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Real ID as a wedge issue

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's just beyond me why more Congressional Democrats have not seized upon Real ID as an issue that could split the Republican party down the middle.

From almost every perspective, the 2005 Real ID Act is reprehensible. Its most obnoxious component creates in effect a national ID card by imposing draconian restrictions upon how states may issue drivers licenses. It requires the states to conduct expensive (and essentially impossible) background checks, and create and share databases with extensive personal information for all drivers. It also requires that airline passengers and anyone seeking to enter a federal building in the future must present a Real ID, or face extensive screening and delays. There's every reason to believe that in the not too distant future, the uses of this nascent national ID card would be extended both in public and private spheres until it became nearly impossible to do without one. Furthermore, the state databases would almost certainly be fed into federal systems, including data-mining programs like Total Information Awareness (or whatever the government is calling its Orwellian program now). It's hard to believe as well that these vast state databases could be kept secure from snoopers and identity-thieves, when so many "low-level" employees will have direct, daily access to them. Real ID is a nightmarishly bad idea.

Drafted by the slightly daft James Sensenbrenner and inserted in the conference report for a must-pass emergency appropriation bill (for tsunami relief), Real ID was enacted without debate, without hearings, without input from Democrats. Like the Patriot Act, also rushed through in an underhanded and undemocratic way, Real ID gives the federal government sweeping powers – some of them apparently unconstitutional – while suppressing the means to resist it. For example, Real ID has a provision stripping courts of jurisdiction in any federal seizure of private land in the "vicinity" of national borders, for vaguely defined security purposes....(Click here for remainder of post.)


Japanese protest against US base

Residents of Okinawa have gathered to protest against the US military presence on the southern Japanese island, following a series of incidents allegedly involving US personnel, including the rape of a schoolgirl.

Thousands of people attended Sunday's demonstration, despite pouring rain, though the numbers were less than the 10,000 hoped for.

"We must bring our anger to both the governments of Japan and the United States," Tetsuei Tamayose, one of the organisers, told the crowd.

The rally was organised by local residents angered after a 14-year-old girl last month accused a US Marine of rape.

The girl later dropped charges against the Marine and he was released to the custody of US military authorities....(Click here for remainder of article.)


US Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000

BAGHDAD (AP) — A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. The grim milestone came on a day when at least 61 people were killed across the country.

Rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

The soldiers with Multi-National Division — Baghdad were on a patrol when their vehicle was struck at about 10 p.m. in southern Baghdad, the military said. Another soldier was wounded in the attack.

Identities of those killed were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic."

"There have been some significant gains. However, this enemy is resilient and will not give up, nor will we," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

Attacks in Baghdad probably stemmed from rising tensions between rival Shiite groups — some of whom may have been behind the Green Zone blasts. It was the most sustained assault in months against the nerve center of the U.S. mission.

The deadliest attack of the day was in Mosul when a suicide driver slammed his vehicle through a security checkpoint in a hail of gunfire and detonated his explosives in front of an Iraqi headquarters building, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 42 other people, police said....(Click here for remainder of article.)


Tech Workers Favor McCain, Obama

A survey of IT professionals found a roughly even split supporting Obama and McCain, but more than a third have another favorite candidate

Grant Gross, IDG News Service
PC World
Sunday, March 23, 2008; 3:19 PM

IT workers seem to like John McCain and Barack Obama equally in the U.S. presidential race, but more than a third of respondents in a recent survey preferred some other candidate.

Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents said they supported Obama, an Illinois Democratic senator, and another 29 percent supported McCain, an Arizona Republican senator, according to the survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and polling firm Rasmussen Reports. Only 13 percent said they supported Senator Hillary Clinton, a New York Democrat.

But the survey also found significant support for Mike Huckabee, a Republican and former governor of Arkansas, who garnered 11 percent of the respondents' votes, and Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, who was supported by 9 percent of respondents. McCain became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party on March 4, after the survey was done in February and early March....(Click here for remainder of article.)


McCain Gains from Clinton-Obama Feud

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2008

A growing number of worried Democrats wonder whether Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will ever stop slamming each other, which they see as only helping John McCain, the likely Republican nominee.

Clinton spoke of McCain as a more acceptable candidate than Obama when she she said only she and the Arizona senator have demonstrated their credentials to be commander in chief.

"I believe that I've done that, certainly Sen. McCain has done that, and you'll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy," Clinton said.

Obama's camp went even further in its attacks on Clinton this week, suggesting the former first lady has serious character flaws.

"She is not seen as trustworthy by the American people," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said....(Click here for remainder of article.)


It will take more than one great speech for Obama to reassure some Democrats

By Albert R. Hunt | Bloomberg News
Published: March 23, 2008

David Eisenhower teaches a class at the University of Pennsylvania on American political speeches. Senator Barack Obama, with his address last week on race and politics, gave him a new course.

"It was a very powerful speech," said Eisenhower, whose grandfather was president of the United States and supreme allied commander in World War II. "Obama gives a very compelling reason as to why this is his time."

The Obama speech was necessitated by videotapes of his former pastor assailing the United States and its white majority. With his presidential fortunes at risk, the Illinois Democrat could have simply disassociated himself from those remarks and the preacher, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Instead, while addressing that issue, he used it as an opportunity to talk about the larger question of race in America. He did it with a candor rare in politics.

There have been analogies to John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on his Catholicism before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston. Eisenhower said it was more like Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 talk to a black audience in Indianapolis, when he informed the gathering that Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed....(Click here for remainer of article.)



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