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Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
No monitoring required?
The sequester's damage isn't limited to Head Start kicking kids out and laying off staff, or scientific research having to be abandoned. It's hitting many of the government's basic functions with a pervasiveness that's kind of embarrassing, as the case of government travel cutbacks reveals:
Geological visits to monitor volcanoes in Alaska have been scaled back. The defense secretary is traveling to Afghanistan two times a year instead of the usual four. For the first time in nearly three decades, NASA pulled out of the National Space Symposium, in Colorado Springs, even though representatives from France, Germany and China all made the trip.
These cutbacks sound fine and dandy to one notorious Republican senator:
“Hopefully what you will have is more sound judgment at these agencies about what is critical travel and what isn’t,” Mr. Coburn said. “There is no question that federal employees should have some travel and go to some conferences, but most of it has nothing to do with their jobs. It’s a perk.”
So, when we don't monitor volcanoes, or when the Centers for Disease Control can't do in-person trainings of state and local officials, that's just exercising sound judgment? Because it sure sounds like a problem to me. Maybe, to satisfy Coburn that no one is getting any perks, Secretary of State John Kerry should start conducting diplomacy via Skype. Or when a disaster strikes, maybe FEMA could assess the damage by watching the local news. Hey, while we're at it, maybe members of Congress shouldn't go back and forth between their districts and Washington, D.C. That's a total perk, right?

(Via Alec MacGillis)

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jindal raises fists triumphantly...or something nt (6+ / 0-)

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:17:03 PM PDT

    •  Jindal hopes we all forget about his little (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine, Eyesbright

      problem - aka the Sinkhole that has been growing and bubbling up methane and gas - and that all the experts that have been there on the State an Texas Brine dime have no idea how to solve the problem.  

         We also should not have to worry about all the failures this past year of the many nuclear plants.  The most current "disaster" is the underground waste fire that keeps getting closer and closer to nuclear waste near St. Louis, following it via local broadcast is just fine.

          Meanwhile AZ legislator's whine when FEMA won't give them money....I'd love it if FEMA would tell the Senator McCain and Flake that there is no money to fly all the way to Prescott!

    •  roll tape (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

  •  Not good. :( (6+ / 0-)

    My SO works in Port Moller, where he and other plant workers can view plumes rising from Pavlov and Vemianinof.  He also keeps tabs on what's going on through the Alaska Volcano Obervatory.  However, Internet service is spotty in the region.  If those two volcanoes were to suddenly blow, I don't know how the fishermen around the Nelson Lagoon would fare.

    I have to admit, though, that the Door Into Hell (the picture above) represents the second-best way to deal with leaking methane fumes when the gas can't be extracted, even though it has been on fire for four decades.  Or so I've heard.

    Hope is a good thing--maybe the best of things--and no good thing ever dies.

    by Gemina13 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:20:45 PM PDT

  •  Will FEMA have budget to have TVs and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood, pvasileff, patbahn

    pay for internet and cable to monitor?

    Because, just sayin', but it doesn't sound like they will have any travel budget to go where the disasters are if we keep going the way we currently are.

    And that would be good for John McCain until he has a fire disaster in his home state of Arizona.  

    His wife has a lot money, maybe she could spot FEMA some cash for the airfares?

  •  Well, (5+ / 0-)
    maybe FEMA could assess the damage by watching the local news
    It worked so well for the W administration in 2005. Heckuva job.

    Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

    by belinda ridgewood on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:46:25 PM PDT

  •  everyone knows, if you read your bible (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, GreenMother, Eyesbright

    you'll know where and when the coming disasters will appear...
    under the feet of those heat... wait, is the ground shaking?

  •  Alaska's volcanoes have been pretty active (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    lately too.

    Fail Doctrine Continuation.

    The government won't work, because baggers won't let it work.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:54:13 PM PDT

    •  Hey but I bet they got plenty of $$$ for domestic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Gotta cut those egg head geologist positions in favor of entry level sub contractors who will gather information on you and me, because it's hard to have a conscience, when you weren't tested on citizenship in school.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:56:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  from the USGS (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      56°11'52" N 159°23'35" W, Summit Elevation 8225 ft (2507 m)
      Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
      Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

      Elevated levels of seismic tremor persist at the intracaldera cone of Veniaminof Volcano and low-level, largely effusive, eruptive activity continues. Elevated surface temperatures at the cone were observed in satellite data over the past 24 hours, and clear web camera views yesterday showed minor ash emissions and hazy air conditions above the volcano. AVO geologists made observations by helicopter of the ongoing eruption and report that there are now two active lava flows issuing from the cone and lava is flowing passively over ice at the foot of the cone. AVO has received no additional information from observers or pilots about the ongoing eruption.

      Since they just flew a helicopter over it, I assume that isn't one of the volcanoes they are cutting down on visits to. :)
      •  The Western Seaboard is part of the Pacific (0+ / 0-)

        Ring of Fire. But I am pretty certain most of the GOP will fail at Geography, so they won't care, because they don't know. They are too busy arguing how many angels dance on the head of an ovary anyhow.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:28:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  defense secretary is traveling to Afghanistan (0+ / 0-)

    Well, for that one I could say maybe zero times a year is enough...

    What's funny is I just had a FB conversation of sorts with a RWNJ that I suppose I went to high school with.  He contended that the liberal definition of "compromise" is that the RWNJ's "give up".

    So that's where it's at.  If a significant portion of the population think that way society is fucked.  Because compromise is impossible if enough people dig in their heels.  And if that side digging in refuses to accept any "giving up" it's all going to collapse.

    And, IIRC, right after the Louisiana Mensa dissed volcano monitoring there was a major ash discharge in Alaska, disruption flights and such.  Getting in the way of commerce or something like that.  As if helping business is something like communism or something...

  •  Sequester away the NSA.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....perhaps a zeroing out of the Utah surveillance center is in order, as well as closing Guantanamo.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:55:16 PM PDT

  •  Core Republican Guiding Philosophy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I have mine, f**k you.
    If it's money spent on anyone else but me it's frivolous. If my state needs it, pay up you useless dicks.

    Asking citizens to help others in times of crisis is just too liberal.

    I think that Republicanism is revealing itself as a personality disorder, not so much an ideology." -- Naomi Klein

    by AllanTBG on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:55:52 PM PDT

  •  Hey, while we're at it, cancel the National (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Weather Service. Who the hell needs to know where the hurricanes are going?

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:57:34 PM PDT

  •  "one notorious Republican senator" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Well that certainly doesn't help to narrow down the options.

    Anyone who has been through an airport to be loosed into a tubular device with screaming children and aggreived passengers for a matter of hours wouldn't be calling travel a "perk."

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:57:49 PM PDT

  •  Most business travel is needless. (0+ / 0-)

    I don't begrudge a scientist flying to Alaska to study volcanoes. I do begrudge said scientist doing so for a week bookended by long weekends of some of the best salmon fishing in the world.

    People who fly twenty, thirty, or fifty times a year have a carbon footprint of a mid sized coal powered chinese industrial town.

    My sister in law used to have a limo arrive at her house at 7, private jet DC to NY at 8, limo to WTC for workday then reverse for home by 7 to help kids with homework, 3 times a week. Many congressmen fly home to their districts every weekend congress is in session.

    Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Dem, Environmentalist or denier, makes no difference, we all love to burn Jet-A with abandon.

    I saw a vid of some climate scientists flying around a glacier on Greenland measuring stream flow and looking very inexperienced rappelling and using ice tools for first time. Helicopter itself is over a gallon a minute. Irony much? Seems almost as if there might be someone in Greenland capable of measuring glacial stream flow who even has some competence with a pair of crampons!

    Good! If lack of funds cuts down on travel good.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:11:49 PM PDT

    •  AVO (0+ / 0-)
      The Alaska Volcano Observatory is a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.
      I'm skeptical that they are flying people in from the continental US.  I suspect these volcanoes are nontrivial to get to even for people already based in Alaska.
  •  I'm here in Indonesia... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and on my last little passage along the north Flores Island, I could see 5 smoking volcanoes from one location. Indonesia spends lots on volcano monitoring.

    Our government is failing!!

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    by reflectionsv37 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:18:04 PM PDT

  •  Somehow the image of Bob Jindal doing the Snoppy (0+ / 0-)

    Dance and fist pumping "I told you so" makes me wish for a small  volcano in Louisiana.

    Tea Baggers Unite and follow that lemming.

    by OHdog on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:35:20 PM PDT

  •  Such morons. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, Eyesbright

    It's like telling you that you have to decide whether to fix the hole in your roof or the major oil leak in your car, but they can't have the money to do both.  And then they call it having "sound judgement".

    Oh, and then they tell you that you can only have half the money you need to fix whichever you chose, because it's more important that the guy over there with seven cars, a mansion and a cabin in the mountains needs another tax break to buy a boat.

  •  I Don't Feel Threatened (0+ / 0-)

    How often does a volcano erupt in the US?  How often is said volcano near a population center?   How often are people killed because of improper domestic volcano monitoring.  I strongly suspect that, if the government stuck to monitoring the most threatening volcanoes, we'd be fine, and university scientists could keep half an eye on the others.  This is exactly the kind of thing that can be cut.

  •  Eruption prediction (0+ / 0-)

    is almost nonexistent, monitored or not. So, this really shouldn't be much of a concern to anyone.

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