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Jack Simpson - 09/25/09
Presidential Appointees

There is a good amount of bickering going on in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Take your pick of topics - war, the economy, jobs, health care reform or whatever.

Into this mix recently came political appointees called czars. They have been around for many years, are not elected, and require no Senate confirmation.

Some of us first became aware of members of this shadow cabinet when a fellow named Van Jones resigned under fire. He said he was a victim of a vicious smear and that his opponents were being divisive. Under distractions, he felt he could no longer effectively serve the president.

So what caused Mr. Jones to fall into public disfavor? It could have been his background, his claim to be a Communist, or his calling Republicans a-holes. Nothing will raise the hair on a Republican's neck quicker than calling him or her an a-hole! Yes, unless you also proclaim that the Bush administration was responsible for 9-11.

Anyway, regardless of Mr. Jones' talents, his reputation and public acclamations brought about his resignation.

Questions arose. Since he was acting as a presidential advisor helping reshape America by working on clean energy incentives, trying to create jobs and improve energy efficiency, who checked his background? Could he have survived a full field FBI investigation or a Senate confirmation? He was reported to have a solidarity with Muslims and believed they were victims of U.S. imperialism. Mr. Jones had a radical reputation.

Czars are appointed to handle the presidential agenda. Their jobs offer ways to bring more power into the White House where party loyalists may be rewarded. Czars have no congressional oversight and may subvert the authority of the House and Senate. Have all of their backgrounds seen public light?

Czars, now numbering over 30 in the White House, have not gone unnoticed. At least one prominent senator, Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va) has cautioned President Obama saying the Constitutional checks and balances are threatened by these political appointees, these presidential advisors.

With all of these unconfirmed cooks in the White House kitchen, many members of Congress would like more information, disclosure and accountability of czars who are helping to make policy and recommend the spending of tax dollars. Why not have these appointees Senate confirmed? Society might be better served by knowing who stands at the elbow to the president and whispers in his ear about policy and the allocation of public monies. Legislators should exercise authority to review budgets.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.