Nevada gubernatorial hopeful Aaron Russo -- one-time producer of mainstream
films including "Trading Places" -- vows to take his new documentary, "America,
Freedom to Fascism" to Cannes in May and open it in major U.S. cities in
The film, which previewed here April 9, is pure Aaron. In some of the
most enjoyable parts, Mr. Russo casts himself in an on-camera role reminiscent
of Michael Moore in such parallel
(albeit from the left) documentaries as "Roger and Me."
The hefty Mr. Moore made a show of himself, quite literally, trying to get
Roger Smith, then CEO of General Motors, to answer questions about why his
company was (supposedly) breaking long-standing promises to Michigan workers by
closing plants there.
(Needless to say, Mr. Moore never asked any auto union executives whether
they'd foolishly priced themselves out of a competitive world market.)
Also needless to say, Mr. Smith proved pretty inaccessible, and the
instinctive resistance of his clueless security guards to letting any cameras
near him was a part of the fun of Mr. Moore's early work.
a far-from-willowy Aaron Russo similarly draws some laughs and head-shaking as
he stands on the public sidewalk outside IRS headquarters in Washington, trying
to get someone in the building to answer a few simple questions about who really
owes the income tax - or, heck, even trying to get "Homeland Security" to allow
a U.S. citizen to photograph a taxpayer-funded building from the public
The film starts with some fairly good historical background about the Federal
Reserve Board -- which, we are informed in suitably breathless tones, is a
private corporation owned by private bankers who make up fiat money out of thin
air and loan it to the U.S. government at interest, with the inflationary result
that (while the dollar held its value and even appreciated from 1789 to 1932) a
dollar today buys what four pennies would have bought in 1930.
All this is true. The sadder truth is that this seems to come as news to so
Kicking off from there, "Freedom to Fascism" deals primarily with the basic
question of the tax education movement -- who owes the income tax, and why won't
the IRS show us the law that requires an average wage-earner living in one of
the 50 states to file and pay a tax on his wages?
Of course we do have to file and pay, in the sense that armed government
goons will seize our houses and cars and paychecks if we don't.
But that's no different from saying you "have to" give your wallet to an
armed thug who's threatening you in a parking garage. The question is why judges
refuse to allow any detailed reading and discussion of the actual written
statutes and relevant Supreme Court rulings in their courtrooms -- witness the
recent federal trial of Irwin Schiff here in Las Vegas.
The first of the two most powerful segments in this film comprises a
first-person interview by Mr. Russo of retired IRS Commissioner Sheldon Cohen,
now a high-powered Washington attorney. The smug eye-rolling of this fatuous
toad, who actually goes so far as to ridicule Mr. Russo for asking him how the
IRS code comports with Supreme Court rulings handed down in the years
immediately following the ratification of the 16th Amendment is priceless.
Cutting off the interview because Aaron insists on asking whether the court
didn't rule (in the Brushaber and Baltic Mining cases) that the 16th created no
new taxing authority, etc., the supercilious Mr. Cohen asks, incredulously, "You
want a 1920 Supreme Court decision to take precedence over an IRS code that was
written years later?"
Here, in a mere couple of minutes, Russo demonstrates that ours is no longer
a "nation of laws," but a nation where unelected bureaucrats just make up their
own rules as they go along.
"So the whole thing's a (expletive) lie," is the way Aaron summarized that
scene for me over the phone on April 19. "It's a hoax and he got trapped; it's
The second most moving sequence features a poor-resolution home video shot by
Illinois citizen Whitey Harrell at a meeting with the IRS, in which he asks his
assigned IRS agent to show his written delegation of authority - a perfectly
reasonable request, since the law authorizes only the secretary of treasury to
do many things, which can then be done by his subordinates only with such a
The IRS functionary replies, "I asked my boss about that written delegation
of authority, and he says my badge is my written delegation of authority."
So much for the separation of powers, or any limits on a badge-holder's