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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

I woke to the incessant ringing of my phone, torn from the warmth and comfort of my bed. My dorm room felt quiet and hollow, and the ringing phone echoed down the hall. I squinted to see my alarm clock, which had not yet gone off. "Who could be calling me this early," I thought. THIS was why I hadn't signed up for an early class this semester.

"Dude, are you watching this?"

"What? Huh? Watching what?"

"Dude, you have got to turn on the TV. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York."

"What?" I didn't have a TV in my room, but I did have a video card running a cable feed through my computer. I tuned to Fox News, which showed a single burning building on the screen.

"Are you seeing this?"

"Uh yeah, I just turned it on. What happened?"

"They think a small private plane may have made a wrong turn."

"Wow, what an idiot. Is everyone ok - Oh God! Did you just see that?"

"Huh, no what."

"Did another plane just hit the building?"

"I don't think so, are you sure that wasn't the first one. Oh wait, oh my God. Yeah a second plane hit."

"What the hell is going on!"

That is how I woke to 9/11. In a small, private, liberal arts college in Western Pennsylvania, a phone call from my best college friend, one of my fraternity brothers. We stayed on the phone all morning watching it all unfold.

Were we at war? Who was attacking us. What should we do?

The Pentagon had been hit. We were definitely at war. But with who?

And then it happened. I saw it first.

"Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ. Holy [expletive] [expletive] Did you just [expletive] see that!"

"No what"

"One of the buildings is gone!"

"What? What do you mean."

"It's gone. One of the building is gone."

"No I think it was just an explosion, there is a lot of smoke."

"No dude, the building is gone. It's gone!"

"Oh [expletive]. You're right. Dude, there are no more twin towers. There is only one now. Oh my God. I can't believe it."

It was at that point that I think we all sort of went into shock. Before long, the second tower fell.

The TV showed business men, police, women, children, EMT's and firefighters covered in dust, and crowds of people fleeing the city.

It was founder's day at my college. The freshmen, faculty, and many other students had spent much of the morning completely unaware of what was unfolding. In the background, I heard the students walking through the quads. Many of them knew we were under attack, none of them knew how bad things were in New York.

I snapped out of my funk.

"Oh Christ!" I thought, "My parents were flying out to Los Angeles today." For two hours I tried calling them on a friend's cell phone. All circuits were busy. When I finally did get through, it went straight to voice mail.

I called my brother, who was going to school in New York, on Long Island.

"Are you Okay? I heard a plane went down south of Pittsburgh. Did you guys see it do down?

"No. We are fine. It didn't come down around here, but we are fine. Are you guys ok?"

"Yeah, but a few of my classmates went into the City this morning. No one has been able to get ahold of them yet."

"Don, have you been able to talk to Mom and Dad today?"

"Yeah, they called me. I think they had to land in Denver or something. They said their plane had been diverted, and they couldn't talk anymore. I guess security is really tight right now, and the cell phones don't work. They were asking if you were OK, they heard a plane went down near you guys"

I burst out in tears of relief, but also fear, shock, and anger. All morning I didn't know if my parents were safe. I didn't know if they were alive. I let go of the fear and angst with a steady release of emotion.

The television was reporting an estimated death toll between 10,000 and 20,000.

The friend who called came down to the fraternity house.

"What are we going to do."

"What can we do?"

"Sarah and I were going to go give blood. Wanna go?"

"Sure. Let's go."

A group of us who had been glued to the television all morning tore ourselves away from the footage of the towers falling, and the chaos it left in it's wake. The constant loop was seared into our hearts and I think we had to escape it.

Eight of us left the bunker like dorm and walked outside. For 5 of us it was the first time we left the building that day. I will never forget how beautiful it was outside. The sun was shining, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Not one. There was a gentle, cool breeze. It was a picture perfect day. The sky was as beautiful a blue as I have ever seen. Infact, to this day I think of September 11th whenever I look up into a crystal clear blue sky.

We picked up a few friends on our way to the parking lot. We squeezed like sardines into the small compact cars. It was such a nice day, we probably should have walked the mile or two to the blood bank, but there was a sense of haste in our journey.

When we got to the blood bank, there was a line out the door. By the time we left, there was a line around the block. There was a Domino's Pizza three doors down owned by an (Iranian?) family. They brought free pizza and drinks to everyone waiting in line. They kept them coming for hours. The blood bank didn't ask for the help, but they had run out of cookies and punch hours before and were grateful for something to offer people. As the tv in the bloodbank showed the events of the day unfolding, I didn't have much of an appetite. But I appreciated the gesture. We were all Americans that day. The local newspaper showed up and interviewed a classmate as she gave blood. She spoke for everyone in line. We wanted to help, and the people trapped in the rubble were going to need a lot of blood.

We didn't know how few people would be pulled from the rubble.

When we returned to the school we learned that classes had been canceled and would be canceled again the following day. A ceremony was planned for 6:00PM on the 12th, the school would come together and discuss how our community would move forward.

The coming days and weeks were a blur. Like millions of other Americans, I watched the news 24/7. I probably cried more in the month of September, 2001 than in any month since I was a baby.

One of the stand out moments in television, for me, was when Dan Rather appeared on the Tonight Show with David Letterman. After the attacks, America basically came to a halt. The whole world mourned. Sports, TV shows, the late night shows, all just stopped. Letterman, based in New York, was fittingly the first late night host to return to the air waves. Before Rathergate, before the Democrats changed their mind about Iraq, back when we were all still proud, mourning Americans, Rather delivered one of the most emotional addresses and explanations of what happened that you will see. Whatever you may think of the disgraced TV anchor now, I'd like to remember him this way:

When Dan Rather quotes America the beautiful, I still break down.

"Oh beautiful for patriot's dream/That echoes through the years/Thine alabaster cities gleam/Undimmed by human tears."

"We can never sing that song... again... that way."

That was 9/11 one week on.

This is how I pay tribute and remember it 7 years on.

Russ Vaughn

Russ and I became internet pen pals of sorts through our mutual interest in politics. I was one of the earliest websites to post his work and consider myself to be an ardent and vocal supporter of his literary-political efforts. For a time I tried to catalogue and provide a comprehensive collection of his works. Alas, I eventually stopped blogging, but Russ did not stop writing and I have not stopped reading his works. Now Russ can be read on the likes of Old War Dogs and The American Thinker. His writings have been frequently been read by political commentators, and have been read on radio programs such as The War Room, featuring Quinn and Rose (the greatest Political Morning Talk show in the country), and the Sean Hannity Show. Many congratulations to Russ, I wish him continued health and success.

Below are all the pieces I have posted by Russ. This list is far from comprehiensive, but is a nice collection of his early works.

NYT's Sinking Stock

Poor Lad

Donny Boy

Higher Education

Poor Casey

Release The Captured Documents!

The Sore of Gore

Weighing the Options

Going to the Dogs

WaPo Weasels

Tasteless Unpatriotic Rag

Flight 93 - The Movie

Force Multipliers

The Hastert Protocol


The Rookies


Dogged DeLay

Helping the least among us

A Useful Death

Jihad Jane

Handmaidens of Terror?

The Battered-Left Syndrome

The Eagle and the Serpents

Two Birds, One Stone

Forever Green

Liberal Experts

The "No Right Answer" Game

Naught's Solved By War

Food For Thought

Slope Skulled Poetry

Old Sarge Gets A Care Package

Mad How Disease

The Fool and the Traitor

The Gang That Won’t Shoot Straight

So You Say You Support The Troops? 2d Ed.

How many Liberals does it take to win a war?

Liberals love America like...

When the World Dials 911

Rough Men

Out-Dumbed, by George!

Scout's Honor

That’s The Way They Were Raised

So You Support the Troops?

Fightin' Words

Proud Thanks

The Last Battle of Vietnam

Swift Justice

Their Veterans' Day

The Question

The Sheepdogs

Chicken John

Vet's View

Big ol’ Sissy

I Don't Know War

Unconquered Men

Take Your Apology And ...

The Road Less Graveled

Let Their Voice Be Heard

Danny Boy

Open Letter: CEO’s

Veterans Day


Open Letter: McCain

I First Loved the War...

Media Bias? No, By Us

The Veteran in the Wall

The Night Before Christmas (Cambodian Version)

The Zero Hero

For The Children

Dear John (Edwards)

The Manchurian Candidate

The Edwards Pick

The Nigerian Candidate

Russ Vaughn Speaks Out

Let their sacrifice...

Hey, hey JFK

Matt Damon: Palin like 'a relly bad Disney movie' / American Movie Goer: Matt Damon like 'a really bad actor'

I think the title says it all.

Matt Damon on Palin

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Can Put Lipstick on Obama, But He is Still a Dipstick

What is an elitist? Is it someone who thinks you shouldn't go to Europe if the only foreign phrase you know is 'merci beaucoup'? Is it someone with an Ivy League education who talks down to regular Americans... you know, those bitter ones who cling to guns and religion. Is it someone who is only proud of their country, for the first time, because of where they are in the electoral process? Perhaps it is someone who believes "we are the ones we've been waiting for." A candidate who speaks only in platitudes about "change," makes endless promises about what he will do, but never once explains in detail how he is going to do it. How about a candidate who fills stadiums with thousands of people, stands on a Hollywood set with fake Greek columns, and who, on the 45th anniversary of one of the great speeches in American history, fails to acknowledge the American whose dream helped bring him to that stage.

I'll tell you what I think an elitist is. I think an elitist tells a joke in a certain context, knowing full well that the punchline is going to be understood in a different context, claims ignorance as to the double meaning, denies intending the other meaning, continues to tell the joke, and laughs at his opponent's demands for an apology. To me, this is what an elitist is because he thinks the American people are too stupid to know what is really going on.

How could Obama think that the lipstick on a pig comment wouldn't be construed as responding to Palin's joke about lipstick? Sure, we know he used it in the context of McCain's economic policy, but does Obama mean for us to believe that he wasn't also talking about Palin? Does he think the American people are really that dumb? Of course, this is a rhetorical question. We know Obama thinks Americans are dumb. And he knows the mainstream media and Hollywood are going to protect him.

But here is the real irony in what Obama is doing. He called Sarah Palin a pig. Obama knows he did it. The crowd at Obama's event knew what he was doing, and Obama has continued calling her a pig, all the while expressing outrage that he is being called out on it.

This sort of sexist attack shows Obama for what he really is... a chauvinist pig. And amazingly, Obama's explanation, that he was really talking about economic policy, or his new explanation tonight on Letterman (that even if he were talking about [Palin], she would be the lipstick and McCain would be the pig)... when you boil this all down Obama's explanation is just lipstick.

Putting a spin on what Obama did doesn't change what he did. Saying that it was really about economic policy doesn't change the fact that it was really about Palin. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't change it from being a pig. Obama's argument is the epitome of form equalling content.

Obama is a coward for taking a shot at Palin, while couching it in an economic attack on McCain. We know he only did that so he could maintain "plausible deniability." Obama is an elitist because he thinks we Americans don't understand what he is doing. Denying the double meaning and trying to turn it around on Republicans, jeering at Republicans for 'just assuming' he must have meant Palin is only ultimately going to make Obama look worse.

Obama knew what he was doing. His continued sexist remarks, including his newest attack, that even if he were talking about Palin (a hypothetical admission) that she (Palin) would be the lipstick and McCain would be the pig, shows him for the misogynist he truly is. The fact that Obama thinks his cowardly, passive aggressive attack on Palin won't be understood by the average American for what it is, shows what kind of elitist donkey Obama really is.

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Youtube pulls McCain Ad

Youtube has pulled the McCain ad "Lipstick" claiming that CBS Interactive has claimed copyright infringement: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by CBS Interactive Inc." Having read the transcript for the video, the couric clip appears to fall within the fair use exception of copyright law, making the decision to pull the ad political. Youtube (Google) and CBS are pretty clearly pulling the ad for political reasons, not copyright reasons.

Here is the McCain Press release:
McCain-Palin 2008 Launches New Web Ad: "Lipstick"

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, McCain-Palin 2008 released its latest web ad, entitled "Lipstick." The ad highlights Barack Obama's "lipstick" comments yesterday in Virginia. While he may not be ready to lead, Barack Obama is ready to smear.


Script For "Lipstick" (WEB :35)

CHYRON: Sarah Palin On: Sarah Palin

GOVERNOR PALIN: Do you know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick.

CHYRON: Barack Obama On: Sarah Palin

BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, you can, you know you can...put...uh...lipstick on a's still a pig.

CHYRON: Katie Couric On: The Election

CBS' KATIE COURIC: One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life.

CHYRON: Ready To Lead? No

Ready To Smear? Yes

AD FACTS: Script For "Lipstick" (WEB :35)

CHYRON: Sarah Palin On: Sarah Palin GOVERNOR PALIN: Do you know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick.

Governor Palin: "Do you know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick." (Governor Sarah Palin, Remarks, St. Paul, Minnesota, 9/3/08)
CHYRON: Barack Obama On: Sarah Palin BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, you can, you know you can...put...uh...lipstick on a's still a pig.

ABC News: In Lebanon, VA, Barack Obama Said "You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig ... But It's Still A Pig" In A Comment That Left Some Thinking He Was Talking About Governor Palin. "'You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,' Obama said, 'but it's still a pig.' The crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, 'What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.'" (Jake Tapper, "Obama Says McCain Is Offering Fake Change: 'You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig, But It's Still A Pig'," ABC News' "Political Punch" Blog,, Posted 9/9/08)

CHYRON: Katie Couric On: The Election CBS' KATIE COURIC: One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life. CHYRON: Ready To Lead? No. Ready To Smear? Yes.

On Online Video, CBS News Anchor Katie Couric Said "One Of The Great Lessons Of That Campaign Is The Continued And Accepted Role Of Sexism In American Life." "Ms. Couric posted a video on the CBS Web site on Wednesday about the coverage of Mrs. Clinton. 'Like her or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued -- and accepted -- role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media,' Ms. Couric said. She went on to lament the silence of those who did not speak up against it." (Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman, "Critics And News Executives Split Over Sexism In Clinton Coverage," The New York Times, 6/13/08)

The US copyright office website has the following to say about the fair use
One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

the nature of the copyrighted work;

amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.

When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of “fair use” would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered “fair” nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.

FL-102, Revised July 2006

Clearly, a political commercial in which a snippit of video used for the purpose of comment and criticism is CLEARLY in the fair use exception. It is absurd to claim copyright infringment for that... if that is copyright infringment, then about 70% of the videos on youtube are going to have to come down.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Give me something to believe in

For the first time this election cycle I am excited. No decision whether this will prompt a return to blogging, but Sarah Palin has me pumped up and excited about the Republican's prospects for the first time in a long time.

There was a pretty strong chance I was going to vote for Barr in '08 but I think it is safe to say that the decision to put Palin on the ticket has inspired and excited me. Palin is a breath of fresh air.

I cannot wait for America to elect its first female Vice President, and with any luck, the first woman President in 2012, Sarah Palin.

Web Esoteric * Diatribe
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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