We know the oil-and-gas-manic Legislature is yearning to "take back" the federal lands it never owned, but that will have to wait until another day. For now, Utahns can smile with pride at the weight of a little girl's activism and President Biden's restoration of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. In 2019, Bianca Noyes met the president at a Park City event, where she presented him with postcards from 100 fourth graders seeking to protect Bears Ears. Hey, Biden didn't even know what Bears Ears was then, but at a recent celebration with Utah's tribal leaders in San Juan County, Biden spoke of the promise he made to Bianca, KSL News reported. Bianca's dad was there, but she declined to participate because of "too much homework." If only our legislators would do theirs.
Evan McMullin knows where the votes are in Utah—and it's not with the Democratic Party. It's probably not with the GOP for him, either, because of the far-right base that tends to come out to conventions. Of course, if he ran as a Republican, he'd be competing with the other conservative hopefuls looking to topple an incumbent—Sen. Mike Lee. Best to go it alone and shine the light on just you, spoiler or not. McMullin's notoriety comes from his surprising, if quixotic, run for president in 2020. No, he didn't make a dent on many ballots except in Utah, where the GOP's hold-your-nose disdain for Donald Trump won McMullin 21.5% of the vote, just behind Hillary Clinton. He must know that he'd never make it as a Dem, but going Indie is a good bet, according to The Washington Post, which pretty much laid out how other independents have won in other states. It's probably up to Utah Democrats what kind of chance McMullin has, but he at least makes an otherwise pre-determined race potentially competitive.
We could go on about conspiracy theories and simple-yet-intentional mischaracterizations. But what would be the point? Utah has already bought into many of them because they work. Let's talk about the vaccine, masking and how our Republican leaders are responding to the noise. Sen. Mike Lee is demanding that the Justice Department "leave parents alone" after Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to address what he called a "disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence" against educators and school boards, the Deseret News reports. Apparently harassment, intimidation and violence are OK in Utah—against teachers, no less. Meanwhile, a GOP legislator hosted a "highly credentialed internist, cardiologist and epidemiologist" who has studied the coronavirus and "injuries developing after the COVID-19 vaccine," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Never mind all the many thousands of highly credentialed and highly respected scientists and doctors advocating for vaccinations, masks and social distancing.