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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 - New Year's Eve - Morning Headlines

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized after a blood clot was discovered by her doctors (CNN):

- As the clock ticks down on 2013, Senate leaders are admitting that there is significant distance between democrats and the GOP on a Fiscal Cliff agreement (Fox News):

- A bipartisan report on the attack in Benghazi places blame for the handling of the attack on numerous government agencies (CBS News):

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Downtime

Good morning!

I hope anyone and everyone out there has had a wonderful holiday season so far. If you've stopped by the blog recently, you've probably noticed a relative "slowing" of the blog's postings. Naturally, during the holidays, just as blog visit traffic slows, blog postings slow, too. I anticipate this to remain until after the turn of the year. Rest assured, we'll be back and raring to go once 2013 hits! There will be tons of topics to talk about in addition to the usual debates, and I plan on continuing the series titled "Modern Federalism" as well.

Until then, since these issues have garnered many comments and opinions, I wanted to re-post the links to two of the hottest and most discussed topics as of late: the Fiscal Cliff and Gun Control:

Fiscal Cliff Open Forum:

Gun Control Open Forum:

With 100 comments between the two, these Open Forums have been great places for debate. It's wonderful to see so many people from both sides express their opinions on the subjects, and I hope it continues to grow. Stop in, check out what people have said, and share your views, too.

Of course, if you'd like to write your own post, Reader's Posts are a great way to be heard:

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to email the blog. Also, listen to The Gang of 405 tomorrow at 10:00am EST here: If you've never heard the show, it's a great, round-table conservative broadcast and an opportunity to call in to express your opinions on the political topics du jour. I'll be on the panel as usual, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say! Join us, listen live, and call in at 877-297-8022.

Have a wonderful New Year, and please be safe!

Mike (LME)

December 28, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- In a controversial move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children (CNN):

- As the rhetoric intensifies, the Congress is making last ditch efforts to avoid the Fiscal Cliff (Fox News):

- In a situation that echoes one on the West Coast, longshoreman of East Coast ports are threatening to strike if their union and employer can't agree on a new contract prior to their current one expiring at midnight on December 29th (USA Today):

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The Supreme Court has said it will not shield Hobby Lobby from the contraception mandate contained in Obamacare as its legal appeal to the healthcare law plays out (Fox News):

- In one of the largest recall settlements in automobile history, Toyota has agreed to a $1 billion settlement for its rapid, unexpected acceleration issues (ABC News):

- The Journal News, a small newspaper centered north of New York City, has come under fire for publishing an interactive map online that shows the owners' addresses of those who posses gun permits (CNN):

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

Wishing everyone out there, from left to right and all in between, a very Merry Christmas! Be safe, and take care of one another.

- Mike (LME)

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012 - Christmas Eve

- A heavy snowstorm moving across the US could affect travel post-Christmas (ABC News):

- In another "insider" attack, an American contractor was killed by an Afghan police woman (CBS mews):

- Vandals in Huntington Beach, CA vandalized a nativity scene by drawing a Hitler-style mustache on Jesus (NBC News):

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fun - The End of the World Open Forum

Well, congratulations! It looks like we all survived. The Mayans were incorrect... who knew? :-P

With all the serious political back and forth, this "end of the world" prophecy has granted us some fun relief. It has kept its mark in the news, and it has given us something to talk about. Now that it has come and passed, why not open up an end-of-the-world open rant forum. I'm not sure how many takers there will be, but talk about anything - how the world will really end... now that we've survived, what are you dreading getting back to doing... how are you going to celebrate... who knows? Share whatever you want.

My rant: ugh... back to work! Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? Yes, that's where I work. Fun! I was hoping the Mayans had a remedy for this, leaving me alive, of course.  Oh well... if something comes up, I'm sure I'll share it, and I hope you share your rants, too!

Have fun, and congrats on... surviving? :-P


December 21, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Speaker of the House John Boehner's "Plan B" Fiscal Cliff proposal did not come up for a vote in the House. This plan would have extended the Bush Era Tax Cuts for those making < $1,000,000 without addressing spending. It was a stopgap measure to ensure tax rates did not increase on most Americans (CNN):

- One of the two bank robbers that repelled down from twenty stories up in a federal jail in Chicago has been caught. Jose Banks was apprehended without incident in Chicago. The other escapee, Kenneth Conley, remains at large (CBS News):

- President Obama, in a video clip on the White House petitions website, tells gun control petitioners, "we hear you" (USA Today):

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- As both sides remained hunkered down and far apart on the Fiscal Cliff, Obama is now imploring republicans to simply "take the deal" he has put forth (CNN): 

- In truly disturbing fashion, fake websites which are asking for donations in the memory of a Sandy Hook victim, are popping up over the internet (Fox News):

- GM plans to buy back 200 million shares of its own stock which is currently held by the US Treasury. With the purchase price being nearly 17% lower than its initial offering, the US taxpayer is slated to lose approximately $1.5 billion (NBC News):

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- A new report, conducted by an independent review board, concluded there were major faults in the state department and security at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya (CNN):

- President Obama will appoint Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force in coordinating the administration's response to the Sandy Hook Elementary attacks (ABC News):

- In the latest move of Fiscal Cliff jostling, House Speaker John Boehner has moved to a "Plan B" - one where he proposes raising tax rates on people earning > $1,000,000 per year (NBC News):

*** Be sure to join our debate and share your opinions on gun control here: ***

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Schools in Newtown, Connecticut are reopening today with the exception of Sandy Hook Elementary. Students of that school will be attending another school while the investigation of the tragic school shooting continues (CNN):

- Though it will likely be rejected as "unbalanced" the most recent White House Fiscal Cliff proposal is a step in the direction of compromise (ABC News):

- NBC correspondent Richard Engel and two of his colleagues were freed after being held captive in Syria for five days. They were not harmed (CBS News):

*** Be sure to join our debate and share your opinions on gun control here: ***

Monday, December 17, 2012

Open Forum: Gun Control; Recognizing Problems and Possible Solutions

As expected, the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has sent the country into a whirlwind over gun control versus gun rights. Debates have been conducted on Sunday morning talk shows, Facebook, and social circles. I, for one, have been engaged in numerous Facebook debates since the tragedy unfolded as it seems there is no "waiting period" before starting up a discussion. While monitoring my Facebook feed at noon on Friday, the morning of the attack, I noticed gun control debates already flaring up on the social networking site quickly. Keep in mind, this sad attack on innocent school children was not the final straw that started this debate. It's a debate that happens constantly, and legally, it's debated and ruled upon often:

This Open Forum is dedicated to a discussion on gun control.

December 17, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- After a weekend of sadness, questioning, and debating solutions, President Obama delivered a speech at Newtown, CT, promising to do everything in his power to curb future tragedies (CNN):

- Iran claims to have captured two more US drones. The US military claims no drones are missing, but some might have fallen into the sea previously (ABC News):

- Sources claim Speaker Boehner and President Obama are getting closer to a deal as Boehner put tax rate increases on incomes greater than $1,000,000 per year on the table (CBS):

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In case you missed it, here is this weekend's broadcast of The Gang of 405:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Open Forum: Fiscal Cliff Friday

Here we are about one month away from the self-imposed "fiscal cliff," and, as expected, the opinions are flying. I believe that because of the mainstream media's liberal leaning it's difficult to get a real sense of what this situation comprises. It seems clear that the media has taken sides, (here, here, and here are just a few of many examples), so getting real, truthful, fact-based information might be difficult.

Regardless, based on what we do know, how would YOU solve the problem. Put yourself in any situation: As a senator, a representative, the President, a casual observer, a taxpayer... whatever you like. How would you handle the situation? Would you negotiate? What do you think should be the solution? What would you like to see as the outcome? This open forum is for just that: sharing any thoughts, opinions, advice, information, etc., that you have concerning the fiscal cliff. I'll put my quick opinion below; feel free to join in any time.

Happy Fiscal Cliff Friday! :-)

December 14, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The US military, in a move approved by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will be sending 2 Patriot missile batteries with 400 support staff to Turkey to protect the ally from potential attacks from Syria (CNN):

- Embattled ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has removed her name from the list of potential candidates to replace Hillary Clinton as the US secretary of State (Fox News):

- A California court upheld a lower court's ruling that the Boy Scouts of America must surrender years of confidential files detailing sexual abuse in the organization (ABC News):

*** Since the topic is still relevant, and the deadline is quickly approaching, we will be re-posting our Fiscal Cliff Friday open forum. Be sure to join in! ***

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- The Federal Reserve, in unprecedented fashion, has pledged to continue with its Quantitative Easing program until the unemployment rate drops to at least 6.5% (CNN Money):

- New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a champion of immigration reform, had an illegal immigrant who was also a registered sex offender working for him and his staff as an intern (NBC News):

- Music stars rocked and rapped out for nearly 6 hours at New York City's Madison Square Garden in the 12.12.12 Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert last night (USA Today):

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Politics and Violence - Steven Crowder Attacked by Union Thug... Where is the Media Outrage?

Yesterday, I posted an Open Forum debate for Michigan's new Right-to-Work law:

As most of you probably know, this "hot-button" issue was the talk of the day in political circles yesterday. Opinions have been flying, left and right, on social media, and they're surely continue to do so long after the fervor dies down.

What seems to be missing from the mainstream media's daily "news" reports is the violence that occurred on the lawn of the Michigan State Capitol during the union's protest of the passage of the Right-to-Work bills. A quick check of the MSM's websites does not mention that Fox News reporter Steven Crowder was viciously attacked by a union thug. Also missing is the union's violent destroying of an AFP, an organization that supports Right-to-Work legislation, tent. Is this deliberate? Are they intentionally not reporting the brutality and the animosity because it was a democratic faction that propagated it? Allegations, speculations and rhetorical questions aside, I think we can agree with some degree of certainty that if this was a GOP or Tea-Party rally and this kind of malicious attack occurred, it would be plastered front-and-center on every MSM news site out there. Of course, these occurrences are rare, and ones that do exist are simple propaganda. Republicans rarely act like this. We don't scream and yell and chant and attack when we don't get our way. It's just that simple. When Obamacare crossed key hurdles, (its passage and the Supreme Court's ruling), did republicans attack people? Did we threaten to riot if Obama was reelected. Of course not. We don't act like this... If we did, you'd hear a LOT more about it in the media.

December 12, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- A masked gunman, who still remains unidentified, opened fire in a Portland, OR mall killing three people including himself (CNN):

- North Korea, in what the White House has said is a highly provocative move, test fired a long-range rocket. The launch was deemed a success, and analysts claim it's only a matter of time before the reclusive country attempts to arm a rocket with a nuclear warhead (Fox News):

- The US has officially recognized the Syrian Opposition Council. This recognition will enable the Syrian rebels create a new political structure once the al Assad regime falls (CBS News):

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Forum: Michigan's New Right-to-Work Law

If you don't already know, Michigan, the bastion of unions and workers' rights, is expected to sign into law Tuesday new Right-to-work legislation. This will make Michigan the nation's 24th Right-to-Work state.

Here are a few articles on the subject:

CNN Money:

CBS News:

NBC News:

This Open Forum is dedicated to a discussion on Michigan's impending new Right-to-Work law.

December 11, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- London-based banking giant HSBC will be forced to pay a $1.92 billion settlement with US regulators for what the Justice Department says are money laundering allegations (CNN Money):

- Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, a democrat who opposed the marijuana legalization measure, signed the state's voter-approved marijuana legalization law yesterday (ABC News):

- A $63 per head fee buried in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), is expected to cost companies millions as it raises $25 billion in revenue over three years. The fee, which will impact employers, is expected to be passed on to workers (CBS News):$63-per-person-fee-for-three-years/

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Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Union bosses and members alike prepare to begin protesting Michigan's potential move to become a right-to-work state. Peaceful protest trainings and other assemblies have many unions ready march on Lansing on Tuesday (Fox News):

- President Obama and Speaker Boehner met Sunday for this first time in weeks. Though no deal was reached, the meeting was productive and communication lines are open (ABC News):

- To to self-cited technical problems, the reclusive country of North Korea has extended the window for its rocket test launch (CBS News):

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Friday, December 7, 2012

The November 2012 Jobs Report

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

Key Highlights:

- The unemployment rate declined to 7.7%. Non-farm employers added 146,000 new jobs.

- The number of unemployed persons remained relatively flat at 12 million.

- The civilian labor force participation rate also decreased to 63.6% from 63.8% in October. This number matches the all-time low rate observed in 1981 and September of this year.

- The "not in labor force" count (those who have no job and have stopped looking for work) increased 542,000 from 88,341,000 to 88,883,000. This is the highest level it has been in a while.

- The number of persons employed for part-time economic reasons (those that are considered part-time involuntary workers) remained relatively flat at 8.2 million in November.

- Average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents. The 12-month average for hourly earnings have risen at a 1.7% yearly rate.

- The change in total non-farm payroll employment for September was revised from +148,000 to +132,000, and the change for October was revised from +171,000 to +138,000. 

December 7, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan northeast of Tokyo. So far, no injuries or major damage has been reported (CNN):

- As protesters continue to swell in response to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's recently-perceived power grab, the newly-minted leader is offering little in the way of compromise (CBS News):

- In the face of democrat and union opposition, Michigan's republican-led government passed right-to-work legislation (CNN):

*** Be sure to return to The Elephant in the Room for the November Jobs report released promptly at 8:30am EST ***

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mr. Obama: What are These Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Really About?

Call this an open letter, a fair question, or a continuation of this blog's debate on the Fiscal Cliff:

Part 1 - Fiscal Cliff Open Forum:

Part 2 - Speaker Boehner's Offer/Proposal to the President:

And now Part 3 - Trying to discover what this is truly about. I pose what I think is a very real question:

"Mr. President (and, by association, democrats), would you accept a GOP-sponsored proposal IF it raised the exact same revenue as your proposal but did so by cutting loopholes, deductions, etc., and not raising tax rates?"

Can everyone see where I'm going with this? It's philosophical, sure... but it gets at the heart of this negotiation.

December 6, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- As more clouded information becomes available, Fox News reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with top Russian officials about Syria's recent mixing and potentially arming of chemical weapons (Fox News):

- Washington has officially legalized gay marriage. It is the 9th state to do so, and only one of three, all accomplished in the recent election, to do so by popular vote (ABC News):

- Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, recently criticized NATO and the US for the country's problems with security (NBC News):

*** Join our Fiscal Cliff open debate. Express your views and your solutions, and see what others have to say: ***

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Listen to OpinioNation Tonight at our NEW Time!

Is there really anything better to do on a Wednesday night at 10:00pm EST? Of course not! :-) Yes, 10:00pm EST is our new time, and as usual, we'll be ready to go! Listen to me (Mike - LME), Amy, Bruce, and host, Jon Rollings, on our outstanding, debate-filled, analysis-equipped show

(click image to listen)

as we tackle all things Fiscal Cliff, Bob Costas, Campaign 2014, Syria Chemical Weapons, and more! Join some of the best conservative minds on the internet and gain an insight into the "right" way to think. Be sure to stick around for our final, lightning-round segment The Bottom Line. If you'd like to call in, (do it... it's a lot of fun!), you can reach us live on the air at 877-297-8022. We hope you tune in!

December 5, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- New York City police claim they have the suspect in the subway shoving death in custody. 58 year old Ki-Suck Han was pushed onto the tracks in front of an oncoming subway at a station near Times Square. He died at the hospital a short time later (ABC News):

- A tentative deal has been reached to end the strike at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. The deal, which is expected to be signed without hiccup, will send the striking clerical workers and sympathizing longshoreman back to work soon (CBS News):

- According to a Pentagon official, in spite of recent intelligence claiming Syria was potentially moving and arming chemical weapons, there is no credible evidence showing they're mixing or planning to use them (NBC News):

*** Join our Fiscal Cliff open debate. Express your views and your solutions, and see what others have to say: ***

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Speaker Boehner's Letter and Fiscal Cliff Proposal

This post is an add-on to our ongoing Fiscal Cliff debate taking place here:

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, sent a letter to President Obama outlining the GOP's proposal to avoid going over the impending "Fiscal Cliff." This single issue, in my opinion, is the most important issue in our current socio-political-economic environment. Dollars and cents aside, I believe the handling of this issue, from the "kick-the-can-down-the-road-until-after-the-election" proposition to the notion of "compromise" or general lack thereof, highlights the broken nature of our federal government. From the divide in the halls of Congress to the split nature of our debates in social media, this single issue is driving a wedge through the nation. Regardless of how this will be resolved, the handling of this problem will surely set a precedent, unfortunately, for the handling of similar, ideologically-divided issues for years to come.

A key "x-factor" in this arena seems to be the lack of "good" information. The media, an unchecked faction who's supposedly charged with passing information to the people, seems to be subjective rather than objective. It's often said that the media leans to the left, and in this year alone, it doesn't seem ashamed to show it. With respect to the Fiscal Cliff, many examples have emerged (here are a few from Newsbusters - whom I respect because they back their claims with video, audio, links, and transcripts: ABC, Piers, Diane Sawyer, Wolf to show a few) that show the media is shamelessly taking sides without offering a balanced set of inquiries or interviews to anyone on the right. This leads to an American public that is grossly misinformed about the facts of our dire situation.

December 4, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Iran claims it shot down a US drone that illegally entered its airspace on Tuesday. The US claims it is not missing any drones and is denying Iran's claim (CNN):

- The US, being championed by ambassador Terry Kramer, is pushing back against a Russian sponsored move to control and tax internet activity via the UN (Fox News):

- Witnesses claim a man was pushed to his death on an NYC subway after an argument with another traveler (NBC News):

*** Join our Fiscal Cliff open debate. Express your views and your solutions, and see what others have to say: ***

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- Korean presidential candidates claim that North Korea is planning its upcoming rocket launch near South Korea's election day in an attempt to sway the election (Fox News):

- The US is now saying there is a "red line" for Syria and the potential utilization of its chemical weapons on its own people (ABC News):

- A US Coast Guardsman died after the cutter he was serving on, The Halibut, was rammed by a fishing boat that was under investigation for smuggling (NBC News):

*** Join our Fiscal Cliff open debate. Express your views and your solutions, and see what others have to say: ***