Cass Sunstein has been selected to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Here is one view of Sunstein and here is another. He has supporters and detractors representing a broad part of the political spectrum. Surprisingly he has some support from conservative sources. I think there is much truth in this quote from the WSJ article:
In other work, Mr. Sunstein has developed the concept of an "availability cascade" — the way in which ideas gain prominence simply by being prominent, until we take their truth for granted.
But why would visitors to Telic Thoughts have any interest in a man holding an obscure post? For one thing he has some unorthodox views about democracy and the internet. He also coauthored the book Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions which brings us to the issue that makes some uneasy- Sunstein's views on animal rights. I love animals. Unfortunately laws, which punish those who abuse animals, are necessary. However, animals should not have the same rights as people. Sunstein authored The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer. Quoting from the link:
Do animals have rights? Almost everyone believes in animal rights, at least in some minimal sense; the real question is what that phrase actually means. By exploring that question, it is possible to give a clear sense of the lay of the land – to show the range of possible positions, and to explore what issues, of theory or fact, separate reasonable people. On reflection, the spotlight should be placed squarely on the issue of suffering and well-being. This position requires rejection of some of the most radical claims by animal rights advocates, especially those that stress the "autonomy" of animals, or that object to any human control and use of animals. But this position has radical implications of its own. It strongly suggests, for example, that there should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture. It also suggests that there is a strong argument, in principle, for bans on many current uses of animals.
Of course stating that the use of animals should be regulated is not very controversial. This raises concerns:
He concluded his Harvard speech by expressing his “more ambitious animating concern” that the current treatment of livestock and other animals should be considered “a form of unconscionable barbarity not the same as, but in many ways morally akin to, slavery and mass extermination of human beings.” Sound familiar?
Rhetorical overkill? We'll see. But his views could become a thorn in the side of researchers and farmers who do not view animal rights in the same way as Sunstein.