Welcome to your Friday open thread. While we’re waiting for the next Maher-O’Donnell bomb to drop let’s discuss other things. What’s on your mind?
I don’t know how many of you followed the case of Bruce Ivins, the scientist accused of being the anthrax mailer (who later committed suicide). The GAO is going to look into the case again. Many people are troubled by how the case was investigated and are not convinced that Ivins is the culprit.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will conduct an examination of the scientific and technical methods used by the FBI during its investigation of 2001 anthrax attacks, in response to a request made by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-D) earlier this year.
After an eight year-long investigation, the FBI closed the Amerithrax case back in February and concluded that Bruce Ivins, a troubled lab worker at Ft. Detrick, was solely responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001. However, skepticism has long lingered the minds of many on the science and validity behind these conclusions, particularly after Ivin’s suicide in 2008. After maintaining that the FBI’s work on the case was insufficient, Holt and several other congressmen from the House and Senate sent a formal request for inquiry to the GAO regarding the Bureau’s investigation methods. The letters were originally mailed from Princeton, NJ, a district currently represented by Holt. In his request, questions concerning forensic methods, scientific concerns and uncertainties and laboratory security were asked to be addressed. Holt has also advocated for a formal congressional commission, similar to the 9/11 commission, to further investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks.
It’s a fascinating case. I have to say I’m not convinced it was Ivins but there is a very small group of people it could actually be.
Paul Krugman reads the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” and is not impressed. He calls it a war on arithmetic.
Banana republic, here we come.
On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.
True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.
So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”
Paul Krugman is so cute. He treats this document like the Republicans really mean it. Jon Stewart skillfully shows in the clip below that Republicans are offering the same old stuff. So I think that means we can be confident that none of what they’re proposing (except for making the deficit bigger) will actually happen.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Postcards From the Pledge|
I wish we could clone Jon Stewart and put him to work for Democratic leadership. They certainly need some kind of kick in the pants.
Tags: Open Thread