Beware the IDs of March

John Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Mon Mar 5 09:13:54 MST 2007

Beware the IDs of March

by <mailto:mtennant at>Michael Tennant
by Michael Tennant

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<>"Father Abraham" 
Lincoln may be the patron saint of today’s federal officials, but his 
descendants have come a long way from sending the U.S. military to suppress 
brutally any thoughts of independence on the part of the states.

Within the last month or so we here at LRC have 
<>celebrated the fact 
that <>Maine has flatly 
refused to comply with Washington’s dictates in the REAL ID Act, which 
mandates that state driver’s licenses comply with federal standards, the 
effect of which would be to create a de facto national identification card. 
Several other states are threatening to follow suit. 
<>Thomas Andrew Olson even 
posited that state rebellions against REAL ID could portend a revival of 
genuine federalism.

The recalcitrant states have argued that, in addition to violating 
citizens’ and states’ rights, the cost of implementing the REAL ID 
requirements is prohibitive, and the federal government is not providing 
the money to accomplish this. Of course, the only way for the feds to do 
this is to steal money from the citizens of the states and then turn around 
and give it back to the states, minus a hefty cut for D.C.

Uncle Sam, having since the days of Lincoln perfected the art of enveloping 
the iron fist in velvet, has 
to these upstart states (Who do they think they are, anyway?) by extending 
the deadline for implementing REAL ID until 2009 and permitting states to 
use up to 20 percent of their federal homeland security grants to cover the 
cost of implementation. This will surely quell most of the restiveness 
among Washington’s vassals in the state capitals. The rest can be brought 
into line with the next phase, which will probably be a threat to withhold 
homeland security funds from states that refuse to comply.

Thus, by 2009 we will all be forced to obtain federally mandated 
identification cards, "so that no one [can] buy or sell unless he [has] the 
mark" (Revelation 13:17), i.e., the national ID card. Think about it. Is 
there any commercial transaction you can undertake even today without at 
some point having to show some identification? Try opening a bank account, 
applying for a job, buying a house, going to the doctor, or flying 
commercial airlines without being asked to show your ID.

It’s bad enough having state identification cards. However, under REAL ID, 
your personal information will be kept in a nationwide database, and you 
will not be able to enter a federal building (no great loss there) or 
travel by air without the card – and that’s just the beginning. Over time 
expect greater and greater restrictions on those who refuse to show their 
papers and more and more requirements, such as biometric identifiers. 
Congressman Ron Paul has 
<>pointed out that there are 
essentially no restrictions on what the Secretary of Homeland Security can 
require states to include in driver’s licenses and on what information may 
be stored in the database. The threat to our freedoms from REAL ID vastly 
outweighs the threat to our lives from terrorism.

It will surprise no regular LRC reader to learn that the allegedly 
conservative editors of National Review are entirely 
favor of REAL ID and entirely in disdain of its opponents, to whom they 
refer as the "ACLU and its fellow-travelers on the right [who] have 
denounced the law as creating a national identification card, with the 
usual sophomoric references to the Gestapo." They applaud the mild 
compromise outlined above despite the fact that "[a]ny delay in improving 
the integrity of identification documents is potentially dangerous."

How do the NR editors answer the charge that REAL ID creates a national ID 
card? Simply put, they don’t. They merely declare that "[t]he act simply 
does not create a national ID card," quote 
Schlafly’s absurd statement that REAL ID actually prevents the 
establishment of a national ID card, and move on to their next point in 
defense of the government. Well, I guess that’s settled. How could anyone 
have thought otherwise?

As to the fiscal issues, the supposedly limited-government, budget-cutting 
conservatives at NR say that if the states need more money to implement 
REAL ID, well, then, the feds should just dish it out to them. "This would 
be somewhat unfair to taxpayers in states such as Colorado, New York, and 
Virginia, which have already come into nearly full compliance," they aver. 
"But the government’s interest in protecting national security is 
compelling enough to justify further federal assistance."

Ah, yes. As long as it’s for "protecting national security," any power 
aggrandizement by the feds is justified, and anyone who raises even the 
most reasonable of concerns about it is 
"<>unpatriotic." As the 
editors tell us, since the 9/11 hijackers had numerous state ID cards, some 
of them obtained fraudulently, one of the best ways to prevent future 
terrorism is to implement a national – er, REAL – ID card. You see, it’s 
all about protecting us from terrorists! How dare anyone suggest otherwise?

As usual, one prominent individual does suggest otherwise. 
<>Here’s Ron Paul on the notion 
that REAL ID will protect us from terrorists:

One overriding point has been forgotten: Criminals don’t obey laws! As with 
gun control, national ID cards will only affect law-abiding citizens. Do we 
really believe a terrorist bent on murder is going to dutifully obtain a 
federal ID card? Do we believe that people who openly flout our immigration 
laws will nonetheless respect our ID requirements? Any ID card can be 
forged; any federal agency or state DMV is susceptible to corruption. 
Criminals can and will obtain national ID cards, or operate without them. 
National ID cards will be used to track the law-abiding masses, not criminals.

It would be falsifying history to suggest that today’s editors of National 
Review are in any way betraying the vision of the magazine’s founder, for 
it was William F. Buckley, Jr., who called for "a totalitarian bureaucracy 
within our shores" to protect us from the last bogeyman, the Soviet Union. 
It would, however, be a welcome change if they would stop referring to 
themselves as conservatives. Real conservatives, who worry about constantly 
encroaching federal power, are to be found at such publications as 
<>Chronicles and 
<>The American Conservative.

Meanwhile, all those of us who value liberty, whether we call ourselves 
conservatives, classical liberals, or libertarians, need to continue to 
sound the alarm about REAL ID and other assorted infringements on our 
freedom under the guise of national security. Let us not be concerned that 
we may at times sound alarmist, for those on the forefront of defending 
against encroaching tyranny are usually considered extreme. As 
Clyde Wilson, a genuine conservative, put it, "[Tyranny] should always be 
guarded against and opposed at the threshold. If our forefathers had not 
observed this rule, there would have been no American War of Independence."

<>Don’t tread on me, Uncle Sam.

March 5, 2007

Michael Tennant [<mailto:mtennant at>send him mail] is 
a software developer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Copyright © 2007
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