These are my continuing highlights from the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I am capturing as many cogent remarks by the speakers as possible in order to convey the highlights to readers. I previously posted my notes from the early morning Thursday session here, here, and here.

Here is what I captured during the early Friday sessions:

From the “Are AI, 5G, and Big Data China’s New Weapons of War?” session, with author and Chinese expert Gordon Chang, James Carafano (The Heritage Foundation), Rep, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Matthew Whitaker (former acting AG and now at Axiom Strategies):

  • Gordon Chang: The president of Hong Kong sent a message of unity to the people of America and CPAC. The same regime (the People’s Republic of China) attacking the freedoms of Hong Kong is attacking the freedoms of the US.
  • McMorris Rodgers: We need free markets and a strong national defense: military and economic power are critical to our success. We have the Left promoting a complete takeover of our economy. We need an American approach centered on individual rights and liberties coupled with free markets in the private sector.
  • Whitaker: The Phase I trade deal with China involved intellectual property protections. The Chinese are using spatial recognition software and big data to control people – the opposite application from the US, where the technology is used to improve the economy and lives of individual people. The PRC is authoritarian; they use technology to consolidate their power over their own people.
  • McMorris Rodgers: We use new technology for start-ups. The PRC steals and uses technology for authoritarian use, including sharing with other authoritarian regimes.
  • Carafano: There has been an argument between the panda huggers and the panda haters for 20 years. The Left has been hugging; thankfully, our President is restoring balance. The Chinese vacuum up all the information in the world via their large multinational corporations; data is the new nuclear weapon, and the Chinese will use it to control the world.
  • McMorris Rodgers: We’re working on privacy legislation in Congress. We need an American approach for AI applications that protects private and intellectual property rights. Stopping Huawei in the US was an important first step to prevent data and IP theft. There are socialists in the House of Representatives who are fighting against privacy rights and for government control and monitoring of all data.
  • Whitaker: We need to regulate for the next 20 years in order to ensure privacy rights and protection of digital information.
  • Carafano: We have to win the fight for privacy rights and IP protections with our friends and allies, too, not just here in the US. 5G is the transformative technology for data that is coming. 5G capacity across the entire economy plus the computing power of quantum computing coupled with AI technology is the future. We need to get it right with an American solution.
  • Whitaker: Drafting worldwide standards for interconnecting phones and data is a key step. If the Chinese aren’t open to interoperability standards and privacy rights protections, they should be shut out from helping to determine those standards and implementing the future 5G-AI-quantum computing infrastructure.
  • Chang: The Chinese violate international standards all the time, e.g., for genetic engineering. They don’t have a good track record in cooperating on international standards.
  • Carafano: The Chinese are involved in technology-laundering operations through joint ventures. They develop the tech in the joint venture, then steal it and duplicate it in a Chinese-owned company. Winning the 5G fight is just one part of the battle. There is a security competition, a human rights battle, a facial recognition battle, and other battles that must be won.
  • Whitaker: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) review process is important, so who is in the Oval Office is key. We need to eliminate Chinese technology on our information backbone.
  • McMorris Rodgers: We need competition in the technology market place – multiple US/western sources who adhere to international standards.

From the “A Conversation with Brad Parscale and Lara Trump” session, with Brad Parscale (Trump campaign manager), Lara Trump (daughter-in-law and also on the Trump campaign), moderated by Matt Schlapp (President, ACU):

  • Parscale: We are working on a digital campaign as well as a ground game. The reelection campaign has been ongoing since Inauguration Day.
  • Parscale: We have greatly increased our outreach capability and digital strategy.
  • Lara Trump: In 2016, 25% of donations came from women. In 2020, 50% of donations are coming from women.
  • Parscale: The electoral map changes a little bit depending on who the Democrat nominee is, but in general it doesn’t really matter who their candidate it. The Democrats WILL cheat in 2020; that’s what they do all the time. We are launching “Army for Trump” to help combat that in voting precincts.
  • Parscale: In 2016, we had 600,000 mostly trained volunteers. We’ll have 2,000,000 fully trained volunteers in 2020. We have doubled our ground operation around the country. We have more staff on the ground in the key states. Minnesota and New Mexico are in play, as a result.
  • Parscale: The crazy progressive wave (single-payer medicine) will not work, as people don’t want to give up their private health insurance and go with government solutions.
  • Lara Trump: Donald Trump doesn’t need the job; he’s working for the American people by choice. The Trump family was new to politics in 2016. Now we are better prepared for the fight.
  • Parscale: The President is not running around mad all the time, as portrayed by the legacy media. The “Trump is mad” meme is just for clickbait, as the writers don’t have any idea what is really going on in the Oval Office.
  • Parscale: If you listen to the SOTU by yourself and then through a media filter, there is a 50-point difference in approval rating. All the media does is sell chaos. The President’s list of direct contacts of American people is at 50,000,000 – the largest in history

From the “A conversation with DoT Secretary Elaine Chao and DoL Secretary Eugene Scalia, as interviewed by Dan Schneider (ACU):

  • Chao: The Trump Administration has had a big deregulatory agenda. For every new regulation, two have to be withdrawn. Safety is a big goal. We are fact-based in conducting reviews and audits around the country.
  • Scalia: We are focused on the welfare of the American laborer. We are focused on broadening the labor market, and deregulation plays a big part in the plan. The deregulatory policy of this president is the most effective ever implemented.
  • Scalia: There is a constitutional of fairness: publish the rights and know what the law is. Making sure that employees and employers are informed through fair notice is our focus.
  • Chao: We are the regulators of commercial commerce, drones, and commercial space. The challenge as regulators is to address new technologies for safety, security, and privacy while protecting individual rights. We have a decentralized process that promotes maximum collaboration with consumers and producers in developing the right regulatory policies.
  • Chao: We are going to have to accommodate transition periods for old-to-new vehicles – not a top-down mandate. The innovations are helping to drive the economy.
  • Scalia: We are at a 50-year low in unemployment in the country. Wages are rising, too, especially for lower-wage workers (15% wage growth since 2017). Tax cuts, deregulation, and trade deals have fueled economic growth – and will continue to fuel growth into the future.

From the “What’s the Right Path Forward on Big Tech” session with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Donald Trump, Jr, as moderated by Amber Athey (The Spectator):

  • Trump Jr: If you are pro-life, pro-liberty, and you say any of those things, you get suppressed on social media. It’s not a free market because big tech has so many protections that they can get away with discriminating against conservatives.
  • Hawley: We want to be treated fairly. We shouldn’t be censured by social media. If they continue to discriminate, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue to get special deals from the government.
  • McCarthy: 90% of all searches go through Google. Twitter is going to allow liberal activists to determine whether content is harmful. That is fascism. The human writes the algorithm. If they can do this about our speech, what are they doing about our privacy?
  • Hawley: Google and Facebook basically ran the Obama administration. They got special deals from the government.
  • Trump Jr: The bias is going into everyday life – for example, bombarding email accounts with junk mail propaganda.
  • McCarthy: We need more speech, not less. Zuckerberg said we need more free speech, but watch the liberals going after him. Our knowledge about us is ours; we should own our own data, not the social media.
  • Hawley: I met with Zuckerberg, who admitted that Facebook had a bias program (duh). The Left want to bully big tech to suppress conservative speech. We need to open it up and promote more free speech alternatives. We should be able to take all your emails across platforms without loss of content.
  • McCarthy: If you are a conservative and working at one of these companies, you have to have privacy and be careful about whom you talk to. We need a level playing field for everybody. Anything on the internet that is “free,” you are not a customer; you are a source of data for them.
  • Trump Jr: If they can do it to us, who can’t they do it to? I have witnessed suppression first-hand.
  • Hawley: You ought to be able to say that you want and get your personal information back (and cleansed from social media databases). We should be able to sue big tech if we are being suppressed.
  • Trump Jr: Google is working with the Chinese government (they’re taking the money). Big tech is more comfortable working with a dictatorial regime.
  • McCarthy: Before you can buy an airline ticket in China, you have to qualify based on a “social score” based on your personal data file. That’s what the Left would like to do in the US [using big tech to provide social scores for Americans].
  • Trump Jr: Politics is downstream of culture. Social media is an important ingredient of culture and everyday life. We need a level playing field.
  • Hawley: Families and individuals should have control over their own information and what they themselves want to see.

End of Part I of Day 2 of CPAC. More to follow!

The end.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy where he received a classical liberal education which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political, military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs topics.
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