OF A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN or,
IF YOU LIVED HERE, YOU'D BE HOME BY NOW
last Republican who ever tricked me is dead, now.
In 1980, thinking myself to be a clever fellow, and worried about the
very state of the presidency -- after Nixon, bumbling Ford and
congenitally incapable of decisiveness Carter -- I voted for Ronald
Now, don't think I had any illusions. No: I was kind of worried about
the overwhelmingly Democratic congress, who had swept in unprecedented
numbers to overpowering numbers in the house and senate in the Landslide
The landslide was so overwhelming that I remember pundits and talking
heads seriously yabbling for a silly season "could this be the END
of the Republican party?"
Well, not being an idiot, and having some slight sense of history, I
would usually hiss back at the boob on the boob tube: "So what?
They'd reform as another party, just as the Republicans formed out of
the collapse of the Whigs."
But they didn't listen to me. And they're still dithering and blithering
and blathering. Have you ever bothered to track all the nonsense spewed
out of your idiot-box? The weatherman regularly gets it wrong, but
continues, night after night, as though he were (or, increasingly,
because of the eye candy factor, she) the Joe DiMaggio of meteorology,
riding an unbroken streak of 'hits.'
Worse, if you track it further, you'll note that the pundits make those
weatherhominids look like utter Nostradamuses. Or is that Nostradamii?
At any event, the Democrats had swept to power on a tide of rage at
Nixonian predations, and were such utter cascading CFs that they managed
to even stymie Carter's entire term. It was a cock fight between the
Presidency and the Congress, and it looked like the Congress was going
They were cocky. They were cock-sure, they were self-righteous, they
were staunchly scattered, and I viewed them with deep suspicion. Because
NOTHING was getting done. The whole government was in PeeCee trainwreck
And, so, foolish little I voted for Blue-Haired Ronnie Death Valley
Daze, and even convinced my Italian wife to do so, too, for which I
deeply apologize to her.
I was wrong, but with a reason, and I think a valid one: I figured that
if they could so stymie Carter, Reagan wouldn't have a chance.
And so there would be a chess game in a natural state of
"check." Silly me.
And I lived in Hollywood, so Reagan's hokum and movie tricks were just
what they were to me: hokum and movie tricks. He was a second-rate
actor, but as a politician he at least played a first-rate one. So, I
didn't mind a figurehead in the White House for four years.
How wrong and right I was. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Because he really WAS a figurehead. And the people behind him have been
behind an awful lot of the political fecal matter that's hitting the
In fact, they were so keen to keep Carter from pulling off an
"October Surprise" (the genesis of the term in political
parlance) and get the hostages back, that they sent George I and Bill
Casey to Madrid to negotiate with the Ayatollah Khomeni: If you hold the
hostages until AFTER the election, we'll secretly sell you the parts for
all your U.S.-made F-16 that we sold the Shah. And the other spare parts
you need for your war with Iraq.
You see, American High Tech military gear is sold on the dealer/junkie
model: you need a constant stream of spare parts and upgrades, and you
can only get them ONE place.
And mostly, at that time, it was in Orange County, California, where
McDonnell Douglas, Ford Aerospace, and a crapload of other defense
contractors were headquartered. But we're coming to that.
Ronnie pulled his phony Hollywood crap, but, as an entertainment
professional (hey, I've worked in theater, movies, the music industry,
newspapers, magazines, and the various multimedia bleedovers thereof and
wherefore), well, as an entertainment professional, it was nice to see
SOMEBODY hitting his marks, and only occasionally flubbing his lines. To
this very day, the act of allowing a politician in front of a microphone
is an act of sheerest sonic masochism, at least to a sound engineer. The
old Chair of the DPLC, the Union Goonatrice, used to bend down and
scream into that poor little hyper-sensitive microphone in Harris Hall
to the point I'd go outside, just to get away from the hideous screech
of a self-important amateur blowing out a sensitive and expensive sound
I've run open mics in several places, and the most amateurish musician
knows more about a microphone than the most polished politician, it
seems. But, to a politician, a microphone and a TV camera are like honey
to a bee.
Here's a little trick, kiddies. If you're ever at a convocation of
models -- clothed or un - -- make sure you have a good looking camera.
Whether it has film in it or not, doesn't matter. You will be the focus
of all those models' attention. The same holds true for a politician and
So, I voted for Ronnie, and got my wish. As they say, be very careful
what you wish for.
Skip forward in time to 1987. The Meese Commission was jackbooting
through my industry (men's magazines and porn films were the only place
that a white boy without a bachelor's degree and an uncle in the
business could get a job), and I foolishly decided to enter the
"honest" world of "legitimate" business. They were
raiding Valley warehouses looking for Tracy Lords tapes, and work was
drying up everywhere. So, it seemed, like that foolish vote, to be a
good idea at the time.
I got a job in Orange County.
Lyn Nofziger has a blog. Or,
rather, HAD a blog. Lyn Nofziger was the media Karl Rove behind Reagan.
He was one of those evil fixers we like to call "political
strategists," and I believe that the one who actually tricked me on
the Reagan vote was Nofziger.
Here is one of his last blog entries:
No one doubts Mr. Murtha's
bravery or patriotism, nor should they. But that does not, and should
not, exempt him from doubts about his IQ or his common sense. The fact
is there is no correlation between brains and bravery. Neither do
medals for heroism fit a man to set policy for the country. The
liberals know or should know these things, but they figure a lot of
their fellow Americans do not.
So they hold up John Murtha as a wise old warrior whose medals and
wounds qualify him as one whose advice should be heeded, even when
that advice means abandoning an ally and a cause. Why not? Murtha must
wonder. We did it in his war-Vietnam-so why not here?
This is not a very nice war. No wars are nice. This one, however, is
less so because our leaders made the same mistake another generation
made in Vietnam; they thought the enemy would be a pushover.
But because the road is longer than they thought and the way is
tougher and the libs have begun clamoring, there is no reason for the
United States to fold it tents and go home, John Murtha to the
contrary not withstanding.
The United States did that in Korea and again in Vietnam. Who could
ever trust us again if we make it three out of three? What soldier
would ever again go willingly into battle if he knew that those who
sent him there had their white flags cleaned and pressed and ready to
Not even John Murtha, I'll bet.
Well, you can take the boy out of
Right Wing Washington politics, but I guess you can't take the Right
Wing Washington politics out of the boy. We'll get back to Nofziger in a
At first I lived in Whittier, and
commuted to downtown Santa Ana, where I worked for an evil little
accountant and his hammer-toed Nebraska wife, who ran a place called
AAA-«o». The "AAA" was so that they'd be FIRST in the phone
They did resumes. But first, you had to apprentice directly in their
offices, so that they could teach you properly how to screw unemployed
families out of their rent money. It was a profoundly disturbing thing
to me, having just come from pornography, to move into something so
predatory and overtly evil. But that was what was available, and so I
took the OCTD bus from a park and ride every morning, a long trip from
Whittier to Santa Ana down I-5, past Disneyland.
In fact, I learned an interesting thing about the Orange County Transit
District riding that bus.
I had to transfer, of course, and the transfer point was the Disneyland
hotel. You see, back when Anaheim was mostly orange groves, and was the
sleepy center of the Number One Agricultural County in the U.S.A., the
only real traffic draw was Disneyland. So,
naturally, all lines converged there. And, at the Disneyland
hotel, half of the buses in Orange County converged. That was the
Now, in order to be going the right way to drop you off at the Disneyland
hotel bus stop, the bus always had to take a big loop around the block
opposite Disneyland, mostly residential, at
And, as we came around the back side of Disneyland,
every day, I saw something that no tourist ever saw, and which burned
into me something that is part and parcel of that California Republican
idea that Reagan and his handlers carried from the Land of El Gringo
Fascisto to Washington, D.C.
Behind Disneyland, there was a large vacant
area as the bus made the turn. The first thing that caught your eye was
the absurdist "Disneyland" sign,
utterly alone in a strawberry field, with its backdrop of a
thirty-foot-high ivy-covered fence: a massive chain-link fence that
formed an almost impenetrable backdrop.
The sign itself was one of those telescopic signs you see in front of a
Denny's, with a plastic "Disneyland"
bas-relief logo over what were undoubtedly fluorescent lights. At the
base, there was a well-rutted patch of bare dirt, always muddy by the
base of the sign. And a concrete pedestal.
If you had the bus window open, you could kind of hear the Mine Ride
roller-coaster behind it, but Disneyland
itself might as well have been on another planet.
There was a depressed spot in the curb for trucks to pull in, and the
mud around the sign bore mute witness to countless heavy trucks making
the circle into the field, and then back around to the other curb exit.
The first time I saw it, that was what I saw.
But after that, I saw something else.
In the strawberry field, dozens of Mexican peasants stooped, picking
fruit in the broiling sunshine. The women wore shawls, and some of the
men were barefoot. They looked like people from another time, another
world. And, in the heat of the midday sun, they soaked their feet in the
cool mud, sitting on the pedestal of that Disneyland
sign, taking advantage of the only shade to be had.
And I thought of these peasants, doing backbreaking work, shoeless, many
homeless, and right through that Ivy Curtain, the whole American Dream
screamed with false joy at the twists and turns of the wild mine ride.
The magic kingdom had a dark shadow that I saw every day. In the
distance, there was a new block of condos going up, and there was a
banner with a phone number that said: "If you lived here, you'd be
home by now."
And I thought: what must they think of us?
We, sitting in our Disney shorts, with our Disney cameras slung over our
Mickey Mouse T-shirts, gaily blowing more cash than any of these
illegals would see in a year.
And I felt a dark rage that persists to this day. Who the hell were we?
How could we stuff our fat faces with obscene amounts of junk food, and
blow hundreds and thousands of dollars in the false magic of the
kingdom, where Goofy is King, and Mickey rules, like the red death, o'er
There was something poisonous and shameful about it.
At the resume office, I was learning, for minimum wage, to use the
vanity and false pride of the yuppies who would soon be occupying those
condos, but they didn't like the cut of my jib, and called me into the
office in the middle of a $400 sale, to fire me.
It had been a bad day, anyway. I had been looking at TIME magazine, and
one of the actresses I'd known from the old days was being feted in its
pages as a "Feminist filmmaker," while I was doing a two-hour
bus commute every day, invisible to TIME magazine because of my gender,
even though I had worked in the same industry, and had done better work.
But, like those peasants in the fields, I was a second-class citizen.
Except that I was a citizen, and white, and they were illegal and brown.
I had rights. They did not.
Do you hear me?
They did not.
You see, this whole false debate foisted on us by the most incompetent
bunch of thugs since St. Bruno was sacking the temples of Venus, this
whole phony debate has been based on the point of view of the overfed,
overpampered visitors blowing their vacation money to ride Space
Mountain and the Matterhorn.
And these pampered gluttons pompously and self-righteously bray about
how those barefoot peasants are a threat ... to THEM! What a
"threat" those poor, desperate, underfed, barely paid, no
rights, no legal recourse, no identity and no prospects are ... to THEM!
If you lived here, you'd be home by now.
I got another job. Typesetting for one of those Orange County firms that
services the defense industry. We were in the same building that the
"Walter Foster" art books headquarters was in. You can only
see the "Walter Foster" logo from the freeway, by the way. The
building itself is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a residential
neighborhood with avocado trees -- whose fruit I used to mix with
Del-Taco mayonnaise for meals when my paychecks bounced, which started
happening within a few months.
I was living in a place between the two main freeways in Santa Ana --
the 5 and the 55 -- called "The Bluebird Motel." The money I
made typesetting presentations for TOW missiles, space stations,
McDonnell Douglas management manuals and fireplace equipment catalogs
just covered the cost of the motel every week.
There was a brand-new mirrored building, and a used car lot on that
block. Across the street was a Harley-Davidson dealership that was
always frequented by actual Southern California bikers. But as the glass
high-rises of high-tech Orange County rose everywhere in the boom I'd
ridden in on, there were still fields here and there, oases of Orange
County as it used to be.
And in the strawberry fields in front of that mirror building, between
the used-car lot and the freeway off-ramp, Mexican peasants stooped in
the hot sun, without shade, and picked our strawberries for us. For
slave wages, you might say, except you should stop and think about what
you just said.
When you have no rights, are you not a slave? When you can be turned in
(as often happened and happens still) by the field owner, before he pays
you. When your women can be raped, your belongings stolen, or when you
can be beaten mercilessly and NO ONE will lift a finger, except to
deport you, aren't you a slave? You are in no wise a free man, that is
And so, I typeset for Reagan's defense contractors, and wrote book
reviews for the Orange County Register, and did my level best not to
feel horrible guilt every day when I saw those people in the fields. Our
slaves. Making sure that we had cheap lettuce and cheap strawberries at
And at the vending booths there in Disneyland.
The typesetting shop started bouncing checks, but the owner of the
Bluebird Motel took pity on me, and instead of kicking me out into the
street, he agreed to hold onto their check until they made good on it,
and even cashed it for me. He was a tough old Armenian, but he thought I
was honest, even if I was a second-class citizen, living week to week in
the "bad" part of Santa Ana.
And in the fields, day after day, they bent over in the hot sun, picking
Lyn Nofziger was an old California
political pro. Here, from his blog:
I'm Lyn Nofziger and this is my
If you're looking for a female exhibitionist with a digital camera
you've come to the wrong place. ...
The odds are you've never heard of me, which is all right because I've
probably never heard of you either, so let me tell you a little bit
about myself. ...
I am a Californian, a World War II army veteran, a former
newspaperman, a politician and the author of four published Western
novels. I make an occasional political speech, write an occasional
political column or op ed piece and complain a lot. If you visit this
page from time to time you will be able to see what I complain about.
In more detail, I spent 16 years as a newspaperman, including eight as
a Washington Correspondent for the Copley Newspapers of California and
I served in Ronald Reagan's governor's office and White House and in
Richard Nixon's White House. I have run and participated in numerous
political campaigns, including five for president, and have won some
and lost some. Once I even worked at the Republican National
they herd you in cattle-stalls, just like at the abattoir. There are too
many people, and you spend most of your time at the "Magic
Kingdom" standing in line.
Disney was a good Republican. He was a "freedom lovin'" self
made man, who had that John Wayne, I-made-myself-why-don't-you attitude.
Disneyland and Orange County were a good
mix. The barons of the orchards and endless fields had absolute sway
over their Mexicans, just as they'd had absolute sway over the Okies
back during those old "Grapes of Wrath" days.
Only, eventually, the Okies got rights. And, with their white skins and
pale complexions, they were able to climb the ladder of California
But, even though California was a big chunk of the half of Mexico that
we stole in Polk's Mexican War of 1846, the Mexicans, whether living in
California originally or not, never really had any chance of climbing
[Parenthetical: please realize that only about HALF of the "illegal
aliens" that the big hoo-haw is about are Hispanics from South of
the Border. But the big hoo-haw is actually ABOUT those Mexicans, and
Salvadorans, and Hondurans, and Panamanians, Columbians, and other
"Americans" whose names we fatasses in our Mickey Mouse ears
bluster and arrogate as ONLY us.]
The whole economy of Southern California would collapse without
underpaid, sub-minimum wage workers, and the only people who fall into
that category are the undocumented. There was an unwritten code among
the police to ignore them, unless they made trouble.
You would see them, on the streets of Santa Ana, five and six in a cheap
used car they'd pooled their money to buy, unlicensed, no papers,
driving, driving. They had those flat-brimmed hats, and you could tell
that they were Mexican farmers, not city boys, not sophisticates.
And they cooled their bare, cracked feet in the mud at the base of the Disneyland
How are they hurting these arrogant
Americans? They take the jobs that the Unions demand too much to take,
while the owners take the lion's share of the profits from the illegal
work, and dole out as much of a pittance as can be gotten away with.
I moved up, and ended up running a resume office for another company.
Serendipitously, I'd already been trained. And I lived in Trabuco
Canyon, in one of several converted cabins that remained from a dude
ranch that had been there in the 20's and '30s. Where rich East
Coasteners would send their chubby-faced little darlings to pretend that
they were cowboys and cowgirls.
The dude ranch had long since gone out of fashion, but cowboy
transvestitism (where you dress up like a cowboy and pretend to be John
Wayne, or Tom Mix, or Willam S. Hart) hasn't gone out of fashion. Just
look at Ronald (Illinois) Reagan or George (Connecticut) Bush.
And, as I took the long way 'round every morning to my office across the
street from the Orange County Airport, just renamed the "John Wayne
Airport" with a huge statue of "The Duke," I would pass
Orange and Katella, where a long line of fresh immigrants would line up
along the wall by the McDonald's and Burger King, and pickup trucks
would come by, and three or four would jump in and go off for a day of
underpaid, backbreaking work.
It was a lot like watching the prostitutes working Sunset Boulevard west
of La Brea.
If some Ed Gein decided to make himself a Mexican Nipple Belt, or an
eyeball bolero, no one would ever be the wiser. These were rightless
people. They were expendible. The were free-lance slaves.
You could always tell the ones fresh over the border. We didn't call
them "wetbacks" in California, because there was no Rio Grande
to swim. That's only in Texas.
No, they were just "Beaners." Or "Messikans." Or
And the fat, overstuffed, rosy-cheeked little darlings of Orange County
used to yell "clever" things at them, lined up there in the
They thought that they would look American if they wore a "Dallas
Cowboys" t-shirt, and a "Los Angeles Dodgers" baseball
cap. It was the uniform of the newly arrived.
And they stood there in the sun, at 7:30 in the morning, waiting for
work of any kind. Mostly, they got it. The lines were long, but the
pickup trucks were steady.
If you lived here, you'd be home by now.
Lyn Nofziger was a poster-child of
that Libertarian "It's MINE!" set. I'm sure that he was as
offended by those damned Messikans coming over taking jobs as anyone
else. But I bet he knew where to get five strong backs to move boulders
and pick weeds in his garden when he needed them.
No "gum'mint" interference going to keep these proud
individualists, these self-made men of Southern California from
exercising their God-given right to pay as little for as much work as
they could mule a man out of.
I knew a mixed-race couple.
He was a Jew. She was black. They had a Salvadoran maid, who spoke no
English. They paid her nothing, just room and board for taking care of
their chubby-cheeked, cherubic little pampered darlings. She worked
seven days a week.
Don't ask me how I found out. I did, that's all. I just did.
And when I gently brought it up to them, they were extremely mortified.
Good lord, EVERYBODY does it.
Hell, she's LUCKY to have a roof over her head and plenty to eat. It's
No pay. No days off. And, if "Massa" wants to bend her over
the couch and have his way with her, who is she going to complain to?
Trust me, it happens a LOT more in Southern California than anyone will
ever admit. It is our secret shame and our secret sin for keeping these
human beings as slaves, with no legal rights, no human rights.
Slavery corrupts both the slave and the slave-owner. If any civilized
nation ought to know that, WE ought to.
But no. This is the philosophy that won the west. The gospel according
... Sometimes I wish I were a
Democrat because Democrats seem to have more fun. At other times I
wish I were a Libertarian because Republicans are too much like
What I actually am is a right-wing independent who is registered
Republican because there isn't any place else to go. In the future I
expect to be critical of both parties and their leadership and a lot
of other people and things, too... [ibid.]
Try as I might, though, I could
never scrape above subsistence, living in Orange County. When I had to
use the bus, I still found myself taking that back turn around Disneyland
to connect at the hotel, and they were still soaking their feet in the
When you have to deep-six ten years of your writing life on your resume,
the only thing you're qualified to do is write resumes for other people.
I watched the boom in Orange County, as an endless stream of job-seekers
came through my door, but I could never bring myself to gouge them
deeply enough to make any real money at it.
Just a second class citizen, sitting in a mostly empty office, trying to
pay my rent. And in the fields, and along the cinderblock walls at the
intersections, sun-blackened men in Dodger caps and wearing Dallas
Cowboys t-shirts waited for the willing trucks.
Lyn Nofziger has passed away, the
last Republican to trick me, but, sadly, not the last trickster
Republican. Let us not speak ill of the dead. He is what he is, and I
have given him to you in his own words.
But I wish he were still alive so that I could ask him about this
statement on his site of his core belief:
"I am a Republican
because I believe that freedom is more important than
Did he mean freedom from having to
pay decent wages to workers -- which is what fuels the two-faced
hypocrisy of our collective behavior towards those Messikans that the
yabblers are all yabbling about on the airwaves and in the halls of
Or did he mean freedom from Patriot Acts, Departments of Homeland
Security, massive national debts (which have halved the value of our
money, so, take that "DOW JONES" index and recognize that in
real dollars, it's HALF of what it was during the Clinton years) and
Nixonesque spying, dirty tricks, surveillance and propaganda?
What "freedom" did he mean?
Surely not "freedom" for those illegal wetback beaner
sons-a-bitches. Surely not for them. Surely freedom from taxes, from
regulations, from environmental laws that stop us from spreading
ant-poison and herbicide, and hiring a couple of illegals to get out in
the poison fields and hack the ivy vines off of the oak tree so that
they can plant nasturtiums and columbines. What freedom did you mean,
Mr. Nofziger? And how, in the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush regimes did you
Well, of course, Nofziger is dead and cannot answer, so we will leave
him to his trek to that great Disneyland in
Oh, and even though I didn't register as a Democrat until 1988, eight
years later, that vote for Reagan in 1980 was the very last Republican
vote I ever cast.
You live and you learn: better to be a second class citizen than no
citizen at all.