A business fights to live as Obama plagiarizes FDR for a Ted Stevens presidency.
“The nation asks for action, and action now.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural address, March 4, 1933
“We need action — and action now.”
— Barack Obama, YouTube address, December 6, 2008
THE GOOD SHIP The Pride of the Susquehanna is perilously close to sinking in a wave of federal regulation.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Biden influence on the Obama presidency surfaces as the president-elect cribs an FDR line for his YouTube speech and his first serious policy pronouncement from FDR as channeled by disgraced Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens.
The symmetry of these events tells at once why the Republican Party so richly deserved its recent defeat. More troubling, it sends a clear signal that originality and daring are qualities already lacking in both speech and substance from the incoming president and his team.
First, the painfully familiar tale of the federal government and a business.
The Pride of the Susquehanna has been sailing the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania waterfront — the Susquehanna River — since 1988. A stern driven paddlewheeler, the riverboat was the inspiration of one Michael Trephan, a local businessman. In a recent front-page story in the Harrisburg Patriot-News by reporter Jerry L. Gleason, we are told the Pride has spent the last twenty years engaging in a blatant act of capitalism. Paddling along for two decades the boat has spent its time hosting, for a fee, “dinner cruises, charter trips, weddings, scenic cruises” and the like. In other words, this private venture, unsupported by taxdollars. has spent private capital to create jobs. First by conceiving the idea on paper, then building the dream into physical reality, then staffing it with a crew and a captain who have paddlewheeled up and down the state capital’s riverfront. Catering in style to Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania tourists, many of whom so love the boat they have voluntarily donated their own dollars to help keep it ship shape.
Enter the federal government. Remember that old Reagan joke about the most deadly words in the English language? “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The federal government, still, it should be noted, run by the Bush administration, has shown up to help.
Specifically, government — appearing this time in the guise of the Coast Guard — is forcing the owners of the Pride to cough up $20,000 in renovations by 2009 — now only weeks away. Or…hasta la vista to the private venture that is The Pride of the Susquehanna.
The government, you see, has set its bureaucrats to work and decided that the Coast Guard’s “stability standards” must be revised from the current 140 pounds per passenger to the new 185 pounds per passenger. Why? Not withstanding that Americans are constantly being told our health care isn’t even up to par with that of the Canadians and the Brits, a U.S. government spokeswoman (and I’m not making this up) says the reason for coming down on the Pride is that “we’re all eating better, we have better health care and people are generally larger than they were 20 years ago.”
So. What does this mean for the folks who own and run the Pride? Unless they can quickly convince Congress — Congress!! — to grant them an exception from this new regulation, they are mandated “to take 9,000 pounds off the weight of the boat just to be able to carry 95 passengers next season.” This reduces the number of passengers from 144 per trip to 95. And of course, the amount of money that can be earned. To accomplish this, according to reporter Gleason, the owners have “to meet the weight requirements (which) include replacing steel rails with aluminum ones, reducing the size of fresh-water and fuel tanks, removing a brass steam whistle and its compressor, switching to lighter operating cables and replacing wooden tables, benches and chairs with lighter furnishings.”
To date, the Pride has safely carried more than half-a-million passengers over twenty years. And if by chance the boat were to sink under the weight of all those fat Americans with excellent health care on board? The passengers could walk to shore — because the Pride operates in just three to four feet of water. The Susquehanna River at this point is notoriously shallow.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?