Have you ever had an experience alone that you wished you could share with someone? For example, that happened to me on the coldest day ever in Cincinnati during the Great Blizzard of 1994. I was clerking that year for the most brilliant and gifted judge in the United States federal courts, the Hon. Danny J. Boggs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and it was my turn to be in Cincinnati for the week’s appellate panels.
Judge Boggs’ chambers are based in Louisville, Kentucky. I spent my year there and fell in love with the city and the state. By year’s end, I had visited every square inch of Kentucky and had become so enamored of it that the governor, Brereton Jones (a great Kentucky name!) conferred upon me membership in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels (HOKC). I cherish that membership. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals covers four states: Kentucky, Tennessee (and, as a Kentucky Colonel, I emphasize that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is not Kentucky bourbon!), Michigan, and Ohio. That federal circuit handles appeals ranging from issues pertaining to factories, manufacturing, and unions to horses, tobacco, and whiskey. But mostly, like all the federal circuit courts, the Sixth finds itself dealing with the other weighty legal issues that engage the American jurisprudential consciousness: the justice and constitutionality of affirmative action and quotas, fair housing and employment, free speech, immigration, religious liberties, immigration, privacy rights, the preciousness of life at conception versus the right to murder fetuses, and so on. Criminal appeals take up a large part of the docket because federal appeals are quite expensive, and a party who has lost at trial needs to think long and hard before spending a small fortune on an appeal that a jury already has decided, in the first instance, is a loser. By contrast, it is a freebie on the tab of the taxpayers to appeal from a criminal conviction, so those all get appealed.
In order for the federal appellate judges from the four states of the Sixth to gather and adjudicate under one roof, they all travel to the Potter Stewart United States Federal Courthouse in Cincinnati. The clerks who have been working with them on those cases accompany. Federal appellate judges each get three clerks, and I was there that year with Dan and Kae. Dan was a genius and the sweetest guy ever. He had arrived from Seattle and was busy telling all of us about some stupid coffee store in his hometown that he was convinced was going to make him rich. So he invested heavily as a young guy, fresh out of law school, in this dopey coffee store, and we all laughed at him. The store was called “Starbucks” — what a dumb name! Anyway, as I said, he was a genius.
Kae was from Knoxville, Tennessee. I am a Jew from Brooklyn, New York, and later Southern California. Kae’s Knoxville is a different part of the world. Kae’s parents grew tobacco, and she went home every year during “ ’backer-grading” season to help the family harvest and grade their “ ’backer” for the large tobacco companies. Here I was, from 1994 Sunny California, where every day four darling teenagers, with no tattoos and no piercings in their eyelids and eyeballs, would ring the doorbell and ask us to sign a new petition against smoking. And now I was in Louisville, living down the block from the city’s only Orthodox shul on Dutchman’s Lane, and the doorbell rings. And it is four darling teens, sweet and smiling, asking me to sign a petition to expand smoking. So, just as a good American buys the box of Girl Scout cookies even when he has diabetes, I signed the petition to expand smokers’ rights and promote tobacco. After all, I did not come to Louisville for one year just to create a pogrom against the local Jews.
But Kae was the greatest, even though she was a liberal Democrat. I was crazy about her because she taught me … stuff. I had all this knowledge from an undergraduate education at Columbia University, five years advanced Torah and Talmud learning at the world-famous Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, three years of UCLA Law School — but I did not know … stuff. Kae taught me — stuff. She taught me that the last syllable in Knoxville and Louisville are pronounced not with a short “i” but with a short “u”: Lou’-uh-vull. She taught me about George Jones and Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and why that was the real country music, not the ersatz crossover stuff on the radio. I did persuade her, though, that Garth Brooks was a critical player in helping transition Brooklyn Jews over from the contemporary garbage and filth celebrated at the Grammy Awards to country music. She got me into Alan Jackson and Alabama. Soon I discovered Merle and “Okie from Muskogee” on my own. She took me to a concert in Nashville at a more intimate place, the Bluebird Café, where that night’s featured group were some people named Alison Krauss and Union Station. She taught me all about tobacco — growing it, reaping it, grading it. I went to my first and only tobacco auction. She taught me about possum — what they look like (kind of like George Jones, only also with long tails), how some people hunt and shoot for them, while some people go out on Saturday nights in their pickups on narrow dirt roads and, for sport, just try to run them over. Kae taught me so much … stuff.
It was my turn, around mid-January 1994, to accompany Judge Boggs for the next Sixth Circuit sitting in Cincinnati. The Friday before, Kae told me she had heard weather reports that there would be a light snow dusting on Monday. Though a New Yorker for more than 30 years, I had become accustomed by now to Los Angeles weather so did not want to deal with even a light dusting. I decided to do the 90-minute drive up to Cincy on Sunday, a day early. Kae could not stop laughing at me: “Oh, poor Dov, he might see a snowflake.” (By now, 25 years later, I have seen far too many of them — at college campuses.) I got to Cincinnati early Sunday evening and stayed in a modest room at the charming Cincinnatian Hotel, my place of choice when in the “Queen City.” And then it happened.
That night the coldest freezing blizzard that ever hit them parts struck. Louisville got dumped with 16 inches of snow. My wife and kids were house-locked; they could not even open the front door. In Cincinnati, the temperature hit minus-24 degrees. It was like Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. And my hotel room heat broke down! It was unbearable. I made it frostbitten to the front desk, where their heat was working just fine, and I told them that I have been a regular there all year, and I am a nice guy, but they gotta do something because it is minus-24 degrees, and I am turning into a glacier. (This was before global warming.)
And they did something amazing. They moved me into their Numero Uno, top of the line Presidential Suite. It was unbe-freaking-lievable. It was a suite of, like, five or eight rooms, each with its own big-screen television and mega sound system, each room with its respective fully stocked bar, although I prefer ice cream to relax. The hotel manager told me that President Reagan had stayed there, and so did other great American presidents, kings, emperors, tyrants. I told them that the next time some dictator comes to spend a week there, they can add that the suite also is the place of choice for Rabbi Fischer, HOKC, Chief Rabbi of the U.S. Sixth Circuit.
As the intensity of my shock wore off, all I could think of was, “I am experiencing this all by myself. I absolutely must share this moment with someone.” I called my wife in Lou’-uh-vull, but she was so overwhelmed by the snow inundation and the kids crying that I decided mid-sentence not to tell her why I had called because she would not take it well. I had no one to share it with.
I thought back to all of that today. As is evident by the composition of the freely elected House of Representatives, a slight majority of Americans are idiots. Here, in the Sanctuary Homeless State, even more so. In this region — fuggediboudit. I went to the supermarket today to pick up some food, a real supermarket like the one you go to: places like Ralphs and Albertsons, Kroger’s and Food Lion, Walmart and Schnucks, Piggly Wiggly and Winn-Dixie. I have been shopping there for 15 years since moving to Orange County. And I could not believe my eyes: The shelves were empty! There was no food in the supermarket! It was like Stalin’s Ukraine or Communist Bernie Sanders’ Moscow. It was like Elizabeth Warren’s fridge, sans the beer.
Where was the, uh, food?
I asked the guy at the checkout counter, who was like Jesse White in the old Maytag Repairman commercials with nothing to do. And the guy explained that there had been a run on the supermarkets because of the Coronavirus Scare. People were hoarding, buying 50 of everything. Toilet paper that will last them three years. Canned peas, canned carrots, canned beans, canned sauerkraut. Anything in cans — even canned cans. All the soda was gone. All the juices. The paper towels, in case people run out of their toilet paper in 2023.
I got the last four bags of glazed pecans, certified kosher. Two remaining Häagen-Dazs ice creams, O.U. (Orthodox Union) certified. A bottle of 67.6 fluid ounces of Windex refill (no need for kosher certification) — just so that I could feel I bought something I could hoard, too. But all the food was gone. Not even a bag of Sara Lee whole wheat kosher pita.
As I drove home, I figured I should top off my gasoline since I had just driven four blocks, and who knows what those maniacs will hoard next? I began realizing, hey, I hope I have enough food at home to last me till next year or the coming of Messiah, whichever arrives first. Fortunately, Passover matzo lasts for years. I was sure I still had some boxes in the garage, left over from my bar mitzvah. I contemplated, with Passover only three weeks away, what it must have been like for the Jews of Egypt, about to embark on a journey from slavery to freedom en route to the land that G-d promised Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (aka Jacob) (see. e.g., Genesis 35:10-12), to contemplate the peregrinations ahead, knowing they have no food. So they hurriedly baked their dough and did not even wait for it to rise, but just brought it along as matzo (Exodus 12:34).
And then I thought of the Jewish apostate Bernie Sanders, himself a Jew-hater who has called the majority of people in Israel “racist,” even as he is the candidate of choice for America’s leading Jew-haters, including Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. As I envisioned the breadlines soon forming for blocks and blocks around the supermarket, amid the insane hoarding, I thought back to the Presidential Suite of The Cincinnatian, where I had spent a week during the Great Blizzard of 1994, and what it is like to experience something unique but with no one to share. And I thought, “These are going to be breadlines that Bernie Sanders would die to see! For years he has been telling us, based on his honeymoons and other celebration travels to communist countries, that breadlines ‘are a good thing.’ How sad that he is about to miss the moment for which he always has dreamed all his life — breadlines in Orange County!”
That despicable communist will be gone from the public arena soon, back to his 94-percent-lily-White Vermont, to which he fled to get away from the Blacks and Latinos of ethnically and racially diverse Brooklyn. Finally. But this morning he would have loved to see the moment — even with me — to gaze wistfully upon the empty shelves raided by insane hoarders who will end up getting us all dead from artificially induced mass starvation long before the coronavirus ever finds us. The world won’t end in 11 years, as Green New Deal fools contend. Rather, we will be killed by the panic of food hoarding. Only Al Gore is portly enough to survive. And even Greta Thunberg won’t be able to save us.