Dr. Dao’s Loss Was Our Gain

The saga of former United Airlines customer Dr. David Dao is getting more and more expensive for the airline. According to the Daily Mail, he didn’t get home with all his teeth or his baggage. It seems that although United’s O’Hare Airport staff had time to order Dao beaten, which caused the loss of two teeth, they didn’t have time to take his luggage off the plane before it departed.

Maybe the baggage compartment isn’t subject to being oversold.

After the incident United CEO Oscar Munoz evidently decided to emulate Jim Carrey in the movie “Liar, Liar” and kick his own a**. He issued a number of news releases and endured a series of interviews that only served to illustrate the truth of the old public relations adage: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

First Munoz contended the 69–year–old doctor was “belligerent.” Then Bloomberg reports that Munoz said no United employees would lose their job or be punished in the wake of the incident. “It was a system failure across various areas, so there was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it,” he explained.

Although accurate, the statement doesn’t begin to address all of United’s legal problems. Dao was bumped because of what was termed at the time an “oversold” condition. The contract United customers enter into and never read when they buy a ticket addresses “denied boarding” on an oversold flight. United’s enormous liability problem is Dao wasn’t denied boarding; he was boarded and seated on the aircraft, so the contract provisions no longer applied.

After the initial death–by–streaming the video caused, United clarified the situation. Their particularly aggressive brand of musical chairs wasn’t caused by overbooking. United needed to move a crew of four to Louisville for a flight the next day and Dao was in the fourth seat.

Now there are many examples of passengers being beaten during their commute. An entire train was hijacked in Oakland just this week. But Dao may be the first person in history who was beaten so someone else could commute.

What many people don’t know about the airline business is many, if not most, of their cabin crews don’t live near the airports where they’re assigned. Crews flying out of Louisville may choose to live in a happenin’ city like Chicago, since the airborne commute is free. Dao’s teeth–rattling adventure could well have been the result of a lifestyle choice by the cabin crew in question. A tidbit that will cost even more if the case goes to trial.

The airline’s “system failure” was a pennywise–and–pound–foolish approach to overbooking. United supports the free market when it helps to make money, but dislikes the market when it costs money.

United began the market–based bidding process by offering $400 to passengers, but there were no takers. Then United offered $800. When that didn’t work the bidding was abruptly closed.

The supervisor hadn’t even gone up to the $1,350 maximum compensation required by law when he awarded Dao a free trip to Fist City.

And this is where the doctor’s loss becomes our gain.

Delta Airlines saw the post–knockout $1.4 billion drop in United’s stock price and decided to expand its auction for oversold seats. The Daily Caller reports Delta gate agents can now offer up to $2,000 in compensation and ground supervisors can go up to $9,950.

Now United is following Delta’s lead.

I’m a very satisfied Premier 1K flyer with United and today I received an email acknowledgement from Munoz that admits, “Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.”

To show Dr. Dao didn’t bleed in vain, in the future United “will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000.” Now the only violence in the cabin during an overbooked event will be when passengers didn’t think a volunteer held out for enough money and reduced compensation for the rest of the volunteers.

Even better, United now has a “no–questions–asked” $1,500 reimbursement policy for misplaced baggage. So if Dr. Dao’s new dentures are lost during a future flight he won’t have to supply the baggage supervisor with a cast of his teeth.

This is the most customer–oriented policy change that I can remember in the airline industry and we owe it all to Dr. Dao. I would almost suggest we start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the good doctor’s physical therapy and PTSD sessions to demonstrate our gratitude.

But something tells me that after either the settlement talks or the trial concludes, Dr. Dao will have so much money he won’t be participating in any seat auctions regardless of how high the bidding goes.

United Airlines Package Tours Now Include Hospitalization!

I’m old enough to remember when the United Airlines slogan was: “Fly the Friendly Skies of United.” Now, according to Twitter wag GoodJuJu, the new motto is: “Our Service Will Knock You Out!”

It’s a cinch the passengers on United Express Flight 3411 got more than they bargained for — I knew United was upgrading seating and entertainment on those annoying puddle–jumper jets, but that floor show looked like a Trump rally!

CEO Oscar Munoz’ response to the incident was so inept he may as well have let the cop who cold–cocked the passenger handle the news conferences. At least that guy had some impact. The only mistake Munoz didn’t make was announcing that in the future all United passengers will be required to turn their cell phones off when they get a boarding pass.

Munoz began Unitedsplaining by blaming 69–year–old Dr. David Dao for all the trouble, claiming he was “belligerent.”

Alternate motto: If You Don’t Need a Wheelchair Before You Board, You May Need One After!

As a PR person I could have told Munoz he was going to have trouble selling that when Dr. Dao was an elderly, paid up, sober and seated passenger who just wanted to go home. On Monday a man claiming to be a United Express pilot called the Rush Limbaugh Show and, displaying the same concern for the paying customer that Munoz has, said, “Flying is a privilege.”

For pilots, yes. For passengers, no.

Flying for a passenger is a commercial transaction; not a boon bestowed on an unworthy recipient. In this case the good doctor’s “privilege” was revoked for because plane was overbooked.

Overbooking occurs when the airline sells the same seat more than once. The practice received official approval back when the Civil Aeronautics Board regulated airlines. (You can only sell a single item to multiple buyers when the government approves — think chair in a VA hospital waiting room — otherwise you go to jail.)

Then airlines lost money when a passenger called to make a reservation and didn’t show up, because the booked seat remained empty. This may be hard for modern consumers to believe, but back in those days a passenger would make a reservation and get a seat assignment WITHOUT PAYING A DIME! If he changed his mind at the last minute the airline lost money.

Even if the spontaneous passenger paid before changing his mind, it was easy to get a refund and fly another time.

Meanwhile, the market changed but government hasn’t. Why does that sound familiar? Passengers now pay extra to make a reservation on the phone, many tickets are non–refundable and the ones are refundable have a $250 change fee, plus added fare if the new flight is more expensive.

Even if overbooking was justifiable, United’s implementation wasn’t. Like many corporations United supports the free market when it helps make money, but dislikes the market when it costs money.

Airlines raise prices as flight times approach because the few remaining seats are more valuable, but it wants to put a lid on prices when it needs to buy the seats back. Here United needed four seats and it began the bidding at $400 and a free hotel room with meal vouchers, if the passengers gave up their seats.

That was too low, so the offer was increased to $800.

Still no takers, but instead of going up to $1,200 to see if that would bring demand in line with supply, the airline bypassed the market and decided to use force.

That money–saving decision that cost United $1.4 billion in stock valuation after the public became aware of the incident.

Overbooking, like free checked bags, is a relic of the past. When fans don’t show up for football games the team loses out on parking and concession revenue, but even rapacious Dan Snyder doesn’t overbook Redskins’ games.

If overbooking is allowed to continue it should be as a percentage of the load factor and airlines should be required to keep bidding until passengers relinquish their seats voluntarily, not at gunpoint.

The load factor for domestic flights has been on a steady climb since 2002, when it was 70.4 percent. So far in 2017 the load factor is 84.6 percent. Jet fuel prices are down and ticket sales are up. It’s a wonder United has any frustrations to take out on passengers.

I’ve flown United since it was called Continental. It’s my airline of choice and my frequent flyer level is so high, there’s no chance of me being bumped. But I will say this: In the future if I were a physician, I’d think twice before answering when a flight attendant asks, “Is there a doctor on board?”

Business Learns Trump Giveth and Trump Taketh Away

Conservatives always knew Trump’s policies would be a dog’s breakfast of competing initiatives and impulsive proposals. His State of the Administration speech only served to confirm it.

There were solid assurances to reestablish the rule of law and promises to develop a “historic” tax reform program that will make US businesses more competitive with other countries.

Unfortunately, waiting for tax reform from a Republican Congress that supports business because it makes campaign contributions and ignores competition because it doesn’t, is like waiting for a pause in an Obama monologue.

Rather than wait, Trump issued an order that requires the executive branch to remove two old regulations for every new one it issues.

That’s a great start; although something tells me at least initially the regulations deleted are going to be those covering the sodium content of salt pork issued to the Army of the Potomac.

But how does removing burdensome regulations on US business square with requiring those same businesses to provide paid family leave? I know it’s a logical progression from universal Pre–K, which is taxpayer–funded daycare, to paying mothers to raise their own babies, but it’s not logical for Republicans trying to make America competitive.

Trump’s new Commissar of Motherhood is going to be regulating up a storm. What number employees is the cutoff for coverage? Will men get to take advantage of paid leave? What about men who can’t decide if they are a man or a woman? Can homosexuals take off to raise a surrogate child? Is a polygamist limited to children from one wife or do all qualify? Does a mother of twins get twice as much leave? Can a divorced husband take off if he still gets along with the ex–wife and she has a child? Will leave only apply to immediate family or will it be like chain immigration and apply to cousins, uncles and people with similar last names?

Do mothers who abort their child get time off to sooth a guilty conscience? How long does the leave last? If a woman gives birth to a girl and a few years later she decides she’s a boy, can mom take another leave to help with the transition? If a woman adopts an infant, does she qualify? If a woman serves as a surrogate mother can she take paid leave, too?

Will the payment be a percentage of salary or a fixed rate? Will there be a means test? How about a citizenship test? Does a woman continue to earn seniority as she cares for junior? Does the leave clock for a premie start when the child was born or when it should have been born? If a mother’s state already has a paid leave program does she have to choose one or can she double–dip?

Just answering those few questions will generate reams of regulations. Will the Commissar get a free pass on the new one–for–two regulatory rule and start from scratch? Or will he have to persuade other agencies to donate old regulations he can sacrifice on the altar of red tape?

I’m sorry, but this has Ivanka’s fingerprints all over it and no one that I know of voted for her.

This program better left to the states. California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island already have leave programs. The other states are free to follow their lead and burden their businesses, too.

This is not to say I downplay the importance of motherhood. I don’t. Conservatives put much more emphasis on the nurturing of the nuclear family than the left does. Strong families build a strong society.

Let’s say Virginia, where I live, wanted to encourage working mothers to stay home with their children for the first three months. I could support a plan that takes inspiration from the foster parent program.

Virginia pays foster parents $462 a month for children under age four. It could start a new Leg Up on Life program that pays working mothers a similar amount for the first three months of the child’s life. This encourages mothers to take time off from work to establish a relationship with the newborn and removes some of the financial pressure.

In the interest of equity I would allow both working and non–working women to be eligible. In the interest of keeping the program simple, the payment would not be means tested. If women already had paid leave from their place of employment, they could collect both payments.

This program has the advantage of being simple, non–federal and no burden on business. It encourages mothers without discouraging job creation. Best of all it doesn’t establish a federal entitlement Democrats could increase at some time in the future, like Trump’s does.

Ordering Dinner With a Side of Sanctimony

A nationwide group of restaurants is now offering diners a chance to stick it to the man while simultaneously putting the fork to their tofu. Those of you who’ve wanted to join a great moral crusade, but never got around to cleaning up the basement and inviting a Syrian “refugee” to move in, can now eat locally and be served globally.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United has launched a “Sanctuary Restaurant” movement for eatery owners who want to stay current with the latest moral–posturing on illegal immigration.

Now diners in New York, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston, Oakland, California and Ann Arbor, MN may encounter a sign in their local bistro that reads, “Sanctuary Restaurant: A place at the table for everyone.”

I suppose if the establishment adheres to a dining policy that’s anything like Obama’s immigration policy, the sign means when an illegal sits down at your table for lunch, you’ll be picking up the tab.

This is why I like eating at Red Robin. Management doesn’t spend time trying to demonstrate its empathy and there’s an E–Verify sign on the front door that means everyone working in the restaurant is legally in the US.

That certainly isn’t the case even in non–“sanctuary restaurants.” A diner at a Virginia Chipotle would have a better chance of sharing a meal with Hillary Clinton than being served by a citizen.

According to WNYW, “Roughly 80 restaurants are participating” in this low–level criminal conspiracy to harbor lawbreakers and obstruct justice. The idea is to publically position management as social justice warriors, while privately protecting their profit margin by keeping their illegals working for wages citizens won’t accept.

At least 1.3 million illegals are working in the restaurant industry and the wage exploiters hiring them tell Washington they need a “robust pool of workers,” which really means a cheap pool of workers. Just like Georgia plantation owners, whoops, make that commercial farmers warn that fruit will rot in the fields if they can’t pay Juarez wages to Juan, restaurant owners predict food will sit uncooked and unserved if diners expect to be attended by citizens.

Naturally, that’s not how participants describe the conspiracy. Oh–so–compassionate backers want Trump to “alleviate the fear of deportation and other harassment” for illegals. The goal is to “protect” the illegals, but from what? Heartburn? E.coli? Paying for Trump’s wall? Their authority to write policy ends with the menu.

Instead they come off sounding like the prayer in Luke 18:11 where the Pharisee loudly proclaims: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers or deportation supporters.”

I wonder if dining–while–smug patrons have thought their choice though. Patronizing a business harboring criminals has a potential downside. Management may draw the line at breaking immigration law, but there’s no evidence the staff won’t be tempted to branch out. Once they’ve violated the border, what’s a little identity theft or trafficking in stolen credit card numbers?

And if management opposes sending the help back to their home countries, what’s the policy on sending a bad meal back to the kitchen?

One thing is different in “sanctuary restaurants.” Instead of giving patrons a signaling device that glows and vibrates when their table is ready, the staff carries the black box and the premises clear out if an ICE agent enters

“Sanctuary restaurants” give the staff “know your rights training” and webinars on how to demand the feds produce some paperwork before a raid. The conspirators are also supposed to adopt “anti–discrimination policies” that I suppose mean if a Trump supporter mistakenly wanders in and orders in English he has a 50–50 chance of being served.

The fact that an organization supporting millions of illegal aliens, who continue to defy the law, can describe enforcing immigration law as “harassment” and publically recruit other businesses to join the conspiracy, without any fear of legal repercussion, is a stark indication of how official support for the rule of law has collapsed in favor of the rule of feelings.

Illegal immigration may be the hope for the future of the Democrat party and the secret shame of RINO Republicans, but I can guarantee you his promise to enforce the law is one of the main reasons Trump won.

Aside from waiting for food that’s never served, the other bugaboo of the anti–deportation crowd is higher prices. They claim if xenophobes insist on forcing restaurants to hire citizens, then prices are going up, because those sorts of people won’t work for Karjackistan wages.

For me, that’s no deterrent at all. If the choice is between paying a buck more for a hamburger or doing away with press one for English,” well, here’s your dollar.

NFL Advertisers Open Re–Education Camp for Fans

When I made political commercials I was often asked what the difference was between political ads and commercial ads. There are many similarities: Exaggerated benefits, bait and switch promises and sleazy, egomaniacal clients; but the main difference is political ads must make all the sales on a single day.

It’s Black Friday, After Christmas, White Sale, Tech Monday and Fire–Blazing Prices all taking place in a compressed 14–hour day with an unalterable deadline.

super-bowl-gagaSo you can imagine my surprise as I watched Super Bowl LI and saw millions of dollars of in–kind advertising for Hillary three months after the election!

I thought the left wanted to overturn Citizens United and get corporate money out of politics. Yet there was on corporate Super PAC ad after another. The only difference being instead of a brief title card at the end with “Paid for by Committee to Crush Republicans” the identification was for Audi, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and KIA, among others.

None of the subject matter had much to do with the products marketed by the companies footing the bill, although the Audi spot did have wheels. Instead the ads were what marketers call “borrowed interest.” Only in this instance they were borrowing the interest of topics that appeal to only half the country and insult the other.

Celebrity endorsement ads are all borrowed interest and potentially risky, particularly if RGIII was your celebrity. But when your borrowed interest ad involves borrowing Chuck Schumer’s thumb to stick in the eye of potential customers, it’s time to re–think your marketing strategy.

Or better yet, the customer’s buying philosophy.

You can discover the three ads I thought were by far the worst, along with my play–by–play when you click on the Newsmax.com link below:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/super-bowl-reeducation-camp-commercial-84-lumber/2017/02/08/id/772562/

 

Flyers Progress from Passengers to Freight

More foreigners are complaining about discrimination and Donald Trump hasn’t even taken the oath of office. This time it’s Samoans, which I always thought were New Zealand’s problem, but evidently are ours.

The Telegraph reports two businessmen “filed complaints to the US Transportation Department after they were weighed before boarding a flight from Honolulu – and assigned specific seats to keep the aircraft’s load evenly distributed.”

passenger-sizing-boxOne of the weighees, claims the rule is “discriminatory because it only applies to those flying to or from American Samoa,” which pretty much proves his claim false, since a rule that applies to everyone by definition can’t be discrimination.

Hawaiian Airlines is fighting obesity — or at least poking it in the side — in two ways. First passengers flying to or from Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, are barred from selecting seats online and must endure the instrumental version of “Fat–Bottomed Girls” while completing their purchase. Later at the airport everyone is weighed before boarding.

This fact alone creates a mental picture of American Samoa that’s not appealing and pretty much flies in the face of all Pacific tourism advertising. If you’re getting the feeling it would require a tarpaulin rather than a sarong to cover the women of Samoa, you’re correct.

The CIA has done research into the topic — why fight hard–to–find ISIS when it’s so much easier to locate the obese — and its World Factbook informs us American Samoa has the highest rate of obesity in the world.

And this is without a single Old Country Buffet location on the entire island.

The spooks found 74.6 percent of the population comes in the large economy size. But since Samoans haven’t stopped eating since 2008 when the research was done, more current estimates “claim the obesity rate could now be as high as 94 percent.”

Since Jenny Craig’s nation–building effort has evidently failed, the airline was forced to weigh all passengers in the balance. “Our aircraft cabin weight was heavier than projected. This requires us to manage the distribution of weight across each row in our cabin and we have elected to do so by making sure that one seat in each row is either empty or occupied by a traveller under the age of 13,” a spokesman explained.

Samoa Air, which competes on the same route, came up with a solution in 2013 that’s completely neutral. It determines all passenger fares based on weight. Wikipedia ran the numbers and the program works like this: “The fare is calculated by multiplying a base fare (depending on the route flown) by the total weight of the passenger plus their luggage. So a passenger flying from Apia to Asau weighing 176 lbs. and carrying 45 lbs. of luggage would pay $132 for the flight (220 lbs. x $1.32 base fare), while another passenger weighing 132 lbs. and traveling without luggage would pay $79.20 for the same flight. Children are charged in the same way at a 75 percent rate.”

That’s a much more equitable fare structure. I think the bodybuilder that weighs 300 lbs. should pay a premium just like the couch potato who weighs 300 lbs. Right now flying in the US is airborne Obamacare only in this instance smaller people’s ticket prices are subsidizing larger people.

On second thought, here on the ground a lot of the pre–existing condition class is made up of people who annex your armrest when you share a row. And to add insult to injury they often claim a disability and board early, getting your overhead space, too.

Weighing passengers is certainly less punitive than the baggage–sizing boxes at the gate. Sadistic gate agents know any bag larger than an Altoids box won’t fix in those Iron Maidens, which are designed solely to force passengers to check bags.

A slight modification to Samoa’s idea would make the fares more palatable for US flyers. Airlines could publish height and weight ranges for passengers. I was 6 feet tall before I got married and my wife crushed my spirit. That height and my 186 lbs. puts me squarely in the 160 — 196 lb. range for males, so no extra charge for me, but if I was over then it’s only fair to add to the fare.

If a passenger is below their weight range and able to get down the Jetway unassisted then I think a rebate is in order.

The only downside to a weight–based fare structure is it would encourage parents to ship their kids more frequently. I can’t decide which is worse: A dormant obese person passively invading my space, or a juvenile kicking the back of my seat.

NFL Owners Can Afford to Build Their Own Stadium

Shocking election development in San Diego. Football one–percenters discovered the people who sweep NFL luxury boxes aren’t willing to subsidize box owners.

Nestled far under the existential choice of Trump or Hillary on the local ballot was Measure C. The Babbits in city hall thought “C” was a chance to raise money for their legacy by taxing tourists and Trump voters and using the windfall to build a new palace for the San Diego Chargers.

san-diego-chokers-chargers-nflPoliticians love hotel taxes because this levy is the embodiment of taxation without representation.

Hotel taxes are municipal add–ons at the bottom of the bill. The people victimized by this scam are all from someplace else. No one who pays the tax, with the exception of a few local adulterers, has any say in the political process or a means of punishing the politicians.

This tax is so repercussion–free I’m surprised politicians aren’t riffling through tourist’s wallets as they clear baggage claim at the airport.

Call it another populist revolt or a driverlash against the Charger’s $75 parking fee; either way voters didn’t view increasing this tax as a victimless crime.

Measure C asked voters to boost the city’s hotel room tax from an unconscionable 12.5 percent to a confiscatory 16.5 percent. The additional gouge would raise money to fund $1.5 billion in bonds for a new stadium and convention center.

The rest of the cost would be covered by selling organs belonging to people who complained about the tax. Or, maybe it was to be covered by a love offering of $650 million from the NFL and the Chargers; I forget which.

Passing a tax increase, even on strangers, is never a sure thing and it was tougher in this instance because a tax increase for a specific project must be passed by a majority of two–thirds of the voters. Politicians always on the make for tax dollars to fund their “legacy” don’t like letting the public vote in the first place and a super majority is even worse.

So they snuck Measure D on the ballot with a smaller tax increase for no specific reason — wink, wink — that only required a simple majority to pass.

And both measures went down to a resounding defeat. Measure C by a total of 57 to 43 percent and Measure D — only requiring the simple majority — was thrashed even worse: 60 to 40 percent.

The sports shill for the San Diego Tribune couldn’t believe it, “The defeat of C in no way reflected on the chances of a different proposal getting a simple majority.” Except it did since voters also delivered a crackback block to Measure D. Now he’s hoping for pressure on “the dawdling obstructionists in our local government.”

I suppose that includes voters, too.

Maybe next season the Chargers will make fans go through airport metal detectors, search their bags and confiscate any water, soda or snacks they brought from home. Wait, the NFL already does that. The only physical pressure left is locking the bathrooms.

In all the discussion of the options open to the Chargers, which include shacking up with the Rams in LA at their taxapalooza of a stadium or wasting voter’s time with yet another vote, the owner paying for his own dang stadium is never mentioned.

It’s like the topic is something polite people simply don’t discuss, but since the NFL owner keeps the profit, shouldn’t he bear the risk.

Taxpayers in other cities that paid for stadiums often discover they are still paying long after the team departed. In New York when the Giants decamped for New Jersey taxpayers were still paying off $110 million in debt on the old stadium. St. Louis just lost the Rams, but they didn’t lose $144 million in stadium debt the team left behind.

Another topic seldom mentioned is what a bad deal taxpayer–funded stadiums are. Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University, says that in spite of what stadium boosters claim, “There is no [economic] impact.

A baseball team [with ten times the number of home games as a football team] has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store.”

Yet I don’t know of any city that is rallying voters to pay for a new Belk’s.

Then again maybe the “no” vote wasn’t an economic decision at all. Maybe the NFL is reaping what it has sown. Attending a game in person is volunteering to be fleeced. Expensive tickets, expensive parking, expensive mandatory concessions and excessive consumption of your time is simply too much, regardless of how lavishly taxpayers have furnished the stadium.

It’s easier and cheaper to watch the game at home.

Target “Solution” Adds Uncertainty to Bathroom Etiquette

There’s an interesting controversy contrast between two of America’s leading retailers. Walmart controversies typically occur out in the parking lot and are signaled by raised voices or the occasional gunshot.

Walmart executive involvement is normally limited to calling 9–1–1.

chuck-norris-man-in-womans-bodyTarget controversies take place inside and are kicked off when an ever–vigilant socialist media commissar spots a political correctness violation. Target honchos actively participate in both the cause and the occasional apology.

A few of Target’s more recent sensibility offenses include:

  • A T–shirt boasting the word “Trophy” on the front. (I think the fact it didn’t come in XXX–Large had something to do with it, too.)
  • A Christmas T–shirt that read: “OCD Obsessive Christmas Disorder.”
  • Another T–shirt that replaced Princess Leia with Luke Skywalker.
  • A Photoshopped swimsuit ad that gave a young girl a “thigh gap” and an arm long enough for an Orangutan.

Customers should have gotten an inkling Target wasn’t content to confine the outrage to haberdashery when the “Boy’s Bedding” signs were changed to “Kid’s Bedding” and other departments were put on notice by the company newsletter that, “our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.”

Fortunately those uproars were mostly optional. The Angel of Outrage passed over if you didn’t buy the T–shirt and you could always purchase Roscoe’s Star Wars sheets at Walmart. Assuming you made it through the parking lot.

Target’s latest internally–generated outrage has the potential to affect any customer who just finished a Big Gulp prior to shopping. Bulk bathrooms —that serve more than one customer simultaneously — are now gender fluid. Nathans who feel nelly can enter the bathroom of their choice.

Target PR flacks assured the Washington Post that some customers “are really supportive.” I suppose that includes the Idaho man arrested in a female fitting room — he was feeling frilly that day — while he took photos of the woman in changing in the next cubicle.

Personally I’ve always felt anyone was welcome to join me in the men’s room if you can use the urinal without sitting in it.

Others are less supportive.

The American Family Association decided this was the straw that broke the toilet paper dispenser. It launched a nationwide #BoycottTarget campaign in response to what it termed a “dangerous” bathroom and changing room policy. In no time at all women threw down their “Trophy” T–shirts and demanded Target conduct its outreach to the mentally ill in a location that didn’t involve baring your behind.

Normally, trendy retailers consider offending Christians one of the perks of being in business. What fun is it if you can’t poke the Bible–beaters in the eye once in a while? I’ll bet it was was all Baptists and tranny jokes in the break room until the sales figures rolled in.

Home Depot had “robust earnings” and the National Retail Federation “revised its forecasts upward.” In contrast, Target sales down by 7.2 percent and foot traffic declined for the first time in two years.

The only area to show any increase was online sales, where customers are pretty sure who is sharing the bathroom with them.

Did the Christians finally win one? Did the almost 1.5 million signers of the boycott petition make a difference?

Target says no. “It’s difficult to tease out one thing that’s driving results.” But if that’s the case why is Target now spending $20 million to add one–holer bathrooms to all its stores? These bathrooms are specifically designed to accommodate female shoppers who don’t want to play stall roulette.

The only downside I see is most American’s aren’t prepared for a return to 1960’s gas station bathroom etiquette. Back then there was many a time when I’d shot the bolt on a restroom door only to be interrupted shortly thereafter by a tentative jiggling of the door handle.

What to do? Maintain a discrete silence and hope they go away? Try to concentrate on the business at hand and clear out quickly? Before I could make up my mind they usually escalated by knocking.

Now I’m wondering: What are they thinking? The door is obviously locked. If it locked accidentally, knocking isn’t going to solve their problem. And since the bathroom is occupied, do they expect me say, “Hey, come on in, I’ll slide over and you can join me!”

Target runs the risk of today’s unfamiliar customers being so deferential they cross their legs and wait in agony before a door that’s merely closed.

Maybe the situation calls for another T–shirt, this time reading: “I used the bathroom at Target & survived!”

Another Way Citizen’s Pay for Illegal Aliens

The Shannon family’s latest unexpected encounter with federal immigration policy couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. Here it is almost tax day and my daughter is hit with an unexpected HOLA! bill. That’s HOLA as in Hidden Outlay for Left’s Amnesty.

illegal-alien-path-to-citizenshipMy daughter is driving along in Dallas and as she proceeds through an intersection, her car is T–boned by a red–light–running illegal alien who’s here to cause the car crashes Americans don’t want to cause.

Jessica instantly finds herself wrapped in a soft cushion of government mandates and protection as every airbag on the driver’s side explodes. Once the balloons deflate, she calls 9–1–1.

Dallas is a Sanctuary City and investigating citizen Vs. illegal car crashes is no problemo. Since the INS won’t be involved this time the automovilista doesn’t choose to flee the scene. No driver’s license or other form of legal identification means the officer takes down whatever alias the illegal is using that day and issues Jose two tickets. (Que lastima! More government paperwork!) Those are tickets that will never be paid, but that’s not the officer’s concern.

No need for the tedious exchange of insurance information and arguments over penmanship because the Mexican export not only has an aversion to government documentation, he also eschews insurance company certificates. Leaving the officer free to answer the next call.

The paying begins as Jessica experiences first hand the hidden cost of undermining the rule of law. Here is a brief rundown of some of the expenses imposed on a citizen, first–year school teacher by the Democrat’s plan to change the electorate and the RINO conspiracy to import Central America’s wages.

First, Jessica’s car is totaled. If she’d won the locomotion lottery and been hit by a citizen, their insurance would have paid her deductible. But in a no papers, no policy situation she’s out the entire amount. Next she’ll be spending hours negotiating a deal on a new car. The longer that takes, the more she pays for the rental car she driving in the interim.

Once she makes the deal, it’s time to pay sales and property taxes on her new ride. Taxes Jessica assumed were years away, with a car less than three years old, until she had a personal encounter with Obama’s border policy.

Long term, the accident will be costing her every month in the form of higher insurance rates for a crash she didn’t cause.

This isn’t our family’s first head–on with illegals on wheels. A drunk Mexican illegal killed my dear friend and cycling coach, while she was on her bicycle training a client. After we moved to Virginia another acquaintance from our gym was — you guessed it — killed by a drunk–driving illegal. And a little over a year ago I was rear ended by an anchor baby with no insurance.

My car survived and my daughter did, too, so I’m counting my blessings.

Increased transportation costs aren’t the only HOLA charges. At a nearby elementary school there’s no money for a math specialist, but there are four English as a second language teachers with a fifth on the way.

Residents without children are paying higher property taxes to fund soaring school budgets as our classrooms educate and often feed Honduras’ best.

All this is invisible to Washington and ignored by ethnic enablers already in office because they simply could care less. Citizens who play by the rules are bearing the brunt of the elites’ open border policy.

John “The Apostle” Kasich tells us you can’t deport illegals because “it would break up families.” Marco Amnesty claims “law abiding” illegals will have a chance for permanent residency.

What none of the amnesty supporters tell you is Jessica’s collision buddy qualifies for amnesty under that framework. The two traffic tickets he won’t pay are driving infractions and not criminal violations. As far as Obama and the RINOs are concerned he has the same claim on citizenship as Jessica does.

I’m tired of all the hand–wringing over illegal’s families. How about some outrage over the damage this slow–motion erosion of our American culture is doing? Illegals choose to come here and they can bear the consequences. Citizens certainly have.

As far as I’m concerned if Uncle Sam put a man on the moon, he can return a Mexican to Mexico.

Robot Buses & Lord of the Rings

A reporter at the Dailydot.com writes “We’re one step closer to the automated bus future of our dreams,” which tells you something about the content of nerd fantasies.

Mercedes Benz is currently testing its “Future Bus” that’s described as “an autonomous, self-driving bus that can navigate complicated routes without the aid of a human being.” The most recent test took the bus from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam 12 miles down the road to Haarlem.

Some customers are complaining about the fit & finish on Mercedes' new driverless bus.

Some customers are complaining about the fit & finish on Mercedes’ new driverless bus.

The Benz bus successfully negotiated stoplights and a tunnel while avoiding bicycles and marijuana peddlers. Naturally Dailydot types can hardly wait for the auto–bus to roll out worldwide, but I’m not so sure. Tech nerds think swapping human control for silicon control is a great idea.

While I’m picturing a 42,000–pound robot battering ram.

Just picture Grond — the battering ram used on the gates of Minas Tirith in “Return of the King” — hurtling your way because the software mistook your dark gray car for a particularly lumpy stretch of asphalt.

Sure the law requires a human driver be present at all times, just like the Tesla autopilot setting warns drivers to continue paying attention to the road while the Model S hums along. The designer’s childlike optimism in human nature expects someone who paid $70,000 for a car to sit glued to the windshield watching The Highway Channel, without even a commercial to break the tedium.

Test observations show the first thing the driver does after engaging the autopilot is to take his eyes off the road and leave the driving to Musk. The Benz bus “driver” will be using his cellphone, sending text messages and surfing the web, just like Metro drivers do everyday on Washington, DC’s no–tech busses.

I’m not certain what goal the robot bus is designed to achieve, other than increasing the boredom quotient found in unskilled labor. Replacing a human driver with no social skills with a robot with no social skills is hardly going to cause a rebirth in wheeled mass transportation.

Happenin’ people don’t think it’s cool to ride buses. Mental associations triggered by thinking of bus rides include being trapped with bullies on the way to school, prison transport and taking seniors to church. In my recollection the only instance where buses were cool was during the brief interval The Who’s “Magic Bus” was on the Top 40 charts and that was 46 years ago.

Heretofore the closest most US drivers came to auto automation was when they engaged the cruise control, although for a surprising number of “undocumented” motorists, it’s when they breathe into the ignition interlock.

Cruise control eliminated the number one cause of stress behind the wheel: Speeding tickets. Before the invention of cruise, keeping it under the limit was so exhausting I could barely stay awake. Now I’m Reddy Kilowatt behind the wheel.

Ford tried to “enhance” the cruise experience with something called “adaptive cruise control.” This additional automation is like putting your mother in the back seat. All it does is give you motion sickness as the adaptor cuts your speed each time someone cuts you off in traffic.

There are also sinister implications to self–driving vehicles that news coverage ignores.

Most systems involve linking the car to a nationwide network, which makes it very easy for Big Brother or Big Hillary to monitor where and when you go.

Speaking of sinister, China is currently working on a self–driving car, too. Their model will take dissidents to the concentration camp at the touch of a button, without tying up valuable personnel during transport. Security officers can be breaking up the next Falun Gong meeting while the first class enemy is still enjoying his ride.

The civilian model is rumored to have an optional feature that automatically rolls the window down when passengers turn their heads to spit.

Reuters puts a nice spin on living in a totalitarian state when it says China has “regulatory structure that could put it ahead in the popular adoption of autonomous cars on its highways and city streets.”

Persuading Chinese consumers to buy or even ride in a car with no way to open the doors from the inside may require some patriotic exhortation. Or a few visits to a self–criticism session.

Still Li Yusheng, head of the autonomous auto program at Chongqing Changan, remains optimistic, “If we can convince the government that every company, every car on the road must use this (single standard) … then there is a chance China can beat the rest of the world”

And if they can just lure Mercedes into building a plant in China they can steal the blueprints in no time.