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Fulton’s Quarter Column of ‘Civis’ Celebrities

Nothing kicks a column off quite like a bit of etymology, mixed with public service. The Greek word for state is polis, hence our English word “politics.” The Latin word for the same is civis, the root word for our English “civilized.”

So in the interests of a better state, whether polis or civis, know now that we’re just shy of two weeks before the Nov. 5 election. And our state Republicans have done such a number on us immoral liberals that only the most dogged among us cares to figure out where, or how, we can vote. Confused? Enraged? Both? As a public service, you should know that the office of Salt Lake County Clerk can be reached at 468-3427. Know also that there’s a Nov. 1 deadline for registration. Know also that if you don’t vote, you might as well be dead. Use your vote. You know that those you disagree with, whether on the left or right, will be using theirs.

But an entire column consisting of such gestures gets nothing but yawns. You’re no doubt already reaching for the remote and a couch snack.

• Would you like to read about how the United States government and our Pentagon matched forces to deny Iraq water-purifying chlorine after they destroyed that nation’s water system? Read Thomas J. Nagby’s intriguing article in the Sept. 2001 issue of The Progressive, if you can find a copy. Would you like to learn how our government maneuvered the United Nations Security Council in order to decimate Iraq’s economy and infrastructure to the tune of an estimated 500,000 dead Iraqi children? Muse over Joy Gordon’s article, “Cool War,” in the more recent, November 2002 issue of Harper’s. You might come to question our own government’s claims to any notion of civis. We fear Iraq? Just imagine the extent to which they fear us.

But, no, we must not think bad thoughts. And it’s proven and fact that people want their politics light. Sure, we want civis. And ever since the golden dawn of Ronald Reagan, we want civis with a touch of celebrity.

• Our own Orrin Hatch knows this well, and well enough to touch on his songwriting “talents” in his new book, Square Peg: Confessions of a Citizen Senator. Sure, Hatch’s penchant for humming a tune may have grown out of the naïve impulses of a hobby. But it sure is nice that he gets to discuss his craft with the likes of celebrities such as Bono. And Hatch feels unappreciated.

“As is the case with most songwriters, most of my work has been ignored, but lately, things are starting to pick up,” he writes. And “if you listen very carefully,” you can hear “five seconds” of his song “America Rocks,” as featured in the movie Rat Race. Of course, five seconds is all you’d ever want to hear of that. But Hatch got his requisite 15 minutes with Bono. After the U2 vocalist lobbied him for Third World debt relief, our senator played him some songs. Bono politely admitted the senator had talent. But with a name like Orrin Hatch, you’ve got to have a stage name for showbiz success. Bono recommended the Senator change his name to “Johnny Trapdoor.”

• Meanwhile, Utah’s other homegrown political talent, Bush political advisor Karl Rove, doesn’t need a book for publicity. The Olympus High School student of yore is publicity. In a rather scathing examination from The New York Times Magazine, reporter Matt Bai tells us that when Rove isn’t making mistakes over steel tariffs, he treats himself and his staff during Ice Cream Day in the West Wing. How Utah can you get?

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