What kind of English is this? A $36 million conjunction at a junction

Downtown Fort Fairfield, where an Efficiency Maine grant helped the town replace 174 street lights with high-efficiency LED lights. Northern Maine Development Commission photo.

Downtown Fort Fairfield, where an Efficiency Maine grant helped the town replace 174 street lights with high-efficiency LED lights. Northern Maine Development Commission photo.

Cynthia: Since the GOP wants to make English America’s official language, don’t you think Republicans should stop calling the Democratic Party the “Democrat Party?”

It sounds so dumb because it is dumb. It would be like me calling Republicans “Republics.”

Mike: I wouldn’t say the entire GOP is focused on English-language laws. Heck, Puerto Rico might be a red state if they join up. But sure, I’ll agree that Republicans should use proper parts of speech if you’ll agree that the Democrat-ic president and vice president should abandon their use of the “tea bagger” epithet. Sexual terms are a little more offensive than using a noun in place of an adjective.

Cynthia: Tea bagger is a sexual term? Goodness gracious…is it a noun or an adjective?

Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

I do know this “Democrat Party” business started with the wicked Sen. Joseph McCarthy, was later used by agitator Newt Gingrich, and now has been adopted by Maine Republican lawmakers and occasionally Gov. LePage. It’s a war on words, Mike, and it’s got to stop.

Mike: Sounds like you are echoing Terry Hayes and Brian Bolduc in calling for more civility in politics. Sure — I’m with you. Let’s start with thumping all the “creative” anonymous commentators who throw around gems like “rethuglican” or call the governor and Rep. Poliquin various Batman villains.

Yet English appears to be a second language throughout politics. I was always better at math, but I still remember the “Conjunction Junction” video. “And” that, apparently, is worth $36 million.

Cynthia: Civility is a separate issue. Who cares if Republicans are polite while they capitalize on typos? Here the GOP is trying to gut the Efficiency Maine budget by $36 million because of that missing “and,” and across America millions of people who signed up for Obamacare using federal exchanges may lose their health insurance because Republicans found four words in the law that don’t belong: “established by the state.”

I’m pretty good at math myself. All this adds up to no good.

Mike: So, to quote another Democrat, it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is? We are a nation of laws Cynthia, not lawyers. Black-and-white letters on paper should mean just what they say, without the need for penumbras, emanations, or intentions. Only if the plain text is unclear should we move to context.

Your side of the aisle seems to want the executive and judicial branches to save the legislative from mistakes of their own making. The real lesson here is that politicians should actually read the legislation they foist upon us. Maybe even diagram a few sentences!

Cynthia: How about a little less penumbra, emanation, and intention of the Second Amendment, then?

Or better yet, diagram for our good readers how we went from “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” in 1789 to “any nut who wants an assault rifle can have one” in 2015.

Mike: Even better — I’ll bust out Latin! The “regulated militia” piece is an English approximation of the ablative absolute, or, in legal-ese, precatory language. Our founders stole “Senate,” “Cincinnatus,” and architecture from Rome. Why is it so far fetched to believe they stole grammar as well?

And, in the pro-freedom camp, it is good to remember the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord had similar weapons to King George’s soldiers. Were the redcoats severely underequipped or did they have the “assault rifles” of their day?

Cynthia: Okay. Okay! Let’s not go overboard. Busting out Latin is even scarier than imagining how “tea bagger” could possibly be a sexual term.

All I’m saying is that Republicans should call the Democratic Party the Democratic Party and stop trying to use obvious grammatical errors and tricks to make drastic changes to policy.

And hear, hear to pro-freedom camp! Where knuckleheads are free to use bad English thanks to the First Amendment and wield guns under the Second.

Mike: ‘Merica! And, lest we become too concerned about “and,” let’s remember that Efficiency Maine is still receiving a $25 million increase. Its proponents are using Washington, D.C.-English, where “cutting” means “growing less fast than predicted.”

Cynthia: Okay, let’s see if I got this straight. When it comes to Efficiency Maine, “fiscally conservative” Maine Republicans want to “cut” big government and reduce spending by adding back the $36 million “and,” AND throwing a few new bureaucrats on the state payroll.

Perhaps making plain English our official language isn’t such a bad idea after all.