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December 11, 2008


I'd like to see more Tlatoanis being appointed, if only to see how often the spittle flies when they try to pronounce that lateral fricative correctly.

Energy tyrant?
Energy duce?
Energy fuhrer?

The possibilities are endless.

Can we have popes? I want a drug pope.

I propose Grand Mufti (less imperial, more competence). Mogul would also fit, had the term not already been taken by the opposition.

I think the czar is to denote someone in charge of something, but it does smack of autocracy. What are our alternatives?

Corporations can have Presidents in charge of major divisions, but we already know that there can be only one.

Since these czars are not in the Cabinet, they can't be Secretaries (though perhaps Administrative Professionals?).

I would think that, yes, Minister would be fine, but that would be too British.

General would generally military, as would Chief (Car Chief? Bless you!)

If we didn't like the Russian model, we could roll with the German version, but then would Godwin be parked in every conversation?

What about Administrator? Car Administrator sounds like something in the transmission, while Drug Administrator seems to be the wrong person to stop the use of illegal drugs.

Boss is too tied in to criminal activity, as is Lord.

I could live with czar, I guess, but then shouldn't Ms. Browner be a czarina?

Wait a minute--this is unconstitutional! No title of nobility can be granted by the United States. One minute I'm dozing off and the next I'm suggesting we violate the supreme law of the land.

That'll teach me to post at 2 am. I'm going to bed before I violate an other article.

The answer is obvious, and I for one welcome our new energy overlord.

Energy capo di tutti capi? Naah, that title should be reserved for Chicago.

I'm a big fan of naming the car person the autocrat, but the rest could be Big Cheeses (with all the flavors -- a money person, for instance, could be the Big Cheddar, and a pollution person could be the Big Limburger).

Clearly, the Obama transition prefers 'Big (department) Kahuna'.

Richard Nixon was the first American president to appoint a czar, and John Kenneth Galbraith suggested that it showed Nixon's secret agenda because we all know what comes after the czar.

I was glad to see a physicist appointed as the energy, uh, well whatever. The write-ups indicate he is a political neophyte, so hopefully he will have a good deputy with sharp elbows to help him survive in D.C.; but having a solid scientific background will be helpful as the nation debates proposals of what to do next in terms of energy. . .

You guys are going about this all wrong.

The real question here is who has the best hat.

Thanks -

I move that they make him an energy tsar.

Not only is Chu a physicist - he's a nobel laureate who has been working on alternative energy research for years. Salon.

Well, hell, if I knew I could be an overlord, I would totally have gone into physics!

Thank heavens.

One of my pet peeves, too, hilzoy.

But I've got a whole lot of those. As regards peevishness, I'm the equivalent of the crazy lady with a houseful of cats. Why, just today I passed a man on a very busy I-4 drive through Orlando, and he was texting while driving, forearms resting on the wheel.

Please, people. Stop whatever you're doing instead of driving, if you're behind the wheel of a car, and drive.

Please, people. Stop whatever you're doing instead of driving, if you're behind the wheel of a car, and drive.

why do you hate natural selection?

Do you realize that "Energy Czar" is an anagram for "Crazy Green?"

Why not just take czar back to its origins and name them all "Caesars"?

i nominate Verbal Kint for Keyser of Söze.

The Economist had a big thing about this a year or two ago. They decided that they would stop calling these people "czar" and start calling them "supremo". I suggest that we switch to a simple English word like "boss" or "head" or "leader".

why do you hate natural selection?

Sometimes it doesn't work the way you'd like it to. Consider the drunk driver who kills a whole family of innocents, but survives relatively unscathed.

Natural selection is stochastic, not deterministic.

We may be selecting for luck, I guess. A couple of centuries from now, we might even have a Teela Brown.

I think "Secretary" is just fine. The fact that it's not, in common usage, a descriptor for a high-profile position is a feature, not a bug.

Sometimes it doesn't work the way you'd like it to

and sometimes it does. who are you to decide ?

Actually, I vote for "head boffin"

Energy Pooba.

"Not only is Chu a physicist - he's a nobel laureate who has been working on alternative energy research for years"

Chu is also a biochemist, and has been working with Craig Venter on... stuff.

I will read the post before commenting.
I will read the post before commenting.
I will read the post before commenting.
I will read the post before commenting.
I will read the post before commenting.
I will read the post before commenting.

who are you to decide ?

Don't you know me, BOY?

Afterall, it's not what they do or the results they attain, it's what they're called. Quack!

Why not go old-school, and call the not-Czar the Grand Plenipotentiary?

Or, better yet (and older-school), why not The Count? "The Car Count", for example. Originally, the Count was an imperial delegate in charge of accounting for revenue in the principalities, if I'm remembering my Holy Roman Empire history correctly. So the title actually approximates the job function (at least, a damned sight better than "Czar" ever does).

From the days of "Yes, Minister", an under-appreciated British comedy in the 1980s, there was an episode where the Minister was to be made the "Transport Supremo" because that sounded better than "Transport Muggins". Taking the idea of primus inter pares, perhaps Energy Prime? It worked for Optimus Prime...

Where did the term actually originate? I saw Nixon mentioned in the comments earlier, but I remember a section I've seen described as a thinly veiled Autobiographic account from E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary".

World War I, munitions testing company. Because they dealt with dangerous high explosives, they were isolated in the far off corner of the complex, in thick concrete bunkers. That department got the nickname Siberia, and so the head engineer was unofficially the czar of Siberia.

Forget Old Europe. I nominate a genuine American title of exaltation: "High muckety-muck".

Energy KHAN!

Good riddance to all of the American Czars who purport to be there to fix stuff.

There are some other http://acreofindependence.com/2008/12/11/december-bad-ideas-month/>bad idea I would like to see disappear this month as well, however. . .

Considering the history of ______ Czar in the US, I would think that we should abandon the title just because they are all failures at their jobs.

Seriously, who is the last policy czar that you can look back and say "Wow he did a great job?"

Come to think of it, that may be perfect for the car one. 'Cos there isn't any chance whatsoever that the Detroit Three are coming out of this as successful companies without lots of layoffs (of both labor and management) that a Democratic czar isn't going to let happen.

I forget, why do we appoint folks to the President's cabinet and then add a shadow cabinet in the White House, full of tsars, czars, and muckety mucks?

The most important person on energy should be the Secretary of Energy. An Assistant Secretary should be the chief operations executive.

By the way, the British don't call all of their cabinet members Ministers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has the best name, but Home Secretary is nice, too. If you look on the Parliament page, they seem to formally call most of the cabinet ministers "Secretary of State for ..."

I rather like Supreme Chawncellor.

If we didn't like the Russian model, we could roll with the German version, but then would Godwin be parked in every conversation?

Since the German version is "Kaiser", not "Führer", I don't think Godwin applies.

I thought "Führer" should have been translated as "Leader", not "Führer", in the subtitles in Downfall, since it's just an ordinary German word, not a special word made up for the guy.

Energy KHAN!


What about 'inchargee'?

Energy KHAN!


I do not believe this nation to be prepared for William Shatner as Press Secretary.

i think it'd be nice if the title had something to do with the mission. the person at the top of the drug agency should be the Drug Lord; the person in charge of energy policy should be the Conductor or the Conservator; security should be overseen by the Gatekeeper (or Keymaster); auto policy by the Governor (or the Master Cylinder).

who are you to decide ?

Someone who can get t-boned or rear-ended by a driving-while-texting idiot? I'm all for letting natural selection take its course, but texters can kill lots of non-texting folk on their way out...

It's obvious.

All hail

"May God bless and keep the czar... far away from us."

As a catch-all, "Ayatollah of Rock and Roll-a" should get the point across adequately enough for any maximum leader.

The big three lobbying...

When you wish upon a Czar?

Personally I go with Hamid Carczar.

(or the Master Cylinder).

You mean this guy?

Thanks -

One big reason for the czar's longevity: It's a catchy four-letter word for headlines.

The accurately transliterated Russian word "tsar" has only three letters in Cyrillic -- even better for the ink-stained wretches at the tabloid Post and News.

The word will be around as long as newspapers... so, perhaps not that much longer....

Yeah but after newspapers go, u cn txt t rly fst

Look, Ma, no vowels. Wonder if the ancient Hebrews had cell phones.

Anyhoo, this guy looks like he'll be a fine Khan. But whaddevahappendoo that guy Al Gore? I hear tell he had an idea or two on energy policy, knows the scientists and the politicians, likes public service. What, he didn't want to be in the same Cabinet with Hillary Clinton again?

That sentence works much better if we keep firmly in mind that Cabinet has a capital "C."

"Where did the term actually originate?"

Since nobody ever answered this: yes, it was under Nixon, and the reason it was "czar" was that the whole point was that it was supposed to be someone with extraordinary powers to cut through and across the bureaucracies; the autocratic implication was specifically the reason for the term. Needless to say, this was an informal popularized term, not anything ever used in official documents.

And in no way did the newspapers or Nixon administration get it from E. E. Smith.

Lastly, as David Irons mentioned, it's only four letters: newspapers always use the shortest possible terms, to fit into a headline.

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