Jennifer Mercieca Profile picture
I'm a rhetoric prof. Demagogue For President "One of the most important political books of this perilous summer."-WaPo & PROSE Award for Government & Politics.
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6 May
Yesterday someone asked me what Trump's continued fb ban means for him politically. A short thread:
He's having a difficult time communicating directly with his supporters, the Facebook ban won't make it any easier.
His main political power rests with his relationship with his supporters--it's why he constantly used ad populum appeals, praising them as the best of America & the only true Americans. He has wielded his followers like a cudgel to attack his enemies--both online & on January 6th
Read 8 tweets
4 May
Less rhetorical power than any former president since William Howard Taft. He made a Tumblr. 🤣
Don't forget to shop & contribute when you read the former guy's Tumblr.
Please note that he would love for you to amplify his Tumblr by tweeting his propaganda into our newsfeeds. He's got a tweet button & everything. Do not do this.
Read 5 tweets
4 May
One nice thing about teaching via zoom this year is that after every class at least half of my students said, "thank you!" as I closed up the zoom. A lot of them sent nice end of the semester notes too. Always connect.
I always started the class by telling them I was glad to see them and asked how they were doing and what was on their mind that they wanted to discuss. I ended by thanking them for sharing their thoughts and ideas. It was all very pleasant and affirming.
I mean, also weird and awkward and whatnot, but still. Pleasant and affirming.

We'll always remember the 20-21 schoolyear. Hope we don't have to re-live it any time soon.
Read 4 tweets
29 Apr
I didn't know that he did this, but my department head requested teaching releases for faculty who haven't been able to get research done due to covid obligations. It worked, our college approved them! I'm really impressed with the way my dept. & college are supporting faculty.🤩
He's a social scientist so he did a survey of the faculty about their self-reported difficulties with covid obligations. He found <many of you will not be surprised> a serious gender gap between male & female faculty and their ability to work on research over the last year.
Like, he called yesterday & said "I got you a course release for next year." I was like, "you did? How? Why? What?" I don't know how many people got them, but I know that I'm not the only one. I haven't been able to write for the last year (teaching my kid second grade at home).
Read 4 tweets
29 Apr
"Thank you Madam Speaker and Madam Vice President. No President has ever said those words!" #JointAddress
Lots of antithesis in the beginning here (light v dark, crisis v opportunity, etc.). It allows Biden to narrate a disjuncture, a rupture from the previous administration.
Biden breaks the "4th wall" by speaking directly to the camera and urging all Americans to get vaccinated.
Read 31 tweets
28 Apr
Excited for Biden’s Joint Address to Congress tonight!

politics.theonion.com/biden-arrives-…
Seriously, the Constitution describes this: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Presidents used to give this "information" in writing, where it would be read to Congress by someone else. Since Wilson presidents have delivered this as a speech, in person.
Read 19 tweets
27 Apr
Listening in on the Senate subcommittee hearing on algorithms: judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/algor…
The public relations is thick in these tech responses. 😳
The textbook definition of public relations (according to public relations) is, "building mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics upon which its success or failure depends."
Read 6 tweets
26 Apr
I’ve had this sage for three years. It started as a small, indoor pot that I got from the grocery store around Thanksgiving. I’ve repotted it and tended to it and rescued it from winter storms. We use it to make focaccia bread (my little sweetie’s favorite!)
Last week the bug guy came to spray our yard & I watched in absolute horror as he bug sprayed my sage with poison. It’s polluted!

Hubs said we could just get another one, but my brain said “nooooo!”

Why not just get a new one? This is an example of the “sunk cost fallacy.”
I have an emotional attachment to it (happy memories with my kid, rescuing it, etc.) & I’ve had it for so long and tended to it so diligently that the (perhaps prudent) idea to just give up on it and start over set off all the “no” responses in my brain.
Read 4 tweets
22 Apr
First there were the credentialed journalists writing on high profile news sites. Then came bloggers to circumvent the gatekeepers. Then high profile bloggers became gatekeepers. Then came microblogging to circumvent those gatekeepers.
Same with audio. There were exclusive news audio sites, then podcasts, now participatory audio. Folks listened to enough podcasts that they wanted to talk too.
There's a similar story to tell about photographs/images, video, money. We're now firmly in the era of non-gatekeepered words/video/audio/images/money--what's next?
Read 8 tweets
14 Apr
Several months ago I made my own vanilla extract by combining vodka + vanilla beans (shake, shake, shake) & let it steep for 8 weeks. I started using it a few weeks ago & it smelled...odd. I got new vanilla beans and was going to start over when I made a startling discovery.
When I grabbed the only bottle of vodka in the house, the one that I had most certainly used to make my precious vanilla extract it was STRAWBERRY flavored.

IDK what led to us owning a bottle of strawberry vodka, but this explains a lot. 😂/😢
The universe has a way of smiting my hubris. Every time.
Read 5 tweets
13 Apr
I have gone down a Colossal Elephant Ear wormhole and it's been cracking me up for the past hour. Look at these things.
They come in colors!
Some are goth!
Read 7 tweets
9 Apr
I heard a radio commercial for Newsmax that used fear appeals to claim that they were fighting “woke” and viewers needed to tune in to learn about “woke.”

What’s so scary about waking up in the morning, I wonder? 🤔
Newsmax: "woke"

Newsmax audience:
Anyway, the culture wars as news is absurd.
Read 4 tweets
6 Apr
Talking about democracy and trust today with my students: "trust is ‘the mutual confidence that no party to an exchange will exploit another’s vulnerability’."
"To trust others is to accept the risks associated with the type and depth of the interdependence inherent in a given relationship."
"Social trust is seen as a lubricant for cooperation because it mutually reinforces expectations about reciprocity."
Read 6 tweets
5 Apr
Here's another example of persuasion without consent/compliance gaining: dark patterns in online design:
More on dark patterns: Dark patterns, the tricks websites use to make you say yes, explained vox.com/recode/2235110… via @voxdotcom
The rhetoric/communication research analog might be Riker's "heresthetic" or research on spatial design as a persuasive element (sociopetal and sociofugal proximics and color and etc).
Read 5 tweets
5 Apr
And the people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and stopped
and listened deeper

someone meditated
someone prayed
someone danced
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.

Kitty O’Meara, a Wisconsin teacher & chaplain
Read 4 tweets
3 Apr
Swapping this week's broccoli & cheese soup for...broccoli & cheese quiche. Really living on the edge here. 😂
also making smoked salmon, garlic shrimp, potato torte (excited! see link below), brownie bites, almond & orange madeleines, & probably focaccia. We're having one family over for an outdoor Easter. So excited/relived. fattoincasadabenedetta.it/ricetta/torta-…
oh, and surprising absolutely no one, Hubs is insisting that the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN make its grand debut.
Read 5 tweets
31 Mar
It's time to play our favorite game: is this a bad analogy or a bad parallel case? Reminder: analogies compare relationships between two things; parallel cases compare the two things themselves.
What are we trying to compare?

long lines: voter suppression
long lines: ride suppression

voting: Disneyland
Let's see: do long lines suppress the vote? Sure! Some people won't wait, so they won't vote. It's an "added cost" to voting.

Do long lines suppress rides at Disney? Sure! Same, some people won't wait, so they won't ride. Even if willing to wait, they won't ride as many rides.
Read 5 tweets
30 Mar
This is what y'all should be talking about. That VaxPass* story is a distraction.

*branding it now, that's what it'll be called
The agenda-setting wars continue. Rightwing has been winning for a long time.
Hey, Hey pass the FPA!

Who is for the people? We are, we are!
Read 5 tweets
30 Mar
I went to the insurrection and all I got was this self-incriminating t-shirt.
*and arrested.
I want to write a whole book about how these yahoos broadcast their crimes to the world. Bespoke self-incriminating t-shirts! 😂
Read 4 tweets
28 Mar
<whispers> I think I might go to work in my actual office tomorrow. First time in more than a year. I'm nervous/excited. Also have to find my keys. 🙄
Update: found my keys!

I’m hoping that if I go there, then I can write. It would be so great to write.
My office/desk is covered in things related to my last book project. I'm gonna have to move Trump outta there to make room for my new book.

I don't mind that part. Buh-bye.
Read 5 tweets
25 Mar
Love that Biden said that he was elected to "solve problems."
He said it again, "all I know is that I was hired to solve problems, to solve problems--not to foment* division."

*i'm not sure what word he used there
Also love that he made an aside in an answer to @Yamiche that he knew that she understood what he was explaining and he didn't mean to imply otherwise when he said something like "it's important to understand..." Changed it to "focus on." Respect.
Read 13 tweets