December 31, 2006

So many beginnings to 2008

John Edwards called Americans to action during his announcement speech in New Orleans, i.e. take action before electing at new president in 2008:

We want people in this campaign to actually take action now, not later, not after the election. We don’t want to hope that whoever’s elected the next leader of the United States of America is going to solve all our problems for us. Because that will not happen.

Interesting choice of tactics (and by calling it “tactics” I mean to indicate it is interesting rhetoric not that it is “mere politics). He’s counting on what he thinks is the meaning of the 2006 mid-term elections (although I’d argue no one really knows what those results mean yet). But its clear Edwards thinks the mid-terms mean that Americans want America’s domestic problems to be the political priority now. Is this true? Will this tactic work? I don’t know. But if I were given the opportunity to become one of the Democratic candidates–to live his or her life until November 2008–I’d choose to be Edwards.

That’s not a prediction by the way. It’s wishful thinking. But never mind. I’m also very interested in two of the likely Republican candidates–politicians for whom I have a great deal of respect if not always a great deal of agreement: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain (when he’s not sucking up to the Christian right).

Rhetorica’s coverage of the 2008 campaign begins next week.

December 25, 2006

Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Man

For your listening pleasure this morning, here’s a encore of my Christmas Wars podcast from 2005:

Rhetorica Podcast

December 22, 2006

Nothing at all surprising about it

Congress is likely to consider a federal shield law for journalists next year. Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Republican Representative Mike Pence plan to introduce such legislation, according to the Wall Street Journal. A shield law would limit the government’s power to require reporters to reveal confidential sources. Does it seem odd that Republicans would be involved in this? Consider:

“We’re suggesting there’s been a tear in the First Amendment right now, and it’s widening,” Mr. Pence said. “The only way you patch it is to do as many states have done and pass a federal statute that clarifies the boundaries.”

Mr. Pence said that some were surprised to see him and other conservatives championing a press-freedom bill. “It’s one of those things that’s a little counterintuitive for a cheerful right-winger to be involved in,” he said, but “I really do believe that the framers of the Constitution put a free and independent press in the First Amendment to protect the public’s right to know, and the only way you do that is protect reporters’ ability to keep certain sources confidential.”

There’s nothing at all surprising about conservatives protecting the First Amendment any more than protecting the Second Amendment or the rest of the Bill of Rights. I would argue that “conservatives” who find the civil rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights annoying are not conservatives at all. Nor are they liberals–capital L or otherwise. They are something else (un-American) altogether. (We all may certainly disagree about specifics.)

But I don’t think a shield law is a good idea unless it is grounded in the idea that journalists have First Amendment rights as citizens, not as journalists. That word “press” in the First Amendment refers to a machine, not a profession or a business (neither of which existed as we understand them at the time of the Constitutional Convention). We have the right to use that machine and, by extension, other machines to produce and disseminate civic discourse.

We all have legitimate complaints about how the (multiple and complex) press does its job. But I’d hope the majority of us agree that a right to produce and disseminate information (and news, and opinion, and pure drivel) is vital to our survival as a free people.

December 19, 2006

Springfield Bloggers meet tonight

The headline says it all. We’ll see you at 7 p.m. at the Patton Alley Pub. For you out-of-town folks, I’ll post a podcast (if my battery holds out).

UPDATE: Here’s the podcast–uploaded late because my battery failed.

Rhetorica Podcast

December 12, 2006

Rhetorica Update

This is final exam week at MSU. I’m giving all three today. That’s good because I can do the grading in one long sitting tomorrow. And that means I’ll have a little blogging breathing room at the end of the week–be able to catch up on a few issues.

Again, I have deadlines approaching for my book manuscript and an essay. So blogging will continue to be slow for a bit. But, since things are going well, I may be back to a “normal” blogging schedule the first week of January.

While sitting there watching students take tests, I’ve been reading the Lou Dobbs profile from last week’s The New Yorker. I found this quote fascinating:

“It’s very different from any program you’ll see on TV, by intention,” Dobbs said, as we ordered the fifty-six-dollar Dover sole. “What you won’t see on our broadcast is ‘fair and balanced journalism.’ You will not see ‘objective journalism.’ The truth is not ‘fair and balanced.’ There is a nonpartisan, independent reality that doesn’t give a damn, frankly, what two Democrats and two Republicans think about anything or say about anything.”

Care to guess why? 🙂

December 6, 2006

SciAm experiments with wiki-reporting

Take a look at this interesting experiment in “wiki-reporting”: Scientific American asked readers to contribute to a story about the discovery of a human ancestor–a 3.3-million-year-old skeleton, A. afarensis.

CJR Daily offers commentary.

December 5, 2006

Springfield Bloggers meet tonight

Stop by the Patton Alley Pub at 7:00 p.m. this evening for another exciting meeting of the Springfield Bloggers. I’ll be podcasting a portion of the meeting as usual. Look for it about 9:00 p.m.

In other news, my deadlines continue to loom. Again, I’m in a blogging slow-down period until February.

UPDATE: Due to technical difficulties (my battery is shot!), I was unable to post a podcast.