The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary


Direct Election: A Grave Threat to Republics

John Seiler has posted a sensible column on why the electoral college is not going to disappear in a puff of smoke.  He points out that one of the great compromises that made the Constitution possible is an electoral system that protects the interests of smaller states without eliminating all the advantage enjoyed by larger states.  There is, however, another aspect of the electoral college that is worth looking at:  the principle of indirect election.


Dems vs. the Electoral College

The best thing the new Democratic House can do is waste its time on things that aren’t going to happen. Such as pushing a Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Electoral College. Yes, they’re still miffed Hillary won the popular vote, but lost in the Electoral College. Even though, if the popular vote were decisive, Trump would have run a far different campaign concentrating on the large population centers and forgetting low-population states. Which is one reason why the EC never will be abolished. It takes a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress, then a three-fourths vote of the state...


The Future Belongs to Them

The freshman Democrats in Congress are behaving like the stars of a down-market reality TV show.  Alexandria—like Cher and Madonna, she really doesn’t need a last name—has been dancing up a storm, though many of her supporters have been disappointed by her lumbering performance.  


Wednesday’s Child: Ritual Sounds

Well, gentle reader, the ball has dropped, “Auld Lang Syne” has been sung, corks have hit the ceiling and wishes have been made. “The year is no longer new,” as Pasternak said in a poem of nearly a century ago. “Another, newer, has been promised.” Nursing my morning head will take awhile, possibly all the way through Orthodox Christmas next week and until the Old Russian New Year on January 13.  As Robert Burns’ venerable text suggests, this is the time to reminisce rather than act, and memories, obedient to the call of the bagpipe, are now marching before my...


Sicilian Trog, Part II

This is the long-awaited Part II of my Agrigento Trog There is hardly a better place in Europe—not even Athens—were the differences between the ancient and the modern world can be felt so acutely.  20th century Agrigento is, at its best, a tribute to the greed and and contempt for humanity that have characterized modern governments that are the distilled essence of democratic man.  The local government is hopelessly inept at carrying out the most basic tasks—picking up trash, policing traffic, cracking down on organized crime.  And yet, good democratic socialists that they are, they have imposed new rules on...


The Yellow Vests Run Out of Gas

When asked to share my thoughts on the recent yellow vests protests, I initially demurred, stating that is was simply another case of the French being the French (about benefits) (about airbnb and/or uber) (about strikes in general).  The French also lack the resolve and ability to fix problems, as seen by the “we are not afraid” and “Je suis Charlie” sentiments now long since forgotten (thankfully).  But as I thought more on the matter, I realized that the Yellow Vests are simply a remake of an American film we’ve already seen (and forgotten): Occupy Wall Street. What Happened to Occupy? In September 2011, a...


How To Learn—and Not to Learn—a Foreign Language, Part III:  Grammar

“I’ve grammar and spelling for two And blood and behavior for twenty. In studying any new language, the two most basic elements are the proper pronunciation, meaning—and of course spelling—of words, in other words ‘vocabulary,’ and grammar.  In simple English, while the study of vocabulary focuses attention on individual words, grammar consists of the rules that determine the form (morphology) and function or structure (syntax) of words. The arbiters of Postmodern English have tried their best to eliminate prescriptive grammar—that is, the normative rules of language usage—from our speech, but few other European languages have been so thoroughly revolutionized.  The...


Good Night, Generals

Just after President Trump took office, on Fleming Foundation I recommended he not hire generals for his top national security positions. Trump did the opposite. But almost two years later, he finally has civilians in what should be civilian posts. Gen. Flynn didn’t last long as national security adviser and remains embroiled in the witch hunt against Trump, victim of yet another “Justice” Department and FBI perjury trap. Gen. Kelly recently resigned as chief of staff. And Gen. Mattis just resigned in protest as secretary of defense over Trump withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. When Mattis said he wouldn’t leave...

Born Out of Due Time, by Ched P. Rayson, Chapter 15

Early on the following morning, after getting cleaned up and tending his wounds, Anterus Smith ate a meager breakfast out on his decrepit porch, whose flaking paint and rotting wood he seemed to notice for the first time.  He was getting to the end of his rope, and even a condemned man, he reflected, gets a hearty meal.