â€¢ Here it is, the news story you've long suspected. A well-known nationally circulated American monthly, under the headline "F.B.I. Nabs Senate, House," reports in its June issue: "The FBI has announced that it possesses 'incontrovertible evidence' linking some 535 public officials with such criminal acts as vote buying, influence peddling, libel, slander, fraud, and misuse of public funds. The alleged criminals, known collectively as 'Congress,' are expected to be summoned before a grand jury sometime this fall.
"While many Justice Department officials were openly triumphant over the successful culmination of the 'Congressting' operation, there were those who voiced misgivings about its implications.
"'It creates a false public image,' said one attorney. 'They get the impression that everyone in government is corrupt. Sure, there are a few rotten apples: Congress, obviously. The departments of energy, commerce, treasury, state and transportation. The IRS and the executive branch. Many of the courts. A lot of the military. But not everybody is a criminal.'"
The magazine? The National Lampoon, which may prompt you to say, "Phooey." But just compare the Lampoon' s "News on the March" feature, for example, with the factual content in any Jimmy Carter press release.
â€¢ A bill to repeal the oft-handy "not guilty by reason of insanity" alibi as a defense in criminal transgressions is sailing through the California legislature and may make it into the books. The reform would also deprive the misunderstood elements of society of the excuses of "intoxication" and "diminished capacity." The Dan White murder case in San Francisco, where a crazed county supervisor and former police hero took the lives of two ardent supporters of criminal rehabilitation and leniency for first-time offenders (George Moscone and Harvey Milk), has prompted several liberal Democrats (and born-again law and order enthusiasts) to push the measure.
â€¢ Tito is dead. He was immediately, upon his demise, hailed by President Carter as a "towering figure on the world stage." British Prime Minister Thatcher called him "a great statesman." Queen Elizabeth II dubbed him "a man of outstanding courage and tenacity." French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing praised him as "an international leader who. . .preserved the liberty and independence of his country." And UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim mourned him as "a true hero." His real name now quite obscure, Tito earned the name "Tito" from the manner in which he barked out orders to his subjects. The Serbo-Croatian words "ti to, ti to" translate into "you do this, and you do that."
â€¢ Pope John Paul II has ordered all Catholic priests out of politics. The directive came as quite a blow to the fabled Fr. Robert Drinan, who immediately announced his decision not to seek reelection. Congressperson Drinan "very graciously acceptedâ€¦the intention of his Holiness," according to a high-ranking source (not himself), and claims to have never even considered the notion of defrocking. It is little wonder that the prospect of going to heaven weighs more heavily than the chance to hang out with the Washington 535, yet the Pope's ordinance raises all kind of hopes. If we could only get the America Bar Association to declare that no lawyer shall.â€¦
â€¢ On the subject of heaven and hell, nine persons were trampled to death while attempting to catch wind of the Pope while he blessed the soil in Kinshasa, Zaire. The effort by the Polish potentate brought him just short of the record established last year by the slightly more popular rock group, The Who.
â€¢ "We have talked of the communist ideal for so long, and yet the country is so poor and the lives of the people so bitter. What good are ideals? We can't eat them." Oops. Possibly a miscalculation by government plannersâ€"which will certainly be corrected with the very next Five Year Planâ€"is all the disgruntled 27-year-old grumbler of the above curse of socialist vision really meant to attack. But such mean things are being bellowed from the People's Republic of China with regularity. As the Los Angeles Times notes, "The growing dissatisfaction with the government is apparent wherever young urbanites gather. At universities, in smoke-filled teahouses, over bowls of steaming noodles in dingy cafes, youthful Chinese pour out their grievances and voice their disappointment that the regime has failed to deliver on many of its promises."
But what of Party doctrine? Class consciousness? Peasant solidarity? "Some people think Marxism-Leninism no longer works," according to a "brutally accurate summary" of China's political crisis in the Shanghai newspaper Wen Hui Bao. "They are unwilling to study it any more. In school, political lessons are not well-received. Offices and factories often hold political and theoretical study classes in a happy-go-lucky fashion. To them, they are just occasions for killing time." And a Chinese Communist newspaper itself notes, "People thought that once national policies began to change, they could expect speedy action on their problems and a significant improvement in their living standards. And, of course, they're disillusioned that nothing of the sort has happened."
Politicians not delivering on their promises? They do have an inferior system.
â€¢ Some nauseating Soviet slime buckets (that is, the Russian government) have accused Nobel two-timer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of being a "fascist," a "traitor," and worse, a CIA stooge. "Operation Solzhenitsyn was launched by the CIA in full opposition to the Soviet order, to that which is dear to all Soviet people," says CIA against Russia, a new "book" by Kremlin collaborator Nikolai Yakovlev. If ever you hear some Cro-Magnon utter "takes one to know one," throw this book at 'im.
â€¢ Ah, yes, the pyramiding craze. Naturally, it hit California numero unoâ€"and has baffled the local Keystone corps. The cops have run every which way, pointing out that if some guy wins $16,000 then somebody else (or elses) has got to lose at least $16,000. But, of course, they won't let it go at that. They've got to go and arrest some traders in the marketplace. (You don't want them to mess with murderers and rapists with "diminished capacity" out there in the streets, do you?) They can't really understand why the citizenry doesn't respond to its warnings. "We've gotten excellent publicity and it has had no effect whatsoever," claimed local police bunco squad member Lt. William Mossman. "In the past, you told the public this is illegal and most people took it as good information and realized an endless chain was just that. For some reason we have not been able to make a dent in the problem. It's all over Southern California now."
But back in Washington the real big boys have got to be laughing. They know there's no mystery. Sure it's a scam. Sure some poor folks are gonna lose their shirts. But it is a credit to the US government and its long-cultivated powers of persuasion: The Social Security System has finally caught on.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".