Obama, aka, Felix the Cat Leftish historians go out of their way to be nice about Niall Ferguson, the snotty-nosed prickish historian best known to Australians as presenter of the Ascent of Money on the ABC. Almost insanely ambitious, a professor in both the History and Business schools of Harvard, Ferguson speciality this past decade had been an attempt to rehabilitate British imperialism as a positive mission, and to give Americans (in the Bush era) the backbone to take up the white man’s burden.

But the Kissinger-path to Secretary of State he so desperately sought was frustrated by the collapse not only of the Republican Party, but also the failure of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. What’s a History Man to do? Make cute jokes about the President, it seems. Writing in the FT, Ferguson notes that Obama is like Felix the Cat — “he’s black and he’s lucky”. Gosh ha ha, snort snort. No it’s not racist, but it’s the sleazy sort of condescension that allows one to claim innocence when challenged — “these state school types have no sense of humour”.

What could have prompted Ferguson to such a tactless move? Could it that this child of white settlers in Kenya — nostalgia for which is a large part of his imperialist enthusiasm — now finds his ambitions stymied by a man who, had history been otherwise, might have been his servant? No wonder he’s catty.— Kim Serca

The Oz: reporting news or creating it? Just as well The Australian has the name of the continent in its masthead because its Middle Eastern reporting appears to be from another planet. The election of former Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti to the Fatah Executive committee has been greeted with the headline “Criminal elected to Palestine executive”. The article itself states: “Efforts to restart peace talks in the Middle East were set back yesterday when Palestinians elected to their leadership Marwan Barghouti, a man serving a life term in jail for organising the killing of Israelis.” Which would be news to Hebrew readers: With the exception of the pro-settlers Arutz 7, the media reported Barghouti’s election in a matter-of-fact tone. In fact the majority included alongside the report the Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman (Labour) has called on the Israeli government to seriously consider releasing him from prison, partly because of his very election.

The calm tone of the Hebrew media extends right through the political spectrum. The giveaway Israel Hayom [Israel Today] is the newspaper started by Sheldon Adelson, a Republican hardliner from the US who is bankrolling the paper with the expressed aim of supporting Netanyahu. The paper is referred to in Israel as the Bibiton — a combination of Netanyahu’s nickname (Bibi) and the Hebrew word for newspaper (iton). It does not mention a setback either, listing quite a few Knesset members who approve Braverman’s suggestion – Crikey reader Sol Salbe

Self promotion in a nutshell The usual routine of book launches is for a friend/mate/debtor of the author to stump up and say nice words, often without checking the title or contents, often to be painfully surprised that an old school mate has written an expose of the Freemason-UFO conspiracy. So one wonders what was going through the mind of professional Kevin Rudd lookalike Glyn Davis (Rudd chooses his staff as a way of assembling body doubles in case of future assassination attempts) launched Paul Monk’s work on the virtues of the West last night. Published by Barrailler Books, a sort of military semi-vanity press — titles including “Sonnets To a Promiscuous Beauty” a reflection on the Western canon by, erm, Paul Monk, and the Zapf Chancery cover font are a dead give-away — Monk’s tome boldly argues (in an extract in the Oz) that ‘freedom, political and intellectual, was invented by the Ancient Greeks‘. The word s-s-s-lavery is unmentioned. The book’s title? “Freedom In A Nutshell”. In Zapf Chancery. — Guy Rundle

Tasty tab for Masterchef stars: Nice to know that the worst of the GFC appears to be over, if this email circulated by Deutche Bank featuring an expensive Masterchef night for clients is anything to go by:

DB Signature Event: MasterChef

Expression of Interest

We have developed a DB Signature event based around the recent MasterChef programme. Please see details below:

Date: Yet to be determined — Wed or Thurs evening

Venue: Royal Motor Yacht Club, Point Piper, Sydney

Format: 6.00 — 6.30 Welcome drinks and canapes

6.30 — 7.00 Welcome and cooking demo [Chef options include Luke Mangan or George Calombaris]

7.00 — 8.15 Team cooking exercise

8.15 — 8.40 Tasting / Critique by Matt Preston — Mumbrella

Google gets caffeinated In the face of increasing competition, search engine giant unveils ‘secret project’ that it says will make online queries faster and more successful. Google has unveiled a new version of its search engine which it says will be faster and more accurate than ever before. — The Guardian

Peter Fray

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