Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The President's Speech to Congress

“Volcano monitoring likely saved many lives - and significant money - in the case of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (where the United States has military bases), according to the USGS,” the United States Geological Survey, writes senior writer Andrea Thompson of, in an article following up on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal critique of government funding of volcano monitoring in the recently passed economic recovery package legislation. (Louisiana is not known for its educational successes and recently a science group objected to some of the state's policies regarding science, or, more precisely, anti-science.) Jindal’s comments, part of the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress last night, were a litany of Republican ideological points promoting wealth and ignoring the real needs and concerns of ordinary people in a time of crisis. Of course, Jindal plans to take a lot of government money for various state projects, though he is, reportedly, refusing money that will help the unemployed. It was an interesting choice having Jindal give the Republican response, as many well-informed people fault him for leaving Louisiana to travel around the country for Republican fundraisers and conferences while problems go untended in Louisiana. President Obama made his own motivation and policies as clear as anyone could; and an early poll suggests most viewers and listeners understood that and approved. I was fascinated by the ritual address, and the ovations the president received (how odd it must be to have one’s remarks continually saluted with a standing ovation).