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Originally published Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 5:30 AM

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A CEO of ceaseless talent, McNerney does stand-up

The Wrap by Ron Judd

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Jim...don't quit your day job... Wait... Scratch that... Jim needs to be shed particularly quickly. I am not... MORE
boeing needs a new leader MORE
Here's a swell picture of our hero and former Chairman of the Business Round Table (the CEO's union that the rest of us... MORE


Look: As anyone over at the Dale Chihuly Outlet Mall/Museum of Self-Aggrandizement at Seattle Center will tell you, Mr. Wrap, is, at heart, a reasonable fellow.

He honestly would prefer to write about something other than the weekly outrage at the local airplane shop. But even he, a veritable pillar of editorial restraint, could not ignore last week’s Corporate Double-Speak Hit Parade emanating from the decidedly non-Seattle HQ of Boeing.

The Grand Marshal: Jim “Light Bulb” McNerney, CEO of America’s reigning corporate-welfare queen. Deftly sensing that Seattle-area outrage over Boeing’s most recent backstabbings of longtime employees was dimming to minor roar, McNerney — probably phoning in from a lavender-infused steam room at Sprawling Mansion No. 8 — assured investors that turning one’s workforce into a seething hate group is a savvy business move.

Spreading engineering work around the country to other strategic (cough, choke, nonunion) locales, he said, is a savvy move to put thousands of miles of space between design and manufacturing by establishing regional “centers of excellence.”

We bow in respect: This is a rare, black-is-white term that’s so flawless, it serves as its own punchline.

More hearty guffaws:

Honest to God: The first time Mr. Wrap read that term online, a Chrome browser window popped up and asked: “Would you like to translate this from the original BS?”

On the Other Hand: “Centers of excellence” is an Orwellian phrase already destined to live in Puget Sound comedic infamy. So many practical uses: Catchy brand-name for Top Pot doughnut holes. Hilarious gag door sign for Howard Lincoln’s office at Safeco Field. Unofficial nickname for Puget Sound food banks. You get it; have at it.

Other News from Far Reaches of the Plutocracy: Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World of Consumers Too Slow To Realize They’re Being Shamelessly Target-Marketed.

Survey Says: More than half of people who watched the Sochi Olympics on NBC also used a computer, tablet or other device at the same time. Duh. They were trying to hack into the non-crappy coverage on CBC.

Some Advice for the Feds: Dealing with newfound property-rights superhero Cliven Bundy (actual name), racist Nevada cattle rancher. Just put up a microphone, stand out in that sagebrush, invite the networks, and let the genius talk.

Bubble Up: Starbucks is about to enter the soda-sales wars. Our prediction based on previous experience: Make way for the $12 Coke.

About That Metro Tax: Many years ago, some wise locals noted that continual refusal to reform the state’s antiquated, recession-prone tax structure would lead to one of two outcomes: Nickel-and-diming everyone to death by user fees and the sales tax to keep public services running, or outrageous degradation of same. And now here we are!

And Finally: Note to the PR kids who produced the remarkable stream of news-release nonsense — invoking images of sled-dog formations, “arctic blasts” and the “jaws” of Husky Stadium — to justify the rendering of Husky football players as shameless dress mannequins for Nike: If this flackery gig with the great Satan of sports doesn’t work out, you’ve all got bright futures at a certain center of excellence in Chicago.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at or 206-464-8280.

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