The Language of Weasels

Some group or other recently voted on words and terms they would like to see banished in 2013. The top five vote-getters were “trending,” “spoiler alert,” “superfood,” “guru” and, predictably, “fiscal cliff.” I must confess that I had not been overly aware of “guru” in 2012 and had not heard a single reference to “superfood,” which would explain why I have no idea what it means. And while I think that pepperoni pizza fits the description, I have a hunch that whatever TV chef was tossing the term around willy-nilly doesn’t. I’m guessing it will turn out to be some overpriced item like truffles, which nobody would have the slightest interest in if it sold for a dollar-a-pound and didn’t require trained pigs to dig it up.

As you might have guessed, I have my own list. I would do away with “distinguished” when referring to a politician. And I mean any politician. So far as I’m concerned, the word is employed far too often and applied far too generously to people who do nothing more than vote for a living. In a sane world, it would only be applied to military heroes, firemen and conservative columnists, especially those residing in such left-wing bastions as California.

I would also do away with the word “revenue.” West of the Potomac, the correct word is “taxes.” But politicians, especially one named Obama, realizing that there are four-letter words that have greater acceptance in polite society than that five-letter obscenity, have found it safer to say they merely want to raise revenue. Unless I miss my guess, even that seemingly benign word will disappear, as more and more people catch on, and be replaced by one that from early childhood we have all come to love. Therefore, I suspect that in 2013, we will hear liberals insisting that it’s our patriotic duty to send “gifts” to the federal government on April 15th.

Another word I like to see go the way of the dodo is “unions.” Although my particular bugaboo is public sector unions, it recently came to my attention how dangerous private sector unions are to society. In December, we came very close to the nation’s longshoremen shutting down 14 major ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. For all intents and purposes, 14,000 dock workers could have shut down our economy, as if Obama and his stooges in Congress need any help in that area. At this point, we’re enjoying a one month moratorium, but the strike could still take place before the end of January.

I don’t know what the cargo handlers are asking for, but I’m betting that the answer is to be found in the immortal words of Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, who, when asked what labor wants, answered, “We want more, and when it becomes more, we shall still want more and we shall never cease to demand more.”

The man who led the AFL for half of his 74 years also said, “It is impossible for capitalism and labor to have common interests.” The proof of that particular pudding can be seen in the recent demise of Hostess Brands, Inc. At the cost of 18,500 jobs, the union had the satisfaction of bringing the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and America’s favorite cupcakes, to its knees and then putting a bullet in its head. Come to think of it, perhaps “superfood” was a reference to Hostess’s line of bakery products.

I used to believe that perhaps the most ignominious title one could cart around was New York Times editorial writer, MSNBC host or Nobel Peace Prize recipient, but by now I have to regard Secretary of State as a strong contender. After all, in just the past 30-odd years, we’ve had the likes of Ed Muskie, Alexander Haig, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and, presumably, John Kerry, serving as the guiding lights of our foreign policy. Let’s face it — that’s a group you wouldn’t trust to babysit your cat.

Frankly, the notion that Secretary Clinton appears to once again be first in line to run for the presidency in 2016 fills me with angst, which is a ten dollar word for nausea. We have all grown accustomed to women being held in high regard for no better reason than they got some fellow to marry them. The politically incorrect list includes everyone from Coretta King and Winnie Mandella to Imelda Marcos, Madame Nhu, Evita Peron and Michelle Obama. But nobody ever seriously referred to any of them as the smartest person in the world.

But aside from marrying Bill, Hillary’s not so distinguished resume consists in having been a corrupt lawyer in Arkansas, a mediocre senator from New York and the Secretary of State who oversaw the murder of her ambassador to Libya and three other gallant Americans, and then mimicked the three monkeys in the shameful aftermath.

Other than that, so far as I can see, her only notable accomplishment consists in having done for pants suits what Muammar Gaddafi did for movie usher uniforms.

©2012 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write

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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  • Patty

    Yes. “You Guys” stinks. But, how shall we name it (them)? I adore your sweetly terse and funny. You’re ‘spot-on’ about Hillary..(spot-on?)..another dummy word. I kinda liked ‘gravitas’, didn’t you. That’s gone! I hear these mostly from the MSNBC,etc. crowds…like they made quicky contacts and spread the ‘words’for the month. Will be listening for more of the same.

  • Larry B

    How about “guys” when referring to girls and women? Every time O’Reilly (and many, many others) does it, i want to throw up!

  • Souvoter

    I wish politicians on the opposite sides of the isles would stop calling each other ‘my friend’; it makes me nauseous!

    • Larry B

      McCain does that a lot; I wish someone would say: “No, I’m not your damn friend!”

  • Wheels55

    Another word to rid ourselves of is “Fair”. Since it only fits one’s view of the world, it is misused more than not.

    I also want to get rid of “Loopholes”. Most times what is referred as a loophole is nothing more than an intended part of the tax law – put there by congress.

    I wonder if Hillary has shot herself in her political foot when she took full blame for Benghazi. She admitted to indirectly being responsible for four murders of Americans.

  • cmacrider

    Burt: I think Hilary has “distinguished” herself. After all she’s the only Secretary of State going back to Eisenhower who make a 2 day trip to Canada and got the whole place in an uproar. I mean, exactly how hard is it to maintain a good working relationship with Canada???????

    • Wheels55

      So, will Hillary sue the government for her concussion, like pro football players are suing the NFL? If she does get in the Whitehouse, will her mind go loopy? Has her mind already gone loopy? I think so.

  • sjangers

    I wouldn’t be so quick to do away with the word “distinguished” in association with politicians, Burt. It can be a pretty important descriptive term- on wanted posters, for instance.
    Would any physical description of Harry Reid be complete without advising an unwary public that he can be “distinguished by his mortician’s pallor” (or personality- take your pick)? Can you imagine mention of Nancy Pelosi without noting that she is distinguished by a disfiguring rhytidectomy? Or President Obama, who’s distinguished by a profoundly opaque transparency? And what about Bill Clinton, who’s easily distinguished by his fondness for Gurkha cigars and unconventional humidors?
    Please rethink this idea, Burt. We really ought to keep that word around. I’m pretty sure we’re going to need it some day soon.

    • cmacrider

      sjangers …. this is a great comment … thank you

  • GlenFS

    Burt, give Hillary her due here. Nobody has previously done the three monkeys at the level she has in the last 2 months. This is not a qualification for POTUS, but BO could learn a thing or two to add to his already disgusting skillset.

  • Switchlight13

    I’d like to see the term “African-American” go. It’s only used on TV and in the Wash DC bubble. You never hear it on the street. Blacks in the real world where I live and work use the term “Black” or the “N” word to describe themselves. Whites in the real world use the word “Black” to describe Blacks.

    • Burt Prelutsky

      Switch: I agree with your comment, but I fail to see how it applies to my article. I’ve never used the term.


      • Switchlight13

        Agreed, I just threw it out as a word or term that I’d like to see banished. “The Honorable” is another one when applied to politicians.

  • 49corvette

    Bert—too much for the common man to grasp ( Me )—-on the surface—Don’t stop—-the insight is much appreciated—my2cents—thanx for reading

    • Burt Prelutsky

      49: I doubt if it’s too much for you to grasp, but there’s no rule that says you can’t read it a second time.