Sunday, March 01, 2009

Add One More Scandal to the "Cleanest Admin Ever"

This time it's Obama's "urban czar". If the facts in this story are true, this is far more disturbing than any of the previous controversies. This does not appear to be questionable judgment or any such thing, but out-and-out pay-to-play Blago style.

Big Brother is Trying ...

This was one of the most disturbing stories I could have read in a really long time. There is a proposal at the federal level to start an enhanced drivers' license, with a built-in radio chip that can be used supposedly to reduce forgery. Even when you get past the national drivers' license program (which I know privacy advocates have screamed hoarse about but I've never really looked into), this is an amazing leap into our privacy.

Yes, officials argue it will only be used for authentication and not tracking. But really? How hard is it once a radio chip is embedded to track the license. It might start slow, oh let's say pedophiles or potential terrorists, but it is only a matter of time before that line moves.

This is far more significant than the wiretap program that got everyone's attention. I have no problems with the wiretap program as a short-term measure - if you are on the cell phone of a known terrorist or talking to a suspected terrorist abroad, well, maybe it's ok to listen in on your conversations. Again, a stop-gap - after all, if I happen to be some killer's insurance agent, my privacy rights can't be trampled on for too long!

But this is far more insidious. The government can, and if not stopped, will probably ease into various forms of tracking. Power exerts because it can. If this sounds like a grand conspiracy theory, it's not. What we need to appreciate, and I have to remind myself this all the time, is that what makes democracy work in the US is not that white people are instinctively more democratic (which a scary number of elites have suggested in one way, shape or form in relation to Iraq), not the climate, but those brilliant words of the Founding Fathers and those after, those amendments to the constitution that says, guess what, you have the right to privacy, you have the right to own a gun to defend yourself, you have the right to pray to the God of your choice, or not to pray, you have the right to become so insanely rich that you don't know what to do with it ... this is what defines America. She has no great history stretching eons, no unique language that can be used to whip up linguistic fervor, nothing ... but those words ... those words that have given you the right to do whatever you goddamn want as long as you aren't breaking any laws, insult whoever you goddamn want, participate in any fringe looney group as long as you don't break any laws. You start chipping away at that, and you start chipping away at America.