"Afterward, Pryor said it was difficult to engage in a detailed conversation, especially on issues such as the fiscal cliff — a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to go into effect next year. Many economists warn that it will kneecap the economy if it isn't averted." The verb kneecap is not one I expected to hear in a discussion of the American economy. A TV cop show, maybe. But I guess I haven't been paying attention. Apparently this usage has been accepted as standard for some time now. My old Random House says that to kneecap is "to cripple (a person) by shooting in the knee."
When Sandra met Clifford:
We barely survived Hurricane Sandy and now we're threatened by Fiscal Cliff. Seems a bit much, although I suspect Cliff may be overrated. But Sandy did real harm, too much to be wearing an affectionate diminutive, I think. Hurricanes are not cute, especially the really big ones. What's next? Hurricane Cissy? Hurricane Tubby? Wise up, weathermen. I bet nobody ever called Sandra Palin "Sandy." Not and lived to tell about it.
"Auburn Coach Gene Chizik walks the sidelines during the second half of Saturday's 49-0 loss to Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Chizik was fired Sunday after a 3-9 season by Athletic Director Jay Jacobs." Bick Satterfield asks, "If the A.D. had a 3-9 season, why didn't they fire him instead of the coach?"
" 'Duane Neal had been an intricate part of the success of the Arkansas Republican Party that we are enjoying now,' Barnett said."
The word that fits here is integral, Michael Klossner points out.
As with kneecap and the economy, I found this language a little odd in an article about the Connecticut school massacre. " 'It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,' he said. His daughter was fine. ... Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots from his home and ran to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point."
Fine seems subjective and premature. I'd use safe or unharmed.