An old friend who was an aide to Spiro Agnew once told me about the vice-crook's visit to Frank Sinatra's magnificent home near Palm Springs. As the SS approached Frank's Mafia security, hostility vibrated in the air. But after a few moments, they were all smiling, friendly, shaking hands, patting each other on the back, and showing each other their guns. They were all exactly the same sort of thug. Well, not quite: the Mafia wasn't living off the taxpayers.