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Trump clearly doesn’t know he’d need a permit to ‘drain the swamp.’

Cheshire grinning is the Donald's style

Grinning in Cheshire cat fashion, not laughing, is the Donald’s style.

by Len Bahr, Ph.D.

Proclivity: a strong natural liking for or tendency to do something that is usually bad.

Humans are supposedly gifted with five senses, although I would argue that the number is actually greater; for example I would add the sense of humor, which our POTUS-elect seems to lack. Both Al Franken and Michael Moore have independently noted and speculated on the significance of Donald Trump’s utter humorlessness. These two practitioners of both politics and humor have observed that, despite the endless hours that he spends fawning in front of multiple cameras, Donald Trump frequently smiles but he never ever laughs.

I’m equally intrigued by Trump’s apparent musical insensibility. I believe that the breadth of ones musical taste is positively correlated with curiosity and open-mindedness.* So far Mr. Trump has telegraphed no predilection for any musical genre that I know of, but I’ve heard that he objected to the NPR-sponsored October 2016 performance at the White House by the rapper Common.

In contrast, Trump leaves no doubt about his visual, esthetic sense. His fondness for monumental edifices bearing his Midas-tinged moniker and his fetish for gold plated toilets are both tacky to the tenth power.

Another important sense involves empathy, caring for something beyond ones personal comfort and time horizon. Concern about the welfare of future generations facing a warming and degraded biosphere would qualify as a selfless cause. Refugees from progressively inundating Pacific island nations or towns in S. Louisiana come to mind. Trump is clearly insensitive (i.e., clueless) about global warming, as shown not only by his assertion that climate change is a Chinese hoax, but also by his promise to expand coal mining and oil drilling and his objection to the esthetic cost to his Scottish golf course of the ‘visual pollution’ of an offshore wind farm.

In ticking off Trump’s sensibilities and insensitivities I’ve been leading up to his repetitious employment of a laughably archaic metaphor for eliminating political corruption. I’m referring, of course, to the phrase Draining the Swamp, which presumably came into vogue with the passage of the federal Swamplands Act of 1850. That grotesquely misguided piece of legislation subsidized swampy states like Florida for converting their useless ‘wastelands’ into ‘productive’ farmland.

This act was reversed in 1972, after most of the horses had long left the barn. That’s when swamps and other wetlands were classified under the so-called Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and protected (albeit weakly) by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. By this time the enormous public value of swamps and other wetlands had been documented by the scientific community.

If there is one phrase coming out of the Donald’s mouth to which Louisiana folks should object, it’s drain the swamp. Louisiana swamps, one of the most important wetland components of America’s Delta, were once magnificent expanses of ancient cypress-tupelo forests that were logged almost to extinction by 1920. Now what remains of our second growth coastal forests is under severe threat, as addressed in the newly-released draft 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

Someone should whisper into one of our POTUS-elect’s bright orange ears that swamps are wetlands, and thus at least semi-protected by the EPA, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Logical candidates include Scott Pruitt, Trump’s regulation-hating nominee for EPA administrator; Ryan Zinke, his Department of Interior secretary-appointee; or a potential new Secretary of the Army. Or maybe the senior member of our Bayou State GOP delegation should do the honors – what say you Steve Scalise?

Just kidding, of course. Trump obviously won’t be hearing it from any of these folks but draining our swamps is as inappropriate a metaphor for making the federal government effective as I can possibly imagine. Donald’s insensitivities and senseless proclivities threaten not just our government in general but the swampy coast of Louisiana in particular.

Sadly, neither the country nor Donald have much to laugh about eleven short days out from inauguration day.

*A curious outlier to this statistical correlation was the 19th century explorer, geologist, philosopher and father of ecology Alexander von Humboldt , who, according to his biographer Andrea Wulf, was too obsessed with his science to listen to music.

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  1. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I?m gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  2. I guess we have taken Planned Parenthood out of the race with China in organ harvesting. Things will change “all across fruited plain”, or is it the LGBT plain???

  3. Guille Novelo says:

    Great post Len! And a good poem from anonymous too. Sweet and sour true.

  4. Edward Bodker says:

    Trump may be referring to water traps on golf courses. I doubt he knows what a natural swamp is. Whatever he thinks, I’m sure he considers it “awesome” and “terrific.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    No one needs a Corps permit to drain a swamp. Not without more, such as the construction of sill involving dumping dredge of spoil or some such. The Corps lost Tulloch I and II when they tried to regulate the removal of fill from a wetland. They lost, and should have. In fact, the judge wrote the Corps’ claims were “unworthy of the Army.” Under some conditions (Sec 10 for navigable waters, but not always) there can be a requirement to get a permit from the Corps. Some states regulate pumping state waters for non-ag uses, but, in general, simple draining of a wetland or swamp does NOT require a permit.

    • Of the various commenters who use the moniker ‘Anonymous’ to disguise their (your) respective identities, i trust that you understand the difference between the literal and metaphorical use of words. Your comments suggest a literal interpretation of ‘draining the swamp,’ which may not require a permit but would be physically impossible without pumps in S. Louisiana, as long as gravity prevails and relative sea level continues to rise. This post was not intended as a primer on 404 permitting but as a statement on the irony and hypocrisy that swirl around the Trumping of democracy.
      The radical change in the public perception of swamps from disgusting, smelly, mosquito-infested wasteland to photogenic models for Clyde Lockwood is notable. I believe that a growing portion of Americans view the manicured golf courses used mostly by elites, which appeal to Trump’s ideal state of nature, as a frivolous waste of resources and source of NPS pollution.

      • Anonymous says:

        Golf courses are failing because the weak economy cannot support them. Three in Baton Rouge have become houses. NPS? I’ve seen Greens complain that homes are NPS because dogs and cats excrete in those yards and people change oil in their driveways. Anon? I know that you block people you don’t like. Once I found out about that I decided Anon was a better move.

        Since law doesn’t matter to you I’ll skip SAVE OUR COMMUNITY v. EPA, 971 F.2d 1155, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit., September 14, 1992.

        • Anon.
          You’d have no way of knowing if I censored a comment but I don’t remember ever having done so because I didn’t like its author. I obviously have no regard for Donald Trump but I’d love to get a tweet from him – and you can bet that he wouldn’t hide behind a pseudonym.

          • Anonymous says:

            Lots of people don’t like Trump. So what? I found him less gross than Clinton, hardly a ringing endorsement. As for what I know, either you censored someone, or I was lied to by him, or you had a problem with your site which deleted his comments.

            • 1) Don’t believe everything you hear, especially from one of my anonymous critics.
              2) I’ve deleted ads with no coastal significance but NEVER a comment on any of my posted opinions.
              3) Your (unspecified) criteria for a comparative scale of ‘grossness’ between the two candidates ignores the fact that one of these folks supports and one completely rejects the science behind anthropogenic climate change.

  6. Jim Rives says:

    While watching the Louisiana Legislature entertain a bill to repeal the State And Local Coastal Resources Management Act during the 1980s, I was inspired to pen this take on the caption of a then popular poster.

    It’s hard to remember that your original objective is to SAVE the swamp when you are up to your ass in Legislators.

    Of course, the original caption had “alligators” instead of “Legislators.” Later events caused me to make another caption with “Litigators” instead of “alligators.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    The 1850 act was the rest of the country wanting in on the Act for only La in 1849. The word “wetland” does not appear in the 1972 Act. The horde of regs since then is “judicial acquiescence to bureaucratic fiat” (don’t recall who first coined that phrase) from the 1977 amendments.

  8. Good post and right on Len. A swamp is a system that doesn’t work when it is drained. D.C. wont work when he drains it of people who know how it operates, what its functions are, who it serves and know some facts and information. But that is all lost on many.

  9. Anonymous says:

    In a land where the states are united, they claim,
    in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
    lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
    the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.

    This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
    with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
    and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
    and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.

    He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
    and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
    It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,
    I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!

    Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
    and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.
    And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
    but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.

    I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,
    They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
    They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,
    I will make their America great once again!”

    The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
    “They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.
    You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
    every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”

    And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
    He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.
    And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,
    Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.

    And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
    Until they believed all of those lies were true too.
    He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
    And he misled and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.

    And the media laughed but they printed each line,
    thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
    So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
    ‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.

    And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
    Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
    petrified that their freedom was under attack,
    trusting Trump he would take their America back.

    From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
    Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
    And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
    all his lies about making America great.

    Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
    she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
    no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
    or the fact that the Trump had not yet done thing one.

    They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
    because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
    And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
    and a lie became truth she could never defend.

    And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
    a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.
    And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
    like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.

    And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
    And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came

    With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
    Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
    And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
    All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,

    they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
    they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
    With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
    with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.

    And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
    while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.
    But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,
    And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,

    and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
    thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
    thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
    terrified to learn he had to actually work,

    work for every American, not just for a few,
    not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.
    He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
    for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.

    They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
    and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
    And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,
    He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.

    And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
    for America was already more than quite great,
    not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,
    It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,

    It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,
    It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
    It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
    The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,

    It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
    It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
    And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
    and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.

    And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
    be the greatness that makes our America great.
    And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
    Almost three million more of us—voted for her.

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