Archive for February 22nd, 2010
I finally made this recipe. It’s quite good—and satisfying. I used French green lentils, which keep their shape better, and I might use a bit more chicken stock next time, but certainly was good tonight. I like that it uses things I don’t generally cook with: fresh sage, pancetta, radicchio.
I never heard of this, but it’s an ingenious application of neurological research.
I’m sure these encouraging developments will draw criticism from conservatives; I just can’t quite figure out why.
Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan immigrant who was a key player in what the federal authorities have said was one of the most serious threats to the United States since the 9/11 attacks, is expected to plead guilty to terrorism charges this afternoon, a law enforcement official said.
Mr. Zazi is scheduled to appear before Judge Raymond J. Dearie at Federal District Court in Brooklyn at 2:30 p.m. to plead guilty conspiracy to detonate bombs in the United States, according to the official. [...]
Mr. Zazi, who was born in Afghanistan and was raised in Pakistan and later Flushing, Queens, where he attended high school, was working as an airport shuttle driver in Denver when he was arrested in September 2009.
The federal authorities said he had received weapons and explosives training at a Qaeda camp in Pakistan, bought beauty products that contained the raw materials to build a bomb and traveled to Queens with bomb-making instructions in his laptop on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
His arrest was one of the key national security/law enforcement success stories of the last year, which reportedly is paying dividends beyond just preventing a deadly attack — Zazi is apparently cooperating with officials and providing intelligence as part of his plea agreement.
Indeed, Zazi has been sharing quite a bit of late, talking not only about his activities, but also his training, his accomplices, and his associations overseas.
U.S. officials now have all of this information without torturing Zazi, and without throwing him in Gitmo.
The Zazi case is a textbook example of a process that works — and it works because it ignores the hysterical cries of Republican hacks. Here’s a case in which we stopped a terrorist through law enforcement and intelligence gathering (which the GOP considers an example of "weakness"), read him his rights and gave him a lawyer (which, again, the GOP finds offensive), gained valuable information through torture-free questioning (which the GOP seems to think is impossible), brought him to a civilian courtroom (another thing the GOP finds outrageous), and will soon lock him up in an American prison (which the GOP considers dangerous for some reason).
By any reasonable measure, the only people who find Republicans credible on these issues are those who aren’t paying attention.
Post Script: I should note that if the White House wanted to shamelessly exploit this success story to prove a larger point, it’d be just fine with me.
Like all their plans, it relies heavily on lies and misdirection—the problem with the GOP is that the public opposes the things they want, so they have to hide or disguise what they’re really doing: if they were honest, they’d be voted out of office at the next election.
O.K., the beast is starving. Now what? That’s the question confronting Republicans. But they’re refusing to answer, or even to engage in any serious discussion about what to do.
For readers who don’t know what I’m talking about: ever since Reagan, the G.O.P. has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of the activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?
The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea — propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol — was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.