Open Chat... All Day, Every Day! Express Your Views, Debate, and Challenge the Views of Others!

In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30, 2012 - Morning Headlines

UPDATE: The Recent Comments function (right side of the blog) is back. Hopefully it's now easier to keep track of conversations and who replies to whom.

- After 21 hours of negotiating, the assembly in charge of drafting Egypt's new constitution gave its final approval. The new supreme law of the land needs to be approved by the citizens of Egypt (CNN):

- Recent satellite images show that North Korea could be ready to test launch a new rocket (Fox News):

- In a much anticipated move, the Supreme Court is meeting today to decide if it should take up the issue of gay marriage sooner rather than later (CBS News):

- Suspected US whistle blower and Wikileaks information supplier Bradley Manning speaks at a hearing for the first time (ABC News):

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Two winning Powerball tickets were sold yesterday, one in Arizona and one in Missouri. The winners have not yet stepped forward to claim their prizes, and the Powerball winning numbers were 5-23-16-22-29 with a Powerball number of 6 (CNN):

- California Senator and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Diane Feinstein commissioned a report that claims the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba can be closed down and its inmates, most of whom are terror suspects, can be transferred safely to prisons on American soil (Fox News):

- Speaker of the House, John Boehner has rejected a recent call by representative Tom Cole (R-OK) to simply extend the Bush Era Tax Cuts for those making < $250,000 per year while letting higher income earners' tax cuts to expire (NBC News):

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Listen to LME on OpinioNation Tonight!

After a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, I'll be back with the normal OpinioNation crew. Listen to me, LME, @KurtSchlichter, @GayPatriot, @CaAmyO, and host @Jon_Rollings at 11pm EST tonight. We can be heard at our NEW online radio show link:

As usual, it's going to be fun, fiery, and fast paced... You'll definitely want to call in. If you'd like to, please do so at 877-297-8022. And of course, feedback on the segment is greatly appreciated.

November 28, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Republicans, citing a CBO report, claim that President Obama's plan to increase tax revenue by raising tax rates on the wealthy does very little to shrink the budget deficit (Fox News):

- Two seemingly coordinated car bombs ripped through a Damascus suburb on Wednesday killing 34 and injuring many more (CBS News):

- Thousands of Egyptian protesters remained in Tahir Square and stayed over night in continual protest of Mohamed Morsy's recent decree granting him virtual immunity from the country's courts (CNN):

- As Powerball fever grows because of the $500 million jackpot, CNN reminds us of how low are chances of winning are:

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Attention Democrats: There is a Difference Between Asking and Forcing

With all the recent talk about the "fiscal cliff" and tax revenues, I've noticed a political "framing" that is central to the left's attempt to sell tax increases on the wealthy. It comes down to one simple notion:

Just ask.

It shouldn't be news to anyone that Obama, even well before his reelection victory, has been touting a consistent tax policy of "tax the rich." As any reader of this blog knows, I'm vehemently opposed to this and any progressive tax rate system with respect to economics, fairness, and democracy grounds. Of course, I've summarized the fairness issue in this article from April, 2012. Regardless, as I said, team Obama and the left like to frame this "tax the rich" issue as if it's a simple request. He has said, time and time again, that part of his tax policy approach is to "ask the rich to pay a little more."

How convenient. It sounds nice. It sounds warm and fuzzy. The word "ask" sounds as if we're all drinking buddies, and we're simply requesting a favor: "I don't mean to impose, but I'm low on cash today, can you please pay for my beer?" On top of that, if were truly a measure of asking, if the rich were to squirm or rebel or protest, well, it gives the non-rich citizens of this country, who comprise the vast majority, another reason to loathe them.

November 27, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Update: Did you know that you can receive emails notifying you of when someone replies to a comment you made? It's simple: If you're logged in to a blogger account, when you leave a comment (via a regular comment or a reply), a "subscribe by email" link becomes available on the lower right side of the gray comment box. When someone replies, you will receive an email notification.

- Current US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, is scheduled to meet with three top Senate republicans today. Rice is President Obama's most likely nomination to the soon-to-be vacated Secretary of State cabinet position (Fox News):

- The remains of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were exhumed by scientists Tuesday in an effort to determine his precise cause of death (ABC News):

- The states of New York and New Jersey claim Hurricane Sandy will cost $71.3 billion. Some of the costs comprise building infrastructure to prepare for future storms (NBC News):

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Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Egypt's president Mohamed Morsy plans to meet with members of Egypt's court today after decreeing that the judiciary cannot overturn any law he issues until a new constitution is passed. This has angered many judges in the country as it is being viewed as a power grab (CNN): 

- As President Obama's second term inauguration nears, the rush to fill so-to-be vacant cabinet positions is on (ABC News):

- A leading Islamic cleric in Gaza, Suleiman al-Daya, has stated that the newly minted cease fire between Hamas and Israel should not be broken, and doing so would be a "sin" (CBS News):

- A would be robber died after being confronted by a security guard and employees at a Walmart in Georgia (NBC News):

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! - From The Elephant in the Room

Good morning,

I just wanted to leave a simple note before the Thanksgiving holiday. The blog will be online during the holidays, but there will be no postings between today and Monday the 26th. For Thanksgiving, the family and I will be in the middle of the woods in West Virginia, and we'll have no internet access.

I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful and safe holiday, and I hope that however you choose to spend this joyous time, it makes you and everyone around you very happy and fulfilled. I'm looking forward to continuing our discussions and debates on Monday. Of course, comments are open, and the chat at the bottom of the blog is a great place for live exchange.

Warm regards,

Mike - LME

P.S. It's also a great time to remind everyone that it was about one year ago we rolled out Reader's Posts. We're thankful that so many people care about our great nation and have chosen to express themselves and their views about all things political. We've had 20 so far which is about one every 2½ weeks. We encourage everyone to check it out and consider writing one for yourself:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Modern Federalism: A Great Compromise - Part II: States' Rights and Personal Preferences

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." 

- James Madison: From Federalist #45

As it was discussed in Part I, rights are nothing more than a set of permissions or rules adhered to and protected by a society or group of people, and societies and groups of people are defined by different cultures, religions, geographies, etc. While any citizen can make a claim such as, "it's my right to smoke marijuana" or "it's my right to marry whomever I want" or "it's my right to speak as freely as I want," the fact remains that these claims are unfounded, and there are no rights that are guaranteed other than those granted by society. To those who refuse to accept this reality, I ask, "if the rights you claim exist actually do, where do they come from?" Regardless of your answer, what luck do you suppose you'd have if you tried to execute the aforementioned rights in a society that didn't permit and protect them? It needs to be understood that a democratic society, as abhorrent as it sounds, can push its beliefs upon its citizens, even those who choose still live within it as non-participants or non-believers. Before protesting and scoffing at this idea, just think about the question I just asked. The will of the people, through a democratic system, ultimately determines the direction their society travels. You might ask, "well, what about the little guy, and what about his/her rights?" The answer is simple: what about them? If society doesn't grant a right, the right doesn't exist. Polygamy is a great example of this. Why can't polygamists marry whom they want and live in the peaceful way they wish with the same marriage-based government protections that non-polygamists and now some homosexual couples enjoy? Isn't it the polygamist's "right" to love and live as they choose? Simply, no... not yet. That right has not yet been granted by society, and yes, from those polygamists' view, their "rights" are being squashed. As we go forward, it's important to know that while the prescribed notion and understanding of rights discussed here is crucial to a properly functioning society, the axiom that rises above all notions, explained or not explained, is that for the people of any society to be truly free, they must have the ability to live in a society whereby they themselves choose the very society in which they live.

November 20, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to Israel and Egypt to seek a cease fire and try to end fighting in the seven day old Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza (CNN):

- The massive house explosion that rocked an Indianapolis neighborhood and killed two people is now being investigated as a homicide (ABC News):

- Four men in Southern California have been arrested and charged with plotting terrorism both stateside and abroad (CBS News):

- House republicans continue to press their view that Susan Rice is unfit to be the US Secretary of State (Yahoo!):

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Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- President Obama made a historic trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma) becoming the first sitting president to visit the once isolated country. He pledged US support for the country breaking its military-governed oppression and stepping towards democracy (CNN):

- As Hamas fires more rockets into Israel, and as Israel strikes suspected Hamas targets around Gaza, pressure is mounting on the two conflicting sides to end the fighting (ABC News):

- Newly minted leader of China's communist part Xi Jinping has some stern warnings for his country's government that corruption and mischief could bring undue problems and the end of his party's rule in China (NBC News):

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Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- An Israeli-sponsored cease fire on Gaza has failed. Israel said it would honor the cease fire while Egypt's Prime Minister was visiting Gaza, but Hamas' militant arm al-Qassam continued its rocket attacks on Israel (CNN):

- Now retired ex-CIA director General Petraeus is set to testify on the Benghazi consulate attack behind closed doors for a second straight day with congressional leaders (Fox News):

- Four people were killed and 17 were wounded when a freight train crashed into a wounded veterans float in Midland, TX on Thursday (ABC News):

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

A "Quick and Dirty" Look at Obama's Tax The Rich Plan

I couldn't resist. I saw the following article and I just had to write about it:

Yes, I know that in the post-2012 election era, this blog will naturally pivot to more philosophical writings, but some economic analyses will come up here and there. This is an example of one of these economic analyses.

As many readers of this blog know, rarely would I conduct an analysis on a simple article such as the one listed above. Usually, as seen in this previous analysis, I prefer digging deeper and analyzing primary-source data... usually involving IRS data tables, OMB information, or anything of the like. Since this is a simple analysis of the second-hand information discussed in an article, it is officially a "quick and dirty" look. :-)

November 15, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal slams Mitt Romney's comments that one of the reasons Obama won the election was because he gave "gifts" to select groups of voters (CNN):

- President Obama will travel to Hurricane Sandy-ravaged areas today to meet with victims and check on recovery progress (ABC News):

- Israel and the Palestinian organization Hamas teeter closer to war after Israel launched a precision strike that killed Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari. Israel's attack was in response to the flurry of rockets launched from Gaza into Israeli territory (NBC News): 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Modern Federalism: A Great Compromise - Part I: Rights

A Preface

Under our current political landscape, one of increasing divisiveness and abrasion, it is key, for political sanity, sanctity, and efficacy, to seek a common ground. Unfortunately, one main realization becomes clearer as each day passes: the larger the political divide grows, the more difficult it becomes to reach that mutual, common-ground goal.

Before we appreciate why Modern Federalism is truly a prodigious compromise, and before we discuss the various mechanisms by which it is, it is important to preface a discussion about this endeavor with a mastery, both in understanding and execution, of the very set of ideas around which most of our political and ideological disagreements revolve: rights.

Of all things manifest, rights are perhaps the most sacred, protected, and revered. As Americans, we cherish our American rights, and from the time of our country's founding until eternity's end, we will fight for our American rights until we're at death's door. These rights, while safeguarded and treasured, are often misunderstood. Regardless of an individual's religious beliefs or lack thereof, rights are often thought of as a divinely-granted proposition. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth.

November 14, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- China is set to announce it's next round of leaders on Thursday. After political jostling behind closed doors, the world's largest communist nation will put on display its leadership for the next ten years (CNN):

- In spite of the general's resignation, many in Congress still want Petraeus to testify on the September 11th Benghazi consulate attack (ABC News):

- A small plane crashed into a neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi, killing all three on board and injuring a resident (Fox News):

*** Be sure to paste any news links you want debated or find interesting below ***

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The extra-marital affair investigation that caused General Petraeus to step down appears to have reached General John Allen who is currently serving as NATO's International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan (CNN):

- President Obama will meet with labor officials and business leaders to kick off a "campaign" aimed at putting pressure on Congress to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 annually and to avoid the upcoming "fiscal cliff" (ABC News):

- Though most of the power losses due to Hurricane Sandy have been fixed, approximately 19,000 residents on Long Island still have no power as tensions run high (USA Today):

*** Be sure to paste any news links you want debated or find interesting below ***

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The scandal involving General Petraeus and his mistress biographer Paula Broadwell began coming to light when Broadwell allegedly began sending threatening emails to Petraeus family friend Jill Kelly (Fox News):

- Investigators are looking into the cause of a house explosion in Indianapolis, Indiana Saturday night. The deadly explosion killed two people and obliterated houses. Residents in the area said they could hear the explosion three miles away (ABC News):

- The Greek parliament passed a round of steep spending cuts, tax hikes, and austerity measures to comply with the EU's requirements for a Greek bailout (CBS New):;fdmodule

*** Be sure to vote in our post-election poll on the left side of the blog ***

Friday, November 9, 2012

Some New Things at The Elephant in the Room

Happy Friday! - As you can tell, there have been some slight "upgrades" to the blog. The major things you will notice are:

1. A new look. This isn't a huge change, but I think it's an upgrade that makes the blog cleaner and easier to read.

2. A new way to poll. I've started using Poll Daddy to conduct polls. It's easier to manage, and I can display results in graphs, too. Plus, the blog's poll kept malfunctioning and erasing people's votes. It was time to go in a new direction there.

3. The big one: CHAT! It's here! Who knows how well it will work, or how often people will participate, but it's now available at the bottom of the blog. I assume it won't be used much because people tend to leave  lengthier comments and synopses on blog posts only to come back from time to time, and a chat is better for quick engagement. It's tough to put out whole, well-thought responses in chat. But hey, it's there, and I hope people use it (also, you can sign in as a "guest" using whatever screen name you want - no personal info or email is required). Anything that can be done to make the blog an easier place for expression will be done, hopefully to success.

Of course, this is a people's blog. If you have any feedback at all don't hesitate to email me at or simply leave your input in the comments section below. It could be anything from, "this new look is terrible, bring back the old one" to "the chat sucks" to "the new look is clean, but change the colors." Whatever it is, if the people speak, it will be heeded.

Everyone knows Fridays are always a slow writing day, and that's why this post is what is it ( :-) ) but I do hope you enjoy the changes! Have a great weekend!

November 9, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Members of the Navy's SEAL Team 6 are being disciplined work working as paid consultants for EA Game's Medal of Honor: Warfighter game (ABC New):

- As the celebration of Obama's reelection dies down, the difficult task of compromising on the fiscal cliff lies ahead (CBS News):;leadHed

- In the slow recovery plaguing the victims of Hurricane Sandy, New York has begun gas rationing, following New Jersey's lead (CNN):

- As the President settles in, questions remain about who will stay on his Cabinet foe his second term (Fox News):

*** Be sure to vote in our post-election poll on the left side of the blog ***

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Where Do Republicans Go From Here? - A Message From the Blog

Good morning,

As all of you have undoubtedly realized, November 6th, 2012 was not a good day for the GOP. If elections and politics were a matter of winning and losing, we lost big time. In the presidential election and in most senate races, the republican party did not perform strongly. 

Fortunately for republicans, and for the nation, elections and politics are not about winning and losing; they're about ideas, proposals, and problem solving. While the pangs of Tuesday night will surely resound for weeks to come, this isn't a time to sulk, bicker, and blame. Reassessing the past and licking our wounds will do us little good. It's time to work together as a party, a coalition, and a cause to bring us together for not only the sake of our institution, but for the greater good of our country.

What is this about? Teamwork. It's as simple as that. It has been observed and reported that the democrats and Team Obama have a great "ground game" and that's what propelled the President to victory. I believe this is very accurate. There is something to learn from our losses, however. Since this isn't a game to be won or lost... since this isn't a battle by which we must hurt the other side in order for us to succeed, the best way to move forward is to work together, not only improving our "ground game," but our message, plans, and platform overall.

November 8, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Before President Obama even begins his second term, he must address the issues at the end of his first term, and the first of these issues is the impending "fiscal cliff" (CNN):

- The Northeast, less than a week removed from the havoc Hurricane Sandy brought, was slammed by a massive nor'easter, which caused power outages and hampered hurricane recovery efforts (Fox News):

- With tensions already elevated in the Middle East, Iran will be conducting "massive" air defense drills (CBS News):;fdmodule

- Jared Loughner, the potentially mentally ill shooter who killed 6 and wounded 13 others at a Gabby Giffords political event in Tuscon, AZ in January, 2011, will be sentenced today (USA Today):

*** Be sure to vote in our post-election poll on the left side of the blog ***

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Interesting Election Day Analysis - Independents

I was stumbling through some polling data and I noticed a trend I've been writing about in my poll tracker:

- Mitt Romney is doing well with independents.

But why is this significant considering I projected Obama to win the election?

I'll answer that by looking back to 2008 exit polling data:

In 2008, Obama won independents 52 - 44. Party line votes were nearly split (Obama won 89/9 D/R - McCain won 90/10 R/D), but as shown, independents, or 29% of the vote in 2008, went for Obama.

November 6, 2012 - Election Day - Morning Headlines

- Today's Morning Headlines features the major news networks' websites' offerings and their feature election articles:

     - CNN:

     - Fox News:

      - ABC News (currently down, will update ASAP)

      - CBS News:;leadHed

     - NBC News:

     - USA Today:

*** Be sure to go out and vote!!! ***

Monday, November 5, 2012

CNN's Joke of a Poll and My Election Prediction

As you can see from the title of this post, there are two relevant issues I'm writing about today: CNN's final poll, and how I think the election will play out. They're relatively unrelated, but I figured I'd get them both out in one post.

First, the CNN poll:

This final CNN poll is truly a joke. It claims the that Obama and Romney are tied 49% to 49%, but that is with, according to the poll, Romney winning the independent vote my 22 points, 59% to 37%. You might be scratching your head in amazement. "How could this be?" you might ask. Well, it's really quite simple: democrats are oversampled by +11! (D/R/I = 41/30/29).

November 5, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- With less than one day to go, polls are tight, and both candidates are pressing Americans to get out the vote (Fox News):

- A small, 2.0 strength earthquake rattled the town of Ringwood, New Jersey awake around 1:20am last night. Ringwood is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy (ABC News):

- In a truly tragic event, a 2-year old boy fell into an African painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh zoo and was mauled quickly (NBC News):

*** There is only one day left to vote in our final Obama v. Romney Poll on the left side of the blog ***

Friday, November 2, 2012

The October 2012 Jobs Report

Here is the October 2012 employment situation report from the BLS:

My analysis is at the bottom.

Key Highlights:

- The unemployment rate rose to 7.9%. Non-farm employers added 171,000 new jobs.

- The number of unemployed persons remained flat at 12.3 million.

- The civilian labor force participation rate also increased to 63.8% from 63.6% in September.

- The "not in labor force" count (those who have no job and have stopped looking for work) fell 369,000 from 88,710,000 to 88,341,000.

- The number of persons employed for part-time economic reasons (those that are considered part-time involuntary workers) fell by 269,000 from 8.6 million in September to 8.3 million in October.

- Average hourly earnings dropped by one cent. The 12-month average for hourly earnings have risen at a 1.6% yearly rate.

November 2, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- A Secret Service agent who was under investigation for having a long-term relationship with a foreign national took his own life yesterday (CNN):

- Early estimates from the forecasting firm Eqecat claim the cost of Hurricane Sandy could reach $50 billion (CBS):$50b-says-forecasting-firm/?tag=cbsnewsHardNewsFDArea;fdmodule

- A new account of the September 11th attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claims the CIA reacted quicker than originally thought (ABC News):

*** Be sure to vote in our final Obama v Romney poll on the left side of the blog ***

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The US death toll from Hurricane Sandy has now reached 56 (CNN):

- A secret cable addressed to the office of the Secretary of State claims that the US mission in Benghazi convened a month before the now infamous attack on September 11th to discuss how the consulate could not withstand a coordinated terrorist attack (Fox News):

- With only 6 days until the election, the candidates are getting set to hit the campaign trail hard (CBS News):;leadHed

*** Be sure to vote in our final Obama v Romney poll on the left side of the blog ***