Monday, April 27, 2009

This is the Opposition?

“$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.”
-Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana.

“On January 30, 2009, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) warned that an eruption was imminent, sending experienced Alaskans shopping for protection against a dusty shower of volcanic ash that could descend on south-central Alaska.

Mount Redoubt erupted explosively late in the evening of March 22, 2009.”
-The real world.

“Does it belong in this bill, should we have $870 million [for flu pandemic preparedness] in this bill? No we should not.”
-Susan Collins, R-ME

"What makes this so difficult is we may be somewhere between an important but yet still uneventful public health occurrence here — with something that could literally die out over the next couple of weeks and never show up again — or this could be the opening act of a full-fledged influenza pandemic," said Michael Osterholm, a prominent expert on global flu outbreaks with the University of Minnesota. "We have no clue right now where we are between those two extremes. That's the problem," he said.
-The real world.

"I believe the federal government has become oppressive. I believe it's become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state."
-Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas (who later went on to say that Texans might consider leaving the union).

“Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu.”
-The real world.

Yeah, damn the oppressive federal government, intruding into the affairs of his state! As a gesture he should consider not using any of the antiviral medications provided by the National Stockpile- those fascists! Also he should probably consider trying to establish a solely Texan version of the CDC- I’m sure Texas could easily fund its own agency with the same level of resources and capabilities as the CDC, right? I think having each state create their own would be way more efficient than having one large one, if ongoing Republican yowling about states rights and the oppressive federal government is to be believed.

And how about Bobby Jindal? I was also confused by money going towards ‘volcano monitoring’- what does that even mean?! He was right to be confused by that term, it’s not like the state of Louisiana has ever had problems with natural disasters, perhaps ones whose aftermath could have been averted if people had received (and acted on) more advanced warning. If you have a moment, check out this nifty map of places that would have to deal with the fallout of a volcanic eruption in the United States, and ask yourself, Jindal-style, why anyone would ever want to ‘monitor’ these ‘volcanoes’:

(Hint: the answer has something to do with the fact that millions of people live in that area. If any of you see Mr. Jindal please let him know about this.)

Which leaves us with Susan Collins. There’s a good chance that the swine flu will fizzle out and end up quickly being forgotten- but if she knows what flu viruses have done in the past and the extent to which modern transportation would aid their spread in the present, I’m really curious as to how she would justify calling that money a waste. As The Political Carnival pointed out: “Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.”

Last week I made fun of the Teabaggers for being unable to grapple with the real world on any level- their complaints were by and large purely fantasy, wild claims that at no point intersected with reality. It’s good to take a moment and remember that plenty of their politicians are just as far gone. The 2010 elections are still a long way off, but if this is the best the Republicans can do as an opposition party it looks like the Democrats just might be able to pull off a hat trick. That itself is all the more reason for progressives to lean on Obama and make him live up to the expectations- if he doesn’t have to worry about a realistic threat from the right, maybe the left can get his attention for just a few minutes?


  1. All this really highlights that deepest of problems with the post-Reagan obsession with small government, and really with any inflexible belief in free market capitalism: long-term safety and economic growth is dependent on a stability created in large part by a tremendous number of government services. They look wasteful at first glance because so many of them are insurance for things that may never happen, like flu vaccines or volcano monitoring or beaver management. But fucking with them, particularly with such obvious disdain for learning about what they actually are, is like playing Jenga with the country.

    I mean, shit, I used to be an anarchist: I get being pissed about government. And yeah, the debt is scary. But damn, in an age where specificity is the important thing, the republican party is hilariously irresponsible in their specific spending cuts.

    And by hilariously, I mean terrifyingly.

  2. Your point about the lack of leaders couldn't ring more true after seeing Newt Gingrich on TV every other day.

    I'll look for the link, but a few weeks ago someone pointed out just how unpopular he is (with everyone, not just democrats), and that the media's focus on him just shows how devoid of leadership/ideas/non nutjobs the modern republican party is.

    NEWT 2012!

  3. I'm amazed by Republicans. This is it? All you have left in the arsenal are these idiots spewing crap.
    Maybe they're right, we should strip every "wasteful"/progressive idea out of every bill in Congress. We can go back to our caves, and thankfully, over-population will be a thing of the past because if disease doesn't get you the volcanoes will.