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Know What Obama Could Use? A Snake Oil Czar

President Obama is just one man. He clearly can't sell all this snake oil himself.

by
Dan Miller

Bio

July 4, 2010 - 12:23 am

We have a disastrously inadequate petroleum reserve; there is a crisis. “We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” or so President Obama recently proclaimed from the Oval Office. That’s terrible, and possibly even true, provided that only the oil present in the United States where drilling is permitted is considered. There’s lots of oil in them thar other hills, approximately fifty years worth. That may not be enough, and in any event those are all environmentally holy places rather than politically acceptable oily places.

According to Peggy Noonan, President Obama is starting to seem “snakebit.” While her anti-Obama rhetoric may be somewhat over the top, the proposal set forth below might help in her context as well. Not only would implementation bring to a close our sorry dependence on dead dinosaurs and stuff made from them which pollutes the atmosphere with toxic and ultimately deadly carbon dioxide, it would provide needed employment for the soon to be redundant census workers and give the Congress something worthwhile to do, instead of the busy-work now so strenuous and mind-numbing for them. There would be other advantages as well, and I am shocked that it has not previously been suggested.

A snake oil czar is needed, or even better, several. The domestic supply of snake oil is practically infinite, with no need to import it from hostile foreign countries such as Israel and Alaska, or for that matter, from our friends and allies such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Even President Obama, despite his Herculean efforts and those of his many minions, has been unable to make a dent in the snake oil supply. Humbly, as he told us recently, he can’t do everything all by himself, not even suck up unwanted oil spills (or even tea spills) with a straw — with or without a stinkin’ badge. Although a change in job description might help a bit, it is a far from a complete solution to the problem; indeed, it might even make matters worse. President Obama needs real help so that he can actually lead the country in the right best direction, and that is the basis of this proposal.

One snake oil czar would not be enough. There should be at least one czar to control resource utilization to prevent environmental harm: since many snakes are endangered species, ways would have to be found to extract the valuable snake oil without harming the snakes. Another czar would be needed to find ways to convert the snake oil into carbon-free fuel and biodegradable plastics, another to ensure that all is done in a politically correct and empathetic way, and another to make sure that the others are doing their jobs correctly. (This final function is so vital that the entire Service Employees International Union (SEIU) governing body should be engaged.)

However, none of these heavy burdens should be placed on President Obama’s broad shoulders; he has so many more important and inspiring things to do that he must not be bothered with details. It’s up to him to change the world and rearrange it for us all. For this reason, he is not likely to be asked to do much campaigning during the pre-November election period — not because he would bring the kiss of defeat, but because politicians are selfless creatures who think of the big picture rather than their own selfish interests.

Each czar would need a large staff of deputy and assistant czars, and each of them would also need large staffs. There should be enough people to supply the necessary talents after the U.S. Census project winds down. There are approximately 411,000 temporary census employees who when terminated would otherwise increase unemployment, and their continued employment would do much for the national economy (probably even increase the all important labor productivity index with only minor definitional modifications; SEIU would be proud to help with that). If there are insufficient Census workers, surely some former ACORN workers would enjoy the jobs. This would also be the very best way to enhance governmental activity, which is so sadly lacking in modern United States society.

Based on a recent listing, there are now only about forty czars. A few more are contemplated, but that’s not enough and the Senate has largely been deprived of its ability to provide its wise advice and (of course) consent. That is unfair to the senators, who must stave off boredom by campaigning occasionally for reelection and approving legislation written by others but too difficult to read. That’s just busy-work properly dealt with by lobbyists, other congressional staff members, and solid committee work. Instead, our senators should be given more important things to do. Red herring czar hearings would provide excellent outlets for their excess energy and do less harm.

It has been argued that czar type functions:

May only be exercised by an officer of the United States, appointed in a manner consistent with the requirements of Article II, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution. This provision stipulates that all “Officers of the United States” shall be appointed by the President “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,” with the exception that “the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

This argument is specious, since most of the czars thus far appointed have been — and those likely to be appointed in the future most likely will be — inferior, although possibly not in the sense contemplated by Article II. Nevertheless, because congressional consideration would give our congresscritters something both exciting and harmless to do, such approval should be required.

As the November elections approach ineluctably, congressional debate on this proposal would provide a needed boost to those incumbents who favor it and to candidates facing those who don’t. Unlike many campaigns, those focused on these ideas would rise well above the level of politics as we have come to know it and be a welcome relief from candidates’ hair styles, mammary legitimacy, offspring origins, and other arguably less critically important issues of the day.

It’s time for even more change in which we can all believe, and implementation of this proposal will pave the way.

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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