Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Legislators often
mumble a mouthful

It is with baited breath (especially after eating sushi) that I wait for such delightful missives as the one I received from state Rep. Barbara Marumoto.

Barbara has been savoring up all the word mangulations she hears in the hollowed halls of the state Capitol. While President Bush is a well-known language mangler, some of our legislators and senators apparently are no slouches in the tongue-tied department either.

Marumoto recalls the day when an angry representative rose to say "that gets me mad; that gets my dandruff up!" It likely caused his dander to also ascend.

Apparently, a near miss is as good as a hit when orating in the public chambers.

Representatives have referred to spacious arguments for or against presumably specious bills. One anecdote has a representative requesting "precise figures for the physical year, no antidotal information." He obviously is not fiscally fit to comment on the matter.

Barbara apparently thinks there should be a statute against her colleagues repeated references to Hawaii Revised Statues, unless they are referring to stately King Kamehameha standing outside the state Supreme Court building. And speaking of the king, he must spin on his pedestal when he hears elected officials avow "our land is perpetrated in righteousness." But legislators are looking out for protected classes. One representative was bold enough to rise and ask if a certain program "will benefit all those benefisheries?" It would if those benefisheries have gills and dorsal fins.

A FRESHMAN legislator wasn't sure he understood the jest of the proceedings. Will he eventually learn the gist of law-making, that it truly is a jest cause? Or will he be overcome by what one of his fellows called -- with frightening accuracy -- "the great duplicity of bills."

Barbara recalls a big-wheel legislator who often advocated "castoration" for rape convictions. I suppose that is a neuteral argument.

You never know when one of our select men or women will stand to fire off a howler or two. One complained that "the large number of criminals exasperates prison overcrowding." While criminals can be annoying and exasperating, I suspect if he thought bitter about it, the word he wanted was exacerbate.

When another representative argued that a point was "indebatable," he indubitably felt unrefutable. One of his cohorts might feel his argument was commonsensical, an adorable rep-coined word that apparently is the opposite of nonsensical.

To enter the state House chamber is to enter a House of Horrors (yes, horrors, not its commonsensical homophone) where retail taxes become "resale taxes"; where the government is monolistic, not monolithic; and people are forever wanting to establish presidents, though the precedent is that our country needs but one, even one who speaks with a mouth full of mumbles.

Thank you, Barbara, you brighten my daze.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail


E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --