Hillary’s 35 Years of Experience…Lying

One of the pitches Hillary Clinton has made to super delegates is that she is well vetted, and there aren’t any surprises to come. Well, I’m not sure this should come as a surprise, but it’s certainly news that Clinton was fired from one of her first jobs out of law school on the House Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate, because her supervisor believed she was a liar.

Dan Calabrese writes:

Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.

Why?

“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

This revelation means that we can draw a straight line of lying encompassing nearly her entire 35 year career, from Watergate to Bosnia.

Puppet Palestinian Boy Assassinates President Bush

It’s a few days old, but via Power Line, I see this video from Hamas television in which a puppet child stabs President Bush to death, and tells him that the White House has been turned into a mosque.

Whenever analysts point to such videos as examples of the incitement that is typical in the Palestinian territories, Palestinian apologists here in the U.S. attempt to argue that it’s just cherry picking by the pro-Israel community. However, while I have seen countless clips of Palestinians indoctrinating their children to kill Jews and hate America, I have yet to see one counter-example of similar incitement on Israeli children’s programming.

It is quite easy to understand how Americans who are exposed to this sort of thing would sympathize with Israelis in the Middle East conflict and see Israelis as having the morally superior case. Despite this, anti-Israel voices such as Obama adviser Merrill “Tony” McPeak (as well as his defender Daniel Larison) continue to argue that rich Jews in New York City and Miami are a major impediment to peace.

When polls show Israel has the overwhelming support of Americans, we’re led to believe by its critics that public opinion is controlled by the media, which silences any dissenting voices who are critical of Israel. Interestingly, such charges closely echo the charges of previous generations of anti-Semites who groused that Jews control the media. But whenever Jews such as myself are offended by such contemporary conspiracy mongering, we’re attacked. The fact that we’re offended is cited as yet another example of how all critics of Israel are accused of being anti-Semites and how there cannot be any honest and open public discussion on the issue.

Critics of Israel argue that there is nothing anti-Israel about calling for an “even handed” approach to the Middle East conflict. But only those who start off with a bias against Israel could advocate an approach to the conflict that puts Israel on an equal moral footing with the peddlers of this sick propaganda.


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Not Chill Bill

The ex-prez flips out in a meeting with superdelegates:

According to those at the meeting, Clinton – who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes – was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.

But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how “sorry” she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a “Judas” for backing Obama.

It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.

“Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that,” a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.

The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media’s unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.

“It was very, very intense,” said one attendee. “Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns.”

Via the Page.

‘Aggressive Capitalists’

That’s the term that the Washington Post uses awkwardly in an attempt to link together McCain economic advisers Phil Gramm (UBS vice chairman) and Carly Fiorina (former Hewlett-Packard CEO) in an effort to implicate them in the current economic downturn.

As in:

Former senator Phil Gramm, with his aw-shucks Texas drawl, may at first blush have little in common with Carly Fiorina, the telegenic former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. But they share a bond: Both are leading economic advisers of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and both have reputations as the kind of aggressive capitalists that may be sliding from favor as the nation’s economy edges toward recession.

The people who are actually quoted making such claims are leftist economists Robert Reich and Jared Bernstein. And deeper into the story, the article acknowledges, “to economists across the political spectrum, much of the criticism is unfair oversimplification.” So in other words, a few economists on the far left had lobbed ludicrous charges at McCain’s advisers, that even other liberal economists find laughable, and yet the Post runs a front page story that is packaged as if it’s an objective problem for McCain. The headline of the article is, “Economic Slump Underlines Concerns About McCain Advisers” rather than the much more accurate, “Liberal Economists Bash McCain Advisers.”

As it happens, I was a financial reporter back when Fiorina was pushing the contentious HP-Compaq merger, and I never thought it was a good idea, and wasn’t surprised when she was ousted because it was a failure. But it absolutely sickens me that the Post would engage in this sort of witch hunt for anybody with a business background.

You Never Got Me Down, Barack

Hillary Clinton drew headlines today by comparing herself to Philadephia's  favorite son Rocky Balboa, but I think a much more apt comparison is to "Raging Bull" Jake LaMotta.

Before he got his title shot, Rocky was squaring off against the likes of "Spider" Rico and collecting for a loan shark, while Clinton  once held  a 20 to 30 point lead over Obama for the nomination. The underdog role doesn't suit her well.

LaMotta, on the other hand, got beaten to a bloody pulp by Sugar Ray Robinson, had no chance to win, but refused  to fall out of stubbornness, and  the fight came to an end  only  after the ref intervened to stop it. Despite  getting pummeled, a bloody LaMotta  gloated to Robinson, "You never got me down, Ray."  That strikes me as a better metaphor for the current state of the Clinton campaign.      

A few additional notes:

— Barack Obama previously compared himself to Rocky in last fall's Philadelphia debate that became infamous for the drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants question that was the start of the Clinton collapse.

–In more bad news for Hillary, Rocky  himself has endorsed McCain, and Robert De Niro, who played LaMotta, supports Obama.

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McCain Visits His High School

ALEXANDRIA, VA — This morning Sen. John McCain visited Episcopal High School here, his alma mater, as part of his biographical “Service to America” tour highlighting important locations in his life.

It was at the school, McCain said, that a kid who had grown up traveling from one place to another due to his father’s naval career got to settle down in one place. He played football, tennis, and wrestled.

Much of his speech, as well as an introductory video, revolved around William B. Ravenal, an English teacher and football coach who was an inspirational figure in his life, and tought him about honor and the importance of service and sacrifice.

He used this as a jumping off point to not only relate some of his life experiences, but to emphasize his values and views on education. He especially focused on the honor code, which read, “I will not lie, I will not cheat, I will not steal.”

That was too much to handle for some in the audience, specifically, leftist blogger Jane Hamsher, who wrote, “He’s being introduced with a lot of elitist, ‘upholding a code of honor’ boarding school crap. Makes me want to go light up in the can.”

I never knew honesty could be so offensive.

McCain took some questions, most of which were softballs from students, who asked in various ways how his experiences at Episcopal shaped his life.

The event highlighted for me another way in which it might make it difficult for the Democrats to tie McCain to Bush. The narrative on Bush to those who dislike him is that he is a spoiled rich kid who was a failure at everything in life, dodged the draft, and got by because of his last name.

McCain, on the other hand, comes from a long line of Americans who have served this country bravely, and he spent some of the best years in his life suffering during his own service.

Jim Geraghty was also there.

More:

I thought this passage may be of interest to some of McCain’s conservative detractors who have been turned off by his temper:

I arrived here a pretty rambunctious boy, with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I was always the new kid, and was accustomed to proving myself quickly at each new school as someone not to be challenged lightly. As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life. In all candor, as an adult I’ve been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my years and station when I believe I’ve been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve. Self-improvement should be a work in progress all our lives, and I confess to needing it as much as anyone. But I believe if my detractors had known me at Episcopal they might marvel at the self-restraint and mellowness I developed as an adult. Or perhaps they wouldn’t quite see it that way.

The Fake Depression

Drudge links to this cover story from Britain’s Independent with a headline screaming, “USA 2008: The Great Depression,” which is atrocious.

It should be noted that recession technically occurs when there are two consecutive quarters of contraction in the economy, yet there is no evidence that this has been the case thus far. Last week, revised numbers pegged growth in the fourth quarter of 2007 at 0.6 percent — that’s slow, but it still is growth. The first quarter of this year ended yesterday, and perhaps when the initial GDP is released for the quarter it will show that the economy contracted, suggesting we are in fact in a recession. But that is a far cry from a depression. In 1930, the GDP sank 8.6 percent, and in the most severe year of the depression, 1932, it dropped 13 percent.

If you want to look at another factor-unemployment-the Independent looks even more silly. In 1930, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, and it reached as high as 24.9 percent in 1933. In February, the U.S. unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, which was once low enough to be considered “full employment” and actually lower than Britain’s.

I’m not even particularly bullish on the U.S. economy right now, and have significant concerns about the decline of the dollar. This headline served its purpose by drawing attention to itself. But this type of alarmism is utterly irresponsible. (And incidentally, the article itself, about a record number of Americans on food stamps, doesn’t mention anything about a depression).

Depressed About Paulson

He had me worried at “Market Stability Regulator.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Monday proposed a sweeping overhaul of nation’s financial regulations intended to update an outmoded patchwork of competing government agencies that currently oversee the banking sector and capital markets.

In a speech unveiling the “Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure,” Paulson insisted that the proposal had been in the works for a year and was not intended as a response to the current turmoil in the markets. He cautioned against making snap judgments.

“This is a complex subject deserving serious attention,” Paulson said. “Those who want to quickly label the Blueprint as advocating ‘more’ or ‘less’ regulation are over-simplifying this critical and inevitable debate.”

To be sure, it will take some time to fully assess the potential ramifications of the 212-page proposal, which is unlikely to be adopted in its entirety, if even in parts. There is no doubt room for changes that streamline government regulation and improve transparency for investors, but one aspect of the proposal — which sees a new role for the Federal Reserve Board as the “Market Stability Regulator” — is a cause for alarm.

Paulson said the new role would “replace the Fed’s more limited role of bank holding company supervision” and give it “enhanced regulatory authority” to deal with systemic risk.

“The Fed would have the authority to go wherever in the system it thinks it needs to go for a deeper look to preserve stability,” he declared.

He went on to say that the Fed would have the ability to “collect information” from “commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, commodity pool operators” and it would possess “broad powers and the necessary corrective authorities to deal with deficiencies that pose threats to our financial stability.”

THE IDEA OF creating a new Federal Reserve Board on steroids, with broad but ill-defined powers to jump in an out of the financial system like a character from The Matrix, is troubling.

Historically, government regulatory agencies are not known for showing restraint, and giving such discretionary power to a body that already operates independently and clandestinely is an added cause for concern.

Even if one assumes the best intentions from members of the Fed, we cannot forget that they are only human. As intelligent and well educated as they may be, they are just as capable of making mistakes as the clever bankers who bet billions on mortgage investments that turned sour.

Milton Friedman famously compared government intervening in the economy to “a fool in the shower” who turns the temperature from one extreme to another because of the lag time it takes for the water to respond to his previous adjustment. Friedman helped build his reputation by demonstrating that the Fed turned a recession into the Great Depression, by contracting the money supply by a third between 1930 and 1933.

When the economic history of this decade is written, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke may each come to resemble the fool in Friedman’s analogy.

Under Greenspan’s leadership, the Fed slashed interest rates 13 times from January 2001 to June 2003, bringing the federal funds rate from 6.5 percent to 1 percent, where it stayed until mid-2004. By keeping rates so low for so long, the Fed helped push mortgage rates to their lowest levels since the Eisenhower era. That spurred stratospheric growth in housing prices and created the easy money environment that allowed banks to issue increasingly risky loans.

BY JUNE 2004, the Fed became concerned about inflation, and so it embarked on a rate hiking campaign that brought the federal funds rate up to 5.25 percent two years later. Yet last September, in response to concerns that there was a liquidity crisis, the Fed under Bernanke began to cut rates again.

After six aggressive moves including one last month, the federal funds rate now stands at 2.25 percent. Given the weakness of the dollar, we can only guess how long it will be before the Fed will have to bring rates up again.

Paulson sees the Fed’s potential as a stabilizing force, but Fed members are not prophets who can predict precisely when markets are in the midst of an asset bubble.

In 2004, Greenspan wasn’t oblivious to the potential dangers posed by a housing bubble. He gave this issue great consideration, but ultimately concluded that it wasn’t a major concern because, “while local economies may experience significant speculative price imbalances, a national severe price distortion seems most unlikely in the United States, given its size and diversity.”

Greenspan and Bernanke, to their credit, understand the limitations of the Fed. As the Washington Post noted in 2005, they “have both said it is unrealistic to expect the Fed to identify a bubble in stock or real estate prices as it is inflating, or to be able to pop it without hurting the economy. Instead, the Fed should stand ready to mop up the economic aftermath of a bubble.”

Even in his speech announcing Treasury’s proposal to make the Fed into a market stabilizer, Paulson acknowledged that “No regulator can prevent all instability and market turmoil, and this one won’t either” and said he expected that “we will continue to go through periods of market stress every five to ten years.”

BUT PAULSON ONLY considers whether the super-regulator will fail to “prevent” a crisis, rather than whether it will make a crisis far more severe, as the Fed did in the 1930s, and as it arguably did in this decade.

Even though the Fed helped bring about the Great Depression, the economic catastrophe resulted in the body being given yet more power by politicians who concluded that the under-regulated free market had failed. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.