Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The party of snickering

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, the US Geological Survey was able to warn the local populations -- as well as American military personnel who were stationed at our bases there -- in advance of the impending cataclysm. As a result, it is estimated that thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars were saved.

Monitoring volcanoes -- in the US and in places where our soldiers, sailors and airmen are located -- is one of the things that the USGS does. It's not an easy thing to predict eruptions, but the scientists who work in that field keep trying and have learned much.

Why, then, would Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, giving the Republican response to the president's address last night, choose to point to "volcano monitoring" as an area where he believes the new Democratic administration is throwing away taxpayer money? This from a governor whose state was devastated by a natural disaster -- and government's unpreparedness to deal with it.

As is often the case, the arguments offered by the Republican Party on serious issues amount to a few simplistic and ridiculous phrases. Paul Krugman writes:
And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

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