What’s in a Name? The #PresidentialSuccession

I’ve been curious enough lately to take a look at the current state of Presidential succession. Why? Just call it a feeling I have…

In grade school Civics class, we learned all about this. But that was many, many moons ago, and though I remembered the first four placements, I had no idea who currently holds the office of President Pro Tempore of the Senate. And really, after that, all I remembered was “secretary of something”. So since I was doing the research anyway, I decided to share it.

The following list gives both the position and the name of the person holding that position in the succession (and a wee bit more information I found).

Color coding:

Red for Republicans who are currently caught up at least tangentially in the #TrumpRussia scandal and are under investigation. (Notated as R/U)

Black for other Republicans, along with notations of any scandals I’ve found in which they were directly involved.

Purple for Republicans who seem to have no involvement in political scandals at all.

Blue for the two Democrats still holding positions until Trump nominees are confirmed: I was unable to find any scandals associated with their names.

Green for the Department Heads I was unable to find a party affiliation for. Note that neither of these gentlemen has any scandal I could find attached to his name.

Here we go:

1. Vice President Pence (R/U)

2. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R/U)

3. President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (R)

4. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R/U)

5. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R/U)

6. Defense Secretary James Mattis (R/U)

7. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R/U)

8. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (R) (previous scandals, multiple; possible involvement in Trump/Russia now coming to light)

9. Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse (D) (Trump nominee: Sonny Perdue, involved in land deal scandal, but also investigated GA school cheating scandal)

10. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (R/U)

11. Acting Labor Secretary Ed Hugler (D) (Trump nominee: Alexander Acosta, DOJ racism scandal, linked to Jeffrey Epstein pedophile scandal)

12. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (R/U) (corruption scandals, multiple)

13. HUD Secretary Ben Carson (R)

14. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (McConnell) (R) (Wells Fargo scandal)

15. Energy Secretary Rick Perry (R) (abuse of power scandal)

16. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (R) (Probably plagiarized answers to Congress)

17. Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin (N/R)

18. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (N/R)

Some further thoughts:

I have no real quibble with Orrin Hatch, though I’m not a big fan of his politics. Hatch is a mature statesman who understands how the government works and that the President is not the “boss” of the country. He could probably do a decent job. BUT…

As of today, Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House. His involvement in the #TrumpRussia election scandal is flimsy right now, though evidence seems to be piling up against him; it’s been reported that he used information closely identified as belonging to the DNC in his own campaign. And there are some questions arising as to whether a SuperPAC he consistently calls “my SuperPAC” was actively involved.

Now, with the ignominious failure of the ACHA bill (aka TrumpCare), many in politics feel his time as SoH is limited. Many are also positing that it will be next to impossible for the Republicans, who are split into so many camps, to come to a consensus on whom the next Speaker will be. I’m not sure what happens if there’s no Speaker of the House.

Incidentally, I read an interesting article that proposed a coalition of Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans (who may by now be disenchanted with Trump’s ham-fisted executive orders and irresponsible tweets); it posited that the coalition could conceivably result in the election of a moderate Democrat, like Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff, as the new Speaker. Should that occur, and should the current investigations pull down both Trump and Pence, we might yet wind up with a Democratic President, which is what the majority of people voted for in the first place.

Pipe dream? Probably, but without dreams, where would we be?

Note: If you know of any changes that should be made, please let me know and I’ll adjust the list – I want it to be as accurate as possible, whether that means adding something or taking it away.

Note also that there are only two women on the list and one is Mitch McConnell’s wife. Wonder why that is?

Quote of the Week

There’s so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.

Barack Obama, Author & 44th President of the United States (1961- )
on the Supreme Court Ruling ending marriage discrimination, 6/25/15

Tuesday Trivia #1: Native Americans and the Right to Vote

I thought we’d start Tuesday Trivia with a question. Who was President of the United States when all Native Americans were given the right to vote?

A.) Dwight D. Eisenhower
B.) Theodore Roosevelt
C.) Richard M. Nixon
D.) Calvin Coolidge

No peeking now — just give it your best shot! C’mon, you can do it! Got it? Made your choice? Okay, then here’s the answer:

The correct answer is C, Richard M. Nixon.

Surprised?

Here’s the history behind it: In 1906 (Theodore Roosevelt), the Burke Act granted citizenship to Native Americans who farmed their own land and lived off the reservations, and in 1924, The Indian Citizenship Act (Calvin Coolidge) granted all Native Americans citizenship. However, many states did not recognize these acts as granting voting rights because, at that time, the Constitution gave each individual state the right to decide who is eligible to vote. As they did with African-Americans, many states passed requirements like poll taxes and literacy tests in order to prevent Native Americans from voting.

In 1957, under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Solicitor General took action to ensure that the States removed these impediments; that year is usually referenced as the year voting rights were given to all Native Americans. However, discrimination persisted in Colorado, where any tribal member who lived on a reservation was not allowed to vote until 1970, when President Nixon signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Broken Treaties, Broken Lives – Part 1: Promises to Keep

When I started this blog, I had no intention of getting into current affairs or social commentary. Really. But recently, a couple of issues have changed my mind. What is a writer if she doesn’t write about what’s most important to her?

As you all probably know, the US has a very long-standing tradition of making pacts and treaties with Native Americans, and then ignoring those agreements when some new, “better” idea comes along. What you may not have heard is that the US Government is currently in the process of doing it again.

Not once, but twice.

The first of the new, “better” ideas to come along is the Keystone Pipeline (KXL). KXL is the brainchild of TransCanada Corporation, a Canadian fuel company that is currently in the process of extracting tar sands oil in Alberta, with the intent of transporting it via pipeline to Houston, Texas, to be refined. The US House of Representatives has voted several times to pass the project.

Proponents of KXL have assured us that many (up to a million) high-paying permanent jobs will be created in the US; that the pipeline will do no harm to the environment; and that KXL will lower American dependence on “foreign energy sources”.

However, TransCanada has already let it slip that most of the jobs created will be temporary construction jobs, and makes no secret of the fact that the refined oil will be exported.

And while the pipeline itself may be ecologically sound (I for one find that very hard to believe), tar sands oil is the dirtiest fuel known at this point in time, and I can find no public records of any plan for clean-up.

But that’s not enough to stop KXL’s proponents, and the fact that the pipeline, as currently planned, will cut diagonally through the Sioux Nation’s land doesn’t stand in their way, either.

The Yankton, Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and other Sioux tribes stand in opposition to KXL. As reported by Indian Country Today Media Network, the Sioux Nation is working in conjunction with NOKXL Dakota, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, and many other groups and individuals, who promise “continued opposition … (we) will not concede lands to a foreign entity or compromise the climate for generations to come.”

The basis for their opposition is the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Article 2 grants lands to the Sioux (about half of what the Treaty of 1851 promised them), and states it shall be for the “…absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians named herein.”

The Treaty of 1868 is irrevocable, and cannot be changed by the President, Congress, or Supreme Court unless it violates the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, if the Sioux do not want the pipeline on their land it, quite simply, should not be built.

Which brings us to the second problem, concerning the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. Slipped into the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act at the very last minute, was a provision to give 2400 acres of the Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper Mining (commonly referred to as Rio Tinto), an Australian-English company. Rio Tinto plans to mine these lands for copper. This plan had been struck down several times in the past, which is why a certain Republican Senator (who didn’t get to be president) and his cronies attached it to the must-pass Defense budget.

The bill actually “swaps” those 2400 copper-rich acres for 5300 acres of sub-standard land. But those 2400 acres are considered sacred ancestral lands by the San Carlos tribe. Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler made this statement to Huffington-Post:

Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland. We’ve had dancers in that area forever — sunrise dancers — and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the Acorn Grounds, and the medicinal plants … and our prayer areas.”

The land swap includes Oak Flat, Devil’s Canyon and Apache Leap, where 75 Apaches were massacred in 1870. Popular history says that 50 of the warriors were killed in battle, while the remaining 25 ran their horses over the cliff to prevent being captured. However, the recently-discovered diary of one of the settlers of the area records that the 25 warriors not killed in battle were actually thrown over the cliff by local ranchers while the Army stood by.

But the facts of the massacre don’t matter. The wrangling around KXL is not important. What matters is the notion that Native Americans are somehow unworthy of being considered when their land and religious rights are being violated. That they are somehow lesser citizens, whose land should be forfeit in a way NOT ONE of those instigating these plans would accept if the land were theirs.

Have we learned nothing from history?

Have we not progressed beyond the “only good Indian” philosophy*?

How can people who huff and puff about religious freedom be so willing to ignore the religious beliefs of its first citizens?

KXL is a mockery wrapped in a lie, wrapped in the flag.

The RioTinto swap is a no-holds-barred land grab that I’m betting Congress thought no one would notice.

There’s little we can do but raise our voices and pens, sign petitions and write editorials. And hope that greed doesn’t triumph once again.

~~~

See the map of KXL here.

One of the petitions to oppose KXL is here.

A petition to stop the copper mining swap deal is here.

*The only good Indian is a dead Indian — Popular 19th century adage