Honorifics and Beyond

One of the perks of having a blog is the occasional opportunity to vent on matters of personal pique.  You have your own pet peeves; you don’t need mine; feel free to pass this post by.

On May 16, Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Emma Tucker advised the Journal’s readers:

“The Wall Street Journal is eliminating the routine use of honorifics, or courtesy titles, in its news pages ….

[T]he Journal has been one of the few news organizations to continue to use the titles, under our long-held belief that Mr., Ms. and so forth help us to maintain a polite tone. However, the trend among almost all news organizations and magazines has been to go without, as editors have concluded that the titles in news articles are becoming a vestige of a more-formal past, and that the flood of Mr., Ms., Mx. or Mrs. in sentences can slow down readers’ enjoyment of our writing.

For years, we weighed the tradition of using those titles against the need to be attuned to a more modern audience. In the end, we decided that dropping those titles is more in line with the way people communicate. It puts everyone on a more-equal footing and will help make our writing livelier and more approachable.”

As Ms. Tucker indicated, the Journal ceased using honorifics in its news pages on May 18.  Since that time, when one of its news articles alludes to the President of the United States, the initial reference identifies him as “President Joe Biden,” but thereafter, Mr. Biden is merely called, “Biden.”

What Ms. Tucker and her team apparently view as an impediment to reader enjoyment, I consider an enhancement.  What they view as facilitating reader acceptance, I consider a disappointing acquiescence.  What they view as “more-equal,” “livelier,” and “approachable,” I consider a resort to a lower common denominator.  While they consider honorifics to have maintained a “polite tone,” I consider them to maintain a respectful tone – not the same.  While acknowledging that big time journalism must be financially viable if it is to survive, I would suggest that given the demographics of its readership, the Journal is merely bowing to a cruder culture.

While Ms. Tucker was careful to note that the Journal’s discontinuance of honorifics was limited to its news pages (the paper continues to use honorifics in its opinion pages, presumably seeking to maintain an elevated tone where the expression is more likely to incite passions), I would nonetheless maintain that decisions such as that which the Journal has made diminish the level of our discourse.

The manner in which we express ourselves is important.  Decorum counts.  The way one communicates has the power to elevate or diminish the substance of one’s message.  Language matters.  T.S. Eliot defined the man of letters as “the writer for whom his writing is primarily an art, who is as much concerned with style as with content; the understanding of whose writings, therefore, depends as much upon appreciation of style as upon comprehension of content.”  In the public arena, one thrills to the linguistic artistry of an Abraham Lincoln or a Winston Churchill.  I deplore our increasing use of shortcuts and slang.  While I obviously use emojis in these pages as a mechanism to ensure that all reading understand that I realize that what I spout is Noise – and those that know me are well aware that my casual conversation contains expression that would in olden days have had one’s mother reaching for a bar of soap — I most ardently believe that serious issues should be addressed in terms appropriate to their import.

I agree with Ms. Tucker that use of honorifics hearkens back to “a more-formal past.”  I would submit that we are the less for the abandonment of these and other such “vestiges.”  Obviously, language evolves; but there is a difference between purpose and sloppiness.  I am sympathetic to usages that have particular significance – for example, the use of the pronoun, “they,” to describe a transgender person; but I take issue with the use of the plural, “they,” as shorthand to allude to a single person that could be a man or woman (rather than referring to the person as, “s/he” or “him/her”). 

Although I am acutely aware – and sympathize with those readers who have ruefully recognized – that many of the notes in these pages would be significantly shorter if I did away with honorifics and other seeming anachronisms, I hopefully will never resort to that; I believe that the tone one uses when addressing vital issues demands better.  I believe that the only intentional omission of an honorific that occurs in these pages is for Adolf Hitler.  (I have in at least one instance referred to the Nazi leader as “Herr” Hitler; I’d seen in Mr. Churchill’s speeches that he had done so on a few occasions, and decided that if he had not felt the honorific entirely inappropriate, I could employ it at least in the context of a particular post.)  I am close to omitting any honorific for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Despite my deepest antipathy for former President Donald Trump’s illiberal inclinations and actions, his honorific is safe on this site given his standing as a former president and fellow American – unless he is someday convicted of seditious conspiracy.

As I said:  a venting of personal pique.  Am I a stodgy relic?  Of course.  But you already knew that. 😉

On Memorial Day

This weekend, our city of Madison, WI, hosts its annual Brat Fest, which its organizers tout as the World’s Largest Brat Fest, includes live music, and features such activities as Take Your Brat to Work Day.

When I first started coming to Wisconsin over 50 years ago – having been raised in the Chicago area by transplanted New Yorkers — I was puzzled by signs across the Dairy State that seemed to indicate that Wisconsinites, apparently unbeknownst to the rest of the country, were engaging – indeed, reveling – in the sale and consumption of unruly children; and that the rowdy tots tasted even better when coated in mustard and sauerkraut, washed down with a stein of beer.

I have since become acclimated – although I’m still not partial to sauerkraut.  That’s going to take at least another 50 years 🙂 .

TLOML and I will be blessed to able to spend this Memorial Day Weekend in the company of family.  We hope that you will be able to enjoy the Holiday, which at least in the frosty north of the country marks the unofficial start of summer, in the manner you prefer.  At the same time, may we each give a moment to remember the sacrifices of the men and women we have marked this day to honor – those who throughout our history have given, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, “the last full measure of devotion,” but also those who came home but have ever after borne the physical and emotional scars of battle.

The Consequences of Addiction

I’ve been contemplating further on the Dominion Voting Systems’ (Dominion’s) defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp. (Fox), which led to revelations that Fox knowingly spread falsehoods about Dominion’s voting systems which, by extension, lent credence to former President Donald Trump’s and his acolytes’ unfounded claims that that the presidential election had been stolen from Mr. Trump.  My reflections have landed upon the same conclusion as I’ve expressed in earlier posts about what I now consider the greatest threat to our democracy.  It actually isn’t Mr. Trump, Fox, or alt-right media.

First, a seeming aside, but not:  on April 20, Barron’s stated that Philip Morris International narrowly missed analysts’ projections for its first quarter 2023 revenue – a mere $8 billion instead of $8.1 billion – but reported, “[Chief Financial Officer Emmanuel Babeau] argues its long-term smoke-free goals remain on track.”  Then:  “[Philip Morris] is aiming to make a majority of its sales from smoke free products by 2025. Its heat sticks are in the process of getting approval, and the company plans to relaunch IQOS, a heated tobacco product, in the U.S. next year.”  Later:  “Babeau notes that … the longer-term outlook remains robust, given broad-based adoption of its smoke-free products, like IQOS, as well as the company’s ability to maintain market share in the traditional cigarette market, even as it recedes in importance for the business. Although combustible tobacco revenue was lower, that was offset by price increases of more than 7%, demonstrating, he says, that ‘consumers are ready to accept price increases because of inflation.’  On the growing smoke-free side of the business, IQOS users increased by nearly one million since the end of 2022, while its Zyn nicotine pouches ‘are absolutely flying,’ the CFO says, with nearly 47% growth in U.S. shipments. … Philip Morris’s sales show ‘remarkable numbers in terms of growth,’ Babeau says.”  In other words:  Philip Morris’ shareholders should be reassured of the company’s future profits. 

Contrast this with statements from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):  “Research suggests that heated [i.e., smoke-free] tobacco products and their emissions contain many of the same harmful ingredients as regular cigarettes, as well as other harmful ingredients not present in regular cigarettes.”  The CDC classifies nicotine pouches – placed in the mouth, although containing no tobacco — with “tobacco products,” which the CDC says can lead to nicotine addiction and may lead to oral cancers.  Those of us who know baseball history remember the stories of the old time major league tobacco chewers who ultimately suffered and succumbed to mouth cancer.

Philip Morris is selling and stoking addiction.  It is perhaps but a slight exaggeration to suggest that everybody over the age of 7 in this country with any sense knows that tobacco and nicotine, no matter the form, are harmful.  Philip Morris’ customers choose to ignore the risk.  They even defy inflation for the privilege of consuming products that will kill them.

Now to Fox.  Amid the torrent of commentary attending the Dominion – Fox settlement, a talking head mentioned something I had forgotten:  that for a period after the 2020 presidential election, Fox did attempt to back away from the Trump cohort’s claims that the election had been stolen – and that the channel immediately began losing ratings to tiny outfits One American News (OAN) and Newsmax, which were entirely committed to promoting the hoax.  In other words, an apparently notable segment of Fox viewers didn’t want to hear facts – they were determined to believe what they wanted to believe.  They had become addicted to the information opiate that Fox and the rest of the alt-right media had been selling them in ever-more-powerful doses over the preceding 25 years.  When Fox tried to provide them alternate weaker stuff, they went looking for another dealer.  Fox saw that its profits were going to suffer.  If the Murdochs, Fox management and Fox hosts didn’t know it before, they knew it then:  once Fox had led its viewers; now Fox is their captive.  Notwithstanding its recent dismissal of Tucker Carlson, its virulent dissimulation will continue because, aside from rare hiccups like the Dominion lawsuit, such is necessary for Fox to maintain its profits. 

Philip Morris and Fox are publicly traded companies.  Some would hold that it is actually their duty – in order to maximize their shareholders’ returns – to create and cater to poisonous addiction.

Who’s really responsible for the damage these companies cause?  We have adopted, and anyone with a conscience fully supports, a regulatory scheme to limit certain tobacco company actions – perhaps most crucially, restrictions on their malign attempts to hook impressionable youth (we can thank the Almighty that the Second Amendment doesn’t include the right of a well-regulated militia to keep and bear tobacco 😉 )– but ultimately individuals make their own decisions and, even if they at first make bad choices, can choose to rid themselves of nicotine addiction; but despite the oceans of data available to acquaint anyone able to see or hear about the dangers of Philip Morris’ products, the fact remains that Philip Morris is projecting “remarkable numbers in terms of growth” because millions of Americans willingly consume its products knowing the dangers.

Fox is obviously a more difficult case; it operates at the crossroads of free speech and American capitalism.  On April 21, during MSNBC’s Morning Joe broadcast, Washington Post Associate Editor Eugene Robinson asked Andrew Weissmann, formerly a lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office among other impressive offices and currently a professor at New York University Law School, whether an adverse ruling to Fox if the Dominion defamation suit case gone to trial “ … might have had an impact on the governing Supreme Court decision … that gives wide latitude to reputable news organizations ….”

Mr. Weissmann responded:  “I think that the key word that you used, Eugene, is the word, ‘reputable.’  If I were at a reputable news organization, I don’t know that I’d be particularly worried [about potential expanding defamation liability] at what we saw at the National Enquirer, which was completely colluding with the Trump campaign, or at what we saw at Fox News.  If you talk to any reputable journalist, [what the National Enquirer and Fox News did] is so far beyond the pale in terms of what news is supposed to be; you’re not just colluding with one political campaign.  So I don’t think … you need to worry …. The [interest of the private companies bringing defamation suits against Fox News] is not to get a public apology, to defend American democracy, or to protect the information flow.  They’re trying to get the damages to their clients.  And so that’s where you really think the [the Federal Election Commission], which did impose a small fine on the National Enquirer, needs to step in, and it can’t be a small fine.  … Is there going to be some regulatory damage that’s going to deter [the promulgation of lies] so we don’t have the repetition.  Because it’s really easy [for a media company with a business model like Fox News’] to just simply avoid denigrating a company so you won’t get sued and still promulgate a big lie.  So you need to have the government step in to have some kind of regulation of that kind of conduct. [Emphasis Added].” 

Mr. Weissmann has an august legal background while I’m just a retired lawyer who worked for a Midwest-based company, but I was appalled by his answer.  What’s a “reputable” news organization is in the eye of the beholder.  I wouldn’t like to have a regulatory apparatus run by Mr. Trump or FL Gov. Ron DeSantis determine who was a “reputable” news organization, or what speech should be regulated.  Mr. Weissmann, I, and all lawyers of our generation were taught the 1919 words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:  “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic [Justice Holmes’ Emphasis].”  Although one might argue that Fox’ lies amounted to falsely shouting “fire” in the theater of American public opinion, I would counter that unlike an actual theater occupant, who would have no way of easily ascertaining if the shout was false, any American citizen who wishes to discern the validity of any political media assertion has the ready means to do so.

I am accordingly opposed to any regulation of Fox or other alt-right outlets, no matter what venom they spew.  Any American who wants to see beyond their misrepresentations, can.  We – and I suspect all reading this note – have beloved family members and friends in the alt-right vortex, who, politics aside, would do anything for you.  One continues to have the same affection for them, as one would continue to have for a family member or friend who smokes or is in the grip of an opioid addiction.  Even so, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan – actual Republicans – preached and believed in personal responsibility.  I would submit that the greatest danger to our republic today isn’t blackguard politicians or unscrupulous media, although their message enables the disease to metastasize; it’s our citizens who willingly choose to stay hooked on their own poisonous alternate reality.

Perhaps a Bungled Opportunity on the Debt Ceiling

I haven’t posted much in recent weeks about the growing debt ceiling crisis; it is what it is and we are where we are.  What prompts this note is a May 20 Politico report:

“Looking back on the first two years of [President] Joe Biden’s presidency, [U.S. VA Sen.] Tim Kaine has one big regret about a largely successful stretch of Democratic rule: That his party didn’t try to raise the debt ceiling on its own last year.

The Virginia senator believes that if Democrats had tried to hike the debt limit before the House GOP swept into a majority, even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) might have gone along with it. But Biden’s party never moved on the issue. And six months later, Democrats are stuck doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t — negotiating on the debt ceiling with Republicans.

‘If I could do one thing different,’ Kaine lamented this week, it would have been a late-2022 debt hike. ‘And I was saying it at the time … “‘hey, we got the votes.”’”

I noted in these pages on November 17, 2022:

“Given the paralysis and partisan histrionics that see overwhelmingly likely to ensue when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, I would hope that for the good of the nation, during the upcoming lame duck Congressional session Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (due to the power of the filibuster) can agree to pass measures that have received or could garner bipartisan support to blunt some of the most destructive future MAGA impulses. … Below is a short list of such potential measures. …

  1. Raising the federal debt limit to an amount projected to carry the United States through to April 1, 2025.  Our citizenry will really decide the future direction it wishes the nation to take based upon whom it elects president in 2024.  In the meantime, the full faith and credit of the United States should not be held hostage to partisan rabble. …”

Since I don’t claim expertise in the nuances of the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule, it’s not clear to me, given Mr. Kaine’s comments quoted by Politico, whether Democrats, as I suggested in my post, needed a number of Republican Senators’ support to have raised the debt ceiling in late 2022.  I’ve been assuming that they needed Republican Senate votes, and couldn’t get them.  One could infer from Mr. Kaine’s comments that they didn’t need Republican help.  If six months ago, I – an old retired Midwesterner —  could predict the debt ceiling train wreck we are now facing, it makes one blink to think that Democratic Congressional leadership didn’t see it coming.  If Democrats failed to raise the debt ceiling although they had the votes (alone or with Republican Senate help) to do so — a point I’d like to see definitively addressed – such failure can at best be characterized as shockingly naïve, and arguably more appropriately as startlingly obtuse legislative malpractice.

On the Role of Journalism: a Postscript

In a note this past February, I stated, “I entirely reject the notion that the standard of [journalistic] objectivity for collection and dissemination of facts should in any way vary according to a reporter’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or other attribute.  … [W]hat is vital is that journalists, as [New York Times Columnist Bret] Stephens puts it, ‘provid[e] the public with the raw materials it needs to shape intelligent opinion and effective policy.’  That’s all, and that’s enough.  After journalists have fulfilled their responsibility – a sacred one in a democracy – it is thereafter up to our people, for good or ill, to form their own conclusions.”

On May 15th, New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger published an essay in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), entitled, “Journalism’s Essential Value,” in which he addresses the philosophical debate regarding the concept of objectivity currently occurring in some quarters of professional journalism.  Mr. Sulzberger – whose forebears established the Times as we know it and have maintained its standing for over a century – states in part:

“Independence is the increasingly contested journalistic commitment to following facts wherever they lead. It places the truth—and the search for it with an open yet skeptical mind—above all else. … [I]n this hyperpolarized era, independent journalism and the sometimes counterintuitive values that animate it have become a radical pursuit.

Independence asks reporters to adopt a posture of searching, rather than knowing. It demands that we reflect the world as it is, not the world as we may wish it to be. It requires journalists to be willing to exonerate someone deemed a villain or interrogate someone regarded as a hero. It insists on sharing what we learn—fully and fairly—regardless of whom it may upset or what the political consequences might be. Independence calls for plainly stating the facts, even if they appear to favor one side of a dispute. And it calls for carefully conveying ambiguity and debate in the more frequent cases where the facts are unclear or their interpretation is under reasonable dispute, letting readers grasp and process the uncertainty for themselves.

This approach, tacking as it does against the with-us-or-against-us certainty of this polarized moment, requires a steadfast, sometimes uncomfortable commitment to journalistic process over personal conviction. Independent journalism elevates values grounded in humility—fairness, impartiality, and (to use perhaps the most fraught and argued-over word in journalism) objectivity—as ideals to be pursued, even if they can never be perfectly achieved. And crucially, independent journalism roots itself to an underlying confidence in the public; it trusts that people deserve to know the full truth and ultimately can be relied upon to use it wisely.”

Although his piece is not short (even compared to my more than occasional long-windedness  😉 ), I would submit that it is well worth your time.  I tried to add a link here, but either due to CJR’s web protections or my technological ineptitude — almost certainly the latter — I couldn’t get the link to embed. Since I could access the essay although I do not subscribe to the CJR, I am hopeful that by entering the search, “Sulzberger” and “Columbia Journalism Review,” you will be able to reach it as well.

Break’s Over

I didn’t watch last week’s CNN Town Hall featuring former President Donald Trump; I knew I couldn’t stomach it.  Judging by the clips I’ve seen, the former president showed himself to be who he is:  a delusional, fascist megalomaniac.  Such characterization is obviously inflammatory, highly pejorative, and perhaps melodramatic; I leave it to you to decide whether you agree it is warranted.

While any number of liberal-leaning commentators have intoned that the CNN broadcast was a political gift to President Joe Biden – a claim which would seem to have some merit with regard to the disquieting effect that Mr. Trump’s obvious illiberal instability might well have on Republican-leaning voters in the metropolitan suburbs of swing states – I also sensed a bit of whistling past the graveyard.  The most disconcerting part of the clips I’ve seen isn’t what Mr. Trump said — he is, if nothing else, consistent – but rather the raucous approval his obvious lies and slurs received from a crowd that, while Republican, came from New Hampshire – a state generally considered to be populated by sensible, upright New Englanders who one would have thought would know better.  Although certainly not inconceivable that another candidate could yet wrest the Republican presidential nomination from him, it appears that Mr. Trump, to the enthusiastic alleluias of his cult, is resurrecting. 

We’ve had about 27 months’ respite:  27 months in which we had the luxury (?) of concentrating on the substantive global and domestic challenges we face; 27 months in which we could dream that the spell Mr. Trump has cast over a segment of our citizens would dissipate; 27 months in which we could hope that those who provide Mr. Trump lip service support either out of tribal party loyalty or fear would find the courage to denounce and disassociate themselves from him; 27 month in which we could wish that his legal problems would disqualify him.  We aren’t going to be that lucky.  [Special Counsel Jack Smith’s delay in bringing charges against Mr. Trump either for his part in the January 6th insurrection or for his misappropriation of classified documents has, given Mr. Trump’s maneuvering, now made any future indictment, no matter how strong the evidence, appear a political prosecution.  Mr. Smith – as Special Counsel Robert Mueller before him – has erred (and this is coming from a lawyer, mind you) by being too lawyerlike.  Now, I fear it’s too late.]

All who know me know my fondness for the television series, The West Wing, the account of a fictional President Josiah Bartlet and Mr. Bartlet’s White House staff.  At several points during the series’ multi-year run, the character Bartlet admonished his staff, when their focus had been diverted:  Break’s over.  Time to get back to work.

Mr. Trump has made his objective plain.  He and his supporters intend to institute an American Apartheid.  (I think the same can be said if Republicans nominate another MAGA, such as FL. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, while lacking Mr. Trump’s animal magnetism, would have the same ultimate goal and carry less baggage to the race.)  They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be persuaded; they can only be outvoted.  Although I concede unease about a second term for an 82-year-old president, and retain deep misgivings about Vice President Kamala Harris’ readiness for the presidency, these are the cards we’ve been dealt.  Any obvious physical diminishment by Mr. Biden, a deep recession, a perceived border crisis, a pivotal presidential debate moment, or some other notable event could tip a closely-divided electorate in key Electoral College swing states to Mr. Trump or another MAGA.  The crucible appears to be upon us.  It is time for those who believe in American democracy to get back to work.

Break’s over.

Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Earlier this week, the Pulitzer Prize Board named Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Explanatory Reporting for his series, “The Amazon Undone,” described by the Board as a “[S]weeping examination of the destruction of the Amazon, using rich data and images, that explores the conflicts between those people who see it as their birthright to exploit the area, those who seek to preserve indigenous communities and those desperate to protect the earth.”

This week, our favorite reporter has rightly provided credit and thanks to all of his associates at the Post who assisted him on the series, and in earning this distinction; it is therefore perhaps appropriate to note in these pages the skill, the effort, the research, and the courage of the reporter that were required to discover and describe the many struggles and conflicts inherent in the Amazon today.  His mother and I are prouder than could possibly be recorded here.  A link to the Pulitzer Prize site is below.  

Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post – The Pulitzer Prizes

The Great Task

I have indicated before in these pages why I believe former U.S. WY Rep. Liz Cheney could be well positioned to derail the presidential aspirations of former President Donald Trump and any other MAGAs who subscribe to illiberal views.  Given her courageous efforts on behalf of American democracy in her last years in Congress, Ms. Cheney has my wholehearted support, although I am pretty confident that our views on many domestic issues are at odds.  (I am equally confident that our views are pretty closely aligned on foreign policy.)  During her 2022 unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for her Wyoming Congressional seat, Ms. Cheney launched a Political Action Committee (PAC) entitled, “The Great Task,” its title drawn from a phrase in President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The Great Task has continued to post video clips since she left office.

Below is a link to a YouTube video which I understand that The Great Task is beginning to run on New Hampshire media outlets dealing with Mr. Trump.

I continue to harbor doubts that Ms. Cheney will have much impact on the electoral fortunes of Mr. Trump or any other MAGA unless she attracts major media attention by declaring for the Republican presidential nomination – a step which would have little chance of ultimate success while involving the clear risk of physical danger to herself in our current toxic and violent environment, and thus, one that any advisor would be understandably reluctant to recommend.  That said, this video shows that she does not intend to leave the stage.  I suspect that this is not the last we’ll hear from Ms. Cheney; I certainly hope it is not.

“… The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Treason Doth Never Prosper

Yesterday, four members of the Proud Boys, including their leader, Enrique Tarrio, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy arising from their actions before and related to the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, joining members of the Oath Keepers, including their founder, Stewart Rhodes, who have previously been found guilty of seditious conspiracy related to the insurrection.

I understand that a number of these defendants claimed as part of their defense that they were not guilty of sedition because they were called to action by former President Donald Trump.  Put aside the patent culpability of Mr. Trump; such obviously provides these traitors no excuse.  They are responsible for their own actions.  They forgot their English literature:

“Treason doth never prosper.” English poet John Harrington; Alcilia.

“Men at times are masters of their own fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”  Cassius to Marcus Brutus; William Shakespeare; Julius Caesar

Those who cherish American democracy can draw some reassurance from these convictions.  Even so, while Mr. Trump and other MAGAs continue in their endeavors, we cannot let our guard down; but for the actions of former Vice President Mike Pence and a few others, the insurrection incited by Mr. Trump on January 6th might well have succeeded.  The threat to our way of life has not gone away.  When the thought of this note occurred to me, I was pretty sure of my Shakespeare, but looked up Mr. Harrington’s declaration to check my memory.  I found that I had actually only recalled part of it.  The rest constitutes a caution:

“Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason [Emphasis Added]”.

That said, today Joe Biden remains president and it’s a warm and sunny Friday in the Midwest. While we need to remain cognizant of Mr. Harrington’s vital warning, one might be excused from also embracing a more pleasant perspective for this early spring weekend.  If so, in addition to outdoor pursuits, one can contemplate the potpourri of television viewing available tomorrow:  commencing with an early champagne cocktail, toasting the coronation of King Charles III; then enjoying several Cherry Cokes with Warren Buffett throughout the day as CNBC – seemingly inordinately proudly, considering the promotion it has offered this week — broadcasts the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting; and watching the sun start to set with a Mint Julep as one witnesses the Kentucky Derby.

If the weather holds, we ourselves plan to stain a retaining wall.  We will celebrate any successful conclusion with the appropriate refresher – perhaps even a Schlitz  😉 . 

Stay well.