Author: Thomas Fleming

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The Genius of Burke–and His Limitations ON THE HOUSE

This is a slightly modified version of a piece originally published in The Spectator under the  title “Tories Back Wrong Philosopher.”  It is being made available “On the House” for five days. TWO hundred years ago, the career of Edmund Burke was drawing to a close under a cloud of accusations. The Duke of Bedford and his friends had denounced the one-time budget-cutting reformer and enemy of the royal prerogative for accepting a pension from the Crown. In his ‘Letter to a Noble Lord’, published in February 1796, Burke rebutted the charges of inconsistency and hypocrisy. It was Burke’s last stand,...

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San Bernardino: The American Nightmare

As Americans went to bed on December 2, they knew little of what happened in San Bernardino, where mysterious “white” assailants murdered 14 people  at a “social services center.”   Like most people, probably, we were otherwise occupied. We were watching an old episode of Comissario Montalbano.  Even this morning on NPR, which featured an interview with two “experts” on mass shootings, I  only accidentally learned that one of the shooters had a Pakistani Muslim name. Checking out the stories in the Washington Post, LA Times, and New York Times, I was able to glean only a few facts:  a...

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Greece IV: On the Gulf

Greece IV We had brief interchange, four hours into the trip.  We stopped for lunch at Menidi on the Ambracian Gulf.   We were not expecting much from Menidi.  The morning had been spent on the endless drive along the superhighway, every mile under repair, from Athens to Corinth and then along the northern coast of the Peloponnesus.  It is true that the road got worse and the landscape better, after  we crossed the bridge across the Gulf of Corinth at Rhio. I thought about stopping at Missolonghi,   where Byron had died in 1824, raising money for Greek independence...

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Cicero:The Writer

Cicero Cicero was one of the most important men of the Roman world.  Although he ultimately failed as a statesman, as virtually every statesman does, but he only increased in stature as the years went on. Cicero’s style has been rightly held up as the standard for Latin prose, and his writings on rhetoric and philosophy—as well as his speeches and letters—became the basis of Roman education.  Cicero was the model for Christian orators like St. Jerome and Augustine, and his works were taught and read throughout the Middle Ages.  The Renaissance, to a considerable extent, began with the Italian...

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Cicero IV: An End and a Beginning

END OF CICERO Cicero played an ambiguous role in the final years of the republic.  He loyally supported Pompey in the vain hope that he would uphold the old order, but he also allowed himself to be courted by Caesar.   He was out of Rome, as governor of Cilicia, in the period leading up to the civil war, but he bravely refused an attractive invitation to join Caesar, but gradually faded out of the picture.  When the plot against Caesar was formed in 44, Cicero was not even invited to join: The conspirators did not trust him. He did...

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Greek Interview with Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming was recently interviewed (10 November) by Nikolaos Hidiroglou for the Greek newspaper Ελεύθερη Ώρα (Eleftheri Ora).  Is Donald Trump the man for the job in the White House for the Republicans? The “Grand Old Party” has been fielding impossible presidential candidates that have made Republicans a political joke:  Bob Dole, John McCain,  Mitt Romney.  Perhaps the worst was George W. Bush, who won two elections, squandered money and lives on a pointless and fruitless war in Iraq, and bankrupted his country.  How could Trump do any worse?   Trump’s great strength is his candor:  He openly talks of...

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Meditations of a Dog: Getting Ready for Greece

We used to have a dog named Robert or, to be more precise Robert the Bruce.  Robert was a Scottish Terrier of a particularly independent mind.  Though he obeyed me, loved my life, and loyally guarded the family, it would be misleading to say we owned him.  The reverse was closer to the truth.  If previous Scotties in the family had been “jaunty,” as almost all of them are, Robert went them one better in being cocky or, rather, arrogant. Although each of us was of two minds about Robert, we all agreed at his funeral, as we drank the ...

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Huis Clos (No Exit) from Terrorism

If you listen to the official press or even look at comments on news websites, Islamic terrorism is some sort of natural disaster caused by sun spots, global warming, or the political equivalent of fracking.  One comment on the Washington Post summed up the popular despair.  The commenter wanted to know why our government could not stop these attacks, but added he had no idea of how it could be done. On leftist news sites,  a favorite talking point is to blame religion in general.  Yes, those vicious Buddhists, Confucianists, and Neo-Platonists, for centuries they have been waging war on...

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Cicero III: Great Caesar’s Ghost

Caesar’s family, though they traced their ancestry back to Aeneas and to Venus, had not amounted to much in generations until his aunt Julia married Marius.   Julius was on Sulla’s list to be executed, but he was begged off by friends.  Sulla is said to have warned, “There are many Mariuses in this one man.”   Already identified with the popular party, Julius married the daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna, one of Sulla’s radical enemies, and he refused to put away Cornelia at Sulla’s request, though Pompey complied with similar order.  Already he was showing his independence. Julius went...

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More Second Thoughts, Round Three

At first glance, President Obama’s selection of this years’s winners of “The Presidential Medal of Freedom” seems bizarre.  Lee Hamilton, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Mikulski, music entrepreneur Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan, Indian activist Billy Frank, Stephen Sondheim and Stephen Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, James Taylor,  and Jap rights activist Minoru Yasui.  Gee, what is warhawk Lee Hamilton doing with these freaks?  The only other straight white  male with a name ending in a consonant, James Taylor, is a drug-using  mental patient. On second thought, perhaps it is perfect.   This is the face of the new America–‘athaletes,’ entertainers,...