This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Serious question. Why 'Czar'?


Hello, Columbia!


Welcome, Iran!


Best wishes to Spain!


And a shout out to this guy, Gen. Douglas Lute, our new War Czar.

The question I have is not why we need a war czar, or even if this is the right guy for the job of war czar, but instead why has it been decided the word 'czar' is what we will call these gigs? Why does a nation proud of its democratic traditions think it's cool to bestow a job named after a hereditary ruler of a backward nation with nearly no successes on the world stage, other than defeating Napoleon largely by out waiting him and letting his troops freeze to death?

Quick, name the last successful czar. My friend Jodi (aka Zhenya), who teaches history and is keen on the Russians, says the last widely acknowledged success is Catherine the Great. There's a whole string of Nicholases and Alexanders after her that even Jodi can't tell apart. None of our czars, like the drug czars, energy czars, fixing up after Katrina czar, can point to much progress.

I don't expect governments (or private businesses, for that matter) to stop creating these bullshit bureaucratic positions with little real power but plenty of opportunity for blame, but can't we find a better name for them? Given our feelings about the Middle East right now, I doubt we'll have a post called the Sultan of BlahBlah or the Emir of WhateverDude. Czar is Russian for Caesar, and Kaiser is the German translation, but those names have too much historical baggage. (Like czar doesn't?) For similar reasons, I think calling these jobs king or emperor wouldn't be popular.

Here's an idea! Let's call the next one a Mikado! At least he could have some really cool entrance music written by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Of course, the job is more like The Lord High Executioner, whose first job is to cut off his own head.

7 comments:

Karla said...

1) Butt Monkey of War
2) Scape Goat of War
3) Officious Prig of War
4) Pointless Appointee of War
5) Yo Mama

Matty Boy said...

Butt Monkey is a species-centric term and should be avoided. I believe the more polite term is Ass Clown.

Fran said...

I like the sound of the word "czar". It has a slightly rough edge that makes me get a little tremble-y and a little warm all at the same time...

War czar- grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

With the flag of Spain as my inspiration I say, ay caramba!

Sorry I got caught up and never came up with any alternate titles!

Jess Wundrun said...

Der Kommissar!

Okay, a big step down in rank from czar, but the entrance music would be 80's alt-pop. Go Falco!

Padre Mickey said...

I think we should follow our Beloved Leader's example and use the word "guy." So this person will be the "War Guy" (on the odd chance he appoints a woman, she would be the "War Gal" or whatever). We need a "Drug Guy" and a "Middle East Guy."

Remember: We are at war, and so ONE MUST ALWAYS FOLLOW OUR BELOVED LEADER'S EXAMPLE!

Jess Wundrun said...

Jurassic Pork points out that his name is a homonym for 'dug loot'!

Jess Wundrun said...

Oops. Wasn't JP. can't remember the attribution. getting old. sucks.