Campaign tampering: Much more serious than a spy thriller

When Richard Condon published “The Manchurian Candidate” in 1959, brainwashing was a popular but poorly understood subject of fascination and Communist China was more closed to the West than North Korea is today. The plot he spun, of devious foreign powers plotting to hijack a U.S. presidential election by programming a war hero to assassinate a candidate, seemed both chilling and distant in its plausibility. But now we’re in a different place.

Thursday night update: A clear, and liberal, speech

For the historic moment in which she became the first woman to accept the nomination of a major party, Hillary Clinton opted for elegant simplicity, and history will probably approve her choice. Clinton must have been the first nominee of her party to give her acceptance speech clad entirely in white. Her speech was clear, direct, and never on the defensive.

Wednesday night update: “The things that last”

This was the night designed by the Democrats to make the case that Donald Trump is just a little too screwy to trust with the keys to the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and what better setup could there have been than Trump suggesting Russian intelligence might help bring Hillary Clinton’s missing emails to the surface?

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Tuesday night update: This time, Bill was no Michelle Obama

The former president’s speech Tuesday night, capping off an evening marked by the nomination of his wife as the first woman presidential candidate of a major American political party, was long — long — on details about his wife’s accomplishments, but never seemed to reach the high notes the First Lady hit so effortlessly on the convention’s first night.

COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR crash the Democrats’ party

What a movie this campaign will make, if they are still able to make movies by the time it’s over.

COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR are a pair of Russian hacker groups, well known in intelligence circles but not to the general public until the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system. They are widely thought to be the source of the 20,000 emails which Wikileaks released last Friday, just ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Thursday night update: A message aimed at an impatient America

Have I got a deal for you, the nominee said, in so many words. What was remarkable about Donald Trump’s much-awaited nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday night wasn’t how many promises he made — most nomination speeches are chock full of those. Instead it was the blinding speed with which he promised to carry them out.

Summer solstice

Tom Baxter’s column will resume in a few weeks.

Baxter will return well in time to help set the stage for the conventions at which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are expected to be named their party candidates. It’s been a long time coming.

Combating Zika in the age of the shrug

In H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” the planet is saved from a Martian invasion in the 11th hour by germs which infect and kill the aliens, causing their hulking death machines to topple. If we don’t watch it, the hulking machines of our republic may eventually meet the same fate.

The year the music died

The passing this year of so many who gave music a creative spark comes at a particularly ominous time. Last year, for the first time ever, golden oldies — more precisely, music that was 18 months old or older, outsold new releases. However much you like Lefty Frizzell or the Stones or Basie, this is not a positive sign.

Georgia Inc. and the consequences of cultural laws

Is it a sin to take advantage of business competitors when they take a controversial moral stand? Maybe so, depending on your morality, but no one is expecting that Georgia will turn away any business fleeing from the states which have passed laws similar to the one halted here by Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto pen.