Thursday, December 23, 2010

Defining Academic Freedom - Inside Higher Ed

Cary Nelson, "Defining Academic Freedom," Inside Higher Ed, 21 December 2010.

Over the course of decades, a great many books, essays, and policies have been written and published about academic freedom. We have learned how to apply it to pedagogical, technological, cultural, and political realities that did not exist when the concept was first defined. Not only faculty members, administrators, trustees, and students, but also parents, politicians, and other members of the public, would now benefit from a concise summary of its major features. Sometimes academic freedom is invoked in situations where it doesn't actually apply. But many within and without higher education are not well-versed in all the protections it does provide. This statement is designed to help clarify both what academic freedom does and doesn't do. . . . read more

Defining Academic Freedom - Inside Higher Ed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Google Labs - Books Ngram Viewer: rhetorical criticism / rhetorical theory


Bitzer / Black

Searching Google Ngrams viewer for Lloyd Bitzer and Edwin Black, who between them have authorized much of late twentieth-century rhetorical criticism and theorizing.

peace / war

Google ngrams for peace / war in its database of texts in English, from 1650.

Science and Art / Technology

This is getting addictive. Here is a pair of Google Ngrams queries -- first for science/technology, then for science/art.

Greece, Rome

Here is what Google Ngrams makes of a search for "Greece" and "Rome" in books in English from 1750 to 2010. Apparently, a long, slow decline, sharpest for Rome, as classical education is eroded. A little spike for Greece when the struggle for independence is on. As we might expect, many citations of Rome in the period just before, during, and after the American Revolution and the making of the Constitution.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Communication / Rhetoric::1700 / 2010

Google ngram viewer is a way to visualize the Google Books database. Here is the result of a query asking for a visual comparison of usages of the words "communication" and "rhetoric" in books in English from 1700 to the present. Why the big drop in the year 2000?

The sense of what communication refers to has changed over the centuries. In the earlier period, "communication" often referred to what we would now call "transportation" or "contact."

Try it yourself at

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fireside Chats and the Public

Lawrence W. Levine and Cornelia R. Levine, The Fireside Conversations: America Responds to FDR during the Great Depression (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

“My friends, I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.” So began the first of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Fireside Chats, which came on the heels of his decision, two days after his inauguration, to close all American banks. During this address, Roosevelt used the intimacy of radio to share his hopes and plans directly with the people. He concluded by encouraging Americans to “tell me your troubles.” Roosevelt’s invitation was unprecedented, and the enormous public response it elicited signaled the advent of a new relationship between Americans and their president. In this indispensable book, Lawrence W. Levine and Cornelia R. Levine illuminate the period from 1933 to 1938 by setting each of the Fireside Chats in context and reprinting a moving selection of the letters that poured into Washington from an extraordinary variety of ordinary Americans. In his foreword, Michael Kazin examines the achievements and limits of the New Deal and the reasons that FDR remains, for many Americans, the exemplar of a good president. He also highlights the similarities of the 1930s to our era, with its deep recession and a new progressive administration in the White House.

Media, Memory, and Democracy

Edward P. Morgan, What Really Happened to the 1960s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2010).

from the publisher:

In his provocative look at mass media’s connection with those turbulent years, Morgan simultaneously seeks to explain what happened in the 1960s and what happened to how we remember it. His comprehensive overview and critical analysis reveal how the mass media have shaped the popular image of a raucous decade in ways that have curtailed its promise of democracy.

Morgan’s in-depth study of sixties social movements and their depictions in corporate America’s print media, film, and television helps to explain why the past still provokes deep emotions—even antagonism—half a century later. He blends history, sociology, political science, media and cultural studies, and critical theory to explain why the 1960s have been so virulently targeted, particularly by critics on the right who blame today’s self-indulgent culture on baby boomers and “sixties permissiveness” instead of the real culprits: consumer-driven capitalism and neoliberal politics.

Emphasizing the tensions between capitalism and democracy, Morgan investigates the fate of democracy in our media-driven culture, first by examining the ways that the 1960s were represented in the media at the time, then by exploring how popular versions of the sixties have glossed over their more radically democratic qualities in favor of sensationalism and ideological constructions. He reminds us of what really happened—then shows us how the media trivialized and satirized those events, co-opting and commercializing the decade’s legacy and, in doing so, robbing it of its more radical, democratic potential.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Robert Reich on the Tax Deal

Robert Reich, "Why the Obama Tax Deal Confirms the Republican World View," Huffington Post, December 8, 2010.

Here's the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.

The vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. (The rich spend a much lower portion of their incomes.) The crisis was averted before now only because middle-class families found ways to keep spending more than they took in -- by women going into paid work, by working longer hours, and finally by using their homes as collateral to borrow. But when the housing bubble burst, the game was up.

The solution is to reorganize the economy so the benefits of growth are more widely shared. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and apply payroll taxes to incomes over $250,000. Extend Medicare to all. Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit all the way up through families earning $50,000. Make higher education free to families that now can't afford it. Rehire teachers. Repair and rebuild our infrastructure. Create a new WPA to put the unemployed back to work.

Pay for this by raising marginal income taxes on millionaires (under Eisenhower, the highest marginal rate was 91 percent, and the economy flourished). . . .

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jeremy Engels, "Enemyship: Democracy and Counter-Revolution in the Early Republic"

Jeremy Engels, Enemyship: Democracy and Counter-Revolution in the Early Republic (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

The Declaration of Independence is usually celebrated as a radical document that inspired revolution in the English colonies, in France, and elsewhere. In Enemyship, however, Jeremy Engels views the Declaration as a rhetorical strategy that outlined wildly effective arguments justifying revolution against a colonial authority — and then threatened political stability once independence was finally achieved. Enemyship examines what happened during the latter years of the Revolutionary War and in the immediate post- Revolutionary period, when the rhetorics and energies of revolution began to seem problematic to many wealthy and powerful Americans. To mitigate this threat, says Engels, the founders of the United States deployed the rhetorics of what he calls "enemyship," calling upon Americans to unite in opposition to their shared national enemies.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are Your Taxes Too High?

What ever happened to the rhetorical presidency?

Frank Rich in the New York Times:

Obama should have pounded home the case against profligate tax cuts for the wealthiest before the Democrats lost the Senate. Even now Warren Buffett — not a socialist, by the way — is making the case with a Christie-esque directness that usually eludes the president. “The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll all go out and spend more, and then it will trickle down to the rest of you,” he told Christiane Amanpour on “This Week” last Sunday. “But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.” . . .

Frank Rich, "All the President's Captors," New York Times, 5 December 2010.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Library: Three Jeremiads by Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books

Would a Digital Public Library of America solve all the other problems—the inflation of journal prices, the economics of scholarly publishing, the unbalanced budgets of libraries, and the barriers to the careers of young scholars? No. Instead, it would open the way to a general transformation of the landscape in what we now call the information society. Rather than better business plans (not that they don’t matter), we need a new ecology, one based on the public good instead of private gain. This may not be a satisfactory conclusion. It’s not an answer to the problem of sustainability. It’s an appeal to change the system.

The Library: Three Jeremiads by Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books

You're Breaking Up . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rhetoric, Women, Authority

Jane S. Sutton, The House of My Sojourn: Rhetoric, Women, and the Question of Authority (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

Employing the trope of architecture, Jane Sutton envisions the relationship between women and rhetoric as a house: a structure erected in ancient Greece by men that, historically, has made room for women but has also denied them the authority and agency to speak from within. Sutton’s central argument is that all attempts to include women in rhetoric exclude them from meaningful authority in due course, and this exclusion has been built into the foundations of rhetoric.

Drawing on personal experience, the spatial tropes of ancient Greek architecture, and the study of women who attained significant places in the house of rhetoric, Sutton highlights a number of decisive turns where women were able to increase their rhetorical access but were not able to achieve full authority, among them the work of Frances Wright, Lucy Stone, and suffragists Mott, Anthony, and Stanton; a visit to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the busts that became the Portrait Monument were displayed in the Woman’s Building (a sideshow, in essence); and a study of working-class women employed as telephone operators in New York in 1919.

With all the undeniable successes—socially, politically, and financially— of modern women, it appears that women are now populating the house of rhetoric as never before. But getting in the house and having public authority once inside are not the same thing. Sutton argues that women “can only act as far as the house permits.” Sojourn calls for a fundamental change in the very foundations of rhetoric.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In Buddha's Company

Richard A. Ruth, In Buddha's Company: Thai Soldiers in the Vietnam War (Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

“From 1965 to 1972 Thailand sent nearly 38,000 military personnel to fight in the Vietnam War. Based on interviews with rank and file volunteers, who saw themselves as Buddhist warriors, this book is the first serious study of Thailand’s involvement in the war. Richard Ruth challenges the stereotypes and lazy generalizations about this forgotten episode of the war, and he offers fresh and compelling arguments to explain how this episode has contributed to the militarism in Thailand’s modern history.” —Craig J. Reynolds, Australian National University

“The Vietnam War has generated a vast literature, but Richard Ruth has succeeded in producing a wholly original study of interest both to military historians and Southeast Asia specialists. Ruth displays a deep understanding of and sensitivity toward Thai culture and reveals much about how the Thai soldiers—most of them from poor families in upcountry areas—viewed and interacted with the Americans who trained and sponsored them, the rural residents of South Vietnam, and the Viet Cong enemy. His work sheds new light on Thailand’s involvement in the Vietnam War and on non-elite Thai culture in the mid-twentieth century.” —E. Bruce Reynolds, San Jose State University

“Breaking with the standard American-centric portrayal of Thai soldiers as Washington’s ‘mercenaries’ in the Vietnam War, Ruth provides Thailand and Thai combatants with agency. What makes this study particularly original is Ruth’s account of how that agency manifested itself ‘down below’ in South Vietnam—and back in Thailand.” —Christopher Goscha, Université du Québec à Montréal

In Buddha’s Company explores a previously neglected aspect of the Vietnam War: the experiences of the Thai troops who served there and the attitudes and beliefs that motivated them to volunteer. Thailand sent nearly 40,000 volunteer soldiers to South Vietnam to serve alongside the Free World Forces in the conflict, but unlike the other foreign participants, the Thais came armed with historical and cultural knowledge of the region. Blending the methodologies of cultural and military history, Richard Ruth examines the individual experiences of Thai volunteers in their wartime encounters with American allies, South Vietnamese civilians, and Viet Cong enemies. Ruth shows how the Thais were transformed by living amongst the modern goods and war machinery of the Americans and by traversing the jungles and plantations haunted by indigenous spirits. At the same time, Ruth argues, Thailand’s ruling institutions used the image of volunteers to advance their respective agendas, especially those related to anticommunist authoritarianism.

Drawing on numerous interviews with Thai veterans and archival material from Thailand and the United States, Ruth focuses on the cultural exchanges that occurred between Thai troops and their allies and enemies, presenting a Southeast Asian view of a conflict that has traditionally been studied as a Cold War event dominated by an American political agenda. The resulting study considers such diverse topics as comparative Buddhisms, alternative modernities, consumerism, celebrity, official memories vs. personal recollections, and the value of local knowledge in foreign wars. The war’s effects within Thailand itself are closely considered, demonstrating that the war against communism in Vietnam, as articulated by Thai leaders, was a popular cause among nearly all segments of the population. Furthermore, Ruth challenges previous assertions that Thailand’s forces were merely “America’s mercenaries” by presenting the multiple, overlapping motivations for volunteering offered by the soldiers themselves.

In Buddha’s Company makes clear that many Thais sought direct involvement in the Vietnam War and that their participation had profound and lasting effects on the country’s political and military institutions, royal affairs, popular culture, and international relations. As one of only a handful of academic histories of Thailand in the 1960s, it provides a crucial link between the keystone studies of the Phibun-Sarit years (1946–1963) and those examining the turbulent 1970s.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scanning John Boehner

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, on Republican triumphalism:
The Republicans may help Obama if they act so vindictive, entitled and puffed up that they turn off the voters who just anointed them.

Sarah Palin’s fans have hijacked what is supposed to be a fun talent contest, “Dancing With the Stars,” and turned it into an annoying straw vote for the Palin family. And on Friday, as Americans were rebelling against groping airport pat-downs, the soon-to-be speaker of the House, who was supposed to travel like real Americans, put himself above the madding crowd.

The Times’s Jeff Zeleny was on the scene and reported that John Boehner did not wait in line or go through security: he “was escorted around the metal detectors and body scanners, and taken directly to the gate.”

So much for Reagan’s trust but verify. Now we’ve got distrust and vilify. . . .

Maureen Dowd, "Nuking the White House," New York Times, 21 November 2010.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The New Daisy Ad

See the New York Times story here.

[thanks to Daisy Benson for pointing out this story]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gettysburg - November 19, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the battlefield site in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863.

Here, from the Library of Congress, is a transcription of the address in the version printed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln photograph from the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Street Meeting, San Francisco

Dorothea Lange, "Street Meeting. San Francisco." August 1936. FSA / OWI photograph collection, Library of Congress. LC-USF34- 009727-D

Preaching to the Crowd

Dorothea Lange, "Preaching to the Crowd," San Francisco, California, April 1939. Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information. Library of Congress LC-USF34- 019256-C

I am in San Francisco this week for a conference, and took a few moments in the hotel to browse through the online collection of FSA-OWI photographs at the Library of Congress, a national treasure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reagan at Westminster

Robert C. Rowland and John M. Jones, Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

"President Ronald Reagan’s famous address to the Houses of Parliament is now considered—in its spirit if not in its actual words—to be the initial enunciation of his “Evil Empire” stance. In this important volume by two experienced rhetorical scholars, Robert C. Rowland and John M. Jones offer a historical-descriptive treatment that includes both rhetorical analysis and a narrative of the drafting of the speech. They consider Reagan’s focus on “ultimate definition,” “dialectical engagement,” and other rhetorical tools in crafting and presenting the momentous address. They also note the irony of Reagan’s use of Leon Trotsky’s phrase “ash-heap of history” to predict the demise of Communism.
"Rowland and Jones present three reasons for the importance of this speech. First, it offers new insights into President Reagan himself, through a view of his role in the drafting of the speech as well as the ideas it contains. Second, the speech is an act of rhetorical history, and its analysis helps recover a significant rhetorical artifact. Finally, the address ultimately expresses a rhetorical framework for the Cold War that systematically subverted the narrative, ideology, and values of Marxism.

"Although initial response to the speech was tepid, Reagan considered it one of his most important addresses, and the hindsight afforded by the fall of Communism a decade later lends validation to that view, the authors suggest. Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War will highly commend itself to students and scholars of rhetoric, the Presidency, and political communication."

Media after Katrina

Diane Negra, ed., Old and New Media after Katrina (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

from the publisher:

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, this thoughtful collection of essays reflects on the relationship between the disaster and a range of media forms. The assessments here reveal how mainstream and independent media have responded (sometimes innovatively, sometimes conservatively) to the political and social ruptures “Katrina” has come to represent. The contributors explore how Hurricane Katrina is positioned at the intersection of numerous early twenty-first century crisis narratives centralizing uncertainties about race, class, region, government and public safety. Looking closely at the organization of public memory of Katrina, this collection provides a timely and intellectually fruitful assessment of the complex ways in which media forms and national events are hopelessly entangled.

Digital Media in the Iran Presidential Uprising

Yahya R. Kamalipour, ed., Media, Power, and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election Uprising in Iran (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 2010).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Conflict of Interest in University Research

The American Association of University Professors journal Academe is out, with a new special issue on conflict of interest and corporate influence in university research. See, for instance:

Ben Santer answered his doorbell one evening to find a dead rat on his doorstep. He looked up and saw a man driving away, shouting obscenities out the car window. It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident. But Santer had been harassed before. A groundbreaking climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he was a lead author of the 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which for the first time attributed global warming to human activity. Santer’s research had earned him high esteem from scientists and contempt from those who did not accept his conclusions.

The funders of climate-change skepticism are engaged in a full-throttle effort to sow seeds of doubt among the public and policy makers, much as tobacco companies did decades ago. Without science on their side, these groups seek to manufacture controversy by attacking scientists conducting important research. . . .

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Economic Recovery Debate

The economic debate.

James K. Galbraith:
"The original sin of Obama's presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers. Larry Summers. Timothy Geithner. Ben Bernanke. These men had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party, no interest in the larger success of Barack Obama. Their primary goal, instead, was and remains to protect their own past decisions and their own professional futures."

James K. Galbraith, "Obama's Problem Simply Defined: It Was the Banks," Huffington Post, 5 November 2010.

Paul Krugman:

"Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity. At the start of his administration he settled for an economic plan that was far too weak. He compounded this original sin both by pretending that everything was on track and by adopting the rhetoric of his enemies."

Paul Krugman, "The Focus Hocus-Pocus," New York Times, 4 November 2010.

They could both be right. And if they are, and if the new majority in the House of Representatives manages to end spending that could stimulate the economy, while at the same time increasing the debt by extending tax cuts for the richest Americans, where does that leave us, economically and politically? If the economists are right that more, not less, stimulus was and is needed, why has it been so hard for the argument to win over the American electorate? Is it simply "if there's less for the other guy, there will be more for me" thinking?

A National Digital Library?

Robert Darnton, "Can We Create a National Digital Library?" New York Review of Books, 28 October 2010.

Can we create a National Digital Library? . . . We can equip the smallest junior college in Alabama and the remotest high school in North Dakota with the greatest library the world has ever known. We can open that library to the rest of the world, exercising a kind of “soft power” that will increase respect for the United States worldwide. By creating a National Digital Library, we can make our fellow citizens active members of an international Republic of Letters, and we can strengthen the bonds of citizenship at home. We can find the money and the skill, but can we find the will?

See also

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whose GOP?

Daniel Williams, God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

When the Christian Right burst onto the scene in the late 1970s, many political observers were shocked. But, God's Own Party demonstrates, they shouldn't have been. The Christian Right goes back much farther than most journalists, political scientists, and historians realize. Relying on extensive archival and primary source research, Daniel K. Williams presents the first comprehensive history of the Christian Right, uncovering how evangelicals came to see the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could reclaim America as a Christian nation.

The conventional wisdom has been that the Christian Right arose in response to Roe v. Wade and the liberal government policies of the 1970s. Williams shows that the movement's roots run much deeper, dating to the 1920s, when fundamentalists launched a campaign to restore the influence of conservative Protestantism on American society. He describes how evangelicals linked this program to a political agenda-resulting in initiatives against evolution and Catholic political power, as well as the national crusade against communism. Williams chronicles Billy Graham's alliance with the Eisenhower White House, Richard Nixon's manipulation of the evangelical vote, and the political activities of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others, culminating in the presidency of George W. Bush. Though the Christian Right has frequently been declared dead, Williams shows, it has come back stronger every time. Today, no Republican presidential candidate can hope to win the party's nomination without its support.

A fascinating and much-needed account of a key force in American politics, God's Own Party is the only full-scale analysis of the electoral shifts, cultural changes, and political activists at the movement's core-showing how the Christian Right redefined politics as we know it.

The Public Work of Rhetoric

John M. Ackerman and David J. Coogan, eds., The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

The Public Work of Rhetoric presents the art of rhetorical techne as a contemporary praxis for civic engagement and social change, which is necessarily inclusive of people inside and outside the academy. In this provocative call to action, editors John M. Ackerman and David J. Coogan, along with seventeen other accomplished contributors, offer case studies and criticism on the rhetorical practices of citizen-scholars pursuing democratic ideals in diverse civic communities--with partnerships across a range of media, institutions, exigencies, and discourses.

Challenging conventional research methodologies and the traditional insularity of higher education, these essays argue that civic engagement as a rhetorical act requires critical attention to our notoriously veiled identity in public life, to our uneasy affiliation with democracy as a public virtue, and to the transcendent powers of discourse and ideology. This can be accomplished, the contributors argue, by building on the compatible traditions of materialist rhetoric and community literacy, two vestiges of rhetoric's dual citizenship in the fields of communication and English. This approach expresses a collective desire in rhetoric for more politically responsive scholarship, more visible impact in public life, and more access to the critical spaces between universities and their communities.

The compelling case studies in The Public Work of Rhetoric are located in inner-urban and postindustrial communities where poverty is the overriding concern, in afterschool and extracurricular alternatives that offer new routes to literate achievement, in new media and digital representations of ethnic cultures designed to promote chosen identities, in neighborhoods and scientific laboratories where race is the dominant value, and in the policy borderlands between universities and the communities they serve. Through these studies and accounts, the contributors champion the notion that the public work of rhetoric is the tough labor of gaining access and trust, learning the codes and histories of communities, locating the situations in which rhetorical expertise is most effective, and in many cases jointly defining the terms for gauging social change.

Rhetorics and Technologies

Stuart Selber, ed., Rhetorics and Technologies: New Directions in Writing and Communication (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

Recognizing an increasingly technological context for rhetorical activity, the thirteen contributors to this volume illuminate the challenges and opportunities inherent in successfully navigating intersections between rhetoric and technology in existing and emergent literacy practices. Edited by Stuart A. Selber, Rhetorics and Technologies positions technology as an inevitable aspect of the rhetorical situation and as a potent force in writing and communication activities.

Taking a broad approach, this volume is not limited to discussion of particular technological systems (such as new media or wikis) or rhetorical contexts (such as invention or ethics). The essays instead offer a comprehensive treatment of the rhetoric-technology nexus. The book's first section considers the ways in which the social and material realities of using technology to support writing and communication activities have altered the borders and boundaries of rhetorical studies. The second section explores the discourse practices employed by users, designers, and scholars of technology when communicating in technological contexts. In the final section, projects and endeavors that illuminate the ways in which discourse activities can evolve to reflect emerging sociopolitical realties, technologies, and educational issues are examined.

The resulting text bridges past and future by offering new understandings of traditional canons of rhetoric--invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery--as they present themselves in technological contexts without discarding the rich history of the field before the advent of these technological innovations. Rhetorics and Technologies includes a foreword by Carolyn R. Miller and essays by John M. Carroll, Marilyn M. Cooper, Paul Heilker, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Debra Journet, M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Jason King, James E. Porter, Stuart A. Selber, Geoffrey Sirc, Susan Wells, and Anne Frances Wysocki.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Design for Hard Times

from the New York Times:

DURING the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s choice of Gotham — an elegant 21st-century font — for his campaign signage was praised by graphic designers for its modernity and implicit message of change. Critics derided John McCain’s font, Optima, which was developed in the 1950s, and recalled the printing on a remedy for gastric distress. . . .

Kate Murphy, "The Candidate Is Not My Type," New York Times, 29 October 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You Can Say That Again

Nori Neumark, Ross Gibson, and Theo Van Leeuwen, eds., Voice: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

Voice has returned to both theoretical and artistic agendas. In the digital era, techniques and technologies of voice have provoked insistent questioning of the distinction between the human voice and the voice of the machine, between genuine and synthetic affect, between the uniqueness of an individual voice and the social and cultural forces that shape it. This volume offers interdisciplinary perspectives on these topics from history, philosophy, cultural theory, film, dance, poetry, media arts, and computer games. Many chapters demonstrate Lewis Mumford's idea of the "cultural preparation" that precedes technological innovation—that socially important new technologies are foreshadowed in philosophy, the arts, and everyday pastimes.

Chapters cover such technologies as voice mail, podcasting, and digital approximations of the human voice. A number of authors explore the performance, performativity, and authenticity (or 'authenticity effect') of voice in dance, poetry, film, and media arts; while others examine more immaterial concerns—the voice's often-invoked magical powers, the ghostliness of disembodied voices, and posthuman vocalization. The chapters evoke an often paradoxical reassertion of the human in the use of voice in mainstream media including recorded music, films, and computer games.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barack Obama and the Politics of Faith


The Penn State Department of Communication Arts and Sciences colloquium and the Center for Democratic Deliberation lecture series on Religion, Politics, and Democratic Deliberation will host a lecture by Professor Martin J. Medhurst on Friday, October 29, 3:35 - 5:00 p.m., in 165 Willard Building on the University Park Campus. Professor Medhurst's lecture is titled "Barack Obama and the Politics of Faith."

Professor Medhurst is Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication and Professor of Political Science at Baylor University.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inside the Senate’s battle over climate change:

Ryan Lizza, "As the World Burns," The New Yorker, 11 October 2010.

For three months, a period of record-high temperatures in Washington, what was now called the Kerry-Lieberman bill was debated and discussed as if it were a viable piece of legislation, but no Republican stepped forward to support it. During one speech in early June, Obama said that he knew “the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.” He never found them, and he didn’t appear to be looking very hard.

Read more

Inside the Senate’s battle over climate change:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Times on Health Care and the Campaign

New York Times editorial today:

Republicans and special interests are spreading so many distortions and lies about health care reform that it is little wonder if voters are anxious and confused. . . .

"Health Care and the Campaign," New York Times, 24 October 2010.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the Republicans:

Beck’s version of American history relies on lessons from his own acknowledged inspiration, the late right-wing writer W. Cleon Skousen, and also restates charges made by the Birch Society’s founder, Robert Welch. The political universe is, of course, very different today from what it was during the Cold War. Yet the Birchers’ politics and their view of American history—which focussed more on totalitarian threats at home than on those posed by the Soviet Union and Communist China—has proved remarkably persistent. The pressing historical question is how extremist ideas held at bay for decades inside the Republican Party have exploded anew—and why, this time, Party leaders have done virtually nothing to challenge those ideas, and a great deal to abet them. . . .

Read more

Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the Republicans:

The Elections: How Bad for Democrats? by Michael Tomasky | The New York Review of Books

. . . In American politics, Republicans routinely speak in broad themes and tend to blur the details, while Democrats typically ignore broad themes and focus on details. Republicans, for example, speak constantly of “liberty” and “freedom” and couch practically all their initiatives—tax cuts, deregulation, and so forth—within these large categories. Democrats, on the other hand, talk more about specific programs and policies and steer clear of big themes. There is a reason for this: Republican themes, like “liberty,” are popular, while Republican policies often are not; and Democratic themes (“community,” “compassion,” “justice”) are less popular, while many specific Democratic programs—Social Security, Medicare, even (in many polls) putting a price on carbon emissions—have majority support. This is why, when all else fails, Democrats try to scare people about the threat to Social Security if the GOP takes over, as indeed they are doing right now. . . .

The Elections: How Bad for Democrats? by Michael Tomasky | The New York Review of Books

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Friend the Twit

Frank Rich in the Times:

Nowhere, perhaps, is the gap between the romance and the reality of the Internet more evident than in our politics. . . .

Frank Rich, "Facebook Politicians Are Not Your Friends," New York Times, 10 October 2010.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Can a Foreign Country Buy a U.S. Congress?

Think Progress and other news sources are reporting that the U. S. Chamber of Congress, which is funding tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats in the congressional election in the United States, is, apparently, illegally soliciting and spending money from foreign corporations and governments to buy a Republican majority.

The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections. . . .


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

British Political Speech

Students of rhetoric will welcome the arrival of British Political Speech, an online resource for texts and related materials.

From the site's description of its mission:

This website is an outcome of the research project ‘How the Leader Speaks’ led by Dr. Alan Finlayson and Dr. Judi Atkins and funded by The Leverhulme Trust. The website is also supported by The Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, The Department of Political and Cultural Studies and The Centre for the Study of Culture and Politics, all at Swansea University.

The main aims of the project are:

  • to provide an accessible resource for all those interested in the history, theory and practice of political speech and rhetoric in the United Kingdom
  • to encourage, support and promote research into British political rhetoric, and to contribute to the better understanding, appreciation and practice of political argument
  • to undertake research into British political rhetoric and argumentation, and demonstrate the importance of such research for the wider study of British Politics.

Thanks to Alan Finlayson, Judi Atkins, and their supporters for this contribution to rhetorical culture.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Barack Obama's Speeches

Mary Frances Berry and Josh Gottheimer, Power in Words: The Stories Behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010).

From the publisher:
In Power in Words, distinguished historian and civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry and former presidential speechwriter Josh Gottheimer introduce Obama's most memorable speeches, from his October 2002 speech against the war in Iraq and his November 2008 election-night victory speech to "A More Perfect Union," his March 2008 response to the Reverend Wright controversy, and lesser-known but revealing speeches, such as one given in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2006.

For each speech, Berry and Gottheimer add a rich introduction that includes political analysis, provides insight and historical context, and features commentary straight from the speechwriters themselves—including Jon Favreau, Obama's chief speechwriter, and several other Obama campaign writers. Compelling and enduring, Power in Words delivers the behind-the-scenes account of Obama's rhetorical legacy and is a collection to relish for years to come.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Health Insurance Costs and the Campaign

From a New York Times editorial today:

With health insurers jacking up their premiums by double-digit amounts for people who buy their own policies, Republicans have been predictably eager to blame health care reform. Consumers, and voters, beware. . . .

For-Profit Schools Donate to Lawmakers Opposing New Financial Aid Rules -- from ProPublica

For-Profit Schools Donate to Lawmakers Opposing New Financial Aid Rules

by Sharona Coutts ProPublica, Sep. 17, 10:20 a.m.

Between 2005 and the beginning of this year, Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., received $6,000 in campaign contributions from sources related to for-profit colleges. This year, he received more than $20,000 from the schools and their lobby groups, according to campaign finance records. What changed?

For one, the colleges have upped their lobbying efforts considerably in the face of proposed regulations that the industry says could shutter many of its schools.

For another, Payne co-signed three letters to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in which as many as 18 members of Congress pleaded with the secretary to put the brakes on that proposed regulation.

Collectively, members who signed the letters received nearly $94,000 from the for-profit college sector between the beginning of 2010 and late July, according to the most recent available campaign finance data reviewed by ProPublica. Most of the donations flowed after March 22 -- the date the first letter was written to Duncan.

(Take a look at the campaign contributions here.)

Other co-signers who received campaign cash from the industry include Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.; and Jason Altmire, D-Pa. Payne and Altmire sit on the House committee that oversees education, as do several other members who signed the letters and received donations.

Payne did not reply to our requests for comment, but longtime campaign finance watchdog Fred Wertheimer, president of the group Democracy 21, which seeks to "eliminate the undue influence of big money in American politics," said the money given to Payne created a troubling impression.

"Whenever a member of Congress gets a large amount of contributions relatively close to the period where they take a specific action for an interest group, it raises appearance problems that undermine public confidence in the action that was taken, and also undermines the argument for the position on the merits," Wertheimer said.

A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, who signed two of the letters and received nearly $7,400 from the for-profit industry this year, said the congresswoman signed the letters because the proposed Department of Education regulations are "overly broad and were written without Congressional hearings."

None of the other congressional offices we contacted responded to calls or e-mails.

The stakes are high for the for-profit schools because the proposed regulation tightens the conditions under which educational programs can participate in federal student aid programs. Many proprietary schools draw the majority of their revenue -- billions of dollars each year -- from those taxpayer-backed sources.

Called the "gainful employment" rule (PDF), the regulation would create a two-part test that Duncan has said is intended to stop some career schools from "saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use."

The first part would measure how many former students are paying down the principal of their loans, while the second establishes ratios between the debt students take on to finance their education and their earnings after leaving the school, according to the Department of Education.

The test applies to individual programs of study rather than an entire school. Each program must satisfy at least one part of the test for its students to remain eligible for financial aid.

For example, if a school's nursing program failed to meet the lowest thresholds for principal repayment and debt ratios, future students could not pay for that program using federal financial aid. But if the same school's computer sciences program was in compliance, students in that field of study could continue accessing federal aid.

Schools could be required to warn students about high debt loads if a particular program falls into a danger zone, the Education Department says.

The regulation would apply to all schools -- including for-profit, public and private, nonprofit institutions. Based on current numbers, the department estimates that "5 percent of all programs would no longer be eligible to offer their students federal student aid and 55 percent of all programs would be required to warn their students about high debt-to-earnings ratios."

Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert who publishes and, predicted the rule will have a greater impact on for-profit schools than other institutions. "The difference is that every type of program at for-profits is impacted, whereas at traditional colleges, it's just the vocational programs," he said.

The department's move comes after government investigations found fraud (PDF) in the recruiting practices of several major for-profit colleges, and amid worsening data on loan default rates, especially for students at for-profit schools.

Harris Miller, president of the Career College Association, which represents for-profit colleges and trade schools, said the gainful employment rule poses a "fundamental threat to a lot of very high-quality programs that could be forced to close."

The industry's effort to build congressional pressure against the new rules has been carefully planned. ProPublica obtained a "whip list" that appears to divvy up responsibilities to lobby individual Democratic members among various schools and industry groups.

The whip list is in an Excel spreadsheet (.xls) written by Chris Collins, according to the document's "properties" data. The Career College Association lists a Chris Collins as its "Grass Roots Coordinator," but Miller said he would not comment on "specific internal documents."

The for-profit industry has not been shy about using its financial weight to lobby for what it wants. The founder of one for-profit chain, Arthur Keiser, has become a major national donor, according to campaign finance records. Keiser is also the current chairman of the Career College Association.

Campaign finance records show that Keiser, his wife, Belinda, and mother, Evelyn, contributed a collective $31,600 to members of Congress who signed the letters since the beginning of this year, when the fight over the regulations had begun to heat up.

Key figures in the industry have also paid numerous personal visits to the Education Department, according to public documents. They include visits by John McKernan, chairman of Education Management Corp., a company that owns several major for-profit schools. McKernan is the former governor of Maine and the husband of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Records also show visits to the department by officials from DeVry Inc. and Kaplan Inc., two of the biggest players in the industry, and their lobbyists.

Schools have also elicited tens of thousands of comments about the proposed regulation from their students, resulting in what the Department of Education said is by far the largest ever response to a public comment period.

In one instance, the president of the University of Phoenix, William Pepicello, sent out what appeared to be a blast e-mail to students that the Department of Education called misleading.

The e-mail claimed the gainful employment regulation would "block hundreds of thousands of Americans from getting the college education they need and deserve to get ahead in their jobs or find even better jobs."

An Education Department official told ProPublica that the e-mail inaccurately implied that the rule would prevent students from getting loans, when in fact it would affect only particular degree programs at specific schools.

"Students do not lose loan eligibility," said James Kvaal, deputy undersecretary of education. "They can and many will choose from the tens of thousands of programs that remain eligible," he said.

The University of Phoenix would not say to whom the e-mail was sent. The school's most recent financial filings say it has 476,500 students.

Education Department officials would not comment on the industry's lobbying campaign. The agency expects the rule to be finalized by November, and schools that fail the gainful employment test could be cut from the federal aid programs beginning in 2012.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Koching up a Tea Party

When public opinion is for sale:

"The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies. . . .”"

Read more

Jane Meyer, "Covert Operations: The Billionaire Koch Brothers Who are Waging a War against Obama," The New Yorker, 30 August 2010.

Elections for Sale

"Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies would certainly seem to the casual observer to be a political organization: Karl Rove, a political adviser to President George W. Bush, helped raise money for it; the group is run by a cadre of experienced political hands; it has spent millions of dollars on television commercials attacking Democrats in key Senate races across the country. . . ."

Michael Luo and Stephanie Strom, "Donors Names Kept Secret As They Influence Midterms," New York Times, 21 September 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Public Address Conference 2010

this note from Gordon Mitchell about the Public Address Conference later this month was published on h-rhetor today:

From: "Mitchell, Gordon Roger">
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 11:29:23 -0400

Want to attend the 12th Biennial Public Address Conference upcoming September 30 - October 2, 2010, but can't make it to Pittsburgh? Let us bring some of the featured content to you live!

You are just a few clicks away from setting up your virtual ticket to what promises to be stellar criticism and commentary on the conference theme of "Human Rights Rhetoric: Controversies, Conundrums and Community Actions."

We have arranged for high-quality audio and video recordings of the following panels to be streamed live via the University of Pittsburgh's MediaSite platform, which also enables remote viewers to contribute written questions that we will be compiling and considering for inclusion during the audience Q&A session for each panel:

Friday, October 1, 2010, 12:40 - 1:45 p.m. EDT
Public debate on the motion: "This House Believes Amnesty is a Necessary Tool to Address Gross Human Rights Violations in Deeply Divided Societies."
Marie-Odile Hobeika, University of Pittsburgh and Amber Kelsie, University of Pittsburgh; vs. touring British national debate champions Mary Nugent, University of Cambridge, and Lewis Iwu, BPP School of Law, London.

Friday, October 1, 2010, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. EDT
Mari Boor Tonn, University of Richmond, "'From the Eye to the Soul': Industrial Labor's Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones and the Rhetorics of Display."
Respondents will include Lawrence Prelli, University of New Hampshire and Cara Finnegan, University of Southern Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Saturday, October 2, 2010, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. EDT
Stephen John Hartnett, University of Colorado at Denver, ³Speaking with the Damned: or, Prison Education, Social Justice, and Communication as a Human Right." Respondents will include Gerard Hauser, University of Colorado at Boulder and Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh

Finally, Kirt Wilson, Pennsylvania State University, will deliver a keynote address during the conference's opening session: "More than Civil Rights: The Fight for Black Freedom as a Human Rights Struggle." Respondents will include Robert Terrill, Indiana University and Raymie McKerrow, Ohio University. We wish we could bring this panel to you live, but university firewall restrictions require us to tape the event and make it available for web streaming late on September 30 or early the next day on October 1:

Want more conference information? Visit our conference website at:

Technical questions? Contact the conference AV coordinator Gordon Mitchell
at gordonm at pitt dot edu.

* * *

Gordon R. Mitchell
Associate Professor of Communication
Director of Graduate Studies
Director, William Pitt Debating Union
University of Pittsburgh
CL 1117, 4200 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: (412) 624-8531
Fax: (412) 624-1878

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shepherd with His Horse and Dog

Russell Lee, "Shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range, Madison County, Montana," August 1942." LC-USW36-847 B - Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection -- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Monday, September 13, 2010

Invasion of the Mind Snatchers

Eric Burns, Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: Television's Conquest of America in the Fifties (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010).

from the press:

When the first television was demonstrated in 1927, a headline in The New York Times read, "Like a Photo Come to Life." It was a momentous occasion. But the power of television wasn't fully harnessed until the 1950s, when the medium was, as Eric Burns writes, "At its most preoccupying, its most life-altering."

In Invasion of the Mind Snatchers, Emmy-award winning broadcaster Eric Burns chronicles the influence of television on the baby boomer generation. Spellbound by Howdy Doody and The Ed Sullivan Show, those children often acted out their favorite programs, purchased the merchandise promoted by performers, and were fascinated by the personalities they saw on screen, often emulating their behavior. It was the first generation raised by TV, and Burns looks at both the promise of broadcasting as espoused by the inventors and how that promise was both redefined and lost by the corporations who helped spread this revolutionary technology.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hendrik Hertzberg on "The Mosque"

Hendrik Hertzberg, "Move the Mosque," The New Yorker online, 11 September 2010.

Feisal Abdul Rauf, back from his State Department-sponsored trip overseas in time for the 9/11 anniversary, said his piece this week on the Op-Ed page of the Times. If you haven’t yet read his Op-Ed, please hasten to do so. What he writes is so generous, so unself-pitying, so utterly reasonable, and, in Andrew Sullivan’s words, “so transparently constructive, so evidently in the interests not only of domestic peace but of strategic victory against Jihadist terror” that one is “at a loss to understand why so many have reacted so ferociously to this project.” (I’m pleased to note that the imam is again calling the project Cordoba House—a much better name than Park51, which sounds like a Korean teenager’s internet handle). . . .

Hendrik Hertzberg recommends moving the mosque -- to Ground Zero, where it would be a beacon of freedom and reconciliation. Hertzberg points out that there has been a mosque at the Pentagon, since October 2002.

Dog Bites Back

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, calls (as so many have since January 2009) for President Obama to fight back, harder and in public rhetoric, against the conservative opposition and big business. This longing for presidential rhetoric seems to be a recurrent feature of our national life.

Rich even recommends FDR's 1936 Madison Square Garden speech excoriating his opposition -- a speech that my students always find a shocker. Here is a key passage from Franklin Roosevelt's speech, near the end of his first term:

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

Frank Rich, "Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back," New York Times, 12 September 2010.

Does big business try to run (or to stop) the government? Where to start? Have a look at Eric Lipton, "A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists," New York Times, 11 September 2010. "As Democrats try to cast John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, as the face of the Republican Party, his ties to lobbyists are under attack. . . ."

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Not to Give a Six-Minute Speech

Dairy Cat, 1939

Arthur Rothstein, "Milker gives pet cat some milk direct from cow, Brandtjen Dairy Farm, Dakota County, Minnesota." Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress. September 1939.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Academic Tenure for Whom?

A new report from the American Association of University Professors:

The AAUP's latest report discusses a growing consensus: Institutions that employ teaching-intensive faculty should hire them and evaluate their teaching through the rigorous system of peer review known as the tenure system. As E. Gordon Gee, the United States's highest-paid university president puts it, campus employers must preserve "multiple ways to salvation" inside the tenure system—even at research-intensive institutions.

As the report notes, tenure was designed as a “big tent” to unite faculty of diverse interests and workplace priorities. It was not designed as a merit badge for research-intensive faculty or as a fence to exclude those with teaching-intensive commitments. . . .

The complete report, "Tenure and Teaching-Intensive Appointments" is at the AAUP site.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Free Labor Will Win

Labor Day poster. Labor Day poster distributed to war plants and labor organizations. The original is twenty-eight and one-half inches by forty inches and is printed in full color. It was designed by the Office of War Information (OWI) from a photograph especially arranged by Anton Bruehl, well-known photographer. From the FSA-OWI collection at the Library of Congress. (1942)

1938 again?

Paul Krugman, "1938 in 2010," New York Times, 6 September 2010.

Now, we weren’t supposed to find ourselves replaying the late 1930s. President Obama’s economists promised not to repeat the mistakes of 1937, when F.D.R. pulled back fiscal stimulus too soon. But by making his program too small and too short-lived, Mr. Obama did just that: the stimulus raised growth while it lasted, but it made only a small dent in unemployment — and now it’s fading out. . . .

Paul Krugman has been warning about this possibility for two years, and he says it is now showing signs of happening.