My Motto, Right or Wrong

Freakonomics just had a contest to come up with the best six-word motto for the United States.

There was a clear winner:

Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay (194 votes)

Here are the runners-up:

Caution! Experiment in Progress Since 1776 (134)

The Most Gentle Empire So Far (64) votes

You Should See the Other Guy (38)

Just Like Canada, With Better Bacon (18)

I still think P.J. O’Rourke’s suggestion: “America … It Doesn’t Suck!” is better.

Attacking Obama

Mark Helperin pens a stupid piece on how John McCain can beat Barack Obama using methods Clinton can’t. Let’s take it apart.

1. Play the national security card without hesitation.

2. Talk about the Iraq War without apologies or perceived contradiction.

3. Go at Obama unambiguously from the right.

All these are fine. Obama doesn’t have any experience on foreign policy. And unlike Clinton, McCain does. Being firm on Iraq has helped McCain as he’s been consistent on it. And Obama’s weaknesses are the far-left economic views he has embraced in the primary. He will tack right in the general election – and that’s when McCain can pounce.

But the rest of Halperin’s ideas are a mixture of the dumb and the meaningless. It reads like the empty rhetoric ignorant people insist is Obama’s forte combined with the pointless nastiness of Anne Coulter. Quite frankly, it reads exactly like what the Clinton camp has been doing. And I’m sure it will have the same effect.

4. Encourage interest groups, bloggers, and right-leaning media to explore Obama’s past.

Muck-racking? If people didn’t care about Clinton’s adultery and shady Whitewater deals, they won’t care about Obama’s Rezko stuff. Clinton has tried this. It didn’t work.

5. Make an issue of Obama’s acknowledged drug use.

This would be incredibly dumb. Obama admitting to drug use makes me want to vote for him, since he’s not trying to insult my intelligence. Clinton has tried this. It didn’t work.

6. Allow some supporters to risk being accused of using the race card when criticizing Obama.

I’ve been hearing this complaint a lot — that criticism of Obama will be equated with racism. Perhaps. We know that criticism of conservative blacks (Rice, Powell, Watts) is not racism, according to the Left, while criticism of liberal blacks is.

But I think “racism!” cries would actually backfire on Obama. The one thing he does not want to become in this election is “the black guy”. If his supporters start playing the race card, it will cripple his campaign.

7. Exploit Michelle Obama’s mistakes and address her controversial remarks with unrestricted censure.

As I said before, Michelle Obama’s words doesn’t bother me. Hillary Clinton said a lot of crazy things as first lady as well. Until Michelle Obama indicates she’s going to be part of the Administration, any dumb remarks she makes are irrelevant.

8. Play dirty without alienating his party.

And how do you do this, precisely?

9. Dismiss Obama’s brief national tenure from his own lofty platform of decades in the Senate – there will be no ambiguity about who has more experience as conventionally defined.

Because this worked so well for Hillary.

10. Use his sterling war record to reinforce his image of patriotism and valor – and contrast it with his opponent’s.

Yes, President Dole rode that particular rail right into the White House. Oh, wait.

11. Emphasize Barack Hussein Obama’s unusual name and exotic background through a Manchurian Candidate prism.

This is not only stupid, it’s offensive. I don’t give a shit if Obama’s middle name is Hitler and he’s descended from Martians. Neither, I suspect, do most Americans.

12. Employ third party groups like the NRA to hit Obama on issues that might turn off general election voters. Perhaps an ad such as this will run in Ohio: “So, what do you really know about Barack Obama? Did you know he supports meeting with the head of terrorist states? Do you know he wants to get rid of your right to own a handgun? Do you know he is calling for the repeal of the law preventing gay marriage? Do you know he is for a trillion-dollar tax increase? What do you really know about Barack Obama?”

Of course, none of these things are true. Which I guess makes them perfect 527 issues. This is effective, if unpleasant, advice.

13. Face an electorate less consumed with “change change change” (the main priority for Democratic voters) and keenly interested in “ready from day one” as an equally important ideal.

Again, this worked so well for Hillary. In fact, “ready from day one” were her exact words.

14. Link biography (experience/courage) and leadership (straight talk) to a vision animated by detail – accentuating Obama’s relative lack of specificity.

Halperin is lazy, as are most Right-Wing pundits when it comes to Obama. He’s been very specific about policy — that’s his weakness. His policy specifics are pure liberal pap.

15. Give Obama his first real race against a credible Republican. (Clinton has always asserted that Obama would wilt before a fierce Republican assault.)

More empty words. What’s the alternative? Running a non-real race? Against a silly Republican? This was more of a talking point for Clinton. She could have pointed out that the only Republican he beat was crazy-ass Alan Keyes. I don’t see how, “he’s never beaten a Republican” is going to sway the voters.

16. Confront Obama with a united, focused campaign absent of second-guessing, which hits the same themes and message every day.

Of course, Obama’s got that down as well. And conservatism has thrived for the last few years by never second-guessing anything.

Oh, wait.

This is all a bunch of shit. Frankly, it makes wonder if Mark Halperin and Mark Penn are, in fact, the same person. Has anyone actually seen them together?

Here’s what you need to do to defeat Barack Obama and it’s very simple — run as a fiscal conservative. Emphasize his big spending plans and tax increases. Outflank him on Iraq. Those are the two big issues. Everything else — from his middle name to his drug use — is pure shit. Emphasizing these issues will do nothing to advance the campaign and everything to annoy the voters.

Obama can be beaten — but only on substance. If you try to slime him or out-personality him, you will lose.

Update: West Virginia Rebel tips me to Blankley’s superior strategy.

Wednesday Linkorama

  • Outrage of the Day: A horrible car accident? Be sure to charge the black guy.
  • An interesting profile of Obama’s advisors. I find it hard to believe he’ll govern as liberal as he’s campaigning. Still prefer Mccain though.
  • A 16-year-old has consensual sex with a girl. Finds out she’s 13. Now he’s a registered sex offender and is getting constant harassment. The more I read, the more I hate these registries. Just a reminder: 80-90% of sexual crimes are committed by someone the victim knows, not the stranger living down the street.
  • That icon of the 80’s — Sharper Image — is going bankrupt. You could see this coming when they forced their founder out of the CEO chair. Maverick businesses tend to collapse when the maverick leaves — see Dell Computers.
  • Real Women

    I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while. Last week, I read about Naomi Wolf making one of the only real arguments I’ve seen against porn, essentially saying that men will lose interest in real women when confronted with silicon perfection.

    The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn, and how it is not helpful to them in trying to figure out how to be with a real woman. Mostly, when I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike. They know they are lonely together, even when conjoined, and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out, how to find each other again erotically, face-to-face.

    So Dworkin was right that pornography is compulsive, but she was wrong in thinking it would make men more rapacious. A whole generation of men are less able to connect erotically to women—and ultimately less libidinous.

    I have to disagree here.

  • To be honest, this sounds like a lot of whining. Men complaining they don’t know about real sex; women complaining men want too much crazy sex. We’ve raised a generation of whiners who are far too concerned that they’re not going to live up to what they imagine someone else’s expectations are. I haven’t noticed a drop in campus sex. Just have some God-damned sex. You’ll be fine. Trust me.

    Everyone goes into sex with very little knowledge, no matter how much they’ve read or watched. Half the fun is learning what your partner likes (and what you like). Quit fucking whining, drunk some fucking wine and do some fucking fucking.

  • Most of the women in pornography are neither interesting nor that hot. As the poster says, “I’d much rather get jiggy with Naomi Wolf than any porn starlet. How can a woman who writes like this not be incredible in bed?” I’ve consumed my share of porn and have yet to encounter any starlet who was even a fraction as exciting as my least-exciting girlfriend.
  • Porn is, by its nature — for the moment, at least — passive. Half the pleasure of sex comes from pleasing someone else and no matter how much you rub the screen, your computer is not going to enjoy it.
  • Porn is clean and antiseptic. Most people prefer the mess of reality.
  • Does Wolf really think that men want their women to act like the girls in porn? To the extent that porn has made oral sex more acceptable, it’s a good thing. But I can’t think many men are really demanding “the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene”, as Wolf claims. What people like to watch and what people like to do are often two entirely different things.

    I know a few women who’ve been around and have encountered men who expect them to act like porn stars. They’re rare. Most men are perfectly happy with ordinary sex, including those who consume massive volumes of porn.

  • The huge movement in porn is toward “reality”. Amateurs, natural women and girls running their own websites are the thing. Men are tired of silicon-enhanced “beauties” and miss the kind of women who used to appear in Playboy — real women with curves and hips and pretty faces.
  • I do agree with Wolf that men and women have some trouble relating to each other. That’s not exactly new nor is it the result of porn. I didn’t have any porn when I was in college (the feminists would have burned my dorm down) but had trouble relating to women. Hell, I still do. But I’m just married so it’s less of a concern.
  • I don’t see why porn giving men unrealistic images of sex is any different than romantic comedies giving women unrealistic images of romance. Or Friends giving people unrealistic images of life in New York. Entertainment isn’t reality and hasn’t been since Homer gave people unrealistic impressions of war in The Iliad.
  • A Waste of Money

    Just recently, we bought a playpen for my daughter — somewhere where we could park her and she would play and be safe while we worked.

    Well, she’s grabbing the railing and trying to scrabble over the side now. She hates being in the playpen.

    Ugh. People, do yourself a favor. Have dumb kids. So much easier.

    Saturday Night Linkorama

  • Oh, that liberal media. Right.
  • Remember, there are more ways than earmarks to benefit your buddies. Earmarks concern me a lot less in influence peddling than regulation or tax policy.
  • Forbes on the ongoing efforts to ban drug reps from treating doctors to lunch.

    Another argument made by supporters of the Senate bill is that promotion leads physicians “to prescribe the expensive new drugs that are being marketed to them when a more affordable generic would do,” in the words of one senator. There are three things wrong with this argument. First, manufacturers of generics do not promote those drugs, so it might be difficult for the physician to learn about generics at all. Second, new drugs lead to better health outcomes. They keep people out of the hospital. A 2007 study by business professor Frank Lichtenberg of Columbia University estimated that a prescription for a new drug (5 years from FDA approval) costs an average $18 more than an older one (15 years on the market) but reduces other medical costs, including hospital and office visits, by $129. Finally, by leading consumers to purchase newer drugs, marketing increases investment in innovation and thus makes research more likely.

    I’ve never understood the animus toward drug companies. Doctors are busy — drug reps are the only way they find out about some meds, such as the anti-reflux med I’m using.

    But apparently, it’s just fine when special interest treat politicians to junkets. But if a drug rep buys a doctor lunch, it’s pure evil.

  • The Obama Cult

    I’ve been hearing a lot in recent days about the Cult of Personality surrounding Obama. It’s a fair point. When women are fainting at Obama rallies, they aren’t exactly thinking about his tax plan. And there a number of people, notably his wife, who are talking about him as though he were the second coming.

    This is neither unprecedented nor a cause of concern.

    Americans have historically been resistant to the Cult of Personality. Probably the most successful “personality” President in American history was FDR and I don’t think anyone would accuse him of not having concrete policies. The three most successful post-war Personality Presidents were JFK, Reagan and Clinton. All three men went through periods, not long after election, when they very unpopular. In fact, all three were, at some point, long shots to win re-election.

    In fact, the Cult of Obama more reminds me of the Cult of Carter than anything else. It’ difficult to recall at this stage, but Carted has an entire “Cult of Personality” thing going in 1976. All it got him was unelected in four years. I’ll have an in-depth post on that later.

    When you look at non-Presidents, the situation is even better. Joe McCarthy managed to wear out the public within four years. George Wallace collapsed. Ross Perot imploded. All three were in the public eye because of various Cult flavors.

    And even if Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate, the general election is eight months away. Already, the Obamania is beginning to subside, which is why Barack has slowly been putting more substance into his speeches. I predict that by the time the convention rolls around in August, the Cult of Personality will be gone and Obama will have to stand on policy and accomplishment. His record in these matters, ignorant Obama attackers aside, is solid, if liberal. He has very specific policy proposals and a record in Illinois and in the Senate of — not exactly !!CHANGE!! — but gradual improvement.

    So the Cult of Personality doesn’t bother me. In the end, it won’t win Obama the White House and it won’t stop him from enjoying the abuse Americans love to heap on their Presidents.

    What the Hell

    The more I hear about the NIU shooter, the less sense it makes. I’m sure people will zero in on his having given up anti-depressants. That may have had something to do with this. But common sense tells us that drug withdrawal doesn’t cause this. By every account, he was the opposite of the fucker who shot up VT. He had a girlfriend, a future, reasons to live.

    We try to make sense of these things. We can understand when someone with no friends and/or mental problems does somethijng horrible. And I’m guessing something will come out that will explain this. But I doubt anything will make me stop scratching my head and wondering what the hell happened.

    Peace At Last

    Yes, the war is over. The format war that is. Toshiba is ending HD-DVD, which means Blu Ray wins the high def disc wars just in time to become obsolete in favor of high-def downloads. Clearly, the credit here goes to the Democrats.

    I’m curious if anyone I know actually has one of these schtumaks. I’m disinclined to buy my DVD library again. I recently saw a demo of Kingdom of Heaven Blu Ray vs DVD. It was a little more instructive than the usual comparison, which involves a terrible DVD transfer. I was not that impressed. Blu-Ray was better, but not that much better.

    Constipated Linkorama

    The site was done for a while due to wordpress problems. My baby brother fixed it and everything is copacetic. So a long delayed LINKORAMA is due.

  • John Stossel comes out against the stimulus plan. You know, John. Maybe you could have written this a couple of weeks ago when it might have mattered. The blog and radio silence on this issue enraged me. My feeling was that everyone knew it was a bad idea … but everyone wanted those checks.
  • A nice tribute to the amazing Julian Simon.
  • Morrisey on Clinton’s bad history with buying the New York election by pardoning the FALN terrorists. This is something that will be huge if Hillary gets the nomination.
  • There’s been a lot of noise about the mother who tried to discipline her kid with public humiliation. The thing I can’t stand about these articles are all the “experts” who tell us the best way to raise a child. Note to experts: children are not lab rats, they are individuals. Different parents need different tools. One size fits all discipline is a horrid, horrid idea. Shut the fuck up.
  • Megan McCardle is not the only economist who likes Barak Obama. He is the infinitely preferable choice in the Dem primary — see my post (Empress of Industry) at Right-Thinking.
  • Speaking of McCardle, she makes some good points on the push for CFC bulbs. I keep circling around this and it always seems that the best way to combat global warming is a carbon tax. It’s the simplest and does not interfere with the market.
  • The latest from the Nanny State? A tax on video games.
  • Those FEMA trailers? Poisonous.Oh, this gets better with every passing day.
  • Dubner thinks our recession isn’t that bad. I hope he’s right. I can’t afford for him to be wrong.