Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind

By Malia Hill

“Abuse of power isn’t limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we’re not vigilant” – Clint Eastwood

Each week, we’ll be monitoring the web to find the most interesting, challenging, or important items for those who are concerned about liberty, accountability, and big government.  Here are some of the highlights from the past week:

If it Walks Like a Socialist, and Talks Like a Socialist . . .

It is apparently considered poor form to point that out.  At least, that seems to be the take of many of the President’s defenders, who are no doubt well aware that calling someone a “socialist” is only slightly less popular in the US than calling him a “soccer enthusiast.”  But the bickering over labels, their meaning, and their PR baggage ignores critical and reasonable questions about political ideology and philosophy.  As Paul Gregory writes in Forbes, the term “socialist” has a real-world meaning, and it’s worth looking at the President’s policies to see where they fit.

The Right to be Interfered with Equally

Like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water, we have watched as the Transportation Security Agency has turned up the heat on our liberties, while we do nothing in response other than grumble on Twitter and complain to our friends about the inconvenience of it all.  And now we learn that even a Senator is not exempt from being hassled and harassed, as Senator Rand Paul’s disinclination to be groped by an airport security guard led to his controversial “detainment” by TSA.  Sure, in a backwards way, it’s interesting to see that political status is no proof against being treated badly by airport security, but this isn’t exactly the kind of thing Jefferson was talking about when he wrote that we were all “created equal.”

A Waiver for Me but Not for Thee

Did you have hopes that Obamacare wouldn’t turn out to be a government boondoggle used (among other things) as a tool to grant favors to the favored?  If so, then what color is the sky on your planet?  As the Washington Examiner reports (to the surprise of no one except the optimistic and chronically naïve), the Department of Health and Human Services has been busy granting waivers to Obamacare provisions—1472 of them so far.  What are the requirements to receive a waiver?  It’s unclear, and hasn’t been made public.  We do know, however, that labor unions (some of President Obama’s biggest supporters) have been generous recipients of waivers.  As have many businesses in Representative Pelosi’s district.  And now we may know why some supporters of the President seemed so unconcerned with the law’s possible ramifications.  Perhaps they just realized that they were holding a Get Out of Obamacare Free card.

You Are Now Free to Get Lost in Privacy

In a victory for civil rights—most especially the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, the Supreme Court has ruled that a government investigator may not use a GPS to track someone’s movements without first obtaining a warrant.  Especially heartening about the decision in United States v. Jones is what it might mean for future privacy issues in the internet (and electronic) age.  The Court relied on the Fourth Amendment (rather than the more nebulous privacy right “penumbras”) in its decision and left open the possibility that the protections may apply to that strange junction between privacy and technology that now defines so many of our day-to-day interactions.

Unpacking the SOTU

I have nothing but admiration for those who can sit through an entire State of the Union address without letting their mind wander towards what to make for dinner or the plot of the last episode of Justified.  I don’t know—it’s something about all the applause breaks and the cadences of the speech—it just makes it so easy to miss giant sweeping policy changes under the mistaken impression that we’re still mired in an anecdote about an “ordinary American” who happens to be sitting by the First Lady.  So thank goodness for those who pay attention, take notes, and then point out to the rest of us (as Clark Judge does here) exactly what might happen if the President follows through on his words.

Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.

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Please let us know what you think about this reporting. We want to serve your needs, so include your recommendations. Send to maliah@grassrootinstitute.org

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