Remember a couple of years back, when Bill and Hillary Clinton were forced to return about $50,000 of gifts they had packed up for Chappaqua, because the givers had intended the gifts for the White House and not for the personal use of the former First Couple? That attempted looting of the White House was not the only example of the Clintons’ unquenchable sense of entitlement. Their willingness to bypass ethical and legal niceties in return for material advancement is again on display, this time in a new report by the House Government Reform Committee, which concludes that the Clintons underestimated the value of dozens of gifts they received and failed to disclose others. In addition to the already long list of outrageous actions by both Clintons–lying before a grand jury, last-minute pardons to a sleazy cast of criminals linked to wealthy donors, the travel-office firings, Mrs. Clinton’s lost billing records, the Whitewater scandal, the abuse of the Lincoln Bedroom for fund-raising, etc.–now we have this.
The Clintons’ full haul over eight years was $400,000 worth of gifts–everything from art to antiques to a 1934 check signed by Harry Truman–and included over $75,000 of furniture, china and silver given to them in the last month of their White House occupancy. It seems the last-minute windfall came about when donors were made to understand that, come January 2001, Mrs. Clinton would be sworn in as a United States Senator and would fall under strict rules about accepting gifts. The House investigators also report that a registry in Mrs. Clinton’s name was set up at Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry and Gifts in Omaha, through which $38,617 of china and silverware made its way to the Senator-elect.
But it was the Clintons’ creative approach to estimating the value of gifts that drew the most interest during the year-long investigation. The couple estimated gifts to be worth under $260–the threshold for reporting them on disclosure statements–when in fact they were worth far more. Examples include a Tiffany silver necklace, a black leather Coach Bag and a set of Spalding golf clubs. One motive in underestimating the value is that one does not have to reveal the name of the giver. Gifts that the Clintons “misplaced” or never reported include a gold saxophone pin, an Oriental rug, a gold bracelet, a satin handbag, a bottle of 1959 Rothschild wine, a gold-and-pearl brooch, a crystal bowl and many others–together worth tens of thousands of dollars.
What to make of the Clintons’ grabby romp? It seems the Clintons used the Presidency as a device to furnish their two large homes–houses they bought with money from their multimillion-dollar contracts for books about the behavioral lapses they displayed during eight years in Washington.
All of this points to the contempt in which Bill and Hillary Clinton hold the Americans who elected them President and Senator. For all of their self-righteous oratory, their actions are pure trailer-trash. Do these people have no shame?
Mayor Bloomberg: Don’t Cop Out
Few would envy Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s dilemma as he put together his first-ever city budget. No doubt it was hard enough making the adjustment from private citizen to the city’s first magistrate. Making matters even worse, he had all of six weeks to figure out a way of balancing the city’s books at a time when New York’s finances have taken a terrible hit.
Clearly, Mr. Bloomberg had to make some serious cuts in services in order to close a $4.7 billion budget gap. And there have been howls of protest over some of those cuts. But one cut deserves to be shouted down: The Mayor has proposed reducing, by attrition, the Police Department by 1,600 officers. That’s the wrong signal to send at a time when many people are worried that the city’s gains during the 1990’s may evaporate in the new age that began on Sept. 11.
Under the current budget, which runs through June, the Police Department head count is 40,710 uniformed officers. Retirement and resignations, however, have left the actual strength at less than 39,000. Mr. Bloomberg proposes what may seem like an easy cut, by establishing the department’s strength at 39,110. In essence, he won’t replace most of the officers who have left in recent months.
Such a solution seems painless, but it is foolhardy. If New York is to regain momentum, it has to persuade jittery businesses and residents and tourists that they are as safe as they were during the Rudolph Giuliani era, that the thugs have been routed. An increase in crime, coming at a time of budget cuts and calls for sacrifice, would be a disaster.
The best way to keep crime down, as Mayor Giuliani demonstrated, is to keep police head-count up. The omnipresence of men and women in blue not only makes law-abiding citizens and tourists feel secure, it discourages criminals from plying their trade. Keeping the police at full strength is politically, fiscally and psychologically vital to the city’s future.
Sleep Less, Live Longer
Sleep is something of an obsession for New Yorkers. Most complain that they don’t get enough of it, that their lives would improve drastically if only they were able to squeeze in an extra hour or two of sack time. But new research suggests that doing so may be dangerous to your health.
According to a controversial study published in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry , people actually live longer if they get just six or seven hours of sleep per night, rather than eight or more hours. In a study of 1.1 million adults, ages 30 to 102, researchers found that those who slept eight hours were 12 percent more likely to die within six years than those who got 6.5 to 7.5 hours.
It may be that New Yorkers intuitively know this. After all, this is the city of the 24-hour economy, with the 6 a.m. jog around Central Park, the 10 p.m. dinner and the midnight movie. Those who insist on sleeping eight-plus hours may be missing out on something. And everyone knows that too much sleep dulls the mind, and leads to lethargy and crazy talk of how nice it would be to live in San Francisco or Boston.
So stop worrying about not getting enough sleep. Those dark circles under your eyes are a badge of fitness.