ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – U.S. Representative Thomas Massie touched on the Afghanistan war, his recent one-on-one with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” over Second Amendment issues and his far-reaching social media habits in a wide-ranging talk with the Rotary Club here on Monday afternoon.
Massie, a fifth-year Republican congressman representing the Fourth District that includes northeastern Kentucky, said his biggest goal was explain to the American people “how the funding in Congress is supposed to work and how it’s become broken and why this doesn’t benefit either side to have a broken funding process in Congress.”
He told the club members about what he considers a drain on budgets with the continuation of the war in Afghanistan where American military has been deployed since 2001.
“So we’re now in our 17th year and we’ve spend a trillion - that’s trillion with a t - dollars. Next year it will be the 18th year and we’ll have soldiers deployed who were born after the war started,” he said. “We’ve never had a war with two generations. The Vietnam War went on a long time but not nearly this long.”
A milestone of 6,000 days of war in Afghanistan was recently reached, he said.
He said his Republican colleagues seeking more money for military tell him that we have granddaughters flying the same airplanes as their grandfather flew. “Not just the same type but the very same plane that their grandfather flew. And I look at them and I say ‘You realize they’re flying them in the same area?’ That’s a problem.”
Massie said he’s heard the reasons why the U.S. should not withdraw from Afghanistan, including the ever-present Taliban and the poppy and marijuana fields that need to be eradicated. But the congressman said the Taliban remains as a presence and the production of poppy has doubled since the war started.
“We spent a trillion dollars trying to root out the Taliban,” he said. “It’s hard to define what our goal is there right now. Actually ,the soldiers deserve to have a goal that, if they achieved it, they can come home. But we’re not given one.”
Pulling out of Afghanistan, called “the graveyard of empires” by one of his colleagues, would solve some budget issues, he said. Next year the U.S. is expected to spend $50 billion on the Afghanistan war, according to Massie.
‘Meet the Press’
A staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, Massie recently went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and sparred with Chuck Todd over gun issues.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions recently about guns,” Massie said. “I’ve gone on ‘Meet the Press,’ CNN and NPR, not because I seek them out, but because my other colleagues really, right now, are afraid to go on shows and talk about the Second Amendment. But I go with facts.”
Massie said his studies show that 98 percent of mass public shootings have happened in gun-free zones. It’s not a figure he pulled out of his head but pure fact, he said.
Detractors have said his statistics are wrong, but Massie said he’s using FBI data that goes back to 1950. “They happen in a gun-free zone,” he said.
Massie said Todd became “frustrated” with the facts and said: “Well, you live in a rural state, I get it. I’m sure some of you have heard that before and that’s when I said ‘Well, you live in a bubble, and I get it.’ And so I reminded him there were people watching his show at that very moment getting ready for church, putting a gun on in middle America. They will go to church with a gun and they will go to a family dinner with a gun and nobody would get shot.”
The congressman also applauded recent action from the Pike County school district in Kentucky to begin the process of training teachers to carry guns if they choose. He said 25 states allow teachers to be armed in one form or another.
Massie founded and is the chairman of a Second Amendment caucus.
Massie, who has 100,000 followers on Facebook, is one of the most interactive congressmen in the nation.
“I do my own tweets but, unlike the President, I have my wife read them first – and sometimes I tweet at 3 in the morning - before I send them. Half of my tweets die under her scrutiny. She knows if she tells me not to do something, I’ll become more determined. So what she says is ‘What do you hope to accomplish with that tweet? Explain to me what happens next and what happens after that?’ If I can’t come up with anything, I end up hitting delete.”
Massie does his own social media and has a hashtag with #sassiewithmassie.
“There are a lot of people who are really angry now. I’ve never seen the political discord at this level and so I try to inject some humor into it when I can. If somebody says something mean about me, I’ll say something vague back. Isn’t that what your parents said: If you can’t say something nice have the decency to be vague?”
He recently said a woman told him on Facebook he would never get her vote. The message was sent in all caps with three exclamation points for emphasis.
Massie’s response: “I have a lot of felons who tell me that, too.”