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Have you wondered how the red and blue states came to be? And why those colors? I wondered too, and discovered that we owe the current U.S. political color palette to Tim Russert. And I learned a lot more about the use of colors in politics, going way back in history.

The whole story can be found in my essay called “Red, White, Blue and You — or The Color of Politics,” which I presented before the Literary Club of Chicago on election eve 2012. And yes, Cleaopatra had a hand in the story, too. And so did the obsolete and dangerous Electoral College system of electing our Presidents. And why is purple in our nation’s future?

Read about all this and more in my essay at, then search for the title “Red, White, Blue and You” under “Ebeling.”

Was in 1968, when I had arrived in Saigon a few days earlier, and was in the midst of an officer’s in-country orientation at MACV headquarters. I had arrived alone, knew no-one, and and my assignment had just been shot out from under me, quite truly, as the Vietnamese general officer I was to serve as press liaison to, had shot my predecessor over a disagreement.

In a very down spirit, I arrived in the general mess hall and was greeted by holiday music, Thanksgiving decor and one of the best Thanksgiving dinners of my life (with apologies to my mother and grandmother). It was such a delight, in that godforsaken place, that I’ve never forgotten the experience, chatting warmly with total strangers, for 40 minutes or so of relief, so long ago and far away. I still have the menu card from that wonderfully surprising Thanksgiving dinner.

Read more in my essay on my military experiences, called “All That Glitters.” Go to and search for the title
under Ebeling.

When I would visit Dick McDonald, the co-pioneer of the McDonald’s restuarant concept, at his home in Bedford, New Hampshire, where he lived in retirement, he would often mention his admiration for Warren Rudman, his feisty New Hampshire Senator, author of the famed Gramm-Rudman-Hollings federal balanced budget bill. He and Rudman knew each other pretty well, and had somewhat similar personalities — they bnoth were caring people, but often outspoken and blunt. Rudman, 92, died today.

I recall in the early 90s going out to D.C. to meet Dick for the premiere of a new Smithsonian World PBS film called “A Moveable Feast,” produced by Linda Ellerbee. It was the story of the history of food service for people on the move, and Dick was interviewed in the film. Dick also invited Rudman to the opening at the Smithsonian Castle. The next day, Dick in turn was Rudman’s VIP guest in Congress, and I went along. We dined on Navy Bean soup inh the Senate Dining Room, as legislators and aides gathered around Dick for a look or a word, or an autograph, from the man whose name was vastly more a household word than his host, the famous Senator. Dick enjoyed riding the miniature underground rail line used by the legislators.

I just ran across a package of matches, now resting on a tray next to my tie rack, from the Senate Dining Room that I’d kept from that day, some 20 years ago. Warren and Dick were a pair of New England characters, all right.

For more on Dick McDonald, see my essay, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald,” at Search under “Ebeling.”

I just returned from the Lake Geneva premiere of the newest and 50th anniversary James Bond film, Skyfall. It was a large crowd of filmgoers, perhaps as many as 25, for a late afternoon showing here. The theater auditorium has a capacity of several hundred, but today’s turnout was as much as 25 times normal.

For regular James Bond fans, the film contains several surprises, some right at the end, involving Q, M, Miss Moneypenny, and even a classic Aston Martin of Bond film fame.

Don’t miss Skyfall. It does…

— federal financing for national elections
— reform or end zone the distorting Electoral College
— initiate term limits for President (one 6-year term); two terms for Congress and Senate
— align retirement and medical benefits of Congress with private sector
— require Senators and Congressmen to live and work full time in D.C.

November 2012

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