Paper 3 Draft: A Modern Day Aristotle

Evans 1

Lindsey Rae Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

24 March 2014

A Modern Day Aristotle

For years comedians have included satire within their performances to poke fun at societal behavior.  One comedian, though, stands above the rest in this matter.  With his show The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert relies upon satire alone to entertain his audience.  From stories about gay rights to the government budget, Colbert’s witty sense of humor paired with a satirical political news show make him a legend of rhetoric.  One piece in particular, titled “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” shows off many of Colbert’s talents at once.  As suggested from the title, the piece hilariously criticizes Sarah Palin and her political agenda.  Throughout the five minute clip, Colbert uses several rhetorical figures and a logical fallacy to make his point known.  He touches upon American commonplaces to capture his audience.  He even uses satire to explain the meaning of satire!  Without a doubt this example of Stephen Colbert’s work displays excellent use of satiric rebuttal and is worth an extensive rhetorical analysis.

In “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” Stephen Colbert pulls out several rhetorical figures and even a logical fallacy during his coverage of the story.  In the very beginning of the piece when Colbert is discussing Sarah Palin’s recent speech at a Tea Party Convention, he uses the figure of speech which author Jay Heinrichs calls “[twisting] a cliché” (218) in his book Thank You for Arguing.  Colbert adapts the well-known phrase “No taxation without representation” to ridicule the Tea Party Convention’s profit gain by adding the words “But there is a two drink minimum” to the end.  Not only does the use humor make the scenario memorable,

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but it also uses popular belief to show the hypocriticalness of the Tea Party’s actions.  Colbert continues his story by combining another figure with a logical fallacy.  During her speech, Sarah Palin ridiculed President Obama for his use of a teleprompter while she herself wrote notes on her hand to remember key points.  Colbert uses what Heinrichs calls the figure of “[inventing] new words]” (219) when he refers to Sarah Palin’s use of a “hand-o-prompter” to win favor with the audience.  At the same time, Colbert applies the logical fallacy of a false comparison (specifically reductio ad absurdum) when he shows the audience that he has labeled his thumb “thumb” in marker to remind him that it is there.  Though in Thank You for Arguing Heinrichs refers to logical fallacies specifically as “sins,” (145) Colbert uses what would normally be considered bad logic to actually prove that his is sound.  By pretending to agree with Sarah Palin’s points through absurd reasoning, Colbert is using Palin’s own actions to display their absurdity.  Again, through humor, Colbert shows the hypocrisy in Palin’s argument without stating it directly.

Like any good rhetorician, Stephen Colbert also draws upon his audience’s commonplaces to help gain their favor and drive home his point.  For example, though Stephen Colbert pretends to be the rightmost of all Republicans, the show is essentially geared towards a Democratic audience.  He uses satire to deliver what is actually a “fake” newscast in the sense that the views he expresses are often the opposite of what he believes.  The show, therefore, often criticizes Republican spokespersons- such as Sarah Palin and later Rush Limbaugh- and defends leaders of the Democratic party- such as Barrack Obama.  Colbert incorporates the Democratic viewers’ image of Sarah Palin as a poor and even unintelligent diplomat into his speech to win the audience over to his side of the argument.  By insulting Sarah Palin’s skills in politics, Colbert is subtly ingratiating himself into the collective by applying the identity strategy.  By shunning those who see Sarah Palin as a great leader from the rest of the group,

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Colbert actually brings his fans closer in a kind of tribal unification.  Colbert is a master of irony, which Heinrichs defines as “saying one thing to outsiders with a meaning only revealed to your group” (237).  While Colbert’s utter mockery of Sarah Palin is hard to miss, fans of the show feel a kind of unconscious connection to the words because they “get” the true message.  Overall, this coinciding of values makes the audience form a common identity, thus making viewers more susceptible to Colbert’s persuasion tactics.

However, despite all of the rhetorical strategies Stephen Colbert incorporates into his piece “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter,” no greater satiric genius is displayed than through his explanation of satire through satire.  Towards the end of Colbert’s report, he discusses Sarah Palin’s call for the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel after he called liberal Democrats “f-ing retarded.”  At the same time, however, Palin defended right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh after his use of the same words in what she refers to as “satire.”  Upon watching the clip of Limbaugh, it can clearly be seen that the language was not used in such a way, yet Palin continuously demanded that Limbaugh’s words are being taken out of context.  In a stroke of rhetorical genius, Colbert uses Palin’s own words against her by taking them literally, and thus reducing her argument to absurdity.  Colbert explains to the audience in his false Republican guise that Sarah Palin has the acute sense of hearing to pick up on Limbaugh’s extremely subtle distinction before repeating the clip of Limbaugh to allow the audience to see the complete lack of such a comparison.  Colbert states that he agrees with Sarah Palin in that it is okay to call someone a “retard” as long as you do not mean it.  To finalize his point, Colbert says that true backers of Sarah Palin should all show their support and say proudly that “Sarah Palin is an f-ing retard.”  This ingenious form of insult solidifies Stephen Colbert’s rhetorical superiority over Palin, capturing the full support of his audience.

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Overall, it is clear that Colbert’s rebuttal of Sarah Palin was a success- at least in the eyes of his targeted audience.  Colbert’s skilled inclusion of rhetorical figures and his logical fallacy display not only his sophisticated wit- which make the statements memorable- but also his superb rhetoric ability- which make them logical.  The comedian’s appeal to his viewers through value commonplaces brings the speaker and listeners to a closer, more personal level of understanding.  This not only solidifies trust in Colbert, but also gives viewers a sense of group belonging, making them more inclined to persuasion.  Furthermore, Colbert’s explanation of satire through the use of satire displays his extensive understanding of the workings of rhetoric, eliminating any doubt of his argument’s credibility.  Each of these strategies, paired with Colbert’s near perfect delivery of the information, makes the report agreeable to viewers and leaves them sufficiently persuaded.  In today’s world where rhetoric has become the lost art of the ancients, Stephen Colbert is bridging the gap and will without a doubt be remembered as one of the great rhetoricians of the 21st century.

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Works Cited

Heinrichs, Jay. Thank You for Arguing. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.

“Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter.” The Colbert Report. Colbert Nation, 9 Feb. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <>.

General Education “Personal Stake”

As a current Penn State student as well as a Penn State dual-enrollment participant in high school, I have had a great deal of personal experience with Penn State University’s general education department.  In general, I disagree with the idea that college students should have to pay for general education credits.  Though it makes sense that students should be well-rounded upon entering the world as an independent thinker, I do not believe that universities should have the right to charge students to take classes outside of their desired career fields.  Through my time at Penn State, I have taken general education credits such as Greek and Roman Mythology, Sociology, and International Relations which, though interesting, have little to no use in my desired field: aerospace engineering.  If universities do indeed have to force unwanted classes on students, the courses should be free of charge.  Though this is incredibly unrealistic for today’s money-oriented world, I see it as the only fair option.

That being said, to me, Options 1 and 3 of the General Education Reform hold promise.  I do believe that, if general education credits are indeed necessary, they should offer the greatest amount of exploration for students as possible.  For example, the classes I chose to take have given me a greater understanding of the world, successfully achieving Penn State’s mission to develop a well-rounded student.  At the same time, however, it is my personal opinion that communication skills are the top most priority for any potential employee.  Again, the classes I took allowed me to improve my personal skills through class presentations and group projects.  In this way, I believe that an even split or combination of general education credits between exploration and skill based classes or ideas would be the best approach for reform.  However, Option 2 concerns me greatly.  In my opinion, integration of classes as a single theme defeats the purpose of general education.  By simply making students take classes within a focused set of topics, Penn State would not be broadening students’ minds to a world of knowledge.  Instead, they would be limiting students’ knowledge by focusing more broadly on one subject.  From the descriptions of the themes, though they value interdisciplinary work, they sound too similar to minors for me to comprehend changing the system.  The worst part of this option, though, is that the benefits are slim.  As I have stated, themes appear to be only slightly more general than minors are today.  How, then would taking classes focused solely on a theme benefit a student more than the student’s independently decided minor?  Overall, I do not see any value in Option 2, but Options 1 and 3 could be combined to create a better, more organized establishment of Penn State’s general education.

Maroon 5 Teams Up!

Although this blog is primarily geared towards current Maroon 5 fans, I also like to try and convert readers who may not have been familiar with the band.  This week, therefore, I would like to discuss a few collaborations Maroon 5 has had with other artists that you may listen to in order to further peak your interest .

The first song on today’s list is “If I Never See Your Face Again.”  This sassy duet features the vocal talents of famous pop singer Rihanna, who was only too glad to work with who she said were “one of [her] favorite bands” [1].  The song is one of Maroon 5’s classic dysfunctional relationship melodies and was the first collaboration the band took part in since Adam’s work with Kanye West on “Heard ‘Em Say.”  The video for “If I Never See Your Face Again,” which also features Rihanna, perfectly conveys the tension displayed in the song’s lyrics and makes for a great watch [1].

The next song is a relatively unknown Maroon 5 collaboration.  “Come Away to the Water” features Rozzi Crane, the first singer signed to Adam Levine’s record label, 222 Records.  Adam first discovered the music student from the University of Southern California when two of Rozzi’s classmates (Sam Farrar and Jacques Brautbar from the band Phantom Planet) showed the artist’s work to Adam’s manager [2].  “Come Away to the Water” is a song actually featured in the first movie of The Hunger Games franchise and is a rather chilling duet reflecting the ominous tone of the movie’s plot.  Hear it for yourself!

Last but definitely not least, however, is my favorite collaboration by Maroon 5: “Payphone” featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa.  I was lucky enough to see the artists perform this particular song together live, and I have to say it was phenomenal.  The song is, of course, about getting through a failed relationship, but it is perhaps better known for its theatrical video than its lyrics.  The video features Adam Levine as a bank employee on an average day of work.  Adam is trying to make some headway with a female coworker whom he obviously has a crush on when suddenly bank robbers (one played by guitarist James Valentine) storm the bank with guns.  Adam heroically disarms a robber, pulls his beloved from the bank, and proceeds to steal Wiz Khalifa’s car to run from the police who mistake him for the gunman [3].  Overall, the video truly has nothing to do with the song, which is perhaps why it has received so much attention.  However, for fans of the band, it is still fun to watch Adam portray an action hero in a very movie-like setting.  Does Adam successfully elude the police?  Does he get the girl in the end?  Watch the video and see for yourself!

Didn’t see an artist you like?  Then be sure to listen to “Out of Goodbyes” featuring Lady Antebellum, the Mark Ronson remix of “Wake Up Call” with Mary J. Blige, and/ or, of course, the extremely popular “Moves Like Jagger” featuring Christina Aguilera!





Maroon 5 Goes Green

Many musicians in today’s world have taken up a cause to raise awareness with fans.  From Elton John’s AIDS Foundation [1] to Eminem’s Marshall Mathers Foundation [2], artists often use their fame to help solve issues they find personal interest in.  For Maroon 5, environmental awareness is at the top of the list.

For the last five years, Maroon 5 has partnered with the non-profit organization REVERB to create “green” tours, raise money for local environmental awareness groups, and broaden the public’s knowledge about the green movement [3].

reverb 2

On Maroon 5’s recent Honda Civic Tour, REVERB took countless steps to offset the impacts of the band’s carbon footprint from compostable dining utensils to eco-friendly cleaners.  To name a few statistics REVERB recycled 7,740 gallons of materials to keep out of landfills, prevented the use of 10,613 disposable water bottles, and contributed 727 metric tons of carbon offset!  For this last goal, REVERB calculated the carbon emissions from the tour trucks, buses, planes, and more and offset the effects through support of a carbon illuminating project in Kenya that also provides locals with clean drinking water [3].

going green

In addition to helping Maroon 5 contribute to the movement, REVERB also got the public involved by raising awareness for environmental friendliness.  To do so, the organization set up eco-villages at each concert to teach fans about the importance of the green movement and raise money for local non-profits.  The villages included interactive stations such as a solar powered cell phone charger and a booth for signing and sending postcards to local representatives in support of The Lacey Act, a law keeping illegally logged wood from entering the United States.  Overall, the eco-villages were a huge success, raising a total of $35,266 for 35 local non-profits [3].

eco village

Maroon 5’s partnership with REVERB is not, however, limited to touring!  Recently, band members James Valentine and Mickey Madden joined forces with REVERB for a day of service for FREEHAB, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for homeless teens leaving foster care [4, 5].  James and Mickey helped build the 100-bed green apartment building for the teens with features such as bamboo floors, artwork from recycled materials, and even recycled furniture and countertops!  In an interview, Mickey called the event “very touching” and James said that they were “happy to be a part of it” [4].


In addition to working with Maroon 5, REVERB has worked with over 40 different artists including Avril Lavigne, Jason Mraz, Coldplay, and, another one of my favorite artists, Jack Johnson [6].  See if any of your favorite musicians are involved and check out the movement at!



Paper 3 Outline: Rhetorical Analysis of a Satiric Work

Outline for “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter” from The Colbert Report

  1. Introduction
    1. Overview of the piece
    2. Rhetorical strategies
    3. Commonplaces
    4. Overall message
  2. Logical Fallacies and Rhetorical Figures
    1. Twisting a cliché
    2. Reductio ad absurdum
    3. Inventing new words
    4. Taking a phrase literally
  3. Explaining Satire Through Satire
    1. Details of the story
    2. Colbert’s use of wordplay
    3. Key rhetorical victory
  4. Commonplaces and Aims
    1. Mainly Democratic audience
    2. Sarah Palin’s image against her
    3. Defends President Obama
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of thesis
    2. Viewer takeaway
    3. Colbert’s style and delivery
    4. Success of the piece

March 7 Satire Assignment

“Cold War Update – Obama’s Ukraine Response”

For this assignment, I found three satirical articles by comedian Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report to analyze.  The first article, titled “Cold War Update – Obama’s Ukraine Response” discusses the view that President Barack Obama is seen as “weak” when compared to Russian leader Vladimir Putin after the recent events in Ukraine.  The story begins with Colbert’s use of the logical fallacy reductio ad absurdum when he shows the audience his “shoe phone” and “shoe answering machine” after announcing his apparent beliefs that the Cold War never ended.  Then, after playing news clips of analysts and political figures ridiculing President Obama for his “weak” image, Colbert uses a red herring to talk about the President’s wardrobe in relation to his power viewed by the public.  He notes Obama’s lack of tie and his choice of jeans and uses the wordplay “casual doomsday,” thus twisting the popular phrase “casual Friday” to gain audience appeal.  Finally, Colbert uses what Jay Heinrichs calls a “speak-round” (page 203 of Thank You for Arguing), jokingly calling President Obama “Big Chief Leads-from-Behind” before discussing the President’s choice of action.  Paired with Colbert’s usual use of sarcasm and wit, the piece offers a great rhetorical lesson as well as a laugh for viewers.—obama-s-ukraine-response

 “Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill & Self-Professed Gays”

The second article I found on The Colbert Report’s website is titled “Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill & Self-Professed Gays.”  This news story is about a new bill in Arizona that would allow store owners to refuse service to openly homosexual customers on the basis of religious freedom.  During the story, Stephen Colbert uses multiple rhetorical strategies and figures.  For example, Colbert plays on the logical fallacy of ignorance as proof by ridiculing Representative Steve King’s own words that homosexuality is strictly a “self-professed behavior.”  To do this, Colbert uses another logical fallacy, reductio ad absurdum, to relate American figure skater Johnny Weir to a wood nymph.  Finally, at the end of Colbert’s report, he uses the rhetorical figure of repeating first words.  The genius of this specific delivery is that Colbert uses a figure often used within religious texts to show the absurdity of the bill claiming to protect religious freedoms.  For example, Colbert delivers a minute-long hypothetical scenario constantly repeating the word “pretend” to make fun of King’s belief that homosexual couples are plotting against store owners by faking their relationships.  Overall, Stephen Colbert perfectly displays his opinion that the new Arizona Bill is an unfair and unjust use of the law through the simple rhetorical tool of satire.—self-professed-gays

 “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter”

The final article by Stephen Colbert I found is titled “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter” and offers perhaps the most abundant source of rhetorical satire of the three.  The story discusses Sarah Palin’s recent speech at a Tea Party Convention as well as her defense of Rush Limbaugh for calling liberals “f-ing retards.”  At the beginning of the report, Colbert uses the figure of speech of twisting a cliché when he adapts the well-known phrase “No taxation without representation” to ridicule the Tea Party’s profit gain.  Also in the story, Colbert again uses the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdum when he makes fun of Palin’s use of what he calls a “hand-o-prompter” (using the figure of inventing new words) by labeling his thumb in marker.  Finally, at the end of the newscast, Colbert brings it home by explaining satire through satire.  When Palin explains that Rush Limbaugh’s use of the words “f-ing retards” was used in satire, Colbert uses Palin’s own words against her by taking it literally, and thus reducing it to absurdity.  Colbert says that, like Limbaugh, people should come to Palin’s defense and call her a “f-ing retard” to show support for the apparent genius of the satire used.  This piece is filled to the brim with rhetorical strategy, and it is definitely worth the watch.

Portfolio 1 Letter of Introduction

Evans 1

Lindsey Evans

English 015

Dr. Jessica O’Hara

3 March 3 2014

Portfolio 1 Letter of Introduction

For Paper 1, I wrote my rhetorical analysis about the United States Army Reserve commercial titled “Where Can…”  For this paper, I argued that the commercial combines aspects of patriotism with the American Dream to convince citizens that joining the Army Reserve benefits both their country and themselves.  To revise my draft, I focused mostly on wording.  After receiving comments on my first draft from the blog, I eliminated the repeat of the word “lastly” and separated the ideas of the image of war and the “Army Strong” phrase into two different paragraphs.  Then, in the new fifth paragraph, I talked more about how the commercial draws upon several ideologies at once to capture the reader.  Finally, in the second paragraph, I included a more detailed analysis of the commercial’s choice of title.

For Paper 2, I analyzed two different newscasts about Shaun White’s performance during the Sochi Olympics (one from USA Today and one from Daily Mail).  USA Today viewed White’s Olympics with utter disappointment, blaming White himself for the failure while Daily Mail blamed White’s performance on the poor conditions of the half pipe.  To revise this paper, I corrected the misspelling of the word “shear” to the proper “sheer” twice.  I made the ending of the first paragraph more specific to the news articles being discussed rather than a broad overview of media.  In both the second and fourth paragraphs, I made the introductions more concise and eliminated the popular “A picture is worth a thousand words” phrase in the latter.  Also in the second paragraph, I focused more on the newscast’s personal blame of Shaun White.

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Finally, I changed the last paragraph to focus more on loss than victory to mirror the true result of White’s Olympic Games.

Overall, I do feel as though I am growing as a writer.  The revisions have helped me to become more concise with my language, and I have learned a great deal through the passion blog postings about how to appeal to your audience.  Also, Thank You for Arguing has taught me an incredible amount about rhetoric, making me a better thinker.  I had never thought about the differences between fights and arguments before or even realized how to use tools such as ethos, pathos, and logos to win your opponent over.  English 15 has indeed helped me to become a better student on all levels of writing, grammar, and philosophy as a whole.

“Makes Me Wonder”: More Than Just A Love Song?

With their second Grammy winning song, Maroon 5 took the saying “slow and steady wins the race” to a whole new level.  “Makes Me Wonder,” the hit song from the band’s second album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long in 2007 [1], was actually quite troubling for some time.  The song, which began as the story of one of Adam Levine’s failed relationships, was surprisingly one of the very first demos recorded by the band when they started out on the road [2,3].  However, the pop jam was continuously put on the back burner as the band could not come up with a suitable chorus.  After four long years [3], however, they came up with one verse that would elevate not only the song, but also the band to new heights.

Maroon5 Minia

During the later time period of the song’s writing, the United States became deeply involved in the war in Iraq.  Adam, who was rather disappointed with the government at the time, said that he wanted to write about his political feelings without sounding “preachy” [4].  For this, “Makes Me Wonder” offered the perfect outlet.  The band added the line “Give me something to believe in, ‘cause I don’t believe in you anymore” [4] as the song’s chorus, and the storylines of love and politics became one.

Iraq War

Maroon 5 successfully and ingeniously expressed their underlying feelings about the direction of the United States’ foreign policy through an abstract message hidden within a love song.   When later asked about the line, Adam told the media that the statement “kind of had something to do with [the band’s] growing dissatisfaction with things and the confusion that was in the air – maybe not targeted at the Bush administration, but maybe dancing around that territory a little bit” [2].

The song was a smash!  “Makes Me Wonder” became only the third song of the decade “to reach the top 15 of the Adult Top 40 chart in two weeks or less” [5] and saw the largest jump to number one the Billboard Hot 100 had ever seen [6].  The success peaked in early 2008 [7] with Maroon 5’s Grammy win for “Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals” for 2007 [8].  Today, “Makes Me Wonder” stands as the band’s fifth most popular single-song download in iTunes after “Moves Like Jagger,” “One More Night,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Daylight” [1].  Overall, by combining the contrasting topics of love and war into a single song, Maroon 5 made a statement and history all at once.


  1. iTunes