In the matter of Jerzy Kosinski -- The author of "The Painted Bird" and "Being There" and a sometimes movie actor ("Reds") -- now comes William Safire, a columnist for The New York Times.

Safire says that there is a left-wing literary conspiracy out to discredit Kosinski. He wrote that the Anti-Kosinski Unity Front includes a Polish communist who is linked to the Village Voice, which is linked (somehow) to The Washington Post, which is linked to Newsweek, which had one of its writers critique The New York Times for defending Kosinski after (bear with me) the Newsweek writer himself had earlier quit the Times in an (alleged) snit, thereby, presumably, giving him a motive for writing the piece. Safire charges McCarthyism.

It is sheer dumb luck that Safire did not also write that the Newsweek writer, Charles Kaiser, is linked to Robert Kaiser, an editor at The Washington Post, on account of the fact that they are brothers. They, in turn, are linked to Philip Kaiser by virtue of the fact that he is their father and he, in turn, is linked to Averell Harriman, by virtue of some years spent working for him in government.

Harriman is, of course, linked to virtually everyone, most notably Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). (That is often the situation when you get to be 90.) He is, though, also linked to Pamela Harriman, his wife, who in turn is linked to the late Leland Hayward, an agent and her former husband, to Brooke Hayward, an author and the daughter of Leland, to the late Margaret Sullavan, an actress and another wife of Leland, to the late Henry Fonda, the husband for a time of Sullavan, to Jane Fonda, the daughter of Henry, to Peter Fonda, the son of Henry, to Tom Hayden, the husband of Jane, to Jerry Brown, a friend of Tom Hayden's, to Linda Ronstadt, a former friend of Brown's and to Randolph Churchill, a former husband of Pam's (remember her?) and, through him, the Duke of Marlborough, master of Blenheim Palace and an ancestor of all the Churchills.

These are just some of the forces of the left massed against Kosinski in an attempt to discredit him because of his staunch anticommunism. They finally succeeded in getting the Village Voice to write that Kosinski lied about his past and did not write all his books himself. That piece was written after one about Kosinski appeared in The New York Times Magazine. It was written by Barbara Gelb, who is linked to Arthur Gelb, deputy managing editor of The Times, by virtue of marriage. Gelb is also linked to A.M. Rosenthal, the executive editor of The Times, by friendship and a paycheck and he, in turn, is linked to Kosinski by friendship, not to mention a mutual respect for The Times.

The Times, in turn, is linked to John Corry, a writer there, who wrote a 6,000-word piece about how Kosinski was being maligned by the mean, left-wing literary establishment, an article that Safire said is "worthy of the Pulitzer Prize" -- a nomination "worthy" in every way except for the fact that the piece was awful. This was the article dissected by Newsweek, which is linked to the Voice, which is linked to the New Republic, which wrote about The Times article and which in turn is linked by some of the same mailing lists (Save the Seals) to The Nation, a magazine that considered publishing an article on Kosinski but did not, but felt obliged to comment on the issue anyway in an article by Andrew Kopkind who is descibed as someone who "regularly follows the cultural wars for The Nation." Poor man.

As for me, I am linked to everyone. I am linked to The Times, the Village Voice and Newsweek by virtue of reading them all, although I am now beginning to wonder why. In addition, Kosinski and I are linked to Poland, the land of my mother's and Kosinski's birth, although I do not know that the two of them are linked unless Kosinski plays canasta. And I myself lived for a time in Jerzy, although we spelled it differently.

Despite all these links, I feel compelled to say that just about everybody is making a fool of himself with the exception of Kosinski who is linked, as most writers are, to money. He is being maligned all the way to the bank.