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Goodbye Great Salt Lake—Hello, Babylon 

Smart Bomb: The completely unnecessary news analysis

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How can you have a Salt Lake City without a Great Salt Lake? Here's the honest truth: The Great Salt Lake is drying up—fast. Soon, it will just be a dusty depression where crazy people drive ATVs around in circles kicking up toxic dust. But it was just three decades ago that Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter installed gigantic pumps on the lake's western shores to drain the rising waters before they flooded the airport. Back then, our mountains got 600 inches of snow each winter. But we're faced with another problem now: It would be like having a Bonneville City without Lake Bonneville. Dumb. There is a lot of denial, but if history is any guide, we could end up like Babylon, Carthage and Angkor Wat. People would say, what is Salt Lake City? as though it were Palenque. No surprise, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is having none of it. She commissioned a new city flag and pressed the City Council to pass an ordinance forbidding the lake from drying up, not least because the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is seeking the 2034 Winter Olympics as if there will be a Great Salt Lake and other stuff, like snow. We need a new name that will reflect more aptly where we live. How about something like New Egypt? We could import camels and the Utah Travel Council would just love it: "Greatest Humps on Earth."

Hate Crime in Panguitch? Shut Up!
There are certain places you shouldn't go if you have a Biden or Obama bumper sticker on your Subaru. Blanding, Utah, comes to mind. And if you have one disparaging Trump, you should never leave Salt Lake County. But this latest bit of news actually scared the hell out of Wilson and the band: A 19-year-old woman was charged with a hate crime after allegedly stomping on a sign at a gas station in Panguitch—population 1,712. (We aren't making this up.) The sign read "Back the Blue," referring, of course, to law enforcement. Ever since Black Lives Matter, others want to matter, too—Blue Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, Red Necks Matter. ... Anyway, you might add Garfield County to the "don't go" zone if you aren't white and conservative—a MAGA hat wouldn't hurt. According to Tribune ace Jordan Miller, the arresting officer's statement said: The woman "crumpled the sign up in a destructive manner and threw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner toward me." There is this little matter of the First Amendment. Stomping on a sign falls under freedom of expression, as does burning Old Glory. Still, the woman faces up to one year in the slammer—Bill of Rights be damned—and Panguitch is a safer place.

GOP Has Gone Neo-Fascist—But Don't Tell Utahns
One-time Republican strategist Susan Del Percio shuns the term, "Trumpism," because the M.O. of the present-day Republican Party goes much deeper. "Neo-fascism, that's what the grassroots of the Republican Party is right now," she said. Well, neo-fascism can't be so bad—Trump once said, "Well, Hitler did a lot of good things, too." But don't tell Utah Republicans they are neo-fascists. They could get even more confused. Lately, they've been convinced their kids could be indoctrinated by Marxists, vis-à-vis critical race theory. And, of course, they think Trump won the election, despite 60 court rulings that say otherwise. The question for people like Del Percio is how to get the GOP back from QAnon zombies, the Jan. 6 mob and evangelicals who think Trump is the Savior (seriously). The Swiss and Danes found that fighting neo-Nazis on their own terms was fruitless, but providing a positive vision of the future without them was like throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West. The staff here at Smart Bomb had a brainstorm: Why not create a hologram of a brown Jesus washing the feet of Nancy Pelosi. It's far-fetched, we know, but bringing the GOP back from Zombieland will take more than cutting off their heads with chainsaws.

Postscript—OK, sun worshipers, that's a wrap for another week here in paradise, where we keep track of Mike Lee's drivel so you don't have to. Critical race theory will "weaponize diversity," Mikey ranted last week as he launched a fundraiser to ensure that kids will not learn this is a racist country. The senator, who grew up in an all-white neighborhood, went to a white college (BYU) and white law school (at BYU) knows a lot about diversity because. every evening, black and brown people come to clean his office. Lee rode into the Senate on the Tea Party wave of 2010, adding to his street cred on civil rights. Fun Fact: Mikey clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito—who is a bit to the right of Sarah Palin—when he sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals. So why all the hoo-ha about critical race theory? Columnist Leonard Pitts says this: "It is this year's War on Christmas. It's Sharia law, gay wedding cake and new Black Panther ... so white people feel resentful, frightened and besieged—and vote accordingly." But fear not, the GOP has never used racism as a political strategy, except for Nixon's "Southern strategy," Reagan's "Welfare moms driving Cadillacs," Bush Sr.'s Willy Horton and Trump's Mexican rapists. Racist Country? Nah.

Well, Wilson, it's hot and smoky, and the band is going to need a lot of beer to survive. So, let's raise a mug of grog to Mike Lee, and maybe you and the guys can play a little something Sen. White Bread might appreciate:

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray
And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

"A Whiter Shade of Pale"—Procol Harum

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