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(cross posted at EcuProphets under my revdbh screen name)

Governor Eliot Spitzer dropped his plan to extend driver’s licenses to undocumented sojourners today, beaten by a barrage of hyperventilating rhetoric coming in a wide range, from formerly obscure Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco to America’s Hyperventilator-in-Chief, Lou Dobbs.

Tedisco’s kickoff was memorable:

"Osama bin Laden is somewhere in a cave with his den of thieves and terrorists, and he’s probably sabering the cork on some Champagne right now, saying ‘Hey, that governor’s really assisting us.’ "

Meanwhile, America’s Xenophobe-in-Chief, Colorado Congressmember and presidential candidtate Tom Tancredo, came out with a new ad this week. It’s getting quite a bit of internet buzz, mainly because of its over-the-top fearmongering:

Clarissa Pinkola Estés has identified the twisted logic in this:

Two  serious errors in the root logic of the ad, one of which infers that if our Southern and Northern Borders were closed tight like a vacuum-sealed coffee jar, it would prevent terrorism... it wouldn’t. The 9-11 terrorists were all here legally, had come right through government daylight channels.

The second wobbly inference in the ad, that others come illegally to take ‘our jobs’... it’s hard to imagine that the souls who scale the fence are also carrying a Daytimer and know how to run Vista (We can hardly run Vista ourselves, come on).

Eliot Spitzer wanted to be able to identify who’s driving on our roads. Tedisco kicked off the opposition with precisely Tom Tancredo’s twisted and spiteful rhetoric. Before long everybody was jumping up and down like the hominids in 2001: A Space Oddysey. Eliot didn’t have a chance. As the Times Union put it:

... his favorability rating had fallen below 50 percent for the first time ever, a remarkable fall for a candidate who swept into office with nearly 70 percent of the vote a year ago. Even fellow Democrats joined in bashing Spitzer, giving resonance to poll responses that showed just 25 percent of New Yorkers would vote to re-elect the governor and 49 percent would prefer to elect "someone else" in 2010.

Look at Tancredo’s ad, New York, and then look into a mirror. They say New York is  Blue State, but underneath the surface, we’re looking pretty red right now.

Originally posted to ironpath on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 07:30 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No, not rhetoric, (0+ / 0-)


    The republicans may have been successful in some areas, but the fact that he didn't come out in front of this plan to explain it was it's downfall.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 07:36:39 AM PST

  •  It wasn't rhetoric (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    New Yorkers aren't easily convinced by right wing rhetoric.

    There was massive public outcry from this from day one. Spitzer failed to address the security concerns and failed to fully explain his plan in laymen's terms.

    We live in a society, even here in New York, where people are not sympathetic to illegal immigrations, whether it's xenophobia, racism, or just that they are perceived as lawbreakers. If we want to make progress with plans like Spitzer's, we need to bring the public to be sympathetic with them.

    The rhetoric only reinfornces a belief that already exists in the vast majority of people.

    •  what security concerns? (0+ / 0-)

      The reality is there are many more security concerns to not passing this law.

      you say ...

      The rhetoric only reinfornces a belief that already exists in the vast majority of people.

      "The rhetoric" isn't accidental.  And it sure does reinforce a belief -- a belief that has been planted unopposed by the right-wing fear-mongers.

      Agree we need to bring the public to be sympathetic with undocumented migrants.  First step is to reverse the hate-filled and fear-mongering memes being very deliberately spread for several years now by the right-wing astroturf groups and folks like Lou Dobbs.

      •  don't blame rhetoric (0+ / 0-)

        I still don't believe people are responding to what Lou Dobbs or Tom Tancredo say, I believe they're responding to what people already think.

        I'm sorry, but I know alot of people who don't listen to a thing the Tancredos, Limbaughs, O'Reillys and Tediscos of the world say, and still disagreed with this. I know alot of people who weren't made the fool by  the "mushroom cloud" warning of President Bush before Iraq, or fear Iran or Al-Qaeda coming over here if we don't fight them there, and they still oppose this plan or any legalization plan for illegal immigrants.

        the public is already far on the right on this issue, even before the talkling heads are.

        •  I don't think so. (0+ / 0-)

          The Virginia races showed otherwise.

          I didn't buy the "mushroom shaped cloud" either.  But plenty of Americans did, including plenty of Dems (and our own fool Dem leadership as well).

          Folks don't have to listen to Tancredo, Limbaugh, Tedisco or Dobbs.  The debate has already been framed and folks just feed right into it.

          Even here at Daily Kos.

          I asked what you meant by this as a security concern, btw, and you didn't respond.

          •  Security concerns (0+ / 0-)

            Can terrorists or drug dealers who sneak into the country get licenses was the concerns I meant.

            Ignore the issue at your own peril. Judging Virgnina as a bellwether on immigration is like judging Lieberman as Connecticut supporting the Iraq war. There were more important forces at work in Virginia, such as change in demographics and popularity of Governor Kaine.

            I know people who didn't buy any of Bush's crap, who don't even watch Lou Dobbs or read blogs or read any of the NY Post opinion pages, or know who Tom Tancredo or minutemen area, who opposed this plan just on their own thoughts.

            I'm vehemently opposed to this, and I can tell you, I don't buy into anything Dobbs or Tancredo says, not even this. I tried to think of legitimate reasons to support this, and I found that there is little public good to come from it, (lower insurance rates I don't buy, sorry) except that it's handing out licenses to lawbreakers who should be encouraged to follow laws.

            •  lol ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... "terrorists or drug dealers."

              You do know, of course, that the 9/11 bombers were here legally and had no trouble getting pilot's licenses.

              Folks have to get their information somewhere, nrafter.  It doesn't just come out of thin air.

              The reason most folks fall for the "what don't you understand about the word 'illegal'" argument is because that is the only argument out there.  This very kind of argument has been spread by Frank Luntz and his PR company, focus tested and all shined up to look like reasonable talk.

              The reason it is so popular is that Progressives have not answered that argument.

              And of course there is an answer.  Your notion of "handing out licenses to lawbreakers" is absurd.  Being here without papers is not a felony, but a misdemeanor.  Plenty of folks right now, American citizens, who have committed worse crimes are driving about with driver's  licenses.  Would you also say they should not be allowed to have them?

              •  yes I'm aware (0+ / 0-)

                I've been arguing that the 9/11 terrorists were here legally for the past seven years to every right wing fascist moron who tells me "Liberals want to let terrorists in and that's why they support illegal immigration"

                Felony or misdemeanor, it's still illegal. See, that's where we liberals loose our arguments. We're understating a crime by saying "well, it's only a misdemeanor, so it's ok." What's the counter argument to "they're illegal" ? Give me one, cause i can't seem to find one here.

                Giving illegal immigrants a reason to stay here illegally is allowing them to continue to break the law, even if it is just a misdemeanor. Maybe they should be allowed to stay here, fine, but before they get a license, they need to be convincted of, and punished for, the misdemeanor they committed, even if it's just a fine or community service or something.

                We can just let people get away with misdemeanors or felonies because we feel bad for them. I'm tired of being looked at as weak on law and order, and this is a law and order issue. It's common sense, people break laws, they should be punished, no matter how minor the crime is. Maybe not deportation, but certaintly something before getting a driver's license.

                •  All very good questions. (0+ / 0-)

                  And believe it or not, there are very good answers as well.

                  Here's some on the whole "security" bullshit talking point.

                  From the National Immigration Law Center:

                  2. National security will be undermined if the federal government imposes immigration status restrictions on state driver’s license issuance.

                  ♦ National security experts make clear that imposing immigration status–based restrictions on who can obtain a driver’s license actually undermines national security.1

                  a. Immigration status–based restrictions will create a larger "haystack" in which terrorists can hide. Effective counterterrorism strategy is based on sorting potential terrorists out from the general population so that security resources can be focused on this smaller pool of suspects. The fewer the people who are identified through the licensing process, the larger the population of unidentified people that law enforcement must sort through.

                  b. Immigration status–based restrictions will increase the incentive for noncitizens to buy fraudulent documents on the black market.

                  ♦ The best way to help terrorists is to stigmatize and marginalize ordinary immigrants, making law enforcement less available to them.

                  ♦ Immigration status–based restrictions on who can obtain a driver’s license clog courts and divert scarce law-enforcement resources from saving lives and preventing terrorism, and make it harder for police to do their job of protecting the community.

                  Now in this instance, if someone says, "oh, giving those illegal aliens drivers licenses is showing contempt for law and order and endangers us all!", you can respond, "hey, wait a minute. It's YOUR ideas that are endangering our national security, and here's how ..." and go over these points, concluding with, "why are you so weak on terrorism?"

                  There's plenty of ways we can refute these arguments.   Because ultimately it's not at all about "law and order."  It's about how the laws are being enforced.  Right now they are being enforced wrongly and resulting in human rights abuses that compare with those of Gitmo.

                •  P.S.: (0+ / 0-)

                  As far as the "what don't you understand about illegal?" -- that's the title of an editorial:

                  "Illegal" is accurate insofar as it describes a person’s immigration status. About 60 percent of the people it applies to entered the country unlawfully. The rest are those who entered legally but did not leave when they were supposed to. The statutory penalties associated with their misdeeds are not insignificant, but neither are they criminal. You get caught, you get sent home.

                  Since the word modifies not the crime but the whole person, it goes too far. It spreads, like a stain that cannot wash out. It leaves its target diminished as a human, a lifetime member of a presumptive criminal class. People are often surprised to learn that illegal immigrants have rights. Really? Constitutional rights? But aren’t they illegal? Of course they have rights: they have the presumption of innocence and the civil liberties that the Constitution wisely bestows on all people, not just citizens.

                  There's lots of ways to combat this meme -- this is only one of those ways.

  •  spitzer was beaten by spitzer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jkb246, cookiecutter

    it really is that simple.

    "after the Rapture, we get all their shit"

    It's time: the albany project low UID's going fast!

    by lipris on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 07:41:34 AM PST

  •  yeah no kidding- (0+ / 0-)

    New York has a serious divide spreading, similar to the Phillie/rest of Pennsylvania divide.  Upstate thinks all their tax money goes to the city, and the city folks think all the upstaters are rednecks.  

    Spitzer needs to run a little better PR when he introduces stuff that sets off the LGF crowds.  Why the right wing gets all uptight over drivers licenses gets me, I mean if I go overseas, I can get a license when I rent a car, so WTF people??  

    So where does all this lead?  An economy dependent upon expanding markets, increased production dependent upon maintaining a balance between labor costs and inflation, and the service industries increasingly squeezed by the paranoid delusional who are scaring off foreign investment and tourism to the US.

  •  Why many elected democrats in NY state (0+ / 0-)

    legislature were against Spitzer? I just don't get it!!!

    •  because the people were (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jkb246, cookiecutter

      in droves

      This had massive opposition. I didn't know one other person, liberal, conservative, Independent, Republican, Democrat, who supported it. The Legislature caught hell from the people,

      and the legislature is up for reelection next year.

      •  .. and that was my point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        People were massively and vehemently opposed to Spitzer's plan because of rhetoric such as Tedisco's. The people don't get vehement unless the threat appears really really awful.

        On its face, the driver's license plan didn't seem that awful. Even Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno initially called the proposal reasonable, but flipped to Tedisco's side almost immediately.

        My point is that rhetoric put the "monsters under the bed."

        And of course Spitzer blew it. His temperament, well suited for an Attorney General taking on Wall Street baddies, is 180 degrees opposite of what's required to be a successful Governor of a large and complex state. Hope he learns from this.

        January 20, 2009 -- a good day to re-open Alcatraz.

        by ironpath on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 08:38:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I heard opposition to this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          even before the rhetoric.

          Most of the people I talked to about this don't even know who Tedisco is, or what he said.

          What I heard from the onset was "Wait, why do they get licenses, they broke the law? Are they going to be allowed to vote? Shouldn't they just be deported? If my ancestors came here illegaly, they'd be immediately sent back, why do these people get driver's licenses, as soon as they're found, they should be deported!"

          This was less about the fear of security, because terrorists will just come here legally, and more about the feeling that Spitzer was giving licenses to lawbreakers.

        •  Opposed It Not Out of Fear (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm not a New Yorker, but I opposed this measure from the get go. And I'm neither racist (having participated in some civil rights marches in the late 60s) nor xenophobic.

          We are one nation, under God law, with liberty and justice for all  most. And we realize that, without law, there is neither liberty nor justice for anyone. I cannot see rewarding those who are here illegally with, next to a passport, the most important form of ID that one can carry.

        •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

          I am a New Yorker and I was completely in favor of this.  So was the NYT, by the way.

          I also hope he learns from this and doesn't throw this issue under the bus for political considerations.

          He owes it to us to admit failure and promise to do better on this issue -- not hide from it.

  •  On this one, I can't agree with the 'party line'. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arkylib, cookiecutter

    I understand that my view is a minority at dKos, but it is not a minority view in country at large, nor, apparently, in New York.

  •  The important thing is that this non-issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jkb246, cookiecutter

    will be less of an issue now to threaten Democrats nationally now that the plug has been pulled.

    Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

    by Dartagnan on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 08:18:06 AM PST

  •  i think Spitzer handled this badly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jkb246, nrafter530

    he did not know how his own state and even his party felt about this complex issue...

    He tried to run/dash before learning to walk!!!!

    Even I am against giving illegal immigrants driver's license.....the only thing I support is the dream act - not the full immigration thing that was being discussed in the senate twice this year...  Punish the parents, not the children..

    I think Dems need to learn something here...

  •  YAY it's dead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, nrafter530

    What other country can you visit illegally that says welcome. You have the rights of everyone else forever?

    Probably none.

    Spitzer has been a mess for NYS and this proposal was a mess. Glad it's dead.

  •  Dumb or dishonest. (0+ / 0-)

    one of which infers that if our Southern and Northern Borders were closed tight like a vacuum-sealed coffee jar, it would prevent terrorism.

    WTF?  The claim, actually, is that closing the borders would reduce the chances of a terrorist getting in to the country through those borders.  IMHO, it's a pretty weak claim, but we should at least be able to honestly and intelligently address claims, rather than distort and set up strawmen.

  •  I like Spitzer (0+ / 0-)

    ...but at the very least, he timed this wrong. He didn't try to warm people up to this, he just put it out there as a take-it-or-leave-it diktat. At a time when many media outlets (including the "liberal" WNYC) are still pushing the phony "Troopergate" story, it was pretty obvious that unless he got another victory under his belt, now was the wrong time to push such a controversial issue.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 09:17:23 AM PST

  •  why (0+ / 0-)

    Why would Spitzer have felt he had to sell this plan?  He never even had to sell HIMSELF during the 2006 election.  What on earth did he know about political salesmanship of controversial issues?  Nothing.

    I didn't mock Tom Suozzi's run for governor in 2006 because, although I felt positive about Spitzer, I knew he needed to be selling himself, selling a vision for New York, and he needed credible opposition in order to do it.  People laughed at Suozzi; much of Daily Kos laughed.  I happily voted for Suozzi in the primary, however.  It was the only possible leverage anyone could have had with the unrealistic Spitzer "Steamroller."  

    Now do you understand why some of us wanted Spitzer to debate Suozzi in the summer of 2006?  

    As for the upstate-downstate tension, that is very old - hundreds of years old - and didn't just start yesterday; the state's SEVERE economic divide between the regions is becoming untenable now, however.  If Wall Street goes south, as it seems to be continually threatening to do, the stability of the state will be further threatened and don't expect Upstate voters to not organize in their own interests instead of simply waiting for NYC to solve everything.  This has actually already started with the NYRI issue, the amount of Upstate citizen organization against that project is unprecedented and those people are in it for the long haul.  (and it's not just Republicans or NIMBY folks, it's Democrats and Greens as well).

    We may be in for a recession; possibly a depression.  New York State will NOT survive a depression in the absence of extremely strong leadership (sadly this immigration issue shows that Spitzer is not a strong leader and has unbelievable amounts of work to do to be one).  In the event of a depression, you will see even more political organization Upstate and it won't just be Republicans selling GOP crap.  There will be an Upstate Democratic party as well and they will not be talking to the NYC Democratic party any more.  

    Does Spitzer have a handle on the true situation of this state?  No, he does not.  If he doesn't understand that a recession or depression is going to really complicate politics in his state, he is just whistling past the graveyard.

    And when New York State starts to really lose cohesion, when regional politics really wake up and the citizens become engaged, when Albany finally loses its authority and control... that is going to be the first sign of the U.S.' own eventual breakup several decades from now.  It will be BAD NEWS.  New York State is as complex a state as the U.S. is a nation.  If it can't be held together here, it won't be held together out there.  

    But frankly, this whole opposition to Spitzer's plan on licenses is not upstate-downstate or left-right based.  The poll numbers don't lie, they are down across the board regardless of party or region.  Still, this is just terrible that Spitzer is losing potency and authority.  New York State expected and needed a strong governor.  Without one... well, cry havoc.

    •  you're right (0+ / 0-)

      this is largely thanks to Spitzer's landslide win that left him with the belief he had the political capital to do extreme things. Much like Bush in 2005, he spent his political capital like a high school girl at a mall with a gold credit card. Now, he's an embattled govenrnor who needs to act like he's fighting for his political life.

      I don't think the state is headed for a civil war, although being from the city, it's hard to judge what upstate is thinking sometimes and whether or not they're on the same page with the metro south.

      Cuomo and Pataki were successful governors because they were able to bridge the interest of upstate with that of the city. Cuomo less so, especially toward the end. Spitzer is a city governor through and through. I saw that with his pick for Lt. Gov, a Harlem State Senator. I'd like to see how many Upstaters Spitzer has in his cabinet.

      Spitzer's danger here is going into the next election. He could loose, even if he wins the city by loosing upstate in a landslide. That's what killed Cuomo. Cuomo lost every Upstate county except Albany, and all by large margins. He only won 42% in Erie County, 35% in Monroe, and 32% in Onondaga. Cuomo did fairly well in the city and the suburbs. While the GOP has little to put up against him, another Democrat with appeal both upstate and downstate could oust him in a primary.

      The license plan was just as opposed in the city as it was elsewhere. I still say opposition from the liberal end came from immigrants or descendants of immigrants who felt this was letting off to easy people who broke laws that past immigrants who built New York wouldn't dare break.

      •  Spitzer (0+ / 0-)

        I don't even think Spitzer is even a city governor (although the immigrant licensing was almost strictly a NYC issue).  He is just out in moon orbit right now.

        The sentiment of legal immigrants against this should not be understated.  Particularly in upstate cities like Utica or Syracuse or Rochester which have sizable legal immigrant communities.  (Isn't Utica something like one-fifth Bosnian at this point?)

        In fact, the legal immigrant population (which includes a sizable number of resettled refugees from Bosnia, Asia and Africa) in Central New York is going up while the native-born population is going down - and this measure was extremely unpopular here.

        •  That should indicate (0+ / 0-)

          what the reasons really were over this.

          Was it really racism, xenophobia, or just plain hatred fed to the people by the right wing hatemongers?

          I think the massive opposition was from legal immigrants and their descendants feeling gipped because they and their ancestors had to go through all the steps to come here and settle here legally before they were allowed to get privledges like a driver's license, and the Governor is allowing those who skipped the process to have the same rights as those who went through it?

          It's almost as if you tell yourself "Gee Governor Spitzer, guess I should've just came here illegally then too"

          •  immigrants (0+ / 0-)

            Not all immigrants are alike, either.

            Notwithstanding the harsh dangers of passage over the border, or the bad conditions and pay in Mexican factories, you can't compare the experience of war refugees to economic refugees.  Maybe illegal immigrants from Mexico can't feed their families, but at least they know where their families ARE, which is more than you can say for the Dinka in Syracuse, or the Bosnians in Utica, or the Somali Bantu or the Karen.  That isn't to say there isn't some serious life-and-death persecution going on in Latin America, but there is a whole different outlook about immigration in other parts of the state that don't have mostly Latin American (illegal) immigrants in their immigrant population.    Now there are plenty of Hispanic illegal immigrants Upstate (they're farm workers, though, not day laborers), but there's also a lot of legal immigrants with a very different view of all this.

            The tragedy is that we're living in a society where illegal immigration has become an institution; honestly it sets my teeth on edge hearing Park Slope Democratic mommies pontificate about it because they're afraid of losing their cheap nannies.  Gimme a break - they're profiting from it just as much as the corporations and factory farms are.  Illegal immigration has got to stop.  The institution STINKS.  People of good conscience disagree on how to end this institution, however.

  •  Do you mean to say that most of the people (0+ / 0-)

    in NY state are against giving driver's license to illegal immigrants?

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