Return of the Czars

Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Protection 'Czar'

Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Protection 'Czar'

Has anyone else noticed that one of the hallmarks of the Obama presidency is the proliferation of “Czars”? There seems to be a Czar for pretty much anything you can think of, whether it’s Medicare, the War on Drugs, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Consumer Protection (that would be Elizabeth Warren) or Intellectual Property.

One thing they have in common is that very few of them have been confirmed by the Senate, so they are essentially given significant executive powers with no congressional scrutiny as to their suitability for the post or the agenda they bring to their roles.

Wikipedia reports that of 39 Czar titles doled out by Obama, 33 of them were appointed without Senate confirmation. Don’t think his predecessor, George W. Bush, was much better though: of 32 Czars he appointed, 27 were not confirmed by the Senate. Note that who is and is not a Czar is sometimes unclear, as the titles given to the individuals usually differ.

Needless to say, there are many critics of these types of appointments. Ron Paul says:

Outrageously, [Warren] has been appointed as a “special advisor” to design and lead the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], but the administration has not disclosed the exact length of her term. There will be no Senate confirmation hearings, nor will the public or the financial industry be allowed to comment on her appointment. We simply are expected to accept the appointment of an enormously powerful regulator without question, and without regard to the constitutional requirement that the Senate advise and consent with regard to her appointment. This means you, as a voter and citizen, effectively have no say whatsoever for the duration of her appointment. In the meantime, she has unprecedented new powers over private business decisions. …Real reform starts with transparency and an adherence to the rule of law. The administration would do well to adhere to the law, rather than shoving a new economic czar down our throats without congressional involvement.

He has a point, doesn’t he?

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  • Pb

    It’s the media plastering the term “czar” on everybody..

    I’m not particularly concerned about lack of congressional vetting.. It’s such a political fuckshow in there, anyway.

  • Pb

    It’s the media plastering the term “czar” on everybody..

    I’m not particularly concerned about lack of congressional vetting.. It’s such a political fuckshow in there, anyway.

  • Honu

    Agree with you Pb. Have to say though that there is something curious about Baltic phrasing in our government….Homeland (Dept of Homeland security) and these Czars.

  • Honu

    Agree with you Pb. Have to say though that there is something curious about Baltic phrasing in our government….Homeland (Dept of Homeland security) and these Czars.

    • William Xavier McGarley

      So much for the “liberal” media.

      >Aged Teutonic gentleman with aquiline nose tapping a worn meerschaum against the curiously sculpted monstrosity of a nicotine-stained chrystal ashtray. If one were to politely inquire of Herr Doktor, one would be rewarded with an erudite, hour-long lecture on the peculiar archetypical significance of its embedded lingam/yoni symbolism. Smutty foreigners.<

      "Ja, ja, such Orwellian language closely though ironically attends the deepest psychological needs of our schizophrenic ambivalence as a culture."

      A quick hand reaches toward the botton clasping its collar–but realizing that its awkwardness will be apprehended as a dead giveaway sign of its bourgeosie discomfort, feigns into a light knowing stroke of the finger-tips against the jaws. "Indeed . . . . "

      "Quite."

      That arrogant pr*ck. Like we didn't notice Herr Doktor's 'slightly' arched eyebrow or the practiced nonchalance of the way he tilted his head back as he drew the first hit from his refreshed meerschaum. Whatever . . .

      "Ja ja ja ja ja ja . . . . " sez he, quietly trailing off into his own mental corner. Or should I say "onto his own mental 'thron'"'. "Mein Gott in Himmel! How rude of me–would you care for a hit yourself?"

      "Oh no, thank you. I just dropped about five tabs of acid before coming here today and I'm tripping balls as is. Thank you for the kind offer, though." Complete and utter bullshit, but likely to be effective. Since when has Herr Doktor ever refused to accept the notion of his audience's relative incompetence in the presence of The Great Master Himself?

      After a lengthy silence, a happy smoke cloud indulgently drifts Herr Doktor's thoughts back to the issue at hand. "So . . . . Ja ja ja ja ja ja . . . . The significance of the word 'Czar', in this context. . . . "

      "Yes–that would be interesting, Herr Doktor."

      "Well, it is, in its own way, deceptively simple. Within the framework of Transactional Analysis, as Byrne would say, it is quite obvious that one player wishes to create an ostensible aura of uncomprimising authority around the person so described."

      "Yes, of course."

      "But don't let yourself be deceived," sez he, emphatically jabbing the mouthpiece of his pipe as a prophylactic against his audience's disappointing credulity." Again, 'whatever' . . . .

      He continues: "What is really going on here is an attempt to undermine the MORAL authority of that self same described autocrat, basically underpinning a deep cultural narrative of anti-authoritariansim by invoking the decadance of Eastern potentates."

  • Vox Penii

    The Bolshevik Obama is anointing Czars?

    How Ironic…

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Yet I just read an article discussing how these “Czar” appointments, Warren’s in particular have no real teeth, authority, jurisdiction, etc. So is that the idea? Move the biggest dissidents into cozy jobs where they can’t do anything substantial and then yell at them OR is it about bypassing the totally disfunctional senate and congress?

    Oh wait. The whole “democratic system” is just a big sitcom designed to get us worked up like Spanish football fans about shit that doesn’t matter when the real power mongers remain concealed in plain site in the office towers of Wall street. I almost forgot.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Yet I just read an article discussing how these “Czar” appointments, Warren’s in particular have no real teeth, authority, jurisdiction, etc. So is that the idea? Move the biggest dissidents into cozy jobs where they can’t do anything substantial and then yell at them OR is it about bypassing the totally disfunctional senate and congress?

    Oh wait. The whole “democratic system” is just a big sitcom designed to get us worked up like Spanish football fans about shit that doesn’t matter when the real power mongers remain concealed in plain site in the office towers of Wall street. I almost forgot.

    • 5by5

      The idea is that with the “Say No to Everything Rational” Republicans in the Senate, Obama knew he could never get this awesome defender of average consumers past the Wall Street whores in that “esteemed” government body through the normal, run-of-the-mill appointment process. So instead (for the time-being at least) she will literally “found” the Consumer Protection agency and put her personal stamp on the foundation of the entire organization from the get-go. A move I for one HEARTILY support, because this is a woman who actually gives a damn about REGULAR people. She’s in it to defend the vast majority of Americans against predatory lenders, credit card sharks, and Wall Street three-shell monty schemes, and she can’t be bought off. She’s an honest broker.

      • Haystack

        I’ve heard it argued that he backed down from a worthwhile fight, and that he’s going to end up appointing some Wall Street crony to head the agency once the election is over.

  • E.B. Wolf

    So I guess that makes W a Bolshevik as well?

  • William Xavier McGarley

    So much for the “liberal” media.

    >Aged Teutonic gentleman with aquiline nose tapping a worn meerschaum against the curiously sculpted monstrosity of a nicotine-stained chrystal ashtray. If one were to politely inquire of Herr Doktor, one would be rewarded with an erudite, hour-long lecture on the peculiar archetypical significance of its embedded lingam/yoni symbolism. Smutty foreigners.<

    "Ja, ja, such Orwellian language closely though ironically attends the deepest psychological needs of our schizophrenic ambivalence as a culture."

    A quick hand reaches toward the botton clasping its collar–but realizing that its awkwardness will be apprehended as a dead giveaway sign of its bourgeosie discomfort, feigns into a light knowing stroke of the finger-tips against the jaws. "Indeed . . . . "

    "Quite."

    That arrogant pr*ck. Like we didn't notice Herr Doktor's 'slightly' arched eyebrow or the practiced nonchalance of the way he tilted his head back as he drew the first hit from his refreshed meerschaum. Whatever . . .

    "Ja ja ja ja ja ja . . . . " sez he, quietly trailing off into his own mental corner. Or should I say "onto his own mental 'thron'"'. "Mein Gott in Himmel! How rude of me–would you care for a hit yourself?"

    "Oh no, thank you. I just dropped about five tabs of acid before coming here today and I'm tripping balls as is. Thank you for the kind offer, though." Complete and utter bullshit, but likely to be effective. Since when has Herr Doktor ever refused to accept the notion of his audience's relative incompetence in the presence of The Great Master Himself?

    After a lengthy silence, a happy smoke cloud indulgently drifts Herr Doktor's thoughts back to the issue at hand. "So . . . . Ja ja ja ja ja ja . . . . The significance of the word 'Czar', in this context. . . . "

    "Yes–that would be interesting, Herr Doktor."

    "Well, it is, in its own way, deceptively simple. Within the framework of Transactional Analysis, as Byrne would say, it is quite obvious that one player wishes to create an ostensible aura of uncomprimising authority around the person so described."

    "Yes, of course."

    "But don't let yourself be deceived," sez he, emphatically jabbing the mouthpiece of his pipe as a prophylactic against his audience's disappointing credulity." Again, 'whatever' . . . .

    He continues: "What is really going on here is an attempt to undermine the MORAL authority of that self same described autocrat, basically underpinning a deep cultural narrative of anti-authoritariansim by invoking the decadance of Eastern potentates."

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    In the era of gridlock the power to create offices and appoint people to lead them is one of the few remaining tools left in the Prez’s kit. Czars might be less popular if there way any other way to spur actual action from pre-existing personnel…but since no actual power to make a difference is forthcoming, I’m sure we’ll continue to be awash in hollow titles until we get down to Czar of Dust Bunny Control and Czar of Belly Button Lint Management.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    In the era of gridlock the power to create offices and appoint people to lead them is one of the few remaining tools left in the Prez’s kit. Czars might be less popular if there way any other way to spur actual action from pre-existing personnel…but since no actual power to make a difference is forthcoming, I’m sure we’ll continue to be awash in hollow titles until we get down to Czar of Dust Bunny Control and Czar of Belly Button Lint Management.

  • Pidgefuni

    Short answer, no. No one who has paid any attention at all to the American political system has noticed how these Czars have just recently started to proliferate because they have been proliferating for a while now. Glad to see you and a few others have awakened and wiped the drool off of your face. It would have been nice if any of you were worth a shit when it mattered you know, like sayin’ “hey, there be czars (like 30 years ago), what gives”? And here I thought teabaggers were the only clueless fucks who didn’t know about czars before Obama arrived.

  • Pidgefuni

    Short answer, no. No one who has paid any attention at all to the American political system has noticed how these Czars have just recently started to proliferate because they have been proliferating for a while now. Glad to see you and a few others have awakened and wiped the drool off of your face. It would have been nice if any of you were worth a shit when it mattered you know, like sayin’ “hey, there be czars (like 30 years ago), what gives”? And here I thought teabaggers were the only clueless fucks who didn’t know about czars before Obama arrived.

  • Anonymous

    The idea is that with the “Say No to Everything Rational” Republicans in the Senate, Obama knew he could never get this awesome defender of average consumers past the Wall Street whores in that “esteemed” government body through the normal, run-of-the-mill appointment process. So instead (for the time-being at least) she will literally “found” the Consumer Protection agency and put her personal stamp on the foundation of the entire organization from the get-go. A move I for one HEARTILY support, because this is a woman who actually gives a damn about REGULAR people. She’s in it to defend the vast majority of Americans against predatory lenders, credit card sharks, and Wall Street three-shell monty schemes, and she can’t be bought off. She’s an honest broker.

  • Haystack

    I’ve heard it argued that he backed down from a worthwhile fight, and that he’s going to end up appointing some Wall Street crony to head the agency once the election is over.

  • Haystack

    Congressional involvement tends to consist of ridiculous ideological battles that leave agencies leaderless for absurdly long periods of time. I’d rather see agencies actually be able to function than for every appointee to get vetted by a Congress that looks for ways to exploit each and every nomination as political theater.

  • Haystack

    Congressional involvement tends to consist of ridiculous ideological battles that leave agencies leaderless for absurdly long periods of time. I’d rather see agencies actually be able to function than for every appointee to get vetted by a Congress that looks for ways to exploit each and every nomination as political theater.

  • E.B. Wolf

    So I guess that makes W a Bolshevik as well?

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