Trump

No Human Being is Illegal: A Letter from the Border

El Paso was in the news this week, with crowds attending Beto O’Rourke’s March for Truth to counter  a Trump Rally across the street. .The El Paso Times reported big crowds for both but untruths for Trump and toned down crime talk in light of a new Congressional deal.  This woman’s letter cuts to the heart of matters..

El Paso was in the news this week, with crowds attending Beto O’Rourke’s March for Truth to counter a Trump Rally across the street. .The El Paso Times reported big crowds for both but untruths for Trump and toned down crime talk in light of a new Congressional deal. This woman’s letter cuts to the heart of matters..

On Friday, Sally, Abby and I arrive in El Paso to see the city’s sights, and also to volunteer.  Our goal is to welcome, feed, clothe and help refugees, arriving daily with their next destination somewhere in the United States.  On Sunday we begin orientation with Annunciation House. Because a new site to receive immigrants has just opened at a hotel, Annunciation House asks us to travel Sunday morning to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We three are up for the trip, 45 minutes away from El Paso.

 We arrive shortly before 50 immigrants do, mostly from Guatemala, some from Honduras and El Salvador. There’s no time for our orientation! Fifty people arrived by bus and sit outside on sidewalks and curbs in the hotel parking lot, mostly small, young families, usually pairs, a mother or father with a child.

 We learned about their journey. They cross over the bridge from Mexico to El Paso. They are taken to a detention center to be registered. They are given a thin metallic blanket and must sleep on a cold hard concrete floor, one blanket for two of them. The air conditioning is turned up high, the people kept very cold, not what they’re used to. Adults are given one frozen burrito three times a day.  The children are given a juice box and animal crackers, three times a day. When each adult and child is registered, they are given a date for legal action.

 A thick, heavy, black ankle monitor is put on the adult, programmed with the address of their sponsor, while they wait for the immigration court proceedings to unfold. It is a stark and frightening experience for them, on purpose, we are told.  The officials at the holding center are directed to make the stay very unpleasant in hopes they will decide to ‘self deport’.  A fair number of these people develop sickness, colds, fevers, and upset stomachs during their 2-5 day stays.

 You may have read about this in the news. Currently there are 30 people in one detention center in El Paso that are on hunger strike because of the conditions.  They are force-fed by a tube that is put through the nose and down their throats. The government officials at the detention centers refer to the immigrants as “bodies,” and when it is time for them to eat, they say, “It is feeding time,” as if they were animals on farms, not human.

 I am furious and very disturbed, hearing the experiences confirmed. Often a new site needs to be opened at a hotel to meet the need, as happened in Las Cruces when we arrived. There are 300-400 people arriving daily in El Paso seeking asylum from poverty and violence in their home countries.  The Detention Centers call Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia daily to say how many they are releasing from detention. There is a tremendous amount of coordination going on to make this system flow daily. Thus the need for local and faraway volunteers like us.

Nearly all the refugees have someone in the US who will sponsor them.  The destinations of those I’ve worked with so far included Chicago, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Atlanta, Washington D.C., upstate New York and New York City, Philadelphia, North and South Carolina, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and even Vermont.  The receiving family member, friend or sponsor pays for a plane or bus ticket, trips that take one to three more days of travel.

 What do we do as volunteers? Each mother and child, or father and child (sometimes there are 2 or 3 children per adult) is welcomed by the site coordinator, and told they are safe, there will be food to eat, and enough water to drink, and medicine for those that need it. They will be warm here, respected and supported to complete their journey to their sponsor. 

 Volunteers are introduced, so families know who can help or answer questions. They then are escorted, family by family, into “the central office,” really two hotel rooms, where four Spanish-speaking volunteers complete intakes. One volunteer writes down the full name of the mom or dad, the name and age of the child(ren), where they are from, and where they need to get to next.

 Then the family moves to another table where another Spanish-speaking volunteer begins to make transportation plans.  They call the receiving sponsor in the US, and the sponsor and volunteer arrange for plane or bus tickets. Usually the parent and sponsor talk on the phone to ensure both parties understand the plan. Forms are filled out and pinned to complex whiteboards, delineating next steps by date—today, tomorrow, or the next day, by bus, plane, or pickup, if very local. 

 On those occasions when the destination address changes from the one programmed into the government’s ankle bracelet, it’s a real problem. Then arrangements have to be made to take the adult back to the detention center to get permission, and to reprogram the ankle monitor!  

 (Editor’s note: The Associated Press reports that early in 2018, immigrant families were separated as part of a “zero tolerance” program. But after a presidential executive order reversed that, families are often detained, then issued ankle monitors and released while they go through sometimes lengthy court proceedings. Inquiries into costs and suppliers and whether these monitors are effective remain unanswered by ICE—but that they associate immigration with criminality is clear.)

 After intake, the family goes to Annunciation’s next station, where I am serving as a volunteer who coordinates and assigns a hotel room number. That sounds simple, but keeping track of the rooms, and where everyone is assigned, is a feat.  There’s a large matrix on the wall, filling in who is where, with colored sticky notes, color depending on the day they arrived, and making sure that parent roommates are matched by gender, and by children with a matching age and gender. Yes, it is complicated!

 I give families their room number and escort them to the next station where Sally is volunteering, and they get a small packet of toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb). Sally takes them to meet a “runner.” Abby is serving as a “runner,” taking the adult and child(ren) to their assigned room, and speaking enough Spanish to help them get settled in their room.

 She tells them how to open and close the door, how to work the shower, makes sure they know to flush toilet paper inside the toilet, rather than put it in the trash can, as they did back home. She explains they cannot use the hotel phone and only have one key for two families, shares the schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and explains that while they are free to come down to the lobby, they must not leave the building, and can come to the office any time with any questions or medical needs.

 Families then can relax—or sometimes not!  Rooms are limited.  I often have to reassign a family to another room at a moment’s notice.  Abby then goes to them, and asks them to relocate to the room I reassign.  Abby says they are all so accommodating— “Sure no problem, and thank you.”

 Other Spanish-speaking volunteers work on transportation plans, time and flight, and find and assign a volunteer “transporter” to take the family to the airport or the bus station. I took one family to the local bus station in Las Cruces and made sure they got on the bus, but people are being transported to buses or planes throughout the day, morning or night, every day. I am amazed at the coordination it takes for all these volunteers and all this responsibility—and then there are the missed buses or connecting flights that have to be solved.

 There is a room assigned for medical help and supplies.  Today, there was a mom and three-year-old daughter, who had a rash. The nurse practitioner was called in to look at it and he determined it was scabies. So a prescription was called in, and a volunteer had to go to pharmacy in El Paso to pick it up, etc.

 At any time during their short stay, families may choose to go to the “clothing room” where Sally, Abby and I also volunteer, organizing and sorting donated clothing.  Each person is provided one new pair of socks, one new pair of underpants, a pair of pants, a blouse or shirt, and a winter coat if needed for a cold destination. 

 Local churches volunteer to provide lunches and dinners for our hundred people, which consists of rice, pinto beans, corn tortillas, sometimes shredded chicken, and when there is a lack of volunteering, pizza is brought in. When the moms and dads and children leave, they are provided with a bag filled with food.  If leaving on a bus, a family of two traveling on a three-day bus trip requires 18 sandwiches. 

Sally, Abby and I are pretty busy from 7:00 AM into the evening, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packing destination bags with fruit and snacks. We smile and comfort these folks, many of whom are frightened. It is our honor to greet our neighbors from abroad with empathy, compassion and a smile.  As the mission of my home Unitarian Church says, we welcome all, as we build a loving community, to honor each person’s spiritual journey, to serve human need and protect the earth, our home.

Love, Jo Romano

Interested in helping? Find more about Annunciation House and volunteering here: https://annunciationhouse.org/volunteer/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 On Friday, Sally, Abby and I arrive in El Paso to see the city’s sights, and also to volunteer.  Our goal is to welcome, feed, clothe and help refugees, arriving daily with their next destination somewhere in the United States.  On Sunday we begin orientation with Annunciation House. Because a new site to receive immigrants has just opened at a hotel, Annunciation House asks us to travel Sunday morning to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We three are up for the trip, 45 minutes away from El Paso.

 

We arrive shortly before 50 immigrants do, mostly from Guatemala, some from Honduras and El Salvador. There’s no time for our orientation! Fifty people arrived by bus and sit outside on sidewalks and curbs in the hotel parking lot, mostly small, young families, usually pairs, a mother or father with a child.

 

We learned about their journey. They cross over the bridge from Mexico to El Paso. They are taken to a detention center to be registered. They are given a thin metallic blanket and must sleep on a cold hard concrete floor, one blanket for two of them. The air conditioning is turned up high, the people kept very cold, not what they’re used to. Adults are given one frozen burrito three times a day.  The children are given a juice box and animal crackers, three times a day. When each adult and child is registered, they are given a date for legal action.

 

A thick, heavy, black ankle monitor is put on the adult, programmed with the address of their sponsor, while they wait for the immigration court proceedings to unfold. It is a stark and frightening experience for them, on purpose, we are told.  The officials at the holding center are directed to make the stay very unpleasant in hopes they will decide to ‘self deport’.  A fair number of these people develop sickness, colds, fevers, and upset stomachs during their 2-5 day stays.

 

You may have read about this in the news. Currently there are 30 people in one detention center in El Paso that are on hunger strike because of the conditions.  They are force-fed by a tube that is put through the nose and down their throats.

The government officials at the detention centers refer to the immigrants as “bodies,” and when it is time for them to eat, they say, “It is feeding time,” as if they were animals on farms, not fellow humans.

 

I am furious and very disturbed, hearing the experiences confirmed. Often a new site needs to be opened at a hotel to meet the need, as happened in Las Cruces when we arrived. There are 300-400 people arriving daily in El Paso seeking asylum from poverty and violence in their home countries.  The Detention Centers call Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia daily to say how many they are releasing from detention. There is a tremendous amount of coordination going on to make this system flow daily. Thus the need for local and faraway volunteers like us.

 

Nearly all the refugees have someone in the US who will sponsor them.  The destinations of those I’ve worked with so far included Chicago, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Atlanta, Washington D.C., upstate New York and New York City, Philadelphia, North and South Carolina, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and even Vermont.  The receiving family member, friend or sponsor pays for a plane or bus ticket, trips that take one to three more days of travel.

 

What do we do as volunteers? Each mother and child, or father and child (sometimes there are 2 or 3 children per adult) is welcomed by the site coordinator, and told they are safe, there will be food to eat, and enough water to drink, and medicine for those that need it. They will be warm here, respected and supported to complete their journey to their sponsor. 

 

Volunteers are introduced, so families know who can help or answer questions. They then are escorted, family by family, into “the central office,” really two hotel rooms, where four Spanish-speaking volunteers complete intakes. One volunteer writes down the full name of the mom or dad, the name and age of the child(ren), where they are from, and where they need to get to next.

 

Then the family moves to another table where another Spanish-speaking volunteer begins to make transportation plans.  They call the receiving sponsor in the US, and the sponsor and volunteer arrange for plane or bus tickets. Usually the parent and sponsor talk on the phone to ensure both parties understand the plan. Forms are filled out and pinned to complex whiteboards, delineating next steps by date—today, tomorrow, or the next day, by bus, plane, or pickup, if very local. 

 

On those occasions when the destination address changes from the one programmed into the government’s ankle bracelet, it’s a real problem. Then arrangements have to be made to take the adult back to the detention center to get permission, and to reprogram the ankle monitor!  

 

(Editor’s note: The Associated Press reports that early in 2018, immigrant families were separated as part of a “zero tolerance” program. But after a presidential executive order reversed that, families are often detained, then issued ankle monitors and released while they go through sometimes lengthy court proceedings. Inquiries into costs and suppliers and whether these monitors are effective remain unanswered by ICE—but that they associate immigration with criminality is clear.)

 

After intake, the family goes to Annunciation’s next station, where I am serving as a volunteer who coordinates and assigns a hotel room number. That sounds simple, but keeping track of the rooms, and where everyone is assigned, is a feat.  There’s a large matrix on the wall, filling in who is where, with colored sticky notes, color depending on the day they arrived, and making sure that parent roommates are matched by gender, and by children with a matching age and gender. Yes, it is complicated!

 

I give families their room number and escort them to the next station where Sally is volunteering, and they get a small packet of toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb). Sally takes them to meet a “runner.” Abby is serving as a “runner,” taking the adult and child(ren) to their assigned room, and speaking enough Spanish to help them get settled in their room.

 

 She tells them how to open and close the door, how to work the shower, makes sure they know to flush toilet paper inside the toilet, rather than put it in the trash can, as they did back home. She explains they cannot use the hotel phone and only have one key for two families, shares the schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and explains that while they are free to come down to the lobby, they must not leave the building, and can come to the office any time with any questions or medical needs.

 

Families then can relax—or sometimes not!  Rooms are limited.  I often have to reassign a family to another room at a moment’s notice.  Abby then goes to them, and asks them to relocate to the room I reassign.  Abby says they are all so accommodating— “Sure no problem, and thank you.”  

 

Other Spanish-speaking volunteers work on transportation plans, time and flight, and find and assign a volunteer “transporter” to take the family to the airport or the bus station. I took one family to the local bus station in Las Cruces and made sure they got on the bus, but people are being transported to buses or planes throughout the day, morning or night, every day. I am amazed at the coordination it takes for all these volunteers and all this responsibility—and then there are the missed buses or connecting flights that have to be solved.

 

There is a room assigned for medical help and supplies.  Today, there was a mom and three-year-old daughter, who had a rash. The nurse practitioner was called in to look at it and he determined it was scabies. So a prescription was called in, and a volunteer had to go to pharmacy in El Paso to pick it up, etc.

 

At any time during their short stay, families may choose to go to the “clothing room” where Sally, Abby and I also volunteer, organizing and sorting donated clothing.  Each person is provided one new pair of socks, one new pair of underpants, a pair of pants, a blouse or shirt, and a winter coat if needed for a cold destination. 

 

Local churches volunteer to provide lunches and dinners for our hundred people, which consists of rice, pinto beans, corn tortillas, sometimes shredded chicken, and when there is a lack of volunteering, pizza is brought in. When the moms and dads and children leave, they are provided with a bag filled with food.  If leaving on a bus, a family of two travelling on a three-day bus trip requires 18 sandwiches. 

 

Sally, Abby and I are pretty busy from 7:00 AM into the evening, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packing destination bags with fruit and snacks. We smile and comfort these folks, many of whom are frightened. It is our honor to greet our neighbors from abroad with empathy, compassion and a smile.  As the mission of my home Unitarian Church says, we welcome all, as we build a loving community, to honor each person’s spiritual journey, to serve human need and protect the earth, our home.

 

Love, Jo Romano

 

Interested in helping? Find more about Annunciation House and volunteering here:

https://annunciationhouse.org/volunteer/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lions and Lambs of March

March began by roaring in like a righteous she-lion with #MeToo at the Oscars, and Oprah's speech about the loud collapse of dozens of male bullies. These included two at the White House who resigned when a photo of an ex-wife with a black eye punctured their collective male denial of their crimes against women. Yet March showed no sign of leaving like a lamb.

All month we endured more stories of women’s bodies claimed as sexual property, bought and paid for—sued and countersued over then-candidate Trump’s affairs.  Pay-off money and unkept business deals to silence women before the election is part of that news-roar. A Playboy bunny and a porn star, young enough to be Trump’s daughter, both alleged that before sex he admired them for being as smart and beautiful as his daughter—ee-yew! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/stormy-trump-compared-daughter-sex-article-1.3895543

NBC’s Heidi Przbyla and other women journalists have lately brought to the forefront a lamb that hasn’t gotten as much attention. Quieter, it bleats another tale of young female bodies treated as property. In mid-February, Planned Parenthood joined with eight local government, healthcare, and advocacy groups to sue Trump’s HHS (Health & Human Services). The Washington Post reported $220 million in sudden cuts to a reauthorized national Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, despite evidence it was working. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/02/15/planned-parenthood-sues-trump-administration-for-ending-grants-to-teen-pregnancy-programs/?utm_term=.0ed6cb57010b

Reporter Przbyla found the program, begun in 2010, had bipartisan support in Congress and had trained more than 7,000 health professionals and supported 3,000 community-based organizations. The result, reported most recently in 2017, was record lows in US teen pregnancy and birth rates.  http://time.com/4843652/teen-birth-rates-record-low/

Damningly, and in keeping with Trump cuts in other programs benefiting women and children, she reported that experienced female administrators at HHS had been kept out of the decision-making loop and were told to “get in line.” Cuts came down by command from Steven Valentine, an anti-abortion abstinence activist put in charge of HHS family planning.  One administrator said she was “so rattled” that “my reaction when I got on the phone was to cry.”

But now picture her singing along with that old song of Helen Reddy’s: I am woman, hear me roar! Because a week after Przbyla’s story came out, HHS withdrew some of its cuts. And I suspect women aren’t done yet with evidence-based programs that work to prevent teenaged pregnancies. We're just done with protection of outdated male claims on women’s bodies and decisions. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/hhs-agrees-protect-some-funds-teen-pregnancy-prevention-program-n860581

 

We Interrupt This UnReal Reality Show....

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The news got crazier this week, but there’s a piece that’s dangerous, but eye-glazing, —easy to miss in the midst of a porn star’s lawsuit against our President, followed by the House Intelligence Committee’s Republicans issuing an all-clear on Trumpish collusion with Russia https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/12/politics/house-republicans-russia-conclusions/index.html.

It feels like some horrible Trump reality show. You're fired, Rex, for faulting Russian government. But now for an important commercial: Pay attention to Pocahontas!

That’s Trump’s nickname for the smartest Senator on the Senate Banking Committee, Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts (originally from Oklahoma, where her family lore claimed native blood when that was a racial slur). Warren’s books are an important source in Screwnomics. She tracked bankruptcies back in the 90s and found medical costs the top cause for rising rates. She next headed a commission overseeing TARP bank bailout program, and seeing Wall Street’s bamboozles, proposed the Consumer Protection Agency. Elected the first female Senator from Massachusetts in 2012, she and her money-saving agency have been under attack ever since.

Now she’s sounding a new warning. After the 2008 meltdown, Congress passed a banking reform bill called Dodd-Frank, and ever since Wall Street has tried to undo it. The devil’s in the details. Many of the bill’s measures, designed to regulate Wall Street’s mega banks, were hard for small banks, and resulted in bank mergers. What we need is a healthy network of local, small banks. But in a legislative effort to lessen the regulatory load on these smaller banks and credit unions, Wall Street’s bullies have laid claim to the same regulation break.

Isn’t that fair? No, all things are not equal, says Warren. S.2155 is called The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,” and is supported by 50 Republicans and 16 Democrats. What would it do? https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/05/opinions/mitch-mcconnell-bank-lobbyist-act-opinion-taub/index.html. Dodd-Frank required all bank holding companies with more than $50 billion be supervised by the Federal Reserve. What Warren has renamed as The Bank Lobbyist Act raises that threshold to $250 billion, increasing risk five-fold.

It would weaken stress tests for 25 of the 38 biggest banks in the country, megabanks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. Ten years ago these same billionaire banks got billions in taxpayer dollars, after they collapsed the economy. So now they get an anniversary present??! Warren’s right to rename it. Tell your Senator you want an amendment. Yes, help community banks, but small is less risky. Wall Street’s bigness, which always puts them first in line for government welfare, crushes the communities we live in. http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/377534-warren-rankles-colleagues-in-bank-fight.

Women's Day Is Not Just a Magazine

Family Values

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Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day, a good time to take stock of how far we women have come. But wait—what do you mean we’re headed backwards? Laura Liswood with the World Economic Forum points out in an article that worldwide, women’s funding for reproductive health has been reduced, and family planning is harder to come by.

There is also a glaring “under-representation of women and minorities in US cabinet-level positions.”  Pale male EconoMan rules Washington’s swamp these days.  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/womens-rights-sexual-equality-in-revers

In Russia, Liswood reports, the Duma just voted 380 to 3 for decriminalizing domestic violence, so long as it doesn’t cause “substantial bodily harm,” and occurs less than once a year. Seriously?!

According to The New York Times, most in the US agree this is a better time to be a man than a woman in our society—except for Republican men. They say it’s a better to be a woman than a man, despite evidence to the contrary. No doubt, they also believe they do their fair share of housework. 

Most disturbing though was Liswood’s report on women’s voting patterns. In France, women are backing Marie LePen and her far-right nationalism, on a par with Trump here in the US. Let’s not forget that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. Is it fear and greater job insecurity? Is it threats of nuclear holocaust cause women to hope for a strong man?

But 53 percent is still a minority of our sex, especially when you add in our savvy African American sisters. And here’s a salute to Tanya Plibersek, who is running as “minister for women” in Australia. She promised if elected her Labor party would re-establish the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ time use survey, which hasn’t been done there since 2006. Time use is an important measure of the value of unpaid work and gender inequity in household work. In 1997, Australia’s unpaid work was valued at $261 billions or almost half of Australia’s GDP that year.

Seeing what is typically invisible helps informs policy affecting parental leave, childcare, transport, education and workforce participation. Women’s groups in Australia have long argued for the survey’s re-establishment, and Plibersek put it simply: “[T]he Australian economy [and] Australian society rests upon women’s unpaid work.” US women could do a great deal more with time studies here. 

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/06/labor-to-restore-survey-measuring-mens-and-womens-unpaid-housework

 

Fat Cats of America

My cat Azula knows I could have blogged every moment of every day this past week, reacting to: Scott Pruitt’s steady dismantling of the EPA; the Trump infrastructure proposal that promises to profit the wealthiest and further indebt the public; a White House staffed by wife-beaters without security clearance; indictments of lying Russian and American men paid to corrupt our faith in elections and facts; a social media which eats up our time while creating more billionaires and smears; and a Florida legislature voting down debate on gun control because surviving kids from our latest school massacre were actually protesting, Never Again!

How did America, the land of the free, get here? It boggles the mind. But one constant does connect it: fat cat money. Who exactly has it, and who gets to make the rules that govern money and us by essentially violent means? 

How much money should the fattest pale male cats have at their paws' disposal? As I write in Screwnomics, millions and billions sound alike, but they’re worlds apart.  Calculated in time, a dollar per second, one million adds up to 12 days. A billion is 13 YEARS. Meanwhile, the median US household (which most often these days includes two earners) is $59,039, or 16 HOURS of time. Half of us earn less and are hustling.

Up until 2016, the median had yet to catch up to where we were in 2008, before the crash, created by Wall Street’s richest. By contrast, Bill Gates, our richest fat cat, had a measly $43 billion in 2008. Now he’s worth $86 billion, or 27 CENTURIES of time. This isn’t due to his overtime pay.

I’ve nothing against Gates or cats, but I do have a problem with a system that so reliably moves money up to those who already have the most. It undermines democracy for us church mice. We need money control as much as we need gun control. The founding fathers never anticipated AR-15s or billionaires, but they did know of Kings—and declared themselves disobedient to despots.

So, be heartened by those young, caring Americans, who courageously wave our nation’s authentic power. American money can be put to much better use than more guns, more billionaires, more corrupt government and lies. Even Azula knows fat cats aren't healthy cats! 

—Rickey Gard Diamond

Outside, Soft Fluffy Snowflakes...

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...are falling, not in a hurry, but steadily, as if they can be counted upon to not give up, to keep on. Typically such snow makes me cozy, and inspires me to sing holly-jolly songs of the season, the cornier the better, my croaky voice the perfect foil. But today I am weepy, in touch with a fear of looming tragedy, theirs and ours.

Across the country unusual warmth is promised, while in California it bursts into flames that won’t quit. An airport loses power, holiday planes are downed by heavy fog, Houston and its neighbors are still swamp and poorer—and in Puerto Rico my fellow Americans face the season without water and electricity. In a Washington run by Wall Street and its unhinged wealthiest, Americans face yet more debt in pursuit of more growth in hopes of a trickle. Just a trickle is all we ask, and instead we get a Christmas Goose egg from a Congress of Scrooges and Stooges, who keep on selling us out.

They kick us out of the halls of power when we protest in our wheelchairs, saying Don’t Kill Us, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo and Gay is Good. God Bless Us Everyone, says Tiny Tim, the least of us—but in this year’s Christmas tale, he gets backhanded, not picked up and fed.

We can look forward to our “entitlement programs,” the insurance we’ve long paid for with our taxes, being cut or eliminated, like the environment—now deemed too expensive, given the corporate giveaway. Trump and Putin are making chummy phone calls to replace state-craft, making billionaires better off worldwide by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and Syria in exchange for more fossil fuel money.

All is wrong with the world, it seems, although snowflakes are still falling in Vermont. Bit by bit, they float down and pile up and remind me, united we stand, divided we fall, to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn.