Czar-struck [Reader Post]

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The word “czar” cannot be found in the United States Constitution, thank God.  Neither can “tsar” for you spelling sticklers.  That, alone, does not mean government czars are unconstitutional but they are nevertheless.

For example, the Marines are not mentioned in the Constitution but providing for the common defense is.  The establishment, organization and funding of the Marines is merely one mechanism by which the specific duty is manifested.

Carried out logically, each of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could be viewed as the czar for each respective military branch.  However, no one would seriously argue that any branch of the military, or any of the Joint Chief positions, is unconstitutional.

But a “green jobs” czar?

The first occasion I could find where an appointed official was called a “czar” was from the early 1970s when the press gave the nickname to John Love, President Richard Nixon’s in-house energy guru.  Perhaps the most visible czar historically was William Bennett, President Ronald Reagan’s drug czar, who was part of a well-publicized effort to convince people, and especially children, to “just say no” to illicit drugs.  President George W. Bush appointed numerous leaders to oversee various areas of government, some of which the White House described as “czars”, some the media merely dubbed as “czars”.  Many were new appointments to old positions created by previous presidents.  To my knowledge, none were approved by Congress.

It’s hard to know who is a “czar” since that title is not officially given.  However, President Barack Obama has zealously appointed czarist leaders at an incredible pace.  Indeed, we now have czars to oversee the auto industry recovery, climate, domestic violence, energy and the environment, restoration of the Great Lakes, executive pay, diversity of the FCC, and the aforementioned “green jobs” just to name a few.  All of these czars have been appointed without congressional confirmation or direct involvement in the process.

It is clear based on the language of the Constitution that these positions are patently unconstitutional.  And It doesn’t matter which president we’re talking about.

Apparently presidents don’t want Congress or the public to know about these appointments before they happen.  How else to explain the appointment of avowed communist Van Jones as “green jobs” czar?  Or John Holdren, the science czar who has advocated forced abortion and forced sterilization as acceptable methods of population control?  Or Mark Lloyd, FCC diversity czar, who believes “white people” should “step down so someone else can have power”?  There would be little mainstream support for such radicals to ascend to the highest eschelons of power if the public could scrutinize them.  But they can’t before the positions are filled.

The problem, however, is not with the czars themselves.  It’s with the federal government’s hegemony over areas of society and our lives that our founders never would have approved.  And we know this because of our founding documents.  The Constitution is a limitation on the powers of the federal government.  Our founders knew that they could not account for every possible scenario and contingency so they divided specific, enumerated powers among the three branches and dramatically limited the areas over which the federal government would have control.  Most governance obligations were supposed to exist locally, not federally.

It makes sense that some areas would fall under the exclusive province of the federal government.  Immigration and border security, military and national defense, foreign policy and treaties, war and peace, foreign trade and tariffs, coining a standard currency–obviously having different states exercising their own powers in these areas would lead to unworkable disunity.  That is part of the Constitution’s brilliant simplicity and design.

As the federal government has expanded into other areas, however, the Constitution has lost import and meaning to the point where this once great document has been rendered largely impotent.  Take just the examples above.  With the exception of energy, for which we have a cabinet level position, there is no authority for the federal government to have any role in climate control, creating “green jobs”, setting executive pay, bailing out the auto industry, or removing “white people” from positions of power so that others can take over.

The closest we can get to constitutional justification for federal involvement in these issues is in two places.  The first is the Preamble which establishes one purpose of the Constitution, to wit: to “promote the general welfare.”  The second is in Article I, Section 8, which authorizes Congress “to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Liberals take these two phrases and extrapolate from them that the federal government has a role to play in anything that promotes or provides for the general welfare, including all of the above examples and much more.  Doing so, however, ignores a couple of key principles.  First, the “general welfare of the United States” does not equate to the specific welfare of any particular individual or group.  It might be a laudable goal to establish, for example, a social safety net for the struggling, fund the growth of new technologies or stem-cell research, stamp out domestic violence or illicit drugs, prevent the spread of AIDS, or address “urban affairs” (whatever those are).  All arguably could promote the general welfare.  But if that’s the definition we intend to apply to constitutional terms, then the federal government has carte blanche.

Second, this dovetails with the unambiguous fact that the Constitution was designed and enacted to limit federal power, not expand it.  Check the Ninth and Tenth Amendments if you doubt it.  Unlike the Marines example which can be traced directly to a clearly enumerated power granted in the Constitution, liberals have to either fit these other powers in the vague “general welfare” category or use convoluted arguments in several steps to fit enumerated powers.  For example, creating “green jobs” and bailing out the auto industry could both be considered national security issues since we are dependent on foreign oil, we seem to be the world’s poster child for environmental destruction (which is laughable), and the stability and growth of our economy is so vital to the world.  Voila, the justification for federal control.  All we have to do is appoint a czar.

But it is the very expansion and centralization of power in the federal government that has created a perceived need for these officials.  No president can possibly maintain a handle on all of these issues.  So expansion creates the need the president can fill extra-constitutionally because no one is complaining.  And those pesky limits on federal power drafted by old, dead white guys?  We can just ignore that part.

Well, I’m complaining and I’m not ignoring it.  Neither should you.  It’s time to scale back federal power to cover only those areas necessary for federal involvement.  I’ve believed this for years but now that I’m “czar-struck” with the revelations about the radicals President Obama has appointed, I’ve reached my limit.

It’s time to depose the czars and eliminate their positions.

Let them go work for ACORN.  I hear they have some openings.

Crossposted from The Los Angeles Examiner

Leo is a conservative trial lawyer (yes, there is such a thing) with 15 years of courtroom experience in Washington and Idaho, and a former Seattle talk radio host. A supporter of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, government that is smaller, less wasteful and more accountable, lower taxes, and a strong military, Leo believes God grants rights to the people who in turn permit the government to regulate as the people see fit...well, at least that's how it should work!

12 Responses to “Czar-struck [Reader Post]”

  1. 1


    I don’t necessarily disagree with you on the extent of the Federal government, but going after the “czar” issue now is, well, not going to be all that productive. As you noted, President Bush had czars too (47 by the Democrats’ count, 13 by Fox News’ count), and there was zippo-nada-nothing said about it. (By the way, kudos for mentioning that; many of the folks writing on this issue don’t want to talk about that aspect of the problem.)

    If you want to criticize individual hires, go right ahead–I thought Van Jones was way too fringe–but blasting the general idea is a bit much.

    Even Darrell Issa, who’s currently speaking against the “unconstitutionality” of Obama’s czars, admits that he didn’t object to Bush’s czars at all. When one of the leading proponents basically admits that he didn’t care about the Constitution when his guy was in office, the argument suffers.

    As long as they aren’t part of the chain of command/control, what’s the big deal? What’s the boundary between “adviser” and “czar?”

  2. 2


    If you want to get down to the nuts and bolts of it, this presidency and this congress are unconstitutional. They all take an oath to uphold and protect the constitution and not one damned one upholds that oath. Therefore they should all be impeached and thrown out of office. Oop’s I missed one other branch of the government the judicial, they should be impeached too. They are supposed to uphold the constitution and the laws of the land , not European Law!

  3. 4

    Old Trooper

    Fit fit,You step in here again and have not cleaned up on Aisle 11 yet.
    After you address your previous mess come back with something that makes sense.
    I defended your 1st Amendment Rights for years but You have taken advantage of that for years.

    If We defund ACORN will You be unemployed?

  4. 5


    I guess for me it’s become dumb.

    They are advisor’s, not tzar’s, or czars, or any other honorific. It was a dumb thing back when Reagan started it with the Drug Czar, and it’s became “bad” when Obama got it.

    I simply hate most of the people who are advising him, and it doesn’t help him fight off Beck’s now-derogatory terminology, when half of them are freakin commies, and put into ridiculous, un-needed positions. Many have no power whatsoever.

    I strongly agree that only the ones with disbursable budgets, or regulatory authority need to be confirmed through the Senate.

    As it stands, nothing in the Constitution restricts the amount of advisors…stoopid jobs or not, stoopid names or not, as long as it is not called a new Cabinet Position as proscribed.

    Yes I know.. not effectively very different in some of these csar-cases, and it is THESE cases the Repubs might want to challege him on….and the freakin commies.

  5. 6



    Truth of czars?? LOL

    I see, Fit Fit… you read an interview with one single individual who says, “gee, they don’t have any power”, and poof…. all memories of the power wielded by Steve Rattner, backed by the WH, over the auto industry simply vanishes from your mind. Gone are all memories of the auto czar and his “task force” shredding federal bankruptcy laws before your very eyes, throwing pensioners with top priority under the bus in order to throw the power to the unions – not to mention government meddling in day to day operational decisions.

    So whattaya gonna believe? Hess’ theories of the way “czars” should work as advisors only? Or the reality of Obama’s transfer of genuine power to his czars, and the events that prove he did just that right before your very eyes.

    Or perhaps you were busy watching the Big Zero pull a rabbit from his butt to amuse the crowds? He seems to stop at nothing in order to distract from what’s going on in the back rooms of the White House.

    Yes, Obama was busy doing the public ol’ soft shoe to dazzle his fans while his auto czars were busy orchestrating the ouster of GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner in the dark of night in the WH halls. Yeah, sure… that’s just advice, and surely doesn’t wield much power. Nor does it overstep the bounds of the executive branch…

    … not if you live in Venezuela, anyway.

    Such a short memory, you have, Fit. Or is it just plain gullible? In which case, perhaps you should exchange those rose colored glasses for some bifocals.

  6. 7


    Author’s note: Since original publication, I have had the time to do more digging and have discovered that some of these “czars” have, indeed, been approved by the Senate. As mentioned in my post, it can be difficult to determine who is a czar and who isn’t. In my haste to publish, I admit I did not have time to research the complete history of every single czar appointment and that is my oversight error. Many, however, have merely been appointed by the president without confirmation. Regardless, neither congressional complicity nor is not a substitute for constitutionality.

  7. 8


    Meet the new safe schools czar. Kevin Jennings, the whole article is a must read. This one grew up in Honolulu, perhaps long time friend, otherwise, where in the world is he finding these people?

    Critics Assail Obama’s ‘Safe Schools’ Czar, Say He’s Wrong Man for the Job
    Critics say Kevin Jennings is too radical for the job of director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, citing what they say is his promotion of homosexuality in schools, his writings about his past drug abuse and his onetime contempt for religion.

  8. 9


    I get the arguments, all fine and good. Points made and points taken.

    For my $40 worth (that’s the current price of my 2 cents — or maybe I should state it in Euro’s):

    I’d rather focus on who they are and what they’re doing (much fodder for the cannon — this entire administration is frightening) than on what they’re called.

    If split into numerous personalities, there’s nothing these Patriots (yeah, changed the name just for fun — see what it does) are doing that Emanuel’s assistant couldn’t do.

    The appointment of Kevin Jennings as the Safe Schools Patriot (to continue the facade) is far more egregious for who he is than for what he’s called.

    Do we just want them to all be subject to confirmation so we can have some hearings to rant through, even though they’ll all be confirmed anyway?

    Focus on the White House as a whole. It’s a pit of snakes. By any other name.

  9. 10


    Do we just want them to all be subject to confirmation so we can have some hearings to rant through, even though they’ll all be confirmed anyway?

    Perhaps the question is simpler…”would my opinion change if my side had the authority?” If your answer is yes, it probably isn’t a good thing for government to do.

    So, if you were fine and dandy with advisers/czars under Bush but suddenly find the idea “unconstitutional” under Obama, you lose. This includes Rep. Issa, who admitted that he never opposed a Bush “czar.” Along the same lines, I recently heard (in person) someone complaining loudly about the “unconstitutionality” of taking a census. Sheesh.

    Oppose the individuals to your heart’s content; that’s what dissent is supposed to be. If, however, you start spouting opinions on what is (or is not) Constitutional, you REALLY need to ask yourself the question I suggested above.

    We go through conservative and liberal cycles, but the Constitution is the constant.

  10. 11



    Wes, like Fit Fit, you are missing the point. Advisors… tho rather redundant, since that’s what cabinet members are supposed to be… are not an issue. It’s the power that is vested in these czars that differentiates them from mere advisors. Perhaps either of you will name any previous czars that wielded the power over the private market that Steve Rattner had as the head of the auto task force for us?

  11. 12


    Sure, he’s an influential adviser, and we can disagree with his advice (I didn’t think we should grab a stake in GM) but are you really suggesting that he made the decisions?

    If you want to go down this road, how do these folks compare to the Cheney energy task force, the membership of which we weren’t even allowed to know? I suggest that, even if you don’t like the guy or his advice, the mere fact that we know who is advising the Executive Branch is an improvement over what we had.

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