? Soviet army units have crushed the Afghanistan dictatorship of Hafizullah Amin and instituted the new-and-improved Marxist dictatorship of Babrak Karmal, who had been resting comfortably in a plush Moscow suburb just prior to his public mandate. So phenomenal was the Russian advance that news of the event managed to alarm even (US President) Jimmy Carter. The Washington wizard declared that the dastardly act affected his worldview more than anything since his last one-to-one chat with God, and, in UPI's estimation, "his overall opinion of the Soviet Union has changed dramatically."
Why Jimmy should bounce up and about over this latest atrocity is unknown. He showed no similar emotion over the Russians' refusal to allow emergency relief supplies to the millions of starving Cambodians (their North Vietnamese stooges have instead diverted our charitable contributions to Communist troops in combat with hold-over Khmer Rouge forces). Nor did the "human rights" crusader in the big White House even sneeze when the Kremlin mob sent Shcharansky and his pals up the river for long terms at hard labor. Nor, most obviously today, did our leader throw even one percent of the vitriolic moralizing he has shoveled on the Oil Monopoly when the Soviet menace performed the exact same stunt in Afghanistan in April 1978. Since the last Communist savior took over then, an estimated 25,000 human souls have been eliminated for political differences, and another 30,000 hang precariously close in what pass for Afghan jails. Yet only now does Jimmy rise and flex. Why now? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the polls.
? Yes, indeed. It's reelection time. And Senator Teddy has found the answer President Jimmy has been searching for—national press coverage for the Massachusetts cad. While Jimmy sits in his big chair in the Oval Office screaming about Iran, Afghanistan, and all the other hot spots where we ain't gettin' no respect, the esteemed heir to the Kennedy throne has delighted all Americanos off the government dole and the jet-set party circuit by tumbling in popularity polls faster than any human since Hitler. While September surveys gave the Chappaquiddick Kid a monstrous 34-percentage-point stranglehold over the incumbent sycophant, December tallies showed him on the losing end of a 21-point difference. That is a record not easily to be broken. (And to think that Teddy accomplished all this by running against Billy Carter's very own brother!)
? In another temporary setback for the cause of workers' democracy, the chairman of the State Planning Commission of Vietnam has said that the successes brought by the 1979 state plan were "not very big." Le Thanh Nghi released the bad news with an eye on the ongoing encounters with Vietnam's Marxist comrades in China and Cambodia, which "caused enormous losses to our people." Also cited as incorrigible enemies, however, were "poor management and planning." In Le's words, "the effect of economic management is still low," and so yet another nation on the road to proletarian paradise will have to wait just one more five-year plan longer.
? Our magnanimous federal establishment has just extended civil service pension and health benefits to dependent illegitimate offspring of deceased and (if you can tell the difference) retired federal employees. Now, in addition to having to shell out for the bureaucrats to stick it to us, we must pick up the tab when they go out freelancing.
? People are beginning to wise up to just this relationship between the State and the citizen. Go to gay Paris, for instance, and note the stirring legal suit brought by Issa the Swede. Issa, a pro by profession, became miffed when the French government assessed her $100,000 in back (so to speak) taxes. The amount was deduced by careful mathematical formulae, "basing a prostitute's potential income on five customers a day at $25 each and figuring a 200-day working year. Issa, a single woman with no children, was put in the 60% tax bracket." So Issa's suit alleges that the government is…a pimp. "Suddenly it seemed very clear," she details. "If the government says I'm a whore and then takes my money, that's pimping, and I don't even know a pimp who'd demand this much."
? And speaking of "the pimp government," Issa may just have to come over to America's shores to support the habits of the ambitious Department of Housing and Urban Development. President Carter has announced a massive 20 percent funding boost for HUD's subsidized housing program, up to $32 billion in taxpayers' blood for fiscal 1981. Just beyond the hoorahs of housing developers across the nation could be heard the more subtle sound of pocket calculators. The megabucks are, you see, to fund 250,000 housing units—not to actually build them, but to help build them (hence the word subsidy). But 32 billions divided by a quarter-million comes out, in the decimal number system, to $128,000 per poor-family's housing subsidy. Give me the money, Jimmy. I'll set up your 250,000 government shacks with plenty of change.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".