REAL ID & the LOC
Been in Washington DC this past week. I have always enjoyed visiting our Capital City, from the very first time my father took the family there when I was 8 years old. I had several occasions to go there when I worked for Uncle Sam, and several more since I turned in my badge 15+ years ago, both business and personal. Regardless of the failure or success of my particular mission, there has not been a single visit which I did not enjoy.
This time around it rained a bit more than had been predicted, which didn't adversely affect my agenda too much, what with all of the hotels and venues on my official schedule being within 2 blocks of one Metro station or another. The only time I really, really got soaked was on my morning run by the White House and the Mall, but I hung my sweatpants and t-shirt up over the air circulation unit in the hotel room and they were dry within a few hours. My last day there, I resorted to the hotel's fitness center so that my workout gear would not be nearly as soaked when I packed it into my suitcase. I definitely prefer an outdoor workout run, but sometimes the fitness center will have to make do. I was there between 5 and 6 AM, so that it really wasn't too crowded.
The first thing I noticed was that the newsstands in Union Station, which had been Faber's the last time I was there, are now under the banner of Hudson News. Call me a bigot or a racist if you will, but I cannot help but wonder as to the legality of the people who staff the various Hudson News establishments in New York Penn Station and now, Union Station. And, more than the legality, I cannot help but wonder about their loyalty and their compatibility with America's security. Not that this deterred me from purchasing their wares, and not that I have any objections to immigrants who are willing to work, and pay their taxes, and who want to buy into the American way of life. But I would be less than honest if I were to tell you that I am not bothered by the demographics of the Hudson News. Through what may well be no fault of their own, the Hudson News personnel just worry me. I hope that the future will prove my concerns to be unfounded. But don't say that I didn't warn you! Maybe if I were to get to know some of them personally, my concerns would subside. But I'm not ready to bet the mortgage money on it.
During the height of the tourist season in Washington, there are any number of souvenir vendors and hawkers who will personalize a coffee mug or badge or other trinket with the photograph of anyone who is willing to pay (or whose mommy or daddy or grandparent is willing to pay) anywhere from $5 to $25 or more for it. But I got my photo-personalized trinket for free!! A Library of Congress Reader Identification Card! Just go to the Library of Congress, show a photo ID, and you, too, can have a personalized Library of Congress Reader Identification Card! I got mine when I was in Washington (actually, I renewed it. You've got to renew them every 2 years).
It is against that backdrop that I note the agreement reached, during my absence from New York, by Governor Spitzer and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff regarding the issuance of New York State driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
Our illustrious Governor does have a point, in theory at least, when he claims that his plan would bring the many illegal aliens who now drive automobiles without licenses under the umbrella of the mandatory insurance coverage. I question how well this theory will operate when placed into practice, however.
It is well-known that insurance companies stand squarely behind their customers, until the customer makes a claim on the insurance policy. At that point, the insurance company will do all in its power to deny coverage. Specifically, insurance policies typically include a clause to the effect that the insured must promptly notify the insurer in the event of any incident upon which a claim might be made. In the context of the automobile insurance policy, such incident usually means some sort of collision. How many of those illegal aliens, if given a Spitzer License, would, if involved in a collision, promptly notify their insurers? How many possess sufficient English language skills to do so? How many will fail to notify the insurer? I see lots of devils in the details here, Governor Spitzer!!
The REAL ID Act, Public Law 109-13, Section 202(a)(1) [109 Stat. 312], provides:
"Beginning 3 years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section."
According to what Spitzer (and Chertoff) would have us all believe, the new Spitzer Licenses would allow the illegals to drive cars and obtain insurance, but would not be accepted by the Federal government "for any official purpose."
Query: Does "any official purpose" include the issuance of a Library of Congress Reader Identification Card? The theoretical answer should be a resounding and unequivocal "Nay!" It must be remembered, however, that Chertoff, whose own boys and girls have significant behavioral problems, is NOT the head honcho over at the Library of Congress. In fact, the LOC is not even an Executive Branch agency, so the guy/gal in the Oval Office doesn't even have any say-so over the LOC. As its name implies, the Library of Congress is a Congressional agency.
Unless the Librarian of Congress himself is aboard the wagon, then the actual answer will be determined by some relatively low-ranking LOC bureaucrat in Room LM 140 of the Madison Building, diagonally across from the Capitol and a block away from the Supreme Court.
Whatever my worries may be regarding the invasion of Union Station by the Hudson News, they pale in comparison to the worries caused by the Governor and the Secretary with their agreement for the new Spitzer licenses.