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Czars:

Others have pointed out that having offices called "czars" is an odd naming choice for a democracy. But czars weren't just authoritarians. They were ultimately authoritarians who left their country far poorer than their more democratic counterparts, lost a world war, and of course paved the way for an even worse system of government. The label "czar" thus doesn't historically connect to a model of strongman effectiveness -- it connects to a model of strongman failure.

(Of course, I recognize that czars in the federal government don't have even a fraction of the truly dictatorial power of their namesakes. But the label was used for a reason, presumably to evoke the positive connotation of strong authority that Gets The Job Done. Yet the specific strong authority that the label evokes proved to be unable to get the job done, at least under anything approaching modern conditions -- under any sensible definition of "job," possibly with the significant but narrow exception of the job of defeating Napoleon -- and unable in a way that culminated with a disaster of historic proportions.)

Josh-----:
This post is factually inaccurate. The Tsarist system worked quite well for many hundreds of years and gave rise to great amounts of Russian progress and culture. While several Tsars became notorious for their brutality and ineffectiveness, it's unfair and historically inaccurate to conflate the entire system with the failures of, e.g., Nicholas II.

Peter, too, was a Tsar.
9.6.2009 12:35am
David Hardy (mail) (www):
I'm waiting for them to bring back Kaisers. Kaisers got snappy uniforms, I could go for that. Then they can bring back Archdukes, Princes and Popes of various subjects.

It has been unclear to be just what a czar is supposed to do. He (so far there have been no Czarinas) has no legislative or rulemaking authority. He has no line authority over anyone, and no power to hire and fire. So what he does, other than issue press releases and maybe advising the President (which requires no status) is beyond me, Collects a paycheck is, of course, a possibility,
9.6.2009 12:37am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Just typical English practice, take some foreign word, give it a meaning only partially related to the original, then go on your merry way.

Just be glad they don't spell it "tsar". Perhaps TSA will when they get around to adding such posts.
9.6.2009 12:40am
jgshapiro (mail):
None of these policy czars have any power to decide anything anyway; they just have the president's ear with respect to a specific policy priority (e.g., drugs, global warming).

How about 'general'? If you are going to have a war on drugs, shouldn't it be run by a general?
9.6.2009 12:41am
jgshapiro (mail):
None of these policy czars have any power to decide anything anyway; they just have the president's ear with respect to a specific policy priority (e.g., drugs, global warming).

How about 'general'? If you are going to have a war on drugs, shouldn't it be run by a general?
9.6.2009 12:41am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I fear we're all headed to General Poverty.
9.6.2009 12:43am
neurodoc:
So what designation might better serve the purpose? Surely not "caudillo." "Supreme Leader" won't do for anyone but the very top person in the land, and when used for that top person, e.g., Ayatollah Khamenei, it sounds so creepy as to negate any possible positive image of the person and of the system that empowered them.
9.6.2009 12:47am
second history:
How about 'general'? If you are going to have a war on drugs, shouldn't it be run by a general?

Not if its your button happy finger on the button. ;-)
9.6.2009 12:50am
Don de Drain:
We know that the wives of the Czars are called Czarinas. But did you know that the Czar's children are called Czardines?
9.6.2009 1:01am
BetterThanTheAlternative:
Perhaps because the title "Executive Pay Dictator" or "Auto Industry Commandant" would reveal a bit more than is desired about the actual function of the office?
9.6.2009 1:02am
A. Zarkov (mail):
The core question here is the nature of a so-called "Czar." Is a Czar more than just a consultant with no policy making powers, or is a Czar an end run around the confirmation process so Obama can appoint communists such as Van Jones? Another question: Why does Obama need so many of them? Most presidents have had only one or two. George Bush had a total of 36 for his entire administration. But Obama has appointed 32 in just the first 8 months. Wikipedia provides a tally here. Congress should not fund these positions. In my opinion the correct number of Czars is zero.
9.6.2009 1:07am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Neurodoc:

So what designation might better serve the purpose? Surely not "caudillo."

How about Gauleiter?
9.6.2009 1:10am
Ohgoodgrief (mail):
How about Commissars?
9.6.2009 1:15am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
I think Prostetnic is quite appropriate.
9.6.2009 1:30am
Kirk:
Well, I think neurodoc unintentionally showed us the way: "Ayatollah".

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could refer to Van Jones as the "Green Jobs Ayatollah"? Maybe we should just start doing it and see if it catches on...
9.6.2009 2:03am
Mark N. (www):
A Slate article from a few months ago chronicles the word's adaptation. It actually began to be used in the current sense quite soon after the fall of the actual Russian Tsars, and outside of government: the first baseball commissioner in 1920 was described by the newspapers as the "baseball czar".
9.6.2009 2:10am
Arturito:
Czar, Cesar, Shah, Khan, King, Rey, Roi, it's all the same, and America's Republic should be ashamed of using the title for anybody - absolutely anybody in any political job, even as a joke. I was disturbed when Bill Bennet was first named the first czar in 1989; I'm 30 times as disgusted today.
9.6.2009 2:24am
Peter Metcalfe (mail):
Given that the Bulgarian Kings were also Czars, it's a bit of a mistake to focus on the Russian model.
9.6.2009 2:43am
Litigator-London:
Title inflation is not an uniquely American problem: we have the same phenomenon in the UK and nor is it confined to the English-speaking world.

This is just another example of the devaluation of the language by political hyperbole, other examples being 'the war on drugs' and the 'global war on terror' or even (this from my local municipality) 'a blitz on graffiti'. All are expressions designed to give the public the (usually false) impression that effective action is to be be taken to remedy an identified problem.

The advertising and PR companies are the masters of the misuse of language to deceive the gullible. Among my junk mail yesterday was a flier for a retailer of cheap furniture offering a dining table and chairs made of some beech wood effect material with the chair seats padded in faux leather.

One such advertising organisation is reputed to have had an executive with the title: Creative Director of the Universe which seems to me to represent blasphemy rather than mere hyperbole.

Caesar Augustus was careful to discourage title inflation during the early years of his principate and perhaps today's office holders should take care to follow that example.
9.6.2009 2:50am
/:
and the 'global war on terror'

I'm not entirely sure how this is hyperbole.
9.6.2009 3:10am
DangerMouse:
Wouldn't it be awesome if we could refer to Van Jones as the "Green Jobs Ayatollah"? Maybe we should just start doing it and see if it catches on...

Not anymore....

The wheels on the bus go round and round...
9.6.2009 3:12am
James Gibson (mail):
Czar, sometimes spelled Tzar, a slavic word of bulgarian origin used to mean Caesar. Thus, having the same meaning as Kaiser in German.

Used to represent kings, or emperors, in Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria for centuries. Essentially used to mean a warrior ruler such as Caesar.

Most Russian Czars lived up to this including Peter the Great. The problem is did they make war on their people or on the nations bordering Russia.

Note also how its reserved for men. Yes the wives of Czars are called Czarinas but they are not rulers in the same way as Czars. Catherine the Great however is know as the Empress of Russia.
9.6.2009 3:23am
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
The first time I remember the term's being used in the current sense was applied to the NYC transit czar, but I understand the term was popular in the 1930s both in NY and federally and goes back to the 19th C. The impression I get of a czar has been someone whose job is to overcome lack of cooperation between existing bureaus. Like "czar of all the Russias".
9.6.2009 3:35am
tvk:
Josh kind of has a point. But when you consider that in nearly four centuries of Czars, you got one great Czar, one moderately great Czarina, one kind of good Czar (Alexander II), and many more mediocre and worse, it still doesn't add up to much of a legacy. Sure, Russia improved and modernized during that period, but that can be said to be in spite of, not because of, the autocratic governance system.
9.6.2009 3:52am
Perseus (mail):
Czars are fine so long as they have an office of Brutus (or the Slavic equivalent) to kill them off after a short period.
9.6.2009 4:50am
A. Zarkov (mail):
According to Wikipedia "The insignia for the rank of Gauleiter consisted of two oak leaves worn on a brown colored collar patch." As shown here. Compare and contrast to the US Coat of Arms for the Virgin Islands here. Replace the swastika with some red white and blue strips, and you pretty much have the same thing. Now look at the Romanov Coat of Arms-- here. Very similar to both. Really close to the US Coat of Arms except the eagle is a double. In some ways governments are all alike.
9.6.2009 5:14am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Whoops try this for the Romanov Coat of Arms.
9.6.2009 5:17am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Van Jones is now toast, but it seems like his "truther" signature did him in more than his overt communism, and hostility to white people. But look at who else signed the petition.

Daniel Ellsberg, author, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, TIKKUN Magazine, author, Healing Israel/Palestine

Peter Erlinder, professor, William Mitchell College of Law, past-President National Lawyers Guild

The complete list is here.
9.6.2009 5:33am
Chris MM (mail):
Perhaps the Czars were modeled after Simeon I of Bulgaria, in which case, the title was chosen for its connotation of effectiveness.

Seriously, though, you know libertarianism has jumped the shark when libertarians start worrying about what borrowed foreign labels are used to refer to relatively powerless appointed members of an administration. 'Cause you know, it's a slippery slope from calling someone "drug czar" to them acting like Ivan IV and thinking they run the whole place.
9.6.2009 6:23am
Malvolio:
Seriously, though, you know libertarianism has jumped the shark when libertarians start worrying about what borrowed foreign labels are used to refer to relatively powerless appointed members of an administration.
Seriously? Seriously? That's your gauge of the significance of a political philosophy -- if one of its adherent muses publicly about an odd word choice, the whole philosophy must be on the fast track to insignificance?
9.6.2009 7:04am
mls (www):
First he was a communist. Then he was a czar. Now it seems he's just rushin.

Poor [I]van. He wasn't much of a czar, but he certainly was terrible.
9.6.2009 8:17am
PersonFromPorlock:
Well, if "Czar" is meaningless, at least it's short. Certainly shorter than "Senior Vice President for..." which would be roughly its business equivalent.

I don't find czars to be an especially alarming development; their powers are merely delegated existing presidential powers, and such delegation is entirely within the president's purview. The real objection ought to be that the president has so many powers to delegate.
9.6.2009 8:59am
Angus:
But Obama has appointed 32 in just the first 8 months. Wikipedia provides a tally here.
I looked over that list and a lot of them are bogus. Wikipedia accepts even one reference by one journalist at FoxNews or a conservative magazine as enough to list someone as a czar. So even if the position has been around for 30-40 years, it counts as an Obama czar because a conservative says so.

Van Jones is now toast, but it seems like his "truther" signature did him in more than his overt communism
Longing for another witchhunt of people in government for their political views? Yes, that was so lovely the first time around.
9.6.2009 9:05am
martinned (mail) (www):

and the 'global war on terror'

I'm not entirely sure how this is hyperbole.

You mean apart from the fact that it's not really global, it's not actually a war, and it's not against "terror"?
9.6.2009 9:31am
Billy Oblivion (mail):

America has "Czars" because there are still a few respectable people using the titles of "Capo" and "Don"

- Commenter CJF

from Samizdata.net
9.6.2009 9:36am
sbron:
Maybe William Simon was the first Federal Govt. Czar?
As energy czar under Nixon, he certainly helped destroy the 70s economy. Both the 73 and 78 oil shortages were greatly exacerbated by government controls on transportation of the product and resale. We seem to be repeating the 70s energy (or lack thereof) experience by carbon taxation and Green Church fanaticism.

I'm starting to wonder if Obama resembles Nixon even more than Carter. Parallels include expanding an unpopular war (Afghanistan instead of Vietnam) after promising to end it quickly, worsening racial divisions (Philadelphia Plan quotas, Obama's renewed disparate impact emphasis.) Both have an underlying dislike of industry and technology. Nixon shut down the aerospace industry by first canceling the manned space program, then the supersonic transport. Obama and the Democrats certainly helped wreck the domestic auto industry with over-regulation and energy policies (no drilling) leading to high gas prices.
9.6.2009 9:44am
martinned (mail) (www):

Obama and the Democrats certainly helped wreck the domestic auto industry

Not to burst your bubble, but the US auto industry is quite capable of wrecking itself...
9.6.2009 9:54am
Guest99:
Agree with Josh. EV is thinking only of the recent czarist past. Prior to the early 20th century Russian czars were relatively effective. And of course "caesar" (from which czar is derived) is sort of the archetype of a successful dictator, at least if we are talking about caesar augustus.
9.6.2009 10:05am
Fedya (www):
Note also how its reserved for men. Yes the wives of Czars are called Czarinas but they are not rulers in the same way as Czars. Catherine the Great however is know as the Empress of Russia.


That's because Peter I (the Great) took the title of Imperator, or Emperor. Catherine was an Imperatritsa -- and all the tsars from Peter I on were also Emperors or Empresses.
9.6.2009 10:06am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
From what I recall the total list of titles taken by (later at least) czars is quite long. I'm surprised none of them added Top Dog for the hell of it.
9.6.2009 10:31am
Kirk:
DangerMouse,

Sure, it's nice to see him gone, but does that change anything about the language? "In other news today, 9/11 Truther and former Green Jobs Ayatollah Van Jones was seen ..."

Still works for me. :-)
9.6.2009 11:20am
methodact:
The term used to be used in quotes because it is blatant usurpation. People are conditioned by the controlled media hyperbole, and once told something enough, they come to believe it. Once the quotes get dropped, it seems to become a reality for many people.

George Bush's "unitary executive" actions were also usurpations and those violations against the Constitution are still in need of prosecution. Some here think DoJ and torture etc., is some kind of glee club and are jusr proud to have belonged. (You know who you are.)
9.6.2009 11:32am
Eugene Volokh (www):
I'm of course not at all just talking about the last czar. I'm talking about the fact that Russia after the aggregate of all the czars was much weaker, economically, politically, and militarily than the Western European and Central European powers, which had shifted to much less or somewhat less authoritarian models some time between the 1600s and the 1800s. (Even Germany under the Kaiser was considerably less strongman-focused than Czarist Russia.)
9.6.2009 11:52am
Kirk:
Eugene,

And it's not just the strongman Czar, either: what year was it that the serfs were emancipated?
9.6.2009 11:56am
martinned (mail) (www):

Even Germany under the Kaiser was considerably less strongman-focused than Czarist Russia.

There's an understatement. In the Second Empire, the Kaiser could not enact a law without the approval of the Reichstag. It was Bismarck's Germany, not the Emperor's.

Whether Russia's isolation and retardation is only due to the Czars, though, I'm not sure. There were other forces at work that pushed towards this outcome, including a nobility who benefited from the existence of slavery, etc., and a Church which was by nature more aligned with the state than in other countries.
9.6.2009 11:57am
~aardvark (mail):
Congress should not fund these positions. In my opinion the correct number of Czars is zero.

I give A.Zarkov the prize for having content to noise ratio of near 0--not one intelligent claim so far. Here's a hint for you, Zarkov--what was Van Jones's official title and who funded the office?

Mark Kleiman is right--if one wants to make "batshit crazy" comments and remain an active participant in public discourse, he better be Republican.
9.6.2009 12:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"Wikipedia accepts even one reference by one journalist at FoxNews or a conservative magazine as enough to list someone as a czar."

Is it your position that Obama's high "Czar count" is entirely an artifact of Fox News?

"Longing for another witchhunt of people in government for their political views?"


Presumably there are no witches, but does this mean there were never any communists in the US government? How about Alger Hiss and Henry Dexter White to name but of few of many who influenced American policy?
9.6.2009 12:34pm
methodact:
I filed against Bill Bennett for the usurpation, at the US Supreme Court. He immediately resigned. It wasn't an "abdication".
9.6.2009 12:40pm
Patent Lawyer (mail):
I prefer Sholom Aleichem's line on the Czars--and I think it applies to our modern American kind as well:

"May G-d bless and keep the Czar(s)...far away from us."
9.6.2009 12:44pm
/:
martinned,
You mean apart from the fact that it's not really global, it's not actually a war, and it's not against "terror"?


Well, it's spread out sufficiently -- or at least sporadically -- and enough sovereign states have gone along to be nicknamed "global", there's been fighting under its banner, and at least some of the fighting has been against people who strap bombs to themselves and blow up in hopes of frightening people.

I think you're really stretching to dismiss it as absolutely none of those things. The closest thing "The War On Drugs" has to war on drugs is paying countries to not plant stuff. That's hyperbole.
9.6.2009 12:49pm
methodact:
And there are so many extraordinary writs available - for just one example, with the sign-manual, Annotatione Principis, the emperor excuses a casual homicide.
9.6.2009 12:54pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
~aardvark:

"... what was Van Jones's official title and who funded the office?"

I see that in true Alinsky fashion you need to personalize and insult. But to answer your question according to Wikipedia Van Jones held the title "Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation" at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Congress established CEQ within the Executive Branch. Presumably Congress authorizes funds for the CEQ that they created. Obama appointed Nancy Sutley to head the CEQ and she appointed Van Jones as a Special Adviser. Now perhaps Jones serves without pay or his salary is picked up by something other than the US government, but so what? If not for CEQ there would be no "Green Czar" and Congress created the CEQ, so what's your problem?
9.6.2009 12:55pm
MartyA:
We have czars because Bill Ayers is working from the Soviet model and czars came before commissars.
9.6.2009 12:58pm
Toby:
or his salary is picked up by something other than the US government, but so what?

If so, that is a big problem. Would you be willing to have a "special advisor on Parmacy Markets" working in the WHite House with his salary picked up by Merk? A special advisor on Energy Policy with his salary picked up by Exxon?

1) Know this is a throw-away, and I do not suspect that Van Jones was paid in that way

2) Zarkov's premise that anything that funds a government function he approves of is, well, scary.
9.6.2009 1:01pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Toby:

I don't understand you. I think we might actually be in agreement. I don't approve of the CEQ or these Special Advisers. I might have made myself clear on this. The "so what" applies specifically to Jones. I have trouble with Jones himself, not his funding source. In other cases where the person was not the issue I would concentrate on the funding source.
9.6.2009 1:10pm
Angus:
Presumably there are no witches, but does this mean there were never any communists in the US government? How about Alger Hiss and Henry Dexter White to name but of few of many who influenced American policy?
Is it your contention that Van Jones was spying for a foreign nation? If not, communists have every right to serve in government, as do other crazies like evangelical christians.

Is it your position that Obama's high "Czar count" is entirely an artifact of Fox News?
Not just Fox News, but conservative journalists in general. None of them have the title "czar" in their official titles--that's added by the media. The conservative media has been using the term as a way to attack Obama without having to say anything of substance. To give just one example, Richard Holbrooke, the Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is called the Afghanistan Czar on Wikipedia. Their only source for that is conservative writer Mort Kondracke. However, special envoys are a long tradition in the United States. Indeed, they date back to George Washington's administration.
9.6.2009 1:18pm
methodact:
We have posers because of usurpations that haven't caught up with them yet.

War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes ability to execute military plans. ~~Machiavelli


Such studies require a lifetime. For instance, as Jeremy Scahill reports, we have more private contractors in theater than US Military troops.

These private contractors are not held to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They are said to have impunity, in many quarters, although a few prosecutions are slowly taking place.

Similarly, US corporations, such as Big Oil, foul rain forests, etc., without being held to account under US law.

Yet if even one of these so-called "czars" really saw the big picture, they would surely point out that the precedent exists to hold all Americans abroad accountable to US law, after the model of the "sex tourism" laws, which ignore lex loci, and instead hold Americans to the arbitray US age-of-consent. But of course, they are posers.
9.6.2009 1:30pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Angus:
communists have every right to serve in government, as do other crazies like evangelical christians.


Yes, because modern day evangelical Christians have murdered tens of millions of people, and destroyed nations and societies.

I'm sure you approve of Nazis serving in the government too. They actually murdered less people, in total.
9.6.2009 1:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"If not, communists have every right to serve in government, as do other crazies like evangelical christians."

Communists do not have the right to serve in government, at least not the big "C" kind. Communists advocate the overthrow of the US government through force and violence. You can't be a Communist and hold a US security clearance. Of course Van Jones will claim he is (or was) a small "C" communist, and strictly speaking he would be correct. But if he's acceptable than why not white supremacists, or member of the the KKK? Do you really think any president could appoint even a long ago ex-KKK member and get away with it today?
9.6.2009 1:42pm
methodact:
An emperor is not the head of state;
he is the state.
~~Walter Bagehot
9.6.2009 1:52pm
Angus:
Shorter right-wingers: peaceful small-c communists bad, Nazis and the KKK should be able to serve instead. Purges for everyone not right wing. (And no, I have no objection to former Nazis and former KKK members who have denounced those views serving in government. Almost every one of the few small-c communists left in the United States have denounced Soviet purges.)
9.6.2009 2:09pm
DangerMouse:
Is it your contention that Van Jones was spying for a foreign nation? If not, communists have every right to serve in government, as do other crazies like evangelical christians.

I take it that Angus is fine with Nazis serving in government as well? Idiot.
9.6.2009 2:10pm
Angus:
I don't approve of the CEQ or these Special Advisers.
If you don't approve of the CEQ, take it up with the Congress of 1969 who founded it by legislation. If you don't approve of Special Advisers, take it up with George Washington, the first president to start the practice.
9.6.2009 2:11pm
Angus:
I take it that Angus is fine with Nazis serving in government as well? Idiot.
Former Nazis who have rejected those views, no. If they weren't allowed to serve in government, West Germany wouldn't have been able to form a government at all after WWII.

I know right-wingers like to stand up for the Nazis and all, but this is ridiculous. Hello Pat Buchanan!
9.6.2009 2:13pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: Please stop the food-fight. Sit down, take a deep breath, and try to keep comments substantive and free of exaggeration, personal insults, and name-calling.
9.6.2009 2:27pm
MarkField (mail):

I'm talking about the fact that Russia after the aggregate of all the czars was much weaker, economically, politically, and militarily than the Western European and Central European powers, which had shifted to much less or somewhat less authoritarian models some time between the 1600s and the 1800s.


That's not an entirely fair comparison, since Russia started off behind them as well. The real question is how they shifted in relative terms. I'm sure -- though I don't actually know -- that Western Europe would win that comparison too, but then again, it would win that comparison with every country over that same time.
9.6.2009 3:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Is Van Jones actually qualified to act in the capacity of an adviser to the president on energy matters? Does this man actually know anything about energy? Van Jones is on record as saying.

" ... let me tell you what you'll have. This is all you'll have. You'll have solar powered bulldozers, solar powered buzz saws, and biofuel bombers and we'll be fighting wars over lithium for the batteries instead of oil for the engines and we'll still have a dead planet."

Does this sound like anyone who has the any knowledge at all of energy? He also gives us the "Lithium Wars" as further evidence of his ignorance.
9.6.2009 3:26pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I would also ask if a comparison against a group of countries (Western Europe) that made huge advances is particularly apt. Wouldn't the correct baseline for measurement be a country that was in truth fully stagnant?
9.6.2009 3:37pm
Herb Spencer:
I first encountered Jones over a decade ago when he was running Police Watch, a group that purported to monitor police brutality claims in the SF Bay Area. (Somehow, under Jones' watch, very few of the cops they stalked were black.) I attended a seminar put on by Jones' group for lawyers who handled civil rights cases on behalf of those injured at the hands of the police. At that seminar, Jones pointedly ignored the white male lawyers in attendance who made comments or asked questions during the appropriate times in each session. It was so obvious that several attorneys attending commented on it. Finally, having been ignored once too many times, I loudly stated, "Question here!" before Jones tried again to "move on" to the next topic. For all his loudly-trumpeted learning, the Yale Law graduate could not answer what I subsequently researched to be a fairly simple question about a question of federal-state law in such cases, a "reverse-Erie" issue for those in the know. Call Jones' attitude what you will, but in light of his entire record I call it racism.
9.6.2009 3:39pm
Angus:
Solar powered bulldozers?? What? Those are impossible to imagine even in the future, let alone with today's technology!!1!

Oh, wait...
Solar Bulldozers Dig Mars (2002)

Of course, I see that your source for stuff is the Glenn Beck show, which explains a whole lot.
9.6.2009 3:41pm
ArthurKirkland:
I am tentatively pleased that the Obama administration and Van Jones have parted ways, although it is not as if he tortured anyone, invaded the wrong country, engaged in surveillance and detention that violated the U.S. Constitution, etc. (The tentativeness derives from a lack of study of the conduct of and charges against Van Jones.)

Part of wisdom is the ability to learn. Perhaps the Obama administration, as it learned more about Van Jones, recognized it would be better off without him.

Imagine the failures and misery that might have been avoided has Bush Jr. been wise enough to dispatch Addington, Feith, Bybee, Haynes, Bradbury, Yoo and others before their ideological and character weaknesses manifested themselves in government policy and conduct.

Van Jones seems destined to have been, at most, a minor problem -- someone at the level of a Monica Goodling, or a Bradley Schlozman, or the general Regent-Liberty-Patrick Henry brigade -- minor-leaguers unwisely promoted to the big show, but not really equipped to have much effect.
9.6.2009 3:51pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

Solar Bulldozers Dig Mars.

But look carefully at the caption"
Tiny solar-powered bulldozers may help dig a toehold on Mars.
Clearly when you are sending robots to Mars you can't send along hydrocarbon energy storage because of the lack of native feedstock. So you make a big compromise and use solar power because you no other choice in this situation. But when we have to dig big ditches here on earth we need high density energy storage that you an only get with hydrocarbons-- especially at night.

"Of course, I see that your source for stuff is the Glenn Beck show... "

Does it matter who quoted him? If you think the quote is inaccurate or somehow misleading because it's out of context then supply us with the correct quote.

I don't see how Jones has any qualification on energy matters. If he's some kind of hotshot here then tell me where he has shot hot.
9.6.2009 3:52pm
neurodoc:
Litigator-London: One such advertising organisation is reputed to have had an executive with the title: Creative Director of the Universe which seems to me to represent blasphemy rather than mere hyperbole.
To see adoption of that title at an advertising agency as blaphemous is to take it at least semi-seriously, when it strikes me as not at all so, but rather amusingly self-mocking. On the other hand, when Sherman McCoy, protagonist of Tom Wolfe's great Bonfire of the Vanities, unselfconsciously started imagining himself to be a Master of the Universe on account of his financial success on Wall Street, he was on his way to the great fall that Wolfe had planned for him.

I do, however, agree with your general proposition about the pernicious influence on language and its uses by those who manipulate it and us to political, commercial and other narrow ends.
9.6.2009 5:04pm
~aardvark (mail):
Yes, because modern day evangelical Christians have murdered tens of millions of people, and destroyed nations and societies.

I'm sure you approve of Nazis serving in the government too. They actually murdered less people, in total.


Hmm... This is a fun game to play--so, do you know any modern day American Communists who murdered millions of people and destroyed nations and societies? I can think of a few Communists who've done that elsewhere and in the past, just as I can think of quite a few Christians who were involved in rape, murder and torture in the name of the faith. Do you really want to go there?

Are you going to suggest that an alleged Communist in charge of narrow economic policy-making (not a sole decision-maker, mind you) is any worse than a young-Earth Creationist Evangelical Christian in charge of the NSF--or the NIH?

I don't see how Jones has any qualification on energy matters.

Zarkov, I don't see how you are qualified to comment on that matter. If you are some hotshot, do let us know.

Ah, yes! I forgot that you're a student of Alinsky--silly me, I thought I could get away with it. So you think that calling you ignorant is a personal insult? I thought it was just a statement of fact.

So, Jones was a "Special Advisor to the President" and worked through Council on Environmental Quality which "was established within the Executive Office of the President by Congress as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970." (emphasis added)

So it's an office within the Executive Branch and the position title is Special Advisor to the President. What does Congress have to do with it, exactly? Oh, I see--they established the position! And Congress budgets the entire Executive Branch, so you think that they should withhold funds for "Special Advisors to the President".

And you wrote, specifically, "Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation". You followed that up with,

Is Van Jones actually qualified to act in the capacity of an adviser to the president on energy matters?


Brilliant as always...
9.6.2009 5:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
~aardvark:

You continue to dance with out addressing the pertinent question about his qualifications. Instead of responding you ask if I'm qualified. I'm not a special adviser to the president-- he was. If you think he has something to offer then tell us what it is. He says we have a shortage of uranium. We don't. He seems unaware of breeder reactors. I see so many gaps in his knowlege I have to wonder what make him qualified. After all this is not supposed to be a political position, but one that deal with subject matter.
9.6.2009 5:42pm
purplekoolaid (mail):

(link)A. ZarkovDo you really think any president could appoint even a long ago ex-KKK member and get away with it today?

You mean like Robert Byrd?
9.6.2009 5:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
purplekoolaid:

"You mean like Robert Byrd?"

Exactly. Of couese Byrd was not appointed-- he was elected. Would I vote for Byrd? Absolutely not. I would not vote for or appoint extremists or even ex-extremists and that includes the KKK, the Communists, etc.
9.6.2009 6:00pm
neurodoc:
Jones responded to the criticisms by issuing a statement saying, "In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the [Obama] administration -- some of which were made years ago.
In 2004, Jones was one of "100 notable Americans" who signed a "911 Truth Statement" from 911Truth.org. The statement among other things called (referring to the George W. Bush administration) "for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." On September 3, 2009, after widespread criticism, Jones issued a statement, "I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."
Bob McDonald, Virginia's AG, aspires to be its next governor and has been leading his Dem opponent by a substantial margin. Now, there is a huge firestorm over the thesis McDonald wrote 20 years ago, when he was 34-years old pursuing at masters and JD at Regent University, Pat Roberts' school, alma mater of Monica Goodling and some other stalwarts of the Christian Right. The thesis, intended as a political blueprint for the Republican Party, thundered against working women, homosexuals, "fornicators," and others McDonald saw as enemies of family values. He wanted to make it illegal to sell contraceptives to the unmarried. (A Griswald problem?) McDonald is doing his best to reassure moderates that his views have changed over the years and they should ignore what he calls an "academic exercise" from so long ago.

Essay question - what weight should be given to things said/written more than a few years by political figures like Van Jones and Bob McDonald? Is it credible that Van Jones didn't know what he was signing when put his name to that 9/11 Truther petition or that Bob McDonald holds very different views today from the strong social conservative "family values" ones he expressed a couple of decades ago?
9.6.2009 6:01pm
Dunbar (mail):
Slightly off-topic, but much of this Van Jones brouhaha seems to have started after an organization that Van Jones founded (Color of Change) started pressuring advertisers to drop Glenn Beck's show after Beck called Obama a "racist."

Although CoC lists Van Jones as inactive on its website, it seems plausible that Van Jones still has some sort of input into CoC's mission. If so, it's troubling that a government official would be using private organizations to vilify private citizens for exercising their free speech rights.
9.6.2009 6:02pm
Toby:
@Zarkov

Understood and agreed. Guess I missed what you were aiming at-it became clearer, later.
9.6.2009 6:06pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkov: Of couese Byrd was not appointed-- he was elected.
Justice Hugo Black, who had belonged to the KKK, was appointed, not elected to the bench. In fairness, it should be said, though, that Black was never the active participant in the Klan that Byrd was, and Black did far, far more to distance himself from the Klan and its principles than Byrd ever did, either before or after he was chosen to be the Senate Majority Leader.
9.6.2009 6:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Neurodoc:

Essay question - what weight should be given to things said/written more than a few years by political figures like Van Jones and Bob McDonald?

An excellent question and really pertinent to the discussion.

I'd be willing to overlook the distant past of someone who brings exceptional qualifications to the position. Let's say we were going to appoint a distinguished and highly competent scientist to an advisory position, but we found out that in his distant youth he was member of CPUSA. I would not hold that against him if he has thoroughly repudiated his former positions.

But none of this applies to Van Jones who was making extremist statements in April 2009. Moreover as far as I can tell he has no qualifications for the position.

"Is it credible that Van Jones didn't know what he was signing when put his name to that 9/11 Truther petition ..."

Not very. Besides a responsible adult should read what he signs particularly if he in the public eye. Jones keeps digging himself deeper by coming up with lame excuses.
9.6.2009 6:23pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
neurodoc:

Black is a good example, and one I'm not sure about. John Milton said "Childhood shows the man as morning shows the day." On the other hand, some people do learn and grow. But the KKK is such a hateful organization that I'm hard pressed to excuse joining it even in one's youth.
9.6.2009 6:28pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkov, don't want to tax you with all the details of the McDonald business, a "local" matter, though some (Repubs especially) see national portends in the outcome of this gubernatorial race and the one in NJ. But care to say whether you think McDonald's claim to have changed his views are more/less credible than Jones' (which I don't find at all credible)?

McDonald was not in the least equivocal about his "family values" views in that thesis 20 years ago, but maintains that his record in the state legislature and as VA's AG, plus testimonials of women supporters, show he thinks differently now than he did then. (And trying hard to change the subject, when not offering excuses for that "academic exercise" when he was in "college.") Some think his record doesn't really show all that much change, and others (myself, a VA voter) may ask whether he just went as far as he could with his advocacy until now, and would go further with it all (e.g., efforts to ban abortion under all circumstances) given the chance.
9.6.2009 7:20pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkov (and others), what examples of much "learning and growth" during the course of a political career in the US? Who would you have rejected for office early in their careers, only to favor them later in their careers because you saw positive change? (Doesn't have to be in our own lifetimes, can go with historical figures.) Darest I throw out Teddy Kennedy as a possibility?
9.6.2009 7:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
neurodoc:

"But care to say whether you think McDonald's claim to have changed his views are more/less credible than Jones' (which I don't find at all credible)?"

As I don't live in Virginia, I really don't have too much interest in their governorship, so I have given zero attention to McDonald. I'm not trying to avoid your question, I really just don't know.
9.6.2009 7:55pm
~aardvark (mail):
@ Zarkov: You are asking whether Jones was qualified as an advisor on energy. I did not address this specific question for the simple reason that it is irrelevant--Jones was not an advisor on energy. His job was to advise on creating jobs through environmentally-responsible businesses and entrepreneurship. If you have a question about his qualifications on that account, ask and you will get an answer. If you insist on just making shit up, you won't.

Is it credible that Van Jones didn't know what he was signing when put his name to that 9/11 Truther petition or that Bob McDonald holds very different views today from the strong social conservative "family values" ones he expressed a couple of decades ago?

Yes and no. No it is not credible that he did not know what he was signing--if he did not, that opens an entirely different question of competence.

On the other hand, yes, it is credible that he did not sign on to the whole agenda. Several other signatories have been interviewed both now and earlier and they made it very clear that the statement they signed was not the statement that ended up being promulgated in their name and they certainly did not sign up to the entire Truther agenda.

Personally, I think they are nuts believing any part of that conspiracy theory, but no more so than the Minnesota Republican Governor, the Chairman of Florida Republican Party and other assorted conservatives (and I am using the word loosely) who believe that the President of the United States telling kids to stay in school somehow is indoctrination when Obama is doing it, but it isn't if a Republican President does it. Then we have the whole mess of avowed (Pat Buchanan) and closet (Richard Nixon) antisemites working in the White House (and one of them was even elected to live there). Basically, if you make a demonstrably stupid statement and subscribe to insane beliefs, you better not remain in a public office--unless you are a member of the Republican Party.

Returning to the "czar" issue. Eugene--and others who complain about it--would have had a legitimate complaint had the term "czar" been the official title of any of the presidential policy advisors. It is not--"special advisor" is the title for most of them, and, in other cases, they have official titles as heads of committees or councils. Not one of them is actually referred to "czar" in official correspondence or publications. The word is a creation of the White House spokespeople and the media that spawned them. The difference is not so much that there are more "czars" in the Obama administration, but that their existence is more public than it previously has been. Still, the administration deserves the credit/blame for using the terminology because it was their effort to show that they are on top of many issues that lead to the naming of so many "czars". It's a poor choice of words, but it's not particularly different from the way other administrations used since Reagan (and it goes even further back in history, but the current usage started with the Reagan "drug czar" circa 1982).

Language evolves. What we see here is an evolution of meaning of "czar". There is now a new gloss that essentially means "presidential policy advisor". It does not mean that the meaning is in any way similar to the original meaning of the word.
9.6.2009 8:09pm
Putting Two and Two...:

Essay question - what weight should be given to things said/written more than a few years by political figures like Van Jones and Bob McDonald?


How about using word-count as a measure?
9.6.2009 8:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
neurodoc:

"... what examples of much "learning and growth" during the course of a political career in the US?"

Another excellent question and reasonable since I brought it up.

I think JFK provides a good example. He started out as a playboy who only went into the Senate because of his father, but matured when he got to higher office. He started off very badly with the Khrushchev owing to his extreme inexperience, but I have to credit him with handling the Cuban missile crisis in sane in intelligent way. Although he did much to bring about the crisis in the first place as discussed in the book The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh.

Another example is Chester A. Arthur. From Wikipedia
To the chagrin of the Stalwarts, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. He avoided old political cronies and eventually alienated his old mentor Conkling. Public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the President. Arthur's primary achievement was the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.
Publisher Alexander K. McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired… more generally respected." Author Mark Twain, deeply cynical about politicians, conceded, "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."
Harry Truman might be another example. As for Ted Kennedy, I can't forgive him for Chappaquiddick, the drunken womanizing late in life, and his personal attack on Bork. His pivotal role in the 1965 Immigration Act has permanently damaged America and has had precisely the opposite effect he said it would. I didn't like his support for Irish terrorists either.
9.6.2009 8:12pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Longing for another witchhunt of people in government for their political views?


If you mean 9/11 Troothers, they are witches.

No one who believes the US government caused 9/11 or let it happen belongs within 1000 miles of government power.
9.6.2009 8:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
~aardvark:

"His job was to advise on creating jobs through environmentally-responsible businesses and entrepreneurship."

Here is his job description from Nancy Sutley when he was appointed.
"Van Jones has been ... voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President's agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources. Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration's energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Vague as this description is, I can't see how he's qualified for it. How can you hire people for "green jobs" (another vague concept) when you exhibit no understanding of the limits of alternative energy? If he thinks solar and wind energy are going are going dominate energy generation then he is setting people up for either future unemployment or on going subsidies. How can he make intelligent decisions about "energy efficiency" without understand the trade offs? Do you think this guy even understands the concept of present value and self liquidating debt?

He's also supposed to "shape and advance the Administration's energy and climate initiatives." How can he do that when he doesn't seem to understand anything about climate initiatives beyond a collection of slogans?
9.6.2009 8:34pm
ChrisTS (mail):
If you mean 9/11 Troothers,

Could someone, anyone, please explain to me why misspelling a word is conceived to have any special meaning?
9.6.2009 8:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
neurodoc:

Two Communists who have demonstrated "learning and growth" are David Horowitz, and Ronald Radosh. By their own admissions they were hard core card carrying Communists in their youth. As Radosh described the left opposition to the Korean War, "We didn't want peace we wanted North Korea to win." Later in life they woke up, realized the damage they did, and have tried to make amends.
9.6.2009 8:50pm
neurodoc:
~aardvark: Yes and no. No it is not credible that he did not know what he was signing--if he did not, that opens an entirely different question of competence.

On the other hand, yes, it is credible that he did not sign on to the whole agenda. Several other signatories have been interviewed both now and earlier and they made it very clear that the statement they signed was not the statement that ended up being promulgated in their name and they certainly did not sign up to the entire Truther agenda....
How did the published petition differ from what this Yale Law school grad, not an immature, uninformed high school student at the time, claims to have signed? If, as Jones maintains now when called on it, "I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever," why doesn't he say that the statement he signed was very different than the one he signed, and produce something in support of that claim? Was it just the Leftie thing to do, a show of "solidarity," something Jones signed never expecting it to get the attention it is getting? Which part(s) of the "Truther agenda" does Jones, and do those other signatories who would disclaim the published petition (they were "duped"?), embrace and which part(s) does he take exception to. ("they certainly did not sign up to the entire Truther agenda" - any citation?)
~aardvark: Personally, I think they are nuts believing any part of that conspiracy theory, but no more so than the Minnesota Republican Governor, the Chairman of Florida Republican Party and other assorted conservatives (and I am using the word loosely) who believe that the President of the United States telling kids to stay in school somehow is indoctrination when Obama is doing it, but it isn't if a Republican President does it. Then we have the whole mess of avowed (Pat Buchanan) and closet (Richard Nixon) antisemites working in the White House (and one of them was even elected to live there). Basically, if you make a demonstrably stupid statement and subscribe to insane beliefs, you better not remain in a public office--unless you are a member of the Republican Party...
Personally, I think the 9/11 Truther stuff is beyond Pluto in outer space, while the Republican "craziness" you counterpose ("conservatives...who believe that the President of the United States telling kids to stay in school is somehow indoctrination") is very different in nature, however unpersuasive or ridiculous it may be as you summarize it. But why tax Republican's with the antisemitism of someone (Pat Buchanan) who was effectively pushed out of the Republican Party and whose antisemitism got no traction within the party, or with a past president (Nixon) whose antisemitism you allow was a closet affair without any particular consequences (unless it was to come to Israel's help when in '73, when it was most critical). How about the Dems notable tolerance of antisemitic "tendencies," e.g., Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, both of whom stood as candidates for the party's nomination and have been treated deferentially lest they not support the party's nominees; Representatives Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, George Crocker and some other members of the Black Caucus; Representative Jim Moran of Virgina, who blames Israel and its supporters for taking the US to war; etc. Oh, and there is the matter of James Earl Carter.
9.6.2009 9:24pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkov, I meant to exclude those who turned 180 degrees, whether from Left to Right or Right to Left, since that may be seen as more akin to religious conversion. But I didn't, so must give at least partial credit to Horowitz and Radosh as "correct" answers. (You don't get full credit because I think I specified those who grew remarkably in the course of their time in public office, and neither of those people have ever held public office, or are likely to.)

You rejected Teddy Kennedy as a possible answer, though many see him as an example of a politician who grew considerably while in public office. I expect you would be no more likely to accept his nephew, Joe Kennedy, his possible replacement, as an example of such.

(How did we get here from the original "czar" question? By way of former "czar" Van Jones?)
9.6.2009 9:34pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Could someone, anyone, please explain to me why misspelling a word is conceived to have any special meaning?


Troothers is a fairly common way to express disdain for that group. Their views have nothing to do with "truth".
9.6.2009 9:36pm
MarkField (mail):

Two Communists who have demonstrated "learning and growth" are David Horowitz, and Ronald Radosh. By their own admissions they were hard core card carrying Communists in their youth. As Radosh described the left opposition to the Korean War, "We didn't want peace we wanted North Korea to win." Later in life they woke up, realized the damage they did, and have tried to make amends.


I think Horowitz and Radosh have proved remarkably consistent over their lives -- consistently harming the long term interests of their country by pursuing ridiculous causes.
9.6.2009 9:43pm
neurodoc:
MarkField, what do you view as Radosh's "ridiculous causes" which have "consistently harm(ed) the long term interests of (his) country" either before or after he changed course politically? His work on the Rosenberg case or other historographica efforts?
9.6.2009 10:00pm
Angus:
Much like Victor Davis Hanson and David Horowitz, Radosh's scholarly achievements in history are in the process of being buried under an avalanche of partisan hackery delivered via blogging. Most recently, and this is indicative of his pattern, Radosh accused Obama of knowing in advance and perhaps even approving the U.K.'s release of the Pan Am Bomber. What evidence does he have for this? Why, Barack Obama hates America. What other evidence does he need?
9.6.2009 10:25pm
SG:
Most recently, and this is indicative of his pattern, Radosh accused Obama of knowing in advance and perhaps even approving the U.K.'s release of the Pan Am Bomber.

Am I correct in reading this as you disapproving of Scotland's release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi?
9.6.2009 11:21pm
Milhouse (www):
neurodoc, doesn't Griswold expressly limit itself to married couples?
9.6.2009 11:38pm
mikelivingston (mail) (www):
If the czars have returned, will they be followed by a powerless debating society parliament [the Duma], a crazed, fanatic monk [Rasputin], and ultimately a revolution?
9.6.2009 11:51pm
SG:
I was curious, so I start looking around. According to this, "British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi's return."

Assuming this is true, does it change your opinion of Obama? Of Radosh?
9.6.2009 11:52pm
methodact:
What's in store ahead, you ask?

You have Jay Rockefeller out to bring the Internet to heel, with the Cybersecurity Act of 2009. Other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee share his ambition.

They have already brought numerous other countries into line and pornography, file sharing and terrorism will all eventually be universally the same equivalent offense.

Section 6.1(y) of Executive Order 12958 defines national security as the national defense or foreign relations of the United States, and asserts both as being areas excluded from FOIA and discovery.
9.7.2009 12:15am
Angus:
SG,
Even if true, Obama knowing that the Libyans wanted the guy released is a far cry from Obama knowing that British authorities would actually release him. Hell, even the newspapers knew that Libya was asking for him to be set free. All of them thought Scottish authorities would turn Libya down flat as well.

That's a far cry from Radosh's claim, and still doesn't even delve into some of the other things he's done, including dismissing the entire Iraq anti-war movement as communists intent on undermining freedom wherever they could. The guy's still living in the cold war period and sees commies behind every tree and bush.
9.7.2009 1:44am
~aardvark (mail):
How about the Dems notable tolerance of antisemitic "tendencies," e.g., Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, both of whom stood as candidates for the party's nomination and have been treated deferentially lest they not support the party's nominees; Representatives Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, George Crocker and some other members of the Black Caucus; Representative Jim Moran of Virgina, who blames Israel and its supporters for taking the US to war; etc.

The difference between Dems and Repubes is in that the nuts are running the asylum on the Right and are merely tolerated, like the crazy uncle, on the Left. McKinney never had a leadership role, was challenged in the primary and the only way she now makes the news is by being present on a boat trying to break the Gaza blockade--twice. Jackson and Sharpton may scream and stomp a lot, but they have peripheral roles, if any. In contrast, Nixon was president; Buchanan--and his equally crazy sister--have been the mouthpieces of isolationist Right for two generations now and has never been condemn by Republicans for his antisemitism and has spawned a cluster of other xenophobes and isolationists like Ron Paul and Jay Severin. He was not pushed out of the party--he moved on because they weren't far enough to the Right for his taste (they are now).

Then there is the House leadership or wannabe leadership (Pense, Posey) who are absolutely batshit crazy and completely ignorant of all issues on which they vote. There is the Palin cult, the Young Earth Creationist of all party ranks, the parade of Regent U graduates in the Bush administration, Lurita Doan, etc. The list just goes on and on. And this does not even begin to describe actual criminals both in the administrations and in Congress--aside from Nixon and Agnew, it seemed like every week since 2004 there was a member of the Executive indicted or convicted on one charge or another, plus a collection of senators and congressmen (Burns, Cunningham, Doolittle, Rienzi, Ney, Stevens) who refused to resign their positions even when indicted (Cunningham and Ney served until the day their guilty pleas landed them in prison, the rest lost elections, except Stevens who got off because of incompetence of the Bush DOJ). Or do Republicans get a pass because we expect them to be the crazy party and the Dems don't because we expect them to be the grown-ups?

Just consider this--would Van Jones been asked to resign if he were a member of the Bush administration, rather than Obama's?
9.7.2009 3:37am
methodact:
We do know that the Green scheme is global in design and is a carbon based social control system. Carbon taxes will be collected globally and a psuedo currency is imagined by the trading of carbon credits. These are compared by some as selling "indulgences" such as the Catholic Church once did on a major scale. The scheme is modeled on the "useless eaters" concept of eugenicists, and a similar manipulation of guilt for an individual's personal existence is being planned for the whole of society.

It portends being a very hard sell, intially, and that might help explain many of the early shenanigans. Obviously, they find the role far more than a mere functionary that some of the apologists here are framing it to be.
9.7.2009 4:23am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Just consider this--would Van Jones been asked to resign if he were a member of the Bush administration, rather than Obama's?"

Van Jones made a number of insulting remarks towards both white people and Republicans-- in public. The MSM ignored the remarks. But look at what happened to Earl Buts when he told an off color joke in private that insulted blacks. The joke without attribution first appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine. Time magazine then did a little sleuthing and identified Butz as the one who told the joke. Butz then had to resign.

This is the double standard world we have in the media. A black insult whites in public, but a white can't even tell a private joke.
9.7.2009 6:51am
Guest99:
neurodoc, it's "McDonnell" not "McDonald." You seem to know a bit about the VA race so I'm suprised you don't know that.
9.7.2009 8:36am
SG:
Even if true, Obama knowing that the Libyans wanted the guy released is a far cry from Obama knowing that British authorities would actually release him. [...] All of them thought Scottish authorities would turn Libya down flat as well.


Did you follow the link I posted? The claim is not only that the Obama administration knew that the Libyans were requesting his release, but that the Obama administration knew the UK was preparing to release him.


'The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain's discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,' said the Whitehall aide.

'We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi's return was out of the blue.


You can try to minimize it and you can try to change the subject, but there's a legitimate basis for the theory that the Obama administration didn't have serious objections to the release of the Lockerbie bomber. If true, it's not unreasonable to gave serious objections to the Obama administration.
9.7.2009 9:30am
ArthurKirkland:

You can try to minimize it and you can try to change the subject, but there's a legitimate basis for the theory that the Obama administration didn't have serious objections to the release of the Lockerbie bomber. If true, it's not unreasonable to gave serious objections to the Obama administration.


Is your objection that there was no arms-for-hostages angle?
9.7.2009 10:00am
neurodoc:
milhouse: neurodoc, doesn't Griswold expressly limit itself to married couples?
Thanks. It was Eisenstadt v Baird that extended Griswold to the unmarried, and hence to everyone.
9.7.2009 10:04am
Angus:
Conservatives chip in to defend Ford Cabinet Member Earl Butz, who said loudly on an airplane: "the only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are tight p***ies , loose shoes and a warm place to s**t."

Way to fight for what is right.
9.7.2009 10:17am
neurodoc:
guest99: neurodoc, it's "McDonnell" not "McDonald." You seem to know a bit about the VA race so I'm suprised you don't know that.
Right, thanks for the correction.

Now, do you have an opinion as to what should be made of the views he expressed in '89 when deciding in '09 whether he ought to be elevated to governor of the state after serving in the legislature and as AG? Credible that his views are substantially different today, or just political opportunism to disavow what he wrote back then? And should we care if he weren't running for governor but was under consideration for a cabinet position that had nothing in particular to do with what might be a very socially conservative, "family values" agenda?
9.7.2009 10:18am
Angus:
the Obama administration knew the UK was preparing to release him.
Problem is, in your story there is nothing like this. The closest is this:

they knew that the Scots were considering Megrahi's case

"Considering" the case and "granting" release are worlds apart. Charles Manson, for example, is "considered" for parole every so often, but no one expects him to be set free.
9.7.2009 10:21am
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland: Is your objection that there was no arms-for-hostages angle?
My objection is that MarkField took his non-particularized shot at Radosh ["(has) proved remarkably consistent over (his life) -- consistently harming the long term interests of (his) country by pursuing ridiculous causes."]; then angus came along with his particularized shot at Radosh ["Most recently, and this is indicative of his pattern, Radosh accused Obama of knowing in advance and perhaps even approving the U.K.'s release of the Pan Am Bomber. What evidence does he have for this?"]; and though SG effectively answered the "what evidence," you (and angus) shrug off the rebuttal as though facts matter not at all, and you try to change the subject altogether ("Is your objection that there was no arms-for-hostages angle?") so as to shift attention.

If there is a case to be made against Radosh (and Victor Hansen) as credible commentators, please make it. I'd be interested to hear it. ("Much like Victor Davis Hanson..., Radosh's scholarly achievements in history are in the process of being buried under an avalanche of partisan hackery delivered via blogging." That says nothing about Hanson or Radosh themselves.)
9.7.2009 10:36am
neurodoc:
neurodoc: How about the Dems notable tolerance of antisemitic "tendencies," e.g., Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, both of whom stood as candidates for the party's nomination and have been treated deferentially lest they not support the party's nominees; Representatives Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, George Crocker and some other members of the Black Caucus; Representative Jim Moran of Virgina, who blames Israel and its supporters for taking the US to war; etc.
~aardvark: In contrast, Nixon was president; Buchanan--and his equally crazy sister--have been the mouthpieces of isolationist Right for two generations now and has never been condemn by Republicans for his antisemitism and has spawned a cluster of other xenophobes and isolationists like Ron Paul and Jay Severin. He was not pushed out of the party--he moved on because they weren't far enough to the Right for his taste (they are now).
I was responding to your charge that the Republicans tolerated antisemitism in their ranks, and the implication that the Democrats don't tolerate antisemitism within theirs.

You described Nixon as an in the "closet" antisemite, presumably on the basis of bigoted expressions captured on the Watergate tapes. Those remarks do not endear him to me, but I would point out that Nixon had Jews within his inner circle (e.g., Murray Chotiner, Leonard Garment, Henry Kissinger, William Safire) and I can't think of anything Nixon did that reflected antisemitism. Personally, I'm damn glad that Nixon, not that "philosemite" Jimmy Carter was president at the time of the Yom Kippor war. As for Buchanan, I didn't hear any expressions of regret when he separated himself from the Republican party.

As for antisemitism in the Democratic ranks, it seems you would rather just segue past that matter, offering a few lame excuses as you go. Cynthia McKinney may not have been given a leadership position in the House, but then how many such positions are there among the 435 members, you can't cite any Republicans tainted by antisemitism who are in leadership roles. You don't acknowledge that McKinney was but one of several openly antisemitic Dems in the house. And so what that McKinney was challenged (and defeated) in a primary (only to be subsequently re-elected)? You say nothing of Moran. And you minimize the roles that Jackson and Sharpton have played in Dem politics.

If antisemitism is a concern of yours, then you should direct more of your attention to what is there over on the Left.
9.7.2009 10:59am
ArthurKirkland:
Didn't Nixon commission a written list of Jews? (More accurate: He told Fred Malek to do it.)

Not that there was anything wrong with that. (Well, maybe the demotions based on the Nixon-Malek list were a little wrong?)

We also have this recorded exchange between Billy Graham and Nixon concerning the Jew media threat:

BG: This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain.
RN: You believe that?
BG: Yes, sir.
RN: Oh, boy. So do I. I can't ever say that, but I believe it.
BG: No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something.

It takes a strange moral makeup (or a healthy helping of ignorance) to be "damn glad" Nixon was president for even a second.

For anyone still inclined to defend Nixon (generally or with respect to his bigotry), this reported nugget from the tapes:

NIXON: "You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across."
HALDEMAN: "It's a shocking point."
NIXON: "Well, it's also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards."


As is so often the case, Richard Nixon should have used his final breath to hope the God he so publicly leaned on did not exist, if only because of the prospect of a judgment day before any just god.
9.7.2009 11:21am
ChrisatOffice (mail):
Bob from Ohio:

Troothers is a fairly common way to express disdain for that group

I figured. Same for 'Repuglicans' (and 'Democrat' for 'Democratic') and so on.

Which is all, equally, STOOPID.
9.7.2009 1:09pm
methodact:
EV:

You have tried to peddle Obama czars.

So in your opinion, is the United States an empire?
9.7.2009 1:32pm
SG:
Problem is, in your story there is nothing like this. The closest is this: [misdirection elided]

No. The closest were the paragraphs I quoted for you. I'll post them again (emphasis added).


'The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain's discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,' said the Whitehall aide.

'We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi's return was out of the blue.



"Considering" the case and "granting" release are worlds apart. Charles Manson, for example, is "considered" for parole every so often, but no one expects him to be set free.


This report says that the "US was kept fully in touch" and that they "would never do anything [...] without discussing it with the US". I can't see any honest way to read that as the US was out of the loop and taken by surprise, can you?

And the reason no one expects Manson to be set free is because hue and cry is raised when the possibility comes up - I would expect our president to have done the same about Megrahi irrespective of any 'expectation' that he would not be released.

There's just no way to completely exonerate Obama on this. Even if (as you assume in contradiction to published reports) this were an honest mistake on Obama's part (a possibility I don't discount), he still screwed up by not loudly and publicly condemning even the possibility of release before it came to pass. Unless it's your argument that it somehow serves our national interests to see that convicted mass murders of American citizens don't serve out their sentences.

And since I have no expectation that you'll say something negative about anyone with a (D) after their name, I'm interested in seeing you try to make that argument.
9.7.2009 2:23pm
Angus:
And since I have no expectation that you'll say something negative about anyone with a (D) after their name, I'm interested in seeing you try to make that argument.
I've said many things negative about (D)s both on this blog and elsewhere. Hell, I voted for Dole and Bush because I thought Clinton and Gore were idiots.
9.7.2009 3:10pm
SG:
I've said many things negative about (D)s both on this blog and elsewhere. Hell, I voted for Dole and Bush because I thought Clinton and Gore were idiots.


OK, but will you say anything negative about Obama's handling of this situation?
9.7.2009 3:39pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

I've said many things negative about (D)s both on this blog and elsewhere. Hell, I voted for Dole and Bush because I thought Clinton and Gore were idiots.

I voted for Obama in an elaborate calculation that I have to admit blew up in my face. My condolences.
9.7.2009 4:51pm
SG:
I voted for Obama in an elaborate calculation that I have to admit blew up in my face.

Out of curiosity, what was your calculation? My personal preference Obama with a Republican Congress, but figured that wasn't going to happen, so I held my nose and voted McCain.
9.7.2009 5:15pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
neurodoc,

Essay question - what weight should be given to things said/written more than a few years by political figures like Van Jones and Bob McDonald? Is it credible that Van Jones didn't know what he was signing when put his name to that 9/11 Truther petition or that Bob McDonald holds very different views today from the strong social conservative "family values" ones he expressed a couple of decades ago?

Even if it's too late to answer this, I like to think it's never too late to be non-responsive, so I'll say it doesn't matter what Jones believed then or believes now. If he didn't repudiate what he signed, and well before he was up for any political appointment, he's responsible for having signed it, and properly so.

Same principle applies to McDonnell. Has he publicly repudiated the views expressed in his thesis, and did he do so before it was politically expedient? If so, I'd take him at his word now. If not, though he may have indeed had a change of heart, it's reasonable and appropriate to assume for political purposes that he still believes what he said 20 years ago.
9.7.2009 5:39pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

Out of curiosity, what was your calculation? My personal preference Obama with a Republican Congress, but figured that wasn't going to happen, so I held my nose and voted McCain.

SG,

The problem for me was that on two issues, Iraq and illegal immigration, McCain and the incoming Democratic Congress were too divided and not divided enough, respectively. The latter issue is especially important to me, not because I'm a reactionary "xenophobe" or anything like that, but because I approach the issue more through a Singulatarian bent and believe that there is no way we will be able to continue to distribute the benefits of a technological society equitably if we continue to stupidly lower our smart fraction -- I think it's an existential threat to the fabric of the United States. Those things, plus some IQ arguments from one of the few people I trust to see the world correctly, alongside McCain's erratic temperament during the bank bailout debate, caused me to push the lever for Barack. I am not sure it was the right decision as I ponder whether I mis-underestimated the sheer destructiveness of an aligned Democratic executive and legislative branch. The GM bailout and the content of the stimulus bill continue to weigh heavily on my mind.
9.7.2009 7:37pm
Angus:
OK, but will you say anything negative about Obama's handling of this situation?
Obama should a) have vetted Jones better, b) not hired him based on the vetting, and c) after screwing up a) and b), should have fired him the minute his statements about 9/11 and school shootings surfaced.

I still maintain, though, that the whole "czar" meme is dreamed up by lazy journalists (some of whom do it deliberately to form an attack line against Obama) who don't know much about government, so any position they don't understand is "____ czar." Never mind that the people doing the appointing or being appointed don't call themselves czars or think of themselves as czars.

For goodness sakes, special diplomatic envoys are not "czars." Cass Sunstein is not nominated for "regulatory czar," he's nominated to be head of OIRA, set up by Congress in 1980. The position has never been called "regulatory czar" until now.
9.7.2009 8:44pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I've said many things negative about (D)s both on this blog and elsewhere. Hell, I voted for Dole and Bush because I thought Clinton and Gore were idiots.


OK, but will you say anything negative about Obama's handling of this situation?

Yikes, talk about moving the goalpost. Surely, he has been arguing that he does not think the Admin did anything wrong in this case - contrary to your position. Now that he says he is not a knewe-jerk supporter of Dems, as you accused him of being, you insist that he simply bend to your view in order to prove his bona fides?
9.7.2009 8:46pm
ChrisTS (mail):
or, knee-jerk.
9.7.2009 8:47pm
Angus:
Actually, I was critical of Jones right off the bat in the other comment thread, but not for the reasons some conservative commenters on this blog gave. I don't think Jones should have been forced to resign over alleged communist beliefs. I think someone can be a communist and still be a loyal (though wrongheaded) American. The 9/11 Truther stuff and his comments about school shootings were more than enough for him to go.
9.7.2009 9:30pm
neurodoc:
Leo Marvin, at the start of the Nixon administration, AG John Mitchell (you remember, Martha's husband) told reporters, "Watch what we do, not what we say." That in effect has been the way McDonell is responding to this brouhaha. He is saying that people should look at his record in public office and they will see that he has not tried to do what his thesis called upon Republicans to do. The problem is that he has remained determinedly "pro-life," trying to legislate against abortion, and it is not clear to all that his core beliefs have changed much. So, still open to debate how much or little that thesis reflects his thinking today. (McDonell is trying to win over "moderates," while at the same time not alienating his conservative base, some of whom are expressing their displeasure as he tries to walk this tightrope.)

I agree with you that Van Jones is not to be believed. With McDonell, I think it's not as clearcut.
9.7.2009 11:41pm
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland, perhaps you overlooked it, but we already granted that Nixon can be counted an antisemite on the basis of those private expressions of bigotry that have come out. What you have failed to do is come up with instances of open expressions of such bigotry by him, and more importantly instances in which Nixon's actions might be explained by antisemitism. Moreover, you have not addressed, and hence in any way rebutted, the suggestion that one can find more recent, numerous, and impressive examples of antisemitism at work over on the Democrats' side than the Republicans'.
9.7.2009 11:49pm
ArthurKirkland:
Nixon dispatched Malek to prepare a written list of Jews in one federal department (including career employees), and then demoted some of them. That is not only overt expression but also overt discriminatory action. His private ugliness corroborates the intent. I doubt it would be impossible to find other overt acts of discrimination.

I have not studied recent anti-Semitism among Democrats or Republicans, although I am confident it exists on both sides of the aisle and among those on neither side.

I was reacting to the second recent expression in these environs that Nixon was the right guy to be in the White House for even a moment. The only people who don't consider Nixon a blight on America's record, in my judgment, are those who do not know enough about him. He was such an ugly person that I think less of people (Diane Sawyer, Monica Crowley) who appeared to tolerate him.
9.8.2009 12:20am
ArthurKirkland:
Nixon dispatched Malek to prepare a written list of Jews in one federal department (including career employees), and then demoted some of them. That is not only overt expression but also overt discriminatory action. His private ugliness corroborates the intent. I doubt it would be impossible to find other overt acts of discrimination.

I have not studied recent anti-Semitism among Democrats or Republicans, although I am confident it exists on both sides of the aisle and among those on neither side.

I was reacting to the second recent expression in these environs that Nixon was the right guy to be in the White House for even a moment. The only people who don't consider Nixon a blight on America's record, in my judgment, are those who do not know enough about him. He was such an ugly person that I think less of people (Diane Sawyer, Monica Crowley) who appeared to tolerate him.
9.8.2009 12:20am
ArthurKirkland:
Nixon dispatched Malek to prepare a written list of Jews in one federal department (including career employees), and then demoted some of them. That is not only overt expression but also overt discriminatory action. His private ugliness corroborates the intent. I doubt it would be impossible to find other overt acts of discrimination.

I have not studied recent anti-Semitism among Democrats or Republicans, although I am confident it exists on both sides of the aisle and among those on neither side.

I was reacting to the second recent expression in these environs that Nixon was the right guy to be in the White House for even a moment. The only people who don't consider Nixon a blight on America's record, in my judgment, are those who do not know enough about him. He was such an ugly person that I think less of people (Diane Sawyer, Monica Crowley) who appeared to tolerate him.
9.8.2009 12:20am
Ricardo (mail):
Didn't Nixon commission a written list of Jews? (More accurate: He told Fred Malek to do it.)

Yes, and let's remember why. Nixon became convinced that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was fudging the labor market statistics to make the economy appear worse than it was in order to undermine Nixon's presidency. To get to the bottom of this nefarious plot, Nixon asked Fred Malek to obtain a list of all Jews in senior positions at BLS.

It's pretty easy to connect the dots on this one: Nixon thought there was a Jewish conspiracy against him. In this episode, we have clear evidence that Nixon's racist* and anti-Semitic beliefs were not a mere private perversion but actually did guide his actions by using government resources to identify Jews at BLS and then demote some of them.

* On Nixon's "compassionate conservative" attitudes towards race, we have this gem: "There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape."
9.8.2009 1:45am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Cato:

" ... there is no way we will be able to continue to distribute the benefits of a technological society equitably if we continue to stupidly lower our smart fraction -- "


The smart fraction theory is essentially the Pareto Principle, or the "law of the vital few." The reason we have so much inequality in the world stems from this near universal principle. The Pareto Principle itself derives from the concept of a power law distribution. You might be interested in reading Linked and Small Worlds to see how power law distributions determine how the world operates.

Our politicians, especially, but not exclusively, the Democrats are trying to legislate against the Pareto Principle. They won't win because one cannot fight reality. If the American socialists should succeed in destroying the US economy, China will move in and become the dominant world power. Example, cap and trade. If we tax energy use by American industry, more manufacturing will move to China which has no intention of curbing its carbon emissions. China has massive amounts of coal and they will burn that coal regardless of what the US government wants.
9.8.2009 7:51am
ArthurKirkland:
I hope and believe that there are few Americans today who would say a single supportive word about Nixon's presidency if adequately informed about him. As memories fade, it becomes more common for someone to say something positive about the Nixon presidency, as was the case here. Fortunately, there is a nearly inexhaustible inventory of evidence -- much of it Nixon's own words, from tapes -- that can be used to counter just about any claim that Nixon wasn't a comprehensively regrettable mistake as president and an uncommonly low-quality person.
9.8.2009 9:42am
ArthurKirkland:

If the American socialists should succeed in destroying the US economy,


The closest (by far) them socialists have come to achieving their goal of destroying the U.S. economy was by placing the Bush administration in charge of that economy for eight years, but, thank goodness, that commie plot failed. Mostly by luck, we escaped disaster when Bush's time ran out before he could sink the final knife. But this episode should serve as a vital reminder of how Americans should be ever vigilant regarding them crafty commies and socialists.
9.8.2009 9:46am
A. Zarkov (mail):
I agree that Bush and the Republican Congress were a disaster for the American economy, although the problem of excessive debt accumulation started about 1970 and accelerated during the 1990s. However Obama and the Democrats are using the current crisis to expand government and increase the level of transfer payments. In this sense I call them "socialist." I do not assert they will nationalize the whole of the economy only parts of it. The main dead weight will come from excessive income transfer to establish a permanent power base. Think PRI in Mexico.
9.8.2009 11:05am
Leo Marvin (mail):
A. Zarkov:

I agree that Bush and the Republican Congress were a disaster for the American economy, although the problem of excessive debt accumulation started about 1970 and accelerated during the 1990s.

That depends on which excessive debt accumulation you have in mind. The public national debt shot up under Reagan and Bush I at the highest rate since WWII, declined under Clinton, and rose again under Bush II.
9.8.2009 6:14pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
neurodoc:

Leo Marvin, at the start of the Nixon administration, AG John Mitchell (you remember, Martha's husband) told reporters, "Watch what we do, not what we say."

I assume the irony was intentional. Either way it gave me a good laugh, so thanks. Some people who criticize presidents for hiring their campaign managers for political positions seem to forget (or never knew) they used to appoint them Attorney General.

As for whether those words, or words to that effect, are more credible coming from McDonell than they were from Mitchell, I defer to your superior vantage point from which to make that judgment.
9.8.2009 6:57pm
markm (mail):
~

aardvark (mail):
@ Zarkov: You are asking whether Jones was qualified as an advisor on energy. I did not address this specific question for the simple reason that it is irrelevant--Jones was not an advisor on energy. His job was to advise on creating jobs through environmentally-responsible businesses and entrepreneurship. If you have a question about his qualifications on that account, ask and you will get an answer. If you insist on just making shit up, you won't.

So, where's his expertise in job creation? Communists are expert in destroying jobs, not creating them.
9.8.2009 7:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Leo Marvin:

"That depends on which excessive debt accumulation you have in mind."


I'm talking about total US debt. Public + private + foreign. Private debt dwarfs public debt. This whole focus on public debt misdirects public attention away from where the real action is. In 1929 total debt to GDP peaked around 3 and then declined for over 40 years. Then it rose very rapidly reaching our current ratio of about 4. If you want the numbers go to the Federal Reserve website at St. Louis. The book Bad Money gives graphs, and I'm sure the graph must be on the web somewhere.

Total debt has received little attention in the press. All this buzz about Reagan, Clinton and Bush deficits is largely irrelevant to what lies behind financial instability. I recommend reading Hyman Minsky for the theory behind excessive debt accumulation.
9.9.2009 11:56am

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