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.

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President and First Lady Obama Just Signed a Book Deal for How Much!?

This was inevitable. Everyone knew President Obama would sign a massive book deal once out of office. But my goodness! The reported numbers are astonishing.

Reports indicate the Obamas’ joint book deal is worth $65 million dollars! I’ve never heard of such a lucrative deal. Not for presidents or politicians or celebrities or anyone. And people wonder why first-time authors struggle to even get a publishing contract. The majority of their profits will be donated to charity.

Penguin Random House has proven that publishing deals aren’t always about what they’ll be able to make off of it. But then first-time authors will still get an advance of $2000 and no marketing. But eh.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever heard come out of publishing?

Excuses, Excuses

How many times have you told yourself you don’t have time to read? Be honest.

I know I’ve made that excuse way more than I’d like to admit. And guess what? It’s just an excuse. President Obama was interviewed last week by the top book critic of the NYT on what books mean to him. And he revealed that during his eight years as President he always found it important to get as much reading in as he could. If the President of the United States has time to read, then shouldn’t we all be able to find a few minutes here and there to get some reading done? I say yes.

I think it helps that President Obama was a published author before taking office. Naturally one would expect him to be literary-minded. But still, no one can argue against the fact that every President is under immense pressure and has to deal with more than most people can fathom. If he can find time to read, so can you.

Read the full interview here.

When Reading Becomes Presidential

We’re in the midst of a presidential transition. If recent history holds, we’ll soon be getting books from both the outgoing and incoming presidents.

The Office of the President of the United States is respected by every nation on earth. Respected doesn’t mean friendly. Only 44 men (I know we’ll elect a woman soon!) have held the highest office in the nation. The US is currently a country with a population nearing 350 million. Still, only 44.

So one could say there’s an exclusive book club that you can’t just join. You have to be voted in by tens of millions of people. I’ve still never read a book written by a president, but that changes this year. It’s a requirement for my reading challenge!

What’s the best book written by a president you’ve read?

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

Show Some Respect

I’d intended to save whatever poems I decided to write for the weekends, but now I’m changing my mind. Sue me.

Did you know that it was Election Day on Tuesday? Maybe you knew, but I bet you didn’t vote. Cause something like 40 percent of eligible voters vote in midterm elections. That’s fine. If you don’t want to have have some small say in who represents you at the federal level, but more importantly at the state and local levels, then be my guest. But this isn’t a political post. Or even one that outlines why you should always vote. Nope. This is about respect.

I don’t care if you identify as a Republican or Democrat or Independent. I don’t. Because your political and social views mean absolutely nothing to me. And I’m near certain that mine mean the same to you, whether you’ll say it out loud or not. But something happened this week that I’d hope most Americans would be disgusted by. It was something with President Obama. No, I’m not going to go on a rant about what he’s had to endure during his time in the White House. This is just one event I’m going to talk about.

Did you watch it? Even though the title of the clip says all you need to know. I hope you recognize that this is not okay. I fully recognize that a lot of people disagree with President Obama on many issues. And I also recognize that there are plenty of racists out there. Hopefully you don’t deny this fact. Anyway, I have a story for you. I was too young to have an educated opinion when George W. Bush was first elected in 2000. But I was able to form my own opinions on things for the first time during his presidency. My opinion of President Bush as a person or of his policies is irrelevant. Why?Because I would never have exhibited such disrespect for the man who was the President of the United States.

I’m not saying that you need to treat President Obama as if he’s some greater being than you or I, but I will say that he is the President of the UNITED STATES. Your president. If you didn’t vote for him, fine. If you disagree with his position on every issue, fine. If you’re counting down the days until he’s out of office, fine. The thing is that you personally know people who you also disagree with on just about every issue, but you still manage to work with each other or coach Little League without any disrespect exchanged between the two of you. Why should you treat the president any differently?

Vote. Call your representative. Protest. Volunteer for a campaign. Do pretty much whatever you want, but I’d hope you  agree that this caller was in the wrong.

Showing some respect toward the president is no different from doing so with your neighbor. He’s a person just like you trying to do an incredibly difficult job.