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Civil Discourse Podcast

Companion to the podcast

The Department of State Aired 9/6/2022)

Aughie and Nia start a new series discussing the cabinet level departments of the United States Government. The first episode starts with the first department created, the Department of Foreign Affairs. Two months later, it is renamed the Department of State, and Thomas Jefferson is named the Secretary of State. Aughie goes on to name notable Secretaries of State and changes to the department over time.

The Department of Treasury (Aired 9/13/2022)

Nia and Aughie continue the Department series with part 2, the Department of the Treasury.  They explore the Secretaries of the Treasury and their various roles and responsibilities throughout the years. The modern Department of the Treasury investigates counterfeiting schemes, mints money, and controls the Internal Revenue Service.

The Department of War/Defense, part A (Aired 9/20/2022)

Aughie and Nia introduce part A of two episodes regarding the 3rd of the Department Series, the Department of War/Defense. Historians often place the early seeds of the department in the Revolutionary War. Aughie takes listeners through the history of the Department of War from 1789 to WWI.

The Department of War/Defense, part B (Aired 9/27/2022)

Nia and Aughie conclude with part B of two episodes regarding the 3rd of the Department Series, the Department of War/Defense. Aughie sees listeners through World War i and into the renaming to the Department of Defense. The Pentagon, famous Secretaries of Defense, and controversies surrounding DoD are also explored.

The Department of Justice (Aired 10/4/2022)

Aughie and Nia move on to the next department in the series, the Department of Justice. They discuss the various Attorneys General, the structure of the Department of Justice, and interesting tidbits about the history, political intrigues, and the people who have served within the DoJ.

The Postmaster General (Aired 10/11/2022)

Aughie and Nia explore the position of Postmaster General from 1753 to modern times in this episode of the Cabinet departments. Aughie explains how the Postmaster General went from running a large patronage system to running a large corporation that funds its own retirement system separately from the rest of the federal government under the reorganization into the United States Postal Service in 1971.

The Department of the Interior (Aired 10/18/2022)

Nia and Aughie continue to discuss the Cabinet Departments, in this case the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior, founded in 1849, arose from the need to manage most of the lands, territories, and natural resources of the United States. The Department of the Interior manages 500 million acres of surface land, approximately 20% of all land in the United States. Aughie also touches on the organization of the department and some of the more notorious Secretaries of the Interior.

The Department of Agriculture (Aired 10/25/2022)

Aughie and Nia move on to the next in the series, the Department of Agriculture. At its founding in 1862, the Department of Agriculture was referred to as "The People's Department" by President Abraham Lincoln. From food stamps to farm subsidies, Aughie also covers controversies and leadership of the Department of Agriculture through the years.

In the News: Rank Choice Voting (Aired 10/25/2022)

Aughie explains rank choice voting.

The Department of Commerce (Aired 11/1/2022)

Nia and Aughie tackle the next department, the Department of Commerce. Originally formed as the Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903, It later separated into two departments.. Aughie covers the vast parts and pieces of the organization of the Department as well as focusing on the power-grabbing of various Secretaries of Commerce. 

The Department of Labor (Aired 11/8/2022)

Aughie and Nia discuss the Department of Labor as the next in the series. The Bureau of Labor was initially part of the Department of Interior, then its own Bureau but not part of the Cabinet, and then part of the Department of Commerce  and Labor, and then in 1913 it becomes its own Department with a Cabinet Secretary as the head. From this convoluted start to the present, the Department of Labor has had to balance union and labor rights with employer desires to maximize profits. Aughie explains this tension within the mandate of the department.

In the News: Ye and Hate Speech (Aired 11/8/2022)

Nia and Aughie discuss government intervention, Supreme Court rulings, and hate speech. in light of recent anti-semitic comments made by Ye West.

The Department of HEW/HHS (Aired 11/15/2022)

Aughie and Nia move on to the next department in the series, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, later the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). From Head Start to Medicare, HHS touches American lives from cradle to grave. Aughie covers the sprawling nature of the department, and then Nia and Aughie spend a fair bit of the episode discussing controversies and politics surrounding HHS.

In the News: SCOTUS and Affirmative Action (Aired 11/15/2022)

Nia and Aughie discuss the recent Supreme Court hearings involving two cases from the Students for Fair Admissions versus Harvard (one case) and SFFA versus UNC (second case). The universities in these cases, heard together, argued that race may be considered in admissions to increase diversity of the student body. The SFFA argued that preference granted to one race for admissions by necessity brings inequity for other races.

Department of Housing and Uban Development (Aired 11/22/2022)

In 1965, we got the next department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as part of President Johnson's Great Society. Nia and Aughie discuss the needs of the nation to find ways toward homeownership, fair housing, and assistance to the working poor to mitigate the costs associated with housing. They also discuss the secretaries and the criticisms of the department.


In the News: Elections (Aired 11/23/2022)

Aughie and Nia discuss the statistics and implications of the 2022 midterm elections.

Department of Transportation (DoT) (Aired 11/29/2022)

The next department in the series is also part of the Great Society, the Department of Transportation (DoT).  Aughie explains how the many subagencies of the department work together in various ways to support public transportation, from the Federal Aviation Administration to the Federal Highway Administration. Aughie also reminds listeners that this department is a particularly good example of cooperative federalism. Discussion ends with secretaries and criticisms of the department.

Department of Energy (Aired 12/13/2022)

Nia and Aughie move on to the lucky 13th department, the Department of Energy, formed in 1977. While it might seem like a recent department, Energy can trace its beginning agencies back to the Manhattan Project in World War II. The energy crisis of the 1970's also strongly influenced the bipartisan support for the creation of the DoE. Aughie covers the department's prominent secretaries and some criticisms leveled at the department.

In the News: Kyrsten Sinema (Aired 12/13/2022)

Nia and Aughie explore the recent decision by Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to change her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent.

Department of Education (Aired 12/14/2022)

As with previous departments, the Department of Education was re-created recently, but goes back to 1867, when President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating the first Department of Education. That original agency's main purpose was to collect information about the nation's schools. Thought to be potentially too powerful, the department was demoted to Office of Education until 1979, when it was re-established as a department. Aughie covers a few controversies and secretaries along with the organization of the department.

In the News: Railroad Strike Averted (Aired 12/15/2022)

Aughie and Nia discuss the recent Congressional decision to avert a railroad strike.

Department of Veteran Affairs (Aired 12/20/2022)

Taking care of American military veterans began in the colonial era, after the Revolutionary War. In 1811, the federal government authorized housing and medical facilities. After each major war, Veterans' benefits were expanded, from establishing state level homes to the GI Bill after World War II. Eventually these programs were placed in a Veterans Bureau. The Veterans Bureau was elevated to a Department in 1989 by President Ronald Reagan. Aughie and Nia explore the history and controversies surrounding Veterans Affairs.

Department of Homeland Security (Aired 12/27/2022)

In response to the terrorist attacks on the United states on September 11, 2001, the last department (in the series thus far) was created - the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is made up of 22 agencies gathered together to address a wide array of issues, from cybersecurity to border security to transportation safety. Aughie and Nia discuss the controversies and complications surrounding the Department of Homeland Security from inception to current administrative practices.