Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
Copyright 2018
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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. 12 No. 7 -- No Hoax
February 17,
2018

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President Trump has called the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election "a hoax." He has insisted that Russia did not actively back his campaign and that his campaign "in no way" colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. We already know that the latter of Trump's claims is false -- his idiot namesake Donald Junior publicly admitted it last year. And now, thanks to the efforts of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we know that Trump's plaintiff pleas that the whole affair is a hoax and that he got no help from the Russians is little more than a steaming pile of manure. Any doubts one may have had that the Trump/Russia scandal is real were whisked away yesterday with the announcement of sweeping federal indictments against 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies. Quoting from the official U.S. Department of Justice news release, "The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called 'information warfare against the United States,' with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” Point six of the indictment said, "Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ("Trump Campaign") and disparaging Hillary Clinton." More than just hacking into the Clinton campaign's emails, the indictment states that Russian false-flag operations included bringing agents to this country using stolen American identities to stage political rallies to either support Trump or undermine Clinton. While the indictment doesn't specifically state that anything was done with the knowledge or blessings of the Trump campaign, it doesn't rule it out, either. Of course, the Tweeter in Chief claims to have been vindicated. While the White House is all farts and giggles about yesterday's indictment, elsewhere in Washington the news of Russia's sophisticated campaign of interference and disinformation is being taken for what it really is -- a declaration of war. Despite yesterday's indictments and the congressional testimony of the nation's intelligence chiefs earlier this week, Trump has yet to take any steps to safeguard the homeland against attacks from a foreign aggressor. Instead, his focus has been on declaring his own "innocence." For those who voted for Trump, I ask you a simple question: Is this what you thought he meant when he said he would "Make America Great Again?"

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 6 -- Let's Talk - Really
February 14,
2018

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The United States suffered its 18th school shooting today in South Florida. At the time of this writing, the death toll stands at 17 with 14 others injured. It is not enough to shake our heads, express our sorrow and say to no one in particular that "something should be done."  I couldn't agree more. However, it is imperative that we open a national conversation - not a shouting match, but a conversation - about addressing this tragic epidemic. Nothing is going to be accomplished by pointing fingers and shouting at one another.  I know, I've tried.  Gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are justified to be wary of efforts to curtail their rights. After all, they are rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Those who favor stricter gun laws are not without their rights either. Those, too, are protected by that same Constitution. However, both sides have common interests.  This doesn't have to be a zero-sum game in which one side wins at the expense of the other. Unfortunately, during the past decade, our discourse on this and other issues of national importance have degenerated to into mud-throwing matches unworthy of the world's greatest democracy. Tonight, I shake my fist at no one.  Any anger I have I will keep to myself. I don't know about you, but I am tired. And I am worried about the direction of our country.  Since when did "compromise" become a dirty word? At some point we as a people will need to come to a reckoning on this and other great issues. If we don't, it is likely that this country will not survive. At some point we have to stop shouting and start listening. And I can't think of a better time to start than right now.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 5 -- The State of the Union 2018
January 30,
2018

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The State of the Union address is more than an annual ritual of democracy. It is constitutionally mandated. However, it wasn't until Woodrow Wilson in 1913 that the annual message to the Congress was delivered in person. President Donald Trump delivered his first SOTU tonight before a deeply divided joint session of Congress. Like most SOTU addresses, Trump's was long on rhetoric and short on specifics. It was packed with dozens of designed applause lines toward which Republican lawmakers dutifully obliged. Often, the Democrats sat on their hands and scowled. This is exactly opposite of what played out when President Obama was at the rostrum.  Same song, different verse. However, this year was very different from any other SOTU.  No president has had as low an approval rating and as high a credibility problem after just one year in office than Donald Trump. With more than 2,000 demonstrable and documented falsehoods uttered in his first year in office, how can anyone believe what this guy has to say? Frankly, a lot of what Trump said was cattle dung. For example, he talked about rising wages without noting that the most dramatic - and obscene - increases came in executive compensation. Nor did he note that permanent tax cuts for the rich will eventually be paid for by the less affluent. He spoke of getting tough on trade and the need for reciprocity. (Given Trump's predilection toward a seventh grade vocabulary, I was stunned he even knew the word reciprocity.) But not a word was spoken about Russian interference in our elections. He used coded language to say that blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and immigrants are evil. ("Americans have dreams, too.") I was disturbed by Trump's constant calling out of special guests in the gallery. It was reminiscent of the late Ed Sullivan's "out there in our audience tonight" spiel. I don't mind bringing recognition to deserving people. But putting the parents of murder victims and North Korean torture in an uncomfortable spotlight is exploitive. I am excited about Trump's infrastructure proposal. But when he says it will be funded by a combination of federal and state government funds - with maybe some private money - what he is really saying is that if your federal taxes don't pay for it, your state and local taxes will. It's a bait-and-switch perfected by the sainted Ronald Reagan: Cut federal taxes and shift the burden to the states. I will agree with Donald Trump about one thing: The state of our union is strong because the American people are strong. But I don't believe we have to make America great again. It is, has been and will remain great. What we have to do is restore American leadership at home and abroad. We don't do that by alienating our friends and embracing our enemies. This was Donald Trump's first SOTU. God and Robert Mueller willing, let it be his last.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 4 -- The End of Brownbackistan
January 24,
2018

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On the basis of Vice President Pence's tie-breaking vote, the U.S. Senate tonight confirmed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to the new post of U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom. Most Kansans are grateful to the Vice President. We could have been stuck with the nation's sorriest and most-unpopular governor for another year. Back in 2011, I opined in this space that "Brownback, an established and able politician, has the potential to be the most effective and powerful Kansas governor in a generation. Brownback's success will largely depend on his vision of the office. Will he see it as the crown jewel in a long career of public service or as a stepping stone for another run for the White House?" (Vol. 5, No. 2) In hindsight, his vision was the latter. He tried to use Kansas as a proving ground for Brownbackonomics, cutting taxes at the expense of roads, schools and public safety. Brownback expected that his trickle-down economics would make him a major contender for the 2016 republican presidential nomination. He was stunned how quickly his approach to governing Kansas went off the rails. Instead of being a rising republican star, he was fortunate to win reelection in 2014. Despite that being a republican wave election nationwide, Brownback won with less than 50 percent of the vote. Even the normally pliant republican-controlled legislature balked at Brownbackonomics last year. With the state's economy in decline, there's no better time for Brownback to skip the scene of his crime to take a phony make-work ambassadorship. The mess now belongs to Lt. Governor and soon-to-be Governor Jeff Colyer. Colyer has already announced that he will seek election to a full-term as governor in November.  Despite his conservative credentials, Colyer may actually be forced to the political middle by his most formidable challenger, ultra-right-winger Kris K. Kobach. But that's speculation for another time. For now, we can just be thankful that Sam the Sham is taking his traveling medicine show somewhere else. To be honest, I have a sense of sadness at Brownback's departure.  I don't think he is a bad man. To the contrary, I think he is a decent, religious man. But I also feel his political compass has been out of whack for a long time. He drove a lot of people, including myself, from the republican party. He has brought the state to the brink of bankruptcy. In short, Sam Brownback has led Kansas to a bad place. Sadly, the greatest service he can render his fellow Kansans is to split for Washington and leave us alone.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 3 -- That Word
January 15,
2018

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Everyone is talking about That Word - the one that President Trump allegedly used to describe Africa, Haiti and El Salvador during a heated debate over immigration. There is actually a debate over whether Trump actually said That Word. I believe he did. Trump said he didn't. However, the Washington Post has painstakingly documented more than 2,000 Trump lies during his first year in office. There are two republican senators who said yesterday that Trump didn't say That Word. But they are the same two senators who claimed on Friday that they didn't recall what Trump said. Fellas, I have two words for you: credibility problem. As a former broadcast journalist, I was just as interested in how the media reported on the President's potty mouth. Most of the national broadcast media used That Word uncensored during the first few hours of the story. After all, they felt it important to report exactly what the President said. However, they were also mindful that the root of That Word was one of the late comedian George Carlin's "Seven Words that You Can't Say on Television." I doubt that the FCC will fine any broadcasters over its use. Simply stated, news content is protected speech and what the President says is news. These same broadcasters eventually backed away from using That Word after a few hours because, frankly, they were embarrassed to use it. It was as if CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett's mom was going to crash the gate and wash out her son's mouth with a bar of soap. You may have noticed that I am not willing to use That Word in this post. It's not that I am a Puritan: I have been known to curse like a drunken sailor who had his 48-hour leave canceled. But putting That Word is writing makes me very uncomfortable. It's bad enough when you hear it. But seeing That Word in print leaves a powerful impression. It just lays there like a pile of - you pick your own euphemism. It is disappointing when anyone uses That Word to describe anybody or anything. But when the President of the United States uses it against people whose only fault is that they were not fortunate to have been born in a rich, industrialized nation, you've just gotta to wonder what he is using for brains. It makes one wish even harder that Donald Trump would go away and climb back into that hole from which he came.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 2 -- Oprah for President?
January 8,
2018

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Last night's Golden Globes awards were less about the world of entertainment and more about social justice. The women, the men and even the carpet leading into the theater were adored in black - symbolic of the growing resistance to sexual harassment in the workplace. You might say it was Hollywood's attempt at saying "my bad!" It is also a recognition - we all hope - of a new day when women are treated with respect everywhere, especially in the workplace. The most powerful statement of the evening came from Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Oprah Winfrey. "So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon," Winfrey said. "And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me too' again." They were powerful words that deserve applause. But backstage, something equally interesting was happening. Oprah's "boyfriend/companion" Steadman weighed in by saying that Oprah is open to a run for President of the United States in 2020. Based on what happened in 2016, that statement can not be ignored. It is also a frightening prospect. We've already elected one celebrity president so far and look how that was worked out. While Oprah is kinder, gentler and arguably smarter than the buffoon currently occupying the White House, that doesn't make her qualified. If anyone thinks that the force of personality is enough to solve the nation's problems, think again. It didn't work for Barack Obama - and he brought a heckava lot more gravitas to the table than Oprah could. The last thing this nation needs is another celebrity president - no matter how well intended he/she is. Give me a boring, old-fashioned policy wonk with inside-the-Beltway political experience. With the exception of Obama's two-year stint in the U.S. Senate, we haven't had anyone like that since George H.W. Bush. And when you look back at his term in office from the distance of three decades, it doesn't look that bad. We don't need any more presidents who shoot from the hip or lip. We need someone whose backbone is stronger than his or her ego. Sure, I like the idea of President Oprah telling America to look under its seat. She'd look into the camera and say "you get a car and you get a car and you get a car!" Yeah, that would be great. But let's get real. This is what America needs: Real leaders with real vision and real substance.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 12 No. 1 -- Resist
January 1,
2018

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I am not one who believes in New Year's resolutions. While there is something good in being aspirational, the goals we set are often unrealistic. Just because the calendar has turned another page doesn't make us more resolute to lose weight, save money, be kinder or whatever we hope to achieve. The same forces that created the situations we choose to correct remain unchanged regardless of the year. That being said, I am breaking my usual pattern and have made a one-word New Year's resolution: Resist. After more than 11 months of the train-wreck laughingly called the Trump Administration, enough is enough. Donald Trump had low expectations entering the presidency and, even then, failed to achieve them. Trump has shown himself to be an amoral, immature, thin-skinned psychotic, bully, narcissist, misogynist, racist, treasonous, anti-intellectual. He also has the attention span of a flea. But most important, he is a clear and present danger to American democracy. Through a barrage of Twitter rants and off-the-cuff blathering, Donald Trump has attempted to undermine the judiciary, the FBI, the Justice Department, the State Department, the NATO alliance and the world's free press. At the same time he has acted as if he is Vladimir Putin's lap dog - nuzzling up to the Soviet-style dictator as a man who has secrets he is desperate to hide. In short, Donald Trump has ceded America's world leadership role, leaving a dangerous vacuum. At the same time, he has been recklessly agitating Kim Jong-un, perhaps the only world leader more mentally unstable than Trump. Sure, he can "win" any war against North Korea, but at what cost? This new year is a critical one in American history. If the system is allowed to work, Trump will be either proven to have committed illegal acts that warrant his impeachment/imprisonment or he will be exonerated.  However, the key question is whether Trump will allow the system to work. There is a very real danger that he will obstruct justice by firing the special prosecutor, abusing his pardon powers or withholding important evidence. Should that happen, my New Year's resolution is to resist. I will call and write my congressional representatives - and will actively urge others to do so.  I will also be willing to do something I have never done in my life, take my protest to the streets. As Patrick Henry first declared, now is the time for all good men - and women - to come to the aid of their country. We cannot look the other way while Donald Trump and his crew of black-hearted oligarchs attempt to crush basic American values. I love my country. Resist I will if resist I must.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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