FREEDOMWORKS & HEARTLAND INSTITUTE
You remember the NSA, right? Big, shadowy agency recording everything you say, write or do online or on your phone? It was in all the papers about four and a half scandals ago.
To refresh your memory, the National Security Agency is basically the intelligence nerve center for planet earth. The 30,000-person organization is working on a nearly $1 billion supercomputing center at its Fort Meade, Md., headquarters, while they finish their new $1.2 billion cybersecurity data center in Camp Williams, Utah.
All this information technology has made the NSA a supercomputing powerhouse, allowing it to scan billions of digital messages for those few communiqués deemed to be a threat. Forget finding a needle in a haystack, NSA computers are designed to find a teardrop in the ocean.
The state of Texas is becoming the standard for freedom in America. Already attracting thousands of new employers for its pro-business stance and hundreds of thousands of new residents for its pro-individual policies, now the Lone Star State wants to revolutionize online freedom.
The state legislature has sent a bill to Governor Rick Perry that would close a troubling loophole that allows the government to access your personal emails. Provided that Perry doesn’t veto the law, the legislation would only apply to state and local law enforcement. Nevertheless, it sends a powerful message to the federal government not to mess with Texas or its email.
Just imagine it: Sleek bullet trains zipping up one coast and down the other at dizzying speeds, filled with lounging hipsters sipping macchiatos and listening to understated Scandinavian techno in pollution-free comfort. The way it’s been sold, high-speed rail sounds far superior to fighting traffic in a Kia or being sardined into an overbooked airplane.
Using Europe and Asia as examples, President Obama has repeatedly promised high-speed rail to travel-weary Americans. “Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city,” he said. “No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination.”
These weren’t idle words. The Obama Administration has spent four years and $12 billion to bring these super choo-choos to the U. S. of A. At last, we’re seeing the fruits of this pricy but essential leap into the New Golden Age of Transportation.
Saturday night, millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to honor Earth Hour. Since 2007, environmental activists have promoted this Gaia-appeasing sacrifice to conserve energy and raise awareness about apocalyptic climate change.
But like many gimmicks, Earth Hour is designed to make people feel like they’re accomplishing something instead of actually accomplishing something.
The whole “awareness-raising” trend is annoying on general principle. Why raise awareness about fatal diseases when you can work to cure them? But what is hazy messaging for a public health campaign is decidedly counterproductive for the professed goals of this envirostunt. Earth Hour actually increases CO2 emissions.
Finally, I cleaned out my Gmail inbox, one of the several email accounts I own. Since I rarely login to this particular service, there was a digital pile of 782 unread messages waiting for the delete button.
Skimming through one neglected missive after another, I noticed the ever-present Google ad affixed to each. One email commented on a music video I uploaded to YouTube years ago. The attached ad offered “Free Cha Cha Lessons” at the link. Another email was from an old friend mentioning his tax refund. What do you know, Google hit me with an ad for $20 off tax preparation from my neighborhood accountant. An email from a former co-worker mentioning caffeine? “Want Fresh Roasted Coffee?” was the ad headline.
On one hand, it’s pretty amazing how Google and other ad-based Web services can marry my daily conversations with a (sometimes) appropriate sales pitch. But it’s also pretty creepy. Even if it’s only robots trolling my account, I don’t want anyone seeing details about my ill relatives, my kids’ schedules or my award-winning collection of My Little Pony fanfic. (Keep the last one on the down-low, capiche?)
Detroit serves as a cautionary tale warning of long-term liberal leadership. As Michigan’s governor prepares a state takeover of the terminally troubled city, many blame the short-sighted policies of the local Democratic machine. To be sure, runaway pensions, red ink and union obstinance have helped hollow out the once-mighty Motor City. But liberal antagonism to the city’s economic engine has worsened the decline not only for Detroit, but the entire state.
As long as we’ve spoken of the American Dream, the automobile has served a primary role in its mythos. Zora Arkus-Duntov, the designer of the Chevy Corvette, said, “in our age where the average person is a cog wheel who gets pushed in the subways, elevators, department stores, cafeterias . . . the ownership of a different car provides the means to ascertain his individuality to himself and everybody around.”
Since Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled off the Detroit assembly line, the car has represented the individual and freedom. Finally, the city dweller could chart his own direction outside of a subway or trolley car and the farmer could explore beyond the reach of his horse and buggy.
It's been a rough day so the boss lets you head home early. As you near your house, you see an unmarked van idling in your driveway. You park on the street and carefully open your front door to find a team of government agents digging through your bookcases, file drawers and medicine cabinets. Mail is scattered everywhere.
“Who are you and what are you doing?” you ask.
“Oh… you weren’t supposed to know about this,” the bureaucrat replies. “You never interrupted us before. Get off work early?”
“But what are you looking for?”
“That’s none of your business. Goodbye.”
This is the experience of many citizens of corrupt and totalitarian countries around the globe. But now it’s the experience of a growing number of Americans every day.
My daughter spoke Finnish on Christmas Eve.
I thought my nine-year-old had just made up some Swedish Chef-style gibberish until she provided a detailed translation. And a few of her phrases sounded a lot like my older Finnish relatives talking.
As it turned out, my daughter had discovered Google Translate. She converted a few English sentences to the obscure Nordic language, clicked the “listen” button, and practiced the paragraph repeatedly until she had it memorized.