Did you ever see that '60s movie staring Alan Arkin and Carl Reiner? It's one of my favorites, it makes you think and at the same time is hysterically funny. Recently, reading the news, I've been wondering if I'm watching a remake of it. The majority of the media seems obsessed with Trump and his cabinet's connections to Russia. While I agree that there are indications that wrongdoing may have taken place and could even be serious, and that this warrants an investigation into the matter, I think the constant harping on the issue is not only useless, it's counterproductive.
As far as Flynn's actions go, while I think there are probably grounds for an indictment and prosecution, he has already stepped down from his position. So, as far as national interests go, his ties to Russia are no longer of concern. When it comes to Jeff Sessions, it's quite clear that he perjured himself. Perjury is a crime, so he should be fired and prosecuted. But why not let the man speak for himself on the issue?
So, since honest testimony is so "essential for justice in America," obviously the man needs to go. He said so himself. And, yes, I know there are plenty of others in the Trump administration, Rex Tillerson, for instance, whose connections to Russia are also of serious concern. So, yes, a thorough investigation is needed. Trump's financial information, including his tax returns, needs to be made public, and the entire mess needs to be untangled. That's what investigations are for.
But none of that means that the press needs to focus on the Russians 24/7. Yes, there's smoke there, which means there may also be fire. But there also may not be. And, in the meantime, there are a lot of other things going on that are more urgently important.
Such as the fact that Scott Pruitt, a man with known ties to the oil and gas industries, has been confirmed as head of the EPA. During his tenure as Oklahoma's Attorney General, he exchanged thousands of emails with leaders in the fossil fuel industry regarding what they wanted him to do for them.(1) At one point, he even copy and pasted a letter written by Devon Energy's attorneys and sent it to the EPA as if it had been written by himself.(1) When asked about this outrage, Pruitt called it "representative government."(1) This is bald-faced corruption, and yet the media has been largely silent about it.
Then, there's Rick Perry, who is now in charge of our nuclear arsenal but who doesn't even know the name of the department he's supposed to lead.(2) And Ben Carson, confirmed as Secretary of HUD, who, when asked if he would make sure that Trump -- who is heavily invested in real estate -- didn't benefit from the policies Dr. Carson will institute in his position as Secretary, famously responded that, "It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American," but he refused to state that he would keep his department free of corruption or ensure that Trump doesn't benefit financially from his appointment.(3) Again, mainly crickets from the press.
Also, there's the raid in Yemen which resulted in the deaths of over 30 civilians, including an 8-year-old American citizen, and a US Navy Seal, but which failed to accomplish any appreciable goal.(4) This was Trump's first military operation as President and Commander in Chief, and yet he couldn't even be bothered to oversee it personally.(4) When he was running for President, Trump said one of his strategies to combat ISIS would be to "take out their families."(5) Is that why so many civilians died during this raid? Did he do it on purpose? Was his absence from the situation room a ploy to create plausible deniability? Is our President a war criminal? Shouldn't this be investigated too? Why isn't this story all over the news?
And don't forget Trump's insistence on ramming through approvals for oil and gas pipelines, despite the fact that proper environmental impact studies have yet to be completed.(6) Could this possibly be because Trump, himself, owns stock in the pipeline companies?(7) Yeah, he claims to have sold that stock, but where's the proof of that claim? Why isn't the media screaming about the blatant corruption here?
There are an awful lot of newsworthy issues surrounding the Trump administration, and yet the media continues to focus on Russia, Russia, Russia. To what purpose? Yeah, Putin is horrible, probably worse than even Trump, but should he be our main concern? Does anyone honestly believe that Russia is about to invade Montana? Even if an investigation uncovers evidence of the absolute worst-case scenario, that Russia directly altered the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election -- IE: that the Russians hacked the voting machines and actually changed the results -- a scenario for which there has been no evidence presented, what would that mean?
Does anyone actually want war with Russia? I certainly hope not. No sane individual, be they American, Russian, or any other nationality, wants to see two nuclear superpowers in armed conflict with each other. I'm pretty sure even Putin doesn't want that, and he's not exactly what I would consider sane. Nuclear war is not something that turns out well for anybody. So what that kind of evidence would mean, practically speaking, would be increasing our computer security, something that we should probably do anyway and we don't need to wait to see if Russian hackers interfered in our election to do it, and probably an increase in economic and trade sanctions against Russia and a break down in diplomatic relations. Basically, we're back to fighting the cold war. Anyone cheering over that prospect? I'm not.
So, maybe, instead of focusing on Russia and its alleged sins, we should focus on the problems we have here at home? Does that mean we ignore flaws in our security? No, obviously not, I've already stated that any issues with our security systems need to be fixed. But it does mean that we start focusing on the problems that matter and that we can do something about; the dangers that threaten us from within.
Because that's where the real threats to America and Americans lie. We already know to be wary of foreign powers, and our military is more than adequate to the task of protecting us from such threats, that's not what we need to worry about. It isn't the enemy you see coming who will kill you, it's the one who lives in your home and eats at your table, who you've yet to identify, that you need to worry about.
The fact that Wikileaks released emails from the DNC, whether those emails were provided to Wikileaks by Russia or someone else, isn't what's important. If those emails hadn't contained politically damaging material, it wouldn't have mattered that they were released. And the only reason those emails contained politically damaging material was because the leaders of the DNC were engaged in dishonest and fraudulent behavior.
Since they are public servants, it's perfectly fair for the public to scrutinize the conduct of the leaders of the Democratic Party. This isn't a matter of personal privacy being invaded because they were not acting as private citizens. These are people who represent us, and as such we have the right to know what they are doing. If they didn't want to be caught committing crimes, they shouldn't have engaged in criminal behavior to begin with. Regardless of who brought the behavior to light.
Which isn't to say that the GOP is innocent. Obviously, they are not. Which is why they should also be investigated. But let's focus those investigations on our own people and hold them accountable, instead of pointing fingers at foreign powers that may or may not have been involved. If Trump is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and imprisoned. The same for Pence, Ryan, Shumer, or any other political leader who is or has been involved in criminal conduct. If we're going to clean house, people, we need to start at home.