Ford Doesn’t Have a Better Idea

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Remember many years ago when Ford’s marketing tagline was, “Ford: We Have a Better Idea.”? Well, Ford Motor Company—the second-largest automotive company in America—just made a stunning announcement the other day: They announced that a tall hatchback version of the compact Focus and the iconic muscle car Mustang will be the only two cars it offers for sale in the North American market in the future. It will drop its slow-selling sedans like the Fusion and Taurus and concentrate primarily on the lucrative pickup and SUV categories. The Ford F-Series pickup trucks have been the country’s best-selling vehicles for decades. Ford will also be bringing back a new version of the mid-sized Ranger pickup.

Is this a brilliant, ahead-of-the-curve move that will leave its competitors flat-footed and unable to respond or is it a reactionary knee-jerk response based on today’s transitory conditions?

The automotive market has undergone a fundamental transformation in recent years as SUVs have supplanted the traditional passenger sedan as the vehicle of choice in almost every demographic buying group. SUVs alone now garner more than 40% of the vehicle market, compared to the near total dominance of the traditional passenger car only a few decades before. The buyers’ perception of the SUV’s greater passenger/parcel-carrying versatility coupled with the much-improved fuel economy of the newer compact SUVs has rendered the traditional sedan obsolete in many people’s eyes. Add to that the near-universal availability of AWD on virtually every SUV and their undeniably higher, more commanding driver’s position and it’s easy to see their growing appeal.

Ford’s decision to curtail its participation in the sedan sector mirrors that of Chrysler. Chrysler ended production of its mainstream but slow-selling compact Dodge Dart and mid-sized Chrysler 200 in 2016, concentrating instead on growing its ever-popular Jeep brand and launching its new, cutting-edge Pacifica minivan to universal critical acclaim.

Even stalwart passenger car brands like Honda are not immune to the shifting tastes and buying preferences of the newest generation of automotive customers. The excellent all-new 2018 Honda Accord—a mainstay of Honda’s line-up and arguably the cornerstone of the Honda brand—is languishing on dealers’ lots, missing sales projections, as prospective buyers pass it over in favor of Honda’s expanded line-up of SUVs such as the best-selling CR-V, the new-for-2017 compact HR-V and the recently re-styled Pilot.

One interesting unintended consequence of the shift from the popularity of passenger cars to SUVs is that SUVs (as well as pickup trucks and minivans) are considered “light trucks” for purposes of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) calculations. As of 2010, the minimum average passenger fuel economy had to be 27.5 MPG weighted average in a given brand’s sales mix. For every gas-guzzling 18 mpg luxo-sedan a carmaker sold, they had to offset that with the sale of a 36 mpg gas-sipping carette in order to achieve the 27.5 mpg average.

But light trucks are held to a far lower fuel economy standard. In 2010, it was only 23.5 mpg. And with the lower-economy light truck category grabbing an ever-larger share of sales, the actual total combined average economy of all new vehicles sold is lower because a higher portion of those sales are low-mileage trucks instead of higher-mileage cars. The Government’s attempt to legislate higher fuel economy (for the ecological good of lower CO2 emissions and less need for environmentally-intrusive oil exploration and extraction) has run afoul of the real-world laws of consumerism and market choice. If they have the freedom to do so, people will buy the product or service that best suits their needs, which is not necessarily the one that Governmental central planners had in mind.

Ford may well find that it’s new “less-car” line-up decision is premature and ill-advised. The oil/gasoline market is subject to chaotic variances and disparate influences. While relatively linear factors such as long-range market-based supply/demand trends and improving exploration/extraction technology can be thought of as somewhat predictable, there is no way to foresee or prepare for a market-changing event such as extreme Mid-East geo/political unrest or a cataclysmic weather event that interrupts supply. A quick look back at the history of retail gasoline pricing in the U.S just in the past few decades will show repeated wild swings from well under $2.00/gallon to over $4.00/gallon, back and forth several times. Just when it seems as if pricing will never be low again, the bottom drops out. Just when consumers start feeling over-confident that high gasoline pricing is behind them forever, it shoots back towards $4.00.

Given the very long lead-time for designing and producing an all-new car, Ford is certainly taking quite a gamble by announcing the elimination of their high-mpg sedans in favor of lower-mpg SUVs, should the gasoline market reverse into high-price territory.  And it seems to be doing just that: The improving world economy has spurred the demand for oil and the price of crude oil (and hence gasoline pricing) has shot up dramatically in the last twelve months.

The takeaway is this: Under the old rules, where the purchase of individual cars and trucks comprised a huge segment of the U.S economy and those cars and trucks were powered by oil-based fuels, large and small vehicles would fall into and out of favor, depending on the arbitrary whims of the world’s oil markets. During times of $1.75/gallon gasoline, the bigger the SUV, the better. When gas is $3.85/gallon, the Civics of the world sell for $5000 above sticker.

But we’re not playing under the old rules anymore. As ride-sharing, “calling an Uber” and self-driving cars (available for hire as needed on a per-trip basis) continue to become more prevalent, individual car ownership will decline and lose its position as a visible, conspicuous symbol of a person’s economic standing. This shift in consumer spending will have a major impact on the economy. People will not desire to own the car that transports them from Point A to Point B any more than they would want to own the train they ride on from Boston to NYC. Not being tied into permanent ownership, people will simply hire what they need at that particular time: a mid-sized SUV to pick up Johnny and the team from Little League practice; an elegant quiet luxury sedan when two couples are going out to a nice restaurant on Saturday night.

The other rule that Ford is ignoring is that oil-based fuels will not likely be the predominant personal transportation fuel for much longer. If Ford thinks that because current gasoline pricing is moderate then consumers will show a strong preference for SUVs over sedans, they’re already betting on the wrong horse, given oil’s upward direction.

A gutsier—but actually more defensible—move would be for Ford to have announced that they were discontinuing their gasoline-powered sedans in favor of a new lineup of hybrid and electric SUVs and pickups, with available optional self-driving capability. Although Ford has made vague statements about making a “full commitment” to alternative propulsion vehicles, they’ve given essentially no specifics or timetable.

I’ve been wrong before, but it seems to me that Ford is charting their course with faulty maps. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Ford’s maps are actually fine—they just need people who can read them properly.

 

 

 

Alfie Evans – as far as we know – is still alive. He is the infant boy from the Liverpool area of England who has a rare and seemingly undiagnosed brain disease that has destroyed most of his brain, according to his hospital MRI scan results. The hospital has refused to allow him to be taken – at no cost to British taxpayers – to Italy to be given experimental treatment. These are some of the comments – usually with at least a degree or two of separation from the source in the case of anonymous NHS doctors – from various authorities in England. They are revealingly horrifying.

Michael Mylonas – The Queen’s Counsel or defense lawyer in the U.K. for the hospital – has stated that it is a “tragedy” that Alfie looks normal. Think about that comment. Because much of his brain has been destroyed, Alfie Evans is seen by the Hospital and by the Courts in the UK as a sub-human thing that must be disposed of like an aborted fetus. What a shame that he apparently is still (or was for a number of hours) clinging to life. How dare that medical misfit clutch his parents and breathe and live?

Appeal Judge Lady Justice King proclaimed:

Tragically everything that would allow him to have some appreciation of life, or even the mere touch of his mother, has been destroyed irrevocably.

How exactly would you know Lady Justice King? Can you proclaim with absolute God-like certainty that Alfie is deprived of his humanity and of all his senses? Despite his condition? Can we state that Alfie is somehow not human and not deserving of help when he breathes and lives? This is not Judicial overreach. This is not merely Judicial Imperialism. This is Godless Judicial Theocracy.

This is why America was populated by those seeking religious freedom and freedom in general. Whatever their faith. Europe with the stench of its aristocracy and it’s poisonous class systems was a jail to flee from long before socialism and communism created their own industrial versions of overlords and feudal peasants. While England and the UK may have given us the Magna Carta, there is far less freedom in vital matters of life, liberty and happiness in that clayish sodden little island than in America.

This is not some bug in the British system of governance. This is a feature. The royal we’s will ration. The royal subjects will receive everything from pronunciation (received pronunciation: look it up) to housing to hospital beds. The nation of shopkeepers might have established a common law system that has given the world some of its better countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and others) and it’s greatest republic. But it still rations its health care with a dour socialist’s disdain for the commoners.

An anonymous doctor at Alder Hey Children’s hospital apparently has said that it will take a “sea-change” in Alfie’s parents’ attitudes for the hospital to allow Alfie to be taken home by his parents. Why? They might exercise their free will and take an air ambulance to Rome. Repent and kneel before thy sovereign or thou shalt be denied.

You are not God, you anonymous NHS doctor. You are a public employee working at a state hospital. Shut the f##k up and let Alfie’s parents take care of their son as they see fit. Shame on the NHS. Shame on the UK’s courts. Shame on the UK.

Ted Kennedy: The Lyin’ of the Senate

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The 2018 movie “Chappaquiddick” recounts the July 1969 incident in which then-Senator Ted Kennedy drove off a narrow bride on Chappaquiddick Island late at night, plunging into shallow water of Poucha Pond, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, a young campaign staffer.  The movie details Kennedy’s subsequent actions, his delay in reporting the occurrence to local officials and his meticulously-planned televised mea culpa that rescued his tottering political career. With Kennedy’s name and story being thrust back into the spotlight by this film, it’s an opportune time to re-examine his long role on the national scene.

Theodore (Ted) Kennedy—the fourth and youngest son of Joe Kennedy Sr.—was arguably the most influential player of the entire Kennedy political clan. Although he never made it to the presidency, his impact on American culture, politics and society was far-reaching and has fundamentally altered this country’s direction in many ways. None of them good, unfortunately.

Here are some of the highlights of his long and storied career in the Senate:

1965 Immigration and Nationality Act

Other than abortion, probably no domestic issue flames the emotions and draws such sharp lines of political division as does the subject of immigration. The issues are well-known and it’s not necessary to recount them all here.  Suffice to say, once the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 became law, there was a fundamental shift in the ease and number of non-Northern European immigrants coming into the United States. In practical terms, the Act allowed the number—both legal and illegal— of Latino immigrants into the United States to increase precipitously.

Although Kennedy wasn’t an official author of the bill (it was known as the Cellar-Hart Act, named for NY Representative Emanuel Celler and Michigan Senator Philip Hart), he lent the full weight of his family name and personal political capital to supporting its passage. In the Senate only three years at the time (he was elected in November 1962 in a special election to fill the MA Senate seat vacated by President John F. Kennedy in 1960), his vociferous, passionate support of the Act was the first really major public policy success of his Senate career.

He championed this Act because he likely thought it would redound for decades to the profound benefit of the Democratic party. Many contend that Kennedy’s support was based strictly on demographic/political issues, because he knew (or was told) that opening up immigration to more Hispanics and Asians would swell Democratic voting coffers for generations to come. His critics would be quick to add that Kennedy was an upper-crust racist hypocrite who would never personally associate with the people the Immigration and Nationality Act was ostensibly designed to help.

It’s nearly impossible to divine the intents and motives of someone since deceased, more than a half-century after the fact. But regardless of Kennedy’s real objective, he played a pivotal role in helping pass the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which arguably altered the political and cultural course of this country as much or more than any other single piece of legislation has since.

1969 Chappaquiddick

As touched upon above, in July 1969 (over the moon landing weekend of July 18-20), Kennedy left a family party late at night and drove with young campaign staffer Mary Jo Kopechne to catch the Edgartown Ferry back to Martha’s Vineyard. Confused and tired, possibly from a few drinks at the party (although no one has ever claimed he was inebriated), Kennedy took a wrong turn and drove his car off a narrow bridge. Kennedy was unhurt, but Kopechne died in the accident.

The aftermath of the occurrence stands as Kennedy’s lasting contribution to the moral aspect of American politics and culture. His narcissistic, self-absorbed devotion to his own political fortunes, demonstrated by his leaving the scene of the accident and his stunning subsequent reluctance to immediately report it and take full responsibility, provided a veritable “how to” blueprint for unscrupulous individuals from that point forward as to how trusted people could evade accountability and blame. Trying to get the police report withheld so the NY Times and other major media outlets would focus instead on the historic first moon landing happening that same weekend, the behind-the-scenes scheming of the best way to orchestrate an effective career-saving televised explanation/apology that would cast Kennedy more as a sympathetic victim of circumstance than perpetrator, are both concrete indications that Kennedy’s only real concern was professional self-preservation.

There is no illusion here that Kennedy was the first politician or powerful businessperson to try to get away with some egregious immoral blunder. However, his was perhaps the biggest, most public misstep by a major public figure up to that point in the television age of instantaneous media coverage. What happened with Kennedy was known worldwide in real time. The world learned and took the lesson that he essentially got away with it just as quickly, being granted absolution by the sympathetic media and the Kennedy-infatuated MA electorate alike.

In addition, the entire incident revealed beyond any doubt that there are indeed two levels of justice in this country: One for the average person and another for the favored and well-connected. Both lessons—how to evade responsibility and the fact that the well-connected will not be fully held to account—are permanent stains on the fabric of American culture and decency. If this incident was a dinner party, then Senator Ted Kennedy—with the famous family name revered by the liberal media and thus granted slack that no Republican could ever hope for—knocked over the wine glass onto the white carpet, never apologized to the host, and tried to blame the whole thing on the person sitting next to him—and then expected to be invited back next week.

The Rejection of Robert Bork, 1987

Robert Bork, a highly-respected scholar and judge, was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987 by President Reagan. Being more conservative than the retiring Justice Lewis Powell that he’d be replacing, Democrats were determined to block Bork’s appointment and prevent the Court from tilting in a conservative direction.

The day that Bork was nominated, Kennedy made perhaps the most famous and influential speech of his entire career, a wildly histrionic speech in which he excoriated Bork, attacking his character with vitriolic falsehoods, gratuitous lies and totally fabricated innuendo:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

This was an astonishing speech coming from a supposed highly-respected leader of the country. The reality was, of course, that Bork was eminently qualified; he simply wasn’t in philosophical lockstep with the Democratic Party.

Kennedy’s performance during the Bork episode can plausibly be thought of as the beginning of the modern-day liberal media bias era as we know it today. His comments and behavior were blatantly and intentionally inaccurate, intended to shape public perception. The news outlets—overwhelmingly populated by liberal correspondents and writers—never questioned Kennedy’s statements or assertions of Bork’s unfitness. They never questioned his motives or inquired about his sources. Instead, they played his incendiary comments over and over, unchallenged, unquestioned, as if it was news, not opinion.

Stunned into non-action, the Republicans never did mount any kind of counter to Kennedy’s baseless attack. In 1987, there were no media/legal watchdog groups like today’s Media Research Center or Judicial Watch to get an opposing viewpoint out into the public space. Fox News was still ten years away. The Big Three television networks dominated the media landscape and their liberal slant pervaded virtually all the news coverage. Ted Kennedy, with a floor Senate speech born out of unabashed partisanship, personal animus and the brazen, apparent desire for self-aggrandizement, cleverly and knowingly leveraged a liberal media he knew would never challenge him and single-handedly engineered a major structural change to the country’s highest court system that would have repercussions decades into the future.

As President, John F. Kennedy didn’t have the chance to make a truly lasting mark on the American landscape. His greatest contributions were as much visual and aesthetic as they were policy: the notion of Camelot, the romance and adventurism of having begun the successful Space Program, the dramatic success of squirming out of the immediacy of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Similarly, Robert Kennedy—the “smartest” Kennedy—never got the chance to really establish his influence on the country, being cut down by an assassin’s bullet during the 1968 Democratic primary campaign, a campaign he seemed likely to win.

But Ted Kennedy, despite lacking his older brothers’ charisma, not being their intellectual equal and seemingly struggling his entire life for the approval of his father Joseph Kennedy Sr., the unapologetically ruthless head of the Kennedy political machine, has made a more lasting impact on American politics, society and culture than any of his brothers. Ted’s actions have left a permanent negative mark on America in terms of demographics, voting, morality and law.

Kennedy’s revisionist-history sycophants have coined the term the “Lion of the Senate” to describe his 47 years of supposedly unselfish, meritorious, crucial work on behalf of the American people. With a minor spelling adjustment, it’s an apt term indeed.

 

 

While the last few weeks have ratcheted up to an even higher level the swirling whirlpool that is the multiple news stories that emerge daily or even hourly from Washington, consider for just a moment Justice Gorsuch’s siding with the Supreme Court’s more liberal or outright liberal judges in Sessions v. Dimaya.

James Dimaya is a legal immigrant from the Philippines who arrived in America a few decades ago, and has since become a criminal. He’s been charged with a handful of burglaries and the issue at stake is whether Dimaya can be deported for having committed “crimes of violence.”

Surprisingly perhaps for the Trump administration, Justice Gorsuch agreed with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan (who wrote the majority opinion). What the decision means is that the Supreme Court has struck down Section 16(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, because of the vagueness of the term “crimes of violence.”

In Breitbart of all places, Joel Pollak defends Gorsuch’s siding with the liberals, but Pollak bases his defense on what he views as Gorsuch’s originalist leanings. In other words, Justice Gorsuch’s decision was based on a deeply held suspicion of the broad net that was cast by the term, under which many acts could be considered violent and hence give the government the right to deport legal immigrants because their crimes were deemed a threat to society.

As Pollak details, Gorsuch’s opinion begins with the following words:

Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolu­tion, the crime of treason in English law was so capaciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of “pretended” crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21. Today’s vague laws may not be as invidious, but they can invite the exercise of arbitrary power all the same—by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up.

How violent a criminal you have to be to have your legal status revoked is an important question to ask. It seems that Judge Gorsuch is worried that Congress has left it up to the courts, which means the prosecutors as much as the judges, to define what crimes are “crimes of violence.” And caution in the face of such prosecutorial power is warranted.

The problem is of course that this decision may very well at some point in the future be used to try and justify giving illegal immigrants who are also violent criminals 5th amendment rights. One would hardly be surprised if a Justice Kagan or Sotomayor took this position at some future date. Surely Gorsuch would never take such a position, but there is a flood of angry demands by immigration activists that seek to have anyone who makes it across the Rio Grande be as deserving of the Bill of Rights as a citizen of America. The White House surely feels that Gorsuch has chipped away at the legal barriers holding back such a flood.

Here’s the list of people in the media that Jim Comey – former FBI Director and now soon-to-be wealthy and world famous author – will speak to or has already spoken to on his book promotion tour:

  • George Stephanopoulos: a key Bill Clinton aide who ran communications for his 1992 election campaign and then became a senior White House advisor during Clinton’s first term.
  • Stephen Colbert: the television late night host was in near tears when it was suddenly apparent that Hillary was going to lose the election to Trump.
  • Rachel Maddow: Do we need to add anything? Not really.
  • David Remnick: Editor of the New Yorker since the year of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. Has worked for the Washington Post. Wrote a book on Obama titled: The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.
  • The View: A show where you can be a cheerful part of The Resistance along with its hosts.
  • Mike Allen: The man fronting Axios who functions much like a former Obama aide – think Favreau or Rhodes – by needling and reminding seemingly every member of Trump’s Cabinet about why their lives suck and they should quit.

Comey will be speaking to this select list of nary a conservative or even moderate centrist.

But Comey last year wouldn’t speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as he informed them in a curt letter on June 1st of last year, a couple of weeks after being fired by Trump. Read the details in Byron York’s piece in the Washington Examiner. Apparently Comey is a righteous man who liked to use Reinhold Niebuhr as a a Twitter handle until the cat was let out of the bag. I’ll leave it to those far better versed in theology, philosophy and their relationship to politics in America to explain Niebuhr’s views. But it seems to me it’s not a modest nickname. And it seems Comey did not intend his use of Reinhold Niebuhr to be taken ironically. Rather it seems to have been meant as a tribute to … James Comey. And his honesty, fortitude, and rectitude in a fallen world.

The book will sell like crazy. Comey will be very rich. He may also become a target of both GOP enemies and Hillaryites who still blame him for the election loss. Even if it was the Russians, or one of Trump’s affairs that were hushed up. Because had they been revealed, his base would have been shocked and stayed at home that November night in 2016.

What will it say on the Russia probe? What new, convincing evidence might it suggest as far as obstruction of justice charges flowing from Trump’s firing of our soon-to-be world famous author? Comey has surrounded the release of his book with security worthy of Mueller’s probe. Sorry, if Comey’s publishers leaked like Mueller’s prosecutors, Comey would have them fired and then immediately arrested for breach of contract. Because you see, James Comey is his own walking, talking compliance department. It’s what happens when you’re the last honest man standing in DC.

But should Trump’s White House decide to remove Deputy AG Rosenstein and maybe even demand Jeff Sessions’ resignation, along with perhaps FBI Director Christopher Wray, the ensuing political storm will dwarf Comey’s tell-all book. And Trump’s presidency will hang in the balance, unfortunately. One can perhaps go out on a limb and imagine Trump doing something like that just to get back at Comey.

The truth, however, is that the White House has far more pressing matters than to deal with Comey’s book, regardless of the media storm it will produce. We’re already getting the sneak previews on that and the storm is on its way. But in a Trump Presidency, even James Comey may soon find himself yanked off the front pages by some new battle, revelation, or scandal. Let’s hope Righteous Jim can handle that.

A phalanx of photographers tracking your every facial twitch with fingers on the trigger ready to shoot like a pack of wild-game hunters surrounding their prey. That’s what Zuckerberg faced before he even took a single question from Senators from both the Judiciary and Commerce committees.

I suspect that Paul Ryan – who has finally announced that he will be retiring come next January and who will therefore not run again in the upcoming midterms – may face slightly less of a phalanx of lens swiveling image-hunters over the next few days and weeks.

Yes, Zuck is much much richer than Mr. Ryan, and just about everybody else on the planet except a few people like Jeff Bezos. But all that frantic zooming and clicking (inevitable pun) on Capitol Hill really has to do with social media and the desperation to get inside the head of the smiley global-hand-holding-connected-community-loving guy, who must also be a really smart businessman, right?

Here’s what National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote today in the NY Post:

Facebook can’t bear to admit that it has garnered the largest collection of data known to man to sell ads against and line the pockets of its founder and investors.

The problem isn’t that Zuckerberg is a businessman, and an exceptionally gifted one, but that he pretends to have stumbled out of the lyrics of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” To listen to him, Facebook is all about connectivity and openness — he just happens to have made roughly $63 billion as the T-shirt-wearing champion of “the global community,” whatever that means.

In other words, while Zuckerberg and his top execs like Sheryl Sandberg might go on about their need to rigorously control their users’ data, Facebook makes it’s billions by selling the data all of us willingly (whether we actually stop to think about what we’re doing or not) give them permission to collect and share. And therefore to sell. And younger generations (and some older folks too) are simply not that careful about what they post online; which tends to be: Just. About. Every. Thing.

But therer’s another angle to the fascination with Zuckerberg, and that’s a sort of contempt for those (the majority of people) who don’t understand even the basics of how social media acquires and sells data. Commentators running from Reason’s Robby Soave to The Federalist’s Ben Domenech to Vox’s Emily Stewart (that’s a reasonable range of political opinion right there) have been downright dismissive of our collective ignorance on the matter. Especially by some of the older people in Washington. For example consider some of the Senators’ questions. Poor Senator Hatch asked:

How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?

To which Zuck replied:

Senator we run ads.

Ba-dum!

One has to assume that Hatch’s aides understand a little better than the venerable Senator representing Utah how Facebook works, and a younger senator might have asked the same question but framed it like a prosecutor setting up a clever witness to then begin to chip away at Facebook’s business model and the risks it entails to its users and to society at large. Not Hatch.

But we shouldn’t hide in shame if we don’t know how, for example, an API (Application Programming Interface) works. An API appears to be a tool that simplifies app creation for app developers. As Facebook explains on one of its pages dedicated to developers:

The Graph API is the primary way to get data into and out of the Facebook platform. It’s a low-level HTTP-based API that apps can use to programmatically query data, post new stories, manage ads, upload photos, and perform a wide variety of other tasks.

Did you catch those words “query data”?? And “get data into and out of the Facebook platform”?? (italics added)

Facebook does not sneak data out the back door for the firms that are its true clients. It loads them up onto semi’s parked outside the main entrance. You’re just too busy taking selfies to notice.

It seems we are approaching a world where a working, if simple, knowledge of the basics of cryptography is going to be as important to a civics class as reading a text on the subject. Your data is being bought and sold, shared, used, and analyzed. Because you clicked HERE! We’ll have to learn a few things about how to control that process the best we can. Rather than create yet another layer of government regulation to oversee compaines like Facebook and Google. As powerful as they are. No one wants to make a Hatch of things, right?

(To be fair to Senator Hatch, he got the joke immediately.)

They came at night, the Lakota choppers crossing the dry srcubland and setting down in a hostile, violent region where borders dissolved in the desert hills and those wishing to harm America moved quietly and quickly through the darkness.

As U.S. Central Commander General Joseph Votel said:

But again, the hard part I think is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes, addressing the long-term issues of reconstruction and other things that will have to be done.

Hence the National Guard arriving at night. Like in Iraq.

Oh, right. General Votel wasn’t talking about the Southern Border. He meant Syria. And how silly to expect that the U.S. military would be concerned about securing its homeland’s borders when there is an urgent need to attempt the fool’s errand of building a nation state from the rubble of Syria. Here’s what Matthew Brodsky writes in National Review in the latest iteration of neocon-speak:

Chasing every Sunni jihadist down a desert rabbit hole misses the larger and more threatening trend that the Pentagon already identified in January in its own National Defense Strategy, namely, that “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” In other words, the decade-long U.S. focus on counterterrorism strategies enabled and empowered dangerous adversarial states such as Iran and Russia at the expense of America’s position in the world.

That is why a premature withdrawal from Syria would likely match the disastrous and hasty American exit from Iraq and be far worse than President Obama’s efforts to “lead from behind” in Libya. In fact, it would double down on Obama’s worst mistakes, which set the table for the Islamic State’s rise and enriched and enabled Iran while allowing Russia to transform itself into the region’s chief powerbroker.

The security experts will always find a compelling reason to increase and spread the presence of American troops around the world, like the blossoming of a thousand PhD theses detailing yet another new world order. Be wary of the wonks and cautious about extended stays in the Middle East.

The Middle East dissolved in flames because of the Iraq War. Troops arrived in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, and then found their mission had expanded to include reconstructing a state that no longer existed and was deeply divided by hostile factions with the fatal fault line of Sunni-Shiite divisions running throughout the territory that was once a unified country. Unified by a bloodthirsty madman. Obama’s early withdrawl, in other words, may not have been as vital to the emergence of ISIS as is thought. But we really have no way of knowing if more boots on the ground for longer would have greatly helped stabilize Iraq. Remember the troops that helped crush ISIS did not go in there to help reconstruct Iraq or Syria. They went in to destroy ISIS.

So moving those metaphors North and slightly West, and ahead in time by basically a decade, we now have Syria as the next must-fix nation in the region. With the bood-thirsty madman called al-Assad still in power. And supported by Russia as well as Iran. That should be a clear warning. To experts like Brodsky, it’s a wonderful new opportunity.

But sending a few hundred National Guardsmen and women to help secure America’s southern border is seen as a foolish impulse on the part of President Trump. A crazed policy put into motion by a restless set of early morning Tweets. To be resisted by progressive governors who seem to care more about defending their cities’ sanctuary status than aiding in trying to keep the border a safe and well-managed frontier.

There is no resource more vital to the United States than it’s men and women of the military. Even, perhaps, more-so than its creativity and its innovating genius. A military that is governed by an elected civilian government and places those men and women in harm’s way reluctantly – or should – only to help the government secure its most pressing objectives. Partisan sneering at a reasonable redeployment of the National Guard, and expert doom-mongering over a reasonable questioning of how long troops should stay in Syria, reduces those men and women to bargaining chips in a policy debate where their lives will be at risk.

Send the Guard and bring back some more of those troops from Syria. They are both reasonable decisions by the President. And while we’re on the topic of Iranian influence in Syria, let’s look at that Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action, which has helped fund Iran’s terrorist and hegemonic activity.