Saturday, July 25, 2015

An open letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

You certainly put a scare into the GOP when you told The Hill on Thursday that "absolutely" you would consider an independent presidential run if you thought the Republicans weren't being "fair" to you. You went on to say that you "want to do what’s right for the country — not what’s good for special interest groups that contribute, not what’s good for the lobbyists and the donors.”

Well, Mr. Trump, if you want to do what's right for the country, then an independent presidential campaign won't be enough. If you win (which of course you believe will happen, because you say what all Real Americans believe in their hearts), you'll be a man without a party, trying to govern through a Congress controlled by the two established parties. How much could you accomplish then? Not nearly as much as you'd like to, that's for certain.

The answer is obvious. Mr. Trump, running for office all by yourself isn't enough. You've got to think big (which has never been a problem for you in the past). You need to recruit like-minded men and women to run for all those congressional seats that the two major parties hold. A quick look at Wikipedia reveals that there are currently 469 seats up for grabs: all 435 House seats, and 34 out of 100 Senate seats.

You're a man of vision, Mr. Trump, so I know you won't be content to preside over a government controlled by your opponents. You're also a man with vast monetary resources at your command, so I know that you can recruit and fund 469 congressional candidates while running an independent presidential campaign. You probably won't win them all -- you may not win any of them -- but you ought to be able to draw enough votes away from the Republican candidates to cost most of them their seats, and that's what you really want, isn't it? To make the GOP sorry for how unfair they have been to you. Because that's the kind of man you are.

Think about it, Mr. Trump. If you want to do what's right for the country, this is the way to do it.


Johnny Pez

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When the morning comes

Well well, it looks like I'm blogging again. You all know what that means ...


Today it's OK Go with the Rube Goldberg video for their 2010 song "This Too Shall Pass".

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Political reality

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is in full swing, even though the primaries don't start for another seven months. The two leading candidates are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders is a longtime favorite among liberal activists; he has been outspoken in his opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the national surveillance state, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and other policies supported by centrist Democrats and Republicans. Clinton is a former U.S. Senator and former First Lady. She notoriously voted for the invasion of Iraq, which arguably cost her the Democratic nomination in 2008. Since entering the 2016 presidential race, she has focused on economic populism, in stark contrast to her history as a founding member of the centrist, pro-corporate Democratic Leadership Council.

Although Clinton has a massive fundraising and name-recognition advantage, Sanders has been drawing enthusiastic crowds to his campaign events. At a rally in Madison, Wisconsin four days ago, nearly 10,000 supporters showed up, the largest crowd attracted by any candidate for either party. Polling shows Sanders running neck-and-neck with Clinton in the early New Hampshire primary.

However, there is one factor working against Sanders that nobody is willing to talk about, and that will, I believe, cost him the Democratic nomination: the presidency of George W. Bush.

The Bush presidency has been the worst for the country in the last 150 years; arguably, the worst ever. He lied the country into an illegal war in Iraq, severely curtailed civil liberties while presiding over a massive increase in surveillance, and made the torturing of prisoners a key military policy. And while it is irrational and wrong to hold all white men to blame for Bush's actions, the public is unfortunately prone to allow emotion and prejudice to dictate its actions.

Let's face it: after the disasters Bush inflicted on the country, no white man is going to be allowed to become president for a long time. Bernie Sanders is making a valiant effort, but in the end, the prejudice against white men that Bush has instilled in the American public is too great to overcome. The Democrats know this, and that's why Hillary Clinton has been the frontrunner, and why she will, ultimately, win the Democratic nomination and the presidency next year.

Maybe in another sixteen or twenty years, the public will be ready for another white male president. But for now, it's too soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The two independence days

It is a popular bit of historical trivia that there are actually two candidates for the date of the attempted secession of the thirteen North American colonies in July 1776. This is due to the fact that there were two processes in motion related to the secession movement. The first was a motion introduced in the Second Continental Congress on June 7 by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, the so-called Resolution of Independence, that the colonies "are, and of right ought to be, independent states." Lee's resolution also called on the Congress to "take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances," and to prepare a plan of confederation for the thirteen colonies. Four days after Lee's resolution was introduced, the second process was set in motion when a committee of five members was appointed to draft a document formally announcing (and justifying) the break from Great Britain.

The two processes moved in tandem throughout the month of June 1776. While Lee and John Adams of Massachusetts worked to raise support for the resolution among the less radical members of the Congress, Adams was also serving on the committee drafting the formal declaration of independence. Adams clearly saw the former as more important than the latter, for he left the drafting of the declaration to the youngest and, in many ways, least renowned member of the committee: Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.

The two processes came to a head slightly out of sync with one another. Jefferson and the other committee members presented a draft declaration to the Congress on June 28; however, the Congress chose to set aside consideration of the declaration, and instead focus on Lee's resolution. It was not until July 2, 1776, that Lee and Adams were able to bring the rest of the Congress to the point where twelve of the thirteen colonies were prepared to approve the resolution (New York choosing to abstain in the absence of any instructions from the colonial government). This is the date that most people in the United States of Mexico, the political heirs of the rebels, choose to celebrate as Independence Day.

Once the resolution passed the Congress, the matter of Jefferson's declaration was taken up. The Congress spent two additional days editing the text, which was finally approved on July 4 and sent off to be printed. It is a matter of historical record that a year later, in July 1777, most supporters of the rebellion chose to mark the anniversary of independence on July 4, the date Jefferson's declaration was approved, and not July 2, the date Lee's resolution was approved.

The suppression of the North American Rebellion in June 1778 meant the end of celebrations of the attempted secession. It was only after the Rebellion's surviving leaders (including Adams' widow and children) made the Wilderness Walk to Jefferson that the celebration of "Independence Day" resumed. Mrs. Adams, recalling her husband's prediction that July 2 would be "celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival," chose that day to mark the anniversary in 1783, and in every subsequent year. From her and her family, the event spread to the rest of the settlers of Jefferson, and from them to the people of the U.S.M.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The other Southern confederacy

This month's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the Southern Confederation. Typically for Sobel, it's pretty much the opposite of our own world's Southern Confederacy.

To start with, the Southern Confederation stops at the Mississippi. The far side of the river is occupied by the independent nation of Jefferson, which merges with Mexico in 1820 to become the United States of Mexico. Thus, unlike our own history, the South borders a foreign country where slavery is also legal. Per Sobel, about 20,000 white Southerners emigrated from the Southern Confederation to Jefferson in the 1780s, bringing about 4,000 black slaves with them. Sobel doesn't mention any additional emigration from the S.C. to Jefferson, but it stands to reason that there must have been. Jefferson has much more unsettled land than the S.C., so it would be a natural destination for land-hungry Southerners.

The biggest difference between the two Souths is that the S.C. doesn't cling to slavery the way our own South did. Again, Sobel never says that having Jefferson next door made the difference, but again, it stands to reason. In our own history, die-hard white supremacists had only two options: submit to the abolition of slavery and legal equality for freed slaves, or rise in revolt. In the Sobel timeline, they had a third option: pack up the slaves and head west to Jefferson.

In the Sobel timeline, a crippling recession in the late 1830s makes cotton cultivation and slave labor unprofitable in the Southern Confederation. The S.C.'s abolitionists offer slave owners a deal: if the slave owners agree to abolition, the Southern government will compensate them for their freed slaves at twice the going market rate. This deal wouldn't have worked in our version of the South, but for sixty years, the most intransigent white supremacists have been leaving Sobel's Southern Confederation for Jefferson, producing a more moderate populace than our own South had. In the end, the S.C.'s legislature approves the compensated manumission plan, and on New Year's Day 1842, the last slaves in the confederation are freed.