Silver Linings Playbook

This week I decided to talk about an underrated movie that came out a little while ago, but seems to be getting more attention now. I just watched the film, Silver Linings Playbook, and I have to say I am impressed. I do not know how this movie slipped under the radar of so many people, but I am glad it is being brought to justice now.



I’ll start off by saying that, based on the ads I had seen for this movie, I thought I was going to be seeing a chick flick. I was wrong. This movie is one that is hard to put in any one genre of film. To me, it was mostly a drama with elements of both the melodrama and comedy genres as well. I won’t spoil the plotline, but the movie is about a man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) who is struggling with a mental illness and a hard divorce all at the same time. His entire life went down the drain and he has to struggle with the feelings of wanting get his old life back, while knowing he needs to let everything go and start a new life.


The performances by both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are fantastic.  Both have to play parts of people who are struggling with a mental illness (which I would imagine is not an easy role to act out) and both do a great job. Their acting draws the audience in and makes the audience really care about both characters. Another hidden gem in this movie is the performance by Robert Di Nero. He has a supporting role, but it is impossible to overlook his acting in this film. If you are like me and love anything Di Nero, you need to see this movie.


Overall this was a thought provoking film with a unique and interesting plot line performed by great actors.



Grade: A-


Verdict: They kept it in theaters longer because it took a while to get recognition. Its still in theaters now and you HAVE to see it. Looking for a good new movie to see? This is it.


Proposal for persuasive essay:

My civics issues blog has been about Affirmative Action in the workplace and in college admissions. This is an issue I feel pretty strongly about and I am firmly against Affirmative Action, especially in the college admissions area. The whole topic of Affirmative Action is broad and I think it would be good for me to narrow it down to just talking about college admissions. It is my belief that schools should not consider race as a factor of college admissions. Schools rationalize using race in admissions because they believe people with different skin colors come from different cultures and will produce a culturally diverse educational environment. It is my belief that racial diversity does not equate to cultural diversity. I plan on writing a persuasive essay that persuades people that affirmative action is unconstitutional and unethical in college admissions and that the college admissions process need be reformed to not consider race as a factor of admissions. There is a lot of viewpoints on this topic and I feel it is a substantial base to write this paper on.


Mark S. Ryan

Professor John Minbiole

CAS 137H

29 October 2012

The Power of Your Vote

            The most basic definition of a democratic system of government is a government that is “by the people” (Oxford English Dictionary). It is a government that does not make the needs of one person a higher priority than another, and is a government that gives every subject an equal voice in the policy making process. In order for any government to be democratic, one must discuss the most fundamental aspect of any democracy: the vote. The vote is the most powerful tool of the common man in a democratic government and is the driving force behind every government action, policy and regulation. Voting is not just a right or a privilege; it is the basis of the American identity. Without the vote, the pillars of democracy vanish and the palace of democracy comes crashing down. But has the high and mighty United States Constitution always promoted true democracy? Does it today? Over the last century, the United States Constitution has changed to allow more power to voters and to put more emphasis on democracy. This mirrors the ever-increasing desire for personal influence on government in American culture and exemplifies the American desire for individual expression.

This country was founded on the principals of democracy and freedom, but its original constitution did not entirely reflect those ideals. The first elections in the country were exclusive to only white, male, protestant citizens. Most polling places required these males to also own some type of land to prove that they were responsible enough to vote. It is easy for a person of modern cultural beliefs to realize that this principle of restricting voting rights as morally wrong and undemocratic. However, it was not until relatively recently that the American society believed in equal voting power. Prime examples of this contemporary shift include both the women’s and civil rights movements.

It is well-known that female and non-white citizens of the United States were not always given the opportunity to vote in elections. The struggle for these groups to gain suffrage was not easy, but ultimately a success in expanding the power of the vote for United States citizens. The first landmark in these voting rights struggles comes with the ratification of the 15th amendment of the Constitution in 1870 that stated “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (“Transcript of United States Constitution…”). This amendment seems straightforward enough, but individual States found ways to limit non-whites from voting in forms of poll taxes and literacy exams that would endure for another century (“15th Amendment to the Consitution”).  It wouldn’t be until the mid-20th century that these roadblocks would be cleared and people of all races could finally vote. The women’s suffrage movement was difficult as well and finally resolved in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th amendment that stated, “The right of citizens in the United States shall not be denied…on account of sex” (“Transcript of United States Constitution…”). The passage of these laws and regulations is significant in the expansion of democracy and voting power in the United States. In the course of several decades, the electorate of this country expanded from exclusively white males to any person above the age requirement to vote. This was a colossal aspect of the increased power to vote in the United States, but not the only case.

What is less well-known is the progressive era election reforms that took place in the early part of the 20th century (in the midst of the aforementioned expansion of voting rights) mainly in respect to senatorial and party primary elections. The original constitution of the United States had the upper assembly of congress composed of two senators from each State to be appointed by the State legislatures. This was an attempt to have State legislatures “cement their tie to the national government” so that the States would support the national government more (“Direct Election of Senators”). The framers of the constitution wanted to have a body of congress that was actually more removed from the people of the country that served long terms in order for congress to be productive. This productivity came at the expense of democracy by removing the people from the policymaking process.  The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution reversed this and since 1913, the public can vote for their senators (“Direct Election of Senators”).

Primary elections in the United States before the mid-1920s never existed much like senatorial elections didn’t exist before 1913. The candidates in each party to run for office were not directly elected by the people of the party, rather they were simply nominated by party leaders at conventions. The people of the party did not have a say on who their party puts up for the election like they do today. A movement started that put pressure on political parties to allow the people to have more say in their nominating process and by 1926, many nominations for political office were decided by primary elections (“The Future of the Direct Primary”). This new process of direct voting was “established for the purpose of giving the people the right to say who shall be nominees for public office. The convention system, on the other hand, takes out of the hands of the people the selection of candidates and gives it to a few persons.” (“The Future of the Direct Primary”). The direct primary is more evidence of the shift toward more democracy and increased power of the American voter.

Before any of these radical changes in election and voting rights, the public of the United States was expected to conform to the values of others. Before women were allowed to vote, they were simply expected to accept the government that men had created for them. Before non-white citizens were allowed to vote, they were expected to conform to what the white voters believed in. Before the public could vote for their own senators or nominees, it was simply expected to accept the candidates and senators that more influential people selected. All of the changes in voting rights and all of the election reforms over the last century have one main principle in common: they allow more people to voice their opinion and vote on more issues. It is this underlying value of self-expression in the United States that is in a state of change.

Today we see a whole different political world that is full of self-expression and individual beliefs, past the days of conformity and acceptance. This change is evident by the trend in party identification over the last century. It used to be that most people identified with a certain political party and always voted for the candidate or issue that the party platform supported. The number of true independents who did not conform to either set of political ideologies used to be relatively small. In 1945, the proportion of people in the United States that identified themselves as independents was only 15%. This number has steadily increased to 31% in 1988 and is up to 38% today (“Trend in Party Identification”).

The public’s need to stop conformity and its need for self-expression strongly correlate. As we have seen a decrease in political party conformity in the U.S., we have also seen a strong increase in self-expressionism movements. From the emergence of political movements such as the gay rights and disability rights movements, to new cultural developments in green energy or global awareness, the country is being flooded with changes that reflect the desire for self-expression. All of these new progressive movements are by-products of the increased importance our culture places on individualism that was catalyzed by and reflected in the increase in voter power of the early 20th century.

These changes in the voting system of the United States with respect to universal suffrage and voting power are reflective of American society’s constantly growing need for individual political expression. Individualism is a concept that blankets the United States, and the political realm is not immune. The days of accepting what the government decides for citizens are over. The days of conforming to a preset list of ideals are done. The days of accepting someone else’s political beliefs as your own are through. Its been apparent since the birth of our country that the need for true American democracy would never dissipate, and although it has never been fully achieved, the desire for true democracy has exploded over the last century and shows no signs of slowing down today.


Works Cited


“15th Amendment to the Constitution.” 15th Amendment to the Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Democracy.” Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Direct Election of Senators.” U.S. Senate. Senate Historical Office, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“The future of the direct primary”. (1926). Editorial research reports 1926 (Vol. III). Washington, DC: CQ Press.

“Transcript of the Constitution of the United States – Official Text.” Transcript of the Constitution of the United States. The Charters of Freedom, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Trend in Party Identification.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.


RCL wk7

For my paradigm shift, I chose to do the increase of democratization and voter power in the United States over the last century. There have been several examples, most at the first half of the 20th century, of when the power of a voter has expanded. I said that the expansion of voter power reflects that our society is one that places a lot of importance on individualism and self expression. For the Ted talk I figure there are many examples I can talk about in this shift:

1. Women and minority right to vote. Both the 15th and 19th amendment allow women and non-whites (respectively) the right to vote. Before these amendments, only white males were allowed to vote. Allowing universal suffrage to everyone in the United States shows that we have placed emphasis on our ability to express our own opinions and make our own decisions.

2. The direct election of senators and primary elections. Before the 17th amendment, all members of the U.S. senate were appointed by state legislatures. This was an attempt to remove the people from the policymaking process and improve government efficiency. However, it was less democratic and didn’t give people the chance to vote. The shift in allowing people to vote for senators shows that we believe in democratic principles and self-expression. Before the early 20th century, potential candidates for office were selected by political party leaders instead of primary elections. By the mid 20th century, most state party organizations adopted the direct primary that let the people decide who their nominee would be instead of a few influential people. This is yet another example of how society believes it is important for everyone to be able to express themselves if they so please.

Week 7 Hack

The Eminem song, “Guess Who’s Back” somehow seems appropriate for this week’s hack because after months out of the media spotlight, Donal Trump is back.

Hack of the week:



That’s right, he’s back again and you should tell a friend. He is back for a completely different reason this time though. You probably know that a while ago, Trump suggested that Obama was not born in the United States and that he was not eligible to run for the presidency. Well that was all settled as Obama presented his birth certificate and certificate of live birth to the public that proved he was born in Hawaii. THIS time, Trump wouldn’t dare ask for Obama’s birth certificate again, no no. THIS time he is asking Obama to present his passport information and his college application records. (Maybe this is in hopes of still somehow proving the Obama lied about his birth certificate and he is not able to be president.) Trump has stepped up his game too. Instead of just asking Obama for these records, he is challenging the president by offering a $5 million donation to the charity of Obama’s choice if Obama releases these records. Now at this point you may be asking what the point of Trumps actions are, and you have raised a valid question and one that probably can’t be answered in a logical way. If Obama doesn’t release these records, then Trump will go back to arguing that Obama isn’t american which will not accomplish anything except make him and the whole republican party look stupid. If Obama does release the records, then Trump is out of $5 million and he makes himself look stupid. I feel like this is a lose-lose situation and overall its just sad that some people try to make politics resort to situations like these.

Watch the video here

Information from this blog taken from