Category Archives: OPINIONS

US government in time-out until Trump says so

 

Apple Parry
Apple Parry

By Apple Parry

This story initially ran in Issue 6, published January 22, 2019.

Today marks the 32nd day of the longest government shutdown yet, and there is no end in sight.

Federal employees will not be paid until after appropriation bills, which allow government spending, are passed into law.

In September, all funding requests for the next calendar year were either approved or declined by the House and Senate. If a request is not approved by the New Year, a shutdown is a possibility.

The shutdown will last until the House and Senate agree on a solution. When it’s over, employees are entitled to back pay.

In the meantime, workers will be scrambling to pay for necessities.

Nearly 800,000 government workers, including our military, did not receive a paycheck for their most recent pay period.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently tweeted: “President Trump said that ‘nobody has been better at the military’ than him. So why is he keeping the government shutdown and leaving 42,000 service members without paychecks for the first time in history?”

Not only is Trump making employees work without pay, but he’s asking soldiers to continue to risk their lives – without pay.

While I’m not in the military, nor a federal employee, I do attend a federally funded school. Although I’m not personally affected by this, there are a plethora of concerns I have for the long-term outcome this will have across America.

For example, 70% of the 7.3 million students enrolled in the districts that are part of the council are signed up for free and reduced lunch.

Students who rely on schools for food might be in trouble if the shutdown lasts through March.

After March, the schools will have to use their “rainy day” savings or pull funding from extracurricular activities in order to accommodate food prices.

Imagine telling these children that they can no longer go to their favorite after school activity, because the school has to use that money to feed them now.

Trump recently tweeted, “Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamburgers etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!”

Well Trump, since you’re feeling generous, why don’t you buy lunch for the 30 million children signed up for free and reduced lunch that you’ve screwed over?

Rapper Cardi B chimed in on the situation on her Instagram, posting a video in which she voiced her profanity-ridden opinion, bringing up the length of time the shutdown has dragged on, and stressing that this needs to be taken care of and handled.

Cardi B would like to stress that she isn’t weighing in on political subjects for “clout,” she is genuinely interested in political science, and is concerned for the citizens of America.

Cardi also mentioned former President Barack Obama’s shutdown, not using it to excuse Trump, but rather to call him out. After all it is such a stupid and illogical reason.

When Obama shut the government down in 2013, it only lasted 16 days. Obama had two appropriation bills on the table.

His goals were to acquire enough funding for Obamacare, which was already a law, which requires everyone to have health insurance, and raise the debt limit, which is the amount of money the government can spend.

The shutdown ended when the House and Senate compromised, regarding the debt raise, which in turn allowed funding for Obamacare.

Let’s compare, shall we?

Trump has said he intends to stick with the shutdown for however long it takes to get his way. He only had one issue, this issue is not a law, and it benefits absolutely no one. In fact it could be genuinely damaging to the surrounding ecosystems.

The butterfly effect that this will cause could be completely detrimental to the economy alone. Not having a constant flow of paying and spending will damage all kinds of businesses, and everyone involved.

This not a presidential action. It is not an act of patriotism. It’s an immature act of exclusion, which proves the president doesn’t even take the citizens of this country into account. Well, if they were rich he might at least blink an eye.


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The #relatable factor

By Apple Parry

The mass production of relatable content is discouraging genuine opinion.

A few years back, the term “relatable” became a popular saying. People involved in social media started to become more and more “relatable.” But like all things that start out good, the mass locals with follower mentality overdid it.

This led to an incredibly boring cast of YouTubers.

But other than this new “typecast quirky” that happens to actually be very, very extremely normal, my main concern is the lack of self-cultivated opinions.

Continue reading The #relatable factor


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Unwrapping the gift of Christmas cinema

By Apple Parry

This holiday season is upon us, folks. So grab your cocoa, sit back, and get critical. I picked five different movies that don’t have anything in common except for the time of year they were set in, and I rated them.

‘Elf’

elf

Will Ferrell gave his most wholesome performance as Buddy the Elf in “Elf.” As far as Christmas movies go, this is the perfect balance between comedic and extravagant.

Without going totally over the top, this movie still hits all the marks of a feel-good show.

Early on, Buddy discovers he is adopted, and this is quite a shock to Buddy because he is delusional. So he heads out to find his dad.

While Buddy is navigating his way through New York, he gets hit by a car, demonstrates the proper way to go up an escalator, how to really make spaghetti, and teaches the youth how to win a snowball fight.

Rated G, this movie is perfect for watching with your entire family, especially if someone is adopted, and you need to find a way to tell them. — just send them to a worldwide crime hot-spot, alone, wearing an elf costume, and I think they’ll get the message.

I give this movie 10 out of 10 candy canes.

‘Love Actually’

love actually

If you haven’t seen “Love Actually,” you’ll be just fine.

With nine different story lines, this movie shows us how to actually love.

It stars Professor Snape, Nanny McPhee, the guy from “Taken,” and a bunch of other British people.

Take away a few scenes and the Christmas theme, and this movie could have been set at any time of the year.

Kirsten Parry, my mom, said, “The entire movie caters to the male ego” and “It’s annoying.” But if you like unnecessarily complicated and inappropriate movies, give this rom-com a watch.

I give this movie 9 out of 10 trash cans

‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

grinch

The Christmas movie that basically raised me was Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

We all know the story of how a bitter, former Who tried to ruin Christmas for the hopeful town folk, and how in the end, his heart grew three sizes.

But with the help of relatable teens, a new side of the Grinch was uncovered. When the Grinch ate glass and struggled to find something to wear, we all felt that.

Jim Carrey made a hashtag-relatable character. The only bad thing about this movie is how creepy the makeup and hair make the actors look.

If you’ve ever wanted to be inside a snowflake for an hour and 50 minutes, just head on down to Whoville. But don’t stay too long, the whole town revolves around Christmas, and that’s why the Grinch left in the first place.

I give this movie 38 out of 37 Who puddings.

‘The Princess Switch’

princess switch

Netflix debuted their newest original this holiday season, “The Princess Switch,” and it is bad.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a Christmas version of “The Parent Trap,” just log onto Netflix and search this title.

Vanessa Hudgens, who plays both main roles, does not make a classy comeback.

Every plot point is overdone and, in 2018, is redundant. Hudgens’ British accent alone is reason enough to not watch this movie.

93 percent of Google users liked this movie, which means 93 percent of Google users are idiots.

There are reasons humans have the ability to imagine and create, and this isn’t one of them.

I give this movie a “multiply by zero” rating, because it will never be good.

 ‘Die Hard’

die hard poster

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, “a hard man to kill,” in “Die Hard.”

When McClane flies to L.A. to visit family on Christmas Eve, everything goes terribly wrong. Alan Rickman, who plays the villain in this movie as well, takes McClane’s wife as a hostage.

McClane sneaks his way around the building unseen, like a badass, and breaks a lot of things. The film includes terrorists, elevator shafts, walkie talkies, and iconic one liners. There will always be controversy when it comes to whether this is a Christmas movie or not, but I think we can all agree It’s a nice break from literally any Hallmark movie.

I give this movie 1 out of 1 “yippee ki yays.”

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good quarter.


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Give me education or give me debt!

By Ken Johnson

Community college helps to bridge the chasm between the American dream and the American reality.

The United States, more than most other countries, prescribes a narrative over the lives of its citizens: grade school, university, career, retirement, and then an uncomfortable death at an unfamiliar hospital, doped up on morphine.

In most of the country, high-school graduates are expected to go to college, and about 70 percent of them do, according to Pew Research Center — that’s up 20 percent from 1970.

Many jobs that didn’t previously require a university degree, such as salesperson or pilot, now require some sort of degree. And that’s a little weird because a bachelor’s degree in history has nothing to do with flying a plane.

Even if someone manages to find a job that doesn’t require some sort of degree, people with degrees look down their noses at people without degrees, especially in cities like Bellingham.

A college degree might as well be the star on the belly of a sneetch.

So a university degree is a status symbol, as well as a prerequisite for landing a job. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing: a liberal arts education can provide context to an otherwise confusing life and help people become more informed citizens. It seems like that, if everyone was educated, there would be fewer problems in the world — fewer Donald Trumps.

Except that college is dangerously expensive.

In 2017, according to Pew Research Center, there was over $1.3 trillion in American student debt, and the average recipient of a bachelor’s degree was over $25,000 in collegiate debt. Roughly half of the people who have bachelor’s degrees do not think that the benefit of the degree outweighs the financial cost. That’s a 50 percent college-regret rate.

And some organizations, such the Huffington Post, have found a connection between student loans and suicide.

Is a liberal arts degree really worth all that?

No. It’s not.

Especially when the reason why anyone would get a liberal arts education is considered. I mean, think about the phrase “liberal arts.” In Latin “liberal” is generally synonymous with “freedom” or “the pursuit of a freeman” — think about the word “liberty.”

I’m not a linguist, but the point I’m trying to make is that a liberal arts education is all about being free. It’s about being able to think for yourself and engage with the world on your own terms.

But there is absolutely nothing liberating about being crushed and churned around in a Sisyphean cycle of debt.

So on one hand, a liberal arts education is a nice thing to have, but on the other hand, getting one ruins lives.

That brings me to community college: the happy medium between an irreparable credit score and being able to name the impacts of climate change.

Community college has two main benefits: it’s cheaper, and everybody is accepted.

There is a special kind of dumb hypocrisy in wanting everyone to go to college, but then turning away a lot of potential students, because, however high an acceptance rate is, some people are still being denied.

Community college is pragmatic where most American universities are elitist. The realization that community colleges have made is that most Americans are not 18 years old and wealthy.

Some people need to work while they’re in school. Some people grow old, not Neil Patrick Harris, but some people.

Community college has flaws and in no way fixes everything. It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound… it helps, a little.

It keeps the good part of going to university — the education — and mitigates the bad parts — the debt and self-loathing.

Community college should expand, and it should become free.

I’m no financial analyst, but maybe we should spend money on educating people before we spend money on shiny Star Wars-style military jets.

Hell, with 1.3 trillion in debt, a crafty government could really get cracking on some state-sponsored terrorism. And if it’s lucky, even topple a democratically elected socialist.

Or educate its citizens.


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Mathew Whitaker: tall tales of toilets and time travel

By Ken Johnson

Matthew Whitaker is the acting U.S. attorney general. He is a criminal, equal parts boner-pill hawker and H. H. Holmes.

His antics are entertaining and stupid, but fundamentally Midwest horrible, like Chick-fil-A pumping legions of children to obesity.

He is the personification of the land of all-American shopping centers and lethargy that makes up the middle of this country, coalesced from the belly-fear of the corn fields teeming with lower-middle class debt…

Whitaker is the chief lawyer of the United States because the last one, Jeff Sessions, was fired by President Donald Trump following the midterm elections.

Trump firing someone isn’t surprising — his administration has a 58 percent turnover rate — but Trump is under investigation by the justice department, so firing the attorney general and replacing him with a steroid-soaked sock puppet is obstruction of justice. I’ll explain that later, but for now, just know that in future U.S. History III classes, this will be seen as one of Trump’s most notorious screw-ups.

Either that, or it will be know as the moment God Emperor Trump drained the swamp with quicklime.

Anyway, let’s look at Whitaker.

Whitaker’s past is drenched in fraud and idiocy, most of which surrounds one company: World Patent Marketing.

Theoretically, World Patent Marketing, like most patent companies, was supposed to help entrepreneurs by applying for patents and marketing their products.

That almost never happened. Instead, according to the Washington Post, their clients were encouraged to buy the complete market-and-patent package, and then World Patent Marketing would ghost their victims, keeping the money.

People were physically and legally threatened when they complained. Scott Cooper, the CEO, would threaten people with the martial art Krav Maga, which is probably the dorkiest way to try to intimidate someone.

“Many people ended up in debt or lost their life savings,” the Washington Post said in a recent article.

Now Whitaker is the attorney general, and the people he took advantage of have to live with that.

The Federal Trade Commission sued World Patent Marketing in 2017 for over $25 million and banned them from ever practicing in the industry again. Whitaker was on the board of World Patent Marketing and served as an adviser. He got involved in some extremely embarrassing projects before the company was shut down.

One project involved Bigfoot DNA, which they said could prove the existence of Bigfoot. Another involved a time-machine, which they said would be operational in about a decade.

The best one was a patent for an “extra-masculine” toilet for men with 12-inch penises.

Here is a small taste of that patent application:

“The average male genitalia is between 5 inches and 6 inches. However, this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that. I estimate that a 12-inch distance is adequate enough for most well-endowed men, though I would not be surprised if there are cases who need a greater distance.”

I hope the United States Patent and Trademark Office got the message — World Patent Marketing’s board is full of guys with massive shlongs.

In addition to the patent and marketing scam Whitaker ran, he was part of a laughably shady charity, ironically called the Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT).

“FACT is a group of citizens who are committed to exposing unethical behavior, changing the culture of politics, and restoring faith in our public officials,” says FACT’s website.

FACT has launched high-profile lawsuits against prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. Now it looks like FACT has violated its tax-exempt status, which matters even beyond the ever-expanding boundaries of Whitaker’s scandals because prominent Republicans, such as the Koch Brothers, have been donating, and possibly funneling money through, FACT.

The Washington Post reported that Whitaker received $252,000 as a salary for being the president of FACT in 2015, “more than half the charity’s receipts for that year.”

There is not nearly enough space in this column to go over all of Whitaker’s transgressions. There are a ridiculous amount. He has done and said plenty of other unethical things, but here’s the takeaway: He is mean and dumb and corrupt.

And now Whitaker is in charge of the Russia investigation.

The firing of Sessions matters because he recused himself from the Russia investigation, which was the right thing to do as he had a Kremlin-sized conflict of interest.

Trump was angry that Sessions recued himself — Trump was counting on Sessions to severely constrict the whole investigation, so Trump fired Sessions and replaced him with Whitaker.

That, by the way, might as well be the definition of obstruction of justice.

On top of all that, Whitaker’s appointment is probably illegal because the Senate hasn’t approved him, making everything he does voidable.

Trump passed over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the obvious and legal choice for attorney general, and skipped all the way down to the biggest critic of the Mueller investigation in the Justice Department: Whitaker.

So why Whitaker? Why appoint someone whose past is arguably dirtier than Trump’s and employ him in an overtly illegal way?

Whitaker has been arguing against the Russia investigation since its genesis. That’s why.

In an interview on CNN, which happened right after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Trump’s blatant criminality, Whitaker gave a detailed explanation about how Trump could castrate the Russia investigation:

“I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced,” Whitaker said.  “And that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.”

That is, again, exactly what is happening, and Trump might get away with it because Whitaker’s obstruction will happen largely out of view.

Firing Sessions has the same effect as firing Mueller — it’s obstruction of justice, slightly veiled.

Whitaker is a new low-water mark in the American descent back to madness.


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