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At Large

Winning the PM’s History Prize and Upsetting the Lefty Luvvies

By 12.19.14

My wife and I were flown to Melbourne for me to receive half of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s $80,000 Prize for History for my book Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II.

The hotel we were put up at, on the south bank of the Yarra River, was a good deal more luxurious than I am accustomed to, with uniformed doormen and all. The “gala meal” at the oxymoronically named Victorian National Arts Centre, was excellent.

My publisher, Keith Windschuttle, editor of the conservative cultural magazine Quadrant, Roger Franklin, editor of Quadrant Online, and former editor Peter Coleman and his daughter shared our table.

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Another Perspective

Diplomatic Relations in Our Time

By 12.19.14

We shall, no doubt, be hearing details about the economics of the Cuba embargo in the weeks or months to come, as Congress takes up the matter. To lift or not to lift, that is the crux of the thing.

My position is that you should not jump to conclusions on a policy issue until you know the facts. However, I have it on good authority, which does not mean it is so, since economic policy never is so, that the embargo always had more to do with politics than economics.

The embargo’s impact on Cuba was not exactly minor. After all, if there is a Cuban market for American investment and an American market for Cuban trade, there ought logically be benefits on both sides, including improved Cuban sugar production by moving beyond slave labor in the cane fields.

But the embargo is not the bullying Castro apologists make it out to be, either, because Cuba-Europe trade, Cuba-South America trade, indeed practically all Cuba trade in both directions with the exception of the U.S., has been normal for decades.

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The Obama Watch

Cuba Quizás, Yankee Quizás

By 12.19.14

The world has come a long way since the chant during the Cold War, “Cuba Sí, Yankee No.” Now it could be better written and translated into English as “Cuba Maybe, Yankee Maybe.” But President Obama has picked yet another fight.

Sidestepping Congress as with immigration policy and modifications to Obamacare, the president has used the element of surprise to begin restoration of relations with Cuba, a nation treated as a pariah for over fifty years. As that country has been designated as a supporter of terrorism by the Department of State, it would have been wiser to allow Congress to vet the wisdom of restoring relations with Cuba — an ally of Russia and previously the Soviet Union for decades.

Still reeling from a humiliating defeat of his party in the polls and the capture of the Senate by Republicans, the president is trying to reassert himself and construct an agenda that he thinks he can control. He has certainly caught the opposition off balance.  Like immigration, the White House may try to position this as an effort to economically benefit the Latino population, although Cuban-Americans are comparatively affluent with an emphasis on the professions.

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Enemy of the Day

Farewell to Enemy of the Week

By 12.18.14

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve met on the enemy front. Enemy of the Week petered out a while ago, owing to how all roads kept leading back to that self-styled valet at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And all along we knew better than to pick on that tall well-exercised woman who has shopped at Target only to take offense at being asked to do some extra lifting by an unenlightened fellow shopper. But that’s all in the past, and it’s time to move on from what our man in that White House would term an “outdated approach.”

So we ask: Isn’t it time that we too “begin a new chapter” and move to “advance our interests” by lifting our embargo on our weekly laureates? Indeed, it is past time. So here goes. A week is an eternity in the pursuit of justice. From now on, all matters of enmity will be handled on a daily basis. Get ready for Enemy of the Day. We launch today, in recognition of yesterday’s very busy news cycle.

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Political Hay

Should Jeb Bush Switch Parties?

By 12.18.14

Listening to all the stories about Jeb Bush and his angst over the conservative base of the Republican Party, the question occurred: Why doesn’t Jeb ease his conscience and his donors' wallets and just switch parties? Go now, become a Democrat — and then form an alliance with the wife of the man the Bushes affectionately call their “brother from another mother.” That being the woman George W. Bush has dubbed as being “like my sister-in-law” — Hillary Clinton.

After all, the Bush/Clinton alliance has already been on display, as I unknowingly noted in this column when Governor Bush presented former-Secretary Clinton with the Constitution Center’s “Liberty Medal” last year. As Breitbart reported at the time:

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Ben Stein's Diary

Terror on Campus

By 12.18.14

This nation’s campuses are truly losing their minds. The whole world is losing its mind. Maybe it always was mad. I guess humans are just plain mad. For people like me, 70 years old, living in a quiet neighborhood with an old wife and an old dog, life is still darned good. When I walk along the brick sidewalks of Oxford, Maryland, hearing the church bells playing Christmas classics, when I have supper at the Robert Morris Inn, my favorite restaurant in the world, most of all when I am at home with my Julie, my wife, the best woman on the planet, when I feel the peace that comes of knowing that God is in my life, I feel ecstatic. My wife is not mad and I do not feel mad when I am with my wife.

But the warning signs are all over and the hairs on the back of my neck are starting to stand up.

At Wellesley College, home to one of the most beautiful campuses in America, last word in New England prestige, alma mater of Hillary Clinton and my sister, Jewish students are routinely shouted down and threatened when they try to speak up for Israel. Their meeting places are under warning at danger. The administration says it’s concerned but does nothing.

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Car Guy

Welcome to GMC Canyon Country

By 12.17.14

Stay smallish — or go bigger?

That was the question GM product planners had to ponder when considering which way to go with the Chevy Colorado and its GMC-badged cousin, the Canyon (subject of this review).

The previous Canyon/Colorado were still nominally almost-compact trucks… smaller than the Dodge Dakota (RIP), but not quite as small as a Ford Ranger (also RIP).

The all-new Canyon/Colorado edges closer to Dakota-sized. That is, it is mid-sized now… officially.

There are no compact trucks on the market anymore.

I wonder whether GM made the right move, upsizing the Canyon/Colorado — me-tooing the also-now-mid-sized Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma pick-ups… rather than go smaller — back to compact — and enjoy the fruits of being the only game in town?

On the other hand, the Canyon and Colorado are not merely larger. They are clearly superior. That’s not the press kit talking. That’s the facts talking. I’m just conveying them to you.

Have a look yourself and see what I mean.

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The Current Crisis

Humbug Narratives

By 12.17.14

Will Rogers, the late American humorist and corn-pone philosopher, once said, “All I know is what I read in the papers.” That statement earned him a place in Bartletts’s Familiar Quotations. Were he alive today it would most likely be inviting widespread derision. Today’s newspapers abound with bogus stories. Most of us only know of the stories that are soon exposed. Doubtless there are many more. For instance, news stories of GDP growth or inflation rates usually have to be revised but they are taken at face value when they first appear.

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A Further Perspective

A Thankless Task

By 12.17.14

No doubt a fear of accusations of “Islamophobia” explains the astonishing fact that the Sydney jihadist was not on any terror watch list, an omission that baffled the country’s prime minister. An open jihadist from Iran, Man Haron Monis had committed a series of offenses before this week. “How can someone who has had such a long and checkered history not be on the appropriate watch lists and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community,” said Tony Abbott. “These are questions that we need to look at carefully and calmly and methodically.”

Australia’s security knew he was a threat but gave him a wide berth anyways, which is what one would expect in a political climate that punishes public figures for viewing the problem of radical Islam too clearly.

Abbott has been criticized for not taking “attacks on Muslims” in Australia seriously enough. Almir Colan of the Islamic Council of Victoria told the press in recent months that Abbott, despite his assurances to Muslim Australians that they belonged to “Team Australia,” needed to show greater sensitivity to them.

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Main Street U.S.A.

Who’s the ‘Extremist’ Around Here Anyway?

By 12.16.14

Among the journalistic takeaways from the late Congress’s death frenzies is the equivocal plight of the two parties — the grown-up deal makers in both cases squeezed by hardcore, do-it-our-way extremists. On the Republican side John Boehner beset by Ted Cruz, in the Democratic camp the pragmatic Hillary Clinton wing forced to contend with the true-believing fans of Elizabeth Warren.

It is the strategy some of our friends in the liberal media may have seized on to take away the bitter taste of defeat at the polls. In this telling, the left-left MoveOn.org/Daily Kos faction, anti-military and pro-big government, has its right-wing counterpart in the “populist” social conservative/Tea Party coterie. The members of both movements groove on purity. “No compromise!” is their watchword, “never” their adverb of choice. Their feet are planted in intellectual concrete.

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