ILLUSIONS

I read a report about the lunatic in Las Vegas; he was a multi-millionaire who owned nearly fifty high-powered guns plus a lot of other scary stuff. His dad was once on the FBI’s ten most wanted list—he was a fugitive for ten years.

These guns that many civilians now own were designed to shatter the bones and scramble the internal organs of victims—in violation of the spirit of international norms, agreements, and treaties that were agreed to by all countries before and after the second World War.

These Geneva Convention prohibitions (and others) were crafted to make hollow-point style ammunition illegal. To evade these restrictions, US gun-makers designed weapons to fire high-velocity bullets that tumbled—they inflicted crippling injuries with more ferocity than even the banned hollow-points.

Billy Lee has never visited Las Vegas nor does he plan to. It was built as a stopover during WWII for GIs on route to the west coast, where they boarded ships to fight their way to Japan. According to legend, criminal syndicates built “Sin City”. People say the bad guys moved out. The president owns a hotel there. The Editorial Board

During combat officer training in the Vietnam era, I fired one of these weapons (an M16 rifle) at a bucket of water. The bullet went in clean but blew out the back. Shards of metal and water flew everywhere. The container exploded, basically.

Every massacre involving these weapons reaps what we sowed. The USA violated both the spirit of the international consensus and basic common sense nearly six decades ago. Our country put the lethality of heavy weapons into rifles that handled like toys. Weapon manufacturers created bone smashing ammo.

People shot by these guns don’t recover. Survivors carry their wounds to the grave.

Modern high-tech guns and ammunition are inhumane, lethal, and crippling. The military shouldn’t use them; neither should civilians; especially civilians who aren’t properly trained or supervised; some civilian gun owners have an unhealthy obsession with these kill-sticks; some are lunatics.

Flags are set at half-mast across the USA to honor the fallen in the Las Vegas attack. This pic was taken by Billy Lee in a Belle Tire parking lot. The Editorial Board

As for hollow-point ammo, police inside the United States ignore the international prohibitions. Many agencies use black-talon style hollow-points to reduce the penetrating power of tumbling slugs (that can kill bystanders) while dramatically increasing debilitation to the person shot.

Misunderstanding of the second amendment has put four million tumbling-slug killing tools into the hands of ordinary people who have no accountability and who are in some cases insane.

After all these years only God knows where these weapons are. What could possibly go wrong?

Despite being a pontificator who by definition lacks expertise, I don’t generally speculate about things I know nothing about. I really don’t. I try to not think about the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place during past decades, because it is depressing and demoralizing (and scary) to believe that going to public venues is dangerous.

It’s hard to say who is worse off during these mass-casualty events, the dead or the wounded or those who witness the violence up close and personal. So many people are traumatized for no good reason. I suspect that even viewers of television coverage get a sick feeling in their stomachs when these horrors occur. I know I do.

The recent attack in Las Vegas was strange. Daesh—called ISIS or ISIL in the U.S.—claimed that the shooter was a contractor who worked for them. He was a kind of sleeper mercenary who was well-paid, apparently, and did what he was told when the time came.

His handlers—who may have helped to set up the killing zone—occupied the hotel suite alongside him during the attack. They might have killed him to make it look like suicide and exited the building via a service elevator disguised as hotel workers, maybe. It’s possible.

Another disturbing possibility is that they let the shooter live expecting that he would escape and join them in another attack. He might have been disabled by gas—perhaps injected under the door by police. If so, he is now in custody.

Anything is possible, when conspiracy theories start percolating. The shooter might have been a kind of patsy, like Lee Harvey Oswald claimed to be (for those readers who have convinced themselves that Oswald did not conspire alone).

If the Las Vegas massacre was an ISIS attack (as ISIS claims) it’s not likely that the United States will give the group the satisfaction of an acknowledgment. Disclosure would undermine confidence in law enforcement’s capability to protect the public from terrorist attacks.

Agencies will instead work behind the scenes to uncover, debrief, and terminate with extreme prejudice all the players. Justice will be served. It will be methodical and relentless. It could take time—months or even years.

This vehicle is being tested for battle-worthiness.

Most Americans never fully understood the Iraq War that spawned ISIS and filled its ranks with experienced and ruthless fighters; nor have they grasped how powerful is Saddam Hussein’s family, his friends, and his army—once one of the world’s largest and most formidable. I’ve heard people say some dumb things about what all that fighting in the Middle East was about those many years ago.

Accounts I’ve read and heard from people I trust say that before the Iraq War Saddam’s family was one of the world’s wealthiest; they owned a lot of stuff—popular magazines and food franchises, even sophisticated enterprises, some with an international reach.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, second in command in Saddam’s Iraq and founder of ISIS.

Saddam’s closest advisor and deputy—who President Bush called the King of Clubs—was never apprehended. His name is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. He is considered to be the mastermind behind the formation of ISIS.

A few years ago reports appeared in the press that Ibrahim died during an attack on his security detail. But no one saw him die. No one attended his funeral. His body (including DNA evidence of his death) is missing. Some say these stories of al-Douri’s demise were planted by ISIS agents. Ibrahim faked his own death. Who knows?

Anyway, my understanding is that ISIS was formed by members of Saddam’s family and loyal remnants of his army who are trying to take back what they lost during the Bush presidency. That’s how many see it, including reporters at Haaretz, an Israeli news organization.

When the USA conquered Iraq, Saddam’s army (and leadership) melted away, but they had billions of dollars stashed in banks, the walls of buildings, and in holes underground. They have not been afraid to spend it.

ISIS travels first class. It has the best of everything, including trucks, cars, weapons, and drones. It captured an astounding amount of USA war fighting machinery in fights with Iraqi Shiites (ISIS is Sunni) after the USA exited Iraq.

Some of the captured equipment included MRAPs (see earlier illustration). It seems unbelievable, but its true. (Note from the Editorial Board: Billy Lee helped design the run-flat wheel that permitted fighting vehicles in the Gulf wars to stay mobile after their tires were shredded, punctured, or shot through.)

Billy Lee helped develop for Chrysler the run-flat technology used by combat vehicles like this one. The Editorial Board

The way I understand the conflict, the Sunnis of Iraq could reasonably be compared in some ways to the southern whites who served the confederacy during America’s Civil War. The Shiites in this analogy would be the negro slaves.

Think about it. After the Iraq War, the downtrodden Shiites (with help from the USA) took control of Iraq from the entitled Sunnis, much like blacks took control of the southern states after the Civil War with help from the north’s military occupation (called Reconstruction).

Southern whites eventually wrested control from their former slaves, but it took twenty years of terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan to make it happen. A similar dynamic is underway in the Middle East today, it seems. The Sunnis are reestablishing their control through terror, for the most part. Eventually they may win, like the Ku Klux Klan won their fight. In the meantime, a lot of innocents are getting hurt and worse.

The territory that ISIS controls in the Middle East is vast. It is comparable in size to the country of Egypt. Yes, some ISIS cities and towns have been recaptured by USA backed forces in recent months, but the fights have been costly in lives and treasure; the victories do not seem to have turned the tide of the war, at least not yet. Everytime the USA hits ISIS hard, as it has in recent months, ISIS seems to find a way to hit back.

It’s difficult (some would say, impossible) to defeat a determined foe in their own country. We learned this lesson in Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. The fight against ISIS is going to be a long one. Our country might go bankrupt before victory comes. It’s possible.

No one wants to admit it, but the USA is teetering on the edge of financial collapse right now, as this essay is being written. Our last president, Barack Hussein Obama, (now called Barry Obama by friends) worked out some fixes to stave off an economic crisis, but the current president seems hell-bent on bringing our country to ruin.

The president and his wealthy friends seem to want to eliminate the estate tax so that they can leave thousands of millions of dollars (they call them billions) to their crazy kids who can flee with our national treasure to whatever solvent country will welcome them after the dust settles.

I’m told that the people around the president are Christian patriots who are determined to prevent really big screw-ups from being implemented. The country is safe.

More importantly, Christians don’t do genocides. They don’t do mass killings of civilians like that lunatic in Las Vegas. Yes, Hitler said he was Christian, but history has judged him differently.

The Christian patriots in the White House won’t permit the president to first-strike North Korea, for example, with nuclear weapons. They won’t kill ten to twenty million people over a few missile tests, which many countries conduct without threat of retaliation, including the United States.

Atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll. Hydrogen bombs are much larger.

The USA dropped dozens of hydrogen bombs in the Pacific Ocean, remember, and no one did anything about it. Countries around the world have conducted 520 atmospheric nuclear explosions and 1,352 underground detonations. We aren’t going to exterminate an entire country like North Korea over a few low-level, underground atomic tests. No rational, humanity-loving civilization would even contemplate such an atrocity.

So far, so good, I guess. Yes, we are in good hands, I’m told. No one is insane—not here; not there. 

In time, no one will remember the killings in Las Vegas, anyway. No illusions. Everyone knows the truth when they see it, right?

When given a choice, decent people do what’s right, don’t they? Of course, they do. They show mercy; it’s what the Bible says God wants.

Billy Lee  

Nightmare

I lived as a teenager and young adult during the 1960s in an America where abortion was illegal in every state. Ten percent of women got abortions anyway. The technology of abortion is not complicated; many people did them for pregnant girls and women for small fees.
 
Birth control was something new. Many girls and young women did not yet understand how it all worked. They suffered shame and ignorance. Many got “in trouble” who never imagined it could happen to them—learning about their pregnancies, some of them, long after their boyfriends had moved on.
 

In junior high—it was 1961; I was thirteen—Thursday was Queers Day. Anyone who wore green was queer and could be harassed—no mercy. God help the wearer of green on Queers Day. I had no idea what being queer meant; I knew it was bad. Queer folks went to prison, some of them. They couldn’t get security clearances, not in the military, not in the Navy, dad told me.

Blacks couldn’t vote until 1964. I was sixteen. Until the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 (I was twenty), businesses like hotels, drugstores, theaters, and realtors could choose not to sell their products to anyone they hated—usually Negroes
 
Yes, a few companies sold to black people, but not many. After King was murdered, 125 cities erupted into racial violence. Some say more. Congress, fearing the unraveling of America, passed the Fair Housing Act and other legislation to make racial discrimination by business owners illegal.
 
I never saw a black face on television until 1965. Black musicians and singers entertained on the radio and in night clubs in most large cities. On the radio it was not possible to know always if the singer was black. The link at the top of this paragraph is to an Otis Redding song released during Christmas of 1964. When Otis died in 1967, I did not know what he looked like. I’d never seen a picture of him—one of the most popular singers of all time.
 
By the time I graduated from college I did know what all the different brands of cigarettes looked like. TV forced me to watch thousands of cigarette commercials. Viewers back then couldn’t pause or mute programs. Remotes didn’t exist. Of course I smoked. Who can resist sophisticated advertising? I couldn’t.
 
On television news shows, I watched the USA fight a genocidal war in Vietnam. I signed up to serve—as an infantry officer, no less. I learned that war is bad; much worse than I imagined. I protested and the army stripped me of my pending commission. I got arrested at a demonstration and even spent a few hours in jail before some good lawyers set me free.
 
Some modern historians have argued that 1952 (I was four) was the year when the USA dropped anthrax munitions on Chinese troops stationed in northern Korea—an act of bio-terrorism. In 1976 (I was twenty-eight), a “rogue” CIA employee blew up a plane carrying the Cuban Olympic fencing team. The bombing was the world’s very first act of aviation terrorism—a form of terror our enemies would one day turn against us.
 
I lived in America under President Nixon, the closest thing to a Nazi we ever elected to the White House. I was twenty-six when Congress started the impeachment process against him and he resigned. As a high-schooler I lived in Virginia, where white people went “coon” hunting to find and execute random black people. I lived a half mile from the headquarters of the American Nazi Party, which was led by a retired Navy Commander.
 
Can things get worse? Of course. Government leaders lie. Many are hypocrites. It’s often not possible to know what’s true. A lot of people who wear suits and ties are haters and power-trippers. It’s true.
 
We are a slave state. Slavery was a hundred years old in America when our nation established itself under a constitution in 1776; it’s a hundred-and-fifty years, if indentured servants (who were white and made up two-thirds of the population) are included.
 
Slavery is the fertile soil out of which the thorn bush of capitalism spread its vile branches of greed and exclusion. The institution of slavery makes getting rich easy for those who own slaves.
 
I love the roses of capitalism. But its spines can grow long enough to wound and even kill the unwary. Unlimited incomes and estate sizes turn capitalism into a predatory exercise; without limits people get hurt; democracy is devalued; economies stall; recession and depression follow.
 
The disadvantaged poor are as often as not sent to war by the rich and powerful to further maximize their enormous advantages. Threatening another war to take the oil of Iraq is an example—recently advocated by our new president. Since the beginning of time, every thinking person has known that greed—unchecked and unrestrained—destroys civilizations. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of every kind of evil. It’s true.
 
Almost everyone in the world today lives under authoritarian governments run by men, usually, who don’t give a care about freedom. It’s always been this way. Even in America with its Statue of Liberty, its Bill of Rights, its wide open spaces and fast cars, most people find themselves trapped in jobs they hate and working for rich folks who can ruin their lives with two words: You’re fired.
 
To put things into perspective: unless our new president decides to arrest and execute dissenters, or drops nuclear bombs, we will get through what seems to some like a living nightmare. It is not. Not really. Not yet.
 
We’ve been down this nasty road before. It leads to upheaval, yes, but if my generation survived and prevailed, then our kids and grandkids—some of whom I suspect think old people are stupid—will as well.
 
My advice is to be smart; dignity and love demand that each person resist evil as best they can. My experience is that the brave people who resist will lose every battle. We can’t close our eyes to the reality that the USA targeted and killed resisters in both Asia and the United States during the Vietnam debacle, to use just one example out of many.   
 
We war resisters lost every fight; every argument; every skirmish; every battle. People still ridicule the baby boomers who said no to war. I saw an ad on TV news that claimed that many boomers suffer from hepatitis C.  Imagine—the generation that said no to war is the newest leper colony—according to the pharma pigs who are always pushing imaginary cures. 
 
Like everything else billionaires tell us, it’s fantasy. I don’t know a single person from my generation who has hepatitis C. Yes, some boomers have hepatitis C; that much has to be true; it’s simple statistics; and, yes, some voters cheated during our recent presidential election. Anything is possible. Everything is possible.
 
Powerful people can paint the people they despise in any colors they want. Crooked Hillary. Lying Ted.
 
Slander is not new. The ninth of the Commandments of the Bible forbids slander. Powerful people increase their power by violating this commandment regularly. It’s the way they roll. It always will be.
 
It’s why Jesus said—except in the case of a miracle by Almighty God—the rich have as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel has to squeeze itself through the eye of a sewing needle.
 
Despite the harm that billionaires do, they can’t change the reality that Martin Luther King Jr. described eloquently and frequently during his short life of suffering for the cause of freedom and equality: The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
 
We, everyone of us, should share Martin’s hope: non-violent resistance is not futile. Not yet. Not ever.
 
Billy Lee

TRUMP

Statement: The Billy Lee Pontificator Editorial Board

This essay is a collection of Facebook rants that Billy Lee wrote and later deleted, because he is a coward and feared readers might turn on him; even stone him to death. Billy Lee deleted his tantrums from Facebook, yes, but he copied and pasted them into what he thought was a secret file on his blog site.

Billy Lee has no secret files; not any he can hide from us, anyway—his Editorial Board.  Nuh uh…No way…. We got to reading his “secret” files the other day, and guess what? His Trump file was pretty good.  

We decided to tell Billy Lee to stand up; to act like a lion, not the mouse he so often seems to be. Publish this stuff, we told him. Even Billy Lee Junior and Fannie Jeane agreed. They talked him into it. They really did. It was them two, not us.

So here goes: Billy Lee said we could publish his warnings about the orange-man, who he fears will destroy the country we love—if he doesn’t make some changes to his deplorable personality. Billy Lee insisted that we encrypt the name of “orange-man” to protect our site from harassment by Trump trolls and bots. No problem.

The Editorial Board

Note: On September 18, 2016 Billy Lee removed the encryption we used to hide his essay from web search-engine spiders. He told us that he wants to stand (or maybe crash and burn) on the words he wrote. NO FEAR! he choked between bouts of episodic projectile vomiting. NO FEAR!

Note: On November 9 (11-9) news outlets declared Trump the winner of the 2016 presidential election. We wish our new president our very best. We pray that he will reassure all Americans that he loves us and will serve us with the humility and respect for human rights and freedoms that his high calling demands. One way to start is to apologize to the civilians (non-politicians) he insulted and falsely accused of crimes and human failings during his campaign.  The Editorial Board


Trump

Ted Cruz took many evangelicals away from Trump. For this, we must thank him for his courage. His sacrificial act at the Republican National Convention brought wrath from the Trump goons, but he was trying to save America from making the worst mistake in our history. God is good. [Editors Note: (November 19, 2016) Exit polls now show that Trump received the largest percentage of evangelical votes, ever. 81% voted for him; Hillary Clinton received 16%.]

ted-cruz
Senator Ted Cruz says he is a follower of Jesus. A Trump surrogate called Cruz a “Zika virus.” Cruz refused to endorse the GOP presidential candidate, because the orange-man insulted his wife, among many other things.

A top Trump super Pac leader called Senator Ted Cruz a Zika virus. The GOP doesn’t want him. Good riddance to the Zika virus. The rhetoric reminds me of Hitler; the way he painted his detractors.

Editors Note: on Friday, September 23, Cruz tweeted that he would vote for Trump to honor a promise he made before the GOP convention to support the nominee; Hillary Clinton was too liberal. His “non-endorsement” lasted two months; it ended two days before the first presidential debate. The Pontificator endorsed Hillary Clinton on February 10, 2016

I’m feeling good vibes about America tonight. Our neighborhood sounds like the happiest war zone anyone could ever imagine. [This paragraph is from a July 4th FB entry. The Editorial Board] God is healing our country, even if we can’t see it, some of us.

All we have to do is love and forgive. The rest is easy. Be confident and do what’s right. That’s the goal for summer and fall and into the elections. All else is up to God, whose angels protect us all, twenty-four seven.

Ted Cruz, you are a beautiful man. Thank you for what you said and did at the GOP cross-burning. They called it a convention, but you knew better. 2,500 delegates showed up; 18 were black—less than one percent. Nobody in leadership attended; not the Bush family; not the McCain’s; nor the Romney’s; not anyone of integrity, good will, and national stature. It took bravery, Mr. Cruz, and you showed it. May God bless and protect you.

My take away is this: these are very sad days for Trump and his family. He loves America, he says, but he’s lived inside a bubble of privilege his entire life. He doesn’t understand which way the wind is blowing, and he seems dangerously close to having a heart attack every time he speaks. (He’s seventy years old.) Despite his words, which some take to be patriotic, he and his friends may very well wreck America (much like Bush W. almost did) by making the country a hostile, unfriendly place for people who want to use the freedom granted by our Constitution to warn us of our follies.

The people who support Trump, many of them, behave on the internet like vicious animals (apologies to my furry friends in the animal kingdom); they seem to carry a lot of race-hate in their hearts as well as hatred for my gal, Hillary, who I love. Log onto the Internet and go to their twitter feeds, anyone who doesn’t believe it. Hillary Clinton is Mother Teresa compared to many of them.

Editor’s note: on January 6, 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report (click this link), which concluded that agents of Russian intelligence created bots on social media to intimidate and suppress Hillary Clinton supporters. Billy Lee received threats on Twitter from a few of them.

Despite all this hate, many Christian pastors and opinion leaders have jumped on board the Trump train—if you ask them privately, which I have. It disturbs me to hear pastors defend Trump; who tell me that he “accepted Christ” a few months (or years) ago; that although he behaves badly, we have to give him the benefit of all doubts—he’s a “baby Christian”, after all; he needs time to grow.

gott-mit-uns-german-belt-buckleIt reminds me of the excuses some religious leaders gave Hitler, who not only claimed to be a Christian tasked to carry out God’s Holy Will, but encouraged his minions to stamp the words, “Gott mit uns” on their military-issued belt-buckles.

God is with us, they chanted as pastors and congregants alike took the world to war and caused the deaths of nearly a hundred million people in a futile and absurd quest to exterminate the progeny of “those people” they blamed for the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus Himself. To add context, this crucifixion was a state-execution of a rogue rabbi by the Roman Empire, which was carried out two-thousand years ago.

Today the Christ-haters are Muslims, they tell us. We are supposed to elect a candidate who says he wants to exterminate them—the really bad ones plus their families—at least for now. Later…well…we’ll see about that—after we figure out just what the hell is going on.

What is going on—what’s wrong with America—is this: our elites aren’t carrying their weight; they aren’t supporting the people in the countries that protect them. They are—many of them—decadent, immoral, insensitive, and entitled.

Trump is a billionaire. No matter how well-intentioned, he is the last person we should pick to lead our country.

On the RNC twitter feed, a trumper challenged me for posting the following: A few minutes ago on Fox News Congressman Darrell Issa said Hillary was 72 years old. She is 68; Trump is 70. Turn FOX NEWS off.

The emotions of the haters are high right now. It’s probably a good time to get off the Internet and let these lunatics implode on their own. I’m a coward, anyway. Until today, I didn’t have the guts to challenge them. I was too scared.

I must have blocked at least 100 tweeters, so I could follow the Democratic convention on Twitter without seeing grotesque images and reading threats in the feeds.  [As of the day of this posting, Billy Lee has blocked over 3,000 Trump lunatics.  The Editorial BoardThe amazing part for me was to learn that Twitter was also blocking crazies. What I blocked were trumper-nazis who were somehow getting by the censors.

What I learned is that it doesn’t matter if Trump is good or bad. Who knows?—he might be a Christ follower—some Christian leaders say he is. What matters is that he and his movement are unleashing the dogs of war on the American people. These dogs stalk the Internet; they worship guns; some have tens-of-thousands of followers.

They say vicious things; they make veiled threats and not so veiled threats. They post disgusting images. They rally around Trump with their confederate and American flags; their guns; their hogs and choppers. They’ve got it all figured out.

The cure for what’s wrong is violence, they believe. They embrace the cure. They worship cruelty. They behave like bullies. They take no prisoners. They show no mercy. At least on Twitter.

In the real world outside Twitter, they might all be little old ladies in combat boots texting away on their iPads inside nursing homes, for all I know, but I block them anyway and pray that their hero never makes it to the White House.

lock-her-up-at-2016-gop-republican-convention
Trump supporters worked themselves into a frenzy at the GOP convention. They chanted, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”  They never explained why.

After the GOP convention, I felt more confident he won’t.  Lock her up! Lock her up! his delegates chanted. It sounded to me like, Crucify her! Crucify her!

Only haters scream words like these. Sometimes they get their way. Haters locked up Jesus and killed him. Some people said, he did nothing wrong. Some said, he loved others. He healed people. He lived a perfect life.

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton: What difference did it make?  Right now, I’m not sure about the results of the approaching election. Some polls say Trump will be president.

The Russian mafia is working with the GOP to take down Hillary, some people in the intelligence community are saying. It’s a nightmare scenario.

During a debate last year, Trump explicitly said that he’d met Putin, while the two of them sat backstage waiting to appear on 60 Minutes. I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes; we were stablemates, said Trump at the time.

Trump said this summer that he doesn’t know Putin. He’s never met him.

Trump married two women from communist countries—his first wife, Ivana and his current wife, Melania. The one non-communist he married, Marla Maples, bore him a child out of wed-lock. He later married her. They divorced five years after, before a sunset-clause on his prenuptial agreement expired. Marla got nothing—a reported 2 million dollars out of the many thousands-of-millions Trump had accumulated.

Has anyone visited Trump twitter feeds to see who his acolytes are?  I did.  I saw thousands of bots with 5 followers and 25 tweets flooding twitter-feeds with pro-Trump anti-Hillary nonsense. It was annoying and scary. I also found Trump worshippers, sometimes with tens-of-thousands of followers. I blocked the worst of them; the ones with pornographic images of Hillary, or assault weapons, or threatening messages in their bios.

People are afraid of Trump and his cult of rabid followers; he says he will enable our police to become even more aggressive than they already are. Is it any wonder that he has zero-percent support among black citizens who must endure the militarized police state our nation has engineered to suppress and control their righteous rage?

People are afraid to speak up for what they know in their hearts is right, because GOP thugs scare them. Most white Americans who are not members of minority groups are not accustomed to being scared; to experiencing fear; they aren’t in the habit of self-censorship to protect the people they love (except at work, where political disagreements with owners can cost people their livelihoods).

We can’t let fear stop us from speaking out. We can’t let the Trump train terrorize us into silence—not while we still have a chance, no matter how slim, to derail it.

Here’ something to remember: After the Russians captured Hitler (to be historically accurate, no one has ever claimed responsibility for finding him), and the allies conquered Germany the common people said they knew nothing about the concentration camps; they were shocked when the allies forced them to walk through the many slave-labor camps where six million people toiled and died, many by poison gas and immolation.

After Trump is elected, we won’t hear about the bad things that are happening in our country. It isn’t going to be on television. People are going to disappear, and we won’t know why or how.

His people will muzzle the press (some people are saying they already have), but we won’t know. A nation that can’t figure out FOX NEWS is not going to figure out sophisticated attacks against democratic values by people who are truly evil.

That’s why we have to speak up and vote. We have a chance to stop the rise of fascism in America. We have to take the chance we still have.

Tony Schwartz wrote Trump’s Art of the Deal. He spent eighteen months at Trump’s side following him around and listening to his conversations, phone calls, and so on. He wrote the book, and Trump signed it. Trump and Schwartz split the money it made 50/50.

Like Trump, Schwartz is a “tweeter”, who I started following recently.

tony-schwartz-art-of-the-deal-2
Tony Schwartz made millions from the sale of the book he wrote: The Art of the Deal. He is warning voters that Trump is a sociopath.

Schwartz now says: I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.

Schwartz says he wishes he titled his book, The Sociopath.

What bothers me is that people who have read Art of the Deal believe they know Trump. The writer says no—they read a book designed to sell a lot of copies and make money, which a ghost writer penned. (The writer was Schwartz himself.) Tony Schwartz never dreamed in a million years that Trump would run for president someday. He now regrets what he believes was the bad thing he did for money.

It’s too late. But it’s good that he is sorry.

Can I spend a few moments discussing the race riots that occurred in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this summer? It has relevance to this essay. I spent four weeks living inside the city of Milwaukee in 1974. Being a Navy kid, I’ve lived in many places, both inside the United States and outside; in Europe and the Far East. I remember thinking in 1974 that Milwaukee was the most racist place I’d ever been. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t stand up to it.

Here are some reasons: In 1974 Milwaukee was run by socialist Germans who hated minorities, period. They would have loved their fellow German, Donald Trump, if they knew him, which they probably did, since he was the son of his highly regarded father, Fred Trump, the German billionaire developer and military contractor who built 27,000 segregated rental units in Queens. His son, in his late twenties at the time, was already wealthy and making a name for himself in Manhattan.  

The people I worked for in Milwaukee told me that the police were able to prevent blacks from coming into the white areas by using traffic stops. I never saw a black person while I was there. But I heard a lot of racist talk from whites. Nearly half the city was black. I heard people talk about how bad they (the blacks) were, but I never saw any in the month I lived and worked there. And remember: 1974 was six years after a white racist assassinated Martin Luther King; it was ten years after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. Segregation was illegal.  

Even today, forty-three years later, only one city in America has more poor or more homeless than Milwaukee. It doesn’t surprise me that the city experienced race-war this summer. It doesn’t surprise me that the city crushed the insurrection, and we no longer remember it, most of us.

I am afraid for the black people in Milwaukee, because as bad as they’ve been treated, the national-socialists who have historically run that town are capable of so much more. Like I said earlier, I’ve been on Twitter. I’ve read the feeds. Under the right leadership, a genocide is completely possible. Some would say we have a slow-burning genocide going on right now.

Trump is unleashing the dogs of war; the dogs who destroy civilizations. With almost three months to go, I don’t know how we patch the breaches in the dams that hold back the barbarians, who are armed to the teeth, by the way, with weapons of war.

Wake up. Everyone. Take a stand now. It will be impossible to make a difference, once we are standing behind razor wire waiting for our turn in the microwave ovens. These monsters are not going to stop with blacks. They will move on to the journalists and people they think are radicals. Eventually, they’ll burn the unfit, the retarded, the disadvantaged and of course, the Muslims. Then they’ll go after the Jews; people with birth defects; autism; bad breath; body odor; torn jeans; the list of defects that bother them will get longer, not shorter.

Somewhere along the line, the attacks on Christians will begin. Some say the attacks have already started; that the successful take-downs of Ted Cruz and John Kasich were the first of many to come; operatives will sprinkle the suppression of Christians into the mix like salt; no one will notice—not until it’s too late to do anything about it.

We’ve seen this movie before. It is the natural course of empires like Germany, Japan, Russia, ancient Egypt, Persia; and of course, ancient Rome—the list is long. We in America will be living in it, soon, if we don’t vote to stop it.

Freak candidates with paranoid billionaires on staff to advise them don’t need GOP money; they don’t need anyone’s approval; they don’t need to buy television time. They have communication networks involving AM radio, mailings, internet and e-mails to spread whatever conspiratorial excrement they choose to dispel—to discredit and defame reasonable people who might dare to defend our country and the shared values enshrined by our constitution.

evan-mcmullin-ex-cia-candidate-for-president-2016
Evan McMullin, ex-CIA official and presidential candidate.

Fox News, OAN, and Rush Limbaugh, among others, have driven their stupid listeners into a psychosis of evil. It’s disturbing; I would say it’s terrifying. Even our CIA worries.

Evan McMullin, the former CIA officer who is running for president, told Thomas Roberts of MSNBC that providing security briefings to Trump …is a threat to [national security], because he has been co-opted by Vladimir Putin, he is aligned with Vladimir Putin; he would not be able to secure a security clearance at even the lowest levels…he doesn’t know the first thing about fighting terrorism…

David Preiss, former longtime CIA briefer to the presidential candidates, told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC that after the 2000 election, the CIA continued briefings to Al Gore, who they believed won, and suspended briefings to George W. Bush until a few weeks later when the Supreme Court stopped the state’s election-law mandated recount of votes in Florida and gave the presidency to Bush, who CIA analysts believed was the loser.

If the CIA was correct about the election, it must have irritated some of their directors, when Bush falsely claimed that the CIA told his staffers that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction—a lie that some believe began the unraveling of our country. The Great Recession that followed the stolen election and illegal war wiped out one-third of the accumulated wealth of our middle-class; you know, the folks like me and my life-partner and wife, Beverly Mae.

I hope our readers will have enough common sense to vote against Republicans at every level of government, so we can set things right.

This summer in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump told white confederate militias from nearby Charlotte about black people. Speaking directly to blacks, none in the audience, he said: You live in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?

The answer is: everything. The New York Times reported a few weeks later that Trump is 650 million dollars in debt. Could they be right?  If true, it means that every black person in the USA has a higher net worth than the Donald.

Aren’t folks tired of predators running everything, ruining everything, wrecking everything, taking everything, and playing everyone?

As our Editorial staff has advocated for two years now, the United States must establish an internationally enforced limit to personal incomes and estate sizes—for the simple reason that unlimited wealth destroys self-governance, democracy, and all the benefits of civilization, which the ordinary citizen wants and deserves.

image
Billy Lee believes incomes and estates should be limited to some reasonable ratio of the minimum wage. The reason: to prevent legalized looting of our institutions. People could easily buy homes like this and be well within the limits proposed by the Pontificator. The Editorial Board

The limits can be very high and do no harm. My suggestion has been to link the minimum wage to a maximum income and estate size; my recommendation is 1,000 to one for income and 20,000 to one for estate size; we’re talking about an estimated $20 million per year income limit; $400 million maximum estate sizes; inheritances might be limited to $5 million per inheritor.

Limits like these will encourage entrepreneurs, but discourage unreasonable looting, like the kind we see going on in our financial sector. During the Bush administration we had a director of one of our stock exchanges whose annual salary was $150 million. That’s crazy wicked.

Limits will prevent isolated individuals who lack supporters from unduly influencing our elections process. Wealthy men, like Trump, won’t be able to get off the ground their drive-for-ultimate-power, unless many other (hopefully reasonable) people get behind them at the start. Healthy democracies don’t need a Lone Ranger to rescue them.

The process we are witnessing now—where fawners and sycophants leap on board the choo-choo train after it has already left the station—shouldn’t happen in a democracy like ours. The stakes are too high. It demeans and insults the brave and free people of the most exciting country on Earth; the one country where ordinary people govern themselves; where the wealthy and the powerful don’t rule over us, unless they are thoroughly vetted and earn our consent. Otherwise, it’s not right. We all know it.

Possession of wealth beyond certain agreed-upon, international limits should be a felony enforced by national and international courts. People who exceed the limits could be given one (or possibly two) grace-years to turn over the excessive portion of their wealth to charities or the government to avoid a year or more in prison. No one runs for public office after a lifetime of plundering and taking, unless they divest themselves.  

How can anyone trust someone to hold high office who says they have accumulated fourteen-thousand piles of a million dollars each? The person is either a liar, or they aren’t. If they are telling the truth, someone should be asking, how does a person accumulate that much money without cheating people; without hoarding; without recognizing the needs of the poor and downtrodden all around and doing something real and self-sacrificing to help them?

The truth is—for anyone who has the courage to face it—behind every great fortune is a dark secret; sometimes many dark secrets. It’s true. Folks can believe it, or not.

How can anyone who understands the difference between right and wrong even consider casting a vote for the current GOP candidate? How evil are some Americans?  Very, according to some polls. Yes, more than a few people are uninformed. So what? Ignorance is not an excuse. For those who don’t have time to investigate the candidates, I do. Take my word for it.

We are on the precipice of terrible things. Unimaginable things. Men like Trump get worse after victory, not better. People are going to die. Seriously. Many of the people who support this sick man are gun nuts who are still fighting the Civil War. Consider the movement behind this candidate when making the decision to participate, to vote, and who to vote for.

This is serious business. This election is no joke. People who don’t vote will share the blame, if we get a bad result. We can’t elect men who cheat on their wives; who hate minorities; trash the environment; hunt endangered animals; lie compulsively; build casinos; fleece contractors; steal and cheat and take revenge on those who refuse to worship them and the very ground they walk on.

We can’t elect men who are unable to tell truth from fiction; who can’t apologize to people they’ve hurt; who believe preposterous conspiracy theories; who have a history of destroying people who they think are disloyal to their self-centered vision. We just can’t.

The candidate’s children stand to inherit windfalls, if they stay on message; if they hang on to their seats on his train. We are not going to hear dire warnings from them, even though they know better than anyone what a hairball he is.

Billy Lee

No Good Deed…

Disclaimer by the Editorial Board:  The following story, No Good Deed… is a work of fiction by Billy Lee.  Events and persons depicted in the story exist only in the imagination of the writer and have no connection to living persons or actual events.

Christmas bulbs in a rowThe old woman ahead of me in the check-out lane at the grocery sat in a battery-operated three-wheeler and struggled to move her purse off her wrist and into the front basket. She couldn’t do it and gave up. She was grossly overweight; she couldn’t maneuver—her fat arms were black and blue right down to her fingernails. Diabetes, I thought.

I wondered if I should help, but she soon stopped and let the purse dangle where it was, on her wrist. It was a bad angle. It would be awkward for me to reach for it; and besides, it was her purse, a personal item she might try to defend. It was a good bet she fought this fight every time she shopped. No big deal. Let it go.

It was her own cart that she sat in, from the looks of it. She probably had used it for years. Held together by duct tape and bubble gum, it was dirty; a yellowed eggnog color; depressing to look at.

The cashier at the register—a black college-aged girl—finished the tally; the old woman sitting in the beat-up cart fumbled unsuccessfully to open her purse; the line of shoppers behind us continued to grow. It was busy. It was Christmas. I was in a hurry. What the heck… I reached over to the card reader and inserted my card. I’ll get this, I said. Merry Christmas.

The old lady looked up at me and said, thank you.

You look like you have enough to worry about, I said, beaming. We’ll make it one less thing.

Yes, she said. I worry about so many things these days. She fell silent and looked down. Something drippy fell from her mottled face into her lap. The eyes of the young black woman working the cash-register grew large and began to sparkle from tears, which she tried to hold back. She would tell me later she had just immigrated from Ghana, Africa. She has stories, that girl, I would think to myself. The African regained her composure and gathered the old lady’s items.

As the cashier and myself exchanged a sympathetic look, the old woman with the black and blue arms and drippy face reached for a button on her cart and sped away. She didn’t remember to collect her receipt. I don’t think she felt embarrassed. Maybe she thought I might change my mind; make her pay for her own groceries, or something.

The cashier rang up my stuff. It was all good. I started to get that warm glow one gets when they’ve done something for someone, especially a stranger.

A melodic accent from somewhere out of Africa interrupted my reverie, Oh, look! Here is a bag of things. Are they yours? I think I forgot to give them to that person.

We checked the contents against the old woman’s receipt. Yup, they weren’t mine.

The cashier grabbed the bag and ran down the long aisle of the store to search for an old woman driving a beat-up mobility scooter with a missing bag of groceries. The folks in line behind me started to stir. A few threw unfriendly looks in my direction. My warm feeling turned to heat, then dread.

The cashier returned; she hadn’t found the customer. Since I had the receipt, I decided to take the groceries. If the old lady returned, she would be unable to convince anyone the groceries were hers, I reasoned.

I began to worry. It was Christmas. Undercover cops—temporaries with little training or empathy—lurked pretty much everywhere. They loved to patrol the parking lots, someone once told me.

What if store security decided to stop the old lady in the busy lot? What if they intercepted her before she could rendezvous with whoever was driving her home? Maybe she lived alone nearby, and there was no one to escort her. Minus the receipt, they might arrest her for shoplifting.

They might already have her in a little room somewhere, hidden from the public, to interrogate her. That’s why we couldn’t find her. I loosened my collar as my mind began to race. I felt sweat bead on the top of my head.

She would notice—under the intense pressure of  questioning—one bag of groceries was missing. And she couldn’t produce the receipt. He took it, she’d realize. It was the old man!  I could hear her screaming. She was cursing me—the old codger who had stood behind her and had the audacity to jump into her business for no good reason.

Of course she had the money to pay for everything, she screamed at the SWAT team as they held her down; as they restrained her. Of course she did. She didn’t need that smelly stranger’s credit card. And he stole a bag of her groceries! Arrest him!  It was he, the grey-beard, who robbed her; it was he who took her receipt; it was he who confused her—and the cashier!  He got her arrested. It was he, he, he—an old FART!—not her!

I imagined her anguish. By now she must realize that she would spend Christmas in prison; behind bars; isolated; alone; cold; away from family and a warm fire in the hearth—for I just knew she had no money for lawyers or bail.

I thought I could hear her weeping. I could hear her, but I would never be able to find her. No one else could hear her cries for mercy, no one would ever step forward to defend her and confirm her story. Take her out of here, I heard the arresting officer boom. Thief! 

A few minutes later, as I drove my car out of the crowded parking lot, quickly, furtively, I cast a side-long glance into my rear-view mirror. No flashing lights. No siren. Just an old red van with a tree tied on top.

It was Christmas; the most wonderful time of the year.

Billy Lee

Christmas bulbs in a row

DEGENERACY

In 1949, a few months after I was born, the latest edition of the 30 volume Encyclopedia Americana hit the streets of America. The collection of big books was the first multi-volume encyclopedia sold in the United States, starting way back in 1829.  Each year it grew in size, sometimes adding new volumes to cover more subjects. By 1949, it was truly comprehensive.

I own a complete set of the 1949 edition, which my wife’s dad passed on to me after his death a few years ago. By all accounts, the volumes were a sensation when first published. Not only were they successfully sold door to door throughout the United States, but libraries everywhere stocked them on their shelves for scholars and the general public alike to explore and absorb. 

1949 was only a few short years after the end of World War II.  Colleges overflowed with legions of returning GIs who studied for free courtesy of the recently passed GI BillThe Encyclopedia Americana became a beacon of knowledge and enlightenment for hundreds of thousands of optimistic Americans who were ramping up their skills to conquer the ignorance and backwardness of a world they knew all too well from their recent exposure to the wars overseas.

After perusing these volumes during the past few years, I have been struck by how much we knew in 1949, and by how much we thought we knew but really didn’t.  I was dumbfounded by racist patterns of thinking, which seemed to permeate the collection. It came as a complete surprise. Modern people could be excused for thinking that Hitler himself wrote some of the articles, I have sometimes thought to myself.

People have said that racism is the original sin of America; that we have never come to terms with the bad things we did (and continue to do), because some of our European forefathers, scientists even, actually believed that Africans were medically degenerate.  Our country enslaved blacks, because ostensibly responsible people told our ancestors that Negroes were animals, like lions or tigers. Of course it was OK to work them like pack-animals, some thought. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.  Besides, slavery was in the Bible.

After slavery ended, we continued to segregate the races. And we still do

Look at Florida if you don’t believe it. In the State of Florida, segregation is a way of life. We Americans, some of us, seem to be oblivious to the evil of our actions and unaware of the demonic origin of many of our ideas about what is true and what is right.   

We tend to repeat lies that hurt whole classes of people; lies that help no one, but drive to despair and even suicide folks like South American immigrants, gays and, yes, Middle Eastern refugees who struggle to get by in a society that seems to value only excellence and perfection, money and power, symmetry and form, orthodoxy and moral rectitude.  

We look down on, shun, and isolate authentic human beings who typically possess attributes we don’t admire like humility, lowliness, incompetence, average intelligence, awkward manners, social inadequacy, clumsiness, unreliable physical ability, psychological disabilities, ugliness, poor hygiene, ravaged skin, lack of hair, too much hair, unpleasant smells, thinness, fatness, and on and on.  

We condemn millions to long prison terms who have done nothing more than act like fools; who have made mistakes, which with a little maturity and wisdom gained in the fresh air of freedom they might not ever make again. Many readers can probably think of many undesirable attributes of human beings, which they find repulsive and would like to repress with long prison terms, if only they could. It’s a desire best left unfulfilled.

Gated Arizona Community
Most are not permitted beyond these gates. They aren’t worthy.

Our inability to accept and live next to people who have less money, less education, different physical traits; who may be less attractive and less polished; who may not understand the world as we do; who are different in some way we find compelling—think about it— it’s destroying our humanity and ability to love and accept others. We wreck any chance for happiness; any sense of well-being for tens of millions of ordinary people—probably hundreds of millions—who, it turns out, have very few advantages in this life of dog-eat-dog competition; it’s a fight which some lack the temperament to endure. It is demoralizing for them and, I believe, destroying our country and our world.

We seem unable to even look at people with physical disabilities and handicaps; the blind; the deaf; the burned; the paraplegic; the paralyzed, the mentally incapacitated, the depressed, the hyperactive and the socially fearful. Many Americans are hiding themselves behind gates, guard shacks and walls to avoid facing the simple truth that people are diverse; that God demands we accept and respect everyone, because each person, even ones who are unattractive and ungrateful (in our own morally-damaged sight), are made from the stuff of God Himself and are, in the reality we seem so unwilling to view, beautiful and deserving of respect and simple deference. 

Jesus said that God loves even the wicked. He loves people who are weak and powerless and undesirable. How can we do less?

Anyway, I thought that these two entries from the 1949 Encyclopedia Americana, reprinted below in their brutal original version, might help open the eyes of folks who are blind to the cesspool of ideas which have corrupted our souls as a people and a country; which have driven some people to shun, ostracize, exclude, and even kill those who they think don’t deserve to enjoy the advantages and privileges they demand for themselves.

These tombs of hate from our past sat on bookshelves and in libraries where they were read for many decades after their publication. Hatred poured forth not only from encyclopedias like the Americana, but from all forms of media and public discourse, it turns out. The nasty rhetoric of race, exclusion, and the exaggerated elevation of our elites into a pantheon of god-like celebrities has poisoned our minds and our souls and continues to poison our churches and schools; the military and our public institutions. It’s all painfully evident in the rabid venom-spewing aspirants we find in our politics today, who I won’t name. Why demean a good essay?

People claim they mean well and are doing God’s will, but golly-gee, someone has to say it (it might as well be me): the movement to transfer children from public schools into homeschooling; the stampede to place civilians armed with concealed weapons into churches and schools; the attempts to scare women out of exercising their constitutionally protected freedom to make health care choices, even to the point of fire bombing healthcare clinics for the poor; the intimidation of writers like myself who publish views unpopular with morons are all symptomatic of a country which is becoming less free, more facist, and less brave—certainly less accepting, less tolerant, less nurturing, and less forgiving.  

America is a mean-spirited place for many people. Even upscale people in high places are afraid to speak their minds plainly, out of fear for the faceless billionaires who pull their strings and determine their futures. Look at all the safe-talk on television. Some people call it political correctness.  What does that term mean? 

It means people’s careers get ruined if they speak about certain subjects in a frank and unconventional way. When was the last time you heard a celebrity advocate for something as innocuous as a progressive income tax?  Shorter prison sentences?  Maximum incomes?  Limits on estate sizes?  Limits on inherited wealth?  It’s not right. 

Our celebrities are held back by tight leashes. And it isn’t the public holding the leashes. To remain in the spotlight, celebrities must wear muzzles. Does anyone really think they are going complain about it?  Of course not.

Try to remember the names of celebrities who said something controversial and were never heard from again. You might remember their faces, maybe even some of the shows they were on. You won’t remember their names, more likely than not. They’ve dropped off the face of the earth. They disappeared. The list is long, it really is.    

I write about forbidden subjects all the time, but I’m not a celebrity. No one controls me, not since I resigned my memberships in certain organizations. But the public doesn’t read my blog, either. And, yes, some subjects are off-limits, even for writers like me.

I don’t write about Israel, or North Korea, or drug cartels; I don’t bad-mouth artists; I don’t condemn creative people, because people with unusual points of view who have talent are fragile and easily frightened into silence; money and fame don’t change that. And I don’t publish articles about my own sexuality. I tried that once; it didn’t turn out well.

But let’s get back on message.

I don’t feel like I’m overstating it. Below are two examples of a viciously evil way of thinking, which was mainstream in the decades following 1949.  Today, in 2015, many folks continue to embrace this brand of crazy reasoning.  We need a national exorcism of these evil winds that are freeze-drying the hearts of people, many of them, in a grip of cold vice, which, deluded, they believe to be virtue. 

Tolerance is not the answer. It is too cold, too indifferent. Embracing outcasts in love is the answer. 

We can’t embrace the marginalized with true love, if we segregate ourselves by income, class and race.  We can’t do it, if we push aside and shun people who don’t think like us or look like us or act like us. We can’t do it, if we think diversity is a plague to be avoided. 

Think about it.  Seriously.  We can’t save our children and grand-children, if we lack the courage to confront the billionaires who built this gilded cell-block we call America. They built this prison to protect themselves from us.

Here’s the problem. Most of us don’t know the names of the billionaires who rule us. We can’t reason with them. We can’t find them. The truth is, they find us, usually when they need someone like a soldier to fight to protect their property or a worker who will add value to their estates by performing tasks for low wages.

The problem is: they don’t love us. Otherwise they would live in the world where we live, but they don’t. Then again, they might allow us to live in their world, where the water in their pools is blue and clean and the sun is warm. But they won’t do that either.

Maybe someday. Someday, maybe, if they ever change, they will. They will unlock the gates. They will throw away the keys. They will let us in.

On that day we will become one people, one nation, indivisible, under God. While we wait, we must change ourselves.

Billy Lee


[The following are excerpts from the 1949 edition of The Encyclopedia AmericanaBilly Lee does not endorse any of it.  The Editorial Board.]

Degeneracy, pic of Encyclopedia Americana

DEGENERACY.  Unfavorable environment is now generally recognized as the chief cause of the failure of individuals to attain the physical, mental, and moral norm of the race. In certain individuals, however, a defective constitution may predispose them toward an inadequate development of mental, and especially moral, qualities. Such individuals are known as degenerates. 

In many such cases the basis of degeneracy is a lesion of the nervous system or of the sense organs. Congenital blindness and deafness can result in idiocy unless early measures are taken. However, the fundamental defects may be obscure and inaccessible to the pathological anatomist of the present day.  The neuro-sensory defects are often, but not always, accompanied by malformations of a more conspicuous character, known as stigmata. 

These include various distortions of the external ear, facial asymmetry, very early or very late closure of the cranial sutures, polydactylism and other digital anomalies and various signs of imperfect or abnormal development.  Individual stigmata may be present in a person of normal mental and moral make-up, but the concurrence of a considerable number of stigmata is a fairly good sign of degeneracy.

The forms assumed by degeneracy are very various. The mental defect varies from utter idiocy, where the patient is unable to protect himself from immediate physical danger, through imbecility, where he is still incapable of carrying out the daily processes of dressing and undressing, washing, etc., to the various grades of feeble-mindedness, in which he is able to satisfy all his immediate personal needs, but cannot earn an independent livelihood nor associate with his fellows on equal terms.

The causes of degeneracy are manifold.  The racial poisons of alcohol, drugs and venereal diseases are responsible for a large proportion of the cases, though in many cases alcoholism and drug habits may be symptoms rather than causes of degeneracy. Any factor which enfeebles the mother—poverty, illness or the like—may injure the mental and moral constitution of the child as well as its physical constitution.  However, the most important cause of degeneracy is in all probability the inherent inferiority of the stock.

That certain forms of degeneracy exhibit a pedigree conforming to the Mendelian law is now an established fact.  This hereditary quality of degeneracy, together with the fact that degenerates are often likely to have many children, owing to their immorality, makes the problem of degeneracy a most serious one. 

The so-called Jukes family cost the taxpayers of New York State millions of dollars in the course of the 19th century.  For this reason many States have enacted laws making it legal in certain cases to perform on degenerates operations designed to prevent their propagating their kind. 

See ALCOHOLISM; CRIMINOLOGY; DEGENERATION; EUGENICS; FEEBLE-MINDEDNESS; IDIOCY; INSANITY; PAUPERISM.

   Bibliography. —Gillin, J.L., Poverty and Delinquency (New York 1926) ; Slawson, J., Delinquent Boy (Boston 1926) ; Glueck, S. S. and E., Five Hundred Delinquent Women (New York 1934) ; Chassell, C. R., Relation Between Morality and Intellect (New York 1935) ; Lunden, W. A., Juvenile Delinquency (Pittsburg 1936) ; Burt, C. L., Subnormal Mind (New York 1937) ; Karpman, B., Case Studies in the Psychopathology of Crime (Washington 1944).

DEGENERATION, a work of Max Nordau (1895), which aimed at a scientific criticism of those degenerates not upon the acknowledged lists of the criminal classes.  Degenerates, asserted Nordau, are not always criminals, prostitutes, anarchists, and pronounced lunatics; they are often authors and artists. 

These, however, manifest the same mental characteristics, and for the most part the same somatic features, as the members of the above-mentioned anthropological family, who satisfy their unhealthy impulses with the knife of the assassin or the bomb of the dynamiter, instead of with pen and pencil…. 

Now I have undertaken the work of investigating the tendencies of the fashions in art and literature; of proving that they have their source in the degeneracy of their authors, and that the enthusiasm of their admirers is for manifestations of more or less pronounced moral insanity and dementia.


One word best describes my reaction to the above entries from the 1949 Encyclopedia Americana: Yikes! 

Billy Lee

Killing Frenzy

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ Jesus

The wars of Israel were the only ‘holy wars’ in history… there can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Those who have waged war in obedience to the divine command (or in conformity with His laws) have represented…the wisdom of government and… put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
Saint Augustine


drone strike
The United States has deployed drones like the Scan Eagle and the Predator (which can dispatch Hellfire missiles) to kill people by remote control anywhere in the world.

Readers might notice that the quotes by the three Christian leaders cited above the picture don’t agree about murder. Killing is a moral controversy. The subject is even more contentious between leaders of religions outside Christianity. It’s a curious thing. In the United States, where Christianity is mainstream, church leaders often lead the charge toward war and some endorse capital punishment, so it’s confusing.

Can killing people ever be a good thing? The Catholic Church has developed theories of Just War, which permit the good people to kill the wicked under certain carefully worked-out conditions, such as proportionality, just cause, and last resort.

just war
From my point of view, the ideas of Just War fall under the umbrellas of self-justification, rationalization, and delusion. Can we admit the obvious? All countries are ruled by elites, and the USA is no exception. E
lites get to be elite through in-fighting, war, intrigue, and politics. They are, for the most part, de-sensitized to violence. The morality of religion is of no use to them, except when it helps to consolidate and enhance their prestige and power. If a philosophy like Just War helps alleviate the guilt feelings of soldiers they order into combat, they are fine with it.

Elites are, by process and definition, really good at fighting and maximizing their advantages. Over time elites become a law unto themselves and develop their world view and their reasons for doing things, which are usually not well-understood by the average people who serve them.

abu gharib
Who wants to take on people who can really hurt them?

In most places, people go-along with their elites to get along. It’s less stressful and much safer to pretend that average people’s best interests are at the heart of decisions made by the wealthy and the powerful, especially as they negotiate their deals, wage wars and craft treaties. Who wants to take-on people who can really hurt them, should they ever choose to?

For their part, our elites tolerate religion, because in the United States at least, Christianity seems to encourage citizens to be docile and compliant. Preachers and pastors encourage their flocks to turn the other cheek and to obey authorities.

Christian leaders don’t challenge military power, and they generally oppose government policies that might curb the power of individuals who accumulate vast wealth. At the same time some church leaders encourage gun ownership and participation in wars, which can be confusing to non-Christians, who might be under the impression that Jesus advocated pacifism and non-violence.

In the United States, the wealthy have built a powerful military and have used it to kill many millions of people during the past seventy-five years (the modern era).  Much of the killing has occurred during periods when the United States was not formally at war. 

A lot of the killing has taken place under continuing resolutions, like the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which helped to justify the long war in Vietnam. Another is the AUMF (Authorization For Use of Military Force)—passed by Congress on September 14, 2001—which provided the legal authority for the United States to use military force in perpetuity against any individual, group or country who might threaten us. Only Barbara Lee of California voted against it.

Joint session of Congress 2
Only Barbara Lee (no relation to Billy Lee) of California voted against AUMF, the perpetual war resolution of September 14, 2001. President George W. Bush signed it into law on September 18.

Congressional consent is no longer required to wage war. Military force from now on has been forever justified whenever and wherever the United States is threatened. The Congressional authorization of 2001 makes it easier for the USA to kill people, including American citizens living out of country. 

One estimate by The Hill, a news organization whose on-line stories are widely read by members of Congress, has estimated that the number of killings by USA drones operating outside of war zones since 2001 has reached 2,400. 

TheBillyLeePontificator.com could not independently confirm the estimate, which one of its editors characterized as “bordering on the ridiculous.”  It defies common sense that such a high number of assassinations of non-governmentally-allied civilians could occur outside of war-zones without arousing a profound backlash by people of goodwill, she insisted. Is she right? Does anyone outside of government really know?

History seems to say it’s possible. For example, over the years, the USA has invaded and tried to overthrow many countries, most often under the pretext of retrieving businesses that were seized by their host countries.

In most places the United States has succeeded, at least temporarily, like in Iran in 1953, where it secured natural gas and oil reserves; in Guatemala in 1954 where it took back the nationalized United Fruit Company; and in Chile in 1973, where it repossessed certain mines that were producing strategic metals. The problem for most of these countries is that after the USA retrieved its property it moved in to take over the country, usually behind the scenes using native-born (and often ruthless) dictators loyal to the United States.

life magazine bay of pigs
USA backed fighters killed and wounded 5,000 Cubans during the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Cuba took 1,200 prisoners, who they later traded for medicine.

Every once in a while a takeover has failed, like in Cuba in 1961 and in Vietnam in 1972. In those countries, strategic resources were never at stake, so the losses didn’t affect our safety or our economic security very much. Still, after the fights ended we worked hard to make sure we ruined their economies by deploying embargos and unleashing our leverage over international banking.

Recent wars in the Middle EastKuwait, IraqSyria—were ignited by the USA for various reasons and continue to the present time. And the United States continues to fight a constitutionally undeclared war against terrorists (but permitted by the resolution mentioned earlier), which among other things allows us to kill our enemies anywhere in the world by remote control using unmanned drones.

It’s pointless to argue whether the killings are justified or moral, smart or stupid. Many families have been ruined by drones and by war. They don’t care about smart or stupid. They just hurt, and they all wonder what might have been had their loved ones been allowed to live.

So, how many people have we killed? How many have we hurt? How many have we wounded? How many amputees; how many blinded; how many have lost their hearing; how many have been disfigured?  How many orphans?  How many widows?  How many dreams have been crushed; how many aspirations demolished? 

Hellfire missile explosion
This picture shows how lethal a Hellfire missile strike can be.

How many loves-of-a-lifetime have been dashed on America’s battlefields?  Unless God Himself reveals it someday, we will never know, because since the era of Bush-senior and his general, Norman Schwarzkopf (of the famous German family), we no longer keep track of body-counts; and we never did keep statistics on the people we wounded. 

Our military says it doesn’t do statistics. It’s in bad taste. A country like the USA doesn’t count pelts, or put notches on rifles, and besides, how do you collect the names of entire families destroyed in an atomic blast like Hiroshima or Nagasaki? In those attacks, the genealogy archives of entire families were obliterated. Their records and the records of everyone who knew them were vaporized.

The directories of the dead in Japan are missing, perhaps forever. Unless resurrected by God, the departed, many of them, will be forgotten to the end of time.

Arlinton National Cemetary
The Arlington National Cemetery holds the remains of 400,000 veterans who have served the USA in defense of our way of life. It is a sacred place. The cemetery for those we have killed since 1940, if we ever build it, will be 25 to 150 times larger, depending on who counts the dead.

Nevertheless, some brave reporters and historians have tried to pull together records, where they can find them. I can tell you that the numbers of deaths, executions and imprisonments involving America’s wars are in dispute, with some articles on Wikipedia, for example, frozen in place and fought over by review committees for historical accuracy. The reports are hard reading, disturbing really, because some folks seem to be trying for whatever reasons to understate and misrepresent the carnage.

Despite obvious inaccuracies which defy common sense, the numbers on the internet are the most reliable numbers civilians have. They may, perhaps, be understated, but they are still large. I’ve included links for those who might want to verify the statistics.

Billy Lee


Notes from the Editorial Board: As everyone knows, the United States is closely allied with Israel. Many prominent Israelis are citizens of the United States, such as former Homeland Security Director, Michael Chertoff.  Some folks, like Billy Lee, consider Israel a de-facto fifty-first state of the Union, much like Hawaii, though he admits there are important differences, to be sure.  

Billy Lee has pointed out that since 1948 Israel and the United States have cooperated in a dozen or so wars and flare-ups (among them, the War of Independence, the Suez Crisis, the Six Day War, the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon War of 1982, the South Lebanon conflict, the first and second Intifadas, the 2006 Lebanon War, the Gaza War, and various operations like Protective Edge) which were fought to secure Israel’s safety and its autonomy. 

The USA has spent trillions of dollars to stabilize the Middle East and prop up with money and weapons governments favorable to our side. It has pumped over two-hundred billion dollars into Israel’s economy alone. How many people have been killed in the wars which erupted?  Billy Lee doesn’t know. 

He seems to think that an accurate figure for war-related killings by the USA should include in some way the deaths inflicted during the many conflicts in the Middle East where the United States was directly involved. He simply doesn’t have the numbers, so he can’t report them. The numbers may be available to others, but they are not included in his analysis.

A similar concern involves NATO, where the United States, again, is partnering with others in wars and conflicts, and is not the sole actor. 

As for other conflicts: Billy Lee has added the following list with links to the statistics.
The Editorial Board


Dear Readers,

Here is a list of wars the United States has fought since 1940: World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War (including attacks on Cuba, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, and others), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iran, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, the Persian Gulf War, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the War on Terror

Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The names and numbers of people killed in Japan will never be known. USA bombers obliterated their records in the fires they ignited in the Japanese made-from-wood-and-paper neighborhoods and cities. 

The War against Japan deserves special mention.

The names and quantities of people we killed in Japan will never be known. We obliterated their records in the fires we set in their made-from-wood-and-paper neighborhoods and cities. 

Beginning in 1945 sixty-seven Japanese cities of consequence were burned to rubble by incendiary night-time attacks involving hundreds of B-29 Superfortress bombers under the command of USA General Curtis LeMay. During the first attack against Tokyo in March 1945, Lemay deployed 325 bombers to drop a half-million slow-burning napalm cluster-bombs, which killed at least 150 thousand civilians. His bombing of the capital city continued unabated for three weeks; the fire-bombing of the other sixty-six Japanese cities continued for three more months.

Five cities were held back (protected from attack) until August 1945 to permit General LeMay to decisively demonstrate American atomic fire-power. He annihilated two of them—Hiroshima and Nagasaki—with the atomic bombs named Little Boy and Fat Man. He spared the three remaining targets, Yokohama (Japan’s second largest city, where I lived from 1952-1954), Niigata, and Kokura—after the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945.

Some older readers might remember that Curtis LeMay ran for Vice-President in 1968 on a third-party ticket led by Alabama Governor George Wallace. The two men tried unsuccessfully to derail racial integration in the South, which our Congress had recently mandated.

One of General Douglas MacArthur’s closest aides, Bonner Fellers, once described Curtis LeMay’s attacks on Japanese civilians as “the most ruthless and barbaric killings of non-combatants in all history.”

The most conservative estimate of the number of civilians burned alive that I’ve seen in print is 500,000. Some historians have estimated the number to be as high as two million. The Japanese effort to evacuate their cities saved countless lives, but left many millions of women and children homeless, until the cities could be rebuilt after the Japanese surrendered.

Official histories written by the US Air Force claim that five months of jellied fire attacks were so destructive that they cremated 65 Japanese cities. The attacks left 9.2 million homeless.


Here are some numbers of interest: Atomic bomb attacks in Japan – 225,000 killed;  Vietnam War – 3.4 million killed; World War II – 55 million killed; Korean War – 2 million killed; Iraq War – 1 million killed.

This list of wars is necessarily incomplete, because the USA fights secret wars from time to time. In his 1990 book, Freedom in Exile, the Dalai Lama spoke of one such war against the Chinese and admitted taking millions from the USA to support the effort. He claimed that America’s policy was to destabilize and overthrow wherever possible each and every Communist country in the world. Inside the US intelligence establishment, the suppression is called Strategic Strangulation.

This policy was the reason many Communist societies sealed their borders during the Cold War. Some, like North Korea, still do. Military historians have claimed that the United States dropped anthrax bombs on North Korean troops and their Chinese allies in 1954. This biological terror was unleashed after what historian Richard Rhodes says was a program of US bombing against cities and dams in North Korea that killed two million civilians.

General Curtis LeMay agreed. He led the US Strategic Air Command during the bombing of Korea. In 1984 he bragged before the Office of Air Force History“Over a period of three years or so, we killed off—what—twenty percent of the population.”  It helps to explain why they hate us. 

The numbers killed in these secret and not-so-secret wars are argued over; they are not certain or even known—certainly not by civilians who lack security clearances. Mayhem from traumatic wounds is not known.

The consensus seems to be that the total number of human beings killed by the United States since 1940 exceeds ten million.  Depending on how it is counted, the number could be far higher. A case can be made that it’s as high as sixty-five million.

We’ve been at war with one out of four countries on earth. I didn’t believe it, until I did the count. Count the number any which way you choose. It’s a big number. And the numbers of wounded and traumatized human beings is certainly enormous, but unknown.

I’d like to think that in the future the United States will resolve its differences with other countries and organizations in a way that doesn’t involve killing people. 

The United Nations was established to do just that—peacefully resolve disputes—but the United States runs the place, some say, and others have insisted that the USA is the biggest war-monger on the planet. It has something to do with its defense industry and the efforts of tycoons to maximize profits for themselves and their shareholders. 

I hope it’s not true.

Billy Lee

Post Script:  Here is a quotation from wisdom literature, which—who knows?—might help policy-makers. I wonder if anyone believes it.

It is by the fear of the LORD that someone turns away from evil. When someone’s ways please the LORD, He makes even their enemies be at peace with them. 

I found the passage in the Proverbs of the Bible.  See chapter 16.

Under Surveillance at Work and Play

The caretakers of both private and public spaces have free reign to watch everything people do.
The caretakers of both private and public spaces have free reign to watch and record everything people do.

UPDATE: June 13, 2016: Edward Snowden’s HBO interview.   Snowden discusses some of the technologies of surveillance used by civilians and governments today and warns about the future.

UPDATE: August 7, 2014:  MIT researchers reveal new process to recover audio from “silent” video.

It amazes me to read and watch stories in the press about people who commit brazen crimes in front of surveillance cameras. It seems many people have yet to get the message: in America, the caretakers of both private and public spaces have free reign to watch and record everything people do.

It’s not just dedicated cameras that can lock on a face at a thousand yards, zoom, and switch to hi-resolution—something I noticed in the offices of a local college and received an explanation for by a proud employee; it’s also directional microphones, smart contact lenses with embedded cameras, invasive computer monitoring  (including hostile video and audio takeovers of computers, cell phones, iPads, and even game consoles) and sophisticated data collection and analysis through the acquisition of land-line records and receipts for purchases and recreational activities. Even our automobiles—through technologies like On-Star, satellite radio, hidden event data recorders (black-box technology), and GPS—provide easy access to anyone who decides to observe us.

And I’m not talking about the federal government. Having grown up in an NSA family, I’m sensitive, somewhat, to government spying on civilians. Unless things have changed recently, and no one told me, I learned as a kid that unless you are a terrorist (when I was a kid you had to be a communist), people have little to fear from federal surveillance, because it operates under a meticulous set of safeguards and protections of our civil liberties, at least as long as we are physically located inside the United States. That doesn’t mean the Feds don’t watch and listen. It means they don’t act against individuals based on what they learn.

surveillance 2 20120130_uas2_33
Right now, drones are not used much by private groups to spy on people. With new regulations, this kind of surveillance by private companies and public corporations could become commonplace.

No such safeguards exist in the private sector. What I’m referring to is surveillance by private citizens, business owners, church and other civic leaders and state officials, like local politicians and the local police. Surveillance by local groups and private individuals make them, sometimes, even more powerful and influential than the federal government itself—at least inside the United States—because they are free to act against private citizens based on what they learn from eavesdropping.

This surveillance is completely out of control and has dramatically shifted the balance of power away from average citizens who try to exercise their freedoms under the Constitution.  Surveillance is often portrayed as passive; nobody reviews the audio/video/data records unless a crime is committed that requires a review. The argument obfuscates the hard fact that the wealthy and the powerful—both groups and individuals—through the mechanism of a pernicious surveillance—are currently maximizing and protecting their already enormous advantages by getting a heads-up on suspect individuals and groups who they think may plan to challenge them.

Many average people don’t believe they are out-foxed and out-gunned, because they’ve never challenged anyone powerful. Take my word for it. Though not often, the truth is I have challenged some powerful people a few times in my life. In every case I had to back down, either to protect those I love or myself. In one situation, my physical safety was threatened by a Cadillac driving thug sent from a well-known company that advertised on television. He could not have found me if he didn’t have me under surveillance. He got my attention and forced me to rethink about in what kind of country I was living.

But until recently, the powerful haven’t been able to inject themselves into our public and private spaces as effortlessly as they now do. It used to be easier for average citizens and yes, activists, to find a private place to plan and gather support. No more.

Most people who intend to use their presumably guaranteed freedoms under the Constitution to challenge the established order of things find themselves exposed and their efforts circumvented even before they know themselves what the best course of action should be. Through effective surveillance, powerful people gain the necessary knowledge to enable them to neutralize challengers before they can organize an effective protest against whatever injustice bothers them; before they can even gather like-minded friends and moral support.

caretakers of both private and public spaces have free reign to watch everything people do.
If you have a job, chances are excellent your employer has you under surveillance.

It’s not simply transparent and harmless organizations like the Mormon and Catholic churches, for example, who collect intelligence on their congregants with active spy-like organizations operating within their vast bureaucracies, arguably for benign purposes. Many public and private companies, trade organizations, charitable groups and, yes, criminal cartels do the same.

Anyone who shops, whether online, in a shopping mall, or in a particular store is under surveillance. Anyone who parks in public parking lots is observed. Anyone who travels on interstate highways or visits public spaces in our cities is under surveillance.

For those who have jobs, the chances are high that they are under surveillance during the time they are at work, if not after. Every keystroke we make on our company supplied computers is often recorded and analyzed for any number of reasons by sophisticated programs designed to detect unproductive behavior. Even if we are walking around in our own neighborhoods, our friends may watch us unobserved through surveillance systems they bought at stores like Best Buy, Target or Wal-Mart.

When we use social media like Facebook or Twitter or Linked-In, we are observable to people we may never have met; we are certainly observable by site-administrators and their friends. And if we happen to be helpless babies, our parents may, at any moment, deploy crib monitors to listen-for and watch our every move.

Can we face some unpleasant facts? Rampant spying by unaccountable civilians on other civilians is creepy, for lack of a better word. To my mind, no one is challenging the freedom-corroding surveillance power of the private sector.

Maybe no one can.

Billy Lee