Archive for February, 2008

Congress v. Clemens

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The New York Times reports that Congress has officially asked the Justice Department to investigate Roger Clemens who faces possible perjury charges.  Read the article here.

Given our current political, economic, and national security environments, one would think that Congress would have better things to do with their time.  Congressional democrats and republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

This investigation is more about political posturing than it is about the veracity of Clemens’ testimony or the dangers of steroid use.  Steroids are illegal without a prescription.  If Congress were serious about enforcing the law, it could easily do so without hearings, grandstanding and testimony.

There was no need for a Mitchell Report, and there’s even less need for the political food fight that’s being waged to attack or defend on party lines.  Congress — and Chairman Waxman especially — have overstepped boundaries defined by both the law and by common sense.

Guilty or not (of perjury or steroid use), Roger Clemens does not deserve to be used as a pawn in a political brawl.  More importantly, we should hold members of Congress accountable for recklessly destroying a man’s reputation.

Steroid use is not a matter of National Security.  Steroid use does not affect the health and vitality of our economy.  Steroid use has nothing to do with a whole host of problems we’re faced with in the country.  And yet, our elected officials are ruining lives while wasting our time and money.

When will we make them stop?

The Chosen One

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

“One of us is ready to be commander in chief,” Hillary Clinton told a crowd in New York. “Let’s get real. Let’s get real about this election, let’s get real about our future, let’s get real about what it is we can do together.”

Senator Clinton is certain that she’s smarter than any of us.  That’s why she’s decided that Obama isn’t ready to be president.  I’m no Obama fan, but last time I checked, it wasn’t up to Mrs. Clinton to choose our next president.  It’s up to all of us.

Mrs. Clinton is also so smart that she has a plan to end what she calls the “foreclosure crisis”.  You can check out her press release here.   Personally, I think the whole idea of intervening in one of the largest segments of our economy is particularly arrogant.  If Mrs. Clinton successfully ends the banking industry’s ability to foreclose on loans in default, she essentially eliminates the collateral that determines (in part) the cost the borrower pays for the loan.  In other words, mortgages become similar to credit card debt.  Have you checked interest rates on credit cards recently?  How many potential home buyers will be forced out of the market when faced with higher mortgage interest rates?  What happens to the housing market then?

But alas, I’m an idiot.  As Clinton strategist Mark Penn points out “she is the only person in this race who is both ready to be commander in chief and she is the only one with a real plan for managing the economy” (emphasis mine).  I always thought that our economy was market-driven, and I always thought that it functioned reasonably well when left alone.  We are the wealthiest nation on earth, after all.  A market-driven economy seems to experience hiccups only when government gets involved.  But Mrs. Clinton is so smart that she’ll manage the economy for us.

There have been smart people in several communist countries that have tried to do something similar, but those smart people always failed.  Mrs. Clinton will show the world that she is indeed the smartest person to ever reign in history.  And she’s humble too.

Train Wreck

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

In shameless, lazy fashion, I’ll let Ann do all of the talking on this most important point. Check it out:

How to Keep Reagan Out of Office
by Ann Coulter

Inasmuch as the current presidential election has come down to a choice among hemlock, self-immolation or the traditional gun in the mouth, now is the time for patriotic Americans to review what went wrong and to start planning for 2012.

How did we end up with the mainstream media picking the Republican candidate for president?

It isn’t the early primaries, it isn’t that we allow Democrats to vote in many of our primaries, and it isn’t that the voters are stupid. All of that was true or partially true in 1980 — and we still got Ronald Reagan.

We didn’t get Ronald Reagan this year not just because there’s never going to be another Reagan. We will never again get another Reagan because Reagan wouldn’t run for office under the current campaign-finance regime.

Three months ago, I was sitting with a half-dozen smart, successful conservatives whose names you know, all griping about this year’s cast of presidential candidates. I asked them, one by one: Why don’t you run for office?

Of course, none of them would. They are happy, well-adjusted individuals.

Reagan, too, had a happy life and, having had no trouble getting girls in high school, had no burning desire for power. So when the great California businessman Holmes Tuttle and two other principled conservatives approached Reagan about running for office, Reagan said no.

But Tuttle kept after Reagan, asking him not to reject the idea out of hand. He formed “Friends of Reagan” to raise money in case Reagan changed his mind.

He asked Reagan to give his famous “Rendezvous With History” speech at a $1,000-a-plate Republican fundraiser in Los Angeles and then bought airtime for the speech to be broadcast on TV days before the 1964 presidential election.

The epochal broadcast didn’t change the election results, but it changed history. That single broadcast brought in nearly $1 million to the Republican Party — not to mention millions of votes for Goldwater.

After the astonishing response to Reagan’s speech and Tuttle’s continued entreaties, Reagan finally relented and ran for governor. In 1966, with the help, financial and otherwise, of a handful of self-made conservative businessmen, Reagan walloped incumbent Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, winning 57 percent of the vote in a state with two Democrats for every Republican.

The rest is history — among the brightest spots in all of world history.

None of that could happen today. (The following analysis uses federal campaign-finance laws rather than California campaign-finance laws because the laws are basically the same, and I am not going to hire a campaign-finance lawyer in order to write this column.)

If Tuttle found Ronald Reagan today, he couldn’t form “Friends of Reagan” to raise money for a possible run — at least not without hiring a battery of campaign-finance lawyers and guaranteeing himself a lawsuit by government bureaucrats. He’d also have to abandon his friendship with Reagan to avoid the perception of “coordination.”

Tuttle couldn’t hold a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Reagan — at least in today’s dollars. That would be a $6,496.94-a-plate dinner (using the consumer price index) or a $19,883.51-a-plate dinner (using the relative share of GDP). The limit on individual contributions to a candidate is $2,300.

Reagan’s “Rendezvous With History” speech would never have been broadcast on TV — unless Tuttle owned the TV station. Independent groups are prohibited from broadcasting electioneering ads 60 days before an election.

A handful of conservative businessmen would not be allowed to make large contributions to Reagan’s campaign — they would be restricted to donating only $2,300 per person.

Under today’s laws, Tuttle would have had to go to Reagan and say: “We would like you to run for governor. You are limited to raising money $300 at a time (roughly the current limits in 1965 dollars), so you will have to do nothing but hold fundraisers every day of your life for the next five years in order to run in the 1970 gubernatorial election, since there clearly there isn’t enough time to raise money for the 1966 election.”

Also, Tuttle would have to tell Reagan: “We are not allowed to coordinate with you, so you’re on your own. But wait — it gets worse! After five years of attending rubber chicken dinners every single day in order to raise money in tiny increments, you will probably lose the election anyway because campaign-finance laws make it virtually impossible to unseat an incumbent.

“Oh, and one more thing: Did you ever kiss a girl in high school? Not even once? If not, then this plan might appeal to you!”

Obviously, Reagan would have returned to his original answer: No thanks.

Reagan loved giving speeches and taking questions from voters. The one part of campaigning Reagan loathed was raising money. Thanks to our campaign-finance laws, fundraising is the single most important job of a political candidate today.

This is why you will cast your eyes about the nation in vain for another Reagan sitting in any governor’s mansion or U.S. Senate seat. Pro-lifers like to ask, “How many Einsteins have we lost to abortion?” I ask: How many Reagans have we lost to campaign-finance reform?

The campaign-finance laws basically restrict choice political jobs, like senator and governor — and thus president — to:

(1) Men who were fatties in high school and consequently are willing to submit to the hell of running for office to compensate for their unhappy adolescences — like Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. (Somewhere in this great land of ours, even as we speak, the next Bill Clinton is waddling back to the cafeteria service line asking for seconds.)

(2) Billionaires and near-billionaires — like Jon Corzine, Steve Forbes, Michael Bloomberg and Mitt Romney — who can fund their own campaigns (these aren’t necessarily sociopaths, but it certainly limits the pool of candidates).

(3) Celebrities and name-brand candidates — like Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Bush, Giuliani and Hillary Clinton (which explains the nation’s apparent adoration for Bushes and Clintons — they’ve got name recognition, a valuable commodity amidst totalitarian restrictions on free speech).

(4) Mainstream media-anointed candidates, like John McCain and B. Hussein Obama.

What a bizarre coincidence that a few years after the most draconian campaign-finance laws were imposed via McCain-Feingold, our two front-runners happen to be the media’s picks! It’s uncanny — almost as if by design! (Can I stop now, or do you people get sarcasm?)

By prohibiting speech by anyone else, the campaign-finance laws have vastly magnified the power of the media — which, by the way, are wholly exempt from speech restrictions under campaign-finance laws. The New York Times doesn’t have to buy ad time to promote a politician; it just has to call McCain a “maverick” 1 billion times a year.

It is because of campaign-finance laws like McCain-Feingold that big men don’t run for office anymore. Little men do. And John McCain is the head homunculus.

You want Reagan back? Restore the right to free speech, and you will have created the conditions that allowed Reagan to run.

Politics 102

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

For an idea of how left-leaning socialists see their role in government, check out this article in today’s New York Times.

Don’t you just love political elitism? Don’t you just want to be a part of the ruling class? Oh God, I wish I could get in the club…

Here’s my favorite part: “The issues party leaders are grappling with, they said, include how to avoid the perception of a back-room deal that thwarts the will of millions of voters” (emphasis mine). It appears that Party (capital P) leaders don’t want to avoid a back-room deal — they only want to avoid the perception of one.

Has anyone taken the time to review how the democrat primary process works? I doubt it…that would require effort that would burst the Kool-Aid induced bubble of socialist euphoria. If the tone of that last sentence seems a bit harsh, rest assured that it is — deliberately. If one supports a particular party or candidate, and one doesn’t have a clue as to what that candidate or party stands for, or how that party operates, then it is fair to be harsh.

Let’s just leave it at this: the rules allow for the entire primary voting process to be made into a sham. “Super-delegates” and in some cases, delegates, can do just about anything they choose. And as our last look at this charade made clear, this issue is not lost on the candidates (who are pumping campaign dollars into the delegate coffers).

Nice, isn’t it? If you and I pay off the government clerk to do something quickly for us, we face potential jail time. But our “leaders” can buy off delegate votes with individual campaign contributions.

Ahhhh…the smell of hypocrisy in the morning…

Politics 101

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Is this even representative of a republic?

Take some time to learn more about how the primary process works on the democrat side of the aisle.  I’m not advocating the republican method (I think both primary systems suck), but the democrats have really managed to butcher the process.

Look for lawsuits out the whazoo as the primary season comes to a close.  This time, it won’t be Bush v. Gore — it’ll be Clinton v. Obama.  And here’s the perfect part: one side is going to hijack the winning arguments presented before the Supreme Court by the Bush team.

Isn’t life grand?

Check this out for a preview of just a small part of the basis for litigation:

Superdelegates get campaign cash
Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor February 14, 2008 03:54 PM

Many of the superdelegates who could well decide the Democratic presidential nominee have already been plied with campaign contributions by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a new study shows.

“While it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials serving as superdelegates have received about $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years,” the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reported today.

About half the 800 superdelegates — elected officials, party leaders, and others — have committed to either Clinton or Obama, though they can change their minds until the convention.

Obama’s political action committee has doled out more than $694,000 to superdelegates since 2005, the study found, and of the 81 who had announced their support for Obama, 34 had received donations totaling $228,000.

Clinton’s political action committee has distributed about $195,000 to superdelegates, and only 13 of the 109 who had announced for her have received money, totaling about $95,000.

Broke is temporary; poor is a a state of mind

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

The headline is a phrase many are familiar with, but I felt compelled to repeat it when commenting on Trent’s post at The Simple Dollar. Take a moment to read it here and you’ll understand why.

I have been broke many, many times in my life. I can honestly say I have never been poor. In times of extreme financial crisis (and believe me, I’ve been there), even then (!) I always knew that my circumstances would improve and my setback was temporary.

When it comes to life, we don’t have the luxury of wallowing around in our own self pity while blaming others or outside circumstances for our lot. Each one of us has to remember that “this is MY life, dammit, and I’m NOT going to let X, Y, or Z ruin it!”

Nothing and nobody has a right to control your destiny and your happiness. Nothing and nobody except you, of course…

Trent makes some good points — go check out his post.

New Stuff

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

It’s been a few days since the last post. There’s a reason for this emptiness in our collective lives, and I’d like to explain:

I started Motivated Performance as a purely selfish exercise. Yes, I wanted to see how many subscribers and readers I could attract, and yes, I wanted to learn more about “monetizing” a blog. But my main purpose was to simply get thoughts down “on paper”.

By writing about subjects that interest me, I learn more about the subjects that interest me. This is an exercise that serves me first and others second. (Selfish, I know…)

But the “serve others” part isn’t working out in a way I’m happy with. There are lots of sites that focus on personal development and improvement and some a very good. I try to keep tabs on both the good and the bad to learn about the subject (my main interest) while also learning about delivering the message (my secondary objective).

Unfortunately, folks that write for a living have to make a living. (That is the point, right?) To do so, these otherwise good writers use the latest techniques and “methods” to drive readership and subscription numbers. I do not write for a living (I’d be broke), but I have noticed a trend amongst those that do: the “list”.

A numbered or bulleted list is allegedly the sure-fire way to deliver the message (and thus attract readers). This may or may not be true, but it’s been deemed “effective” in the blogosphere. As a result, posts that might otherwise contain great ideas delivered in a great manner are turned into “lists” in the hopes of ending up on the front page of some social networking site. Yuk.

It’s particularly troubling to see this kind of behavior in a niche that’s allegedly focused on individuality and creative self improvement. As a group, the writers and readers that are interested in improving their lives are not supposed to behave like a bunch of lemmings.

I’m not interested in conforming to these “latest” ideas and/or methods, and I’m not interested in producing work that looks like everyone else’s work. I’m also not going to work to “stay focused” on a specific topic (personal development) when the subject matter seems to be suffering a degree of commoditization. Wow…I hope that’s a word.

As such, a lot will stay the same here, but some stuff is going to change. First, a redesign is in order. I threw this site together in days with the help of a web designer/developer. I think he did a good job (given the time constraints and that he had to work with a neophyte like me), but an update is in order. It’s coming.

Second, the purpose of the initial exercise has been accomplished. In the first 30 days of this site’s existence, I did what I set out to do. We’ll continue posting on personal development and self improvement, but we’re also going to post on just about anything we want.

Much of this will revolve around current events. Individually, we really can’t produce much change in the world (with rare exceptions). But collectively, if we’re on top of “what’s happening”, and if we take the time to educate ourselves, we can change a lot. Power shifts from the governed (where it belongs) to the government when we get lazy. Let’s not be lazy.

So! Get ready for a change. Actually, get ready for a couple of changes. It’s going to be fun!