Sunday, October 4, 2015

Last Call For Podcast Versus The Stupid

This week's episode (and we're going to try to go to a weekly schedule on Sunday evenings for now) is These Disunited States Of Gunmerica.

Check Out Blogs Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Zandar Versus The Stupid on BlogTalkRadio

Having both grown up in red states and living in them now, Zandar and Bon talk about gun control and American gun culture in the wake of yet another mass shooting in America and find that the US is pretty disunited about the whole thing. Plus more on Springfield's Slut Walk, creepy-ass city councilmen, and more.

Good Ol' Rocket Top, Rocket Top, Gunnessee!

When a tragic, preventable massacre like the mass shooting in Oregon last week happens, as a politician you can choose to respond by asking the American people to do what's necessary in order to prevent another such incident from happening.

For Democrats like President Obama, that means asking the American people to do their duty to push lawmakers to implement real gun safety laws to protect them.  For Republicans like Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, that means asking the American people to do their duty as Christians to start packing heat 24/7.

Responding to a mass shooting at an Oregon community college that left 10 people dead, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on Friday encouraged fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to consider getting a gun.

Ramsey, R-Blountville, made those remarks in a Facebook post Friday, one day after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., left 10 people dead. The suspect, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, reportedly asked victims to name their religious affiliation during the massacre.

In his Facebook post, Ramsey links to a New York Post article with the headline "Oregon gunman singled out Christians during rampage." Ramsey groups the Oregon shooting with other recent mass shootings in the nation. "Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West," Ramsey said.

"While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare," he later adds. "I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.

"Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise."

Mind you, this is an elected official, the Lieutenant Governor of a state, who sees some of his fellow Americans as "our enemies" and that he is openly encouraging citizens to be willing to use deadly force.

His comments elicited a written statement from Tennessee Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, who said Ramsey's comments "reek of fear-mongering and religious crusading."

"Rather than lead the General Assembly’s bipartisan efforts to improve public safety by removing guns from the hands of criminals and addressing the serious mental health issues confronting many in our state, Senator Ramsey unfortunately chose the road most traveled by the radical right," said Clemmons, who introduced a bill earlier this year that sought to amend the state's "guns-in parks" legislation.

"Senator Ramsey’s inciting statements in the face of a national tragedy are all the more alarming when you consider them in their historical context," he added. "Things have never ended well when any leader has asked people to take up arms in the name of their religious faith. This type of rhetoric is counter-productive to our efforts on so many levels."

I'm glad that Democrats in the state were willing to call Ramsey out, but this "armed Christian militia fantasy" that the right wing has is dangerous as hell. Always more guns, until everyone has a dozen and then, well, why do we need laws anyway when we all have guns, right?

Sunday Long Read: The Odd Couple

They were on the opposite sides of just about every one of Washington's policy debates, he was the rising star of a White House tech advisor and she was the established Hot Air conservative columnist, but of course they were married and had a daughter and were deeply in love.

And then Jake Brewer was killed last month during a charity bike ride for cancer.

In a superficial sense, Jake Brewer and Mary Katharine Ham were a true D.C. anomaly. Bipartisan relationships have always been fairly rare in Washington, where politics are felt so strongly, and Jake and Mary Katharine were far more than Election Day partisans: Their disparate ideologies shaped their increasingly high-profile careers.

But they didn’t see it that way, Mary Katharine recalled at their home in Alexandria recently. Just because politics defined their jobs didn’t mean it defined their lives.

Mary Katharine, 35, leaned back into their sagging brown couch, tucking her feet to support her pregnant belly — their second child, due in December. She was wearing Jake’s cowboy boots, with his wedding band on a chain around her neck.

It was here on this couch that they had their last fight, where she apologized for starting a political spat — she can’t remember now what it was about — when he was just trying to tell her about his day at the office. She scrolled through her phone, looking for that initial e-mail she had ignored back in 2008. “Would be great to have you there,” he had written. “Not only to have a bit of both sides, but mostly just ’cause I think you’d be great to have regardless.”

She laughed: That was so Jake, always eager to hear the other side even while committed to his own. He seemed like a success at anything he tried — triathlons, photography, singing — and found the same ease in the advocacy work that brought him to the District: first environmentalism, and later government transparency and technology, rising to a top job at the petition Web site On the side, he co-founded an immigration advocacy organization, Define American.

Mary Katharine came to Washington a few years earlier in 2004, frustrated with a small-town newspaper job that gave her little outlet for expressing the conservative arguments she was craving. She had grown up in the struggling public schools in Durham, N.C., which convinced her that bigger doesn’t mean more efficient in government. A job at the Heritage Foundation led to opinion-writing gigs; her gift for fast-talking rants and punchy comebacks earned her regular TV appearances opposite Bill O’Reilly and the ladies of “The View.”

Their lives, like their careers, could have existed in these two worlds apart, surrounded mostly by people who agree with them. Washington makes that very easy.

Instead, they went on a date to an Indian restaurant, which led to a ping-pong bar and staying up until 4 a.m. talking about the annual Mule Day festival in Jake’s home town of Columbia, Tenn.

They were both almost 30, and it just worked. They had the same level of energy and talent. As one friend would later say, they were magnetized from the start.

But the elephant in the room wasn’t the silent type. Commenters on liberal e-mail groups fretted that the relationship was a bad idea, that she would snoop through his e-mails, do something to hurt the cause.

When Jake called his mother, Lori, to tell her he’d met someone beautiful and smart and funny, he paused to say, “But there’s something you should know. She’s uh . . . she’s . . . uhm . . .”

Lori screeched: “Oh, my God, she’s Republican !”

And yeah, I know.  I find Ham to be depressingly banal, even for a Heritage Foundation flunkie, but these two really did love each other and they had a second child on the way, and sometimes we forget that there are real people behind these pundits and politicians, who are human, flawed, and scared just like us schlubs out here in the cheap seats.

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