Let Us Take A Moment To Note That “Amazing” Is One Of The Least Descriptive, Most Overused Words In The Language Today

As in, “That barbecue is amazing!” Or, “I thought Neil Labute’s new play was just amazing!” So will a terror attack on D.C. hold up as similarly “amazing”? I doubt it. Nothing can surpass what has already happened this season on 24:

The commander of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a Pakistani police academy and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on Washington that would “amaze” the world.

Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S., said Monday’s attack outside the eastern city of Lahore was in retaliation for U.S. missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border.

“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world,” Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. He provided no details.

The New “5-7-5” Monetization Scheme

Let the celebrities and entrepreneurs Twitter to their heart’s content. Soon real pros will learn the genius of “Haikuter,” the new social networking tool in which you have 140 characters to compose haikus about your present state of mind. An example:

I’m finally home
I checked the mail and the phone
Now I must drink beer

Update (3/31): It’s already in our collective unconscious . . . the time is now!

Ramp-up in Afghanistan

Just as he promised in the campaign, President Obama is ratcheting up the American commitment in Afghanistan, doubling the number of troops there. The Prof and I talk a lot about Afghanistan on the show, because it’s such a fascinating country and crossroads and potential quagmire for foreign occupiers going back 1,000 years.

Kevin Drum, seeing this whole thing as the potential to Be Obama’s Vietnam, writes, “at a gut level something about this whole plan makes my blood run cold. It’s so McNamara-ish I can practically see him making the announcement in my mind’s eye.”

When pressed about the comparisons to the USSR’s decade-long effort to control Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesperson said (via The Plank):

And I would just further add that there’s absolutely no valid comparison between the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which was an occupation to control a country, repress a population, install their own sort of puppet leadership. We are there to, first and foremost, combat terrorism and protect our own interests and our own people from attack. But we’re also there to help the Afghan people and enable them to reclaim their country. There is absolutely no comparison that’s valid between the two.

That’s all well and true, but the real reason that the U.S. has a shot at pacifying Afghanistan is that there’s no global superpower arming the resistance, as we did with the mujahedeen in the 1980s (or as the Russians and Chinese did in Vietnam).

Unless, of course, that’s not true, and there is a country providing Taliban insurgents with funding and arms and making the war unwinnable. A nuclear-armed state, say, that shares a large, porous border with Afganistan.

Which brings us to the real rub: what to do about Pakistan. Joe Klein rounds up the “Af-Pak” strategy and finds the President’s approach acceptable on that score.

Wait and see, I guess.

Soon There Will Be No One Left To Blame, And Well How Good Will That Feel?

Oh well. At least we’ll always have Madoff:

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

No podcast this week

Sorry for the delay in this week’s podcast, folks. I’d planned on getting back in town in time to record tonight, but due to the wonders of modern air transport, That ain’t gonna happen.

No doubt there will be plenty of kvetching about said transport system next week.