Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Lowest Ranking White House Staffer in 1970

    El Gringo Viejo was probably the holder of the honorific title of being the lowest ranking member of the "White House Staff" during Richard Nixon's first term.   The ridiculous agency known as the Office of Economic Opportunity ( OEO ) had been set up during Lyndon Baines Johnson's only elected term.  It was a payola, vote-buying scheme, primarily aimed at Democrat vote-buying schemes.  Emergency Food and Medical Services, the grandmother of the modern day Food Stamp program, and scores of other dysfunctional programs aimed at the chronically lethargic.
    The Nixon people were an eclectic group of Republican Conservative "progressives" and hard nosed conservatives who believed  that the poor only needed stronger bootstraps and less beer.   There were literally already several thousand incredibly ridiculous stories about mega-corruption, program abuse, programs that had practiced no...absolutely no...accounting procedures of any kind since the inception of their "community action" organisations.  Please believe...there were thousands of programming "defects' that Ripley's Believe It or Not would have had a hard time believing.

     El Gringo Viejo came in while returning from active duty in the Army in 1969.   He tried, frankly, to impulse a bit of favouritism through a brother who was Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party...and went through the debriefing and security analysis and other such research that is presently called "vetting" through the established Republican patronage apparatus.
     Oddly enough, when we were informed to report to a cross between an interview and a briefing, we received another call from another central government office...the Regional Office of Economic Opportunity - Executive Office of the President.  I had made that contact on my own....since I was a great social scientist with my Sociology BA, and all!!  Ah! the audacity of ignorance and conceit!!
        In those days, the Southwest Region's headquarters for the five State region was in Austin, Texas....kind of a holdover from the original glory days of the Johnson Administration.   It was in an old WPA building a couple of blocks from the huge, pink marble,  State Capitol building to the east.
     It was a strange place.  Between the going in and coming out that day, I was tested, assigned a GS - 7, management trainee, project analyst and evaluator title.   "When do I report?"   Emmanuel Lupo told me,"You already have.  See you to-morrow".   As an afterthought, he added, "You Republicans aren't going to like it here. No friends, all enemies, and we're watching everything you do and everything you say.   You will never be in the rest room alone."

     On Friday, the Regional Executive Director told me to be ready to fly to Washington D.C. for a 2 day meeting with a fellow named Donald Rumsfield.   He would give us our "trajectory" which would be essentially a privatisation of the anti-poverty programs.  The ultimate objective would be to close the OEO down before it became a program that provoked dependency.   There were 30 "recruits" drawn from all over the United States who would meet with the former United States Representative, now Director of the OEO - EOP, and the meeting would be at the OEOB (Old Excutive Office Building), on the left side of the White House, as the White House looks out on a street named Pennsylvania.
      The first days at the third floor of the building in Austin were, in fact, not pleasant.   A Mr.  Xxxxxxxx, a highly placed bureaucrat in the regional office's pecking order, in charge of "field operations", was more than a little pointed, when I edged into his office to introduce myself.
       "Mr. Haney, I am...." I began.
       "Shut to the **** up and get your *** out of my office, ****ing Scab," were the first and last words that he spoke to me.   He had the official pictures of Martin L. King, Bobby Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Lyndon Johnson, Jake Pickle, Ralph Yarborough, and Lloyd Bentsen.....but no picture of Richard Milhouse Nixon.   One other odd picture was of him with Fidel Castro and some other Cuban Revolutionary notables in front of the United Nations building in New York City.
        I was later informed that he was also highly placed in the American Federal Government Employees Union.   He was miffed because I had elected to not join the union at the time of my employment.    Very few people in the Regional OEO offices would respond when I spoke with them. So the Republicans, about 9 persons, were essentially surrounded by 153 career leeches...who like almost all central government employees in those days and these, spent about one third of their time in union meetings and personnel disputes.  Now, there is additional time spent on lecturing people how bad they are for hating lesbian, Eskimo Moslem, fishingboat captains, who are left-handed, and who have learning disabilities, and ABdDooaEE.   

      The flight to Washington, D.C. was still a direct flight as a holdover from the LBJ presidency, and it landed...bouncingly....at Dulles, and I transferred via something called "Hotel Courtesy Van"....to a hotel at Lafayette Circle.   The next couple of days were essentially the opposite of the OEO office back in Texas.   Everyone was civilised, pleasant, and a lot more concerned about the poor folks that than the Democrat, leftist "poverty warriors".   We were told to try to insert ourselves into the local community action agencies, especially the largest ones, where there was a lot of money moving around.  "Take your training and your temporary appointments and go out into the belly of the beast and preach the wisdom of free enterprise".   That was our "subversive order".   We even had a three minute wave off from the President, where he said the famous line from Benjamin Franklin about the best way to make war on poverty is to make a man uncomfortable in his poverty.  Nixon even brought on board a famous old liberal warrior...into the White House inner sanctum....a fellow named Daniel Moynihan who was famous for having said that the Black population would benefit from a period of "benign neglect".  Moynihan thought that if they were "taken care of", they would eventually wind up being the same Ping-Pong balls that the Indians had become...toys for White liberal social science experiments, none of which would ever produce positive results.
     As an aside, upon departing the meeting, El Gringo Viejo (aged 22, then) noticed that his real, live official government travel voucher was not made out to anyone except the traveller.

This is a picture of the last long distance, coach and Pullman Southern
Crescent train, edging into Birmingham, Alabama.  It had an excellent
diner, a saloon car, and an observatory.  Very nice ride.  Lost money
even when full, which was most of the time.  We rode it a few times in
the early 1970s, and it died in 1978, and its bones were eaten by AMTRAK.
  It was just a voucher with travel authority, dates, and the equivalent of coach fare on any airline or common passenger conveyance. After asking, I was informed that it was valid for a train if anyone had the time for such idiocy.  The day was done, it was Thursday...Friday was supposed to be a travel day, and then there was the weekend....so I chased over to the train station and enquired at the AMTRAK if there were a train that could make the trip to Austin or San Antonio.   Oddly, there was not an AMTRAK...but, there was the last long distance service being operated by a fully private carrier, the Southern Railway System, and they had their famous Southern Crescent that would come through later to-night from New York City, heading for New Orleans.  A cumbersome connection with the old Sunset Limited (previously of the Southern Pacific, but by then the AMTRAK) would leave and go through Houston and then to San Antonio arriving late  Saturday morning.   I called a buddy in Austin and asked if he could pick me up....and he said, "You won't believe this but I have to be somewhere on Saturday"..."Oh, Phooey!, Where do you have to be, anyway?"   and then he responded, "I have a meeting in some place called the Frost Bank, in downtown San Antonio."  hahahaa.
Very propitious.

     And that was the first of two different "rides"...all Pullman... that El Gringo Viejo took by rail on the taxpayers' dime.  One other time I went and came, round trip, on another mission of "great importance" involving something like an extension of fulfilling the orders that had been given during that two-day "mission orientation" by the Nixon Administration.

     All of this is preambulatory to the fact that, mixing with conversations with political people and government people, and social people....it was quickly surmised by even the most intellectually  limited that Nixon was in a mess shortly after the 1972 elections.  He had carried every State in the Union, except for Massachusetts.   George McGovern's collapse at the polls had been total.   But the rum0urs about something called "Water Gate" were already bubbling in the cauldron.
     The one thing that I remembered and shall remember until the hearse drives into the Shady Rest Memorial Gardens and Skating Rink....is the "old guys"  (those who were 35 to 60 years old) at the bar in Georgetown (name unremembered but they did have a very good, AAA minor league bluegrass group)...talking about how John Dean was the actual author of the famous "Nixon Enemy List" and that Chuck Colson had warned Nixon not to leave Dean out of line of sight....that he was "out to get people who had been "mean to him" and let Nixon take the blame.  Dean was known to have prepared a list of over 500 people who had offended him on his way up the ranks....some were just local people with small businesses who did not like self-consumed drips.   Colson said he knew because he worked with Dean on the list until he realised that Dean was tech'd and fixated with vengeance.
     It is worth noting these things because the charge stuck, although it was never actually made.  Nixon used the IRS to get at people on his "enemies list".....It was one of the three charges out of 20 that were finally approved by the House Judiciary Committee, but on the way to the floor, it was apparent that there was no substance to the charge and it had not been included in any drafting of the formal Impeachment charges.   But the press took care of that...just like they took care of Joe McCarthy....and Lincoln Freed the Slaves....and Social Security will take care of the geezers....and the income tax will never exceed 1% of anyone's income.

(El Gringo Viejo felt somewhat vindicated when FOX News reporter Al Rosen [White House and special assignments] declared that he needed to correct and clarify a point about associating Richard Nixon with having utilised the IRS as a political retribution weapon.  He essentially pointed out that he had been correctly informed, almost precisely, of what El Gringo Viejo included in the above passages, even naming John Dean (jerk), and Chuck Colson (actually a good guy) as having been the culprits, and that Colson had always said that Nixon never knew anything about it. John Dean also confessed that truth some years back, in public.)

That's all.   Just the facts, ma'am.  714
El Gringo Viejo