Friday Open Thread

Filed in National by on September 24, 2010

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
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

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.


About the Author ()

Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

Comments (11)

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  1. delacrat says:

    Whatever you do, don’t ask a candidate for public office a question.

    No “petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances” unless Gov. Christie says so.

    Cuz the Guv has the microphone. (The “Guv’s” always do) Scream and yell all you want. Your 1st amendment don’t mean jack if you don’t “have the microphone”.

  2. anon says:

    Colbert testifies before the House Judiciary Committeein character. Oh my. I need to watch the whole thing when I have time later.

  3. Miscreant says:

    “Colbert testifies before the House Judiciary Committee… in character. ”

    Too bad Stuart Smiley wasn’t on the committee to complete the circus.

  4. anonone says:

    More news from Obomba’s Police State of America: “Nationwide FBI terrorism raids target anti-war activists”

    “The home of Minneapolis anti-war activists Mick Kelly and Jess Sundin were among those searched, they told the AP. “The FBI is harassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Latin America,” Kelly said before agents confiscated his cell phone. Sundin called the suggestion they were connected with terrorism “pretty hilarious and ridiculous.'”

  5. anon says:

    Just clicked through a few news photos, and thought “Man, Christine O’Donnell is looking pretty rough after that tough campaign.” Turns out it was Sarah Palin.

  6. delacrat says:

    “More news from Obomba’s Police State of America: “Nationwide FBI terrorism raids target anti-war activists” – A1 @ 8:43


    Homeland Security needs to justify it’s budget. That’s where you come in.

    Like I’ve posted before, when the Joint Terrorism Task Force knocks on your door, know your rights. …assuming you still have some.

  7. anonone says:

    Even more news from Obomba’s Police State of America: DoJ seeks to dismiss suit filed for radical cleric

    “The Obama administration on Saturday invoked the state secrets privilege which would kill a lawsuit on behalf of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for assassination under a U.S. government program.”

    “”The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy,” the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement. “In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check.”

    When the executive can secretly kill you with impunity, you have no more rights. Nobody here, except Delacrat, seems to think that this stuff is important.

    “Whacha gonna do when they come for you?”

  8. delacrat says:

    It gets worse. ….Senate Bill 3081


    An individual, including a citizen of the United States, ….may be detained without criminal charges and without trial