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Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to the United States has left many Americans jubilant, but John F. McManus isn't one of them.

McManus, public relations director of the John Birch Society, told several hundred people gathered at the Excelsior Hotel on Tuesday night that the adulation heaped on Gorbachev is "a tremendous outrage." He called the Soviet leader an archcriminal responsible for the murder of more than a million people in Afghanistan, and he said the only reason Gorbachev came to the United States was to seek Western aid he badly needs to stay in power and prop up his country's failed economy."The American people have been completely buffaloed," McManus said. And contrary to Gorbachev's claim Monday at Stanford University, the Cold War is not over.

"The Cold War continues. There's merely been a switch in tactics," he said. The Cold War will continue "as long as there are criminals who want somebody's freedom, and as long as there are people who want to be free."

If Americans think things have changed under the banner of "perestroika," they need do little more than consider Gorbachev's recent response to Lithuania's bid for freedom, McManus said. "Lithuania is still under the Soviet thumb."

He said a move from communism to democratic socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe constitutes little more than a new playbook in the hands of old players.

"It's the same thing," McManus said. "They are not free of communism. They are not free of socialism. They are not free."

He added: "A communist is a socialist in a hurry. Socialism destroys resistance, so socialism is more dangerous in many ways."

As Gorbachev outlined in his 1988 book "Perestroika," he plans to strengthen socialist power in the Soviet Union.

"None of these people wants to establish freedom," McManus said. "They want the same power that kept their nations in bondage for decades. And they want you and me to pay for it. Gorbachev's bills are being transferred to the American taxpayer, and the man who is doing most of it is George Bush."

McManus said billions of U.S. tax money, given to the International Monetary Fund, will end up subsidizing the Soviet Union. Western credits and direct U.S. subsidies, loans and technology transfers to the Soviet Union also are helping to bail out Gorbachev and strengthen socialism.

McManus warned that socialism is making inroads in the United States and freedom is being eroded in part by people promoting not just a separation of church and state but also a separation of God and state.

"The United States is supposed to be a God-centered government," he said. Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, McManus said, all "are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights." Americans have forgotten that rights are God-given, not government-given.

Rights also are being eroded because the federal government and Supreme Court have assumed powers not granted them by the Constitution. Despite adding billions of dollars annually to the national debt, for example, the federal government is illegally redistributing American wealth via foreign aid programs to nations that want to destroy America.

"That's suicide," McManus said. "The Constitution is being ignored, overruled . . . and practically forgotten."

McManus attributes the growth of socialism and the weakening of America to an organized conspiracy that must be fought with knowledge and dedicated activism.

"There are plenty of reasons for hope," he said, but Americans must wake up to what's happening to their country.