Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" available!

The eleventh chapter is now available over on "Agent Shield and Spaceman." I update this serialized espionage thriller two to three times a week. In today's installment, Frankie Two-Eyes meets with his handler and learns the Section Starfire mission is an offer he cannot refuse.

The world of politics is blowing up! Movies are blowing up! There are some many good television shows and they are all blowing up!

I'm having trouble prioritizing today and I really do have some work to get done so I'm going to try an inoculate myself with a blog post on...POLITICS!

First off, the one thing I was willing to cede to Trump was that he knows how to put on a show. I figured that with his years of monetizing spectacles, he would know how to create an epic convention for himself. I resigned myself to a massive post-convention bump that would send all of the talking heads scurrying for a thesaurus to find different ways of writing "Clinton Campaign in Trouble."

And hey, you know what? That still might happen. The point of the convention is to serve as the official start line for the general election. The Republicans and Republican-leaning voters finally tune in this week, look over the candidate and fall in line. Trump will  benefit from that perennial sorting effect just as Hillary will benefit from the Democratic convention next week.

But let's look at some reasons why a Trump bump might not materialize. Again, Trump has revealed the short-comings of clinging to a small staff. There are simply not enough hands (small or otherwise) to keep this ship properly righted. The floor protest overshadowed the kick-off of the event, there were numerous technical errors, unforced errors like Trump calling into Fox News during his most emotionally charged speaker of the evening, and then of course #speechgate.

In response to the obvious, striking, word-for-word similarities (the current euphemism for cutting and pasting text apparently), Paul Manafort, chief strategist of the Trump campaign claimed two things: #1) that this wasn't really plagiarism and #2) it doesn't really matter if it does because the Clinton campaign was cynically orchestrating the whole thing.

First off: this is plagiarism. There might be a perfectly understandable or sympathetic reason why this plagiarism happened but let's be clear what's going on. This isn't a case of a few words showing up in both speeches or a felicitous phrase borrowed from Ms. Obama. This was an entire block of nearly identical text dropped into the rest of Ms. Trumps' speech. The only way this could have been more a perfect example of plagiarism is if Melania's text still included hyperlinks!

So, yes, Manafort - this is plagiarism.

Moving on, I honestly think that this controversy does mean something. Presumably one of the most important persons in anyone's life is a spouse, a life partner. Knowing the stakes of this night, and for the speech itself, why wouldn't Trump triple- and quadruple- check her speech. Wouldn't he want to look out for her? Save her from embarrassment in front of millions of people?

No. Trump did not.

Now, imagine that level of care and attention to detail directed towards a nation of 300 million people, many of whom Trump has made it clear he couldn't give a green fig about. How much is he going to look out for them?

I'm a fan of what some folks call "Trump's Razor," the idea that given a certain range of facts, assume the stupidest motivation for whatever Trump does. So, while watching the warm glow of the Cleveland's dumpster fire, my wife and I traded back and forth our armchair analysis of how Melania's speech transpired.

We both agreed that this wasn't entirely her doing. Maybe she wrote some parts of the speech but she had to have had help. Everyone gets help writing these things, at least one other person who looks over the speech and asks a question or two.

So, we asked ourselves is it reasonable that Trump or Manaford assigned someone to Ms. Trump who was so over-worked or incompetent that they missed the glaring fact this text bears a close resemblance to a well-known address by a political enemy?

We didn't think it is which leads to the sneaking suspicion this was deliberate. Someone didn't just make a mistake, or overlook a key passage, but found a way of embarrassing the Donald, or Melania, or both on national television.

What's the alternative? That someone did notice the problem and decided - who cares anyway?

That might be the scariest notion of them all.
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