? The Spirit of the Age, according to Nick Thimmesch: "The United States stands as a nation of bourgeois wimps irritated by the Soviet-Cuban aggression in Africa, but turning its back to drink beer and watch television." (Washington Post, May 28, 1978.)
? If you're planning to attend the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Tass reports that "Soviet meteorologists prepared a forecast of weather in Moscow on July 19-August 3, 1980, the time of the 22nd Olympics. According to their forecast, the average daily temperature will be 18° Centigrade, relative humidity will be 70 percent and wind velocity will be 3 to 5 meters per second." Russian weather is very predictable—except on the collective farms.
? The Most Enlightened Generation Since Creation Dept.: According to over 800 high school students surveyed by the Ladies Home Journal, the man and woman who have "done the most damage to the world" are Adolf Hitler and Anita Bryant. For the woman who has done the most good, they chose La Boca Grande herself, Eleanor Roosevelt. Henry Kissinger was voted history's greatest statesman, and Billy Graham is the most important religious figure. God came in second.
? After the victory of Proposition 13, the evil George McGovern denounced the California voters as motivated by a "degrading hedonism that tells them to ask what they can take from the needy"—this from the man who proposed to soak "the rich" who make over $12,000 a year! The Nearsighted George McGoo was seconded by black activist Jesse Jackson, who called 13 "racist." (Jesse always was a bit weak in the head. He also thinks abortion is "racist.") Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notes that the same UCLA Graduate School of Management team which predicted economic chaos if 13 passed, now thinks it won't be so bad, and may even have (surprise!) "a positive effect." As the Journal observes, "This may be the first time in this century where an economist admitted error."
? Some reflections on the "invasion" of "Shaba": Good old Patrick Buchanan was heard from, of course, with a jeremiad against the "Katangese terrorists." (When Moishe Tshombe led them, American conservatives idolized them as "Katangese freedom-fighters." You know the declension: I am a freedom-fighter, you are a rebel, he is a terrorist.) Pat predicts that "A third invasion of Shaba [nee Katanga] may be expected, and a fourth, until the province is ripped away from Zaire—a province which is to Zaire what the Ukraine was to imperial Russia; the sine qua non of national survival." The reader will notice that one may substitute "Soviet Russia" for "imperial Russia" in the above without changing the meaning one iota…Evans and Novak were also up (or down) to par, breathlessly revealing that "Just before the Soviet-Cuban directed invasion May 14 into the mineral producing heartland of Zaire, Soviet agents quietly purchased nearly 400 tons of scarce cobalt from European brokers.…Here was a clear case of foreknowledge." The price of cobalt did increase after the invasion closed the Zairean mines, but E&N would have us believe the Soviets would risk their Katanga scheme (if theirs it was) for a lousy "$8 million"—hardly an example of the satanic cunning E&N usually attribute to them. In fact, the case is not clear at all: the Washington Post's Bernard Nossiter suggests (May 24, 1978) that the Soviets were just building their stockpile. They bought from 500 to 2000 tons of cobalt in the first five months of 1978 (the US stockpile is about 20,500 tons, almost four years' supply), haggling over 30 or 50 ton purchases. "If Moscow knew that the world's supply was going to be interrupted," notes Nossiter, "it did not give the game away." Incidentally, the price of cobalt had already increased by about 200 percent, for various reasons, before the invasion. And the "heartland" of Katanga is surrounded on three sides by foreign countries.…When the Katangese invaded in 1977, Secretary of State Vance admitted there was "no hard evidence" of Cuban involvement. This time Vance and Carter claim there is such evidence, but that they can't reveal it lest they jeopardize "intelligence sources." On June 2, they showed it behind closed doors to several congressional leaders, who seemed to swallow it whole. Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN) emerged claiming that "the invasion of Zaire couldn't have been done" without the Cubans. True, he saw "no documents or photographs," but Jimmy said there were such, and didn't he promise never to lie to us? As Minority Leader, Baker succeeds Hugh Scott, who once said Nixon had convinced him of his innocence in the Watergate cover-up, by showing him "evidence" which Scott was not at liberty to divulge.
? Pentagon Capitalism Dept.: Syndicated columnist Clayton Fritchey quotes the egregious Maj. Gen. George Keegan as saying "I can say without reservation that for every dollar of support which America has given Israel, we have gotten a thousand dollars worth of benefits in return, which are incalculable in their value to the US armed forces." According to the Christian Science Monitor, Israel has received more than $5.5 billion in military credits (loans to buy weapons) from the United States since 1970, of which Congress has already "forgiven" $3.5 billion. Which would put the "incalculable" benefits at $3.5 trillion, more than the entire Gross National Product! This is typical accuracy for the ex-head of US Air Force "intelligence"; Keegan apparently hasn't been right on anything since he invented the "missile gap" of the early 1960's. Which is a shame; by Keeganite logic we could afford to abolish the Defense Department if we cut Israel's handouts to $126 million a year. Considering that the United States came closer to World War III during the 1973 Yom Kippur War than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, Keegan just might be on to something.
? Creeping libertarianism in the Soviet Union? Last June a Soviet eavesdropping station was discovered under the US Embassy in Moscow. Hardly the first time the Russians got caught spying there, but this time they complained about the Americans breaking their spy devices, and demanded they replace them. One is reminded of libertarian doyen Robert LeFevre, and his belief that a kidnap victim has no right to break the chains that bind him. They're the kidnapper's "private property," you know.
? It's official: James McIntyre, director of the Office of Management and Budget, says there will be no balanced budget by 1981, and probably not even by 1982. Yet another broken campaign promise for The Peanut. Nonetheless McIntyre insists that he and Jimmy are "fiscal conservatives," although not with "a meat-ax approach." Hell, they don't even have a meat-tenderizer approach; McIntyre admits "There have been no major programs that we've eliminated."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".