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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: In Congress, it takes one twit to know one

    Columns

    It's probably worthwhile to think of these moments as Washington's version of The Jerry Springer Show, where some hapless oaf goes on national television to be exposed as a dolt.

    In this case it was Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber, who earned a Ph.D in mea culpas during his appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Larry and Curly didn't get slapped around by Moe with anywhere near the vigor directed at Gruber, a health care economist who served as a consultant to the Obama administration during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act....

  2. Daniel Ruth: Neighborhood associations encouraged to make positive changes

    Columns

    You hear that tired old saw all the time about how you can't fight city hall, or the little guy doesn't stand a chance against powerful, entrenched interests. But that is complete balderdash, unless of course John Q. Citizen simply likes getting trampled upon.

    If you want to know where the seeds of grass roots civic activism take their most basic root, you need to look no further than the idea of strong, vibrant — and vocal — neighborhood associations. This is really where the proverbial rubber meets the political road....

  3. Ruth: It's news to some, but Florida really is in the South

    News

    If you were following the professional punditry in recent days, you might have come away with the impression that Florida has somehow been transformed into a suburb of Vermont.

    In the wake of Louisiana Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's defeat for re-election last Saturday, a bizarre narrative evolved that asserted her departure now meant there was not a single statewide Democratic officeholder to be found anywhere within the Deep South....

  4. Ruth: O Holy Nightmare

    Columns

    Deck the halls with boughs of … Beelzebub?

    Once again, it is time for the annual pie fight over religious displays in public spaces. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if there wasn't a Nativity creche set up in the midst of that cradle of spirituality, the Capitol rotunda in Tallahassee.

    Or think of it this way. For the better part of 11 months, there are probably more sins, lapses of ethics, payoffs and duplicitous backstabbing in the Capitol than in Game of Thrones. And then in December, Florida's feedbag of power is supposed to be transformed into an ecumenical haven honoring the Yuletide spirit....

  5. Ruth: 'Stand your ground' flaw makes mockery of law

    Human Interest

    Those stout-hearted pillars of law and order in Tallahassee saw absolutely no reason during the last legislative session to substantively amend the state's "stand your ground" law, which essentially makes it open season on everyone. The law pretty well affords cover for Floridians to shoot one another whenever the mood strikes, with precious little concern they will be charged with a crime.

    That brings us to St. Petersburg businessman, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Byron Jackson, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of one of his clients, Stewart Duane Barker, when the two men differed over the price of a piece of merchandise....

  6. Ruth: New Beginnings' 'work therapy' costs needy more than a paycheck

    Columns

    If you are a annoyed about paying the equivalent of a year's worth of out-of-state college tuition for a lousy beer at a Tampa Bay Bucs, Rays and/or Lightning game, consider for a moment that the poor (literally) soul who might have poured your suds left work that day without so much as a farthing in their pocket to show for their labors.

    Or consider if Charles Dickens were alive today, Bleak House might well have been centered in Tampa and retitled New Beginnings, a tale of woe, indentured servitude and phantom educational degrees....

  7. Ruth: McCollum asserts he is certainly no lobbyist

    Columns

    By his reckoning, former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is purer than the driven snow, a virtual Bambi of probity, the virtuous Thomas More of Tallahassee. It's any wonder when McCollum walks into a room that Gregorian chants don't flow from the heavens.

    The former attorney general was taken aback over any remote suggestion he had used his former perch of power to schmooze his successor, Pam Bondi, and cook up some sweet deals for his clients....

    A representative of lawyer Bill McCollum said he has received no special favors from his successor, Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.
  8. Ruth: Penny-pinching, not light rail, killed Greenlight Pinellas

    News

    Whew! That's a relief. For a while it appeared the fine citizens of the county had rejected this month's Greenlight Pinellas referendum because voters would have rather eaten a plate of cold, withered green peas than agree to an expanded transportation system that included a light rail component.

    As it turned out, that rationale was all wrong.

    Instead, according to recent post-election survey conducted by the Tampa Bay Partnership, Greenlight Pinellas crashed and burned simply because it called for a 1-cent sales tax increase. As the survey noted, Greenlight Pinellas was dead on arrival even if rail had not been a part of the ballot measure....

  9. Ruth: Benghazi hustlers' last hurrah

    Columns

    Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi — it's been a radio and television ratings bonanza for the chattering classes who have turned what was an horrific tragedy that claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya in 2012 into the Original Sin of the Electoral College.

    Now there is a crisis of claptrap across the airwaves, suggesting all the blithering by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and others who breathlessly promoted a narrative of the Benghazi tragedy as a vast soft-on-terrorism conspiracy has been wrong all along....

  10. Ruth: Holiday consumerism starts too early

    Columns

    The holidays are upon us, a time of family togetherness, the warmth of good tidings between friends, the spirit of Christmas when we take time to reflect on the spiritual essence of the season as we commemorate the birth of the baby Jesus.

    Of course that takes all of 30 seconds or so before the consumer onslaught begins at the stroke of midnight as hordes of consumers descend on the nation's malls — or might they be better described as shopping mauls?...

  11. Ruth: Florida's redistricting scam

    Columns

    It's oh so very nice to think of our democracy with visions of fifes and drums, the Founding Fathers founding stuff and American eagles soaring to the patriotic heavens. After all, don't we all love a nice fairy tale now and then?

    And there is Florida, where the Federalist Papers go to die.

    In 2010, the voters decisively approved constitutional amendments that prohibited our august Florida Legislature from drawing legislative and congressional districts in a manner that would favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties, which admittedly did take the fun out of abusing power....

  12. Discover homey Thessaloniki, Greece

    Travel

    THESSALONIKI, Greece

    There's a running joke in the hysterically funny (and uncannily accurate) movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in which the family patriarch played by Michael Constantine is able to deconstruct every aspect of life, technology and culture back to a Hellenic root.

    But there is a kernel of truth to Constantine's lectures on all things Greek. Or at least it certainly feels like it upon arriving in this lovely, but often overlooked, northern seaport city of Thessaloniki, with a population of just under 400,000 people. It feels like home. It feels like a homecoming, even for someone with a decidedly non-Greek mongrelized heritage....

    The White Tower sits on the Aegean shoreline in Thessaloniki. A condemned Jewish prisoner won his freedom by whitewashing the prison, which dates to roughly 1430; hence its name.
  13. Ruth: Bruised but unbowed after a bitter campaign

    Columns

    This was probably the tipoff that Judithanne McLauchlan was not going to be your typical candidate. After all, what glad-handing office seeker says stuff like: "Well, I think my pedagogy has been experiential learning."

    In today's nasty climate of campaign advertising, popping off about being a pedagogue would have likely led McLauchlan's opponents to accuse her of being a child molester, or perhaps an admitted thespian, or even, dare it be said, someone who once engaged in matriculation....

    McLauchlan
  14. Ruth: Democrats navel-gaze, Republicans win

    Columns

    Get ready for a rash of navel-gazing rivaling the Beatles heading off to "Ohmmmmmmmm!" away with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    Or you could think of the Florida Democratic Party's plans for self-reflection, meditation and thinking deep thoughts as its rendition of "Yawnberry Fields Forever."

    After coming off an election debacle best described as the Charge of the Ultra Light Charade, as Florida's Democrats pretended to be a political party, state Chairwoman Allison Tant, the Gen. Halftrack of the Hustings, created a blue-ribbon panel of prominent Democrats (all 14 of them) to study the election's outcomes and recommend ideas to transform the party in time for the 2016 campaign. Forget the pig. This is going to be like putting lipstick on Lenin's corpse....

  15. Review: Gary Hart scandal births tabloid politics in 'All the Truth Is Out'

    Books

    Chances are that if you are a younger person, the name Gary Hart means absolutely nothing to you. And therein lies the tragedy of a rising, promising political career that so spectacularly crashed and burned over the course of a single week in 1987.

    All the stars were aligned for Hart, a charismatic, savvy, smart pol, to ascend to the presidency. Instead, as older people know, the man who would have had it all is best remembered for a dalliance that perhaps never happened, a comely blond model and a rather unfortunate photo taken while they were traveling on a yacht indelicately named Monkey Business. It might have just as well been called The Kiss of Death....

    Hart has never admitted anything untoward occurred between him and Donna Rice. People drew other conclusions from this photo, taken during a trip aboard the yacht Monkey Business.