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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.

Email: druth@tampabay.com

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  1. Ruth: The Florida Legislature failed to protect seniors

    Columns

    Florida loves its geezers — until they become annoyingly inconvenient.

    We've all seen the glitzy advertising aimed at senior citizens featuring robust, active retirees enjoying the carefree lifestyles of Florida's elder set. Golf. Tennis. Cocktail parties. Beautiful people, without a varicose vein in sight.

    And it is indeed a wonderful life. But don't get too old, or too infirm, or contract the most fatal geriatric affliction of all — too broke. Then you are simply a dead old coot drooling. Good luck. And goodbye....

    Andjelani Bernard, 6 plays in one of the many crowded hallways at John Hopkins Middle School on Sunday, September 10, 2017 in St. Petersburg. The school filled classrooms and hallways with  people evacuating before Hurricane Irma makes landfall. The shelter welcomes people from the area with pets and those with special needs.
  2. Ruth: Time for new property insurers to perform after Irma

    Columns

    Perhaps you are among the thousands of lucky Floridians who received the happy-happy-joy-joy news from state-run Citizens Property Insurance that your policy has been taken over by Big Skippy's Taco Shack and Property Insurance.

    You have been assured your property insurance protection couldn't be in better hands, by a company that has been serving the state's insurance needs since, oh, about 20 minutes ago. You, dear homeowner, have nothing to fear, nothing to be concerned about, nothing to fret over....

  3. Dan Ruth: In times of crisis, cities more than brick and mortar

    Columns

    To paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in Airplane!, Looks like I picked the wrong week to renovate my kitchen.

    Or put another way: I did Hurricane Irma a favor by turning my house into a disaster area before she did it for me. Now there's a classic case of pre-planning.

    Days before Irma rudely introduced herself to Tampa, workers had completely ripped out the kitchen, exposing the rather unfortunate tastes in wallpaper the original owner installed 60 years ago. Think of it as early Liberace kitsch....

    Life won’t seem normal for many in the Tampa Bay region until Wi-Fi and cable television are back on at home. Unfortunately, services from Spectrum and Frontier are often slower to return even after power is restored.
  4. Daniel Ruth: Southern Heritage? Harassing foes is more like Southern cowardice

    Columns

    This is quickly becoming the statue controversy that came to dinner, drank all your liquor, offended everyone at the table, passed out on the couch and refuses to leave.

    That would be, of course, Memoria In Aeterna, which is Latin for "Slaves? What slaves?" the Confederate monument honoring treason, racism and revisionist history that has been polluting public land in front of the old Hills-borough County Courthouse on Pierce Street....

    Those pushing the county commission to relocate a Confederate monument from the old Hillsborough County courthouse each found themselves the targets of an online attack from the group Save Southern Heritage.
  5. Ruth: Trump throws Dreamers into limbo

    Columns

    President Donald Trump proclaims he has "great love" for the Dreamers, referring to the roughly 800,000 young people who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals after they were brought to this country illegally by their parents.

    Yet Trump announced this week his administration would void DACA and give Congress six months to come up with something else. But what?

    Six months? For an institution whose major accomplishments seem to be going on vacation, expecting Congress to resolve what to do with these young people would seem to be a fantasy....

  6. Ruth: Houston brings out our humanity

    Columns

    Times of crisis tend to reveal the character of a community.

    With the passage of time, Houston will be remembered as a city devastated by the catastrophic ravages of Hurricane Harvey, a very nasty chap of a storm.

    But in the here and now, Houston also has become a vivid symbol of what we have known to be true. Long before it became a campaign slogan, America never needed to become "Great Again." For all our bickering and polarized politics, there always has been the beating heart of greatness in the body politic....

    Volunteers in boats rescue people and their pets from their homes near Interstate 45 in Houston. They didn’t need to be asked; they simply acted.
  7. Daniel Ruth: It sounds like Rays expect us chumps to replace their dump

    Columns

    There's an old joke about the Cleveland Indians back in the days when the team was truly, horribly, dreadfully bad, "performing" before crowds that could be measured in the dozens.

    If you called the ticket office and asked when the game was scheduled to start that night, the response would be: "What time can you get here?"

    The same might be said for our own woebegone Tampa Bay Rays, who often play to seemingly empty seats at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where it appears there are more people hawking beers than actually drinking them....

    Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, visiting Tropicana Field last week, said he expects some government support in the Rays’ effort to build a new stadium.
  8. Ruth: Talking (again) about Tampa Bay transit

    Columns

    It's entirely possible you have a few thoughts about the nature of transportation in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, this is a family newspaper, so we can't actually cite them in print, or in a church, or even at Thanksgiving dinner.

    But you can vent your spleen a bit at 5:30 p.m. today at the Tampa Bay History Center, when the public can offer up ideas about the future of transportation in the region. Pasco residents weighed in earlier this week, and Pinellas County residents will get their turn on Tuesday at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority offices....

    Traffic backs up during afternoon rush hour on Interstate 275 in Tampa, just east of the Howard Frankland Bridge, on Tuesday, July 18, 2017.
  9. Daniel Ruth: Commissioners Crist, Hagan, Murman and White are cuckoo for Confederacy

    Columns

    This might be a mystery worthy of Miss Marple's sleuthing skills. Who dropped an anvil on the collective heads of Hillsborough County Commissioners Ken Hagan, Victor Crist, Sandra Murman and Stacy White?

    What might we call this caper? The Case of the Cuckoo Commissioners?

    What other explanation could there be for this quartet of addled public servants nominating an individual who is an avowed, loyal, unapologetic member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Judah P. Benjamin Camp to serve on — oh, dear — the Hillsbor- ough County Diversity Advisory Council?...

    Workers board up the Confederate monument at the old Hillsborough County courthouse as soon as private money was raised last week to relocate the statue to a private cemetery in Brandon.
  10. Ruth: Trump's real damage is being done in federal agencies

    Columns

    Sure, it's been an amusing few weeks watching the president of the United States trying to figure out whether he really feels Nazis are horrible people. It remains a work in progress. Tough calls like this take time.

    But while much attention has been paid to Confederate statues and preserving other monuments to traitors, slavery and revisionist history, there has been real work afoot in Washington. And it isn't pretty, as the gremlins of opaqueness and cronyism have been burning the midnight oil while the public's attention has been focused on a president's petulant feuds with just about everyone except Lassie....

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

    Columns

    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....

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

    Columns

    Iam 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.
  13. Ruth: It should not be hard to for Trump to denounce white supremacists

    Columns

    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....

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

    Columns

    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
  15. Daniel Ruth: Temple Terrace golf club needs prayers and more to survive

    Columns

    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....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]