? Things have been rough, of late, for the fabled Ralph Nader, and no blow was crueler to the consumer demagogue's family-sized ego than the bizarre events at Jonestown, Guyana. Just imagine having to go before the FTC, SEC, Justice Department, Consumer Product Safety Administration, and abundant congressional hearings to argue the case for protecting Americans from themselves and to then see nationwide headlines exposing the fate of nearly 1,000 volunteers for the Christian-Marxist crusade of Rev. Jim Jones. What are Saturday morning cereal ads on TV compared with this fleecing of the sheep?
? The epic tragedy in Jonestown had no apparent connection to the double assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. The accused is their former colleague, the Hon. Daniel White, who had quit the Board of Supervisors (on account of its puny salary) but had then felt the tug of power and was desperately scrapping to get back into the ball game. Gliding through the impressive City Hall, he was able, in two different offices, to demonstrate Mao's maxim about the true origins of political power. These incidents, combined with the Prop. 13 panic, have many of our political godfathers quivering. Has an open season on politicos arrived?
? Shirley MacLaine and the notorious Gang of Four have also been quivering. News stories pouring in to the West give notice that the heroic China may be switching from "Red" to "Green." Creeping capitalism has crawled into the highest offices, and a recent Chinese government dispatch pictured US life as healthy and, for the great masses, wealthy. The official People's Daily was most enthralled by the exploitative capitalist "work ethic," saying, "without the diligent labor of a great many workers and technicians (still not to mention entrepreneurs and bankers) America's production could never have risen to today's levels." Unofficial protests have gone much further in idolizing US capitalism and charging that the last decade of Mao's regime was no more than a "fascist dictatorship" which "kept the people in the dark" about progress around the globe.
The People's Republic may even be swinging around to our way of government, as evidenced by the revelation that a high-ranking Communist Party functionary has embezzled $200 million in flood relief funds in the past three fiscal years.
? True to form, the November elections elevated those who promised the maximum and spoke truth the minimum. In California Governor Jerry Brown, campaigning with his old pal Howard Jarvis, made mincemeat out of a turkey GOP opponent. So incredible was his antigovernment preelection rhetoric that a long-time Golden State Demo griped, "Jerry has poisoned the political wells in California and is prepared to do the same thing nationwide.…The reality is, we need government."
? Last October the United States placed a trade embargo on the ever-popular Uganda. So Field Marshall Idi Amin has established his own "human rights commission." Staffed by some of Amin's most able assistants, the panel of murderers and rapists found the US embargo to be in violation of "human rights," demonstrating that President Carter is not the only one with a knack for reducing the issue of freedom to vacuous shibboleths. The embargo may prove ineffectual, however, for Amin claims to have purchased 100,000 US Army uniforms "without the knowledge of the Jews in Congress." Uganda's 20,000-man military force will be handsomely clad for some time to come, but the sight of Amin's butchers ravaging the African countryside in American outfits has got to add some real fervor to the oft-heard "Yankee go home!"
? In 1976, President Carter swore on a stack of Bibles that even the hint of corruption would be instantaneously banished from a Carter White House. Well, the electorate bought it, but today many, including Common Cause, ain't so sure. The latter group has sued the chief executive for appointing the politically well connected John McGarry to the Federal Elections Commission at an honorarium of $50,000 per annum. The presidential appointment of McGarry, a Boston lawyer whose chief qualification for public service is thousands of hours of drinking time invested with House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill, was called "a political payoff" by Common Cause. They further alleged that the born-again Mr. Carter was "playing the shabbiest politics."
? The General Accounting Office has disclosed that it put one "Donald Duck" on the HUD payroll computer at a whopping $99,999 annual salary to test the fraud-detection devices elaborately installed on the behemoth government computer. Predictably, the feds flunked, and the "fail-safe" contraption never blinked an eye in printing and sending the fictitious bureaucrat's check. Interestingly, the maximum legal salary for any of HUD's civil service employees is $47,500—less than half of Mr. Duck's haul. This gives one an idea of the extreme complexities with which government must deal. Incidentally, Donald's check was destroyed on the grounds that he was simply a nonworking experiment. Curiously, this reasoning has never been invoked to deny any federal jobholders their booty.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".