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GOP response didn't help

February 27, 2009

Re "'We will rebuild, we will recover,'" Feb. 25

If Obama wasn't a star before he delivered his speech Tuesday night, he is now.

This man is amazing. He has grace, charm, intelligence and a sense of humor -- and he's a darn good politician. I get the distinct feeling that he reads those briefing books each night. It is reassuring.

As a friend of mine who describes himself as a staunch Republican wrote me: "At long last I've lived to see a grown-up president. He grows before our very eyes."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had an extremely tough act to follow, there's no doubt of that. But his delivery was puzzling if not distracting, and his speech's content was warmed-over Republican gruel. There are hard days ahead for the GOP if Jindal is their star.

Don Joel

Winnetka

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There is no doubt that the stimulus will increase the national debt, and that is troubling. But the hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about increasing the debt is sickening. Their trickle-down policies and deregulation led to our dire situation.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Most Americans understand that, and that's why they are giving Obama the rope he is asking for to get us out of this mess. We are all just hoping that the rope will not hang us all.

Torin Roher

West Hills

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You would think that the political outfall of Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster that contributed richly to handing the Republican Party its head in 2006 and 2008, would have tempered some of Jindal's remarks.

I speak of the rhetorical flourish that we are wasting $140 million a year on "something called volcano monitoring. ... Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Is spending the tiniest fraction of the billions per year spent on weather monitoring, so vital to protecting Jindal's own hurricane-prone state and the nation at large, a grotesque excess? Monitoring volcanoes protects millions of lives in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska from being devastated, in far greater numbers than could ever be contemplated from a hurricane, if Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier were to erupt.

I raise this point not merely because Jindal marginalized a very serious natural-hazards issue for the sake of making a political joke, but because I am a conservative mourning the political joke my party has become.

Brian Wernicke

Pasadena

The writer is Chandler Family Professor of Geology at the California Institute of Technology.

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