Diary of a Mad County

Oct. 18 - Oct. 24

Wednesday, Oct. 18
FLAT OUT DENIAL. Republican candidate for Congress Tan Nguyen is under investigation by the state Attorney General's office for a letter sent out to Latinos apparently designed to intimidate them from going to the polls. "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time," the letter read in part. The letters sparked outrage, especially among Republican leaders who say they are shocked that anyone would try to intimidate Latinos with a letter since they prefer the old school approach—bricks and mortar, about 700 miles of them, actually. These same Republicans, led by local Republican Party chair Scott Baugh, make it clear that they are not trying to deny immigrants the right to vote, just their access to health care and education. No, Republicans would never try to keep Latinos from voting. Well, yes, they did do precisely that in 1988 when they hired uniformed security guards and posted them at local polling places in heavily Latino precincts, the guards holding signs warning non-citizens not to vote. The action was so threatening, so taste-o-Mississippi, that Santa Ana councilman John Acosta, a Republican himself, said it "border[ed] on Nazism." The guards were used for the benefit of GOP Assembly candidate Curt Pringle and, as Acosta predicted, generated such outrage that Pringle was not only elected to the Assembly but became its speaker while serving with his friend—hello!—Baugh. Yeah, but Republicans certainly learned their lesson after '88, except that after then-incumbent Bob Dornan lost to Loretta Sanchez—Tan's opponent in this election—Dornan claimed there was widespread voter fraud on the part of illegal aliens and Sanchez had used illegals—not just used them but actually rented buses to haul them around the county—to tilt the election her way. No one else, except the Los Angeles Times, the state Attorney General, the U.S. Congress and the local Republican Party, took up Dornan's charge. Those charges were never proven, mostly because they weren't true, but Dornan used them to successfully launch his present career as a guy nobody wants to hear from. But, c'mon, so they do a little intimidating. So what? It's not like they lie to people who think they're registering as Democrats when they're actually being signed up as Republicans. No, that's Riverside.

Thursday, Oct. 19
Some "winners" of an affordable housing lottery in Tustin have found out that they aren't able to afford their affordable houses because the affordable houses, located on the former Marine Corps Air Station site, require a 50 percent down payment. Now, the very notion of affordable housing in a county where the median home price is $626,000 is a little weird, and the houses are priced at a very attractive $55,100 to $311,400, which is what the rest of Tustin spends annually on Turtle Wax. Problem is that state redevelopment requirements demand that occupants not use more than 35 percent of their incomes on monthly housing payments, so to make sure they don't go broke on the payments they go bust on the down. God is hilarious. Richard Knowland, the vice president of Lennar Homes who is developing the property, said that it was "disappointing that the program is not for everyone," and by everyone, we assume he means everyone who hasn't currently cornered the market on tungsten.

Friday, Oct. 20
State Department of Justice police raid Tan Nguyen's offices, looking for any evidence that will reveal the mastermind behind the intimidating letter—computer disks, notes, 1,001 Latino Putdowns. Just about every Republican leader in the state—Scott Baugh, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cal Worthington—is calling for Tan, who admitted yesterday that the offending letter came from his office, to pull out of the race. In fact, the party line seems to be that Tan was in fact a Democrat most of his life and, though he converted to the one true party, he was not well-liked. You can see as much in photos of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert bear-hugging Tan. The calls for Tan's withdrawal should have come long ago because, (a) he had no chance of beating Loretta Sanchez, because (b) no one has a chance of beating Loretta Sanchez, because (c), I am convinced, Loretta Sanchez lives under the protection of some otherworldly force. I know not whether that force be God or Satan or Oprah, but it's clear that an entity familiar with controlling time, space and the doling out of new cars has been looking out for Sanchez ever since her surprise victory over Dornan in 1996. Since then, Sanchez has not only been bulletproof—she survived her own idea of having a fundraiser at the Playboy mansion—but virtually unbeatable. Dornan, deemed unbeatable in his time, twice tried and failed. Since then, the Republicans have gone after her with Latino women candidates and lost, gone after her with young good-looking guys and lost and now went after her with a Vietnamese immigrant and lost. The bodies are pretty much stacking up like cordwood. Seriously, the chick is Shaft.

Saturday, Oct. 21
Who sends letters?

Sunday, Oct. 22
Turns out local Republicans are not the only ones trying to scare voters. Republicans in Tennessee are running an ad directed against Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. that shows a scantily clad white woman winking at Ford and asking him to "call her." This is lovely, since Ford is hoping to become the state's first African-American senator since Reconstruction. Now that's quality race-baiting! Somewhere, Strom Thurmond is smiling . . . . Wait, no he's not. He's being repeatedly sodomized by the scimitar phallus of an 8,000-pound, blood-red ox. And then there's the Republican National Committee, which began running ads on national TV today that feature Osama bin Laden speaking while a clock ticks in the background. Bin Laden says, "With God's permission we call on everyone who believes in God . . . to comply with His will to kill the Americans." Clearly Republicans are trying to scare people into thinking that they are better-equipped than Democrats to stop bin Laden, you know, like they've been telling us for the past five years.

Monday, Oct. 23
Who reads letters?

Tuesday, Oct. 24
The Los Angeles Times reports that Tan Nguyen personally bought the mailing list for the intimidation letter. Nguyen has shifted from having no knowledge of the letter to saying that all of his problems stem from the media incorrectly translating the Spanish word for immigrant. Uh huh. What's the Spanish word for toast? Scott Baugh once again calls on Tan to quit the race, and you'd frankly have to be an idiot to think that Baugh's anger has anything to do with this crime. Still, Baugh's staged outrage shows how Republicans have wised up: the Latino voting bloc is too big and too powerful to be intimidated, anymore. Like the rest of us, they've finally gained the respect to be lied to, empty-promised to and made to feel so disgusted with the system they stay away from the polls in droves, just the way our Founding Fathers intended.

slowery@ocweekly.com

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