The Better Rhetor
In Search of the Good Person, Well Spoken
Thursday, February 27, 2003
The Little Hat Problem
In which renegade typographical symbols showed up between em dashes and apostrophes has been—hold my breath—fixed. The problem may have been caused by writing directly into Blogger rather than composing in Word and pasting.
Thanks to Jeanne for the suggestion.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
My dashes and apostrophes
Have spouted weird little As with hats on them— like this. See what I mean? Why?
I'm all for overthowing the oppressive hegemony of conventional typographics etc, but I don't like this! Would someone smarter than me please drop me a note and tell me what's happening? You can click onto my e-mail account below.
Thank Goodness for Bucharest!
From the on-going opera bouffe>, Ari & I, by Russell Mokhiber
Mokhiber: Ari, two things.
For more, go to Common Dreams.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy:
Liberal Oasis Interviews Greg Palast
Investigative reporter Greg Palast sits down with Liberal Oasis to discuss the new edition of Palast’s New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
LiberalOasis: In your view, what is the real motivation for the Bush Administration to start a war with Iraq?
For more, much more, on Tony Blair, the IMF, the U.S. Press, and the motivation to keep going, go here.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Virtual March on Washington
On February 26th, you can join a massive march on Washington without leaving your living room. The Virtual March on Washington is a first-of-its-kind campaign from the Win Without War coalition.
A new approach, using new technology. If enough people call, who knows how things might go? Go here to register.
From the Washington Post:
Democrats Challenge Bush's Credibility
After months of searching for a unified political attack against President Bush, congressional Democrats have settled on a new and, some say, controversial strategy: questioning the president's truthfulness.
Great, say I! Finally! My only question is what took them so long. But then, unbelievably, comes this:
But, as a top Democratic pollster who declined to be named said, the strategy could easily backfire. Focus groups conducted by various Democrats have shown that the American people trust Bush and disdain highly partisan politics, especially when the country is edging toward war. Senior Democrats also risk alienating Bush, whom several Republicans described as peeved that Daschle and others are questioning his honesty.
So let us see if we understand. A "top Democratic pollster" warns the strategy could "backfire"? Democrats could "alienate" Bush? The president is "peeved" at Daschle? They’re kidding, right?
Mr. Bush and his henchmen have basically mopped the floor with Democrats since about fifteen minutes after the election was stolen. Along the way, the president has brazenly and repeatedly lied about the reasons for war, about the economy, about healthcare, about the environment, about social security, and about homeland security. Are we missing anything? And virtually no one (outside of Paul Krugman and certain valiant legionnaires of Blogistan) has called him on it. Now, the Democrats are finally ready to show some backbone and a "top consultant" thinks to "warn" them that the president is "peeved" at this?
Really, shouldn’t someone let the "top consultant" in on the fact that that the Democrats have nothing left to lose anyway, and, oh yeah, that the economy, security, and health of the nation are bottoming out?
The top consultant warns that the president is "peeved." Well, peeve him off then! Tell the truth, at last, and see where the river takes us all.
We Need Stout Democrats
And now we have one. Please pay a visit to Stoutdem, a bracing new site of politics, humor, and more politics. Among other things, you'll find some great advice on how to run for office (for the self-destructively inclined.)
Monday, February 24, 2003
Prepping Us For War
For months both major U.S. cable news networks have acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war.(Paul Krugman)
And how is this done, exactly? How is a population made to believe that war is inevitable, the enemy implacable, the government a source of unerring wisdom and might? Let us count the ways:
o The news programs with their zingy, multi-colored, eye-snagging graphics: "Target Iraq; "Countdown Baghdad" etc, as though war were comparable to a Monday night football game or an upcoming TV mini-series.
o The seemingly endless rounds of interviews with miscellaneous generals and preening pundits who discuss in lascivious detail the mechanics of war, i.e., the capacity of American missiles, the ideal weather for infantry attacks, the armaments of the Iraqi Republican Guard, as though questions of "why" and "whether" were irrelevant and all that remained were "how" and "when."
o The demonization of the enemy into a single malevolent personality—quick, who has the trendier one-word name these days, "Shaq," "Kobe," or "Saddam"?—who serves as a cartoon figure that forestalls more complicated discussions of history, politics, and economics. (What happened to "Osama," by the way? He’s off the "A-list," at least for now.)
o The relentless assaults on talk radio against the patriotism, character, morality, and mental stability of those who dare to oppose the war. You are either with us or you are morally defective.
The good folks at Political Research Associates have done a nice job of cataloging some of these antics as they have taken place on the covers of the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard in 2001-2002. The covers, when you consider them together, offer a fine example of how citizens are prepared to accept war as inevitable, their leaders as noble, and their enemies as vile, terrifying characters who deserve pretty much whatever they’ve got coming to them. Here’s the visual gallery, with a few of my own comments underneath each image:
The manufacture of heroic figures. American leaders seen here as calm, united, resolute, unafraid. The drama of the headline contrasted with the seeming serenity of Bush et al. A black & white cover for a black & white world.
The linking of the two evils. Unproven by the facts, reality in the image. The Wild West poster does the trick of validating the Bush approach and chosen iconography.
The continued valorization of the Leader. Lest we forget or doubt, the leader portrayed as brave, heroic, steadfast: a commander with a "mission," with all the religious undertones that word conveys. Surrounded and yet at the head of America's military.
The redefinition of key concepts. "Empire" as inherited from the nineteenth century is a discredited concept, associated with plunder, racism, and suffering. Now we are to rehabilitate the word, justifying its use in an American context. Note how clean, bright, and airy the image is, and how it links "empire" to hallowed images—the flag, the men at sea. Note the sailor reaching, almost gently, to straighten the flag. A new and improved "Empire."
The moral and the immoral, the noble and the base. On our side, the conventional technology of air power, which is lawful, familiar, protecting, comforting. On their side, the use of chemical weapons, which are outlawed, terrifying, underhanded, and vile. The image provides a striking visual contrast between the "military" and "terrorists."
The enemy. The other. The defiler of cherised symbols. Irrational and strange, they are beyond reason or dialogue. There can be only one response: Crush them.
And so we are prepared for war by our free and independent media. The Weekly Standard is of course a conservative publication, open in its leanings, but is it really so different in Time, Newsweek, ABC’s Nightline and other mainstream outlets? What was it Orwell said:
Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks the whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns somersaults when there is no whip.
Our media: Working without a whip.