Welcome to My Hacienda

I’m glad that Mexicans come to the United States. I wish we had more of them. I like them. I find them honest, cheerful, hard-working boon companions, amiable and patriotic. I don’t know what I — or you — would do without them.

Sometime last winter a water pipe burst in my house. It leaked slowly, for months, through the walls and into the carpet of the basement library. I never noticed it because I wear slippers in the house, and only go down there to get a book from time to time, and the leak was at the far end.

When spring came and I tried to water the roses, there was no water pressure. Easy to see why: Water gushed from the spigot, coming from inside the house. Not being mechanically inclined, I ran over to my neighbor Tito’s, who called his brother, José. It took José about four minutes to show me what I’d been missing for months.

José had to tear out wallboard to find the source of the leak. He showed me that the carpet was soaked through half of the library and in the bedroom behind it. He found the leak and fixed it, so the problem, though not solved, would not get any worse.

Now, here’s the thing: Aside from the emergency crew who dried out the carpet with enormous hot fans, every worker who fixed up my house was Mexican. Or Mexican-American. Whatever. They were born in Mexico and now they live in Denver.

All of them did great jobs.

I left my doors unlocked so they could get in, and I never worried about that for a minute.

I joked around with them in Spanglish, and I’m sure I enjoyed it more than they did. They seemed more interested in getting the job done.

They fixed the wallboard and repainted it. They tore out the carpet and put in a new one. Replaced the swollen door frames. All of them were younger than me, and they struck me as living embodiments of the Boy Scout Law: A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent.

On the last day, after the last guy, Martín, dismissed his crew and was touching things up, I thanked him and tried to give him a $20 tip.

He refused to take it.

“No, I’m getting paid,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “Take it, ‘mano.”

“No,” he said, backing up from a Jackson as if it were a puff adder. “I’m getting paid.”

When summer ends, Martín and his wife are taking a vacation to Guanajuato, Michoacán and Cancún: places they never could have visited had they not come north to the United States, worked their butts off for years, and saved money.

I think that’s great.

Mexico is a beautiful country. I’ve spent more than a year there, in work and play. I love the land and people, and hate its police. I’m glad that the United States has made it possible for millions of Mexicans to live better lives. That, in short, is what a government should do: Help people to live better lives.

I know the Mexican government is corrupt, but I don’t think it’s any more corrupt than our own. The only difference I can see is the style of corruption.

For three generations, Mexico had the one-party PRI, with a few false-flag parties.

For far longer than that we’ve had two parties, who wield more power together than the PRI ever did. And as far as I’m concerned, both of our parties are flying false flags today.

Republicans should fly the black flag of pirates.

Democrats should fly the white flag of their cowardly surrenders.

Republicans today claim to be all-in for freedom, personal responsibility, low taxes and God, though they promote racism, torture, privilege, and smug hypocritical religiosity.

Jesus of Nazareth, were he around today, would throw those hypocrites out of the White House and Congress.

Bible-thumping Republicans would ask: “How have we offended you, O, Lord?” And Jesus of Nazareth would whack them upside the head with a Bible.

Democrats claim to be all-in for the working man and woman, but from what I’ve seen in 35 years in journalism, today’s Democrats want to be Republicans, without the racism.

There are exceptions, of course. But — pardon me for saying this again, after repeating it for a quarter of a century — Republicans are liars and Democrats are cowards.

And history shows that Americans prefer a liar to a coward.

Davy Crockett, one of my heroes, was a liar — and proud of it. But he wasn’t a coward.

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