Brickbats

|

• Vivien Kellems, the tax rebel, owned a cable-grip factory in Connecticut. One day she decided that it was unconstitutional for the IRS to make her withhold taxes from her employees' salaries—"involuntary servitude," you know—so she stopped doing it. She also stopped paying her own taxes, and when she died in 1975 at the age of 78 Ms. Kellems had successfully defied the revenooers for nine years. Now a Connecticut probate court reports that state and federal income tax claims of $816,947.97 have been paid out of her estate: which figure represents every cent of her taxes since 1966, all the late penalties and interest on them both, IRS, it would appear, stands for Inhumation Robbing Scum. And a happy Independence Day to you.

• By now everybody knows about the National Socialist Party of America and its intention to march, in uniform, through the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois. The ACLU claims it lost 20 percent of its membership over its decision to support the Nazis' right to march, and even such normally sober men as columnist George Will have taken to chewing the rug, and gibbering about an imminent Brownshirt Menace. According to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, which keeps track of such things, the NSPA has no more than 20 members. Its recruiting difficulties may stem from charges that the Party's Fuehrer, one Frank Collins, has a Jewish father—for which failing he was expelled from the larger National Socialist White People's Party. The NSWPP has less than 100 "hard-core members," says the ADL, and the FBI no longer bothers to spy on it. Its Fuehrer is Matt Koehl, heir to the late George Lincoln Rockwell's mantle. From such an eminence Koehl can afford to disdain the upstart Collins, and to dismiss his Skokie march as "nothing but cheap Jew-baiting." As the ADL estimates some 500 "official supporters" of the NSWPP contribute "at least" five dollars each and every month, Koehl can well afford expensive Jew-baiting.

• In The Christian Science Monitor (March 3, 1978) Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wisc.) examines the proposed SALT II arms limitation agreement. Without the treaty, says Aspin, "The Russians could easily end up with half again as many missiles and bombers as the United States by 1985.…This is because the Russians have a surfeit of nuclear programs under way or in research while the US has only a relative handful that could be in place by 1985." For example, the United States now has 83 percent as many "strategic launchers" (bombers and missiles) as the Soviets; under SALT this could increase to 91 percent by 1985. But it could fall to 68 percent without the treaty's limits on the number of Soviet strategic launchers. Similarly, the American superiority of 2.4 to 1 in nuclear warheads could be reduced to 1.29 to 1 by 1985 with SALT. But without SALT II's restrictions on the number of missiles that can carry multiple warheads, the United States would end up with only 93 percent as many nuclear warheads as the Soviets. Not that that seems likely; if SALT II isn't ratified the Pentagon would surely redouble its arms procurement. The Senate Budget Committee predicts $100 billion in additional defense spending over the next 15 years if the treaty fails.

• It's always fun to watch a sacred cow get barbecued, especially when it's the FBI that's getting roasted. Former Acting Director L. Patrick Gray (of Watergate burn-bag fame) and two lesser panjandara are under indictment for "conspiracy to deprive Americans of their civil rights"; to wit, setting FBI agents to burglarizing the homes of eight people who were unlucky enough to be the friends or relatives of members of the Weather Underground. It's the "first time that either a director of the FBI or a former Bureau executive has been charged with a criminal act," says the New York Times, and high time too. And hopefully it won't be the last; already one J. Wallace LaPrade, assistant director of the FBI's New York office, has charged that the Carter administration is still committing such "warrant-less investigations" (as they are called). There was a time when some feared that Mr. Peanut would restore confidence in government.

• Absolutely the Last Word on The Canal Treaties: The Senators who voted for the first treaty faced an intensive campaign to get them to switch on the second. So it was that Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) found a half-page ad in an Omaha newspaper accusing him of "ignoring" his constituents by voting aye. There was one small mistake, however; Zorinsky actually voted against the treaty. The ad's sponsors, The Committee of Tax Weary and Concerned Citizens (of Houston, Texas) apologized, and ran another ad in retraction. Said Zorinsky, "Only in American could I have $2808 in free advertising that spells my name correctly".…And when someone asked treaty opponent Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) how he would feel if a foreign power controlled a 10-mile wide strip of land through Nevada, Laxalt replied that the federal government owns 87 percent of Nevada and he thought that was pretty much the same thing; for which sentiment Mr. Laxalt deserves a plenary indulgence for all his past sins.

• As part of "Operation Commonsense," HEW's attack on excess paperwork, a regulation on HEW's "runaway youth program" was rewritten; cutting it, boasts HEW Secretary Califano, "from 22 inches of impenetrable prose in the Federal Register to less than three inches." This and other triumphs over superfluous verbiage were revealed at the special press conference, which was announced with three press releases totaling 31 pages.

• Fans of Dr. Ivan Illich who fear the Medical Nemesis can still resort to a time- tested cure: leeches. Mr. Harvey Snitman of Chicago operates "the only retail outlet in the country for live leeches." He sells from 500 to 600 a year at $6.00 apiece. The leeches, by the way, "come from a London supplier, who imports them from Russia, Poland and Hungary."

• Horace Mann, thou shouldst be living at this hour! According to the campus police, 90 percent of the crimes at Westfield State College, Massachusetts, are committed by students majoring in criminal justice.

Advertisement