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Mark Twain Says Congress is an Idiot
Special to FreeRepublic ^ | 10 August, 2007 | John Armor (Congressman Billybob)

Posted on 08/08/2007 2:12:05 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob

Mark Twain has been dead for a number of years. He often voiced his opinion that Members of Congress were not the sharpest tools in the shed, but he hasn’t actually made such a comment in more than a century. Still, an issue arose last week which allows me full permission to condemn Congress again in Mark Twain’s name. This concerns the sailing of the Delta Queen.

Practically everyone, even in land-locked states, knows the Delta Queen. She is the last surviving original-style paddlewheel boat to sail on the Mississippi. She was built in 1926 for use on the West Coast. In the 40s she sailed to Cincinnati, later in New Orleans as home port. She has sailed the Mississippi for sixty years, all the way to Minnesota.

I understand she is one of only two items on the National Register of Historic Places. which move. The other is Andrew Hallidie’s cable cars in San Francisco. Mark Twain would take a keen interest in the attempt by Congress to force the Delta Queen off the river. After all, Twain took his pen name from the call of the bow linesman measuring the depth of the river, “The markin’ on the twine is two fathoms,” shortened just to “Mark Twain, two.” And Twain served ably as a river boat captain on the Mississippi, just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

So, what has Congress done to put the Queen out of service? For the first time in forty years, Congress has failed to vote through the exemption to allow the Queen to sail with overnight passengers, even though her superstructure is made of wood. All the modern boats on the river have steel superstructures and cabins. But the Delta Queen is an original, don’t you see? Hellooo. That’s part of the point.

It’s not like there aren’t wooden boats still carrying passengers on the water. There are skipjacks still sailing the Chesapeake Bay. There is a replica of a Baltimore Clipper, the Pride of Baltimore II, still sailing to ports around the nation and the world. And thousands of Americans regularly board and sail the Windjammer ships in the Carribean.

Anyone who sails in a wooden ship must, of necessity, rely on better fire safety in the crew’s training, and better ancillary equipment on board. But the Delta Queen has all that. Her safety record is absolutely spotless in the forty years she has sailed under her congressionally-granted waivers.

So, why has Congress neglected to continue the career of this national treasure which has been enjoyed by millions in the past, and should be enjoyed by millions more in the future?

I can think of two reasons. No one has a huge financial stake in the Delta Queen. Oh, there are hundreds of towns along the Mississippi, including Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemmons’) home town, Hannibal, Missouri, which will be much the poorer in their quality of life, when the great steam whistle no longer announces the stately arrival of the Queen. But, there is no monied interest, willing and able to slip large sums into the pockets of Congressmen legally (or sometimes not so legally), to make sure that the Queen keeps sailing.

No, this particular dereliction by Congress can be traced to sheer ignorance, blind neglect of the nation’s heritage. And it’s interesting that it is paired, as a movable monument, with Halliday’s cable cars in San Francisco.

Back in the 40s the Board of Supervisors started the process of shutting down the cable cars, line by line. They reasoned, if reason is quite the correct word, that these were obsolete forms of transportation which got in the way of modern forms such as buses, and they should be ripped up from the streets of San Francisco.

There was a citizen uprising against the Board of Supervisors. The people wrote the surviving cable car routes into the City Charter, so the Supervisors could not abolish them, no matter how stupid they were, or how hard they tried. Now, those obsolete “little cable cars, climb halfway to the stars,” and are the very symbol of the City which almost abandoned them.

I’m not suggesting that the Delta Queen should be written into the Constitution to protect it forever from the neglect of Congress. I AM suggesting that if you care about America’s greatest river, the Mississippi, if you’ve ever seen or heard the Delta Queen plying the waters of that great River, live, on TV or in movies, you should act.

Ask your Member of Congress, and your Senators, why they have neglected a simple act, which will not cost a single penny of taxpayer money, and will take just a moment of their time, to keep the Delta Queen afloat?

This week included National Underwear Day. I know some folks in Hollywood are protesting this national celebration. I, for one, think underwear is a pretty good idea. The point is, Congress declares stuff like National Underwear Day, and National Pickle Week. It would take no more time than that to pass a one-line statute that says, “The Delta Queen is exempt until 2010 from the requirement that she be built of steel.”

We could call that National Let the Queen Sail Day. Or perhaps, National Congress Got the Message and Is Not Really as Dumb as They Seem to Be Day. I like that one better. I want to see the Queen keep sailing on her mighty River.

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About the Author: John Armor practiced in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu He lives in the 11th District of North Carolina.

- 30 -


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Mississippi
KEYWORDS: congress; deltaqueen; history; marktwain; tr
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Thought y'all would like this one. Posting it early since I have grandpa duties on the weekend.

John / Billybob

1 posted on 08/08/2007 2:12:09 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
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To: Congressman Billybob

Wise man, that Mark Twain.


2 posted on 08/08/2007 2:15:39 PM PDT by tennteacher (Duncan Hunter '08)
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To: tennteacher
Wise man, that Mark Twain.

If that's his real name.

3 posted on 08/08/2007 2:17:09 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (We all need someone we can bleed on...)
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To: Congressman Billybob

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”


4 posted on 08/08/2007 2:17:39 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker ( Hunter/Thompson/Thompson/Hunter in 08! "Read my lips....No new RINO's" !!)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Amazing how Twain and Roger’s comments about politicians can be so timeless.


5 posted on 08/08/2007 2:17:48 PM PDT by pierstroll
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To: Congressman Billybob
I’ve read a lot of quotes from Mark Twain lately - he seemed to have a disdain for almost everyone.
6 posted on 08/08/2007 2:19:04 PM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

No man’s life, liberty, or property are secure while the Legislature is in session. And, apparently, neither is our history.


7 posted on 08/08/2007 2:23:22 PM PDT by JamesP81 (Keep your friends close; keep your enemies at optimal engagement range)
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To: stephenjohnbanker
You just quoted the Twain line that I was thinking of when I decided to write this column. I chose to leave all Twain quotes out of the article, so readers could have the pleasure of Googling “Twain” and “Congress” and seeing the quotes freshly.

John / Billybob

8 posted on 08/08/2007 2:33:20 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (Please visit www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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To: Congressman Billybob

9 posted on 08/08/2007 2:35:37 PM PDT by AFreeBird (Will NOT vote for Rudy. <--- notice the period)
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To: Congressman Billybob

I just googled Twain for the 80th time: )

Priceless American humorist.


10 posted on 08/08/2007 2:36:34 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker ( Hunter/Thompson/Thompson/Hunter in 08! "Read my lips....No new RINO's" !!)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Instead of adding an exemption for the Delta Queen, how about removing the law mandating steel?

What the heck business is it of Congress whether or not a ship is wood or steel? I guess this law is allowed by the Commerce Clause or some such, but still ... such micro management of the details of our lives is the steady drip of death by socialism

If Congress only passed laws on matters it was empowered to legislate and that were essential federal mandates for our common security and well being, then we'd have a lot fewer laws, and maybe the powers that be behind the Congressional staffs would have a lot less ability to mess with the laws, by burying their doggie doo in a blizzard of petty legislation.

... on the other hand, that's probably a good part of the reason we have a bazillion laws ... it's easier to hide in a blizzard, and it empowers the Congressional staff and those lobbying them, because no mere mortal representative, much less ordinary citizen with other duties, can possibly keep track of even a few percent of the mountain of laws.

11 posted on 08/08/2007 2:42:59 PM PDT by ThePythonicCow (The Greens steal in fear of pollution, The Reds in fear of greed; Fear arising from a lack of Faith.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Thank you for sharing your article with us.


12 posted on 08/08/2007 2:45:03 PM PDT by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: Congressman Billybob
The Queen's not the last one, Congressman...
13 posted on 08/08/2007 3:15:55 PM PDT by Old Sarge (This tagline in memory of FReeper 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Mark Twain (alias Samuel Clemens) also called Congress: “That grand old benevolent national asylum for the helpless”.
14 posted on 08/08/2007 3:18:46 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("If builders built airplanes the way FAA writes FARs then the first pilot would have been a woman")
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To: pierstroll; Congressman Billybob
Amazing how Twain and Roger’s comments about politicians can be so timeless.

Some men are timeless. They are rare and few. Thanks for the article, I had heard nothing about this.

"Our constitution protects aliens, drunks and U.S. Senators." Will Rogers

15 posted on 08/08/2007 3:25:52 PM PDT by AuntB (" It takes more than walking across the border to be an American." Duncan Hunter)
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To: B4Ranch

Mark Twain Ping!


16 posted on 08/08/2007 3:26:30 PM PDT by AuntB (" It takes more than walking across the border to be an American." Duncan Hunter)
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To: Old Sarge
Thanks for the info. The two boats you provided links for are used for day excursions. The Delta Queen is the only one with cabins for overnight use. It’s the overnights in a “wooden” structure which requires an exemption from the 1966 Maritime Safety Act.

John / Billybob

17 posted on 08/08/2007 4:27:04 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (Please visit www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Well, learn something new each login! Thank you!


18 posted on 08/08/2007 4:31:00 PM PDT by Old Sarge (This tagline in memory of FReeper 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub)
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To: Congressman Billybob

While we lived in Vicksburg, when the wind was right, we could hear the calliope on the Delta Queen 6-and-a-half miles away while she was tied up at the city dock.


19 posted on 08/08/2007 4:37:36 PM PDT by stboz (I)
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To: Blue Highway

ping


20 posted on 08/08/2007 5:16:14 PM PDT by perfect stranger
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