Friday, November 30, 2012

Impeachment poll update

Earlier in the month, I launched the Johnny Pez Obama impeachment poll, in which I asked this blog's multitudinous readers which alleged high crime and misdemeanor the House Republicans would cite when they impeached President Obama at some point during his second term. So far, the poll has garnered ten votes (which is about ten more than I thought it would get).

Reader solnushka pointed out that the poll ought to have an "all of the above" option, and I did promise to update the options as time went on, but, alas, it is not to be. It turns out that once people have started casting votes, Blogger won't let you change the options. So if the Republicans gin up some new scandal and impeach Obama for that, the "something else" option is going to get a workout.

Recent attempts by Republicans to block Susan Rice from becoming the next Secretary of State as part of their general Benghazi attack conspiracy theory indicate that Benghazi is still the frontrunning excuse for impeaching the president, and the Johnny Pez poll reflects that, with 40% of respondents choosing the Benghazi attack.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You don't have to go home

It's time for another embedded music video here at the Johnny Pez blog. Today it's Semisonic with their 1999 hit "Closing Time".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sobel Wiki: USM! USM! USM!

Work on the Sobel Wiki continues apace. This week's featured article is on Miguel Huddleston, the second President of the United States of Mexico. You can tell that alt-Sobel likes Huddleston and wants to say nice things about him, but he's hindered by the fact that Huddleston didn't actually accomplish very much. The sections of For Want of a Nail dealing with Huddleston can be read as Sobel's satire on historians letting their own emotional reactions to historical figures color their accounts.

Also up are several new articles on the Mexican Congress, the city of Palenque, and Russia.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sobel Vexillology 2: Electric Boogaloo

A couple months back, in a fit of Sobel Wiki-inspired madness, I created a blog post in which I speculated on what sort of national flags the United States of Mexico and the Confederation of North America might have wound up with. I came to the conclusion that after the American bid for independence failed, the British colonies would return to the pre-rebellion practice of flying the British Red Ensign:

This would continue until the drafting of the Second Britannic Design in 1842, at which time a wave of North American nationalism would lead to the adoption of a Coat of Arms for the C.N.A., and of a version of the Red Ensign incorporating that coat of arms, in much the way that Canada did in our own history after the confederation of 1867. In my original post, I didn't go to the trouble of creating a hypothetical C.N.A. Coat of Arms, since I was hoping one of my more vexillology-oriented readers would be inspired to do so. Two months later, that hasn't happened, so I've decided to take matters into my own hands. Hence, my own version of the C.N.A. flag:

The Coat of Arms consists, working clockwise from the upper left, of a bison representing Vandalia, a fleur-de-lis representing Quebec, a ship representing the Northern Confederation and Indiana, and two sheafs of wheat representing the Southern Confederation and Manitoba.

This raises the question of what happens to the North American flag and Coat of Arms after Quebec devolves to associated status in 1889. One answer is that the fleur-de-lis is replaced by a new symbol, like so:

In the upper right quadrant of the Coat of Arms are two plows representing Southern Vandalia, while the bison in the upper left quadrant now represents Northern Vandalia. But there's another possible answer.

The devolution of Quebec was the result of a plebiscite held by a radical new political party, the People's Coalition. Sobel indicates more than once the Coalition's ties with the rebellion of the 1770s: the original founders of the Coalition in the Southern Confederation had called their platform the Norfolk Resolves in a deliberate echo of the Suffolk Resolves of 1775; and the Coalition held its 1883 national convention in Boston, something Sobel suggests was meant to indicate their relationship with the rebels of the 1770s.

After gaining power in 1888, the Coalition under its leader Ezra Gallivan sought to distance the C.N.A. from Great Britain, and it might well be that part of that effort was the adoption of a new national flag omitting the Union Jack. What would such a Coalition-inspired flag look like? Well, given the new party's ties to the rebels of 1775, you might get something like this:

It's not the Stars and Stripes of the North American Rebellion, but the echoes are unmistakeable, which is what you would expect of Gallivan, a member of the Coalition's moderate wing, but a confirmed isolationist nonetheless.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sobel Wiki: Siberian exile

Another area of the Sobel Timeline has come into focus at the Sobel Wiki, with articles on the Republic of Siberia, the three Siberian heads of government that Sobel mentions, and five Siberian cities. Also up on the main page is this week's featured article on the 1963 Grand Council elections.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sofia Vergara is stalking me

She follows me everywhere I go, peering at me from above her can of Diet Pepsi.  She pretends to look away when I turn to face her, but I know that as soon as I turn away, she'll be watching me again.  Watching . . . always watching!  The woman is a menace!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Johnny Pez Obama impeachment poll

Some time in the next few months, the members of the just-elected House Republican caucus will meet to decide a question: what should they charge Obama with when they impeach him?  Because this is the logical next step in the Republican thought process.  They've learned that their attempt to demonize Obama as unAmerican was unsuccessful, or at least not successful enough to cost Obama a second term.  As we learned during the Clinton administration, impeachment is the next step.  So, what will they charge him with?

The current favorite wingnut conspiracy theory says that Obama did something-or-other-that-was-scandalous involving the Libyan militia attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and there are currently two groups of crazy House Republicans "investigating" it.  Right now, this looks like the best bet for an impeachment hearing.

Of course, there's also Solyndra Energy, a company that manufactured solar power panels that got a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2009, then went bankrupt a year and a half later.  The GOP spent a couple of weeks in September 2011 trying to turn this into a scandal, but at the time it didn't gain any traction.  If the Benghazi attack investigations don't go anywhere, the GOP might try to revive this old nontroversy as a reason to impeach the President.

And of course, there's always one of the old Birther conspiracy theories available if nothing else will do.  Or maybe the GOP will manufacture a completely new scandal for impeachment purposes.

So at long last, the Johnny Pez blog is taking advantage of Blogger's poll widget, and the question for our hypothetical blogging audience is: what will the House Republicans charge Obama with when they vote to impeach him?  The poll is over on the right sidebar just below my iconic basenji, and voting will remain open until A) House Republicans actually hold their impeachment vote, or B) Obama leaves the White House.  If the GOP manufactures a new scandal in the meantime, the poll questions will change to reflect the fact.

UPDATE: an end-of-the-month update on the state of the poll is here.

UPDATE 2: an end-of-the-year update with extra added Benghazi is here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sobel Wiki: bells & whistles

For the last two years, I've been content to focus on adding content to the Sobel Wiki, because a wiki ultimately stands or falls on the quality and quantity of its content.  However, now that there are over 1900 pages, it's time to move beyond the basics and start trying to attract some notice.

Along with the standard introductory material, the main page of the Sobel Wiki now includes a Featured Article, links to the most important categories, a list of newly-created pages, and reciprocal links to four other alternate history wikis.  In addition, the Sobel Wiki has been added to Wikia's list of Promoted wikis, where it now joins the ranks of such illustrious popular entertainment wikis as Wookieepedia, Scoobypedia, and the Sailor Moon Wiki.  Of course, the price of Promotion is that the Sobel Wiki now has advertising embedded in it, but such is fame.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dog walk: 11/4/12

The Basenjimobile was low on gas this morning, so I decided to go gas it up at the local Giant Eagle supermarket.  And since I have to take the dogs for their morning walk anyway, I decided to kill two orcs with one arrow and bring the dogs along.  Happily, there's a public park on the way to the Giant Eagle called Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township, so I could stop there on the way to the supermarket and let the dogs have their walk.

During the early part of the walk, I heard the amplified sound someone singing off in the distance, and faint though it was, it didn't take me long to recognize the song as "The Star-Spangled Banner."  And it was like the past was reaching forward to tap me on the shoulder.

Back in Newport, I would usually get home from work around 7:15 in the morning, and then immediately take the dogs for a quick drive to the municipal dog park.  As it happens, the dog park is less than half a mile from the U.S. Naval War College, and my visits there would often coincide with morning reveille, which included an instrumental version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" played over the base's loudspeakers, and which were quite audible from the dog park.  So, for a brief moment, I was back in Newport, watching the sun rise over JT Connell Highway while the basenjis and I listened to the national anthem playing in the distance.

The nailbiter that wasn't

Paul Krugman notes the misleading banner headline from Saturday's Financial Times: "US election hangs on a knife edge", when in fact, as Nate Silver and the other numbers wonks say, Obama is clearly ahead.  This is part of a larger trend within the American media establishment of insisting that the presidential race is closer than it is.  Krugman does not ask why this is happening, so I think I'll ask.  And then answer.

Why is the media establishment insisting that the race is a toss-up when it clearly isn't?  Because it's in their financial interest to do so.  After all, a media corporation is still a corporation, which means its only goal is to make a profit by any means necessary.  And a close presidential race is more profitable for the media than a not-so-close race, or even worse, a blowout, because, a close race attracts more eyeballs than a blowout, and more eyeballs means higher rates for advertising.  (There's also the fact that both campaigns will pay more money to the media to run their political ads if the race is close than they will if it's a foregone conclusion, but presumably the campaigns know perfectly well how close the race is, so they won't let their ad budgets be influenced by inaccurate reporting.)

"But," you say, "surely you don't think that the objective journalists would intentionally distort the nature of the race just because their bosses tell them to.  Surely they aren't that corrupt!"

What I think is that when you take someone's money, you have to do what they tell you to do, and that includes accepting a salary from a media conglomerate and reporting what they tell you to report.  In other words, yes, they are that corrupt.

And don't call me Shirley.

UPDATE 11/10/12: I'm going to have to revise part of my post above.  According to CBS News, the Romney campaign apparently didn't know how close the race was.  They deliberately skewed their own internal polls to make it look like they had a better chance of winning.  So, I stand corrected.  The media can make more money by convincing election campaigns that it's worthwhile spending more on campaign ads.  Good to know.