You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2010.

I just watched Rethink Afghanistan’s latest video about Bob Woodward’s book, ‘Obama’s War.’ It describes Petraeus’ campaign to extend the war. Check it out:

The sun stands directly over the equater, so today is the autumnal equinox, the first day of official fall. Enjoy the fresh air and cool evenings, and days that, minus that little breeze, could still almost be summer.

One day again (see the election of 2000), the Electoral College will put in a President who did not win the national popular vote. This archaic instrument is not fundamental to our democracy, in fact it is anti-democratic. It was the product of a 18th century political compromise by the founding fathers. It is not needed anymore. It doesn’t do what it was meant to do. It could destabilize the nation at a time when grassroots voters demand to be heard.

What is the history? What is the risk? What are the arguments, pro and con? What can we done to change it, before it’s too late?

To join the discussion and find some answers, read my essay, “One Collage Too Man.” Go to, click on “Roll of Members” found on the left column, click on “E”, then go to “Charles Ebeling” and click on the essay title to read or copy it.

Make up your mind, then do something! Isn’t it time for a National Popular Vote? Thanks.

Congress just voted not to start debate on reforming the military “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” policy.

I say Congress is a bunch of Wimps, for ducking their heads in the political sand. They come off like the ones who are afraid to come out of the closet!

Notes on politics, mostly.
National Popular Vote
August 31, 2010
W.S.J. on N.P.V.: Surprisingly Fair
Posted by Hendrik HertzbergI’m a bit late getting to this, but on July 29th the Wall Street Journal’s online opinion Web site got around to publishing a piece on the National Popular Vote plan.

It’s by James Taranto, who edits the site, and it comes out against N.P.V. No surprise there, really. Even though all available polling shows that rank-and-file Republicans support popular election, by majorities of roughly 2 to 1—nearly as overwhelming as rank-and-file Democratic support, which averages around 3 to 1—the default position on the professional right seems to be: No way, José. The usual argument is that electing Presidents the way we elect governors, senators, mayors, state legislators, etc., etc., would be a totalitarian horror that would doom America to permanent mob rule by the urban masses and their corrupt bosses, augmented by whatever illegal aliens ACORN hasn’t yet got around to illegally registering.

What is surprising is that Taranto, after a bit of standard right-wing throat clearing (“a partisan protest masquerading as a high-minded reform,” “a too-clever-by-half attempt to circumvent America’s constitutional structure”) does not take this tack. Nor does he sully himself with any of the other usual specious arguments—e.g., residents of small states would be disadvantaged, campaigning would occur only in big cities, the two-party system would be destroyed, vote-stealing would be rampant, recounts would be a bigger danger than under the status quo, etc.

I have to give him extra props for the following:

1. He gives his readers a reasonably fair description of the plan:

The idea is known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If and only if enough states have joined by July 20 of any presidential election year, those states affirm that their election officials will choose the slate of electors pledged to the candidate with the highest national popular-vote total, regardless of the preferences of their own states’ voters.

In other words, it takes effect only if enough states have joined to ensure that the result will be to hand the presidency to the popular-vote “winner.”

One may question some of the tonal body language (e.g., those air quotes around “winner”), but still: succinct and accurate.

Continue Reading >> .POSTED INHendrik Hertzberg
| Electoral Reform| National Popular Vote| The Constitution| The Right

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Following is the supposed origin of the “Cordoba House” concept that has evolved into a proposed project now called Park51 — what some have characterized as the Ground Zero Mosque. What follows is false. Read this background from Wikipedia under Park51, and then below is the real story, and some of my pictures from the place behind the name Cordoba.

“Cordoba Initiative said the name “Cordoba House” was meant to invoke 8th–11th century Córdoba, Spain, which they called a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.[26][35][35] According to The Economist, the name was chosen because Muslims, Jews and Christians created a center of learning in Córdoba together.[26] The name was criticized; for example, Newt Gingrich said that it was a “a deliberately insulting term” which symbolizes the Muslim conquerors’ victory over Christian Spaniards, and noted that the Muslims had converted a Cordoba church into the third largest mosque in the world.[38][47] Similarly, Raymond Ibrahim, a former associate director of the Middle East Forum, said the project and name were not “a gesture of peace and interfaith dialogue” but were “allusive of Islamic conquest and consolidation” and that Americans should realize that mosques are not “Muslim counterparts to Christian churches” but rather, “are symbols of domination and centers of radicalization.” The opposition to Park51 believes that Islam builds mosques on “conquered territory” as symbols of “victory” and “conquest.”[48] The structure itself is named “Park51,” after the location’s address at 51 Park Place,[49][50] while the Cordoba Initiative’s part of it is called Cordoba House.[45][51]”

Here are the facts. The Grand Mosque of Cordoba, popularly called the Mesquita, stands on the site of a Roman temple, and uses some remnants of the temple in its construction. The Visigoths, an early Christian sect, built their religious building on the site. Remnants of their construction endure as well. Then the Muslims conquered much of Spain and the Grand Mosque was built over a period of centuries. Yes, the city of Cordoba became a great center of learning under Muslim rule, with one of the world’s greatest libraries, and became one of the densest cities in Europe. Yes, Jews and Christians lived and worked alongside the Muslims, but they were required by the Muslims to pay for the privilege, under penalty of death. It was anything but a level ethnic playing field. Then, after the long Reconquista, concluding with the Catholic Inquisition, the Muslims were systematically expelled from Spain and Cordoba by the Christians, as were the Jews. Charles the Fifth of Spain built a grand Catholic Cathedral in the very center of the expansive Mesquita, though he later said he regretted disfiguring the Mosque, and the Catholic Church controls the site today.

Thus, “Cordoba” has a mixed history that represents anything but peaceful co-existence among the religions, and also is anything but a symbol of dominance by any particular religion over time, except perhaps the Christians. In fact, Cordoba might be a symbol of the reconciliation that is now so sorely missing among the foolish religious factions of contemporary society. When we visited the Mesquita and took these photos in 2008, we were impressed with how arrogant both Christians and Muslims have been with their respective symbols of power on the very same piece of earth. Only the Jews, seemingly forever persecuted wherever they have gone, despite their many contributions to the past intellectual life of Cordoba, seem free of the sins of vanity and prejudice exhibited over time by Christians and Muslims at Cordoba. P.S. And who thought Newt Gingrich knew history?

It’s the birthday of Samuel Johnson, born in Lichfield, England (1709). When he was 54 years old, he was in the back parlor of his friend Tom Davies’ bookshop in London, and he was introduced to a 23-year-old Scotsman named James Boswell, who had been trying to meet Johnson for quite a while. Johnson was intensely suspicious of Scottish people, and found Boswell annoying. But eventually they became good friends.

For years, Boswell kept notes on Johnson’s mannerisms, habits, decisions, thoughts, appearance, and everything about his life. In the meantime, Samuel Johnson had a great career. He wrote essays and sketches for magazines, poems, and biographies. And then a group of publishers asked him to create a definitive dictionary of the English language, and he accepted the challenge. The French equivalent, compiled by the AcadémieFrançaise, was slotted to take 40 years and was being created by 40 scholars. The French took six years just to work on the letter “G.” In contrast, Johnson announced that he could single-handedly do the entire project in three years.

He didn’t manage it quite that fast — it took him seven years — and he did have six mechanical assistants. But it was still a huge undertaking. Published in 1775, it had more than 42,000 entries.

Johnson’s dictionary made him famous, and it is his most long-lasting achievement. But he is best remembered not for anything he wrote, but for the biography that Boswell wrote about him. Published after its subject’s death, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) is considered the precursor to modern biographies because it was the first to truly describe its subject as a whole person, not just a catalog of achievements and events.

To learn more about Johnson, read my essay, “Samuel Johnson and His Clubbable Friends.” Go to, click on “Roll of Members,” click on “E,” then go to my name, Charles Ebeling, and click on title of essay.

Interbrand’s new study of the best global brads for 2010 is out, and McDonald’s remains the world’s foremost restaurant brand, at #6 in the overall ratings, between GE and Intel. The estimated value of McDonald’s brand, according to Interbrand’s study, is more than $33 Billion. Here are their comments on McDonald’s:

“The market leader in its category, McDonald’s remains globally versatile, approachable, value-driven and reliable in a year when Burger King fell off the table. Already a strong brand with deep roots, the recession reminded people once again of its great value. McDonald’s seized the opportunity to capture a new audience and drive sales even further by upgrading its coffee to make it more premium and introducing healthier menu options – a move that should help it in the long-term. This, along with constant rollouts of new café concepts and contemporized environments, put McDonald’s in more consideration sets for more occasions. The brand wins A’s all around for its corporate citizenship efforts, as well as its social media endeavors (particularly “Voice of McDonald’s”).”

“Companies die young because their managers focus on the economics of producing goods and services, and forget that an organization is a community of human beings.”

September 2010

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