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Pwog panopticon

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday May 1, 2010 06:19 PM

Trust a liberal to come up with some nightmarishly elaborate techological scheme for controlling people's lives. Here's the latest:

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint....

The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.

It would require all workers across the nation to carry a card with a digital encryption key that would have to match work authorization databases.

“The cardholder’s identity will be verified by matching the biometric identifier stored within the microprocessing chip on the card to the identifier provided by the cardholder that shall be read by the scanner used by the employer,” states the Democratic legislative proposal.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a civil liberties defender often aligned with the Democratic Party, wasted no time in blasting the plan.

“.... Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

That's a nice line about the TSA and the DMV -- better than I would have expected from the generally toothless ACLU.

The proposal, a 26-page PDF document, is kinda fun to read, in a horrifying way. You can just see see some poor wanker of a Hill-rat congressional staffer sitting up nights concocting this ecstasy of techno-porn, which incidentally is watermarked with the names of Reid and Schumer.

It's a little incoherent, and about fifteen pages in, the Hill rat has become so boned that he (it's gotta be a guy) drops the cautious passive voice and starts talking about what "we" are going to let people do, and keep them from doing, and just how exactly we're going to go about it.

The gist of the idea is that the card contains some "biometric" information about your physical body -- a thumbprint, say, or a retinal scan -- along with your social security number and, well, who knows what other information about you?

You get one by going down to some government office and satisfying them that you are who you are and giving them the "biometric" info -- which is supposed to go right onto the card and then be forgotten and never stored anywhere else, and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

In theory, of course, the card is not supposed to be used for any other purpose than for an employer to verify your eligibility to work here in the land of the free -- and again, how long do you think that restriction will last?

There is a strange inconsistency: the "locally stored" part of the scheme's preposterous acronym means that in principle, all the employer has to do is "locally" verify that your thumbprint or retina matches the one stored right on the card, without ever having to check a database anywhere. But then there's this:

The cardholder’s work authorization will be verified by matching a digital encryption key contained within the card to a digital encryption key contained within the work authorization database being searched.
To the extent that one can extract any meaning from this sentence at all, it seems to imply that there will in fact be a "work authorization database" somewhere (the blether about "encryption keys" is meaningless and technologically illiterate). Now each time this "database" is "searched", its proprietor -- presumably Uncle -- has yet another surveillance data point about you.

Well, who cares, really? He already has so many. And this is precisely the line of argument advanced by Demo Dick Durbin:

“The biometric identification card is a critical element here,” Durbin said. “For a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification. People understand that in this vulnerable world, we have to be able to present identification.”
A more perfect example of the Ratchet Effect could hardly be imagined. Bush makes us take off our shoes, and then the Democrats come along and tell us that hey, you're already taking off your shoes, might as well drop trou and assume the position while you're at it.

But of course there is nothing so horrible that a Pwog can't be found to praise it, as long as some Democratic senator's hell-spawn staff has cooked it up:

Angela Kelley, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said the biometric identification provision “will give some people pause.”

But she applauded Democrats for not shying away from the toughest issues in the immigration reform debate.

“What I like about the outline is that Democrats are not trying to hide the ball or soft-pedal the tough decisions,” Kelley said. “It seems a very sincere effort to get the conversation started. This is a serious effort to get Republicans to the table.”

The "Center for American Progress". I feel an essay about "progress" taking shape somewhere in my head. Progress toward what, exactly?

Comments (37)

This is why I distrust, entirely, the hair-shirt whimbling, the teeth gnashing and the garment rending coming from career liberals, about Arizona.

They don't hate that Arizona drummed up more powers for its police state.

That hate that it's a non-universal, inept, clumsily nationalist one.


Exactly. The Arizona law is a nightstick; the biometric card is a smart bomb. Liberals love anything smart, even if it's a bomb. Especially if it's a bomb.


Now that they have my pants around my ankles, I'll be happy to supply them with some biometric data.

The "We" pronoun is very popular among hill rats, it gives them a great sense of power by affiliation. The scary thing is they're being somewhat honest, because none of the Congresscritters can do their schtick w/o their little critterette baby rats.

It's a regular Benthamite Bonanza.

PS to MJS and op -- it seems that suggestions for new post ideas weren't needed, really... just a bit of patience. The Donkle always comes through!


just what are we supposed to fear here ??

strikes me as pretty harmless
corridor monitorish stuff
more nurse ratchet
then smith's ratchet

grade school total institution
attendence taking and toll gating
as a 10 year boarder at fine boys schools
back in the late 50's into the middle sixties
sounds kinda lame to me
err if you're not an undoc that is

i suspect even if fully implemented
it will pale to silly putty
next to the fear and trembling
hard pressed job-kulacks of tomorrow
will feel
when they contemplate their....
credit score !!!!!

Al Schumann:

Ox, the cackling fascist card scheme is nasty, but Owen is right on the money about the credit score and the mission creep of its worshippers.

The cards, if implemented, and if implemented in a way that sort of works—by no means likely—makes chickenshit harassment much easier. False positives, false negatives, system failures and police stupidity are inevitable and guarantee an increase in whimsical state vindictiveness. But the credit nightmare hits every aspect of life that requires financing; work, healthcare, insurance and housing, for example. It's already entrenched and it's getting worse. The disposition towards criminal negligence of the credit rating agencies and the data brokers are a bane to millions right now.

Worry the everyday application of biometric REAL ID, especially when it comes to managing the self-disciplining bourgeoisie?

Probably not.

Or at least, not right away.

Worry the number of "emergencies" which require the plumbing of that data pipeline?

A lot more than yes.

I was joking on op's narrow focus.

I'm not looking at the ID cards as just cards, and I would think op looks at them and their long-term ramifications the same way I would.

As a piece of a larger scheme. As a part of a larger trend.

The narrower and shorter the focus, the more myopic and glaucoma-affected the view. Anything can be minimized, made innocuous, if we cramp our view far enough in enough dimensions. Look at what wonders the Center for American Progress works with its minimizing outlook!

Al Schumann:


One Card to rule them all, One Card to find them, One Card to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Al Schumann:

In the land of Pwogwess, where the Merit lies...


I see it as a problem for more than just the obvious civil liberties and privacy issues. If this card is required for employment, it might make it more difficult for people to work off the books without paying taxes or threatening other benefits they receive, like welfare or Medicaid.

The majority of people on welfare either have to have an off the books job, generous friends and family, or some other hustle going to survive. If they impose some kind of penalty for working without a card, it might hurt a lot of people.

I see no reason to create a false dichotomy between this and any other issues, particularly those which are of more concern to the middle class than the poor like credit ratings. We should be concerned with both.


That was the single greatest use of the racist assclown, Tolkien, in the history of everything.




Agreed. Having had the great misfortune of "managing personnel" in a lesser, former incarnation of my present self, I can attest with at least anecdotal authority to the number of ways in which even uncreative bum MBAs and HR grundies can put this to general anti-worker, anti-labor mischief.


I used to rely on creative Brazilians and El Salvadorans to piggy-back on a single piece of good paper, to staff my kitchens - knowing that it was well nigh impossible for an ICE/INS clown to get a budget for chasing down all the variations of "Jaoa" and "Geraldo" who showed up to work.

They ran a veritable freedom train of skilled labor, to and from Minas Gerais, or San Salvador - knowing full well there was a staple of shops in which to find work, because serviceable papers were in order, and, having clean paper xeroxed in the file, I'd done my "due diligence."

That this irked the Southern State overlords who ran these companies was no small pleasure.

Contrary to mediated narratives, Central and South American laborers know their class, and their own interests, and it was a signature delight to let them pull a slow down in the face of some bumbling regional sales manager's corporate speaking pep talk, some Friday night rush, while the office-burgher drones got their drunk on and frat boys practiced their rape lines.

By comparison, my American employees sucked it up and did what they were told.

Al Schumann:

Ox and Sean

It took me a minute, but I get it. There's no reason why mission creep would fail to infect the card too.


Thanks! It seemed to fit, from provenance to application. The sentiment Tolkein brings is sufficiently sticky and toxic for this.

Al -- no worries... I realize Owen's gig is economics. As I've said many times here, mine is distinctly not economics, but instead is more holistic, oriented toward trend-spotting and predicting where trends will lead.

I agree with Sean that this will have real practical effects on working folks. I have several sources of income and only one of them is traditionally booked income, the others range in the self-reporting zones, and sometimes I use barter and accept barter. The idea that I have to present a card to "work" is pure bullshit from my perspective, well out of proportion to whatever supposed problems we have in America from "immigrants."

The "immigrants" issue is merely the scapegoat, the straw-man, the snipe-hunt, the red herring.

The real goal is shown by the act itself, not by the reasons offered for the act. The real goal is to make life less private, less free, less under the radar of Uncle Sam's paranoiascope. Like the implemented ridiculously useless (for security purposes) searches now used for air travel and border crossing at Canada, this is a tool to remind Americans that Uncle Sam owns them, and that they are merely serfs or slaves in the big picture.

If I'm feeling irritable and rankled, I'm likely to ask Owen what the fuck he's doing focusing only on economic issues. But I'm used to seeing that perspective from him, much as he's probably used to me completely omitting the economic issues in my comments!

OOPS. Sorry, errata. Last post:

"...less private, less freedom from being under the radar of Uncle Sam's paranoiascope."


" the real goal is to make life less private, less free, less under the radar of Uncle Sam's paranoiascope. Like the implemented ridiculously useless (for security purposes) searches now used for air travel and border crossing at Canada, this is a tool to remind Americans that Uncle Sam owns them, and that they are merely serfs or slaves in the big picture."

less private less free ???
these are patent kulack fears

proles free ??
in any sense beyond defiance ..a\the answer is
"nyet"... eh ??
"less under the radar of Uncle Sam's paranoiascope"
that slip up works better

more is less
the goal is to make "real americans"
feel superior ...connected

vigilance is reactionary solidarity

paleface america dos not fear uncle sam
there is no history "they know"
of uncle putting the greasy thumb down on em
maybe their grand parents ...

paleface kulack america
despises uncle sam
when he's openning a brief case
and adores uncle sam
firing a gun

too much fringe libertarian
howling and gnashing of teeth
---tea bag ...pink polka dot or what ever---
is pure absolute ego
" knot hole general " antics
in the deeper analysis
overly self involved
projected self loathing
like a bilge pumps the hold

in particular the excessive identification with shadow groups
is a form of self pity
as much as excessive antipathy
toward the shadow group

why do we prefer to take the lumpen view here ???

bring it on
i say
the state's oppression of the out prole minority unites broader forces on both sides

practically its the spread of evasion and fight back
that counts

more oprresion more struggle
even if the curve is j shaped

the more the state squeezes and grinds
the greater the ultimo resistence

informal sectors bloom
become ever wider liberated zones
as the state attempts to put on the clamps

i love the use of
"in lock down "
applied to grade schools ...don't you ???
we must imprison them to keep them "safe"

the controler class
playing on the kulack cult of innocence strangles its fabricated love object

is that not revenge enough for us ??


" I realize Owen's gig is economics..
mine is distinctly not economics"

then :

"this is a tool to remind Americans that Uncle Sam owns them, and that they are merely serfs or slaves in the big picture."

remind ... pleb paleface americans
uncle is waching out for them
abridging "personal liberties"
only to polict those "other unamerican americans "
lumpen americans pointy headed americans
dark americans non smiling americans
one's that under their masque of citizen ship
are even more alien thenthe aliens

the protean enemies of liberty
a reckoning
measure for measure

emerges the brute state
we've watched on tv since the late 60's
no more matt dillion
pay up pay back and pay forward
uncle out of uniform
more so then in uniform
giving the rainbow of spooks
the big one
and all
in the spooks own
brutal currency

put on the bear skins boys
it's deer slayer time

even the key stone cops state
st Al so rightly evokes
paves the way to a sudden fierce
moment of nocturnal retribution

pale faces in face paint "raid" the barrio

take stock

its a light year from fox tv
and waco

to the klan riding again

now that was a defeated kulackery under occupation

focus on ole dixie down

is that really the american trend you spot oxy ???

up ahead
i see just more of
'forever our green and glorious albion'

not weimar follies

compare and contrast
reagan and franco

I see what I see. You see what you see. You're not proving me wrong, you're just disagreeing. Which is fine by me -- it's your place and your opinion.

But it doesn't change my mind.


more importantly
i see what i don't see


"Is the U.S. Going Fascist?
Has China Already Got There?"
father smith's pal has this affixed about his flog spot for the next issue of the toll gated
5th essence of counter punch

pandering that way
to pinko hysteria
even if in the end one shoots
such anti fool's gold fool's gold
in the pay per view
body of the text ...
malarial agitprop


Y'know, this is one area where Owen and I really aren't on the same page at all. In fact I think we already have Fascism here -- though it could be worse, and undoubtedly will be.

And yeah, it doesn't bear comparison with Franco or Hitler -- and I don't just mean on the axis of severity, though it's always problematic to turn a vector into a scalar anyway. What's more interesting to me is that it's qualitatively different.

Technological "progress" (that word again!) has made possible an intensity of surveillance and monitoring that just wasn't possible in the 30s.

We all used to think that fascism was capital's response to crisis. But lately I'm wondering whether it isn't the sweet spot where capital wants to be, if it possibly can.


It's a working thesis of mine that your final point is premise approaching consistent application - that the material consequence of capitalist accumulation is fascism.

But that fascism itself is not limited to premature static nationalist forms.

Falangism and Nazism were premature, were confined to national and religious polities, were limited by the language of ethnicity, nation, tongue and faith.

See the Israeli state for the last form of it, and its own dead end.

Capital power factions prefer social tolerances; those national-ethnic-religious first attempts were so corrosive of capitalist expansion, since they set geographic and social boundaries on the operation of corporations, that the heirs of WW2 consensus naturally arrived at an "anti-fascist" corporatism, one which actively attacks (SAPs) national accumulations of capital, national narratives (Iraq, Yugoslavia, Russia, China, Brazil, Argentina) and ethnic-tribal polarities (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, the Sudan, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia).


"national narratives " of volkish idiots
the international nightmare
of trans border economic elites

Speaking of market totalitarianism, this thing would add a new vector for marketing data integration. Whatever it might portend about employment-based apartheid, it would certainly, undoubtedly also serve as yet another form of publicly-provided marketing research on psychographics of the more moneyed segment of the population.

Meanwhile, ROFLMFAO at all those who mindlessly assume that appealing to the Dembots is the answer to Arizona. The Dembots are undoubtedly to the right of the Repudlickins, who are still the party of capitalist farmers and meat-packers and hoteliers, on this topic.

I don't think "versus" at all, OP.

I think Krupp, Daimler, GM, Deutsche Bank, Bayer, Siemens, McDonnell-Douglass-Boeing, Goldman-Sachs, Mitsubishi, Dow, DuPont, GE et al were the real emergent victors of WW2.

The failed and limited national fascisms (which served the interests of capitalized firms, especially war profiting ones) preceded the international corporate ones, is all.

more importantly
i see what i don't see

Tautologically speaking? You're seeing what you're not seeing? You're being what you're not being? You're fleeing what you're not fleeing? Maybe an explanation is in order.

I'm not disagreeing with your point that a lot of people don't imagine this ID card to be a problem, and that many welcome it. I mean, why would I argue against that obvious truth?

Beyond that, I don't get your points. They just look to me like some sort of bizarre language spoken in secret societies, ones of which I'm not a member nor even an initiate.

We all used to think that fascism was capital's response to crisis. But lately I'm wondering whether it isn't the sweet spot where capital wants to be, if it possibly can.

Since deeds prove much more than words ever will, I wonder what evidence there is to suggest it's not the sweet spot.


fascism is 21st century americanism

Moving to a society where you must produce your papers is the logical progression of everything that has happened since the election of Nixon.

Papirien bitte.

Don't go starting thinking you can move away and get out of this shit. You fight it here and now or never.

Now don't bug me, I'm missing the latest episode of American Idol.

"Don't go starting thinking you can move away and get out of this shit. You fight it here and now or never."

But, um... be smart about it. The best victories are won without violence.

Decided I better qualify myself after giving my last post a careful read.


the blether about "encryption keys" is meaningless and technologically illiterate

Actually its not. They're describing Public/Private Key infrastructure of some kind. In theory it could be as simple as a check - is this a valid key, or is it a forgery. In theory.

Of course the thing about such cards is that they're not nearly as secure as politicians (probably sincerely) believe. The data will be entered in by minimum wage clerks in a shitty environment with high job turnover. If you want to enter fake details, steal data it will be pretty easy. Probably easier than it will be for citizens to correct erroneous data once it ends up on the thing. Which of course it will.

And biometrics are an even bigger problem. If your secure ID gets stolen you can always get a new one. If your biometric data gets stolen, hard to get new eyes/finger prints. Assuming that it could be made to work, which is currently a rather big assumption.


why do petty hu cap compresed pinkos
always want to be
joseph k
or worse his nebulous final morph
simply k
or is it that all k's are from the beginning
special k's

get your diet and exercise fellow
dried pinks
( raisins not grapes )

too much sci fi of the porn-min variety

Remind me why "sincere" is good, and remind me why it's important to get Rs to the table?

What the Ds should to is just shut down and go home. Whatever they touch just gets worse. For us, I mean.


national ID program?, It may be good">good for workers if it work with biometric.

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