The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
political rhetoric


Instant Karma: Save Darfur

Submitted by ddd on June 30, 2007 - 8:42am

I'm trying to finish the introduction for a collection I'm editing this morning, and my background music is a truly beautiful 2 disc CD of contemporary artists playing various John Lennon tunes. It was recently put out by Amnesty International, along with T-shirts and posters of the cover, in support of their Darfur campaign. Here's some blurbage from the info that came with the CD:

In keeping with its long tradition of activism inspired by music, Amnesty International is using Yoko Ono's generous gift of John Lennon's solo catalogue as the centerpiece of "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur." More than 50 musicians from around the world--including U2, Christina Aguilera, Youssou N'Dour, Green Day and Black Eyed Peas--contributed their talents by recording covers. Proceeds will support Amnesty International and its campaign to focus attention and mobilize activism around the urgent catastrophe in Darfur, and other human rights crises.

FYI, if you're interested, you can order on iTunes or here:


Coulter and Limit Cases

Submitted by Jim Brown on June 27, 2007 - 12:16pm

Recently, Ann Coulter said that she had "learned her lesson" after calling John Edwards a faggot:

"If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

I can't seem to find a clip of the entire Good Morning America interview (I would like to know what the interviewer's response was to this statement...and what led up to her saying it. If anyone finds it, can you post it here?), but here's a 16 second clip:

And here's a clip of Elizabeth Edwards calling in to Hardball to spar with Coulter about this statement (and other things she's said in the past).

Two years ago, I had a student write a paper that responded to some of Coulter's views. During this semester, I had a particularly lethargic first-year writing class. So, I assigned the following: find the most offensive, ridiculous argument you can. Summarize it, and engage with it. Needless to say, I got some interesting papers. From Coulter to female genital mutilation to U.S. policies with regard to Pakistan. Actually, these were really great papers.


Obama's Style

Submitted by Jim Brown on April 7, 2007 - 12:06pm

The New York Times has a piece about how Obama has shifted his style significantly since his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

The story talks about his calm, measured tone at speaking events, and it mentions how he "lulls his audiences into long, if respectful, silences."

One Iowan pointed out that Obama's style doesn't match the national buzz:

“Rock star?” Ms. Gran said, offering the description herself. “That’s the national moniker. But dazzle is not what he is about at all. He’s peaceful.”

So, if it's not his speaking style that brings the "rockstar" talk from the national media, what is it? Maybe it's his MySpace-ish campaign website (users can have blogs and add friends). Or maybe it's just the excitement surrounding his campaign - excitement that often is not based on the substance of his ideas. Or maybe he's just a calm, collected, peaceful rockstar? Or maybe his skin color leads many to assume a certain style that he doesn't quite fit?


The Truth Behind Cheney's Faces

Submitted by ddd on April 7, 2007 - 6:35am

Well. I don't usually link to Fox News clips, but this one seems worth a peek. So THAT'S why Cheney was making those weird faces during the State of the Union address. :)


John Roberts/John McCain

Submitted by ddd on March 29, 2007 - 5:44am

Wow. Did you see John Roberts destroy McCain's rosy Baghdad scenario yesterday on The Situation Room? Woohweee. Good video of it, transcript, and further analysis at ThinkProgress.


John McCain: Plagiarist?

Submitted by Jim Brown on March 28, 2007 - 3:43pm

It's impossible to know if John McCain voted in favor of The Copyright Extension Act of 1998 (aka The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act) because it was passed with a voice vote. What we do know, is that the McCain campaign doesn't take pains to protect the intellectual property of others when it comes to campaign materials.

McCain's Myspace page uses Mike D's design template (no word on whether Ad-rock or MCA collaborated on said template), but does not provide attribution. It also links to images on Mike D's server. Thus, every time someone hits McCain's MySpace page, Mike D's server gets bogged.

Mike D got even though. He added this to one of the images that McCain's page was using:

"Today I announce that I have reversed my position and come out in full support of gay marriage...particularly marriage between passionate females."

He even added a signature at the bottom. See Mike D's explanation for more details.


Governor Dean video

Submitted by ddd on March 7, 2007 - 9:13pm

Here's a fascinatingly bad speech by Howard Dean on behalf of the Democratic party. By that i mean badly delivered. Wow--it's painful to watch.

Wondering, btw: why isn't the democratic party pushing for indictments of Rove and Cheney? It seems to me that this speech is not only awkwardly delivered but takes a lame stand on the implications of Libby's conviction. He's clearly a fall guy, right? What am i missing?


Another Gem From Ann Coulter

Submitted by Jim Brown on March 3, 2007 - 4:51pm

Ann Coulter said the following at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Romney, McCain, and Giuliani have distanced. Coulter claims it was just a "joke":

Ms. Coulter, asked for a reaction to the Republican criticism, said in an e-mail message: “C’mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.”

Sadly, this episode will most likely only buy her more credibility in certain circles. She claims she is likely to endorse Romney, and I wonder if he will distance (or, in some way, decline) her endorsement.


a question of/about audience

Submitted by Jim Brown on March 1, 2007 - 12:48pm

There's an interesting piece over at Salon by Paul M. Barrett about how denunciations of terrorism by moderate Muslims are supposedly "not heard" by Americans:

"But this disconnect may not stem entirely from a failure to listen. It may also have to do with the way American Muslims have condemned terrorism. Specifically, until recently, Muslim leaders often added caveats to their condemnations that robbed them of real force."

These caveats and asterisks come in the form of questioning whether bin Laden was actually responsible for 9-11 or in the continued use of terms like "kafir" (a pejorative term for a non-believer) or "jihad."

While these types of terms and arguments are counter productive when addressing certain U.S. audiences, it seems clear that they are used with other audiences in mind (for instance, Muslims who are against terrorism but also uncomfortable with many U.S. policies). This discussion reminds me of a great book I read over break: No God But God by Reza Aslan. Aslan first provides a brief history of Islam (useful to those attmpting to understand distinctions between Sunni and Shia) and then argues that the the current "war" is only partly about East v. West and much more about a war within Islam. So, it makes sense that those attempting to denounce terrorism must do so in a way that addresses audiences within Islam and outside of Islam.


Is this funny?

Submitted by Jim Brown on February 19, 2007 - 9:01pm

I think this is startlingly unfunny.