Donald Trump is the billionaire leader of Christians in the United States today. We might as well face facts. Some are saying that Trump has been a Christian for years. Leaders of southern fundamentalists inside the United States, like Franklin Graham, joined forces with Russia and Israel to make him president.
I’ve written several essays on the takeover of America by southern evangelicals, like Jerry Falwell Jr., who made a deal with the president to advance his vision of an America submitted to GOD’S WILL, as he himself discerns it. Links to these articles are provided at the end of the essay for those who might want to review them.
I’m writing this essay, because it seems like the entire country is in denial about what is going on. People driven crazy by religion have embedded themselves into the politics of USA! USA! and are working overtime to transform the country into their own twisted vision of what they think God wants.
While rabid wolves circle disguised as sheep, the rest of America is starting to understand that it is being enveloped and smothered by a Jim Jones style cult, which some fear will get us killed, because these hypocrites (and they are hypocrites) plan to force their despised and unloved flocks to swallow a strychnine-laced Kool-Aid of evil that will poison the earth with the trauma of mass-suicide and murder.
These sycophants of power want to hasten the “end-times” as foretold in the book of Revelation, which comes last in the Bible; it is an incomprehensible tract that is the capstone of their “eschatology.”
They hope to mess-up the world so thoroughly that it will force a “rapture” that will sweep them up into Heaven as their enemies are tortured and killed.
In their wicked minds, pedophilic converts and sexually abusive power-trippers make the book of Revelation a mirror for the worms that crawl through the chambers of their raging hearts.
If you aren’t scared, you should be.
Their inspiration comes from the book with the passage they don’t memorize or quote, because they are blind guides. They just kind of skip over it as they flit their way to paradise and leave the rest of us behind.
Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.Revelation 18: 23b(NIV)
They seek the power and glory of wealth that is too often hidden in the folds of a prayer shawl.
…the deceitfulness of wealth chokes the word, making it unfruitful.Matthew 13: 22b (NIV, Jesus speaking)
Note from the Editorial Board: Every member of the Editorial Board advised Billy Lee not to publish his latest tome, because it might be misunderstood, which would be bad; or it might actually be understood, which would be worse.
In defense of Billy Lee, during its first year the single victory in law of the current national leadership was to lower its own taxes, which were already too low by half.
It was reminiscent of one of the parables: the rich young ruler. Obviously, our leaders read the parable and modeled their behavior after this eager-to-please young man of the Bible. For those not familiar, click on the link.
In fairness, we would be remiss not to mention that the president continues to repeal everything ”Obama.” So, it isn’t all bad inside the USA — at least for those Americans who hate Kenyan-born, Muslim presidents who misplace their birth certificates.
Our current president led the crusade to expose the ”truth” about President Obama, and many Americans believed it. Think of the good causes our Christian president put together to expose how vile and evil was our first Negro president. He exposed crooked Hillary too, and lying Ted, and little Rubio, and sloppy Steve, and — as we just said — that other low-life he hates, nigger Barry.
No wonder southern evangelicals and the GOP love him. He is our leader — our president — and we must all, every one of us, learn to love him too, right? — we must abase ourselves before him — because he is a stable genius, if for no other reason.
Beverly Mae and me live on a cul-de-sac with a lot of old people everywhere. Some of the houses are empty; folks go to Florida, mostly. Some travel to second, third, or fourth homes located only God knows where. None have Christmas decorations. It’s too much work when people are old and no one comes to visit.
A black kid who must have spent a lot of time making Christmas candles came to our house yesterday. He displayed his wares and gave what I thought was a carefully memorized pitch for the homeless.
How much? I asked.
Most folks give twenty dollars, he said. I held an IPhone at the ready pre-dialed to 911 in case he tried to rob me.
After looking the boy over, he seemed like a good kid, so I put the phone away and paid the money. The last thing he said as he stepped back to leave was, Thank you, sir, for answering the door. It means a lot at Christmas.
I wondered if I should tell him that the reason people weren’t answering their doors was that they had already left town, most of them. No, I thought. Better not tell him that.
People live in my neighborhood who, I think, must be more paranoid and racist than me. Some no doubt refused to answer, because they darn well aren’t going to deal with a door-to-door salesman at Christmas-time. Especially if they look like someone who might hate them for being unable to feign even a little trust — a little kindness and love — during the Christmas season. It’s scary when strangers approach the house who are male, black, and have never been seen before.
Christmas is supposed to be white as snow, right?
What if I misjudged the young man? Is it wise to tell someone just because they present well that the neighborhood is empty? Their friends might come back to pillage and loot.
Yeah, it’s going to be a crummy Christmas.
Here are ten things I worry about that make this end of year holiday season especially depressing — and it’s not the weather, which right now is grey and overcast.
The GOP raised taxes on 25% of the public. Guess who made it into that illustrious group? Me. I’m in — according to a questionnaire about finances conducted by the New York Times.
The president left the White House without wishing the country a Merry Christmas! It’s another campaign promise the oinking chief-commander broke. What good is being free to say Christmas if the president won’t say it? Everyone should be used to his lying-ways by now. Sorry — the fat-man continues to irritate me.
Will the president start World War Three on Christmas Eve? It’s just one more thing to worry about. I’m not going to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head this time. Will he obliterate North Korea because they tested bombs and missiles, something the USA has done thousands of times? Who the hell knows?
Will he fire Robert Mueller, a decorated Marine veteran and arguably one of the most honest men in government? Or will he perhaps fire a random person on Christmas, because, why the hell not? It’s Christmas, people! The orange-man demands results. He doesn’t mess around when it comes to making America great. He fired the former FBI director, James Comey, because his attempt to clear Hillary Clinton three days before the election failed. You’re fired! quacked the presidential duck. He did it for Hillary. He really did. He was helping an old friend. That’s all it was. I watched him say so on television. Maybe it was fake news. I can’t tell anymore.
One of the best gifts? Trump gave Americans the precious gift of the ObamaCare Repeal. It’s what he said. I saw the video on the nightly news. He promised to replace it with something way better. Can’t wait to open that present. Unaffordable healthcare is a wonderful thing. It prevents countless thousands of Americans from going to hospitals where they risk being hurt by doctors who are only in it for the money.
Family members who have shopped say the crowds in the stores are minimal. Despite the commercial hype on billionaire-owned media, store sales have crashed.
The stock market noticed. It’s down. Yes, Russian oligarchs are playing games by pulling out money. It’s a fun prank, especially during Christmas. Why not? I confess; I cut back on Christmas spending. The economy can go belly-up — I really don’t care. I don’t put money in the stock market; I don’t vacation in Vegas. The wealthy are on a shoplifting-spree, like under former President Bush. The greed of his fellow-travelers crashed the country in 2008. The current fool’s friends are worse. So will be the results. How long will profiteering take to cut the legs off the middle-class this time around? Not long, methinks.
Churches campaigned for the biggest boob ever to run for the highest office ever in the history of the world ever and of all human-kind, ever. He’s huge, the orange fat-man. Churches organized bus-runs to take congregants to hear Franklin Graham “on tour” who pretended to anyone who listened that he was politically neutral while he ranted against witches (like the unnamed evil Methodist, Hillary) and abortion.
. Omarosé Onée Manigault-Newman predicted that people would bow before our new leader before history as we know it ends. Omarosa is one of the many misfit toys the orange man fired during his climb to ultimate power.
How can anyone go back to those crazy churches should their bozo-president actually screw-up everything at Christmas? The allure of Christianity rides on the back of a thrice-married billionaire who went bankrupt in the casino business, of all things. Somehow he never learned that casinos don’t make money, they launder it. It’s a big difference. When things eventually go to hell in a handbasket (as they certainly will), which churches are going to get the most credit? If the orange-clown kills millions of people to make a point, who gets the pat on the back? Jesus?
I have sons who have made more money than I ever imagined was possible during those times long ago when I held them as babes in my loving arms. To a man, they think things are just fine. No worries. Yes, health insurance is expensive, but think about one thing for just one minute. (People must know that now is not the time for stupid.) Rich people don’t buy health insurance! Right? They don’t need it. Anyone who hoards fourteen thousand piles of a million dollars per pile (like the president) doesn’t worry about a $200,000 hospital bill. Billionaires spend more on Rolex watches.
During the past week, the media informed the public on three different occasions that at this moment in time when the Russians are dismantling the United States, UFOs scramble over the skies of the world on every continent. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard the ominous rumblings of UFOs late at night while they are trying to sleep?
Since the last news report days ago, not a peep has been heard from the media. Not a line of warning by the replicants who sit in the seats of media-power. They are so life-like, aren’t they? So Perfect.So Desirable. They seem to never mispronounce words or make grammatical errors. Sure, they screw-up. They do. Listen. Sometimes they say boob-el instead of bubble. That’s how you tell.
None of this is happening, right? Surely everyone understands by now. It can’t be happening. Not now. Not ever. Cover the eyes, ears, and mouth. Stop screaming.
Why won’t you believe? I’m a pontificator. I’m trying so hard to warn you.
It’s not unusual. The current acting director, Elaine Duke, is the grandchild of Sicilian immigrants. Everyone in America comes from somewhere. Divided loyalties are as American as gluten-free apple pie.
I mention it because since 2006 when George W. Bush was president, the Secretary of Homeland Security joined those in the line of succession. The line of succession is now seventeen names long. None are Democrats. Not right now. A few are independents like General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense.
The Homeland Security Director is dead last on the list. The current acting director, Elaine Duke, is (in my humble opinion) the only person in the group who is actually qualified to be president. The list includes names like Steven Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, and Ben Carson. Some on the list form a kind of rogue’s gallery of characters that could conceivably populate the cast of the classic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The USA’s crazy-Christian, comb-over president leads the list; he directs the country; he is on the top of the world. Like 81% of the fundamentalists who elected him, he is all-in for Israel. Whoever robs and kills in defense of Israel is fine with fundamentalists. They never criticize Israel, even in love. It doesn’t happen.
The president says that he is moving our embassy to Jerusalem. He lies a lot, so who knows? According to him, Jerusalem is now the exclusive capital of Israel; it is no longer shared with Palestine—no matter what modern history and world opinion have to say.
The USA has the power to make truth and justice on the ground whatever it wants it to be. No need for negotiation. No reason to compromise. And by the way, settlements built on land confiscated from losers are just fine, no problems. Come on. Moral qualms? You’re kidding, right?
Never mind that the Old City center of Jerusalem is segregated into quarters controlled and lived in by Armenians, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Never mind that the modern city is much larger; that nearly 40% of the population is Arab; that holy sites of all faiths abound.
The borders of biblical Israel and all the territories within are going to be re-established, just as they were three thousand years ago by God Himself. There is nothing to negotiate. No compromises will be necessary. Thank you very much.
Christians support Israel, because they believe God has a covenant with modern-day Israel validated by words written in the book of Exodus thousands of years ago. The United States and Israel are joined at the hip like Siamese twins on this one. Israel might as well be added to the collection of fifty states that make the USA.
The reality, though, is that Israel is more like Washington DC. It’s not really a state—it’s a country, obviously—but it has influence on America beyond its size by half. What goes on in Israel affects the United States in big ways (or bigly, as the president likes to say).
Israel is the size of Chicago and its suburbs and has about the same population. Right? Its grip on the United States is vice-like. It rides the U.S. shark like a remora fish. Without its shark for protection, the remora fish gets eaten, like any other small fish in a big ocean. It must be protected.
I’m totally on board. Israel has enemies. The generation that parented the Jewish people who live in Israel today were nearly exterminated by Hitler. The post World War refusal of the west to take in refugees added to their determination to go home to their ancestral lands.
The problem was that people already lived in Israel and had for centuries. Despite the good faith efforts of the nations to broker peace and safety, every Arab neighbor attacked Israel on the day of its rebirth.
Israel won the military contest and occupied lands that international agreements said they had no right to hold. Refugees who had crossed the Jordan River to escape the conflict couldn’t come back. Israel locked them out. It now had a Palestinian problem that would never be solved.
Trust on both sides evaporated. The world today lives with the dangers, resentments, and hatreds that erupted from a failure to love one another during the years when it mattered most.
The world owes the Jewish people a safe place to live. They have suffered enough. In the meantime, we need to build a fairer world. Jews, despite the horrors they have endured, do not have a monopoly on suffering. Many people, including Palestinians, have gotten a raw deal. It’s time to set things right.
I don’t see fundamentalist Christians as being helpful. I’m not feeling the love. I’m not seeing an effort to understand that God loves people who are everywhere. People who God loves are sprinkled like salt among the Palestinians and the Jews of Israel.
These are the people that Christ Jesus gave his life to save. I’m not feeling the respect for Christ’s vision from the fundamentalists who right now have an opportunity to comfort the fearful and dispossessed on all sides. All sides. Believe it.
For Jewish people the stakes are particularly high given a history that repeatedly shows that when they don’t have safe haven, haters attack them. The United States and France can be safe places for the most part, but Israel is special. Israel is an established safe haven for Jews, period. They need one. The world, through the United Nations, established it. A lot of history backs the decision to help, some of it recorded in the Bible.
That said, no follower of Christ Jesus, no one who has read the Bible—New Testament, the Torah, the Prophets—believes that Israel was chosen by God to rule the world. I don’t have to quote the Bible. People know what the Lord requires. He asks people to love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with their Creator. Does anyone believe it?
Jesus didn’t immolate himself on a Roman cross because people are good, but because they are wicked. People chosen by Jesus don’t rule; they give up everything they have to serve and love others. It’s simple, really.
It’s not easy. Some say it’s impossible apart from the kind of love that was shown to us by a messiah who suffered.
When I studied Hebrew at a local Hillel school many years ago, a girl in the class actually said that Jews were chosen by God to rule the world. Israel would save the earth and bring light to dark. The rabbi nodded his assent. I asked what she thought about the concept of forgiveness. The rabbi waved his hand, and the group moved on.
After class, the teacher pulled me aside. Grace is a Christian concept, he told me. Grace has no place in Judaism.
The instructor locked eyes with me and explained in no uncertain terms that a fundamental tenet of my faith was crap. He intended to make an impression, and he succeeded.
At about the same time a geneticist and his wife came from Israel to America to study at a nearby university. They had young kids the same age as mine. Somehow we met and liked each other. They became close friends. We visited their apartment from time to time. I noticed that they read the Bible to their children, so I asked about it. It’s our history, Yossi explained. We are atheists. But our children must learn who they are.
A few months later we attended a summer dinner at a kiva on campus where a Jewish writer gave a short talk on Israel. We dressed-up and took the kids. Yossi, his family, and mine walked together on the pathway that led to the building.
I was surprised to learn that to get into the event we had to make our way past a line of about a hundred Palestinian demonstrators. It was like walking a gauntlet.
The protestors held signs, but the odd thing was they didn’t speak. They stayed quiet. It was eerie. More than a few wore ski-masks. They stared through eye-holes in silence. No smiles. I felt afraid. My stomach churned. I smelled fear in my nostrils, but Yossi seemed unfazed. I reached for my children and held their hands.
Weeks later, Yossi brought his family to visit at my place. To make polite conversation I asked Yehudith, his wife, about life in Israel. What was it like living there? She said that she didn’t want to go back. The air-raid sirens in Israel frightened her. When they wailed during the day they triggered panic attacks.
Yehudith and her husband were Sabras—native born Israelis. Born and raised in Jerusalem, they didn’t travel, because they had no money.
They knew no other life. I too was poor then. I was raising two children by myself and living in a small house. It was a thousand-square-feet with an unfinished basement. When Yossi and Yehudith first visited they said it must be a mansion. Yehudith marveled at its size and amenities.
She couldn’t believe how well-off we were. She marveled at how much stuff we had. She gasped at the size of our yard. In Jerusalem people didn’t have yards.
Yes, we did have a big yard. No one nearby had one that came close. It was lush and green. Its size was an accident of good fortune—the result of bad planning by developers.
I decided not to tell Yehudith that we were poor. I didn’t have it in me to make her feel worse. She wasn’t going to believe it anyway.
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—theyinflicted crippling injuries with more ferocity than even the banned hollow-points.
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.
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.
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.
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 theEditorial 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.)
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.
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.
It’s un-American for the wealthy to leave fortunes to their children and grandchildren. It creates a caste system, which is what we fought a revolution to avoid. Under current tax policy anyone who dies can leave up to $5.5 million tax-free to relatives. Any excess above $5.5 million is taxed at 40%, generally speaking. It’s a bit more complicated, but taxation always is. Loopholes are important to rich people. They pay tax attorneys a lot of money to maintain their power and financial privileges.
Forty percent is not generous enough for people like our current president and his GOP associates. They want the “death tax” (as they derisively call it) eliminated. I’m arguing that the rate should be increased to 100%. Handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to spoiled brats is destroying the USA. A corrosive degeneracy is creeping into every sphere of the lives of the wealthy.
It’s not like there is no precedent. It happened in ancient Rome. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon was required reading when I was a young man in the 1960s. Modern printing companies have consolidated the history into three volumes and into an abridged version of one.
Gibbon, an English historian, published his first volume in 1776, the birth-year of the USA. His six-volume masterpiece relied exclusively on original sources and, as the remaining five volumes flowed out over the following thirteen years, heavily influenced the builders of the American republic for the next seventy years to the brink of the Civil War.
Gibbon disapproved of Catholicism and challenged its version of history and the role of martyrs. His history was controversial, which resulted in revisions that he continued to write until his death in 1794. His work remains controversial to this day for a number of reasons that aren’t going to be discussed in this essay. Gibbon understood that cruelty and insensitivity in an entitled class of rulers contributed to Rome’s decline. When the barbarians walked into Rome, they were greeted as liberators by ordinary people. Rome fell like a rotting apple. Gibbon’s History was a warning to the future.
In modern-day America creative workarounds have enabled the wealthy to hand out to crazy relatives a lot of clout they didn’t earn. Yes, it’s difficult to stand up to mob bosses, crooks, and their families. It should be obvious that it’s impossible to accumulate billions of dollars legally, but many have. Behind every fortune is a dark secret—sometimes many secrets. It’s true.
So much for freedom and equal opportunity. Freedom is easily lost to wealthy people who think that those who dare to challenge them are misguided misfits—lower and dumber than farm animals, in many cases.
Wealthy Grandpa, it turns out, had hundreds of legislators on his payroll, which bought him all the advantages of a modern-day emperor. His adult children—who haven’t done a darn thing but argue about which-of-them-should-get-what after Grandpa dies—seem to think that they deserve all the power and perks they didn’t work for and could never earn had they been born into the impoverished family whose mother got her start working in Grandpa’s sweat-shop.
I like math, so let’s do some. Divide the Gross National Product (the GNP ($17.1 trillion) by the population (309 million). Use a calculator, anyone who can’t figure it out on their fingers (just kidding!).
If incomes were equally distributed in America, a family of four would earn $221,000 per year. Yes, I agree, it’s not a lot of money—some folks would really suffer trying to raise a family on so little—but try to understand that half of black families earn less than $35,000; half of white families earn less than $70,000.
Unequal administration of legal protections and justice;
No access to health care for tens of millions (despite ObamaCare);
Discriminatory hiring, promotions, and firing based on race, political beliefs, and looks;
Defense by a mercenary military isolated from the general population—a major contributor to the collapse of the Roman Empire, according to Edward Gibbon);
Endemic corruption of politicians, church, civic, and business leaders.
Does anyone disagree with this list? Go to Florida and try to find a safe place to live. Gated communities dominate the new housing markets. The majority of Americans don’t have enough money to gain access to this private world.
As for legal protections, anyone who has suffered arrest and spent time in custody knows that indigent people rot inside our jails, because they can’t afford bail or high-priced private attorneys. It’s a no-brainer. Believe it or not, some of the incarcerated are innocent, but they are treated as guilty and forced to plea-bargain; many are unable to articulate a coherent defense. They end up with false criminal records that make staying out of future legal traps more difficult.
As for healthcare: Aided by the complicity of the Supreme Court, twenty-eight states refused to set-up health-care exchanges under ObamaCare. Twenty-one states (where five million low-income persons with no health care live) refused to expand access to the poor under Medicaid, despite it being fully funded and paid for by the federal government.
Tens of millions of poor remain outside the care of our state and national health care system of hospitals, medical specialists, and general practice doctors.Wealthy GOP donors hope to destroy health care for the poor and lower-middle class with the help of our newest president, because they don’t want to finance medical aid for indigent people—despite all the privileges and protections that they accrue by forcing a myriad of taxes on middle income folks (like social security and sales taxes), which the wealthy avoid for the most part due to their immense incomes. Also, many of the super-rich make their money in the stock market, where the capital gains tax rate places them in the lowest tier of tax-payers. It’s hard to believe, but it’s really true.
Has anyone ever wondered why so many of the racist, alt-right, neo-Nazi, white-supremacists are clean-cut, shaved, symmetrical, and well-dressed men? A visitor from the Philippines who attends a weekly Bible-study with my wife said that after watching the Charlottesville riots, clean-cut white American men now scare her.The reason these fascists look the way they do is obvious, of course. They have good jobs! Another reason is that they hide their nasty tattoos under expensive shirts, many of them.
Mega-millionaire business owners don’t hire people they feel they can’t trust. It’s that simple. Progressive, clear-headed men and women who care about fairness tend to dress and speak freely. They can be troublesome in a workplace, especially if they question unfair practices in pay, hiring, and promotions.
If you are wealthy and run a business, why would you ever hire anyone who thinks for themselves? Hire instead an ignoramus from the alt-right or the NRA. They follow their ideology like lemmings; discrimination against blacks, gays, women, and progressives doesn’t bother them.
Look at professional football, for an example. The billionaire owners of teams (many have the reputation of Neanderthals) hire players who have a PR (public relations) personality. Skill comes in second. Any high school coach in America could recruit a football team out of America’s prisons that could win a Super Bowl nine years out of ten. Yes, their players would be poor and in some cases, inarticulate.
In America, talent on the field of sport doesn’t work that way. Compliance is a player’s highest virtue, then charisma (as evaluated by billionaire owners), then talent. Hard work? Anyone can be forced to work hard, and most do who aren’t born wealthy. Any thinking fan knows it’s true.
Let’s move on. How come we don’t require people to fight for their country as a responsibility of citizenship? Everyone knows the reason. The wealthy don’t want to risk their kids in a potential combat where they might be wounded, maimed, or even killed.
And why should they? Hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged kids line up to sign-up for service “voluntarily”, because they need a job and, hopefully, an education they currently are unable to afford, even if they have a job. The military provides both, supposedly, but in recent years cut backs in benefits for non-officers have been enacted, because, once again, the wealthy don’t want to put up the money.
We hire a lot of kids from other countries to serve our military, both as “contractors” and as a “path to citizenship”. In conflict zones, like Afghanistan, the majority of soldiers on “our side” are foreign nationals. It’s the fastest route to failure according to Gibbon. Read his history, those who don’t believe it.
Many kids won’t re-enlist after their first tour. Military service, despite all the ads on TV, is a tour into hell for many of them. Living far from home and being under 24/7 control by officers who can throw anyone in the brig without trial for any reason is too much stress for most people.
The wealthy continue to degrade the benefits of service for the disadvantaged despite the fact that without a military to protect them, the wealthy could not hang onto their privileges. Common, everyday people are not as blind as the self-serving narcissists who refuse to do heavy-lifting, even as they order drones and the young alike into the killing zones of battle.
Moving to number six on the list—endemic corruption—let me ask this question. Is it honest to accept money for political favors? Just asking. Enough said. I’m not going to waste your time or mine discussing the obvious. An encyclopedia could be written about the history of corruption in the United States. At least one volume could be devoted to corruption during the twenty-first century, a short period of seventeen years.
The most honest man in the FBI, James Comey, helped the Russians wreck our last presidential election by responding to fake news reports planted by Russian agents. Comey behaved like Inspector Javert in the Victor Hugo novel, Les Miserables. He pursued the Democratic nominee relentlessly during her campaign.
He went for her jugular in the final week by reopening a closed investigation and holding a news conference to smear what little reputation and dignity she still possessed. He undercut Hillary Clinton in the final week of the 2016 presidential election. He changed the trajectory of our nation’s history in a way that won’t sit well with future generations.
Corruption disguised as virtue is vice. Any idiot can figure it out. And now our country is paying the price. We elected an unqualified buffoon to be our president. We hope against hope that someday he will change. Maybe someday he will. Who knows?
Let somebody else write about graft; about dishonesty; about slander; about lies; about corruption. I haven’t got the energy. Who wants to be killed for writing what everybody already knows is true? I don’t.
My general statement is this: the United States is hiding behind a pack of lies about its past, present, and future. It’s not so easy to tell the truth to people when large numbers of them start to read your stuff. Fortunately for me, few people see my essays. Yes, I’ve been threatened, but thus far the threats have been manageable.
I don’t know what the solution is. I do know that our current president is making a bad situation worse and less safe for average people. Character is destiny, some say, and I believe it. The president lies and slimes and slanders pretty much everyone except sycophants. He plays the bad boy on an almost daily basis. It’s not going to end well for him or us, if we refuse to do what’s right.
We are so screwed. Read my essay, RISK, those who don’t believe it.
Risk has little to do with who is president, but admittedly some presidents increase risk. The verdict is still out on our current president.
I heard Elon Musk say that our country is like an aircraft carrier with a small rudder. The president sits by the rudder—it’s about a foot wide and three feet tall—and tries to steer the carrier to the right. By the end of his term, the carrier will not have turned much. However, its forward momentum is unstoppable. Are we headed toward the correct horizon? Does anyone know for sure?
It’s not good, peeps, what’s about to come. My advice is to take things a bit more seriously and prepare as best as anyone can for whatever problems might arise from poor leadership and the neglect of minorities, the impoverished, and the disadvantaged that always seem to follow.
Today, as I write, the orange man (now blonde) who stole our election on behalf of the Russians held a meeting with Russian diplomats. He allowed only one press organization to cover and release photos. I asked some reasonably well-informed, smart people what press organization they thought it might be. They answered, Fox News.
Of course, their answer was nonsense. Fox News is clueless. It always has been. It’s run by a group of non-native Americans (their countries of origin are China and Australia) who have their own idiosyncratic ideas about what they want the USA to become. Their women parade around on camera half-dressed; recent lawsuits have disclosed that executives use many of them for sex. They pretend to be patriots and Christians. Of course, anyone who isn’t deaf, dumb, and blind knows they are neither. They aren’t reporters either. Cheerleaders for GOP politicians is a better descriptor.
No, the correct answer is TASS, the Russian news agency, which is an arm of the Russian government. TASS made the press announcements. They released the photographs. And of course, life goes on. No one seems to care. On Tuesday, the FBI director—who led the investigation into ties between our leaders and Russian mafia-oligarchs—was fired.
On Wednesday (today), we learned that it was the president—he remains under investigation—who fired the FBI director; he celebrated by meeting with his Russian friends. They all wore black suits, as if to highlight their bonds of power. The president lied, it turns out, about both the process and his reasons, according to members of his own staff who leaked to major news outlets.
The FBI director learned that he had been dismissed when he saw the announcement on television—the place where all of us get the news we trust most. He thought it was a prank. He was preaching, apparently, to a new class of recruits somewhere in southern California. He read the announcement on the scrolling news ribbon. Later, one of the president’s civilian body guards hand-delivered the director’s pink slip. One report claimed that the leader of the FBI hired a commercial aircraft to make his escape home. (ABC News reported that he was able to secure a government plane.)
Unless the Russians go door to door arresting people, no one will ever care—certainly no one in the GOP, it seems. The typical American lives inside a psychotic bubble of evil. Some act like they’ve lost the ability to assess realistic threats to their way of life; to the things they hold dear. They’ve watched too much television, too many movies, too much pornography; they’ve explored too many fake news sites—sites designed by experts to manipulate them into believing absurdities.
The typical American takes too many drugs—some wake up with caffeine and amphetamines; some struggle through stressful work days that last way too long; they sustain themselves by swallowing tranquilizers or derivatives of heroin like oxycodone; some put themselves to sleep with barbiturates or alcohol or both. Some drugs are prescribed; they’re necessary. Others are illegal. It doesn’t seem to matter. The appetite for drugs is massive; Americans spend billions of dollars every year for drugs they shouldn’t be taking.
Many Americans would strap syringes to their arms if they believed that no one would notice—as did Howard Hughes, the billionaire industrialist from yesteryear. Some readers may recall that our government confiscated his many businesses to make it easier to build and secure our country’s infamous war machine; the process drove Howard insane; he became dependent on drugs only they could reliably supply to keep him docile and compliant. He lived his last days wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet, because the tissues cushioned his arches and comforted him.
Howard Hughes watched movies all day long, movies he once produced; they often featured his long-lost Hollywood friends. When he felt sad, which was often, he tapped the end of the plungers in the syringes strapped to his arms. Sometimes he cried.
The Mormon FBI agents who baby-sat him allowed him to wallow. They left him to himself, for the most part. He never traveled, unless they took him. He never fled his gilded prison. His addictions made flight impossible. He might as well have been left to die on a sandbar in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He dropped off the face of the earth. Members of Congress, some of them, worried about him.
The public was asking, Did Howard Hughes die? He had vanished from view like a ghost. No one ever saw him. He must be dead, some argued. Others knew better. They arranged a phone call with his handlers—to allay the fears of those few who believed that bad actors held him against his will. Some powerful congress members wanted to know the truth and share it with the public.
During the call—which was broadcast to the world via speaker-phone before a full congressional gathering—Howard said that he was OK. He was alive. Someone asked, almost as an afterthought, if he was happy. His reply stunned Congress into silence. He answered, No… I’m not happy.
The phone called ended, and that was that. A few years later, Howard died. The coroner said that he found broken needles embedded in the bones of Howard’s arms and legs. He weighed less than ninety pounds.
Erich Fromm published the book Escape from Freedom in 1941. It was a required read in my high school during the 1960s, which was a long time ago—for some people. It seems like yesterday to me.
Fromm was a German psychoanalyst who argued that true freedom, if it ever came, would scare people so bad that they would embark on an unhealthy search for security; for certainty. The search would be a kind of escape; a frantic fleeing from the painful dissonance that the dissimilarity between people with disparate values can inflict.
This discord intensified inside the USA during the past decade or so. Does anyone really want to go through the list of things that Americans hate about each other? Must I mention gay marriage, abortion, liberal politics, civilian access to weapons of war, religion, race, ethnicity, politics, viewing habits, Facebook rants, Twitter smears, and on and on?
People follow; they unfollow; they block; they unblock. They flip channels. Nothing works; nothing helps. Erectile dysfunction, for example, is a subject that is thrust into everyone’s faces; into the deepest recesses of our subconscious minds. It’s relentless. It’s discussed with commercial intensity on every media channel. People who watch sports programming can’t escape it.
No one can turn off the voices that are driving us mad, because the people who manipulate the public don’t agree with our points of view; with our sense of life. Do I suffer from erectile dysfunction? No; Hell no! I wish I never heard the term.
Do I yearn for a leader; a guide; someone to stand things up; to set things right? Yes. Of course I do. But it seems like Christ is not going to visit anytime soon. Maybe a Second Coming is fantasy. Maybe we’ve been stood up. Maybe we need a Führer. Yeah, that’s it.
I said earlier that I borrowed this essay’s title from the book of the same name published in 1941 by the German-born psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm. I don’t know if the book is required reading today or not; perhaps it should be; better books might have replaced it.
I considered a different title; I did. Maybe the Stockholm Syndrome would have been better. It’s about the ten percent of hostages who take on the values of their tormentors. I thought and thought. No; Escape from Freedom was best.
At least for now.
Note from the Editorial Board: The details of the life of Howard Hughes included in Billy Lee’s essay are based on his memories of events as recorded in press accounts written and televised in real time as they were unfolding. Billy Lee’s memories do not in every case align with current historical accounts, because the history of Howard’s life has been reconstructed and fictionalized by many sources—according to Billy Lee. Billy Lee believes current accounts are revisionist, and in some particulars may in fact be inaccurate. Billy Lee witnessed the congressional interview with Mr. Hughes as it occurred.