Malcolm Fraser – Vale

March 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics |

Life wasn't meant to be easy

(21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) Fraser is a rather opaque figure.  Not warm, not particularly consistent, diffident in personal and political relationships, and for all his aloofness and well-heeled background as the squire of Nareen, he was rather a mushy ‘wet’.  He actually stood up for the downtrodden and appeared to mean it, both as Prime Minister (1975-1983) and afterwards, often when it was unfashionable, such as with African poverty and apartheid, Vietnamese boat people, and aboriginal land rights.  He formally broke with the Liberal Party around 2009 but had been a thorn in its side for years…

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The Candidate

February 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, Drama Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Michael Ritchie) (1972) Before he signed on as that perennial emblem, Bastard Dad, in the shrill and leaden “comedy series”, Everybody Loves Raymond, Peter Boyle did some interesting stuff: Joe, Taxi Driver, and in particular, his role here as a political Svengali to neophyte golden-boy Robert Redford in his against-the-odds shot at the California Senate race. Fascinating depiction of a modern campaign’s trajectory, with strong performances by supporting players Boyle, Allan Garfield as a bumptious PR guy, Melvyn Douglas as the candidate’s former Governor Father, and Don Porter as the formidable Republican opponent seeking yet another term.  Highly watchable,…

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Winston Spencer Churchill

February 3, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, POLITICS, Ulalume, WW2 |

Peerless self-confidence

(30 Nov. 1874 to 25 Jan. 1965) The 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death prompts us to recall a person the like of which we no longer see.  Whilst he was a giant even from early age, Churchill was wildly inconsistent in his politics and his professional allegiances.  He failed more often than he succeeded and a case can be made that he was a far better writer (and painter) than politician or military strategist.  Yet he completely embodies the heroic myth of ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’.  Hard as it is to believe today, for a great deal of…

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The Wannsee Conference & the Final Solution

The Wannsee Conference & the Final Solution

(by Mark Roseman) 20 January 1942 – 15 government men, “fifteen serious, intelligent men” met at a villa on Lake Wannsee “to give their assent to genocide.” Roseman’s concise account is a superb reconstruction, amply supported by evidence.  Yet as he says, the Conference per se “was not the moment of decision.” We do not know just when Hitler set his hideous policy but Wannsee was clearly a watershed in the clearing of bureaucratic hurdles and articulation of logistics. Of course, Hitler had had the so-called ‘Jewish question’ in mind for a long time.  Mein Kampf drips with extermination babble –…

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Bertie

His Mutti Loved Him

(Jane Ridley) If, like my mother-in-law, you don’t enjoy books about the  generation of British and European royals who were Queen Victoria’s children because Queen Victoria was so “beastly” to them, stay away from this biography of Prince Albert Edward/King Edward VII.  Victoria is a mother who – knowing that her letters could well be preserved  for posterity and made public – wrote to her daughter Vicky, Bertie’s sister, “The nose…is becoming the true Coburg nose, and begins to hang a little, but there remains unfortunately the want of chin which with that very large nose and very large lips is no…

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