Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindahl to west coast: Drop Dead

From Bobby Jindahl's Republican rebuttal to the Obama speech last night:

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'

Now, granted some of this is just plain stupid. The government (like any public or private institution) needs certain resources and unless he is willing to provide us with some context like how many cars the government needs to carry out its duties, what kind of cars they are buying and what the market price is, and how old the cars they have now are and what kind of repair bills they are running up (not to mention the gas mileage of the old and the new cars), his assertion that $300 million for new cars is wasteful spending seems unsupported by any background information. He might be right, but if he is then he has to give us more information than just the price tag.

As for the high speed rail project, again we don't know the context. It certainly sounds wasteful, but for starters is the terminal actually at Disneyland, or is it simply someplace in the greater Los Angeles metro area? And if it is, how many people drive every day between Las Vegas and LA? It may be the best investment of funds we've ever seen, without any background information we don't know if it's wasteful or not.

But the real threat he makes is by attacking funding for volcano monitoring. The United States ranks third, behind Indonesia and Japan, for the number of active volcanoes. Over twenty are in areas where they represent a significant threat to people, and are being monitored. The metropolitan area most at risk is Portland, Oregon, which lives in the shadow of Mount Hood, which is active and erupts periodically. A Mount St. Helens-type blowup of Mount Hood (which is a distinct possibility and sooner or later is likely) could potentially incinerate or bury up to a million people in the Portland area. Now, granted life goes on in Portland but the idea that we should quit monitoring the volcano is asinine. Coming from a Governor who several times in his speech referred to Hurricane Katrina is obscene (Hey Guv, how about shutting down the National Hurricane Center? What do we spend on it every year? How about it, Guv?)

I live in northern Arizona, a region pretty much devoid of natural disasters, but I recognize as an American that I have a duty to pay taxes to help monitor natural disasters that may threaten people who live in regions that aren't as blessed that way as this one is.

Since I don't believe that Bobby Jindahl is stupid (willing to play politics with anything, yes, but stupid no) I have to conclude that this attack on volcano monitoring is a veiled threat against the citizens of Washington, Oregon and Northern California (the populated areas most endangered by volcanic explosions.) After all, the west coast now elects six Democratic Senators (out of six), a 44-23 Democratic split in the house, and has gone Democratic for President for the past five elections (past six for Washington and Oregon.) Last year the west coast handed Obama 73 electoral votes. So the clear message sent by his honing in on volcano monitoring (as opposed to tornados, hurricanes or other disasters that might affect people in red states) is "If you don't vote for us then drop dead." Literally.

Yeah, I know that there was recently a volcano threatening Anchorage, Alaska. Dang, maybe even Sarah Palin would have done a better job with this assignment than Jindahl.

Perish the thought.

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