Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
Copyright 2016
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Blogging my way from Tornado Alley to your computer screen, these are the personal observations of David W. Guth.  There are a lot of people online with nothing much to say.  I am not one of those folks.  I hope that you find my comments insightful, provocative and occasionally amusing.  I am a college professorJayhawk Journalist and writer.  I am not software engineer.  I am a content guy. Whatever this blog may lack in flash will be more than made up for in substance.  From the photo (left) you may also assume that I have East Coast roots -- I grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and am a proud Terrapin. The purpose of this blog is simple: I want to practice what I teach.  How can a guy talk to students about social media if he doesn't participate in the online discussion?  So here is my foray into Web 2.0.  I also want to demonstrate that writing doesn't take a lot of words: My blog entries will brief. If you wish to comment on anything you read, please feel free to do so at dguth@ku.edu.  I'll answer you directly or in this space as the demands of my real life permit. And now, the legal stuff: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his employer, his publisher, the Internet service provider or that of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.  Unless otherwise noted, the contents of this blog are the intellectual property of David W. Guth - which means they are copyrighted.  So there!

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Testudo's Tales

Vol. 10 No. 6 -- The Know Nothings
February 9
, 2016

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There was a political movement in the United States in the 1850s known as the Know Nothings. It was a movement that wanted to purify the nation's political system by ridding it of immigrants and non-Protestants. They also  believed in a host of conspiracy theories about secret attempts by foreign religious leaders to undermine the American way of life. Sound familiar? Yesterday's Know Nothings are today's Kansas Republican Party. Under the leadership - and I use that term loosely - of Governor Sam Brownback, these latter-day Know Nothings have made war on immigrants, education and an imaginary rash of welfare and voter-fraud cases that exist only with in their often-disengaged minds. Another example of the Know-Nothings at work was a decision made by a state senate panel yesterday to push legislation that would block the University of Kansas from issuing $350 million in bonds to develop what is called the KU Central District. These pseudo-fiscally responsible legislators say they are concerned that the state would be on the hook should the something go wrong with KU's plan. Never mind that there are no taxpayer funds involved because the bonds will be issued by a private, non-profit organization, the KU Campus Development Corporation. And forget that the very notion of a creative privatized approach to funding a needed project is based on the very model that these nimrods have supported when it comes to meeting the responsibilities of state government. All the Know Nothings know is that it involves spending money and KU - two things that these silly salons absolutely abhor. These folks are wired to oppose almost anything KU does because the university represents something they hate - education that encourages people to act with an open mind and a social conscience. To the Know Nothings, that is the functional equivalent of sharia (or Islamic) law. Where many others would describe KU's plans as an investment in the future, these Know Nothings see wasteful government spending that could be use to better purpose - such as lining the pockets of the Koch brothers. Their desire to show fiscal responsibility would be commendable if their record didn't demonstrate otherwise. These are the folks who slashed taxes for the rich, creating a gaping budget deficit. Then they tried to make up the difference by raiding the highway fund and funding the state's public schools at levels the state Supreme Court has twice said was constitutionally unacceptable. If the people of Kansas - especially those in western Kansas - were really paying attention to what is going on, they would oust these laggards on their petards in the next election. But that's not going to happen. Unfortunately, these unengaged voters are drinking in the swill served by the so-called Tea Party. And they will continue to do so until they realize that they are tactically underminding their own self-interests. (Of course, they may see their interests as having bad roads, a poorly trained workforce and underfunded state services on which they depend.) As long as Sam the Sham the the Zeros say the sun is shining in Kansas, that's OK with them. It seems that for now, they would much rather know nothing.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 5 -- Iowa
February 1
, 2016

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I have been reminded why I follow politics and believe they can be a force for good. The people of Iowa have spoken. Once again, the pundits and the pollsters are scratching their heads at the results of tonight's caucuses. On the Republican side, Senator Ted Cruz won a comfortable victory - or at least as comfortable as it can get in a crowded field. He beat Donald Trump, anointed by pundits as the presumptive nominee. However, he wasn't the only winner. Florida Senator Mario Rubio took a respectable third place, securing his place as the so-called "establishment" candidate. That's important because the coming primary contests will be in states less dominated by the evangelical movement. After his strong showing, Rubio is likely to win the support -- and campaign dollars -- from the followers of the "governors" - Huckabee, Bush, Christie and Kasich - whose campaigns are barely registering a pulse. (Huckabee's has officially flat lined - he has pulled out of the race.) The clear loser is Trump. The vote in Iowa exposed the folly that the power of his charisma and the depth of of his pockets would rule the day. Among the Democrats, there is a clear winner and and a clear loser. As I write this, Hillary Clinton has a narrow lead and the race is too close to call. She appears likely to win a majority of Iowa's delegates - even though under the draconian Iowa caucus rules, she may actually lose the popular vote. However she chooses to spin it, Hillary is the loser. Bernie Sanders' message has struck a chord among a large number of democratic voters who have told pollsters that they just don't trust Clinton. Just like eight years ago, Clinton underestimated her opponent. And while she is still favored to win the Democratic nomination, her path to victory seems less certain and her supporters seem less enthusiastic. How else can you explain polling that shows she trails Sanders among young women, a demographic group one assumes should be thrilled at the prospect of electing a female president? And what will happen if she is indicted for her mishandling of top secret documents on her private (unauthorized and unsecured) e-mail server? That threat will remain until the FBI clears her of wrongdoing. And even then, a large number of Americans, including a large number of swing independent voters, will still not believe her. Hillary and Ted can claim they won the Iowa caucuses. But tonight's real winners are Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders, who defied expectations and have sent a loud and clear message that their fight for their respective nominations have only just begun. Next stop: New Hampshire.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 4 -- Poison
January 27
, 2016

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Sometimes government workers get a bum rap. The expectations of the public are often unrealistic. For example, there has been a lot of whining coming from District of Columbia residents about the pace of snow removal following this past weekend's blizzard. It is as if the residents expect all of the streets to be cleared within a single day. The fact is that government employees are working around the clock to accomplish that task, but Mother Nature still holds the upper hand. In a freeze-dried, fast-food, instant gratification world, there are times when the electorate is just too impatient to recognize reality. Sometimes, we need to give government employees some slack.  However, there is a good reason that the people are increasingly disenchanted with job performance in the public sector. Its track record isn't very good and seems to be getting worse. Take a look at what has happened in Flint, Michigan. Government officials anxious to appease voters, looked for ways to cut taxes and reduce costs. In the case of Flint, officials there decided to stop purchasing water from the city of Detroit and to replace it with water pumped from the Flint River, a place that had served as the automobile manufacturing industry's sewer for decades. When this toxic liquid was pumped through the city's ancient water lines, the pipes corroded and leached lead into the city's drinking water. There are few substances that can create as many long-term health effects to humans than lead. And even when the problem was first discovered, the reaction of local and state officials was painfully slow and tragically inadequate. It took more than a year after the first signs of trouble emerged for officials to act. And people can't help but wonder if the slow response is tied to Flint's demographics as a poor, mostly African-American community. Whatever the reason, the delay was unconscionable. Whether benign neglect or criminal stupidity, problems such as those suffered in Flint are why the people tend to give governments little benefit of doubt. It serves as a justification for nut-jobs like Cliven and Ammon Bundy to call themselves patriots when they are, in reality, anarchists. It is also why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two men uniquely unqualified to serve as President of the United States, are threatening to topple the establishment of both major political parties. The sad fact is that all of this is rooted in an electorate that sometimes can't see past its next paycheck to understand that government - and the taxes that come with it - can be forces for good. But good can happen only if we provide government with the necessary resources to carry out its mission to serve and protect all of the people. One wonders if the people of Michigan still feel good about all of the money local and state governments have saved by sacrificing a generation of children in Flint. It wasn't just government that failed. It was the government of, by and for the people that failed. In a twisted sort of way, we have poisoned our own way of life - literally and metaphorically.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 3 -- The State of the Union 2016
January 1
3, 2016

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President Obama last night delivered his seventh and last State of the Union to a joint session of Congress.  I felt it was one of the better speeches he has given. It is amazing how liberating it must be for the President to know that he has no more campaigns to run. Obama is doing what all of his term-limited predecessors have done - trying to shape his own legacy.  What he attempted to project was same sort of presidency he envisioned when he first ran for office in 2008. He spoke of positive change and about a vision of an America that leads instead of reacts. Of course, there was no way of ignoring the one-thousand-pound elephant in the room, Donald Trump. The current GOP presidential front runner's campaign has been the antithesis of Obama's rhetoric. Obama campaigned for the presidency with a message of hope. Trump's campaign has been been about fear. Much of the President's rhetoric last night was specifically targeted at allaying those fears. While Trump says he wants to make America great again, President Obama reminded us that we are still a great nation. According to the early polls, Americans were very receptive to the President's appeal. It is true, the nation is undergoing fundamental demographic and economic changes. These forces of change were in place long before anyone had ever heard of Barack Obama and they will be in play long after his term ends next year. The difference is that President Obama is urging Americans to embrace change while Donald Trump seeks political advantage by fear-mongering. Interestingly, even Republicans are trying to distance themselves from The Donald's demagoguery. Even South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union, tried to distance her party from Trump's hateful rhetoric. And what was Trump's response? Like an impetuous child, he tweeted from his private jet that Obama's speech was "boring." While Obama's and Haley's visions of America certainly have their differences, at least their visions are grounded with basic American values of freedom and justice. That is a sharp contrast to the myopic view of Donald Trump, which often appears to be grounded in the Third Reich.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 2 -- Empowering Cartels
January 1
1, 2016

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This past weekend's arrest of Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, which coincided with the publication of his Rolling Stone interview, got me to thinking about the nature of his business. Actor Sean Penn secured an interview with the world's most-wanted fugitive and asked El Chapo a series of insightful questions. One, in particular, stuck with me. When asked who was to blame for the drug trafficing and the associated violence that has claimed thousands of lives in Mexico, Guzman said, "If there was no consumption, there would be no sales. It is true that consumption, day after day, becomes bigger and bigger. So it sells and sells." It's hard to argue with that logic. I am reminded of the very definition of cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition. To put it another way, cartels wouldn't exist but for the implicit public support of them. OPEC wouldn't exist without our dependence upon fossil fuels. The same is true for the drug cartel. There's another cartel that is even closer to home to which we have given our tacit approval. It is headed by a highly paid leader who appears to be bullet-proof no matter how ineptly he stumbles in public. His product is in such high demand that the media and community leaders do not dare to challenge him for fear of retribution. This cartel has been known to blackmail entire cities and states by saying if it doesn't get what it wants, it will take its business elsewhere. And these elected officials will cave in to the cartel's demands because the people of the community are addicted to the product and blindly demand it without caring about its consequences. Nor do they seem to care about the consequences that face the people who produce the product we so blindly crave. Many lives are destroyed for short-term pleasure. We, as a society, may say we are concerned about this cartel's power and influence. But we are willing to look the other way because of the pleasure it gives us. The addictive product I am referencing is professional football. And the heartless cartel is the National Football League. Calling the NFL a cartel may seem harsh. However, if the shoe fits... Commissioner Roger Goodell and his merry band of oligarchical owners will continue to demand huge tax breaks and publicly funded facilities as long as the public remains blindly addicted to their product. And young men will continue to suffer life-shortening brain injuries in pursuit of the financial reward that comes with the sport. While the public may be shocked by the consequences of players injured in a collission sport such as football, they are no less cupable for this carnage than they are for thousands of shattered lives coming out of the Mexican drug wars. As El Chapo said, "If there was no consumption, there would be no sales."
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 1 -- My New Year's Prayers
January 1
, 2016

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Writing this blog during 2015 wasn't as much fun as it had been in the past. While the year just past had some redeeming qualities, much of the year was dominated by bad news. On the international front, Vladimir Putin resparked the embers of the Cold War in an effort to distract the Russian people from the miserable realities of his leadership. On the domestic side, Donald Trump started the year as a laughable sideshow and ended it as a cancer on the body politic. In state news, the Kansas governor and legislature officially lost their minds. The ultra rightists in the state capitol declared war on common sense and, for a while at least, appeared to be winning. However, there is a glimmer of hope as the state's judiciary seems ready to drop the hammer on Sam the Sham and the Zeros. At the University of Kansas, several key administrators, including the Provost, are bailing from a ship taking on water. And, oh yes, the football team took imperfection to a new level by finishing the season 0-12. On a personal note, 2015 was also the year in which my brother Tom lost his heroic struggle against a debilitating stroke. He deserved a much better life than he had. However, there were some bright spots. My daughter got engaged to bright young fella that I really like. (I wonder how he feels about being called a "bright young fella?") The Kansas City Royals ended a 30-year drought and won the World Series. Although the Royals are only my second-favorite team, it has been fun to watch the spirits of an entire region lifted by the success of what was truly the best team in baseball. And it seems as if the Chiefs, my second-favorite football team, have caught the Royals' spirit: They haven't lost a game since the Royals won the World Series. While the Baltimore Ravens - my favorite NFL team - placed 20 players in the injured reserve list and lost more games than they won, at least I had the satisfaction of knowing that they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers twice. The coming year is almost guaranteed to be exciting. The United States will elect a new president - and God help us if either of the two front runners actually win. There will be excitement - and sewage - in the air during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. And with familial and personal ties to Maryland, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Kentucky, there's a good chance that at least one of my teams will make this year's Final Four in NCAA men's basketball. (However, I can't help but hold my breath out of the fear that the incompetent boobs who run the NCAA will figure out how to screw up the most exciting time of the year.) As the new year dawns, let's all say a prayer for peace. Let's pray for the people of law enforcement - may they remain safe and may they make better judgments when confronted by the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect. In fact, I'll end the first blog of the new year with the sailor's prayer: May you have fair skies and following winds.
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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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