I’m a Cis, White Girl and I Was Almost the Victim of A Hate Crime

 By Ruby Samuels

Two weeks ago, a bearded man with a long robe and a koran threatened me and my girlfriend with a switchblade. We were on a train coming home from an art house in Brooklyn and I had my arm around her. I guess my arm must have been pretty offensive because the man screamed, knife in hand, “I fucking hate lesbians and faggots! Hate them! One of these days, I’m gonna do something about it.”

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Why Every Barnard Student Should Be Watching Veep

by Laura K. Garrison

Where are my Veeple people?

Tonight, girls around campus will share HBO GO passwords and crowd around lounge televisions to watch the continuing saga that is the fourth season of Game of Thrones and the season seven premiere of Mad Men. Afterwards, they will return to their last-minute homework, plan for L-course signup, and eventually try to get some sleep for the busy week ahead. Unfortunately, these students will be missing out on one of the funniest, and most underrated, television shows currently on air: HBO’s Veep, starring Seinfeld‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, My Girl‘s Anna Chlumsky, and Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale. Veep has been well-received by critics, garnering numerous awards including two Emmys for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and one for Tony Hale.

Season three of Veep premiered last Sunday, as Vice President Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) stopped in Iowa during her book tour for Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey. Her bumbling staff is back in DC for the wedding of her Director of Communications, Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), and the President (unknown, but referred to as POTUS) is forced to make a major announcement after a social media-related mishap by Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), the annoying White House liaison to the Vice President. Though off to a bit of a slow start, season three promises a bright future for the Veep’s political career, including a possible presidential campaign, new staff members, and continued rivalries with some of Washington’s most influential men.

Every Barnard student should watch Veep, a true lesson in women’s strength and leadership.

Selina Meyer is the Vice President of the United States, the closest a woman has ever come to the office of the president.

While Selina perhaps isn’t the greatest example of women in elected positions, she is fiery and determined and doesn’t take crap from anyone. After serving as a senator in Congress, she ran for president but was instead chosen as a candidate for VP. Despite this setback, she still has her eyes on the White House and is an inspiration to women running for office everywhere.

She has spent years fighting the patriarchy, so nothing can stop her.

During season two, Selina heads to Finland for a diplomatic trip in which she is fondled by the husband of the Finnish Prime Minister. Unable to report his behavior for political reasons, she vehemently decries the “axis of dick.” While there seems to be less emphasis on Selina’s gender than one might expect, in all her dealings with the powerful men of Washington she holds her own despite often being the only woman in the room.

She has a creative comeback for every situation, and I suggest you keep those tucked away for your own use.

As an HBO show, all of the characters on Veep use language not always appropriate in polite society. Selina in particular drops some of the best one liners against her political enemies. She often uses very colorful language and overt sexual innuendos to describe whatever difficult situation she and her staff find themselves in, and she sometimes borders on being verbally abusive when dealing with members of the DC establishment. She speaks her mind and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

She hires other strong women in important positions, who equally can hold their own in male-dominated Washington politics.

Amy Brookheimer (Chlumsky) serves as Selina’s Chief of Staff. Amy is by far the most competent person in the Vice President’s inner circle, and she is often tasked with fixing whatever disaster threatens the Veep’s political future (including claiming she was pregnant and miscarried when rumors swirl about a pregnancy test in the VP’s office). Most importantly, she is Selina’s friend and confidant and remains loyal to the Vice President during her most trying moments. Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw), who refers to herself as the “third most important person in the world” after the President and VP, is Selina’s personal assistant. She is abrasively sarcastic with callers on the phone and is dismissive of anyone she deems unworthy of her time. Like Amy, she is one of the few competent people in the Vice President’s office, which during last season almost fell apart during her absence due to testimony at a congressional hearing. In a running joke, Selina asks whether the President has called, to which Sue usually curtly replies, “No.”

Veep airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO and can be watched online at HBO GO.

Laura K. Garrison is a junior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of HBO AsiaVulture, Tumblr, and Thought Catalog.

Binge Watching: Season Two of House of Cards

by Katherine Aliano Ruiz

Happy Late Valentine’s Day, Love Frank

Friday was Valentine’s Day, and for many it was full of romance, presents and insane amounts of delicious chocolate. For Netflix users, it was full of politics, murder, and weirdly awesome power couples. House of Cards, it’s good to have you back. The second season of the show premiered yesterday and guys, it somehow manages to be more intense than season one. But before we start on season two, let’s do a quick recap of season one. SPOILERS AHEAD

  • In episode eleven, Frank crossed the line from cunning, manipulative politician to full-on murderer when he killed Congressman Peter Russo and passed it off as suicide. In true Heathers fashion, this won’t be the first suicide he fakes.
  • Claire’s pregnant ex-employee Gillian (whose two passions are clean water and screwing Claire over) was about to take Claire to court after being fired.
  • Zoe, Lucas, and Janine (AKA the unholy trinity of investigative journalism) were putting all the pieces together regarding the magnitude of Frank’s crimes.
  • Claire left Adam once and for all.
  • Frank was officially offered the vice presidency and humbly accepted.

Taking all that into consideration, it was clear to fans that season two is going to be crazy. The new season’s first episode already ends with a huge shocker. It’s the kind of episode that makes those who say, “Binge watching just isn’t my style” eat their words and stay glued to their laptop screens until 5am. I’m still making my way through season two, but as a binge watcher and House of Cards fan I’ve made a few observations thus far:

Firstly, Insomnia Cookies and House of Cards go perfectly together as does the sun rising to remind you you’ve been watching a show for six hours straight.

Secondly, Robin Wright (who plays Claire Underwood) is amazing this season. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Spacey is and always will be un-freaking-believable as Frank, but Wright’s performance is hitting it out of the park. While in the first season it was clear she was a smart political woman, for the most part she followed Frank’s lead. This season gives her some scenes that reflect a Frank-level of cunning, such as her final face-off with Gillian. Wright has the opportunity to further showcase her acting talent throughout this season. In the second episode, Claire, as the new Second Lady, is faced with her past sexual assaulter at his commissioning ceremony. She tells Frank to not cause a scene or tell anyone and you think “Damn, I can’t believe he’s going to get away with it!” But as faithful viewers know, no one gets away with anything on House of Cards—except Claire and Frank, of course. And the payback is orchestrated in such a way that makes you realize how Frank and Claire are perfectly matched for each other.

The biggest problem this season so far seems to be that Frank gets away with everything. The threats to his power are quickly dismantled—in brutal ways—and watching Frank succeed without anyone to bring him down a notch may prove to be—and I hate to say this—monotonous. Without the imminent danger of everything falling apart, the risks Frank takes don’t seem that risky anymore. Frank needs a viable opponent, someone at his level to take him on, not more game pieces he can play with.

The arrival of new character Jacqueline Sharp, Frank’s successor as House Majority Whip, is a fresh addition to the show and may be that potential opponent. She presents an interesting contrast to Frank—while she is willing to cross anyone in her path to success, unlike Frank she doesn’t silently take crap from anyone or give out favors when her decisions are on the line. Her vehement statement that she is not Frank Underwood could perhaps lead her to be that person to go against Frank at some point in time.

This new season is proving to be a dangerously addictive combination of good writing and excellent acting. To all the fans out there and especially to you House of Cards first timers, good luck trying to balance studying for midterms and binge watching this show.

Katherine Aliano Ruiz is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Red Alert Politics.

Democracy Inaction 2013: (Not) Raising the Roof

by Bella Pori

Like the ceiling can’t hold us.

In two days, the United States will hit our borrowing limit, also known as the debt ceiling. Unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, the nation will default on our debts. Both President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner refuse to negotiate, with the President agreeing to nothing but a raise of the debt ceiling, and the Speaker unwilling to do that without some provisions, such as lowering federal spending.

The government shutdown has harmed our nation’s economy, but defaulting on our debts would be worse. It means that the United States would no longer be able to pay people who have Treasury bonds, causing the bonds’ values to decrease, rendering the savings bonds your grandmother gave your for Christmas absolutely useless.

But this does not just have consequences in the United States. People around the world would lose faith in our Treasury’s debt, which has long been considered one of the most secure investments in the world. Failing to raise the debt limit could force the country into another economic crisis, similar to the one in 2007-08 that caused the recession we are still in the process of climbing out of.

Some argue that raising the debt limit is not a sustainable solution, because the United States is in a lot of debt already. But this isn’t the first time the debt ceiling has been raised. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960, and 49 of those raises have been under Republican presidents. For the time being, not raising the debt limit would cause a lot more trouble than our ever-mounting debt would.

So how close is Congress to a deal? Unfortunately, not very. Late Thursday night, we started to hear that Congressional Republicans were going to meet with the White House to discuss possible negotiations. But early Saturday morning, House Republicans and the White House left their meeting with no deals and no plans for the coming days.

Senator McConnell (L) and Senator Reid (R)

With the threat of the nation’s default hanging over their heads, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met to negotiate. On Saturday, Senator Reid introduced a bill that would raise the debt ceiling to $1.1 trillion, which would keep the country from defaulting until after the midterm elections in 2014. Unfortunately, fewer than sixty senators voted to proceed to debate which means that cloture on the motion to proceed was not achieved.

In layman’s terms, that means that not enough senators voted to debate on the bill. The vote fell mostly along party lines, with 53 senators voting for the motion and 45 voting against. Sixty senators must vote yes to achieve cloture (which basically ends debate on something).

At the last minute, however, Senator Reid switched his vote to a no, which leaves him the opportunity to bring up the same bill at a later time. We are likely to see other votes on the debt ceiling in the Senate, and hopefully the House, in the coming days.

Let’s hope that for this crisis, unlike the last one, cooler heads will prevail and Congress will actually come up with a solution to the problem.

Editor’s Note: As of publication, Congress was working hard to develop a plan acceptable to the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown. While Senator Reid optimistically believed the Senate had a deal on the table this morning, the House has been indecisive and is in the process of developing its own plan. Regardless, both houses of Congress must pass the same piece of legislation that is also acceptable to President Obama in order to avoid a default and end the shutdown. Stay tuned…

Bella Pori is a junior at Barnard and a guest political contributor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of English Language FAQs and ABC News.

Democracy Inaction 2013: Showdown in Congress

by Bella Pori

It’s almost October, and that means the leaves are changing colors, the pumpkin spice latte is back, and the country once again finds itself on the brink of a possible government shutdown.

McConnell, Cantor, and Boehner: Obamacare haterz.

If you don’t know what a government shutdown would entail, you’re not alone! Until two weeks ago, I thought a government shutdown meant that the police would stop working, firefighters would let houses burn down, and public schools would close. That is not the case. A government shutdown does not mean the country stops working. However, it does mean that the government stops providing many non-essential services as decided by the Office of Management and Budget. Generally, agencies continue to operate in a shutdown if they are essential to protect our nation or the safety and life of the people in it. Our military would continue to fight overseas, doctors and nurses would continue to report to public hospitals, border patrol would keep going to work on the border, and our prisons would be staffed.

So how would this affect you, a student content in the Barnard bubble? First, and probably most importantly to many of us, students cannot take out student loans during a government shutdown. That means that if you happen to need extra money in October to pay your tuition bill you will not be able to take out a low-rate loan through the school and would have to take out a loan through a bank, which has a higher interest rate.

Sorry Gary, you’ve been furloughed. Congrats on the Emmy!

Secondly, I’m sure there are some of you who have parents who work for the government. A government shutdown means hundreds of thousands of government employees would go without pay for the duration of the shutdown. The government shutdowns in 1995-1996 lasted 28 days. There is the possibility that a large number of public servants, including my father and some of your parents, would not be paid for the duration of the shutdown.

And while Social Security checks are considered a mandatory service and should be sent out during a government shutdown, the Social Security Administration may not be able to pay employees to process and send them. If a shutdown were to last more than a month, there is a possibility that many of our relatives will not get the money that has become an important part of their income.

Finally, the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan think tank in Congress estimated that the two shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 cost the government close to $1.4 billion. In a fight over spending and debt, it seems shocking that elected officials would even consider such a costly move.

If you still need a reason to be angry about a possible shutdown, there is the potential that Congress would receive their paychecks, even as thousands of Americans are furloughed. Changing Congressional pay takes legislation, and while a bill that stops pay for elected officials in a shutdown has passed in the Senate, the House has not. There is no reason why our elected officials should be paid if they force thousands of Americans to take an undetermined amount of unpaid leave. These people were not elected to destroy the government, they were elected to run it.

This has pretty much become the way of Washington.

So why is a government shutdown even being considered as a possibility? There is a committed group of Republicans in the House and the Senate who are refusing to vote for any budget that funds Obamacare. Republicans in the House will not pass the Senate budget, which contains no provision to defund Obamacare. Conversely, the Democrat-controlled Senate will not pass a budget from the House that makes dramatic cuts to social services. As if this wasn’t enough, the deadline to raise the debt ceiling is October 17. Over the past several years, congressional Republicans have used the debt ceiling as a political pawn, threatening to force the country to default on its loans rather than pass legislation opposing their conservative agenda. This year, Republicans are continuing with the same tactic, putting a fragile economy at serious risk of recession.

On Friday, the House passed a continuing appropriations resolution to fund the government through mid-December. This bill stripped funding for Obamacare and passed along party lines, with 228 Republicans voting for the bill and 188 Democrats voting against it. One Republican joined the Democrats to vote against the bill, and two Democrats voted to defund Obamacare. This resolution was then sent to the Senate, which yesterday voted 100-0 to begin debate on the bill, despite a 21-hour speech from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) against Obamacare. Now, the Senate has 30 hours to debate the bill, during which time the Democratic majority will remove the provision that cuts funding to Obamacare. If the Senate passes a modified version of the bill, it must be sent back to the House. This could happen as late as Sunday, giving the House little time to debate or pass the bill. If both houses of Congress do not pass the same bill by Tuesday, the country will face a government shutdown.

If the idea of a shutdown enrages you, I urge you to call your Representative and Senators and make your voice heard. Remind your elected officials that you helped put them in office, and that they have a responsibility to protect your interests over their own.

Bella Pori is a junior at Barnard and a guest political contributor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Politico, TV Line, and Forbes.

Election Day Links & Updates

President Spar wants you to vote!

After months of endless rallies, debates, and ads Election Day has arrived. For those of you who are eligible to vote, make sure you do! For those of you registered in New York or New Jersey, you’ll be able to vote in a polling place anywhere in your state if you’ve been effected by Hurricane Sandy. We’ll be liveblogging the results starting at 6:30pm. Until then, procrastinate with these election-day links.

UPDATE:
Al Jazeera‘s, ABC‘s, and other news sources’ Election Day coverage are LIVE on YouTube. (Al Jazeera, ABC)
See if one of your friends is in the album posted by Barnard’s SGA, “Barnard Votes!” (Facebook)
Columbia Political Union is hosting an Election Night Viewing on Low Steps, starting at 7:30 PM! (Facebook)
Follow The Nine Ways of Knowing Election Day Live Blog starting at 6:30 PM!! (The Nine Ways of Knowing)

This interactive infographic shows all the paths the electoral college could take tomorrow. (NYTimes)

Can you sympathize with this 4 year old who is so over “Bronco Bama” and Mitt Romney? (NPR)
Thought you had a good excuse not to vote? These guys don’t think so. (Your Excuse Sucks)
Still undecided? See who you side with, the answer may surprise you. (I Side With)
What happens if there’s a tie in the electoral college? (Constitution Daily)
Peggy Noonan is predicting a Romney win. (Wall Street Journal)
Statistics whiz Nate Silver is calling it for Obama. (FiveThirtyEight)

Images courtesy of SGA.

Everything You Need To Know About Voting

Get out your garders whenever you
wear campaign gear, ladies!

UPDATE: For free absentee ballots and associated envelopes and postage, sign up with Columbia-subsidized TurboVote (even if you’re already registered).

As a United States citizen you get a whole host of privileges. That all comes with one incredibly important responsibility, voting. It is more important than ever for you to register, and then actually go out and vote, whether in person while home for fall break or via an absentee ballot.

Check if you’re registered
Not sure? Head to CanIVote.org, a website run by the National Association of Secretaries of State. Just choose your state, and you’ll be redirected to your state’s election office search engine.

Not registered?
Unless you’re from New York State, you’re probably eligible to become a voter here or in your home state. It’s really up to you which place you pick. Barnard has partnered with an awesome organization called TurboVote. Their website will walk you through the registration process for any state you want to register with.

Choosing what state to register for
If you’re not sure where to register and you want to play it smart, Nate Silver, a statistician, forecasts the chances which states will go red or blue (with such astonishing accuracy, he was picked up by the NYTimes). Although this probably isn’t surprising anyone, Silver calculates a nearly 100% chance that Obama will win New York State in the electoral college.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/

Changing what state you’re registered for
It may be that you’re already registered in New York or at home, but would like to switch. The unofficial viewpoint is that you should just go ahead and register where you’re going to vote, but only vote once.

Registering for an absentee ballot
Since our fall break is election day, our ability to vote in person in our home state is made a bit easier. But if you aren’t going home, don’t despair. You can request an absentee ballot, that allows you to vote via mail ahead of the election. Your state’s election office probably has instructions online, but TurboVote can also help you register for your absentee ballot. Indicate you’re with Barnard and TurboVote won’t charge for postage. Theoretically, you could pick up your absentee ballot, fill it out, and then hand it right back to Mail Services!

Also, if you’re going home before the election, you might be able to vote in person early. Check CanIVote.org for the rules in your state.

Vote!
Get reminders from TurboVote that the election is coming, and/or deadlines for absentee ballots. If you’re voting in person, go on CanIVote.org to check if if there are any Voter ID laws in your state so you can ensure you have the right ID. You can also look on CanIVote.org sto make sure you know where to go to vote and what hours the polling place will be open.

Images courtesy of The Political Carnival and Gretchen.