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Syrian refugees and the Paris attacks: Americans’ disappointing reaction

The people of the United States have collectively taken a giant step backwards with their appalling reaction in regards to Syrian refugees.

Sadly, many have not put much in the way of critical thought and are content with letting ignorance drive their thoughts on the crisis at hand. I’m sure if you’ve looked at your Facebook lately, you’ve seen exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Social media has become the ultimate breeding ground for people to go all out and let the prejudice flag fly. There are many points that expose some of the hypocrisy involved.

Many seem to fear that letting refugees in seems to guarantee a future terrorist attack in the United States. After all, it was Syrian refugees that attacked Paris!

Not quite.

The evidence isn’t absolutely solid. In fact, the attackers that have been identified so far were citizens of European Union nations. This doesn’t exactly fit the profile that the paranoid masses have been pushing.

Nor does it make much sense logically. Refugees are fleeing terrorism, they have been the sole victims – they are not in any way aggressors. They are the ones who have been left homeless and without much hope. In response, Americans have truly made it entirely about themselves, fearing for our country while theirs has already been destroyed.

Furthermore, the rigorous process of entering the United States as a refugee is already quite the deterrent for would be terrorists.

Governors across the nation, including Michigan’s own Rick Snyder, have been declaring they will not participate and are going to refuse refugees altogether.

While this sentiment is surely disappointing, it’s also misguided as governors can’t make that decision. It’s up to the federal government.

Many have rallied around the point that we should be taking care of our own — the homeless, the veterans or any other American citizen that’s been left out in the cold. Yes, this is true, but nobody claiming this seemed to care before the Paris attacks. By and large this position has been used to mask prejudice against the refugees.

People also seem to grossly overestimate the amount of refugees that would actually be coming through. The number is 10,000 and people are treating it like 10 million. If the United States can’t figure out what to do with 10,000 people, whose home country has been annihilated, then the words on the Statue of Liberty mean nothing.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I suppose the offer has expired.


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Politicians we’d like to see in the White House but won’t

Politicians we’d like to see in the White House but won’t

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

1. Joe Biden

As great as the current vice president of the United States is, he may have seen the end of his days in politics. His position as vice president and personality made his popularity soar, but that unique “I’m a fun ol’ guy” personality may not fly when it comes to running for the White House. He couldn’t get his presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008 off the ground due to lack of name recognition. Even after a 36 year-long career as a senator from Delaware with significant legislation under his belt, such as the Violence Against Women Act.

2. Jennifer Granholm

Granholm’s former position as governor of Michigan would have made her a great contender for president. Her current positionality among the Democratic Party elite has brought her name up for several positions. After aiding in President Obama’s transition team, her name was brought up twice for nomination to the Supreme Court and once for an attorney general nomination. Now that Hillary Clinton is running for president, Granholm’s name has been mentioned as a possible future secretary of commerce or Democratic National Committee Chairperson. She’s still a rising star in the Democratic Party, but unfortunately she can’t rise much higher than vice president due to her Canadian roots.

3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She’s everyone’s favorite Supreme Court Justice due to her strong opinions (if you’re a liberal that is), but her age and health would make winning a general election practically impossible. She’s now older than when President Reagan took office and both sides of the aisle are greedily eying her Supreme Court seat.

4. Kate Brown

As she has only just recently become governor of Oregon due to the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Kate Brown wouldn’t be anyone’s first pick for president.  She hasn’t had enough experience within the executive office of Oregon. However, if she wins re-election to the rest of Kitzhaber’s term, she may prove to be a very effective executive.

5. Debbie Stabenow

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is a prominent figure in the Senate. She is currently the third-ranking member of the Democratic Caucus and the chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. In 2008, the National Organization of Women encouraged President Obama to nominate her for secretary of health and human services. All of these accomplishments may point to her being a great candidate, but it appears as though she does not have the desire to run for it. Stabenow seems to be content with keeping her head down and taking care of her constituents in Michigan.

6. Al Gore

As a former congressman, senator of Tennessee and vice president of the United States, Al Gore appears to be an obvious choice as a presidential candidate. In 2000, he won the Democratic nomination unanimously and arguably won the election for president (winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral vote). Voting machine errors in Florida caused the erasure of thousands of votes that allegedly would have awarded then Vice President Gore the state and the election. After this controversial election, Gore retired from politics and is likely to never go back.

7. Russ Feingold

As a former senator of Wisconsin, Feingold is known for hardline stances on civil liberties and commitment to removing corruption from elections.  He lost his Senate seat in 2010 to Ron Johnson, but is looking to retake that same seat in 2016. Currently, predictions for a rematch between Johnson and Feingold show Feingold coming out on top by a wide margin. Back in 2008, Feingold flirted with the idea of running for president, but eventually decided against it to focus on the Senate.  Feingold is an intriguing politician to contemplate for the White House, especially since he was essentially the Bernie Sanders of 2008.  His popularity among the grassroots was strong, but amongst everyday Democrats his popularity is minimal.

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Study Abroad: What foreign nations can do for you

Study Abroad: What foreign nations can do for you

Leaving the place where you initiated your education and returning is far-removed from never leaving at all. There is an exorbitant amount to be gained from studying abroad that can later be applied back on home turf. Fresh wisdom is deeply imbedded in the distant lands that beckon you to venture from your familiar college in order to seize their astute treasures.

“The Beginning of Realization” was taken in China by Malik Martinez Hall and was one of the 2014 Study Abroad Photo contest winners. Photo via MSU Office of Study Abroad.

“The Beginning of Realization” was taken in China by Malik Martinez Hall and was one of the 2014 Study Abroad Photo contest winners. Photo via MSU Office of Study Abroad.

Incorporating a study abroad program to your college experience is what most would label a win-win. You will still receive credits while exposing yourself to the teachings of the chosen subject, just as you would at your original place of learning. Studying abroad, however, advances this by offering a unique spin on your classes that will douse you head to toe in the auxiliary bonuses of cultural awareness, access to novel philosophical arrays, a diverse network of friends, career opportunities, hands-on lessons and overall development as a person.

Porto Viro, a humble commune that resides in the Province of Rovigo in the Veneto region of Italy, is home to several Italian teenagers that I encountered and, without hesitation, adorned with the titles of brothers and sisters during my time in Europe with the extracurricular study abroad program People to People.  

Eager to practice their ever-improving English, Cecilia Bernusso, Giuseppe Adamo and Andrea Picello were willing to answer a few questions that might arise for those interested in study abroad.

Adamo has an unquenchable thirst to observe and understand his hometown and neighboring countries, so it came as no surprise that his interview was perhaps the most edifying.

The Big Green: What about Italy attracts you?

Giuseppe Adamo: Well, Italy is my country, where I was born and where I currently live, I’m forced to love it! But, excluding this, with my experience abroad I can say for sure that we have the best food in the world and an incredible history. Our cities are filled with special sites and monuments. Also, even the tiniest village can provide something incredible to show.

TBG: What are your universities like? Do they support a wholesome education?

GA: Italy can offer the oldest university of the Western world (Bologna University founded in 1088) and some of the best education centers in Europe. Another example is the University of Padova where Galileo Galilei taught. Usually the tuition in public schools is inexpensive and there are benefits and discounts for foreigners. There are many Italian universities that are recognized for their high standards.

Giuseppe Adamo with Italian flag.

Giuseppe Adamo with Italian flag.

TBG: Will it be easy for an American student to make good friends in Italy?

GA: Without a doubt! Americans especially are really popular in Italy!! The Italians are usually very friendly as well and make for great hosts.

TBG: Would you recommend American college students study in Italy or abroad in general?

GA: Absolutely YES! Travelling and being submersed in another culture is the best way to open the mind, learn things and meet new friends! For example, in Europe we have the “Erasmus Programme” which permits European students to frequent an academic year in another European country and the European Union finances this programme with billions of euro! My advice is: no matter where you start off, travel as much as possible!

What becomes evident during Adamo’s enthusiastic display of Italian pride and, equally, from his affinity for traveling is that any and every study abroad opportunity your campus extends to you should be heavily considered.

Bernusso and Picello had a corresponding wealth of knowledge to contribute to the rapidly expanding pool of reasons why this intellectual tool is so highly revered. Their personas are similarly laced with a rooted respect for Italian culture, both beamed when presented the chance to boast how their food and history were superb.

Although this may seem as if they are being ethnocentric, they each imperviously promote that any destination will have its indigenous strong suits and there will never be a scarcity of valuable pockets of experience wherever one may choose to study abroad.

What next needs addressing is the myth that studying abroad adds complexity to a student’s academic plan. It seems that students tend to shy away from study abroad programs for fear that it might exert pressure and time constraints to the academic year.

It is principal for these students to keep in mind that these programs are designed for students and can harbor numerous options in terms of destinations, courses and departure seasons. Considering the aforesaid, any college students should have no quarry finding a convenient branch of the program.

In an effort to once and for all debunk this myth, a representative peer advisor from Michigan State University’s Office of Study Abroad shed some light on the topic of discussion.

The Big Green: How will this program fit with student’s academic plans? (When will they find time? What credits they earn?) 

Study Abroad Office: It’s different for every student! One of the biggest things our office promotes is the variety of program options MSU offers. The diverse selection of locations, program types, course offerings, and timeframes allows every student the opportunity to fit study abroad into their degree program. We have over 275 programs in 60 countries around the world that are offered during every semester, including winter and spring breaks.  One of the most important steps is for students to plan early and involve their academic adviser in their search.

TBG: What can a student expect to get out of this experience that he/she could not gain from staying in the country to study? 

SAO: Studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to pick up some credits – it’s the ultimate experience for expanding your comfort zone and opening your mind. It places students in a culture completely different from their own and puts them in contact with opportunities to try new things every day. A study abroad experience can teach you to be resourceful and flexible. It can build your self-confidence and strengthen your problem-solving skills. It helps to stimulate your imagination and challenge you to deal with complexity, diversity and change that you will face throughout the rest of your MSU career and beyond graduation.

TBG: Are there any safety concerns? (Are students educated about hazardous taboos?)

SAO: Safety is definitely a priority for Michigan State. We regularly monitor safety issues in each of our program locations and employ full-time staff members responsible for health and safety concerns.  Students educated on safety issues and cultural differences in mandatory pre-departure orientation sessions. They also have access to MSU’s emergency assistance line 24/7 where this information is given to them on a card to keep with them while abroad. All students are also covered with a comprehensive international health treatment, evacuation and repatriation policy.

TBG: What are the requirements to study abroad? 

SAO: All students must be in good standing at the university with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.  Additional requirements differ for individual programs and may include a higher GPA, certain class standing, specific major, essays, etc. Each set of requirements is listed on the program’s webpage.

The simplicity and worth of study abroad is due its dignified praise. It is no opinion that admiring the beautiful aesthetic of watching the sun rise and set on the other side of the world, interacting with the local peoples and allowing your perspectives to be influenced by the force of global wakefulness will have you returning stateside enriched with an endless strand of prodigious stories and innovative outlooks.

To quote T.S. Eliot, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

In lieu of recent events in Paris it is palatable that students may hold apprehensive attitudes towards this overseas journey. Nevertheless, France and other targeted nations are strong willed and cunning. Instead of completely disbanding all hope of studying abroad, one might pick a more sheltered and uninvolved country, in the meantime while keeping the victimized countries in their thoughts and prayers.


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Paris attacks leave hundreds dead, more injured

Paris attacks leave hundreds dead, more injured

The French Flag. Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

On Nov. 13, France was attacked. Four different locations within Paris were hit, including a hostage situation and mass shooting in the Bataclan theater and explosions at the Stade de France during the France vs. Germany soccer game. Two restaurants were also fired upon in a different part of the city.

French President Francois Hollande enacted three emergency plans in response to the attacks, working to quell the hostage situation and secure the city. The president also declared a state of emergency for the entire nation of France and closed the borders.

In response to the attacks, many local Parisians tweeted using the hashtag “PorteOuverte,” which means open door. They were, quite literally, opening their doors so that those on the streets could take shelter from the attacks. Facebook also launched an emergency “I’m Safe” feature, which people could use to alert family and friends that they were safe.

The morning after the attacks, ISIS officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, praising their actions by tweeting with the hashtag “Paris is Burning.”  Before this official claim, French President Hollande made a statement in which he blamed ISIS, calling the attacks an act of war.

Many international figureheads such as Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom; President Barack Obama of the United States; Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany; President Xi Jinping of China; and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia have offered their sympathies and condolences on behalf of their nations. Prime Minister Cameron has offered any help that France needs while U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch offered assistance to French law enforcement agencies. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also offered help from the German special forces. The Holy See gave condolences and the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani declared the attacks to be a crime against humanity.

At this point the death toll has reached more than 128 people with an additional 180 injured as a result of the attacks. Eight confirmed attackers are dead and emergency plans in Paris are focused on treating the injured. Investigations are currently underway to find any accomplices or further perpetrators.

For up-to-date information on this story, go to BBC’s live page.

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Jennifer Granholm: Where is she now?

Jennifer Granholm: Where is she now?

Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan and Michigan attorney general, was a dominant political figure in Michigan for over a decade. Since her final term as governor ended in 2011, she’s seemingly kept a low profile. What exactly has she been up to?

Granholm was seen as a likely choice to run for Senator Carl Levin’s empty Senate seat in 2014, but declined for family reasons. She also aided with President Obama’s transition team in 2008. Granholm has managed to remain a well-discussed political figure in Michigan and is bolstering her national presence as well.

Former Governor for the State of Michigan Jennifer Granholm. Photo via Creative Commons.

Former Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm. Photo via Creative Commons.

Throughout President Obama’s two terms, Granholm has been speculated to be on the short list for three positions: the associate justice of the Supreme Court, which was eventually filled by Elena Kagan; the other associate justice seat filled by Sonia Sotomayor; and the attorney general position now held by Loretta Lynch.

Despite not holding office, Granholm hosted her own political talk show, “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.” The show ended after its host network was bought out by Al Jazeera. Granholm then went on to co-chair Priorities USA Action – a Political Action Committee aiming to aid in President Obama’s reelection.

Recently, after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential push gained momentum, Granholm became a leader in the PAC Correct the Record, which aims to protect Hillary Clinton from political attacks, where she can act as a surrogate for the Clinton campaign.  

What lies ahead in Granholm’s future? One thing is for certain, the United States may not be done with her yet. After years of being passed over by the Obama Administration, perhaps she will have her opportunity in the potential Clinton Administration.

Granholm has been a long-time supporter of Hillary Clinton, even endorsing her during the 2008 presidential primaries. This support over the years has the likelihood to promote Granholm from useful backbencher during the Obama Administration, to cabinet-level material in the possible Clinton Administration.  

Granholm has been frequently discussed as a good pick for the Supreme Court or as attorney general, but current speculation sees her taking a place in Clinton’s potential cabinet as secretary of commerce. If given this position, she would be in charge of promoting American businesses and industries.

Jennifer Granholm’s political star may be far from set. Her commitment to public service is pushing her into the inner circles of Democrat powerhouses – where she could easily rise in prowess. Due to her rise among Democrats and the political connections she’s made, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Jennifer Granholm stays in the public eye for years to come.

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Global Corner: Reopening the gun conversation

Global Corner: Reopening the gun conversation


With every new mass shooting tragedy, which by the way is defined as a shooting with at least 4 casualties, the gun debate ignites like wildfire. Not every mass shooting is widely broadcasted across the national media; they would have a hard time keeping track of the 298 that have occurred so far. Sadly, a lot of people who were wounded or killed never had their story make it past the local news. We tend to focus on the especially horrible ones, most recently being the Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

It doesn’t need to be said that this was an absolute shame; something that caused nothing but pain, pain some may never overcome and none deserve. It’s easy to write this because I am privileged and unaffected, I cannot begin to imagine how the victim’s friends and families feel. They deserve nothing but empathy and understanding and I hope they are able to find it.

Death should never be the exploited talking point it is today, but that’s the culture we live in sadly. However, some of what’s been said regarding the issue needs to be checked. Just take notice that despite what you may read in this article, I am not anti-gun. I think any gun that hasn’t been banned now should stay legal and I am not for the idea of repossessing the legally purchased guns that are currently out there. To be honest, that whole idea is a paranoid fallacy anyway, I don’t see the United States descending into that level of fascism, that’s viciously absurd.

However, there have been talking points that deserve some criticism. “This isn’t about guns, this is about mental illness.” Donald Trump said it, Mike Huckabee said it, Ben Carson said it and countless others have said it. We do have an outstanding mental health care problem, but let’s not stigmatize victims of mental illness.

John Oliver brought a great article to attention on his HBO program and shared the important statistic that “fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.” I hate to parrot a television personality.

Just take it from my friend Collin Spencer, who works in mental health and had this to say:

“Don’t let the stigma fool you. The amount of people that are actually a threat to the safety of others because of a mental illness is miniscule next to the amount of people walking around without treatment or even realizing that they need it. These people need your help and support. Not to be feared.”

With that mess out of the way, let’s discuss something else: two arguments that have been tossed around forever about guns preventing crime. First, we have that criminals become reluctant to target a well-armed populace. Fair enough, that’s probably true. Secondly, we hear that such a populace can easily defend itself when crime arises. I’ll allow it.

The problem with basing our policies on arguments like this is that these are both purely hypothetical situations. These are not the sorts of claims that crime statistics have been able to prove true, especially when crime can be carried out with the same legal firearms that are supposed to prevent it. April Zeoli, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, said:

“We live in a world of infinite possibilities, absolutely there are cases where someone was able to thwart a crime using a firearm. However, having said that, the idea that more firearms leading to less crime, has not truly been supported by the research that’s out there.”

Zeoli is referring to statistics that, more often than not, show that guns are disproportionately used to commit crime rather than prevent it. For example, in 2012 the FBI reported that across the U.S. there were 409 justifiable homicides perpetrated with firearms, as opposed to the 8,897 that were deemed criminal. There’s no reason to believe that guns can’t prevent crime in certain situations, sure, but we shouldn’t tote that claim like it is a scientific fact.

So, there you have it, my take on this controversy. There’s a lot of work to be done and I do not have all the answers. All I suggest is keep an open mind and don’t fall for what is being said by people and organizations that have ulterior motives. Remember that when it comes to gun control there’s a lot of money to be made and a lot of voters to sway.

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Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

bellThere are 20 former Spartans currently in the National Football League, 17 of them played under Mark Dantonio. Arguably the best NFL player to come out of the Spartans lead by Dantonio is Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell.

In his three years at Michigan State University, Bell amassed 3,346 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns, the majority of which came during his final year in 2012. Bell’s first two years at MSU were spent splitting time and carries with fellow running back Edwin Baker. In 2012, Bell rushed for 1,793 yards on 382 attempts as MSU’s primary running back, catching the attention of NFL scouts and teams.

According to NFL scouts, Bell’s clear strength was the power behind his runs. They described Bell as a “Big, bruising back with power in his lower body but lighter feet than you’d expect given his size … Strong cuts and a nice burst out of them makes him capable of breaking off big runs … ” The only weakness scouts saw in his game was his height, because it slowed him down slightly and made him a much larger tackling target.

In 2013, with the 48th pick in the second round, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Bell. Bell’s impact was felt immediately as he rushed for 860 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. During that season, Bell’s weekly rushing varied quite a bit, however, he managed a 100+ yard rushing game against the Green Bay Packers in week 16.

2014 saw Bell come into his own as an NFL running back. He ran for 1,361 yards and 8 touchdowns despite injuring his knee at the end of the year. Bell broke career high rushing games twice in 2014. Once in week 3 against the Carolina Panthers, where he ran for 147 yards, and again in week 11 against the Tennessee Titans, where he ran for 204 yards and a touchdown. Bell strongly contributed to the Steelers AFC North title and their playoff berth, but was unable to play in the postseason due to injury.

Bell missed the first two games of the 2015 season due to suspension for marijuana use, but when he returned to action he showed the NFL that he is still a top 10 running back and a key piece to the Steelers’ offense. In just four games, Bell has 390 yards and two touchdowns with two 100+ yard rushing games. Three of Bell’s four games have been played without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and in his absence Bell has proven that he can carry this offense by himself, if need be.

Bell’s career is definitely trending in the right direction. Earlier this year, former NFL great Tiki Barber was asked by Bleacher Report which current running back reminds him most of himself and Barber said Bell, “Le’Veon reminds me of myself … Although he got it much quicker than I did.”

If Bell continues to play like he is now, we could be talking about him and runners like Barber in the same conversation for years to come.   


College stats courtesy of

NFL stats courtesy of

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Master of the House, Keeper of the Zoo: The US Speaker Race

Master of the House, Keeper of the Zoo: The US Speaker Race

Many people have been asking the question, what is going on with the Speaker of the House? For those who don’t know, the Speaker of the House is the leader of the United States House of Representatives. Usually, the Speaker is the leading member of the majority party in the House.

Speaker candidate, Paul Ryan. Photo via Creative Commons.

Speaker candidate, Paul Ryan. Photo via Creative Commons.

However, the current Speaker, John Boehner, is resigning and the Republican Party has found itself divided on whom to select as their new leader. The Republicans in the House are split into different factions, those of the establishment and those of the Freedom Caucus (among other caucuses). The establishment is those who follow what the mainstream of the party fight for and believe in. The Freedom Caucus is a right to far-right leaning group of some of the most conservative members of the House.

But why does this prevent the Republicans from picking a new Speaker? The reason is that in order to become Speaker, the candidate must reach a majority vote. In the House, this totals to 218 votes. There are 247 Republicans in the House, which usually means that they can elect their Speaker without a problem. However, the Freedom Caucus totals 36 members, which leaves an establishment candidate seven votes shy of election.

Due to this, many different representatives of the establishment are toying with the possibility of a bid for the Speakership, in order to see if they would be able to appease the Freedom Caucus. So far, Kevin McCarthy, Jason Chaffetz and Bill Flores cannot match up to the Freedom Caucus’ own contender, Daniel Webster. McCarthy has already dropped out of the running after being considered the front-runner, because of his position as the Majority Leader.

Does this make the House ungovernable?  In some people’s minds this shows that the Republican Party is unable to lead or legislate effectively, while for others it is seen as the Republicans taking a stand for what they believe in. Those of the latter opinion believe that one man can rise to the challenge and unite the factions—Paul Ryan.

This opinion may in fact hold true. Members of the Freedom Caucus have indicated that they would be willing to support Ryan, and the official caucus vote had two-thirds of the members in support of Ryan. Chaffetz and Flores dropped out of the race in favor of Ryan as soon as he made his announcement. Ryan previously stated that he was comfortable in his current position as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and would not seek the Speakership. This changed as it became more and more apparent that no other Speaker candidate would be able to get as much support as Ryan.

It is widely recognized that he is the only candidate that can unify the factions, and he admits this himself. According to CNN, Ryan said, “I never thought I’d be Speaker … But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve — I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our Speaker.” 

In short, the campaign for Speaker of the House is a horror show worthy of the Halloween season. The election itself will take place on Oct. 29, so the next speaker will take office just in time for the annual festivities surrounding Halloween.

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Professional Spartans: Kirk Cousins

Professional Spartans: Kirk Cousins


Back in the spring of 2012, the Washington Redskins were desperate for a quarterback. Fresh off of a 5-11 season, the team was searching for the franchise quarterback that they had been missing since the ‘90s.

In the first round of the draft, according to Bleacher Report, they gave up a King’s Bounty of three first round picks and a second round pick to acquire Robert Griffin III out of Baylor. Many assumed that the Redskins had found their man. However, three rounds later with the seventh pick in the fourth round, they selected another quarterback – Kirk Cousins.

The reaction to the Redskins selection of Cousins in the fourth round was mixed. Many thought that he was picked strictly as a backup.

According to an scouting report, many NFL scouts agreed with this noting that “while he was a QB drafted for his intangibles and experiences as a three-year starter and captain at Michigan State, he has deficiencies that will hurt him at the next level.”

During his first year in Washington, D.C., Cousins played three times, filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III. His first game was a loss against the Atlanta Falcons despite putting up decent numbers.

Eight weeks later, Griffin III exited early from a game against the Baltimore Ravens. Cousins successfully managed the late part of the game and helped the Redskins to an overtime victory. The next week, according to, he started the first game of his career during which he had two touchdowns and threw for 329 yards on his way to a 104.4 passer rating and a victory.

After 2012, things began to go up and down in Cousins’ career. Expected franchise savior Griffin III suffered a severe injury in the 2012 postseason, which he would never fully recover from. In 2013, Cousins played in five games including the last three weeks of the season after then Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan declared Griffin III inactive. Once again, Cousins put up average numbers, but he began to show a problem with throwing interceptions and consistency.

In 2014, Cousins played in place of an injured Griffin III for five games where his performances ranged from great to inconsistent. His unreliable play lead to him being benched and replaced by third-string QB Colt McCoy and a flurry of trade rumors.

However, in 2015 Cousins has another shot. Following a concussion that Griffin III sustained during the preseason against the Lions, Cousins was named the starter quarterback for the season in a controversial move by head coach Jay Gruden.

Initially things didn’t look promising for Cousins this year. Reports swirled of an alleged rift between the players on whether to follow Cousins or to stay loyal to Griffin III. Now, four games into the 2015 season, Cousins has made strides to winning over both the locker room and fans.

So far this year, Cousins has thrown for 1,005 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, as stated on His play still follows an up and down pattern when it comes to touchdown to interception ratio and his quarterback rating, but Cousins’ overall play this year feels different.

Cousins is playing very good for being on a team that is limited talent-wise and dysfunctional on the management level. He is leading the Redskins to victories and keeping them competitive in games that might have otherwise been blowouts.

Cousins’ ability to make something out of a weak roster, rolling with the mismanagement and sometimes media punches add a layer of value to him. If Cousins continues to improve on his overall game and keep his team competitive despite the roadblocks ahead, he could be in for a good payday come this offseason.

Cousins’ NFL future looks bright and if he leaves Washington, D.C. next spring for a more stable team, his career could take off, making him a solid tier two quarterback.


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Preview of the Democratic Debate

Preview of the Democratic Debate


From top left: Hillary Clinton, Lincoln Chafee, Lawrence Lessig, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb , Martin O’Malley.

On Oct.13 the main Democratic Party candidates for president will face off in a debate. The two front-runners will be a dominant force on the stage while the other three main candidates may scramble for screen time. Find out what to watch for in the debate, including each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Hillary Clinton

Strengths: Clinton is a long time public servant with a wide range of followers. She’s also proven to be very versatile and adaptable to current politics. Her favorable public image with Democrats is sure to make her a spectacle on screen.

Weaknesses: The scandals of her past and present, in addition to her evolution on issues, have caused many people within the Democratic Party to leave her side for a fresher face. This debate will be her chance to regain those who she has lost.

Bernie Sanders

Strengths: Sanders is a voice of the Left, even further left than most of the Democratic Party support. This gives him a bit more screen time for entertainment value. However, because of these views he has also catapulted in the polls and gained a great grassroots following.

Weaknesses: He is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist. In the United States, this is a term to be avoided in politics; because of this identity he may inadvertently turn away voters who are turned off by the term “Socialist.”

Lincoln Chafee

Strengths: He has had tenure as Governor of Rhode Island, one of the most liberal states in the Union.

Weaknesses: Most Democrats consider him a “flip-flopper” opportunist. He has been a member of the Republican Party before and this has come back to haunt him. In addition, not many people within the Democratic Party know about him.

Martin O’Malley

Strengths: His last term as Governor of Maryland saw great victories, such as: the end of the death penalty, the passing of a D.R.E.A.M. Act and same-sex marriage. These victories should be his talking points when discussing his ability to get things done.

Weaknesses: Many people will recall his time as Mayor of Baltimore and bring up the current state of Baltimore after the riots this past summer. This may bring into question his ability to champion black rights.

Jim Webb

Strengths: He is running as a moderate, taking the centrist position on most issues. His criticism of the Affordable Care Act may not be a strength among most Democrats, but it may win him some pats on the back from Southern Democrats.

Weaknesses: He served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. Even though this is a great position to serve in, Reagan is a big “no-no” when it comes to the Democratic Party.

Bonus Candidate: This candidate is not currently invited to the debate, but is being talked about like a major candidate since he’s been included in major polls.

Lawrence Lessig

Strengths: Lessig’s stance on electoral reform is matched only by Bernie Sanders. Since Sanders is a front-runner, the debate questions may be tailored towards the issues he is running on. This means that if there are substantial questions about electoral reform, Lessig can attempt to jump in and steal the spotlight.

Weaknesses: Despite his views on electoral reform, Lessig is running as a “referendum president.” This is his own way of saying that he will run on the one issue of electoral reform and once he has accomplished that, he will resign the presidency. This is an inherent flaw in his campaign since Democrats (and every other party for that matter) are looking for a president to run on a variety of issues.

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