Talking Sense On Licenses

NEW York Eliot Spitzer has landed himself in extra hot water over the driver's license issue, but it is still important that Irish undocumented understand what has occurred.

By December of 2008 all undocumented will be able to obtain a license. That will allow them to get auto insurance, and they will be able to use the document as an ID everywhere except at an airport or a federal building.

Most already use their passport at the airport anyway, and very few would ever enter a federal building - think immigration headquarters - to conduct any business.

The word is going around that the driver's license will single you out as an illegal. Maybe, but so what? Not having a driver's license if you were pulled over would do the same, and land you in much deeper trouble.

After all, what percentage of Irish would get pulled over in the first place? A tiny one for sure. And what percentage of New York traffic cops would care what your status was as long as they wrote the ticket? Probably zero.

In other words, getting one of the new licenses next year is a much better step than not having one at all.

While it is undeniably disappointing that Spitzer has had to alter his original plan, the reality is that he now has a definite framework to make the driver's license issue work

New President of ILIR

JEFF Cleary, who has taken over as president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration reform is a well-known figure in the Irish community as well as one of the leading Irish American Republicans statewide.

Cleary is on the board of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and played a leading role in securing the Irish Famine Memorial for Battery Park when George Pataki was governor of New York.

Cleary replaces attorney Grant Lally, who did a superb job for two years tending to the Republican side of the lobbying movement.

Cleary held a high position under Pataki and was his unofficial sounding board on all things Irish.

His move to ILIR comes at a time when the lobbying group has understandably taken a low profile since the immigration bill was defeated. That is not to say that nothing is happening, however.

Cleary has been quick into stride, meeting with White House counselor Ed Gillespie as well as new Irish Ambassador Michael Collins in recent weeks. He will no doubt do a top class job for ILIR.

Tancredo to Step Down

CONGRESSMAN Tom Tancredo, the scourge of the immigration reform advocates is quitting his seat according to reports.

Tancredo, as close to a nativist as makes no difference, is stepping down from his safe Colorado seat to pursue his presidential ambitions.

Given the fact that he is polling about 1% in the Republican primary, that doesn't seem like a very smart thing to bet his future on.

However, Tancredo is said to be eying a Senate run against Ken Salazar, the Democratic incumbent, in 2010. Given that Salazar is Hispanic and a passionate advocate of immigration reform, it could lead to quite a battle.

Tancredo would be a huge long shot in such a race, but given the mood on illegal immigration out there at present it might be foolish to rule him out entirely.

McManus Rips Rudy

SPEAKING of the presidential race, Father Sean McManus had some choice words for Rudy Giuliani this week, making it clear that the Irish National Caucus will strongly oppose the former New York mayor, currently the front-runner for the GOP nomination.

"Rudy Giuliani recently went to London to pander to the extreme right, speaking at the inaugural Margaret Thatcher Memorial Lecture, which, according to the American Conservative magazine, was attended by many of the Iron Lady's most dedicated admirers," McManus said.

"In other words, Giuliani kissed up to the same type of Brit who increased anti-Catholic oppression and discrimination in Northern Ireland, promoted state terrorism and torture and prolonged the Irish Troubles by at least 20 years. That is much worse than George W. Bush's ill-advised speech to Bob Jones University, for which he had the good grace to apologize.

"Irish Americans may have wanted to forget how Giuliani viciously pursued political refugee Joe Doherty," added McManus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus. "But how can they possibly ignore the fact that Giuliani travels to London to offend Irish Americans?"

Halloween Horrors

HALLOWEEN, of course, was invented by the Celts. It is based on the old Celtic feast of Samhain, when the dead were reputed to leave their graves for the night and stalk the living.

Irish farmers would put hollowed out turnips in their windows to ward off the evil spirits on the night, which led to the Pumpkin frenzy we all know today.

Americans take all this supernatural stuff seriously. According to a recent Associated Press poll:

*34% of Americans believe in ghosts (compared to 31% who think Bush is doing a good job.)

*23% have seen a ghost (liberals 31%, conservatives 18%, (compared to 1% who think Chris Dodd would make a good president.)

*19% percent accept the existence of spells or witchcraft (compared to less than 1% who think immigration nativist soon to be ex-Congressman Tom Tancredo would make a good president.)

*14% percent have seen a UFO (as against 1% per cent who have seen Hillary Clinton in the flesh.)