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A blood-boiling story, &c.

Sweet Cakes by Melissa co-owner Melissa Klein (left) with a customer.

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He further said, “I got into this out of a sense of obligation to the things I believed in and love for the country, but not because it was something I desperately wanted so that I could feel better about myself.”

I recommend the entire article. Romney has interesting things to say about his “47 percent” comment and other matters. It sometimes seems that Romney is friendless: Many conservatives gripe that he was a marshmallow who was inept against Obama; the Left, of course, is ever toxic.

But there are many, I know, who admire and appreciate Romney. They tend to be quiet. They cling to their guns and religion — not necessarily in that order — waiting for the day when America will make better choices.

Australia has made a very exciting and commendable choice: electing Tony Abbott and his Liberal party. (Down Under, they use language sanely. So the Liberals are Reaganites, Thatcherites — true liberals — not illiberals.) I remember when I first heard Abbott’s name. I’d known nothing about him. It was when Daniel Hannan, the brilliant member of the European Parliament from Britain, said that Abbott was his favorite politician in the English-speaking world. (Mine is Michael Gove, the British writer and education secretary.) When someone like Hannan says something like that, you sit up and take notice — which I did.

I’m so glad Abbott is PM. A worthy successor to John Howard (though there were a couple of Laborites in between).

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I’d like to give you a couple of notes on New York City politics. I saw a sign that advertised a candidate as a “Progressive Democrat.” It’s not good enough to be called a Democrat these days — you might be an Ed Koch type, marred by sanity. You have to be a “Progressive Democrat.” You have to make it clear to one and all, “I’m a left-wing nut!”

This was really sad, and frustrating: I saw the back of a guy’s T-shirt. He was campaigning for a City Council candidate named Helen Rosenthal. On the back of the T-shirt was a blank white strip, and then the words “for Helen.” He had filled in “Indians” — “Indians for Helen.” (Indians as in South Asians, not as in Iroquois.)

It’s not enough, apparently, to say that you’re for one candidate or another. You as an individual. No, you have to speak for an entire group — including racial and ethnic groups, evidently.

Ethnic blocs have always been a factor in American politics. I’m not naive or utopian. But wouldn’t it be a better, happier, and calmer country if we could cool some of the bloc-headedness?

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t spend time on an old Nazi like the Hitler bodyguard who just died at 96. But something in an article jumped out at me: The guy said, “I signed up in the war against Bolshevism, not for Adolf Hitler.”

I remembered something from my researches into the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1926, the German foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann, shared the prize, for the Locarno Treaties (which were supposed to prevent a second world war, and which, of course, would fail). He gave his Nobel lecture in June 1927. And he spoke of “the great tide of Bolshevism” that broke over Germany a few years before, “appearing on the left as Communism and on the right as National Socialism.”

Exactly so. Exactly so. Nice going, Stresemann. (Those interested in my history of the Nobel Peace Prize may find it here.)

Let’s end with a man to remember — Maurice Tiefenbrunner, who died about a month before the Hitler bodyguard. They were two very, very different men. This obit is a stirring thing, about a stirring, tumultuous, almost unbelievable life.

The obit begins, “Tiefenbrunner was born in Germany, but in 1939 he fled to Palestine to escape Nazi persecution. In March 1942 he was recruited by the Special Interrogation Group (SIG), the name given to a small force of German-speaking troops assembled to carry out raids in North Africa while disguised in enemy uniforms.” As I said, that is only the beginning.

Maurice Tiefenbrunner died in Israel, where he spent the last 30 years of his life. “He considered the large family surrounding him his personal revenge against Hitler.”



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