The C-Word: Censorship

There are a lot of words I don’t like, but one has recently become the central focus of my free speech crusade: censorship.

The Op-Ed section of any news paper is bound to garner controversy, but that doesn’t mean those personal accounts have any less right to be there. The Op-Ed sections of newspapers give me hope that freedom of speech is thriving in a world where many reporters live in fear.

I have said it before and I will say it again: freedom of speech protects unpopular speech, and furthermore it protects your right to anonymity–but that protection should not be used as a vicious cycle to continuously attack one another.

Recently I was told that, as a “weak-willed Libertarian,” I was a traitor to both the Catholic Church and all true conservatives.

This was after I wholeheartedly disagreed with statements made in the opinions section of the newspaper I edit, but FOUGHT ANYONE WHO THOUGHT WE SHOULDN’T INCLUDE IT.  I wouldn’t dream of quelling someone’s freedom to express their ideas (even if it’s humorously slanderous toward me), and I would hope no one ever expects me to refrain from exercising the same right.

However, “free” speech is not always constructive–especially when people can’t separate political opinions from their own ego.

Here’s how an opinion and rebuttal should work: I have an opinion–here’s why.  I disagree with your opinion–here’s why.  And we both walk aware with a better understanding of the other person, and hopefully the confidence in our own convictions to integrate ourselves into a world full of challenging and contradictory ideas.

Here’s how opinions and rebuttals have recently been working: I have an opinion and I’m not going to justify it because if you disagree I don’t care. You are a garbage person and your opinion has no place on this earth and I’m not going to tell you why I’m just going to continue this personal attack. And both people walk away angry, irrational and less willing to accept or discuss ideas in the future.

This is free speech being used for all the wrong reasons.  I never want to have to make the decision to censor something another student submits to the Op-Ed section (and I am bold enough to assume I’m not the only one who shares this conviction) so here’s a plea: before you write, pause.

Exercise your rights in a way that makes our nation proud–not in a way that discredits or demeans the freedoms we have been given.

Take a step back and look at it from another perspective: is it constructive, is it essential, am I willing to accept people will disagree with me, do I have all of the information I need, is this issue too personal for me to discuss logically or rationally?

Words have power.  We’re taught that as children on the playground.  We’re reminded of that as teens venturing into social media.  And we prove that every day as journalists.

We cannot (and should not) stop words, but we should challenge ourselves to use their power for good.



Where Are My Questions About Trump and Guns??

IMG_0648We all had to mentally prepare ourselves for the hop across the pond this summer, and part of that preparation were the answers to those inevitable questions about the current state of American politics.

Then there was Brexit.

Then there was Manchester.

Then there was the Grenfall Tower fire.

Far more often, we have gotten comments like “You must be loving the exchange rate.”

On one of our first nights here we passed two police men holding rifles at a post on a street corner. There was quite the stir in the street, and two men even stopped and asked to take a picture, to which one of the “bobbies” replied: “If you must,” followed by a heavy sigh. Armed and/or armored police would not be an uncommon sight in an American city, and our desensitization to the matter made the contrast seem that much more drastic.

However, the UK has seen a dramatic shift in perspective following the events of the general election. For once, Americans weren’t the only ones desperate to blow something up.

A deciding factor of Brexit for many voters was anger over immigration, with voters favoring less freedom of movement within the European Union, even if it hurts free trade.  Sound familiar?

What is it with countries suddenly turning to majorly isolationist views?  Fear.

But fear is not an easy subject to talk about, at a fancy dinner, after a pint at the pub, or even in Parliament. The question we should be preparing ourselves for is what are we more afraid of: Terrorism or Trade?


What actually happens when a president is impeached?

Impeach- to charge someone with doing something wrong, specifically a high ranking government official, such as the US president, a senator, or a Federal judge.

Wait…so that doesn’t mean he’s ejected from the White House??

Say it louder for the people in the back: impeachment is the process, not the result.

Only two U.S. Presidents—Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—have been impeached (neither convicted, both acquitted by the senate).  [Nixon resigned rather than face conviction.]

Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that “the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The process itself takes months to years to develop.

  1. The House Judiciary Committee (or an independent counsel) drafts articles of impeachment.
  • The 25th Amendment states that if the vice president and cabinet officials deem a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” Congress may remove them.
  1. As per the Constitution, the full House has “the sole Power of Impeachment,” which means each and every article of impeachment requires a simple majority vote.
  2. It is the Senate that has “the sole Power to try all Impeachments,” (which the chief justice of the United States must preside over) and a two-thirds majority vote is needed to convict.
  3. Congress can still stop short of an impeachment or call for lesser sanction or censure (which means threat of punishment and public disapproval).
  4. If achieved, punishment includes removal from office, and possible “disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.”
  • It’s important to note that Impeachment is a political and not criminal process so no one ends up in prison.
  1. In the (seemingly unlikely and far-reaching) event Trump is impeached, Vice President Mike Pence immediately takes the Oath of Office and becomes President.
  2. In the (astronomical) event Pence is also impeached, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan immediately takes the Oath of Office and becomes President. (For a full list of current potential successors click this link:

Does this mean you should give up your dreams of Trump being removed from office?  No.  If the process was easy we’d be impeaching presidents left and right (which wouldn’t make for a very stable government now would it).

What this means is two things:

  1. Be vigilant citizens. Consume as many news sources as possible, to get as close to the truth as possible. Do I believe in fake news? Sure, TMZ exists. However, I believe that in this on-demand nation there is too much pressure to release a story, and not the whole story or the right story.  And I believe in human error.  Remember: it’s healthy to be skeptical and it’s powerful to be knowledgeable.
  2. Be hopeful citizens. Whether you hope Trump leaves office or stays for eight years, hope that our elected officials do their job of investigating, processing and acting on what’s right for the American people.

Impeachment is turmoil and I hope everyone is prepared for the process, and what it will mean for the future of our country.


Tee Up: Or Are Presidents Really Good Golfers?

“If I had my way, no man guilty of golf would be eligible to hold any office of trust or profit under these United States.”-H.L. Mencken

Back in 1897 William McKinley hit the green.  Since then, the only presidents who haven’t teed up are Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter, but for all the time they spend playing, how good were our Presidents?

Taft: A 20 handicap who was said to always play out every hole. While in office, Taft celebrated the completion of the Connecticut Avenue bridge over Rock Creek Park because it allowed him quicker access to the Chevy Chase Club.

Wilson: Wilson logged more than 1,000 rounds while in office. He had golf balls painted black so he could play in the snow, but all that golf never helped Wilson improve as he rarely broke 100.

Harding: Played twice a week, but often scored in triple digits. His primary legacy to the game was the outstanding TPC Harding Park golf course in San Francisco, which was named after him.

Coolidge: Coolidge played mostly out of obligation and he usually required double-digit shots on each hole. When successor Herbert Hoover moved into the White House, the only thing said to be left behind were Coolidge’s bag of clubs.

F.D. Roosevelt: Before he contracted polio, Roosevelt was an accomplished golfer. In college, he was the club champion at Campobello Island Golf Club in New Brunswick, Canada, near his family’s summer estate.

Eisenhower: (Friend of Arnold Palmer) As president, he took 29 trips to Augusta and when in D.C., he played nearly every Wednesday at Burning Tree Club. Eisenhower also installed a putting green on the White House lawn.

J.F. Kennedy: Kennedy was careful to keep his golfing outings on the down low, as golf was viewed as a sport for the privileged. He did most of his golfing at Burning Tree, the most private club in the Washington area, where Kennedy was said to skip around the course, hardly ever playing a round of 18 or even nine holes. While playing at Cypress Point before he was elected, Kennedy nearly made a hole-in-one at the famed 16th hole.

L.B. Johnson: LBJ viewed golf as the perfect activity for political negotiations and it’s been said the votes he needed to pass the Civil Right Act of 1964 were secured on the golf course. Johnson’s swing was said to look like he was “killing a rattlesnake,” and he was not one for rules, hitting as many shots as it took get one that he liked.

Nixon: While serving as Vice President under Eisenhower, Nixon dutifully took up the game and became a solid player, once breaking 80 and playing to a 12 handicap. Even though he had a three-hole course built at his home in San Clemente, Calif., Nixon gave up golf while in his troubled second term.

Ford: Often broke 90, and was long enough off the tee to once out-drive Arnold Palmer and Gary Player on the first hole of an exhibition match at Pinehurst. He was the first president to join the USGA, in a ceremony at the White House.  He was also honorary chairman of the first Presidents Cup (1994).

Reagan: His most significant golf moment came during a round at Augusta Country Club when an armed man crashed the gates, took hostages and demanded to talk to Reagan. Reagan was one of six presidents who took lessons from Max Elbin, the longtime pro at Burning Tree.

G.H.W. Bush: His maternal grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was president of the USGA (later taken by his father Prescott Bush) and founded the Walker Cup. Bush played an 11-handicap and was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Bush also insisted on playing “speed golf,” refusing to play any round more than three hours.

Clinton: Clinton re-installed the White House putting green that Nixon had removed. In 1995, Clinton joined George H.W. Bush, Bob Hope and Gerald Ford in a pro-am to comprise perhaps the most powerful foursome in golf history.

G.W. Bush: Played to a 15-handicap before giving up golf at the outbreak of the Second Iraq War. After leaving office, he has returned to the sport, establishing the Warrior Open, which honors U.S. servicemen.

Obama: He was the eighth left-hander in the White House, but the first to play golf. He favored military courses at Ft. Belvoir and Andrews Air Force base. He also invited Rory McIlroy to the White House for dinner in 2012 when the Northern Irishman was first ranked no. 1 in the world.

Trump: Trump might be the best golfer, claiming a handicap under 3 with a self-taught swing that’s remarkably consistent. Of course Trump Golf also owns or operates 17 golf courses, including four resorts: Turnberry and Trump International in Scotland, Doonbeg in Ireland, and Trump Doral in Miami.

For more presidential golf stats click here.


What Did You Just Say? The Weird ABCs of Politics

What does it all mean?  And why does it sound like a bunch of made-up words…because it is. Political commentary has a language of its own, many of the components coming from precedents set by past political figures.  Let’s take a look at some of these wacky words and phrases:

Bully Pulpit: The Presidency, when describing the President to inspire or moralize. Whenever the President seeks to rouse the American people, he is said to be speaking from the bully pulpit.

Caucus: Either a meeting at which local members of a political party register their preference among candidates running for office or select delegates to attend a convention, or a conference of members of a legislative body who belong to a particular party or faction.

Coattails: The power of a popular candidate to gather support for other candidates in their party. Winning candidates are said to have coattails when they drag candidates for lower office along with them to victory.

Demagogue: A leader whose impassioned rhetoric appeals to greed, fear, and hatred, and who often spreads lies.

Filibuster: An action, such as a prolonged speech, that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures.

Gerrymander: The reorganization of voting districts by the party in power to insure more votes for their candidates.

Gubernatorial: Relating to a state governor or the office of state governor.

Incumbent: A current officeholder.

Impunity: Exemption from punishment or freedom from injurious consequences of an action.

Lame Duck: An officeholder whose term has expired or cannot be continued and thus has lessened power.

Malfeasance: Wrongful conduct of a public official.

Pork Barrel: Wasteful and unnecessary projects that politicians secure for their local districts, usually to gain favor with local voters.

Pundit: A political analyst, commentator, or columnist.

Sequester: A cut in government spending.

Stump: Campaigning in-person on a local level.

Trial Balloon: An suggestion a politician makes in order to observe the reaction. If public reaction is favorable, they take credit for it; if not, the idea dies quickly.

Whistle-Stopping: The practice of making speeches in as many towns as possible in a short time, often during a single day.

So what’s your favorite news channel word that never gets brought up in personal life??



Who Run The World?


Currently 6.3% of world leaders are women.

world leaders

12/178 Heads of State, the highest representatives of a country, are women.

Chile– Michelle Bachelet has been president since 2014. She is the former Executive Director of UN Women and the first president since 1932 to win twice in the presidential elections.

Croatia– Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has been president since 2015.  She is the former Croatian Ambassador to the UN and former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs.

Denmark– Margrethe II has been Queen of Denmark since 1972.

Estonia– Kersti Kaljulaid has been president since 2016. She was the first woman to hold the office as the youngest President of Estonia.

Liberia– Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been president since 2006. She is the former Minister of Finance and the first elected female head of state in Africa.  In 2011 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lithuania– Dalia Grybauskaite has been president since 2009. She is the first woman to hold the office and the first President of Lithuania to be re-elected. She is the former European Commissioner for Financial Programming as well as the Budget and for Education and Culture.

Malta– Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has been president since 2014. She is the former Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity.

Mauritius– Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has been president since 2015. She was the first woman to hold the office.

The Marshall Islands– Hilda Heine has been president since 2016. She was the first woman to hold the office and she previously served as the Minister of Education.  She was also the first person in the Marshall Islands to earn a doctorate degree.

Nepal– Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been president since 2015.  She was the first woman to hold the office and formerly served as Minister of Defense.

United Kingdom– Elisabeth II has been Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms since 1952.  She is currently the longest reigning monarch and head of state.

Switzerland– Doris Leuthard has been President of Switzerland since 2015.  She is the former vice president of the country.

heads of state

7/137 Heads of Government are women.

Bangladesh– Sheikh Hasina Wajed has been prime minister since 2009 and is in her third term.

Germany– Angela Merkel has been chancellor since 2005.  She is leader of the Christian Democratic Union and the former minister for both the Environment and Women and Youth.

Myanmar– Aung San Suu Kyi has been state counsellor since 2016 and was the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Namibia– Saara Kuugongelwa has been prime minister since 2015. She formerly served as the Minister of Finance.

Norway– Erna Solberg has been prime minister since 2013.  She is leader of the Conservative Party, and the former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development.

Poland– Beata Szydło has been prime minister since 2015.  She is the Vice-Chairman of the Law and Justice Party.

United Kingdom– Theresa May has been prime minister since 2016.  She is leader of the Conservative Party and former Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.

So who run the world?



HBD to an OG

Today marks the 274th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth.

So here are 5 facts about one of our finest founding fathers:

  1. He was draftsman of the Declaration of Independence
  2. He was the 3rd president of the United States
  3. Being president was not even in his list of top 3 life achievements
  4. He sold 10,000 of his own books to the Library of Congress
  5. His face is on the $2 bill


Quote A Day #6


Little known fact, before he grew that beard that made him look like he had no mouth, Rutherford B. Hayes was quite the heartthrob.  Look at him:

hayes 1

“He serves his party best who serves his country best.” -Rutherford B. Hayes

“The independence of all political and other bother is a happiness.” -Rutherford B. Hayes