WHO’S PULLING THE STRINGS?

Linji Yixuan, the 9th century Chan master who founded what is now known as the Rinzai School of Zen, said: Behold the puppets prancing on the stage, and see the man behind who pulls the strings.

I think of that koan almost every day when I hear people talking ad nauseam about our President. I think of it when I look at the media coverage—not Fox or right-leaning media, but The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC. I think of it when I hear the glee with which so many greet all his gaffes, tweets, boasts, and numerous instances of ignorance. What a waste of precious time and attention!

Donald Trump is the tumbler and fool parading onstage, limbs contorting first one way and then the other, pointing here and there, dancing and masquerading, saying and doing whatever it takes to grab our attention (excluding thoughts of some depth or a vision for our country), and getting the audience he craves: I don’t care if you love me or hate me, just say my name. And we do, instead of looking, as Linji suggests, at who’s pulling the strings.

It’s not Trump who put together the latest punitive budget, but Mick Mulvaney and his staff at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, probably the most far-right group in the Congress, the man who was ready to do anything to bring down Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including voting numerous times to shut down the government.

Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, took a little time out to defend that same budget from his all-consuming job of deregulating the financial sector. Many folks there will tell you that it was the government, with its rules and regulations, that caused the 2008 recession rather than the greed of an unregulated market, and Mnuchin is making damn sure that recession won’t repeat because he’s loosening up all the ties that bind.

And finally there’s Paul Ryan, the moderate, intelligent, and philosophical leader of the House who has proudly cobbled up a medical plan punishing the poor at the expense of the rich. He’s the reasonable Wisconsin Representative who thinks it’s crazy for any modern, prosperous country to do what so many less prosperous do, guarantee medical coverage and wellbeing to each citizen regardless of wealth. According to his version of capitalism, the medical care you get should be a function of how much money you have. He’s the intellectual who states that there’s nothing worse in this country than excessive governmental intervention, nothing, not poverty, racism, war, or climate change.

And speaking of climate change, a vision that calls big government devil will never admit to challenges that can only be met by Satan. The minute we admit to human-made climate change, requiring national and even global intervention, we are also admitting that we need national and global organizations. If we admit that disparity between rich and poor is a global problem that causes, among many things, war, the biggest number of refugees in our age, and illegal immigrants ready to risk their lives stepping on mine-filled borders and risking watery graves to help their children survive, then we must admit the need for global institutions, like the World Health Organization and the United Nations. If we don’t admit these things exist, there is no need for big government to exist.

And that’s the guiding vision of our times. Get government off the backs of corporations, get government off the backs of taxpayers. Make no mistake, the Democratic Party went astray in many ways, wooing billionaires and making love to the high-tech sector, the privileged ones who think that the Internet makes us citizens of the world. Bill Clinton moved away from a pro-active government seeking to help those in need, but some of that old vision is returning. And when it does, there will be huge differences between the visions of both parties.

 

There’s one thing Paul Ryan is right about. Before the election he counseled young Republicans to look at the policies, not the personalities. And that’s what I think we need to do. Look at the issues and those pulling the strings, not the clown taking all the space onstage, diverting our attention from what is really going on.

Make A Donation

WHAT’S A BODHISATTVA TO DO?

Stanley is scared out of his mind, shivering and shaking with terror, all because the carbon monoxide alarm in the bedroom is chirping every 30 seconds to indicate loss of battery power. The dog can’t hear me speaking to him at all, won’t even open his eyes when someone steps heavily one foot away from his sleeping body, but he can hear this. Bernie, with his hearing impairment, is sleeping soundly inside the room because he can barely hear the chirping. The way to stop the chirping, at least temporarily, is to put on the alarm for several seconds, which will scare the dog even worse and wake up the man.

What’s a Bodhisattva to do? Stanley is hyperventilating, staring at me with his cataract-filled eyes, and I shut the bedroom door and take him downstairs: Come on sweetie, isn’t it better here? Don’t tell me you can hear it here. But he won’t jump up on the sofa. Instead he walks around, then crouches in a corner and looks at me in terror. Do something! Do something!

I will, I tell him, let’s just wait till Bernie wakes up.

Do something! Do something!

But all I can do is muse on how the things that terrorize some of us don’t move a hair on the heads of others, how one creature’s bogeyman—or bogeydog—hardly merits a second’s pause in someone else’s daily life. The spring brings me allergies, and worse, asthma, and I can hear the hollowness of my breath even as others exult over the sun up high and the plants coming up from the ground. Thunderstorms scare the hell out of me, and how many people have I heard telling me that one of their favorite things to do is sit on a porch and watch a thunderstorm crash and burn around them.

So I hug Stanley and tell him and me both that it’ll be okay, it’ll pass, Bernie will awaken and I’ll put on the alarm. Stanley will then run out of the house as he has done all his life with us, scrambling into the yard and finding a tree to hide behind, till after sufficient time passes, or I come out calling him, he feels it’s safe to go back in. I’ll watch him push his head through the plastic opening of the dog door and move it from side to side, earflaps straining to hear a sound, an echo of what scared him. And if he hears nothing for a while he’ll jump in, walk warily around the kitchen alert for a sudden loud caterwauling lying in ambush, till slowly, gratefully, he relaxes into the quiet.

Make A Donation

BUNGLING WITH SOME DEGREE OF PEACE

One of the reasons I love my walks in the woods is that I can let the lid off and contemplate my bungling with some degree of peace. Over the dozen years of walks, a lot has come up: my insufficiencies as a mensch, a woman, a writer, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, and a bringer of healing to the world.

I think of my mother’s surgery yesterday at which I couldn’t be present, the urgent pleas for rides for undocumented immigrants that I don’t respond to, my husband’s needs that remain unfulfilled (just the other day I remarked on the big discolored blotches on his right arm, and he nodded and said softly, The arm needs a little tenderness), the writing that requires more effort, the practice and teaching that look for more depth and leadership, the impatience with Stanley, the unfilled birdbath, the unwatered flowers, the flowerless altars inside, personal emails that lie unanswered.

The list of incompletions could fill this post: the support I don’t give Sami Awad for his work in Palestine, students I don’t make enough time for, friends I don’t talk to enough, an old friend in dementia isolated in a distant rehab facility, and on and on. I reserve my deepest sadnesses for carrying on the karma of blame and anger so prominent in my family of origin, the many times when my written words fail me, and when practice, teaching, and relationships all feel tepid because I’ve lost my way. Let’s forget everything, I once told a good friend in London, go to a poor country, open an orphanage, and spend the rest of our lives taking care of children with no father or mother.

With all these to contemplate, I wonder what I’ve made of my life. How did I meet this rare opportunity for humanhood that was given me 67 years ago and that will be withdrawn not too many years in the future? What walls surrounding a small and needy self didn’t I break through? What could have been, and what is?

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about self-centered flagellation but about times of reckoning, mornings when I wake up with both gratitude and a sense of insufficiency.

And that’s when I look at small trees like the one above, on the banks of the pool where Stanley and I always finish our walk in the woods. It’s framed by stands of tall, sweeping pines, but this one is more a stalk with spider webs for branches. It’s taken root in a thin, downward slope, just above a sharp fall where the earth has eroded into swamp and water.

Isn’t it beautiful? You should see it when it rains, the drops like diamond bracelets around its skinny arms, fingers angling up for the light. It’s exquisite in its smallness, fragility, and imperfections. There are many like it in the forest, but none exactly like it. It grows not according to its plans and wishes, but according to so many things near and far–the thin soil, the pools, the tall pines, the dog peeing against it, the woman who brushes by it with a kiss—all contained in those silver filaments. And when it shivers in the breeze it is so alive! So alive!

Make A Donation

WE ARE SUMUD, or IF YOU IMAGINE IT, IT WILL BE

Photo by Ahmad Bazz/Activestills.org; with permission.

When I met with Sami Awad, head of Bethlehem’s Holy Land Trust, last week he told me that just two days after I was leaving Israel a group of Palestinians, internationals, and Israelis would go to Sarura, a Palestinian village taken over by the Israeli army for military use, its families exiled, that they would put up tents, hook up generators, and create a peace camp to teach about shared values of nonviolence, the rights of people to self-determination and to land and water. The peace camp would be called Sumud, which in Arabic means steadfastness.

It sounds a little like Standing Rock, I said.

Yes, it is like that, he replied, and we both contemplated Standing Rock, the spontaneous gathering of people from so many tribes, the willingness of Anglos from around the world to support them, the checkpoints and guards, the brutal winter, and President Trump’s flourish of the pen to finish the pipeline. But Standing Rock has not ended. It continues in its path to some kind of immortality, as symbol, as myth.

Which is probably why Saturday night, just 24 hours after a group of some 70 (including many American Jews) settled in, did Muslim prayers followed by Jewish Sabbath prayers, the army came in and destroyed the first Sumud camp. They didn’t kill, wound, or arrest anyone, just came into a peace camp with guns, sticks, and helmets, threw a few punches, leveled the makeshift structures and took away the one generator. And as they did that the people said they’ll remain, rebuild, do it again. And again. And again.

What causes perfectly normal people to fly halfway around the world to go to a barren hillside in the heat of summer, put up tents, connect a generator, brave the heat and mosquitoes, and call themselves a peace camp, against major odds that they’ll get torn down very quickly? And then promise they’ll do it again? Are they crazy? Don’t they have something more practical and fruitful to do with their time? How is a small encampment of tents going to upset the enormous machinery of occupation? Who’s even paying attention on the eve of Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East?

They may be crazy, but they also use their imagination. Sumud, like so many other acts of heartful resistance, begins as an act of the imagination. Someone dares imagine that force, occupation, discrimination, poverty, and violence can end. Someone dares imagine making a stand somewhere—in the freezing steppes of North Dakota, on a segregated city bus down South, aboard a British ship in Boston harbor to throw out caskets of tea, on the grounds of a decimated village on a stony hillside in the Hebron hills.

And here are more private acts of imagination that, in some form or other, you have taken: waking up one day to the chirping of a whippoorwill and knowing this is your last day of mind-numbing, heart-numbing work in the office though you have no idea how you’ll support the family; looking out at hills in the distance and deciding to end a marriage, notwithstanding deep fear of loneliness and poverty; holding an acorn in the palm of one’s hand, a symbol for dreams of love, and burying it in the ground.

These acts of imagination enlist the aid of the sacred furniture of life—the bird, the hills, the acorn, a razed village—which, when seen to their essence, take us beyond ourselves and our parameters of logic, help us shoot for the moon, renew the perpetual revolution. Guns, water cannons, sticks and helmets may seem to win in the short run, but over time they can’t compete with water in the Dakotas, a bus seat in Montgomery, a handful of sand in India, or a parched hillside in Palestine.

Make A Donation

DOES YOUR TERRITORY SMELL LIKE YOU?

Just before taking Stanley to the woods I walk out onto our back yard and get pissed: Stanley, you took out all the stuff from the bathroom trash can and brought it out here!

Yup.

There’s my teeth floss, my used tissues, my Q-tips. Why?

How else will anybody know this is our house? I work hard to pee and shit everywhere, but I can’t do it alone, so we have to use some of your bodily fluids, too. I wish you didn’t use a toilet.

Of course I’m going to use a toilet.

Can’t you just smell it? He swoons with delight. Your essence and my essence mixing together all over the grass.

My essence isn’t ear wax and nose drip.

Don’t be so sure. And another thing, says he. Stop brushing me.

But you shed so much hair!

And I try to leave it all over the house. How else will everybody know—

Stanley, we don’t leave our body stuff around to mark our territory, only dogs do that.

What do you do?

We pay money to buy or rent a place, we put our name by the door, get a mailbox, and everyone knows that’s our territory.

You don’t have to pee or shit at the borders?

No. And we don’t leave tissues with nose drippings or face oil everywhere, or tampons with menstrual blood.

But then your territory doesn’t smell like you. What good is that? And how would anyone know it’s yours?

There’s a street address, and somewhere it’s written that that street address belongs to Eve and Bernie.

Sounds pretty abstract to me.

And another thing, Stanley. Stop going to Joe’s place and digging up his compost pile.

He’s throwing out perfectly good food!

He’s using it to fertilize his garden.

What’s that?

He’ll mix it up with air and sunlight, the rain and worms will come, and it’ll decompose into a wet kind of humus. Remember when we walked by his house the other day? There was a pile of it in the wheelbarrow and he was shoveling it onto the soil.

It looked like he was putting earth back in the ground. Pretty dumb, if you ask me.

Let’s go for our walk, Stan. I haven’t been in the woods for 10 days.

Yup. No addresses, just smells.

Make A Donation

SOMEWHERE OVER GREECE OR ITALY

Photo by Rami Efal

I haven’t seen Bernie in some 9 days. Flying back home, won’t get there till after midnight, and what do I do? Clean up my email inbox, and find there, from two months ago, a few photos that Rami Efal took in March. He’d sent them to me back then, but now, on board a half-filled Air Canada flight, they look different.

Here is Bernie, wearing the burgundy cashmere sweater sent him by Barbara and Roland Wegmueller, lifting a 2-lb. weight in his right hand, Ari Pliskin watching. See the traces: a manzanita table that Joan Halifax and Bernie bought in Santa Fe; the long woven table mat from Tanzania that I got at a market after seeing the elephant outside Ngorongoro Crater; Bernie’s blue cane; a big orange enso by Kaz Tanahashi; a magnificent calligraphy—Prajna—by Soen Nakagawa; a hamsa, which means five in Arabic, showing a hand with five fingers, talisman for peace and luck all over the Middle East; a Kwan Yin, compassion, reigning over the boots in the far distance (there was lots of snow on the ground this last March). And on the right wall, the red Buddha angel, blessing Bernie’s struck right hand that still can’t feel anything even as it lifts weight.

And small things that almost no one else would notice: the red blanket on the sofa, a gift from an old and close friend celebrating my failure to train our dogs to never, ever jump on the couch; two small photos on the mantle, one of Bernie and two sisters (only one of whom is still living) in a New Jersey diner, and two small paintings depicting each of us as a space explorer by a painter who himself is certainly from outer space, I in a blue body suit examining the funny orange terrain of a newly-discovered planet.

But the oddest terrain of all is this planet called love. After 9 days away, every item in this photo almost makes me cry, including Ari, including the red Christmas plant that’s barely making it to March, including Bernie. How can objects hold so much life? How can things of form and substance contain so much heart? How can so much love be evoked by a red blanket or by sunshine on a green plant? How many times and to how many people have I apologized for those cruel, hard chairs (good-posture chairs, I call them)? Taking out the old green carpet and installing a wooden floor because it was more beautiful, but knowing even then that everything measures change, time passing, a life.

I’ll get home late tonight after singing my heart out with one CD or another to help me stay awake for the 2-hour drive home, and I’ll find a sleeping human in bed upstairs and a sleeping dog on the floor beside him, and maybe one will mumble hello and words like—You made it! And I’ll say something too and creep exhausted into bed and fall asleep, just another fragment of flesh and bone full of soul and mortality.

Make A Donation

IN THE WALLED-OFF HOTEL

I go to visit my friend, Sami Awad, head of Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. As usual, entering the West Bank, I go through a checkpoint. The Hebrew equivalent of that word is machsom, meaning barrier, and that’s the word Palestinians use too because it better describes the big gray Separation Wall that serpentines between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, cutting in half neighborhoods, fields of olive trees, and back yards.

My meetings with Sami are often highlights of my trip to Israel for the man is bold, inventive, generous, and inspiring. But this time there’s something else on my agenda.

Sami, I hear there’s a Walled-Off Hotel in Bethlehem.

You mean Banksy’s hotel? He’s referring, of course, to the British underground artist whose imaginative and whimsical works of art, once referred to as graffiti, now fetch hundreds of thousands of euros in English auction houses. Some years ago Banksy, who is always incognito, contacted Holy Land Trust and asked them to designate an individual to show him around whom he could trust. They did that, and Banksy created his indelible art on the Separation Wall in his usual hidden, anonymous fashion which I’d seen long ago. Now there’s a hotel.

Every room has a view to the Wall, Sami explains.

Really? I remember Sami’s old office, with a big window that overlooked the gray wall stretching out kilometer after kilometer, cutting across the undulating hills. And people pay for that?

$450 a night. It’s always full. I’ll take you there on the way back.

A few hours later we’re on a potholed street wide enough for only one car to pass through, and there, by the corner, is the entrance. And someone I remember from long ago. Awni!

Awni as a teenager threw rocks at Israeli soldiers in the Frst Intifada, spent time in prison, and then joined Sami in nonviolence.

Ahlan, Eve, Awni says, as though he’s just seen me the other day instead of 12 years ago, when Zen Peacemakers used to do trainings here. Come, let’s do selfie with the monkey.

Who takes the selfie?

12 years ago Awni wasn’t sure about council practice. Speaking/listening from the heart was for Americans, he insisted, not for Palestinians. We huddle together for the selfie and I remember that first council, which he predicted would be a total bust and instead covered everything from loss of life and limb to guilt, betrayal, friendship, and forgiveness.

But there’s no time to remind him of this because he’s ushering me inside the Walled-Off Hotel, introduces me to the bartender, and leaves me to look around while he goes out in search of a taxi.

The gorgeous, dimly lit lounge is dotted with small cocktail tables, area rugs, leather sofas and plants, and Banksy’s art works (see photos below and check out the website of the Walled-Off Hotel for more Banksy art works and their wonderful humorous narrative).

There are two things you see in every room, Awni explains. The wall and Banksy’s art.

Aren’t they afraid people will steal it?

Check-out takes a long time, Awni concedes.

But what’s most extraordinary is that the Wall is right there, so close you could almost touch it. Western couples sip cocktails inside and out while less than 10 feet away stretches out the tall gray wall covered with graffiti of hearts, peace signs, women proudly holding banners in the face of soldiers aiming guns, and messages in all the languages of the world: Make peace not war, No separation, Take down the wall, etc. Later I find out that hotel guests, if they wish, could go to the adjacent Wall-Mart, as they call it, and buy graffiti supplies to add their art work to the Wall as well.

Do you know the feeling you get when all of life seems to be condensed into one outrageous, hilarious, and painful place and moment? That’s how I feel. Tourists sipping Camparis at the luxurious Walled-Off Hotel surrounded by art pieces worth thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, looking out at a wall separating Israelis from Palestinians itself covered by graffiti by people from all over the world, soldiers up in the towers aiming their guns.

It’s not Banksy’s art that surreal, it’s reality that’s surreal, veils within veils, layers atop layers. And you’re wrong if you think the Wall is the end of the matter because the Wall itself serpentines and doubles upon itself, so behind one wall is another wall, and the Walled-Off Hotel explains there’s no rooftop swimming pool because you can’t go up on the roof without getting advance permission from the Israeli army, otherwise you can be shot. Women living in the adjacent houses have to get advance permission to hang their laundry.

And just because the taxi finally picks you up and takes you through the checkpoint, the machsom, where you wave your American passport that you think will take you anywhere and everywhere, and will make you safe and comfortable, that’s where it’s trickiest of all. You take a big breath, you look up at the sunny sky, you think it’s all behind you. But it’s not.

The lounge of the Walled-Off Hotel
Looking out at the Wall
Make A Donation

THINKING ABOUT LOVE-2

Outside my brother’s home

I have never loved Jerusalem, as so many people do. I’m repelled by the fanaticism that feeds on old conflicts and visions of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, and various other forms of final reckoning. But I love to walk here, even in the great desert heat, and the hot stones of buildings and streets, along with the fragrance of wisteria, continue to talk to me about love.

Nothing points to our essential oneness more than that we are always working on some level or other to heal something, to mend something. That seems to underlie our time here on earth.

Some of the time I work on how I am with my family of origin and the conflicts that tore us apart long ago, which seems to be my major work when I come to Jerusalem now. Some of the time I work on how I am with friends and lovers, the endless back-and-forth that needs to be owned and gently held. Some of the time I work on leveling inequality, poverty, and discrimination. Some of the time I pay attention to how some have so much while others have so little. Some of the time I bear witness to catastrophe, such as when I listen to my mother and her stories of the Holocaust or last week when the Zen Peacemakers spent a week in Bosnia.

When I walk these streets I look at both the yellow butterflies and the trash on the ground, the ancient, gated walls in the distance along with the rich, modern malls up close, the Museum of Islamic Art across the street and the crumbling Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the valleys of ancient, entwined olive trees and the wall I will encounter this afternoon going into Bethlehem, in the West Bank, to see my friend Sami Awad.

The psychiatrist Dan Siegel has said that the purpose of the mind is to experience, and then integrate. Isn’t this what oneness is about? If separation is what truly defines us, then what causes this constant, relentless need to understand, to make whole, to create a narrative that somehow contains all the opposites and the contrasts, that can even contain—and soothe—experiences of the deepest loss? Wouldn’t it be a lot more natural to avoid all that, to just live in our own self-containment without trying to reach out towards what’s different, what’s changing, what’s not to our liking, what hurts?

There are certainly areas I back away from: children, money, thunderstorms, walking in the dark. But even the most profound withdrawals—into gloom, apathy, or depression—can contain stirrings of curiosity and awakening. We want to integrate, we want to consciously be part of some great functioning, we want to write the story of how it all works even if that story contains contradictions and uncertainties, even if the price we pay for it is relentless, sometimes overpowering doubt.

I still want to write that story, I think, because that’s the story of love.

Make A Donation

THINKING ABOUT LOVE

I’m in Jerusalem once more.

I had a choice: Join 55 Zen Peacemakers in Sarajevo, Bosnia, or go to visit my 89 year-old mother in this old, old land, with a history of blood and stones that’s way older than the events in Bosnia.

Last night I talked to my mother, as I always do when I visit her here, about her experiences in the Holocaust. Or rather, she talked and I listened. We’ve been doing this for 64 years.

This morning I couldn’t sleep so I got up and went for a walk. The city is hot and busy in the day, but there are few people and cars about now as the sun rises in the east over the Judean Desert and Hills. I walk past the Jerusalem Theater and down towards the center of town, pause at St. Andrew’s Scottish Hospice where Bernie and I used to stay when we were here, then veer left towards Yemin Moshe, a 19th century neighborhood of artists and writers that looks across the valley called Gai Ben Hinom, sometimes referred to as the Valley of Death, towards Mt. Zion in the Old City. In the early hours it’s quiet and fragrant with the scent of roses and wisteria.

What do I think about, walking these streets? Mostly, I think about love.

No, there is nothing ironic about thinking of love in a land of milk, honey, sand, a Dead Sea, memorials to martyrs, Via Dolorosa, checkpoints, occasional stabbings in the Old City not to mention the occupation mentality that is everywhere. In fact, it’s as if they’re all whispering to me: We may look and feel terrible, but beyond everything, beyond beyond everything, it’s all about love.

You can’t see anything from there, says the Arab construction worker as I try to peer through a hole in the fence to have a better look at an immense construction site across from the Theater, come here! And I do. Only construction workers start working this early, and most are Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

What are they building here?

A mall, he says. You see below, and he points to the immense hole in the ground, there will be five stories of parking and shops there. He talks in a painful Hebrew and I remember years ago when I was working here that I began to learn Arabic. Now I can barely say shukran, thank you, before walking on.

Time marches on and Jerusalem marches with it: More fancy apartment buildings and stores, less of the golden sky at sunset. The doves are cooing, the white roses open after a night’s slumber, the workers eat their sesame pretzel-like rolls and take the final gulp of coffee before returning to work.

The small sign planted in the grass up the driveway to St. Andrew’s Scottish Hospice says: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

But what I do as I walk is, I think about love.

Make A Donation

BIG TROUBLE FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP

The latest issue of the Montague Reporter, which I read breathlessly every Thursday night, had this headline on the front page: Leverett Votes to Purchase Vehicles, Impeach President.

OMG! I said to Bernie. Are they ever in trouble!

I knew that an emergency meeting at the White House was going on right then and there among Bannon, Kellyann, and Spicer, panic written all over their faces. They had prepared for a disappointment with the French elections, but got the President to calm down. He was even considering boarding Air Force 1 and heading out for the weekend to yet another scene of mass unemployment, terror, and natural disaster in a Trump golf course.

But the town of Leverett voting to impeach the President! That was another thing entirely.

What do they say? What do they say? He demanded to know.

Here’s the page, soothed Kellyann.

A full page and a half? Are you kidding? Who writes that much about a Town Hall meeting? And how am I supposed to read a full page and a half? What do I pay you guys for? Kellyann, stop with the yoga stretches against the sofa.

I think I have the important part, Bannon said. Look here: At last Saturday’s annual town meeting, the people of Leverett came together to discuss and pass the town’s budget, approve spending on capital items, tinker with the bylaws, and recommend that the nation’s Congress try to impeach the president. An attorney made the case for impeachment based on Trump receiving financial benefit from state and foreign governments.

I told Ivanka to stop selling that shampoo, the President mused.

Bannon continued: And then came the real drama: Leverett needs 75 registered voters to constitute a town meeting, and when a head count came up with only 74—a count that erroneously included one quietly worried out-of-town reporter—gasps filled the school auditorium. But another six voters were rounded up, caught either cleaning up from lunch in the cafeteria or attempting a getaway in the parking lot, and the show was back on. The impeachment article passed by a boisterous voice vote, followed by a round of applause.

The President gasped. They clapped! Is this a first? Did the House clap when they voted to impeach Bill? Where is Leverett, anyhow?

Western Massachusetts, Mr. President, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Call a press conference, the President instructed Spicer, and beat them up. What’s their name? Montague Reporter? They’re our Number 1 priority now. Forget the Afghans and Macron, just think Leverett, just think Montague Reporter. I’m depending on you, Spicer, to take them down. You know, fake news and all that.

Yessir, said Spicer. Only problem is—

What problem? What’s the problem, Spicer?

Well, sir, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them at our press conferences. AP, Fake News CNN, bad hombres and hobrecitas from the Times and Post, but Montague Reporter? Can’t quite place them. Maybe they come dressed up like Al-Jazeera.

Tell Sessions to get on them right away, the President instructed Bannon. I’m sure at least 50 of those votes were cast by illegals. I mean, who else cleans up school cafeterias?

Sessions is already on it, reported Bannon. FBI discovered there’s a Congregational church right across the street with a big banner welcoming everyone—

Everyone? Everyone? To a church? Unbelievable!-

And a small zendo where people do work with immigrants, refugees, and children.

What’s a zendo?

They garden, too.

They garden? Why? Don’t they have supermarkets? Listen, Bannon, how much money does Leverett get from the federal government?

$40.50 last year. Mr. President, I suggest a 50% cut.

Good idea. That’ll make them take notice. What about that lousy rag of theirs, Montague Reporter or whatever you call it. What’s their budget?

About the same amount, Mr. President.

Really? How do they survive?

I believe they use volunteers, sir.

The President shook his head. Probably Muslims, he mused, they’re big into charity and that kind of thing. He grew pensive, contemplating the challenges ahead. The town in Leverett voted to impeach him! But France would turn out okay. Nobody married to a woman 24 years older than him could win a bingo raffle, never mind the top office in France. The weekend wouldn’t be a total bust.

 

 

Make A Donation