Monday, June 8, 2009

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 56 - Plagiarism or Not, The Speech Challenged Common Sense and the English Language -- Updated with Shirley Comments

A commenter at my DailyKos diary on this subject got closer to the real issue at hand, than those did who are debating whether or not Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin actually plagiarized author Craig Shirley, by failing to mention his co-authorship of lines she used last Wednesday in the introduction she gave to a speech in Anchorage:

My husband got bored the other day, and wrote me this in email:

(No, she hasn’t gone away. She will never go away.) A sentence from a recent speech:

Reagan knew that real change and real change requiring shaking things up and maybe takin’ off the entrenched interest thwarting the will of the people with their ignoring of our concerns about future peril caused by selfish short-sighted advocacy for growing government and digging more debt, and taking away individual and state’s rights and hampering opportunity to responsibly develop our resources, and coddling those who would seek to harm America and her allies.

I don’t know if my C-compiler could parse a sentence of this complexity. Here’s my take on it, which is probably wrong. To simplify the analysis, I’ve treated whole groups of words (which act together as a noun, verb, or what have you) as if they were a single word.

Reagan -- Subject

Knew -- verb

that -- Misleading preposition: a red-herring to throw us off the scent. What follows is a sub sentence which is a direct object (WHAT Reagan knew) and not a prepositional phrase, despite appearances.

{real change AND real change} -- Tautological double subject for a sub-sentence which is the direct object of the full sentence required verb for direct object sub-sentence.

{ {shakin’ things up} -- First sub-direct object of the direct object.


{Maybe takin’ off }-- Second sub-direct object of the direct object, which is an extended action converted into noun form.

{ {the entrenched interests} Object of the second-sub-direct-object above, which will also be the subject of the following clause. (Properly speaking this clause itself the full object of the second sub-direct object above).

{thwarting the will of the people} -- Adjectival phrase, modifying "the entrenched interests"


{ {their ignoring of our concerns} -- Object of preposition modifying "thwarting the will of the people"

{caused by} -- verb starting an adjectival phrase modifying "their ignoring of our concerns"

{ {selfish short-sighted advocacy} -- Object of the verb above


{ {growing government} -- Object of preposition, modifying the object of the verb above


{digging more debt} -- More object of the preposition


{taking away individual and states rights} -- More object of the preposition


{hampering} -- Verb for clause for next part of object of preposition

{opportunity to responsibly develop} -- direct object of this clause

{our resources} -- adjective modifying direct object


-- Verb for fourth part of the object of the preposition.

{those who} -- Subject for next clause, (which will form the object of the above verb)

{would seek to harm} -- Verb for this sub-clause {America


her allies} } } } } }.

Anyway, the C4P folks are claiming Palin's attorneys are demanding that the Anchorage Daily News take down David Hulen's politics blog post, or something along those lines, because it references the Huffington Post article that had initially claimed Palin had plagiarized Newt Gingrich and Craig Shirley. A lot of people are uspet because Palin actually did name one of the article's two authors, Gingrich. But unless Palin named both authors, she was certainly remiss, even if it didn't meet the bar of actual plagiarism.

Update - 11:00 a.m: Co-author - along with Newt Gingrich - of the article Gov. Palin so casually cited and paraphrased (I'm in a charitable mood today), Craig Shirley (who was not mentioned as co-author in the Wednesday remarks), has weighed in. Here's from Sam Stein's article at Huffington Post:

An author quoted liberally -- some say plagiarized -- by Sarah Palin during a recent speech said he has no objection to the Alaska Governor's use of his work.

But long-time GOP strategist Craig Shirley -- whose 2005 article on Ronald Reagan, co-written with Newt Gingrich, was lifted by Palin this past week -- did use the opportunity to rap the GOP in general and its 2008 presidential candidate specifically.

"It looks as if Palin's career is still being ably managed by the best elements of the McCain campaign, including Nikki Wallace and Steve Schmidt," said Shirley. He added later: "I just wish George Bush and the GOP leadership had read the article four years ago."

Stein goes on to conclude his article with this:

For Palin, however, the incident is yet another in a slew of unfavorable or potentially damaging stories that have arisen since her run as Republican vice presidential candidate. And charges of plagiarizing a GOP standard-bearer like Gingrich and a respected operative like Shirley seem likely to further widen a developing rift between the Alaska governor and the national GOP. On Monday, it was reported that Palin may end up skipping an annual fundraising dinner for the Republican Party's two campaign committees because she would not be allowed to address the crowd. Organizers, it seems, were concerned that she would upstage another keynote speaker -- Gingrich.


Anonymous said...

How can anyone seriously debate whether this was plagiarism? As a teacher, if I got this turned in as an assignment with the one (ungrammatical) reference to a "good article" by Newt, then the paper's "author" instantly would be before the disciplinary committee and would not have a prayer. There are rules about attribution, and this speech violated them any way one looks at it.

Anonymous said...

Uh, since when is "that" a preposition? I hope you didn't hurt yourself trying to parse that garble. However, it is definitely plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

Yikes!!! There are 74 (yes, seventy-four) words in that "sentence". When did she have time to breathe? No one with half a brain can say that those 74 words possibly made any sense, whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

While parsing Palin is interesting from a political linguistics perspective, it really has nothing to do with whether or not this is plagiarism. Palin would be expelled from universities for repeated offenses of this sort; that it is being defended is further proof of how nutty her followers are. You MUST cite both authors, state the date and place of the speech you are quoting or paraphrasing, as well as the title of the speech. Refer everyone the MLA standards, currently used at English Departments throughout our great nation. Or APA standards! Palin did not pass muster of either of those. And that's a fact.

If Newt is so pleased about Palin's thievery, then why did she get bumped from giving the speech for the RNC, with Newt replacing her?

Anonymous said...

The anti Palin comments on the ADN site are hiliarious!

Ak Minority Report said...

Phil, thanks for sharing this take on Sara's recent compound confusion. It made a programmer's heart laugh heartily.

mlaiuppa said...

It met the bar of plagiarism. Not just because she failed to cite one of the authors but because she implies that what she has "borrowed" is hers. She didn't continue to acknowledge her "borrowing" after she went back to her original words and then went back to "borrowing".

After reading your analysis I can understand why grammarians are avoiding her. How could anyone analyze her speech? It....makes no sense.

It's like people who can't read that develop tricks to fool others into thinking they can read.

Palin has developed word and catch phrases she strings together to fool people into thinking that she can....well....think. Her body language, confidence and speech patterns, using these phrases, fool people into thinking there is substance where there is none. She is a vacuum headed beauty queen who is highly ambitious. She has a talent for getting elected but absolutely none for governing.

KaJo said...

I posted a comment at Diva's Oasis that -- contrary to Thomas Van Flein's completely unsupported, uncited opinion -- shows unequivocally that Palin did indeed plagiarize the Gingrich/Shirley speech.

See specifically bullet points #4 and #6.

as well as (in the reference in b.p.#6 above to "fair use", under "Plagiarism FAQ") "the nature" of the use of the material, and "the amount used".

Palin AND her lawyer Van Flein AND Palin's Fan Club on plagiarism = Epic Fail.

I wouldn't be surprised if the ADN backs down, they seem to cave in to Palin's Army on so many other issues -- but they shouldn't. Palin & Co. are wrong.

Star the wonder pup said...

I just tubed over to ADN to check out what the local MSM is doing. From the front page I learned:

1. Palin doesn't have a clue about missle defense.

2 Alaska is eat up (as we say in the South) with bears.

From the political blog I learned that there ain't much love left for Bible Spice.apotamsi

Philip Munger said...


In a comment at my DailyKos post yesterday, I predicted that the Alaska media, "will probably do all they can to enable Palin's side of the story to come out on top."

Anonymous said...

ADN has put up a PDF of the Van
Flien letter... {my spelling sucks}

Joanne in AK said...

Phil, what's up with ADN anyway..... I can't post anything there anymore. How are they going to deal with the C4P people running our comment sections and WHY are they getting away with it?

Did Palin get CC fired? Questions, questions, it just feels liked things have been zipped up lately.

Have you heard rumors Mark Hamilton will be running for governor?

EyeOnYou said...

Anonymous said...
ADN has put up a PDF of the Van
Flien letter... {my spelling sucks}

June 8, 2009 9:22 AM


Curious isn't it that the ADN puts up a link to the letter more than 8 hours after C4P has it linked on their site. Despite all their claims of having no connection with the Governor or her administration, they sure are able to obtain information faster than a lot of others.

Philip Munger said...

Anne in AK,

I have heard rumors that Mark Hamilton will be running for Governor - as a Republican.

Anonymous said...

I regret I am unable to remember the source, but I read once that extremely complex, multiple subject / object sentences confuse the thinking, logical side of the brain, and allow the emotional aspect to have dominance.

I believe she intends to speak in a hailstorm of different topics, all strung together so she can maximize her true strength: an appeal to the emotions of others.

I agree with the assessment of a comment posted on the Huffington Post: she is a "talented political actress".

Too bad for Alaska she is also an unethical person and a wretchedly poor governor.

(P.S. As a journalism major, she should certainly know the importance of clearly acknowledging her source material. Her sloppy and incomplete work on "her" speech can only cause me to speculate that her attendance at 5 different schools may, in part, have been a quest to find a professor who put more emphasis on persuasive speech than the hard work of researching and writing a solid, well-thought out paper.)

Anonymous said...

Who wrote her speech? Has anyone on Palin's staff been fired?

Star the wonder pup said...

Journalism major? I believe she was the gut major "MASS COMMUNICATION".

Wolfe Tone said...

Harkening back to SP's days as a beauty/scholarship pageant contestant:

A pageant contestant is taught to keep talking, even if it makes no sense, because the "judges might score her poorly" for any apparent indecisiveness when responding to an interview question.

When this pageant training is combined with the inability to think critically, this is the sort of verbal diarrhea that inevitably spews forth.

Michelle said...

Ah Wolfe Tone - you have it exactly! Remember Miss South Carolina - such as....

basheert said...

This totally explains why SP went to SIX schools to get a journalism degree. I wonder how many other times she's tried to plagiarize other individual's works?

You don't just start doing this. Maybe she's been doing it all along and this is why they finally just gave her the degree to get rid of her?

Plagiarism is dishonest and basically stealing someone else's ideas without giving them credit. Since we all know that SP isn't bright enough to even form an idea, she obviously has others steal her material.

Makes sense to me. And certainly all the C4Peers would cooperate. I doubt that ethics is an issue for that group.

fhallall said...

I count at least 10 wingnut catch phrases but darned if I can make a lick of sense out of the sentence as a whole. Reagan evidently knew something but I cannot tell what he knew from this.
Maybe it would be easier for her to just hold up a picture of Saint Ronnie in front of her face, then lower the picture, wink, and wait for the applause. And for the contributions to the Legal Defense fund, under the table if you please...

johnie2xs said...

I have been following this enthralling Palin saga since she first showed up on the political scene. I've been particularly interested in the massive obfuscation in and around her birthing odyssey. I read "Palin's Deceptions", avidly. I also appreciate the work being done by some in the Alaska media trying to speak truth to power, but I have one request. As follows;

Please!!!! The country is begging you!!!

If there is ANYONE in Alsaka who has information, as to the true lineage of Trig Palin, please do your civic duty. Come forward and spare us the embarrassment of this woman running for the Presidency.

This woman has played this country for a fool, long enough. She must be shown, for the opportunistic megalomaniac that she is. Enough is too much.

Miguel said...

Am I the only one who sees a very possible meth phenomenon here? A major part of the Mat Su Valley lifestyle, therefore not a far out possibility. My personal theory is that frequent use can produce a resultant behavior pattern, such as prattling on abnormally.

Anonymous said...

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 56 - Plagiarism or Not, The Speech Challenged Common Sense and the English Language -- Updated with Shirley Comments

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