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.

The White House is Being Swamped…With Books

See what I did there?

President Trump has more than his fair share of critics. And one group is inundating the new president with books. I said I’d write a letter to him with some book recommendations, but why write a letter recommending books when I can just send them!?

So I’ll do it. I’ll send a handful of books with short notes off to the White House. The odds of him ever seeing the books or the notes are incredibly unlikely, but I think it’s worth the few dollars it’ll cost me. It isn’t much different from calling your representative or senator. You won’t have them on the other end of the line, but your message will be heard by someone.

I encourage everyone to grab a book, write an inscription, and send it off to the White House. I know for certain I’ll be sending Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a copy of the US Constitution.

What Should President Trump be Reading?

I’m no presidential scholar, but I can’t think of any president who was more literary-minded than President Obama. It’s a bit of a far cry from Trump. President Obama quoted Atticus Finch in his farewell address. But it appears more likely with each passing day that Trump has no desire to be friendly toward the arts.

So I wanted to do something different today. Y’all know we can write letters to the president. I want book recommendations. I want y’all to tell me what you would recommend that President Trump read as he embarks on his journey as President. ANY book. I plan on sending a letter to the White House with every recommendation.

I’ll start. I’ll recommend Night by Elie Wiesel. To show him that nothing good comes from persecuting a group of people. What would you recommend to President Trump?

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.

An Unlikely Bestseller

Becoming a bestseller is not an exact science. Sometimes Oprah will mention a book and sales skyrocket. Or an adaptation causes a surge. But what about a book published decades before that sells well throughout each and every year? Not bestseller well, but well enough to require reprints fairly often. You know the books I’m talking about. Classics widely read in classrooms all over the country.

It turns out that current events can also cause a book to jump off shelves if people believe it may have some resemblance to what’s going on in the real world. Enter 1984. It’s the top selling book on Amazon right now because many believe we might be entering a world not much different from what Orwell describes in the book.

I’ve read it. But I think a reread may be in order. Perhaps I’ll take a page from Kellyanne Conway and start using alternative facts to describe things.

Have you read Orwell’s 20th century Classic? See any resemblance to what’s happening right now?

Saturday Selects: Where I Stand

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

Have you ever heard the expression that someone was just raised that way? Or that another person was raised a strong Christian? Things like that. We all know humans are complex, critically-thinking beings, but sometimes we just make assumptions and base those assumptions on next to nothing at all. So that’s what today’s post is about. Me simply telling you how I came to believe in some of the things I do. This isn’t meant to be exhaustive and no one has asked me to reveal this information. But I’ve been posting on this blog for nearly four years now. If I’m afraid or unwilling to post something personal then what am I really doing here?

Faith

My family is Catholic. My HUGE Mexican family. Which if you know anything about demographics, then that surely doesn’t surprise you. I was “raised” a Catholic. The quotation marks are there because I grew up in a Catholic household. But never once did my parents force me to do something relative to the church I didn’t want to do. I was never forced to attend Sunday school. I was never forced to pray every night before bed. I was never expressly told to believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I remember the last time I prayed, though that’s probably a stretch to even call it as such. It was after a Little League game in 2004. It was soon after my grandpa died. I remember praying, but I don’t have any idea what I was asking for. I also remember crying my eyes out for the one and only time over his death. I was 12.

But as I became older I soon realized that I didn’t believe in the same things my family did. There was a conversation between one of my brothers, my dad, and me when I was a teen about evolution and god. I was stunned that members of my own family rejected science in the name of faith. I was asked if I believed in god and I said I guess not. I walked into a high school classroom my senior year and asked how many people believed in evolution. Again, I was shocked that only one or two hands shot up. I couldn’t believe it. This is no different from when people say they don’t “believe” in climate change. But that’s another story. I’ve proudly been an atheist since I was in college, though that topic just doesn’t come up anymore.

Marriage

This is one of those things you constantly hear that “young people” almost universally agree on. I’m the same. You’ve heard of politicians “evolving” on the issue of what does and does not represent a lawful and acceptable marriage, probably most notably President Obama. But I’ve never once thought marriage could only be between a man and a woman. Not once in my life has that ever crossed my mind. Just like I’ve never thought it odd or different if two people in a couple were from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. It just doesn’t make sense to me to question who someone loves. No one is telling me who I’m allowed to love. What right does any person have to tell another who they can or cannot love? No right. No right at all.

Capital Punishment

Remember that my degree is in Criminal Justice, so I’m no expert but I have quite a bit of knowledge that most people don’t. Since I was old enough to reach my own conclusion on capital punishment, I was steadfastly in favor it. When I was in college I actually wanted to expand it to include cases of aggravated rape. I participated in a debate on capital punishment in a class during my final year in school. I once had to argue against an entire classroom full of students because no one else was willing to make the case for the continued use of the death penalty. But I know the stats. I know that the possibility of executing an innocent person exists. I know that the death penalty does not act as a crime deterrent. I know that the costs of carrying out the death penalty far outweigh the costs of life in prison. I know that the death penalty is state sponsored murder. I know that just about every Western country in the world has abolished the death penalty. And I know that it is very quickly falling out of favor in the United States. With all that being said, I decided fairly recently that I simply cannot support an institution of murder carried out as unfairly as death sentences are in this country. It took me much too long to come to this realization, but I firmly believe I’m on the right side of the issue and history.

Guns

Uh oh. Probably not the best topic to discuss at any point in time when you have no idea where others stand, but understanding different perspectives is just as important as understanding the core issue. For me this one is very simple. I think I’ve been heavily criticized on here when I’ve written about gun violence previously. I don’t think citizens should be allowed to have guns at all. Yep. Call me a crazy liberal who doesn’t understand things, but that’s how I feel and I’ll tell you why.

EVERYONE knows that other developed countries simply do not have the gun violence that we have here in the United States. And what I mean is gun violence is virtually nonexistent. Japan. Australia. UK. Canada. Germany. Belgium. The list could go on and on. And the reasons aren’t always because gun ownership has been outlawed. But the countries that have very few deaths attributed to gun violence each year don’t have an obsession with guns like we have in the United States. Which is why I think outlawing gun ownership is the only way to move forward. The problem people have is they’ll see one event in France or in another country with very strict gun laws and then proclaim that the laws simply don’t work. But they fail to recognize that the numbers in the US are simply astronomical when compared to every other country on the planet. EVERY OTHER COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. People hunt because they want to kill animals. People have guns because they want guns. We can rationalize it all we want, but the reasons really don’t change. Donald Trump has vowed to protect the 2nd Amendment, and I have no doubt about he will do so, but over the course of the next four years there is a very chilling certainty. There will be mass shootings. And he will have to speak about them to the American public.

The United States always claims to lead the world in this or that, but when it comes to gun violence not only have we missed the flight, we didn’t even remember to buy the ticket. I simply refuse to accept that gun violence is the way of American life.

Healthcare

This is another big one being heavily debated today. Tell me something. Have you ever had some freak accident that forced you to go to the emergency room? I have. Multiple times. When I was in 3rd grade I made the highly intelligent decision to ride my bike off the edge of a construction ramp 6-8 feet off the ground. My face stuck the landing right there on the concrete. I got stitches that night at my local ER. Three years later I was racing out of the gym to run my warm-up lap around the track before PE class and I ran directly into a locked door. My face again absorbed the impact. I got stitches again about an inch from the first spot on my chin. That same school year during the same Little League season I previously mentioned I decided to test the fielder’s arm at home plate. The throw beat me by a mile. There was an abrupt collision. I broke my wrist right there on the field.

None of my cases were real emergencies. I mean, yes. I needed to see a doctor. But my life was not in any real danger. Now imagine if it were. Imagine if I’d suffered an injury that required extensive surgery, but surgery that wasn’t required. You know, the doctor can tell you what’s wrong and recommend surgery but first he’s going to make sure it’s covered by your insurance. But uh oh, I don’t have insurance. The doctor gives me something for the pain and I’m out the door. I don’t feel too bad until I run out of the pain meds and I realize how bad it really is.

I’m no health professional, and perhaps this isn’t EXACTLY how it plays out in hospitals each and every day. But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that in this country healthcare is viewed as a privilege. The right to life is viewed as something only some can have. We guarantee public education through high school, right? But we can’t guarantee healthcare to every citizen in this country? Again, the United States is well behind much of the world at this point. Someone recently described healthcare in their country to me. You paid a small amount for up to 7 days in the hospital, and after that it’s completely free to you. I acknowledge that there are MANY ways to go about insuring everyone, but we aren’t even trying. And we’re still awaiting the changes that are looming just ahead of us after the election of Donald Trump.

Guys, I absolutely do not expect you to agree with me on any of these things. And that’s the beauty of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. What issues are of particular importance to you? I have several more but WordPress tells me this post has somehow reached 1700 words. Yikes.


Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

YouTube