Joseph Aronesty, chairman – the Manhattan Beach Political Thinktank
E-commerce pioneer, songwriter, etymologist, author, Trump classmate 1967.
Joseph Aronesty, chairman – the Manhattan Beach Political Thinktank
E-commerce pioneer, songwriter, etymologist, author, Trump classmate 1967.
As we witness a vain president attempting to pull the wool over our eyes, seeming to want nothing but praise from his subjects, the tale seems strangley apropos today.
It’s June 2, 2018, my 70th birthday. I’ve written this as if I were speaking with David Hogg, Emma Gonzales and all the kids at Stoneman-Douglas:
I am sure you are aware of the Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. But did you know that the tale had its roots in oligarchical medieval days and may trace back as far as to Aesop?
As we witness a vain president attempting to pull the wool over our eyes, seeming to want nothing but praise from his subjects, this tale seems strangely apropos today.
A vain emperor, who cares about nothing except being seen as handsome and beautiful, hires weavers who promise they will make him a magical suit of clothes. The weavers are con-men, and they convince the stupid emperor they are using a fine fabric that is invisible to anyone who is stupid. The weavers only pretend to manufacture the clothes; they mime the actions, but there is no cloth at all being weaved. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can actually see the alleged “clothes”. But when the emperors declares that his new clothes are invisible to anyone that is stupid they all pretend they see the clothes for fear of appearing stupid. The emperor also does the same of course, and it’s quite comical.
Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished, they pretend to dress him in the suit, and the emperor marches in a royal before his subjects. The townsfolk go along with the pretense. Not wanting to appear stupid, they marvel at how beautiful the king’s clothes are. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the emperor naked! Only then is the cry is taken up by the adults. The emperor realizes the crowd’s assertion is true, but he continues with the procession in total embarrassment as the crowd mocks him and the weavers escape with their payment.
Andersen’s tale is based on a 1335 story from the Libro de los ejemplos, a medieval Spanish collection of fifty-one cautionary tales with various sources such as Aesop and other classical writers and Persian folktales, by Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena (1282–1348).
This is a tale that had its origins when there were actual kings and subjects – oligarchical times for sure. And so in these neo-oligarchical times there is something to learn from this old tale. Notice that it’s a child that exposes the king. There is a reason for that.
As a child of the hippie generation, I can tell you we had big dreams and saw the hypocrisy in parts ( not all ) of our parent’s generation. That’s what 1968 was all about. Protests against Johnson and the Vietnam War was just part of our quasi-revolutionary mind set. But after graduating college, and particularly after becoming parents, many of us got sucked up into the same system hooked our parents. There was so much opportunity back then compared to now, it was easy to get sucked into the same system that we were protesting against just a few years earlier. Weird, huh? But true.
This medieval tale informs us that this all has been going on for a very long time. And so children, whilst you are young and before you form the bonds marriages and have kids, you are in life’s special time-zone when you can see the hypocrisy in the systems in our society and are not yet afraid to expose it. And that reminds me that there is at least one big difference between 2018 and 1968.
In 1968, we protested against the hypocrisy of people, but ended up embracing the systems the systems they deployed. Today the young are protesting against the systems and laws as well as the people that hold on to what seems more and more to be a dysfunctional government and culture. I don’t differentiate much between culture and government. To me they are both just aggregates of people with the large power of a mob and a general credo.
Students of Stoneman-Douglas: This summer of 2018 compares to the summer of 1968. It’s super important that you not only continue attacking our broken systems ( which so many of us admire in you all ) but also call BS on the people who profit from and embrace these broken systems. That outcry must include the president, who is the standard-bearer for all these broken systems, including gun laws. We must insist that no man is above the law. We can’t devolve into a society that allows our rulers and their friends to buy their way out of criminal behavior. That’s not what America is all about. I am sure you now that.
Of course, our American vain emperor would love to experience nothing but praise from his subjects. From that protected authoritarian dais, he and his financial allies can continue to work behind the scenes, back-channel and profit from these broken systems at the expense of the general public.
And this is not only about smart gun laws any more. Stupid gun laws are a symptom the larger dysfunction. The refusal of the majority in congress, the GOP, to create laws that our citizens actually want and need will only wane when Trump and the GOP lose big time at the ballot box this November 2018. I want this to be a November to remember for the rest of your lives.
Stay vocal. The powers in control are going to try and fix the election again. This election is even more important to them that the last one. Why? Because if Trump had lost, they had Hillary who more or less embraced that same broken system the way Obama did. But if they lose this time, they could lose it all. Power could return to the people here in the USA. Unions will negotiate better wages and cut down the owner/worker pay ratio. Real-healthcare, access to education and infrastructure improvement become doable options. What a mess for the industrialists in control of this broken machine, right?
The crowd in the Emperor’s New Clothes only changes its position when a child exposes the obvious truth. That is the teachable part of this old tale. Your parents want to believe in you. This is not new. They will even take this battle cry up with you if you stay loud and determined. And this summer of 2018 we must.
We have a president and a congress that is trying to put themselves above the law, keep their ill-gotten gains, and expand upon the broken system licenses cars but not guns. The system is not broken for them. It’s broken for us! And we all will continue to pay if they stay in power.
Trump, as the system’s figurehead, will try and sell you that the economy is doing better. I say what?! Are the people doing better? Not really. We have fallen behind all the first world countries is vital stats like life-expectancy and education. Select economical stats are not the be-all-end-all of a society. The German economy got better under Hitler too – for a while.
I still believe your sheriff’s VOTE THEM OUT is the best battle cry for this summer. It resounds on both sides of the aisle and seems to unconsciously say “vote the swamp out” without partisanship. It’s a message that we all can identify with these days, and that’s really all we need.
Stay vocal this summer!
sent with love,
A good barometer of the viability of a society is its system of values. When values erode, the society either falls apart or is overtaken. This is exactly what happened in Rome. It’s not that “it can happen here”. It is happening here, right now.
#1 There’s plenty we can do to make our country safer without hurting hunters’ rights. Automatic weapons are not, and should not be used to hunt animals. What kind of hunting sport is that? And yet we allow automatic weapons to get into the hands of people who kill people for sport. This is crazy America! A recent certified national poll shows that 70% of Americans favor an assault weapons ban. Representatives who will not publicly state they are in favor of an assault weapons ban, must be voted out. Rubio – Trump – that means you – and plenty of others.
Gun violence is also very expensive. The costs are 230 billion dollars a year – over $700,000,000 per day! And it is surprising how few Americans would be negatively affected by an assault weapons ban. Besides Smith and Wesson there are about six other companies that make assault weapons. And then there is a small group of gun collectors who would have to surrender or sell their assault weapons to the police or armed forces. Weight that against $700 million a day and the loss of life and this is a no brainer.
These businesses can not be valued more than the lives of our kids and citizens. We must now legislate for the common good and vote out all who stand in our way. A good barometer of the viability of a society is its system of values. When its values erode, the society either falls apart or is overtaken. This is exactly what happened in Rome. It’s not that “it can happen here”, it is happening here … right now.
POSSESSION of automatic weapons, NOT the PURCHASE of them, is what needs to be regulated or licensed, like we do for automobiles. Automobiles can be weapons, but guns are weapons and an assault rifle’s sole purpose is to kill mass numbers of people. Why does any civilian really need an automatic weapon? They don’t!
Even if we had Minority Report pre-crime detection bots and took the Parkland shooter out ahead of the crime, it would not change the fact the we have a systemic disease here in the USA. And like a cancer, it’s going to grow and kill the host body if we don’t start the healing now. The medicine is voting out greedy politicians who won’t legislate what their constituents want. And 70% of Americans want an assault weapons ban.
And gun maker’s profit protection is just one place our national body has disease. We also see its symptoms in the way our reps undermine healthcare for our citizens in exchange for kickbacks from insurance companies. GOP healthcare, if ever fully implemented, would kill far more people than 911.
We hear its symptoms reflected in the words of our heartless president who offered lukewarm support for Puerto Ricans with memes like “you are messing with our budget” or “there are a lot of business-people who support the Jones Act”. I hear it is gangsta rap, where the lyrics often refer to being rich as being as the be all end all goal in life. I see it in the way people adore big stars, and then ignore the stars in their own communities.
The underlying disease is all one: greed. This cancer, is now metastatic. It’s everywhere. Cutting out one infected organ will not cure us.
GREED starts with GR because, like many words that start with GR, it refers to GROWTH.(GARDEN, GRASS, GREAT, GRAND, etc.) Within greedy souls, GREED is a GROWTH that is out of control – which is exactly what a cancer is.
And yes, greed will always exist. It’s been witnessed and documented for over 5000 years. Smart societies put checks and balances into law so that greed does not overrun their governments. It’s popular to say “get the money out of politics”, but Citizen’s United gives money a larger voice than the actual citizens of our country. Citizen’s United gives greed a platform to operate and grow here. That’s neither right nor democratic. Citizen’s United must also go.
And we can do all this in November because it’s easy to spot the greedy politicians now. They are the same one’s who won’t publicly announce they are in favor of an assault weapons ban. They side with the NRA for personal greed, and they do the same on all issues. It’s who they are – and they can’t fool us now.
It’s a strange irony that the word AMERICA contains two word-parts, AMORE and RICH. America literally means “loves riches”: Ame-rica. Maybe it’s a self-perpetuating meme. Pardon my linguistic digression, but before Trump became POTUS this was my focus.
So, I am not that interested in this single-cell Las Vegas or Parkland sicko. We should strive to cure our sickness the same way we fight a systemic cancer. It starts with diagnosis: recognizing the nature of our actual disease: we permit politicians’ greed to shape our lives and laws to the detriment of our citizens.
Donald Trump is a brand that symbolizes greed disease. His first campaign words were “of course you love me, I’m rich”. He learned most people have some level of greed disease from his casino-owner days. And as the gap between the wealthy and the poor grows here, there and everywhere, there will be more and more bad cells acting out – out of desperation. It’s sort of like a negative lottery. Given time, it’s bound to happen again and again. And it’s going to keep happening until we get money out politics or we succumb.
It was not always that way, here in the USA. After WW11 the rich were taxed at a much higher rate than the poor so that stored capital naturally flowed into infrastructure and education, helping us all and making us naturally proud to be Americans – or US citizens.
We must start our healing process now. And while kindness and prayers are fine for moral support, if they do not lead to actions they function like placebos. We need thoughtful, caring legislation ASAP. The vast majority of Americans see no reason why anyone should be allowed to own an automatic weapon, or more than a few firearms to defend themselves. We are not against the second amendment. The vast majority of Americans see no reason Russian bots should be allowed on Facebook. But as long as greed governs in America, the country that loves riches – nothing will change.
Let’s focus on voting out the greedy in government in 2018. The best thing we have here in the USA is national elections every two years. The next one is November 2018. We can’t afford to get distracted. We have no time to waste either. I sincerely believe 2018 is our last chance to save the ailing American society.
If for no other reason than to send out the messages that US citizens will no longer be governed by greed and that we realize greed in government is our national disease here in America, we must vote out infected ruling party members – at every level.
We can do this. The citizens who voted for Donald Trump wanted to vote out a broken system. They just were so blinded by their desire for change that they did not see that Trump was a charlatan. I have forgiven them. They mostly know they made a mistake by now. So those same voters can be enrolled to do that same thing again – to vote out a diseased system.
We must assure that greed has no place in our government. When Citizen’s United falls apart under a new regime, it will begin to turn the tide of our systemic greed disease.
And then maybe, slowly, the way you kill a cancer, we can return to the kind America I remember as a child. It was not perfect. No society is. But it was much more inclusive than what we have now. We had a visible path to a good life here, and many of us seized that path and have enjoyed that good life. I was lucky that way.
Now, our kids don’t even see the on-ramp to that path. We have let them down terribly. I am not a big D Democrat. Don’t paint me with that broad brush. I don’t care about parties. I care about the actual people who we elect. I wish there were no parties at all. Parties are part of the greed disease problem. I am a global citizen living in America. My homeland that I love is now governed by greed. It is killing us all and we all know it down deep. All I want is better for my kids. I’d like to the healing begin in my lifetime.
A spiritual disease is being transmitted to Americans by man a who has been infected all his life. It’s very contagious. 2018 may be the last chance to save us from greed/envy disease. It is usually fatal to societies.
These are the only two laws we need to keep our schools, churches and streets safe.
#1 LICENSE GUNS beyond the basic two. OWNING ( not buying ) unlicensed guns will be a serious federal crime. And yes, law enforcement agents will have the right to seize unlicensed guns. The loss of one’s gun can be the prime punishment. No sense attaching a huge dollar amount to it and scare people. Assault weapons do not belong in the hands of unlicensed people. That is the goal.
#2 ELIMINATE THE GUN SHOW LOOPHOLE.
Less words. More Actions.
I wrote Song For Healing when I was on chemo. It helped me a lot. My way of praying I guess. It’s not all I did however. Have a listen:
Joseph Aronesty is an e-commerce pioneer, songwriter, author, linguist and father to five sons living in Los Angeles. He was a classmate to Trump in Wharton in 1967. He is a also tireless activist working to reset America to be the more inclusive place it was when he was child. firstname.lastname@example.org
If the gunman appeared suddenly without notice, how would the cellphone owner have known to shoot this video at its very onset. It seems to start at the very first shot – according to the birds.
There is no surer way to seal the doom of the American democratic experiment than to resort to domestic violence. Protection form violence is the main selling point of the alt-right. So violent acts like the Alexandria shooter today bolster the arguments of those he intended to harm. 2018 is coming. Be patient. The tide is turning. Please, no violence.
That said, there are some things I would like to add on this incident.
#1 There is some irony in the fact that yet another mentally unstable person got his hands on an automatic weapon and, in this case, used it against those who actually made it easier for him to get the automatic weapon. So I ask the GOP members who vote with the NRA, do you still think this easy-to-get-guns policy is good for Americans? Introspect. Be honest with yourself. If they have influenced you via pocketbook or peer pressure, find a way to recognize that. Then come out and say something of substance.
#2 There is something weird about the cell phone video of the ballfield shooting. It starts with happy birds chirping. Then the birds naturally stop chirping after the very first gunshot. This means that the photographer first saw the shooter and took the steps to get his cell phone in camera mode. While seeing the shooter first may be the case, if it is not the case – it could mean that the cell phone owner knew this was going to happen today – and coordinated with the assailant to make sure some video got out.
We’ve not been told who the cell phone owner was, so this is probably just speculation. But, it’s a point worth investigating. If the gunman appeared suddenly without notice, how would the cellphone owner have known to shoot this video at its very onset. It seems to start at the very first shot – according to the birds.