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Volcano politics

Editorial for March 5, 2009

Volcano politics

Some people make fools of themselves inadvertently, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal seems to be taking foolhardiness to an art form.

Gov. Jindal was on national television last week. He was chosen by the Republican Party to be the point man to raise objections to Obama's proposed spending priorities. Jindal has every right to complain about federal spending (although frankly, his party has little credibility on this subject, given the staggering deficits run up over the last eight years), but he at least should try to give some logical thought about what he singles out as an example of wasteful spending.

This line in particular stood out as not only ignorant, but insulting, especially to those of us living in the Pacific Northwest: "While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes ... $140 million for something called `volcano monitoring.'"

His words are absurd enough, but if you listen to his tone, you hear sarcasm. "Something called `volcano monitoring,'" he mocks, as if such a thing is oh so ridiculous.

Yes, the $787 billion economic stimulus package Congress recently passed included funds for the U.S. Geological Survey to study volcanoes around the nation. But what is questionable about that? Jindal seems to be implying that there is no need to worry that in this day and age we might actually have a volcano erupt.

We realize Jindal is young, but hasn't he at least read about the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens? After all, 57 people were killed by the blast. And Mount St. Helens remains active even now, and another eruption is certainly a possibility.

There are also active volcanoes in Hawaii, and Alaska's Mount Redoubt -- which last erupted in 1989 -- is on the verge of another eruption, geologists believe. Yet Jindal scoffs at employing any people to monitor these volcanoes.

A few years ago, Jindal's own state was literally swamped by a terrible hurricane. How would he react if some Northwest governor said let's get rid of any funding for something called "hurricane monitoring." It's a waste, we don't need it, fire those people!

It's idiotic comments by hacks like Jindal that give politicians a bad name.



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