The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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President Bernie?

Here’s something weird about Bernie Sanders’ campaign: If he pulled our troops home from abroad and canceled dumb military projects like the F-35 – called the $1.4 Trillion National Disaster – he would have plenty of money for his other projects: covering all those without medical insurance, free college for everybody and jobs training for anyone. There would be no need for imposing new taxes on “the wealthy.”

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Wednesday’s Child:Remembering Laurence Olivier

The subject of Shakespeare films was mooted  in the comments to last week’s post, with one reader skeptical, and as it so happens that the subject is a vital part of my autobiography, I thought I’d put in my ha’penny’s worth.  The fact is, Olivier’s Hamlet was how, at the age of eight, I began to learn English, thanks to some friends who had sent us a recording of excerpts from the 1948 film.  My father had not given me the text of the play.  The point was to piece it together by listening to the record – I listened...

5

Photios, the Franks, and the Filioque, Part I

The Balkans: by fate the cross-roads between Greek East and Latin West.  In the fourth century, the line dividing the Western from the Eastern Roman Empire had been drawn through the northern and westerly reaches of these lands denominated by the Romans as “Illyricum.” As far as sacred jurisdiction was concerned, Illyricum was, by the eighth century, disputed territory. Against the ancient claims of Rome and because of her obnoxious refusal to fall in line with the imperial proscription of images, Emperor Leo III (717-741), “the Saracen-minded,” had removed even western Illyricum from Rome’s theoretical jurisdiction and placed it directly...

12

Nationalism–the Wrong Right Turn

According to nationalists, the will of the nation, as defined as an historic community of blood and tongue, had to find expression in a common and unified state.  Hence, the Italian nationalist Mazzini, whose political lineage goes back to the Revolution, spoke always of the twin principles of unity and nationality.

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Ending Electoral College Would Dissolve Democratic Party

But here’s something else: If the Electoral College ever were replaced with a “direct democracy” – assuming it ever could work in such a massive, polyglot, multiethnic polity as this one – that would dissolve the Democratic Party itself. Dems remain steamed Hillary won the popular vote in 2016, but lost the EC to The Orange Monster; Al Gore achieved the same in 2000 in his infamous “hanging chad” loss to George W. Bush.

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Wednesday’s Child:Une Petite Jacquerie

There is a pop singer in Russia, a young woman who goes by the name of Alsu…  But no, I beg the gentle reader’s pardon, regret the intrusion, and retract the introduction.  Why should his brain be burdened with yet another useless fact?  Alsu, indeed!  When I was a young man, still living in America, I read somewhere of an alleged poet who called himself Imamu Amiri Baraka.  Forty years on, I still can’t get that ridiculous moniker out of my head and would gladly offer $100 to any hypnotist who promised to cleanse my consciousness of it.  Ideally, of...

2

Poem: John Dryden’s Prologue to Cesare Borgia

In this prologue, Dryden takes up the conventional topics of the audience’s lack of appreciation and gratitude.  His clever and self-serving abuse is even more applicable today, to readers who spend hours every day reading what they imagine to be news,.while ignoring the fiction, poetry, and essays that might do them a little good–if only by raising their standards.