined his Cabinet as Secretary of War.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 20

On November 20, 1962, Mexican dictator Vincent Mercator announced a global peace initiative called the Offensive of the Dove. In his announcement, Mercator called upon the world's nations to sign a non-aggression pact which would also guarantee the neutrality of those countries that had not been involved in the Global War. He also called for a world conference of the belligerent nations (all of whom were technically still at war with each other, since no formal armistice had ever been negotiated between any nations) to meet in Geneva the following summer to sign treaties ending the war. Mercator ended by pledging the U.S.M. to the cause of peace, and vowing never to "start a war, and to destroy all offensive weapons after the treaties are signed."

On November 20, 1965, the German Empire signed a treaty of friendship with the newly-formed Associated Russian Republics, four days after announcing its possession of an atomic weapon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 18

On November 18, 1942, the members of Governor-General Bruce Hogg's wartime unity government agreed that the upcoming 1943 Grand Council elections should go ahead as usual. However, neither party would hold a national convention. Instead, the candidates for the Grand Council would run unpledged, and whichever party won a majority would select the next governor-general. If the People's Coalition won and chose Hogg for a second term, he would retain all the Liberal members of his Cabinet. If the Liberals won and chose Douglas Watson or Hugh Devenny, Hogg would be appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and all the other Coalitionists would be retained.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Res publica

There are numerous references in For Want of a Nail... to republicanism. In 1888, newly-elected Governor-General Ezra Gallivan lauded his predecessor, John McDowell: "He has performed many tasks for our nation, and all of them with dignity and honesty. Now he has shown the measure of his devotion to republicanism by his actions in the Liberal caucus." In 1937, the North American economist Lawrence French attacked the idea that a war would provide a stimulus to the world's economies, writing that "the world's economies would be totally destroyed, as would republicanism wherever it may be found."

This devotion to republicanism may seem odd in a world where the American Revolution failed, and the thirteen colonies returned to the rule of the British monarchy. You would expect the leaders of the United States of Mexico to speak highly of republicanism, since that nation was founded by exiled American Patriots. But Gallivan and French were North Americans, the political heirs of Joseph Galloway and John Dickinson. Why are they so keen on republicanism?

The answer is that in the eighteenth century, republicanism meant more than just the absence of monarchy. To the people of the eighteenth century, republicanism was a fully formed ideology that included the ideas of civic virtue and the rule of law. That is, republicanism wasn't so much concerned with labels as with how people acted. Civic virtue, as Wikipedia tells us, is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are necessary for the success of the community. A republican form of government could exist in a monarchy, as long as the monarch's powers were constrained by the rule of law, and as long as the monarch displayed the proper civic virtue of adhering to those constraints.

Another defining characteristic of republicanism is the idea of popular sovereignty, the idea that the head of state is a representative of the people, rather than the people being subjects of the head of state. Thomas Jefferson made the idea of popular sovereignty explicit in the Declaration of Independence when he said that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The ideology of the American Revolution/North American Rebellion was a republican ideology in this sense. To the Patriots, the British government had become republican in 1688, when Parliament overthrew King James II and raised up William and Mary in his place. Since then, however, the British government had been growing less republican and more tyrannical, which it most clearly demonstrated with its attempts to impose arbitrary taxes on the American colonies.

In For Want of a Nail..., the peace settlement that returned the colonies to British rule was a compromise settlement. The Americans gave up their claim to independence, and the British gave up their claim to absolute authority over the colonies. Under the Britannic Design, North American representative bodies had the power to veto Acts of Parliament. Thus, power in the Confederation of North America ultimately rested with the North Americans, and not with the British. Although the C.N.A. was part of a monarchy, the form of its government was republican. And so,even though the Rebellion itself failed, the republican ideology that had animated it had triumphed, and became a part of the political philosophy of the C.N.A.