Wall Street Journal
The National Security Agency’s Internet communications surveillance is so vast that it can reach nearly 75% of all online communications, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
President Barack Obama has gone to great lengths recently to downplay the NSA’s surveillance apparatus, telling Americans that the government isn’t spying on them and publicly discussing reforms that would protect privacy. But the Wall Street Journal’s report indicates that the snooping programs do in fact retain both email and phone communications between American citizens.
“The system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say,” noted the Wall Street Journal.
“The NSA’s filtering, carried out with telecom companies, is designed to look for communications that either originate or end abroad, or are entirely foreign but happen to be passing through the U.S.,” the paper added. “But officials say the system’s broad reach makes it more likely that purely domestic communications will be incidentally intercepted and collected in the hunt for foreign ones.”
In an excellent piece urging that oral contraception become available over the counter that ran in this morning’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose résumé includes a litany of health policy wonkery, sounded the death knell of both big government’s dominion over one aspect of reproductive health, and the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over that policy. Further, Jindal’s position masterfully bridges the gap between social conservatives and libertarians, as it accounts for both market-based health care (vs. Obamacare) and the protection of religious liberty and conscience (also vs. Obamacare). Here’s an excerpt:
The Wall Street Journal editorial board today floats House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as the best possible vice presidential running mate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney:
The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.
Against the advice of every Beltway bedwetter, he has put entitlement reform at the center of the public agenda—before it becomes a crisis that requires savage cuts. And he has done so as part of a larger vision that stresses tax reform for faster growth, spending restraint to prevent a Greek-like budget fate, and a Jack Kemp-like belief in opportunity for all. He represents the GOP’s new generation of reformers that includes such Governors as Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and New Jersey’s Chris Christie.
As important, Mr. Ryan can make his case in a reasonable and unthreatening way. He doesn’t get mad, or at least he doesn’t show it. Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity.
On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual report on economic freedom across the globe that measures interventionist government policies and ranks countries accordingly.
Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, gives us an idea of what we’ll find in this year’s report, and it’s not pretty:
As Friedrich A. Hayek foresaw decades ago, “The guiding principle in any attempt to create a world of free men must be this: a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.” Thus, the battle of ideas must also be a battle for the meaning of the very words with which we debate. Is it “progressive” to utilize the coercive power of the state to redistribute and level incomes within a society? Is it “liberal” to build a massive state apparatus to regulate conditions of employment, usage of energy, and access to capital? The answers to such questions will determine how we live as individuals in the 21st century.
The 2012 Index of Economic Freedom documents a global economy that is engaged in this evolving battle between the forces of government and free markets. Today’s troubles have been neither accidental nor inevitable. The problems we face are the outcomes of politically driven and economically self-defeating policy decisions that have turned an economic slowdown into an accelerating decline.
Unfortunately, the report shows that the United States has, once again, lost more economic freedoms as corruption, cronyism, government spending, and a poor monetary policy continue to drag us down. While we are still ranked as “mostly free,” we can no longer say our economy is the ambition of the world.
Today is going to be a day of discussing sheer politics, and little more. At this point, we are well beyond talks of policy and the only thing that matters for the next 12 hours is whether some members of Congress can be convinced, for whatever reason, to cast a Yea or Nea vote on the House floor on the health care overhaul.
But let us not forget the important philosophic differences that are at play in this debate.
In this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, the editorial board takes a minute to look past the politics, and reminds us of what is behind the battle over true health care reform:
In our world of infinite wants but finite resources, there are only two ways to allocate any good or service: either through prices and the choices of millions of individuals, or through central government planning and political discretion.
That is really what it’s all about. Who decides. Who controls. And who you think makes better decisions.
The Journal even reprinted a 1996 essay from the late economist Milton Friedman on their op-ed page. Now, if something written nearly 15 years ago still has relevance in the current moment of contemporary politics, you know it must be something special.
So, in between your vote counting on this Sunday afternoon, take a moment to read Friedman’s immortal words.
I’m grateful that Dr. Tom DiLorenzo, professor of economics at Loyola College, took the time to write a rebuttal to an inexplicably ignorant hit-piece recently published in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A Short Banking History of the United States.”
The author of this article, Mr. John Steele Gordon, makes a number of spurious claims in an attempt to discredit the economic philosophy of sound money controlled by the people, and defend Alexander Hamilton’s loyalty to banking interests in the drive to create a private central bank to own our money supply.
Does Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) care about electing a Republican majority? That’s a question the Wall Street Journal ostensibly asked last week after the Texas conservative, who the paper calls, the “minority maker,” forced a procedural vote on the debt ceiling, putting some of his Republican colleagues on the spot and, possibly, in the cross hairs of voters in their home states:
Democrats had enough votes to pass the increase with a simple majority, which means they would have owned the debt increase. But then Senator Ted Cruz —the same fellow who planned the GOP’s shutdown fiasco in October—objected on the floor and insisted on a 60-vote majority. This is exactly what Democratic leader Harry Reid wanted because if the bill failed he would have sent the Senate home on recess and returned later this month to join President Obama in flogging the GOP as the debt-ceiling deadline neared.
The 60-vote threshold was reached only after GOP leaders Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and 10 others voted to let the final debt-ceiling vote proceed. All 12 then opposed the increase on final passage, but thanks to Mr. Cruz they had to walk the plank with Democrats on a procedural vote.
Not coincidentally, activist groups allied with Mr. Cruz announced they will use those votes in GOP primaries this year against Messrs. McConnell and Cornyn. Mr. Cruz claims to be neutral in Senate primaries, but he knew exactly what he was doing.
The Wall Street Journal ran a story today highlighting the pressure that insurers are under from politicians and state regulators to expand provider networks in plans on being sold on the Obamacare exchanges. That’s a “serious problem,” as Joe Scarborough said this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“I think this is, at the end of the day, the issue that’s the greatest challenge for everybody,” said Scarborough as he pointed to the headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. “If patients aren’t allowed to go to the doctor of their choice, that’s going to be a serious problem.”
Mark Halperin, a senior political analyst at Time, pointed out that the problem extends beyond doctors to “medical clinics or any kind of providers.”
“It’s as if the plans are being regulated by both the state and, increasingly, by the federal program,” Halperin told Scarborough. “And it’s going to deny people access to medical providers they had in previous plans.”
We don’t often write here at United Liberty to celebrate works in other publications, but Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal has written something so epic, so flawless, so profound, and so important, that it needs to be celebrated and read by every voter and every taxpayer in this country.
First, a little back story. In 1978, legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey gave a speech to the Future Farmers of America convention, which included a section that became known as “So God Made a Farmer.” It was a continuation of the Biblical story of creation, using similar prose and Harvey’s profound voice to celebrate the importance of hard-working farmers in America. His speech was actually adapted from an earlier column he wrote, which was in turn adapted from a 1940 letter published in the Ellensburg Daily Record, but Harvey’s speech made it into an instant classic.
The United States has dropped is no longer in the 10 top freest economies in the world, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, a joint annual study from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that offers a look at the economies of 178 countries.
Economic freedom in the United States has declined each year since President Barack Obama took office, from 6th in 2009 to 12th in 2014. The researchers explained that new financial and healthcare regulations have “contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”
“Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically ‘free’ in 2006,” note the researchers. “Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.”
“The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years,” they added.
Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, thanks to its fiscal freedom as well as its strong commitment to private property rights, open markets, and free trade. Researchers note that the Chinese protectorate also has a “highly motivated workforce and a high level of labor freedom,” which, they explain, “have added to Hong Kong’s economic dynamism and resilience.”