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Wanna be a Czar?

June 15, 2009

Bill Clinton, shown here with his mythical "Banana Czar," got a lot of ribbing from the press over his appointment of various "Czars." He's not the only president to put personally appointed bureaucrats in positions with sweeping powers for specific purposes. Most presidents in recent years have had "Drug Czars," for instance. But in just a few months Obama has already appointed six times more "Czars" than any president appointed during his entire term of office.

Richard Nixon was the first president to appoint a "Czar;" he had two. Ronald Reagan and Bush the First had one each. Clinton had three, and Bush the Second had four. Obama is at 27 and counting. One columnist has predicted that his reign will be known as the "Dynasty of 1,000 Czars."

I suspect that this is part of Obama's jobs creation program. If you are among the almost 10% of Americans who are unemployed, you may want to apply for a "Czar" position. They don't seem to require much education or training (or even brains, when you consider some of his appointments). A lot of the good "Czar" positions are already taken, but given Obama's recent announcements of proposed laws and taxes that will force every American to eat, work and think exactly as he dictates (or face the consequences), there will be others. Here is a partial list of "Czar" openings that are likely to be announced soon:

Internet Taxation Czar
Allowed Literature Czar
Hate Czar
Prohibited Thoughts Czar
European Emulation Czar
Apologies Czar
US Criticism Czar
Church Restrictions Czar
Muslim Promotion Czar
Child Indoctrination Czar
Israel Disarmament Czar
Central Planning Czar
Collective Thinking Czar
Salt & Sugar Czar
Fried Foods Czar
Soda Czar
Bailout Czar
Income Redistribution Czar

If you don't see a job on this list that fits your particular needs, don't despair. If the last few months are a guide, there will be hundreds more of these desirable power positions available in the near future.
Obviously I am having a bit of fun with a very serious subject. But many of the positions above may actually be created. The Obama Administration has already announced plans to start taxing non-diet sodas, salty foods and sugary snacks, for instance. So don't be surprised when he names an Approved Foods Czar to enforce his views on diet.

Obama's Czarist mentality was evident early on. During his campaign he broadly hinted that he would name Al gore his Climate Czar if he was elected, in an attempt to get the "Global Warming" fanatics on his side. (Obama knew Gore wouldn't actually take the job, because he's making hundreds of millions conning people with his junk science.) Between Election Day 2008 (a day that shall live in infamy) and the day he took office (a national Day of Mourning), he named more than a dozen czars

What exactly is a "Czar?" Under previous presidents "Czars" were appointed to coordinate the work of various governmental agencies tasked with the goal of solving a high-profile problem. But according to Constitutional experts and both Republican and Democrat lawmakers, Obama is using the appointment of "Czars" to circumvent the Constitution and the oversight of the Senate. For example, senior Democrat Senator Robert Byrd has said he believes Obama's overuse of non-confirmed new bureaucrats is a "...slick way of governing without having to answer to Congress."

Most of these appointments do not have to be confirmed. Obama just creates a new position, and says to his minions, "Make it so." Many of his appointments overlap with the authority of legitimate Secretaries (such as His Energy Czar and the Secretary of Energy). The "Czar" appointments give King Obama these advantages:

1) In most cases they avoid those annoying Senate confirmation hearings.
2) They are a useful way to circumvent Constitutional restrictions on his power.
3) They have more power than many elected and Senate-confirmed officials.
4) The "Czars" report only to Obama, avoiding scrutiny even by the Cabinet level officials whose authority they usurp.
5) They are near-Cabinet-level positions in terms of control, but most are able to do their damage with minimal media scrutiny.
6) Best of all (for Obama), if the "Czars" actually accomplish anything, he will take the credit. If they do terrible damage to our Republic, he'll blame them.
7) Worst of all (for America), the "Czars" appointed SO FAR control $1.7 TRILLION of our tax dollars. That doesn't count the positions yet to be created.

Foreign Policy Magazine's David Rothkopf calls the short Obama reign, "The most prolific Czarist dynasty in history." He claimed in a recent article that Obama has created more Czars in three months than the Romanovs created in their three centuries of rule in Russia. There were 18 Romanov Tsars (Czar is the English version of the Russian word Tsar). This seemed improbable, even though a Reuters article had a longer "Czar" list than Rothkopf. But just a few minutes of research on the Internet proved his point.

Compensation Czar Kenneth Feinberg
Border Czar Alan Bersin
Energy Czar Carol Browner
Non-Proliferation Czar Gary Samore
Guantanamo Closure Czar Daniel Fried
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske
Faith-Based Czar Joshua DuBois
Stimulus Czar Earl Devaney
Intelligence Czar Dennis Blair
TARP Czar Herb Allison
Technology Czar Vivek Kundra
Urban Czar Adolfo Carrion, Jr.
Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein
Climate Czar Todd Stern
Terrorism Czar John Brennan
Health Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle
Mideast Peace Czar George Mitchell
Sudan Czar J. Scott Gration
Afghanistan & Pakistan Czar Richard Holbrooke
Persian Gulf and Southwest Czar Dennis Ross
Economic Czar Paul Volcker
Weather Czar John Holdren
Government Performance Czar Jeffrey Zients
WMD Policy Czar Gary Samore
Car Czar Steve Rattner
Great Lakes Czar (not kidding) - Not yet named
Cyber Czar - Not yet named
AIDs Czar - Not yet named
Green Jobs Czar - Not yet named

By the way, some of the people referred to as "Czars" have fancy titles such as "Special Envoy." But the definition and structure of the jobs is the same. Also, Obama and Company have backed off from calling certain people "Czars." For example, the name "Car Czar" was just too silly-sounding, so they changed the title.

When the country was run under the Constitution, the lines of authority were pretty clear. But Obama has appointed so many "Czars" that the lines between areas of responsibility are becoming blurred. I suggest that Obama appoint a "Czar Czar" to coordinate all the "Czars" before things really get out of hand.

What's so bad about Obama's "Czars?" What difference will a few dozen or a few hundred new bureaucrats make? The problem is that they have been granted far-reaching, undefined powers. Their only real mandate is to further Obama's far-left agenda. They have the power to do this by making hundreds of decisions that will change the face of America - and it will be done under the radar. By the time most Americans are aware of the damage they have done, in many cases it will be too late to reverse it.

What kind of damage can they do? We could talk about this for hours. But let's just look at one example of what has already happened, and one example of what is going to happen.

"Car Czar" Steve Rattner was given unlimited power over the automobile industry. He used it to order GM into bankruptcy; make sure that certain large banks that supported Obama were paid millions, while the investors got nothing; and give 50% of the stock to labor unions. No Act of Congress. No court order. Just Steve Rattner acting as judge, jury and Congress (with King Obama's approval, of course).

The "Technology Czar," Vivek Kundra, has the power to decide which technologies will fail or succeed. In the good old days of capitalism, the market decided which technology was superior. Do you remember Betamax? Probably not. This was Sony's version of the videotape. The market decided that VHS was better, and Betamax lives with the 8-track tape. Under Obama, the government will decide which technology survives. How much do you want to bet that the winners will be companies run by liberal Democrats who contributed heavily to Obama's campaign?

The real Czars were a law onto themselves, very much like the current Russian Czar Vladimir Putin. They did whatever they wanted to do, and answered to nobody. Obviously Obama hasn't given his "Czars" that kind of power. He reserves that kind of unrestrained power for himself.

"What do you mean, 'Unrestrained,' Tom? We have checks and balances. The Congress can override Obama. The Supreme Court can rein him in." Currently, yes. But never forget that almost all real change takes place at the hands of bureaucrats. There are nameless, faceless unelected bureaucrats at all levels in the government who have survived changing administrations for decades. They know more, and in many ways have more power, than Senators and Congressmen. But they are under the scrutiny and control of elected officials, and we elect those officials. So there is restraint on their power.

Under the Obama Czarist government all that is changing. The "Czars" answer to Obama. They will make changes, small ones at first, that will eventually change everything about our lives. Obama will decide what kind of cars can be manufactured, what kind of food we can eat, what our children will be taught in school. 

Eventually we may see another Obama - Putin parallel. Putin is no longer the President of Russia. But he still runs the country. Like ours, the Russian Constitution prohibits a president from serving a third term. No problem. He hand-picked the next president (Dmitry Medvedev), used the power he had garnered by using bureaucrats to usurp elected officials, and was then nominated by Medvedev to be prime minister.

I pray that America wakes up very soon and realizes what it has done by electing this man. He is amassing so much power unto himself that it will take every Republican and many Democrats to defeat him in 2012. If he gains a second term, the damage he could do to our Republic is incalculable. By then, like Putin, he would have the power to hand-pick his successor, use the power and money he has gained to ensure his election, and then manipulate him from behind the curtain.

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Copyright ©2009 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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