DHS Secretary Chertoff on REAL ID's "COUNTLESS OTHER" USES.


Monday, December 31, 2007

The politics of privacy

Declan McCullagh, of CNET News wrote an interesting article entitled "The Politics of Privacy" which recaps major issues of 2007. He includes some remarks about the REAL ID Act:
Also continuing through next year will be a growing controversy over the Real ID Act, which would create the first federal identity card for Americans. In January, Maine became the first state to formally reject the scheme, and a few months later anti-Real ID Act senators had some success with an amendment limiting its future expansion.

But the Department of Homeland Security pressed forward with its regulations, which means that starting on May 11, 2008, residents of noncompliant states won't be able to use their driver's licenses as ID at airports or while entering federal buildings. The next five months will tell whether DHS will actually enforce those rules.
For more information, go here.

LibDems vow to bring down ID card plans

Looking Around the World...

Here is an interesting article about developments in England--a country that's abandoned any sense of dignity for the individual when it comes to a surveillance society. Some are trying to slow down the free-fall:
"Putting British families back in control of their everyday lives will be at the heart of everything we stand for...."

"So let 2008 be the year we bring down the Identity Cards scheme."

Individual privacy under threat in Europe and U.S., report says

The International Herald Tribune has an article entitled Individual privacy under threat in Europe and U.S.
Individual privacy is under threat in the United States and across the European Union as governments introduce sweeping surveillance and information-gathering measures in the name of security and controlling borders, an international rights group has said in a report.
The United States ranks low on the privacy scale:
Both Britain and the United States fell into the lowest-performing group of "endemic surveillance societies."
I always contend that the word privacy needs to be substituted with the word freedom.

I am not against the U.S. listening to overseas calls on suspected terrorists, but such measures are not the only ones implemented. So-called "conservatives" constantly push for national id cards, REAL ID, prolific use of biometrics, and the spread of CCTV. I encourage all Americans to read the 4th Amendment and think about why it was written.

The article notes that...
concern about terrorism, immigration and border security was driving the spread of identity and fingerprinting systems, often without regard to individual privacy.
For more from this article, click here. It tries to end on a positive note.

(Hat Tip to Drudge)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tester and Baucus vote against national ID card funding

Jami Bond, reporting from KTVQ in Billings, says:
Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester successfully put the brakes on establishing a national ID card.
Such a statement is probably too optimistic, but it is encouraging to see some of our leaders resisting the establishment of REAL ID.

Read more here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Arizona GOP lawmakers vow fight against 3-in-1 license

The mostly Republican mess that is known as REAL ID is yet opposed by some GOP members at the state level. Paul Davenport of the AP reports:
PHOENIX (AP) -- Prominent Republican legislators vowed Tuesday to fight Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano's proposal for a new alternative driver license that could also be used to cross borders to verify eligibility for employment.

The lawmakers called the license proposal an ominous step toward compliance with Real ID, an emerging federal identification requirement that the lawmakers called an infringement on individual liberties and of state sovereignty.

The proposed alternative license would put the state on a track to requiring citizens to carry identification cards with embedded electronic features that could be used as tracking devices, said Republican Sen. Karen Johnson of Mesa, a leading critic of the license plan. "I oppose making our driver license into an identity card."
Good for Karen Johnson

Elsewhere Michael Chertoff, head of DHS, dismisses Americans' concerns by calling them "an ideological discomfort" and saying:
"I have yet to hear a persuasive argument for why it is a good thing for privacy to have driver's licenses that are easily forged or counterfeited."
Apparently, he hasn't been listening very closely.

As for the "ideological discomfort," just call it wistful Constitutionalism. The Constitution and our heritage of freedom is indeed an ideology.

A pretty good one.

I simply wish the Republicans cared more about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Republicans Give Liberals Greater Power with REAL ID

Liberals like government power. It's axiomatic. So do Republicans...

When the Republicans passed the REAL ID Act, they gave a great tool to every politician who wants to expand governmental controls over the life of the individual.

For example, certain mayors across the country want to undermine 2nd Amendment rights--and use REAL ID as one tool to do so. Here is what they want to ask the current presidential candidates:
In 2013, the federal "Real ID Act" will go into full effect. In order to get into a federal building or to get on a commercial airplane, all persons will have to show secure identification that is compliant with the Real ID Act. However, unless the law is amended, people would not need to show Real ID-compliant identification to buy guns. Requiring gun purchasers to show Real ID-compliant identification could help prevent sales to persons already prohibited from buying firearms, including felons (who might be able to more easily fake non compliant IDs) and undocumented aliens (who, unless INS has flagged them individually in the background check system, can now buy guns by misrepresenting their status on the background check form). Do you support a change in federal law to require that gun purchasers show Real ID-compliant identification by 2013?
In the name of "common sense" and "fighting crime," how many other aspects of Amercans' lives will be brought under the digital net that politicians want to cast over the individual?

Again, I must ask the following questions:

1. Are we supposed to be a free people?
2. Aren't free people supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
3. OR, Are free people suspect until properly identified?
4. Will Americans have to "scan in" every transaction of their lives? To what other areas of live can we apply the REAL ID?
5. Is it right to reduce God-given rights to a string of digits?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Arizona to create high-tech driver licenses

From the East Valley Tribune-- Arizona to create high-tech driver licenses:
State Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, said she is “livid’’ that Napolitano promised to have Arizona comply with the Real ID Act and promised to fight the plan despite its voluntary nature.

“The federal government’s going to get all this information,’’ Johnson said.

Laura Keehner, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said there will not be a national database. Instead, she said, each state will keep its own records containing the additional information.

Keehner said she did not know if personal information such as an individual’s physical features, fingerprints or even retinal scans would be collected, encoded on the card or possibly put onto a computer chip built into the license.

Johnson said it was wrong of Napolitano to sign the agreement with those issues unresolved.

“Who is the governor to say what we are going to do here in Arizona?’’ she said. “She’s only one branch of our state government.’’

Read more here.

I have to say that Laura Keehner--being true to bureaucratic principles-- is disingenuous by saying there will not be a national database.

This is a smokescreen.

All 50 states may indeed maintain "their own" databases...

...but if all 50 states are linked to each other and allow the federal government access to the network...

...the results are the same as having one federal database.

Who are these DHS people?

Monday, December 3, 2007

There is No Longer Any Privacy

David Calder of the BBC posts that "There is no longer any privacy."

Concerning Britain:
"The National Identity Register will hold up to 50 pieces of information," [Dr. David Murakami Wood] said.

"Everything from your national insurance number to your health record to the number of penalty points on your driving licence will be stored there, even information about when you buy a mobile phone."

That mobile phone is also storing a surprising amount of information about you.

From the start of October, the mobile phone companies will have to retain data about who you were calling, when you made the call and where you were when you made it.

And that information won't just be available to the police.
Read more here.

Many "conservatives" want to go down the same road Britain is traveling--a road where the individual is blended into a great digital collective.

They do this because they're not thinking two yards past their own noses. But the effects will be the same (or worse) as if big-government liberals had been in charge.

I agree with John Scott from the above article:
"We should stop and think about where we'll be in five or 10 years time. We should be trying to stop the unthinking proliferation of surveillance systems before it's too late."

Friday, November 30, 2007

State Senator Mike Folmer (Pennsylvania) Introduces Anti-REAL ID Legislation

For Release November 14, 2007:
HARRISBURG – Senator Mike "Citizen Mike" Folmer (R-Lebanon) today announced he is introducing legislation which would exempt Pennsylvania from a federal mandate requiring the establishment of a national identification card.

"In the post-9-11 era, there is the sense by some that we should strip away privacy rights, if that's perceived as what's necessary to stave off terrorism," Folmer said. "A national ID system will redefine privacy as we know it, create a mountain of new bureaucracy and increase fees and taxes – without making us any safer."

Folmer noted that ID documents don't reveal anything about evil intent. "Even with a reliable list of terrorists, the authorities will miss anyone who is not previously known to be a threat, he added. "The terrorists are patient. They'll do whatever it takes to legally maneuver around whatever roadblocks we put up."

Four states – South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, and Montana – have already enacted statutes precluding their compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 in response to recommendations from the 9-11 Commission.

Specifically, the federal REAL ID Act mandates that states turn driver's licenses into a national identity card. Under enforcement of REAL ID, state driver's licenses will not be accepted for federal purposes – including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility – unless they meet numerous criteria, including:

They must reveal standard information such as full legal name, gender, address, date of birth, photograph and signature.

They must contain a "machine readable zone" that allows for the easy capture of all the data on the ID by stores or anyone else with a reader.

Additionally, REAL ID requires that:

Each state establish the ability to provide all the other states with access to the information contained in its motor vehicle database - creating, in effect, a single nationally distributed database operated by the states.

States retain a digital scan of source identity documents – including birth certificates and Social Security cards – for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for seven years).

The federal requirements under REAL ID would be completely unfunded mandates that would impose a significant financial burden on Pennsylvania. The National Governor's Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Association of Motor Vehicles predict that REAL ID will cost states $11 billion. The State of Virginia estimates its compliance costs to be in the neighborhood of $240 million.

REAL ID further threatens privacy rights by opening the door to the empowerment of the Department of Homeland Security to collect biometric data – including fingerprints and eye scans – as well as placing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in every American's driver's license.

REAL ID offers no controls on what confidential data can be collected from driver's licenses, where and how long it can be stored, and who is authorized to obtain, share, trade or sell that information.

Folmer's legislation is supported by a number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Veterans Committee on Constitutional Affairs, which are concerned with the privacy repercussions of the federal government having the power to track our whereabouts every second of the day.

Folmer said instead of REAL ID, Americans need to be vigilant, and exercise their right to self-protection. He added that America must get serious about cracking down on illegal immigration.

Also, here is a PODCAST about Senator Folmer's concerns.

Thanks to The Commonwealth Foundation Blog for the tip.

A Video on REAL ID from the Cato Institute

The post, "More on REALID," at the Commonwealth Foundation contains a video by Jim Harper.

I encourage you to watch it and consider some key issues about REAL ID.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We’ve sold our secrets for a walletful of plastic

Richard Morrison wrote an interesting and entertaining piece for the TimesOnline, UK:
There are no “Chinese walls” in the secrets business. What your credit card supplier knows about you, the entire retail industry knows. That’s why talk of a national ID card revealing only “limited information” about you is hogwash. One database leads to another. A “guarantee of confidentiality” on a contract requiring you to divulge yet more information about yourself is not worth the paper it’s written on. Especially, given the apparently lax controls in the public sector, if that guarantee comes from HM Revenue and Customs or the National Health Service. You would have more chance of keeping personal details out of the hands of crooks if you got yourself a megaphone and broadcast them from Speaker’s Corner.
I encourage you to read more here.

As always, the issue isn't just "privacy." The issue is freedom--especially when it comes to REAL ID and similar issues.

Do we still believe in freedom?

Two Spin-Off Stories from UK's Privacy Distaster

Story #1:

UK's Privacy Chernobyl (Bruce Schneier)
...[T]he UK's loss of 25 million child benefit records -- including dates of birth, addresses, bank account information, and national insurance numbers -- is turning into a privacy disaster, threatening to derail plans for a national ID card.
Read more here.


Story #2:

Government offered alternative national ID scheme that doesn’t require national database (ComputerWeekly.com)
A biometric security firm is pitching a national identity scheme designed to allay fears caused by the government holding and trying to manage a national identity base.

The biometric smartcard system proposed by UK Biometrics is being promoted as the government tries to address the outcry caused by HMRC losing the child benefit records of 25m people.
Read more here.

Americans should learn from the UK about how invasive identity cards can be. The ComputerWeekly story points out that governments want to reduce citizens to the level of a can of soup: "Scannable" at any time:
When required by police or authorities to positively identify themselves, the card holder would slot their smart card into a hand-held biometric scanner, place their fingertip onto the reader and have their identity confirmed.
Before jumping off the biometric cliff, lemming-like--maybe we should rethink the importance of the 4th Amendment and our heritage of freedom.

Our freedom has cost an awful lot. I'd hate to toss it away.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Senator calls for Real ID rebellion

Here is another measure of good news reported by the Evening Sun (Serving the greater Hanover and Gettysburg Area).

It sounds like one, lone Republican has remembered from whence he came:
A midstate senator wants Pennsylvania to join a list of states rebelling against a federal law calling for new identification cards that have been likened to a national driver's license.

Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, unveiled a bill Wednesday that would preclude Pennsylvania from complying with the Real ID Act, approved by Congress in 2005.
By RICHARD FELLINGER Article, Launched: 11/17/2007 04:05:42 AM EST

For more information, go here--and hope for success in Pennsylvania.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

S. 717: Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007

From GovTrack.us:

"A bill to repeal title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005, to restore section 7212 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which provides States additional regulatory flexibility and funding authorization to more rapidly produce tamper- and counterfeit-resistant driver's licenses, and to protect privacy and civil liberties by providing interested stakeholders on a negotiated rulemaking with guidance to achieve improved 21st century licenses to improve national security."

For more information on this bill, go here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

GOP split on repeal of Real ID

The Washington Times reports that The GOP is split on repeal of Real ID
Congressional Republicans are scrambling to defuse the political time bomb they created in 2005 when they allowed states to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens — but a key Republican and author of the Real ID Act says their new bill is unconstitutional.

"Driver's licenses are issued by the states, not the federal government. I do not believe it is constitutional for the federal government to tell the states who they can issue driver's licenses to and who they can't issue driver's licenses to," said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the 2005 law and its provision allowing states the option of giving licenses to illegal aliens.
Read more here.

I find it ironic that Sensenbrenner is getting all "Constitutional" about the issue now.

The current debate is about giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. But it strikes at the deeper issues of federalism, freedom, and the massive growth in power and scope of the federal government. People who call themselves "conservative" and sling around words like "Constitution" better figure out what their doing PDQ.

We better make sure that the cure for illegal immigration isn't worse than the problem.

Also, I'm simultaneously amused and dismayed at the willingness of Sensenbrenner to engage in ad hominem slaps at regular Americans who still love the antiquated idea of freedom:
"If there's a national policy then a driver's license becomes a national ID card," he said, adding that "ends up playing into the fears of the ACLU and the people on the far right that the Real ID is in fact a national ID card."
Translation: The ideal of limited government and the Bill of Rights (esp. 4th Amendment), are now the realm of the "far right."

Mr. Sensenbrenner must have a new twist on conservative philosophy: Freedom is no longer tied to the concept of "limited government." Freedom is now tied to the concept of an "ever-present Washington." This kind of thinking can only come from someone who has been in Washington too long.

Finally, Mr. Sensenbrenner should be careful of expressing concerns over the Constitution and federalism. Someone may label him as "far right."

Oh well...

(See why REAL ID is indeed a national id card.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Illegal Immigration is No Excuse for Totalitarianism

Oklahoma recently passed a new law aimed at illegal immigration in the state.

While some measures may be necessary, I'm troubled by the response of many Americans--including fellow Repubicans and so-called "conservatives."

My statement is simple:

If the illegal immigrant is the one breaking the law, the illegal immigrant should carry the burden for breaking that law.

American citizens should not become the target of drastic measures.

I'm concerned that the fight against illegal immigration is resulting in an assault on American liberty. Presidents and Congresses have failed to do their job at the border, and now they want to tighten laws around the lives of innocent Americans.

The following requirements of Oklahoma's law is a burden on the back of normal Americans:
Create a state felony offense for persons who knowingly harbor, transport, conceal or shelter illegal aliens. Each offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

As a conservative, evangelical Christians in America, I find the above requirement to be a real problem.

If a person is in real need--the churches in Oklahoma should help him, illegal immigrant or not. The other day I saw a news story where one of the sponsors of Oklahoma's new bill threatened churches with the loss of 501(c)(3) status if they met real needs of illegal immigrants.

Was this man supposed to be a "freedom-loving Republican?"

I don't hate illegal immigrants, although we need to stop illegal immigration the best way we can. Yet, I do wonder why some "conservatives" seem to hate illegal immigrants more than they love freedom and our Constitutional heritage.

I'm not interested in the philosophy that says, "Statism is the only solution to Illegal Immigration."

Consider this Oklahoma requirement (a haunting remnant from Washington's failed "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" bill:
As of July 2008, businesses will have to check new employees' work authorization with federal databases.

In order for such an instantly-accessible database to work, everyone will have to be in it. This will necessitate branding every American citizen (maybe with biometrics?) in order to ensure that the government has the correct electronic ball-and-chain on the correct citizen.

Enter the "necessity" of the REAL ID Act.

Remember, the REAL ID Act is more than just a "secure card." It is an entire infrastructure supporting a National ID Card:

-A National ID Database (50 state databases linked into 1 network),
-Machine-readable technology (hand-held scanners--to scan anyone, anytime.),
-Codes about an individual's "acceptability" for work, travel, banking, and potentially much, much more.

Without the electronic ball-and-chain, the individual cannot function at various levels of society.

Are not Americans supposed to be a free people?
Then why do we have to live with constant, real-time, electronic, governmental permission to function?

Is totalitarianism the only correct response to illegal immigration?

I thought Americans were smarter than this.

I thought "conservative" Republicans would be better than this.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Is Real ID plan on its deathbed?

Anne Broache at CNETNews.com asks Is Real ID plan on its deathbed?
The U.S. government's controversial plan to outfit all Americans with uniform electronic identification cards--officially known as Real ID--may be on its deathbed, opponents of the program charged this week.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has long said that starting as soon as May 2008, and definitely after May 2013, it will deny state citizens the right to board planes or enter federal buildings unless they show Real ID-compliant documents.

But on a recent conference call with state officials from across the country, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Richard Barth gave the impression that the agency doesn't plan to punish states that have rejected the rules, according to Timothy Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, and Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

"To me, this signals the real end of the Real ID Act because it prevents the government from having any leverage over the states," Sparapani said in a conference call his group organized with reporters Thursday afternoon.

But DHS denies that REAL ID is going to go away.

If you're interested, read more here.

Just a reminder: REAL ID is more than just a "secure card." It is an entire infrastructure of a National ID Card (linked to every aspect of our live's via SSN's), machine-readable technology (the easier to scan us with, anywhere & anytime...), codes about an individual's "acceptability" for work, travel, and banking...

And nobody-knows-how-many codes will be attached to the individual for the sake of bureaucratic control.

Are not Americans supposed to be a free people? Then why do we have to live our lives with constant/ real-time permission from the government to function?

Where are all the freedom-loving, Constitution-quoting, so-called "conservatives?"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

N.Y. steps forward with Real ID

From Washington Technology:

New York will become the fourth state to implement a hybrid identification card that may be used for border crossings and as a driver’s license complying with upcoming Real ID Act regulations, Secretary Michael Chertoff and Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) announced.

America quietly acquiesces?

Read more here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Comment at the Article "Visit DHS Privacy Web Site -- Please"

Below is a comment I left in the combox for Bob Brewin's good article entitled "Visit DHS Privacy Web Site -- Please."

His article was written for GovernmentExecutive.com

Mr. Brewin discusses a statement made by Hugo Teufel III, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Teufel tries to convince Americans that DHS is concerned about privacy, and that Americans should see the privacy web page at DHS. Brewins rightly concludes:
Somehow, the thought of having to produce a passport to buy a stamp at the post office in my hometown of Las Vegas, N.M., (if New Mexico does not adopt Real ID driver's licenses) does not make me feel more secure, or that DHS really cares about privacy or that top DHS management understands citizens still have a deep distrust of government.
I agree.

I also think someone should inform Mr. Teufel III that the issue is not privacy per se. The issue is freedom, federalism, the 4th Amendment, and our heritage of Freedom.

My comment on Mr. Brewins article is:
The problem I see with national Id/REAL ID is two-fold:

1. If biometrics is used, are we not "booking" innocent people like criminals? And why should we not consider our "biometrics" to be OURS rather than the GOVERNMENT'S? Whose got the power?

2. It is not an ID Card standing alone. It is part of a powerful infrastructure: Card, Reading Machine, Internet, Software, and Codes attached to people. All of this reduces us to living in a software maze of Red Light/Green Light.

The infrastructure will be used to digitally manage more and more of our lives. I believe that one arbitrary rule/regulation will be piled on top of another. Politicians/bureaucrats just can't resist.

This is not freedom.
Read more here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The REAL ID Act: An Update

Jim Harper wrote An Update on the REAL ID Act for the Cato Institute, October 8th.
In just seven short months, states will begin issuing drivers' licenses and identification cards in accordance with federal standards, and they'll begin making their databases of driver information available nationwide. At least, that's how the REAL ID Act would have it.

In fact, it's unlikely that a single state will comply with this national ID law — a whopping unfunded surveillance mandate passed hastily by Congress in May 2005. The Department of Homeland Security asked states to commit to REAL ID or ask for an extension by October 1st, so now is a good time to review where things are with REAL ID, and perhaps see where they're going.

Harper goes on to chronicle the troubled origins and history of the REAL ID Act.

He made an interesting observation by saying:
With a significant number of states committed not to implement the national ID plan, the Congress unwilling to prop it up or fund it, and the DHS yet to issue final regulations, REAL ID is mostly dead. But government contractors and state bureaucrats are still working to build this national ID system, going so far as to train up for REAL ID advocacy using taxpayer funds. At a recent REAL ID conclave in Washington, D.C., DMV bureaucrats sat through panels with titles like, "Bringing Your Public Onboard . . . ."
Americans who treasure the concept of limited government and individual freedom should not "get on board" with REAL ID. We should seek to keep our driver's licenses as driver's licenses--not work licenses, banking licenses, touring-the-Capitol licenses, flying licenses, etc.

If we're not careful, these cards may become Go-to-the-Doctor licenses or Walk-Around-Town licenses... (If the government takes over health-care, just what else would it use to "identify" an eligible patient? Also, the Supreme Court ruled a few years ago that police can ask anyone who they are and what they are doing--and the individual must comply... just for being in public.... This was a change in our tradition of freedom.)

I believe we can be creative enough and vigilant enough to fight terror and deal with illegal immigration without abandoning the concepts of freedom.

Read Harper's article here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reviving Privacy by Robert Ellis Smith

Robert Ellis Smith wrote an excellent article for Forbes.com.

The article is entitled Reviving Privacy.

Here are a couple of excerpts:
Is there a revival of interest among Americans in protecting personal privacy? I believe that there is, and you can see the signs everywhere....

Since 2001, there has been a maturing of our attitudes towards combating terrorism and protecting civil liberties....

In the fall of 2001, 70% of Americans said they favored a mandatory national ID card. Just a few months later, support had ebbed to 26%, and in later years polls have shown that most Americans aren't so sure that a national ID is a good idea at all.

For Americans (left, center, and right) who care about the Constitution will be encouraged by Smith's commentary.

Smith includes the REAL ID Act in his ruminations.

Please read the entire article here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Who Loves Real ID? AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo Do.

The federal Real ID Act doesn’t have many friends these days. Eighteen states have passed legislation rejecting the law, Congress has refused to put any money into implementing it, and just this week New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer announced he, not the Feds, would determine New York’s drivers license policy, with officials in his administration indicating the state might opt out of the Real ID program altogether.

Read the rest of this article here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mike Huckabee: An Interview

Mike Huckabe was interviewed about a variety of issues. Here is what he said about REAL ID:

There have been some things in this particular administration that have been troubling to me. I'm certainly a 10th Amendment guy. I'm a federalist at heart. I think Jefferson was right and Hamilton was wrong. And at times this administration seems to have become Hamiltonian and not Jeffersonian. For example, with REAL ID, that's a huge mistake. It's putting a burden on a state that should not be the state's function, which is to provide the frontline of national security defense at the hands of a DMV worker at a state office. That's absurd. And then not funding it. That's a real problem. If you're going to have federal program then the feds ought to pay for it.

Read more here.

I have to ask again: Is REAL ID a headache because it is inherently an affront to our heritage of freedom or because it is expensive?

The answer is both.

The disturbing fact is many see the problem of REAL ID in purely financial terms.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Governors pressure feds on Real ID funding

By Wade-Hahn Chan

Governors pressure feds on Real ID funding
Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons are calling on the federal government to issue the long-awaited regulations for the Real ID Act of 2005 and also to pump more money into the program.

In a Sept. 12 letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the two governors asked federal officials to “provide the significant investment necessary to meet the requirements of the federal mandate.”

Read more here.

Is REAL ID a headache because it is inherently an affront to our heritage of freedom or because it is expensive?

The answer is both.

The disturbing fact is that most state leaders see the problem of REAL ID in purely financial terms. - JR

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Feds still love Real ID despite growing opposition

Anne Broache posted this article at CNet News:
WASHINGTON--A controversial plan for national identification cards known as Real ID drew another ringing endorsement from top Bush administration officials on Monday, even as senators continued to question the law's privacy implications and cost.

Cheerleading for the mandate was led by the retiring Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who called a nationalized ID card a top priority. He asked the four Bush administration officials present to divulge whether they supported the idea, which was recommended by the 9/11 Commission but has sparked rebellion from numerous states and civil liberties advocates concerned about its cost and potential for abuse.

Read more here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Looking Beyond Our Noses: "Judge Calls for a DNA Bank to Cover Everyone

The TimesOnline (UK) reports that
A senior judge has called for the entire population and anyone visiting Britain to have their DNA placed on a national database.

Lord Justice Sedley said that a nationwide bank of DNA profiles would help to tackle crime and correct an imbalance in profiles stored by police.
This is an important story because bad ideas have a way of spreading--and the justifications for destroying the individual to facilitate an ever-increasing "statism" are endless.
There are 4.1 million people whose DNA is recorded on the police computer, more than in any other country. The vast majority of the profiles were obtained by arresting officers who are allowed to take samples from anyone detained for a “recordable offence” – a crime that could lead to imprisonment. The samples are kept whether the person is convicted or acquitted.

Sir Stephen Sedley, one of England’s most experienced Appeal Court judges, claims that it would be fairer to obtain the DNA from the whole of the British population whether involved in crime or not.

I can hear a dam giving way.

I am continually amazed at the lemming-like folks who have "no problem" with such a massive power-grab by any government. The first two reader comments display an inability to stand against the tide of group-think. For example:
I don't see how people can complain when we already have a driving licence, passport and other such identity documents. (The "Its Already Bad So Let's Make it Worse Fallacy".)

So with the proper protective measures in place I am ok handing my DNA profile to the authorities. (The "I Don't Have Any Sense of Personal Dignity" Fallacy combined with the "My DNA is not My Personal Property" conclusion and the "I Trust Everyone With Power and Cannot Think For Myself" inclination.)

The discouraging fact is that Americans increasingly think the same way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

An Idea Worthy Trying...

Robert Hawes at The Jeffersonian has an idea for undermining the REAL ID Act:

Contact your state representative and, if you can't persuade them to sink REAL ID, ask them to support a measure that will give people a choice as to whether they want it or not, pursuant to their understanding the consequences of not having it. Many state politicians seem like they're asking to be given a reason not to comply with REAL ID. This approach may give them a measure of satisfaction where that is concerned. It's also very difficult to argue against giving people a choice when the new requirements will present such a tangible expense and inconvenience for the average person. More importantly though, it will leave you with a bit more of your freedom than you might otherwise retain, and, over time, such allowances may prove to be the monkey wrench that wrecks the authoritarian machine.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Are We a Free Country Anymore?" by Philip Johnston

Philip Johnston wrote a good article entitled Are We a Free Country Anymore?

It seems England leads the way in how a democratic society can abandon its ideals with amazing speed and incredible apathy.

Johnston invites us all to think again:
It is said, though less often now than it used to be, that the basis of English liberty is the rule of law, under which everything is allowed unless specifically prohibited. According to A.V. Dicey, the 19th-century constitutionalist, this was one of the features that distinguished England from its continental counterparts, where people were subject to the exercise of arbitrary power and were actions that where not specifically authorised were proscribed.

Effectively, this principle limited the scope of the State to intervene in people’s lives. Law set the boundaries of personal action but did not dictate the course of such action. Some limitations on personal freedom are introduced ostensibly for our own good and some, obviously, predate the Blair Government, such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars and a requirement to wear a crash helmet on a motorbike; but, since 1997, the pace of proscription has grown alarmingly, encompassing smacking to smoking.

Another aspect of liberty is privacy. It may be hard to believe in a world where people crave televised notoriety that there are still many who cherish anonymity. In a truly free society it should be possible for someone who does not wish to come to the attention of the state to remain unnoticed provided he breaks no laws. As A. J. P. Taylor observed, before the First World War the average citizen’s interaction with the Government was largely limited to paying tax.

“He could live where he liked and as he liked,” the great historian wrote. “He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission.”

Of one thing he could be certain and that was the inviolability of his home. But recent research has uncovered 266 separate powers under which the police and other state agents can enter your home, often using force to do so.

The proliferation of state databases, again very much a recent development, has also rendered the concept of the private individual a thing of the past, and from the earliest age. We are, almost without realising it, becoming the most snooped-on democratic nation on earth, electronically tracked from cot to coffin, our most personal details to be stored for ever, all in the name of modernisation, efficiency and, we are told, our own good.

There's a lot more in Johnston's article, and I hope Americans will read it thoughtfully.

With my own party of self-proclaimed "conservatives" quickly following Britain's model, we should also be asking the same question Johnston is asking.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dennis Prager Says It Well... But Fails to Apply His Thoughts Consistently

There is a lot of good stuff at Townhall.com. I enjoy listening to their radio personalities like Medved and Prager, although my personal philosophy and religion line up more closely with Al Mohler.

Recently, Dennis Prager had a great program entitled "Roosevelt and the Depression." He interviewed Amity Shlaes who wrote The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. I recommend that you listen to the interview.

However, what caught my attention was Mr. Prager's concluding thoughts. He was contradicting the view that expanding government power solves our problems. I thought his insights were terrific!

Here are a couple of excerpts of his comments--again in the context of growing government to address unemployment, health care, and revenue (taxes):
I have come to realize that there are two terrible things that tempt any human in terms of a society and the way in which we govern ourselves.

One is to fix things immediately without asking “What’s next?”
And a bit later:
“Let’s fix it now and not worry about the long term results.” Sure if you make an income tax, you could pay for more things. It was a 1% income tax when it was first passed. And now look at it today.

Well... So what does the left say? “The government is not big enough.”

We haven’t solved our problems, and the left’s answer is: “Well then, let’s make government even bigger.”

I am deeply concerned that fellow conservatives can make statements like these--and then turn around to promote the idea of a national identification card. And the folks at Townhall do promote a national id card: (here, here, and here.)

I want to say to Mr. Prager (and Mr. Medved), "After we implement a national identification infrastructre, 'What next? What, indeed, are the long-term results of implementing national id?'"

You may be trying to solve the problem of illegal immigration, but what you are doing is electronically "herding" all Americans into a massive and powerful expansion of government.

What next?

It doesn't take much imagination to answer that question. I can see how a national id card will make it easier for the central government to implement and enforce arbitrary rules over the lives of American citizens.

Why is it that conservatives cannot see that a national id card is not consistent with America's freedom, heritage, and Constitution?

Surely we can think through ways to fight illegal immigration and terror without:

1. A massive increase in government power,
2. An undermining of federalism,
3. An undermining of the 4th amendment,
4. An increased ability to track Americans in real-time,
5. An erosion of the presumption of innocence,
6. A radically increased ability to enforce arbitrary (future) rules,


7. Federal approval on whether you and I can earn money.

These things, I believe, are the long-term results. The "What Next?" effect.

I’m all for stemming the tide of illegal immigration. But I don’t want to throw our freedoms into the dump to do it.

There is nothing “conservative” about promoting a national id card.

If our friends at Townhall.com wish to promote one, they should abandon talking about their belief in “limited government.”

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Is This Where Republicans Want to Take Us?

Police want DNA from speeding drivers and litterbugs on database...

This is an issue in the UK, but what goes on around the world affects us--at least in our thinking. I honestly want to know if the so-called conservatives promoting national id cards, immediate employer verification, REAL ID, and biometric social security cards have thought about how far they are willing to go in undermining freedom?
Police are seeking powers to take DNA samples from suspects on the streets and for non-imprisonable offences such as speeding and dropping litter.

The demand for a huge expansion of powers to take DNA comes as a government watchdog announced the first public inquiry into the national DNA database.

Read more here.

Also, here is an example of home-grown "conservatives" promoting REAL ID.

Obviously, both Republicans and Democrats adore big-government power.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Governors should fight Real ID plan

From the Detroit Free Press.
When the nation's governors gather in Traverse City this weekend, they ought to do themselves and their states a service by serving a definitive notice on Washington that the Real ID Act is not just unworkable but unacceptable and ought to be repealed before it takes effect next year.

Read more here

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Federal Real ID Act Update: Podcast from MITECHNEWS.com

A lot of folks are just unaware of the REAL ID Act--believe it or not.

Mitechnews.com has a podcast that gives a good survey of the legislation.

I encourage you to listen

Then think.

And think again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Conservative Bona Fides

There is a wide variety of people who stand opposed to the REAL ID Act and national id cards.

Many are extremely liberal.

Many are extremely right-wing--and conspiratorial in their thinking. (By the way, REAL ID is a bad idea all by itself. It doesn't require needless conspiracy-thinking to present it as problematic...)

Others are "independents."

Regardless, a lot of Americans just want to protect freedom.

Anyway, I'm glad to see a concerted effort to undo this lousy legislation passed in May of 2005.

But what is curious to me is why conservatives and Republicans were the ones to push the bill into law.

How does increasing the scope and presence of government in the lives of citizens promote the conservative ideal of "limited government?"

Conservatives usually stand against arbitrary and cumbersome regulation in our country. But with a system of national identification, they want to build the infrastructure that has potential for attaching and enforcing regulations in an unprecedented way. Do they not see this as a contradiction to conservative ideals?

I'm a conservative. I want a strong view of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments to remain in our country.

Shoot. I happen to believe in all 10 of the Bill of Rights.

Conservatives that I respect (here, and here) are promoting a national id system. And I am amazed at their stance.

Surely Americans are creative enough to stem the tide of illegal immigration, fight the necessary war on terror, and protect our borders within the framework of our great heritage of freedom.

Establishing national id cards is no good answer.

Friday, July 6, 2007

National ID Cards in India: Future Promise of E-Governance

In America, politicians like to talk about narrow uses for certain measures. These "minimum standards" or "narrow uses" usually increase beyond their initially established parameters.

Proponents of REAL ID like to talk about "minimum standards" for ID that will be used for entering nuclear power plants. Often they forget to tell you that the REAL ID will be required for banking--which affects our daily lives.

How many more uses will be added to this national id card? How many arbitrary rules can be enforced with this efficient method of control?

We have to look around and see what people in the world are saying. We have to look beyond the politicians in the U.S. who oftentimes speak for manipulative effect.

Consider India.
Future promise of e-governance

The next five years will see e-governance going beyond transactions to do much, much more.

Sunil Chandiramani, Partner, Ernst & Young talked about the future of e-governance. He started off with a quick recap of what has been done to date. India has transformed significantly over the past few years...

The next five years will see much more. Focusing on some key areas could accelerate the speed of implementation of NeGP—multi-purpose, secure, authentic, unique national citizen identity database; Greater harmonization of initiatives between the centre and states; equitable partnerships with the private sector; accelerated rural connectivity; building common storage and processing capacities between or amongst the states and the centre to optimise investments and cost of maintenance; capacity building and change management as well as delayed projects and accelerated costs – monitoring and evaluation.

Chandiramani posed a provocative question: “Do we restrict e-governance to transactions or do more than that?”
(emphasis added) ExpressComputerOnline.com

“Do we restrict e-governance to transactions or do more than that?”

Once REAL ID becomes part of our national infrastructure, I predict we will be hearing this question more and more.

The politicians just won't be able to resist.

It's sad that most Americans aren't either.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

TN rejects "Real ID" legislation

Here's a recent posting at the Knoxnews.com site about the Tennessee legislature's rejection of REAL ID.
ASHVILLE - The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) today praised the Tennessee General Assembly for their bipartisan rejection of the REAL ID Act, which would require all Tennesseans to give up sensitive personal information which would be stored in a national database, to pay higher licensing fees, and to stand in long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The joint resolution (SJR248) criticizes the federal law’s unfunded mandate and its threats to privacy, security, and the Tennessee Constitution.
Many conservatives are opposed the general direction of the ACLU. I'm one of these people. I believe the ACLU is usually opposed to the best interests of the country.

One commenter named Joel expressed his dislike for the ACLU.

As much as I generally disagree with the ACLU, I had to respond to Joel:

I despise most of what the ACLU is doing, but you know what "they" say about a stopped clock. You can't be wrong all the time.

I am dismayed that so many Americans think that to fight illegal immigration and terror we must promote:

1. A massive increase in government power,
2. An undermining of federalism,
3. An undermining of the 4th amendment,
4. An increased ability to track Americans in real-time,
5. An erosion of the presumption of innocence,
6. A radically increased ability to enforce arbitrary (future) rules,


7. Federal approval on whether you and I can earn money or not.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for stemming the tide of illegal immigration. But I don't want to throw our freedoms into the dump to do it.

Illegal immigration should never be used as an issue to further the evolution of a totalitarian state. Instead of going after illegal immigrants, bureaucrats and politicians sought and seek power to monitor and approve the lives of everyone.

A dedication to freedom principles (i.e. the Constitution) may call for difficult decisions.

So be it.

If it’s not freedom, Just what are we fighting for?

I'm sure the ACLU's motivations for opposing REAL ID do not line up with mine.

But conservatives who love the spirit of the Constitution and the goals of the Bill of Rights should be opposed to the thinking and the results of REAL ID.

We shouldn't look first at who opposes it--and then decide we're for it.

Read the resolution here.tenn_0248.pdf

Friday, June 29, 2007

National ID plan may have killed immigration bill

Declan McCullagh, staff write for CNET News.com, wrote yesterday that the National ID plan may have killed immigration bill
"The proponents of national ID in the Senate weren't getting what they wanted, so they backed away," said Jim Harper, a policy analyst at the free-market Cato Institute who opposes Real ID. "It was a landmine that blew up in their faces."

Let's hope that opposition to a big-government scheme like "national id" was indeed a major factor in the bill's defeat. Senators often need to "get a message" from the people they are to represent. For example: "Americans have always valued freedom. And enough has been lost already."

The article goes on to note:
In a press release, the two Montana Democrats, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, said they were happy that a pro-privacy approach killed the bill. "If Jon and I just brought down the entire bill, that's good for Montana and the country," said Baucus, who cosponsored the amendment deleting the employer verification rule.

"Employer Verification" translates into "Government Approval of Whether Citizens Can Work Or Not."

In seeking to enforce the law on some, the government was seeking more power over everyone. Hence, booking every innocent American in a national id scheme was necessary.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for stemming the tide of illegal immigration. But I don't want to throw our freedoms into the dump to do it.

Illegal immigration should never be used as an issue to further the evolution of a totalitarian state. Instead of going after illegal immigrants, bureaucrats and politicians sought and seek power to monitor and approve the lives of everyone.

A dedication to freedom principles (i.e. the Constitution) may call for difficult decisions.

So be it.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Flashback: The Immigration Bill & Tom Ridge's Double-Speak (September 7, 2004)

Remarks for Secretary Tom Ridge at National Press Club (September 7, 2004)

On the day the Immigration Bill dies, I thought it interesting to look back a few years to see the plans for bad ideas like REAL ID.

Remember when Tom Ridge was the Secretary of DHS?

He made the following remarks concerning a national id card. Knowing that REAL ID was passed later in May of 2005--and how it was plugged in to the just-dead immigration bill, read the comments with an eye for double-speak:

Secretary Ridge: Our mission is to preserve our freedoms while we secure our homeland. I mean, that's basically the primary mission of the Department of Homeland Security and the goal and the intent of this country. We will not sacrifice those liberties and freedoms.

And within our department, Congress very appropriately set up a, within our department, a privacy office and a civil liberties office, and every single day as an administration and every single day as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, before we walk down any path, any new initiative, we take a look at the possible impact on any of the liberties and freedoms that we enjoy, and we will not sacrifice those liberties in the effort to combat terrorism.
When we start making those concessions to combat terrorism, the terrorists begin to win, and we cannot afford them to have any kind of victory whatsoever.

...One of the areas that I am-- that I see and sense and feel that great progress has been made is the acceptance by most of our colleagues, most of the countries around the rest of the world, that there is a collective approach, a universal approach will be the best to secure safety of not just U.S. citizens, but their citizens, as well. That's why we're working more closely than we've ever worked together before on authenticating documents, verifying identities. Every single day brings the world closer to accepting biometric standards to help us make sure that the people and goods that flow across our borders are safe and secure so we can keep the terrorists and their weapons out.

Ms. Cherry: Do we need a national ID card and should it include biometrics?

Secretary Ridge: The legislation that created the department specifically prohibited a national ID card, but I must tell you that there are areas where identification, and cards including biometrics, are needed and part of our mission in homeland security to get done.

We are obliged to come up with transportation worker identification cards. We literally have hundreds of thousands of people who not only have access to potential points of vulnerability, but are driving trucks with hazardous material and the like. We're in the process of doing that.

One of the things we're looking we are doing, looking at within the administration is a set of basic requirements for federal employees and contractors that work here. We're in discussion with the National Governors' Association to see if we can come to some agreement where at least on the driver's license there is an agreement among and this is tough to do. It's a federal system. You don't mandate this, and it's a challenge we have. But the National Governors' Association wanted to take it on.

Are there certain pieces of information that all states would require to be included as part of their driver's license? Because that is the most commonly referred to piece of identification that people are more often than not inclined to use.

So no national ID, but what we have an opportunity to use biometrics, and particularly to identify people who have access to certain areas nuclear power plants and airports and the like, or the driver's license we're working toward a little more regularity and a certain standard that we would be able to use across the board.


1. No National Id Card.
2. We need biometrics.
3. As a "standard that we would be able to use across the board"

The planned uses of REAL ID were expanded to include bank accounts and the ability to work in this country. Yep. That's freedom.

Go here to read why REAL ID is indeed a national id card.

Go here to flashback to former Secretary Ridge's full comments cited above.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

National ID Cards The 'Sleeper' Immigration Issue?

Chris Murphy, at InformationWeek posted an article entitled National ID Cards The 'Sleeper' Immigration Issue?

A largely overlooked section in the comprehensive immigration reform being debated in the Senate calls for the Social Security Administration to come up with fraud-resistant cards within two years to aid in electronic worker verification, possibly including biometric information. One top immigration scholar says this could be the "sleeper" issue of the debate, since it affects every U.S. employee.

Politicians who may "oppose" REAL ID, may support biometric Social Security Cards--used for many of the same purposes.

Often people say, "It's an idea whose time has come."

But I have yet to see how the mere passing of time has ever turned a bad idea into a good one.

One fact is for sure: the passing of time has not reduced our need to keep an eye on power-seeking Republicans and Democrats who just can't wait to push bad ideas.

The price of freedom is always vigilance--by means of a little extra thinking, remembering, and communicating.

It's the thinking and the remembering we have the hardest time accomplishing.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dennis Prager Promotes Big Government with National ID Card

I think Dennis Prager is the example of what a conservative radio talk show host should be: clear, thoughtful, engaging, kind, direct, honest, and values-oriented. He is a unique figure on the radio landscape. He loves freedom, America, and the Judeo-Christian heritage.

So I feel a sense of frustration when I hear someone like him promoting the virtues of a national id card. His line of argument is that everyone knows everything about you anyway because of the internet--so what does ‘privacy’ matter?

Or, The government knows everything there is to know about you anyway, and a national id card is an easy way to identify illegal immigrants.

Or, People against a national id card have a ‘romanticized’ vision of privacy.

My response to Mr. Prager’s thinking is manifold:

1. If the government knows “everything there is to know about us,” then we don’t need a national id card, do we? If everything is already “known” then why spend billions of dollars on a needless technology?

The fact of the matter is that a national id card is, indeed, an advancement in the government’s ability to know, track, and manipulate. Otherwise, the government and certain talk show hosts would not be pushing for a change.

You’ve got to be honest enough to admit that a national id card (REAL ID) is truly an increase in the presence and power of the federal government.

Mr. Prager, if you’re going to extol the virtues of “limited government,” please apply your energies against a national id card! Such a card is a direct tether (or chain) from Washington to every American citizen. It doesn't take much imagination to see how liberals will want to attach and enforce arbitrary regulations with such an efficient technology. And you want to set up the infrastructure for it.

Can’t you see your inconsistency?

2. Do you believe that freedom is a “romanticized” notion? Are the Constitution and Bill of Rights obsolete? You see, the issue isn’t some nerdy notion of “privacy.”

The issue is freedom.

Freedom is lost in our philosophy/theory long before it's lost in practice. Philosophically, you think a big-government id card is a good idea. Your "freedom-thinking" is eroded, and you now want to put it into practice.

I cannot envision Washington, Madison, and Franklin sitting down and saying,
“Ok boys, let’s set up a free country!

The first thing we’re going to do is get everyone’s fingerprints so our central government can approve the individual's every job.

Oh... And let's set up an infrastructure to track their daily movements.

Sound like an idea worth dying for?

Great! Let’s go...”

If knowledge is power, then more knowledge is more power. The government wants to have more knowledge of everyone--hence it wants to grow in more and more power. Is this really that hard to understand? Are you for bigger or smaller government? It isn’t just a matter of taxes...

Surely you would draw the line on this issue somewhere.

Just where you draw it?

Should the government make everyone wear hats with video cameras in them so the DHS can watch our every move in first-person perspective? Obviously that’s a crazy idea. You think its crazy and unrealistic because you know that “We’ve got to draw the line somewhere!”

I just want to draw the line as close as possible to the ideals of the Constitution and our heritage of freedom.

Is that so crazy? Is that “romanticized” thinking?

3. Maybe the government needs to be trimmed back. If it already knows so much about us, wouldn’t it be better to try to beat the monster back a little? You seem to be falling into the thinking that says, “It is already bad--so let’s make it worse.”

Maybe we should be trying to correct a current problem, not throwing up our hands in capitulation. Isn't this what your show's all about?

4. I think we need to explore the following questions: “What can the free market and legislators do to empower the individual to own, protect, and manage his own crucial, digital information and get the government out of our way?”

Also, Can we enact the “Fair Tax” so we don’t have to report our income to the government?

Shouldn't we privatize Social Security so the money belongs to the individual and is not some "trough" everyone can come to?

Can't we make sure that the government never owns or manages our medical information?

Shouldn't we find ways to build a firewall around the individual so that we are not all reduced to a digital collective?

I don’t have all the answers for these issues, but I think we all better explore them, PDQ.

5. I understand and support the fight against terror. But let’s not throw into the trash the very freedom we seek to protect. America's supposed to be about freedom. The terrorists want to destroy America. If we destroy freedom in order to fight the terrorists, I have to ask, “Just who is winning the war?”

6. I don't want the government to have more "easy" ways to intrude into my life. We used to think that any increase in government is inherently a decrease in the freedom of the individual. That's what conservatives used to say. I wish conservatives would hold true--and look down the road a bit.

So, my questions to you, Mr. Prager, are: “Do you value freedom? Do you believe that the Bill of Rights can survive in an age of terror and technology?

Or do you believe the great experiment is over?”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Computer Hacking Plagues Department of Homeland Security

Some folks have an inherent trust in government to take care of them, direct them, secure them, and provide for them. Strange, it almost comes across as a love relationship.

But America was founded on a basic distrust of centralized power over the lives of individuals. Yes, government is a necessity, but it is something that needs to be checked, balanced, distributed (federalism) and above all limited. But today, many conservatives are willing to throw their principles to the wind and establish a national id card.

"The government will take care of us. We'll give them unprecedented information about us, an infrastructure to track us, an easy ability to scan and search us. The government doesn't have to make hard decisions within its bounds to do the right thing. It can just tag and track us all. In return, the government will protect us."

Enter the bureacracy.
WASHINGTON — Several government agencies within the Department of Homeland Security admit they are regularly victims of computer break-ins at home and overseas by hackers finding their way into the department's cyber network.

More than 800 security incidents plagued the department over the past two years, including viruses, password-stealing programs and "Trojans" or hacker tunnels found on some workstations. Problems have cropped up at FEMA, the Transportation Security Agency, the Coast Guard and other agencies.

The House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, Science and Technology asked officials Wednesday how they are improving their cybersecurity to prevent such incidents from happening again. Chairman Jim Langevin, D-R.I., called the reports "very disturbing."

Some security problems include unauthorized software installed on department computers, misconfigured firewalls and unauthorized disclosures of classified data.
- Wednesday, June 20, 2007, FoxNews.com

Read more here--and think again of doing a swan dive of trust into a massive central government.

I recommend we pursue the ideals of the Constitution: Government is necessary--but something to be watched and limited.

"Watched" and "limited" is not the best language to apply to law-abiding individuals.

Michael Medved Promotes Big Government with National ID Card

I listen to Michael Medved's conservative radio talk show simply because I enjoy it. His "Disagreement Days" and "Conspiracy Theory" days are very entertaining, interesting, and enlightening.

As a conservative and a Christian, I appreciate much (most) of what this conservative, Jewish thinker/entertainer has to say.

(Here it comes...) BUT...

I couldn't disagree more with Mr. Medved on his promotion of a national id card. He insists that a national id system is crucial to any effective immigration reform. I don't deny that a national id card would be very effective.

It will be effective in increasing the power of the federal government to micromanage and manipulate the lives of individuals.
It will be very effective in reducing God-given, Constitution-recognized rights to a string of digits at the mercy of technocrats.
It will be very effective in undermining federalism.
It will be very effective in undermining the 4th Amendment.
It will be very effective at accruing arbitrary and petty rules by future politicians and cabinet members.
It will be very effective in abandoning the spirit of freedom and our Constitutional heritage.

I wish Michael would be a consistent conservative and seek to check the rise of government intrusion in the lives of individuals.

At least he is honest. He openly promotes the need of an id card.

But I've got to disagree--and wish that most Americans would too.

Mr. Medved is promoting big government theory.

Below is an email I sent to his show. I know he gets a lot of correspondence--so I doubt he'll see it. I'll vent my thoughts to him by posting it here:

You are at least honest enough to say outright that you support a national id card. But I don't understand why you would support one.

A national id inherently brings government closer to the every day lives of Americans. It undermines federalism. I think it undermines the 4th amendment. The infrastructure that would go with a national id would give the government power to enforce the myriad of arbitrary rules liberals would love to attach to the card.

We have been approaching a full-blown national id for quite some time, but I'd rather start working turn back to more freedom-loving thinking. If we're on the wrong road, the soonest way to progress isto turn around.

You are supporting big government and an idea that totally contrary to our American heritage of freedom.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Immigration Reform: REAL ID and a Federal "No Work" List

Please read Jim Harper's article at the Cato Institute. It is entitled Immigration Reform: REAL ID and a Federal "No Work" List.
Immigration reform is now in limbo, perhaps to return to the Senate floor for a vote, perhaps not. The debate so far — over 'amnesty,' border control, and guest workers—has assumed that "workplace enforcement" is a good thing. But verifying workers' employment eligibility, as called for in the Senate immigration bill, is not such a good idea. It would revive the failing national ID plan in the REAL ID Act, create a mission-creepy surveillance system, and subject every American worker to a bureaucratic gauntlet akin to the Department of Homeland Security's embarassing "no-fly" list.
I think his conclusion is simple and true:
Law-abiding, native-born Americans should be able to work without carrying a national ID.

Read more here and ask yourself if freedom can survive in an age of terror, technology, and power-seeking politicians from both sides of the aisle.

If freedom is important to you, do something to take a stand to protect it. Maybe you can do something a simple as picking up a phone...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good News & Bad News from Tennessee

The Rogersville Review reports that Tennessee's senator, Lamar Alexander fights federal Real ID mandate. This is good. But Alexander doesn't seem to get the picture quite right. For Alexander, the issue is money:
“When I was Tennessee’s governor I used to get mad whenever Congress came up with a big idea and then sent me the bill to pay for it,” Alexander said. “This Real ID Act will take a real hit out of state’s pocketbooks unless we step up and pay for Congress’ big idea ourselves.”

However, it is obvious to me that our senator is not thinking in terms of freedom, our Constitution, federalism, or limited government. He is open to using biometrics on Social Security cards and to the concept of a national id card. He seems to miss entirely that the REAL ID Act is wrong--cheap or expensive.

But I will acknowledge that any resistance to a bad idea is helpful. But our leadership would be better if they remembered what true conservativism is all about: pursuing and protecting God-given rights of the individual from a power-greedy state. (Freedoms are lost in our philosophy long before they are lost in our practice.)

Tennessee's senate has opposed the REAL ID Act. This is also good.

My hope is Tennessee will draw good conclusions from good thinking.

It's not just about the money.

Monday, June 11, 2007

ID cards add to immigration battle

HeraldTribune.com of southwest Florida reports that ID cards add to immigration battle.

The currently stalled immigration bill...
would force states to comply the Real ID Act of 2005, which dictates security measures for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards that can be read by computers, by requiring many job applicants to show such a card at the time of hire.

At least a dozen states are fighting the Real ID Act, which is supposed to be implemented next May, on privacy and cost grounds, while other states are pressing for delays.

The government is also planning to change the Social Security card:
The immigration bill also requires the Social Security Administration to increase the security of its cards -- the venerable, often tattered and easily forged paper documents that have not changed much in 70 years even as their uses have multiplied.
I disagree that the Social Security card is "venerable" and regret that its "uses have multiplied." Nevertheless, it seems that changes to the card are inevitable--regardless of what happens to the current immigration bill.
The changes would satisfy the immigration bill but fall short of measures some lawmakers and experts say are necessary to secure a document that people show to get a job or obtain other identification. Those critics want the cards to include encrypted biometric identifiers such as pictures, fingerprints and retinal scans.
The "critics" and "experts" mentioned above are people that should concern every American interested in the ideals of freedom. It is heartening that several states are resisting the REAL ID Act, yet the issues that make REAL ID such a problem will always be pressing. So the price of freedom will continue to be vigilance.

Are there enough "free" thinkers around?

I find it humorous and frustrating that our leaders continue to speak dishonestly about national id cards:
The issue is so sensitive that the immigration bill states flatly it shall not be construed "to authorize, directly or indirectly" the issuance or establishment of a national ID card -- a sure sign that plenty of people would construe it exactly that way.

This is moving beyond double-speak to triple and quadruple... It matters not how things are "construed." The Social Security card was not originally intended to be used for identification purposes. Yet this is primarily what it is used for. "Construals" and "good intentions" are irrelevant. The issue is "What are the consequences? What is actually happening?"

Politicians really do think we're stupid.

Read more here.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Hating Illegals More than Loving Freedom

Sadly, many conservatives despise illegal immigrants so much that they are ready to throw in the towel on our freedoms, our heritage, and our Constitution.

They throw away these precious gifts--purchased with blood and sacrifice--only to reach for a society where the individual is reduced to a digital collective: REAL ID, Biometric Social Security Cards, EEVS, DHS approval to work...

I've told my congressman and senators that I don't hate illegal immigrants more than I love freedom. (I don't hate them period...) I should not have to have federal government approval in order live and work in this country. My "papers" should be the Constitution.


Its an ideal sealed in blood.

I wish "conservatives" still held it as a worthy goal.

The government should stop the illegal crossings at the border. It shouldn't use its failure to do its job as an excuse to become something we've stood against since 1776.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Conservatives Give Up on Freedom and Limited Government

Many so-called "conservatives" have quit supporting the ideals of freedom, limited-government, and the rights of the individual.

For example, read what "The Conservative Voice" has to offer:
More than one Republican Presidential candidate appearing in Charleston, South Carolina in the much-publicized debate on Fox News Tuesday evening, May 15, mentioned the necessity for a fool-proof, tamper-proof identification card for use in solving America's desperate unlawful immigration problem.

There is such a card which could be made readily available with a basic administration system already in place. This same card could serve multiple purposes and solve major problems. Not only could it be used for a planned and valid immigrant documentation system but it could be used universally for identification by every legally registered voter at the precinct polling place, eliminating voter fraud. It also would repair and correct extensive fraud and counterfeiting of cards in the U.S. Social Security System.

The administrative structure and the vehicle itself already exist in one of America's most highly respected agencies, the U.S. Social Security Administration, in existence for over 70 years.

You can read more about ideas to grow government and bring the federal surveillance up-close-and-personal to Americans' daily lives. Inevitably, this National ID Social Security Card would become a standard for many more transactions.

Why do "conservatives" want to empower the federal government beyond all Constitutional recognition?

Why do "conservatives" show a willingness to abdicate freedom in the face of illegal immigration and terror?

Why do "conservatives" show a willingness to fight for freedom abroad while eroding it at home?

Would such "conservatives" have established a free country in the first place?

Maybe they're not conservative after all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More on the Real ID Debate: RFID (An older post)

I posted this elsewhere on 8/29/06

Here is an article essentially asking everyone to stay calm while the biometrics/RFID revolution reduces freedom to a string of digits and the goodwill of the government. Here is a short quote from the article:

While these technologies have been around for a long time, their use in the field of human identification is relatively new—at least, on the broad scale now underway. Starting in 2008, the U.K. Identity Cards Scheme will force everyone over the age of 16 applying for a passport to have their personal biometric details—including fingerprints, eye or facial scans—added to a national identity register. For this reason, we can consider them emerging technologies since their field of use, or scale of use, is still maturing.

Throughout history, emerging technologies have faced the same level of scrutiny, and often mistrust, until they became familiar, better understood and eventually accepted by the masses. This is the basic technology-adoption lifecycle. An example from the industrial age is the locomotive engine. At that time, it was thought that traveling in excess of 30 miles per hour on one of these new locomotives would subject the human body to so much pressure that an individual would not be able to breathe. A more extreme example of technology mistrust involves the Luddites of the early 1800s, who smashed textile machines in various U.K. counties fearing the machines would make their skills obsolete.

I can only say that this is not simply a matter of the old making way for the new. This is a matter of Freedom making way for Control. Really, the above statement is simply a subtle ad hominem attack: calling the slow-to-roll-over ignorant and selfish.

My tour guide through a recent visit to the U.S. Capitol was promoting the ease and benefit that Russians have with their ever-present ID badges. But one must remember recent Russian history to understand their willingness to be so easily monitored.

A people with a heritage of freedom ought to put up a bigger fuss. But I'm afraid that we Americans have lost the whole concept and spirit of Constitutional freedoms for the individual. I, however, am not part of a herd. I am an individual. Do not brand and tag me.

Do we want to live in a society where every retail transaction could become a complete background check--cross-referenced with every database in cyberspace? I can only imagine the "common sense" (read arbitrary) regulations the government can come up with and enforce with this kind of power.

I sometimes hear people say, "Well, what do I have to worry about? I've got nothing to hide." That statement betrays a profound ignorance. It is not a matter of "having nothing to hide." It is a matter of government "having no limits." This kind of surveillance power could make the 4th Amendment obsolete. Forget search warrants. "Searching" is now constant and in real-time.

When you see the word "privacy" in media and government publications, replace it with the word "freedom." It will put things in better perspective. "Privacy" nuts can be easily dismissed. What is really at stake is freedom.