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Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.


  1. Ruth: Dreaming about Jack Latvala vs. John Morgan for governor


    First, a confession, or perhaps a guilty plea.

    It is certainly true that elections are serious things. After all, we are voting to place our trust in a candidate to faithfully serve in whatever office he or she is vying for. We all want good governance. We all want our public servants to be competent and honest.

    But a little entertainment value on the stump isn't such a bad thing, either....

  2. Daniel Ruth: Duck & Cover? Fix a drink, instead, if a nuclear bomb ever threatens


    I am a child of the "Duck & Cover" generation.

    Back in the 1950s and into the 1960s, periodically, my grade school would conduct a drill on what to do if a nuclear weapon exploded over the skies of Akron. In the event of a thermonuclear blast, we were supposed to crawl under our school desks and cover our heads and stay put — presumably for the next 700 years.

    Even as a child, you didn't need to be J. Robert Oppenheimer to figure out as a self-defense plan "Duck & Cover" was at best — ahem — flawed....

    Threats of thermonuclear attack bring to mind the safety advice that school children received during the Cold War, driven in part by an arms race that included the first test of a hydrogen bomb. "Ivy Mike," pictured here, was  set off in 1952 on the Enewetak atoll in the Pacific Ocean. [Los Alamos National Laboratory via The New York Times]
  3. Ruth: It should not be hard to for Trump to denounce white supremacists


    As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has hardly been a shrinking wallflower, and he is always eager to engage in bombastic kindergarten feuds at the drop of a tweet.

    Trump has disparaged prisoners of war, the disabled, Gold Star families, Mexicans, Muslims and even the Pope. He recently described the White House as a "dump." Dignity.

    When the New York Times compiled a list of the people and groups Trump has offended, the total reached 351. But that was in January, before the president decided to go after what he claimed was "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski's plastic surgery. Now there was a Gettysburg Address moment for you....

  4. Ruth The pressure's on the next planetary protection officer


    Can you fathom a snazzier job title than planetary protection officer?

    And if you have the right qualifications, NASA wants you! One wonders if the planetary protection officer gets to carry one of those nifty Barrel Plasma Guns or perhaps a Reverberating Carbonizer like Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black. But since the PPO gig also comes with a security clearance NASA would have to kill you if they told you....

    Photo illustration by RON BORRESEN   |   Times
  5. Daniel Ruth: Temple Terrace golf club needs prayers and more to survive


    There's an oft-told story about the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club.

    As a young Bible student attending Florida College across the street from the club, Billy Graham experienced a crisis of faith. So he went for a walk to talk things over with the Almighty. And there, standing on the 18th green late at night, the Good Lord inspired the young evangelist to pursue his life's good work.

    To be sure, an inspirational tale. But you should also know this was hardly the first or last time God's name was invoked in one form or another on the Temple Terrace links. And that's just the times I've found myself struggling to make my way around the course....

    Oak trees line the fairway at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club, an operation worth preserving for its scenic and historical value. The clubhouse has a perfectly lovely bar and other amenities, too.
  6. Ruth: Good luck stopping government leaks


    It's merely idle speculation, but when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was going to morph into the Inspector Javert of Washington to ferret out moles in every corner of government I imagine the capital press corps had to stifle the temptation to break out into a chorus of guffaws.

    Leakers are the mother's milk of journalism. It has been so since Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson leaked unflattering information about his arch rival, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, to reporter James Callender, who was sort of the Alex Jones of colonial America....

  7. Ruth: The Democrats' 'Better Deal' is false advertising


    As snappy marketing slogans go, the Democratic Party has offered up "A Better Deal" to woo back disaffected voters, who demonstrated in November they are willing to be led by a narcissistic, thin-skinned, intemperate Mr. Dithers of the Electoral College with less grasp of the inner workings of government than Groucho Marx's Rufus T. Firefly.

    Hail, hail Trumpdonia!

    It's become something of a rite of damage control for political parties that have had their heads handed to them to engage in a period of reflection, soul-searching and navel-gazing to ponder what went wrong at the voting booth and come up with ways to do better next time....

    Yawn: Sen. Chuck Schumer announces the Democrats’ “Better Deal.”
  8. Daniel Ruth: It's nice lawmakers restored recess, but just 20 lousy minutes?


    At last a respite for all my fellow underachievers, a chance to shine at something at least we are good at. Ah, recess, blessed recess.

    For quite some time Florida's public school students have been denied the oasis of recess as educators seemed preoccupied with the idea that the school day would be better served by learning stuff in the classroom.

    That's a lovely concept, although there are some of us who are not gifted in the fine art of improving our understanding of subject matter. As a young grade school student eons ago, I found myself much more adept at staring out the window, daydreaming and lusting after my comely fourth grade teacher, Miss Krill, who often spoke French in the classroom....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
  9. Daniel Ruth: Political sellouts all the rage


    Perhaps what Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has proved is the truth of that old adage that we all have a price. It's only a matter of negotiation.

    In the commissioner's case it would seem Putnam will roll over like a Shih Tzu begging for a chewy treat for the modest price of a contribution to his campaign to become either Florida's next governor, or perhaps the state's official dancing monkey for the National Rifle Association....

  10. Ruth: Trump is no Boy Scout in speech to scouts


    It could have been worse. At least the Boy Scouts of America didn't invite Dennis Rodman to address its 19th jamboree to discuss American foreign policy with North Korea and the art of nose piercings.

    Instead, the Scouts got President Donald Trump, who began his remarks with a profanity. Things went pretty steadily déclassé from there.

    To be fair, the president didn't delve into his Access Hollywood appearance in which he discussed his sexual debasement of women. In Trump world, this counts as moderation. Or perhaps he was saving that saucy yarn for the Campfire Girls....

    President Donald Trump addressed the Boy Scouts’ national jamboree in Glen Jean, W. Va.
  11. Daniel Ruth: Sandra Murman, no kidding, deserves praise for switching Confederate vote


    SPOILER ALERT: The following column is about to state something nice about an elected official. The author of the column is beside himself with bumfuzzlement at finding himself in this rare predicament. But the author remains confident this awkward mood will soon pass. So let's get this over with.

    A couple of weeks ago this space took Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman to task (and rightfully so) for her vote to keep the much maligned revisionist-history Confederate memorial in its place near the entrance of the old county courthouse....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, pictured during the July 19 meeting when she switched her vote on the Confederate memorial, showed a kind of courage rare in politicians, Daniel Ruth says.
  12. Ruth: Adam Putnam sells out to the NRA


    This didn't take long, did it?

    If you want to get elected to office in Florida, a politician is obligated to grovel before the great and powerful National Rifle Association, which views Tallahassee as a wholly owned subsidiary of its interests.

    So Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, went on an NRA boot-licking tour a few days ago. He noted what a swell idea it is to permit gun owners to carry their little friends on college campuses, as well as endorsing proposals to allow the open carry of weapons in public places....

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the leading Republican candidate for governor.
  13. Ruth: Election commission investigates nothing


    Perhaps when President Donald Trump's dubiously titled Commission on Election Integrity wraps up its vital work ferreting out nonexistent voter fraud, it can turn its attention to other jobs, like tracking down who killed Cock Robin, the truth behind the moon landing hoax and the faux horror of the elusive "Bowling Green Massacre."

    Somehow Trump convinced himself that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 elections, a claim that has been debunked countless times. This is probably the inevitable result when the president of the United States spends too much time communing with his imaginary friend, Mr. Jingle Pants....

  14. Ruth: A frank conversation on health care


    'I'm confused about all this health care stuff."

    "Take a number, Bunky. How can I help?"

    "Let me see if I understand this. Recent surveys show most Americans support the existing Affordable Care Act. But the Republicans want to gut it and replace it with their own bill that would reduce coverage, increase premiums and essentially toss as many as 15 million people off the Medicaid rolls. And they call that progress?"...

    A measure by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would allow cheaper plans with fewer benefits.
  15. Daniel Ruth: It's tough to issue a sentence harsh enough for duo that bilked disabled people


    There's crime and then there is really, really sleazy crime.

    And that brings us to Frank Pannullo, who will have the next two years sitting in a federal clink to ponder what a complete, dreadful, horrible human being he is. And if there is any miscarriage of justice here it is that Pannulo isn't facing even more jail time.

    But we will have to accept the fairness of our system of punishment where we find it....

    Richard Lilliston