Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving 1942

Marjory Collins, "Neffsville, Pennsylvania. Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis." November 1942. FSA-OWI photographs, Library of Congress.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Veterans Day

John Vachon. War Veteran Selling Pencils. Omaha, Nebraska. November 1938.

FSA-OWI Collection. Library of Congress. LC-USF33- 001276-M5. fsa 8a03797

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Victory Over Suppression? by Elizabeth Drew | NYRblog

"Despite their considerable efforts the Republicans were not able to buy or steal the election after all. Their defeat was of almost Biblical nature. The people, Democratic supporters of the president, whose votes they had plotted, schemed, and maneuvered—unto nearly the very last minute—to deny rose up and said they wouldn’t have it. If they had to stand in line well into the night to cast their vote they did it. The lines were the symbol of the 2012 election—at once awe-inspiring and enraging. . . ."

A Victory Over Suppression? by Elizabeth Drew | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Professors of Persuasion

Running for president? Call a professor. From the New York Times:

      This election season the Obama campaign won a reputation for drawing on the tools of social science. The book “The Victory Lab,” by Sasha Issenberg, and news reports have portrayed an operation that ran its own experiment and, among other efforts, consulted with the Analyst Institute, a Washington voter research group established in 2007 by union officials and their allies to help Democratic candidates.
      Less well known is that the Obama campaign also had a panel of unpaid academic advisers. The group — which calls itself the “consortium of behavioral scientists,” or COBS — provided ideas on how to counter false rumors, like one that President Obama is a Muslim. It suggested how to characterize the Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in advertisements. It also delivered research-based advice on how to mobilize voters. . . .

Benedict Carey, "Academic 'Dream Team' Helped Obama's Efforts," New York Times, 12 November 2012.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Prisoners of Conscience

Gerard A. Hauser, Prisoners of Conscience: Moral Vernaculars of Political Agency. (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2012).

from the publisher:

Prisoners of Conscience continues the work begun by Gerard A. Hauser in Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, winner of the National Communication Association's Hochmuth Nichols Award. In his new book, Hauser examines the discourse of political prisoners, specifically the discourse of prisoners of conscience, as a form of rhetoric in which the vernacular is the main source of available appeals and the foundation for political agency.

Hauser explores how modes of resistance employed by these prisoners constitute what he deems a "thick moral vernacular" rhetoric of human rights. Hauser's work considers in part how these prisoners convert universal commitments to human dignity, agency, and voice into the moral vernacular of the society and culture to which their rhetoric is addressed.

Hauser grounds his study through a series of case studies, each centered on a different rhetorical mechanism brought to bear in the act of resistance.Through a transnational rhetorical analysis of resistance within political prisons, Hauser brings to bear his skills as a rhetorical theorist and critic to illuminate the rhetorical power of resistance as tied to core questions in contemporary humanistic scholarship and public concern.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sam Becker

From the website of the Department of Communication, University of Iowa:

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies Samuel L. "Sam" Becker died on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at the age of 89. Professor Becker, a UI alumnus, was a beloved figure for the University of Iowa, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Department of Communication Studies, and the countless students, faculty colleagues, staff members, and community members who were touched by his more than 70 years of scholarship, mentorship, and friendship at the UI. Our College extends its deepest condolences to Sam's family. . . .

 Sam Becker was one of the great leaders in the discipline of Communication.

photo--from the University of Iowa, Department of Communication web site.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stealing the Vote

When I voted this morning in State College, PA, the voters ahead of me in line were simply handing their driver's licenses to the check-in woman behind the table as they approached. I didn't do that, but said, "Good morning." The woman said, "May I see your ID?"

I found myself saying, "I understand the Court has ruled that you can ask, but has also ruled that I don't need to show it." "Well, that is correct," she said. "But you will have to next time." "Unless the Court rules against the Voter ID bill again," I found myself saying. All this was very polite, but I'll admit I felt a certain chill from the ladies behind the table--ladies I'd seen and thanked every election for the past 40 or so years at our local polling place. So, I was asked to spell my name, and then asked, as were all the others, to sign my name on the page next to where my name appears in the registry of voters. And then I voted.

See also

Elizabeth Drew, "Voting Wrongs," New York Review of Books, NYR Blogs, 21 September 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Nice piece by Robert Lehrman in today's New York Times -- on political speechwriting.

Much of what lures speechwriters is the prospect of reaching so many people about ideas we think so important — as Peggy Noonan did for Mr. Bush in 1989 (“thousand points of light”) ; Bob Shrum did for Edward M. Kennedy in 1980 (“the dream shall never die”); and Matt Scully did for Sarah Palin in 2008 (“If character is the measure in this election …”).

I have passed no bill, stopped no war, created no policy that would bring health insurance to a single person. But if we expect to see such results solely from our work, that dooms many to disappointment. There’s plenty to celebrate about being part of the team. . . .

Robert Lehrman, "The Political Speechwriter's Life," New York Times, 5 November 2012.