Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
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Testudo's Tales from 2007
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Vol. 1 No. 9 -- December 14, 2007
Who is to Judge?

I am pretty certain that two of my all-time favorite baseball players, Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken, did not use steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs -- unless, of course, aspirin fits into that latter category. (Come to think of it, both men could have benefited from the use of Rogaine.) Both men, rightfully, are in baseball's Hall of Fame. However, in the wake of yesterday's release of the Mitchell Report, a 20-month investigation into the use of illegal substances in MLB, some sportswriters are questioning whether people named in the report should be enshrined in Cooperstown. Of course, the biggest names in the Mitchell Report are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the greatest in their sport of all-time. I haven't yet decided for myself on whether the use of performance-enhancing substances should disqualify these or other players for entrance into the Hall. In fact, I don't know for a fact that either man did what has been suggested. The activities of which they are accused constitute a violation of federal law. And isn't a court of law the best place to make these kinds of judgments? If Clemens and Bonds broke the law, indict them. (Bonds has already been indicted, but not for steroid use. He has been indicted for lying about steroid use.) And what about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who are widely suspected of steroid use but were not named in the Mitchell Report? The irony is that baseball writers -- a group with a long history of questionable ethics -- get to decide whether a player is "clean" enough to go to Cooperstown. These are the same folks who, over the years, have sold their souls for a seat in a press box. Let's be real, take a breath, and withhold judgment until we know all of the facts. That especially holds true for the sanctimonious sportswriting scribes who, in my judgment, should clean their own houses first.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 8 -- November 29, 2007
"Blow Dry" Journalism

Don't you love it when mainstream media try to be hip? CNN has attempted to capitalize on the social media movement with its YouTube presidential debates. This is where everyday folks like you and me get our 15 seconds of fame and ask questions of the candidates. It is a supposed to be a form of populist democracy. The democrats were featured in a debate earlier this year. It was the republicans' turn last night. However, last night's debate showed how lame this idea really is. People may be submitting questions, but CNN is still the gatekeeper by selecting which ones are broadcast. Perhaps last night's fiasco makes a case for media bias. Or maybe it brings CNN's news judgment into question. Who decided to broadcast such asinine questions? But is ANYONE discussing gays in the military or the confederate flag in this election? Does CNN really think republicans are all backwoods boobs waiting for the South to rise again? How about some serious question on the REAL issues? And then there's Anderson Cooper -- whom I affectionately call "Blow Dry" because his haircut is the only thing of substance he can claim. He says he didn't realize that the retired general who raised the gays in the military issue during the debate is a co-chair of one of Hillary Clinton's campaign steering committees. That means that either (A) Blow Dry is a crappy journalist who didn't do his homework, or (B) Blow Dry is a liar. Either way, his shaky credibility has taken another hit. If you want a populist debate, do one like the Bush-Kerry debate in 2004, when the Commission on Presidential Debates brought in a carefully screened cross-section of citizens to ask questions. A presidential election is too damned important to leave to the whims of Blow Dry journalism.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 7 -- November 16, 2007
To Where You Are

In its song "Sister Golden Hair," the group America has a lyric that is lately fitting of this blog. It goes: "I've been one poor correspondent. I've been too too hard to find. But it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind." It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted. There are a variety of reasons. However, it mostly comes down to two reasons: I am way too busy preparing for publication of the fourth edition of Public Relations: A Values-Driven Approach, a public relations textbook I have written with Chuck Marsh. I also haven't had a lot to say -- at least not a lot I am prepared to share. In this space, I have not hidden the fact that I am still in mourning over the death of my wife last March. It is a painful experience -- much of it too personal to share. I also want to avoid turning this blog into some maudlin narrative. I will note, however, that I had another experience this week in the futility of managing my grief (see my October 28, 2007, entry). Quite by accident, I heard Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" in its entirety for the first time. I wasn't prepared for the power, beauty and truth of the song. However, I am grateful to now have that song in my life. It is an expression of emotion that I have been unable to articulate. And it is at times such as these that I am grateful for the talented people who can reach in and soothe troubled souls.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 6 -- November 5, 2007
Minister of Hate

Last week, a jury in Maryland awarded $11 million in damages to the family of a Marine killed in Iraq whose funeral had been picketed by followers of fundamentalist Fred Phelps of Topeka. Phelps and members of his congregation believe each death of a soldier in Iraq is punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality. After the verdict, Phelps smugly said said it would take about "five minutes" to get the verdict reversed. His confidence comes from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of expression. But hold on, Freddy boy. You may be surprised to learn that there are limits to free speech. In Near versus Minnesota, Chief Justice Hughes wrote in the majority opinion, "No one would question but that a government might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service or the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops. On similar grounds, the primary requirements of decency may be enforced against obscene publications. The security of the community life may be protected against incitements to acts of violence and the overthrow by force of orderly government." I hope that the appellate courts will see Phelps' despicable behavior in much the same light -- as a provocative act that threatens to evoke a violent reaction. I believe that most free speech is self-regulating. After all, it wasn't the government that fired the moronic Don Imus. It was CBS. But the courts have consistently said that not every location and situation are open to unfettered expression. However, even if the courts don't rein in this misguided minister of hate, Phelps will continue to undermine his own cause. People may sometimes have difficulty recognizing evil. But Phelps has given it a face.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 5 -- October 28, 2007
Managing Grief

I have been widowed for a little more than seven months. I suppose I am like a lot of people who have lost a spouse - I have tried to manage my grief. Sometimes I am successful. If I am expecting something to remind me of my loss -- such as an anniversary, a particular situation, or willingly playing a song with personal significance -- I am able to steel myself against my deep well of emotions. However, there are also times I am blindsided and my grief winds up managing me. That happened last night on YouTube, when by the vagaries of Web surfing, I came across a classic clip from the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the one where the late Jimmy Stewart read a humorous and touching tribute to a dog named Bo. Watching Stewart relive his pain reminded me of my pain. And the tears began to flow. While grief may be a common emotion we all experience from time to time, it is, nevertheless, an uncommon experience that I suppose I was foolish enough to believe that I could possibly manage. I guess my best hope is that my grief and I learn, at least, to coexist.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 4 -- October 21, 2007
All Heat, No Light

An old friend is up to her old tricks. Janet Murguia, one-time KU vice chancellor for communications, is now the executive director of LaRaza, a Hispanic advocacy organization. The group has announced that it is pulling its 2009 convention from Kansas City, Missouri, because of the mayor's recent appointment of a member of the Minutemen to the city's parks board. The Minutemen oppose illegal immigration and have conducted armed patrols along the Mexican border. Armed patrols are not my idea of solving the immigration problem, but I understand the group's frustration. And while I respect LaRaza's right to dissent, its hysterical support of the alledged right of foreign nationals to break federal laws doesn't do much to advance the debate, either. But let's have a little perspective here: The K.C. Parks Board isn't exactly the center of power in the universe. This is just another mindless political gesture for which Murguia is well known. This is par for the course for her - she was a hopelessly clueless administrator at KU who loved nothing more than to hear the sound of her own voice. It is this kind of inspired leadership from Murguia, Al Gore's deputy campaign manager in 2000, which helped Earth Tone Al snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Immigration is a serious issue that requires serious discussion among serious people. Step off the stage, Janet.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 3 -- October 12, 2007
Earth Tone Al - Man of Peace?

Let's see if I got this straight - Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for making a movie -- a glorified PowerPoint presentation that, according to a British judge who has no political ax to grind, is filled with inaccuracies and is little more than a political manifesto? Let's look at some notable American politicos who received the Peace Prize. Teddy Roosevelt got his for negotiating an end to a war. So did Henry Kissinger. The same is true, in a fashion, for Jimmy Carter. And what did Al do? He rode a political wave he did not initiate, claimed an Oscar he did not deserve, and has been honored for a "peace" he has not achieved. If Al deserves a Peace Prize for his environmental activism, what about giving one to Rachel Carson, Greenpeace, Woodsy Owl or Smokey the Bear? Politics aside, this decision doesn't make any sense. It seems as if the man whose greatest claim to fame was an election he didn't win can now boast an honor he didn't earn.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 - No. 2 -- October 7, 2007
Is God really Bob Barker?

When one considers the immeasurable expanse of eternity, then a human lifetime is something less than the blink of an eye. That begs the question of whether God is truly merciful and loving. It seems as if the decision of whether one spends eternity basking in the glory of heaven or burning in the fires of hell rests on a relatively brief body of work. It is almost as if the Almighty is not a deity, but rather the celestial host of a real life game of Truth or Consequences. What would Let's Make a Deal have been like if your choice was either eternal damnation (located behind door number three) or whatever it was that Carol had in the box? Does life come with nice parting gifts? For those of you who may consider this kind of inquiry blasphemous, Mother Teresa had her doubts about humanity's relationship with the Lord. Why can't I?

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 1 No. 1 -- September 28, 2007
Dedicated to the One I Love

Jan Marie Guth, my wife of nearly 32 years, died March 18, 2007, following a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage.  She was only 50 and in the best shape of her life. Her death has left a hole in my heart that will never heal.  In the six months since Jan's passing, I have tried to deal with my grief, as well as that of my daughter and the countless others who loved her. There's no handbook for this sort of thing -- although many claimed to have written one. Grief is a personal thing that exhibits itself in a myriad of ways.  However, that may be a topic for another day. For now, as I launch this new enterprise, it is appropriate that I dedicate this blog to the love of my life and in the hope that the Internet reaches heaven.

That's it for now.  Fear the Turtle.

 

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