Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Teapot Dome Scandal

The US news is filled with reports of Congress demanding that the IRS turn over President Trump’s tax return for the last six years. Congress is using an obscure law from 1924 that, according to House Democrats, would allow them to make such demands. Needless to say the reference to 1924 should raise the eyebrows of any dieselpunk. To understand this law requires us to look back to the 1920s and what had been the worst scandal in US history until Watergate: the Teapot Dome Scandal.

US President Warren G. Harding

The following is a brief summary stolen borrowed from Wikipedia,

The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery scandal involving the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding from 1921 to 1923. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming, and two locations in California, to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. The leases were the subject of a seminal investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies, Fall became the first presidential cabinet member to go to prison; no one was convicted of paying the bribes.

Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the "greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics". It damaged the reputation of the Harding administration, which was already severely diminished by its controversial handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922 and Harding's veto of the Bonus Bill in 1922. Congress subsequently passed legislation, enduring to this day, giving subpoena power to House and Senate for review of tax records of any US citizen without regard to elected or appointed position, nor subject to White House interference.

Once again, the mundane world is reminded of what every dieselpunk already knows. To understand the present you must first understand the past.

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