Get Out of Jail Free

“Social Justice” might warrant a more positive reception among the general populace if it wasn’t such a moving target. Why sign up for societal upheaval and condescending advice from your betters when the country has no chance of reaching the Promised Land?

The campaign for “bail reform” is a perfect example. That’s because bail used to be the reform!

Prior to the advent of bail, suspects were held until their trial date. Release after posting bail was seen as a “progressive” reform to the system that kept the innocent and guilty in the hoosegow awaiting trial.

That may have been fine for the last century, but now enlightened thinkers consider being poor a pre–existing condition like cancer. And just as not bothering to sign up for insurance before landing in the emergency room shouldn’t subject one to financial penalties, not bothering to obey the law and landing in jail should be a cost–free experience, too.

Social justice warriors agitating for bail “reform” disparagingly refer to bail as being “money–based.” This overlooks the intent of bail. The goal is not to gouge victims for extra money, like Ticketmaster “convenience” fees. The goal is to protect the public. Which in this case means showing up trial.

Financial bonds may not be perfect, but it certainly beats the House Lannister system of holding family members hostage.

 So what do the SJWs propose and what hapless “victim” do they exploit to make their case? You guessed it! All will be revealed when you click on the link below and are transported to the rest of my Newsmax column:

https://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/bail-bond-financial/2017/06/07/id/794739/

 

California Reinvents Medical Tourism

Until very recently medical tourism was traveling from your home to find less expensive medical care, usually overseas. Medical tourists were leaving the warm embrace of the American Medical Association and the FDA to journey far from home. There were three motivations: Elective plastic surgery not covered by insurance, wanting to try an experimental procedure not covered or getting surgery done without benefit of any insurance at all.

That’s why breasts were being lifted in Brazil and hips replaced in India. Particularly courageous patients scheduled foreign heart transplants. I know all about this because I was almost a medical tourist myself. A few years ago we had what was laughingly called health insurance. Our deductible was so high you had to have been on life support for a week before coverage started.

I had a sports hernia, which meant the problem was on my dime. While pondering options, I devised an effective, temporary solution for the gym. After carefully folding a washcloth over the leak, I’d wrap myself with a giant Ace bandage.

Frankly, I liked my new slim waistline with only a hint of bulge in the intestinal wall. There were days when the Ace came loose and I trailed spandex out of my shorts like toilet paper stuck on a shoe, but it was a small price to pay.

The wife didn’t agree. Janet said it was gross and told me to quit procrastinating and get the hernia fixed. The medical tourism broker’s choice was Thailand or Oklahoma City. I couldn’t see paying $1,000 for an airline ticket on top of the procedure when the Okies were so much closer. Even then the procedure would set me back about $4,500.

That was still too much. In the end I opted for Dr. Amazon and bought a 12–dollar truss, which didn’t make me look as slim, but kept my lower tract in place.

California politicians have a proposal before the legislature that would totally eliminate my worries about cost. Instead of patients traveling overseas and paying for medical care, California politicos will have foreign patients coming to the Golden State and it won’t be to consult with me about trusses.

After the airline ticket or the coyote’s bill is paid financial worries are over. California taxpayers will cover the rest.

That’s just one of the disasters awaiting passage of what the LA Times terms “government–run universal healthcare.”

The Times description: “SB 562, would establish a publicly run healthcare plan that would cover everyone living in California, including those without legal immigration status…The state would pay for all medical expenses, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency services, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care.”

Talk about no “pre–existing” condition worries. One doesn’t even have to be a pre–illness resident. Just make your way from the airport or border crossing to the hospital and watch the doctors scrub up. California welcomes Anchor Babies and Anchor Patients!

Lefty politicians claim the program will be paid for by what is nebulously described as “broad–based revenue.” This sounds ominous to me. California’s tribal Democrats oppose rounding up illegal aliens, but they have no qualms about corralling taxpayers and squeezing them until their wallets pop out like hernias.

Supporters of the bill were the usual suspects: Unions looking for guaranteed taxpayer–financed positions with permanent job security and clueless members of “Our Revolution,” a Bernie Bros conglomeration.

The support of the Saunders’ crowd is particularly interesting because Vermont tried a version of single–payer healthcare and it was so expensive it collapsed before it was implemented, which must be a record of some sort.

In Vermont the bill was passed and prior to the program’s kickoff the legislature got cold feet and commissioned a financial projection study. It found the cost would be $4.9 billion a year, which would double the state budget. To pay for it payroll taxes would have to be increased 11.5 percent, individual income taxes would jump 9 percent and a border wall would be built to keep rich people from fleeing to cheaper states.

The governor and legislature were so taken aback the plan was shelved.

Cost estimates for the Golden Fleece, I mean Golden State plan put the yearly total at more than double (there’s that word again) the state’s current budget of $180 billion. But there’s no need for California single–payer fanaticists to worry, their legislature never learns. They plan to seize the $50 to $100 billion the private sector currently spends on employee health insurance and then wait for the rest of the money to turn up.

In the meantime many trips are anticipated at taxpayer expense. Legislative “fact finders” are planning trips to Canada, Taiwan and Maryland to learn “best practices.”

The only place they won’t visit is Vermont.

NFL End Zones Now Sponsored by Jackass

Sophistication functionaries all across the nation are in a tizzy. President Trump’s budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is a festering legacy of the Johnson administration.

From the program’s beginning in 1965 until 2015 bureaucrats at the NEA made 140,000 grants totaling over $5 billion. Outright NEA elimination could set off domino effect warnings like we haven’t seen since the last chopper lifted off from the embassy in Saigon.

The people squealing the loudest aren’t necessarily artists; it’s the arts infrastructure. The culture claque that doles out taxpayer money will suffer a double whammy. First their social life will take a tremendous hit. Since these bureaucrats will no longer control the distribution of free taxpayer money, there’s no reason for the culture combine to comp their tickets.

They’ll be queuing up at the cash bar with the rest of us common folk.

Trump won’t be fighting just federal sophisticate swamp denizens. State level leeches will attack, too.

In the past state arts organizations could finesse elimination by offering gullible legislators a deal: An across–the–board budget cut for all state agencies. The state police lay off 10 percent of their troopers and we’ll lay off 10 percent of our mimes.

Outright elimination in DC could ripple all the way down to Des Moines.

Still, there may be a glimmer of hope for interpretive dance. It looks like the NFL is preparing to grasp the torch and allow self–absorbed athletes to “get down” in the end zone.

Or as one puerile columnist for NFL.com put it, “NFL is putting the fun back in football. 


Thank goodness Roger Goodell has decided to end the unrelieved tedium football fans have suffered through from 1939 until 2003 when Joe Horn made a spectacle of himself during a Monday night game.

Goodell made the announcement using the same robotic corporate–speak he’s made famous: “We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown.”

Only the exhibitionism isn’t “spontaneous.” Players rehearse their little dances in practice. And performances aren’t confined to “spectacular” scores. A player that trips over a referee and falls into the end zone gives us the same “look at me” exhibition that comes after a 50–yard TD run.

Sportswriters who may secretly yearn to be gymnastics judges are all lathered up about the return of approved exhibitionism. Their consensus is toddler–style “look at me, look at me!” antics are just what the game needs. The Washington Post is looking forward to “showmanship” while I yearn for a return to professionalism.

If fans like those little end zone jigs so much, why isn’t modern dance more popular?

Players that want to express individuality can enter American Idol. Football is a team game. Only these dancing machines spell it “teaME.” Former running back Jamal Anderson calls the new rule, “the Odell Beckham freedom clause.”

What a great example for young players! Beckham is the teaME–first receiver who convinced the NY Giants’ receiving corps to join him for party time in Miami before their first playoff game against Green Bay – which NY lost.

This year the coach’s dream is skipping practice sessions in favor of nuzzling with his new girlfriend. A fresh influx of self–important, selfish players is just what Dr. Goodell ordered.

The only sensible coverage comes from Cameron DaSilva and even he supports this teenage showing off. DaSilva reminds us the NFL will start the play clock after the official signals a touchdown. Teams have :40 to snap the ball or be penalized.

He put a stopwatch on the last seven games of the season and all the playoff contests and found teams are taking :45 seconds between the call and the snap. So without any festivities teams are five seconds late.

For just a moment there was a glimmer of hope for mature fans that are tired of freestyle egomania, then DaSilva dropped the bomb. In 119 games he evaluated there were only 32 touchdowns that weren’t followed by a booth review, penalty or injury. That comes out to one quarter of a TD per game that will be affected by the snap clock.

After the vast majority of the scores there will be time for the entire team to rumble into the end zone and form a chorus line like the Rockettes.

Even worse, if the NFL allows cut–rate choreography the decay will soon travel from college to high school to Pee Wee football. Pushy parents will be sending junior to a dance teacher in the off–season to get his YouTube on.

Horn, who has some investment in showing off, says kids “like seeing the guys act a fool.” That may be correct, but the kids aren’t buying the tickets.

Montana Candidate Opens Can of Whup–ass

Rumor has it that like President–elect Trump, Congressman–elect Greg Gianforte is creating Montana jobs before he’s been administered the oath of office. The personal security industry is experiencing a mini–boom as reporters are said to be hiring bodyguards to accompany them on interviews.

Gianforte is the candidate who got all up close and personal with Ben Jacobs — a reporter for the biased, lefty British paper “The Guardian.”

According to the campaign, Gianforte was in the midst of a private interview with a Fox reporter when Jacobs opened the door and barged in. This is where the story becomes confusing for me. I formerly had honest work as a journalist. My career included small TV stations, large radio networks and the Dallas Morning News.

If I had arranged a private interview with a candidate in a race that had national attention focused on it, and another journalist butted in to my interview, the candidate wouldn’t have had time to do a thing.

I would have personally tossed the jerk out on his ear.

That’s not the way it works in today’s kinder, gentler media that reserves its attacks for conservatives. Which in this case includes the particulars of what happened. To find out details of the encounter and my insight into what probably happened, please click on the link below and visit the rest of the column at Newsmax (featuring another inexplicable headline).

https://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/acuna-election-gianforte-jacobs/2017/05/31/id/793304/

The Theater’s Alive With the Sound of Chewing

When it comes to punishing customers, movie theater owners are in the same league as airlines. Just as airline CEO’s rarely travel commercial, theater CEO’s evidently never attend a matinee.

And there lies the explanation for the repeated failure of theater owners to understand anything about their customer base. The list of management missteps includes dividing large theaters into very small “multiplexes,” where the size of the screen was only a bit larger than what families used to watch home movies.

Followed by continually increasing ticket prices and then complaining how yearly movie attendance continues to decline. And eliminating ushers and wondering why people didn’t want to buy a movie ticket to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation.

The only positive development in the last 40 years is the cup holder armrest. Everything else – larger screens, more legroom, reclining seats – are efforts to undo the damage caused by earlier bad decisions.

Adults want a large screen, comfortable seat and no distractions. If management attended movies it would know just before the movie begins seniors make one last trip to the bathroom and then the lights go down.

The idea behind darkening the interior is not to make it harder for gunmen to draw a bead on the audience – it’s to reduce distractions.

So why does theater management believe the secret to success is offering more distraction?

In the case of AMC Theaters it could be the CEO’s background. Adam Aron came from Starwood Hotels. Their movie business consisted of discovering the maximum the company could charge for cable pornography, while the customer’s movie watching experience was subject to, how shall I put this, self-imposed distractions.

Aron’s first distraction was to allow texting in “select” theaters. This is like encouraging smoking in “select” rows. Aron barely had time to bask in the glow from his announcement before AMC’s customer base rose up in revolt. He quickly withdrew the proposal, but at the time I wrote: “One can only wonder, with more than a little apprehension, what Aron’s next bright idea – no pun intended – will be.”

Now we know.

Aron’s latest innovation makes Donald Trump’s foreign policy look like it was designed by Bismark. This is fitting, since one of the centerpieces is “the Bavarian Beast.” The New York Times describes it as “a pound-and-a-half salted pretzel the size of a steering wheel.”

It’s part of Aron’s strategy to turn AMC into a food court that also to shows movies.

Patrons will long for the days when the rustle of cellophane and the occasional box of M&M’s hitting the floor were the worst annoyances.

If Aron gets his way patrons will be chowing down “a juicy chicken sandwich with waffles as buns” and “a new jalapeno-flavored Southwestern dog that’s to die for.” Lip-smacking at AMC will no longer be a descriptive term for flavor, it will be a movie-watching reality.

What he calls “Feature Fare” includes cheeseburger sliders, stone-fired pizza, chili dogs, salami bites, chicken tenders, three new popcorn flavors and hot and cold running bicarbonate.

Think of it this way. If you believe riding in American Airlines economy class during mealtime is stinky, wait until you go to the movies! I’ll bet you can hardly wait to sit next to a gourmand chowing down on an onion-chili-cheese hotdog or savoring his salami bites.

And God help us if Aron adds frijoles to the menu.

Theater management had to set movie sound systems on “stun” to overcome the clueless fools that talk during the feature. Are they going to turn the A/C up to “hurricane” to disperse odors?

It’s tough enough to eat on a plane when the lights are on, what’s it going to be like at AMC in the dark? How much of the “Bavarian Beast” is going to wind up in your lap? People won’t be wearing ponchos to keep dry in the rain, they’ll be wearing ponchos to stay clean at the movies.

And what about trash? Is the satisfied diner going to babysit meal debris until the feature is over? Heck no, he’s either going to disturb you once as he gets up to go to the garbage can and again on the return, or he’ll simply dump all the trash on the floor.

Which brings up another question: How does Aron intend to clean the theater between meals? It’s going to look like the decontamination scene in the movie “Arrival.”

It was bad enough when there was so much gum on the floor of a theater your shoes felt like magnetic boots. The day I sit in jalapeno dog droppings is the day AMC loses me as a customer, but gets my cleaning bill.

Congress Can’t Be Bothered to Close 9/11 Security Loophole

Security–conscious citizens will be startled to learn that 16 years after Saudi Arabian jihadis crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the woman who approved visas for 11 of the 19 hijackers is still on the State Department payroll.

Even better, PJMedia.com reports, Shayna Steinger now works as a Foreign Service officer for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. There her crack diagnostic and investigative abil

ities will be put to use preventing “the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”

Something tells me both Iran and North Korea are lobbying to have her assigned as their nation’s senior case officer.

Steinger may a clueless cog in the machine who didn’t have the decency to resign, but her departure would have only been symbolic. The resignations we really need are the 535 members of Congress that allowed the visa loophole the Saudis exploited on 9/11 to remain open until today.

AP reports 740,000 foreigners overstayed their visa in the period from October 2015 until September 2016. And that only includes travelers that arrived by airplane or ship. It doesn’t include foot traffic.

That’s approximately 200,000 higher than in 2015. And it’s an incredible 314 percent increase over the number in 2001 when the US first learned cost of not monitoring those who begin their residence in the US by breaking the law.

 Is there a solution? Yes and it may involve people who answer to the name, “Dog.” To find out more, please click on the link to my complete Newsmax column:

https://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/ap-loophole-visa/2017/05/24/id/792044/

 

Sometimes Saving Money Is Rocket Science

It’s ironic Elon Musk, one of America’s premier subsidy farmers, is also a perfect example of the difference between the private sector approach to cost and the government’s. Musk differs from earlier entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford who became wealthy by building a better mousetrap. Musk became wealthy by harvesting government subsidies.

The LA Times ran the numbers and Musk’s Tesla Motors, SolarCity Corp and Space X “have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support.”

The best part about subsidy farming, as opposed to wheat farming, is that Musk isn’t required to make a profit. Tesla and SolarCity have been in business for ten years and neither has made so much as a dime.

Even more galling, much of Musk’s subsidies go to benefit one–percenter Global Warming hobbyists. Tesla buyers receive a $7,500 federal income tax credit for purchasing a new hummer that costs up to $135,000. One reason the average household income of Tesla customers is $320,000.

The one company that isn’t a subsidy vacuum is where Musk wields a sharp pencil. SpaceX has received a paltry $15 million in subsidies and much of that came from Texas when it built a launch pad. Sure Musk has $5.5 billion in government contracts with NASA and the Air Force, but he has to perform to get the money.

Musk’s lesson is his approach to recycling. When NASA was king, boosters were fire and forget. That works fine with a mortar, but applied to sending men to the moon, costs add up fast.

If you tossed the station wagon after every visit to see grandma it wouldn’t be long before the kids had only a hazy memory of what the old girl looked like. The same applies to the moon. Space priced itself out of even the federal market.

Reusing boosters would have saved money but the suggestion was viewed as crazy talk. For the bureaucrat a reusing boosters is all cost and no benefit. There are no awards in the federal service for saving money. Someone looking to spend less is not a team player, since leftover money in the budget means Congress won’t give the agency as much next year.

Recognition in the bureaucracy goes to the functionary that invents a new program with new spending, not the green–eyeshade who finds a way to do more with less. Besides the potential for bad publicity should a recycled rocket cause a mission to fail was a risk not worth taking.

That’s why SpaceX’s March 30 launch was such a milestone. It successfully launched a communication satellite into Earth orbit perched atop a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage that had already been launched once and recovered.

Ray Lugo, who directed NASA science missions, told Florida Today, “It’s potentially a big cost-saver and it will make a difference, provided you can re-fly multiple times. If this works, over the long term it will be difficult for anyone that throws boosters away to compete.”

At least as far as SpaceX is concerned, Musk is now a money–saving fool. That launch also saw a first time recovery of the nose cone. Musk evidently had to fight NASA thinking. According to the Daily Mail, Musk ordered his engineering team to make the attempt, “Imagine you had $6 million in cash on a pallet flying through the air that’s just going to smash into the ocean. Would you try to recover that? Yes, you would.”

Maybe in the private sector, but the feds would be worried about Greenpeace activists if a fish died during recovery.

This is what competition does. Musk launches now have a cost advantage over those of Jeff Bezos, who has yet to recover a booster. Another former NASA administrator estimates SpaceX can cut 75 percent of the cost of a rocket by reusing boosters.

Musk is already offering launch discounts to customers who opt for recycled boosters.

His goal is for each booster to be used between 10 and 100 times with an additional goal of being ready to launch after a one–day turn around. That’s three times better than the turnaround time of an F-35, which under Pentagon management requires three days between sorties.

The case against privatization is always put in terms of there are just some things that only government can do, like space flight. Only, our government isn’t doing space flight anymore, because it priced itself out of the market.

The market rewards efficiency and innovation, while government rewards government employees.

It’s not rocket science to conclude if the market can bring down the cost of space travel, it can certainly bring down the cost of health insurance.

But if Congress won’t give the market a chance, the solution isn’t Musk’s recycling. It’s NASA’s fire and forget.