REAL IDiocy

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Maine’s state legislature "RESOLVED" almost unanimously last week that it will "refuse… to implement the REAL ID Act…." As if that weren’t enough, it "implores the United States Congress to repeal the REAL ID Act…"

What?

Go ahead and re-read it. Took me a few tries, too. Such stunningly good news knocks one’s comprehension for a loop. It’s like sunshine at midnight: so freak a treat that one can only blink and gibber. When was the last time we had news this good? Heck, when was the last time we had good news, period, from the political world?

The REAL ID Act, for those of you lacking the time and stomach to analyze Leviathan’s droppings, might better be titled "Papers, Please." Passed in 2005, due to take effect in 2008, it finishes the job of turning Amerika into a police state by making driver’s licenses into national ID cards.

The Act requires all licenses to carry the same information, whether they’re issued in Alaska, Florida, or somewhere in between. Those who concede that free people should ask Their Rulers’ permission before driving cars they own on roads they pay for probably won’t object to providing their name, address, date of birth, gender, a "digital photograph," and their signature — the usual data that good citizens are conditioned to yield without thinking.

But then comes this explosive little mandate: the license must also include "a common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements." Who gets to "define" those "elements"? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of course, the busybodies who brought us airport screeners and the infamous No-Fly List. Ergo, look for our new and improved licenses to feature fingerprints and a microchip that tracks our movements. And, while the DHS is at it, why not include our financial transactions (banks already report these anyway since the Feds claim to recognize a terrorist by his moneybags), medical history (hey, keeping tabs on the psychotics protects the rest of us), and the "passenger name records (PNR’s)" airlines compile. The states must also "provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State." In other words, a national database puts everything at the Feds’ fingertips.

A nightmare, right? But it gets worse. Try obtaining or renewing a driver’s license under REAL ID. You’ll have to show four documents, everything from a birth certificate to a Social Security card. Only Felix Unger and welfare mamas keep stuff like that around. Then there’s the pleasure of paying for this: REAL ID is now priced at $11 billion, over 100 times its original $100 million estimate. Those numbers will continue climbing as more details are settled, more glitches detected. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars for your new ID — and higher state taxes, too.

The Feds will force us to flash our licenses each time we interact with them — when we board a plane (ha! There’s news!), enter a federal building (hmmm. Even jurors?), file legal papers, or collect any sort of government payout. Even folks who don’t drive will need a license lest they become legal pariahs. And economic ones, too, as the mania spreads. How else will retailers prove they’re patriotic Americans, doing their part to catch terrorists, if they don’t scrutinize our papers at every transaction? It won’t be long until supermarkets ID us before selling so much as a loaf of bread. Imagine the quandary of the poor sap whose license is lost or stolen. And what about those whose licenses are suspended for speeding, drunk driving… or, one fine day, for political dissent…?

Our Rulers claim REAL ID is another tactic in the War on (Non-Governmental) Terror. But only Leviathan and its cheerleaders in the Mainstream Media believe that papers protect us. Such navet makes experts in security laugh. They realize that knowing the name of your attacker may add a personal touch to your interaction but does zilch to keep you safe. That’s why God made guns and target practice, barbed wire, mace and self-defense classes, window alarms, bullet-proof doors, and common sense: those things actually protect us, all without asking the assailant’s name first.

Expensive, ineffective, totalitarian: no wonder Maine’s legislature rejected REAL ID. We might ask why they chose this particular expensive, ineffective, totalitarian measure out of the boatload dumped on us the last few years, but let’s not quibble. Nor is Maine alone. New Mexico’s House Majority Floor Leader introduced a memorial denouncing REAL ID. A Republican state representative in Montana sponsored a bill that "nullifies" REAL ID while her Democratic colleague’s competing legislation "opposes" it. The Republican uttered words seldom heard anywhere, at any time, in politics: "She would have no problem, she said, if [the Democrat's] bill passed and not hers. u2018It’s that important,’ she said." Similar legislation is pending in Washington State, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

Back in Maine, Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell believes that "…it is our job as state Legislators to protect the people…from just this sort of dangerous federal mandate.” Bravissimo! Better late than never.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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