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The Return of the Czars

June 16, 2009 by Featured No Comments

President ObamaA Czar is an “emperor.”  To date, President Obama has appointed 21 of them to run various elements of American government. 

I thought it would be helpful to provide you with a list of “Czars” that the President has appointed and the elements of American culture that compose their empires.   

Let it be said at the outset that any President has the right to hire anyone he wants, and many of them have hired experts, political hacks, campaign contributors, friends, wives of friends, girlfriends, assorted losers; and other crooks, boobs, and nincompoops. 

The issue at hand, though, is much weightier than normal White House staff.  The U.S. Constitution is clear about it’s abhorrence of the concentration of power and requires a process to prevent it.  To this end, note Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2: 

“He [the President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to…nominate other public ministers and…all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.” 

I have omitted the portions dealing with specific ministers – Ambassadors, consuls, and judges of the Supreme Court for brevity.  The important thing to see here is that “all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law,” must be nominated and by the President, and with the advice and consent of the Senate receive two thirds of the Senators approving.  For many of the President’s “czars” there is no establishment by law, and certainly no Senatorial approval by a two thirds majority. 

Some of the President’s “Czars” may not need Senate approval, but some of them clearly do.  Among those operating unconstitutionally would be: 

Steven Rattner,  Auto Czar Assistant to Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner 

Mr. Rattner is completely unaccountable to the people, and is carrying out clearly illegal activities (unconstitutional) ordered by President Obama.  There is no Constitutional warrant for the government loaning money to a private entity; and then through the loan taking an equity position, firing the CEO and members of the Board of Directors, preventing the law from being followed in bankruptcy court in order to give a substantial equity position to a political constituency – the United Auto Workers union.  Unbelievable.

 This particular set of events has never been seen in America; and previously has been seen only in the Western hemisphere in places like Nicaragua under the Ortegas, Cuba, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and lately Argentina under Christina Fernandez de Kirchner.  Not only is it illegal activity, it is embarrassing to see the President turning America into a banana republic. 

Ron Bloom,  Car Czar

This 31 year old with an undergraduate degree in Political Science will determine which models GM and Chrysler will make, which dealerships stay in business; in fact, he can tell the manufacturers which colors they will paint their cars.  This individual has power over tens of $billions, and the livelihood of upwards of half a million citizens.  He controls more money and people than most heads of state in the world.  But Mr. Bloom has not been vetted by the Senate; there have been no hearings.  President Obama will run the auto industry through Mr. Bloom, and produce the cars and trucks the administration wants.  This centralized planning for cars will work as well as the Soviet agriculture system, and for the same reasons.

Vivek Kundra,  Information Technology Czar 

Certainly the federal government has every interest in protecting government computers from cyber attacks, and that effort should be wholly supported.  The problem with this arrangement is that this Czar will not be working to protect only government computers, he is charged with protecting every private individual’s computer from attack.  Sorry, but that is not the government’s job.  

Many internet specialists (except Al Gore who invented it) say that what Mr. Obama is proposing cannot be done without intrusion into the websites you visit, and control over email activity.  This from an administration that loudly opposed intercepting communication between identified terrorists and American citizens! 

Todd Stern,  Climate Czar 

The hubris of Mr. Obama has been noticed by political enemies and political friends alike, but his presumption that his administration needs an ‘emperor’ to oversee the climate is just over the top.  

Mr. Stern, of course is not nominated by the President – just named, has no Senate approval, answers to the President alone, and has been given expansive powers that to the degree they exist at all, belong to the Secretary of the Interior.  Again, the Constitution is ignored, and the appointment is unconstitutional. 

Carol Browner,  Energy Czar 

Other presidents had had energy czars, and to the degree they held authority over decisions that affect the lives of millions of Americans and did not go through Senate advice and consent, they held illegal powers.  Carol Browner has long been a socialist, and in favor of world government.  But absent any nomination process and hearings in the Senate, the people have no input on the President’s agenda.  She, like other czars do not have to answer for their activities to Congress even though she will be making decisions that rightly belong to the Department of Energy itself, Department on the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency – all of which require Senate approval. 

Nancy-Ann DeParle,  Health Reform Czar 

Don’t we already have a Secretary of Health and Human Services?  Of course, but a Cabinet Secretary has to be approved by the Senate, and answer to the Senate – a czar doesn’t. 

John Brennan,  Pay Czar 

I have previously posted about this position.  (See, July 16th “Your Income – Under Control”) 

There are many other “czars’ in the Obama Presidency and perhaps some of them are perfectly legal.  But we have Cabinet positions with Secretaries vetted by the Senate for all these activities:  

John Brennan,  Terrorism Czar

Cameron Davis,  Great Lakes Clean-up Czar

Daniel Fried,  Guantanamo Closure Czar

Richard Holbrooke,  Afghanistan-Pakistan Czar

John Brennan,  Terrorism Czar

Adolfo Carrion, Jr.,  Urban Czar

Van Jones,  Green Jobs Czar

Joshua DuBois,  Faith-based Czar

George Mitchell,  Middle East Czar

Earl Devaney,  Stimulus Accountability Czar

David Blumenthal,  Health Infotech Czar

Dennis Ross,  Persia Gulf & Southwest Asia Czar

Gary Samore,  Non-Proliferation of WMD Czar

Erik Ivey,  Culture Czar 

My purpose here is to point out that undoubtedly these “Czars” have been appointed by the President for the purpose of circumventing the normal processes of government; to write law through regulation without legislation circumventing any input from the people’s representatives in Congress.  It’s all unconstitutional.  Mr. Obama talks continuously about being “transparent.”  But his administration is opaque.  Avoiding the scrutiny of Senate hearings, cutting off Cabinet Secretaries at the knees – it’s not pretty.  And it’s not legal or moral either.  

It isn’t legal for any President to appoint any officer or public minister without Senate approval.  That makes these appointments illegal.  The purpose of requiring any president to go through this process is to insure that too much power is not concentrated in any one branch of government.  Under Obama, it is being concentrated in the Executive Branch and the Congress and Supreme Court stand idly by.  The people, through their elected Representatives and Senators have zero input regarding these individuals or the powers they are exercising.  We only have input when nominations are made and Senate hearings are held. 

It is immoral as well.  For the people to be denied representation at the very highest levels of government violates all the moral and legal underpinnings of American government. 

One more point, it is utilitarian for the President.  When things deteriorate, he can fire his Czar, blame him or her for the fiasco, appoint another, and preserve his Cabinet Secretaries who have been approved by the Senate.  The Secretaries can testify before the Congress that they didn’t approve this or that action, and avoid the unpleasant consequence of incompetence or malfeasance.  This provides Mr Obama with a fall guy for almost every government activity.  Neat trick if you don’t care about the Constitution.

Our new rallying cry must be: “Regulation Without Representation!”  Call your Congressman and Senators, and let them know you aren’t going to take it anymore.