In over her head: Deb Haaland advances to Senate as Interior nominee

In Joe Biden's caretaker administration, it's amazing how many misdeeds can be erased through the useful tool of identity politics.

Take his nomination of Deb Haaland, a congresswoman representing greater Albuquerque, who's a registered member of a Native American tribe...and  a tax cheat, energy ignoramus, persistent welfare recipient, and marijuana-booster, who has now advanced in the Senate as his nominee to run the $12-billion U.S. Department of the Interior.  Her trump card in qualifications after all those red flags?  That she's half-Native American and has mastered the identity politics games of victimhood.

What could go wrong? 

Unlike, say, Neera Tanden, her deficits for the cabinet post she's nominated for don't involve slippery political operative–style maneuvers or an acid tongue targeting Democrats as often as Republicans.

In Haaland's case, she's in over her head.

Start with her management of her personal life:

She's apparently not a big payer of taxes.  In December, she just filed her taxes for the first time for her 2018 returns:

According to John Solomon's JustTheNews:

"I filed my 2018 federal income tax return in December 2020 without an extension. In 2018, my income was $2,250," she wrote in a supplemental answer filed on Feb. 12 after  Barrasso pressed for more information.

The $2,250 income figure she provided for 2018 in the supplemental answer is different than the various totals she reported in her congressional ethics forms and subsequent amendments.

This is pretty disturbing, given that nobody could actually live on such an amount.  She claimed on some forms income from a retirement fund, but how she got hold of that is unknown.

Prior to that, she identified herself as a hardscrabble single mother who'd lived paycheck to paycheck if not on food stamps and public assistance, but also founded and ran a small business called Pueblo Salsa, before getting involved with tribal affairs through the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors, which then led her to springboard into politics. She got elected to Congress in 2018. She went to college in 1988 at the age of 28, graduated six years later, and became a single mom shortly after in 1994, apparently never marrying.  She completed her law degree in 2006.

Her daughter, whose name is Somah and is some kind of an actress, reports that she lived a nomadic existence, stating in this piece that she went to nine different elementary schools (approximate years 2000–2006).  One of them was in wealthy Santa Monica, California, probably the most far-left fringe city in America.  She apparently got the wokester victimhood shtick down pat from there.  Sonah's pronouns are they/them/she/her on Twitter and they/she/captain on Instagram, however that works.  

This brings us back to her mom.  Despite a law degree and a personal business and various sinecures on New Mexico business boards, she couldn't make more money than $2,000 in 2018? Sounds a little disorganized, for sure.

Haaland's Wikipedia page says she doesn't have a license to practice law in the State of New Mexico.  That could be based on some kind of moral turpitude, or maybe laziness, but it also raises questions as to whether she had the smarts to pass the state bar during all these years since her 2006 graduation. Maybe there's an innocent explanation. Maybe she was making more money doing other things. But then there's that $2,000 income, which doesn't add up easily to someone all that poor.

 And that's not the half of it.

Solomon notes that she reports four different salaries for the same year on different forms, with no explanation given in congressional hearings. At a minimum, she might be incompetent and inattentive to details. At a maximum, she might be a tax evader. Bottom line, taxes for her are for little people and she only pays them when she's nominated to a major government leadership position. Sound like the best person to run a $12 billion agency with 70,000 federal employees? 

This isn't even getting near her other problem, which are her ignorant views on economics, which would presumably become Interior department policy.

Asked about Biden's stroke-of-the-pen shutdowns of oil drilling and hydraulic fracking on federal lands, as well as the sweeping shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline, she said she was all in for Joe Biden's ignorant policies, which are costing thousands of Americans their jobs.

The Boston Globe began its glowing coverage of her here, emphasizing her identity politics over her knowledge of energy production, calling her a "champion of the land":

Of all the groundbreaking appointments President Biden has made to his administration, perhaps the boldest is his choice for secretary of the interior. Representative Debra Haaland of New Mexico, whose Senate confirmation hearings began this week, would be the first Native American appointed to a Cabinet post. And not just any post. The significance of an indigenous American being in charge of federal lands — cruelly wrested from Native people over centuries and rapaciously exploited for their resources — is hard to overstate.

Most of Haaland’s hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week focused on fossil fuel issues, with pointed questions from Republican senators about her stated opposition to drilling and hydraulic fracking on public lands. Haaland emphasized her record of bipartisanship in the House and said that, as secretary, she would be implementing the Biden administration’s agenda, not her own. Biden has issued a pause on new drilling leases as part of a “transition” away from fossil fuels, but current operations can continue.

As for energy production, she says she will defer to Joe Biden, apparently since she knows little of the energy industry or how it fuels the rest of the U.S. economy. She's apparently unaware of how closely its revenues fund many Indian nations, and how some of them have raised protests against Biden's anti-energy production decisions, which undercut their finances. Fox Business reported this exchange:

Risch pressed Haaland to explain why she supports a move that Republicans have said will kill thousands of jobs.

"One of the reasons why is, I support President Biden," she told the hearing's panel. "I think he;s thought deeply about these things, and I think that he cares deeply about our environment, and I do as well."

Asked about how these measures empower petrotyrants abroad, she said she knew nothing.

And asked about Biden's replacement plans for the energy industry, which fuels much of New Mexico's state government, and much of Montana's and Wyoming's, she said pot growing and the tax revenue that comes of it (little of which has materialized in the West Coast states that have counted on it) could replace the energy-derived tax income as well as lost jobs.

According to MarijuanaMoment, which hailed Haaland's position, her confirmation hearing exchange went like this:

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) was pressed on her 2018 remarks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the panel’s ranking member, asked whether it was still her position that tax revenue from cannabis sales could be used to support schools as a replacement for oil and gas royalties as part of a plan to shift away from fossil fuels.

“Well, I think the point of that, ranking member, was to say that we should diversify our funding streams for education and not just rely on one,” she replied.

“Is selling marijuana among what the Biden administration calls ‘better choices’ that the Biden administration has promised to give displaced oil and gas workers?” Barrasso asked. “Is that the better choice? Marijuana?”

“I honestly don’t know what President Biden’s stance is on cannabis currently,” the nominee said.

Which doesn't sound like she knows much about the economics of either industry.

Energy jobs are among the most highly skilled and highly paid in the U.S. The pot industry, in contrast, is mostly unskilled agricultural labor with pay so low the pot industry often uses illegal aliens.

Sound like the right person to be running a $12 billion federal agency?

She's in way over her head. And sadly, it's come to this because Biden wants to check off a box, claiming she's going to be the first Native American to be running the U.S. Department of the Interior? Biden views all of his cabinet appointments through an exclusively identity-politics lens, and leaves the running of the country to whoever can grab power in the void. That's a sad reflection on his coming legacy. Haaland can't even manage her bankbook or tax records and thinks pot sales can take the tax place of oil production in the economy. She has no idea what she's doing and belongs at a poetry festival or a remedial personal finance class. She shouldn't be anywhere near the levers of power. 

 Image: New Mexico Mercury via WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0.