Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romney Wins Two Primaries: So What!, a Short Story and Some Haiku


Signs of Schizophrenia in the G.O.P. Race

Even though Mitt Romney edged out Ron Santorum in the G.O.P.’s Michigan primary (he won by three percentage points) and waltzed to a victory in Arizona, there still is much cause for alarm among Mitt’s supporters for the Republican nomination.  Having sold its soul to the its right wing in order to win their majority in the House of Representatives, the party is forced to take an ultra conservative view on social issues (abortion, contraception, education, woman’s rights, welfare, labor unions, the environment) which automatically weakens its appeal to the middle-of-the-road independent voter.  Without them, victory in a national election is impossible.   

Rick Santorum represents these antediluvian positions, and to a lesser extent, so does Newt Gingrich.  Last week, I suggested that Newt’s financial backers are keeping him in the race only to prevent his support from drifting over to Santorum which would enable him to outgun Romney in any and all primary races.  Thus, Romney’s chances are preserved by Gingrich’s presence in the race by those who know that Mitt is the only Republican candidate who has a chance of giving the President a battle in the November election. With each step he takes to the right in order to get votes in the primaries, however, Romney loses appeal to independents.

Obviously, Romney is uncomfortable in treading on this ground.  It is strange to him. And it shows like a beacon.  He blurts out words he thinks will appeal to the voters like “I like the trees in Michigan; they’re just the right size” and counters his opposition to the bailout of the auto industry by saying that his wife drives two Cadillacs. Drivers of five year old Fords don't like to hear this.  He is the picture of someone ill at ease with himself, as if he is wondering whether to continue being a right-winger if he gets the nomination, or whether he should move back to the center at that point, or whether he can go in both directions simultaneously.  He is turning into a schizophrenic candidate, and that certainly is no qualification for the White House.  Watch his eyes when he speaks.  They are revealing.

And getting back to Santorum, I guess Rick couldn't afford the tuition at private Catholic colleges so he went to Penn State for his undergraduate degree, Pitt for an MBA and finally back to Penn State's law school (Dickenson Law School) for his law degree. Other than the MBA, Rick's education was partially tax-payer funded since he attended state schools.  I suppose that is where he learned all about the liberal nature of the university community which he now feels causes students to lose their "faith commitment" and are no more than "indoctrination mills."   

This is just one more nail in the coffin of what used to be the Republican Party. It is now starting to dawn on me that Obama may possibly be the first presidential candidate to carry all fifty states, if only by virtue of women voters.  A Santorum candidacy may make that possible, so that is precisely why that will not happen.  There’s a whole mess of primaries next week.  Let’s see what happens.  If the unelectable Rick Santorum dominates them, look for someone else (Mitch Daniels or Jeb Bush) to get the G.O.P. nomination this summer. 
Jack Lippman

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Let me quote from David Brooks' recent column in the  New York Times, in which he accused mainstream Republicans (Brooks is a Republican) of behaving like opossums, slipping into a coma every time they are challenged from the right. He concludes his column with these words adapted from a phrase used about others who ignored what what was happening around them: "First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican.  Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative.  Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me." 

                                                                

Haiku - Sandals in the Snow

There are many forms which the Japanese poetry style known as “haiku” takes.  The easiest to compose usually describes something in nature, with five syllables in the first and third lines, and seven in the middle line.  They need not rhyme.  An example might be:

  Snowflakes will not grow,
  Into three foot drifts if they
  Melt under the sun.

But a haiku can be about anything you wish.  Try writing some (in that 5-7-5 pattern) and send them to this blog at the E-mail address indicated in the heading.  Here are a few ideas.  Perhaps you will win a prize.

  If your feet are cold,
  That’s what you get for wearing
  Sandals in the snow.

                              

  Banks too big to fail
  Can do exactly that if
  Uncle Sam allows.

                                            
I was "googling" for a picture of a bank to include at this point, but I came up with this picture of Tyra Banks which looks a lot better than what we all know bank buildings look like.

JL

                                                         

Scorecard:  Over the past seven days, this blog was viewed by 48 viewers in the United States, six in Russia, three each in Germany and South Aftrica, two in Slovenia and Brazil, and one each in the United Kingdom, France, South Korea and Nigeria. 


                                                         


And here's that short story taken from my "archives." 
                                                         Roses
The gate opened.  No longer blocked by it, I rushed forward with all of my might.  To my left and to my right, others were doing the same thing.  I couldn’t run as fast as some of them so I soon fell behind, but looking over my shoulder, I saw that there were others even behind where I was in the throng.  One had stumbled but quickly recovered his footing, probably fearing the lashing all of us remembered having been subjected to at one time or another.  The dirt being kicked up by those ahead of me was pelting my face uncomfortably.  I’m a pretty athletic guy but still, I couldn’t see myself running like this for much more than just a few more minutes. But that’s all I would have to do in order to be able to get to a point about a mile from where I had started running.  Then I would have made it and it would be over.  I settled in comfortably behind a couple of hurtling shadows in front of me, determined not to fall back any further, straining every muscle in my body to keep moving.  I saw one of my cousins to my left doing the same thing, as flecks of foam flew out of his mouth.  Suddenly, without explanation, a space opened up between the pair in front of me and almost simultaneously, I felt a stinging pain across my right side.  And then, sharply, I felt the stinging pain once again.  The opening was still there before me and summoning my last reserves of energy, I surged through it and continued running, although at that point, I couldn’t even see where I was going.  My head was spinning and my thoughts went back to when I was a toddler, playing with Mama in the grass.  Sweet memories, they were.   Continuing charging onward as fast as I could, I must have been drawing upon reserves of strength I hadn’t even known I possessed.  Suddenly, I could almost smell the roses.  “Go, baby, Go,” a voice from somewhere above whispered.  This is what it feels like to win the Kentucky Derby.
JL
Here's a question:  How far into the story did you read before you recognized that the story teller was not "home sapiens." 

                               ***   ***   ***                                                                                
Most 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 contacting me at Riart1@aol.com
Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Our family of web sites includes:   www.computerdrek.com  - www.politicaldrek.com  -  www.sportsdrek.com  -  www.healthdrek.com
Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.
Jack Lippman
                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *

                                    
                                                 Animal Kingdom, 2011 Kentucky Derby Winner
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.


 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Newt Will Stay in the Race and A Poem by Sid


Why Newt Stays in the Race

If either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich were to drop out of the Republican Primary race, the dropout’s support would go to the other, dooming Mitt Romney’s candidacy.  Libertarian Ron Paul is there for the long haul and will continue to get his 10% to 20% of the vote until the convention when he will try to wield whatever power that base gives him.   Other than that, he is not a factor. 

But right now, it is unlikely that Santorum, presently riding high, will drop out.  As for Gingrich, however, it is important to Romney that Newt stay in the race, keeping his supporters from merging with Santorum’s.  That is why Mitt’s attacks are now being directed at Santorum rather than at Gingrich.  In fact, funding from Gingrich’s big financial backer in Las Vegas may be continuing precisely to keep it a three way race.  That is in Romney’s interest.  Recently, when asked a question at a Florida debate about his feelings toward Palestinians, Romney’s answer was almost as negative in regard to the Palestinians as Gingrich’s have been.  Perhaps that was a message from Mitt to Newt’s Las Vegas banker assuring him that as the ultimate nominee, his position regarding the Palestinians was as strong as Newt’s, encouraging Newt’s backer to keep him in the race long enough for Romney to get the nomination.
Jack Lippman

                                                              
                                                Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
                                                          

Sarah                          

Sid Bolotin

My friend prefers to read my fantasy stories, saying that
She has enough reality in her life

So I hesitated to write of this reality
Yet…and yet…I needed to

My recent read of Alice Hoffman’s At Risk
Involving the crisis of the family, friends and town
That erupts from eleven year old Amanda’s
Onslaught of AIDS from a run-of the-mill
Transfusion during an appendectomy five years earlier

Flashed me back twenty years to ten-year-old Sarah
Crippled by seizures since she was two

Eight years of treatments, conventional and experimental
Left her incontinent…able to only grunt and crawl

Tore apart the family and devastated Sarah’s mother, Carol
Mirroring the experience of Amanda’s mother, Polly

Suddenly I was again Carol’s trusted volunteer
Applying weekly techniques developed and used effectively
At the Option Institute in Western Massachusetts
For treating autistic children

Carol’s eight years of desperation searching for a halt, a reversal
Of the destruction of her child
Echoed that of Polly’s efforts for Amanda

Polly striving to keep Amanda out of the hospital
Carol fighting to keep Sarah out of an institution

So, there I was in my late fifties mirroring Sarah
Each week for three years I crawled with her
Replied to her grunts with my own
Played with her toys

Striving to join her in her world
While Carol observed through a one-way mirror

As with Polly’s loyal friends Carol derived much emotional support
And I benefited from the bonding with Sarah and her mother

Sadly, after three years it was evident to even Carol
As with Amanda’s Polly

That the Inevitable is the Inevitable
And Carol terminated the program 

                                                      

Racism on U-Tube

Have your read about the racist U-Tube video posted by a couple of white Gainesville (FL) teenagers?  Or seen it?  A lot of what they say is true, as seen from their perspective. They are reporting what they see around them in their 60% black high school, and it is pretty ugly.  Unfortunately, these kids do not yet have the maturity to see that these problems are things that society should be working to correct.  They report schoolmates who plan on getting pregnant, quitting school and going on welfare … and they identify them as being black.  They report schoolmates, again identified as black, coming from families collecting welfare but dressing in expensive high end clothing.  They see the injustices in our system and report them with the immaturity of teenagers reflecting what they see and hear around them, in school and perhaps at home.  These girls have been chastised for making their video, but I think they deserve some credit for at least being aware of the problems around them.  The next step in growing up would be for them to work for constructive solutions to these problems. And I bet they eventually do exactly that.  They seemed bright enough.  

(There was a similar U-Tube produced by two girls in a Palm Beach County school as well. Both are available on the internet if you search for them.)

And here in Florida, as an excuse to promote school prayer, the legislature is considering allowing daily inspirational messages originating from and delivered by students.  Considering what the students mentioned above did, this might be quite a Pandora's box they are opening.  Teen age judgement leaves something to be desired.
JL 

                                                              
                                                       
                                                   ***   ***   ***                                                                                
Most 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 contacting me at Riart1@aol.com. Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format. 

Our family of web sites includes:   www.computerdrek.com  - www.politicaldrek.com  -  www.sportsdrek.com  -  www.healthdrek.com
Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.
Jack Lippman
                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *
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.





Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Letter to Mitt

Reminder: The POTPOURRI POLL and the photo below it off to the right are not updated at the same time as the rest of the blog is. That means that changes in it are not necessarily concurrent with new postings on the blog.  That's just the way things are set up by Google Blogspot, the system on which Jack's Potpourri is based.

There's a new poll question today (it'll be there until Feb. 25) about the deficit.  Please cast your vote. As for the last poll, "chocolate" was the big winner in our survey of ice cream flavors. 

                                            


Today's posting is a short one, but I hope an interesting one.  It would be lengthier if more of you would contribute your short stories, thoughts on the economy or politics, poetry or anything creative.  Send them to me at riart1@aol.com.
                                                      
                                                          

                                                                  



Dear Mitt

Here’s a word of advice for you.  And this comes from a registered Democrat. I know what kind of Republican you really are.  You showed that when you were governor of Massachusetts, when you fostered mandatory health care in that state and way back when you were for women’s rights and the public school system. Those were fine things to be for, and in no way subtracted from your Republicanism, the core of which is less reliance on the Federal government and more reliance on individual initiative within a framework of responsive State government.  Republicanism includes a belief that the free enterprise system can be made to work for everybody in the country’s benefit and I know that’s what you believe.  

                                           

To be elected to the Presidency, however, you need the votes of independent voters. Frankly, they will not vote for you if they believe that you have put the anti-Obama Care, anti-gay rights, pro-life, anti-entitlement and anti-public school agenda of the right wing of the Republican Party ahead of the traditional Republican values mentioned above which such great Republicans such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan have championed over the years.  If you adopt the positions of the right wing social conservatives in order to get the nomination, it will be a worthless one because you will automatically lose the votes of the independent voters as well as many Republicans who will feel that their party has deserted them.  Hearing you starting to cater to the G.O.P.’s right has already reduced the number of your supporters showing up to vote in the primaries.  And your parroting the false right wing mantra that the Democrats are weak on national security, for which even conservative columnist George Will has lightly rapped your knuckles, doesn’t help either.

Any of the other present contenders for the Republican nomination is a loser before they even get out of the starting gate. Your Party knows this. No right wing social conservative Obama-attacker can win the independent votes the Party must get, and that includes you if you choose to be one of them.  That will force the convention to nominate an electable candidate like you were back when the campaign started, but it won’t be you, for you are no longer that kind of candidate, nor will it be anyone else who is running in the primaries, either.  

You can still win the nomination, though, and still have a fair shot at winning the general election, but in order to do so, you must immediately set yourself apart from those to the right of you. Speak your traditional Republican mind and fear not that your Party’s right will desert you.  They have nowhere else to turn and on Election Day, you will more than make up for their possible loss with the votes of some independents and some disenchanted Democrats.  But mean what you are saying.  People recognize when you do not, and that includes Democrats as well as Republicans.

                                       
As a Democrat who will probably vote for Barack Obama, I hope that you will heed this advice so that at least, the nation’s two-party system will be preserved.  A Democratic Party running against a Republican Party committed to an unelectable socially conservative candidate’s platform would have no reason to veer further toward the center, and that would not be good for the country’s historic two party system.  A balance must be maintained.  And if for some reason, you actually manage to defeat President Obama, you would be a far, far more acceptable President than any of those to your right who put agenda before country. But first, you must follow Shakespeare’s advice: “To thine own self be true.”

Jack Lippman


                                                           



The Disappearing Supermarket

When I was growing up, my family bought its groceries from a neighborhood grocery store around the corner from where we lived.  Rosen’s grocery store was a mom and pop operation and sold everything except meats, fish and produce.  Those we bought from Rothstein’s butcher shop next store and Macklis’ produce and fish market half a block up the street.  Such mom and pop stores don’t exist any longer.  They have been replaced by supermarkets.  

                                          

But supermarkets are on their way out too.  Many grocery chains have been acquired and merged into other chains and some chains have closed many stores or disappeared entirely.  Their place is being taken by large supermarket operations existing within larger “big box” retail establishments such as Target and Wal-mart as well as the “wholesale” discount clubs such as Costco and BJ’s which sell grocery products packed in larger quantities as lower prices.  Specialty food stores still exist, but only to meet special needs such as healthier foods (Whole Foods), gourmet foods (Dean & DeLuca in New York) or Hispanic, Asian or Kosher foods.  Of course, in areas too small to support Target or Wal-Mart outlets, small supermarkets, some individual stores or high priced convenience stores still manage to survive.  As soon, however, as these locales grow populous enough to attract a Wal-Mart, these operations’ days are numbered. 

                                        


Another type store that is replacing the supermarket is the low cost “plain pipe rack” type store selling a limited amount of its own branded foods. Such stores (Aldi’s) charge for bags and don’t take credit cards to keep costs down.  Trader Joe stores (owned by the same interests as Aldi’s) are a mixture of the gourmet, health food and plain pipe rack approaches and are replacing supermarkets in areas where such marketing has an appeal, usually in larger cities and upscale suburbs.  With these trends increasing, supermarkets over the next few decades will be going the way of the mom and pop groceries.  Time marches on!  

And speaking of Time, have you noticed the thinness of that magazine lately?  It too, is going the way of the mom and pop store and supermarkets, along with its competitor, Newsweek. But that is a story for another day.

JL

                                      

                                                   ***   ***   ***                                                                                
Most 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 contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Our family of web sites includes:   www.computerdrek.com  - www.politicaldrek.com  -  www.sportsdrek.com  -  www.healthdrek.com
Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.
Jack Lippman

                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *

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.




Friday, February 10, 2012

A Column You Should Read about "Citizens United," a Story by Sid and an Epidemic that can Kill You.


Reminder: The POTPOURRI POLL over to the right is not updated at the same time as the rest of the blog is. That means that changes in it are not necessarily concurrent with new postings on the blog.  That's just the way things are set up by Google Blogspot, the system on which Jack's Potpourri is based.  What is your favorite Ice cream flavor?  (that poll will run until February 15, so check a box today.)

The picture we’ve shown on the past few updates was taken a few summers ago at a lake in the middle of Cape Cod, MA, a few miles north of Hyannis. Watch for a new picture to identify in a few days.   And now read on.  

                                                    

I recommend that all of you go online to read E.J. Dionne Jr.’s column entitled “The Citizens United Castastrophe” published earlier this week in the Washington Post and carried in my local area in the Palm Beach Post.  For those of you unable to access it, I include a copy below, as it appeared online.  I urge all of you to pass on the message in its last paragraph to your Senators and Representatives.   

While Dionne apparently has said it all, I might add that the Citizens United decision is possibly the greatest threat to democracy in America since George the Third.  (And we have five Supreme Court Justices who apparently do not recognize that.   Justice Scalia has even suggested that those who object to ads made possible by the Citizens United decision can always change their TV channel or shut their sets off.  I get the feeling that the majority on the Court is drifting in the direction of declaring that screaming “fire” when there is none in a crowded theatre is a right protected by the First Amendment.)
Jack Lippman

                                                         

The Citizens United Catastrophe
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: February 5   (Washington Post)

We have seen the world created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and it doesn’t work. Oh, yes, it works nicely for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, especially if they want to shroud their efforts to influence politics behind shell corporations. It just doesn’t happen to work if you think we are a democracy and not a plutocracy.

Two years ago, Citizens United tore down a century’s worth of law aimed at reducing the amount of corruption in our electoral system. It will go down as one of the most naive decisions ever rendered by the court. 

The strongest case against judicial activism — against “legislating from the bench,” as former President George W. Bush liked to say — is that judges are not accountable for the new systems they put in place, whether by accident or design.

The Citizens United justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators, going back to the passage of the landmark Tillman Act in 1907, who sought to prevent untoward influence-peddling and indirect bribery. 

If ever a court majority legislated from the bench (with Bush’s own appointees leading the way), it was the bunch that voted for Citizens United. Did a single justice in the majority even imagine a world of super PACs and phony corporations set up for the sole purpose of disguising a donor’s identity? Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China? Did they consider that the democratizing gains made in the last presidential campaign through the rise of small online contributors might be wiped out by the brute force of millionaires and billionaires determined to have their way?

“The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” Those were Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words in his majority opinion. How did he know that? Did he consult the electorate? Did he think this would be true just because he said it?

Justice John Paul Stevens’ observation in his dissent reads far better than Kennedy’s in light of subsequent events. “A democracy cannot function effectively,” he wrote, “when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

But ascribing an outrageous decision to naiveté is actually the most sympathetic way of looking at what the court did in Citizens United. A more troubling interpretation is that a conservative majority knew exactly what it was doing: that it set out to remake our political system by fiat in order to strengthen the hand of corporations and the wealthy. Seen this way, Citizens United was an attempt by five justices to push future electoral outcomes in a direction that would entrench their approach to governance. 

In fact, this decision should be seen as part of a larger initiative by moneyed conservatives to rig the electoral system against their opponents. How else to explain conservative legislation in state after state to obstruct access to the ballot by lower-income voters — particularly members of minority groups — through voter identification laws, shortened voting periods and restrictions on voter registration campaigns? 

Conservatives are strengthening the hand of the rich at one end of the system and weakening the voting power of the poor at the other. As veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew noted in an important New York Review of Books article, “little attention is being paid to the fact that our system of electing a president is under siege.”

Those who doubt that Citizens United (combined with a comatose Federal Election Commission) has created a new political world with broader openings for corruption should consult reports last week by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo in the New York Times and by T.W. Farnam in The Washington Post. Both accounts show how American politics has become a bazaar for the very wealthy and for increasingly aggressive corporations. We might consider having candidates wear corporate logos. This would be more honest than pretending that tens of millions in cash will have no impact on how we will be governed.

In the short run, Congress should do all it can within the limits of Citizens United to contain the damage it is causing. In the long run, we have to hope that a future Supreme Court will overturn this monstrosity, remembering that the first words of our Constitution are “We the People,” not “We the Rich.”
                                              
                                                    
                                                                       
An Epidemic Which Can Kill You

If something happens to me twice within a two week period, I have to assume it is happening to others as well and is clearly not just an infrequent occurrence.  What is more important is that what happened is potentially dangerous.  

A few weeks ago, waiting to be seated at a nearby restaurant, the hostess announced that someone had left their engine running in a red Lexus 350.  Since no one responded to her message, I strolled over to the car, found the door to be unlocked (as I expected since most newer cars with an engine left running usually cannot be locked from the outside), opened it, leaned in and pressed the button shutting off the engine.  

Most recently, in the clubhouse of the community where I live, someone made the same kind of announcement to those there.  Again, no one stepped forward to claim ownership of the blue Infiniti whose engine was running, and again, after waiting a few minutes, I went out to the unlocked car, pushed the button and shut off the engine.  How often is this happening, I wonder?

Ignoring the fact that leaving an empty unlocked car with an engine running makes things easy for car thieves, it is extremely dangerous as well because the engine is spewing out exhaust which includes odorless carbon monoxide.  Out in a parking lot, this isn’t going to do much harm, but in a closed garage, it can be fatal.  The same drivers who didn’t hear the incessant beeping of an alert signal reminding them that their car’s engine was still running in a parking lot might miss it in their own garage as well, particularly if they were in a great hurry to get out of their car due to a bout of urinary urgency accompanied by partial or temporary deafness, neither of which can be as fatal as odorless carbon monoxide poisoning is.  How often do you read about such deaths in the papers?

I recommend that all drivers, particularly those with cars with push button ignitions rather than keys, (1) always make certain they turn off their engine when leaving their vehicles, (2) familiarize themselves with the beeping alert signal their vehicle provides if they fail to do so, (3) have their hearing checked, (4) wear their hearing aids, if they have one, when in their cars, and most of all, (5) install a carbon monoxide alarm in their home, available at stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s for about $25, in the room adjacent to the garage. 
JL


                                                                               
                                                                                                             

A Judge’s Dilemma
Sid Bolotin
The judge entered the holding-cage area in the basement of the courthouse. The smell of human sourness made him gasp. His neatly arranged, clean robes made his appearance almost ludicrous in contrast with the unwashed disheveled prisoners. Ordinarily he never came down here to view the accused before they appeared in his courtroom, but the horrendous nature of this crime compelled him to come to see these five perpetrators. They were easy to spot as they huddled slightly apart from the other prisoners… as if they were pariahs among their own kind. His revulsion tasted like bile as he began an internal dialogue with himself.
“How can I be expected to apply the law impartially to these animals?”
“They should be shot or lynched…somehow removed from society for the heinous misery they’ve caused.”
“They deserve execution, so why bother with the playact of a trial that wastes the state’s money to create a media circus?”
After staring a few moments, he turned and plodded up the stairs to his chambers. He plopped onto his couch, wearily dropped his head back, and watched through half-closed eyes as his clerk, Donna, puttered with the papers on his desk.
“Well, Spencer,” she spoke from years-long familiarity, “you’ve got a tough one, haven’t you? Can you handle it?”
“I really don’t know, Donna,” he sighed. “I just saw them in the tank downstairs. They were cozily huddled together and chitchatting as if they were waiting to attend a concert. They were so blasé that I felt like vomiting. Their crime deserves capital punishment. Damn the liberals for pleading their cause based on their abused childhoods. Why don’t the God-damn liberals ever champion the victim?”
“Wow, Spencer, what a turn-a round. I never expected you to suggest capital punishment. You’ve always sided with promoters of rehabilitation. You’ve always declared yourself as pro-life. You’re always saying that if we execute, we foster violence with violence. Do you think you should recluse yourself?”
“I’m actually toying with the idea,” Donna. “I shudder when I think of fielding the bullshit from the defense lawyers. And, I’m nauseous when I consider that I will have to also look into the faces of the victim’s family. How can I see their misery and impartially administer points of law? We know those bastards are guilty. The poor girl’s boyfriend identified them without question. After all, they had slashed his throat and dumped him, thinking he would die. Why not just let him avenge his girlfriend by hanging those roaches one at a time?”
“Spencer, you’re tired and disillusioned. You’re talking a little ragtime. Are you positive you can handle this? I’ve never seen you this distraught. You can’t allow yourself this kind of thinking. You represent what’s so great about our legal system. In spite of your personal feelings I know that you’ll preside with your usual impartial management of the trial.”
“I hope your right, Donna. These feelings go so deep this time that I think I could execute them myself. She was only 18, Donna, a lovely, smart young woman ready to contribute goodness to the world. Why did she have to die like that … being raped, then shot by those animals?  If their lawyers manipulate the facts to create doubt, the jury could get hung up, and they could go free. They really deserve to die you know… even the juvenile.
“Spencer, please don’t talk like that. You’re due to start in 15-minutes. Why not meditate and calm yourself. I’ll see to it that you are not disturbed.”
Judge Spencer closed his eyes as Donna left the room. He breathed quietly, following his breath as it entered and left his nostrils. He counted his exhalations while sitting erect on the couch. He thought of his Zen teachings that called for right action as his mind scurried to-and-fro like a mouse seeking cheese in a maze. He thought of many past cases he had tried that had resulted in the perpetrators escaping justice because of some slick lawyering, and how impotent he had felt. How could he resolve this dilemma of impartial trial versus miscarriage versus justice? As he continued to quietly watch his breath, his mind became still, like the ripples smoothing out after a rock has dropped into a lake. He became conscious of a firm resolve shaping deep within his being, as he sensed his right action crystallizing.
“Judge Spencer, Judge Spencer, you’re on in five minutes.” broke his reverie as Donna called to him through the half-opened door. He rose from the couch, glanced at the door thoughtfully for a moment, and then stepped purposefully to his desk.
He took his pistol from a drawer, lifted his robe, tucked the weapon into the waistband of his pants, and strode resolutely toward the courtroom door.
                      
                                                                                                                                          
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