Daily Archives: February 23, 2010

Auto-Tune The News #10 Takes On Scott Brown, The Super Bowl

Michael and Andrew Gregory are back with their TENTH installment of “Auto-Tune the News.” So far they’ve taken on Sean Hannity in a gorilla costume, spiced up climate change speeches by GOPers, and used Arianna Huffington’s serious words on the drug war to make light of their own reckless youths. Now they’ve moved on to the Super Bowl, Scott Brown, and turtle fences.
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For Me, the Party Is Over

Posted by: Audiegrl

Op-ed by Michael Smerconish

Michael Smerconish, Columnist, Radio Host

Michael Smerconish, Columnist, Radio Host

It took only the single tap of a computer key, and just like that I’d exited the Republican Party after 30 years of active membership. The context might sound impulsive, but I’d been thinking of becoming an independent for a long time. I just hadn’t expected that a trip to renew my driver’s license would mark the end.

Just before my photo was snapped, I was asked if I wanted to register to vote. For me, the question was borderline offensive. I first registered after turning 18 in the spring of 1980 and haven’t missed an election since. And I’m not just talking presidential races. I mean all elections. Congress, town council, school board, whatever.

I’m already registered,” I offered. Next came the unexpected question of whether I wished to change my political affiliation. I’m not sure why that is asked of someone renewing a driver’s license, and I question whether it is even appropriate for most. But in my case, it was the only impetus I needed.

Years ago, I grew tired of having my television or radio introduction accompanied by a label, with some implied expectation that what would then come from my mouth were the party talking points. That was me 26 years ago, when I was the youngest elected member of the state delegation to the Republican National Convention, but not today. I’m not sure if I left the Republican Party or the party left me. All I know is that I no longer feel comfortable.

The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.

Which is not to say I feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, either. Weeks before Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh’s announcement that he will not seek reelection, I noted the centrist former governor’s words to the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib. Too many Democrats, Bayh said in that interview, are “tone-deaf” to Americans’ belief that the party had “overreached rather than looking for consensus with moderates and independents.

Where political parties once existed to create coalitions and win elections, now they seek to advance strict ideological agendas. In today’s terms, it’s hard to imagine the GOP tent once housing such disparate figures as conservative Barry Goldwater and liberal New Yorker Jacob Javits, while John Stennis of Mississippi and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts coexisted as Democratic contemporaries.

Collegiality is nonexistent today, and any outreach across an aisle is castigated as weakness by the talking heads who constantly stir a pot of discontent. So vicious is the political climate that within two years, Sen. John McCain has gone from GOP standard-bearer to its endangered-species list. All of which leaves homeless those of us with views that don’t stack up neatly in any ideological box the way we’re told they should.

Consider that I’ve long insisted on the need to profile in the war against terrorists. I believe that if someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has actionable intelligence on future terrorism, you try the least coercive methods to extract it but ultimately stop at damn near nothing to get what you need to save American lives. I want the U.S. military out of Iraq, but into Pakistan. I’m for capital punishment. I think our porous borders need to be secured before we determine how to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already within them. Sounds pretty conservative. But wait.

I think that in 2008, the GOP was wrong to adopt a party platform that maintained a strict opposition to abortion without at least carving out exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. I was appalled that legislators tried to decide Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life plan. I don’t care if two guys hook up any more than they should care about my heterosexual lifestyle. And I still don’t know what to think about climate change.

I think President Obama is earnest, smart, and much more centrist than his tea party caricature suggests. He has never been given a fair chance to succeed by those who openly crow about their desire to see him fail (while somehow congratulating one another on their relative patriotism). I know he was born in America, isn’t a socialist, and doesn’t worship in a mosque. I get that he inherited a minefield. Still, the level of federal spending concerns me. And he never closed the deal with me that health insurance is a right, not a privilege. But I’m not folding the tent on him. Not now. Not with the nation fighting two wars while its economy still teeters on the brink of collapse.

All of which leaves me in a partisan no-man’s-land, albeit surrounded by many others, especially my neighbors. By quitting the GOP, I have actually joined the largest group of American voters. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 39 percent of Americans identify themselves as independents — compared with 32 percent who say they are Democrats and 26 percent who are self-described members of the GOP. Nowhere is this more pronounced than locally, where a shift away from the Republican Party has taken place in the four bellwether counties surrounding Philadelphia.

I will miss casting a ballot in the spring, as current state election law prohibits unaffiliated voters from voting in GOP or Democratic primary elections. Instead, I’ll join the others who bide their time until fall, when we can temper the extremes of both parties.

My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is: a very difficult, deeply personal one. . . . I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology.”

Those are Bayh’s words, not mine. But he was speaking for both of us.

Cross-posted with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

President Barack Obama (L) speaks as he is interviewed by radio show host Michael Smerconish (R) during a live broadcast from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House August 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Other than being interviewed by Smerconish, Obama also took questions from a few call-in audience members.

President Barack Obama (L) speaks as he is interviewed by radio show host Michael Smerconish (R) during a live broadcast from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House August 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Other than being interviewed by Smerconish, Obama also took questions from a few call-in audience members.

Michael Smerconish is the Philadelphia radio market’s premier talk host who is heard daily on Infinity Radio’s 50,000-watt WPHT, found at 1210 AM. The program reaches Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Smerconish is also a frequent guest host for Bill O’Reilly on the nationally syndicated Radio Factor. For several years, Smerconish has been a popular columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. In 2003, author Bernard Goldberg re-published one of Smerconish’s Daily News columns in his book Arrogance, a follow-up to his bestseller Bias. Smerconish is a familiar face on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN where he provides commentary on current events. Contact Michael Smerconish via www.smerconish.com

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Son of Texas Plane Crash Victim Vernon Hunter: Calls Attack an Act of Terror

Posted by: Audiegrl

Feb. 22: Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

CNN/Associated Press~ The son of the IRS worker who was the sole person to be killed last week when a tax protester piloted his plane into a Texas office building says his father was an innocent bystander who died at the hands of a terrorist.

And Ken Hunter, whose father, Vernon, was killed in Thursday’s plane attack said it was “disgusting” that the pilot’s daughter had called her father a hero — a statement she later retracted.

Joe Stack, 53, set fire to his family home before plowing his single-engine plane into the office building, killing himself and Hunter, a tax service employee and two-tour veteran of the War in Vietnam.

How is it heroic to take upon acts that Al Qaeda used on September 11 of 2001? What makes that heroic?” Hunter said in an interview Monday.

He spoke after Stack’s adult daughter, Samantha Bell, told ABC News that her father’s beliefs were heroic, and “Now maybe people will listen.”

Stack targeted the building, where nearly 200 IRS workers were employed, after posting a ranting manifesto against the agency and the government.

He did not write the tax law,” Hunter said of his father. “No one in that building wrote the tax law.”

Vernon Hunter

Vernon Hunter ~ RIP

Are you telling me that an American citizen committing an attack of terrorism against the United States is heroic?” he continued.

Bell said she offered her deepest condolences to Hunter’s family, and she said her father’s last actions were “inappropriate.”

But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished,” she said in the interview. “But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.”

Bell later retracted her statement that her father was a hero, telling ABC that the only hero who died that day was her father’s victim. “I don’t want to hurt anybody,” she told ABC. “We are mourning for Vernon Hunter.”

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President Obama Sends Condolences To Austin

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Last week, tragedy befell public servants in Austin, Texas. Earlier today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner met with IRS employees in Austin to express his sympathies and support, and he read this note from the President:

“To the men and women of the Internal Revenue Service at Austin:

I asked Secretary Geithner to carry this message to you.

It is with great sadness that I write to you on the tragic events of February 18th. You, your families and colleagues are in my thoughts and prayers.

Michelle and I extend our condolences to you on the death of your colleague, Mr. Vernon Hunter. Vernon dedicated his life to service to this great country, serving over 20 years in the military before joining the IRS. We mourn his death.

As we work with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the events leading up to this plane crash, I want the dedicated employees of the IRS to know that I am thankful for your dedication, courage and professionalism as we rebuild in Austin. And as you continue your work, we will do what is needed to ensure your safety.

We are grateful for your service to this country.

May God bless you and the United States of America.

President Barack Obama”

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Filed under 9/11, Crime, Domestic Terrorism, Police, Terrorism, Texas, Uncategorized, Video/YouTube

Little-Known Black History Fact: Molly Williams

Posted by BuellBoy

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through snow storm

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through a snow storm in 1818

A slave named Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. Little is known about her life, but female firefighters know her heroic story.

Owned by a New York merchant named Benjamin Aymar, Williams became part of the Oceanus Engine Company firehouse in 1815 and would be known as Volunteer Number 11. The members of the house credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters. She would fight amongst them in a calico dress and checked apron.

Besides the bucket brigades, Molly pulled the pumper to fires through the deep snowdrifts of the blizzard of 1818 to save towns. On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.

Even as a slave, Williams had gained the respect of her fellow firefighters. Her story and strength paved the way for other women, including one the first paid Black female firefighters and the most tenured in the country – Toni McIntosh of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served for over 11 years.

Today there are many African-American women working as career firefighters and officers in the United States, along with a number of counterparts in the volunteer ranks. The African American Fire Fighter Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the heritage of African American firefighters.

The Museum is housed at old Fire Station 30. This station, which was one of two segregated fire stations in Los Angeles, between 1924 and 1955, was established in 1913, to serve the Central Ave community.

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Filed under African-Americans, Civil Rights Movement, Culture, History, Holidays, Uncategorized, US