Sisyphus Shrugged - the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our czars
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the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our czars
so in the wake of the Van Jones resignation, I did a bit of searching on the hot new viral wingnut "czar" meme (how new? The wikipedia entry was started in late July) and found the viral ur-czar list. Czars, you may recall, are presidential appointees by fiat who are "unaccountable" to our representatives in congress assembled, and Obama's bypassed Congress to create a huge number of them.

There are, as you can imagine, some issues with with the list.

edit: I am incredibly amused to see how many of these names appear on Politico's list of Obama Czars.

Completely imaginary Czars

I think we should probably start with the czars who don't actually exist, because they're such fun. My favorite is this one
5. Behavioral Science Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: Director of Social and Behavioral Research
Energy Secretary Appointment Established: 2009

...This person will be charged with getting you to agree with government programs, to see why we do what we do and what motivates us….and get us to be motivated to follow government directives. These duties would be set up to identify and understand social and behavioral factors that influence energy consumption to promote the utilization of the results of social and behavioral research to improve the design, development, demonstration and application of energy technologies’ policies and programs
Now, just on its face that is awesome, but it's even awesomer when you follow the source link, which goes to this
Obama Has a Job for Joe Goebbels...Behavioral Science Czar

Obama has a new czar in mind, and Congress is seeking to help him out. There is a bill that was debated on last night. It has to do with the creation of a behavioral science czar to get you to think certain ways. Behavioral science, people. This is a minister of propaganda and marketing!
and the source link there leads to this bill, which had one cosponsor in the House and never made it out of committee

That's not by far my favorite thing wacky blogger snatched from the hairy grasp of the monkeys flying out of her butt, though. That would be these:
Potential Czars not yet vetted

1. Income Redistribution Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009

4. Radio-Internet Fairness Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009

6. Voter List Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009
are (loosely) sourced to a Newsmax article by a guy who thinks Obama is secretly signalling muslims with his tie (deliciously, he also thinks Mark "Matt Drudge rules my world" Halperin is a communist).

2. Consumer Financial Protection Czar, aka Mortgage Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009
links to a Yahoo article about a proposed consumer protection agency Congress has yet to consider establishing

5. Student Loan Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009
is a somewhat fanciful extrapolation from this statement by Glenn Beck: "This is something that Barack Obama said on the campaign trail that now if you see the way they are taking over education as far as controlling who gets a student loan, who doesn't, erasing those student loans if you decide to become a government bureaucrat for ten years, the way they are going after the idea of mandatory service"


But best of all are
3. Land-Use Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009

7. Zoning Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: No information currently.
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009
because they link to an blog post wacky blogger apparently failed to read. Obama's super-seekrit plans to create land use and zoning czars are linked to a reposting of an article about "czar mania" written in 2000, as the author points out in the first sentence.

--

Now about the "Czars" who actually exist.

Brutal autocrats
who went hat in hand to Congress to ask for their jobs

First, there's the thing about bypassing Congress. The blogger who made up the list acknowledges that the confirmation process exists, and that presidential appointees who have been confirmed by Congress were not appointed without congressional input. Mr. Beck says what makes a czar a czar is that they don't undergo confirmation

Nevertheless, these names appear on wacky blogger's list (any comments in bold are mine), along with [blogger]'s suggestions for their Imaginary Czar Titles

"Czars" who wacky blogger acknowledges were confirmed by Congress
6. Bailout Czar: Herbert Allison Jr.
Actual Title: Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability

7. Border Czar: Alan Bersin (Former US attorney)
Actual Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security

21. Government Performance Czar: Jeffrey Zients
Actual Title: Chief Performance Officer
[Did you know that was a cabinet-level office? Mr. Zients is actually Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, and as such he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate]


27. Intelligence Czar: Admiral Dennis Blair
Actual Title: Director of National Intelligence

28. Latin-American Czar: Arturo Valenzuela
Actual Title: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

32. Regulatory Czar: Cass Sunstein
Actual Title: Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

35. Science Czar: John Holdren
Actual Title: Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

36. Stimulus Oversight Czar: Earl Devaney
Actual Title: Inspector General, US Department of the Interior

38. TARP Czar: Elizabeth Warren [yes, the TARP Czar has the same title as the Bailout Czar]
Actual Title: Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, US Department of the Treasury

43. Water Czar: David J. Hayes
Actual Title: Deputy Secretary of the Interior
Then there are a few wacky blogger left off her list of czars-who-aren't-czars because of the whole advise and consent thing
15. Drug Czar: Gil Kerlikowske
Actual Title: Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
[
confirmed by the Senate. So was his deputy director, unanimously]

40. Trade Czar: Ron Kirk
Actual Title: United States Trade Representative
[confirmed 92-5]


42. War Czar: Douglas Lute
Actual Title: Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan
[confirmed 94-4. Oh, wait, no, that was the vote when Bush gave him the job in 2007, when four Senators voted against him because he refused to appear before Congress for advising and consenting purposes]

44. Weapons Czar: Ashton Carter
Actual Title: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
[confirmed by voice vote]

So right up front, we have 14 of the 45 "Czars" who were approved by Congress and aren't, by Mr. Beck's definition, "Czars," one who rules a dystopian steamroller which may exist at some point in the future with the unstoppable force of 2/435 of the House behind it, and seven more somebody made up (in three cases, wacky blogger)

--

Somewhat inaccurate Czar chronology

Wacky blogger has helpfully appended the year the Czar position was established. In a number of cases, that date is not terribly accurate. F'rinstance:
10. Copyright Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009 [post created by a bill signed by Bush last October]

16. Economic Czar: Larry Summers
Actual Title: Director of the National Economic Council
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009 [established 1993 by Clinton, seven predecessors]

29. Mideast Peace Czar: George Mitchell
Actual Title: Special Envoy to the Middle East
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009 [actually, Bush had a few of those. The last one wasn't actually american, and we shared him with Russia and the UN]

31. Pay Czar: Kenneth Feinberg
Actual Title: Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation
Treasury Appointment Established: 2009 [administers rules mandated by 2008 Bush TARP bill]

34. ‘Safe Schools’ Czar: Kevin Jennings
Actual Title: Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009 [Nope. Bush had one]

37. Sudan Czar: J. Scott Gration
Actual Title: Special Envoy to Sudan
Presidential Appointment Established: 2009 [Nope. Bush had one]

Other "Czars" whose positions already existed
1. Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) Czar: Richard Holbrooke
Actual Title: US Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan [this one is fun. See, there was a US Envoy to Pakistan under Bush. There was also a US Envoy to Afghanistan under Bush, and our new envoy will maybe meet him. He worked for Unocal before he went into envoying (you may remember his pro-Taliban article in the Washington Post)]

2. AIDS Czar: Jeffrey Crowley
Actual Title: Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

7. Border Czar: Alan Bersin (Former US attorney)
Actual Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security

11. Counterterrorism Czar: John Brennan
Actual Title: Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security

15. Drug Czar: Gil Kerlikowske
Actual Title: Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

33. Religion Czar: Joshua Dubois
Actual Title: Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
note: a number of the Senate-confirmed positions have the wrong date on them too.

Czar who bagged his Czardom because he didn't have enough autonomy and moved on
30. Mideast Policy Czar: Dennis Ross
Actual Title: Special Advisor for Iran, the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia [Worked for Reagan, Bush 1, and Clinton. Founded AIPAC. Played with PNAC. Actually special advisor to Hillary at State, but wasn't happy. Now at NSC. Not hiring yet.
--

which leaves

Czars who do stuff that Bush didn't give a rat's ass about

specifically
3. Autism Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: Federal ASD Coordinator

4. Auto Recovery Czar: Ed Montgomery
Actual Title: Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Presidential Appointment

8. Car Czar: Ron Bloom
Actual Title: Head of the Obama Administration’s Auto Task Force Presidential Appointment

9. Climate Change Czar: Todd Stern
Actual Title: Special Envoy for Climate Change Presidential Appointment

12. Cybersecurity Czar: Not appointed yet.
Actual Title: Director of the White House Office of Cybersecurity Presidential Appointment

13. Disinformation Czar: Linda Douglass
Actual Title: Communications Director, Office of Health Reform Presidential Appointment

14. Domestic Violence Czar: Lynn Rosenthal
Actual Title: White House Advisor On Violence Against Women Presidential Appointment

19. Energy Czar: Carol M. Browner
Actual Title: Assistant to the President, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change

20. Food Safety Czar: Michael Taylor
Actual Title: Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner for Food Safety Presidential Appointment

22. Great Lakes Czar: Cameron Davis
Actual Title: Great Lakes Czar Presidential Appointment

23. Green Jobs Czar: Van Jones
Actual Title: Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the White House Presidential Appointment

24. Guantanomo Closure Czar: Daniel Fried
Actual Title: US Department of State Special Envoy for Guantanomo Closure Secretary of State Appointment

25. Health Czar: Nancy-Ann DeParle
Actual Title: Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Presidential Appointment

26. Infotech Czar: Vivek Kundra
Actual Title: Chief Information Officer of the United States Presidential Appointment

39. Technology Czar: Aneesh Chopra
Actual Title: Federal Chief Technology Officer of the United States Presidential Appointment

41. Urban Affairs/Housing Czar: Adolfo Carrion
Actual Title: Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy Presidential Appointment

45. Weapons of Mass Destruction Czar: Gary Samore
Actual Title: National Security Council Staff Presidential Appointment
which, I'll admit, is some scary shit. Whatevs.
Comments
dr_strych9 From: dr_strych9 Date: September 9th, 2009 04:36 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
I suspect that patient zero for this meme actually originated with Robert Anton Wilson's TSOG: The Things That Ate The Constitution and his hoaxster friends at the Guns And Dope Party, who appropriated the Second Amendment nuttiness and the Tenther screwheadery, and glued to it the whole Tsarist Occupation Government (TSOG) meme to it. RAW having been more than a little annoyed with the fact that we have a Drug Czar.
dr_strych9 From: dr_strych9 Date: September 9th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
In fact, I'm more than a little concerned about the possibility that I was one of the vectors by which this meme made the jump from hippie freakdom into the wingnut consciousness. Ooops. My bad.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?
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