This being the holiday season, and with the Utah legislative session nary one month away, it’s time to get all cozy and warm in the inversion-plagued bubble that is the Salt Lake Valley.
As a one-time only special, this column will be light on politics, nice to Attorney General John Ashcroft, and full of bon mots for the coming New Year. Oh, and it’ll be absolutely merciless to perfection with white collar criminals and fascists.
• Trent Lott paid his price for maintaining a supposed faÃ§ade, then slipping into words that meant something else entirely. Sen. Orrin Hatch, about to reassume the mantle of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, is no segregationist. But his rhetoric against trial lawyers is legendary. How, then, could he get his fingers dirty in attorney-driven campaign donations? Simple: He’s a politician. And, let’s face it, everyone loves attorneys. It all depends on whether they’re for you or against you.
• No issue as big as the Main Street Plaza controversy is fully digested until the pollsters have taken a collective pulse. In Utah, it’s usually the triple-threat team of Dan Jones & Associates, KSL and Deseret News that does the administering. As anyone could have easily predicted, at the state level the LDS Church got the highest approval ratings, while the ACLU took a bashing. Conspicuously absent, however, was any question of how the press monitored and reported the whole storm. Fatalists will say people had their minds made up from the get-go. But if we, the press, don’t get a grade then how are we supposed to improve?
• It’s been a mixed month for royals. Just when you thought Internet stories had gone the way of the NASDAQ, “Her Majesty the Queen” lost her battle for the Newzealand.com domain against Seattle-based Virtual Countries, Inc. “Her Majesty,” still retained by New Zealand’s constitutional monarchy as head of state, went all the way to the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization to argue her case. Talk about a pushy woman. Meanwhile, a small family of descendants from the Italian royal family were at last allowed inside their home country after decades of banishment. Men of Italian royal descent were barred from the county after the nation’s royal family backed fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Vittorio Emanuele, his wife Marina Doria and their son are happy to be back in Italy. Their ancestors, of course, are burning in hell.
• Who are the criminals who rarely, if ever serve time? Hint: Their collars are white, but their hands are dirty. When a Manhattan investment company CEO was caught giving his porn star girlfriend inside tips, he potentially faced more than two years in prison. Instead, the multi-millionaire ended up with five months and no mandated community service. Here in Utah, white-collar crime and other scams often revolve around the ward house door. We won’t even talk about Enron, Rite Aid, Adelphia Communications, ImClone and Arthur Andersen. Our man Ashcroft gets a lot of guff—rightly—for threatening to hold our rights hostage in the “war on terror.” But the holiday season is a time of giving. And Ashcroft ought to be lauded for reiterating his office’s tough new stance against “the malignancy of corporate corruption” that currently threatens “the good name of American business.” Justice. It kind of brings a tear to the eye, now doesn’t it?Ben Fultonbfulton@slweekly.com