CHOSEN

Fundamentalist Christians have the reputation for carte blanche support of everything Israel. Many citizens of Israel hold dual citizenship inside the United States. The third director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, is a dual citizen.

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. 

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke. She is last in line to be president.

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 Dome of the Rock is controversial within Israel and Palestine. Eighty kilograms of gold leaf cover the dome. At today’s close, the gold’s value is $3,600,307.60. The former King Hussein of Jordan sold one of his London homes in 1993 to raise the money. He died on February 7, 1999 at age 63 from complications of cancer. 

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. 

Billy Lee 

47 TONS

While the Little Rocket Man and North Korea capture the world’s attention, our president is in Tokyo to deal with a threat that dwarfs anything we have faced since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 76 years ago.

The surprise attack against our Navy on Sunday morning, 7 December 1941, started a cascade of retaliation against the Japanese that three-and-a-half years later resulted in 67 Japanese cities burnt to ashes during a few months of sustained “fire-jelly” attacks by hundreds of Boeing-29 Superfortress bombers and other aircraft. After napalming the cities to dust, the United States followed the horror with a “preemptive” nuclear strike against the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Nine million Japanese civilians were left homeless. The death toll has never been definitively calculated, but two million souls is a reasonable guess.

The distance from Pyongyang, North Korea to Tokyo, Japan is 800 miles; to Hawaii, 4,400 miles; to Los Angeles, 6,000 miles; to Seattle, 5,150 miles; to Alaska, 3,200 miles. The border of North Korea meanders 25 to 50 miles from downtown Seoul, South Korea.

A few years after the stalemate of the Korean War, General Curtis LeMay—head of Strategic Air Command—claimed that his pilots had killed a similar number of Koreans by aerial bombardment—20% of the population.

The United States killed an estimated million Iraqi civilians in the more recent wars in the Middle East, which included the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

It killed two million Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam genocide of the 1960s and 70s.

In August 1945, USA bombers killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians in atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Millions were burned alive in fire-jelly (napalm) bombings, which decimated 67 cities over several months. Evacuation of cities helped to reduce casualties. 

Why am I bringing up a bunch of disturbing statistics? What’s the point? Why not leave unpleasant memories forgotten in a distant past where they can’t impact the happy lives we live now, not then?

What possible benefit can remembering the past confer upon our contented present? Why bother puking up a sour history that only the old-timers among us experienced? 

May I ask one more question? Maybe thinking about the answer will help some to make sense of current events that seem to have no rhyme or reason.

Of the fifty countries against which we have directed our military wrath since World War II, which among them has a right to the biggest grievance? Who did we hurt the most? 

Which country has been forced to endure the shame of a military occupation that never ends? Ok, maybe it sounds like more than one question. Deal with it. 

America fights secret and not so secret wars against communist, Islamic, western hemispheric, and, it turns out, African countries all the time. We have conducted strategic operations against friend and foe alike since World War II.

We have meddled in the internal politics of super powers like Russia and China. The Dalai Lama of Tibet wrote in his book Freedom in Exile that the United States gave him millions of dollars to incite violence against China, for example.

The USA has attacked militarily one in four of the 190 countries on the earth during the modern era. Which country is the one most likely to harbor a secret ambition for revenge?

America keeps itself in a state of perpetual war to feed the appetites of voracious weapons manufacturers whose stockholders are among the world’s most affluent. The AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force against terrorists) passed Congress, and President Bush signed the bill in August 2001 for a reason—to fuel the demands of arms dealers to free them from the inconvenience of securing approval by Congress to declare wars—which the Constitution demands. Only Barbara Lee (no relation to Billy Lee) of California voted against it.

Since 1991 Congress has passed and the president signed four AUMFs, mostly to cut down on the amount of work and resulting delays that are inevitable when large elected groups of representatives are compelled to go on record for or against any particular conflict. 

We in America live under a lot of illusions. We tell ourselves a lot of lies about how wonderful we are and how everyone wants to be like us. Our enemies who fear us the most insist—some of them anyway—that they love us; they want to live with us and be like us, and we tend to believe them.

No one tells a command officer who is carrying an automatic assault rifle that he is a pig; the term “butt-wipe” is never used. No one wants to die for a no good reason like name calling, for example. Our subjugates place flowers in the barrels of our guns and tell us they love us.

Everyone who has been shamed and humiliated prays for their day of liberation; the day of their revenge; the day the world is finally set right. It’s human nature. The desire to settle scores crosses cultural, religious, and geographical boundaries.

Few countries that have suffered cremation by fire of millions of their citizens forget. They don’t forgive. Think long and hard. It’s true.

For almost a year Billy Lee lived where he could view Mount Fuji from his bedroom window during his two-year stay in Japan. The Editorial Board

The situation in Japan is dire; it really is. The United States for some insane and goofy reason permitted the Japanese over the past thirty years to build the most sophisticated nuclear power grid the world has ever seen.

The USA sold the Japanese uranium-impregnated fuel rods. A by-product of their use (to produce the intense heat required to generate electricity) is plutonium. Instead of collecting and disposing the spent fuel rods, the Japanese built facilities to extract the plutonium. They promised to use the plutonium for fuel in advanced power generators called “fast reactors.” Fast reactors are, in theory, cheaper and less complicated; they are also more volatile; more dangerous to operate. 

After the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the Japanese abandoned “fast reactors”. They discovered during the audits they conducted following the disasters at Fukushima and other facilities that their fast reactors had safety records that bordered on terrifying. They stopped using plutonium for fuel. With no place to “burn” the plutonium they were harvesting, it began to accumulate, bigly.

In the entire universe plutonium is found above trace amounts at one location and one location only: planet Earth. Plutonium went extinct due to radioactive decay billions of years ago. It can be created during rare cosmic events, but the bomb-making kind—Pu 239—is a manufactured element that does not occur in nature. It is a by-product of nuclear fission reactions. It hides itself within the matrix of elements that make up the remnants of spent fuel rods.

Plutonium is among the most poisonous substances known. The speck of plutonium dust that kills you, you will likely never see. Some scientists today have downplayed the lethality of plutonium 239. My advice is to be skeptical whenever vast amounts of money and power fuel a controversy.

Regardless of its lethality as a poison, no one argues that fourteen pounds is enough plutonium to make an atomic bomb of a construction so unsophisticated that a high schooler could fashion the necessary components in shop class. Sophisticated bombs require even less plutonium—a mere nine pounds.

This is what plutonium powder looks like. Japan has 94,000 pounds of it. 14 pounds are required for an unsophisticated bomb; 9 pounds for a sophisticated version.

Japan has harvested 47 tons (94,000 pounds) of high-grade plutonium from its nearly one-hundred or so nuclear power and processing plants, which include power plants, research reactors, fast reactors, reprocessing installations, and recently decommissioned facilities—decommissioned due mostly to safety concerns.

Japan’s production schedule is running at a frenetic pace—adding eight tons of surplus plutonium to its stockpile every year into the foreseeable future unless the United States is able to shut down Japan’s reprocessing installations with an agreement scheduled for negotiation in 2018. Our new president has said the old agreements won’t be changed.

By this time next year the Japanese will have accumulated enough high-grade Pu 239 to make as many as 12,000 atomic bombs. Should it make that choice, Japan will possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

Plutonium is heavy. Nine pounds of Pu 239 is the size of a softball. It is exactly the right size to construct a single atomic bomb. By this time next year Japan will possess enough Pu 239 to make 12,000 bombs.

What follows next in this essay is the scary part. Some readers might want to bail and maybe find a good comic book to occupy their imaginations.

Despite agreements with the United States that followed World War II, Japan has one of the largest military budgets in the world. The country spends 42 billion dollars per year on its military. This expenditure does not include its civilian nuclear power system or its civilian space exploration programs. 

The Japanese consolidated three civilian rocket launching companies into one (named JAXA) in 2003. They are launching rockets into space all the time. JAXA designed, built, launched, and maintains the largest module on the International Space Station. The Japanese have spacecraft in the asteroid belt and spy satellites in earth orbit. These are civilian programs. 

Although the military budget of the United States seems huge, people might want to consider that the USA spends one-third of its military dollars on salaries and pensions. No other military spends as much. It maintains 800 military bases in 70 countries at an expense of $200 billion—an expense that other militaries simply don’t have. Japan spends about the same amount on defense as England, France, and Germany. A controversial argument can be made that the combined military might of Russia, China, Japan, and North Korea exceeds that of the United States. It is an argument that is hard to prove, because countries lie about their military expenditures, war-fighting readiness, and technical capabilities. The chart above is misleading in another important way, because it doesn’t include expenditures on nuclear weapons—their production, maintenance, and modernization—which are state secrets in all the countries that possess them.  

The Japanese don’t have to make bombs from their plutonium stores to wreak havoc on an adversary. They can pulverize the metal into aerosols and release plutonium dust into the air over cities.

They can load plutonium into drone subs like rumors say the Russians have done and set hundreds of them in the coastal waters of our country. The subs can lie in ocean sand and silt for decades before releasing their poisons, should it ever become necessary.

Their advanced missile technology might enable Japan to overwhelm our defenses by launching multiple warhead missiles over our homeland. It might take a few months, but poisoned populations would eventually succumb to the release of toxic dust.

And, should they choose to make bombs, well, any country with the resources of a country as sophisticated as Japan can turn high-grade plutonium into bombs in a few days; they can possess the capability to create hell on earth in the blink of an eye, anytime they choose. With the right (or wrong) leadership they can unleash a nightmare of suffering far worse than the inferno we inflicted on them 72 years ago.

This plant is the place where the Japanese extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel rods. The Japanese have admitted on NHK television that they have 94,000 pounds of plutonium that they have no use for nor any place to safely store.

Plutonium is an artificially produced killing material that no human being, company, or country should ever be allowed to possess or use. It is a forbidden apple of physics that can only bring anguish to whoever uses or shares it with others. 

Japan has the potential to threaten the world with the same level of terror as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, and who knows what other countries. Many countries are conducting (in secret) diabolical engineering even now and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

What could be worse? Believe it or not, our predicament might already be much worse than anyone in the USA is willing to think about or imagine.

What about the possibility that North Korea and China are playing a game of good cop / bad cop with our military planners? What if Japan is toying with the idea of leading an unholy alliance? Behind our backs? Do we really have enough Japanese-speaking spies to keep track of all the secret Samurai cults that might be conspiring at the highest levels of government. Do we?

What if Vladimir Putin thinks: The United States lied to me. I helped to elect an American president who is ineffective—a buffoon who can’t help me the way he promised. Let’s get ’em!

Imagine an alliance of China, North Korea, Russia, and Japan; an alliance led by the one country that has the greatest lust for payback; the strongest ache to settle scores once and for all.

A Hunkpapa Lakota holy man, Sitting Bull, had the vision that led to the defeat of the USA’s 7th Calvary Regiment on June 26, 1876—one week before the USA’s 100th anniversary. Five of seven battalions were decimated—one led by Civil War hero George Armstrong Custer. Sitting Bull became a celebrity who worked in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Later in life he became a leader of the Ghost Dance movement, which terrified whites, because it prophesied the exodus of white people from native American lands. Ten days before Christmas—on December 15, 1890 during an arrest by police on reservation property—Indian Affairs agents shot Sitting Bull in the head and chest in front of his family and friends. Agents removed his body to Fort Yates, where they buried him in a makeshift coffin.  

A surprise attack by such an alliance would be nation ending. It might end like the Battle of the Little Bighorn. We don’t have enough soldiers or missiles or ships to fight a gathering of tribes who possess tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.

The USA has the power to destroy the whole world if we must, but we can’t save ourselves; we can’t save our country; we can’t save the planet.

In the conflagration that took the hyper-alert Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer by surprise, all his ribbons and medals; all his accolades; all his friends in high places couldn’t save him, his men, or even his horses. The battle of the Little Bighorn was a massacre that dwarfed Custer’s reputation for being a really good person; a hero of the Civil War loved by every patriotic American.

To those who say, Billy Lee, you’ve gone paranoid on us… the Japanese would never organize an attack against America unawares… not a nuclear attack… they know how bad it would be… they suffered through one… they know better than anyone… and look at them, how they smile when we tell bad jokes. The last thing on their minds is revenge. The very last thing!

I say, you are so right!  The Japanese would never hurt us. I lived in Japan for two years after the war. The Japanese have their quirks, yes, but most of them are not cruel or insensitive. They don’t enjoy watching torture videos for entertainment, most of them. Tying up women and twisting their bodies to prepare them for rape is not something most Japanese men would have any part in. Am I right? Of course I am.

The Japanese are not monsters. They are a kind and gentle people who don’t farm or ranch or mine, because they are resource impoverished. When I lived there our Japanese house-maids and yard-boys were as sweet as they could be. They meant us no harm. I see that now. 

But how on earth are the Japanese going to get rid of the 47 tons of plutonium poison they have produced? And how will they dispose of the eight tons they plan to produce each year into perpetuity—plutonium which they admit has no longer any peacetime applications whatsoever?

Everybody knows plutonium has a radioactive half-life of 24,000 years. It’s never going to go away. Someday, through inattention or from whatever other cause, plutonium containment structures are going to rot, and the poison will leach into the soils, the oceans, and the atmosphere to kill all living things. It is Earth’s best case scenario—the scenario where nuclear war never happens, the world disarms, and plutonium is tucked away out of reach and out of sight of war makers and other terrorists.

The process that will sterilize the planet of all life is already well underway and cannot be stopped—not over a period of tens of thousands of years. Read the essay, RISK, elsewhere on this site. Humans are likely to be extinct by the time the unnatural poisons of war and opulence first make their advance against the innocent, less intelligent life-forms that we will leave behind—like chipmunks and kittens, for example—who will never be able to understand what is killing them or why.

Our new president is in Tokyo as I’m writing this essay. Anyone who asks him will learn—because he’s not afraid to say it—he is really smart and bigly educated. He understands people and how best to manipulate them to maximize his advantages and get what he wants. You don’t believe it?  Ask him—for the love of God—ask him. 

Maybe we should help the Japanese store their plutonium in a safe place—a place much safer than their earthquake tormented islands that float within the largest fisheries of the Pacific Ocean. We could store the plutonium perhaps deep in a cave somewhere. Maybe we could store it beneath the volcanic cauldrons of Yosemite—or some other remote location, like a trench astride the San Andreas fault.

Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s do that.

If we talk nicely, will the Japanese listen? Maybe they will, if our new president has the sense to ask. Does anyone have a better idea? For the love of God, tell someone. 

Billy Lee

Begging For It

Nikki Haley is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India. She served as governor of South Carolina until she became UN Ambassador in the Trump Administration.

Nikki Haley, the UN Ambassador, told the world that North Korea is begging for war. Her statement reminds me of the rape defense that bad men used in decades past at trial before court—she was begging for it, they would always insist.

The victim—always a woman—exercised her constitutional right to dress any way she chose. A prowling lunatic observed her and believed instead that she was advertising a willingness to copulate with a grease-ball, so he attacked.

In today’s United States the grease-ball defense no longer works. Women (and countries) have rights. The courts protect them, most of the time. When they don’t, women have recourse to civil suits.

All countries (and women) have the right to defend themselves. It shouldn’t have to be said. But the United States has mucked-up the waters of international affairs by waging pre-emptive wars against communist and socialist countries for the past seventy-five years. It seems like these wars will never end.

It is the policy of the United States to undermine any country that espouses communism; it attacks using whatever methods are devised and recommended by the brilliant, depraved minds of our intelligence community. Despite all the evidence, despite all the complaints lodged against the United States before international courts and at the United Nations, most Americans refuse to believe it.

This war-policy against collectivism was birthed in the early 1900s when the first communist revolutions undermined the noble classes of eastern Europe. The well-connected saw what happened in Russia and Hungary and decided to do something about it. Writers like Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), George Orwell (1984), and Ayn Rand (We the Living) wrote short, easy to read tracks that portrayed life under communism as a personality-destroying nightmare. The public ate it up. 

After World War II, the job of suppression was handed over to our newly formed intelligence agencies who gave the fight its name: the Cold War. With the recent CIA assisted transformations of the Soviet Union and Red China into oligarchies (marking a putative end to the biggest conflicts) other terms have emerged from inside the intelligence community to describe how the USA is continuing to war against what few holdouts remain. The current buzz phrase is strategic strangulation.

Billionaires don’t look at the world in the same way as the disenfranchised and exploited. In the neglected and overlooked far reaches of the world where billionaires don’t live, common people sometimes try to organize themselves by producing wealth cooperatively and sharing it as best they can. Once they attract the attention of the powerful, the powerful send in missionaries and agricultural-aid workers to undermine and disenfranchise their leaders.

If God and food don’t work, they send in assassins. It’s true. Since WWII, the United States has gone to war with one out of four countries. It has overthrown (or co-opted) many states, including Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Poland, Iraq, Afghanistan and dozens more. 

Eventually, the USA sends in Coca-Cola and other first-line-of-attack companies to overwhelm the nascent economies of the sharers and cooperators. The wealthy move in to buy the arable land and lock up the country; billionaire power-brokers make it their business to bury every way of governance that might threaten their right to administer an economic empire built for one purpose only: to empower their own families and the families of their friends to rule unimpeded into perpetuity.  

This billboard appears all over the island of Cuba. It says: BLOCKADE: THE LONGEST GENOCIDE IN HISTORY. It shows a Klansman’s noose strangling the island. Inside the United States intelligence community, it’s called strategic strangulation. Our leaders have enforced the embargo of Cuba for fifty-five years. Odds are it will never end.

The USA is very good at undermining socialist countries. It’s why socialism doesn’t do well. When a communist country like Cuba manages to hold on somehow, they are tormented by embargos, infiltration by agents, sabotage, disinformation, slander, assassinations, and so on. Radio Free Whatever is beamed into the targeted country to undermine morale and brainwash listeners with the most seductive psychological warfare techniques in our arsenal. It’s why communist countries seal their borders.

The United States makes sure that no administrator can relax; none can kick back without constantly looking over their shoulder and keeping guard. As long as the privately-owned United States exists, countries of the opposite sex, that is socialist countries, are going to get blamed for however the rich and powerful choose to hurt them. The better these socialist countries do for their people, the bigger the target they become. Their success is their mini-skirt; their low-cut blouse. Obviously, they are begging for war, as Madame Haley so eloquently put it.

Blaming the victim is as old as Cain and Abel. It’s as old as history. The bullies win. They put on coats and tails, send their kids to exclusive schools, learn to speak with a different accent, and set themselves apart. They tell wonderful stories about themselves on TV, movies, radio, books, magazines, and the internet until people start to actually believe deep in their hearts that wealthy people are more wonderfully made than they or their kids ever will be.

The poor and disadvantaged admire their employers, because no one is left to help them understand that they are slaves; fools before a noble class that thinks of them as having no more value than farm animals. They live in the cow-pastures outside the gates of the wealthy. A few unlucky cows get a glimpse from time to time of what has been stolen from them; most of the time they are too incredulous before the view to believe their own eyes.

Today the billionaires are planning, as they have for the past seventy years, to obliterate the North Koreans. Tens of millions of Koreans will die in the first hours. The North Koreans and their Chinese allies were the first countries to challenge America after WWII. Apparently, our arsenal of atomic weapons didn’t intimidate them. The USA has a long memory.

If we use nuclear weapons in a first strike, no one will ever live on the peninsula again. That this threat has been floated by our new president (fire and fury like the world has never known) makes it easy to understand what the USA is all about.

Despite denials in the press, America may in fact have neutron bombs in its arsenal which kill people, but leave infrastructure intact outside the immediate impact zone. Only bunkers constructed from heavy concrete that is impregnated with barium sulfate can shield against both neutrons and the gamma ray by-products of collisions between neutons and the proton-rich substate of heavy concrete.

High level command bunkers are likely to be built with these materials. Otherwise lead and other heavy metals are generally used as barriers to nuclear radiation. Heavy metals are transparent and ineffective against neutron bombardment.

Neutron bombs emit little residual radiation, so they don’t contaminate the attack zone. An occupying force can be inserted with little risk of radiation poisoning. It’s possible the USA will use neutron bombs against civilians for the first time, if the Koreans continue begging our country to kill them all. A follow-on insertion of Marine and Airborne divisions would locate and destroy any surviving command bunkers.

The United States always seems to be first to try diabolical things. We used anthrax against Chinese troops during the Korean war back in the 1950s. Everyone knows about it but us, of course. We have short memories when it comes to remembering our own sins, like the genocidal Vietnam War and other cruelties such as the war against Iraq and the destabilization of the Middle East.

And no one seems to remember that it was a CIA agent (yes, he was disgruntled and no longer employed, the agency has insisted) who blew up the first commercial airliner and wiped out the Cuban Olympic fencing team. It was an act of terrorism that never happened, if you ask most Americans. Lee Harvey Oswald was disgruntled and no longer employed too, come to think of it. 

Speaking of begging for war, is anyone out there begging for peaceThe USA killed two million North Koreans during aerial bombardments approved by President Truman. What’s stopping us from doing it again?

During the first days of the Korean War, the South rounded up one-hundred thousand of its own citizens and summarily executed them, believing that each of their victims might be a leftist sympathizer of the North. The Korean War was an atrocity, which I’m not going to devote blog space to explain or explore. Click on links, those who want to know more.

South Korea from North Korea’s point of view. A massive China has their back. South Korea’s capital is close to their border—a tempting target. (Click on map to produce full-size view in new window.)

The point is, we aren’t listening to the North or South Koreans. Most want the peninsula unified. We don’t. Most folks want to live in a safe and fair place where billionaires don’t reduce the average person to poverty. South Korea doesn’t want us to sacrifice millions of its own citizens in a military strike, possibly a nuclear conflagration, to make a point. It’s simple, really. 

The only sensible solution is to leave Korea and to assist reunification as best as we can, if we are invited to do so. We aren’t leaving, obviously, because our policy is to topple socialism wherever it takes root.

We have demonized in the past so many of our enemies that it is confusing to know who the bad guys are this time around. We once called native Americans savages. We exterminated their food supply (buffalos), then their populations.

Right now, no one knows who to trust. With our new president, we will never know what the facts are. We will never know for sure who is begging for war, us or them.

Billy Lee

From the EDITORIAL BOARD:
Billy Lee supports private and public ownership of property (a mixed economy), but advocates for international limits to personal incomes and estate sizes to reduce the temptation that drives the wealthy to burn down democratic processes on altars of their own greed. Read his essay Capitalism and Income Inequality

Billy Lee opposes war on humanitarian grounds. During war people get killed and are maimed in huge numbers. It sometimes takes generations for both winners and losers to emerge from the trauma and the horrors. Billy Lee supports the United States during war, but in peacetime reserves his constitutional right to pontificate freely.

OCEAN WAR

The United States Navy insists that it has 277 ships on active-duty. About 132 are combat surface vessels; 75 or so are submarines. About 70 are logistical craft designed to supply the fleet. Do the math. 132 surface ships patrol the oceans. Yes, the Navy says they have a fleet of 160 or so non-commissioned ships held in reserve, but they are unavailable and ineffective during first strike scenarios. 

The New York Times agrees with the Navy. Everyone agrees—we have 277 ships. I hope the Navy and the New York Times are lying, because if they aren’t, we are in big trouble. We don’t have enough boats. 132 surface ships can’t control the Great Lakes, let alone the world’s seven oceans. Submarines, everyone knows, are almost useless except when used for nuclear deterrence.

The Navy’s Seventh Fleet is headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan. The fleet is responsible to cover 48 million square miles—from Japan to South Korea to Singapore, unless the far reaches of the South China Sea are included; then the square miles are too confusing for anyone to compute. China claims the whole of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory anyway, including all reefs, atolls, and islands.

How many ships bear this awesome responsibility to keep the sea-lanes open and safe from pirates and hostile powers like North Korea? The Navy says, 70. The USA deploys one aircraft carrier and 69 ships. Some news outlets have reported that an additional carrier group has been sent into the Sea of Japan to augment the current force configuration. A typical carrier strike group consists of eleven vessels, two of which are submarines. So, the total as of the date of this essay might be as high as 81.

Sorry, but someone is ordering our sailors to do an impossible job. The job is too big, the resources are too thin, and guess what? A flotilla of 81 vessels scurrying about the South China Sea trying to keep a lid on China, which is expropriating islands that belong to Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines while they build and fortify new ones wherever they feel like it is more than enough problems to exhaust any navy. People get tired. Accidents happen.

We have 70 ships in theater, the Navy says. We probably have 81. What does the other side have?

Well, we don’t really know. They lie. So do we. But we and they both watch; and we and they both spy and calculate.

Hillary Clinton—once upon a time (is there anyone who remembers?) she had the security clearances to know for sure—in one of her 2016 presidential debates, let it slip that Russian drone submarines are patrolling our coasts. These are cheap subs with no crews on board.

She said it once. Her assertion was never repeated in the press or public media. Everyone pretended they didn’t hear, for good reason. The number and types of ships in the Russian and Chinese fleets that are arrayed against our tiny arsenal of boats are state secrets. It’s all classified—out of reach of everyone except those with a clearance and a need to know. 

Chinese frigates like this one often stalk US ships in the South China Sea.

It seems clear to more than a few casual observers of Chinese shipping that the Chinese are building the most high-tech navy the world has ever seen. They have been building it for a few decades now. They have regularly practiced their sea-going skills in coordination with the Russian navy since 2012. Last year the Russians and China held joint naval exercises in the South China Sea, of all places. Joint land-based military exercises started in 2007.

China is selling it’s naval technologies and hardware to smaller countries that don’t normally threaten us. Thailand is buying Chinese subs. With military hi-tech weapons spread among a dozen or more countries in secret alliances with China, well, if it’s happening more than we know, does anyone think it’s good for our side?

But really, what would any reasonable person suspect are the forces arrayed against us? Look around. Hundreds-of-thousands of Russians live on the island of Cuba, just ninety miles from the United States.

Upscale area southwest of the airport in Havana, Cuba. (From Google Earth. Street View not available.)

Go on Google Earth and look at the Cuban neighborhoods. Some nice ones have Russian street names. It’s true. The Russians have a number of wonderfully designed, modern military bases for both subs and ships; and oh yeah, they have fighter jets and missiles, as well. Let’s not kid ourselves. Go look.

Am I trying to scare the public? Doesn’t the public have enough to fear? Isn’t terrorism, immigration, climate change, distant war, disease, and precarious health care (that could collapse any moment now that the GOP is in charge) enough to worry about? Of course it is. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson helped Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin build Russia’s oil and gas infrastructure. It is the world’s best.

Besides, our country has ten-thousand nuclear weapons buried hundreds of feet below the cornfields and deserts of our heartland to extinguish any threats, should we lose our Navy. Until they rot and their plutonium leeches into our soils, why needlessly worry? Everyone should sleep well at night, right? I don’t want to alarm anyone, I don’t.

Secretary of State Tillerson said we should sleep well, so why not? He knows all about the Russians, having helped them build their oil industry over many decades. Depending on when anyone takes its measure, Russia’s energy industry is the world’s largest and most productive—bigger than Saudi Arabia’s. People don’t believe it, but it’s true. Russia is the world’s biggest oil and natural gas producer and exporter. Secretary Tillerson must know what he’s talking about, right? 

Well, here is some stuff that is not so comforting. It might scare some people. Between 1975 and 2016 (41 years) our Navy experienced nine accidents, mostly between our own ships. Only two accidents involved the boats of foreign countries. That’s not bad. That’s not the scary part. But hear me out.

The Ehime Maru was on a 74-day voyage to train high school students to become commercial fishermen when it was struck on 9 February 2001 by a US submarine. It sank. Of the 35 on board, nine died, including four teenagers.

In 2001 a Japanese fishing-training boat, the Ehime Maru, with thirty-five Japanese citizens aboard, was obliterated near the Hawaiian island of Oahu, when the commanding officer of one of our attack submarines apparently hot-dogged the craft for civilian joy-riders. Our new president, George W. Bush, went on national TV to apologize to the Japanese, and the United States paid huge fines and compensation to the Japanese government and the grieving families of the nine who died, which included four high school students.

In 2004, the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, ran over an Arab sailboat in the Persian Gulf. 15 people died, but the Navy never identified who they were, apparently, and no one was compensated, as far as I know. Two jet fighters parked on deck were damaged. The Navy relieved the commanding officer.

USS Belknap, guided-missile cruiser, destroyed in 1975 near Sicily.

The most serious accident was in 1975 when the same U.S.S. John F. Kennedy hit one of our own guided-missile cruisers, the USS Belknap, off the island of Sicily. The Belknap was completely destroyed; seven sailors died.

A fire burned on the Belknap for twenty hours just a few yards from the magazine where Terrier surface-to-air missiles were stored. The ship was constructed with aluminum, which caught fire. The entire above deck structure melted. It took nearly five years to reconstruct the ruined cruiser. In 1995, the Navy struck it from the Naval Registry and began using it for target practice. They sunk it during a live-fire exercise in 1998.

A year after the Belknap accident, the USS John F. Kennedy collided with another ship, this time the aging USS Bordelon destroyer during a refueling. The Navy struck the ship from its registry and sold it to Iran for parts in 1977. No one died.

So, during the forty-one years between 1975 and 2016, the US Navy had nine peacetime accidents, seven of which were friendly-fire and self-inflicted. 24 foreign nationals died; 7 U.S. sailors; 1 U.S. civilian. Ship losses: one cruiser and one obsolete destroyer. Maybe other losses occurred. I haven’t heard about them, if there were any.

The USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian oil tanker, the Alnic MC, on August 20, 2017 in an early morning incident that killed ten sailors. The crash took the destroyer out of action for at least one year.

And now comes the scary part; hold onto your pants: In the seven months since the inauguration of our comb-over commander-in-chief (and keeper of our nuclear codes), the U.S. Navy has suffered four major accidents that have killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured scores more. We’ve lost two of our most powerful missile-guided destroyers—the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and the U.S.S. John S. McCain. It will be years before they are back in service. Readers can read about the fates of the USS Antietam and the USS Lake Chaplain in the links below.

At least two dozen sailors and officers have been disciplined, including a Vice-Admiral, a Commander, and a Lieutenant Commander. Admiral John Richardson, chief of Naval operations, has ordered an “operational pause” to all fleet commanders. He’s ordered a months-long review of protocols, because, he says, “there’s something out there that we’re not getting at.”

All this commotion is happening during a time when we’re planning to conduct war games against North Korea and are daily challenging the Chinese in the South China Sea.

Can I put things into perspective? If the accident rate of the past seven months was applied to the past forty-one years, the U.S. Navy would be short another 85 ships and 800 sailors. Thousands more young men and women would be maimed and wounded, and 250 promising Naval careers would be wrecked. In peacetime, essentially, the U.S. Navy might have lost one-third of its fleet and some of its best sailors and officers at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.

The USS Antietam, a guided missile cruiser, grounded itself in Tokyo Bay January 31, 2017. It released over one thousand gallons of toxic hydraulic oil into the bay and damaged both of its propellers and propeller hubs. Repair costs will exceed $4 million.

Here are a few of the headlines from our country’s newspaper of record, the New York Times. All headlines are from articles written in 2017. I’ve read every single one of them. Readers can access their content by clicking on the links. The remainder of my essay is written below these headlines:

China and Russia Hold First Joint Naval Drill in the Baltic Sea

Naval Collision Adds to Fears About U.S. Decline in Asia

After U.S. Destroyer Collision, Chinese Paper Says U.S. Navy a Hazard

Filipino Officials: Chinese Navy Stalked Philippine Area

4 Accidents, 2 Deadly, Raise Questions About Navy Operations

USS Lake Champlain Collision at Sea

Bodies of Several Sailors Are Found Aboard Damaged U.S. Destroyer

Sleeping Sailors on U.S.S. Fitzgerald Awoke to a Calamity at Sea

Japan Says Deadly Ship Collision Happened Earlier Than Reported

Maritime Mystery: Why a U.S. Destroyer Failed to Dodge a Cargo Ship

Navy Ship in Collision Named for McCain’s Dad, Grandfather

Previous Collisions Involving U.S. Navy Vessels

After Dangerous Collisions, Navy Will Pause for Safety Check

U.S. Admiral Says Remains Found Inside Damaged Destroyer

Commander of Naval Fleet Relieved of Duty After Collisions

Top Two Officers on Navy Ship in Deadly Collision Off Japan Are Relieved of Duties

10 Missing After U.S. Navy Ship and Oil Tanker Collide Off Singapore

Navy Dismisses 7th Fleet Commander After Warship Accidents

Mississippi Shipyard to Fix Destroyer Hit in June Collision

U.S. Navy Relieves Seventh Fleet Commander in Wake of Collisions in Asia

Wreckage of U.S.S. Indianapolis, Lost for 72 Years, Is Found in the Pacific*

*Some readers may have noticed that the last headline seems to have no connection whatsoever to this essay. But they would be wrong. Recall that the battleship USS Indianapolis was the fiercest war machine we had during World War II in the Pacific. We used that ship to deliver the atomic bomb, Little Boy, (the bomb dropped on Hiroshima) to Tinian Island in the western Pacific Ocean sometime during July, 1945. It would be assembled and delivered to the Japanese people with terrifying effect on August 15.

From Tinian the Navy ordered the Indianapolis to advance to Leyte Island in the Philippines to prepare for an all-out assault and invasion of Japan scheduled to follow the atomic blasts that were soon to occur.

On July 30 the lumbering battleship encountered a Japanese submarine which delivered six torpedoes in the wee hours of the night. Two struck the Indianapolis. It took twelve minutes for the battleship to sink below the surface. The ship sucked four hundred men to the bottom and left behind an oil slick that would sicken the nearly one-thousand sailors and marines who survived to face the threat of death by dehydration, drowning, and sharks.  

The USS Indianapolis delivered the atomic bomb to the Air Force in the Pacific before being sunk by a Japanese submarine. The ordeal took the lives of nearly a thousand men during five days in the open sea. Read Devil’s Voyage by Jack L Chalker.

The Navy didn’t notice that their prized battleship was missing. After five days of vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, and shark attacks, three hundred men were still alive (some in lifeboats, including the Commanding Officer) when an aircraft on an unrelated mission saw something suspicious and flew down to take a closer look. 

Twenty-two men who were pulled from the water remain alive today. The Navy court-martialed the commander, Captain McVay, and convicted him for not zig-zagging as he sailed. The Japanese sub-commander testified that zig-zagging would not have mattered. The Indianapolis was going to the floor of the ocean, in any event, he insisted. Nothing could have stopped what happened. 

Losing a ship, even in war, is a big deal in the Navy. It’s not something that anyone takes lightly, even when there are extenuating circumstances and good reasons for failure. Captain McVay committed suicide in 1968—clutching a toy sailor in one hand and his service revolver in the other.

The Navy has a history of not being able to keep track of its ships. The earth’s oceans are vast, and we don’t have that many boats on them. Hiding ships from our enemies means we sometimes hide them from ourselves.

Civilian boats are another matter. Merchant fleets deploy 51,405 ships on our oceans. Most of them are bigger and longer and heavier than our 277 Navy ships. Almost all run on auto-pilot most of the time, especially at night when the crews sleep. If the computer directs the tanker to ram a boat like the Fitzgerald, that’s what is going to happen. In collisions, chances are Navy ships will lose.

Collision avoidance should be easy. Crews need only have situational awareness and the ability to steer the boat. The problem is that to perform these tasks crews rely on a complicated matrix of technologies that always seem to fail in critical situations like combat or rule violations by other boats.

These technologies should be used to confirm human observation and decisions; instead sailors confirm what the technology tells them, but only when something goes wrong, which is almost always too late. An alarm sounds and a glance at a computer screen shows that a tanker is 500 meters to starboard, so a crew member looks out a window to see if it’s there. No! That’s bassackwards and will get someone killed. 

Officers might better demonstrate proficiency in the absence of high-tech aids for situational awareness and steering, then add high-tech proficiencies one skill-set at a time. Maybe they wear merit badges to enable COs to tell at a glance who can handle hydraulic controls and who is good at computer-aided navigation, for example.

Every officer doesn’t have to master every skill-set, and the least skilled officer should be able to turn off the high-tech systems they haven’t mastered in order to steer the boat and stop it using the skills they do have, when necessary.

Laser distance finders (like those used by golfers) and wide-field-of-view night vision binoculars should be standard issue. A half dozen or more sailors should be stationed around the perimeter of every boat and be required to report what they see or don’t see every five minutes or so. No snoozing!

Mischief Reef is the site of a Chinese airstrip and military installation built on a contested atoll in the Philippines.

Anyway, one thing about the four accidents this year (January 31, the USS Antietam; May 9, the USS Lake Champlain; June 17, the USS Fitzgerald; August 20, the USS John S. McCain) bothers me: the destroyer McCain was nearly sunk just two weeks after it challenged the Chinese at a contested atoll named Mischief Reef, which the Chinese have in recent years built-up into a military base.

I have a problem with coincidences that turn out bad for our side. Malevolent intent by an adversary is always possible. Every bridge officer should understand the protocols to avoid intentional (or unintentional) collisions initiated by rogue (or wayward) boats.

A Philippine-manned cargo ship, the ACX Crystal, rammed the USS Fitzgerald, a guided-missile destroyer, on June 17, 2017. Seven US sailors died. The night was clear; the seas calm. The commanding officer and another crew member were severely injured. Repairs will cost hundreds of millions and take years to complete.

Our Navy is a mess. Everyone knows it. The optics of powerful warships limping into port under the power of a dozen or so tugboats emboldens our enemies and demoralizes our patriotic fighting men and women. We have the wrong ships, designed the wrong way, for the wrong wars, for the wrong reasons. And our Navy is overworked to the max. We all know it’s true. It doesn’t have to be. It’s good to have high-tech systems, but they are useless during a crisis. Everyone must be proficient at low-tech and know how to enable it. Seriously.

Politics and corruption, profiteering and greed, laziness and lack of zeal are going to kill us all if we don’t wake up. It’s time for civilians to step up and defend our way of life. It’s time for corporations and billionaires to do what’s right—not what makes them wealthy at the expense of our country’s defense and the prosperity of our citizens and the people of the world who are looking to us for leadership.

We are going to regret privatizing our military and using contractors instead of citizens to fight our battles. We are going to lose our freedoms and our country if we don’t fight for both. Everyone must do their part. Corruption can have no role in the process.

We must use our power to make the world safer, freer, and better for everyone, not just ourselves. People are sick and tired of “America first.” We have so much, already. 

It’s time to share our advantages, with love. If we do what’s right, if we embrace public service and reach out to the disadvantaged in the world (the military, after all, doesn’t have the room or the money for every citizen), we won’t need to kill everyone who hates us like we’ve been doing for hundreds of years.

A year or two of public service by every American in bad neighborhoods and blighted communities might make a big difference in the why, how, and who we fight.

Billy Lee

Escape from Freedom

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 president’s bodyguard who delivered the FBI director’s pink slip.

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.

Howard Hughes (1905-1976) inherited the Hughes Tool Company. It became the nexus of a defense contractor empire worth billions of dollars.

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.

Escape from Freedom; Amazon.com

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.

Billy Lee

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.  

JESUS, THE CHRIST

Micah 7: 3-6
Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire—they all conspire together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day God visits you has come, the day your watchmen sound the alarm. Now is the time of your confusion.
Quoted by Jesus in the book of Matthew 


For whatever reasons (a few are mentioned in the Bible) Jesus’s parents, their families and close friends, thought that his birth was going to be important. Like most devout Jewish couples two-thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph hoped their child would become the Anointed One—the Messiah promised by the prophet Isaiah—who would rule ancient Israel and the world with a righteous sword. Despite their hopes and plans, things went wrong from the start.

For one thing, their Roman occupiers decided to conduct a census, which disrupted everyone’s plans, because the Romans required that every Jew return to their ancestral towns to be counted. 

The family lived in Nazareth; now they would have to travel to Bethlehem; Mary was full-term pregnant. Worse, when they arrived, no place was available to birth the baby. They ended up bedding down in a stable for farm animals. It was a place unfit for human birth, by modern standards.

For whatever cause—gossip, religious fever, hysteria in the displaced population, hatred of Rome, whatever—more than a few people believed that this birth might have a political upside. Roman spies became aware, and Herod, the governor, decided to nip the hysteria in the bud. He ordered an infanticide; his agents assassinated every male child under the age of two.

Fortunately for Jesus, some wealthy people found the Joseph and Mary family before Herod; they gave them the resources they needed to flee Bethlehem; the family traveled to Egypt; they did not return to Nazareth, Israel, until Jesus was eight years old.

Egypt was the ancient birthplace of Judaism.  Moses (of the Exodus) and Joseph (of the coat of many colors) were historically prominent; the details of their lives were the tapestry on which much of the Torah was written. 

Joseph enabled free Jews to come to Egypt in ancient times, mainly to help his extended family avoid a famine emergency in Israel. They settled and eventually became slaves of the pharaoh. Hundreds of years later, in 1311 BCE, Moses led the exodus of Jewish slaves out of Egypt. When Jesus moved there almost a millennia and a half later, Egypt had evolved to become a sanctuary Roman province for a sizable Jewish population. And it had become a safe harbor for both libraries and intellectuals.

No one knows for sure if Jesus lived in cosmopolitan Alexandria or some other city, or what exactly happened in Egypt, but after Jesus returned to Israel, he knew things. He wasn’t just skilled with his hands like his father, Joseph, who according to tradition made a living in carpentry; most scholars today believe he was a builder, certainly, but more likely a stone mason.

Jesus learned to read and write Hebrew and probably hieroglyphics (almost certainly), and perhaps more. Modern people might use a term like child prodigy. The things he said and did proved not only to his family, but to the rabbinical class in Israel that he would likely become, some day, a force of nature.

When Jesus was twelve, his parents caught him studying secretly at the Temple in Jerusalem. It seems likely to me that Temple leaders already had their eyes on him; he had come to them from out of Egypt, after all. They knew very well the Bible prophesy, Out of Egypt I have called my son—a reference to the MessiahThe rabbis may have been working with Jesus for some time, perhaps even before his bar mitzvah—perhaps soon after his return from Egypt some years earlier. It’s possible.

Jesus of Nazareth had a special way about him that set him apart, even as he matured into adulthood. According to one gospel writer, people saw and liked it.  Luke wrote in his little book that …Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Enough said.

People hoped that Jesus might become the promised military leader who every Jew yearned would rise up to throw the Romans out of the Holy Land. At the end, Jesus would do much more than that, but not in the way people thought.

His life fulfilled the ancient Scriptures in every way possible. Bible scholars know that, now.  Seminaries offer courses on the many hundreds of passages from those ancient Scriptures that describe and predict every detail of Jesus’s life and mission.

But back then—in year zero—the problem was that no one in Israel really understood the prophetic texts upon which they were betting their future. It wasn’t clear to anyone that the Messiah was not going to be a military commander. The truth of life was much different and more satisfying than anyone then could imagine.   

Billy Lee 

Comment by the Editorial Board: As is Billy Lee’s custom, he sometimes collects sayings by famous people and makes essays out of them. He did it for William Shakespeare, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Blaise Pascal; he even did it for himself in two collections of his own tweets first published on Twitter.

In this essay Billy Lee has collected many (not all) of the sayings of Jesus as remembered by four of his followers who wrote the tracts that modern people call the four Gospels. In these tracts Jesus tells a lot of stories, which religious people call parables. They make up big portions of the Gospels.

Billy Lee decided not to include these stories—these parables—in his collection, because they not only take up a lot of space, their meanings can be difficult for the uninitiated to figure out. It takes effort to work through them.

For the purposes of this essay Billy Lee has chosen to focus on the easier to understand admonitions and warnings of Jesus—uncut, unfiltered, and uncensored; no hidden meanings; everything in the open; everything in plain sight for any serious person to read and ponder in wonder, because it is these things that seem to border on the miraculous; these are the words that have compelled and comforted believers for centuries.

The words of Jesus are known to have broken down some of the cruelest humans who have ever lived; His words have dropped more than a few hardened haters to their knees, many of them in tears.

Through his words Jesus assures the poor and the ruined (the neglected refuse of hurting humans, which is almost all of humanity) that a reckoning is coming. They will be rescued by love—even as justice rolls down from the mountain-tops like a mighty river.

History and experience tell those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear that it’s true. Jesus is the way. He sets things right.

from Matthew’s Tract

It is written: People will not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Stop doing bad things, for the kingdom of heaven is nearby.

…follow me, and I will send you forth to fish for people.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

…until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

…unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

 It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

 All you need to say is simply yes or no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.

You cannot serve both God and money.

So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven.

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 

Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.

…learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard…

…when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

…the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.

For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.

…you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Come to me, all you who are weary and overly burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

If you had known what these words mean, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.

Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined…

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven…

 …whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

…the deceitfulness of wealth chokes the word, making it unfruitful.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When someone finds it, they hide it again, and then in their joy sell all they have and buy that field. 

the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away

every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. 

 whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan…

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?

 …forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

...it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

with God all things are possible.

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. 

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. 

…prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 

…many are invited, but few are chosen.

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you,  I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. ? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

…you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.

…on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog…

…you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

…the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done…

…all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Excerpts collected and edited by Billy Lee

 

from Mark’s Tract

whoever is not against us is for us…

No one is good—except God alone.

Excerpts collected and edited by Billy Lee.

Due to its unusual presentation, we are recommending that the full Gospel of MARK be read in one session. Interested readers can click the link to access content. The tract is 11,300 words, which are gathered into 16 chapters. A typical reader will need about one hour. The Editorial Board

  

from Luke’s Tract

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 

…no prophet is accepted in his hometown…

I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent. 

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…

…whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

…for whoever is not against you is for you.

Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

…rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

…everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

…you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them…

Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge.

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. 

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

I have come to bring fire on the earth… Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

…unless you change your evil ways, you too will all perish…

What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door…

…those who humble themselves will be exalted.

…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

…those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

…remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.

Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, I am sorry; I will change, you must forgive them.

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, Here it is, or There it is, because the kingdom of God is within you. 

…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

What is impossible with man is possible with God.

…the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…

The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.

I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

…pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. 

…today you will be with me in paradise.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Excerpts collected and edited by Billy Lee

 

from John’s Tract

…no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

…no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. 

…whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth…

…just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 

…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

…as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself…

You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study  the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me… 

…the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

…my father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.

…the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

…where I am, you cannot come.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

…you have no idea where I come from or where I am going…

I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.

you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  

whoever obeys my word will never see death.

…before Abraham was born, I am.

I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. 

I lay down my life—only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.

I am God’s Son…

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

…you will see the glory of God…

…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.  

The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.

I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 

Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

I am the way and the truth and the life.

I am in the Father and the Father is in me…

Because I live, you also will live. Someday you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 

…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

…apart from me you can do nothing.

Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no person than this: to lay down their life for their friends.  

You did not choose me, but I chose you…

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

They hated me without reason.

the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

I came from God. 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  

…your word is truth.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

My kingdom is not of this world.

my kingdom is from another place.

…the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth hears my voice.

I am thirsty.

It is accomplished.

Excerpts collected and edited by Billy Lee

Post Script

Isaiah 6: 8-10
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

And I said: Here I am! Send me.

He said: Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.

Acknowledged by Jesus in the book of Matthew; He was the one who volunteered and was sent.

Billy Lee