Cherish a pleasant valley view

My best friend, John Kaufman — naval officer and college professor, whose unique sense of humor was well-employed telling Tony’s Hamburg’s rouged waitress and slinking cat stories — was a good guy and bogey golfer who died young.

Prostate cancer came, and, when it did, it roared, tolerating no delay in the full appreciation of a rising PSA score. It took him when he was only 64 years old. Too soon for him, too soon for me; he was like a brother.

He liked me just the way I was, and I him for all he was; I miss him deeply.

But I take comfort knowing I will see him again. We will be seated at a picnic table overlooking a pleasant valley. There, a bottle of wine, a selection of cheese, and a loaf of bread will be set between us, as will the contentment of the day.

Words will come easily, comfortably. We’ll compare our different manifestations while we were on separate planes of existence, and I’ll tell him what occurred in this world after his departure.

I’ll relate much that was positive, but I will also thoroughly disclose all the politics of truth’s avoidance. I’ll tell him of the attempts to limit the voting rights of many people he served with in the Navy; I’ll tell John of ignorance and greed, conspiracies and fabrications, and of twisted acts in the name of religion.

In this manner, time will pass until I can no longer delay telling what must be told:

Some people want to reorganize our civilization by creating an autocracy, abolishing democracy and the mainstream media, and providing power and wealth to only a few, allowing them to write and rewrite our history.

John will pause to top-up our now insufficiently filled glasses, turn — his head shaking slowly.

Wordlessly, we will gaze in silence over the pleasant valley.


A recent front-page article in The News quoted our Judge Ed Black as saying: “Any attorney worth his or her salt should be able to step into a judgeship.”

With all due respect, I disagree.

An engineer’s work can stand independent of their reasonableness. So, for example, if an engineer designs a good bridge, we need not be concerned if she believes in Bigfoot, so long as we can walk safely across it.

Not so with a judge. Not only should they be “worth his or her salt” as an attorney, good judges are the custodians of their community’s standard of what is reasonable.

A significant part of any judge’s job is to act as their community’s “reasonable man — or woman.” Thus, a judge determines what constitutes reasonable conduct in a given context, answering the recurring question: “Was that reasonable?”

A judge can be a regular crackerjack of a legal scholar — but that knowledge is put to poor effect if not reasonably applied.

The state of Texas recently passed a patently unconstitutional, unreasonably applied abortion law. No matter what you think of abortion, consider this:

Raped by a “caring uncle,” an ingratiating family “friend,” or in a random act of violence, a 15-year-old Texas girl discovers she is pregnant. After consulting with a doctor, her conscience, and her God, she decides to undergo an abortion procedure and seeks the understanding of those who love her.

Before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, many state statutes allowed the procedure if the mother’s emotional, mental, or physical health was jeopardized — criteria appropriate to a raped teenager. Unfortunately, this Texas abortion law contains no such exception — nor is one provided in the case of rape or incest.

If someone helps her — in any way — to obtain an abortion and anyone finds out — that anyone can sue that someone for money — lots of money. This law brims with powerful financial enticements for informers, lawyers, and betrayers to enforce its provisions — even against a child’s parents.

Picture Uriah Heep of Dickens’ “David Copperfield”, that two-faced degenerate so quick to take advantage of any vulnerability — all the while professing “‘umbleness” and a desire to help.

With glee, many will brand their victims with scarlet letters, seeking to render them as lonely and isolated as they are — not to mention the cash those informers will receive.

Who allowed such an abomination to persist? Judges — Supreme Court justices — those supposed caretakers of what is reasonable and fair.

With custom resumes, selected connections, and a sprinkling of dark money, some ethically compromised justices now ascendant have no vision of a pleasant valley.

Having lost touch with what is reasonable in a world they left behind, those justices force a child to cope alone in a nightmarish existence of Dickensonian grotesqueness.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.


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