Obama, Jindal, And The Volcanoes
February 26, 2009
The Republicans’ self-destruction continues.
I don’t want to spend time talking about Obama’s speech – I thought it was great, btw – because I’m more interested in the frightening debacle of Bobby Jindal’s response, both because of his style (roundly criticized even by conservatives), but even more so because of its content.
So quickly, one small criticism of Obama:
Do we have to claim that the United States invented EVERYTHING? America did not invent the automobile. There were plenty of contributions to the development of the automobile, but the credit for inventing the gasoline-power auto truly has to go to the Germans. Likewise, Americans did not invent solar technology. Sure, Americans invented SOME solar technology, and contributed a great deal to the development of the automobile as well, but to claim we invented them is an outright lie. We invented so many things, do we have to lie about the ones we didn’t?
OK, now onto Jindal. Holy Christ cooking in a pot of gumbo, that guy’s a real piece of work. I’ll quickly get past his comical style – he has already been compared to Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock by countless others on the Inter-Web-Tubes. And, frankly, his I’m-teaching-first-grade way of talking down to the audience was nothing new. After 8 years of Bush, I accept that the Republican lingua franca. What most blew me away was the content. A Republican bringing up Katrina? Really? And using it as an example of TOO MUCH government?! REALLY?! What happened during Katrina was that the government FAILED to respond. Jindal’s interpretation, apparently, is that the government failed simply by getting involved (you know, with all its “bureaucrats”), and everything would’ve been hunky-dory had private citizens been left to organize a response on their own. The stupidity of this is mind-blowing. Here this guy is criticizing a stimulus package that spends billions on infrastructure, and he uses the Katrina example, which was CAUSED(!!) by failing infrastructure, as the key example to support his argument? Wow.
And second, what, in the name of all God’s creatures great and small, is so ridiculous about volcano monitoring? I’m sorry, “something called ‘volcano monitoring,'” as Jindal so mockingly put it. The Republicans are really grasping at straws with their supposed examples of wasteful spending in this bill. First there’s the apocryphal Hollywood-moviestars-ride-the-8-billion-dollar-train-to-Disneyland-and-Caesar’s-Palace story, which is completely fabricated. Then there’s the supposed marsh-mouse funding, which is so exaggerated it can also properly be called an utter fabrication. Now we have volcano monitoring. Let’s put aside for the moment the supreme irony of the governor of Louisiana of all places criticizing spend money on natural disaster prevention (and that’s putting aside quite a bit). Let’s also put aside the fact that the lion’s share of America’s active volcanoes (and the US ranks third in the world for the number of volcano eruptions) are in Sarah Palin’s state of Alaska. Volcano eruptions are serious natural disasters that can cost lives and damage vast amounts of property. Here’s FOX News, of all things, from an article that takes Jindal to task for his comments:
“Volcano monitoring likely saved many lives — and significant money — in the case of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (where the United States had military bases at the time), according to the USGS.
The cataclysmic eruption lasted more than 10 hours and sent a cloud of ash as high as 22 miles into the air that grew to more than 300 miles across.
The USGS spent less than $1.5 million monitoring the volcano and was able to warn of the impending eruption, which allowed authorities to evacuate residents, as well as aircraft and other equipment from U.S. bases there.
The USGS estimates that the efforts saved thousands of lives and prevented property losses of at least $250 million (considered a conservative figure).”
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington took 57 lives and the total could have been significantly higher had there not been ample warning and evacuations. Mt. Redoubt, another active volcano, in Alaska, could erupt in coming months; it has erupted several times already in the past century.
But apparently “something called ‘volcano monitoring'” (unlike something called ‘hurricane monitoring’) just sounds funny, and Jindal is obviously banking on it sounding founding to enough of the teh stoopids out there to win the Republicans some votes.
Maybe Jindal’s problem isn’t with volcano monitoring per se, but, much like hurricane response was best left to a rag-tag band of locals, the government’s role in it. Certainly there are number of Doc Brown independently-wealthy mad-scientist types in this country who could rig together a few garage-made vulcan-meters and take care of this whole “something called ‘volcano monitoring'” business without the interference of evil government bureaucrats from that do-nothing US Geological Survey outfit (damn USGS, always getting in the way of our mad volcano scientists with their rules and regs!).
The $140 million spent on volcano monitoring, btw, represents less than 0.02% of stimulus bill. To put this into perspective, if you had a weekly spending budget of $500, this would be like spending a lot of time worrying about 8 cents of it. In other words, the Republicans have been spending a lot of time trying to come up with a list of the most ridiculous “earmarks” (there are no earmarks in the bill, in fact, but they are obviously using the term to mean, incorrectly, anything they deem ‘wasteful’ spending, which at times seems to mean, simply, spending), and the best they can do is about 10 cents out of every $500 worth of stuff like early warning of serious natural disasters.
These are the super-Serious Adults who are Fiscally Responsible who tell us we should forget about the ruin of the past 8 years and follow them.