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What is The Swamp?

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Words are cheap. That's why for example in a presidential debate, a candidate who has been on the wrong side of an issue for decades can attack their opponent who has been on the right side for decades in a sentence, claiming they're the ones on the right side of the issue and claiming the opponent isn't; the waters are muddied. Same easy thing works for White House spokespersons who just lie, and so on.


So, the public - left, right and center - largely dislikes something going on with 'elites'. And that something is named by the phrase 'the swamp'. But when one candidate who is actually against 'the swamp' says so, the competition who is for the swamp weakens the discussion by simply adopting the phrase themselves and claiming THEY'RE the one against the swamp, and calling their opponent the swamp. Muddying the waters.


And so you end up with the public rather confused about what is the swamp and who is against it and unorganized in fighting the swamp, which is just what the swamp wants.


It's pretty bizarre when everyone - Bernie and trump, Pelosi and Ryan - will say they're against the swamp and it means nothing because the word has been diluted to mean anything and contradictory things. The only sure loser would be a politician who said they're for the swamp, so of course none do - and the American people who still have the swamp.


Isn't it strange that such a basic and important issue can't be defined better? I don't even recall one leader who says they're against the swamp being challenged on what the word means.

For there to be any political organization against the swap, I'd think it needs to get a clearer meaning.


The first target people might come up with are politicians who vote for powerful interests and against the interests of the American people. I'd say pretty much every Republican politician fits that bill; of course they'd disagree. Some Democrats do; and of course they'd disagree.


But I'd suggest that the politicians are a secondary part, the 'hired hands' - that's it's the interests they serve, who pay the bills whether in campaign donations or rewarding former politicians with lobbying jobs, that are more 'the swamp'. And those interests are somewhat amorphous.


Wall Street largely pretty clearly belongs on the list. Historically, Wall Street was a 10% of the economy's profits overhead to 'grease the wheels'; in recent decades when they have increased their role as a parasite, that has risen up to 40% of the country's profits they suck out. I'd call that added 30% 'swamp'.


The healthcare insurances excesses (somewhat curtailed by the ACA, which required them to spend a bigger share on patient benefits, which required them to insure pre-existing conditions); big pharma excesses (illustrated by their being Republicans' biggest donor in the 2000 election, rewards with hundreds of billions of tax dollars per year in added costs from the new drug program that banned the government from negotiating prices); the defense industry, which is obscenely large, sucking hundreds of billions of dollars from the American people every year for unneeded weapons and pushing the US to a role of oppression as an empire; the privatization movement which mostly provides worse service for higher cost from education to prisons; and much more are all 'the swamp'.


There are some poster children for the swamp - such as Goldman Sachs, which when not paying Hillary $400,000 to give a speech, is backing all kinds of schemes to hurt citizens for profit. They've destroyed plenty of pensions and other people's money to line their pockets. Of course with the 2008 Great Recession, they manipulated the recovery to steer hundreds of billions to themselves.

Speaking of the Great Recession, the big banks are in particular the swamp. While I already mentioned them generally, the Great Recession in particular showed the banks as 'too big to fail', sucking up trillions in recovery money that should have gone to the public, mostly unpunished for their role in the crash, and legally unaccountable to both Bush and Obama.


I'd add another category - the plutocrat tycoons, who give billions to elect almost entirely Republicans to do their bidding - the Kochs (who organize hundreds of like-minded tycoons to donate), Mercer, Addleston, the Waltons, and many more who give money to buy our elections to put people in power who will protect them at the public's expense.


Then there's ALEC and its clients - the organization that represents the biggest corporations and literally writes laws for their benefit, typically against the public interest, and hands them to mostly Republican legislatures who sometimes have 30% of all the laws they pass be bills written by ALEC.


And then there's the right-wing media - not jut Fox, but Sinclair which owns to many talk radio stations airing right-wing propaganda 24x7, and many more. The voice of the swamp, swan songs misleading millions to support the swamp.


The Supreme court itself has become swampland, with a majority being Republican appointees who are legal radicals who have destroyed our constitution by interpreting it to deny the power of the people to rule their country, creating protections for unlimited money in buying our elections and saying the people cannot pass laws limiting the swamp. Money is speech and corporations are people with constitutional rights.


I'd say that's the swamp.


But trump uses the word as well - Pelosi is the swamp! Schumer is the swamp! Anyone who gives to Democrats is the swamp! An actor who attacks him is the swamp! The utterly corrupt cronies he is and puts into government and supports, he doesn't call the swamp. When he appoints fossil fuel and #1 enemy of the environment Scott Pruitt to head the EPA to destroy the protection of the environment (including swamps) - that's not the swamp.


The swamp is an important phrase in our politics - but needs some agreement on what it means to have any use other than filling trump's speeches with lies misusing the phrase.

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Five year old kids having a dispute will often accuse each other multiple times of he same abusive word that one of them originated. "You're a jerk".  "No, you're a jerk",  "No you",  "No you", "No you" ...  And so on.  Basically the same thing happens in the halls of Congress, on a more sophisticated level.    It's like a verbal game of ping pong, but the ball never goes out of play to score a point.   If one party originates a slur and it's returned by the other, the slur value becomes nearly meaningless, after a few volleys.  It simply becomes a dismaying spectacle of adults, acting like kids.


The meaning of "The Swamp" is what the American people perceive it to mean.  And that can be inferred from print media and electronic media.  It has been depicted especially well in cartoons.  The Swamp is that muddy area where corruption takes place among its denizens, on a regular basis.  And each side is now accusing the other of wallowing in the swamp.


It's a verbal war, beneath which the evidence of corruption (the swamp) can easily be found.  But no corrupt politician wants to be exposed;  And there is corruption on both sides.  So both sides create a childish spectacle of name-calling back and forth which, to a large extent, diverts the news media, and therefore, the public, from getting to the bottom of the matter.


News outlets are always looking for the novel, the absurd and the sensational.  Well here it is.  Distinguished looking grown-up men and women in Congress, acting like children.

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Corruption in government is anti-democratic in the extreme since it puts power in the hands of the few and removes it from the many.  


One particularly toxic feature of corruption in government is that those engaged in it become allies in secrecy, even if on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Inviting scrutiny by exposing the corruption of a political opponent is dangerous to the informer if he is also on the take.   Which leads to diversionary tactics like more non-specific mud-slinging.  Since corruption makes unlikely bedfellows, it further blurs political differences.

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Well, sure, if both sides are corrupt - but even if they aren't, it's too easy to muddy the waters.


When Hillary told trump in a debate he was a puppet of Putin, that issue could have been a killer to him - he said she's the puppet and that nullified the issue despite the evidence showing that she was a hawk on Russia - a clear enemy of Putin - too much of one for many Democratic voters.


A lot of issues are like that. When Bernie would make a strong point criticizing her, she would muddy decades of history by saying no, he is. This happened on a lot of issues. It's what I meant by 'words are cheap' - and paradoxically, the opposite, words are expensive, meaning the 'big bucks' get a message repeated a lot to voters whether it's a lie or not.

And Republicans are taking full advantage of this with 'fake news' and their megaphone - so, no, the real Russia collusion scandal is the Hillary uranium deal... and it works...

That's just a small example and can be undone as the Mueller investigation - which we're lucky to have and wouldn't have had trump not fired Comey - files more charges. But 'words are cheap' is just one issue. The point is how much real issues are defeated by propaganda machines - whether it's 'the swamp' or many others. Another destruction of democracy.


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