Looking back from 2016 on eight strange years of President Barack Obama's administration, we see that it has been nothing like what idealists believed they were electing in 2008.
The Obama years will be remembered in the Ministry of Truth's official history as the era of 1,000 czars, the elitist commissars he gave the power to rule by fiat in every sector of America's government, economy, and society.
During Obama's 2008 campaign, he hinted that, if elected, he would name former Democratic Vice President Al Gore as our country's “climate czar.”
Shortly after Obama's election, Gore, despite his prize-winning railings against global warming (during the beginning of record cold weather), turned down this undefined climate czar position.
Obama knew Gore would refuse the offer. The former vice president has made himself very, very wealthy by hyping greenhouse fears and government policies to remedy this purported climatic catastrophe with carbon credits.
Gore is heavily invested in companies that offer these pseudo-scientific indulgences to absolve environmental sins and stands to boost his fortune from his meager $100-million-plus status to the stratospheric wealth of a billionaire — if and when carbon offsets become a way to avoid crushing taxes and penalties.
In theory, Gore certainly could promote his mercenary missionary work as climate czar. But to be confirmed, he would have to come clean about how he profits from the climate scare.
Gore had to avoid such scrutiny before a congressional confirmation hearing, as Obama knew. Therefore, he was sure to refuse the job.
Or was Gore's concern merely that he would have to relinquish many millions of dollars in private profit during his time as climate czar while other companies reaped the lucrative fear seed harvest Gore spent years planting?
Similarly, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt turned down Obama's invitation to be America's “tech czar,” a job with a loud voice in deciding which companies and technologies succeed or fail.
Gore's refusal cleared the way for global warming activist and RINO California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger to become Obama's climate czar.
Another of Obama's czars with conservative credentials was oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who had his own passion and profits from replacing gasoline with natural gas to promote. In 2004, Pickens helped fund the Swift Boat ads that sank Democratic standard-bearer John F. Kerry's presidential bid.
But having at near-Cabinet rank a sunbelt Republican the public could blame for periods of high fuel prices was more important to President Obama than settling a score over the richly deserved defeat of wealthy Boston elitist Kerry.
The term czar appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution — but then, our cornerstone document never mentions political parties, either. (America's founders rightly viewed political parties as “factions,” power-hungry conspiracies against the public good.)
Czar, the title of imperial Russia's autocratic rulers, and kaiser, the label for German rulers, derive from their languages' words for caesar, title of ancient Rome's imperial rulers.
Caesar, of course, was the distinguishing family nickname of Julius Caesar and of his adopted nephew Octavian, who became the first titled emperor, Augustus.
Roman historians inferred that a likely origin for this name was the Latin word for a thick head of hair (caesaries), probably a joke attached to a family known for its male pattern baldness. To call the balding Julius by the name Caesar was like calling a fat man “Slim.” But this apparently humorous term came to be synonymous with “ruler.”
What defined the caesars, the kaisers, and the czars, of course, was that they were a law onto themselves, rather like today's autocratic new Russian Czar Vladimir Putin. These rulers answered to no one and governed pretty much as they wished. Their undefined powers could be expanded by whim and caprice.
This same sort of far-ranging, undefined power to take on issues and problems has been granted to others in recent U.S. administrations.
Republican President George H.W. Bush, for example, gave sweeping latitude of action to go after illicit drugs and their users to his “drug czar,” Bill Bennett.
In 2008 a Democratic Congress passed legislation to create an “intellectual property czar” to grapple with thorny issues of patents, copyrights, and the piracy and counterfeiting of products ranging from drugs and fashion to music, video games, and movies. Entities such as Google initially opposed this legislation, but many in the television and motion picture industry eagerly supported it.
What surprised and stunned onlookers was President Barack Obama's appointment of hundreds of these petty dictators to expand government's tentacles into nearly every nook and cranny of American government, business, and personal life.
For example, Obama created a “car czar” as his viceroy to the automobile industry in Michigan and elsewhere. His first choice for this post was Georgetown University law professor Daniel Tarullo.
The car czar was to twist arms of the big motor vehicle companies to produce more dual fuel and improved mileage cars and trucks. These are the very kinds of products with $1,500-per-vehicle-union-legacy-costs-in-pensions-and-health-insurance that the big three automakers had ditched in favor of bigger, more profitable cars and trucks.
Above all, the job of Obama's car czar was to protect the Democrat-funding United Auto Workers, even if shielding this union's dues-paying jobs cost taxpayers not only higher car and truck prices but also $100 billion or more in government bailouts for the big three auto makers.
The same was true for all of Obama's hundreds of czars, his little caesars: Job One has been to protect those who bankroll the Democratic Party and to damage those who oppose the Democrats.
Thus it has been these past eight years for President Obama's bailout czar and urban planning czar, his education czar and Latin America czar, his cybersecurity czar and Internet czar, his Afghan-Iraq war czar and income redistribution czar, the voter list czar and radio-Internet fairness czar, and many hundreds more.
And through their partisan power, Barack Obama became America's permanent caesar.
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