Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
Copyright © 2017
x
X
 

X

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 be 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!

Archives:     2007     2008     2009    2010     2011     2012    2013   2014    2015   2016   Chronological Index

Return Home
x

 
 
Testudo's Tales

Vol. 11 No. 14 -- Birdageddon
April 22,
2017

x=
Can you smell it? The scent of war is in the air. How it will end? No one knows. The outcome is literally up in the air. There have been border skirmishes for years. But lately, the enemy has crosses the line.  By now, I suppose you are saying to yourself "what war?" I have to admit, the fake news media have ignored it. But let me tell you, the fate of democracy rests in the balance. The flash point came last week, when the Bluebirds returned to Carver Lane to nest in Maureen's very special Bluebird house. Suddenly, the Sparrows appeared. For those of you who are ornithologically challenged, Bluebirds are like Canada, the neighbors you like. (Not to be confused with Blue Jays, a Canadian baseball team I detest.) Sparrows are the Empire's stormtroopers, mean-spirited snots up to no good. The Sparrows like to takeover the Bluebirds habitat, make it their own and often kill off the Bluebird offspring in the process - a true avian atrocity. Sparrows usually have their way - until now. My wife Maureen has become the Bluebird Avenger. She hasn't caused any physical harm to the winged intruders - yet. But she sits in her recliner with a monocular scoping out the Bluebird house. When a Sparrow arrives in forbidden territory, she will spring from her roost, charge into the back yard and shoo the enemy away. Trust me, hell hath no fury like an Irish woman. During the last few days, the Bluebird Avenger has had her own wings clipped by minor surgery. So it is up to me to get up, run into the yard and shout "away, away you bird bastards!!!" (Well, at least until the neighbors complained.) Keep in mind that the only birds I really care about are Orioles, Ravens and Jayhawks. For now, the Bluebirds seem to have the upper hand, er, wing. But it is as fragile a truce as our President's ego. So, if you travel to west Lawrence in in the fair state of Kansas, please be aware that you are entering a war zone. Of course, Lawrencians have survived other conflicts, including Quantrill's Raid and a Russian nuclear attack. But this is different. This is Birdageddon! However, no need to hide in your nest. My money is on the Irish woman!
ponse
Vol. 11 No. 13 -- Easter's Lost Message
April 16,
2017

x=
The story of Easter is about sacrifice and spiritual rebirth - two things that this country is in short supply of these days. Whether that sacrifice comes in the form of the deprivation of luxuries, working harder without additional compensation or the willful giving of something of value with no expectation of reciprocity, sacrifice no longer appears to be a part of the American lexicon. How else can you explain the insatiable desire of our politicians to cut taxes without regard to the social harm it brings? We complain about the quality of education and then, in the same breath, we slash spending on schools and teachers out of the belief that our taxes are too high. Our roads and bridges are in need of repair, but lawmakers don't dare raise gasoline taxes out of fear of retribution from voting motorists. And when it comes to the principles upon which our nation was founded, we find ourselves spiritually exhausted. Practically every poll taken says we don't believe in public institutions such as our government, our courts, our police and even our churches. The loss of faith in those institutions may be directed more to the people who run them than the ideas upon which they were founded. However, even the basic principles of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, equality and self-determination no longer seem to be the moral imperatives they once were. Maybe that explains how people who consider themselves persons of faith could praise God in one moment and vote for a morally bankrupt politician like Donald Trump in the next. And that's why some are quick to surrender privacy rights in the name of security. This is not to say that America hasn't always found itself working at cross-purposes. The fact is that democracy is messy. It has always been a delicate balance between protecting our self-interests while considering the greater good. Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Foreign aid and environmental protection laws are just two examples of where self-interest and the greater good are in concert. There have been times when we, as a nation, stood tall in defense of human rights. But now we talk about refusing access to America for refugees fleeing oppression. In today's hyper-political climate, we seem to have lost the word compromise from our vocabulary. Change frightens us. We are paralyzed by our insatiable search for personal advantage. We have lost our way. These are things to ponder during this season when many celebrate the greatest sacrifice of all.
ponseXrs

Vol. 11 No. 12 -- Immoral and Amoral
April 4,
2017

x=
Let's look at today's headlines. President Trump yesterday welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who the website Vox described as "the brutal military dictator who overthrew his country’s democratically elected president in a 2013 coup, killed more than 800 protesters in a single day, and has imprisoned tens of thousands of dissidents since he took power." To put this in perspective, Trump embraced a brutal dictator that the Obama administration had shunned just days after he was publicly cool toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the nation's strongest and most reliable allies. Meanwhile, out of the blue, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that he wants to review consent decrees the Justice Department has made with police departments across America - despite the fact that these decrees were the result of well-documented abuses of power and violations of individuals' constitutional rights. According to the New York Times, "In a memorandum dated March 31 and made public Monday, the attorney general directed his staff to look at whether law enforcement programs adhere to principles put forth by the Trump administration, including one declaring that 'the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn' the work police officers perform 'in keeping American communities safe.'" The Trump Justice Department wants to delay the implementation of a settlement agreement with the Baltimore Police Department - despite the fact that Baltimore's mayor and police chief don't want the delay. And just in case this administration hasn't made its position clear, National Public Radio has reported that Trump and his Secretary of State have decided that it is not in the nation's best interests to promote human rights. Of course, this follows the President's recent claim that Russia's approach to human rights has the moral equivalence of this nation's. So, what does this all mean? By his own words, we know that Donald Trump is immoral. These and other events also suggest that Trump is amoral, which Merriam-Webster defines as "having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong." One would think this would come as a surprise to the evangelical community that shockingly supported Trump's candidacy during November's election. As one who believes that how we act upon our values defines us as a people, the trajectory of this immoral and amoral government is a cause for grave concern. In a democracy, we elect our leaders to act in our name. But the only name that Trump cares about is his own. This evidence suggests that any reasonable American with any level of integrity should know that the Trump brand of morality is not one we should embrace.
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 11 -- Maryland, My Maryland
March 25,
2017

x=
In the moments after the Baltimore Ravens squeezed out a hold-your-breath Super Bowl victory in February 2013, quarterback Joe Flacco said, "We don't make it easy, do we?" Then he added, "We are just like the city of Baltimore."  Joe Cool may not have known it, but his statement was historically accurate. Lord Baltimore's namesake city and the colony he founded 383 years ago today never seemed to follow the easy path. Maryland and its people have been defined by overcoming adversity. George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, risked everything when he went against the tide in Protestant England to convert to Catholicism. On his deathbed, he was granted a royal charter to establish a New World colony based on religious tolerance. The Mary Land colony was nestled between two aggressive and often-belligerent neighbors, Virginia and Pennsylvania. A power struggle between Patriots and Loyalists made Maryland the last colony to sign off on a Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress in 1776. Against all odds, stubborn Marylanders turned the tide against the mighty British fleet in the Battle of Fort McHenry in September 1814. Despite being a slave state with decided Southern leanings, Maryland chose to stick with the North in 1861 - a decision that went a long way toward preserving the Union. The bloodiest battle in American history was fought near Sharpsburg in September 1862 -- and cleared the way for President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The 29th Infantry Division based at Fort Meade was the only National Guard unit to participate in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944. In the early 1970s, Baltimore was dreary and decaying metropolis. However, with enlightened political leadership and a surge of civic pride, Baltimore experienced a renaissance during the next decade that made it a model for other American cities. After decades of benign neglect and unchecked pollution, the state's greatest treasure, Chesapeake Bay, is beginning to rally from the brink of extinction. (But there's still a lot of work to do.) It's the state that brought us Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, Nancy Pelosi, Ogden Nash, Upton Sinclair, Nora Roberts, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Frank Zappa, Goldie Hahn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Babe Ruth, Bill Belichick, Kevin Durant, Cal Ripken, Lefty Grove, Jimmy Foxx, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Michael Phelps, Pete Sampras, Steven Decatur, Francis Scott Key, Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog -- and me. Tired of writing about the sorry state of affairs in Washington and Topeka, I've decided to take this Maryland Day to honor the land of my birth. It's been 43 years since I called the Free State (or Old Line State) my home. But not a day goes by without me thinking of where I was born and raised, went to school and forged most of the values I live by today. And while our state song is sung to the same tune as "Oh Christmas Tree," we Marylanders take pride in having the coolest state flag. I'll bet you didn't know that our official state sport is jousting. Lacrosse is Maryland's official team sport. And the official state reptile? Come on, make a guess. After 383 years, she's still going strong. Happy birthday, Maryland, my Maryland!
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 10 -- Ten Years
March 17,
2017

x=
February 22, 1974, was a day that changed my life. Late on a dreary, rainy Friday afternoon, I arrived in the tiny western Kentucky town of Hawesville. My VW bug was packed with all my worldly belongings. I had come to this remote corner of America to begin my first post-college job as an announcer and ad salesman for a small 500-watt daytime radio station. (Believe me, they don't get any smaller than that.) I had taken the job over the telephone - site unseen. The country was in the midst of a recession and it was the only job offer I had gotten. It was like I had landed on the dark side of the moon. I didn't know what to think of this rundown river town nor of its tiny radio station located in an old wooden-frame house. However, once I got to meet the radio station folks who would become my defacto family, I began to feel more at ease. The station manager took us all out to eat at "The Captain's Table," a small restuarant just across from the Hancock County Courthouse. That was when my world turned on a dime. A beautiful, smiling young waitress wearing wire frame glasses, a white dress and blue stockings walked into my life. Her name was Jan Marie Fillman and exactly 18 months and one day later, she became my wife. And what a life we had together. Like any couple, there were both good times and bad. Thankfully, the good outnumbered the bad many, many times over. Life with Jan was more than an adventure, it was a pleasure cruise. She was very smart -- a lot smarter than I.  However, Jan had her "ditsy" and silly moments that made us both laugh. For example, when I took that Iowa-born girl to see the ocean for the first time in her life, she said "The beach would be great if it wasn't so sandy." How could you not fall in love with woman like that? As great a wife as she was, she proved to be an even better mother. Jan was devoted to our daughter. I know that she would be proud of the woman and wife our daughter has become. Jan passed away with no warning 10 years ago today, March 17, 2007. While the passage of time has allowed me to pick up the pieces and begin a new life, thoughts of Jan will remain with me until I take my last breath. As is often true with widows and widowers, the memory of that tragic day dominated my thoughts for a long time. My grief knew no bounds. Eventually, those dark thoughts were crowded out by powerful remembrances of our joyous times together. They reminded me to embrace life as Jan had. I think of her every day. And now, when I do, I smile. I try to honor her memory by living life to its fullest. Which is why on this, the 10th anniversary of the worst day of my life, I choose to honor a special woman by focusing on that precious day in February 1974 -- A day when my life and her love became one.
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 9 -- We Still Like Ike
March 4,
2017

x=
When he left office in January 1961, historians were quick to label Dwight David Eisenhower as a caretaker president. The conventional wisdom was that grandfatherly Ike governed during a period when America finally got a chance to catch its collective breath after the the crisis-filled Depression, World War II and Korean conflict years. Eisenhower certainly suffered in comparison to the youthful and dynamic John Kennedy who succeeded him in the White House. The inevitable revaluation of the Eisenhower years came. As more and more documents from his administration became available for public view, a new image of Ike emerged. Historian Fred Greenststein's The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader presented Eisenhower as a skilled, behind-the-scenes manager who exerted far more influence than he had been given credit. For example, Greenstein noted that Eisenhower worked quietly behind-the-scenes to undermine fellow Republican and communist witch hunter Joseph McCarthy.  While the 1950s are seen fondly as a relatively quiet period in world history, our view of that time might have been much different if Eisenhower had not skillfully defused a series of international incidents that could have easily escalated into war. Shortly after taking office, the former military leader became the nation's most visible peace advocate. In a speech known as "A Chance for Peace," Eisenhower told a gathering of newspaper editors that "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." Often accused of being slow on civil rights, it was Eisenhower who sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce a federal court school desegregation order. Although Kennedy is often referred to as the first television president, I argued in a 1996 paper in American Journalism that it was Eisenhower who first used televised news conferences to remove restrictions on White House coverage. Up until 1954, journalists covering presidential press conferences were not allowed to directly quote the President. Eisenhower removed those restrictions as a means of speaking directly to the American people.  When Eisenhower left office in January 1961, the former general is remembered for his farewell address warning the nation of the growing influence of the military-industrial complex. It is not surprising to me that a recent C-SPAN poll of presidential historians moved Ike up to fifth place on a list of the greatest presidents.  After a half-century of Watergate, Vietnam, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinski, missing weapons of mass destruction, ISIS and the meltdown of civility in government, the calm reassuring leadership of Dwight Eisenhower looks pretty good. That's why more than 60 years after he left office, America continues to like Ike.
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 8 -- Lip-Service Liberty
February 23,
2017

x=
My mother's family arrived in America before the Revolution. My father's family came to these shores during the Industrial Revolution. That, in essence, is the American story: We all came from somewhere else. Most immigrants come to America with little more than a dream of building a better life. Even the President's mother was an immigrant. They don't come here looking for welfare or hand-outs.  They want to work and become a part of the fabric of the greatest nation on earth. They believe in America's most basic values of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." In our most sacred founding document, we proudly proclaimed that "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." The United States of America is a proud nation based on natural laws firmly rooted with our Constitution. Yet there millions of us who wear these liberties as if they are a cloak of armor designed to protect us from those seeking to share in them. Many of my fellow citizens want to deny safe harbor to refugees fleeing from deadly and chaotic conditions. We fear that immigrants will take away American jobs -- despite the fact that they tend to fill the kind of jobs that most Americans don't want.  We fear they will bring terrorism to our shores - forgetting that most of the acts of terrorism we have experienced since 9/11 have been home-grown. We want to build a wall - something rich in irony considering that one of this country's greatest victories came with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The sad truth is that when it comes to American values and liberties, many of us give them little more than lip-service. When we put our hands over our hearts and declare that we are "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," we don't really mean it. Many of us who claim to be devoutly religious fail to heed the words of the Bible, Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers.”  Like it or not, this is a nation of immigrants. We have benefited from the migration of people fleeing oppression and seeking a better life. It is the blending of cultures and traditions that have made the American experience what Ronald Reagan once called "a shining city on a hill." Just look at the University of Kansas journalism faculty of which I am a member. It would be only a shadow of what it is without the blending of great minds from Romania, Poland, Corsica, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan. It is plain to me that the immigration issue is a straw man politicians have constructed to shroud their own lack of imagination and substance. If these so-called government leaders really want to do their jobs, then they should start by folllowing the words of their oath of office in which they promised "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 7 -- On The Road To Impeachment
February 15,
2017

x=
Donald Trump is the ringmaster of a three-ring circus from hell. Just like the much-feared Chinese water torture, we are seeing a constant drip, drip, drip of chaos coming out of his White House. Every day, a new disaster. Every day, a new blunder. And every day, a new gaggle of lies from the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. In just the last 48 hours, Trump has had to fire his national security adviser because he engaged in diplomatic negotiations with the Russians before the inauguration and then lied about it. That's a violation of the Logan Act, a federal law that levies fines and/or imprisonment to unauthorized citizens who negotiate with foreign governments. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that there's evidence that high-level officials in the Trump campaign had extensive contact with Russian intelligence officers during the presidential campaign. That's an act of treason. And today, Trump's nominee for Secretary of Labor has withdrawn his name from consideration after it surfaced that he is a tax-evader and a wife-beater. Nominating Andrew Puzder was an act of sheer stupidity. It took six years for Richard Nixon's lies to catch up with him. For Trump, it may be less than six months. Now, let's be realistic.  It is not likely that Republicans will abandon Trump overnight. They've got too much skin in the game. While Gallup says Trump's overall approval rating is only 41 percent, his approval among Republicans is around 90 percent. Until that figure drops below 60 percent, its not likely that enough Republicans in the House would abandon him to ensure that Trump will be impeached. However, the allegations of Trump's involvement with the Russians are serious - even more serious than anything Nixon faced. Again, we are talking about treason. Should definitive evidence surface that Trump conspired with the Russians to influence the election - and I think there's a high likelihood that it will - then his support among the GOP will collapse like a house of cards. And why am I so certain that this evidence will come forward? Let's just say it is not nice to denigrate the intelligence community. Eventually, there will come a point when conservatives, evangelicals and others who blindly supported him will no longer be willing to wallow with him in the swamp of his own making. We have already seen some Republicans beginning to distance themselves from this train wreck of a presidency - one that's less than one-month old. At first, I thought an early end to the Trump presidency was a fantasy.  However, I am beginning to think that this may be the week that started this nation down the slow and painful road to impeachment.
ponseXrsøtmade
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 6 -- An Appeal To Trump Voters
February 7,
2017

x=
Permit me to address my comments to the people who voted for President Trump. There were a lot of them. No, not a majority, but enough to have earned a victory in the Electoral College. To my friends, the supporters of Donald Trump: I understand why you voted for him.  You were frustrated and you wanted to shake things up in Washington. Congratulations, he has done that. But here's the worry in all of this: There hasn't been a single day since he took the oath of office that the President hasn't lied to you. I'm not talking about a difference of opinion where the facts are open to varied interpretations. I'm talking about lying - a deliberate release of information one can easily verify as being false with irrefutable facts. It started on day one, when Mr. Trump claimed his inaugural crowd was the largest ever. There was pictorial evidence and statistical evidence from the Washington Metro system that disproved his claim. Of course, who really gives a flying flip about such an inconsequential issue? Unfortunately, it set a pattern that continues today. The latest: Media are under-reporting terrorist attacks. With the exception of Kellyanne Conway's mythical "Bowling Green massacre," that's just not true. And none of the attacks that have happened in the United States would have been averted by the Trump immigration ban. As bad as all of that is, here's the worst part. Despite being caught in easily refutable lies, this President and his staff repeatedly double-down on the lies. They offer what they call "alternative facts," which themselves are, by their very nature, lies. Why does he do this?  I'll admit up-front that what I am about to say is not a fact, but is a well-considered opinion. I think he continues to lie to the people - especially his own supporters - because he thinks are you stupid. Trump believes that if he tells the lie often enough and loud enough you will accept it. Your natural distrust of the media - which is not totally undeserved - helps fuel his phony fables. But here's the thing: If a reporter is caught in a lie, more times than not, the reporter is fired. Now that Trump is President, he feels as if there are no consequences for repeatably disceiving the American people. But that's the biggest lie of all. When you, the voters who gave their trust to a man who has repeatedly treated it as if it is a box of kitty litter, come to realize that Trump is a pathological liar who is neither a conservative nor a Republican, the end of his reign of disruption will begin. When that happens, the adults in Washington will set the American nation back on a righteous and moral course. Of course, that won't happen until you decide that you deserve better than what you've received.
ponseXrsøt
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
X
Vol. 11 No. 5 -- Only 207 Weeks to Go
January 26,
2017

x=
You have to hand it to President Trump. His first week in office has been the worst in the history of the presidency since William Henry Harrison. If you don't remember Old Tippecanoe, he is the chief executive who gave a two-hour speech in March without a topcoat, caught pneumonia and died 28 days later. My criticism of Trump has nothing to do the new policies he is putting into place. After all, elections have consequences and he won. There are many people who like what he's doing - although, based on the popular vote, those folks are probably in the minority. No, my criticism has to do with the daily series of unforced errors and outright lies emanating from the White House. When the media pointed out that Trump's inaugural crowds where considerably smaller than Obama's, Old Orange Top went ballistic. He sent out his pitiful press secretary to berate the media for lying. When the media refuted his provable falsehoods with well documented facts, what did the Trump administration do? It double-down on the lies and invented a new Orwellian term, "alternative facts." And, oh, by the way, why did he choose to make the size of of his inaugural crowds and issue in the first place? That's because size matters to Thin-Skin-Donny. Of course, this was just one of several first-week blunders by the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.  He's questioning the veracity of his own election by saying "millions" of illegal voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton - thus denying his victory in the popular vote. Of course, he didn't offer even a nugget of evidence to support his preposterous claim. Even Republicans are shaking their heads in disbelief. Today, he managed to piss-off the Mexican President over the ridiculous claim that Mexico will pay for his $15 billion wall. Trump even suggested that he would impose tariffs on goods imported from Mexico. Doesn't Donald know that Mexico is the United States' largest trading partner? And who does he think will really end up paying for his wall? If you don't know, just look in the mirror. And let's not forget that Trump also suggested in an interview this week that he favors bringing back torture as a tool against terrorists. Forget the morality of it. Torture is a violation of U.S. and international law. Even if President Waterboard wasn't serious, his very words have undermined the moral authority of the United States. Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief White House strategist and the latest incarnation of the late Ron Ziegler, today told called the news media "an opposition party" and told reporters to keep their mouths shut. (Apparently someone forgot to tell Bannon that this isn't 1938 and he doesn't live in Berlin.) And this was just Week One. There are 207 weeks left in his term of office -- unless, of course, he is impeached. One can only dream.
ponseXrsøt
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

x
Vol. 11 No. 4 -- A Distant Inaugural
January 18,
2017

x=
My late wife Jan and I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime 40 years ago today. We left our home in Milledgeville, Georgia, during a snowstorm and drove eight or nine hours north to Washington, D.C., to attend the presidential inauguration of Jimmy Carter. I had become acquainted with the former Georgia governor while serving as the news director of his hometown radio station. I had interviewed him and his wife several times during the period leading up to his successful run for the presidency. Jan and I were amazed when we received a formal invitation to attend the inauguration. Keep in mind that in 1977 I was only 24 years-old and Jan was barely 20. If memory serves me correctly, I was making a whopping $8,000 a year back then. Needless to say, to be invited to an inauguration was what Georgia folks called "pretty high cotton" for a couple of kids. We almost missed the swearing-in - a D.C Transit bus that was supposed to take us to the ceremony from L'Enfant Plaza never showed up.  Jan and I shared a last-minute taxi with a couple from New York. We didn't have reserved seating for the ceremony, so we stood in the snow on the east front of the Capitol - I believe that was the last time the ceremony was held in that location. But we did have an invitation for that evening's Georgia Ball at Washington's National Guard Armory. Jan borrowed a gown from her mother and I rented a blue velvet tuxedo. It's a shame that we don't have any pictures of just how damn good we looked that night. In addition to appearances by the newly sworn-in President and Vice President, we got to listen and dance to an eclectic trio of bands: The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. It was a magical night and, in a sense, a magical time. It was very different than the feeling around this week's inaugural of Donald Trump. Even though I had voted for Carter's opponent in the election, the inauguration of Jimmy Carter felt like the nation was getting a fresh start after years of Vietnam and Watergate. Of course, that feeling didn't last forever. But for a brief period, the nation was uniting behind its newly-minted president and my wife and I had our shining moment of cutting the rug among Washington's power elite.
ponseXrsø
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

x
Vol. 11 No. 3 -- The Greatest Threat
January 16,
2017

x=
It has been 24 years since the United States has had a peaceful transition of power. In January 1993, President George H.W. Bush handed the reins of the government to President-elect Bill Clinton. Clinton had defeated Bush in the November general election. Even though Clinton had neither the experience nor the moral standing of his predecessor, no one questioned his legitimacy as president. Americans held their heads high proclaiming that the nation's two-century long tradition of accepting the will of the electorate and giving support to the new leader is an example for the world to follow. But do we feel that way now? Clinton was reelected in 1996, meaning there was no transition. In 2000, an electoral deadlock was ultimately decided five weeks later by the Supreme Court. Some democrats claimed Bush's presidency was illegitimate. After a close vote in Ohio, they renewed that claim after the 2004 election. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and 2012, many republicans claimed that he wasn't an American citizen, making him ineligible for the office. As we know, one of the most vocal proponents of the so-called birther movement was Donald Trump, the man who succeeds Obama as president on Friday. Even after he acknowledged the legitimacy of the Obama presidency, he famously proclaimed in one of last fall's presidential debates that he would withhold judgment on the legitimacy of the election until after he had seen the results. And now there are people saying that Trump's election is illegitimate because of the intervention of Russian hackers - and presumably the Putin government - into the American election. As of right now, there is no evidence to suggest that Trump's campaign collaborated with the Russians. If that remains the case, then our beef is with the Russians, not Trump. However, if the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton, that's another thing. In that case, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence should be impeached. Until then, Americans need to move on. Ironically, that includes the limpid liberals at MoveOn.org. Donald Trump is not the greatest threat to American democracy. Nor are the Russians. The greatest threat to American democracy is the cynicism that has for nearly a generation questioned the legitimacy of our presidential elections. That is a cancer that left unchecked could ultimately lead to either a voluntary or violent abandonment of the democratic processes we hold dear. And we would have no one to blame but ourselves.
ponseXrsø
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

x
Vol. 11 No. 2 -- Obama's Symbolic Presidency
January 10,
2017

x=
President Barack Obama tonight will give his farewell address in his adopted hometown, Chicago. Farewell addresses are not new - George Washington gave the first farewell address in 1796. In advice we would have been well served to have followed, Washington cautioned against partisanship that divides the nation. Most presidential farewells are self-serving, last-ditch attempts at defining a legacy. Aside from Washington's address, only one other farewell has been particularly noteworthy. In January 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower used his speech of "farewell and leave-taking" to warn of the dangers of the growing "military industrial complex." Will tonight's Obama address achieve the status of Washington's or Eisenhower's farewells? Because of this particular president's eloquence and historical significance, there's a chance that it will. However, given the nation's caustic political environment, it is doubtful that Obama's remarks will have a lasting impact. It's more likely that any significance given these remarks will be assigned by historians in years to come. That, in many ways, sums up the Obama presidency. The election of the first African-American president was an important moment in this nation's political life. In terms of moral leadership, he deserves high marks. This moral leadership was never more evident than in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The president hit the right note in expressing his grief and outrage. Unfortunately, the Republican majority and the gun lobby successfully ignore the national outrage and blocked any meaningful gun control reforms. And that was the case with almost every proposal President Obama offered: A Republican roadblock that stalemated government. In the few areas where Obama was successful - most notably Obamacare - the GOP is promising to dismantle them under the Trump administration. Obama's administration has been scandal-free - not necessarily a high bar of achievement, but an achievement anyway. Some criticism of Obama is justified. He invited disaster when he drew his proverbial "red line in the sand" in Syria and did nothing once it was crossed. As recently stated in this space, his actions toward Israel have been justified, but clumsy and heavy-handed (Volume 10 No. 48). Many of the elements of the nation's economic recovery and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq were put into place by his predecessor. Overall, as a president, husband and father, Barack Obama has earned the praise and respect of his country. I'd give the 44th president an "A+" for effort, but a "C-" for execution. He never achieved his full potential. However, it is important to note that no president ever has and probably ever will. And when one considers the unreasonable expectations that accompanied Obama into the Oval Office, no one should not be surprised that he did not meet them. Obama's greatest legacy is that he has become an embodiment of the American dream; that hard work, perseverance and a moral character can lead to a desired result, no matter how improbable. In absence of real accomplishments, President Obama's symbolic leadership was inspirational and surely will be missed.
ponseXrsø
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

x
Vol. 11 No. 1 -- We Asked For It
January 1,
2017

x=
America today enters a new year with the highest level of anxiety that I can remember within my lifetime. It's not about the economy: The Gallup Poll says investor confidence today is higher than at any time since the Great Recession. As he leaves office, President Obama's approval rating is in the mid-50s, unheard of in recent decades. The crime rate is down. ISIS is on the decline. Despite the good news, the nation enters the new year deeply divided. And we are not really sure where we are going. On January 20, the ship-of-state will have new captain at its helm, Donald J. Trump. Even Trump supporters are not exactly sure about the nation's future direction. Not withstanding Trump's Electoral College triumph, the fact remains that a significant majority of voters in last November's election voted for somebody else. And many of those who voted for the New York entrepreneur did so while holding their nose. And since the election, the President-elect has behaved in an unconventional and erratic manner. By all indications, Trump exemplifies many of the traits conservative Republicans hate. He's a RINO - Republican in name only. Who really knows what this guy believes? There's a great fear that the people who actually pulled the lever for Trump on November 8 will learn the true meaning behind the caution "be careful what you ask for - you may get it." Here, in Kansas, we are anxiously waiting to see what happens in Topeka. Will Governor Brownback resign to join the Trump Administration? A lot of people - many of them Republican legislators - are hoping he will get the call. And will Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, our xenophobic elections monitor, be asked to join the Trump team? Again, lots of Kansans are lighting candles and praying for a Kobach-free Kansas. (One again, "be careful of what you ask for.") The other big question coming out of Topeka is whether the shellacking conservatives suffered in the recent legislative elections will be enough to get them to steer the Sunflower ship-of-state out of the financial minefield into which Governor Brownback has driven it. There's also uncertainty about the leadership at the University of Kansas, with its chancellor planning to retire at the end of the school year. The Board of Regents just appointed a search committee. One hopes it will do a good job. Of course, this is the same group that imposed an unconstitutional social media policy upon the state's universities. And if that's not enough, thanks to the wisdom of Kansas legislators, it will be lawful to carry concealed weapons onto Kansas college campuses starting July 1. The theory is that this policy will make college campuses safer. Let's hope they are right. (Again, "be careful what you ask for.") There are just so many unknowns going into 2017 that only a fool or a paid political pundit would be silly enough to predict the future. Looking ahead one year to start of 2018, will we look back and see 2017 as a good year or a bad year? One thing is for certain: Many of us will get what we deserve. After all, we asked for it.
ponseXrsø
That's it for now. Happy New Year. Fear the Turtle.

x