Saturday, February 02, 2019

Enhanced Driver's Licenses and the Bigger Picture

Well, Kentucky has finally decided to get onboard with the new "enhanced" driver's license. Not that it had any real choice. The demand came about in the usual "closing-the- barn-door-after-the-cows-are- out" fashion by the federal government following 9/11 and the subsequent "Patriot Act". Of course, the fact that Kentucky is some 20+ years late is par for the course. As Mark Twain allegedly once said, "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky because it's always twenty years behind the times”. Whether he did or not, it seems appropriate doesn't it? After all, look at how the Kentucky legislature continues to drag its feet over the issue of legalizing medical marijuana! Meanwhile, it's a done deal in others states.

Nevertheless, this idea of an "enhanced" driver's license was originally conceived as a national identification card, but was watered down slightly to become a state issued identification card tied to your driver's license or other state issued IDs. I supposed this seemed a little less menacing; less "Empire Strikes Back". However, for some, it still smacks of images of Gestapo or KGB Security agents demanding "Ihre Papiere bitte" or "Ваши документы, пожалуйста" which translates as "your papers please".

The law goes into effect in Kentucky the first of March 2019. The state is already getting out the word and has created an pretty nifty website which helps you select which of types of ID you get to pick from, be it a regular ID, a simple drivers license, or a four or eight year license which also serves as a passport and allows you entrance into certain federally administered sites such as onboard airplanes, cruise ships, and government facilities. You even get to pick if you want your veteran status highlighted. You will need to bring with you original or certified birth certificate, marriage license, and proof of your address (such as phone or MSD bill addressed to you). Another photo ID can be used too. However, you should check the website to see what you specifically need, again depending on which type of license you want.

Please note that they will keep the documentation you submit, which will be processed and returned to you later. Regardless though, the application will start off with a photograph. Why you ask? As most everyone knows, getting your picture taken is typically the last thing you do in getting your license. No more. The reason is because your mug will be run through a facial recognition program to see if there is any outstanding warrant or other restrictions waiting out there in cyberspace. Also, you can change your hair color, add color contacts, grow a beard or whatever. It doesn't matter since it looks at subtle measurements of your face which can't be altered. It will also access other data such as height, built, tattoos, etc. If so, your picture will send up a red flag. Now just how special is that? But it gets better!

As an added bonus, each license includes a vicinity activated Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip which will alert a "secure system" and automatically pull up you bio-metric and biographic data for the appropriate government personnel to read as you approach. In addition, each card comes with its own bar code which, to be blunt, identifies you just the way a scanner at the grocery store price checks a loaf of bread.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the British had something like this in 1772? There would have been no American Revolution because there would have been no revolutionary agitators like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, or Paul Revere; no revolutionary leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, or James Madison. They would have been quickly identified and arrested! Even resistance fighters or Jews, Gypsies and others attempting to evade the Nazis in Europe during WWII would have found it nearly impossible to beat this system.

On the upside of this, it means it will be harder for terrorists to board airplanes departing US airspace (supposedly, foreign passports are screened while overseas and run through a database operated by Interpol. However, there several airports which are notoriously lax in their security procedures. Hopefully, these passports are again screened upon arrival in the US although that doesn't do much good if the bad guys are able to board overseas and intend on doing harm before landing in the US it also doesn't help if they are able to get a package---aka a bomb---onto the plane while overseas). All the same, it does make things a bit more safe.

Another bonus is that it makes it harder for illegal immigrants since they would typically lack the documentation needed to get their license and especially when their photo is run through the facial recognition program. Even a stolen social security number won't help anyone here! However, I have to wonder if these cards will be cross linked with E-Verify to confirm employment status, a correct SSN, current immigration status (such as a valid Green card or a expired Visa)? It would certainly make for a good tool to do so.

On the other hand, what about states which issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants or allow them to register and vote in local or state elections? What states typically operate under a broad federally mandated reciprocity agreement whereby certain licenses, including drivers, are accepted from one state to another, how will this apply to the new "enhanced" driver's licenses? Will they be denied outside of their state of their issuance? Would their immigration status make them subject to arrest or being detaining until ICE can be summoned?

Just because one state decides to break federal immigration law and offer "sanctuary" status doesn't mean that all other states have to go along with it does it? Look at the trouble Arizona got into just for trying to uphold existing immigration laws under the Obama Regime! Imagine one state not accepting another state's license because it doesn't comply with the new federal mandate should that individual try to apply for a license or register to vote in a non-sanctuary state. I'm sure this will come up and will ultimately be brought before the Supreme Court in the not to distance future.

Of course, this may be also much to do about nothing. After all, despite President Trump's determination to secure our southern border, Washington has been ignoring the American People on this and other issues for a long time now, going back to at least President Reagan who first granted "amnesty" to illegal immigrates hiding out in the US at the time. There is a determination by both the political and business class to allow illegal immigrants to enter and remain in the US which appears to be unremitting despite the fact that a majority of Americans have consistently opposed illegal immigration for decades.

Some people argue that the culprits are the Democrats. Allegedly, they anticipate that the vast majority of these individuals will register to vote as Democrats and thus stem the rising conservative tide in the country. Of course, the trouble with this argument is that illegal immigrates aren't allowed to register to vote, not that some haven't tried and as I stated earlier, a few states are allowing them to vote in local elections. Another problem is that the majority of these individuals have no interest in trying to become US citizens and thus to vote legally. Even among those who are here either legally or by birth have not taken a strong interest in politics, but that appears to be changing.

In 2018, voter participation among Hispanics increased by a whopping 11% with 27% voting for the first time (compared to 18% among blacks and 12% among whites). 69% of Hispanics voted for Democrats while only 29% voting for Republicans (blacks voted 90% for Democrats while 77% of Asian did as well. This compares to 54% of whites voting Republican). If we break it down by race and gender, we find that 74% of Hispanic women voted Democrat as opposed to 63% of Hispanic men. Meanwhile, 92% of black women and 88% of black men voted Democrat. 60% of white males voted Republican while white females were split at 49%. In several states, such as Nevada, Florida, Texas, and Arizona, Hispanics were the deciding factor in several key races. It's no wonder that the Democratic Party is catering to the Hispanic community or that most "sanctuary" areas are controlled by Democrats (it's also a wonder why the GOP hasn't been more pro-active in attracting Hispanics to its tent as well as Asians and blacks who are historically conservative but vote Democrat).

Of course unions, the cash cow of the Democrats since the 1930's, have found themselves all but replaced by corporate donors. Nevertheless, they are still courted for the relatively little money they do donate and for troops they can muster to knock on doors and make phones. Where do they stand? Well, several of the larger unions actually support illegal immigration. The reason is simple economics. Illegal immigrants tend to fill jobs at the low end of the employment spectrum, which also happen to be highly unionized. Thus, that bolsters their already depleted numbers as most jobs are non-unionized these days, but more importantly, it puts money in their near empty coffers. Money, I might add, which doesn't get refunded in the event of deportation.

While overall, both parties---the Democrats and Republicans---are hemorrhaging voters as the majority of Americans shift to the more solution-oriented Independent column, the increase in Asian and Hispanic voter participation could all but eliminate the GOP from much more than a localized political party. That would leave Independents as the majority voting bloc followed by the Democrats with the GOP and third parties bringing up the rear (as some of you may already know, Indies are already the largest voting bloc in the US and have been for several years now).

So why aren't the Republicans doing anything? Why are there Republicans who seem content in allowing illegal immigration to continue with little or no increase in border protection? A political death wish perhaps? I don't think so. Actually, they have their own economic interests at heart as well. Like the Democrats, the GOP is owned by corporations whose interests are to make money and lots of it. One important way is by overloading the job market.

That increases competition for jobs, which drives down wages and benefits. In addition, with increased globalization and the exporting of jobs, American workers are now competing with workers in India, Singapore, China, Vietnam and elsewhere throughout the world; no less so with illegal immigrates who could be better described as economic migrants; individuals willing to shift to where the jobs are.

Politically speaking, the GOP is now dependent on mostly white males as their base, but also white females; both of whom are both declining in number (white males are officially a minority according to the US Census Department) and aging (the majority of whites are Babyboomers--1946-1964--or older). However, the Republican Party has in recent years been courting older black, Asian, and Hispanics which tend to be more conservative, solidly middle class, family oriented, former military and/or patriotic, and attend religious services; all key GOP values. As an aside, many naturalized or native born Hispanics as well as Asians strongly oppose illegal immigration). In addition, there is a sizable minority of Millennials who lean libertarian who are attracted to the libertarian wing of the Republican Party (they face competition of course from the Libertarian Party). So don't count the GOP down and out just yet. So, how does the new "enhanced" driver's license play into all this?

As seemly separate as the two subjects might seem, they do. The "enhanced" licenses will make it easier to track and monitor not just ordinary Americans, but especially illegal immigrants. If it is eventually tied into E-Verify and the IRS, it will be easy to monitor employment and income (thus making money laundering more difficult for drug dealers) and identification for law enforcement. If we can expect social media sites like Facebook to continue to monitor our social habits and feed the information to various intelligence agencies as they have been doing, it's quite conceivable that the joint government-corporate Deep State or ruling Oligarchy will be able to monitor the whereabouts of not just drug cartels and terrorists, but of all Americans.

So if you're one of those "off-the-grid" types, it looks like the game is over. Even if you simply want to keep a low profile and protect your privacy, you're in for a very rude awakening. Imagine what it would be like credit agencies, banks, and employers were all to link to these cards, or better yet, incorporate them into a implantable chip? There would be nearly nothing about you which couldn't be monitored. I can just see Chairman Mao or "Uncle Joe" Stalin smiling now can't you? Even Himmler would be rubbing his hands together with anticipation. Then imagine a international component added to it which presently includes the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). I shudder to even consider the possible ramifications resulting from that.

Thus, while the idea was born out of noble intentions, the corruption and greed of the permanent political class and their corporate overlords have seemingly forged another link in our collective leach. Yes, some good will certainly come of it. Even Hitler started off with good intentions. Under Emperor Hadrian, the citizens of Rome begged the emperor to do something about the rampant crime and chaos, which included periodic invasions--military and peaceful--from surrounding barbarian tribes. The people were desperate. It was affecting commerce as well as society in general. They wanted security no matter the price.

So, Hadrian complied. In short order it was said that "a virgin could walk naked at night along the length of the Apain Way into Rome without being molested". That was largely true. Security was restored. Crime was reduced. Commerce flourished once again, and the borders were secure, at least for awhile. However, at the price of this security Romans lost much of what was left of their freedoms, which had already been curtailed by previous emperors in slow incremental steps.

There is no question that we must secure our borders or that we must prevent illegal immigrants from entering just as we need to keep terrorists and those who seek to overthrow what's left of our Republic and turn it into either a theocracy or battleground out. However, we must not be so willing to sacrifice our freedoms for security either, especially when that sacrifice is to a state which has long ceased to have our interests at heart. But right now we're being subtly directed into thinking of ourselves not as American citizens but as global consumers with no national loyalty or sense of heritage. Our loyalties are to brands. Instead of individualism, we're increasingly part of the collective and the herd mentality which is directed from corporate boardrooms.

We should focus on stopping demand by going after those who seek to encourage, support, and aid illegal immigrants be they businesses or religious institutions. We should restrict those who enter this country on temporary visas and more closely monitor those who are accepted (perhaps they should be the ones required to have these "enhanced" licenses which are linked to their Green cards and visas). We must also stop trying to justify our national sovereignty, and instead, demand it and enforce it just as every other country does.

America also must cease trying to be the world's policeman. That is not only the polar opposite of what our Founder's wanted, we simply don't have the resources or mandate to fix the world's problems. Just because another country has chosen a government whose political ideology is something that we may disagree with gives us no right to try and overthrown that government, especially if it means imposing a unpopular and unwanted military junta and/or dictatorship on the populace. If they want to trade as equals, then we trade as equals. If not, then so be it. We don't have to trade but we don't have to be enemies either.

So, when you go to get your new "enhanced" drivers license, think about the bigger picture and ramifications this so-called "smart ID" entails...and be sure to smile big. My turn is coming shortly and I can't wait to see what red flags go off when my picture gets snapped! I'm sure I'm on somebody's list somewhere. If not, after all the articles I've written and comments I've posted I should probably be ashamed of myself! Meanwhile, I think I'm going to grab my copy of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" from the fiction section in my library and move it into to my political science or current events section. It just seems more fitting these days. What do you think?

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