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Author Archives: Andrew Cline

The Press Effect

Last week on Rhetorica I rather peevishly wished that popular publishers would emulate the standards of academic peer review. That’s unreasonable for many good reasons, not the least of which is that we already have many fine academic presses publishing books by academics on the same topics covered by authors such as Ann Coulter and Al Franken. Ann Franken won’t ... Read More »

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), adds some perspective to the current situation in the Middle East. The book explains how and why civilizations developed at varying rates. Diamond begins with a race metaphor placing the starting line at 11,000 B.C.E. The Middle East jumped out in front early, and their abilities to farm, domesticate ... Read More »

The Cost of Rights

As we approach war and, perhaps, further tax cuts, it seems like good time to revisit a book that got little attention when it was first published in 1999. The Cost of Rights, by Stephen Holmes and Cass R. Sunstein, argues that rights are not inalienable, but rather are made possible only by a government funded well enough to protect ... Read More »

Constructing the Political Spectacle

Brendan Nyhan, at SpinSanity, chastises the Democrats for manufacturing opponents to “civil rights.” His argument hinges on the definition of “civil rights.” Like most political arguments, the definition of terms is usually the foundation of the issue because definitions are our attempts to cement reality. And differences in the perceptions of reality create issues. Conflict over issues creates one of ... Read More »

Ditto-head nation

A recent survey by Gallup says that 22 percent of Americans get their news from talk radio. That has some media watchers worried because such programs do not follow standard journalistic procedures to “objectively” gather and present news. Talk radio is a decidedly conservative phenomenon. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans say they get their news from talk radio as opposed to ... Read More »

Short on policy, long on description

The ideal family includes two married people and their biological children. The nuclear family should be the primary source of emotionally intimate relationships. And the difficult challenges that face families today threaten to destroy the basic unit of American society. So says conventional wisdom. Thankfully, Al and Tipper Gore lay all those truisms to rest in their thought-provoking book, Joined ... Read More »

About Schmidt

As Jack Nicholson has aged it seems to me he’s been relying ever more on being Jack playing a particular character. He’s finally transcended himself in the new movie About Schmidt. Go see it. It makes you remember why we loved Nicholson in the first place. Read More »