Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Amendment Rights, Some Fearsome Alternatives, Failure of a Life Insurance Company and the Two Minute Hagaddah



"Send me your tired, your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me ...  I lift my lamp beside the golden door."    Emma Lazarus' poetry, enscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Protecting The First Amendment

When a government controlled by one party wants to suppress voters who for a variety of reasons, usually demographically determined, are likely to vote for the other party, legitimately sounding excuses must to be found. The most common one is “voter fraud.”  To prevent it from happening, and it rarely does from all available evidence, stricter identification and residence documentation might be required.  Also, to save money, registration and polling hours may be curtailed.  But these are merely subterfuges to suppress voters who might vote for the other party.



What we must watch out for today is a suppression of Americans’ right to assemble, speak and petition freely, as guaranteed by the First Amendment along with freedom of the press.  Of course, those who oppose such rights would never directly attack the First Amendment.  As with voter suppression, more legitimate sounding excuses must be found.  And you must keep your eyes and ears open for them.



They include rules against assembling on public thoroughfares which supposedly might endanger or impede traffic, limitations on noise levels, requiring demonstrators to be restricted to locations distant from the object of their message, the presence of a menacing law enforcement forces such as masked and shielded police along with military-type crowd control vehicles, restrictions as to the timing and format of petitions, fees and technical requirements involved in getting permits to assemble and a galaxy of excuses designed to eat into our First Amendment rights.  Keep your eyes open for them.  Such restrictions are being introduced in State Legislatures around the country by those who want to diminish your rights.  Be aware.  Resist.
Jack Lippman
                                              

How a Super-Salesman Destroyed a Company

All the politicians and pundits who can’t figure out what is going on in the White House are confused because they think the President is like any other head of state and is involved in leading and running the country.  

Perhaps they need to spend a few days at sales meetings of the sales people of any major business in the country, where the Director of Sales engages them with motivational and inspirational harangues about the merits of their products, the weaknesses of the competition’s products, and a plethora of vague and questionable facts which they are to use in somehow reaching their goals.  


Only then will they understand from where the President is coming.

But he seems to have surrounded himself with enough level-headed people who while listening to his sales pitches (and tweets) know what to take seriously and what to ignore.   Problems can arise if the President is convinced he knows better than those who really do know better than he does.

I’m reminded of the collapse of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company back in 1991.  Mutual Benefit, then the eighteenth largest life insurer in the country, was a “blue chip” firm, with the highest possible ratings.  Its downfall was attributed to its real estate and mortgage-based securities investment portfolio, which soured in an early version of what was to occur sixteen years later in the entire economy. 

To my way of thinking, and I was in the insurance industry at that time, the company’s collapse was due to its CEO who had previously been their dominant and highly successful sales Vice President.  Of course, Mutual Benefit had its investment professionals and cadres of actuaries, the ones who usually occupy the top posts in such companies, but the shots were being called by a sales-oriented CEO who fostered an aggressive investment policy which would enable their products to be highly competitive and in great demand.  Wiser heads did not prevail and the company folded.  There’s a lesson there somewhere.
JL
                                          

Two Dreadful Scenarios and Who Can Prevent Them

I have heard that the departure of Mike Flynn from the Administration will eventually be followed by the exiting, voluntarily or under duress, of Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon.  Some feel that neither can survive the kind of vetting to which White House advisors should be exposed.  And once that happens, the next one to go would be the unqualified man sitting in the Oval office.   I don’t totally agree that it will play out in this manner, but it is conceivable.


Another alternative course of events is even more frightening.  It is conceivable that the leaders of our intelligence community will determine that an extreme danger to the United States exists, and because of a lack of a coherent chain of command in a disorganized White House, steps to deal with the danger will not be taken.  Paired with this would be a recognition of this danger by our career military leaders including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the retired General serving as Secretary of Defense.  These are the seeds from which can spring a military junta, combined with the intelligence services, to carry out a coup and taking over the government of the United States in order to properly defend and govern the nation.  This is the kind of thing which happens in Latin America and Third World countries.  Such a coup in Turkey failed last year.  I don’t believe such a event will occur, but given the President’s lack of qualifications to govern, it should not be ruled out.




I feel these ideas have entered the minds of those in power in both Houses of Congress.  As they recognize the possibility that such things are not unthinkable, I hope they will take legislative steps to make sure the chaos which governs the Executive Branch is well controlled.  I suspect that the Judicial Branch, including the Supreme Court, would go along with Congress in such a situation.

                                                         Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell

Bottom line:  it is up to the Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress to control the activities of the Executive Branch, including the President.



The Two Minute Hagaddah

It's about seven weeks until the Passover Holiday. Those who diligently observe it are already making preparations for their seders (the Passover meal).   For those who are not so observant, but would like to "do something," we offer an item I came across a few years back entitled "The Two Minute Haggadah."  Because doing something is better than doing nothing, here it is:

The Two Minute Hagaddah (the Hagaddah is the Passover Seder prayer book)
 Opening prayers:
   Thanks, God, for creating wine.  (Drink wine.)
   Thanks for creating produce.  (Eat parsley.)
Overview:
Once we were slaves in Egypt.  Now we're free.  That's why we're doing this.
Four questions to be asked by youngest at the table:
    1.  What's up with the matzoh?
    2.  What's the deal with horseradish?
    3.  What's with the dipping of the herbs?
    4.  What's this whole slouching at the table business?

Answers:
    1.  When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
    2.  Life was bitter, like horseradish.
    3.  It's called symbolism.
    4.  Free people get to slouch.

A funny story:
    Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. 
(Heat soup now.)
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
    Wise child-explain Passover.
    Simple child-explain Passover slowly.
    Silent child-explain Passover loudly.
    Wicked child-brow beat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children:  We hid some matzoh.  Whoever finds it gets five bucks.
 
The story of Passover:
It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through. The Egyptians aren't so lucky. 




We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues:  Blood, Frogs, Lice-you name it.

The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If He'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough. If He'd parted the Red Sea (remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.) etc.
Eat matzoh.  Drink more wine.  Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything.
SERVE MEAL.
Say Grace. Drink more wine. Sing some more songs. Try to stay awake. 
Who knows one? Who knows two through thirteen?
Dad bought a goat for two zuzim. Everyone beats up every one until God steps in.
Go to sleep.

Do it again another night.
(Want to do more that this?  Passover Hagaddahs are probably available in your local supermarket or in that bottom drawer where you keep the skull caps [yamulkas or kippahs] you've collected from various weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs over the years.  And watch for forthcoming abbreviated services for other religions which we will try to include.  Your submissions are welcome.)
JL

HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.


Jack Lippman 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Supplement to Feb. 14 Blog Alert


This material was not included in the blog posting sent to you earlier today, but in this constantly evolving story, it is important.  First, I ask you to familiarize yourself with the chronology of General Flynn’s relationship with the man in the White House by clicking here  and checking the NBC report on it.
  
And while you’re in the mood to click, you might as well check out General Flynn’s participation in the Republican Convention where he led a “Lock Her Up” cheer.  Just click right here to share that moment.  And if you listen carefully, you will hear the man who presently is in the White House seconding his words.  I wonder who, if anyone, as this story continues, will be “locked up.”

But all that is background for a conclusion that many will be making shortly.  That conclusion will probably be classified, but it will be something like this:

On December 29, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia, closing two Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States and expelling some of their diplomats, after the FBI confirmed that the Russians were involved with hacking and tampering with the 2016 election in this country.

The immediate Russian reaction to this, from various levels of their government, was that Russia would reply “in kind.”  They never did, however, because later on December 29, Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian Ambassador were made, and finally after several attempts at evasion, Flynn has admitted that he discussed those sanctions just imposed by President Obama. 

The next day, December 30, to everyone’s surprise, Vladimir Putin said that he would do nothing to retaliate against the imposition of the sanctions.  If the classified investigation of the Flynn telephone calls of the previous day, which the FBI possesses, suggests that the incoming administration would reverse the sanctions, the reason for Putin’s doing nothing to retaliate is clear.   Remember, Obama was still President at the time, and we can only have one President at a time!

What is unclear is whether a career military man like Flynn, just given a new job, would have taken such an action without orders from his commanding officer to do so.   The fact that his commanding officer knew of the phone calls at least on January 26 when the Acting Attorney General brought them to the attention of the White House, and did nothing about them, suggests that the President was fine with it, at least until the press released the story.

I conclude that the Flynn phone calls were made at the request of the President-Elect, such a posture toward Russia on his part being consistent with his earlier attitude toward that country and its leader, Vladimir Putin.   In a spy novel, it would resemble the behavior of someone who is being blackmailed.  But this is not a spy novel.  That is why when the truth is discovered by the FBI and our other intelligence agencies, it will be highly classified and when the media discovers it, it will never be published.


But if l can come to this conclusion, I am certain that many, far smarter than me, also will.  


A Flood of Politics, a New Chrissy Frost Story, Israeli Policy and Advice to Democrats






The Floodgates Open in Washinton

Benghazi!  The Clinton Family Foundation! And of course, the EMAILS!!  Terrible, Terrible, Terrible!  Of course, these things weren’t terrible, but only the vastly overstated and generally unsubstantiated issues onto which the Republican Party hung its hat in the 2016 campaign.  And many voters chose to vote Republican based on these issues.  They won.

And it hasn’t taken long for issues to arise concerning the G.O.P., particularly the rudderless Administration it brought into power, featuring novices in governance who have no idea how the Executive Branch works, issues that make Benghazi, the Foundation and the Emails (which they don’t talk about much anymore) seem insignificant.  They pale when compared to a documented liar appointed as National Security Chief, an incompetently drawn unconstitutional “Executive Order” really aimed at keeping Muslims out of the country, a White House advisor shilling for the President’s daughter’s business, and a policy of insulting anyone who disagrees with you, specifically judges and journalists.  But I suppose there is nothing in Constitution regarding being insulting to those you don’t like.

The Republican President, in winning the G.O.P. Primary and the General Election, did not spare his venom in attacking and insulting his opponents.   Once elected, any source of criticism of the Administration, has become subject to the same treatment.  A Federal judge, approved by Congress, who rules against the Administration, becomes a “so-called” judge. During the campaign, another Federal Judge was chastised because of his parents’ birthplace.  Quietly, throughout the country, the Judicial Branch of our government is recognizing that the Executive Branch has no understanding of what a judiciary is all about, and considers any court which rules against the government to be an enemy.  Judge Gorsuch, nominated by the President, and probably to be approved by the Senate for the vacant Supreme Court seat, while a conservative jurist, may turn out to be an opponent of a President who denigrates the Judiciary, for just that reason.

The administration has declared that the press, when it disagrees with it, or questions it too closely, is its enemy.  The First Amendment protects media and journalists are out there looking for facts and truthful answers.  Throwing alternate facts (translates as “lies”) and hostility at them only weakens the Administration, perhaps fatally.

Right now, a President who chooses to believe only what he wants to believe has been faced with “facts” provided by his enemies, the press, finds there are no “alternate facts” to come up with!   The White House’s National Security Advisor Mike Flynn has resigned, after being exposed as having been talking to the Russian Ambassador in Washington about reducing the sanctions which the United States had imposed on Russia because of their apparent interference in our Presidential election … while Barack Obama was still President, and perhaps during the Presidential campaign.  This happens have been illegal but more important is the fact that when asked about this, Flynn lied to the public and said he did not discuss sanctions with the Ambassador.  More damning, he lied to Vice President Pence who was snookered into backing up the lie.  And it is coming out, through the press that weeks ago, the acting Attorney General communicated that Flynn’s involvement with Russia reached the extent that he might be blackmailed.  It is inconceivable that the man in the White House did not know about this.  Unless he was party to it himself.  Or mentally incapable of grasping its ramifications. 



(And lurking behind this is that unconfirmed dossier of information concerning the man in the White House’s visit to Russia a few years ago.  I believe that it will never be “confimed” but that does not subtract it from the overall background.)

For years, Republicans have claimed that Democrats were “soft on Communism.”  The Administration, and Flynn’s actions have backed up the idea that this Republican Administration are the ones who want to cuddle up to the Russians at the expense of NATO and our Eastern European allies. Why?  Are they being blackmailed, right now, into that policy?  How could Flynn not have known that when he made up stories, there was documentation to prove him a liar.  This man had spent years in the intelligence community. Some National Security Chief he would have made.  Besides pointing up the disaster that the White House is today, more harm has been done to America’s relationships with its European allies by this than a trainload of unauthorized Email Servers !!!

And many will wonder, until it is disproved, whether this White House change in attitude toward Russia has anything whatsoever to do with the supposed support that Russia provided to "Wikileaks" in undermining the Democrats in the 2016 election.

Executive Branch

But let’s not forget the furor that has revolved around the Administration’s ban on non-citizens from certain countries entering the country.  The intent of this ban was to restrict Muslim immigration.  It is well documented that the Presidential candidate campaigned on keeping Muslims out of the country, and that he sought advice as to how to do this without violating the Constitution.  Banning people by “countries,” (which happened to be overwhelmingly Muslim) rather than banning Muslims was the way to go.  The Circuit Court judge (the one referred to as a “so-called” judge by the “so-called” President … turnabout is fair play) and an Appeals Panel of three judges ruled against the Administration.  It was clear that their “Executive Order” was poorly drawn.  They can certainly redraft it, but in the meantime, it has painted the Administration as a hater of Muslims, given ISIS recruiters a great talking point and aroused the enmity of Muslim nations which are supposed to be our friends and allies fighting ISIS.   More harm has been done to America by the clowns in the Administration who engineered this Executive Order than a dozen Benghazis!!!

And when the pathetic women advisor in the White House urged, in jest, but none the less urged, women to purchase Ivanka’s merchandise when the press questioned the propriety of a relative of the President using her position to operate a business, she didn’t add any luster to the White House either.

Whatever the Republicans charged the Democrats with during the campaign, they are permitting their new Administration to get away with, in spades!  And to keep the gullible, their traditional base of support, from wising up to their dishonesty, they are attempting to muzzle the press, whom they consider to be their enemy.  In reality, truth is their enemy.  Let’s repeat that.  TRUTH IS THEIR ENEMY!  Let’s see what happens to the gullible when the coal mines don’t reopen, the jobs that come back from overseas can be handled mostly by robots and their health insurance costs skyrocket, without the government to subsidize them.  That’s when the gullible become the angry and the angry become Democrats, but only if the Democrats don’t shoot themselves in the foot by swinging too far leftward.  If that happens, there is a “right” far to the right of Rasputin, oops, I meant Bannon, to which the gullible might turn.

Meanwhile, the man occupying the White House, according to one Congressman,is now governing while also owning a business with international investments. The Constitution faces unprecedented threats due to this arrangement." Even though the President doesn’t have to release his tax returns, Congress can demand to see them, at first confidentially, but eventually with the possibility that they may be made public to clarify this situation.   You can read an article about this from CNN - Money  by CLICKING RIGHT HERE!  Could it be that what is in those tax returns relates to other aspects of some of the problems besetting the White House? Are there international investments involved which those returns would reveal and which the man in the White House wants to keep from revealing to the public?  If “clicking” didn’t work for you, you can always copy this and paste it on your browser line:  http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/07/news/economy/trump-tax-returns/

Finally, the country awaits a hint as to how the Republican Administration will react to the real international threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.  We need a friendly relationship with China, whom the White House occupant initially antagonized by talking with the Taiwanese President, to maneuver in that situation.  Also, our relationship with China is based on the kind of global trade upon which the White House occupant has frowned.  That won’t help either.  Decisions in this area will be made by the President, who seems to believe only what he chooses to believe, a brand new National Security head (replacing Flynn), a Secretary of State who knows oil but not diplomacy, Defense Chief Mattis who understands all the equations and Steve Bannon, who is waiting for the world to blow up anyway, and won’t hesitate to assist it to do so.  We hope Mattis controls the conversation when push comes to shove.  We also hope that this strategy is discussed in a high-tech situation room setting rather than at a table with dinner guests at Mar-a-Lago by our Chief Executive.

Supreme Court


All of this mess has to be corrected.  To do so is the job of the Republican Party, which controls both Houses of Congress. 


                                                                  Congress

It is a mess that they created when they allowed control of their party to fall into the hands of those who felt a protectionist, nativist, racist campaign would be the best course for the G.O.P., in order to increase their voter base. They won the election but they lost their Party.   It is not too late for them to take it back and join with Democrats, the Judiciary and the press to save the country from the forces of evil so evident in post-Obama Washington.  But time is short.  Very short.
Jack Lippman


Suggestions For Democrats

I received an email the other day talking about how Democrats might approach dealing with the Republican Administration and the occupant of the White House.  In an environment where Democrats are being urged to “Resist,” it is well worth noting.  Here it is.

1. Don't use his name;
2. Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him--it doesn't work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;
7. Support artists and the arts;
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;
9. Take care of yourselves; and


10. Resist!    

Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, "When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor."

When you post or talk about him, don't assign his actions to him, assign them to "The Republican Administration," or "The Republicans." This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don't like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.
JL
   

 
Changes in Policy toward Israel

Some friends of mine voted Republican in 2016 because they disliked Barack Obama’s position on Israel which the Democratic candidate supported.   The Republican candidate, in order to get Jewish votes, pledged to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem and stop criticizing Israel for extending settlements into the West Bank.  (He didn’t get mine.)



The other day, he walked back a bit from sticking to these positions, both of which would make it much more difficult for us to deal with friendly Middle East nations who are fighting ISIS alongside of us, and work for an eventual two-state solution for the Palestinians, something all but the most extreme zealots on both sides, desire.
I wonder how far back the President will push back his pre-election position in view of Bibi Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to the United States this week.

JL  



                           

A New Crissy Frost Story

Beach Party

Jack Lippman

(This is the sixth of a series of very short stories featuring Chrissy Frost, singer, senior citizen and Queen of the Condo Circuit.  Who knows, I may combine them into a book.  For the first five installments, check out the postings of July 11, July 27, September 6, November 10 and December 21.  In that last one, Chrissy is recruited by the DEA to help capture a notorious drug trafficker whom she had been foolish enough to befriend back in the November 10 posting.  Become a Chrissy Frost fan!)

“Hey, Chrissy,” Nutsy called out.  “I got some fun stuff for us to do tonight!  When was the last time you went to a beach party?  I’m invited to one tonight and I’d love it if you came along. Game for it, girl?”

“What kind of party?” Chrissy replied, tapping the topaz on the bracelet Cleopatra had given to her.  “It’s really too cold out there, and I don’t want to get sandy.”

Nutsy looked at her strangely.  It was a look that Chrissy had never seen before.  “You’re coming, and no ifs, ands or buts about it.  I need you to be there.” He spoke stridently, in a no-messing-around almost alarming manner.

Chrissy looked away for a second, and when her eyes returned to Nutsy, he was holding a revolver in his hand.  “This says you’re coming with me tonight, Chris!  Understand?”

“What kind of shit is this, Nutsy?”  But her question was just a front.  She knew he was onto her.

“Same kind of shit you’ve been pulling on me for the past month.  Don’t you think I’ve caught you moving that flower pot around, the one by the mailbox?  That’s an old trick.  You’re tipping off someone about something, and I have a vague idea
that it’s me … so that’s why you and me are going to a beach party tonight!”

“What are you talking about?  You gotta be out of your mind!”

“No, it’s you who’s out of your mind.  I think you’re working with the cops, Chrissy.  I never thought you’d pull that on me.”

“Like I said, you’re crazy.  Why would I do that?”

“I dunno,” Nutsy answered.  “But I started to worry about you when that schvatzah came to the house last week and you spent a little too much time talking to her.”

“You’re crazy, Nutsy.  She answered an ad I placed on the community bulletin board for a new cleaning woman.  Haven’t you noticed this place isn’t as neat as it used to be since Maria quit and went back to Honduras?  But she couldn’t come when we wanted her.  We’re still looking for someone.”

“That’s what you say, Chrissy.  I say she was a cop.  I can smell them a mile away.  And that’s why you’re coming to the beach with me tonight.”  Nutsy pointed at the revolver.  “I can smell them a mile away.”

Chrissy was relieved that Stella was out in Seattle visiting her kids so she wouldn’t get involved in what she was afraid was going to be a very messy evening.  She hoped whoever was supposed to be listening when she tapped the topaz was at the top of their game that day, and not on a coffee break or something.

“What beach are we going to, Nutsy,” Chrissy asked. 

“What kind of question is that, sweetheart?  Sounds like one you’d ask if you wuz wearing a wire!”  With that he pulled at Chrissy’s blouse, roughing her up a bit as he tried to see if she actually were wearing one.

“Guess you’re clean … but just shut up, and get in the car,” he replied, pushing her out the front door.

Chrissy began shaking, for the first time really realizing that she had gotten herself into something deep, and it wasn’t sand.  But she gritted her teeth and didn’t let Nutsy sense her fear.  She sang to herself.

“When you walk in a storm, keep your head held high,
And don’t be afraid of the dark,
At the end of the storm is a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.”


                                     *   *   * 

Twenty minutes later, without any lights, they pulled into the darkened parking lot at Gulfstream Beach, on the road running parallel to the ocean known as A-1-A, just a little bit south of the surfboard shop near Briny Breezes.   The entrance was closed but someone had managed to slice through the gate’s lock and raise the arm so the car could get through.
 
“Hey, Nutsy, all set for a big night,” called out a familiar voice.  It was Rocky.

“Yup!  We’ll just settle down on the beach and wait.  You brought beach chairs I hope.”

“Sure, and also some coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.  The kind in a box that stays warm.   What’s with the broad?  Why did you bring her along.  Dames mean trouble, Nutsy.  You know that.”

“Rocky, I’m pissed at you for ever introducing me to her.  I think she’s been talking to the cops.  I don’t want to take any chances, so if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but if I’m right, it’s handy to have a hostage around.  You never know what will come down.”

By then they had walked down the wooden steps and set themselves up on the beach.  Within a few minutes, a faint blinking light appeared, some distance off shore.  It got closer and closer.

“Short blink, short blink, long blink, short blink.  That’s the signal alright.  This is what we’ve been waiting for.  Answer them, Rocky.  What’s in that boat is worth three million on the street.”

Rocky pulled out a flashlight he had bought that afternoon at Harbor Freight and answered.  “Long blink, long blink, short blink, long blink.”

Within a few minutes a black rubber boat, actually a large motorized raft, pulled itself onto the shore.  Two men, dressed in black, carried four waterproofed cartons onto the sand near where Nutsy, Rocky and Crissy sat.  Nutsy walked over to the boxes, examined them and handed an envelope to one of the men in black.

It was then that all hell broke loose.

The rhythmic roar of a helicopter beating the air directly overhead drowned out all other sound.  Floodlights from above bathed the beach with light.  A loudspeaker blared out.  “This is the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Drop any weapons you have and lay flat on the sand.  We have you surrounded.  Our agents are approaching you from all sides.”

Nutsy grabbed Crissy around the waist and held the revolver to her throat.  “We got a hostage here,” he screamed.  “I get out of here free and clear or she dies.  Understand?”

The only answer was silence, finally interrupted by the blazing pulsating of a whiter than white, brighter than bright, laser-like brilliance shooting down from the helicopter.   Then suddenly, in that instant before Nutsy’s eyes could adjust to what was going on, what appeared to be a creature the size of a bear, or maybe a Florida version of the abominable snowman, came flying out of the beach plum bushes in front of which they had planted the beach chairs.  Or was it the largest defensive tackle the NFL had ever seen, and it was screaming, “Drop the gun, asshole!”  And before Nutsy had time to think, let along squeeze the trigger, he was pinned to the ground by Cleopatra Cohen, gasping as his open mouth filled with the sand into which she was deeply pushing his face.  After that, all that had to be done was to pick up the pieces.  And the DEA people set to work doing that, leading Nutsy and Rocky away in handcuffs.  Meanwhile the Coast Guard had already captured the two men in the rubber boat.
                                                         

                                    *   *   * 

Later, back in the house at Valencia Heights, the two women sat over steaming cups of coffee, laced with brandy.

“Chrissy,” Cleopatra said, “It’ll be a long, long time before Nutsy and Rocky get out of prison, if they ever do.  But we really want to thank you for your help.  Without you, we would never have been able to catch them, and the two guys on the boat too.  If you’d like it, we can get you a nice printed up commendation from the DEA.  Framed and everything.  Maybe even a ceremony in Washington.”

“Nah, all I want is my bracelet back.”

Cleopatra smiled.  “You already got it, baby.  There was never a second bracelet.  All that stuff about a GPS and a communications device was bullshit.  We don’t have money in our budget for stuff like that.  We ain’t the CIA.  We even had to borrow the helicopter we used tonight from the Palm Beach County Sheriff!”

“But how did you know where we were?  That he was dragging me to the beach?”

“Old fashioned police work, Chrissy.  We had agents planted in a couple of houses on your street and were able to watch you 24 hours a day.  When we saw him push you into the car at gunpoint, we knew this was the night, and we made our move.”

“I think I’ll stick to singing, Cleopatra, and staying home a bit more.  I’m deserting the Florida club scene for a while.  But I will invite you to my next show.  Okay?”

“It’s a deal.  You know I sing a little myself too,” Cleopatra Cohen answered as she got up and walked toward the door.  “You know this one?”  She was a soprano with the kind of strong voice you hear from those who passed some of their Sunday mornings in church choirs.  Turning toward Chrissy, she sang out:

“Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown,”

Chrissy got up and grasped Cleopatra’s hand, and smiled as their voices joined in delicious harmony.

“Walk on, walk on,
With hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll nehhh-vaaaah waaaalk a-lonnnne!”

“Cleopatra, that was great.  Maybe someday you’ll come up on stage with me?”

“Don’t hold your breath.”  And she was out the door.

Stella was due to be returning from Seattle the next day, Chrissy remembered.   And while she set about straightening out the house a bit, she tried to imagine the expression on Stella’s face when she told her that she wouldn’t be seeing Rocky Levine again for a long, long time, probably never.  But knowing how Stella had ultimately accepted her husband’s death, she knew getting over Rocky would be no problem for her.  None at all.  Life must go on.

                    


HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.

Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman