Finally! Democrats Support Cutting Off the Money

It hasn’t made the national news (except for this column) but for a brief time it looked like Democrats around our nation’s capital were going to accept the fact the federal government can withhold funds from states that don’t cooperate with the feds.

And this wasn’t a mere threat to turn off the spigot; funds for Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia have been cut off.

metro-cartoonYet no Democrats are vowing to fight to the last ditch to get their money. No state attorneys general are rushing to the courthouse hoping to find a federal judge willing to write legislation from the bench. No legal defense funds have been established. No lawyers have been hired. No posters have been printed. And no protestors wielding superglue and PVC pipe have blockaded entrances to buildings.

Why George Ramos wasn’t even thrown out of a news conference for asking impertinent questions.

If you’re thinking now that Trump has vanquished the Sanctuary City movement, it’s time to move on to Obamacare repeal, I have bad news.

Now I’ve got you. You’re wondering what bad news? The question is easily answered by clicking on the link below and reading the entire column on Newsmax.com:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/city-federal-funding-sanctuary/2017/03/01/id/776296/

 

 

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/

 

Disney World Isn’t the Only Fantasy Land

dc-metro-service-memeThe Washington DC region has a subway system referred to as the “Metro.” It’s designed to bring government bureaucrats into the District. There they push paper, write regulations, fight social injustice and otherwise annoy productive taxpayers.

At the close of the business day (anywhere from noon to five, depending on the bureaucrat) the Metro returns them to the suburbs where they moved to avoid living in the type of environment government bureaucrats create.

Today Metro is in trouble. Ridership is down 15 percent in the last year alone and the system’s budget assumes it will decline an additional 5 percent from its 2009 peak during the next fiscal year. Normally this would mean uncrowded cars and plenty of room to stretch out for the remaining passengers, but that’s not the case here.

Since Metro is unionized and governed by a board of politicians, the operating philosophy has been keep wages high and maintenance expense low. If the Metro board had been running a cab company it would have paid Clinton Foundation salaries while not bothering to change the oil.

That’s why Metro is broken. Entire lines are shutdown for long overdue repair. Metro is cutting the number of trains during the day, reducing the speed on trains that do run, closing stations and packing the remaining riders into the cars it can keep on the tracks.

Metro is well on its way to being the world’s first by–appointment–only subway system.

It’s a bad situation that inspires equally bad thinking.

What type of bad thinking? The kind only found among dreamy leftists looking to be rescued from the results of their own incompetence. Details, as always, in my Newsmax.com column which is yours for a single click below:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/washington-dc-metro-bureaucrats/2016/11/09/id/757956/

 

An Education in DC Driver’s Ed

Driving Old LadyNormally cost is the last consideration when an unelected bureaucracy is in pursuit of “safety.” No price is too high, particularly if business or conservatives are footing the bill. Even if only one child, polar bear or glacier is saved by the expenditure, it’s a small price to pay.

The only exceptions to this rule appear to be abortion mills and driver education.

In the former saving the child is hardly a priority and the toleration of a few fly–by–night operators is a small price to pay for “reproductive choice,” even if the “choice” may occasionally prove fatal for both parties. While for most families driver education simply represents a government–approved opportunity to get junior out of the house, with any actual education being a bonus.

That’s why the Washington DC Department of Motor Vehicles’ decision to require all future driver’s license applicants to “complete a private driver education course” came as an unpleasant surprise to Councilwoman Mary Cheh.

Cheh is one of those leftist busybodies that should never be allowed to wield any power not connected to a three–prong plug. If the story in the Washington Post said the DMV was limiting the educational requirement — that can cost almost $1,000 — to commercial operators or Trump supporters there would’ve been no repercussions.

Cheh is, after all, the councilwoman who spearheaded the requirement that every cab company in the District to paint their vehicles in an identical color scheme, approved by Ms. Cheh — an unnecessary expenditure that ran hundreds of dollars per vehicle. Cost is no object even for esthetic goals if Cheh approves.

Certainly safety is a frequent justification when the left wants to spend our money. Still, since this is DC, you can almost be certain that someone in DMV management has a relative that just opened a driving school and said school has just coincidentally received the DMV’s seal of approval for its rigorous motoring instruction.

But that’s not what bothered Ms. Cheh.

Evidently she was concerned because the impervious DMV bureaucracy acted without consulting her and consequently she missed an opportunity for media attention. She’s making up for that by holding hearings in the near future.

What’s surprising is not the unilateral, heedless implementation of the new rule, that’s standard operating procedure for government at all levels in the Age of Obama. What’s surprising is that DC government cares about the document in the first place.

DC is a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. Complete lack of citizenship papers is no problemo, so why are the same politicians and bureaucrats so uptight about operating a car? If the illegal’s mere presence in the District is proof enough for the likes of Cheh that the individual belongs, why shouldn’t the act of sitting behind the wheel of an automobile be proof the individual has a right to be there, too?

These days it’s not possession, but presence that’s nine tenths of immigration law.

Frankly I’m glad Cheh manned (is that insulting for a feminist politician?) the barricades this time, because the design of the DC driver “education” was so poorly thought out, it guaranteed failure.

The program consists of 30 hours in the classroom and 8 hours of behind–the–wheel practice, presumably with an instructor. That’s exactly backwards. My research tells me there are zero instances of people sitting in a classroom being killed in an auto crash, but there are thousands happening on the street.

The ratio should instead be 8 hours in the classroom and 30 on the road. There the instructor could introduce the fledgling driver to the mystery of the turn signal and explain how it’s not just for turning, but comes in handy for lane changes, too!

Then there’s the speed limit. The number on the sign is the theoretical maximum and not an average. Zooming up to 80 in the far left lane and then dropping back to 50 mph while you take a call doesn’t give you an average speed of 65, it just makes you an inattentive fool alternating between tailgating and constipating the traffic flow.

And that’s only two of the many suggestions I have for the curriculum. Maybe if she reads this, Councilmember Cheh will invite me to the hearing.

Now Humans Are Just Along for the Ride

Google self driving car lucky buttonI have seen humanity’s future and it is cargo. Not shipping cargo, but being cargo. One cannot pick up the newspaper without discovering a new area of transportation where human control will soon be superfluous.

I don’t know whether to blame the auto–pilot or Roomba.

So much of flying today takes place while the aircraft is on auto that some safety experts believe the human pilots are at a disadvantage — due to lack of hands–on practice — when they have to seize control in an emergency.

AP reports Government Motors is working on a self–driving car in cooperation with Lyft that will automatically apply for a government bailout when the car is involved in a crash. Even better, if any of the humans at fault are illegal, the car’s CPU will file an emergency asylum request.

Google is hard at work on a self–driving car just perfect for anyone that’s ever considered human cannonball as a career option. The control freaks there are lobbying Congress to grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “special, expedited permission” to allow it to sell cars that don’t have steering wheels or brake pedals.

Even if you refuse to relinquish your steering wheel until its pried from your cold, dead, flattened hands — programmers can still affect your driving experience. Daimler, a major auto manufacturer from the country that gave the world the Panzer, is part of an umbrella body in Europe working on the self–driving truck.

AFP says the concept is called “’truck platooning’ similar to concepts with self-driving cars” only there will be two to three trucks driving in a convoy where the lead truck determines the route, speed and who gets mashed on the way — much like the elephant march in the movie Dumbo.

Think of a traffic jam that has the power to move independently and is never cleared.

Melanie Schultz van Haegen, a cheerful EU bureaucrat, speaks with certainty when she says, “Truck platooning will ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Self–driving vehicles also contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.” Meaning regardless of how it occurs, any time a “truck platoon” runs over your car, it’s your insurance rates that will be increasing.

There’s no refuge on the ocean either. The Telegraph has discovered Rolls’ marine unit is developing “drone ships.” These automated leviathans are destined to be controlled from land bases as they cruise from port to port. Rolls predicts the S.S. GetOutofMyWay will be in commercial use by the end of this decade.

“Sensors such as radar, lasers and computer programs will allow the ships to pilot themselves, with shore-based captains taking over if there is a problem or for complex docking procedures.”

Don’t let that reference to “complex docking procedures” get your hopes up for maintaining a modicum of control in your robot vehicle. The Israelis are working on taking that away, too.

Israel21c found the Unitronics Group is automating parking garages. Here’s how it works: If the programmers at Google approve and you’re allowed to go there in your self–driving vehicle, the car is directed into a 20’ X 20’ entry bay. At which point you need to step lively, because a “Unitronics robot scoots under the car, engages the wheels and lifts the vehicle” into it’s parking spot.

No speed–demon valet parking attendants. No cellphone–under–the–ear idiot banging their door into your car. No car burglaries.

To retrieve the auto you swipe a credit card through the terminal and if your carbon footprint for that day is low enough, the car takes you home.

No wonder the Mail Online predicts if current trends continue — lack of exercise, gluttony and the common belief that a 16 oz. bag of Fritos is a single serving — “by 2025 18 percent of the world’s men and 21 percent of women will be obese.”

You may not even be able to use a Lark scooter to get to your car, if your waist is too large. But tech can solve that problem. Amazon is building robots that can load even the biggest cargo into the proper transportation. And Prime members will be able to choose between headfirst or feet first.

Throwing Money Down a Metro Hole

metro-cartoonThose wacky guys and gals at the Washington, DC Metro system are at it again. It’s quite an experience having the largest mass transit system in the world run by an improv group. Just last week the head of the Metro board proposed shutting down one of the lines for six months so maintenance that should have been done years ago could be completed.

Mass transit suddenly becomes Missing transit.

Construction and maintenance has never been a strong point for the Metro. God help us if a Metro executive ever moves into the airline industry. Which reminds me, airlines and Metro have some things in common.

Passengers are at their mercy, you’re wedged into aluminum tubes with strangers and you’ve always got an ear tuned for the cry of “Allahu Akbar!”

There are also more prosaic similarities and that’s what this week’s Newsmax.com column concerns. How Metro wasted years and millions on a communication project while airlines made money from theirs.

Click on the hyperlink below. I promise it won’t be time wasted.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/AT-T-Cellphone-Washington-D-C-/2016/03/24/id/720765/

 

The Little Streetcar That Couldn’t

Not toy trainThere’s good news for Washington, DC area parents with small children. No longer will you have to travel hundreds of miles to Disneyland to let the little ones enjoy a thrilling ride on a toy train. Instead you can pack the wee folk off to DC and let them ride a streetcar line that’s as short as their attention span.

I know you’re thinking, “Ha, ha he’s talking about that little train that runs beneath Capitol Hill between House and Senate offices! But you can’t ride that unless you’re toting a Member of Congress’ sedan chair.”

Actually, that’s no problemo if you’re a campaign contributor. A large enough check and you’ll be like Trump — when he rides Donald gets to wear the engineer’s hat and blow the horn. But I’m talking about the new DC mini–mass transit system that connects a riverbank with Amtrak.

It’s another example of the elitist left’s fascination with boutique transportation “solutions.” You can find the rest of the details by clicking on the link below for my Newsmax column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/D-CCar-Rail-Road/2016/03/04/id/717509/

 

Google Designs the Self–Absorbed Car for the Self–Absorbed Man

Self Driving Car memeTo give you an idea of how far the nation’s confidence has retreated from the exuberance of the 60’s — I promise this isn’t an endorsement of Donald Trump — just look at current automotive culture.

Government Motors designs flimsy boxes to conform to arbitrary fuel efficiency standards. Electric cars, which the government wants a select few to drive while the rest of us are on a bus, are so expensive the only way to persuade the average person to own one is to subsidize the purchase with thousands of tax dollars.

Naturally “activist” busybodies worry those geek hummers don’t make enough noise to warn headphone–wearing idiots of the auto’s approach. That certainly wasn’t a problem with the Shelby Mustang. The roar of the exhaust in even the stock model approached NASA decibel levels.

Muscle cars were the perfect compliment to a muscular country. “Big Daddy” Don Garlits was a household name, “Fun, Fun, Fun” dominated the radio and Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Today we’ve gone from the “Little Old Lady From Pasadena” (Go granny, go granny, go granny go!) to the Little Old Robot from Cupertino (No baby, no baby, no baby no!).

The future according to Google features a self–driving car characterized an inability to relate to the moving culture around it. I call Google’s effort the Asperger Auto because of the effect the cars have when they leave the Google test track.

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome have trouble with social interaction and are often bound by limited or restricted patterns of behavior. Google’s car has all the classic symptoms: inward directed, reluctant to change behavior to fit surrounding social circumstances and a refusal to acknowledge social cues from other drivers.

Bloomberg Business reports a California motorcycle cop had experience first–hand when he observed traffic stacking up behind a suppository–shaped auto.

He entered the history books as the first motorman to initiate a traffic stop on a robot car. Equally unique, he resisted the temptation to inquire: “Do you know why I stopped you?” because there was no one to ask.

The self–involved vehicle was putt–putting along at 24 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, ignoring the jam it was creating as drivers with a rapidly deteriorating opinion of Google stacked up behind.

The quandary for the cop was to whom to give the ticket? The car couldn’t sign the summons and the two engineers aboard claimed to be just passengers. So the officer let the human cargo off with a warning and threatened to drop a magnet into the car’s CPU if it happened again.

Depending on whom you ask, auto–autos have between twice and five times the accident rate of human drivers. One similarity the cars share with humans is the accident is always the other guy’s fault, although in the car’s case it appears to be true.

A study from the University of Michigan found driverless vehicles, like your teenage daughter, have never been at fault in an accident. The auto–autos are “usually hit from behind in slow-speed crashes by inattentive or aggressive humans unaccustomed to machine motorists that always follow the rules.”

In essence, an auto strictly obeying the law is such a rare occurrence it may actually constitute a road hazard.

California is ready with a solution similar to the old law that required a horseless carriage to post a man with a lantern walking before it to warn unsuspecting horses. Regulators want a “backseat–driver–on–call” vehicle that “would require a human always to be ready to take the wheel.”

Naturally Google, the inventor of the “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” model that doesn’t have a steering wheel or a gas pedal, objects to the new rule.

Google has managed to automate the velocity vigilante who parks his sanctimonious speed limit observing vehicle in the fast lane and forces drivers with a greater sense of urgency to pass on the right.

The self–righteous, self–absorbed Asperger Auto coming to a highway near you.

Robot Cars: The Return of the Sunday Driver

self driving car licensePerceptive conservatives have long been suspicious of ‘mass transit’ because of the term’s Karl Marxian connotations. For the left that’s a selling point because wedging the masses into mass transit allows ‘experts’ to decide where we will work and where we will live. The only roadblock, so to speak, is the automobile.

People like cars because personal vehicles embody individual transportation decisions, which in turn is why the left hates the automobile. As far as it is concerned individual transportation decisions have been nothing but trouble. Mobility nannies blame the horse and wagon for making Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion possible —a grievous example of sprawl that killed the buffalo, put asphalt on top of the aquifer and finally produced Ronald Reagan.

(Simultaneously lefties are strangely silent on the northward expansion that brought us a quarter of Mexico’s population, closely followed by the rest of Central and South America. This may be because illegals didn’t drive here and it’s hoped these new residents will prove to be bus riders.)

Since individuals are proving to be so stubborn, planners are adopting an incremental strategy. Uber had real promise as a bridge solution because it bypassed sclerotic, unresponsive cab companies and increased utilization of cars that were already on the road. Unfortunately enthusiasm dissipated after female riders found trading dirty cabs for dirty drivers was no improvement.

Now the people who know what’s best for us have decided that robot or self–driving cars are the stepping-stone to a mass transit future. Assuming they can pry the steering wheel out of our cold, dead hands — whoops, bad analogy, particularly when USA Today reports “self-driving test cars are involved in crashes at five times the rate of conventional cars.”

Naturally human error, instead of programmer error is blamed. An explanation that creates more than a little skepticism among computer users who have had to reinstall Windoze. Trial lawyers aren’t too happy either. Robot cars may have four times the injury rate, but the injuries aren’t ambulance–worthy — meaning cable viewers probably won’t have to endure a deluge of “have you been injured by a robot car” commercials.

In my view are two factors causing the increased accident rate. Robots are extremely cautious drivers that obey all the laws. Think 16–year–old student driver out for his first test drive. And the robot’s software doesn’t assume human drivers are idiots, which is the only way to avoid most accidents.

Here are a handful of situations robot drivers may not anticipate in time to avoid collision:

  1. When robots perceive flashing blue lights on the shoulder it’s no cause for concern because authorities have the situation well in hand. Humans immediately rubber–neck to see if the victim was the fool that cut them off earlier.
  2. Robots may have no experience with drivers whose lives are so filled with spontaneity they are unable to predict turns early enough to use a signal.
  3. Robots can’t tell if a motorist comes from a culture where driving is such a cause for celebration that alcohol is liberally applied to both pilot and passengers.
  4. Robots may not accurately predict levels of distraction because they aren’t required to document their lives for future generations through texts, selfies and conversation.
  5. Being childless, robots have no experience with turning around to admonish unruly toddlers or fishing sippy cups from the floorboard.
  6. Finally, robots don’t routinely hit their brakes before changing lanes and might fail to realize many drivers use their brake in place of thought.

So far the only real advantage to robot cars is their lack of vigilante spirit. You won’t find a robot convinced the car has been deputized to reduce speeding by camping in the leftmost lane of the highway at exactly the legal speed.

Why Do Democrat Big Spenders Fear for the Future in Maryland?

Republican Larry Hogan was elected governor on a pledge to cut taxes, cut red tape and reduce spending. Hogan never held office before, but Maryland voters were evidently weary of the experienced spenders they had.

Voters are reaping the dividends of the upset. Hogan cut charges on every toll road in the state. The cash fee for crossing the Bay Bridge dropped from $6 to $4 and the E–ZPass charge was cut almost in half, to $2.50.

It’s the first time in 50 years tolls have been lowered.

Naturally Democrats are panicked. Voters could get used to paying less money to the state taxman. Then they might start voting for Republicans and Democrats would have to find honest work.

Complete details on this Maryland breakthrough in my Newsmax column, but I warn you the news is not all good…

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Barack-Obama/2015/07/10/id/654444/