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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You Gotta Love the Mainstream Media

I'm sure you've heard of this by now: the "1% tip left by the rich banker" story.

In case you haven't, here is a quick screen shot to sum it up:

Source: The Huffington Post via

Gasp! No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a $1.33 tip on a $133.54 bill with a note for a "tip" that says, "get a real job."

February 29, 2012 - Leap Day - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Mitt Romney wins the Arizona and Michigan Primaries (Fox News):


     (ABC News):

- A Pentagon report claims some 9/11 victim remains were sent to a landfill (Fox News):

- About 25 members of the hacker group Anonymous were arrested in sweeps across Europe and South America (MSNBC):

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Arizona and Michigan Primaries

If Super Tuesday is in a week, this is definitely Mini-Tuesday. Sure, it involves only 2 states, but it's about trends and momentum above all.

Key Arizona primary questions:

- Who do you think will win the Arizona primary?
- Will Mitt Romney win by as large of a margin as the polls have been showing?
- Who finishes where? Got any predictions for the percentages of votes cast for each candidate?
- Will there be any surprises?

Key Michigan primary questions:

- Who do you think will win the Michigan primary?
- Does the Santorum surge continue, or will Mitt go two-for-two?
- Who finishes where? Got any predictions for the percentages of votes cast for each candidate?
- Will there be any surprises?
- If Mitt does lose, how badly will this affect his chances of securing the nomination?
- This Yahoo! article says a Santorum robocall is urging democrats to vote against Romney (Michigan's primary is an open primary): - How much of an effect will this have on the primary?

- What will the turnout be in both states?
- Who will drop out? Who goes on?

Please share your opinions, predictions, analysis, etc. below. Thank you.

February 28, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- The small Ohio town of Chardon collects itself as it searches for answers in yesterday's school shooting (Fox News):

- S & P downgraded Greece's credit rating to "selective default" Monday after the Greek government took measures to impose losses on its bondholders. The move was expected (CNN Money):

- Two law enforcement officers were hurt in an Occupy clash in Sacramento, CA (ABC News):

- A Costa cruise ship awaits rescue in pirate infested waters in the Indian Ocean (ABC News):

Monday, February 27, 2012

Washington Post Fact Checker Gives Obama 2 Pinocchios For Misleading Ad About SuperPAC

Washington Post Fact Checker:

Does this make the news? Is this in the mainstream media's headlines? Nope and nope. But Mitt Romney's wife's Cadillacs are?

Here you have the indisputably left-leaning Washington Post calling Obama's ad misleading and yet, it receives virtually no attention.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Yahoo! has a headline that says "Santorum says separation of church and state isn't absolute," (a position that doesn't sit terribly well with me), and that's fair game... but there are no headlines about our president misleading in his campaign. There is nothing about him potentially lying? <scratches head>

What do you think? Is this just another example of the mainstream media picking and choosing what to headline in order to help Obama? Should this receive more attention? Or is this just not that important? We at The Elephant in the Room think information regardless of platform should always be spread, and every opinion is respected. Is this Washington Post piece one that should just be overlooked?

Please share your thoughts below. Thank you.

February 27, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headline:

- As Syrians head to the polls to vote on a constitutional referendum resolution, world leaders prepare new sanctions (CNN):

- Taliban claims the attack at Afghan airport that killed 9 was in retaliation for Koran burnings (Fox News):

- The controversial anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks publishes intelligence firm Stratfor's secret emails (MSNBC):

Friday, February 24, 2012

Time To Wake Up - Opening Monologue - Bill Bennett's Morning in America

The following transcript was sent to The Elephant in the Room by Bill Bennett's Morning nn America radio show. For those that don't know, Morning in America is a radio show that airs live Monday through Friday from 6:00am to 9:00am, EST. It is hosted by Dr. William Bennett, the former U.S. Secretary of Education. Bennett's radio show is an insightful one, and he runs it just as we run our blog: respectfully, and guided with truth and fact. Bill does not engage in shouting matches and he slings no insults. His show is nothing but intelligent, fact-based debate where all viewpoints are discussed and respected regardless of platform.


On Fridays, the show is run by a special guest host (usually Seth Leibsohn). The host runs the show in the same manner as Bill and never deviates from the values of thoughtful debate that Bill maintains throughout his broadcasts.

Below is the transcript from today's show. I found this particularly interesting because, as we are 9 months away from the general election, it asks the right questions and highlights key topics we should all be thinking about as November approaches. Regardless of his record, President Obama seems poised to win another four-year term in the White House, and I think Americans need to pause and think about the many points Seth brings up.

February 24, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Pakistan, a country that is believed to harbor many of the region's Al Qaeda fighters, is calling on the Taliban to participate in peace talks with Afghanistan and the United States (Fox News):

- The U.S. and other world leaders will meet today in Tunis, Tunisia to formulate a plan for Syria (CNN):

- The U.S. Postal Service is planning to cut 35,000 jobs starting in May or June in an effort to save $2.1 billion in labor costs out of a $20 billion total cost savings plan (CNN Money):

- An Iraqi Al Qaeda division claimed it was responsible for the deadly attacks that killed 55 in Iraq yesterday (ABC News):

- Comedian Bill Maher makes "surprise" $1 million donation to Obama's Super PAC (Yahoo!):

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Pfc. Bradley Manning is set to be arraigned for his involvement in the no infamous Wikileaks case (CNN):

- A string of bombings in 11 Iraqi cities kill at least 50 (Fox News):

- President Obama speaks in Florida today about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil in the long term, highlights that the government can do little in the short term (Fox News):

-  Jury found UVA lacrosse play George Huguley guilty of second degree murder for killing Yeardley Love (ABC News w/video):

- White House to unveil online privacy bill of rights (CNN Money):

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CNN Republican Debate From Mesa, Arizona - February 22, 2012

Perhaps the most important debate to date, the GOP presidential candidates take the stage for the first time in nearly a month. With the Arizona and Michigan Primaries on the horizon, this debate is a chance for the candidates to plead their cases to these states' voters.

Pre-Debate Questions:

Who do you think will win the CNN Republican debate?
Who has the most to lose?
Is this a "make or break" debate for Mitt Romney?
Will Rick Santorum be at the center of the attacks?

Post-Debate Questions:

Who won the Arizona Debate?
Did this debate change your mind about any candidates?
Who had the worst night?
What was the biggest surprise? The biggest gaffe?
What grade would you give to each candidate?

Most importantly: Who wins AZ? What about MI? Who drops out after these primaries?

Please share your opinions/analysis below. Thank you!

February 22, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- President Obama and the U.S. Treasury Department are unveiling a plan to reduce U.S. corporate taxes (CNN):

- Protests over the improper disposals of the Koran grow in Afghanistan (Fox News):

- The Dow Jones Industrial Average tip-toed the 13,000 line yesterday. It's the highest level the Dow has been at since 2008 (ABC News):

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Interesting Look at Obama's 2013 Budget

The New York Times put up this post titled "Four Ways To Slice Obama's 2013 Budget." Click the image below:

This piece puts Obama's over-bloated budget proposal into perspective. Forget the broken promise to halve the federal deficit by the end of his 4 years in office (who knows if he could have really done it if he tried) and look at the sheer numbers. 

February 21, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- The 17 members of the Eurozone approved a $173 bailout for Greece, saving it from default next month (CNN):

- Afghan protesters collected outside Bagram Air Field north of Kabul to protest the improper disposal of Korans (Fox News):

- Iran claims it is ready to defend itself with preemptive actions if it feels threatened (MSNBC):

- 70% of Americans take out of the tax system more than they put in (Fox News):

Monday, February 20, 2012

READER'S POST #11 - Sometimes Mercury and Carcinogens are Good for You, I Guess

By: 32slim32

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor of the Senate last week and had this to say, “In exchange for extending this middle class tax break, Republicans are insisting, among other things, that we pass an unrelated ideological piece of legislation that will make our water less safe to drink. This would allow mercury and other carcinogens (the never brilliant dunce from Nevada pronounced it wrong by the way) to be put in our water supply. That’s a pretty stark, huh, compromise. We’ll give you a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans if you will let us continue to put things like mercury and arsenic in the water….”

First and unrelated, where does he get 160 million Americans getting a payroll tax break from? According to the most recent “The Employment Situation” there are only 141.6 million Americans employed. Who are the other 18.4 million getting a payroll tax break?

February 20, 2012 - President's Day - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- U.N. nuclear inspectors are back in Iran for more talks about Iran's nuclear program (CNN):

- South Korea is carrying out its live-fire military drills in spite of threats from North Korea (Fox News):

- Second Greek bailout to be voted on by Eurozone finance ministers (Yahoo!):

- An avalanche in a Washington ski resort kills three skiers (ABC News):

Be sure to vote in this weeks poll at the right. Also, check out our various free RSS and email feed options!

Friday, February 17, 2012

When is a Bribe not a Bribe? When it's Fear Mongering

I might be the only person in America that is upset by this, but I don't think American democracy was originally intended to be this way. Now that it appears the Congress will be voting on the payroll tax holiday extension today, I think this is an appropriate time to discuss this topic.

Recently on Twitter, the Obama and White House pages ran what it called the "$40 dollars campaign." It gained popularity under the hashtag #40dollars. See these screenshots:

February 17, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- U.S. intelligence chief claims Al-Qaeda may be infiltrating Syria with help from Iran (Fox News):

- The Congress is expected to vote on the payroll tax holiday extension bill today. This will extend the payroll tax break and unemployment while avoiding a fee cut for Medicare doctors. Republican house members dropped their request that the bill be funded by cutting spending elsewhere. This bill is expected to cost around $100 billion (CNN):

- Fighter Jets were scrambled in California after a Cessna entered presidential airspace. The plane was not a threat but was carrying marijuana (ABC News):

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rick Santorum Paid Some Taxes - SO WHAT!

Here we go again. Recent polls show Rick Santorum is rising, and following in lock step is the mainstream media. This was the front page of this morning:


I've asked this before: what does this have to do with anything? See this post from January 18th:

The facts (I'm not going to go terribly deep here): In 2010, Rick Santorum had an income of $930,230 and paid $263,440 in taxes. This is an effective rate of 28.3%.

See Rick Santorum's tax return in PDF here:

Rick, you jerk! ONLY $263,440 in taxes? Come on, buddy, let's see you pay your fair share! </sarcasm>

February 16, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Congress has reached a deal on the final payroll tax cut bill. Obama is expected to sign it soon. This deal contains numerous stipulations for states regarding welfare recipients and the unemployed (CNN):

- After nearly 10 years of fighting, the U.S. is beginning 3-way negotiations with Afghanistan and the Taliban (Fox News):

- The infamous "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will be sentenced today for attempting to blow up an airplane with explosives he carried in his underwear. Prosecutors would like to put him away for life (Yahoo!):

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Someone Please Explain How Increasing Taxes Will Create Jobs - Part 2

Link to Part 1:

Okay, on to Part 2.

Let's set up some ground rules. First, this, like the previous post, is not scientific. I always believe in backing what I say, or at least giving the reasons behind the opinions. That is what I'm doing with these two posts. My belief: raising taxes on millionaires is not good for creating jobs... my reasons: yesterday's and today's post. All dissenting opinions are always welcomed.

Secondly, as economics has taught me, using models, hypothetic situation analysis, heck, anecdotes, etc. in their simplest forms can help us look at a complicated situation in a simple way.

What is this about? This is the "how" behind what I believe. This is a small, simplistic, hypothetic micro-economic example. I certainly hope that it does not become a macro-level epidemic, but many macros make a micro.

February 15, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- The U.S. and Europe are considering unprecedented punishments against Iran for its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. These punishments would come at a cost to the U.S. as it would affect Iran's ability to sell oil, potential increasing oil prices around the world (Fox News):

- A tentative deal has been reached in the Congress regarding the payroll tax holiday extension (CNN):

- Iran will be inserting its first nuclear fuel rods into a test reactor today (CNN):

- Israel is building its case that the recent bombings in Georgia, India, and Thailand were part of an Iranian terror campaign (ABC News):

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Someone Please Explain How Increasing Taxes Will Create Jobs - Part 1

Yes, as the headline says... someone please explain this to me. I'm an economist by nature. I'm conservative. I make about $53k per year. I do NOT want the rich to pay more in taxes, and I do NOT see how taxing the rich more will improve the economy or create jobs. 

President Obama released his $3.8 TRILLION budget today, and, in no surprise, it contained an increase in taxes on the rich. Most of these increases fall under the "Buffett Rule." Perhaps the notion of "taxing the rich" is a nice talking point for Obama. Maybe he understands that middle-class families outnumber millionaires 275-to-1. Maybe he knows that if he keeps making the case that millionaires are these evil, stinking, sneaky people that skirt paying taxes, he can gather enough votes from the middle class to get reelected. Heck, there are approximately 104,000,000 middle-income families and 378,000 millionaires in the U.S. If you had to target a voting bloc, wouldn't you want the middle class on your side? Who cares if millionaires hate you? At 104-million strong, the middle-class voter is whom you should court by turning them against the wealthy.

February 14, 2012 - Valentine's Day - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- China's Vice President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House today. This is seen as a crucial meeting because Jinping is in line to be the next Chinese president, and in his State of the Union Speech Obama assailed China's trade practices (CNN):

- Yahoo! (AP) gives highlights of President Obama's $3.8 trillion budget (Yahoo!):

- Rick Santorum is met by protesters from the Occupy movement in Tacoma Washington; gets "glitterbombed" (ABC News):

- Whitney Houston's body has arrived in Newark, New Jersey to begin preparations for her funeral. Preliminary news reports claim that prescription drugs and alcohol were found in Houston's hotel room the night she died (CNN):

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Greek parliament approves austerity measures as condition for more bailout funding (CNN):

- President Obama will be submitting the final budget of this presidency today. This budget is expected to carry a $901 Billion deficit (Fox News):

- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is indicted for contempt (Washington Post):

Updated 9:56am:
From The Washington Post -

"- The broken deficit promise: This is one of those cases in which what's important will make headlines. The Obama administration is officially breaking its promise to halve the deficit by the end of their first term. The 2013 budget envisions a deficit of more than $1 trillion -- not halved by any stretch of the imagination. Republicans are right about that. But fulfilling that promise -- which would have meant moving to massively contractionary fiscal policy over the last year -- would have been a dumb thing to do. The Obama administration is right about that."

I'm not too sure about this... do you really think this will make headlines? I doubt it, but I hope I'm wrong. What do you think?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

An Insightful Wall Street Journal Article Quizzing President Obama on Fairness

Below is an article that has been floating around the Twittersphere recently. It was written by The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore, and it raises some serious questions about "fairness." I think that in order for Barack Obama to be a one-term president, the GOP needs to take an article like this to heart. Every conservative that wishes to see Obama's White House departure should do their part to pass this intriguing information on as often as they can.

Here is the article's link:

The entire text is available below. I chose to post the article's entire text because I wanted to ask some simple questions, and I felt that all the information about the article should be shared. First, the questions:

- Which one of Moore's points do you think is the most significant?

- Which point affects America the most?

- Which one of Moore's points "bugs" you the most?

- Are there any points you do not agree with? Are there any that you feel are factually untrue? Over-exaggerated?

- What fairness questions would YOU quiz the president with?

The article's text:

President Obama has frequently justified his policies—and judged their outcomes—in terms of equity, justice and fairness. That raises an obvious question: How does our existing system—and his own policy record—stack up according to those criteria?

Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax?

Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country's income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?

Is it fair that American corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cuts its rate on April 1?

Is it fair that President Obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run, and produce higher test scores than public schools in Washington, D.C.—but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?

Is it fair that Americans who build a family business, hire workers, reinvest and save their money—paying a lifetime of federal, state and local taxes often climbing into the millions of dollars—must then pay an additional estate tax of 35% (and as much as 55% when the law changes next year) when they die, rather than passing that money onto their loved ones?

Is it fair that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel and other leading Democrats who preach tax fairness underpaid their own taxes?

Is it fair that after the first three years of Obamanomics, the poor are poorer, the poverty rate is rising, the middle class is losing income, and some 5.5 million fewer Americans have jobs today than in 2007?

Is it fair that roughly 88% of political contributions from supposedly impartial network television reporters, producers and other employees in 2008 went to Democrats?

Is it fair that the three counties with America's highest median family income just happen to be located in the Washington, D.C., metro area?

Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes, while the oil and gas industry—which provides at least 10 times as much energy—pays tens of billions of dollars of taxes while the president complains that it is "subsidized"?

Is it fair that those who work full-time jobs (and sometimes more) to make ends meet have to pay taxes to support up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who don't work?

Is it fair that those who took out responsible mortgages and pay them each month have to see their tax dollars used to subsidize those who acted recklessly, greedily and sometimes deceitfully in taking out mortgages they now can't afford to repay?

Is it fair that thousands of workers won't have jobs because the president sided with environmentalists and blocked the shovel-ready Keystone XL oil pipeline?

Is it fair that some of Mr. Obama's largest campaign contributors received federal loan guarantees on their investments in renewable energy projects that went bust?

Is it fair that federal employees receive benefits that are nearly 50% higher than those of private-sector workers whose taxes pay their salaries, according to the Congressional Budget Office?

Is it fair that soon almost half the federal budget will take income from young working people and redistribute it to old non-working people, even though those over age 65 are already among the wealthiest Americans?

Is it fair that in 27 states workers can be compelled to join a union in order to keep their jobs?
Is it fair that nearly four out of 10 American households now pay no federal income tax at all—a number that has risen every year under Mr. Obama?

Is it fair that Boeing, a private company, was threatened by a federal agency when it sought to add jobs in a right-to-work state rather than in a forced-union state?

Is it fair that our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids—who never voted for Mr. Obama—will have to pay off the $5 trillion of debt accumulated over the past four years, without any benefits to them?

Please share your comments below.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Maine Republican Caucus

This open forum is dedicated to the Maine Republican Caucus. 

After Santorum's three-state sweep in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, the republican nomination process just got very interesting. The candidates are now waiting on the polls to close in Maine which as been holding a week-long caucus.

It seems there is another little spoke in the wheels with this caucus: reports are showing that Ron Paul is the favorite to win Maine. We do not think this is "good" nor "bad" (it must be known that this blog does not yet endorse one GOP candidate since we favor any of the four candidates over Obama), but a Paul win would certainly make the race even more interesting while energizing the Paul camp.

Additionally, take a look at this interesting video from the Rachel Maddow show:

% Source: Youtube -

It certainly is an interesting segment, and it raises some key points. Perhaps Mitt Romney isn't the inevitable. Perhaps Ron Paul is in it until the end. We shall see. How long will it last?

Of course, there are the usual questions:

- Who do you think will win the Maine caucus?
- Who finishes where? Got any predictions for the percentages of votes cast for each candidate?
- Will there be any surprises?
- If Paul wins, what does it mean for Romney?
- If Romney upsets Paul, how does that bode for the Paul campaign?
- Can Newt survive non-first or second-place finish?
- Who drops out? Who goes on?
- What will the turnout be?

Be sure to give your opinions below. Thank you.


Mitt Romney wins the Maine Caucus:

Mitt Romney: 39%
Ron Paul: 36%
Rick Santorum: 18%
Newt Gingrich: 6%

What do you think of the results? What happens after this?

Friday, February 10, 2012

READER'S POST #10 - An Indefinite War Needs a Definite Solution: Swashbuckling Somali Pirates and Al-Qaeda

By: Publius

Since the tragedies of September 11th, the United States has taken massive military action abroad in the name of fighting the undeclared War on Terror.  The War on Terror has led U.S. forces to occupy and nation build both Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of insurmountable treasure and more American military lives lost than in the attacks of September 11th.  Civil liberties have decreased while the government’s power has increased.  Will this War on Terror ever end? Not without serious political changes in the Middle East.  Should the U.S. send standing armies to chase down bands of thugs? Never.  Is there a solution to reducing terrorist attacks and returning liberties? Yes; and it is right in our Constitution.

Under Article I – Section 8 of the Constitution, the U.S. Congress has the ability to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal; this power is the solution to the War on Terror.  A Letter of Marque and Reprisal is a government issued license for piracy and capture, under the flag of the Unite States, which allows private individuals to hunt criminals on the condition that any “booty” captured would be legally split between the privateer and the state.  To understand the Letter of Marque’s use I will briefly show how they have famously been used in history.

Perhaps the most famous Letter of Marque was given to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth in the late 16th century so that he could legally pirate both Spanish ships and pirate ships.  After posting bond with the English Crown, Raleigh went on to the New World to terrorize and plunder ships flying a flag of a public enemy.  To make a long story short, Raleigh made a fortune for both himself and his country while helping to eliminate threats to the state and was extolled as a national hero.  The same model can be used in the U.S. for both Somali pirates and terrorists.

I propose that the use of privateering, via the Letter of Marque, would go a long way in the War on Terror.  Privateers will be much better at tracking down terrorists in other countries because they will have greater stealth than a military presence (be able to go incognito or hire locals), can act with agility (adapt tools and tactics with little red tape/paying off locals for information more easily), will not use unnecessary force (for fear of penalties, forfeitures, and other loss of capital), and will create U.S. jobs and industries to support this effort.  Moreover, the U.S. will be getting rid of its enemies while profiting financially.  The only downside is that privateers will inevitably make mistakes and cause diplomatic tensions with the United States.  Despite that negativity, the pros do indeed outweigh the cons. 

The pros of privateering for terrorism are easily recognized because privateers are not bound to any traditional enforcement model.  They do not have to trudge around massive armies with supply lines looking for a bunch of criminal thugs.  Privateers can act as spies, special forces, and gumshoes all at once achieving that special blend of precision offensiveness with good old fashion police style investigation.  They will have the ability to execute the equivalent of a S.W.A.T. style arrest warrant, fight as paramilitaries for bigger targets, and establish local informant rings fueled by payoffs which don’t have to be approved by an unending chain of command.  Privateers will have access not only to the capture awards of the United States but a portion of the value of any confiscated weaponry, goods, currency, or seized accounts.  They could be forfeit these funds upon unnecessary force or any condition, set forth by Congress, with a natural check and balance built into enforcement (lifetime appointed federal judges wanting to strictly enforce penalties to get more money for the state while being careful to not kill the industry).  Indeed, there needs to be a way of proper enforcement of both human rights and of criminal terrorists.

Because terrorists are more analogous to criminals than standing armies, a constant police force is needed to monitor these criminal activities.  As the United States has seen, total occupation of a country harboring terrorists has not solved the problem.  Since standing armies are expensive and problematic, an income-producing privateering scheme would create a police force to remain in target countries indefinitely.  The idea being that as long as there are terrorists there is profit.  At that point, the only way a terrorist could win a war against privateers would be to make the market on that organizations side.  Since terrorists need significant sums of money to survive, as long as that money is up for bounty the terrorists will not be safe unless they defund.  Defunding will lead to international security (less money for those expensive attacks and recruitment) and ultimate disbandment.  From here on out the reader can ponder all the different ways a privateer could make a buck from selling Uncle Sam information to legally splitting the proceeds from a large terrorist linked drug bust abroad with him.   

The cons, isolated to diplomacy, of issuing Letters of Marque are twofold, one being the general international distaste of “pirates for hire” or mercenaries and the other being uses of unjustified force or mistaken identity.  The international distaste of mercenaries will cause international commotion at first but will also spark interest because many countries are broke and will be interested in the income gained from privateering.  I think these countries will speak daggers but use none to this end.  This clamor for reform could also be mitigated if privateering was first introduced to combat Somali pirates, because privateers have historically been the nemesis of pirates making their action nostalgic and more palatable, and then effectuated fully with a transition to terrorists.  Such a two-step process will let the U.S. both experiment and refine tactics/laws while letting other countries warm up and possibly mimic this model.  All other diplomatic cons stemming from mishaps will just have to be tolerated by the international community and this tolerance is dependent on national diplomacy and foreign interest/mimicry with mishaps being disincentivized by the diametrically opposed, yet counterbalanced, interests of the state and the privateers as previously mentioned.

The fact that Letters of Marque are explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution meant that the framers explicitly wanted our government to have this power. The fact that the language “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” is right next to Congress’s power to declare war means that the framers saw these two powers as useful in different ways; that privateers were to be used against some enemies for which a declaration of war would be tantamount to tilting at windmills. That a Letter of Marque is better used to fight a certain type of enemy than an army or navy.  The framers of the United States government knew then, as we should know now, that some wars need different tools to win.  Privateering turns terrorists and pirates into resources with a market structured to reward those who can get those resources the fastest; think Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Perhaps an endless war can be won if we use the invisible hand as a fist?

Disclaimer from The Elephant in the RoomThe article posted above is the work of a blog reader, not an owner of the blog. In promoting an open forum blog, and believing that the passing of information is the reason we exist, we happily post most readers' work with little editing. While the article does appear on our blog, the owners of The Elephant in the Room did not write this article, and posting this article on our blog does not imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed in the article. If you would like us to post your work, check out our Reader's Post page here ( or email us at

February 10th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Shortly after the Congress passed the STOCK bill prohibiting congressmen and women from engaging in insider trading, rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) faces an insider trading probe (Yahoo!):

- Al Qaeda merges with Harakat Al-Shabaab, a smaller terror organization. Though this move was expected, some terrorist experts say this shows Al Qaeda is weakened and looking for support. Others believe this shows Al Qaeda's willingness to expand and to consolidate and centralize control (CNN):

- After Russia and China's veto of the U.N. condemnation of Assad's regime in Syria, the U.S. is looking to skirt the world body by organizing a "friend of Syria" meeting (Fox News):

UPDATE at 11:35am:

- Obama announces change of position on controversial contraceptive issue (CNN):

     - I wish I could take credit for this, but perhaps the best comment I saw was, "When a conservative changes positions it's a flip flop; when a liberal does it, it's a compromise."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

READER'S POST # 9 - Al Sharpton Questions What Federal Programs We Have For The Poor

By: 32slim32

I sure hope no one spit any beverages on their monitor and keyboard after reading that headline. That’s even better than, "Resist we much. We must, and we will much about that be committed." Maybe that’s why New York Times best-selling author and radio host Mark Levin calls him Al Not-so Sharpton.

Newsbusters has a great story on it and audio from Sharpton’s  radio show here:

Here is Sharpton’s quote:

“The statement by Mitt Romney today, he's trying to walk it back saying that he wasn't concerned with the poor, concerned with the middle class, that he's trying to clarify it but even in his clarity I think he exposes to many the misconceptions. He said, well, there are programs for the poor, I meant my focus.

What programs for the poor? They [Republicans] keep acting as if poor people have all of these things that are helping them.”

Another interesting article to debunk Mr. Sharpton’s claim can be found here:

Also, you may want to download the entire 54 page report from the link above too on the Download pdf link at the story. (In yellow just below the headline on right side)

A couple of interesting excerpts from the above mentioned story:

“Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, government has spent vast sums on welfare or aid to the poor; however, the aggregate cost of this assistance is largely unknown because the spending is fragmented into myriad programs.” 1st paragraph

“Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, government has spent $15.9 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dol­lars) on means-tested welfare. In comparison, the cost of all other wars in U.S. history was $6.4 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars).” 11th paragraph

BIG DISCLAIMER: This report came out 9/16/2009, so yes, the costs of the wars may have gone up, but so has welfare spending.

Holy Cow! Since the beginning of the War on Poverty we have spent $15.9 TRILLION on fighting poverty. Wow, that’s more than our entire debt which stands at $15.288 TRILLION (source: as of February 1st.

Census data shows the poverty rate in 1964 at 15.0% and in 2010 a rate of 11.7%.
I guess if you want to be optimistic, we should have this poverty thing whipped in about another $56 TRILLION or so.  Provided we can continue at the same rate of progress we have made over the past 46 years worth of data (1964-2010).

Disclaimer from The Elephant in the Room: The article posted above is the work of a blog reader, not an owner of the blog. In promoting an open forum blog, and believing that the passing of information is the reason we exist, we happily post most readers' work with little editing. While the article does appear on our blog, the owners of The Elephant in the Room did not write this article, and posting this article on our blog does not imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed in the article. If you would like us to post your work, please submit it to

February 9th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- California and New York, the two biggest holdouts of the federal mortgage settlement will now join the deal (Yahoo!):

- Obama grants 10 states waivers from No Child Left Behind (Fox News):

- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to approve the construction of two reactors for the first time in 30 years (CNN Money):

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Santorum Sweeps Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri


He shoots, he scores! It was a hat-trick night for the Senator from Pennsylvania as Rick Santorum won the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses as well as the non-binding Missouri primary.

The results as of 6:47am are below:

Is this a "wow!" moment? How does Romney regain traction after this? I have heard in the media that conservatives rallied around Santorum because of the Obamacare stipulation that requires all healthcare providers, regardless of religious affiliation, to supply contraception including the Morning After Pill.

What do you think?

February 8th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- The Santorum Sweep. Rick Santorum wins the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses as well as the non-binding Missouri primary (CNN):

(Fox News):

- The payroll tax holiday fight is renewed. Democrats clash with republicans over paying for the tax break (Fox News):

- The U.S. is reviewing options for military action/intervention in Syria (CNN):

- Retired Lt. General advises U.S. Military to get the Navy SEALS "the hell out of the media (ABC News):

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

President Obama and Super PACs - Dangerous Bedfellows and "Flip-Flops"

Wait a minute! Didn't Obama admonish the Supreme Court over the infamous Citizens United ruling?

During his 2010 State of the Union, Obama scolded the Supreme Court: 

Obama also spoke out against this ruling prior to a congressional vote about additional campaign finance rules and regulations:

Now see this (CNN):

And this (MSNBC):

And this (ABC):

And this (Fox News):

And this (Yahoo!):

I have to give the media credit here; they did headline this. It has been on the front page of 4 of the 5 links above (Yahoo! had it buried).

What does this all mean? Will this have any effect in November? My prediction: probably not... but I think it should cause people to say, "hey... wait a minute!"

Personally, I agree with the Citizens United ruling. I don't believe the government should have the ability to regulate how a private individual's or a private company's money is spent in any way, but that's for a different debate. What is at the front and center here is what does this mean for Obama?

What do you think? If you're an Obama supporter, does this make you favor the president less? Is this irrelevant? Share your opinions below. Thank you.

Republican Caucuses - Colorado and Minnesota / Missouri Non-Binding Primary

Is this Super Tuesday lite? In the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses there are 36 and 40 delegates at stake, respectively. In the Missouri non-binding primary there are none. Missouri holds its official caucus on March 17th.

Why is this significant? Why is there so much attention focused on two caucuses one month ahead of Super Tuesday? One word: momentum.

What would a 3-state sweep tonight mean for Mitt Romney? Would the remaining candidates bow out in spite of promises to fight through until the end? Would it mean a clinch in the name of inevitability? What would happen if these three states were split among three candidates? Would that knock Romney off kilter? Many news outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum could easily win Minnesota. Some claim Minnesota could go to Ron Paul. What would this mean for the Romney camp?

Got predictions?

- Who will win the Colorado caucus?
- Who will win the Minnesota caucus?
- Who will win the Missouri non-binding primary?
- Will any candidates drop out after tonight?
- Percentages?
- Surprises?

RESULTS (as of 6:47am EST)

Colorado (99% reporting):

Santorum - 40%
Romney - 35%
Gingrich - 13%
Paul - 12%

Minnesota (89% reporting):

Santorum - 45%
Paul - 27%
Romney - 17%
Gingrich - 11%

Missouri (99% reporting): 

Santorum - 55%
Romney - 25%
Paul - 12%

It looks like this is going to be a long fight. What do you think? What does this do for Romney?

February 7th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Greek unions are set to strike again today showing further disdain with the country's austerity measures (CNN):

- President Obama does an about face and endorses a Super PAC (Washington Post):

- The Los Angeles elementary school (Miramonte Elementary) that has been at the center of news for the alleged sexual abuse of students is replacing its entire staff (CNN):

- U.S. is potentially transferring 5,000 U.S. marines from Japan to Guam (Fox News):

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6th, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- President Obama says pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran is the priority but says all options are on the table (Yahoo!) -

- A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the Philippine coast. Preliminary reports say 12 are dead (CNN):

- Egypt plans to try 19 Americans in spite of the U.S.' threat to cut off aid (ABC News):

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Exploring a Tax Myth - What Tax Rates do the Middle Class Pay?

I hope the readers of the blog don't think this is becoming redundant, but I cannot stand by while people live in a world of myth. People can vote for whomever they want, but I am worried that the things people believe in and use as a basis for voting can be factually wrong. To me, voting without truth is dangerous. If you're going to vote democrat or republican, that's fine. Just please know the facts about the information you care about.  I hope to help people learn things. I hope to help people dispel myth and see the truth. Recently, I think the biggest thing that gets under my skin the most is this myth about middle class vs. millionaires' tax rates. See below:

Last night, I received a Tweet (this blog has a Twitter account @lmelephantblog) from someone who did not like our conservative viewpoint. I had tweeted that Mitt Romney won the Nevada Caucuses and used the hashtag @MittRomney in my tweet. He obviously monitored Romney's twitter and decided to message me. His information is blacked out, but the message is clear:

An income of $57,000 causes someone to pay 28% in taxes?! What?! Of course, I responded that this is just not true. I responded that he should look at some information, and I sent him he link to one of our many write-ups about this. I even sent him the following graph and tried to explain in 140 characters or less how marginal tax brackets worked.

In spite of seeing an IRS data table, CRS analysis, the wikipedia article highlighting the exact U.S. tax brackets for 2011, and a personal example, the truth didn't seem sink in. When I woke up today, I wanted to investigate. Not only did I want to see what tax rate a $57,000 income would cause someone to pay, I wanted to see how much income would be needed to pay an effective rate of 28%.

I turned to Microsoft Excel (you know I just love Excel tables) to help with the analysis. First, allow me to establish some givens:

- I will use the most conservative estimate I can to make sure (though unrealistic) each taxpayer pays the maximum amount. This means:
               - No deductions
               - No write-offs
               - Neither taxpayer will receive a refund of any kind
               - Each taxpayer will pay the pre-payroll tax holiday tax rate of 7.65% total (6.2% for SS and 1.45% for Medicaid taxes)

The math is quite simple. Please see the results:

So what does all this mean? Well, I have concluded:

               - Someone that makes $57,000 of total income pays a final effective tax rate of 25.85%
               - It would take an income of $83,250 to pay a final effective tax rate of 28.00%.
               - Again, these tax rates are WITHOUT deductions. Normally, people making between $57K and $83K would have children, houses, and other write-offs and deductions, making their effective tax rates even lower. I make $53k (now current salary) and my tax rate was less than 14%. See my tax information at this post:
               - The twitter commenter was $26,250 or 46% too high.

What do YOU think? Is this analysis off? Is this the truth? All comments are appreciated.

Friday, February 3, 2012

READER'S POST #8 - MSNBC Interviewer Discusses the "Cracker Counties" of the Florida Panhandle

 By: 32slim32

On Tuesday morning (Jan 31), the Politico’s Jonathan Martin, was on MSNBC with Chuck Todd and gave us this analysis of the Republican Presidential primary for Florida:
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO: Chuck, one last thing on the map, though, if I could. I think the other reason why north Florida is going to be fascinating to watch tonight is because it's going to give us a sense of what's ahead in March, when this primary does move to the deep south states, because as you know, Chuck, a lot of the counties in the panhandle, in north Florida, the cracker counties, if you will-

MARTIN: -more resemble Georgia and Alabama than they do Florida. So, it's going to be interesting to see if Romney can really show some signs of strength in and around places like Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee and Jacksonville.
The cracker counties?  I am sure there must be a couple Ritz, Saltine or Zesta factories there where they produce crackers. Right? I mean, what else could he possibly be talking about?
Juan Williams on Monday (Jan 30) wrote an article cluing us in on key racist “code words” or euphemisms. The secret code words are:
Entitlement Society
Poor Work Ethic
Food Stamp President
‘References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”’
Maybe Juan can help us out and let us know if “cracker counties” is some sort of “code word” or if it just refers to a certain geographic location that just so happens to produce a lot of Ritz crackers.
Hey, maybe we could ask MSNBC’s own Ed Schultz if this is some sort of “code word”, since he sees racist comments everywhere. For instance when Rick Perry said “….that big black cloud that hangs over America, that debt….”, Schultz was quick to inform us that the “big black cloud” was 0bama. Of course Schultz conveniently edited out “that debt” in order to make his point.
After perusing through a few of the Mainstream Media websites, apparently “cracker counties” has no racial context whatsoever. None of them seemed to be alarmed by it.
What I find particularly odd is the media using actual numbers instead of percentages. Stick with me here. Florida has the second highest population of African Americans with 2,999,862 which is 16% of their population. (source: 2010 census) What Mr. Martin is trying to say (I believe), is that the “cracker counties” have a more white population than the rest of Florida and they closer resemble Georgia and Alabama. The main problem with that is Georgia has the 4th highest population of African Americans with 2,950,435 or 30% of their population and Alabama the 15th highest population of African Americans with 1,251,311 or 27% of their population.
Now if the panhandle of Florida is where the “cracker counties” are and the state as a whole is 16% black, it would be safe to assume that the “cracker counties” have less than a 16% black population, right.  My question to Mr. Martin is; how exactly would a county that has less than 16% black population more closely resemble states that have 27% and 30% African American population? How does that work Jonathan?
It really doesn’t make any sense. Does it? I think the stupid schmuck just wanted to say “cracker counties” and try to garner a little attention.
What do you think? If this was said on another cable network, like, I don’t know, say, Fox, would this be more of an issue? Or do they just mass produce Ritz and Saltine crackers in the panhandle of Florida?
Disclaimer from The Elephant in the Room: The article posted above is the work of a blog reader, not an owner of the blog. In promoting an open forum blog, and believing that the passing of information is the reason we exist, we happily post most readers' work with little editing. While the article does appear on our blog, the owners of The Elephant in the Room did not write this article, and posting this article on our blog does not imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed in the article. If you would like us to post your work, please submit it to

The Nevada Republican Caucus

This open forum is dedicated to the Nevada and Maine Republican Caucus. 

After Romney's big win in the Florida Primary, this is more of a test for the remaining GOP candidates than it is for Mitt Romney. Most polls predict Romney will win big in Nevada (don't forget, Maine's GOP caucus begins on February 4th and is a week long) because Nevada has a large Mormon population which is expected to give him a large boost. Maine is geographically located closer to Massachusetts and could easily go Romney's way, too.

- Who do you think will win the Nevada caucus? Who will win in Maine?
- Who finishes where? Got any predictions for the percentages of votes cast for each candidate?
- Will there be any surprises?
- If Romney wins, is that the end of the show for the other candidates?
- Who drops out? Who goes on?
- What will the turnout be?

We will also put up another post about the upcoming caucuses/primary (Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri). Thank you.

February 3rd, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thinks Israel could launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as early as spring of this year (CNN):

- President Obama is unveiling a veteran-specific jobs plan (CNN):

- The House of Representatives will consider a bill banning insider trading by members of Congress. This bill was passed 96-3 in the U.S. Senate (AP via Yahoo!):

- North Korea has agreed to immediate talks with South Korea if the North's demands for the talks are met (AP via ABC News):

Updated at 8:50AM:

January Employment Information:- The U.S. economy added 243,000 new jobs in January, dropping the unemployment rate down to 8.3% (CNN Money):

- Unemployment rate falls to 8.3% (Fox News):

Thursday, February 2, 2012

READER'S POST #7 - Stunning Hypocrisy at Occupy DC

By: 32slim32

I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this story (it’s only 4 sentences; click and read it):

Now, click here and look at the photo. Notice the sign. It says no camping and no alcohol. Look at the Corona box at the base of the red covered tent, right by the sign.

I find it gut bustingly funny that the occutards would make a citizens arrest period, but over a parking violation is just priceless. I guess they just kind of pick and choose what laws are just or something?

Why is it they feel a need to obey “No Parking” signs but are totally fine with ignoring “No Camping” and “No Alcohol” signs?

Would they make a citizens arrest on a CNN van? How about an MSNBC van?

Do the occutards have a double standard?

Disclaimer from The Elephant in the Room: The article posted above is the work of a blog reader, not an owner of the blog. In promoting an open forum blog, and believing that the passing of information is the reason we exist, we happily post most readers' work with little editing. While the article does appear on our blog, the owners of The Elephant in the Room did not write this article, and posting this article on our blog does not imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed in the article. If you would like us to post your work, please submit it to

February 2, 2012 - Groundhog Day - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- U.S. Attorney general is set to testify in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today regarding the controversial Fast and Furious program (CNN):

- The CBO projects a "dim" economic outlook for 2012 and 2013 (Fox News):

- American Airlines plans to shed 13,000 jobs as it goes through a structured bankruptcy (CNN):

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Today's Morning Headlines

This is an experimental thread. If it works, perhaps it might be something that is implemented into our daily posts. We want to give readers more options and more sources of information and a central place to obtain it.  This is merely a collection of 3-5 daily news articles and links with a brief summary preceding each link. Please let us know your thoughts. Feedback really helps. Thank you.

Morning Headlines:

- January hiring is sluggish; December's job numbers revised downward (CNN Money):

- Mitt's wins big in Florida, strongly carries Hispanic vote (Fox News):

- New information reveal Taliban is growing. Support from Pakistan is fueling the Taliban's resurgence (Yahoo! News via Reuters):

- Conflict worsens in Syria. UN Security Council mulls action but China and Russia are against sanctions and military intervention (CNN):

The Elephant in the Room Lite: Super Bowl XLVI

Images source:

Okay, so the graphics are cheesy, but I couldn't resist. The Super Bowl is an American holiday, and sometimes the world just doesn't revolve around liberal or conservative, left or right, social or economic issues. 

This forum is dedicated to all the football fans out there. 

Who do you think will win Super Bowl XLVI? Be sure to vote in our poll at the right!

Who can get closest to the the final score? My prediction:

- New York Giants: 31

- New England Patriots: 24

For all those that know... I'm pretty bias. I strongly dislike Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots as a whole. My wife is a die-hard Redskins fan, so she despises the Giants. This should be interesting. 

Have a safe Super Bowl!