Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Real Truth Behind HR3200 and the Drastic Expansion of the Executive Branch

My rebuttal to Michael Connelly whose now famous blog can be found here:

I appreciate your article however I have to say, this kind of stuff is not only misleading but detrimental to the success of our nation. First any true constitutional scholar, and I've seen, met and spoken with a few, from institutions that are generally respected for their thoughts on constitutional law and executive power, can blow this lawyers argument out of the water.

Here's why:
Historians, Professors and constitutional scholars, all teach that the reason the constitution has achieved such success in creating and maintaining this country is not due to the fact that it was perfectly written the first time. Instead the brilliance of it and other legislation that founded this country is that it is a relatively flexible document that sets up checks and methods to amend and modify it. Other nations have created constitutions more effective than ours that have ultimately failed because they approached the matter of nationhood the wrong way. Therefore my argument is that despite your opinion on the actual Bill the "sweeping changes of power" are not a doomsday device that will spell the Death of America. Now that I've dismissed some charges from some of the more baseless commentators out there, I'd like to address some specifics Mr. Connelly outlined.

Unfortunately though before I can proceed with the details of the bill itself I have to address Mr. Connelly's not so coy comment, "To begin with, much of what has been said about the bill and its

implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are
saying. " It seems interesting to me that someone of his stature would entangle himself in the partisanship battlefield of modern media. This seems an easy target however what he is claiming is nothing groundbreaking. An Independent Research Firm, Pew Research has actually published some astonishing new data on the media. The details can be found here. http://people-press.org/report/543/ To summarize the report "The public’s assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans’ views of media bias and independence now match previous lows. " This report condemns all media and includes the go to source for his readership, Fox News.

Abortion has been one of the hottest and most divisive issues this country has faced since perhaps slavery. Small wonder than that Mr. Connelly decides to lead off with this issue. Politically speaking using hot button issues to defeat a bill that is much more expansive than one issue is brilliant. The interesting thing is that the actual bill never mentions the word abortion, not even once. Found here http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text. Not only is the word not mentioned there isn't a section dedicated to the action. In fact according to the IRL in a letter to the NRLC this is the section dealing with abortion:

(a) In General- A qualified health benefits plan that uses a provider network for items and services shall meet such standards respecting provider networks as the Commissioner may establish to assure the adequacy of such networks in ensuring enrollee access to such items and services and transparency in the cost-sharing differentials between in-network coverage and out-of-network coverage.

(b) Provider Network Defined- In this division, the term ‘provider network’ means the providers with respect to which covered benefits, treatments, and services are available under a health benefits plan.

Moving away from the debate about what the bill covers and doesn't cover, a think tank has published a report that proves that the reforms suggested in this bill "would have the ultimate effect of reducing the number of abortions in America." http://www.thirdway.org/products/241

To conclude I would just like to point out what most constitutional lawyers have conveyed of our former president who is regarded by many as a president who took drastically stretched the constitution and coveted more power for the executive branch, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/06/06/BL2006060600667.html. I bring this up to demonstrate that this is not the first president accused of expanding the executive branch, and in fact as any professor, and even conservative columnists will tell you most presidents have expanded their presidential power. http://blog.cleveland.com/pdextra/2008/05/truman_and_the_expansion_of_pr.html

For those of you still unsure why we need reform, The Economist has you covered.

This article shows how the rest of the world views our Health Care Reform efforts.

Eric Morel

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Iran's Next Revolution?

I feel it is necessary to explain why this is my latest post and what compelled me to write this. After checking my twitter feed and noticing how the elections in Iran were a trending topic I started to notice a pattern. First there was great anger and frustration being projected not just at the government of Iran but also at the American media for its scant coverage of the events that are occurring as I write. I have to say despite the negative atmosphere, these comments are conveying the fact that Americans are interested in Iran and disappointed in their media. This gives me hope that this nation still does demand more from its media and that people as a whole still take an interest in what goes on outside of America. None of this explains why I feel the need to write a post on Iran, but the fact is I fear that many of the people commenting on this issue are misplacing their optimism, and misunderstanding Iran and its complexities. To help explain this I have written a post with an extremely brief history and a projection for the future.

To quote Health Ledger in his infamous role as the Joker, “Where do we begin?” Iran has a relationship with the United States that it seems we were all to keen to forget. The reality is that at one point the United States and Iran had a very close relationship. In fact not only did we help instill the dictator that ruled before the Revolution we also gave him sustained support and towards the end amnesty. This begs the question why does Iran hate us if we had a working relationship with her? The fact is that the Shah (Iran’s King) passed through and enacted some reforms that created a great deal of resentment towards him. He created a high unemployment rate and was viewed by a good deal of the youth as a tyrant. The Shah’s acceptance of Westernization provided the fuel for the inevitable backlash. This coupled with the fact that he had “illegally” seized power back with his own coup in 1953 with the assistance of the CIA; only perpetuated his image as a “Puppet of the West”. This anger allowed more radical clerics and fundamentalists to harness the power of Iran’s large youth population and eventually resulted in the Iranian Revolution. The Iranian Revolution had two targets in its sight the Shah and the Great Satan (The United States). This is really the underlying cause of our tensions with Iran today.

Fast forwarding to this very hour, again youth take to the streets, attack the police, start fires and chant “Down with the Dictator”. Once more it seems a spirit of revolution is in the air fueled by an “illegitimate elections result”, and as history repeats itself Americans have fallen “in love” with the spirit of REVOLUTION just as they did during the Tiananmen Square Protests. It is this optimism that I regard with great suspicion. The Iranian people are not discarding the pillars of the previous Revolution, and are not chanting for a pure democracy. What is being protested is an election result between a somewhat more moderate candidate and a fundamentalist one. This is not a call for a complete overthrow; in fact the election results carry very little weight in the grand scheme of things. This chart should help demonstrate my point.

The real leader of Iran is the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council to a lesser degree. The fact that Khamenei has come out in support of the results creates a conundrum in Iran. Either Iran falls in line with his wishes, as it has done since the Revolution, or the dissenting voices strength forces the Ayatollah to demand a re-election or risk civil war. The second scenario is a stretch, however considering how unpredicted the first Revolution was it is a possibility. The real question is what reform any of the possible choices could bring.

98% of Iran is Muslim and that figure is not going to change. The leaders of the country are extremely conservative and have continued the same fundamentalist fervor that brought them to power. Most of the poor and peasants in Iran still show an overwhelming support of the radical president Ahmadinejad, and his power and populism is not something to be underestimated. The real dissent comes from the middle class and educated population. There is another country that tried a revolution with the backing of this group and it ended up in a Communist Republic instead of a Democratic system. I am referring to the Kadets who led the first Revolution in Russia and were quickly overthrown by the Bolsheviks. If history is to be the judge a successful revolution led by this group in Iran is highly unlikely.

As always would love comments and love to debate any of my points my email address is kremdond37@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An update? Burkean Approach to Gay-Marriage?

Yes, a real update this time. School is over and I have my time back again.
To start off this update I need you to read this great article from Jonathan Rauch.

http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/2009/04/not-whether-but-how-gay-marriage-and-the-revival-of-burkean-conservatism.html#trackback -----> link feature not working, sorry.

Below is my rebuttal, if you will, and is a copy of the email I sent to him.I would appreciate your comments and I will post his response if appropriate as an update.

Open Letter to Jonathan Rauch:
I first off need to confess that I am new to this issue and am a younger American (19), however I have been soaking up the information from both sides of the political spectrum and have immersed myself in the debate about gay marriage. I wrote this email to address an issue in regards to your article. The Economist helped direct me to your work, and I have to say it is refreshing to hear a voice like yours using facts and philosophy to compile a compelling argument. The issue I have with your article, is that you fail to address the real voice against gay-marriage, and more specifically prop8. I feel this issue also needs to take into account a fact you briefly mentioned but largely passed over, that the majority of the country is ready for this change. Furthermore, I question your idea that the current approach has helped "take the edge of the hysteria off the issue", in the past I would agree with you, however, the recent campaigns from both sides of Proposition 8 seem to tell a different tale.

Addressing my issues, I site a recent CBS news poll (http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/04/27/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry4972643.shtml) that argues that 42% support gay-marriage, 25% support civil unions, and only 28% support no legal recognition. I assume a man of your intelect would question this results, an indeed I am no way indicating that this is indicative of the nations views, after all 973 adults isn't necessarily a great reflection of over 300 million Americans. In addition this older survey finds contrasting results, (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1295.xml?ReleaseID=1194). I agree with your assertion that support for both sides is growing but If CBS's poll numbers continue to grow, and the nation as whole continues to grow in support for Gay-Marriage, at what point should the federal government declare it legal? Civil Unions is a huge compromise to gay rights activists as you rightly pointed out, however, the nation is more accepting of this scenario at this time which explains your support for this solution. I agree that civil unions will gain ground in the near future but looking beyond I see an interesting argument shaping against your Burkean approach.

Proposition 8 has hijacked the media of late and set fire to a powder keg issue. California, I fear, has become a staging ground for the rest of the large, more important states, especially NY. The debate in California has descended into Rove-ian politics with both sides using the media and questionable tactics to edge people's opinions. The side for prop8 has engaged in this debate with a vigor not seen since the Christian backing swept George W. Bush into office. Reports have surfaced that the main funding behind this incredible campaign was the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Mormons. Further reading has shown how this fundamentally different christian organization has created a strong coalition between other religions and even some Catholic Churches. Given that the debate is not playing out in a "what the people want" manner but more in a "persuading and dissuading forcefully" manner, I would have to say that your argument that this nation has and will take a Burkean approach to this issue is moot.

-Eric Morel

Friday, May 1, 2009

I promise I'll do a Real post soon

Felt Like supporting this creative marketing effort.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Summary of all April Fools Jokes for 2009


Take some time and visit the link, make sure you click on the different parts for more interactivity.ECONOLAND





List's of Pranks:

Monday, February 23, 2009

And So the Naiveity Continues

Short post this week, too stressed with finals, I wanted to leave a longer post about Terrorism and an excellent article I found about it, however I was so enraged by this week's events that I needed to say something.

First off, Someone please tell me why I seem to know more than Economic Professors, Teachers, and Journalists, Politicians, and of course business bankers!!!!!!

I'm getting ahead of myself lets back up a second. My story begins two years ago (keep in mind I was 17 and a junior in high school) as I was reading in the Economist about the current state of things and started noticing huge potential problems. This problem became the now well-known Subprime mortgage crisis. I realized right then that this new crisis where all sanity was lost in pursuit of short-term profits could sink our economy.
Granted I was wrong about the method's it would take, and being naive failed to understand the full complexity until I had conducted more research, however I did pickup on the fact that not only would this crisis crush our ballooned housing market and finally pop the false bubble that our lovely ex chairman of the federal reserve created to stem the losses from another ill conceived bubble. I rightly predicted that this would hurt banks and being very interested in the field figured that this would kill private equity, which at that time was actively engaged in turning around failing businesses (Chrysler).
My reasoning was that Private Equity required a massive amount of credit and leveraged debt to make their acquisitions and if the banks can't afford to lend them the money well then there would be no saving actions. As I previously mentioned I was naive and did not figure out the scope until a couple of months later, but I did predict a sort of credit crisis like the one we have found ourselves marred in today.
So over the next months I watched closely as the major banks Citi included took write-down’s totaling over $100 billion dollars and how much their over exposure to these investments had hurt the companies. I assumed others had paid attention to these articles as well, I was foolishly mistaken. So along came Bear Stearns and investor panic started forcing one company after another into what should have been bankruptcy. But no, our fading president had one last gift to us.
The president and his former hedge fund boss that now ran the Secretary of the Treasury considered the investment banks to large to fail and orchestrated a rescue selling these failing banks into and I quote as the newspaper's put it a "SAFE BANK". Who was this safe bank, JP Morgan and Chase. Now this process continued until the strategy became clear that the way out of this credit crisis and recession. (By the way I've been saying we are in a recession since last summer) So one by one failing businesses were absorbed by the only "safe banks" until we arrived with around four major banks controlling most of the investment and banking system.

Fast-forward to October, I attended a panel sponsored by RIT featuring economic professors from RIT, UofR, and other respectable organizations. Make no mistake these were educated, intelligent professionals. I listened to their opinion on the crisis and heard little to nothing new. There was the now redundant speech about how mortgages were sold as securities, rubberstamped by the bond companies and sold to corporations as secure securities. The panel continued explaining how the government had to intervene to save Bear Stearns, and by this time Merrill Lynch, AIG, the list goes on but I think you get the point. Finally it was question time and I got right up in front of the microphone and asked my simple, common sense question, Why are we assuming that these "Safe banks" who have had billions in write downs are equipped or even stable enough to handle these toxic assets? The response well they are safe and it has to be done. I wouldn't take no for an answer so I went up to the speakers and talked to a very bright Professor and Writer, about my fears. He explained to me that there was really no chance of these institutions failing.
WAIT am I Hearing this right Citi faces the prospect of Nationalization today, and I saw this coming when the experts didn't. Dear God, we are screwed.
This brings us to today and I have to say I am enraged, even more so than when the first bailouts were announced, we bailed out these companies that purposely structured their company's growth around risky short term investments, that were not only foolish but dangerous, and we have provided TRILLIONS of dollars to these same failing companies. WHAT???!!!
I just have to say I am extremely disappointed with the current situation and irritated at the doomsday talk of now two administrations that offers but one solution. I really would like to know what are your parameters for success of these bailouts because so far we have hundreds of billions of dollars un-accounted for and those same companies are still asking for money.
There is however a bright spot. Bank of America has started paying bank the interest to the federal government on a loan they received. Maybe we can have one "safe bank."

Eric Morel

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time to Applaud the ICC


The warrant has finally been issued and it should be carried out. Omar Al Bashir has demonstrated his complete indifference and lack of empathy for the genocide in Darfur, which if foreign intelligence is to believe he has orchestrated and managed, and furthermore with his appointees and cabinet positions given to members of the JanJaweed has provided more evidence of his unwavering resilience and defiance of the international community. Bashir deserves to be tried by the court. For further information here is an essay I wrote last year that details the complexity of the problem.
(Keep in mind that this was written in the spring so the part dealing with the Olympics is outdated, however the rest and the part about the UN mission is still unfortunately accurate.)

What does the Olympics, Oil, China, Warren Buffet, and the first ever trillion dollar company, have in common? The answer is not a trick question in fact it can all be summed up with one word that ties together these five things. For over fire years now the most inhumane and brutal conflict has engulfed the western region of Sudan. The scope of this conflict is so great that the US congress passed a unanimous bill declaring it genocide. Due to the muddied intelligence that Khartoum has provided the death toll has been placed at between 200,000 and 400,000 with some groups claiming half a million people have died. This would seem like a perfect place to use the saying “history repeats itself”, however this genocide is different from the one that ravaged Rwanda a decade and a half ago. It is more complicated than just one group attacking another, because of the various rebel groups involved. It started when the Sudanese government armed the Janjaweed militia unofficially to combat the threat that it felt the various rebel groups posed to its government. This was an ill-informed and poorly thought out idea, especially considering the fact that the Janjaweed have been known since the 1990’s for their intense hate and several massacres involving brutal killings and rapes. However instead of fighting the rebel groups the Janjaweed instead launched a war against civilians and aided by the Sudanese government have continued to bomb, gun down, and burn, hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees, and civilians.
In a few months the world will huddle around TV sets and flock to Beijing for what is to be the main showcasing of China for the entire world to see. China hopes to display itself as a world leader and a powerful nation, with a successful economy and a proud heritage. To accomplish this China has invested upwards of 30 billion dollars into making stadiums updating transportation, and promoting the 2008 Olympics. China not only plans on making a huge multi billion dollar profit from the 08 Olympics but also has staged the Olympics to show the world the “real” China, the China that has evolved from the brutal days of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, into the world economic power that it has become following those dreadful Communistic years. This is China’s hope, but if the world unites under this proposed plan China could face serious problems. Hosting the Olympics is always a risky business. In an age where the internet and video games have stolen profits from TV and Radio; the Olympics have been struggling to remain the huge attraction that it has always been. As has been proven by past recent failures the hosting city does not always make a profit, sometimes they are launched into deficit. This was the case with Athens and could well be the case of Beijing.
So where is the connection between the Olympics and Sudan? Well, Sudan has paid for this genocide with money that it has made from its oil exports, and the number one buyer of these exports buying over 2/3 of all oil exported is China. China has consistently funded the genocide indirectly by its massive importation of Sudanese oil. In addition to the oil funding the genocide china also sells nearly 2 billion dollars of armaments to countries around the world, including Darfur. The company directly responsible for dealings in Darfur is China’s state run PetroChina Corporation which at its initial public offering (IPO), it managed to become the world’s first trillion dollar company.
Warren Buffet is seen as one of the most generous men in this world, and indeed he is. However his company owned which he controls over 33% of owned over 1.3% of PetroChina, which translates into over 3 BILLION DOLLARS! After activists targeted him and his company he sold nearly all of his shares and PetroChina’s value fell over 40%. This is proof that it does not necessarily take an army to stop genocide. Despite this finding it will take and army one that the UN-and AU have assembled that will be the largest humanitarian relief operation in the world. This mission has encountered enormous difficulties so far as both China and Russia kept vetoing the mission, and then Sudan has interfered and even attacked troops. As of today the mission has been deployed but its success is still hampered by massive amounts of opposition being levied against it by China, Russia, and Sudan.

For more information check out this activist website savedarfur.org
and the official website of the UN’s mission http://www.unmis.org/English/darfur.htm
and for a comprehensive overview http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3496731.stm

So to wrap all this up, I am tired of hearing that if we arrest Omar Al Bashir Sudan will descend into civil war between the South and the North. The fact is, is that the treaty is working and the S. Sudanese government has asserted control and stayed out of Darfur's conflict. Yes, there is the controversy the Somali pirates uncovered with the weapons shipment, but overall I feel that the argument for not arresting Bashir because it will plunge the country into civil war, is not only groundless but is counterproductive

By: Eric Morrel

Do marketers know what their commercials are supposed to accomplish?

So over the past couple of months you may have noticed a new commercial featuring two guys with a guitar singing a catchy rock song. The commercial is designed to encourage people to visit the website freecreditreport.com. And the lyrics of the song provide evidence as to why one should go to the site. So far the spots have featured knights, pirates, renaissance fairs, and valet attendants. The ad is done well, it is catchy its got favorable reviews the singers are actually comedians; it has YouTube hits and numerous blogs quoting. The ad has even made it into popular late night TV, with mentions by Stephen Colbert and other comedians. The jingle is well-balanced countering the message with the site, and avoiding over jamming the site name down a persons throat. So what is it that I do not like about this ad? The problem is this ad seems to be targeted to GenX and GenY consumers, however rather than offering a free product and creating an ad to drive traffic and promote the parent company the ad simply says at the end "offer applies with enrollment in triple AAA advantage enrolment". Am I missing something you are directing young people and potential customers to a website and then telling them that they need to buy an insurance with your company in order to use this service. This is the problem the advertising agency has crafted a well-done ad that promotes the service and entertains, however the service they are selling is poorly organized and wrongfully targeted. Love to get your feedback on this one, I did some research and Adweek has not done any reports so I can only speculate as to how successful this commercial is in terms of revenue, however as I have pointed out I highly doubt that it has accomplished for AAA what it was intended to.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chechnya, Russia and WHAT!


So I came upon this article, and I got to thinking about two different things. The first is that it is well known that Putin, (current leader by all measures), rose to power and popularity by brutally repressing, and destroying, the Chechnya Insurgency. This article fits perfectly in with the time line, and despite the fact that they did not mention it, it is kind of clear that Putin would of put this butcher-er, president, in charge of Chechnya. So this got me to thinking, how could the West be so naive to believe that we could turn a person like Putin simply with Capitalism? The idea's of Capitalization have wrongfully been mixed with the idea's of liberalism. The second observation I notice is that Russia is largely regarded as the greatest threat to the United States, them and China, and with the exception of the brief eight years that the Bush administration distracted the world with the idea that Terrorists were our greatest threat, most politicians and academia agree that Russia, and China are our two greatest threats. The thing I find interesting is that China may not be as big of a threat as we have previously estimated at least not in the short term. My feeling is that Russia is going to be extremely dangerous because if my prediction is right it will follow vaguely in Iran's footsteps. Iran became a threat after flirting with Capitalism and watching the market destroy their economy and prop up a corrupt and ruthless leader. From there the Islamic Extremism and Nationalism took over, and the rest is history, with the exception of N.K. few nations despise and distrust the west so much.

The problem in Russia is not that their leader is raping the population, however Russia has become a nation deeply invested in Capitalism and due to failures of it's own and the current collapse of the world's financial system and conversely a devastating downturn in the Capitalist market, Russia is being set on a path, that could prove challenging and dangerous for the United States. Russia's economy foolishly built on oil, has crumbled and the lack of divestment has forced Russia once rich Oligarchs to surrender to the Government as the state attempts to save the economy via a Nationalizing Agenda. The danger lies in the fact that the State, Russia, now inherits a modernized and efficient industry and because of its current history with Capitalism, it appears that Russia is backsliding into its Nationalistic Communist self. The recent events and undertakings that the Russian government has enacted, (Georgia, Ukraine Gas, NATO Missile, Darfur, Iran, Radiation poisoned Spy's), have only added further evidence that Russia has taken a more combative stance with the West and have sought to further Russia's interest above all. Fueled by his popularity Vladimir Putin has effectively set up a system where he has the final say, and is the main orchestrator in all of Russia's actions. So to conclude my thoughts, it is wise to learn from this article, two things, one that Russia under Putin has no limits as to the brutality it will employ to achieve its ends. The second is that Russia is a threat and that balancing that threat diplomatically will become crucial within the next few years, and Russia's power needs to be limited, it is simply unacceptable that Russia can literally bring the EU to it's knees via it's power over natural gas and oil.

The last thing I noticed in an unrelated manner is how underreported Islamic rebellions are against Repressive regimes. Western Media has all but ignored the plight of the Uyghur’s and Chechnya is mentioned just as rarely. Throw this in with the coverage of the current Palestinian conflict and a trend emerges. This is not to say that these rebellions are any better or that their methods are acceptable, rather it is being said to shine light on the disproportionate attention and sympathy the west dedicates. For further reference consider the way the West reacted to Tibet during China's Olympics, when it was clear that the events were not peaceful and were actually an anarchic battle waged