"Nothing. What's a motto with you?"

An interesting dustup caused by a contest post at the Freakonomics blog; the challenge is:

Write a six-word motto for the U.S. of A.
As I type, there are slightly under 1000 comment entries. I've read a few, and my impressions are the same as Lileks': wading through all the snarky half-witticisms is "like licking a corroded battery." (Read Lileks' entire essay, it's good.)

Little Green Footballs also takes a dim view: "the vast majority [of Freakonomics comments] are competing for the most downbeat, defeatist, self-hating motto possible." And his comment thread is bumping up against a couple thousand.

My favorite is an oldie but a goodie:

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave
Possible objections, and my response:

Objection 1: This shows you to be a jingoistic right wing yahoo.

My Response: That's right, baby. Kiss my shiny red, white, and blue ass.

Objection 2:That's not six words.

My Response: I'm not entering the stupid contest. Also, see my response to Objection 1.

(Headline source here, for the poor benighted souls who don't recognize it instantly.)

Last Modified 2012-10-14 10:44 AM EDT

Without Caring What the Words Mean

The Blogometer excerpted an endorsement of Hillary Clinton from someone named Taylor Marsh:

Hillary Clinton embodies every fight I've ever waged. Every battle I've ever engaged. She is the embodiment of hope for all women, as well as anyone looking for a better life, a fairer break, young, old, poor and poorer. She's got the passion and she's got plans to make them happen.
All the mushy gushiness speaks for itself. But my question is: to what does the penultimate word "them" refer?

Nothing, right?

From George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language":

The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.
It's been well over sixty years since Orwell wrote that, but he certainly saw Ms. Marsh coming.