Volcano Monitoring

by Brien Jackson

This will be my last Jindal post, at least for today, I swear.

One of the odder things about Jindal’s speech was his singling out of volcano monitoring money as an example of wasteful government spending. Generally speaking, even wingnuts tend to agree that watching out for natural disasters is a good idea. No one ever really argues that the government should cease funding that goes to watching for hurricanes out in the ocean, for example. And it’s not like it has a funny sounding, easy to misunderstand name you could mischaracterize either. “Volcano monitoring” is pretty straight forward, and sounds like something most people would agree we ought to be doing.

When I exchanged emails about the speech with a friend who works at the RNC this morning, he singled out the line about volcano monitoring spending as something he expected to see mocked in coming days, and really didn’t know how he was going to spin it. He also, more bluntly than Dave Noon, hypothesized that it might have been something of a jab to Sarah Palin. In case you didn’t hear, there’s a big volcano set to erupt in Alaska, and because of volcano monitoring the state and federal government have been able to evacuate people from the area, probably saving some lives and a whole lot of potential property damage. The thinking, I suppose, goes something like this; Jindal scoffs at volcano monitoring funding in his nationally televised, speaking-for-the-GOP speech; the people of Alaska find out about this just as a volcano is about to erupt, and demand that Palin repudiate Jindal’s comments. Seeking re-election, Palin will have little choice but to distance herself from a comment that’s both incredibly stupid and has real local significance to her constituents. By this point, the idea goes, “volcano monitoring” enters the right-wing’s vernacular as a short hand for pork in general, and Jindal will have his main rival for the support of the conservative-populist aspect of the base on record supporting this erstwhile symbol of government waste.

It seems like something of a bank shot to me, but I don’t see any more likely answer as to why Gov. Jindal seems to think we don’t really need to spend money watching out for natural disasters.

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