Interior Department

Major Roles To Be Played By Democratic Committee Chairs In 116th Congress

The 116th Congress will see Democrats taking over the committee chairmanships in the House of Representatives.

Adam Schiff of California will be the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and will require many Trump Administration figures, including his children and son in law, to testify.

Elijah Cummings of Maryland will head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Jerrold Nadler of New York will head the House Judiciary Committee, which might move to have impeachment hearings against Donald Trump.

Eliot Engel of New York will lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and deal with the problems of unstable foreign policy of Donald Trump.

Maxine Waters will lead the House Financial Services Committee, and is sure to demand lots of testimony and documents from the Trump Administration.

Nita Lowey of New York will be the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, clearly crucial in dealing with spending programs.

Raul Grijalva of Arizona will be the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and will be engaged in combat with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department over Donald Trump’s refusal to combat global warming.

These seven committee Chairs are going to face a constant assault by the right wing extremists, Fox News Channel, and Donald Trump himself, along with others who are Chairs of other committees in the House of Representatives.

One point of particular concern is that four of these seven committee Chairs named above are Jewish (Schiff, Nadler, Engel, Lowey), two (Cummings and Waters) are African American, and Grijalva is Hispanic, which makes it likely that white supremacists, encouraged by Donald Trump rhetoric, are likely to pose a growing threat to these committee Chairs, and makes it likely they will need security services to protect them, a horrendous reality.

But the move to investigate and hold Donald Trump and his administration responsible is urgent, even with the growing threat.

Donald Trump’s Greatest Crime: Destruction Of Federal Government Agencies, Long Term Damage

Possibly the greatest crime Donald Trump has perpetrated in his 15 months of being President is his destruction of federal agencies.

This is particularly true of the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Education Department, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but really all departments in the federal bureaucracy have been affected.

Trump has trashed the FBI and the Justice Department, and Jeff Sessions has been the worst Attorney General in modern history. Trump has worked to destroy the credibility of the Department of Justice, not only in the investigation of his scandals, but also the reversal of so many civil rights policies.

The State Department has so many vacancies in the Foreign Service, and so many able diplomats in the Diplomatic Corps have resigned.

The Interior Department under Ryan Zinke has been a disgrace on the matter of protection and perpetuation of national parks and national monuments.

The Education Department under Betsy DeVos has worked to undermine public education at all levels, and undermined protection of minorities and women under education laws.

The Housing and Urban Development Department under Ben Carson is ignoring the major problems of public housing, and not protecting the rights of tenants.

The Department of Health and Human Services has tried to destroy ObamaCare, but has failed at that, while putting obstacles in the way of those who wish to engage in the program.

The Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt is a total tragedy, rife with scandal and disgraceful actions against the environment.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may be on its death bed under Mick Mulvaney, an extremely corrupt person, who is also the head of the Office of Management and Budget.

We are in the midst of a great tragedy that will not be undone for decades and one feels helpless as one sees the federal government deteriorating!

Death Of A President: Warren G. Harding, August 2, 1923

On this day, 92 years ago, the 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco, on his way back from a tour of Alaska, and taking time away from the White House, which was besieged by scandals erupting around him, causing him to be depressed and despairing from the political pressures.

Harding had never been all that interested in running, but his wife, Florence, had ambitions for him, and Republican establishment leaders of the time saw him as someone ideal in place of the image of a crusading, reform President, as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had been perceived.

Harding is best remembered for the scandals that erupted around him, generally known as the Teapot Dome Scandals, including the indictments of Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall; Attorney General Harry Daugherty; and Veterans Bureau administrator Charles Forbes, plus the later revelations of his love life before and during the White House years.

For those reasons, Harding is rated the worst President of the 20th century, and near the bottom of all Presidents in scholarly rankings.

Yet, Harding had appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Herbert Hoover to be Secretary of Commerce; and Charles Evans Hughes to be Secretary of State. Looking back, he had appointed a former President; a future President; and a Presidential nominee who lost to Woodrow Wilson in 1916. All three had a major impact on their institutions, and Hughes presided over the Washington Naval Conference and naval disarmament, an accomplishment that makes him one of the greatest Secretaries of State in American history.

Also, Harding had been responsible for the creation of the Bureau of the Budget, the first national agency to promote a national budget; and had given a pardon to Eugene Debs, the Socialist party leader imprisoned for his opposition to America’s involvement in the First World War. He had also spoken out against lynchings of African Americans in the South and Midwest, a growing phenomenon, which he strongly deplored.

His sudden death shocked the nation, and he was mourned as a popular President, until the scandals started to emerge.

The debate about his death from a cerebral hemorrhage has been to promote conspiracy theories about a coverup, that possibly Harding had committed suicide due to the scandals erupting around him, and the thought that his wife might have known about the sexual liaisons Harding had, and murdered him, and supposedly the Secret Service covered it up. But there is no basis for either of these rumors. It was known that he had gained weight and was having medical issues, well hidden at the time of his passing.

The fact that the casket was not open at his funeral, and that his wife burned a lot of documents in the year after his death until her own death in 1924, adds suspicions about Harding.

The irony is that Harding is most interesting in regards to the scandals erupting under him, the most since Ulysses S. Grant and the most until Richard Nixon; for his love life; and for the rumors about his death, not for anything else that occurred, including what has been mentioned above.

Fifty Years Of Environmentalism—Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama— All To Be Applauded!

Today, April 22, is Earth Day, first declared by Richard Nixon and his Interior Secretary Walter Hickel in 1970, but the environmental movement was begun, actually, by Lyndon B. Johnson and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall in 1965 with the promotion of the first water and air pollution laws as part of the Great Society.

Jimmy Carter proceeded to promote the most advanced environmental record of any one term President, and with the great assistance of Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus.

Then, Bill Clinton, under the prodding of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Vice President Al Gore, contributed greatly to advancement of the environment.

And Barack Obama, under the support of Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell has also contributed greatly on the issue of the environment.

Additionally, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, and John F. Kennedy, with Interior Secretary Udall (who served for eight years under both JFK and LBJ), also did a great deal on the environment.

Sadly, with Theodore Roosevelt being the true promoter of the environment in the early part of the 20th century, and assisted by Interior Secretary James R. Garfield and close TR friend Gifford Pinchot, one would have thought that the Republican Party would have continued to be the leader on the issue, but except for Richard Nixon, that has not been the case, and now Republicans are doing everything possible to help advance industry over the environment!

This includes attempting to prevent any future national parks; allowing industrial exploitation of the Grand Canyon and other parks for mining; and wishing to undermine or destroy the Environmental Protection Agency begun during the Nixon Presidency!

So the battle to promote conservation of natural resources and add to public lands is a never ending battle between the political parties, when it should be part of the national agenda that all political leaders believe in and advocate!

President Warren G. Harding Love Letters Revealed After Nearly A Century!

This author and blogger has taught at the college level now for 42 plus years, and one of his favorite discussions was of the Presidency of Warren G Harding (1921-1923), generally acknowledged as the worst President of the 20th century, and close to the bottom of all Presidents on any ranking, sharing that with James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce.

Harding is not remembered for very much, but he was the President who appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice; pardoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs from prison; had his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who had been the Republican Presidential nominee in 1916 against Woodrow Wilson, negotiate the Washington Naval Conference that promoted naval disarmament; established the first federal child welfare program; supported the idea of an eight hour work day; advocated an anti lynching bill to protect African Americans; and created the Bureau of the Budget.

He also had the greatest popular vote victory for a first term President in American history, and the percentage of the vote was only later surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon after already residing in the White House!

Despite these accomplishments, Harding is best remembered for the scandals of his administration in the Justice Department, the Interior Department, and the Veterans Bureau (all of these generally known as the Teapot Dome scandals); and also, even more notably his sexual liaisons in and out of the White House years, most notably with Nan Britton, with whom he had an illegitimate daughter; and with Carrie Phillips, who he shared love letters discovered in the 1960s, but banned from revelation and publication at that time to avoid embarrassment.

Well, now those love letters, originally held by the Ohio Historical Society, are opened to scholars and journalists, and are the most extensive set of love letters ever discovered about any President! Much of it is x rated, and a bit shocking to many, as he describes his private parts as “Jerry”, and is extremely descriptive in his sexual language.

So one of the stories I told my students, that they would have to wait decades to learn about in detail, is open and available, revealed this week at the Library of Congress!

It will bring more attention to the 29th President, but is unlikely to raise him from the basement of rankings of Presidents of the United States!

An Absolute Environmental Sacrilege: Republican Proposals To Permit Uranium Mining In Grand Canyon!

The Grand Canyon is our greatest natural treasure, providing enjoyment and recreation to millions of tourists, and the Colorado River running through it provides drinking water to 25 million Americans.

Who would think that ANYONE would be so shortsighted to wish to have mining interests, particularly in the uranium industry, have access to the Grand Canyon, and therefore destroy this greatest of our national parks and the wildlife and plant life contained within it?

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, who plans to run for the US Senate seat of retiring Senator Jon Kyl in 2012, is the villain who, with financial backing of mining interests, is attempting to force a change in Interior Department rules to allow such a sacrilege!

Flake and others in the House MUST be fought tooth and nail to prevent such a outrageous rape of our greatest natural wonder! President Theodore Roosevelt would turn over in his grave if he knew what his party was attempting to do, and were he actually alive, he would be ready to go into combat to prevent such an outrage!

Earth Day: Time To Reflect On Progress Made, But Challenges Ahead!

The environmental movement celebrates its greatest day on April 22 every year, since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson promoted the idea of an Earth Day in 1970, and President Richard Nixon and Interior Secretary Walter Hickel acted on it nationally.

We have had environmental champions since, including Nixon, Hickel, President Jimmy Carter, Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus under Carter, Vice President Al Gore under Bill Clinton, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt under Clinton, and many others in and out of government!

We have also had those who have become environmental enemies, including President Ronald Reagan, Interior Secretary James Watt under Reagan, President George W. Bush, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, other Republicans in Congress, and of course, the corporate community!

So the battle for environmental protection is a never ending struggle, but one which is worth remembering on this Earth Day!

The energy industry is always at work to combat environmentalism, including the coal, oil, and nuclear power industry. The Republican Party is far from the era oF Theodore Roosevelt, the great conservationist, who would be mortified were he to come back and see what the GOP has become–a corporate party not concerned about pollution of the environment!

Stewart Udall, Outstanding Secretary Of The Interior, Dead

Stewart Udall, one of the most outstanding Interior Secretaries in US history, passed away on Saturday of natural causes at the age of 90.

Father of New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, and brother of the late Arizona Congressman Morris “Mo” Udall (who challenged Jimmy Carter for the Presidential nomination in 1976), Udall was in the cabinet during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations in the 1960s.

He stood out as a advocate for the environment, much like FDR’s earlier Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, in the 1930s and 1940s.

Udall’s death marks the last person to pass away of the Kennedy cabinet, and makes us realize how indeed it has been 47-50 years since the Kennedy Administration, and that is hard to accept! πŸ™‚