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Elliot: Driverless, but not car-less

BY BEAU ELLIOT | SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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So I see the University of Iowa is going to create a driverless-car institute. Which is a great idea. I guess.

I mean, computers can drive better than humans, from what I’ve seen. Of course, turnips and mashed potatoes, though not all mashed together, can drive better than humans.

But I have to admit, I’m a little confused. I’ve lived here, in this fair city, for a number of years. And from what I can tell, Iowa City has had driverless cars for years, if not decades. So why do we need a new institute? Just go downtown and watch the traffic. Driverless. Though certainly not text-less.

Speaking of driverless, Congress left town last week so the members could go meet the voters and try to get re-elected. Given that Congress is less popular right now than Attila the Hun, meeting the voters might count as an act of courage.

Congress did, before it lit out for the hustings, manage to pass a budget of sorts. Well, at least to keep the government running until after the election. Not to be cynical or anything, but keeping the government afloat until after the election smacks of Republican shenanigans, with, of course, the help of some Democrats.

You see, Republicans really, really want to shut down the federal govenment. That’s why they hold government positions. Contradictory, I know. But nobody ever said the Republicans had any sense, except for other Republicans. If they shut down the federal government before the election, there might be some blowback from people not getting their Social Security checks. And from people on SNAP, which we used to know as food stamps, back when Ronald Reagan warned us about welfare queens driving Cadillacs. (Well, hey, Ronnie, at least they were American cars.)

Republicans shut down the government in the mid-90s, then saw that blow back and re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996. So.

Also, Congress decided to back President Obama on fighting ISIS. (Yes, I know; that’s the organization with a thousand names. People are allowed to name themselves, even if they are driverless.)

Well, Congress sort of backed Obama on fighting ISIS. The Republicans bickered with the president on no boots on the ground; turns out, they want boots on the ground. Meaning they want American troops in Iraq and Syria and maybe Tajikistan, too.

Curious, because mere months ago, the GOP didn’t want any boots on the ground. Take Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who three months ago said, “I don’t think [boots on the ground] is an option worth considering.”

So, Obama says, no boots on the ground. If you think boots are flying around here, you’d be wrong, because, no boots.

But now, three months later, Graham has changed his tune, if not his key. “This idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy,” he said last week.

Boots on the ground? OK. So why not send some cargo planes there and drop around 1 million boots on western Iraq and eastern Syria? There are your boots on the ground.

Boots are a lot cheaper than bombs, the last time I looked. Of course, who knows what the military pays for boots these days. Under the Reagan administration, the military bought toilet seats for $600 apiece.

Presumably without boots on the seat.


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