Thoughts on entertainment, politics, technology, and of course, The Dallas Cowboys



re: unfair characterizations of conservatives, gun owners, and your outrageous statements about our soldiers in Iraq

Well Tony. I always knew you were to the left on most issues. But I had always accepted that even though I disagreed with many of the stances you take politically, I had no doubt that you came to your conclusions prayerfully and after some earnest struggle what God was saying to you.

But to be honest, your latest Podcast entitled Virginia Tech, Guns and Torture has cast all that in doubt. Not because I am on the opposite side politically on your issues, but because you simply get everything factually wrong to the point of being propagandistic.

And it’s so often, I initially didn’t know where to start. But I’m told that the beginning is a very nice place to start so I’ll go from there.

Your co-host starts the podcast by saying that very little has been done by Congress to combat gun violence thanks to the deep pockets of the NRA. Apparently very little research was done in this area before making a grandiouse statement like that. For had he, or you, bothered to do your homework, you would find that there are literally over 20,000 gun laws (1983 study for the DOJ) already on the books. And according to National Academy of Science study in 2005, found that there was no evidence that “gun control” actually reduces crime, suicides, or accidents.

Additionally, a CDC study from 2003 found similar evidence by studying a wide variety of gun control laws, but “found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”

So, to say that “little has been done” to combat gun violence isn’t only inaccurate, but downright misleading.

In addition, you paint the NRA has some sort of shadow organization. Although you freely admit that it has a membership of 3 million members, you fail to acknowledge that those members are AMERICAN CITIZENS concerned with their second amendment rights.

You attempt to accuse Conservatives as being “armed to the teeth” to protect us from a conspiratorial fear of the government. But according to a CBS News survey in 2004 , 24% of Republican delegates were NRA members, while only 12% say they are NRA members (ironically, the same amount of union members who are Republicans).

And according to a 1997 National Institute of Justice survey , gun ownership is actually on the decline with only 25 percent of adults actually owning a firearms (74 percent of which possess two or more – and 68% of those being shotguns or rifles suggesting some experience and interest in the sporting uses of guns and in collecting.). The survey also found that the most common motivation for owning firearms was recreation with 70 percent of gun owners engaging in sports like hunting and sport shooting. Forty-six percent possessed a gun primarily for protection against crime. Nowhere in the survey is a conspiratorial fear of the federal government even mentioned as a result.

Additionally, those who have used guns for self protection are much more likely to brandish the gun rather than actually use it. The same NIJ survey found that anywhere between 108,000 and 2.5 million times a year a gun is brandished and not fired in protecting a citizen.

Now while it is true that the NRA does have a powerful lobby against Gun control, it also offers Gun Safety programs . Its Eddie the Eagle program is specifically designed to teach children what to do in the event they find a gun … I just asked my son who saw an Eddie the Eagle video and his reply “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell and adult.” He saw this video nearly a month ago and still remembers it. I have no doubt that if he were to find a gun, he would know what to do to stay safe.

Women can have access to the NRAs “Refuse to be a Victim” lecture series which seeks to educate them on how recognize dangerous situations and avoid becoming a victim.

This is in addition to training programs in gun safety for owners, hunters, and youths.

So clearly, the NRA is more than just some machiavellian group you seek to paint it out to be.

There’s also a key element of the gun control issue that you completely ignored in your diatribe. That of the courts recent rulings supporting the second amendment and that an individual’s right to own a gun was upheld by a federal appeals court that found that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms,". According to Democrat lawyer Lawrence Tribe :

“... the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.”
So while you are certainly entitled to your opinion on the effectiveness of gun control legislation and the whys and whos are gun ownership, it may help your credibility to actually do research on the subject.

Now, onto Torture and your outrageous comments regarding the US Military presence in Iraq.

You make this mystifying statement that soldiers in Iraq commit acts of torture and end up with either no punishment or remarkably light sentences. Well that doesn’t support the facts :

“Pfc. Lynndie England, a 22-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W. Va., was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison after being convicted on six of seven counts related to detainee abuse.

Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., was found guilty in January and is serving a 10-year prison term at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Graner is identified as the ringleader of a group of Abu Ghraib guards who mistreated Iraqis.

Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick of Buckingham, Va., was sentenced to 81/2 years last October after pleading guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees and other charges.”

Another soldier was sentenced to a year in prison doing nothing more than taking pictures.

All told, Nine Army reservists have been convicted of abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The commanding general was demoted and reassigned on direct orders of the President. Charges were also brought against a Lt. Colonel in charge of interrogation.

Then there’s the reference in an Al Queda training manual found by US Troops in Afghanistan which encourages prisoners to complain about torture where none existed as part of a campaign to spread disinformation.

“If captured, the manual states, "At the beginning of the trial ... the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge. Complain of mistreatment while in prison."

Investigations have also found that stories of flushing the Koran down the toilet was unsubstantiated and in fact, a complete fabrication.

You also make the claim that prisoners are being tortured in direct violation of the Geneva convention. Well, the Geneva convention states that Enemy Combatants have no such protections .

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s right or fair to use coercive interrogation techniques on people, but you simply have it wrong when you state that prisoners are being tortured in direct violation of the G.C.

It is also interesting to note that your fellow Democrat, Alan Dershowitz , believes that torture is perfectly acceptable in “ticking bomb” situations and that is what I suspect many of the soldiers are referring to in the survey you seek to report.

But that isn’t the worst of it. You accuse our armed forces of widespread slaughter of Iraqi civilians. While there have been isolated incidents – such as the Haditha massacre – those soldiers are being prosecuted for their crimes , so they are being held accountable.

However, most of our soldiers are doing a hell of a job seeking to put down this insurgency. They are building (or rebuilding) schools , providing health care , and restoring electricity and water to prewar levels . And let’s not forget that Iraqi’s have voted in 4 elections freely since our soldiers arrived in country – often at the risk of their own lives – for the first time in their nation’s history. That doesn’t strike me as the actions of a military that is being driven insane by the stress of the insurgency, it tells me a professional army is doing it’s job fighting a two front war against an insurgent enemy in Iraq and an agenda driven opposition from it’s own country.

Meanwhile, our enemies are committing the slaughter – targeting civilians with car bombs, terror squads, and executions in the dead of night. But you don’t demand they be held to any accountability, only our soldiers who are risking their lives every day as they work to bring security to that embattled country.

You also fail to acknowledge that over 80% of the country is consistently safe and secure while majority or the violence is happening in Baghdad.

Let me ask you a question, Tony. How often to you real the MilBlogs? How often do you get the soldier’s story on what’s happening in country? Have you been to Iraq since the conflict began? Because if you spent anytime at all listening to the soldier’s side, you would learn first hand what our boys are doing over there. You would come to understand their motivations, rather than seeking to demonize them in order to create some sort of case for total withdrawl.

You really should be ashamed of yourself Tony.

Let me share with you what a soldier told me via email just recently:

Hello all,

Another beautiful day here in Baghdad Iraq. Well I have to say that I have been here in Iraq for over 6 months now and this has been a great time for me. My relationship with the God has developed into a much deeper and stronger one then it ever was. I appreciate all the efforts everyone has shown in sending things to both myself and all of my soldiers. This is a hard time for them and their families. Three years ago this month I found out my wife was cheating on me while I was deployed to Iraq the first time. She developed a relationship with another man and told me she wanted to leave. It was an important time for me. What a great time to turn to the Lord, crying like a child and ask for his healing power, strength, and love. Over the next year he gave me the strength to move on and finish the deployment while fighting to attain custody of my two young girls Alissa and Julie. Divorce final with custody mine, home from the war, and moving to Texas Gods plan was in full effect. After arriving in Texas I found a woman that knocked my socks off. She loves God, her family, and was the greatest friend and person I had ever met. Again Gods plan. After 6 months of dating and falling in love we were married. A few months after I married the Lord guided my heart again when I fully adopted my wife's son Dylan. He truly is a blessing to my life, and the love I have for him is no different from any other. Its like he never knew any different, I was just a few years late to say " Hi I am your Dad". Less then 8 months later I deployed to Iraq were I have been for the past 6 months. God gave me the gift of a wonderful woman, who loves me and on Jan 25 she gave birth to Tyler James Johnson. He is a beautiful reminder everyday of the love God has for us and the love we have for each other as husband and wife. 3 years, wow. What wonders God can do when you just give your life to him, having faith and trust that he will see you through anything.

Now I sit here in Iraq separated from my wife. Yes I am sad but I know that God has placed me here to make a difference in peoples lives. I have 44 soldiers that I care for everyday. When this deployment is over I will be stronger in faith for myself and my family. It has been a long hard road, but everyday I thank the Lord for showing me his unfailing love. I was baptized at a young age and always attended church as a child. However when I grew up I drifted away from God, and was focused on me. I have renewed strength in him, knowing that he will see me through anything.

I simply tell you all of this as a testimony of faith. I was in a dark time in my life, and maybe you are too. Know that God loves you. Have faith in him, and know that he requires us to follow his commands. Give your life to him, and the impossible is now possible, the unspeakable is heard, and your life will never will be the same. Now with my strength in him I encourage, help, and guide people toward God. My cup overflows with blessings.

Pass this on. God is powerful if you invite him into your heart.

SFC Johnson, Eric J.

Does that sound like someone made insane by his tour of duty? I think not. And it’s more indicative of the vast majority of soldiers over there than the images of slaughter and abuse you seek to paint in your unfair diatribe.

I have followed your writings for years – since I was in Youth for Christ and enjoyed some very stirring preaching by you at a conference in Berkeley.

What I see is someone who spends way too much time feeding his own self righteous anti War hunger with anything that supports his own political view on the matter.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the case as I have always had the highest respect for you. But I fear you’re vision has been corrupted and as such, I question if I can ever really believe your motivations as being the way I once trusted they were. I fear that your liberalism is just as idolatrous as you have accused me with my patriotism. Only worse, it’s hypocritical.

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