Category Archives: Spin-Cycle

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.

A Bright Shining Assumption

I’m beginning think that the Clinton campaign intends the“Obama plagirism” story as a feint to prevent the news cycle from focusing on the rising story of the Clinton campaign’s flat-footed responsiveness in the face of a real national campaign.

The last thing the Clinton campaign needs is for its vaunted competence to come into question on the heels of what may very well be Obama’s running the table between Super Tuesday and March 4. Having the competence assumption evaporate would be disastrous, particularly if the race comes down to keeping the confidence of the superdelegates in Denver.

And yet, and yet, the WaPo and other articles are contributing to my sense that the Clinton campaign competence is more illusion than anything. Look at the WaPo article again:

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state’s unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

The WaPo article is dated February 18. The Clinton campaign is just now figuring out how the Texas system works.

In conversation about difficult projects, I’ve occasionally been known to say “Americans planned D-Day, this isn’t that hard.” Currently, Clinton and company as campaign leaders look a lot less like General Dwight Eisenhower and a lot more like General William Westmoreland.

This Is Just To Say: An Open Letter To Bill Kristol

Bill, I really don’t need you to tell me that the leading Democratic candidates for president are hesitant to discuss the relative benefits of the troop surge in Iraq.

I seem to have read somewhere that the surge is working. That’s good! It’s important to take care of stuff in Iraq! But you know what? I really don’t give a shit what Obama and Clinton are or are not saying about the surge while they’re reaching out to primary voters. What, you expect them to suddenly change their messages in the middle of a campaign? You were once Quayle’s chief of staff — you should know how this stuff works.

I suppose there is the idea that it is somehow funny to use the Times’ op-ed pages to even out the playing field in American public debate about Iraq, but I can read this in so many other places that it just seems like a waste of space. You have a year to make your point — is this really what you want to leave as the record of your tenure?

I still happen to think the Times op-ed page is an important forum. You cheapen it by sounding like a syndicated writer. And quit using it as talking points for sparring with Juan Williams. If I wanted to watch Fox News Sunday, I’d wake up in time to do it.

I never thought I’d say this, but Paul Krugman was so much more interesting this morning.

The Michael Moore-alization* Of Public Debate

If they could, they would blame Wal-Mart for the country’s port security woes. Oh wait:

Terrorists could hide a nuclear weapon inside a shipping container bound for New York at any time, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said yesterday, and large importers such as Wal-Mart are partly to blame for opposing greater scanning checks.

“Wal-Mart, America’s largest importer, has actively worked to oppose the scanning of all cargo containers coming into our ports,” Nadler said at a press conference on the Hudson River waterfront, where he was surrounded by anti-Wal-Mart banners and union representatives.

He then called on Wal-Mart to support new laws that would, in five years, require all containers to be scanned on entry.

“Currently, the government only inspects about 6 percent of the port containers coming into the country,” Nadler said. “The experts agree that our ports are vulnerable to nuclear attack and the Bush administration has failed to take that seriously.”

One in 25 of containers entering the United States in 2005 was bound for a Wal-Mart store, Nadler said, the equivalent of 695,000 20-foot containers a year — more than Target, Home Depot and Costco combined. He argued companies such as Wal-Mart have a duty to scan for nuclear and chemical materials — but that they are currently failing in that responsibility by lobbying against new security legislation.

“Wal-Mart executives are worried that anything that slows down their importation of foreign products, even if for a moment, it would cost them money,” said Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union. “The bottom line is that any one of the containers Wal-Mart is bringing into this country could prove to be 9/11 in a box.”

*Defined as “boiling down a complex issue to a simple — and simple to solve! — matter of corporate malfeasance.”


When Sam Brownback raised his hand to indicate that he doesn’t believe in evolution, what he meant to say was:

If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

I still don’t think he thinks we evolved from monkeys though.

*On any other day, in any other context, one can resist the gratuitous Onyx reference; today is not that day.

Uncomfortable With The Level Of Blindness, He Wished To Be Blinder

When defending the appearance of impropriety, obfuscation is the clear path to take:

Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.

The spokesman, Bill Burton, said Mr. Obama’s broker bought the stocks without consulting the senator, under the terms of a blind trust that was being set up for the senator at that time but was not finalized until several months after the investments were made.

“He went about this process to avoid an actual or apparent conflict of interest, and he had no knowledge of the stocks he owned,” Mr. Burton said. “And when he realized that he didn’t have the level of blindness that he expected, he moved to terminate the trust.”

Emph. added for your eye-popping amusement.