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Bellowing smoke

Did Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal just write off five states if he runs for President in 2012?

Jindal singled out "volcano monitoring" as an unnecessary frill that Democrats stuck in the recently adopted stimulus package.

"Their legislation is larded with wasteful spending," Jindal said. "It includes ... $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Four states are part of the Pacific's 'Ring of Fire' which consists of over 20 active volcanos. Mount St Helens has errupted in recent memory. Do all of you know Mounts Ranier, Shasta, and Hood are active? They are all close to population centers or are vacation areas. All three have erupted or erruptive periods in the last 200 years. Money spent to monitor them seems reasonable.

Note- Anchorage airport, one of the busiest in the world for cargo, and Elmendorf AFB are close to volcanoes and flight operations in and out of both are affected by volcanic activity.

"Volcano monitoring is a matter of life and death in Alaska," Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said in an open letter to Jindal.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski quickly agreed, noting in a press statement how "absolutely appropriate" it is to spend money on volcano monitoring. However, said Murkowski, Jindal raised "a legitimate question about funding volcano monitoring in legislation that's supposed to create jobs for unemployed Americans."

Jindal appears to have exaggerated by tenfold the $140 million he said was destined for the nation's volcano observatories.

Nearly all of that amount -- included in the stimulus bill for funding U.S. Geological Survey projects -- will go to other USGS functions nationwide, such as repairing facilities and mapping, said John Eichelberger, who heads the agency's Volcano Hazards Program in Reston, Va.

Only about $14 million will be spent on "monitoring volcanoes," mostly in Alaska, he said.

Oops describes much of Jindal's speech the other night. Republicans better get their act together if they want to win in 2012(Not to mention avoid getting buried in 2010.)


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Comments (28)

If the purpose of a billis ... (Below threshold)

If the purpose of a billis to stimulate the economy - then it should actually, you know, stimulate the economy. I don't see setting up volcano monitoring AGAIN as stimulating the economy.

This is already done by the US Geological Survey, which ALREADY tracks and monitors volcanos.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for monitoring our Nation's 170 active volcanoes (red triangles) for signs of unrest and for issuing timely warnings of hazardous activity to government officials and the public. This responsibility is carried out by scientists at the five volcano observatories operated by the USGS Volcano Hazards Program and also by State and university cooperators.
Why should they set up something new that duplicates this ALREADY EXISTING program?

That "Stimulus" bill looks more and more like a laundry list of 'Hey, why don't we include a whole lot of other stuff as long as we're going for a blank check?'

I guess it doesn't matter whether it's already being done - that's not the point. The point is to spend a lot of money to LOOK like you're doing something worthwhile.

As every conservative in Am... (Below threshold)

As every conservative in America has asked by now, why was volcano monitoring money in the "stimulus" bill? How will volcano monitoring, important is it may be, help to stimulate the US economy? I've yet to see a coherent response from Democrats that actually answers those two questions.

Jindal's larger point -- and a correct one, I believe -- is that the volcano monitoring money perfectly illustrates that the "stimulus" bill was really nothing more than a gigantic "Spendulus" bill, full of hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal spending that will do nothing to stimulate our economy, and that should have been debated and appropriated elsewhere.

If we need to spend the volcano monitoring money, fine. But Congress wins no favors by lying to us about why it is being appropriated and spent.

"But Congress wins no favor... (Below threshold)

"But Congress wins no favors by lying to us about why it is being appropriated and spent."

I think you're making a false assumption that they CARE, Michael. They believe they've got a lock on EVERYTHING for the next two years. They've got a solid majority in the House, and with three tame Republicans in the Senate, they're golden.

So we're seeing is 'kid given 5 minutes in a candy store' moment. They aren't looking to the future, they're grabbing all they can NOW. The stomach ache that's sure to follow if they consume it all without restraint isn't even thought of.

Hey BillJust somet... (Below threshold)

Hey Bill

Just something is a "good idea" doesn't mean it belongs in a "stimulus" bill that was touted as being "targeted and temporary". Let the volcano spending pass or fail on its own merits in its own bill.

This "do it for the children!" style of emotional-blackmail HAS GOT TO STOP.

Isn't there somewhere else ... (Below threshold)

Isn't there somewhere else such disingenuous whining about Jindal could be posted? Wizbang Dumbass...Wizbang Yellow...oh, that's right, Wizbang Blue!

Sure this was politically t... (Below threshold)

Sure this was politically tone-deaf on Jindal's part, but his point is 100% valid. If volcano monitoring is something important for the government to fund, it should be funded in the normal budgeting process. It has no business being in the stimulus package.

Master Shake... One distinc... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Master Shake... One distinction between conservatives and liberals is our willingness to point out flaws on our own side instead of silently remaining lockstep with the party agenda. If Jindal is showing very badly on the national stage, this is very noteworthy because we absolutely cannot have another watered-down nominee in 2012. Moreover, I fully expect the GOP to come roaring back in congressional races in 2010, so it is of paramount importance that we start galvanizing a clearer message of conservatism. Jindal simply made a horrible address last week and we need to be honest about it.

One distinction between ... (Below threshold)

One distinction between conservatives and liberals is our willingness to point out flaws on our own side instead of silently remaining lockstep with the party agenda.

Oh goodness, you are too much. Who's going to wash this coffee off my laptop?

"If volcano monitoring is s... (Below threshold)

"If volcano monitoring is something important for the government to fund, it should be funded in the normal budgeting process."

It already IS funded - the USGS has the responsibility for it.

Kind of makes you wonder how much OTHER redundant crap is in the stimulus package, doesn't it?

Well let me get your undies... (Below threshold)

Well let me get your undies in a bunch.

I'm thinking that the mountains were there first and people moved in around them. If you get burned up in a volcano... well who would'a thunk?

You live on the coast, below sea level, and you nearly drowned - go figure?

You live in a place where the temps drop to -20 below zero and you want to whine about freezing to death - huh?

If I move next to a pig farmer I shouldn't complain about the stink and I really don't need a "stink monitor" do I? Surprise - pig poop stinks.

Mountains blow up!

Low land gets flooded!

Your pipes may freeze in cold weather.

I realize that a volcano is a bit different, and "no" I don't want to see children die (or anyone else) but spending money to guard against human foolishness isn't stimulating the economy in my book.

There! That ought to do it.

AlanJindal's "horr... (Below threshold)


Jindal's "horribleness" was on style points, not content. And he certainly acquits himself quite well in interviews and places that Teleprompter Jesus, Obama, refuses to go.

Jindal was over-coached/over-managed. He is a smart, decent man and that is only going to become more evident as time goes on.

You all are delusional if y... (Below threshold)

You all are delusional if you think arguing whether volcano monitoring should be funded in a stimulus bill or a regular appropriations bills is going to make a whit of difference in the next elections. People care about what is done, and not the way in which it is done.

And Jindal was stupid to have even brought up something like volcano monitoring, and even more so for trying to make a joke out of it. Go on all you want about getting rid of pork and how bad it is and so forth, but the fact is Congressmen don't lose re-election because they brought spending dollars to their home districts and very few (if any) have lost their seats because they voted to support someone else's pork.

The Democrats have to be laughing at you all for wasting your time on trivial and irrelevant issues such as this. They're focusing on (appearing as if they are) delivering goodies to the voters while you come across as the nerdy parliamentarian screaming 'rule of order, rule of order'. Technically right, but so wrong at the same time.

Now if the GOP ever took off the dunce cap and started to focus on issues that matter to the people whose votes are needed to win (instead of trying to outdo one another appealing to the base), the GOP might not be looking at a generation of wandering in the desert.

strum - "The Democrats ... (Below threshold)

strum - "The Democrats have to be laughing at you all for wasting your time on trivial and irrelevant issues such as this. They're focusing on (appearing as if they are) delivering goodies to the voters"

ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Feb. 19-22, 2009

"Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?" Options rotated


Direction Wrong direction Unsure
% % %

2/19-22/09 31 67 2

Remind me again whose been in charge during that time frame.

For clarification, that rea... (Below threshold)

For clarification, that reads 67% think the country is going in the wrong direction since strum's favored one took office.

To those complaining about ... (Below threshold)

To those complaining about the fact that these funds for Volcano Monitoring were included in a "stimulus" bill, two points:

1. This happens all the time in politics. Republicans did it too when they controlled Congress.

2. I would assume that your outrage over this point would extend to the Republican Senators who attached an anti-gun control amendment to the bill that would give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress. (For the record I oppose the bill overall, but the gun control amendment is as non-germane to that issue as volcano monitoring allegedly is to "stimulus")

And, oh yeah, Jindal's a hy... (Below threshold)

And, oh yeah, Jindal's a hypocrite too:


Doug -$110 mil to ... (Below threshold)

Doug -

$110 mil to make upgrades to an existing, well-used rail line is a bit different than spending 72 times that to create a line from Disneyland to Vegas. And when faced with trillion-dollar deficits, you need to wonder whether you'd be better served by upgrading what already exists and NOT making something that'll likely cost 5x the cost by the time you add in graft, corruption, and union kickbacks.

Or is the new government motto to be "Billions for ME, but no pennies for THEE?"

By the way, there's a magle... (Below threshold)

By the way, there's a maglev running in China. 20 miles between Shanghai and Pudong.

"These are two of the reasons the train is running at less than half of capacity, and, probably, hemorrhaging money. The maglev cost $1.2 billion or more to build, which means the system chews through north of $60 million a year in capital costs alone. Assuming 12,000 passengers per day (my estimate), the maglev generates about $27 million of revenue per year, or less than half its capital costs, much less its total costs. It is not clear who is absorbing these losses, China or Transrapid, but, either way, someone's taking a bath.
Would there BE 12,000 passengers a day between LA and LV? And how much would you realistically be able to charge per ticket?

There's a reason commuter rail lines are scarce outside the NE corridors. There's just not enough in the way of ridership to justify the high costs of running a train. (Look at Amtrak - the NE corridor subsidises the rest of their network, and they're still losing money hand over fist.)

And as far as the amendment to the DC bill goes - it would have cost nothing. Certainly not $150 mil!

JLawson,They are t... (Below threshold)


They are talking about building a line between N.O. and Baton Rouge that does not presently exist.

At least with the LA to Vegas line you could make the excuse that it would potentially benefit tourism in both states.

Alaska is the only reliably... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Alaska is the only reliably Republican state of the lot. California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii are all safety Democratic states. Obama won 72% of the vote in Hawaii, and around 3 million more votes in California than McCain, and garnered 58% and 57% wins in Washington and Oregon.

I still remember ash on me and my car when Mt. St. Helens blew up a few miles from my business one day and it looked like snow was falling. That was pretty dramatic.

Jindal probably hurt himself more by the expectations being so high for him, but instead fell very flat in performance and substance. This might have cost him the 2012 nomination more than anything because donors won't give funds to a weak candidate. But surprisingly Bill Clinton did recover from a simply awful 1988 Democratic Convention speech to become the nominee four years later, and his public speaking skills sharply improved. So stranger things have happened.

Do you think it's possible,... (Below threshold)

Do you think it's possible, Doug, that you didn't READ the quote?

The high-speed rail line, a topic of discussion for years, would require $110 million to upgrade existing freight lines and terminals to handle a passenger train operation, said Mark Lambert, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
I'd hate to accuse you of intentionally misrepresenting the issue. I'd much rather think you were simply mistaken.

And the problem still holds - there's most likely not going to be enough passenger traffic to pay for the upgrade... but that'll be subsidised by the freight operation - which will probably be VERY profitable.

Paul -I'm really b... (Below threshold)

Paul -

I'm really beginning to hate the Eternal Campaign garbage. Anything anyone says at any time might be used against them. Perhaps it'd be best if we just slapped a gag order on ALL politicians, to be released in the two months prior to an election they've registered for.

Hell, what am I saying? They'd probably explode, then we'd have to get the EPA to deal with the toxic waste cleanup...

hoo-swoonson [for obama] - ... (Below threshold)

hoo-swoonson [for obama] - "I still remember ash on me and my car when Mt. St. Helens blew up a few miles from my business one day and it looked like snow was falling. That was pretty dramatic."

And so, that means what you're in favor of the extra cash spent for monitoring that volcano?

They had warning last time after decades of inactivity.

A small earthquake was recorded on March 20, 1980, followed a week later by a minor eruption.

The ground continued to tremble, and six weeks later the mountain exploded in one of the most spectacular eruptions in recent memory.

And nothing then or after this extra cash is spent will improve the predictions of how big an eruption will be.

Marc, I know that Portland ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Marc, I know that Portland State University's Geology Department has all the means to monitor Mt. St. Helens. But I don't know about the other volcanic activity sites personally. But since such activity could contribute to earthquakes or new faults, it seems to be an area of valid scientific study, and hardly "pork" as Jindal suggested.

Jindal should have mentioned the $8 million dollars added to be bill by GOP members of congress to continue the employment of aides of GOP congressmen who lost re-election in 2008 as an example of pork. In fact, GOP congress members added plenty of spending to the bill, knowing that it would pass, but then wanted to go on record as voting against the bill for political purposes. No one really clean hands in this matter, truth be told.

As I've pointed out, Paul -... (Below threshold)

As I've pointed out, Paul - the USGS ALREADY does volcano monitoring. As far as this being a legitmate 'stimulus' expense - when you're worried about where the money's coming from to pay the mortgage, you don't go out and buy new curtains.

JLawson, I can understand t... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

JLawson, I can understand those in debt concerned about a heavy tax burden, however those earning under $250 will be witnessing a tax cut. In my own case, every home I own is free and clear though, so I don't face a mortgage like many others. But for others with credit card or other debts they owe I understand their concerns. However, the president is in the process of cutting some expensive military hardware and other programs to help to pay for a good portion of this stimulus bill. And an improved economy will generate more taxes in the future to help offset this spending as well. This deep recession is a global event, where even the Chinese premier took questions from concerned Chinese today how to cope with the problems in that nation. And Japan and many other countries are facing very difficult times right now.

JLawson, On the tr... (Below threshold)


On the trains, I think you're drawing a distinction without a difference. If it's pork, it's pork and Jindal condemning a transportation allocation for California while accepting one for Louisiana is hypocritical.

And why is nobody addressing the fact that Jindal totally mis-stated the amount of the money allocated to volcano monitoring, which was the point of Bill's post ?

As for the germane-ness of including the USGS allocation in a "stimulus" bill, you have a point. As I noted in my original comment, though, it's something that happens all the time in Washington.

So, if the USGS allocation that Jindal talked about was wrong, so was John Ensign's effort to attach an amendment about gun control to a bill about voting rights for the District of Columbia,

Doug and Paul -I t... (Below threshold)

Doug and Paul -

I think I'll choose for myself what I get pissed off about, thank you. My criteria obviously (!) aren't the same as yours, neither are my expectations about what I'm supposed to get as far as the actions of our elected government goes.

And Paul - you missed my point in your zeal to show off just how wonderful you are with your paid off mortgages - the government is in hock to its eyeballs, with a 120% mortgage and promissory notes that's going to be consuming everything it can take in and more besides. Now isn't the time to be firing up new programs that duplicate tings already existing, already budgeted for. NOW is the time to look to be CUTTING spending.

Oh. Right. The only way we can get things solved is by government taking money out of the PRIVATE sector, and running it through the fiscal losses inherent in the tax collection system, then passing it out to government programs that won't increase the supply of money in the private sector.

If you pour water from cup to cup, losing 10% each time, is it really a surprise when you come up dry?






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