Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
Testudo's Tales from 2008

Vol. 2 No. 31 -- December 24, 2008
So, This Is Christmas

Peace on earth and good will to all men.  Those are the sentiments of this and every other Christmas season.  Oh, if only it were true. But, of course, it isn't. That  irony is particularly true this Christmas season, what with the American nation embroiled in armed conflict in the Middle East and staggering from economic turmoil at home.  Of course, Christmas is a time of eternal hope springing from its religious narrative. The promise of Christmas, along with the eternal optimism of the American people, makes us believe -- or at least want to believe -- that things are not all that bad. On this Christmas Eve, I am alone at home by my own choice.   I will spend time in the coming hours with good friends, but, for the most part, have chosen to make this particular Christmas a time of reflection.  The last two Christmases have been tinged with loss of loved ones -- Rita Fillman, Arthur Southard and Joe Fillman in 2006 and my wife, Jan, in 2007. During those years, I put up a brave and somewhat defiant front - a sort of "Merry Christmas, damn it!" kind of front.  I don't have the energy for that this year.  As much as I would enjoy the company of both my families, the Guths and the Fillmans, my sense is that I need some "down time" to heal my wounded soul.  Please don't misunderstand - I am not sitting alone in grief and desperation.  It is just that on this particular  Christmas, I feel the need to seek peace in my own way.  And as I seek this peace, my wish is that there truly be good will toward all in the coming year.

That's it for now. Merry Christmas and Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 30 -- December 10, 2008
Give the Chair to the Hair

Rod Blagojevich is beneath contempt. He's the governor -- at least for now -- of Illinois.  And he was arrested yesterday for, among other things. trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Barrack Obama. If that's not enough, federal prosecutors said Blagojevich was looking to pull $8 million in funding for a children's hospital after the hospital's chief executive officer did not give a $50,000 contribution to the governor's campaign.  There were also concerns that Blagojevich would soon sign into law a bill that would direct a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry -- a bill supported by someone who contributed $100,000.  In case you are thinking about "innocent until proven guilty," forget it.  They've got this clown dead to rights. Legal experts say that on the basis of the allegations surfacing in FBI wiretaps, this may be just the tip of iceberg.  Blagojdevich, whose hair is almost as big as his ego, is under increasing pressure to resign.  The way I see it, this is more than a case of another corrupt Illinois politician (and there sure have been a lot of them).  This slimeball's despicable acts constitute treason and merit nothing less than the death penalty.  This may be the worst abuse of public trust since Benedict Arnold.  And if you think I am kidding when I am talking about capital punishment for Blagojevich, I am not.  I am serious when I say let's give the chair to the hair!  Every breath that man takes is a waste of good oxygen.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 29 -- November 27, 2008
Melancholy Thanksgiving

This is my 56th Thanksgiving, and it is like no other that I have known.  To the best of my knowledge, there has been only one other Thanksgiving I have been away from family.  That was 1972, when I spent the day working in the film developing lab at WMAL-TV in Washington. D.C.  I was still a student at the University of Maryland and took the opportunity to take in a few extra hours in my part-time job.  I got home to the Eastern Shore to be with my family on Goose Neck very late in the evening - and actually got to eat a little leftover turkey. However, in the final analysis, it wasn't much of a holiday. This year, my daughter is in Florida with my brother's family.  I could have gone, but am weary of pretending to be thankful when, in reality, I am not. And while I am healing from my wife's sudden, tragic death in March 2007, I am acutely aware of her absence on this holiday.  I can't describe the pain I feel, nor can I deny it. And while I am in a developing relationship that holds great promise, I am faced with the widower's dilemma - can one be faithful to two women? And the Lord knows that I do not wish to hurt either one. But beyond that, I find little reason for joy, hope or promise. The highs are not all that high, and the lows seem bottomless.  However, there is one consolation - the knowledge that I am not the first person to survive a beloved spouse's death.  I know of many who have gone on to live happy lives - perhaps one thing to be thankful for on this melancholy Thanksgiving.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 28 -- November 22, 2008
Case Closed

Forty-five years ago today, the world changed in the time it took a bullet to travel from a sixth floor window of a textbook warehouse to the street below.  President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address that he represented "a new generation of Americans."  Less than three years later, he was assassinated while riding a motorcade through the street of Dallas.  November 22, 1963, is a date burned into the memories of those who lived through it.  I was sitting on the stage of the cafetorium at St. Michaels Elementary School in St. Michaels, Maryland, when Principal Chuck Jones interrupted a film strip on the "Cradle of Civilization" to break the news over the public address system.   I notice in this morning's local paper a story about yet another yahoo who has come up with a new conspiracy theory.  Starting with Mark Lane's severely flawed Rush to Judgment in 1966, numerous pseudo-experts have found it hard to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  Yet he did.  That's what I believe. Gerald Posner's 1993 book on the assassination, Case Closed, is the best-documented and least speculative on the topic.  Posner wrote that, with the exception of a few minor errors, that the Warren Commission got it right.  That may be hard for the Oliver Stones of the world to fathom, but Posner's work remains the definitive study of the Kennedy assassination.  And let's face it: Does anyone believe that the federal government is clever enough to masterfully orchestrate a complex conspiracy that will remain uncovered after 45 years?  We are not talking about the George Bush "Katrina" government.  We are talking about the Lyndon Johnson "there's a light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam" government.  However, there is one way to end the speculation once and for all. On his first day in office, President Obama should declassify all archived information pertaining to the Kennedy assassination. Then and only then, can we spend this date remembering the man and not all of the nut-case theories behind his death.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 27 -- November 5, 2008
A Self-Inflicted Wound

The longest, most expensive, most exciting and, at times, most annoying election campaign has concluded with the election of an African-American as President of the United States of America.  Barrack Obama's victory over John McCain was hardly unexpected.  The polls had been steadily widening in Obama's favor, while the dour economic news ended any chance of a McCain upset.  This was the tenth presidential election in which I have voted.  I  have a record of five wins and five losses - hardly good enough to make the playoffs.  But the true measure of success will come much later, as the President-elect assumes power and places his personal stamp on history.  This election also marked the only the second time I  crossed party lines and voted for "the other guy" -- not counting the one election in which I was a registered Democrat. Yes, I was once, briefly, a Democrat. There was a period that I was so angry with social conservatives in the Republican Party that I changed my voter registration.  But I came back to the party, hoping it would return to its traditional roots, the championing of individual rights and a commitment to fiscal responsibility.  I am also  uncomfortable with the Democratic Party's philosophy of entitlement without accountability. Following this year's election, I am not sure where my political "home" is.  It is not that I have changed my values.  It is that the Republican Party strayed from its own. And the result is the electoral wreckage the GOP must now confront.  As for President-elect Obama -- good luck and God speed.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 26 -- October 18, 2008
My Choice

For almost as long as I can remember, Washington has been infected with a poisonous, mean-spirited affliction that has turned our nation's politics into blood sport.  Perhaps it has always been that way.  One need look only at the election of 1800 to find the seeds of bitter partisanship.  However, when one focuses on the dangers Americans face at home and abroad, we no longer have the luxury of partisan pettiness.  We need elected officials who will rise above the din and speak with clarity of purpose and a single-minded commitment to American values - a voice we have not heard from either this White House or the Democratic congressional leadership. Our last two presidents were distinctly different men, both talented in their own ways, but who ultimately escaped greatness because they failed to listen to their better angels. The first was arrogant and reckless.  The second was stubborn and lazy.  This year, we have to get it right.  We need a leader capable of bringing real change to the body politic - someone willing to change the tone and lower the temperature.  John McCain is a true American hero with real credentials as a bipartisan leader.  But he also has a track record as a feisty, sometimes combative, and occasionally erratic politician.  His selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate was both bold and curious.  There are also questions about Barrack Obama.  He is inexperienced, has made questionable personal associations and has a reputation for being arrogant.  However, he has run a brilliant campaign. has inspired millions of young Americans, and demonstrated a willingness to reach across the aisle and compromise.  His election would sound a clarion to the rest of the world that the United States of America is still a revolutionary society that dreams big,  is committed to promoting the general welfare, and still seeks to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.  It is on this basis that my choice for President of the United States is Barrack Obama.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 25 -- October 15, 2008
The Final Debate: Style Over Substance

Tonight's third and final 2008 presidential debate did little, if anything, to change the political landscape. In the final analysis, that's good news for Barrack Obama and bad news for John McCain. Tonight, as in the other two debates, McCain was the aggressor - a tactic one expects of the candidate trailing in the polls.  If this debate was scored in the manner in which one judges a high school debate, unbiased observers would probably tell you that McCain won on points.   While Obama did well in his answers, McCain provided greater specificity in his responses more often than his opponent.  McCain was also very good at pointing out where Obama parsed his words. But this was not a high school debate.  As some pundits have said, the real focus of this exercise was to determine whether Barrack Obama passed the "looks and acts presidential" test.  He's passed it with flying colors.  As noted in an earlier post (Sept. 8 - Vol.2 No. 20), Obama was in much the same position Ronald Reagan was in his one and only debate with President Jimmy Carter in 1980.  Then, as now, the country was screaming for change and blamed both the man in the White House and his party. Once the American people were convinced that Reagan was not the reckless cowboy that Carter's allies had painted him to be, the party-in-power's last chance at savaging the election had faded. It think that's what happened here tonight.  In these times and in this context, Obama's style trumps McCain's substance.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 24 -- October 12, 2008
Knock It Off

The two hottest issues confronting University of Kansas students this fall are the presidential election and "the chant."  You probably know about the first one.  For the uninitiated, the chant is an obscene cheer uttered by the student section at Memorial Stadium every time the Jayhawk football team kicks off.  Taken from the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy, the students shout with glee, "Knock his <<bleeping>> head off."  They continued to do this at yesterday's game, despite requests that they refrain from doing so by administrators,  student leaders, the KU student newspaper and even coach Mark Mangino.  I understand why students do this.  It is youthful rebellion.  They do it because the authorities are powerless to stop them.  In short, for the first time in their lives, they feel like they have real power. But, of course, that is not true.  Since the age of 18, they have had the power to vote.  Yet, historically, 18-24 year-olds have had an abysmal record of voter turnout.  The actions of KU students in the next few weeks - at the polls and at the stadium - will tell us a lot about them.  They will tell us whether students are willing exercise the true power that they have and are ready to lead or - much like Mr. Sandler who inspires them - they are not yet ready for prime time.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 23 -- October 7, 2008
The Second Debate: A Tie Goes to the Front Runner

When examined at face value, I think tonight's second presidential debate was a draw.  However, within the context of the campaign, that means it was a win for Obama.  McCain came out swinging and gave a strong performance with his answer to questions about the economic crisis. In fact, if this were a prize fight, one would say that McCain took the early rounds.  However, Obama's second-half performance on mostly foreign policy issues was stronger than his performance during the first debate.  Obama could have delivered a knockout blow on the health care question when he indicated affordable health care was a "right" and McCain said it was a "responsibility."  However, Obama blew the question when he criticized McCain's plan for portability across state lines.  Obama was correct to warn against the dangers of differing state standards.  But to use Delaware's lax credit card laws as an example of the perils of applying interstate commerce rules to health care was curious - especially since his own running mate has been accused of being too cozy with the credit card companies. Obama talked about raising taxes on the top five percent of income earners. When we talk about tax burdens and tax breaks for the rich, it is important to remember that according to a study by Stanford University's Hoover Institution,  the share of the total tax burden paid by the top five percent of income earners in 2004 was 58 percent.  That's not progressive taxation, it's regressive. My final observation is that after each debate, a CNN flash poll has had Obama or Biden winning by significant margins.  I don't think those polls measure the success of the debaters.  Instead, it is cognitive dissonance at work -- every voter hears what he or she wants to hear.  The real significance of the flash polls is that they are indications of the Democrat ticket's true electoral strength -- which is why a draw in tonight's debate does not bode well for McCain-Palin.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 22 -- October 3, 2008
The VP Debate: A Thin Edge to Biden

When one considers that both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have well-earned reputations for verbal gaffes, last night's one-and-only vice presidential debate was a pleasant surprise.  Both performed above expectations.  For Governor Palin, putting together two coherent and logical sentences would have exceeded expectations.  She did beyond that - reestablishing herself as a viable candidate.  She scored some points in the areas of energy, the economy and Iraq. For her, the evening was a resounding success. However, the same can be said for Senator Biden. He, too, was able to connect with Main Street voters. While Governor Palin often relied on broad generalities and symbolism to make her points, Biden was more agile with the details. The one moment of true emotion during the debate, Biden talking about being a single father with an injured child "who might not make it," connected as well with the television audience as did Palin's homilies on "hockey moms."  Last night's debate did little to change the  direction of Campaign 2008. However, both accomplished what they set out to do: Do no harm.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 21 -- September 28, 2008
The First Debate: A Thin Edge to McCain

Under the shadow of a looming economic meltdown, John McCain and Barack Obama held their first of three scheduled presidential debates Friday night. Who won? The answer depends on whom you talk to. Frankly, this is the season of cognitive dissonance where everyone hears what he or she wants to hear. Since I haven't yet decided for whom I am going to vote, I'd like to think I am a fairly neutral observer.  Neither man made a major gaff and held his own in areas he is supposedly weak - the economy for McCain and foreign policy for Obama. On substance, I'd give the edge to McCain.  The depth of his answers on foreign policy - the focus of the debate - were in sharp contrast to Obama's generalities.  Obama had one ace card - he opposed the war in Iraq from the outset.  However, McCain's effective claim to better judgment was based on his support of the then-unpopular and now-successful surge.  However, I object to the very notion that there was a winner and loser in the debate.  Each man went in with certain goals. McCain wanted to demonstrate his experience and political independence.  He did. Obama wanted to establish credibility in foreign policy matters and present himself as a credible alternative to the old-style politics McCain represents.  He did.  The sad thing is that, according to early figures, viewership of the crucial first debate was down 16 percent from the first Bush-Kerry debate in 2004.  That means that America has either made up its mind or just doesn't care.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 20 -- September 8, 2008
Enjoy the Ride

Campaign 2008 continues to amuse and amaze.  Less than 12 hours after Barrack Obama accepted his party's nomination before 80,000 adoring fans at a Denver football stadium, John McCain stole his thunder.  At the very moment many people were beginning to write off the republican nominee, the Arizona Senator pull a rabbit out of his hat named Sarah Palin.  By selecting the Alaskan governor as his running mate, McCain energized his conservative base. Heck, his TV ratings were better than Obama's. McCain also became more credible among the voters who will decide this election - independents.  And let's not underestimate the effect the choice has had in the Western states, a major battleground this year.  During the past weekend, I moderated an Editor's Day panel for the KU School of Journalism.  There were three experienced political consultants on the panel - Ray Strother, Walter Shapiro and Bill Lacy.  They agreed that Obama has the upper hand in the election.  But they also agreed that voters are waiting for a reason to vote for the Illinois senator.  They said it is like 1980, when people wanted to vote for a change in the White House but didn't decide until late that they were comfortable with Ronald Reagan.  However, all three also acknowledged that race -- the two-ton gorilla sitting quietly in the corner of this election -- is the real unknown factor.  And they also said that anyone who says he or she knows how all of this is going to play out is blowing smoke.  Just eight weeks to go.  Hang on and enjoy the ride. (Oh, and for the record, I have now lost 36 pounds. See Vol. 2 No. 17.)

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 19 -- August 20, 2008
Rush the Righteous

Despite what his detractors might say, Rush Limbaugh is no dummy.  In fact, Rush the Righteous is Machiavellian smart.  For example, take today's radio show diatribe. Limbaugh warned presumptive republican presidential nominee John McCain that the selection of a running mate lacking bona fide conservative credentials will spell doom for the GOP in November.  Rush the Righteous was reacting -- imagine that,  reacting -- to reports that McCain is considering either former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge or Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) for the number two spot.  Limbaugh said that the selection of anyone who isn't pro-life would cost McCain the election.  I have to admit, it's a clever move.  McCain is trailing in the polls.  If McCain selects a moderate running mate and loses. Rush the Righteous can blame the Arizona Senator for the defeat.  If McCain does what Limbaugh wants and still loses, the radio commentator will be able to say that McCain was a flawed candidate.  In fact, there's strong suspicion in these quarters that Limbaugh wants McCain to lose.  Call it the Jimmy Carter scenario: A weak democrat takes over for an unpopular republican administration, bungles his time in office, and sets the stage the emergence of a new Ronald Reagan in 2012.  Of course,  a competent Obama administration would upset Limbaugh's apple cart. However,  the worst-case scenario for Limbaugh would be that McCain wins to the election with a moderate running mate, thus proving that the republicans can win and govern without the blessing of social conservatives.   I'm one republican who would like to try that one on for size.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 18 -- August 14, 2008
Campaign 1976

In a matter of days, Barack Obama and John McCain will name their running mates for the fall campaign.  This year, this choice could be a make-or-break decision.  Both men will try to smooth the chinks in their campaign's armor. Obama has two critical weaknesses, a lack of foreign policy experience and a need to balance a perception that he too different, too far out of the mainstream to effectively govern.  Jimmy Carter faced those same problems in 1976 and chose Sen. Walter Mondale (D-Minn.).  It was a brilliant choice that eased many a voter's concerns that the former one-term Georgia governor was not ready for prime time.  History suggests that he probably wasn't.  However, a legacy of a Middle East peace settlement isn't bad, either.  New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former United Nations ambassador, would be a good choice -- if he doesn't have any skeletons in his closet. Meanwhile, McCain faces the same problem Carter's 1976 opponent, President Gerald Ford, faced.  Ford had the Nixon legacy. McCain has the Bush legacy.  He also faces an added burden-- his age.  Those who remember Ronald Reagan's second term should consider this a legitimate issue.  That's why McCain needs someone of youth vigor as his running mate.  A more moderate choice, such as former Governor Tom Ridge (R-Pa.) may help.  But Ridge's days as Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security may be as much a liability as much as it is a positive.  Weighty decisions echoing of 1976 are coming from both camps very soon. (Speaking of weight, I have now lost 25 pounds. See Vol. 2 No. 17.)

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 17 -- July 21, 2008
Walking

For almost a month, I have dedicated myself to the proposition of  dieting and exercise to lose weight.   For a fellow who prides himself in his disciplined approach to so many aspects of his life, my weight has been an annoying life-long problem.  There have been times that I have successfully lost weight -- 25 pounds in 2002 and 33 pounds in 2006.  Unfortunately, I gained it all back.  Sure, there were reasons, including the depression that follows losing one's spouse. Truthfully, I was mostly apathetic about the subject -- a sort of resigned indifference and a lack of self-confidence.  However, I once again have the motivation to lose weight.  That motivation comes from two sources, a lady friend who has inspired me to take better care of myself and from my golden retriever Boomer, whom I have allowed to get dangerously overweight through inactivity.  Since June 23, I have cut back on both Boomer's and my food rations and have taken him on daily -- sometimes twice daily -- walks through the streets of Lawrence.  We are both losing weight and are both (I think) feeling better.  I am not sure about Boomer's weight loss -- I'll weigh him at the vet's office later this week -- but  I'm down approximately 16 pounds.  We've got a lot more walking to do.  However, after a couple of perfectly lousy years overshadowed by the death of loved ones, I think I am finally in the right mindset to seal the deal and get the job done.  Same goes for Boomer.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 16 -- July 6, 2008
Senator No

Former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) passed away early Friday morning, Independence Day, at the age of 86. The conservative lawmaker served five terms in the U.S. Senate starting in January 1973.  To many, he was a staunch defender of freedom and basic family values.  To others, he was a stubborn, single-minded politican who opposed civil rights, gay rights, the Panama Canal Treaty -- and just about everything else.  (In fact, during his tenure in office, the democrat-leaning Raleigh News and Observer called him "Senator No."  I got to know Senator Helms as a reporter for the North Carolina News Network in the early '80s.  Even though I was a republican and later worked for a republican governor, I usually found myself on the opposite side of the issues -- especially social issues -- with Helms.  His greatest strength -- and at the same time his greatest weakness -- was that he steadfastly (some would say stubbornly) held onto his positions.  It was this quality that helped him win reelection in 1984 over popular and heavily-favored Governor Jim Hunt.  Hunt, whom I believe was, for the most part, a good governor, had a propensity for "flip-flopping" whenever the winds of public opinion changed. The Helms campaign ran a series of devasting ads asking "Where do you stand, Jim?" Despite a 3-2 edge in voter registration, Hunt was unable to defeat Helms.  Senator No was never seriously challenged after that. However, that same stubborn streak kept Helms embedded in the Old South and often on the wrong side of history. 

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 15 -- June 23, 2008
Life After Death

I traveled last weekend to Nashville for the annual Fillman Family Reunion.  They have been getting together each summer for more than 50 years "all because" -- as Brad Paisley put it -- "two people fell in love." The Fillmans are my late wife's family -- and mine, as well.  I am what is known as a "Fillman Out-Law," having married into the family.  If you are a part of the family bloodline, you are a "Fillman In-Law." Having been a member of the Fillman family for almost 33 years, I have seen children grow into remarkable women and men with families and careers of their own.  I have been around for the weddings, births, graduations,  anniversaries and, unfortunately, the funerals.  This year's reunion was, in fact, the second since the family suffered through a series of devastating losses during 2006 and 2007 that included my wife, Jan.   Last year's reunion in St. Louis did not shy away from the tragedies.  We showed old family movies and swapped stories about those who were missing, but not forgotten.  This year's reunion had a different feel to it.  On the one hand, we were all aware of the family members who had passed on or were unable to make it to Music City because of illnesses.  However, there also was a sense of regeneration as approximately one-third of the reunionists were pre-teen children.  Seeing (and hearing) all those youngsters under foot brought a sense of optimism to the proceedings.  One can't help but believe that there may be another 50 or so Fillman Family Reunions. Life goes on.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 14 -- June 3, 2008
A Special Moment

Let's put politics aside for a few moments.  There's going to be plenty of time for that in the coming months.  But tonight, a black man stands as the presumptive nominee of a major party for the office of President of the United States.  As one who was born two years before Brown vs. the Board of Education, who remembers segregated schools, and remembers the battle for civil rights, this is a remarkable moment in our history.  Having spent much of my adult life in the South, it is hard to believe that a black senator from the North could win primaries in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina.  As I indicated in my post of February 9, I am not certain who I will support in the upcoming election.  John McCain is a good man.  So is Barrack Obama.   Both men also have flaws.  But there is plenty of time to discuss that.  Let's take in this special moment in American history, when we can truly say that this is, indeed, a land of opportunity and where dreams can come true.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 13 -- May 23, 2008
Self-Inflicted Chaos

Pity the Democrats.  The White House is theirs, ripe for the taking.  Yet they just can't seem to get their act together. First, they elect Howard Dean as their chairman.  Howie is a dogmatic, arrogant zealot -- good qualities for a candidate, but very poor for a chairman who is supposed to keep the train on the rails.  The party assigns its convention delegates on a proportional basis, thus ensuring a long, drawn-out affair.  And then, for good measure, it chooses to discipline the people of Michigan and Florida for exercising their right to vote when they damn-well please.  Put it all together, you've got one great big mess.  And now Hillary is doing the only thing she can to win the nomination - trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.  She wants Michigan's and Florida's vote to count after the fact -- even though she was the only Democrat on the ballot in both states.  Sound familiar?  It's Florida 2000, when the Democrats attempted to steal the election by changing the rules after the votes had been cast.  The U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to halt the unconstitutional coup d'etat.  It then voted 5-4 to say time had run out on the process. Now, eight years later, the Dems risk squandering a huge advantage because of self-inflicted chaos.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 12 -- May 9, 2008
Chutzpah

There's a great Hebrew word used to describe a unique, albeit highly unattractive quality of a lot of people sucking in oxygen these days: chutzpah.  These are people who do not recognize any boundaries and know no shame,  Leo Rosten, a Polish-born author and humorist remembered for The Joy of Yiddish, defined chutzpah as "that quality in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."  I am reminded of recent examples of chutzpah.   There's the university athletic department, reaping millions of dollars from the success of its taxpayer-subsidized teams, trying to squeeze $6,400 out of local merchants because a victory parade caused cancellation of a team banquet.  There's the presidential candidate, known for railing against "a vast right-wing conspiracy," who now says she should be president because she best represents "the white working class who didn't go to college."  And then there's the college professor who says efforts in the areas of  teaching and service justify a total failure to conduct research, a critical expectation of any professor at a major university.  Conducting and publishing research was part of the deal the professor agreed to when joining the faculty. But that was then and this is now.  Today, the professor picks and chooses the aspects of the job to be performed and defends this selectivity as "academic freedom."  In truth, it is nothing more than personal choice.  Yet the professor gets indignant when anyone questions this lack of scholarship. Now, that's chutzpah.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

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Vol. 2 No. 11 -- April 30, 2008
Christy Bradford

KU's School of Journalism, as well as the profession it serves, lost a good friend April 24.  Christy Bradford, a lecturer at the school for nearly a decade following a distinguished career at several newspapers, died unexpectedly.  In addition to teaching excellence in writing and editing,  Christy had been the mentor to the school's Multicultural Scholars Program.  I doubt that she would have approved of the many words of praise that honored her from all corners of the nation.  She wasn't that kind of person. But I know that she would have taken special pride in how several of the scholars articulated their love and gratitude toward her during a memorial service this week. Their inner strength, which Christy sought to tap into, came through in their thoughtful eulogies. It is often a shame that many of the feelings expressed at the time of one's passing were not shared during that person's lifetime.  It begs a couple of serious -- and unanswerable -- questions: Do we get to view our own funerals from another dimension after our passing?  And would we want to? Who knows?  But one thing is for certain: Heaven just got itself one hell of a good editor.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 10 -- April 12, 2008
"Be careful out there!"

Recently, I did something incredibly brave...or stupid...or both.  It has been more than a year since my wife's passing.  I felt the time had come to try and establish some sort of social life.  That's not easy, either emotionally or logistically.  From an emotional perspective, I have had to transition from being a loyal, monogamous husband to one expected -- initially, at least -- to establish multiple relationships.  (At least that's what I have been told by female acquaintances.  Seriously.  I'm not making up this stuff!)  From a logistical point-of-view, meeting people is a real challenge.  Almost all of the single women I know are people with whom I work -- a recipe for disaster.  Nor am I about to go bar-hopping in search of "Miss Right" (or "Miss Right Now").  The only real alternative in this highly mediated society is to go on line -- which is what I have done.  I have absolutely no intention of discussing the details of my on-line experience -- I'd like to think I'm a gentleman who respects the privacy of others.  But I will say that there are some very nice people out there in cyberspace in the same boat in which I find myself. (Apparently, there are also a lot of Russian expatriates seeking a quick path to U.S. citizenship.) The on-line dating scene reminds me of the line made famous by Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (the late Michael Conrad) on the TV drama Hill Street Blues: "Be careful out there!"

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 9-- March 27, 2008
It's Anyone's to Lose

Campaign 2008 has been pretty entertaining to date. Rudy and Hillary were crowned presumptive nominees last summer. But today, Rudy is left fondling his Yankees tickets and Hillary is desperately launching a new "strategy of the week" (or is it "strategy of the weak") in an attempt to poach delegates from the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama. Today we learned that Senator Clinton's negative ratings are higher than her positive ratings. And as she gets more desperate and escalates her slash and burn tactics, those numbers will only get worse. I was particularly appalled at the rhetoric of Clinton crony James Carville, who called New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson a "Judas" for endorsing Obama. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? Frankly, if Obama picks Richardson as his running mate, I'd be inclined to vote for him. Of course, Obama has had to spend a lot of time during the past couple of weeks backpedaling away from his nut case of a preacher. The best thing going for the Republicans these days is that Democrats are acting like Democrats. However, before John McCain starts to measure the drapes in the Oval Office, he's got some work to do. His campaign has been anything but a work of art since he clinched the nomination. And how smart is it for him to be reminding us -- in both words and actions -- that he is older than dirt? His running mate selection could be the most important since FDR drafted Harry Truman in 1944. As winter turns to spring, this election is wide open for anyone to lose.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 8-- March 9, 2008
One Year

It has been almost one year since my wife died of a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage on March 18, 2007. (See Vol. 1 No. 1) Even now, almost a year after the fact, I still have a distorted sense of time. While it seems like an eternity since her sudden death, vivid memories of that horrible Saturday morning burn my consciousness like a freshly opened wound. With this time warp comes the loss of a clear vision for the future. Jan and I often talked about the so-called "golden years" of our lives, retirement, and grandchildren. We even looked ahead toward our 50th wedding anniversary in 2025. Now, I have little sense of what may lay beyond the horizon. The past is gone and a large chunk of my future has been stolen. I have little choice but to forge ahead, one day at a time, mindful of the responsibilities I have toward my daughter, extended family, friends, employer, colleagues, students and, of course, to myself. Fate can be unforgiving, as can the march of time.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 7-- March 4, 2008
McCain-Guth 2008

I am pleased to announced that I am a candidate for Vice President of the United States. Now all I have to do is convince newly anointed republican presidential nominee John McCain that I am his guy. Why McCain? First, I am a registered republican. It's not likely that Barack or Hillary would want me on their ticket. For the record, if Barack asks, I'd say yes. If Hillary asks, I'd tell her to kiss off. (Sure, I want to be the Veep -- but I do have principles.) You may ask, "why become a candidate for Veep?" If McCain wins, I get to live in lovely public housing in D.C., gain admission to an exclusive club on Capitol Hill and get to travel to the funerals of a bunch of foreign leaders. God forbid, if something should happen to the Prez, I'd have the power to do something I've always wanted to do: Nuke Duke. And if we lose, I become the answer to a question on Jeopardy! ("Alex, I'll take obscure political has-beens for $200.") Besides that, there are worse things to do than spend Labor Day in St. Paul.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 6-- February 24, 2008
Narcissism

Narcissism is defined as self-love. It seems a suitable topic for today's blog entry because this is the date of the 80th annual Academy Awards, a/k/a the Oscars. Can you think of a more narcissistic group than the folks in Hollywood? I mean, thank goodness for the Oscars. Without them, the poor, downtrodden actor class would go unrecognized and unappreciated. They would have to live in the shadows of their opulent and conspicuous lifestyles. Don't get me wrong, I love a good movie. (I saw one today - Vantage Point.) However, I am appalled at how Hollywood's quest for self-adultation often eclipses the really important stuff, such as war, peace and the environment. In fairness, actors are not the only narcissists on the planet. Here's a special shout-out to the nation's number one narcissistic, delusion, presidential wannabee, Ralph Nader. Today, he announced the launch of another run for the White House. Nader is to Democrats what Ross Perot is to Republicans. Nader hears the call to public service. However, one can't help but wonder if he is hearing the voice of the people or is listening to the voices in his head?

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 5 -- February 9, 2008
Obama and McCain

The people of the United States would be well-served if November's presidential election were between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). I believe voters would have a clear choice between two principled and pragmatic candidates. I believe Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) are principled, but not pragmatic. I believe Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is pragmatic, but unprincipled. As a person who has been active in Republican party politics in North Carolina, I can honestly say that, at present, I don't know who I would vote for in an Obama-McCain match-up. Both candidates have strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, both are decent men who do not appear to be dogmatic in their approach to governing. I believe each would reach across the aisle to achieve compromise. I don't see Huckabee and Paul doing that. Clinton might try to be bipartisan, but she has a long record that suggests otherwise. Then, of course, there's Bill, who will be waiting in the wings -- or maybe in the infamous windowless corridor -- anxious to give his advice. There's a long road yet to travel. However a choice between Obama and McCain is a win-win situation for America.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 4 -- February 3, 2008
Congress needs Eli Manning's focus

The New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history tonight, defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots 17-14. Some of the build-up to the game was overshadowed by renewed allegations that the Patriots had improperly videotaped the St. Louis Rams' final practice before their Super Bowl XXVI match-up. This comes on the heels of the Patriots' record fine for violating league rules and videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets during the first game of the 2007 season. And then there's the disclosure that the NFL destroyed the tapes from that infraction. That has prompted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to demand an explanation and call for an investigation. In turn, that prompts me to ask the question: "Why is Congress wasting its time -- and taxpayers' money -- investigating a violation of NFL rules?" As already stated in this space (see January 15, below), there are a lot of things more worth of our lawmakers' attention than cheating in sports. Of course, this sort of stuff may be in Specter's blood. After all, he was a junior counsel to the Warren Commission and the chief architect of the "single bullet theory," the believe that one bullet struck both Texas Governor John Connolly and President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Don't get me wrong -- I believe the "single bullet theory." But I also believe that the good senator shouldn't be wasting his time trying to prove that Bill Belichick is really Lee Harvey Oswald. The only assassin that really matters in this drama is Eli Manning -- he killed the Patriots.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 3 -- January 26, 2008
Don't cry for me Carolina

Sen. Barack Obama easily won the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary tonight. He did so, despite an especially hypocritical campaign by his chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Rotweiler Clinton. Just a few months ago, Sen. Clinton had a huge lead in the Palmetto State. However, as her lead disappeared, HRC called out the "Big Dog" himself, her husband. And in a particularly cynical move, former President Bill Clinton used the race card to bolster his wife's faltering campaign. By injecting race into the democrat campaign, the former president pursued the same kind of Southern Strategy over which he has ridiculed republicans for years. It certainly failed in South Carolina, where a large percentage of white voters chose Obama. Whether, in the long run, Slick Willie's wink and a nod toward racism will work to HRC's benefit remains to be seen. It may be that the only thing Slick Willie accomplished in South Carolina is to raise serious doubts about his wife's viability as a candidate. Is a vote for Hillary really a vote for her husband? Does she have the strength to tell him to shut up and go home? Is she for real or is Bill the power behind the throne? Will we be electing the first woman president or Eva Peron? Of course, if the Clinton campaign continues on this cynical tact, the voters will likely render the entire issue moot.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 2-- January 15, 2008
Fiddling while Rome burns

Great news, America! The war in Iraq continues to drag on, Iran seeks to destabilize the Middle East, illegal immigration remains a boil on the body politic, the economy is headed toward recession, the environment is headed into the toilet, and zealots on the right and left are trying to curb your right to free expression. But have no fear -- the U.S. Congress is on the case! Why, just today our heroes on the Hill tackled the most serious threat to Western civilization -- the use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances in Major League Baseball. One of the biggest humps on Hill, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is threatening to investigate Miguel Tejada of the Houston Astros because of inconsistencies in his public testimony regarding Rafael Palmiero's alleged use of steroids. Waxman -- aptly named because of his waxy mustache -- is chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Note that the acronym is COGR -- pronounced "codger." Thank you Hank for keeping your eye on the ball and addressing the only issue that really matters. By the way, Hank, when you finish cleaning up baseball, can your committee of codgers deal with that other great national tragedy, the Spears sisters, Britney and Jamie? Screw the war, the environment and that other silly stuff.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

Vol. 2 No. 1 -- January 1, 2008
The More Things Change...

Another new year has arrived. Depending on your personal disposition, it is a time for hope and/or dispair. In the coming year, the people of the United States will elect a new president -- that process beginning in Iowa later this week. For American media, the horse race began months ago. At least the pundits finally will have some real votes to ponder. The war in Iraq moves into its sixth calendar year with no end in site. The recriminations will continue in Major League Baseball, which has brought new meaning to the sloagan "better living through chemistry." (If members of the Baltimore Orioles used performance enhancing drugs during the past decade, can they get their money back?) No doubt the media's obsession with celebrity will continue. More people will watch American Idol than will vote in the presidential election. Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China will continue to excel in the one area each has truly mastered -- being a royal pain in the ass. (By the way, when Time named Vladimir Putin its "Man of the Year," I was surprised that Al Gore didn't demand a recount.) And if a comet were to hit the earth and destroy all life on the planet, Keith Olbermann -- Anderson Cooper's evil blow-dried twin (see Vol. 1 No. 8) -- will with his dying breath blame President Bush. Put on your hip-waders. Here comes 2008.

That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.

 

 

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