The Retrospect is a blog by Conor Laing, Usman Masood, and Danny Khalil. Our stated objective is to better explain key issues of public policy and politics to a general audience. We draw upon historical trends, statistical evidence, and political philosophy, approaching things from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Articles posted on The Retrospect are divided into “analysis” and “commentary”. Analytical pieces focus on presenting readers with contextually-relevant information so that they can readily form their own opinions on matters of politics and policy. Social, cultural, and political commentary is appropriately labeled as such, helping readers distinguish between the two.

Any opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of their respective author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author’s employer or The Retrospect.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for The Retrospect, please email guestposts@theretrospect.org. Articles written by guest authors do not have to be unique to The Retrospect, so you can publish your piece wherever you’d like! We do, however, appreciate links back to our website. While we respect a diversity of viewpoints, we also reserve the right to refuse to post articles that are offensive or otherwise of poor quality.

15665445_369369430078572_2173398855021940011_nConor Laing is a graduate of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to earning his Master of Public Affairs degree at the LBJ School, Conor received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Fort Lewis College. A jack of all trades, Conor’s areas of interest include economic, environmental, educational, healthcare, and consumer protection policy.

Conor fell in love with politics watching the speeches of the late Senator Ted Kennedy in the mid-2000s. He grew up in a family that stressed the importance of citizenship and spent a great deal of time reading books about national figures like Franklin Roosevelt, Francis Perkins, Lyndon Johnson, and even George McGovern. Conor joined his first campaign in 2012 with the Colorado Democratic Party and ran a ballot issue campaign office in 2013. He spent a summer working on economic development in a small mountain town and spent two years as a policy analyst with Consumer Reports. Most recently, Conor was a Public Policy Analyst for Morningside Research and Consulting.

In his spare time, Conor enjoys writing and poetry. He swims, skis, and mountain bikes, his pale Irish skin burning in the southwestern sun. His views are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaazqaaaajddizjdkzmi0ltqzzjytngq5ns1hotrjltlhotnhmjk3ytgwmwDanny Khalil is also a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Prior to receiving his Master of Public Affairs in 2016, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Anthropology with minors in Communication and Legal Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio, graduating in the top 10% of students in his major. His specialties include social and economic policy, American political campaigns, and foreign policy, particularly with regards to the Middle East.

Volunteering for his first political campaign as a 14-year-old Republican, Danny has been actively following politics since he was 9, frequently burrowing his head in the local newspaper and clipping articles onto poster boards for class presentations. He continued to work on political campaigns up through college, earning himself a place on the national executive board of College Democrats in 2013. He served as a policy analyst in the Texas Legislature during the 84th legislative session, a position he juggled alongside a full-time schedule at the LBJ School.

In his spare time, Danny enjoys learning new languages. He actively studies Arabic, Spanish, and German, the latter two of which he studied for three years each in high school and college. He also enjoys running, a passion that is superseded by his love for mint chocolate chip ice cream.

umasoodUsman Masood is 2015 graduate of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Prior to this, he received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. His specialties include national security, political extremism, and US relations with Eastern Europe. In a professional capacity, he has worked in information security, international development, economic security, and has supported leadership programs across the United States and Europe.

Usman was interested in foreign relations and international conflict from a very young age. As a ten-year-old, he scared his relatives by regularly giving overviews of famous World War II battles and attempting to start discussions on which Tom Clancy and John Le Carre novels were the best. Politically, he has always looked up to writers like Thomas Paine, Mark Twain, and George Orwell who were unafraid to criticize their enemies as well as those on their own side. While at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, his interactions with leaders across sectors and national boundaries made him became increasingly interested in non-military means to combat political extremism.

In his spare time, Usman enjoys making Fast and the Furious references and advancing his two most quixotic goals: convincing people that The Verve had more than one song and that auto-racing should be an Olympic sport. His bucket list is actually Nicolas Cage’s IMDB page, and he once convinced the other two writers of this website to pay $20 to see the actor’s tomb in New Orleans.