OF COURSE IT WAS PLAGIARISM — NOT!

Mike Myers as Dr. Evil (from here)
Mike Myers as Dr. Evil (from here)

It is more important to stand for something than it is stand against something. When we vote, we should try to vote for someone whose views on the purpose government are similar to our own. The problem is that what lots of politicians say is not what they do. So when we check out the candidates we have to worry about how much damage we think they will do. Therefore, we often have to vote for the lesser of evils.

Unfortunately, when we try vote for the lesser of evils, that does not much complicate the campaign strategy of the more evil candidates.  They and their supporters just respond by trying to convince us the other guy is even worst, or, supposedly even more despicable, dumb.

Hence, my last post, YOU CAN PLAGIARIZE TRITE EXPRESSIONS? REALLY? derided the accusations that Melania Trump had plagiarized Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. Ironically, we had two commenters in the last post, novascout (here and here) and Tony (here) try to persuade us that “of course it was plagiarism”. Google now reports 1,730 results for that phrase, “of course it was plagiarism”.

Supposedly, the Trump’s have conceded the accuracy of the charge of plagiarism by identifying the culprit (see Trump campaign tries to move on from plagiarism controversy). However, the headline says what is going on. The Trump campaign regards the accusation as a distraction.

Why put the silliness to rest? Let’s look at this two ways. First, consider what the Democrats want to argue about.  Here are are the priceless lines “stolen” from Michelle Obama’s speech. Note that none of the lines in Melania Trump’s speech are actually identical to those in Michelle Obama’s (see Melania Trump Copied from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention Speech (Snopes.com)). Note also that what is in bold below was supposedly stolen.

  • Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflect to this day on me and for my love of family and America. – Here Melania Trump talks about herself. Michelle Obama referred to her daughters. Seems like a strategic difference, but maybe Melania gave birth to herself.
  • From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. – Does Michelle Obama have the original copyright on: you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, you do what you say, and that you treat people with respect. Platitudes can be copyrighted?
  • They thought and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. – Two words in that sentence constitute plagiarism?
  • Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them. – In America we use to grow up with our elders constantly telling us that the only only limits to our achievements were our dreams and our willingness to work. Now we are offended when a legal immigrant tells us that? Because of plagiarism? Plagiarism of who? Michelle Obama? Consider the irony.

As I said, I don’t get it. What is there in any of the supposedly plagiarized portion of Melania Trump’s speech that she should have credited to Michelle Obama? If this is how Democrats want to portray Donald Trump as evil, I think it is about as funny as Dr. Evil.

So what does Trump want to move onto? That is, what are the Democrats trying to distract us from? Consider.

What we should be doing is looking at what the people who are running for political office have done? What is it that they have done that qualifies them to run for high office, to spend our money and exercise power over us, our families, our friends and our countrymen.

What does they news media want to talk about? Well, it has more to do with theater and entertainment than substance.

Soon the conventions will be over. Are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the most unpopular presidential candidates ever? Maybe. Is our country in a mess? Yes. Is the mess getting worse? Yes. Are we going to start looking into the records of the people we vote for? God help help if we don’t.

46 thoughts on “OF COURSE IT WAS PLAGIARISM — NOT!

  1. Tom – it’s quite simple: the only elements of Mrs. Trump’s speech that she (or, more precisely, the speechwriters) should have attributed to Mrs. Obama are the words from Mrs. Obama’s speech. It’s very easy. You just say, ” As Michelle Obama said when she stood in a similar situation in 2008, ” [etc. insert the quoted material]. Done. No controversy.

    On your previous post, I made the point that the problem here was that the Trump campaign staff put her in a bad position, and then compounded the offense by spending more than a day denying, finger-pointing (the most hilarious effort was the one where they blamed Hillary Clinton for fomenting the plagiarism because of her aversion to “strong women”), dissembling, and offering counter-factual explanations that would lead reasonable people to think that the Trump campaign people think we are all idiots. All they had to do was say, “we goofed. Sorry. Apologies to Mrs. Trump and to Mrs. Obama.” They didn’t do that, and that’s the significance of the event.

    That this became a major news item is solely attributable to the actions of the Trump campaign. No one in the media said that other issues are not important, or even that this cock-up was important in its own right beyond what it said about the ethics, integrity and mentality of the Trump campaign structure.

    Trump, more than any other candidate in our lifetimes, is about, as you say, “theater and entertainment.” That’s all there is. No experience, no policy prescriptions, just word blasts. That media coverage has elements of theatre and entertainment is merely a reflection of the content of this particular, and very unusual candidate.

    Scout

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    1. @novascout

      Here I think we need to quote Donald Trump’s opponent.

      What difference, at this point, does it make? Hillary Clinton (from here)

      BTW, you are welcome to answer the question I will pose to Tony, too.

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  2. Tom – your confusion on this is a misunderstanding of how “plagiarism” works which is surprising of someone with your education. In this case it was not someone’s unique “thoughts” that were stolen without attribution. It was the actual “words”, quoted almost verbatim, that were lifted without any attribution that was plagiarism. Most college students know this is cheating, but, believe me, anyone who has ever written for a living knows that this was the definition of such plagiarism and a firing offense.

    And as Scout said, how it was handled after it was discovered until they grudgingly admitted the plagiarism simply compounded the problem.

    Another concept that might be worth your looking up is “cognitive dissonance”.

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    1. @Tony

      You and novascout have asserted plagiarism as if this suppose plagiarism is obvious. I dealt with content. You have ignored it. Instead, you have just offered insults as some sort of proof. Frankly, I think what you two have written is nonsense. What kind of lawyers presume guilt without making the least effort to make their case? And no, you have not dealt with the supposed evidence. You have just walked all around it.

      You referred to unique thoughts. What unique thoughts did Melania Trump plagiarize? What thoughts unique to Michelle Obama’s speech did Melania Trump incorporate into her own?

      BTW – You are welcome to answer the question I posed to novascout.

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  3. I thought of an example that might be useful if you are still having trouble understanding why this was plagiarism and essentially dishonest behavior by the Trump campaign.

    Several years ago my wife worked part time as an associate college teacher teaching business and economics to undergraduate students. One course required a number of papers. Because the Internet makes this so easy, my wife specifically warned her students not to simply cut and paste their papers together off the web. If they did quote anything off the internet, or anywhere else, they were to properly source the work, put it in quotes where appropriate and grant the author proper attribution. She warned them that to do otherwise was cheating, would merit an automatic “F” grade for the paper, and could expose them to further discipline.

    Despite her warning the students, for almost every class, my wife had to deal with at least one student who was caught cutting and pasting, without any attribution, paragraphs, sections and sometimes whole papers from the web. Often, as in the case of Mrs. Obama’s speech, the plagiarizing student would change a word or phrase here and there. In other cases, the student only changed the type face.

    The fact that the cheating student changed a word here or there does not eliminate the charge of plagiarism. Rather, the student’s trying to cover it up this way confirms the student’s intent. This is why the speech writer’s recent claim, that the offending section from Mrs. Obama’s speech that got left in by accident, seems all the more incredulous, just as were all the other dishonest and conflicting excuses that came out of the Trump Campaign up to this last one.

    As Scout pointed out, they took a minor problem, and through their tendency to lie first and last, rather than to “stop digging the hole deeper”, this incident, along with many others handled badly by the Trump campaign, has lead to a failed convention and a tarnished rollout of the Republican nominee for President.

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      1. Oh Tom, really. You’re embarrassing yourself. Run it through a plagiarism checker and then get back to us. When I told you in the other thread that the odds of this degree of coincidence for a 23-word identity was more than one in a trillion, I wasn’t just making up a nonsense big number. Arithmetically, that’s really what the odds are. The Trump people aren’t claiming this was a coincidence. Why are you?

        Scout

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        1. @novascout

          Nothing to say about H. Clinton in that last comment? The point of my post is that your side has nothing to offer except deflection.

          Did I ever say anything about a coincidence? No.

          The nature of invention requires us to build upon the ideas of others.

          If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton

          Unless we study what others have done before us, we cannot progress. That’s why exaggerated notions of plagiarism and what should be copyrighted are unhelpful.

          Why don’t you try answering the question I asked Tony?

          While you are at it, why don’t you list some of H. Clinton’s wonderful accomplishments? You can read some of those articles I linked to.

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  4. It makes very little difference, Tom, in the scheme of things. I consider the actual plagiarism a trivial event. We wouldn’t even be talking about it if you hadn’t expended considerable effort in churning out two consecutive, rather lengthy posts on the subject in which you absolutely contorted yourself trying to convert overt plagiarism into coincidence. As I and others have indicated, the matter could have been disposed of in 30 minutes with attribution in the speech or, alternatively, apologies immediately after.

    If the incident has any significance, it’s no reflection on Mrs. Trump, but it is an indication that the base, reflexive instincts of the campaign are to try to counter-factually brazen things out, to wildly place blame where it can’t possibly lie, to attempt to deflect attention with irrelevancies and fanciful thinking, and to con gullible people into debasing themselves by being agents of their silly fantastical excuses. You picked up the latter responsibility and maintained it long after the Trump campaign itself gave up and just did what they should have done originally – ‘fess up and move on.

    You’re still there. You got played. You didn’t deserve that, but you aren’t the first victim and you won’t be the last. I’m almost certain you’ll get used again before November.

    Scout

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    1. Nothing to say about Hillary? No. You never really do have anything good to say about Conservatives or bad about Democrats. And yet you call yourself a Conservative.

      A fraud complaining about the supposed fraud of another. And you still expect to be taken seriously?

      But I got played? 😆

      Trump did make a good speech, didn’t he?

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  5. Now you attempt to deflect, Tom. Why would I say anything about Hillary in this context? What possibly do you think she had to do with Mrs. Trump’s speech? My considered opinion is that she was not involved.

    I actually am capable of saying a lot of things about Hillary, none of them favorable. But you distract yourself. The topic of your own post(s) was the borrowing of language from Mrs. Obama’s 2008 presentation at the Democratic National Convention by Mrs. Trump at the 2016 Republican National convention. Anything I would say about Mrs. Clinton in response to your post would be an irrelevancy.

    As to your new query, Trump’s speech was excellent entertainment and theatre. It was very slim on fact, contained a number of factual inaccuracies, revealed (yet again) an almost total ignorance of the country he seeks to lead and its traditions, and promised much that cannot be delivered. It also promised much that contradicted key elements of Mr. Trump’s own campaign promises (e.g., the influx of “trillions and trillions” of dollars into and economy crippled by high tariffs and abdication of trade agreements).

    But if the measure of political oratory in an electronic media age is whether it holds one’s attention (for whatever mix of reasons) in front of a television while outlasting any previous similar presentations, it was a “good speech”. I watched it from beginning to end, something I can rarely manage for nominees of either party post-1964 (when I was favorably transfixed by Barry Goldwater’s much-criticized speech at the Cow Palace). I ended up thinking that if I lived in a bad neighborhood, I would vote for Trump for Sheriff and at least give him a two-year shot at bringing down the crime rate in my village.

    Scout

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  6. So that I don’t risk plagiarizing, I’ll just echo what Scout said. I was simply responding to your apologist’s statements about the obvious plagiarism in Mrs. Trump’s speech. I did not volunteer to be your foil for Secretary Clinton, nor do I desire to be. Having reasonable doubts about one candidate doesn’t rationally mean that I can’t have doubts about the other just as finding merit in one candidate doesn’t mean that I can’t also find reasonable merit in the other.

    Although, as you say, the presidential choice now is binary (or practically so), why would someone also feel the need to be blind to the obvious faults of the candidate whom she chose while finding excessive faults in the candidate not chosen? Similarly, why would someone feel the need to ridiculously praise the merits of the chosen candidate while finding nothing good at all to say about the obvious good qualities of the candidate not chosen? It turns out that there is a name for this psychological need and it’s called “cognitive dissonance.”

    I first heard of this term when my wife was getting her marketing MBA and mentioned it to me some years ago. Here is an article that I found for you:

    http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

    Many of Donald Trump’s critics, both Democrats and Republicans, say that Trump is a mental light weight, and therefore have been astounded and blindsided by Trump’s meteoric rise to be the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land. One after another, Trump’s GOP rivals have dismissed him just to have Trump come out of nowhere to defeat them.

    Personally, I don’t think Trump is stupid. In fact, Trump is obviously a marketing genius. Trump particularly understands cognitive dissonance, and he is using it and has used it adeptly throughout his business life (which he admits has been mainly the brand building of his own name) as one of the major tools in his marketing artisan’s toolbox. The need to justify the dissonance in your Trump choice is working so well on you that you bemoan any obvious criticisms of your candidate, and keep up the futile effort of defending the Trump campaign against textbook plagiarism long after the Trump campaign itself has fessed up and has written it off.

    The worst thing that the Democrats could do at this point is to underestimate the genius of Donald Trump at his own self promotion or his ability to manipulate all levels of marketing psychology in order to enhance his brand while casting doubts on the opposition brand.

    For our own personal mental well being, it also might be beneficial for Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike to recognize how we are all susceptible to cognitive dissonance, as well as other marketing psychological devices, and to guard against these natural impulses by having a realistic, reasonable regard for all the candidates, for their qualities that are a mix of good and bad, but not the extreme that we may want to believe either way.

    So given that, I am not interested In either demonizing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I am interested in canonizing them either. Plagiarism is a reasonable criticism. The irony of the words stolen is satisfyingly amusing. However, if I try to be objective, there are things to reasonably criticize about both candidates and much to applaud in both as well. Right now I think by most reasonable objective measures, Clinton has the best qualifications and qualities. However, if I were to say that my decision is indisputable, then I would be falling into the same trap of those who blind themselves to textbook plagiarism in order to assuage the obvious dissonances of their choice.

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    1. @Tony

      So many words.
      😆

      I have no problem pointing out Trump’s faults, but you did not volunteer to be my foil for Secretary Clinton, nor do you desire to be. Woe is me.

      Instead, you just hound me to admit Trump’s imperfections and pretend Clinton’s don’t exist. So I have to confess Melania Trump committed plagiarism. Yet you cannot define the unique thought Melania supposedly stole.

      Trump is marketing genius? I suppose so. Yet compared Hillary Clinton he is an amateur. Clinton has at the very least committed security infraction that would have gotten you or me thrown in jail, and everyone knows it. She has lied to us outrageously about the deaths of our fellow citizens, and everyone knows it. Given the bubba’s absurdly high speaking fees, it appears she has sold her office, even to foreign powers, and everyone knows it. But we cannot talk about any of that. No, we have talk about Melania Trump stealing trite expressions from Michelle Obama.

      Plagiarism. That’s the sort of high crime we cannot tolerate in the spouses of our public officials. All our high officials must mouth their own unique platitudes. Whether they actually mean what they say is beside the point.

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      1. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
        By any other name would smell as sweet.”

        Tom – above are just “words” in a certain order. The thought is not the least bit unique. The thought is that a name, a label, does not change the basic essence, good or bad, of a thing (in this case the name Montegue). However, the order of the words and the way that the thought is expressed is unique, moving and quite beautiful.

        Now, suppose that I used the above in a speech or some other work, only I changed a word or two here or there (for example, substituting the rose for some other sweet smelling flower), and then I told everyone that I wrote it, without any attribution to William Shakespeare, I would indeed be plagiarizing in the most classic sense of that term. It is not necessarily unique “thoughts” that makes something plagiarism – it is using the same or mostly the same “words” in a certain unique order.

        One could argue that there have been no new “thoughts” in speech writing since the Greeks wrote their first plays, but the use of “words”, beautifully written in an almost endless possibility of unique orders and forms of expression, is what makes stealing even a small number of words used in the same order without attribution to the real wordsmith so offensive. It’s what makes it plagiarism, and it really doesn’t matter if Shakespeare ever could or did “copywrite” this expression of words, or any of his works. Copywrite infringement and plagiarism are related but not the same thing. One can be a plagiarist without violating any copywrite law (and one can actually violate copywrite law without plagiarism – for example by publishing one of Steven King’s titles as a Steven King title without his publisher’s permission).

        I’ll therefore ask you a question: Do you make it a habit to lift someone else’s exact or nearly exact words and use them here without attribution just because you don’t think their thought is unique? I would hope not.

        Is this a big deal? Does it reflect that badly on Mrs. Trump? Nope and Nope. I have already conceded these points. It would have been less than a slightly embarrassing blip if Donald Trump were not apparently so thin skinned about admitting any mistake and his campaign had not handled it so badly. We would not even be talking about this here still without the obtuse claim that it is not plagiarism – of course it’s plagiarism. It’s the definition of plagiarism.

        You want to change the subject to how wonderful Donald is and how evil Hillary is? Then quit arguing this subject.

        I’m not particularly interested in demonizing either candidate to the point of meaningless and hyperbolic demagogueries about which candidate should be in prison, so I probably won’t participate, but maybe you will hit on some topic that interests me. As I used to tell my clients when they wanted me to hate the other side of a case: “I’ll do a good job for you in aggressively advocating your legal position, but you can’t pay me enough to make me hate anyone for you.” Nope, life’s too short and one’s honor should be more valuable than that.

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        1. @Tony

          Plagiarism is “using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author”.

          What Melania apparently did is imitate Michelle Obama’s speech by borrowing some of the platitudes she used. Platitudes are by definition no one’s intellectual property. If Melania had actually credited Michelle, most people would have suspected Melania was ridiculing Michelle.

          When this theft was discovered, how should the “progressive” news media have reacted. With charges of plagiarism? When it is quite obvious Melania had the resources to have great writers work on her speech? Stupid!

          I don’t know what motivated Melania. I just know that platitudes serve a purpose. When the news media discovered that Melania had chosen to use some of the same platitudes that Michelle had used, that should have been reassuring. Instead, they turned a good thing into an accusation.

          Why did the news media turn yet one more reuse of some platitudes into plagiarism? I have already addressed that. Did I ask you to hate anyone? But some people have most certainly done so.

          My latest post is about Socialism. It is about the people you vote for. They get elected almost exclusively by pitting us against each other.

          What qualifications do Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have to run anything? They don’t, but if they get elected they will give America a pay raise. With whose money? They will tax “the rich”, of course. Have you noticed how much poorer the rich are getting and how much richer the poor are getting?

          Kaine is now Clinton’s VP pick. He is a glib, grinning hatemonger. He expertly demonizes his opposition.

          In his “acceptance” speech yesterday, Kaine even had the nerve to throw in these lines.

          FOR ME, THIS DRIVES HOME THE STAKES IN THE SELECTION . NEARLY 2 MILLION MEN AND WOMEN PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR THIS COUNTRY AS ACTIVE DUTY, AS RESERVISTS — THEY DESERVE A COMMANDER IN CHIEF WITH THE EXPERIENCE AND THE TEMPERAMENT TO LEAD. [APPLAUSE]

          WHAT DOES DONALD TRUMP SAY ABOUT THESE AMERICANS, THE 2 MILLIONS? HE CALLS THEM A DISASTER, AND JUST THIS WEEK, DONALD TRUMP SAID AS PRESIDENT, HE WOULD CONSIDER TURNING AMERICA’S BACK ON OUR DECADE-OLD COMMITMENT TO OUR ALLIES. AND ALL OF YOU REMEMBER MONTHS AGO WHEN HE SAID ABOUT US AND IT CALL THE, JOHN MCCAIN, THAT HE WAS NOT A HERO BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN CAPTURED AND WAS A PRISONER OF WAR, AND HE WANTS TO BE COMMANDER IN CHIEF? WAS SERVICE MEMBERS ARE OUT THERE ON THE FRONT LINES, — WITH SERVICE MEMBERS OUT THERE ON THE FRONTLINES, THIS IS AN OPEN INVITATION FOR VLADIMIR PUTIN TO JUST ROLL ON IN. EVEN A LOT OF REPUBLICANS SAY THAT IS TERRIBLE DANGEROUS.

          Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine just want to turn our military forces into yet another dependent constituency. If we are depending on Clinton to be our commander-in chief, God help us.

          McCain is not a war hero because he was captured. What Trump apparently forgot is that even after being tortured, he refused early release. Nevertheless, McCain’s been playing this card for over 40 years, and Kaine’s just picking up the card hoping he can use Trump’s off the hand remark to turn veterans against Trump. Kaine’s interest is identity politics, not actual issues. He almost certainly does not give a damn about the fighting effectiveness of our armed forces. And yes, I know he has a son.

          Trump’s idea of insisting our allies either pay us or pay for their own troops is hardly equivalent to leaving our allies in the lurch. Coming from the VP pick of Hillary Clinton, such an inference is hypocritical.

          I watched Tim Kaine sitting behind Hillary as she introduced her pick. The man was ecstatic. Why? Why did Hillary pick Kaine? She needs a good attack dog. Kaine fits the bill, and he knows it.

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        2. I haven’t commented on this affair yet, but it seems that after so many comments, no one has gotten it right yet. So:

          @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

          Plagiarism is “using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author”.

          What Melania apparently did is imitate Michelle Obama’s speech by borrowing some of the platitudes she used. * * * When it is quite obvious Melania had the resources to have great writers work on her speech? Stupid! I don’t know what motivated Melania.

          First, it is not what “Melania apparently did” nor do we have to wonder “what motivated Melania.” Why not? Because, as we have subsequently learned, Melania is blameless in all of this.

          As you point out, Melania had writers work on her speech. In this instance, at least one failed to live up to the adjective “great” however.

          This is an intentional attack on the Trump campaign by an inside saboteur. That person, or potentially persons, planted these land mines in the speech to be easily discoverable, correctly identified as plagiarism (though a relatively small part of an overall good speech), and the writer even tossed an exaggerated wink at the audience at the end to make sure that readers knew to look for other fishy things.

          Melania Trump, the Trump campaign, and the entire audience of her speech were “Rickrolled.”

          To be RIckrolled is to experience a nearly decade-old Internet meme in which the user is enticed by a headline to click on a link, but instead of the desired information, up pops a clip from an old Rick Astley song with the lines “never gonna give you up/never gonna let you go.”

          The media often pops up some distance into content that appears legitimate, and has many permutations these days. So, Melania Trump’s speech, a little past the offending section, winds up with the words “He will never, ever, give up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever, let you down.”

          Melania did not recognize this meme; she is far from the typical Internet user. But someone else evidently spotted this insertion and was stopped dead by it. Then, going back to look, started running comparisons to other speeches of portions — because the plagiarism was so close, it was an easy task.

          The Trump campaign released a letter from one of the speechwriters who fell on her sword, taking the blame for the “accidental” plagiarism. But this is more than an accident, and I doubt that the campaign is even fully aware of this yet.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        3. @Keith

          Rickrolled? Well, that is a new term for me. Was the Trump campaign rickrolled? Given all the publicity relative to the possibility they were rickrolled, I would imagine they suspect it.

          The speech writer who took the fall for Melania sounds like a family friend => http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/20/politics/meredith-mciver-who-melania-trump-speech/index.html.

          Frankly, I think what some people call plagiarism is getting absurdly difficult to avoid.

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        4. I don’t quite agree on the ease of plagiarism; this case was clear. I am confident that a copyright (not copywrite!) court would rule that it was. But it was not Melania, it was someone else, perhaps the person who took the blame.

          I was an early discoverer of the “Rickrolled” business, but it still took me a day or two to look at the transcript. Now I see that Google[melania rickrolled] returns 551,000 hits.

          Best wishes.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        5. @Keith

          Don’t you think it is odd that we all have to do to plagiarize to the work of another is to use the same string of platitudes?

          Think of it this way. You know what a random number generator is? Imagine two research papers containing the same string of random numbers. Has the second paper plagiarized the first?

          The platitudes are out there. Anyone can use them. Yet if we use them in the same sequence, that’s plagiarism? If that’s plagiarism, that’s stupid.

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        6. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

          Don’t you think it is odd that we have to do to plagiarize to the work of another is to use the same string of platitudes?

          I would. But that’s not what happened here, unless you add “using substantially the same words and word sequence.” The plagiarism is clear enough — what has not been revealed was which person or persons were responsible for this sabotage of the campaign.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        7. @Keith

          So we have copyright laws and discourage plagiarism to protect writers who use platitudes in certain sequences? Are you certain there isn’t just a bit more at stake than protecting a sequence of words. Otherwise, I could generate a sequence of numbers,….

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        8. You use “platitudes”— it’s just words. And copyright laws protect sequences of words as one’s own intellectual property,

          One word? Hard to protect, unless it is styled in a particular way. The more words, the more protectable, and the more that “close approaches” may be ruled to be infringing. The lifted sequences of sentences from one of Michelle Obama’s speechwriter (by one of Melania Trump;’s speechwriters).

          The speechwriter admitted the borrowing.

          Note that your hypothesis can be tested. Somewhere in the approximately 150 million blogs, much of which consists in “platitudes” as you describe them. No one has yet found a similar example.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        9. @Keith

          Tony compared Michelle’s speech to Shakespeare. His work was almost entirely original. If someone borrows from it, it is silly not to quote it. Michelle’s speech? As I said earlier, if Melania had quoted that, the other side would have thought they were being ridiculed. In fact, the strongest argument for your rick-roll theory is the silliness of borrowing from that section of Michelle’s speech. It is not original or thoughtful enough to make it worth the bother. She spliced together a string of platitudes. Each has meaning, of course. So do numbers. That’s why we have random number generators. Even random number have significance. I just don’t think it makes much sense to copyright such a list.

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        10. You might recall that Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech containing the lines “Let Freedom Ring” was later found to have been plagiarized. He did not use the same cities exactly, but he used the same phrases and concepts that a black preacher had used during the a much less well known speech at the 952 Republican National Convention.

          There is more here than “the same platitudes.” It is “the same platitudes, in the same order, with most of the same embellishments, and using much of the same wording as the ‘original’.”

          I quoted “original” above as there is a furious attempt to explain Michelle Obama’s speech as also being a plagiarism. This effort is wrong in two ways: First, the soi-disant “originals” being unearthed are fabrications so far, thus poisoning the well. Second, even if Obama (or her own speechwriters) were determined to have done the same thing, it does not excuse Melania’s speechwriters.

          But that search points out that such a plagiarism of “platitudes” is not at all easy to find as you suggest — else it would have been found.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        11. You know that I am no “Trump supporter”: I’ve more than once said that I’d swap him for a dog, and shoot the dog.

          This is merely a case of identifying what really happened, regardless of where the blame lies or which parties this happens to support.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        12. Glenn Beck proposed the same thing. I suppose it is possible. I will admit is strange the Trumps would use anything that looked even remotely like Michelle Obama’s speech, but it may be that is what Melania wanted.

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  7. Oh Tom. There are none so blind . . . . etc. Your persistence on this (i.e., denying obvious phrase-lifting – otherwise known by virtually everyone other than you as “plagiarism”) is why I am sure that this won’t be the last time that you will be entirely played and used by the Trump campaign. I suspect we’re going to get a series of these episodes between now and November.

    The point of the Melania speech thing isn’t to hang a “high crime” rap on the poor woman (Well, she’s not exactly “poor”, but you know what I mean, I think). The point was that it was an ironic gaffe, given how important it is among some Republicans (and even visitors to the Republican Party like Mr. Trump) to lay at the current President’s feet all the evils of the world. It is almost at the level of an amusement. In itself, it was not a big piece of news.

    The reason that it had any news value was that it represented bad staff work in a campaign that has lacked internal structure for some time now. The failure to put out that little grease fire in thirty minutes through a quick and simple apology led to another, much more important story – that the Trump campaign was reflexively in a kind of grift mode – deny the obvious, point fingers at people demonstrably not involved (like Mrs. Clinton), attack those asking questions, etc. – see if you can counter-factually brazen things out as opposed to just taking a little egg on the face for a few minutes. This is a very bad instinct in any context, but particularly in a political campaign where it tends to create more problems than it solves. And that’s exactly what happened here.

    The campaign has given up and gone on. You’re still here spinning trying to make the impossible point that because the sentiments expressed were banal and “trite”, it isn’t plagiarism to use other people’s words without attribution.

    The incident really has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. If you think that your site would benefit from a cataloguing of that politician’s manifest deficiencies, I would think that is a different subject. Hillary isn’t more or less qualified to hold the office she seeks because Mrs. Trump’s speech use phrases taken from Mrs. Obama’s 2008 DNC speech. These two issues are independent of one another in any normal concept of logic.

    Scout

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    1. @novascout

      This is not exactly the first example of pack journalism. So we know why this story has value. Hence, first we talked about the inanity of the charge. Next, we compared the charge against Trump’s wife with the evidence against Hillary Clinton.

      Now what should we do. Should we make the duplicity of Hillary Clinton’s supporters the subject of my next post? Should we come up with some psychobabble to explain your eagerness to find fault in someone else, anyone else except a Democrat? I don’t see the necessity. We all know the problem. it is an old one.

      James 4:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

      4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

      Unless she has in some way bought their vote, no one will vote for Hillary Clinton. Hence, to justify themselves, Democrats welcome news of the moral corruption their opponents. Even when the “evidence” is so weak they cannot explain it, they pass judgement and demand confession.

      None of us is perfect. If we point the finger at anyone, especially our self, we will find guilt of something. What is obvious, unfortunately, about Hillary Clinton, is that her crimes blatantly disqualify her from public office. She should be in jail, not just ashamed. Even if we assume the charge of plagiarism is true, Melania Trump’s ghost writer just neglected to read Michelle Obama’s speech and reword Melania Trump’s speech. Yet this, not anything serious, became the story of the day, and you admitted as much.

      Even if Melania Trump had said exactly the same thing with different words, fault would have been found. The problem is in the heart of the accusers, not the speech.

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      1. Tom- if the speechwriters had “neglected to read Michelle Obama’s speech. . .”, they wouldn’t have had to “reword Melania Trump’s speech”, would they?

        Scout

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  8. If you think there is some basis of comparison between the two issues (Hillary’s qualifications or lack thereof for the presidency and Melania’s unattributed use of other people’s words), try teeing that up for those of us who have trouble making that comparison. I simply don’t see the connection and view them as unrelated.

    Scout

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  9. Sorry – I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say in the plagiarism context. Maybe I’m just thick.

    Scout

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    1. @novascout

      Instead of attacking the Trump/Pence ticket, why don’t you try advocating for the Clinton/Kaine ticket. Once you realize you have to make stuff up, perhaps it will occur to you that reason for supporting that ticket is rather selfish. How so? Well, that is something you will have to figure out for yourself.

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  10. When did I attack the Trump/Pence ticket, Tom? When did I say I was supporting Clinton/Kaine?

    I think you’re confusing me with someone else. This has happened before.

    Scout

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    1. When I was growing up, I had a friend who tried to convince me he was a Martian. He put on more convincing act than you have put up. You may be a Martian, but you are definitely not a Conservative.

      Like

  11. Now you’re just imitating grade school recess taunts. I long ago reminded you, Tom, that no one died and appointed you the credentials keeper of political labels, porous and abused as they have become in modern political discourse. I know damn well what my political alignments are, and I have better information on that subject than you do.

    Philosophical Conservatives don’t cotton to plagiarism. And they really, really don’t like people lying or dissembling or deflecting rather than taking responsibility once it is discovered. I would think that, on this thread, I have been expressing conservative values while you have been engaged in situational ethics, something that we conservatives tend to associate with liberals.

    Perhaps more generally, however, the political labels we apply to ourselves are often not particularly relevant to this or that issue. I think one can be appalled at what the Trump campaign tried to do with the unfortunate little mishap with Mrs’ Trump’s speech and still sincerely sit virtually anywhere on the cloudy present-day spectrum of America politics. This wasn’t a conservative/liberal watershed event.

    Scout

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  12. Keith – because of the apparent nature of the plagiarism, my first thought too was that it was sabotage by a mole in the Trump camp. I saw the “Rick Roll” meme a day or two later. The final claim that the quotes were “accidently” left in there seems incredulous also, considering that a few words were changed. But still no one was fired, which made me wonder if Mrs. Trump, actually did leave the plagiarized section in there, and the Trump campaign is actually protect her. That it could have been some other spoiled Trump trying to ruin the beautiful step Mom’s big show is an intriguing possibility (“oh, the drama”). We may never know for sure what happened, but calling it “strange” is an understatement. If a President Trump becomes a reality, however, get ready for a new strange I guess.

    Like

      1. Perhaps for the apparent Rickroll, Tom is right in this case- just a coincidence on a common phrase. Normally, I could go either way on that one, but my former Naval Intelligence subspecialization perhaps makes me more suspicious than I should be. It raises some interesting “reality television show” style intrigue to contemplate.

        Please excuse the “copywrite” mistake. I should know better, but for an English major, I am a notoriously bad speller, and in this case Spell Checker is of little help in disguishimg one of my many imperfections.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You wrote:

    “They get elected almost exclusively by pitting us against each other.”

    Tom – I feel that you did not intentionally mean it this way, but the implication here and a theme throughout the Republican Convention was that the underlying meaning of “us” is really code for the established white and Christian Americans. The theme each night at the GOP convention appealed to our darkest nativist fears and prejudices. For all practical purposes, each night’s angst inspiring iteration of “Make America Great Again” could have been more honestly marketed as “Make America White and Male Again”. This high minded disdain for “Identity Politics” only slightly veils an appeal to something more subtlety sinister – a deep rooted fear of the pluralism that has constantly reshaped our country when the “better angels” of the American Dream have mostly prevailed throughout our history.

    I write this here without animosity (personal or otherwise) but with love and with great sadness rather than anger. As many now wilderness banished Republican pundits have recently lamented, the Party of Lincoln, the Party of openness, the Party of positive dreams, died when Donald Trump became its nominee, and the Party of closedness, isolation and nativist fears replaced it for a while.

    Like the fear invoked “Know Nothings” and the McCarthists of the past, this fear and hatred inspired movement that has momentarily captured the GOP is doomed not only by simple demographics, but by the fact that its tragic appeal to some homogeneously white, male dominated, Protestant, “Leave it to Beaver” America never actually was an American Utopia, never could be, and is inherently un-American.

    Like

    1. Tony, I am a bigot. I am a sinner. However, …..
      Here is my post in response.
      https://citizentom.com/2016/07/26/what-is-a-bigot/

      I am not going to argue that I am perfect. I know better. You know better. But it is not the issue.

      What you are trying to do is justify outrageous abuses of government power. When the people you have voted for and are trying to elect are demonstrably incapable of managing that power without becoming wholly corrupt, why are you doing that? Why must you castigate me for pointing out what is open secret?

      Government cannot perfect us. It is the function of government to “fix” our neighbors? Don’t you know that sooner or later your neighbors will try to “fix” you?

      Freedom of religion (not freedom of worship) is our primary right. When you insist upon forcing your choices on others, telling them how to live, you are violating their basic rights. And that is what the Democratic Party wants to do.

      Like

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