rhetoric

The Rhetorical Element: Not only where you’re coming from, but where you’re going.

November 21, 2013

From Thomas L. Haskell, “Objectivity Is Not Neutrality: Rhetoric vs. Practice in Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream” That two people sharing the same position should say different things about it need not be surprising. One obvious reason is the difficulty of forecasting audience response. We all occasionally polemicize on behalf of our own version of the [...]


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“It goes without saying”: the Further Rhetoric of Terrorist Apologia

June 24, 2013

When the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, then with Salon,interviewed Rene Brulin in 2010, the purpose of the conversation was to discuss Brulin’s research into the origins of the contemporary usage of the term “terrorism.” According to Brulin it has two origins. One is in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the late 70s, President [...]


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Notes Toward a Terror Apologist’s Rhetoric (Abridged but Unexpurgated)

June 10, 2013

This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on June 3, 2013. Apologia in the rhetorical tradition is not a common apology, in the simple sense of “sorry,” though it may fulfill that purpose. It may decidedly not. Apologia is a defense against accusation. Plato gave us Socrates’sApology, which was not. In the religious tradition, apologia is [...]


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When Is an Open-Air Prison a Terrorist Camp?

December 13, 2012

. (This post originally appeared in the Algemeiner on December 11, 2012.) It is a term we hear a lot in the twenty-first century anti-Israel propaganda storm, flung wildly against the truth – that Gaza is an “open-air” prison. We hear it not only from Arab and Muslim anti-Semites and the committed anti-Israel ideologues, but [...]


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The Israeli-Palestinian Enthymeme

October 22, 2012

. This commentary first appeared in the Algemeiner on on October 18, 2012. In rhetoric, an enthymeme is an argument that contains an unarticulated premise. Commonly this is because the conversation is among a group of people with shared values, among whom one or more of those values — premises to an argument — it is assumed, [...]


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The Matter of Glenn Greenwald

January 24, 2012

. Let a hundred blogs bloom: let a hundred schools of condign retribution contend. Something like that. Mao was so ahead of his time in so many ways. In this blooming bloggery, stars arise, tall stalks that reach for the sky. Lesser plants, leaning toward the light, bend in their direction. They lean toward Glenn Greenwald. [...]


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The Right’s Responsibility for the Tucson Shooting

January 27, 2011

The Washington Post provided fascinating news about Jared Lee Loughner yesterday. In the weeks and days before the shooting rampage in Tucson, suspect Jared Lee Loughner surfed the Internet on his computer in what investigators believe was an effort to prepare for his alleged assassination attempt, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said. Loughner [...]


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My Political Calendar for Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011

6 a.m. Morning in America 6:30 a.m. Exercise 1st Amendment right 2 tell liberal neighbor he’s an asshole. 7 a.m. Exercise 2nd Amendment right: target practice (neighbor leaves 4 work) 7:30 a.m. Morning Joe 8:30 a.m. “Rush” Hour 9:30 a.m. National conversation about race 10:30 a.m. Seek the better angels of our nature in a [...]


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Death to Incivility

January 13, 2011

Please. I kid incivility. We should be more civil in our intimations of deadly force. Amid all the angry and confused debate since the Tucson shooting – confusions in personal values and in the terms of the debate – the fairly simple and genuine subject of greatest import actually arose quite clearly at the start. [...]


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Evading Responsibility

January 11, 2011

Part of the thicket we have to cut through to think clearly and reasonably about political discourse and events is the near wall of entangled rationalizations and defensiveness. Self-contradiction gets separated from hypocrisy only by insight into an individual’s mind and motivations. Or as Tom Delay justified himself to the court yesterday when he evaded [...]


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Shitty Arguments

January 10, 2011

That is the technical term – shitty argument – a type of informal logical argument first identified by Aristotle in his Logic, as part of his discussion of sophistical arguments. A shitty argument may be shitty because it is a particular manifestation of “bad” – that is, so shameless that the perpetrator of it is [...]


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