Don't drain the swamp; restore the wetland

President Trump made a joke that we should bring back earmarks. I am not sure it was a joke, but it is not a bad idea. It is often not a good idea to drain a swamp, neither the literal ones (wetlands) in an ecological sense nor the metaphorical ones (government.) Eliminating earmarks is one of those things that many people think is good, a way to make politicians more open and honest. I thought that too. But in the light of experience, I found it it a bad idea.

In the light of experience, it is easy to see what we should have seen.

Earmarks were the way deals were made. It is how Lincoln passed the 13th amendment through congress. It is how LBJ passed the Civil Rights legislation. You give others what they want to get what you need. In our modern information age, earmarks will be limited by exposure to sunlight, so the most egregious ones will not make it through, but some are good and necessary.

Consider what happens absent earmarks. You have taken away most negotiating points. And what is left? Pure ideology and purer ambition.

There is no incentive to compromise or to make anything better. The opposition's political calculation is to ruin whatever the other side wants, since it is all theirs and none of ours. The majority party has no incentive to give anything at all, since they know that their only chance is to take as much as they can when they can take it, for in the next election they die.

In nature, a swamp - a wetland - is one of the most productive ecosystems. Plants grow profusely and animals breed in a place that is uncertain whether it is wet or dry. Swamps also provide myriad services to the surrounding areas. They purify water, mitigate floods, protect shorelines and recharge aquifers.

We humans often object to swamps because they are hard to walk in and harder to cultivate. But when we drain them, we often leave a much poorer landscape .

Politics IS a type of human swamp. The smell is unpleasant and there is lots of gas released. Anything that goes in straight comes out crooked. Movement is slow and tedious. There is mud everywhere and thickets are full of snakes and alligators. But this is a rich ecology. If we drain it, we simply it to make it less productive.

Otto von Bismarck famously said that you should not watch laws or sausages being made. When they are done, however, I like a good bratwurst and a good law.

Work with the ecology of the swamp, but leave intact its main features, even if we dislike them.

Posted by Christine & John at January 9, 2018 2:52 PM
Comment #423091

I found it very refreshing that the president allowed the media to present today’s meeting, as it occurred, to the public eye.

I agree with the president and John’s analysis that using “earmarks” again, as an effective legislative device, is a good idea with limitations to avoid abuse.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 9, 2018 3:59 PM
Comment #423110

Bribery is always a good motivator when politicians are concerned. Just look at how Obamacare was passed.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 10, 2018 10:04 AM
Comment #423111

Look at how many buildings and roads have Byrd’s name on them. I say they are the product of earmarks. What would you call them, Christine & John?

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 10, 2018 10:07 AM
Comment #423113

If a bill can’t pass on it’s own merits it shouldn’t be considered at all.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 10, 2018 10:42 AM
Comment #423114


I have driven on these roads. Very comfortable. I sometimes go down Hwy 50 when I want to see the scenery.

Re “its own merits” - The earmarks may be among its merits.

Posted by: Christine & John at January 10, 2018 11:14 AM
Comment #423128

Swamp Thinking MMGW runs up against facts. Facts win.

“The Clean Power Plan would eliminate most cheap coal and natural gas power with expensive sources like solar and wind, costing America an expected $41 billion annually. Yet, the plan likely won’t have a large impact on global warming. According to analysis by the libertarian Cato Institute using models created by the EPA, the Clean Power Plan will only advert 0.019° Celsius of warming by the year 2100, an amount so small it can’t be detected.

“I’ve stood and looked at the families that are going to lose their jobs because of this. For what? For one quantitative analysis for 0.02 degrees of warming by the year 2100?” Daines said during the hearing. “If the impact on temperature is virtually negligable, what impact are we trying to drive here?”

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 10, 2018 3:51 PM
Comment #423132

Where’s my comfortable roads where I can drive to take in the scenery, Christine & John?

Does it take a Grand Dragon to get them here?

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 10, 2018 4:41 PM
Comment #423135

Here’s a thought regarding draining most of America of its illegal alien population.

The California legislature passed, and Governor “Moonbeam” Brown signed into law; a provision that creates a “sanctuary state.”

I encourage all my Conservative friends, and all law abiding Americans in the other 49 states, to purchase advertising in mainstream media informing illegals in their state of this sanctuary in California.

Since Hollywood folks talk loudly about loving illegals, we encourage illegals from our states to move to that city. We should provide the address of Oprah and other rich celebrities to these illegals who can expect to be greeted at the door with cash incentives.

Illegals can expect not only sanctuary, but a generous stipend from the state to pay for food, housing, transportation, clothing, medicine, doctors, education, and entertainment.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 10, 2018 5:38 PM
Comment #423136

Weary Willie

We are talking about West Virginia. If you drive on Hwy 50, it is very nice.

Actually, there are lots of good roads through pretty empty space. I guess they figured, if you build it they will come.

Posted by: Christine & John at January 10, 2018 7:12 PM
Comment #423137

Eisenhower put together the interstate roads system to move the military. It had nothing to do with sight seeing. It has evolved to where the federal government is now dictating terms to states and states are sacrificing their sovereignty for the money needed to maintain an elaborate and inefficient roadways system that has many flaws.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 10, 2018 10:11 PM
Comment #423156

Oh please Weary why is the existing interstate raod system elaborate and inefficient and what flaws are you referring to?

Federal standards for roads is a loss of sovereignty! Such exaggeration.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 11, 2018 11:00 AM
Comment #423157

Want federal money? Fine people going faster than what the federal government deems “efficient”.

There was a recent spate of bridge collapses a few years ago. Was that in the news for entertainment value, j2t2? Did the media focus on bridges falling in because they thought it would get people to click on their article?

How many times do you sit on a freeway in rush hour going 0 miles an hour, on a road designed to handle 80 miles an hour, in a car designed to go 160 miles an hour, where the speed limit is 55 miles an hour?

How does that make any sense in Liberalland?

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 11, 2018 11:20 AM
Comment #423159


The Interstate system could not have been built w/o earmarks. It was one big negotiation to get it done.

A good recent book re called the give some background.Big Roads

Posted by: Christine & John at January 11, 2018 12:45 PM
Comment #423161
Want federal money? Fine people going faster than what the federal government deems “efficient”.

Weary you must be remembering way back to 1974 and the oil embargo. This hasn’t been an issue for decades.

There was a recent spate of bridge collapses a few years ago.

This doesn’t make the interstate system elaborate nor inefficient. The system has been neglected over the years by the austerity minded Congress. Leaving things in disrepair for political gain was but one of the foolish things teabaggers in Congress did during the Obama administration.

How many times do you sit on a freeway in rush hour going 0 miles an hour, on a road designed to handle 80 miles an hour, in a car designed to go 160 miles an hour, where the speed limit is 55 miles an hour?

Weary, you are blaming the interstate highway system for population growth, rush hours and cars designed to go faster than needed? I would suggest in these urban areas you speak of the volume of traffic today is why the speed limits are 55 and traffic is bumper to bumper. But the side roads are also slowed with bumper to bumper traffic which would indicate it isn’t a flaw in the interstate system.

Perhaps the flaw is in the individual who continues to drive in these conditions instead of biking, hiking, busing or training it to work, school, play or whatever. Or I guess we could just keep building more and more roads or adding lanes and more lanes to existing roads to accommodate those who drive the interstate system. To bad our repub leaders in Congress sat on the infrastructure issue for so many years isn’t it. But hey Austerity…right?

Anyway I would suggest instead of inefficient and elaborate the problems with the interstate system is austerity and conservative ideology. But it appears we will have Trump coming to the rescue with his “socialized costs privatized profits” infrastructure plans. Then we can all stop at toll booths while waiting in these traffic jams. And then to add insult to injury we can pay once again, daily or monthly. whatever some corporation needs to make a profit for “building” their private road. How is that for efficiency.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 11, 2018 2:59 PM
Comment #423165

“Leaving things in disrepair for political gain was but one of the foolish things teabaggers in Congress did during the Obama administration.”

j2t2 really needs to find a new gig. The “teabaggers” in congress couldn’t prevent Obama from adding $10 Trillion to our national debt. Why nothing for roads?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 11, 2018 3:34 PM
Comment #423168

Obama was inexperienced. He did not understand infrastructure. He really thought that there were “shovel ready” good projects that just needed money to get started. That is why most of the money either was wasted or just went into routine projects that would have been built anyway.

The system has a great capacity to absorb government money w/o producing results.

Lots of this has to do with regulation and approvals. We built Hoover Dam in five years and Laguardia Airport is less than one. Today, you cannot get an environmental impact statement to lay a sidewalk done in that time.

Posted by: Christine & John at January 11, 2018 4:01 PM
Comment #423180
The “teabaggers” in congress couldn’t prevent Obama from adding $10 Trillion to our national debt. Why nothing for roads?

Royal, Prevent it they encouraged both debt and deficit. War on a credit card is as fast a way to run up debt as there is Royal.

Between 2009 and 2015 the repubs vetoed/blocked any infrastructure bill. Finally later in 2015, swayed by adding to the debt the repubs added a $650 billion deficit funded tax cut bill so they would vote to pass a highway infrastructure bill that was funded by strategic reserves and money from gas taxes and such.

They also shut down government and then under the guise of austerity did all they could to undermine the economy. Of course you guys forget all of that and choose to blame Obama for the inaction of the Congress.

I know Royal, facts such a terrible thing. Perhaps it is you that should be finding a gig that is a bit more truthful than your current one.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 11, 2018 7:41 PM
Comment #423194

Given Obama’s incompetence I’m glad Republicans stood in the way of the “kid in a candy store” mentality the Democratics had in his first 2 years. It’s like they had all this pent up spending they were denied for the last 20 years and couldn’t help themselves. It must have felt like taking a long awaited piss for Democratics.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 12, 2018 10:10 AM
Comment #423199

Stood in the way Weary! The repubs gave us the economic collapse the dems had to deal with. We were hemorrhaging millions of jobs Weary. Trying to stimulate the economy has nothing to do with “kids in a candy store”. Helping states and those on the short end of the stick during the collapse was the only way to get the economy going again.

BTW the dems were a majority in Congress during the last of GWB’s term in office. So I would think your “pent up” theory is simply misinformation. Oh wait you must be talking about the ACA. But it got passed into law so where does “incompetence” come into it?

Stop and think about it a minute Weary, take off those partisan blinders. Obama was incompetent you claim, yet an economic depression was cut off. Obama gave the country the confidence we needed to get through the collapse. Check out his approval ratings during that time frame if you have doubt of this.

Now compare that to the current administration. Trump came into office with an economy that was expanding not contracting. No major catastrophes to deal with a Congress that is controlled by repubs, and yet has proven he is no leader. Check out his approval ratings if you are in doubt. He is the poster child of presidential incompetence. Cabinet turnovers, nepotism, incompetent choices for appointments, Inability to go one day without misleading or lying to the American public, and attacking first amendment rights are just some of the nonsense Trump has subjected the American people to.

Weary its called projection and you guys are so obvious it hurts. Do you really think calling others incompetent makes Trump any less incompetent?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 12, 2018 12:34 PM
Comment #423203

Honestly, I just can’t handle getting on WB very often. It appears the lefties on WB are fading as well. That is except for j2t2 and maybe one or two others. I voted for Trump with a little reservation, but he has exceeded my expectations. I absolutely love his presidency. He’s doing exactly what he said he would do. Drain the swamp, oh yes, he’s doing it. The left has tried to do with Trump, the same thing they did with Reagan, Bush, and other republicans. Attack as being a dufus, an uneducated redneck. But Trump has continued to make fools of the left and the Democrats. He continues to set the talking points and the agenda. The democrats are showing all of America how far out of touch they are with the American people. From some who are becoming hysterical, to fools like Pelosi who are once again playing the race card and calling a 2k tax savings and a 1k bonus as being crumbs. 3k dollars added to the yearly budget of most Americans is not considered crumbs. Pelosi is out of touch. Dick Durban has gone on a rant about Trump using the term “chain migration” as a racist term linked to black slavery. What an idiot, Trump did not invent the term chain migration, it’s been around for years. One last thing I would say; I don’t care what terms Trump uses. Durban leaked that Trump had used the term “sh—hole counties”, but Trump said he didn’t. I would believe Trump over Durban any day. Durban is a liberal and liberals never tell the truth. But if Trump did say it, I don’t care. I’ve been to Haiti, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Mexico, and many more Central American, Mediterranean, and European countries; and I can say without a doubt, that many of them would be considered sh—hole countries. I, as well as many others have called them such. Trump is doing a great job and it’s time for the democrats to change their tune or they will become a nonexistent party. Since I don’t get on here very often, I will say one last thing. The Russian collusion scam is just about to blow up in the faces of the left. We are about to see criminal charges brought, and it’s not going to be against Trump.

Posted by: Blaine at January 12, 2018 2:01 PM
Comment #423205

Well said Blaine. Come visit and comment more often.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 12, 2018 3:21 PM
Comment #423207

Blaine, We also need to mention the S**THOLE sections of some of our cities here in our own country that are represented and run by DEMOCRATS.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at January 12, 2018 3:50 PM
Comment #423209

You are correct Kap. So there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the dictators of third world countries and democrat controlled cities in the USA.

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Comment #423347

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Comment #423443

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