Monday, February 25, 2008

Fighting McCain While The Beast Looms

You are familiar with the saying, "If he had brains, he'd be dangerous." Not only does Barack Obama have brains, he also has charm and great rhetorical skill. He is no John Kerry, Al Gore or Michael Dukakis. He's dangerous. This is true not just electorally, but substantively. Read the posts below concerning this big-government Svengali. And we all know how dangerous Hillary Clinton would be.

But waiting in the wings with a potential presidential bid is New York's own Mike Bloomberg. Let me be the first to sound the alarm. His views on abortion and the nature of marriage are bad enough, but that is nothing compared to his potential for ushering in a technologically enabled totalitarian state as hitherto seen only in the movies.

Bloomberg's business is data. The management of it is what made him a multi-billionaire. If he mounts a run for the White House, it will apparently be built upon his deep command of data concerning you and me at depths and in details previously unexplored by anyone who has been ambitious to command. Some of you think that the government is doing this already and tracks your every movement, and this is why you don't have driver's licenses or social security numbers, and why you live somewhere in Montana. You are kooks.

But Mike may be the real thing. In "If Mayor Runs, 'Empirically, He Can Win'" (New York Sun, Feb. 1, 2008) Grace Rauh writes,

A venture capitalist who founded a company expressly to support a presidential run by Mayor Bloomberg, and who is conducting nationwide voter analysis for the mayor, says his data show that Mr. Bloomberg can win the White House....Mr. Robinson's team, which he says includes people at the "top of the game" in search intelligence and database analysis, spent more than nine months building a technology systemthat attempts to gauge the thinking of Americans on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and even house-by-house, basis....Mr. Robinson said his company is mining databases and dozens of disparate data sources for the information.
It seems that the information is out there. A greater ability to "mine" it over your opponents is a great poolitical advantage. Once the successful candidate is in government, that same ability will turned against public safety and liberty.

But it seems that Mike is not satisfied with mining the existing databases. He would like to create new ones. Consider this story and this one.

Mayor Bloomberg--strictly for the sake of economy and efficiency you understand--wants to install biometric palm scanners to replace awkward and expensive punch cards and time sheets for keeping track of city employees. The folks at explain the device this way: "So apparently its not so difficult to hack a fingerprint scanner. You can either chop the finger off, or - if my memory serves me correctly - take a copy of the print, and apply it to the scanner. … The scientist dudes over at Fujitsu think they can do one better, and then some. They call it the “Contact Less Palm Vein Authentication Technology." The machines scans vein structure and layout, and even takes into account blood flow – thus resolving the chopped hand issue – you know the one you so often run into. The palm scanner works by emitting and infrared light ray of some sort, which then illuminates the vein patterns. The device then scans and captures the vein layout, and is represented by dark lines “as the deoxidized hemoglobin contained in the vein vessels absorbs the infrared ray." No blood flow, no dice.

One city engineer said, "It’s disrespectful. We’re professional people who do not hesitate to stay after hours or to bring work home. This is not about productivity but control, controlling every minute of every day."

An employee at the Department of Health said, “This growing net of surveillance technology can be used to track the workforce. There have been instances of people getting fired, based on records for the last six months tracking them wherever they are, whether it’s during work hours or on their lunchtimes.”

Yes, workers goof off and play games on their computers. It's a serious problem. But totalitarian surveillance and control is not the answer. And a man of this spirit should be kept far from the White House.

Despite these three serious dangers to our liberties--Obama, Clinton, and Bloomberg -- conservatives seem to be preoccupied with bringing down John McCain. Have we gone collectively insane?

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