Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mr. Shannon goes to Washington...

At least for a day...

Thanks to a friend and regular customer of mine, I will be making the trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the One Nation March, this Saturday.

The trip will mark my first journey to the nation's capitol in 17 years. I spent a couple of years of my teen life in suburban Gaithersburg, Maryland. The DC area is where I learned how to drive.

I won't have much time for sightseeing, however. My plane lands at Dulles at 10:45am, and the rally starts at noon. I will be flying back to Minnesota early Sunday morning. Chances are good that I'll be camping out at the airport that Saturday night. An adventure when you're in your 20s, a pain in the ass at 47.

Despite all that, I've never felt as compelled to attend an event as I have this one. While I'm sure there will be a fair share of elitists, just looking for a big party, my feeling is that this rally is going to attract the true life's blood of America, the working class.

I hope this march sends a message to the corporate big wigs and others that sit on lofty perches, looking down at us common folk. There are many more of us than there are of you, and if my attending this march, in any way, will help someone less fortunate than me, then it was time well spent.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For Minnesota Democrats, time is wasting...

Alright folks, let's put the cards on the table here...

The record turnout that swept Barack Obama in to the White House, as well as getting many Democrats elected to the Senate and House, contained a large number of young people, minorities and the less fortunate. Many of these people were caught up in the idea of electing our first black president, but just as many were deeply concerned about the future of this country, or more importantly to them, their own future.

President Obama has used this victory to bring sweeping changes in health care, push for continued benefits for the long term unemployed, and hold the financial industry responsible to consumers, amongst many other accomplishments.

Unfortunately, some of these changes didn't sit real well with those who liked things the way they were under the Bush administration and the Republican majority. They are now pushing back with vengeance.

To most of you reading this, this is not Earth shattering news. What I see though, reminds me of people that live on the coast, knowing there's a hurricane approaching, yet aren't doing a damn thing to prepare for it.

I don't see a real sense of urgency on the part of the Democratic party, both here in Minnesota, and nationally. Sure, Senate and Congressional candidates went to a few parades and festivals this summer, knocked on a few doors, and have cut a few commercials. But have they tried to energize the same voters that enthusiastically elected President Obama?

In Minnesota, I'm speaking to Congressional districts 3, 4, and 5, as well as my home district 6. I don't real enthusiasm amongst Democrats, when it comes to going after those "Obama voters."

I so want in my heart to get behind Tarryl Clark up here in my district. I sure as hell aint going to vote for Michelle Bachmann, but other than the Anoka County Fair, I haven't heard of Clark spending much time in Anoka, which may be, other than St. Cloud, the most diverse part of this district.

In district 3, how much time has Jim Meffert spent in Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and Coon Rapids? Trust me, he has absolutely no chance of knocking Erik Paulson off if he doesn't get people in these communities, with a higher concentration of those same people that voted for President Obama, behind him.


The message to these voters has to be clear. If you want this president to succeed with the agenda he's put forth, you need to get out and vote for the candidates who will make this happen. Many of these people won't be able to afford a plug nickel to contribute to a campaign, or will have the time to attend rallies. All these people can offer is their vote.

It's going to take a lot of work, but this country's future depends on it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On tap for Saturday's show...

Click here to listen to the archive...

Cab drivers that attack passengers and police department's favorite type of busts top the list of this multi-topic hour.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another black eye for the metro taxi industry...

Every time one of the local media outlets does a story about the Twin Cities' taxi industry, I feel compelled to post a little clarification. Last night, KSTP ran a story about an alleged attack on a passenger by a driver with Suburban Cab. While elements of the story don't surprise me, there are a couple of things that should be clarified.

The Channel 5 story named Fred Bowen as the owner of Suburban Cab. Bowen is not the owner. He is the general manager, a position he has held for nearly 2 years. The owner, Gary Tournier, has a documented history of dodging serious complaints about the company's operations, including bad accidents and an incident in which a passenger was put out of a cab in the left turn lane of a busy highway, only to be struck and killed by a passing motorist.

Sadly, Suburban or any other company for that matter, has little control over the actions of their drivers. All metro area cab drivers are independent contractors, that either own their own taxi or lease the vehicle from a multiple cab owner. The company is paid by the contractor to provide dispatch service.

Most of the larger companies, including Suburban, do have somewhat of a vetting process before they let a driver operate a taxi with their company. Some companies are better than others at this process. My experience with Suburban was that every driver was required to obtain a criminal background check before they were considered. I will say that some of the results of those reports I've seen while employed by Tournier's company would have disqualified a few of those drivers in any company I would have owned. Unfortunately, that was not my decision to make.

What baffles me is why the company is not cooperating with Minneapolis police. If it were me, I'd be doing as much as possible to find this alleged attacker, and get him out of a cab that was flying my company's colors.

Here is where the problem lies... The passenger was picked up in St. Paul and brought to Minneapolis. Chances are pretty good that the driver involved possessed a permit from St. Paul. While that city's licencing body likely will cooperate in this investigation, if asked to, the city's have two completely different regulatory bodies when it comes to the taxi industry. Then there is the outside chance that the victim flagged down a cab that was not licenced in either city. My point is that about a third of the taxis that operate in the Twin Cities metro area are not regulated by any municipality or the airport.

As I've documented on this blog in the past, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and MSP International all licence both taxis and drivers, but there is no reciprocity between those entities. The rest of the metro requires no special licencing. However, many times a cab that is licenced by one of the aforementioned bodies will serve customers in those unregulated communities. Not all the time though.

I strongly believe there should be a single licencing body for the entire metro area. I think that would be one way that potentially dangerous drivers could not slip through the cracks. Would a metro wide licence requirement prevented this alleged attack from occurring? Probably not. But it might have made the attacker easier to track down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time to rethink the Taste...

I remember when the Taste of Minnesota started up back in the mid 90s. Fun times on the Capitol grounds. Admission was free. Food was spendy, but there was a great variety. Musical acts were local or a blast from the past country act like The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was truly a festival that celebrated Minnesota.

This year's Taste was a complete bomb. High admission prices and crappy music did as much to drive away crowds as the sluggish economy. As a result, the festival is in hock to the city of St. Paul for over $20 thousand. The city has given the organizers until the first week in October to pay up or they will find another festival to celebrate the 4th of July week.

Personally, I don't care who runs a Taste like celebration, but whoever does would be well served to take a page from the early days of the get together.

First thing I would do would be to find a way to get the festival back on the Capitol grounds. Holding the taste at Harriet Island has been a pain in the ass, logistically. Next, while I understand that charging a gate fee serves to help keep the riff-raff out, the admission price should be reasonable and should be able to go toward paying for food or beverages once on the grounds.

Finally, keep the musical acts simple. The Taste was never meant to be a We Fest or Oz Fest. Go back to local talent that covers a variety of genres. Maybe sneak in a Travis Tritt or similar act.

I'd hate to see the Taste go away all together, but last year's debacle should serve as a lesson for future ventures.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Anderson a viable choice for the anti-Bachmann voter.

I have to admit I wasn't expecting much out of Bob Anderson, the IP candidate running for Michelle Bachmann's Minnesota 6th Congressional District seat, that would sway me from a almost certain vote for Tarryl Clark. After the interview, I may be having second thoughts.

The one point Anderson makes that resonates with me is the obscene amount of money, most from outside of the district, that has gone into both Bachmann's and Clark's campaign. While over $13 million has been spent by the two major party candidates, Anderson has spent around $5 thousand. He also vows not to spend more than $100 thousand. How does he plan to win on that small of a budget? He says he will use a true grass roots style that will include knocking on doors and attending community events. Anderson said that was the same strategy that garnered him 10% of the vote in the same race in 2008.

While Anderson calls himself a Conservative we wound up agreeing on two major points; He believes that something must be done reverse all the job loss due to outsourcing. He also thinks government should at least some roll in health care reform, making it unlikely that he would join the call to repeal the current law. Something most Republican Congressional candidates have as top on their agenda.

I'm am not telling you that I'm turning my back on Tarryl Clark. On paper, she may be the overwhelming choice for anybody looking to unseat Bachmann. But I truly think that Bob Anderson is a viable choice for those folks in District 6 who are fed up with the shitloads of money that is being dumped into this election.

Good luck Bob, and thanks for joining me on the blogcast.

Who is Bob Anderson?

I'll take Dark Horse Candidates for $500, Alex.

Today at noon, we'll meet the Independence Party candidate running for the 6th Congressional District seat, now held by Michelle Bachmann.

Click here to listen to the archive.

Bob Anderson for Congress website

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to avoid locker room cat calls...

Let me preface this by saying I haven't been in a locker room since 10th grade. So I have no earthly clue how sweaty guys act after a big football game.

Forgive me for being about the 1,000th pundit to weigh in on the bru-ha-ha over how Azteca reporter Ines Sainz was treated in the New York Jets' locker room, last week. But here goes...

Am I the only one who really has a problem with the concept of reporters in a locker room to begin with. To me, this is no different than Katie Couric following President Obama into the men's room looking for a comment on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Call me crude, (my wife does all the time) but I would walk around a locker room with my junk hanging out as long as possible, just to avoid a bunch of stupid questions on how I missed that key block that cost my 2-10 team the game they had no chance to win to begin with.

Professional sports is a multi-million dollar industry. You'd think there would be a room where reporters could ask their stupid questions to fully clothed athletes who have had a few minutes to shower, shit and shave and unwind just a bit. I'm sure the response to these pressing questions won't be a whole lot different.

By the way, veteran sports reporter, Michelle Tafoya, who happens to be a very attractive woman, would never walk into a locker room dressed the way Ms. Sainz was. Maybe, that's why she gained the respect in the industry that she has. Ask her the last time she's receive a cat call.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poverty rate in America at 14.3%

Just take a moment and let that number soak in your brain. I what is supposed to be the most prosperous nation in the world, 14.3% live in poverty.

For these people, it's not a choice of Hamburger Helper or hot dogs and mac and cheese, It's chicken or beef flavor ramen noodles.

They say the newest political revolution is a bunch of affluent, angry white guys. I promise you, watch your ass if this group of impoverished Americans ever gets a political voice.

I'm not a history major, but I seem to recall reading that it was the dirt poor in France that rose up and took out the elitists in that country's revolution. People of this social-economic class will only tolerate being called lazy and worthless for so long. Trust me, something will give.

This nation's poor are no longer confined to the core inter-cities these days. Low income families are turning up in these master development communities that were prevalent in the late seventies and early eighties in suburbia. It's only a matter of time before the political pendulum swings the other way in these once wealthy, white bread districts.

The problem facing most poor folks is that they have no idea why they're poor. Many of them were raised in poverty. To them, it's just a way of life.

Progressive politicians and advocates for the poor need to let these people know that cuts in education spending and a free market that turns a blind eye to cooperate outsourcing of jobs is one of the main reasons they are in the condition they're in.

The challenge will be to push back at all these folks with six-digit salaries that think their life is so hard. Let them try it on a four-digit salary.

Pass the noodles please...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bob Anderson on this Saturday's blogcast...

The Independence Party candidate from Minnesota's 6th Congressional district will be on this week to talk about his campaign. Anderson is running against heavy favorite, incumbent, Michelle Bachmann and Democrat, Tarryl Clark.

The 6th District includes my home town of Anoka.

Also, long time co-host Dan Lundin will take part in this week's show.

It is my policy to welcome any candidate running for national or statewide office as a guest on The Shannon Files blogcast.

Sponsor needed...

I am trying to make it out to Washington, DC, for the One Nation March, on October 2nd. The local progressive station, AM950, KTNF, is putting together a bus and lodging package that is running about $275, double occupancy. Not a bad deal, if I could afford to leave the cab sit idol for 3 1/2 days.

In reality, I'd need to fly out there on a Friday night or Saturday morning, attend the march, then fly back either Saturday night or Sunday morning. As I lived in the DC area in my teen years, I have a couple of friends I could bunk up with if I needed to.

So here I am, looking for a little help. If your business is looking for an inexpensive way to advertise, I may have a solution for you. I will make your business or organization a charter sponsor on this blog and The Shannon Files blogcast on BlogTalkRadio.com for $500, for a period of 6 months.

Call 651-280-7720, for more details.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Please allow me to re-introduce myself...

As this blog is starting to get noticed a little more, I feel there may be a need to tell those of you newer readers a little about myself.

My name is John Shannon, but I figure you know that much, by now. I am a 47 year old father of 4 adult children. Two boys and 2 girls ages 27, 26, 23 and 20. My parents both passed away by the time I was 11 years old. I was in foster care until I turned 15, when my uncle finally decided to take me in.

A lack of any true parental nurturing had a profound effect on my teen years, leading to drug and alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity. I dropped out of high school, half way through 11th grade. My lack of a formal education will be apparent on this blog, as my grammar pretty much sucks.

I'm not real proud of the fact that I've been married and divorced more than a couple of times. While Liz Taylor and Larry King's records are still safe, I can say I've done more harm to the sanctity of marriage than any gay couple ever could.

My 4 children, with 2 different mothers, grew up not knowing me. I am truly blessed that all 4 have forgiven me for this, and have welcomed me back into their lives. My oldest son, JR, has given me 3 granddaughters. Who says you can't feel old at 47?

About the only thing I can honestly say that I'm good at is my job. I have been involved in the taxi industry since 1981. In that time, I've worked in the Twin Cities, Las Vegas, Orlando, Wichita Falls and Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as Little Rock, Arkansas. I am currently back in Minnesota, where I'm affiliated with one of the area's better run companies. I am a vocal advocate for the industry, which has seen out of control growth in the last 10 years, causing some drivers to have to work upwards of 70 hours per week just to stay above poverty level.

I have dabbled in blogging for about 4 years now. Before that, I ran a message board for the Vegas cabbies to post their frustrations about that area's industry. It is also in Las Vegas where I got my first taste of my true passion, talk radio. I hosted a weekly show on a brokered radio station, that was an extension of the Vegascabbie.com forum.

Because of my social failures at a younger age, I felt a draw to the Conservative value of self sufficiency. I found myself becoming extremely harsh on the less fortunate, branding them as lazy and abusive to the social safety net system. Despite the fact that I've never made more than $28k my entire life, I was determined that I didn't need anybody's help, and parodied those that did.

Then, in 2008, I had an awakening. I had fully planned on supporting a Republican candidate for the White House in the upcoming election. I had one question though. Because of years of abusing my health by overeating and not getting any exercise, my health had taken a turn for the worse. I found myself unable to purchase health insurance, due to my pre-existing conditions, and the cost of the medications I needed would have accounted for about 25% of my meager income.

I searched high and low for any of the '08 Republican candidates to have some sort of viable plan for health care reform. I found nothing... Nada... El zilcho...

I had to do the unthinkable. I had to swallow my Conservative pride and search out a Democratic candidate that I thought could provide a comprehensive plan. I went from finding no solutions on the Republican side to having an array of ideas put forth by the Dems.

Further research led me to understand that not only were the Republicans empty headed on health care, they really didn't have much to offer for anyone in my social-economic situation.

I voted straight Democratic, that November. The first time I had ever leaned away from the Republican fold in 28 years of being an eligible voter. It's for that reason that I consider myself a recovering Conservative.

While I'm still trying to find my niche as a blogger, my main concern is attempting a little better life for the working poor. The poor SOB, like me, that works the equivalency of two full time jobs just to stay afloat. I don't have the time in my schedule to attend rallies and fund raisers, but hopefully through this blog, I can get out the message that folks at my income level need help.

Most folks at my income level don't make enough money to afford a crappy apartment and the bills that come with it, yet we make too much to qualify for any help with food or rental assistance. Thank God (and Lois Quam) for Minnesota Care. A plan that helps low income Minnesotans acquire health insurance at an affordable rate. Unfortunately, not many states have such a plan, and our governor, who is polishing up his Conservative shoes for a run at the presidency in 2012, has tried to drastically cut this life saving program.

So I will continue to use this blog, along with my hybrid radio show on BlogTalkRadio.com and my social media connections on Facebook and Twitter, to express my opinions on social injustice and the uptick of right wing fanaticism.

Remember though, I'm not that far removed from my Conservative roots. Every once in a while, I will lament the taxpayer money that is spent simply issuing a welfare check, instead of truly investing in that person to help better their life.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'll bet there's no tea in that cup...

Another September 11th come and gone...

If you listened to Saturday's blogcast and thought I was having a harder time than normal getting the words out, you're right. The problems I was having had little to do with the technical issues that occurred about half way through.

Like many Americans, the September 11th terrorist attacks still haunt my memories. How could someone have that much hatred and vitriol in their souls to kill thousands of innocent strangers?

Despite my convictions, it's still a difficult thing to do to encourage tolerance and understanding when the easy thing to do is to blanket blame all Muslims for the criminal actions of a handful.

The actions of Florida pastor, Terry Jones, made it easier though. His messages of hate, and his threat to burn copies of the Qur'an reminded me that there are fundamentalist wackos on both sides of the isle. All Jones managed to do was tarnish the memories of those who perished, nine years ago.

Fortunately, the day went without incident. We can only hope that the tenth anniversary of September 11th can go as smooth.

God bless America, and ALL people that call her home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A very important blogcast, today...

I invite you to join me on the blogcast, today at noon CT. I will spend the entire hour discussing the events of September 11th, 2001. I'll also discuss how I feel recent events, such as the proposed Islamic center, near ground zero and the Florida pastor's plans to burn copies of the Qur'an have put a deeper strain on our relations with the Islamic community.

You don't need to be by your computer to listen. Simply call (347) 633-9614, to take part in the conversation.


Click here to listen to the archive..

Friday, September 10, 2010

Saturday's blogcast all about 9-11...

On the ninth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack on this country, I'll discuss how the events of that day have changed our way of life.

I'll also play a clip from a Minneapolis radio station, as they were reacting to the unfolding events.

Click here to listen to the archive..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lots of interest in One Nation Rally

I made a phone call to Minneapolis area Progressive talk station AM 950, about the word from Ed Schultz that the station is providing a bus to the One Nation Rally, planned for October 2nd, in Washington.

The station wanted to be clear this is still in the planning stages. Apparently, the phone has been ringing off the hook with inquiries since Schultz mad the announcement.

They've asked that interested parties pay close attention to their website. (http://am950radio.com/)

I hope to see a huge contingency of Minnesotans at the rally.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Open letter to all Muslims, here and abroad...

As you may or may not know, some wingnut minister is promoting a "Burn the Qur'an" day, on September 11th, in observance of the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack. According to our laws, he is well within his rights to do so.

As I've said many times, I know little to nothing about Islam. What I do know is that many Muslims consider burning the Qur'an like burning their own flesh.

Words cannot describe how appalled I am at this act. I would go as far as to say that most God fearing Christians feel the same way.

Most rational thinking Americans know that the events of September 11th, 2001 were not an attack by a country or by a religion. It was a cowardly act by 11 men, who got their marching orders from another coward that perverts Islam to justify his twisted ideology.

So please accept my apologies in advance for the actions of this so called man of God, and understand that he does not speak for me or a majority of us Christians.

Thank you, and may God be with you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Early heads up for next Saturday's show.

Barring any major events between now and then, I plan to set aside next Saturday to remember the events of September 11th, 2001. With that, I also want to take a look at the present day relationship between Muslims and the rest of America.

Please join me at noon CT, this Saturday.

Happy Labor Day...

With all the BBQs and picnics planed for tomorrow, I hope we do take a moment to remember what Labor Days is all about.

I will, 'cause I have to work tomorrow. At least a half day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 4th show (New time)

I'm back in the Saturday slot after taking a little break. Among other topics, The stunning number of Minnesotans with DWIs and politics on the internet.

Click here for the archive.

In a perfect world...

We'd need limited government because...

Businesses could be trusted pay their hard working employees a livable wage, always provide safe working conditions, not ship off jobs to countries where wage and workplace safety conditions were substandard.

Financial institutions could be trusted not to gamble hard earned dollars on risky, speculative investments.

Healthcare providers could be trusted to put patient care above profit. And people could be trusted to make the right choices about their health.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a Utopian society where the human condition is more important than having ten digit bank accounts. Until that day, government has to serve as a society's referee. Just like in sports, the refs don't always make the right call. But could you imagine a football game without the zebras?

Yes, in a perfect world we'd need a lot less government in our lives. But we all know none of us lives in that world.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It really does take a village...

I found myself chuckling a little last night. I was trading barbs with a neocon on Twitter, when his final comment was that I refused to learn. I wondered how this ass clown felt he was qualified to teach me anything.

You don't need a degree in sociology, when you've driven cab as long as I have, to understand life at the poverty level. I see it first hand every day. There have been a couple of times when I've been one bad decision away from being desolate myself. Most Americans are fortunate enough never to have experienced that way of life.

History teaches us that Americans have always have always been about the community. It's only been in the last few years where a larger part of the population has turned a blind eye to the struggles of the less fortunate. During this period, anyone unemployed for more than a few months was considered lazy.

The social safety net hasn't really provided a true solution to the problem either. It seems to be more expedient to throw a little money at these people, instead of providing them with the tools to better their lives.

Life for the poor may only get worse if the tea party movement take more of a hold in mainstream politics. These people have real disdain for the impoverished.

Unfortunately, the poor may have to be their own advocate. Even well meaning progressive politicians have a tendency to overlook this sector of the population.

I would ask those who read this blog to reach out to those in impoverished neighborhoods. Give them tools to better their lives, including educating them on how current events effect their very lives.

Hillary Clinton was right. It really does take a village.