Author: Thomas Fleming

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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,...

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Rumors

President Obama has informed African American voters that he will take it as a personal affront to his “legacy” if they do not rush out to support Hillary Clinton.  Rumor has it that he has also threatened to declare himself officially “White” and to  produce his authentic Kenyan birth certificate to prove that while he may be African, he is decidedly not American.  Stay tuned for this developing story.

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The Art of Degradation, Part I

It is a good thing that rhetoric is a lost art, because anyone with the most elementary knowledge of rhetoric would be sticking blunt objects into his ears to keep from hearing not just the politicians’ speeches but, even more, the pundit’s comments and questions. I am not referring to the bad grammar and mispronunciation of NPR newsreaders who cannot pronounce words like “tour” but invariably say “tore” or even to the effeminate and uncontrolled sing-song chanting of the announcers.  Delivery is a part of oratory but only a part.  From the rhetor’s perspective of 2500 years or so, political...

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Wednesday’s Child: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Some six months ago, at the end of March, I wrote here about the sensational case of the Ukrainian Joan of Arc, Nadezhda Savchenko – then in captivity in Moscow and undergoing a farce of a trial – who has since been exchanged for some Russian prisoners of the undeclared war and is now in Kiev.  Now, it may be that Savchenko is not the Ukrainian Joan of Arc, and that in reality she’s a war criminal, a madwoman, a villainess, a CIA agent, or even a Russian police provocateur; none of that matters in the least for making sense...

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Rome, Year 16 AMT

I left Rockford with the best intentions.  I was going to write and post a diary of our six weeks (plus a few days) in Italy, even including the boring details of transatlantic travel post -911 or, as I prefer to call it, in the Age of Muslim Terrorism, as in “we left home on January 7, AMT 16. Our brief escape from the Midwestern Winter and presidential politicking seemed doomed from the start.  Jim Easton was kind enough to take us to the Van Galder bus station, where we soon learned that the departure schedule had recently been changed,...