0215blog

I Want Answers

A violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, people died and others were injured, members of congress were terrified, the vice president barely escaped lynching while donald trump egged on the hoards.

The Congress once spent more than $39 million to determine if a former president lied about having had oral sex with an aide, so it would seem that the nation’s most serious threat to the democratic form of government warrants a second objective look.

The impeachment trial was pure melodrama and what is needed is a non-partisan, fact-based investigation otherwise known as an oxymoron. Be braced for pushback by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and other Republicans who will surely say with great piety that the trump trial was an investigation and anything more would be just another witchhunt. That would be the same Sen. Graham who was among the loudest voices pushing for the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the terrorist attacks of the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Lybia. Clinton was eventually found not responsible for the attack.

Trump was exonerated by the majority of the GOP lemmings but the trial didn’t look into the roles of leading Republican senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz and dozens in the House, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill said she saw Republican members of Congress leading Trump supporters on, not a tour, but a “reconnaissance” of the Capitol. Can’t we check this out?

Members of Congress love to investigate, particularly if they can score political points. In recent years, it’s funny how often the Clinton name plays into the past inquiries.

For instance, in 2014, the Republican led Congress spent $70 million and took two years to conclude that Hillary Clinton was not responsible for the 2012 terrorist attacks at Benghazi.

Before that there was the report by so-called independent counsel Kenneth Starr that took four and a half years and cost $39.2 million to conclude that yes, President Bill Clinton, lied when he said he did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. That led to impeachment and later acquittal of Clinton and a five-year suspension of Clinton’s license to practice law.

The whopper of them all was the eight-year investigation of the Reagan administration and the so-called Iran Contra affair which cost a final total of $47.4 million. It involved a secret U.S. arms deal that traded missiles and other arms to free some Americans held hostage by terrorists in Lebanon, but also used funds from the arms deal to support armed conflict in Nicaragua. In all, 14 people were charged.

The nation’s worst attack on U.S. soil led to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States also known as the 9/11 commission which took 18 months to complete and cost a paltry $3 million.

Investigations weren’t always for the most serious issues of the day, like the 1933 Congressional Joint Committee to Investigate Dirigible Disasters, after the U.S.S. Akron, a Navy dirigible, crashed off the coast of New Jersey under stormy conditions, taking the lives of 77 officers and 74 servicemen.

The Committee on the Ford’s Theater Disaster convened not because of the assassination of President Lincoln but because the theater collapsed in 1893.

The Congress Joint Committee on Washington Metropolitan Problems was founded in 1957 to address Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area urban issues, such as the transportation system and water supply.

The House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials was convened for obvious reasons in 1953 and in 1951, a special committee looked into whether the Russians had massacred thousands of Polish officers whose graves were uncovered in April 1943, in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk in the Soviet Union. And there is the venerable House Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics which has jurisdiction over subjects related to the ventilation and acoustics of the Hall of the House of Representatives.

And for those who say an investigation would be a waste of money, that hasn’t been an overarching government concern in the past for such lofty projects as $283,500 to monitor the lives of baby gnatchatchers in California; $48,500 to study why Russians smoke so much; $406,419 to consider if media choice cause polarization, or does polarization cause media choice?; $5,000 for a documentary film about Madison County, North Carolina’s best fiddler; nearly $150,000 to understand why politics stress us out; $65,473 to figure out what bugs do near a lightbulb; and $35,000 for solar-powered beer. I support that last one.

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer