Author Archives: Matthew McLaughlin

About Matthew McLaughlin

Dissecting and editorializing the "news" of the Grand Old Party.

If your tax policy is a catchphrase.

Who needs those damn elitist economists?  Not Herman.  His “9-9-9” proposal would effectively tax all sales and income at a flat 9%.

But don’t worry, this is a fiscally and socially responsible plan.

At least Richard Lowrie Jr. thinks so.  This is the guy who, according to the HuffPost, created and thoroughly vetted Cain’s plan. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re not alone because, make no mistake, he’s not one of  them big city elitist economists.  He’s just Dick the Accountant, a financial adviser from some Wells Fargo branch in rural Ohio and the brains behind the centerpiece of Cain’s economic policy.  According to his Wells Fargo profile, Dick  “can offer you a wide range of services, from helping you select individual investments to developing a retirement plan” or, evidently, crafting a presidential tax reform scheme.

And while it may seem silly, ridiculous or even scary, ever since Joe the Plumber, this has been normal operating procedure for the GOP  — to decry anything  intelligent as elitist and anything simple as common sense.  The health care bill was too long, Obama is too professorial and textbooks are too complicated.  If Dick the Accountant is on-board, so is the Right.

The real truth is, not only would Cain’s “9-9-9”  plan devastate lower income and middle class Americans (the 9% sales tax would apply to food!) while cutting the tax rate for the rich and corporations, it would have a significant effect on the Government’s ability to collect revenue.

UPDATE:  Thanks to the Huffington Post, it has come to my attention that there may be more to this speculative story than I originally thought.  Apparently, the 999 plan has been around for years as an economic standard for the computer game Sim City 4.  Keep it up, Herman!

If the honeymoon is over and divorce is imminent.

According to a new ABC/Washington Post Poll, Obama’s numbers on the deficit and economy have markedly improved.  In both areas, voters trust the President almost ten percentage points more than the republicans.  The GOP’s numbers are down to 36% and 34%, respectively, with Obama’s reaching 47% and 45%. For the President, this is a major improvement.  Conversely, the Republicans are facing a serious problem with independent voters.  Since we have to assume that at least 30% of the voters are die-hard, unapologetic republicans, 34% is just about as low as this poll can ever realistically move.   Independent voters have distanced themselves from the GOP after having been in office for only two months.

I guess it doesn’t matter how well one can deceive the public with words. When the time comes, the actions taken will always be seen and (most importantly) felt. Americans aren’t inately stupid; if we were there would never have been civil rights, social security, union rights, Medicare, or any other significant social program.

If you lost control of the populist movement.

It may be hard to remember but, once upon a time, populism belonged to progressives.  Rallies on the steps of state houses and in D.C. were designed to give a voice to the working class in our country with the explicit purpose of moving the nation forward both economically and socially.  They were rallies for and by the middle class as a way to keep the government aware that there is a populist in the country that has a voice and will turn out to ensure that the average person’s rights are counted.

Then came 2008.  Fresh off the high of electing Barak Obama, the Progressives took a breather and inadvertently opened a brief window in time that allowed the GOP to swoop in and steal populism from the Democrats. It was quick, easy and accomplished before the Left knew what hit them. From a few Town Hall meetings to major rallies in DC, the GOP took control of the populist movement on the backs of an ignorant electorate who were susceptible to the fear mongering perpetuated by the talking heads of the Right.  And the Tea Party was born.

Now, predictably, the Tea Party has spun out of the control and turned into a giant Conservative Frankenstein. With this, Progressives are finally seizing the opportunity to take back populism for the common man.  With his union busting goals and blatant disregard for any compromise, Gov. Walker has opened a window and the Left is rushing in.  Unions are one of the few things that Liberals hold unequivocally sacred and when a governor tries to abolish collective bargaining, the Left will not sit in silence.In the coming weeks we will see rallies at state capitals across the country as Democrats begin to take back their voice and drown out the proxy voices of the Chamber of Commerce that is the Tea Party.

Regardless of what happens in Wisconsin, the real story here has already been told:  The GOP has lost control of the populist movement.


If you don’t care about the unemployed: “So be it.”

John Boehner: “The federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs since President Obama took office. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.”

Cutting the deficit, they say, is the real way to fix unemployment and will lead to a stronger economy thus stimulating job growth.  This is categorically untrue; just read about FDR’s policies.  And if history isn’t Boehner’s strong point, he only needs to read about what is happening in the UK where the government instituted a series of austerity measures that significantly cut most social programs in Britain and now (according to the BBC) they are facing rising unemployment and a weakened social safety net.  Say what you will about the unemployment rate here, at least it has been going down with the aid of stimulus.

The fear tactics from the Right will continue: we don’t want to see what happened in Greece happen here or social security will go bankrupt or we will have nothing to leave our children. Bullshit.  This country is exorbitantly stronger than Greece ever was.  Social Security has a surplus.  And, our kids will be fine. There’s a time to cut and there’s a time to build — now is the time to build.  And if that increases the deficit, SO BE IT.

if your response to Arizona is looser gun laws.

What if, in the wake of 9/11, lawmakers thought it prudent to take all of the metal detectors out of the airports?  What if, after the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, Congress passed a bill stripping people of their right to get a flu shot?  And, what if, after a major salmonella crisis, legislators ordered looser regulations on food safety?

While each of these scenarios seems outlandish and, frankly, dangerous, the GOP is proposing even more insane gun laws after the tragedies in Arizona.  From bills allowing lawmakers to carry concealed weapons on the floor of Congress to Virginia lifting its open-carry ban in state parks, the opposite of what should be happening is happening. Republicans are not only preserving the ridiculously archaic gun laws we already have on the books, but they are also having an all out gun law bonanza where conservative executives and legislative bodies are making unprecedented changes that will ultimately cost people their lives.Yet the Liberal body can not muster enough support to even ban extended magazines.  Where the hell has our common sense gone?

This reaction is not only stupid but completely unwarranted and a slap in the face to the half dozen people who were murdered in Arizona. By ramming these laws through days after, they are –at the very least– unscrupulous, tactless and dangerous. It’s time for the Republicans to put away their guns and grow up; the preservation of their hobby is not worth lives.

if you are insecure without a gun.

As the GOP pundits line up in defense mode and the progressives cautiously criticize the tone of the right, everyone seems to be looking past the real issue: guns. There is no doubt that the Tuscon shooter was at least slightly fueled by the unchecked rhetoric from the Right, but that was just a squirt of lighter fluid on the already raging bonfire of hatred and vitriol smoldering in his head. The real issue, and what caused the most deaths, was the easy access he had to purchasing a firearm.

How many tragedies does this country need to experience before politicians allow themselves to have a conversation about sensible gun control? For a developed country, we have the most lax gun laws anywhere in the world and this is reflected in the United States’ ranking as #24 in the world for murders per ca-pita with no Western European countries even near us in the rankings. The reason? The unprecedented access we, as average citizens, have to guns.

Sure, the rhetoric from the Right may have played a role in the shooter’s motivation, but the the fact that he was kicked out of college, not allowed to join the Army but was still permitted to legally purchase a semi-automatic hand gun is astonishing. This shooter would have an awful hard time finding these types of guns if there was a national ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols. Sure he might have still carried out these attacks, but one can only assume that it would have been with a less powerful weapon saving several people’s lives.

Let the hunters keep their rifles, but there is no reason any citizen should be allowed to purchase a semi-automatic Glock with an extended magazine because, let’s be honest, there are only two reasons to own a gun like that: To go on a shooting spree or to make yourself feel better because you have a small dick.

if you interpret the Constitution like you do the Bible

A funny thing happened on the way to the Tea Party: back when the movement was arguably apolitical and worshiped at the alter of Ron Paul during the beginnings of the 2008 presidential election campaign season, people from all walks of life rallied behind a strict banner of Libertarianism that was not attached to any particular party. And while I thought the ideas of Ron Paul were short sighted, irresponsible and in some cases dangerous, I had a certain degree of respect for people who rejected both the Right and Left’s political dogma. They didn’t call themselves tea partiers, but this certainly was the beginning of the movement.

Then the Christian Conservatives got their grubby hands on the cause and started operating behind the shadows like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. While the Tea Partiers still claim that they want government out of their lives, they now overwhelmingly oppose social reformations that would not only keep the governments out of their wallets, but also out of their pants. The Tea Party is not a group of radical Libertarians, but rather a reincarnation of Newt Gingrich’s Religious Right.

The evidence of this lies in one of the GOP’s key changes to House of Representative rules when they take power next week: the reading of the Constitution at the open of the new Congress and the requirement that all lawmakers writing new bills insert a line explaining why it does not violate the Constitution.

As John Boehner says it:

“These reforms represent Republicans’ first step in keeping the promises we outlined in the Pledge to America to change the way Washington works and address the people’s priorities: creating jobs and cutting spending,”

Aside from the fact that this masquerade has nothing to do with creating jobs, it shows proof that religious Fundamentalism is sweeping the GOP.   The Constitution was an imperfect document and the founding fathers knew this, that’s why they allowed wiggle room within the document giving it elasticity. But the new GOP will refuse to acknowledge this, just as they refuse to admit that the book of Genesis may, in fact, be more a parable than a written document of historic truth even though it has been proven false by science. They are worshiping at the altar of Washington with the Constitution as their sacred document. In both cases it boils down to ignorance as a choice. By believing the Bible in a literal way, people have the ability to relinquish all responsibility and “offer up” problems instead of taking the time to fix them with discrimination and sexism being the norm. The same can be said with a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution; believers can ignore the poor and suffering in this country by literally interpreting the Constitution without actually analyzing the conditions in which it was written (case in point the 2nd amendment).  Ignorance is bliss.

All that being said, this might be a “teaching moment” for the GOP because as Yale constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar said in an interview with the Washington Post, the constitution actually gives “very broad federal power” and is “not the narrow states’ rights document that tea party activists present it as.”  We’ll see what happens, but regardless of the outcome, once the new Congress convenes and the Wizard steps out from behind his curtain, the GOP will be seen for what they are: the 2nd coming of the Christian Right.

Photo by Kabrina McLaughlin @