Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By Ugly Americans For Ugly Americans

That should be the tagline for The Gringo Gazette, which bills itself as "Baja's Only English Language Newspaper." The Gringo Gazette is a longtime vanity project of right-winger Carrie Duncan. Her primary focus seems to be pimping real estate and tourism in Cabo, but she never misses an opportunity to attack liberals, environmentalists, regulations, taxes, and government (except when government spends money on projects she supports).

One article about the growth of the middle class in Mexico, written by "Edna Middle", used the example of a prosperous young Mexican living south of Mexico city who had a Spanish translation of Ayn Rand's "Fountainhead" on his table -- a book Edna* deemed "essential reading for Mexico's middle class." I'm quite sure that this example was pulled entirely from Edna's fictional ass. It is extremely rare for The Gringo Gazette to cover anything in Baja north of La Paz, but I'm supposed to believe that they sent a reporter to Mexico City? And that intrepid reported just happened to find the perfect example of Duncan's Randian fantasy among 20+ million people? Yeah, right.

Duncan frequently complains about those protesting the planned mega-resort near Cabo Pulmo Marine Park. She calls them eco-freaks. At the same time, she claims that tourists have saved the Cabo Pulmo Reef from destructive fishermen. That is ridiculous. Government regulation and enforcement of no-fishing zones -- policies advocated by the eco-freaks -- saved Cabo Pulmo. The tourists only arrived after the reef started recovering, and their snorkeling really doesn't do anything beneficial for the fish. Of course, like the right winger she is, Duncan can't possibly admit that the eco-freaks were right, and that government regulation has succeeded, so she gives credit to the developers and tourists instead.

In one of her always painful op eds, Duncan says that her next project after The Gringo Gazette will be to partner with an American ag school graduate to become a share cropper in Central America. She thinks buying land and hiring locals to farm it will help them escape poverty. What a big heart she has. That is the typical historical experience of share cropping, right?

Duncan specifically argues that share cropping would be much better for the locals than teaching them to read. What makes this hilariously stupid is Duncan's inspiration for becoming a share cropper in the first place. In the opening paragraph of the very same op ed, she recalled one of her first trips to Central America.

She met a young American college graduate who was very successful growing snow peas as a share cropper. To her surprise, the young American graduated from business school, not ag school. He knew nothing about agriculture, but he had a book on farming, which he translated for the locals.    

Do you follow Duncan's logic? The local people couldn't read, so they had to rely on an American, who himself didn't know how to farm. He taught them how to farm, by reading and translating from a book about farming. Therefore, teaching the locals to read would never help them escape poverty. Instead, what they really need is an American capitalist to buy up the land and tell them what to do.

How thick is Carrie Duncan's skull that it can contain the energy released by the collision of these awesome contradictions? You'd think by now the walls of her office would be coated with a slimy mixture of fake blond hair and botox, but no, she keeps writing.


*Duncan is such a serious journalist that she frequently writes under not-so-clever pseudonyms. For example, articles about transportation projects are written by "Dusty Rhodes". Always. Every week. Over and over.

What is a Wonk?

A Los Angeles radio host recently referred to Paul Ryan as a "wonk of wonks", but immediately added that "his numbers don't add up". To which I say, how can you be a wonk, let alone a wonk of wonks, if you're numbers don't add up? A wonk is someone who is an expert in their field. Someone who knows the details. Someone who can do the math. Ryan is not a wonk. He pretends to be a wonk, but Ryan is a fraud.

Biden pushed this angle in the debate by asking for details on which tax credits Romney/Ryan would eliminate to offset their 20% across-the-board tax cut...mortgage interest rate deductions? child tax credits? charitable deductions? Ryan responded that those details would have to be worked out with congress. Those are the words of a weasel, not a wonk. Of course, the details will have to be worked out, but Ryan must at least provide an existence proof. Give us some scenarios congress could consider to make the numbers add up.

Scenario 1. Cut A by X%, B by Y%, and C by Z%
Scenario 2. Cut A by I%, B by J%, and C by K%
Scenario 3. Cut A by P%, B by Q%, and C by R%

Ryan doesn't do this because any scenario where the numbers add up would be rejected by voters impacted by cuts to A, B, and/or C. Hand waving on the details is an evasive and fraudulent strategy--exactly what we should expect from Ryan and Romney.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Referees and Regulation

Usually, I hate the use of sports metaphors in politics, but the recent fiasco in the NFL provided a great opportunity to highlight the importance of regulation in a way that the average Joe can understand. To ensure that the best team wins, the NFL has rules. Those rules are supposed to be enforced by the referees (known as job-killing bureaucratic regulators per the Republicans). When the referees don't do their job, or do their job poorly, the wrong people win. The same thing happens when we deregulate businesses or depower the regulators. That shouldn't be hard to understand, but we still have a presidential candidate arguing that business would be booming if we just throw out the rule books.