Believe it or not, it's been 50 years since the inception of the Liberty Bowl. This year's game on December 29th — featuring C-USA champ University of Central Florida versus the SEC's Mississippi State Bulldogs (appearing for the first time since 1991) — promises to be one of the most stellar in the bowl's history. It's a sellout, by the way, its advance sales of 61,000-plus having already edged out the famous 1992 Alabama-Illinois game that was the swan song of immortal 'Bama coach Bear Bryant.
The game, as Liberty Bowl president Steve Ehrhart and Ray Pohlmann, a vice president of sponsoring AutoZone, pointed out to Memphian Rotarians on Tuesday, has a direct annual impact on our community of $23 million. It gives unmatched publicity to such Memphis institutions as Graceland, The Peabody, and — most importantly — to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
AutoZone, which presented St. Jude with a check for some $300,000 at last year's game, is prepared to hand over one this year in the amount of — are you sitting down? — $2 million.
In every way, the late Bud Dudley's brainchild has grown into an institution of which Memphis can be proud. And guess what? This year, for those who can't get to the site itself, the Liberty Bowl faces no competing games in its TV time slot! This year, more than ever, give us Liberty!
On Monday, December 17th, while most Democratic presidential candidates were speechifying their way across Iowa in search of last-minute votes, Connecticut senator Chris Dodd, a candidate whose chances of claiming his party's nomination have long been projected at slim and none, was back in D.C. preparing for a different kind of fight. Well, at least one candidate was actually listening to the American people, instead of talking at them.
If not for Dodd's threat of a filibuster, it is very likely that the Senate would have passed the FISA renewal bill, a contentious piece of legislation that modernizes U.S. laws governing electronic surveillance while granting retroactive immunity to the telephone companies that willingly participated in the Bush administration's warrant-less wiretapping program. Call it a full legislative pardon. But thanks to Dodd's decision to leave the campaign trail, the debate has been postponed until January. It's a temporary victory for Dodd and for American citizens who believe that corporations should be held responsible for any laws they may have broken.
A month ago, while searching for a compromise on the FISA bill, Senator Arlen Spector said, "I think the telephone companies were good citizens and should not suffer from what they did." And therein lies a problem. Corporations aren't citizens, even if some legal finding from the antediluvian past entitled them to sue and be sued as "persons." Citizens are citizens. And, as embarrassing as it is to say something so obvious, when corporations infringe upon a real citizen's rights, those corporations should be held accountable.
Even if he can't be president, at least Senator Dodd knows this and cared enough to do something about it. More like this, please.