January 23, 2019

Nothing Is Ever Easy

You’d think with as much experience WordPress has at running a content management system that it would have a smooth process for importing content — especially backed-up content.

But, no.

Turns out the import system is full of problems.

Again, I’m working on it. All Rhetorica content still exists. It’s just going to be a bigger hassle getting it all back into place than I thought.

Stay tuned…

January 15, 2019

Working On It

I tried importing from my .xml backup file this morning with limited success. It seems most of the work is there, but it has been set to “draft.” No clue why.

I may go through and re-publish each entry.

I may try re-installing WordPress with a new database and then import the file.

Stay tuned…

December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas … and Yikes!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sadly, Rhetorica suffered a catastrophic event a few days ago. Still not sure exactly what happened. But, I do have a plan for fixing it. Luckily, I also have a complete back-up. I’m nowhere near the computer that holds the back up, so Rhetorica is likely to look like a bit sparse until the middle of January.

November 7, 2002

Looking ahead to 2004…

Democrats are now looking ahead to 2004, but no one appears to be the early front runner as the party begins casting about for a strategy. I would suggest that strategy include not forgetting about 2003. I’m not prepared to speculate beyond that truism now; I’m concerned with specific verbal/textual performances. This morning the Democrats are still licking their wounds, so it’s difficult to assess the quality of their response (allowing them, say, 48 hours leeway to wallow in their pain). The Scrum offers a 2004 candidate round-up (via Political Wire)

November 6, 2002

To the victors go the media spoils…

If there were ever a time for liberal bias in the news media, this is it. But, as I have long argued, such ideological bias is largely a fiction. Instead, certain structural biases of journalistic practice create the illusion of ideological bias (that is NOT to say that there are no local instances of ideological bias). Steven Rosenfeld predicts an interesting phenomenon: a second media honeymoon for President Bush and the new Republican Congress. Rosenfeld did not use the term “honeymoon,” but his prediction that the press will give Bush and the Republicans plenty of leeway in the coming weeks is a sound one. Here’s how it happens:

Political reporting often works like this: A top legislator makes some pronouncement. The fact that the president or a senator or congressman speaks out needs to be reported, journalists will say, to establish ‘the record.’ That’s the top half of a typical wire-service story, which is what most Americans read in newspapers, or see as headlines on CNN or Internet Web sites flashing the latest developments.

But this also is how the ‘reporting-as-stenography’ cycle begins, because the quoted politician has just dictated the topic of the article. Most reporters, seeking ‘balance’ and working on deadline, will then look for an opposing quote, find a quick retort, and then write it all up.

That’s the way most political reporting is done. Analysis or actually checking the facts behind spins, or historical contextualization, is often left for subsequent pieces, or the editorial pages

November 6, 2002

You’ll find this amusing…

November 6, 2002

Quick start…

President Bush is off to a quick start in winning re-election in 2004. His vigorous campaigning during the mid-term elections, and his raising a record $141 million, put the Republicans in a position to achieve their domestic and international agenda. The margins are slim, so achieving the Bush agenda will not be easy. And lurking in the background is the specter of failure. If Bush and the Republicans crow too much about yesterday’s victories, they will create clear expectations of performance. Moderate success may lead to an easy Bush victory in 2004. But, if the economy continues to stumble along, and if we are bogged down in a mess in Iraq, expect Bush to continue the one-term family tradition.

UPDATE (12:45 p.m.): Here’s an example of crowing from Trent Lott:

“We had the issues with us. The war against terrorism, security at home, strong national defense and dealing honestly with the economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi. “That’s hard to match, and that is why I think we won — the combination of those things.”

This sounds innocent enough until you realize that he’s set up a series of dichotomies–as if Democrats are against the war on terrorism, against security at home, against strong defense, and against honestly dealing with the economy.

On the other hand, statements like this one from Rep. Richard Gephardt certainly don’t help the Democrats:

“We ran as good a campaign as we knew how and could…The president’s popularity is very high and that undoubtedly was a factor in some of these elections.”

In other words, we had no ideas or policies that might excite the electorate; we were at the mercy of popularity. It is exactly this attitude that allows Lott to speak his dichotomies unchallenged.

UPDATE (1:00 p.m.): Professor David R. Jones offers his assessment of why the Republicans won. One of the big reasons has now become very clear: George W. Bush marshaled his political capital and played the role of “Campaigner-in-Chief” to near perfection.

UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Bush continues to play his cards well by not crowing in public. From The New York Times:

Mr. Bush planned no public statements today on the election results. His reserve was meant to inject “a touch of graciousness,” as Mr. Fleischer put it, into the postelection euphoria that Republicans are feeling. Privately, White House aides said the president did not want to appear to be gloating.

November 6, 2002

Morning after numbers…

Gallup has some interesting data collected just before the election. The headline stresses that Americans were not in a mood to “throw the bums out.” The most interesting data for me involves voters’ perceptions of political parties. It seems many Americans are unconcerned about which party controls Congress. Further, this lack of concern appears most acute in young voters, citizens with incomes of less that $30,000, and citizens with moderate levels of education (high school and some college). I do not have data handy, but it seems to me that this general demographic corresponds to the type of citizen that does not read newspapers. Hmmm…

November 5, 2002

The answer to declining readership…

I do not know what the answer is to the problem of declining newspaper readership. But I think this review of the Boston Globe’s Ideas section by Jack Shafer presents one good possibility. Shafer says the Ideas section is written for people who like to read and assumes “that you’ve done your current events homework during the week and that you’ve set aside time to read and to think about the important stuff that the news obscured.” He contrasts this new effort with new products by the Chicago papers (Red Eye and Red Streak) that appear to be aimed at people who don’t like to read. I was a little surprised at Shafer’s conclusion:

“Ideas” isn’t the answer to the newspaper industry’s problem of declining readership, but it’s high time editors started whoring after smart people who want to read.

Well, okay, maybe it’s not the answer, but I would argue it is certainly an answer. If this catches on, perhaps newspapers could begin acting like text-based media again instead of imitating TV, which began in earnest with the appearance of USA Today.

November 5, 2002

Let campaign 2004 begin!…

Today is election day. Tomorrow begins the big show for me: the 2004 campaign for President of the United States. While I am interested in the rhetoric, propaganda, and spin of politics and journalism in general, my political focus is on the presidency.

In The Rhetorica Network links to the left you will see Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2004. This is the second installment of an effort that began in the summer of 1999 as Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2000. I built that site on the sever of the University of Missouri – Kansas City (you’ll find a .pdf archive of that site here). I was finishing my doctorate at the time. I began the site (which included an early blog) as part of an independent study class in presidential campaign politics. To my great surprise, the site quickly became popular–especially with education sites and home-schoolers. The publicity from that site led to three local television appearances as a talking head “expert” on presidential campaign rhetoric. Two newspapers and an online news service interviewed me about campaign advertising and rhetoric.

I began The Rhetorica Network on a new server last March with the intention of making PCR2004 the premier page. But, because there hasn’t been much election 2004 action to speak of, the Rhetorica: Press-Politics Journal quickly became the focus of this site and my efforts. That won’t change. I will, however, begin a concerted effort to rebuild the current PCR page into the top-notch campaign site that it was by the end of the last election. To that end, tomorrow I will debut a new design that will make finding information about the candidates and their speeches easier. And, of course, the site will feature my analyses of campaign speeches as they occur.

This web log will continue to cover press-politics issues in general. I will, however, slowly begin to focus more on presidential politics and the 2004 election.

The campaign for the presidency is one of the great American spectacles–and that is both good and bad. My goal will be to help readers understand the persuasive tactics of the campaign as mediated by the press in the hopes that such understanding leads to better decisions in the voting booth. As I promised in 1999, I will always try to keep my biases in check by openly admitting when I think they intrude on my critiques. I will expect my readers to hold me to that promise.

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