The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Wednesday’s Child: A Latin Sandwich

In some perverse way I’m hoping that our editor will put up today’s post without reading it, because few things are more irritating to a savant than a layman on the prowl in his field of expertise.  Instinctively he reaches for the shotgun loaded with rock salt to teach the trespasser a lesson. I’ve only ever had a year of Latin in adolescence, but living as I do in a country whose language, in Byron’s phrase, is “that soft bastard Latin, / Which melts like kisses from a female mouth / And sounds as if it should be writ on...

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Will Mitt Be McCain?

The media are speculating that Mitt Romney will become the “next” John McCain, a thorn in President Trump’s side, assuming the former Massachusetts governor is elected to the U.S. Senate from Utah this November. It may seem so. Although Trump contributed to Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, and just endorsed his Senate bid, Romney blasted Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, and has done so recently as well. “With McCain’s retreat, some turn to Romney to carry his torch,” intoned the Washington Post on February 15. “Romney took to Twitter, for instance, to lash out at Trump last month after The...

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Dems Form Circle Firing Squad after Florida Shooting

  “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” –Will Rogers Despite what the humorist said, since FDR’s election in 1932 Democrats have been able to cobble together enough factional groups to form winning coalitions fairly often, beginning with their 20-year run, 1932-52, when they grabbed the presidency and both houses of Congress. They have been aided by the squabbles in the Republican Party and its presidents’ penchant for betraying their own base, something Democratic presidents do less often to their base. In the industrial era, the Democrats’ main power base has been the...

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Blackboard Jungles

I hate to sound like a bonehead movement conservative, but….I find it hard to believe anything I see in the news, which in my case consists mostly of the headlines of The Daily Mail.  I don’t mean I think the writers and editors are lying.  I just find it hard to believe that anyone could make the stupid comments that inspire the headlines, that a writer would find them worth repeating, that an editor who did not work for his middle school newsletter would print them, and, finally, that anyone would take the trouble to click on the headline and...

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Orestes, Part II

Orestes puts his case to Menelaus.  His uncle owes Agamemnon for all he did in launching an expedition to regain Menelaus’ wife.  After all, Orestes is not asking Menelaus to kill his own daughter to fulfill his duty—a look back at Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia and forward to Orestes’ plot to kidnap Hermione. In what should be a clinching argument for a normal Greek, Orestes points out that if he and Electra die, so does the line of Agamemnon.  Menelaus (682 ff) agrees—up to a point—that kinsmen should endure each others’ misfortunes/evils, but only if the god gives...

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Disagreements: From Under the Rubble, Episode 20

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Dr. Fleming and Rex Scott have their Disagreements From Under the Rubble. Original Air Date: February 15, 2018 Show Run Time: 33 minutes Show Guest(s): Dr. Thomas Fleming Show Host(s): Rex Scott From Under the Rubble episodes are available to Gold subscribers and higher.   From Under the Rubble℗ is a Production of the Fleming Foundation. Copyright 2018. All Rights are Reserved.

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Wednesday’s Child: Fishingate

I used to mistrust Boris Nemtsov, suspecting him of being a sanctioned opposition figurehead, until he was publicly executed on Putin’s orders. It’s quite amazing what martyrdom does for a man’s reputation.  After the Nemtsov assassination I switched my mistrust to Alexei Navalny, who, gallingly, persisted in living as though to show that he cared nothing for my opinion of him.  Yet a recent investigation published by Navalny’s foundation (FBK, or “Fight Against Corruption”) is so delightfully boisterous – so adventurous in delving into subjects no ordinary politician would touch with a bargepole – it has persuaded me that I...

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Euripides’ Orestes

The Orestes, performed in 408, is one of Euripides’ last surviving plays–the poet died only two years later.  It was very popular in the Hellenistic and Byzantine eras, much cited and taught in schools.   It is a vivid melodrama (in the modern not the ancient sense), but it is also a profound and difficult meditation on the meaning of friendship. One caveat before I make a few remarks on the play.  Though Euripides was, in the following centuries, the most popular writer of tragedies, I have always rated him distinctly third compared with his predecessors, Aeschylus and Sophocles.  I...

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Even the Financial Press Attacks Trump

You might think the financial press would be a little bit more modest than the regular press. They write about money, and if they just do straight reporting, that’s one thing. But if they have opinions, the old question arises: If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich? Yet financial writers after the February 5 market crash immediately trashed Trump. Here are two from the popular Yahoo News. The first: “The Dow has given up all its gains since the day the Trump tax cuts became law,” by Isabella Steger, that evening. The second: “The Trump tax cuts are looking...

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Wednesday’s Child: American Nightmare

A Russian painter friend of mine, who had followed our family into exile in the United States yet never went back on his contention that English articles are a petit bourgeois nuisance, used to joke that the American Dream is “finding Rembrandt in garbage can.”  Although the major actors in the nightmare I record here are about as American as Confucius, and the dream object in question a Da Vinci rather than a Rembrandt, in the past few days my friend’s quip ran through my mind more than once. Let me begin from afar.  It is a rule of life...