The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


India blocks blogging Web sites

Submitted by Adria on July 24, 2006 - 12:30pm

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Angry Indian Internet users and the country's main software trade group urged the government Wednesday to reopen access to blogging Web sites that were blocked after a series of bombs ripped through Mumbai's commuter rail network. . . MORE HERE

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Gouldner on Theory-Making

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 23, 2006 - 10:42pm

I've been meditating today on this statement by sociologist Alvin Gouldner (probably the main influence on my own work): "Much of theory-work begins with an effort to make sense of one's experience. Much of it is initiated by an effort to resolve unresolved experience; here, the problem is not to validate what has been observed or to produce new observations, but rather to locate and to interpret the meaning of what one has lived. . . . Theory-making, then, is often an effort to cope with threat; it is an effort to cope with a threat to something in which the theorist himself is deeply and personally implicated and which he holds dear" (The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology, 1970: 484).

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Submitted by Jim Aune on July 23, 2006 - 10:17pm

The US conservative movement has never really devolved into fascism because it has lacked organized social movement groups targeting the left at "street level," as in Germany, France, and Italy. Here's a sign of things to come: (thanks to Jen Mercieca)

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By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 23, 2006 - 8:25pm

It didn't look like the NAACP was buying any of the Boy Emperor's speech last week, but in case anyone's thinking he's developed a conscience about racial discrimination, check out this article from the Boston Globe about hiring patterns in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ: "Hires with traditional civil rights backgrounds -- either civil rights litigators or members of civil rights groups -- have plunged. Only 19 of the 45 lawyers hired since 2003 in those three sections were experienced in civil rights law, and of those, nine gained their experience either by defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies. Meanwhile, conservative credentials have risen sharply. Since 2003 the three sections have hired 11 lawyers who said they were members of the conservative Federalist Society. Seven hires in the three sections are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association, including two who volunteered for Bush-Cheney campaigns. Several new hires worked for prominent conservatives, including former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, former attorney general Edwin Meese, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, and Judge Charles Pickering. And six listed Christian organizations that promote socially conservative views. The changes in those three sections are echoed to varying degrees throughout the Civil Rights Division, according to current and former staffers. At the same time, the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians." The whole article is Here

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A Letter From the Promised Land

Submitted by Adria on July 23, 2006 - 1:00pm

An email from a colleague and friend, Avital Sharon, posted on the Blogora with her permission and unnecessary apologies: Thank you for all your emails and support. It means a lot to me and solidifies my feeling that I have a second home and a second family across the ocean. Josh suggested that I will let you all know how I am doing. If you don't have the time or patience to read it all, the bottom line is that the situation is not good but personally I am fine. A necessary apology for my English—I don't have anyone to proofread this mail. Things here are indeed crazy. I wish I could say that the media exaggerates (as they usually do) but this is a real war. It is still nameless but don't be confused by the location—we call it the first Israel-Iran war or the first chapter in the war between Iran to the West. Israel had had a few great years lately especially with the optimism that accompanied the withdrawal from the Gaza strip, but I landed just in time for the show… In my first days here I was a bit stressed out, as if two years in the US have dissolved my walls of defense. There is something very protective about America (or is it Texas?) – it is so big and clean and spacious. Even the sky is amazingly high and open (and blue). I find that Americans (Texans?) do not like to argue or talk about politics so if one wants to, it is easy to forget about the crazy world out there. Luckily I had a buffer zone of a few days in Paris—people walking down the street, pushing each other in the metro, waiters do not give a damm in my direction and 5 people die while celebrating with half a million others the victory over Portugal in the Champs Elysees — "La folie collective." So I landed in Israel half prepared. The human being though is an adaptive creature and I must admit that although I am concerned I sleep well at night. Perhaps we have just become skilled at repressing things. It is difficult to deal with the brew of emotions a war like that (or simply living here) evokes. Of course, I am lucky. My family lives in the center of Israel that so far was not hit by the missiles from Gaza or the ones from Lebanon. My friends in the north (the distance is less than 70 miles—tiny country) must sleep in shelters at a sweltering heat of 100 deg. They saw their houses collapse and friends get injured (or die). One refugee friend is now staying with me at my parents' house. Last week he woke up in the morning and realized that all the birds had left his home town. It was his signal to come down here. After 11 days of fighting and after the neighboring building was directly hit his family has also decided to leave. Now they are trying to find a home for their 20 cats. Another friend who grew up in that area has just shared with me his feeling of being swamped by painful memories from his childhood in shelters (the cause for the first war in Lebanon). Others were called in the middle of life (recruited forces) to the army and don't know when they will be back at work or with their families. Here, in the Tel- Aviv area, we live normally just a bit more slowly. More alarmed. Sometimes suicide bombers penetrate this area therefore streets are closed and we have traffic jams until the terrorists are caught. On general though, I doubt that a stranger passing by in Tel-Aviv would notice the difference. People are working, sitting in cafes, meeting friends, children are playing in the streets. Life. Last night I watched the sunset on the beach—a beautiful red sun setting into the turquoise blue sea. Choppers loaded with ammunition were flying in the sky. The holy land. I don't even know sometimes why I love it so much but even now there is something very strong and invigorating about it. The atmosphere in the streets is sad but is surprisingly ok. Wars and calamities have a strange (and dangerous?) way of making people feel closer to each other. Of course, some companies are taking advantage of the situation to advertise their support in the north and offer their special deals—free internet installation and cheaper calls on the cells—just join us to this happy communicative war…. On general though, people open their houses, hearts and pockets to support each other. Some new websites even channel the transformation of goods and people from the north to their new houses in the rest of the country. What can I say; we are good at handling crises. Morally the intifada was more difficult to bear. In this case, although my heart breaks to think about the innocent victims in Lebanon, we feel that we had absolutely no choice. Ever since Israel left Lebanon 6 years ago we were consistently provoked and attacked by the Hezbollah but did not react. The results are detrimental. Because no one stopped them, the Hezbollah gained power and have become a real threat to our existence. With Iran (which controls the Hezbollah) going to have a nuclear weapon in a couple of years things look even scarier. I would like to send Nasrallaha (and Assad and Rafsangani) to the Dalai Lama or to take Zigi Marley's advice and offer them weed but I do not think that they would be too enthusiastic. So a war. Of course, I do not forget that most wars begin with consensus and I hope that this (left) government will be able to end the war soon with a good agreement and minimal casualties to both Israel and Lebanon. It is comforting to know that in case Tel- Aviv will be bombed I would be able to come back earlier to my second home in Austin. At the moment though, as crazy as it might seem to you, I am still happy to be here. Peace, Sharon

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Rhetoric and Heresthetic

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 22, 2006 - 2:24pm

The late William Riker (no, not the Star Trek Will Riker) coined the term "heresthetic" in his book The Strategy of Rhetoric to refer to activities by which a person or group frames, primes, or sets the agenda for a decision-making process, and thus provides the context and interpretation for the decision. Typically, ordinary people make decisions after elites have engaged in heresthetic maneuvering. The Dems are having a debate right now (much to the chagrin of New Hampshire) about changing the primary process for 2008: The idea is to change the "whiteness" of the Iowa caucuses and NH primary. I think the concept of heresthetic is really essential to thinking about rhetorical strategy, although thus far it hasn't had much influence in rhetorical studies.

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Paleocon Advice for the Dems

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 22, 2006 - 12:13pm

3 very interesting articles from the American Conservative (and, good heavens, one of my favorite politicians, Byron Dorgan, Democratic senator from North Dakota, is now writing for it):

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Florida Outlaws Revisionism

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 22, 2006 - 12:09pm

Robert Jensen at UT with an interesting commentary on Florida's disturbing new law (thanks to Lucaites): --One way to measure the fears of people in power is by the intensity of their quest for certainty and control over knowledge. By that standard, the members of the Florida Legislature marked themselves as the folks most terrified of history in the United States when last month they took bold action to become the first state to outlaw historical interpretation in public schools. In other words, Florida has officially replaced the study of history with the imposition of dogma and effectively outlawed critical thinking. The rest is here:

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Talking Dawgs

My aunt Lura used to insist that her Shih-Tzu, Shangri la, frequently *spoke* to her, squeaking out with kairotic precision the sounds: "I love you." I thought she was nuts. This, however, makes me think i may have been a leetle hasty:

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A protracted colonial war

Submitted by Adria on July 21, 2006 - 6:19pm

Well, I've gotten some comments about the rhetoric and violence post, though unfortunately they were not "blogged." Anyyyhow--here is something that was brought to my attention. Thought it might stimulate some blogging.,,1824538,00.html (the text was obnoxiously long...please click the link to read the full story)

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