Al-Farouq Aminu: The Chief Has Arrived

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

al-farouq_aminu

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Al-Farouq Aminu represents the greatest hope for the Muslim world in the upcoming National Basketball Association draft of college players, to be held in New York City next month. Aminu just completed his junior season at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And, he is currently projected to be a top 10 pick in the draft. Al-Farouq grew up in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, and after an illustrious career at Norcross High School, he was given the prestigious honor of being named the state of Georgia’s “Mr. Basketball.” Rivals.com rated him the top small forward coming out of high school. And, he played in the 2008 McDonald’s All-Star Game for the nation’s best high school basketball talent.

The son of Aboubakar and Anjirlic Aminu, Al-Farouq and family are reportedly descendents of Nigerian kings. They are establishing themselves as kings of basketball as well. His brother Alade, 3 years his elder, played for Georgia Tech University and currently plays in the NBA. And, their 11-year-old younger brother, Al-Majid, appears to be following in their basketball footsteps as well. Alade told the Winston-Salem Journal, “I think he’s going to be the best Aminu.”

At 6 feet 9 inches and 215 lbs, Al-Farouq Aminu is surprisingly agile for his size. NBADraft.net describes him as, “a huge leaper with freakish athleticism, explosiveness and solid length, Aminu uses these 3 strengths to make him an excellent rebounder and defender.” With a 7 feet 2 inch wing-span, he demonstrates tremendous reach and shot-blocking ability. And, his lateral quickness is such that he can also guard smaller, faster players, while still having the strength and size to bang with the big boys.

A blemish on Al-Farouq’s record came just prior to his high school graduation in 2008. Through a combination of boredom, peer pressure, and teenage bravado, he and two friends fired a BB gun at an Atlanta woman. Aminu had nothing close to a criminal record prior, and has had no brushes with the law since. And, his remorse and stellar record were so strong that the woman herself requested leniency for the boys, and the charges were reduced to three misdemeanors. Al-Farouq and his two friends were given probation. He still remembers the impact of that brush with the law, and admits to becoming more of an independent thinker as a result. “…I guess it humbled me even more. It doesn’t matter who you are. The world looks at you just the same,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal.
Al-Farouq is a good enough basketball player to begin his professional career after only his sophomore year of college. But with the dedication he has shown on the court, and as a Muslim, the communications major will, by all indications, be returning at some point to complete his degree. Draftexpress.com asked him what a typical off-season day for him was like. He responded, “I pray, work out in the morning, and then have a pretty normal day.” That is the type of answer we would like to hear from all of our kids. And when Al-Farouq’s parents watch him take the stage next month after being selected early in the NBA Draft, they will be seeing further attestation to the translated meaning of the name Al-Farouq: The Chief has arrived!

12-20

Keep Our Eyes Open for Justice

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The case of Brother Imam Kwame Teague

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

Most of the time when we hear a person has been arrested we feel he must have done something or he or she wouldn’t have been arrested.  And when we hear someone has been convicted of a crime, our certainty of their guilt is strengthened.  After all there must have been overwhelming evidence that left no doubt of the guilt.  There was either a jury trial of 12 people that listened to evidence, weighed it in their minds and came to a unanimous decision; or a learned, educated judge who has sworn to uphold the law according to knowledge and investigation has rendered a decision.  Again, it must be right.

Then there is the case of a person who has been arrested, tried, convicted, and serving time in a penal institution.  Now this person HAS to be guilty.  Right?   Because appeals have been heard, and the evidence has been looked over for a second or third time, by different people, and they come to the same conclusion, the case is closed as far as we are concerned.  And we say they must be guilty.

Well, that may, or may not be the case.  With the advent of new technology, including DNA testing, we are finding there are many people who have been incarcerated for many years and we come to find out they were totally innocent.   Just think of the many people falsely accused and wrongly convicted who would still be in prison if not for the technological advances and/or persistence by legal experts, friends and family.

Of course, we also are aware that of the entire prison population, I would guess that 90% of them claim they are innocent.  And we also know that all of them that claim innocence are not innocent.  But because we have seen so many cases of wrongful imprisonment, it behooves us to take all available means to prove a person’s innocence.  This is especially true when there are major discrepancies and obvious omissions of evidence by the law enforcement and legal representatives.

One such case that may fall in a similar category is the case of Kwame Teague.    Brother Teague is a Muslim brother who has been incarcerated since February 1, 1994 in the North Carolina jail system.  His charge is Murder.  At the time of his arrest he offered an explanation of his whereabouts and gave the name of the person he was with.  This person was picked up and questioned but the statement was never allowed to be used in court.        

Other questionable  actions  was the appointment of a defense attorney who had been attorney for the opposition; not allowing testimony of people who  gave statements exonerating  Brother Kwame;  allowing the testimony of a person who was in prison, had a bad case of AIDS-related dementia, and a reason to implicate Brother Kwame, and many others.

Brother Kwame has been a model person since his incarceration.  He has served as imam at the institutions he has been imprisoned at with nothing but glowing remarks about his character Islamic spirit.  His father, Brother James C. Teague, of Newark, NJ, is a very well respected brother in the Muslim community and has done a magnificent job of instilling moral qualities and academic and professional excellence in all his children, two boys and two girls.  He says of them all he is most proud of Kwame because “he has overcome the profound barrier of incarceration to perform the same type of dedicated contributions from behind prison walls that his brother and sisters perform in free society.”

This article is by no means being written to try and establish the guilt or innocence of Brother Kwame.  It is being written to shed light on the many injustices that occur in our penal system and to encourage strong and persistent investigation of cases when proven facts may prove a person is being denied justice.  And because it LOOKS LIKE Kwame could be innocent, we owe our all.

There are many people like Kwame throughout the country and we encourage you to help in any way you can to present overlooked facts and omissions that could bring the truth to light.

We also encourage you to not automatically assume that when the authorities say someone did a crime that they must have done it.  Mistakes can and have been made.  No one is infallible except  Almighty ALLAH.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

12-17

Community News (V12-I6)

February 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Farad Ali: Durham City Councilman

DURHAM, NC–Farad Ali serves on the council of city of Durham in North Carolina and is a rising star in the city`s politics.  A life long advocate for the city Ali has been pushing for accountability and integrity in the council.

Having attended Githens Junior High School and graduating from Jordan High School, Ali is a product of the Durham public school system. He remained in the area, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in finance, from the School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to obtain a Masters in Business Administration from Campbell University.

His professional career began in the banking industry, Mr. Ali worked for over ten years as a successful community, commercial and corporate banker in the private sector.

Currently an executive at a nonprofit, Farad Ali works within an organization focused on addressing issues related to responsible community economic and minority business development. During his career, he has served on numerous local boards and advisory committees. He has served as a speaker and advisor for state and national financial and economic development programs. Mr. Ali has been intensively involved in programs to foster community development.

BYU publishes Ibn Sina translation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT–Ibn Sina, the great Muslim philosopher and scientist, is being reintroduced to the modern world through translations of his works by the Brigham Young University.

A section of Avicenna’s work from “The Healing” called “The Physics” was translated by Jon McGinnis, an associate professor in the department of philosophy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The resulting two volumes, titled “Avicenna: The Physics of ‘The Healing,’” are now available as part of BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.

BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has published 16 works — including Islamic works, Eastern Christian texts and a series of works by Jewish rabbi Moses Maimonides. “Physics” is the seventh volume in the Islamic Translation Series of this initiative.

Hundreds come for Halal food course

TORONTO–In a sign of growing concerns over Halal foods hundreds of Muslim youth in the Toronto area turned out for a weekend course titled ‘Precious Provisions: Fiqh of Food and Clothing,’ taught by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. Providing a comparative analysis of the rulings on food according to the various Islamic legal schools he said that a majority agrees that the food should be properly slaughtered and that the name of Allah (swt) be recited on the animal or bird.

Throwing light on the various controversies on the topic in North America he went on to demonstrate that the permissibility of the meat of the people of the book is not unconditional. He said it is permissible only if the Islamic conditions of dhabh are met.

He said that the importance of tasmiyah evident from the fact that it is even required for hunted animals, so how about non-hunted? He said that only school, the Maliki, consider the mentioning of Allah’s name is Mustahab. The majority opinion either considers it to be obligatory to mention Allah’s name in all circumstances or obligatory but forgiven if accidentally forgotten.

Shaykh Qadhi also discussed the reliability of the books which contain lists of halal and haram products. He said the utility of such books is limited as they are not written by Islamic scholars and adopt a a mechanical attitude in classifying products as Halal or Haram. This results in classifying things like water and milk in the prohibited category. He said that the just a presence of a particular doubtful or prohibited product on the ingredient list doesn’t make a product Haram but one has to look at its quantity and state.

He urged the Muslim communities to organize locally and develop a system to monitor and certify halal stores.  He also said that Muslims should respect divergent opinions and discuss things in an amicable manner.

12-6

Afghan War Costs

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

A 30,000-person surge will coast at least $30 billion.

By Jo Comerford

This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

$57,077.60. That’s what we’re paying per minute. Keep that in mind—just for a minute or so.

After all, the surge is already on. By the end of December, the first 1,500 US troops will have landed in Afghanistan, a nation roughly the size of Texas, ranked by the United Nations as second worst in the world in terms of human development.

Women and men from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be among the first to head out. It takes an estimated $1 million to send each of them surging into Afghanistan for one year. So a 30,000-person surge will be at least $30 billion, which brings us to that $57,077.60. That’s how much it will cost you, the taxpayer, for one minute of that surge.

By the way, add up the yearly salary of a Marine from Camp Lejeune with four years of service, throw in his or her housing allowance, additional pay for dependents, and bonus pay for hazardous duty, imminent danger, and family separation, and you’ll still be many thousands of dollars short of that single minute’s sum.

But perhaps this isn’t a time to quibble. After all, a job is a job, especially in the United States, which has lost seven million jobs since December 2007, while reporting record-high numbers of people seeking assistance to feed themselves and/or their families. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 36 million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on food stamps.

On the other hand, given the woeful inadequacy of that “safety net,” we might have chosen to direct the $30 billion in surge expenditures toward raising the average individual monthly Food Stamp allotment by $70 for the next year; that’s roughly an additional trip to the grocery store, every month, for 36 million people. Alternatively, we could have dedicated that $30 billion to job creation. According to a recent report issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs, 541,080 positions in healthcare, fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers.

For purposes of comparison, $30 billion—remember, just the Pentagon-estimated cost of a 30,000-person troop surge—is equal to 80% of the total US 2010 budget for international affairs, which includes monies for development and humanitarian assistance. On the domestic front, $30 billion could double the funding (at 2010 levels) for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Or think of the surge this way: if the United States decided to send just 29,900 extra soldiers to Afghanistan, 100 short of the present official total, it could double the amount of money—$100 million—it has allocated to assist refugees and returnees from Afghanistan through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Leaving aside the fact that the United States already accounts for 45% of total global military spending, the $30 billion surge cost alone would place us in the top-ten for global military spending, sandwiched between Italy and Saudi Arabia. Spent instead on “soft security” measures within Afghanistan, $30 billion could easily build, furnish and equip enough schools for the entire nation.

Continuing this nod to the absurd for just one more moment, if you received a silver dollar every second, it would take you 960 years to haul in that $30 billion. Not that anyone could hold so much money. Together, the coins would weigh nearly 120 tons, or more than the poundage of 21,000 Asian elephants, an aircraft carrier, or the Washington Monument. Converted to dollar bills and laid end-to-end, $30 billion would reach 2.9 million miles or 120 times around the Earth.

One more thing, that $30 billion isn’t even the real cost of Obama’s surge. It’s just a minimum, through-the-basement estimate. If you were to throw in all the bases being built, private contractors hired, extra civilians sent in, and the staggering costs of training a larger Afghan army and police force (a key goal of the surge), the figure would surely be startlingly higher. In fact, total Afghanistan War spending for 2010 is now expected to exceed $102.9 billion, doubling last year’s Afghan spending. Thought of another way, it breaks down to $12 million per hour in taxpayer dollars for one year. That’s equal to total annual US spending on all veteran’s benefits, from hospital stays to education.

In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country’s gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child. Given that the average annual salary for an Afghan soldier is $2,880 and many Afghans seek employment in the military purely out of economic desperation, this might be a wise investment—especially since the Taliban is able to pay considerably more for its new recruits. In fact, recent increases in much-needed Afghan recruits appear to correlate with the promise of a pay raise.

All of this is, of course, so much fantasy, since we know just where that $30-plus billion will be going. In 2010, total Afghanistan War spending since November 2001 will exceed $325 billion, which equals the combined annual military spending of Great Britain, China, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. If we had never launched an invasion of Afghanistan or stayed on fighting all these years, those war costs, evenly distributed in this country, would have meant a $2,298.80 dividend per US taxpayer.

Even as we calculate the annual cost of war, the tens of thousands of Asian elephants in the room are all pointing to $1 trillion in total war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan. The current escalation in Afghanistan coincides with that rapidly-approaching milestone. In fact, thanks to Peter Baker’s recent New York Times report on the presidential deliberations that led to the surge announcement, we know that the trillion-dollar number for both wars may be a gross underestimate. The Office of Management and Budget sent President Obama a memo, Baker tells us, suggesting that adding General McChrystal’s surge to ongoing war costs, over the next 10 years, could mean—forget Iraq—a trillion dollar Afghan War.

At just under one-third of the 2010 US federal budget, $1 trillion essentially defies per-hour-per-soldier calculations. It dwarfs all other nations’ military spending, let alone their spending on war. It makes a mockery of food stamps and schools. To make sense of this cost, we need to leave civilian life behind entirely and turn to another war. We have to reach back to the Vietnam War, which in today’s dollars cost $709.9 billion—or $300 billion less than the total cost of the two wars we’re still fighting, with no end in sight, or even $300 billion less than the long war we may yet fight in Afghanistan.

[Note: Jo would like to acknowledge the analysis and numbers crunching of Chris Hellman and Mary Orisich, members of the National Priorities Project’s research team, without whom this piece would not have been possible.]

Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project.

Ladies’ Qur`an Class By Fatimah Murad

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

P1040696 A delighted chatter permeates the room, occasionally an effusive call of “Assalamu-alaikum,” or “Alhamdulillah,” rises above the general murmur as two sisters greet each other for the first time. The setting is the Qiyam-ul-Layl program, organized by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) sisters-wing’s Chicago-land unit.

The majority of the participants are the regular attendees of a Quran Tafseer Class, also organized by the ICNA sisters. The class takes place in the morning after fajr prayer in a conference call room, throughout the year it takes place every Saturday and focuses on select Surahs but during Ramadan it becomes a daily occurrence so as to complete the reading of the entire Quran, in English translation, within the blessed month. This is the third year that it is taking place and, where it started as a local meeting involving sisters from the Chicago metropolitan area, it has now grown to include sisters from various states including Michigan, Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina and even from as far as Bahrain. There is diversity not only of location but also of background, there are revert Muslimahs and born Muslimahs who hail from various different nations. Many are of African American or South Asian background but there are also sisters from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and the Philippines.  

Every morning, the sisters take turns reading a few of the ayahs punctuated by brief explanations and insights into the Surahs by Huma Murad and Amina Jaffer-Mohsin, the two moderators. Roll is called every class by the ever reliable Amidah Burton, to acknowledge the nearly forty participants. Through sharing their love for the Quran and Allah, the attendees have come to know and love each other as well. One sister, Afsheen Khan summed up the shared sentiments of many participant in commenting that though she had physically attended similar classes before “…this was special because of meeting so many sisters and [feeling such] spirituality.” Sister Shahina Begg who has been a regular attendee for all three years continued in a similar vein when she commented that she felt blessed in being introduced to the class because it “brought me closer to Islam and my sisters,” she added that though she initially only met her fellow participant on phone she felt compelled to “keep in touch throughout my life and inshallah stay spiritually connected.”

It was in hopes of fostering this bond, and to reap the most benefits from the blessed odd nights of the last third of Ramadan, that the Qiyam-ul-Layl event was organized. The class participants are given a chance to meet face to face, some sisters travelling from out-of-town to take advantage of the opportunity, and share a night of spirituality and sisterhood. As sister Jameela Karim explained, “The Qiyam-ul-Layl is the glue of the class, and having the program helps us put it all together. Seeing the people you hear every morning, you are fully connected.” Many sisters said they felt it created something akin to family ties.

The program allowed the sisters to share food and each other’s company, but also to join together for congregational prayers of Taraweeh and Tahajjud, and group discussions on spirituality and remembrance of God. Revert sisters, who constituted a majority among the nearly fifty attendees, shared stories of their early struggles with their families in the way of Islam, while their companions reminded the group that the greatest struggle took place within and that we all had our own hurdles to overcome. One of the greatest examples of triumph that the sisters witnessed at the Qiyam-ul-Layl was in meeting sisters Habiba Castulo and Hina Altaf, both legally blind from birth, who regularly attend the class and diligently read the Qur’an in Braille.

Jamila Yusuf commented to great agreement how she was “inspired by Habiba and Hina’s dedication to the Quran.” It was one of many instances where the sisters felt their faith had been strengthened by their fellow Muslimahs.

Though initiated as a rather humble project in hopes of sharing the knowledge of God’s word, the Quran Tafseer Class has grown into something unique and transcendent. It is difficult for any of the participants to explain exactly why this class, among so many similar ones, feels special. Moderator Huma Murad has a theory that it is due to its timing, the Prophet (s) spoke many times on the blessings of reading Quran after fajr. The greatest factor in its success, however, is the dedication and enthusiasm of its members. Newcomer Vonzella Matin called being introduced to it the “best gift I could have been given,” by sister Amidah, but she and her fellow participants have, with the help of Allah, given this gift to each other many times over.

11-39

The Dubious ‘Popular Vote’

May 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Larry J Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, takes a close look at Hillary Clinton’s arguments that she deserves the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Courtesy Prof. Larry Sabato, UVA

Give Hillary Clinton credit. She has shown toughness, stamina, and persistence in one of the longest presidential campaigns in American history.

If super-delegates back Hillary Clinton, will they alienate loyal black voters?

She has fought hard and come back time and again in the 2008 primary season, defying the pundits who insisted on writing her political obituary prematurely. She has held the charismatic phenomenon named Barack Obama almost to a draw in the fight for votes and delegates in the Democratic party’s nominating battle.

As some of Obama’s weaknesses become more apparent, her arguments are drawing new attention, and at least a few Democratic leaders are considering them.

No-one is likely to agree on exactly what the popular vote is, or how it should be counted – the notion ought to be shelved

All that being true, it’s still very unlikely she will overcome Obama’s lead. With just seven states (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) remaining on the primary schedule, Obama is ahead by close to 160 elected (or pledged) delegates and, overall, by about 130 delegates, once the super-delegates are included.

This may not sound like many in a convention that will host more than 4,000 delegates, but party rules make it difficult to gain a sizeable number of delegates quickly. (Incredibly, you can win a big state and net a mere handful of delegates. The Democrats have developed a system so fair it is unfair.)

Changing the math

Here’s the basic dilemma for Hillary Clinton: How can she convince senior Democrats to turn their backs on the most loyal party constituency, African-Americans, who regularly give 90% of their votes to party candidates?

For the first time, one of their own has a real chance to become the presidential nominee and the occupant of the White House. The anger in the black community would be palpable and long-lasting if Obama is sent packing.

Democratic women appear unlikely to respond in the same fashion if the first serious woman candidate is turned aside.

Worry among super-delegates about Obama’s viability in the fall is not enough. The only conceivable scenarios that might change the present nominating math are:

a.. a campaign-ending scandal or gaffe by Obama
b.. a highly improbable series of victories by Hillary Clinton in primaries she is expected to lose (such as North Carolina and Oregon)
c.. a raft of polls showing Clinton defeating McCain handily while Obama is losing to McCain decisively (most current polls show relatively little difference in the Obama-McCain and Clinton-McCain national match-ups, though the prospective contests in individual states vary considerably)

How can it be that Clinton is so unlikely to prevail, especially close on the heels of her solid, impressive 9.2% victory in Pennsylvania on 22 April?

Why wouldn’t that victory generate significant momentum for Clinton, just at the moment when the remaining super-delegates prepare to make their decisive choice? Didn’t her 214,000-vote plurality in the Keystone State vault her into the popular-vote lead nationally, as she claimed?

The size and breadth of Clinton’s triumph in Pennsylvania certainly demonstrated the emerging limitations of Obama’s appeal, not least the disaffection of many whites, blue-collar workers, and low-income Democrats.

But it almost certainly will be Obama, not Clinton, who is on the November ballot under the Democratic label.

Michigan and Florida

Take Clinton’s claim about the popular vote. On the morning after Pennsylvania, she insisted that she had taken a narrow popular-vote lead, about 15.12 million to nearly 15 million for Obama. But this is classic “new math”, where the numerical answer obtained is often less important than the agile mental gymnastics used to get there.

Clinton’s total relies on two very dubious assumptions. First, one must incorporate the primary results from Florida and Michigan, two January contests excluded by the Democratic National Committee for violating the scheduling rules set by the party. This is no minor sum of votes – 2,344,318, to be exact.

Barack Obama has regularly done better than Hillary Clinton in caucuses

But no even-handed person would contend that Michigan, whose primary occurred on 15 January, should be part of the equation. Barack Obama’s name was not even on the ballot.

The vote total cited by Clinton conveniently excludes three caucus states won by Obama, in Iowa, Maine, and Washington. (Nevada, won by Clinton, is also left out of the tally.) No-one knows the exact number of votes cast for each candidate in these four states since the state parties, by tradition, refuse to release the data.

Eliminating Michigan, the Obama-Clinton match-up shows an Obama edge of a couple hundred thousand votes. Striking Florida brings it to about a half-million-vote Obama plurality. And the unknown caucus results would add at least 100,000 to his lead.

Comparing like with unlike

This discussion of caucus states raises another interesting subject. How can one compare primary and caucus states at all? By their very nature, primaries attract a large electorate in most states. A caucus is a very different political animal, requiring hours of commitment from each participating individual.

The concept of the national popular vote is borrowed from the general election, when it makes more sense

The caucus also is inflexible, beginning at a set, mandatory time. There are no absentee ballots and no excuses for troops abroad, medical personnel who must attend to the sick, or elderly individuals who cannot brave a lengthy, stressful outing. Caucus participation is usually just a fraction of the turnout that would have occurred had the state held a primary.

Therefore, the national vote total is heavily skewed to the states holding primaries, and this total mixes primary apples and caucus oranges in an unenlightening way.

The concept of the national popular vote is borrowed from the general election, when it makes more sense. However, in the nominating season the idea is dubious, and it is not a particularly useful measure for the undecided super-delegates. Nevertheless, it has been bandied about so much by the campaigns and news media that it has now become an inescapable yardstick of electoral validity for Clinton and Obama.

Key states

Other questions about the vote mathematics are also compelling. Should the voting results in November’s likely competitive states-the ones we often call purple – a mixture of Republican red and Democratic blue – be given special weight in the popular-vote formula? After all, the purpose of the nominating contest is to pick a candidate who can win the general election.

Both Clinton and Obama have won states critically important to a Democratic majority in November

Hillary Clinton has pushed this interpretation, but only up to a point. She wants her wins in competitive, significant states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania to be determinants for the super-delegates, yet she ignores Barack Obama’s victories in medium-sized toss-up states such as Colorado and Virginia.

With apologies to George Orwell, all states are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Overall, though, this game is pointless since both Clinton and Obama have won states critically important to a Democratic electoral college majority in November.

Different voters

The flaw in the state-based argument is also fundamental. Party primary electorates do not resemble the November electorates in the vast majority of states, so primary results tell us surprisingly little in most states about how a party presidential nominee will fare in the general election.
Think of it this way – perhaps 35 million Americans will have voted in all the Democratic primaries and caucuses by June, but the November voter turnout could reach 135 million people-and those extra 100 million voters are different, both in ideological and partisan terms, than the 35 million early-birds.

US territories

An ancillary issue is whether the U.S. territories, none of which has electoral college votes in November, should even be included in the party nominating system.

In an extremely close race, their delegates could decide the outcome of a presidential nomination, and potentially the Presidency itself. Should Puerto Rico, voting on 1 June, have more delegates than half the American states, as the Democrats have assigned?

Neither Clinton nor Obama will raise this concern, of course, but unbiased observers ought to do so. In most conventions, the territorial votes are a harmless matter, but every now and then, the unintended consequences of their inclusion could become enormous.

The long and short of the debate over the popular vote is this – no-one is likely to agree on exactly what it is, or how it should be counted.

There are considerable flaws inherent in the concept. The popular-vote notion ought to be shelved – but naturally, in this endlessly contentious campaign season, it will not be.

Professor Larry J. Sabato is director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and author of A More Perfect Constitution.

10-19