Defining “schlemiel”

When I used the Yiddish word “schlemiel” in a recent article, a reader asked me to define it. I suggested it referred to a dummy, a dunderhead, a mental dwarf. I added that to help you identify them, they generally come with a (D) after their name.

So it is that in King County, Washington, the schlemiels have now banned those non-tobacco cigarettes that emit vapor because, public officials have decided, kids might see grown-ups puffing air and conclude it is cool to smoke. Or, unless they’re as dumb as bureaucrats, the kids might figure out that it’s simply a form of breathing, and far preferable to sucking in tobacco and nicotine.

I am still trying to find out whether chocolate cigarettes have also been banished from the Seattle area, lest adults see kids enjoying them and conclude it is hip to eat cigarettes.

Meanwhile, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) wanted House Speaker Boehner to overturn a House rule that blocks the wearing of hats on the House floor. It seems Rep. Wilson owns over 300 hats, including custom-made sequined cowboy hats in virtually every color imaginable. Frankly, I, too, think the rule should be waived, not to accommodate Ms. Wilson, but in order to facilitate the wearing of dunce caps.

Although leftists like to insist that Hitler was a right-winger, he, himself, called his group the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi for short). One of his more perceptive observations in “Mein Kampf” was that “All propaganda must be confined to a few slogans, repeated over and over again until the last man understands what they mean.” Madison Avenue got the message long ago and came up with “Where’s the beef?” to sell Wendy’s burgers, “Fast, fast, fast relief!” to push Anacin and “Sometimes you feel like a nut” to peddle Almond Joy candy bars. More recently, we’ve seen “Hope and Change” used to sell us a left-wing pig in a poke.

It might be a stretch to call Arabs and Muslims leftists, but inasmuch as it is American progressives who not only side with them against Israel, but insist that taking logical precautions at airports constitutes racial profiling — which the rest of us regard as commonsensical — I think it’s fair play to lump them together. So we now find that the schlemiels in the Middle East are convinced that the Israelis have added wildlife to the rolls of the dreaded Mossad. The lunkheads are convinced that vultures, sharks and jellyfish, have recently been trained to act as spies and saboteurs on behalf of Israel.

Very clever, those Jews. Even if these highly efficient espionage agents are captured and no matter how much they’re tortured, they won’t talk.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky

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Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
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  • Konrad Lau

    As a Washingtonian (Texas expatriate) I can assure ya’ll those Jellyfish, dolphins and sharks were NOT trained by the Mossad in Seattle.

    The Legislature in Olympia (the capital of Washington and heavily populated by folks hailing from Seattle) won’t allow wind farms on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for fear of birds throwing themselves onto the whirling propellers, they ban new hydro-electric dams for fear the fish will be denied access to pristine spawning grounds and disallow tidal generation for fear the electrical fields produced might confuse the fish’s’ navigational skills. There can be no doubt “training” of wildlife would be construed as cruel and inhumane in Seattle.

    Banning smoke free cigarettes for fear kids would get the wrong idea is akin to Washington issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens because were it not so, they (the aliens) would not know how to drive???

    As bad a smoking is, tobacco is not illegal in Washington…we have a nice little state tax of $3.025 per pack here and boy, are we reluctant to give that revenue stream away!

    I love Washington but I do miss rational government.

  • John Sullivan

    The banning of vapor cigarettes is proof that the nanny impulses are driven more by a desire to control and force the elected class will on the masses. One need only look at the rate of teen cigarette smoking (and not the other kind…) in the many years since advertising has been banned and smoking in buildings has been banned to see that their argument fails. Kids will still smoke because they can and they determine on their own it is cool to try.

    Surely this new law cannot stand scrutiny if contested by sensible folks in Seattle, can it? Who else is directly harmed, say by the equivalent of second hand smoke? At least that is an argument built on false science. If this passes legal scrutiny, then I suggest citizens press to ban any alcohol whatsoever at sporting events, because the city could apply the same incomplete logic, yes? Of course it won’t happen because those who it would impact are not as reviled by the PC crowd. Yet.

  • Ron Kean

    Actually, it’s a combination of a form of Shalom (everybody knows that’s ‘peace’) and El which is one of the names of G-d. So we hope the poor guy gets some peace from G-d because little else seems to be going his way.