Author Archives: Matthew McLaughlin

About Matthew McLaughlin

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

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 @

if you can (or can’t?) see the writing on the wall

Instead of lambasting the entire GOP today, I think it is important to give praise where praise is due.  Eight Republican Senators bravely crossed party lines to vote their conscience on Saturday and repeal the severely flawed and immoral policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

  1. Richard Burr of North Carolina
  2. Mark Kirk of Illinois
  3. John Ensign of Nevada
  4. Scott Brown of Massachusetts
  5. George Voinovich of Ohio
  6. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  7. Olympia Snowe of Maine
  8. Susan Collins of both of Maine.

Let’s hope this ushers in an era of social progressive-ism that will one day break down all barriers that the LGBT community face on an everyday basis. Sure, there will always be holdouts like John McCain, but that is no different than Strom Thurmond fighting against the desegregation of the military in 1948.  Old people with bigoted ideas won’t change but when the nation begins catapulting forward and socially conscious people like Olympia Snowe join the ride, John McCain and Mitch McConnell will be left behind to grow old, insignificant and sad.  I think McCain’s already there.

if you are blindly prejudiced

DADT died today. Even after exhaustive surveys, in-depth reports and almost across the board endorsements by otherwise conservative military officials, the Republicans still just don’t get it.  In the latest polls, over 67% of Americans and a majority of soldiers are against the policy that forces gay and lesbian Americans in the military to lie about their sexual orientation. Not only is this decision by the GOP a politically disastrous move, it is also mindbogglingly stupid to force a procedural military policy that the military itself is decrying. McCain even said earlier that he would make his decision based on an in depth military study–which he got and quickly dismissed.

What gives?

Prejudice is blinding. It’s not an intellectual exercise that requires inner debate and reasoning, it’s ingrained. And just like their disbelief of global warming, there is no debate or rational argument that will change their minds. They just believe it no matter how much evidence is stacked against them. They believe deep within themselves that homosexuals are unfit to serve because of the perverse lifestyle they choose. If these Republicans had their way, they would pray the gay out of ’em right after they got their hair buzzed before basic training.

This recent rise of anti-intellectualism in the GOP is frightening — and not surprisingly it seems to be neatly paralleled with with the rise of Sarah Palin. The fight against intellectuals and reason is an ancient one that promoted systemic human rights abuses (see: The Crusades).

All being said, this is a fight that progressives can feel good about. While there seems to be an increase in the popularity of constitutional conservatism, socially we are a country moving to the left. Polls indicate Americans are quickly and increasingly supporting gay rights but, like usual, the GOP is three steps behind.

if you are enjoying the show

Ed Schultz is fired up... against Obama?

There is no surprise that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate GOP held middle class and small business tax benefits hostage in order to win an extension of the upper class Bush tax cuts. This was expected. My surprise is the embarrassing reaction by almost every progressive pundit and ideologue. While it is disheartening to me, Boehner and the rest of the GOP are sitting back with a glass of Merlot laughing at us.

The anger from the professional Left is so inappropriately over the top that, to an outsider, it would seem as if Obama just committed  an act of genocide. The fact is, as progressives, we need to figure out who we are and who we want to be. I always looked at the the Dems as a party of pragmatism, rationality and intelligence. Gut reactions, emotional decisions and macho hardheadedness was always the realm of the GOP, solidified by George W’s “gut” reaction to invade Iraq.  Now many on the Left are starting to sound remarkably similar to the blowhards on Fox News.

While the GOP’s decision to hold middle class tax benefits hostage was reprehensible, the President’s difficult compromise was the right decision. Without this deal, there was little chance the GOP would grant tax cuts for the middle class or extend unemployment for a record 13 months. But instead of heralding the positive points of this plan, now the Liberal pundits are vehemently attacking the President for compromising. This will achieve absolutely nothing.  Politically this can be a powerful statement from Obama to an independent base that is sick and tired of the venomous fights between the Right and the Left. Here is a man that rises above petty divisions.  Here is a President that is not playing the game in Washington, but making sure the unemployed millions have food on their tables.

Instead of focusing their energy on that, the professional Left (Olbermann, Maddow, Press, Schultz…) attack their own President. A President who has achieved a historic compromise by extending unemployment to record levels. A President who was able to keep progressive tax elements in place. A President who refuses to allow gridlock to destroy the economy.

Obama’s too intelligent to fight a war that he knows he can’t win and too compassionate to allow millions of people to go hungry.  To him, that’s worth the $700 billion the GOP is adding to the national deficit. The pundits and Liberal lawmakers who criticize Obama on this compromise are either ignorant or cruel. Is it really more important to look tough than to help people? To these people ideology is more important than pragmatism, practicality and compassion.

Get over it.  It takes more guts to compromise than quarrel.

if you’re still fighting Marxism

Steve King

Bachmann isn’t alone in her desire to investigate politicians’ “un-american” activities (as she mentioned in a Chris Matthews interview earlier this year).  Now Representative Steve King from Iowa is contemplating whether or not it would be a good idea to reinstate the House Un-American Activitees Committe — that congressional committee made famous by the McCarthy hearings. He claims that the committee helped curb “the ugly spread of Marxism in America” and that he thinks it is a good process and would “support it.” Because, as we all know, Marxism is a real issue right now.  Forget the economy, unemployment or even Osama Bin Laden; instead, let’s interrogate those commie bastards!

If I seem obsessed with the Right’s apparent plan to wage a new war on Communism, that is because I am.  The McCarthy hearings were once seen as an ugly stain on the fabric of our nation. They were divisive, dangerous, and arguably unconstitutional.  To revisit these old practices is almost as reprehensible as suggesting that only landowners should have the right to vote — as Tea Party leader Judson Phillips remarked during a radio show this week. In an article last month, I made the point that the GOP is using the evil Communist bogey man the same way it did half a century ago — to scare the ignorant and elderly in our society into believing that  if a citizen isn’t mindlessly nationalistic, they are unfit to call themselves American. And if the election was any testament, it worked.  Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

In the coming months we will see other Conservative Republicans come out of the wood work to impose their brand of propaganda on the unwitting public. Whether it be a “Manchurian” candidate or the perceived threat of Communism from within our own borders,  the more things we as a populace have to be scared of, the more we behave irrationally and allow our emotions (not out brains) process information.  And since almost the entire GOP platform is irrational, they will keep pumping fear into the hearts of the ignorant masses and have a strangle hold on their base — the uneducated.

if you hate business regulation but promote people regulation

It is widely speculated that when the GOP gains more power over the FCC that Net Neutrality will be off the table.  The principle behind neutrality is that regardless of how much a user pays or what isp he chooses,  he gets the same level of access to the internet.  In its current form, the beauty of the internet is that it is an inherently even playing field for essentially everyone in the country.  Without neutrality, big business will run rampant with corporations controlling access to content thereby turning the information superhighway into the information turnpike.

This is yet another example of the GOP’s hypocrisy in ideology.  The internet as we know it now is a capitalist’s dream; it provides equal opportunity for anyone to open a business with little or no cost and make money based on ingenuity, drive, and work ethic.  While this seems part of the Republican’s own platform, their decisions on net neutrality will expose the fact that the GOP is not the party of personal responsibility, capitalism and entrepreneurship, but rather the political wing of corporate America.  Are we so short sighted that we forget Joe Barton apologizing to BP?  They want government to get out of our lives, but have no problem imposing government regulations on individuals who want to access something that is essential to personal freedom.

What the debacle with DADT, marijuana reform, and the Patriot Act has taught us is that the GOP (and some shameful, conservative Democrats) is not interested in having government stay out of our lives — they want to control what we smoke, what we say and who we fuck —  and now they want to give corporations the ability to control free thought and information.  All said, Joe Barton and Chairman Mao have more in common than one might think.

What is deregulation?  Merely individual regulation.  The expulsion of personal liberty.  And with the demise of net neutrality, we are beginning the slow decent to the corporatization of the most liberated space in all of humanity.

if you don’t believe in global warming because God won’t let it happen.

God is apparently speaking to the top Republican on environmental and energy policy. While the majority of the GOP deny global warming on purely selfish grounds (Barton vs. squiggly pigtailed lightbulbs), John Shimkus has a far more divine reason.  And he is rather optimistic:


“The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood. I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.”


In Shimkus’ mind, global warming should go the way of cave men and dinosaurs: a nonexistent, scientific fable.  While most intelligent people understand the idiocy of evolution deniers, they have somehow wormed their way into our [southern] public school systems with the intelligent design craze.

Unfortunately, this is what I see next for global warming and anything environmental.  We will soon see a push by the GOP (led by the Christian Conservatives) to abolish the teaching of global warming in schools.  Or at least to offer an alternative.  Possibly something like intelligent earth design?

Everyone has a right to their own faith.  But I don’t want government run as a leap of faith.  There is far too much at stake.  Regardless, it has been proven over and over again that smart energy policy is good for the economy — just look at the car industry.

So while it may be true that we, as human beings, will have a very difficult time destroying the earth itself, we can certainly do a good job in killing each other living atop it.  Mr. Shimkus, you are right, we probably will not destroy the earth, but that doesn’t mean we won’t destroy each other.  Or is that not in God’s plan either?