Saturday Selects: What is Going on in the White House

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss a topic outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today, well I could talk about the White House everyday if I wanted to.

Guys, it doesn’t take a Democrat or Republican to see that the White House is in turmoil. Every time we think something may have passed or we’ve gotten through the worst of it something else takes its place. I know some would have you believe that it’s the media doing this, but really? Are we really supposed to believe the media is responsible for all of these things that are happening?

I mean, we can believe whatever we choose to, right?

Saturday Selects: No Better Time Than Now

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today the topic is healthcare.

The House passed their healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this week. Here’s some of what will change. Americans with preexisting conditions may not be able to afford coverage. Why not? Because the bill takes us back to the days in which insurers could discriminate against these people by charging them outrageous premiums. The bill allocates $8 billion dollars for these people in high risk pools. Every estimate by conservative, liberal, and non partisan groups agrees this number will fall short of what’s needed to keep these people covered. As in tens of billions of dollars short. Medicaid expansion will end. The individual mandate is gone. Essential services will no longer be included in every policy available. More people will die.

Except there’s one thing many don’t understand. Nothing is set in stone. The bill has been sent to the Senate where it will undergo change after change due to how it’s currently written. I believe that if Mitch McConnell were to call a vote on the bill as written with no changes that it would fail. The problem (again) is that the parties aren’t working together on this. I’ll admit I wasn’t happy with how the Affordable Care Act was originally passed, but there’s no denying the real positives that have come from it. And also the shortfalls. 

The American Healthcare Act just passed by the House is not the law of the land. And regardless of political affiliation, I hope you’ll join me in making sure it never reaches the president’s desk. Call your senators!

We deserve better. We deserve better from our elected officials. We deserve better when it comes to the healthcare in the supposed “greatest country on earth”.

Reading Books You Don’t Agree With

This may seem to go against the thought that we’re limited in how much time we have to read, and thus we want to read books we know we’ll enjoy as much as possible. But every rule has an exception.

A recent report released detailed the ways in which Americans interact with people they agree with and live in areas of the country in wguvh their views dominate. We already know Americans consume news from more partisan news sources than ever before.

I think it would be easy to treat books in much the same manner. Read what we agree with and stick to what we like. Easy, right? Doing this just reinforces our own worldview and gives zero insight into any other viewpoint. We criticize politicians all the time for surrounding themselves with people who agree with them on everything, but then it’s exactly what we do in our day-to-day lives.

I challenge you to buck the trend. Pick up a book you know goes against your personal viewpoint.

Saturday Selects: America Strikes Syria

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m talking Syria.

If you live under a pineapple under the sea, then you’re likely unaware of the significant escalation that took place this week in the Syrian civil war. Earlier in the week the Syrian government once again used chemical weapons against its own people. Killing dozens. Until this week the international community had spoken a lot louder than they’d acted. That changed Thursday night. The US launched a targeted airstrike against a Syrian airbase where the planes that carried out the chemical weapons attack were believed to have originated.

The US has been active in Syria for a couple of years now. But never once did American armed forces attack Syrian government forces. Some have called for the grounding of the Syrian air force. I think there’s only one country capable of carrying out such an operation. Not Russia. Not Iran. The US. First, there has to be a desire to act. Second, there has to be the capability. Third, there has to be a willingness to stand up to TWO dictators.

I’ve seen people criticize the hypocrisy of Donald Trump bombing Syrian targets in the name of the same people he’s trying to keep out. I understand the criticism. But I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of the presidency. Donald Trump may be a flawed human being. But so am I and so are you. Everyone can talk up their own views and beliefs all they want, but 45 men have known what it means to be POTUS. I’d argue the modern presidency is far more burdensome than those of previous eras. Donald Trump is not who I wanted to be president. But I won’t sit back and hope he drives MY country into the ground and our allies away for four years.

Donald Trump is wrong on several things, but I think he got it right on Syria. It’s long past the time for action. The Syrian people deserve better than what the international community has offered. I will criticize Trump every time he signs anything resembling a travel ban based on religion, but there’s more to the presidency than one issue. One of President Obama’s major weaknesses was Syria. Does that mean I can’t criticize him for his inaction while also praising him for signing the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell? No. It doesn’t.

This Can’t be Real Life

SPOILERS AHEAD

I’ve written twice this week about Thirteen Reasons Why. In that book Hannah Baker leaves behind 13 audio recordings chronicling things that led her to suicide.

In the Houston news this week a veterinarian accused of murder DID THE SAME THING. She left behind nearly two hours of recordings with one of the local stations here to tell her story.

Guys, this is crazy. She committed suicide a week ago and now everyone is talking about this recording she left behind. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. 😂

Have you ever read something and then noticed a strange sequence of events that followed in real life? 

Also, no video today because I volunteered to work OT.

Saturday Selects: The Failure of AHCA

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday. This week I’m talking the AHCA.

The GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House. For seven years they’ve talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act, the landmark healthcare legislation signed into law by President Obama. The ACA has more Americans insured than at any other point in history. But no one says the law is perfect. Some have seen premium hikes in recent years. Some small, rural areas have only one insurer to choose from. Insurers claim that enrollees are sicker than they anticipated.

With the imperfections in mind one would think the GOP would have an easy path to repeal. Wrong. Not because they didn’t try but because the bill they put forth was such a disaster that members from every faction of the GOP came out against it. The final nail in the coffin of the AHCA was the removal of language in the bill that would require insurers to provide basic preventative services in all policies. Why someone would seek the removal of such language is simply beyond my comprehension.

The GOP quickly realized that the ACA is far from perfect, but their own attempt at healthcare reform turned out to be an historical dud.

I don’t see why legislators can’t look at the deficiencies of the ACA and set out to fix them rather than set out to repeal and replace a law that has helped more than 20 million people gain coverage.

Saturday Selects: The Media

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog.

It’s 2017 and it seems like the only institution anyone wants to talk about is the media. Let me first acknowledge what I believe to be a simple fact. No President of The United States really likes the media. Why? Because the media holds the president accountable. No one enjoys being called out when things don’t go according to plan. But it’s part of the job and the freedom of the press is written into the Constitution.

YouTube is full of videos of former presidents acknowledging the importance of the press in American society. Presidents and lawmakers have acknowledged this since the dawn of this country.

But the current administration doesn’t buy into any of that. Its official stance is that every media outlet that criticizes the administration is fake news. I don’t have to tell you what happens when the press is constantly belittled by a person in power. We’ve seen it in our history books.

You know how every time a politician talks about new gun restrictions you get people all over the country saying, “2ND AMENDMENT! 2ND AMENDMENT!”? For some reason those same people are unwilling to stand up for the Amendment that comes right before it. So many people in this country don’t care about the freedom to practice any religion unless it’s Christianity. So many people in this country don’t care about the freedom of speech unless it’s in agreement with their beliefs. So many people in this country don’t care about the freedom to protest unless the protest is in line with their views. So many people in this country don’t care about the freedom of the press, especially when it’s criticizing their views.

But way too many people in this country believe the 2nd Amendment is holy. People will always pick and choose what to care about and defend, that’s not new. I find it frustrating that more people aren’t standing up for the media like they do for their guns or their religion.

Donald Trump and his administration can say whatever they want to say, but the media is not the enemy of the American people. The media has several responsibilities, but right at or near the top of that list is to hold the President of the United States accountable for his or her actions. And members of the media will continue to do so long after Donald Trump is out of office.

Saturday Selects: The Ban

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog.

Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday banning immigrants and refugees from seven countries. Syria. Iran. Iraq. Libya. Somalia. Yemen. Sudan. He’s done this under the guise of national security, claiming that this action is meant to protect us from terrorists. But it has been widely reported by multiple reputable news outlets that no attack carried out on US soil since 9/11 involved someone from any of the countries.

Makes you wonder what the hell is actually going on, right? If we’re banning people from our lands under a false pretense, then what’s the real reason for the ban? I’ll tell you, but I think you already know. One of Donald Trump’s major campaign promises was some form of a ban on Muslims entering the country. He’s making good on that promise.

The United States has failed all refugees. We have resources and the ability to take in many refugees, but we don’t. “The greatest country in the world” has all but refused to lend its hand to refugees all over the world. Refugees are escaping war, persecution, and tyrannical governments. Are these not the people we want to stand up for? Are we content just standing on the sidelines as the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe only worsens? Is this really the American way?

Donald Trump is not putting America first, as he likes to say. He’s putting America on an island while the rest of the world backs away from us.

The 2016 Word of the Year is:

Post-truth.

The definition is “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Well, well, well. I see what y’all did there, Oxford Dictionaries.

It looks like I’m late to the parry on this one. This was originally announced last year, but recent events like “alternative facts” and #SpicerFacts jolted it back into my app this morning.

But honestly, I’ve never even used the term. The other finalists weren’t particularly great. This single word sums up so much of what took place in 2016. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be seeing much of the same in the near future.

What’s your favorite word you first started seeing or using in 2016?

Saturday Selects: My Letter to President Obama

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog. This is the first of 2017.


Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States next week. So I did what I believe many Americans have done over the last eight years. I wrote a letter to President Obama.

This isn’t meant to start a discussion. This isn’t meant to somehow change your views of President Obama or Donald Trump. This is simply the sharing of my thoughts and life experience with my President of the last eight years. I don’t expect you to agree with me or to even care what I think about anything. This is simply something I wrote and am willing to put out for anyone who may be feeling the same way.

I know some of you don’t care to watch my video, so I’m also including the text of the letter here. This is no different from what’s in the video. This is exactly what I’ve sent to the White House.


Mr. President,

Your time serving in the White House is just about complete. I wanted to take a few minutes to write you a brief letter thanking you for your service to the country you and I both love and call home. I’m 25-years-old. I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Texas. I’ve been heavily interested in politics and current events since I was in high school, never more so than this year. Some would call me a cry-baby liberal who can’t get over losing this year’s election. But you and I both know that there was nothing typical about this year’s election. I have to be honest with you. I’m scared. I’m scared of what a Trump administration can accomplish in four years. I’m scared that those who look like me but weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the United States will be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s isolationist rhetoric and potential policies will alienate the United States from the rest of the world, most notably from our friends and allies. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s economic policies will only further widen the gap between those of us at or near the bottom and those at the top. I’m scared that Donald Trump will do nothing during his four years in The White House to tackle climate change. And I’m scared of the people who feel emboldened by his win to come out and say whatever they want, to whomever they want, no matter how wrong, disrespectful, or derogatory the remarks might be.

But the point of this letter isn’t to tell you how scared I am of the future. I refuse to live a life in fear. I want to personally thank you for your service. Thank you for helping to ensure equal pay for equal work. Thank you for fighting for marriage equality. Thank you for helping more than 20 million Americans gain access to affordable healthcare. Thank you for putting an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Thank you for moving us toward clean energy because as you always say, this is the one planet we’ve got. Thank you for pushing for Americans to reach Mars. Thank you for pulling our country from the brink of a second Great Depression. My family lost our home in 2010, and my parents have struggled every day since, but we’re still here. We’re still fighting. We’re still putting our work in because in America hard work is rewarded. Thank you for keeping families together instead of dehumanizing illegal immigrants who are productive members of society. Thank you for respecting every American, no matter what they look like or who they love.  And thank you for bringing our troops home.

I could go on and on, as you can see, but I won’t. I want to end it very simply. Thank you for serving me and every other American for the last eight years with respect and dignity, humbly and gracefully. I’ll always be proud to say I voted for your reelection in 2012 to help continue to better the lives of every American.

I look forward to standing with you as a citizen in the continued fight against wrong, un-American policies, and furthering the idea that we are all created equal.

Sincerely,

A university educated, Mexican-American liberal from Texas

John Guillen