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 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. 10 No. 15 -- Living in a Bizzaro World
April 29,
2016

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When I was just a lad, I like to read what today are known as graphic novels. Heck, they were comic books. And the best of the lot was Superman. How could you not be a fan of the Man of Steel? After all, he was faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive and -- well, you know the rest.  And when you are the toughest dude this side of Krypton, one can just imagine how tough it was for the writers to come up with a new challenge every issue. Perhaps the most unusual - dare it say bizarre? - villain that Superman faced was Bizzaro, a sort of anti-Superman.  He had all the powers that our hero had and even wore the same blue tights and red cape. However, he was backwards, evil and butt-ugly. And his world was a lot like ours, except it was, well, backwards, evil and butt-ugly. I mention Bizzaro because it has occurred to me that we have somehow slipped into his dimension. How else can you explain the 2016 presidential campaign? How else can you explain how someone who is Don Rickle's evil twin could be the nominee of the Republican Party?  How is it that one of the Koch brothers may actually vote for Hillary Clinton? Does it make any sense that the two candidates most likely to face each other in the fall election are disliked and distrusted by a majority of voters? In fact, 40 percent of the voters in Trump's and Clinton's parties told the Gallup Poll that they would consider voting for the nominee of the other party. About a year ago, it was assumed that Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker would be battling it out for the nomination. Now, the only place you will find them is on the side of milk cartons. And how is it that Bernie Sanders, an aging wack-job socialist with hair almost as bad as Trump's, has become the darling of American youth?  I tell you, there must have been a disturbance in The Force. Perhaps there was a rip in the space-time continuum. Whatever it is, we have surely slipped into a Bizzaro Universe. Need more proof? The Chicago Cubs are favored to win this year's World Series. I rest my case.
Xrs
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 14 -- What Would Jesus Do?
April 14,
2016

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  That 36-word sentence taken from the Declaration of Independence is the moral justification for the creation of the United States of America. I invite every self-professed Christian conservative to read that document. After a thorough search of its text, nowhere did I find the phrase that said "except in North Carolina." I also invite those people to read the Constitution of the United States. It may surprise them to learn that the words Christian and Christ are nowhere to be found within that document. The United States of America is not a Christian nation. Nor is it Jewish, Muslim, Mormon nor, for that matter, atheist. However, it is an nation that guarantees religious freedom - and not just one particular view of it. There are so-called "religious freedom" bills propagating around the country in the same manner of a malignant cancer. This kind of legislation is not intended to preserve anyone's religious freedom. It is  designed to legalize discrimination and bigotry. As I have said in this space before, I do not understand nor to I desire to be either homosexual, bisexual or transsexual. Those lifestyles conflict with my own moral code. However, that same moral code recognizes that one, I do not have all the answers; two, that we live in a free society where people are allowed to make their own life choices; and three, that as long as someone's behavior does not create tangible harm to me or for the exercise of my own rights, that I don't really care what they do. I do care when others choose to systematically discriminate against people who are doing no harm and do so in my name. As a former resident of North Carolina, I am shocked and sickened by the recent behavior of its governor and legislature. (Frankly, I feel the same way about the governor and lawmakers here in Kansas.) Let me ask all champions of this 21st century bigotry one question: What would Jesus do? I'm certain that he would be saddened by your actions, as am I. However, he would forgive you for your sins. I will not.
Xrs
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 13 -- We Get What We Deserve
April 8,
2016

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I have a friend and colleague who often reminds people that "democracy is messy." It is the consequence of giving people a voice in deciding whom they trust to lead. We'd like to think that we get to choose between a Lincoln and a Douglas, a Kennedy or a Nixon, and even a Carter or a Reagan. Unfortunately, our choices this election year are between a Trump or a Cruz and a Clinton or a Sanders. That's the equivalent of once having the pick from a fleet of luxury cars and now having to settle for the last used car on the lot. How is it possible that out of a nation a of 323 million people, we have come up with this sorry cast of characters as our final four candidates for the presidency? I suspect we have to look in a mirror to find the real culprits. We get what we deserve. When we ignore long-term implications in favor of short-term gains, we get a Sam Brownback as governor. Sam the Sham gave us tax cuts. To be more accurate, he gave those among us in the best position to pay taxes - and the ones who benefit the most from the services provided by those taxes - the biggest tax break. And what did we really get? How about one of the worst state economies in the country? And what about a system of elementary, secondary and higher education in decline? What's going to happen to the state's transportation infrastructure if the legislature keeps raiding highway funds to plug holes in a leaky budget? This is what happens when we elect people with pockets full of empty promises and no real vision for the future. We say that we are disappointed in our elected officials. But that can't be possible, considering that we had such low expectations for them in the first place. The exception to that rule is Barrack Obama, for whom too many people had unrealistic expectations when he was first elected in 2008. We vote for people who say they will "stick to their guns" and are unwilling to compromise. We do so forgetting the lessons we learned in grade school; that democracy is a process of bargaining, negotiation and compromise. That's why we keep voting for a Huey Long and wind up disappointed that we didn't elect an Abe Lincoln. Do you really want change? Do you really want to end the gridlock that is undermining America's moral leadership? Then start changing your vote. Ninety percent of House members and 91 percent of senators who sought re-election in 2012 were successful, exceeding the incumbent re-election rates of 2010, when 85 percent of House members and 84 percent of senators seeking re-election were successful. Keep in mind that these results came at a time when the public approval rating of these same officials barely hovered above single digits. That is and of itself the classic definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and hoping to get a different result. Before you next go to the polls, look and yourself in the mirror, promise to do better and then reelect no one.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 12 -- Coming Up Short
March 28,
2016

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When the college basketball season opened last November, there were 351 teams competing in NCAA Division I men's basketball. Three weeks ago, only 68 of those teams were selected for the national championship tournament. Today, there are only four teams left alive in the hunt for the title. One of those teams is Syracuse, a team many observers said should not have received a bid to the tournament. One of the teams eliminated during the competition was Kansas, considered by many as a lock for the Final Four. It is this unpredictability that has earned the tournament the popular moniker "March Madness." It is also a reminder of how rare and fleeting success can be. It was a bit gloomy today in Lawrence, Kansas. Today was the first day of classes following Saturday's heartbreaking loss in the regional final to Villanova. Many students, staff and faculty were consumed by the thought of what might have been. A sense of euphoria that had been building for weeks - no, for months - came crashing down in the face of a cold, heartless reality: Our team was good, but this year, not good enough. Does one loss make an entire season a failure? In the immediate aftermath of a BIG LOSS, it may seem so. However, if we adopt the philosophy that only one of 351 teams - the one that wins the title - can consider the season a success, then we set ourselves up for a near-constant state of failure. It is on days like today that I remember the advice of a friend of mine.  Mike Swenson, president of the Kansas City public relations firm Crossroads. He has been a guest lecturer in dozens of my classes over the past 25 years. One of the recurring themes Mike has stressed through the years is the importance of celebrating success. To paraphrase, him, life can't be just about the quest. There also has to be times when we pause to reflect on the sweet victories we enjoy -- even when they seem fleeting. Otherwise, we choose to define ourselves by our failures. And should coming up short of one's ultimate goal automatically be classified as failure? How "horrible" can a team like Kansas be when it has won 12 consecutive conference titles? I am reminded of what the late University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith once said: "If you treat every game as if it were a life and death situation, you will be dead lot." Smith's and Swenson's advice is sound - and not just for basketball. I fear that too many of us - your author included - may forget that it is not just about the destination. The journey, itself, also matters. This does not mean that we should be satisfied with failures. We should learn from them. But it also means that we should accept our successes with the same measure of emotion with which we embrace failure. There should be joy in living - win or lose.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 11 -- Precious Glory
March 19,
2016

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I have recently returned from a trip to Maryland, the state in which I was born and reared. The purpose for my visit was to make two presentations that focused on my book about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The first presentation came at an engineering colloquium at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. The second was a luncheon brown bag session with employees of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. It was a tremendous honor to have been invited to speak at both gatherings. However, the most memorable moment of the trip came as a result of social media. I posted images and comments on my Facebook site when I arrived at my nephew's home on the Eastern Shore. It was on Facebook that I received a post from a childhood friend, Klaus Liebig. Klaus and his family emigrated to the United States from Germany in the late 1950s. He had been part of a core group of friends I had associated with in elementary school. We had been in school together from the first through eighth grades. I had not seen him in 50 years. In his Facebook message, he invited me to come by his business, which was no more than two minutes away from where I was staying. When I walked into the store, it was almost as if we were resuming a conversation begun only a day earlier. Reuniting with Klaus was thrill. However, another surprise awaited. I posted a picture of the two of us on Facebook - and it drew a social media response from Gilbert Caldwell. For regular readers of this blog, he was the subject of a February 16, 2013, post (Volume 7, Number 10). He was the first black person I met at the recently integrated St. Michaels Junior High School in 1964. Although I knew him for only a couple of years before I transferred to another school, he had a great impact on my views concerning persons of color. In that post, I had wondered what happened to him and whether I had done right by a young man at the epicenter of social change. We exchanged Facebook greetings and many of my questions were answered. For me, that was another special moment that made the trip memorable. My connections with Klaus and Gilbert were joyful moments - even if for no other reason than the three of us had successfully navigated our own paths through the trials and tribulations of an often-tumultuous half-century. In a way, we are survivors; not in a heroic sense, but in a spiritual manner. As I get older, it is heartening to greet longtime friends and acquaintances and to know that after a lifetime's journey, we are still here. While I am still focused on my future, the weekend journey to Eastern Shore also served as a reminder of the precious glory found in everyone's past. We have survived. We are still here.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 10 -- Apple versus DOJ
March 4,
2016

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The challenge - and the beauty - of the U.S. Constitution is that a document written in the 18th century remains relevant in responding to the challenges of the 21st century. The battle between computer giant Apple and the U.S. Justice Department is all about constitutional rights - specifically our First Amendment rights to free speech and our Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. The DOJ wants Apple to unlock the I-Phone used by one of the San Bernadino gunman. The evidence clearly shows this was an ISIS-inspired attack and the federal government wants to know if others were engaged in and are planning another act of terrorism. Apple's CEO is challenging a court order to assist the FBI out of an expressed fear that helping the government would make it easier for the government to invade the privacy of its customers. I respect Tim Cook's position. And my bono fides on the subject of the First Amendment are well known. However, after weeks of careful deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that Tim Cook is fighting the wrong battle for the wrong reasons. One can't claim a Fourth Amendment violation. Wanting to know who a terrorist had talked to prior to his killing spree is not unreasonable. There is probable cause for the FBI's search warrant. And the Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that criminal communications are not protected speech. Cook's assertion that complying with the court order will open a Pandora's box is not totally unjustified. I certainly don't want the government reading my e-mails and listening in on my conversations. However, I also understand that democracy cannot work unless we give some level of trust to its institutions. By definition, the courts are the designated arbiters of constitutional disputes. Judges exist to handle disputes such as this and address them on a case-by-case basis. Yes, Cook has the right to appeal the lower court's ruling. However, I am confident that the government position in this case will prevail. All Cook and Apple have done is to delay the inevitable and allow the trail of the terrorist to grow cold. I am of the opinion that Apple's stance is less about defending free expression than it is an attempt by Cook to step out of the shadow of his legendary predecessor Steve Jobs. As noted earlier, I am a staunch defender of the First Amendment. I have also made it known in this space my belief that the Second Amendment doesn't give gun owners and manufacturers free reign over the rights of others. Here's the point: How can one vigorously argue that there are limits to the Second Amendment without acknowledging limits to other sections of the Bill of Rights, including the First and Fourth Amendments? I believe that Tim Cook's actions have been unnecessary, insincere and have given aid and comfort to terrorists who want to harm the very people Cook says he is trying to protect.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 9-- Kansas Caucus Ruckus
March 1,
2016

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Today is unofficially Super Tuesday - the day many pundits say the race for the Democrat and Republican presidential nomination may be decided. Of lesser national prominence are the Kansas caucuses this coming Saturday. Yet the political discussion in the Sunflower State seems to be less about the race for the White House than it is about the timing the Democrat caucus, which it set to begin at the same hour the Kansas Jayhawks play their final home game of the season. Some Democrats are protesting ESPN's decision to move the game to a 3:00 p.m. starting time. The rich irony is that this seems to be the only issue that has spurred Democrat passions this entire election season. One needs only to compare voter turnout in other primaries and caucuses to see that Republicans are more engaged in the 2016 campaign than their Democrat counterparts. As for me, I don't really care. First, I am a registered independent - I don't have a dog in this fight. And as I explained in my most recent post, there's not a snowball chance in hades that I am going to change that registration just to seen Hillary Clinton steamroll past Bernie Sanders. Actually, I am fundamentally against caucuses. We used to have presidential primaries in this state. But under the excuses of low-voter turnout and high costs, the legislature opted to go the caucus route. Frankly, that decision ticks me off. What is more important to the maintenance of democratic values than the manner in which we choose our leaders? Yet, primary elections have been lumped in with other social priorities the legislature has under-funded, such as education, infrastructure, the environment, public safety and the judicial system. The caucus system is also a clever means to discourage voter turnout, thus giving the advantage to candidates who are well-funded and organized. Our so-called leaders have been more interested in protecting their privileged status and giving tax breaks to those who neither need or deserve them. So, am I upset that the Democrat caucus is in direct competition with the Jayhawks (and, as it turns out, with Kansas State's Saturday game as well)? No. Like most Kansans, my attention will be focused on basketball - a place where there is true passion and the outcome isn't predetermined.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 8 -- A Call From Bernie
February 25,
2016

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I dread every time my land-line connected house phone rings. Nine times out of 10, the caller is a telemarketer intent on selling me something I don't need. However, the nature of the intrusive callers changes during election season. Then the calls are either recorded messages from someone's campaign or a pollster intent on learning what I am thinking. (If the latter was so interested in my opinions, then read this blog and leave me the heck alone!) Yet, I still answer the phone. There are some family members and friends who may not know my cell phone number and, for that reason, I am unwilling to cut the chord. I received an unusual telephone call last night from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The caller was a real person, a 60+ professor from another Kansas university. She obviously got my name from the county's roll of independent (unaffiliated) voters. In an calm, rational way seldom heard on the campaign trail, she explained why going to the upcoming Kansas Democratic caucus on March 5 and casting my ballot for Bernie Sanders was the only choice any level-headed voter such as myself has during this train wreck of an election campaign. I politely told her that I am a registered as an independent and, therefore, ineligible to vote in the caucuses. She said I could register as a Democrat at the caucus - a sharp contrast to the Kansas GOP that requires a party registration well in advance of its caucus. I politely explained to the Sanders representative that there are reasons I left the Republican party and chose not to become a Democrat. Amazingly, she respected my decision and didn't try to press the matter. It is the only time I have ever answered a political call and actually enjoyed the conversation. If only more of our political dialectic could be as civil as this telephone call. But, alas, I must leave you now. The phone is ringing. It is probably Carmen from Credit Card Services telling me it is positively my last chance to improve my credit rating - or at least my last chance until she calls back again tomorrow.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 10 No. 7 -- The Swing Vote
February 14
, 2016

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Just when you think that Campaign 2016 couldn't get any more surreal than it already is comes news of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the cornerstone of the conservative majority. Because he was 79 years old, one can't say that his passing was totally unexpected. But the manner in which he died in his sleep in seemingly good health caught most people unprepared. The announcement of Justice Scalia's death had hardly been absorbed by a shocked nation when the battle over who should replace him began. Scalia was the difference between a conservative and a liberal court. His replacement will be determine whether the court stays to the right or swings left. In his statement memorializing the late jurist, President Obama said he will, at a time of his choosing, nominate Scalia's successor. And of course he should. That is his constitutional responsibility. Republicans believe that Obama should not nominate anyone and leave that decision to whomever the American people choose as their next President. More importantly, they have the power to block a vote on an  Obama nominee. Like it or not, they have the right to do so. That's the system the Founders establish when they wrote the Constitution - a system of checks and balances. The major impact of Scalia's death in a presidential election year is that both Democrats and Republicans will have to negotiate a minefield. The person President Obama nominates could prove to be a plus or minus for Democrats. He or she will certainly become a personification of the kind of court Democrats want and Republicans abhor. And while Republicans will most likely win the battle to block the nomination, they do so at the risk of further cementing their reputation as obstructionists who put politics ahead of people. No one is going to come out of this battle unscathed. President Obama faces a defining moment at a time that most presidents are thinking about legacy. He can try to find someone who ideologically straddles the fence in a serious attempt to win confirmation. Or he can nominate a wedge-issue candidate who will become a lightning rod to the right and martyr to the left - and the central issue on the campaign trail. One thing is for certain, the presidential campaign has been rachetted to a higher level. Not only will the race determine the direction of the country for the next four years, it may determine the direction of the Supreme Court for many years after Obama's successor leaves office.
XXwners
That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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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."
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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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