More on pot-czardom

A friend points out that, while complaining about CNN’s clumsy attempt to make the news amusing, I neglected to post an example of how the thing can be done right. Abby Haglage of the Daily Beast/Newsweek demonstrates how to do a light-hearted, fun interview that still gets to the heart of the matter, which is making choices in the public interest.

Another friend asked how the Pot Czar is styled and addressed.

If we go by the Russian precedent, the style was “[Given name, Patronym, Family name], (e.g., Nicolai Alexandrovich Romanov), Autocrat of all the Russias.” So I’d be “Mark Allenovich Kleimanov, Autocrat of all the Cannabinoids.”

I’m pretty sure the Czar, who ranked as an Emperor, was addressed as “Your Imperial Majesty;” I’d have to look up how you say that in Russian.

But among friends I’m just “Pothead-in-chief.”

Footnote There’s a history to be written of how “Czar” in American political usage went from meaning “scary tyrant” [with pretty much the connotations of "Fuehrer"] (Lincoln’s staff called him “The Shogun;” Speaker Reed’s enemies called him “Czar Reed”) to having more or less positive connotations.

The two key events seem to have been the Russian Revolution and the appointment of Judge Landis as Commissioner of Baseball, with autocratic powers, in the wake of the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

Comments

  1. says

    Nicholas Biddle, President of the second Bank of The United States, was sometimes referred to as “Czar Nicholas” after Russia’s infamous Nicholas I. Being a Czar was generally considered a bad thing by Americans at the time (c. 1830). In fact, being the head of a central bank was thought to be a bad thing by many Americans, including President Andrew Jackson (sometimes described by his enemies as “King Andrew”).

  2. rachelrachel says

    “I’d have to look up how you say that in Russian.”

    “Ваше Императорское Величество,” which could be transliterated into Latin characters as “Vashe Imperatorskoye Velichestvo.”

    It was Peter the Great (r. 1882-1725) who first adopted the term Imperator (Император) or Emperor. The word tsar (царь) was used as far back as Ivan the Terrible (r. 1547-1584), so the two words are not strict synonyms.

    • D. Silver says

      If the truly people-powered cannabis devotees in Oregon or California (2010) had passed their “ill-conceived, poorly crafted” legislation, cannabis would be regulated by whoever personally consumes the most. Professor Kleiman, with his “research” and his “facts” his “scientific method,” would be lucky to be permitted entrance into the annual state-sponsored ganja-ton where a life-size replica of Jerry Garcia made entirely of a 60/40 indica-sativa blend is burned in effigy.

  3. joel hanes says

    I’d have thought that the obvious style would be “your highness”.

    Although traditional usage might favor “man” …
    as in, “Wow, man — those are some far-out policy statements”,
    or “You know, man, the *real* criminals work in the Pentagon.”

    • Mark Kleiman says

      I stand corrected. The Pot Czar must certainly be “Your Highness.” Or, better, the Dutch “Uw hoge Hoogmogende”: “Your High Mightiness.”

        • Anonymous says

          This could go either way. He could, if he takes a more relaxed approach, be addressed as “Your Dudeness”. On the other hand, if he advocates tighter restrictions on pot, he is obviously The Man.

        • joel hanes says

          Any random pothead is “dude”.

          But his highness might wll be styled “The Major Dude”.

  4. joel hanes says

    Although Mark Allenovich Kleimanov, Head of Cannabinoids, has a certain ring — perhaps to be referred to informally as “The Head”.

  5. Mitch Guthman says

    Clearly you will need some kind of definitive ruling about the correct form of address. Possibly you should ask Tommy Chong.

  6. says

    Mark is not a Pot Czar. He’s a Grand Vizier, a Sir Humphrey, a Father Joseph, a Count Potemkin to Catherine’s Czarina (with the most interesting perks). Pot Commissar will also do.

  7. Brett Bellmore says

    I think Czar has only developed positive connotations in certain circles. In others it still means “scary tyrant”, and people find the idea that we now have Czars extremely offensive. The growth of the first group relative to the second is part of our decent into tyranny, our creeping acceptance of the dying rule of law.

  8. QB says

    The Russian revolution erupted when the serfs finally realized that the Czar and the Tsar was the same person.

    – Woody Allen

  9. Ken Rhodes says

    It should be noted that Tom Hagen was never confused with The Godfather, or called Godfather, by either his friends or his enemies. I think Mark’s title should be Pot Consigliore.

    From CNN: The term “Pot Czar” isn’t quite appropriate for Botec. The team will provide advice to the state’s Liquor Control Board, but the board itself will be making the rules for the new industry.

    http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/21/smallbusiness/marijuana/index.html

    The article also features a good photo of Mark. With a couple of pillows and a red suit, he could definitely play Santa.

    • Mark Kleiman says

      Yes, that’s a well-reported story. And that sentence is more or less a direct quotation from me.

      Seriously: the Board didn’t hire me. They hired a team, with BOTEC as the prime contractor. The team isn’t going to be the Czar, or the Grand Vizier, or even the consigliere. We’re just the folks with the calculators and the clipboards saying, “Your choices seem to be X and Y. If you do X, the likely outcomes are A, B, and C. If instead you do Y, the likely outcomes are D, E, and F. A is better than D, and B is better than E, but C is a lot worse than F. Take your pick.”

      • Ken Rhodes says

        Mark, I was impressed when I saw your firm’s project plan: http://www.liq.wa.gov/publications/Marijuana/I-502/Apparent_Successful_Bidder_OneSheet.pdf

        In particular, I love the chart of the Management and Communications Plan. As a career “Beltway Bandit,” I admire that sort of detail and clarity in a marketing document.

        One thing I haven’t figured out, though–Accoring to the CNN article, your firm’s bid was for about 340 hours of consulting time. How will you conduct all that intra-project communication within that allocation, let alone do the substantive work I believe you and your cohorts are eminently well-qualified to do?