The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


U.S. Senate Prohibits Torture: A Glimmer of Hope

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 5, 2005 - 9:19pm

Bush promises to veto, but there are clearly enough votes to override:


More on Miers

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 5, 2005 - 4:37pm

Questions and "talking points": 1. Will Miers recuse herself in upcoming cases on torture and detention of enemy noncombatants? 2. Why did Dr. James (beat children with wooden spoons for Jesus) Dobson say today that he had "private information" from the White House that has led him to support Miers? Doesn't it establish a religion when POTUS treats some religious leaders as privileged informants? 3. Why did the Republicans do a Photoshop makeover of Miers for their publicity? 4. What is the best strategy for moderates and liberals--let the conservative infighting proceed, or come out swinging on the issue of competence and cronyism? 5. Does Miers' membership in a fundamentalist church in Dallas indicate how she would vote on key church-state cases as well as on abortion? How did we get to the point where a judicial nominees' church membership is a discussion topic? 6. Are cronies always bad? The greatest justice of the second half of the 20th century was Hugo Black, who had no judicial experience and very little higher education? 7. Is it time for moderates and the left to let Roe go, on the assumption that it would deprive the Republicans of a single issue that drives some Democrats into their party, and has allowed Republicans to talk out of both sides of their mouths for 25 years? 8. Will the Christian Right bolt? Will they ever realize they've been had?


The Miers Nomination

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 4, 2005 - 8:21am

This selection from Federalist No. 76 is making the rounds of the law blogs: To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration. It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.


Posse Comitatus

Submitted by Jim Aune on October 2, 2005 - 9:47pm

If you didn't have enough to be afraid of already, consider the Bush Administration's proposal to bypass the states and allow the military to engage in direct law enforcement inside the U.S. Alan Bock, a really fine libertarian commentator, discusses the history of the Posse Comitatus Act:


Losing out on the dream

Submitted by jenny on October 2, 2005 - 8:41am

I'm in the process of reading Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. It's a good one. Ehrenreich details the rather painful state of so-called "white collar" workers in a downwardly mobile "white-collar" work environment. Some of the funnier and sadder moments are her extended efforts at participating in job coaching courses and workshops, where she's told that "networking all the time" is the key to job success. She's also told--in books, support groups, and coaching workshops for people in a "transition stage" in their careers--that you make your own situation. If you can't find a job, then it's because you don't have a winning attitude, or maybe you just haven't marketed yourself as effectively as possible. Those depressed folks who suggest that maybe the crappy market is to blame are quickly smacked down by the "job coach." One man is told that there is no outside world. Instead, only _you_ make your own destiny. World (i.e., connections to the social) becomes a dead weight. Makes me wonder how many of our students (especially those huge numbers of students going into the "business" fields) are getting this kind of asocial pseudo-psychology in their courses, mentorships, or popular media "help" guides. Is this a dominating public pedagogy: the rhetoric of "no world"? I see this in the popular media self-help rhetorics of Dr. Laura, etc. Maybe this "no world" pedagogy is something to consider.


Rhetoric and the Humanities

Submitted by Jim Aune on September 30, 2005 - 10:56pm

I'm supposed to participate in a day-long meeting at the NCA convention in Boston on rhetoric and the humanities. A 5-page position statement was due at the beginning of September, and I have written 3 versions now but trashed each one. What I want to say: 1. The humanities--in distinction from the hard, muscular, throbbing sciences and the social sciences--are (is?) based on historical inquiry, are text-centered, and often include issues of value/ethics. 2. Rhetorical studies fits uneasily within the traditional humanities because of its link with basic instruction in literacy. At a scholarly level, it has greater elective affinities with management and law than with literary studies or history, in that it foregrounds "phronesis" as the goal of education and scholarship. 3. The humanities sociologically are controlled by about 10--mostly private--universities, and they don't "get" rhetoric. The social sciences are more democratic and have been more welcoming to Communication as field. In my experience, sociologists and economists "get" what I'm doing as a rhetorician more than "humanities" scholars. 4. So I'm very close to arguing that rhetoric is to communication as political theory/public law are to political science or social theory is to sociology: the historical, value-centered complement to empirical (quantitative or qualitative) research. I'll post a draft once I figure out further what I want to say. I know that one of my besetting sins when I blog or post on listservs is that I've constructed my public persona as a sort of crank or curmudgeon, so I'm trying to tone down my crankiness. . . .


Godless Sodomite Takes Over House of Representatives

Submitted by Jim Aune on September 30, 2005 - 10:37pm

After Tom DeLay's indictment, it appears that the House will be run by three people: Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and House Rules Committee Chair Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), with Blunt holding DeLay's title, Cantor taking on the Whip role, and Dreier "taking a broader role in coordinating the work of other committees. On Dreier: Questions: 1. Are Gary Bauer, Dr. "beat your kids with wooden spoons" Dobson, and Pat Robertson just hypocrites that they don't protest a godless sodomite taking a key role in the Party of Jesus? 2. As with Rick Santorum's gay communications director, what makes gay conservatives tick? What internal rhetorical processes are involved? (I wonder the same about Jewish Republicans, but that's another issue.)


Elzinga on Evangelical Profs in a Secular University

Submitted by Jim Aune on September 30, 2005 - 9:03am

Noted economist from UVA Kenneth Elzinga speaks at Abilene Christian: I hadn't known that until 1967 student religious groups could not meet on the UVA campus (er, grounds). Elzinga's speech is thoughtful, and I hope his audience took it seriously. But even Elzinga frightens me to death.


12 Steps for Graduate Students

Submitted by Jim Aune on September 29, 2005 - 9:03pm

From "Fontana Labs" at: **JIM AUNE DIDN'T WRITE THIS, OK? I'M POSTING IT FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES** As Young Ben heads off to his first days of graduate school, I thought it might be a good time to offer words of advice to others at the very start of their graduate careers. Ben's talent and charm will carry him through with no problems, I'm sure, but for any interested parties I offer these opening salvos. Add your own in comments! 1. The most important thing: recognize that graduate school is not at all college+1. It's a job-training program designed to qualify you for a very specialized line of work. You're a professional now. Act accordingly. 2. As a corollary of (1), keep in mind that your relationship with your faculty is completely different from an undergraduate's. In some ways this is good: you're halfway a colleague. In some ways this is bad: you're completely dependent on them. Getting abused, harassed, or mistreated? Any of the official lines of complaint might well result in a lukewarm letter of recommendation, which pretty much kills your chance at a job. Never make the mistake of thinking that you're one of them. 3. In case you're unclear about what (2) means: it entails that you should not demand that the director of graduate placement offer you a fellatio. I know you're really drunk, but respect the boundaries. 4. Partly because your work is all-consuming, and partly because of the strange relationship mentioned in (2), you need to have some kind of outlet outside of your academic life. This will cushion you when, inevitably, the professional life hits the skids. If you can, make nonacademic friends. Keep up at least one hobby from the old days. You need to blow off some steam once in a while. 5. Keep fit. I'm completely serious about this. 6. Listen to your peers. At the start of my program, I got invaluable advice from older, wiser heads. Keep your ears open to learn the ins and outs, the standards, the expectations, and so on. No need to reinvent the wheel. 7. In any department there are stand-up, heart-of-gold people who are on your side. There are also complete pricks who don't give a fuck about you and would never lift a finger to save your career. Find out who's who, and don't take their word for it. You know the really hip prof, the one who really would rather be black? He'll talk all urban, but he drove someone from the program last year when the student got a little overfamiliar and replied in kind. Bite your tongue and bide your time, honky. 8. Do your fair share. From time to time, there will be annoying obligations. Go to the parties. Attend the receptions. Take the visiting speaker to lunch. You're building a little goodwill, and it can really help to be seen as a team player if things get rough. Being a good citizen is a good thing. 9. Network like mad. Meet people and impress them with your cleverness. 10. Don't waste time whining about the market-- you could be working with that energy. My advice: every six to twelve months, surface for air. Go meta about your career choice. If you're not enjoying graduate school, if the work isn't moving you, if it's not paying off as you'd hoped, consider dropping out. If you decide to continue, don't think about it until six months later. 11. There's no shame in dropping out, either. Smarter people than you are flourishing in nonacademic careers, and I invite you to bite their asses if you think your "Dr" means anything. 12. Enjoy it. You'll probably never be around such smart, interesting, and completely fucked up people ever again. It's good times. I'm sure I've contradicted myself, come across like a jerk, whatever. I'll amend as appropriate.


Museum of News Media

Submitted by ddd on September 27, 2005 - 7:58pm

Here's an interesting wake up call for us about the darker side of peer to peer journalism.