Sixty years ago Hollywood sent Jimmy Stewart to Washington in the character of Senator Jefferson Smith. Armed with not much more than a love of his country, unabashed optimism, and the desire to serve, the wet-behind-the-ears junior senator stood up to the money, greed and cronyism and taught a lasting lesson of principle above politics.
Near the end of his famous one-man filibuster, Senator Smith croaked:
“Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!”
(Watch this video clip on my Facebook page, by clicking on this link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1345211756 )
In a few days, the former junior Senator from Illinois, following a meteoric rise based on a declaration of hope and optimism and change, will stand beneath that same Lady Liberty and swear an oath on Lincoln’s Bible to become the first African American President of the United States of America. President Obama goes to Washington at a time when the graft and greed of Wall Street have plunged our nation into a downward economic spiral that threatens our very future.
I did not vote for Senator Barack Obama. I supported the man, Senator John McCain, who I believed had, by a lifetime of public service, and tested in the fires of war, isolation and torture, proven himself best suited to lead us through the tough times ahead. But I will support President Barack Obama. I support him with my prayers and my own public service. My Pollyanna optimism and my ideas .While I disagree with many of his social and economic policies and worry about the lasting impact of his judicial appointments, I will give him the chance that so many refused his predecessor.
I am going to the inauguration based on my own audacious hope that Barack Obama truly believes what he wrote a few years ago as he prepared to run for the presidency, and that he will govern this blessed nation accordingly. In writing of the “fundamental decency of the American people,” he sounded very Jefferson Smith-like in declaring:
“[A]t the core of the American experience are a set of ideals that continue to stir our collective conscience; a common set of values that bind us together despite our differences; a running thread of hope that makes our improbable experiment in democracy work. These values and ideals find expression not just in the marble slabs of monuments or in the recitation of history books. They remain alive in the hearts and minds of most Americans – and can inspire us to pride, duty and sacrifice.” - Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on reclaiming the American Dream.
Pessimists and pundits will claim that his is a lost cause, but juar as Jimmy/Jefferson taught his seniors that lost causes were “the only causes worth fighting for,” as long as they were based on “just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor…'” Mr. Obama taught in The Audacity of Hope, that what we are facing is a “breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.”
Good Luck and God Speed Mr. President!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
“In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.” - Sam Huff, NFL Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
As a first team All-American at West Virginia University, Sam Huff played in the Sugar Bowl 55 years ago. I don’t want to speak for Mr. Huff, but had he joined the other Sugar Bowl legends at the game last week, I’m sure he would have agreed that the best “man” won; but I wonder what he thinks of the unsportsmanlike system that has unfairly prohibited the men from the Mountain West Conference (and a thousand other NCAA Division I-A athletes who play in an “ugly stepsister conference) to ever have the chance to prove themselves, unarguably, the Best in the Nation. Instead, the BCS has artificially crowned THEIR national champion.
By now it's widely known that I am looking into the possibility of bringing an antitrust action against the BCS. The support from around the country has been overwhelming. However, a few have questioned my motives. Perhaps the following information will better explain the nature and purpose of my inquiry and why I have a duty to proceed with at least full due diligence in assessing whether to bring an antitrust action against the BCS:
1. As Attorney General, I have a duty to enforce federal and state antitrust laws.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that antitrust laws apply to NCAA athletics.
3. The University of Utah and some other NCAA Division 1-A schools in Utah are taxpayer funded institutions and I have a duty to protect and defend them against violations of the law.
4. The BCS system involves millions of dollars a year of potential revenue to these institutions that could help replace dwindling taxpayer generated general fund monies. For the 2007-2008 bowl season, the BCS Championship Series distributed about $143 million in gross income for the twelve conferences participating in the BCS System. Two million dollars went to other miscellaneous distributees. Of that $143 million in gross income, 88% went to members of the six conferences with preferred eligibility to the Championship Series Bowls (with about 65 schools participating) and 12% went to six conferences with non-preferential eligibility (with about 54 schools participating). A similar split in the distribution of Bowl Championship Series gross income occurred in prior years. Additionally, the right of preferred entrance teams to act as the host venues for bowl games generates, according to the BCS, about $1.2 billion in secondary income benefits.
5. These schools, and my office, recognize the tremendous positive aspects of college sports and the great benefit a winning team can provide for the institution as well as the state.
6. If a system unreasonably restrains the opportunity of our educational institutions to freely and fairly compete to be designated as a national college football champion-a designation desired by football fans throughout the nation-such a system could unfairly deprive our institutions and my state of these important and significant revenues.
The stated purpose of the NCAA is: “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner.” Hopefully the NCAA will get back to the basics and take back I-A football and create a fair and equal playoff system. Until then the Utes have as much right as the Gators to claim that this year the best men in college football did win - in New Orleans!
Monday, January 5, 2009
As a public servant for ten years now, I have come to love and adopt the creed of former U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith:
"My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”
Today I had the distinct honor and privilege of placing my left hand on my daughter Annie's Bible, held by my wife M'Liss, and raising my right hand to the square and swearing that I would "uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Utah, and to perform the duties of my office with fidelity!" There is little more humbling than to swear an oath before God, and the people of Utah to serve them by protecting their rights and enforcing on their behalf the rule of law as set forth in our inspired federal and state constitutions.
And so today, I solemnly rededicate myself, my time, talents, education, experience, heart and soul to serving you, the people of the wonderful State of Utah and to leading an office and an organization of legal and law enforcement professionals dedicated to establishing justice and protecting you and your families, your hard earned tax dollars, the environment and our natural resources.
Please visit my website, www.attorneygeneral.utah.gov and learn how we can better serve you.
Photos of the inauguration ceremony courtesy of the Governor's office:
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Tonight I was blessed to be present in the Super Dome and participated in the making of history at the 75th Anniversary Sugar Bowl as the non-BCS Utah Utes destroyed the storied Alabama Crimson Tide (a team that was rated Number One by the BCS for five weeks, including at the end of the regular season!)
UTAH 31 – ALBAMA 17!
In doing so, the Utes became the only team in the nation to go undefeated in the 2008 season, and can rightfully claim “WE’RE NUMBER ONE!" Unfortunately, the BCS monopoly, with its money and its exclusive club and its computers, will crown another team as National Champion next week. More on that tomorrow.
For tonight, let's just savor the sweet taste of victory! (click on the video below to watch Louie Sakoda put the nail in the coffin with his fourth quarter field goal - and celebrate the win again and again and again.) It was SWEET indeed!
Congratulations UTES! You did us all proud!
Friday, January 2, 2009
The day started at an IHOP outside N'awlins where we ran into Ute fans, the Mercer family from Bountiful and the Kaelberers from Tennessee, and Three MUSSers, Watson, Alsop and Kay.
We then went to the Marriott for the pregame Tailgate Party and got fired up with thousands of Utes fans (watch the video by clicking below.)
Check the Shurtleff UTE SPIRIT!
GO UTAH - BEAT BAMA!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I am on my way to The Big Easy with my son Heath and daughter Annie to experience history as the Tw0-Time BCS Busting, and only remaining undefeated NCAA football team, the University of Utah Utes take on the storied Alabama Crimison Tide! Thanks to one of my paralegals, Sharon Zeller, a Crimson Club member who couldn't make the game and sold me her tickets, I get to cheer on my alma mater as they beat a team that was ranked first in the nation for five weeks.
History will be made as a non-BCS team proves to the nation that hard work, team spirit and courage are stronger than the extreme efforts of the monopolistic BCS to keep the money and glory exclusively to its members, and restrain thousands of collegient footballers from ever playing for a national championship. Over the next four days I will use my blog to record our experience and share some of the history of the Sugar Bowl.
This is the 75th Anniversary of the historic Sugar Bowl and one of the most memorable (but lowest scoring) games ever played for the Silver trophy was the third classic in 1936 which pitted the TCU Horned Frogs against the LSU Tigers. The underdog Frogs lead by the great "Slingin Sammy Baugh" defeated the Tigers 3-2. A year later, the man who would become an NFL passing legend for the Washington Redskins, Baugh wrote of his New Years day game in the sloppy mud of Tulane:
"Another thing which made victory more sweet was the fact that a chap named Ernie Seago was playing quarterback for LSU," Baugh recalled. "Ernie Seago had lived across the street from me in my extremely young days in Temple and was going to high school and on the team at the time. Most of the boys in the neighborhood sort of looked up to Ernie and regarded him as something of a hero. How swell it was to me to ride back on the train, to think I had been playing quarterback on the team which defeated the team for which Seago was calling signals. Boy, that was the thrill of thrills."