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Post Nixon's Domestic Policies; Earth Day 1970-2015
Created by John Eipper on 04/22/15 12:45 PM

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Nixon's Domestic Policies; Earth Day 1970-2015 (David Duggan, USA, 04/22/15 12:45 pm)

I never met Nixon in or out of office, but on this 45th anniversary of Earth Day, begun in his first term as President, perhaps we can remember his three-fold lasting contributions to domestic policy. In addition to the National Environmental Protection Act (1969) and other left-of-center policy initiatives (OSHA and the Consumer Product Safety Com'n), he de-politicized the US Postal Service and ended the draft. No American has involuntarily served in the US military since the last of the 1974 draftees mustered out in 1976.

Though I never met the man, I saw him twice: the first time as an 8th grader at a 1960 rally at Wheaton College, in Chicago's western suburbs. That summer I argued with my summer day-camp bus mates that Nixon would be the only one to stand up to Khrushchev. I was in the minority. I supported him in high school (I was too young to vote in 1968), and at graduate school in 1972, perhaps the only journalism student in the country to vote for him. I watched him traverse Pennsylvania Avenue in an open-top limo after his second inauguration in 1973, while death-masked anti-war protesters shouted obscenities; Nixon looked remarkably serene and considerably grayer than the black-and-white photos made him out. Four years later as a first-year law student, I marveled at his arguments in the First Amendment case Time v. Hill, pitting the right of privacy against the print-anything morality of the Eastern media elites. Nixon was the only president in the 20th century to have argued a case in the Supreme Court, and Time v. Hill was one of the few cases that was "re-argued," that is that the Court could not come to a decision the first time it was considered and the justices wanted to hear additional argument. (The Court was badly fractured at the time with no clear ideological strains as may be apparent now; though you had Brennan and Douglas on the left, with Harlan and Stewart as reliable conservatives, Black, White, Chief Justice Warren, Clark and Fortas were wild cards.) Until he took that case, Nixon had never argued a case before an appellate court. His partner, Leonard Garment, who handed the case off to Nixon, thought he could have become one of the better appellate lawyers of the day.

Believe it or not, the environmental movement was not the private reserve of the Democratic Party in 1970: unions (with the exception of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers) were opposed to it because they thought it would cost jobs. Nixon saw that this was a way for Republicans to get a foothold into a movement that had legs and help create the "New Republican Majority." Perhaps later Republicans have abjured that feint to the left, but Nixon knew that the GOP was dead if it depended on the rugged individualists and country-clubbers. As the Reagan Democrats showed in the 1980s, it was acceptable to vote for a Republican president without the fear of losing your membership in the AFL-CIO or the Knights of Columbus.

JE comments:  We tend to forget how progressive Nixon was in domestic policy.  Nixon's 1972 re-election is the first presidential contest I remember well.  I recall as an eight year-old asking Dad what a "landslide" meant.

So Earth Day is 45.  And just six days from now. another cultural icon turns 50:  the CIIS/WAIS Articles of Incorporation are dated April 28th, 1965.

Happy Birthday to us!

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  • Nixon (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 04/22/15 1:58 PM)
    David Duggan (22 April) is making a contribution by reminding all that we have had better chief executives in the past. Richard M. Nixon did not only made domestic breakthroughs, but he changed the geopolitical landscape with his opening to the PRC and visit to Beijing. The latter was referred to as the equivalent of winning a presidential primary.

    JE comments: If only Dick hadn't been so Tricky, he'd be one of the greats. His China initiative alone molded the world we know today.

    Let's add a photo.  For no particular reason, it's become US Presidents' Day on WAIS.

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  • Earth Day Restrictions in Wisconsin (Mike Bonnie, USA 04/23/15 3:20 AM)
    Earth Day was proposed in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970. The day was later sanctioned in a Proclamation and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. Wikipedia: "A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by US Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson [of Wisconsin] as an environmental teach-in, first held on April 22, 1970."

    On April 10 of the present year elected officials banned workers at Wisconsin's Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), a state agency with 10 employees, from discussing climate change and from responding to emails about global warming without notifying board members first. The agency oversees about $1 billion in assets and provides economic development loans. A reference on the BCPL website to "the effects of climbing temperatures on invasive forest species" was recently deleted.

    The purpose of the ban, introduced by State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican elected last November, is "to keep state employees on task." Adamczyk reported that "he hasn't spoken with Gov. Scott Walker about climate change and the board." Laurel Patrick, a Walker spokeswoman, said the governor is not involved with the board. "With that said, generally, Governor Walker does not think it is unreasonable to enact policies requiring board staff to focus on board-related activities." Wisconsin now joins Florida with its similar restriction.

    BCPL's executive secretary, Tia Nelson, granddaughter of Gaylord Nelson, said the last time she worked on a climate change issue was in 2008 at the request of then governor, Democrat Jim Doyle.

    Wisconsin Agency Bans Talk of Climate Change:


    JE comments: First Florida, now Wisconsin.  As David Duggan pointed out yesterday, in the early 1970s environmentalism was not the partisan hot potato it is today. The EPA was founded under Nixon in 1969. And if we go back much earlier, the first conservationist president was Teddy Roosevelt. I must thank Mike Bonnie for sending me the audio version of Edmund Morris's Theodore Rex, a biography of TR in his White House years.  It makes me look forward to my commute!

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    • Restrictions on Climate Change Speech (Randy Black, USA 04/23/15 11:54 AM)
      In his 23 April post, Mike Bonnie reprinted a piece from an environmental group complaining that the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands had directed the BCPL, a state agency with 10 employees, not to discuss climate change when responding to emails about global warming without notifying board members first.

      It seems to me that their job is solely to manage funds on behalf of the state's taxpayers and to avoid getting embroiled in political issues. I might be wrong.

      This effort by outsiders to interfere with the dealings of Wisconsin's oldest state agency whose sole responsibility is to manage more than one billion dollars in the state's assets on the part of the taxpayers, efforts that support economic development loans to various groups, seems misdirected.

      From the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands Website:

      (The Board is) comprised of Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, and Attorney General Brad Schimel [RB: and ten employees]. We proudly carry on the pioneering commitment of our state's early leaders to a constitutionally protected form of public education financing that originated with millions of acres of land granted by the federal government.

      We generate investment income for distribution as public school library aid--a total of $30.2 million during fiscal year 2014. See what your school received by clicking here.

      We loan money to municipalities and school districts for public purpose projects--nearly $122 million approved during that same time period.

      We contribute to Wisconsin's sustainable timber economy, combat forest fragmentation, protect unique natural areas, and secure public access to large blocks of northern forests.


      JE comments: My sense is that climate change should not be political, but it is being artificially politicized.  Environmentalism used to be a non-partisan issue, as David Duggan pointed out yesterday in his discussion of Nixon's domestic policies.

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      • Restrictions on Climate Change Speech; Avian Flu (Mike Bonnie, USA 04/25/15 3:50 AM)
        I appreciate Randy Black's recognition (23 April) of Wisconsin's Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and staff. And I cannot agree more, the BCPL staff needs to stay out of the political debate over the "third-rail" subject of climate change and stick to the work at hand. The phrase "climate change" will someday be fodder for reflection as is the definition of "is" made famous during the 1998 impeachment hearings of President Clinton. Please bear with this long posting; these are complex issues.

        The timing of the language restriction placed on the BCPL staff and administrators is best seen in context of the biennial Wisconsin state budget currently being debated in committee. A near certain prediction of the future is a look at the past biennial budget debates (2013) and their outcome on state and private land and water conservancy efforts. A cornerstone of public money (i.e. land and water) managed by the BCPL is the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. In 2013 the program managed over 50 public trusts (schools, public hunting and fishing areas, conservation programs) throughout the state. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website continuously advises potential grant partner applicants that "Stewardship grant awards will be subject to the availability of funds and any procedural changes that may result from the forthcoming state budget. That biennial state budget is in process and will likely be finalized sometime this summer" [2015]. An in-depth discussion of the issues from 2013 can be found at http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/at-what-price-nature-de9tfs3-207069201.html

        A May 26, 2013 investigative report by Politifact.com surrounded a comment made by state Senator Alberta Darling, "co-chairwoman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, a 16-member panel of Senate and Assembly members that reviews all state appropriations and revenue--most notably the state budget." Senator Darling commented that "Nearly 1 in 5 acres in Wisconsin is owned by the federal, state or county government and is used for conservation." That is, 5.89 million acres, or 16.95 percent of Wisconsin's 34.8 million acres. Politifact.com found the statement "true": http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2013/may/26/alberta-darling/Nearly-1-in-5-acres-in-Wisconsin-is-owned-by-the-f/

        According to the Legislative Reference Bureau (2010), Wisconsin is comprised of 34.8 million acres of land and 7.4 million acres of water. We talk about land and water but, not so much about air. What is important today is where the land and water is located? Wisconsin (motto: The Dairyland State) and neighboring Minnesota (motto: The Land of 10,000 Lakes) are located at the epicenter of an avian flu outbreak. On April 13, 2015 it was reported, "A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (HPAI) has now been found in 11 states following USDA [US Department of Agriculture] confirmation of a case in Wisconsin. It's also the first time the H5N2 strain has been found in a commercial chicken flock." http://agri-pulse.com/Avian-influenza-strain-spreads-to-11th-state-04132015.asp It has been determined the infection began in commercial flocks of chickens through droppings by birds migrating along the Mississippi Flyway from Canada to Mexico.

        "A different strain called H5N8 was found in a commercial flock of turkeys in California [part of the Pacific Flyway]. H5N8 has also affected flocks in South Korea, Germany, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands [on European and Asian flyways]. "The H5N2 and H5N8 strains are not considered a threat to people." http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/wisconsin-declares-bird-flu-emergency-n345141 The effects however will be measured in millions (perhaps billions) of dollars, loss of food in tons for domestic and export consumption, and in structural and procedural changes in how birds may need to be raised in the future (as quarantined as hospital isolation rooms) to name a few changes likely. On the local scale stricter management of animals at state, county and local fairs, mean greater education among schools and community groups such as the Future Farmers of America (FFA).

        In summary, the rights and responsibilities of government and industry, individuals and groups, in public and private discourse on land and water management might serve us all well.

        I find the following quote relevant. The author is unknown. Inscribed on the memorial to the Seabees (US Naval Construction Battalions), between Memorial Bridge and Arlington Cemetery, is the following; "With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a bit longer."

        As postscript to Randy:  If he is conducting genealogy research (or perhaps he already knows), the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. bill was authored in 1989 by State Representative Spencer Black. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_Black .

        JE comments:  I don't think Randy and Cousin Spencer share much in the way of politics...

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