Skip to main content

On Bucks, and Where they Stop

Image result for Janet Reno

On Monday, the day before the US election day, newspapers carried obits of Janet Reno, President William Jefferson Clinton's attorney general.

Apparently she succumbed due to complications of Parkinson's disease. May she rest in peace.

The obits of course all necessarily discussed the US raid on the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, 1993. A mass murder difficult to forget or forgive, but perhaps you dear reader will think that sort of thing too common a consequence of statism for further reflection here.

What I would like to remind you of now, though, out of the long fall-out from that event, was her assertion, apparently aimed at protecting her boss, that "the buck stops here, with me."

It completely reversed the significance of the old Truman sign. After all, the point of the sign on HST's desk saying the buck stops here was developing the then astonishing consequences of the fact that Truman was the President of the United States. And buck-stopping is what being head of an organization accepts. No buck in our system stops with a cabinet member.

I am reminded of a sign my father had on HIS desk at work for years. Dad was a manufacturing process planner at the Pratt & Whitney play in East Hartford. If you don't know what P&W manufactured, or what a process planner does ... never mind for now. The point is the sign.

"The buck doesn't even PAUSE here."


  1. Christopher, I agree with what you write here, but Reno may have been making a legitimate distinction. The buck may have stopped with Clinton because he hired Reno, and because he delegated the decision-making responsibility regarding the raid to her, but she is claiming to have made the decision without his input.

  2. Well, okay, but the COTUS is pretty clear that one of the central duties of the POTUS is to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Either Reno believed she was faithfully executing the laws, or she didn't. In the former case, the buck seems pretty eager to move on the WJC's desk. In the latter case ... she's be confessing to murder.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…