Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Real IDea

All around the blogosphere today people are talking about the passage of the Real ID act, which mandates uniformity in drivers license requirements and creates a national database for the information. It was requested by the DHS as a way to track possible terrorists and was tacked onto the end of the war appropriations bill to ensure full cooperation, passing 100-0. Very smooth move by the administration, appealing to both post 9/11 and support the troops sensibilities. What could possibly be the problem with that? Let me count the ways:

First, isn't it about time we stopped writing a blank check on the Iraq War. During the election Team Bush chastised Kerry for claiming the war had cost $200 billion, "we're no where near that amount." As of today they have spent some $350 billion since 9/11 to protect us from terrorism, about $150 billion at home and in Afghanistan and $200 billion in Iraq. Are we safer? In the last two years acts of terrorism have quadrupled worldwide and this figure does not include violence in Iraq, which are still classified as acts of war. Millions of dollars are missing, Halliburton is getting millions in bonus money, while still being investigated for over-billing. When is it time to call timeout.

Second, there are some interesting ramifications to this bill. Seems the cleaver people who wrote it had other things on their mind than just making drivers licenses harder to get. This article questions whether the Real ID bill is just a Trojan Horse, containing an end-run around the constitution in the form of an exclusion from judicial review. Its a bit complicated (all the better to fool you with, my dear) but the just of it is with the passage of the Real ID bill, the Director of Homeland Security has complete and total immunity from the courts in respect to a very certain and small piece of law. Once passed it opens a can of worms whereby congress can pass any number of laws, completely outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, or any court for that matter. If so, forget worries over the nuclear option, the GOP can pass anything it wants, give it immunity and no court can touch it. Its constitution-busting at its brashest.

Third, and this one that really gets me steaming, there was a provision in the bill that would allow for the use of the information collected from Real ID to be used as a basis for a gun-owners database, and it was removed because it would have made the bill unpassable. Now get this, the GOP can destroy democracy as we know it be eliminating the checks and balances between the three branches ( an impartial court being the test used to judge democracies worldwide), but they cannot piss off the NRA. For 25 years there has been a need for a governmental database of gun-owner information and it has made the NRA twitch and foam-at-the-mouth just by mentioning it. It has been called too costly, too large to manage effectively, and unconstitutional. Now, the money to do the deed is there, the ability to administrate the data is available, and we have overturned the constitution. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE THE PROBLEM?

Fourth, and most intriguing, Atrios(Sleight of Hand) and Digby are trading posts about what might actually be afoot in the Real ID business. Seems between this bill, the nuclear option hubbub, the fervor over so-called activist judiciary, the courting of the religious right,the filling of the government with anyone who will drink the Koolaid, all signal a conservative party that seems "freakishly confident" like they have nothing to lose; or possibly no way to lose. Why would they worry about their actions if they were certain they would win any and every election necessary. I'm not much of a conspiracy theory buff, but it does answer a few nagging questions. Why is the administration so cock sure about everything, in the face of such obvious failure? Why do they pander so shamelessly to the religious right, NRA and corporate interests? Why does Tom DeLay believe he is above all law? How can they fearlessly throw our Constitution into the maelstrom? Is the GOP bulletproof?

I leave you this one final link. It may have nothing to do with the rest of the post. Then again it might.