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

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Testudo's Tales

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

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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.
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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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

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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.
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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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

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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.
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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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

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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.
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That's it for now. Happy New Year. Fear the Turtle.

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