Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Remembering Ben Bradlee, a giant of journalism. John Oliver on the Supreme Court justices as animals. And a waiter gets a World Series ticket for good service

Seven years shy of his 100th birthday, Ben Bradlee died Tuesday.
And if you’re like me, who walked into a newspaper newsroom for the first time and knew he never wanted to work anywhere else, you felt sad that one of the lions of 20th century journalism is gone.

I can’t think of any newspaper writer who packed more amazing moments, accomplishments and had a bigger footprint on the world he inhabited than Bradlee. It’d be easier to list the things he didn’t do than those he did: Reporter at the Washington Post, Navy man in World War II, foreign correspondent, Newsweek bureau chief, philanthropist, fighter for just causes, best pal of John F. Kennedy, and his most important job, editor of the Washington Post for 26 years.

He is, of course, most famous for shepherding two young reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein through their world-changing Watergate break-in stories, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He was played memorably by Jason Robards (above) in the movie “All the President’s Men ” (a classic I’m sure I’ll be watching again over the next few days), but equally as important he made the gutsy, ballsy decision to publish the secret Pentagon Papers, detailing America’s blunders in Vietnam.

He was a First Amendment champion, a zealous fighter for his reporters in the newsroom, and a man who understood just how important a newspaper could be in speaking truth to power. (Vanity Fair put together a list of 20 great Bradlee quotes, it’s highly entertaining).

Was he arrogant, brash and stubborn as hell? Sure. But show me one great newspaperman who isn’t.

I’ve been lucky enough in my journalism career to meet a few people who’d worked at the Post when Bradlee ran the place, and one thing they all said was his most amazing trait was his enthusiasm for a great story. No matter what it was about, if it was well-reported and stylishly written, he loved it and couldn’t wait to get it in the paper.

In 1973, in the middle of the Watergate investigation, he wrote “As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness, it is not his job to worry about consequences. The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men free.”

Ben Bradlee printed a hell of a lot of truth in his remarkable life. His are footprints that will never, ever be erased or forgotten.

**Next up, the brilliant John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” is at it again: He had a hilarious segment Sunday night about the problem of the Supreme Court not allowing arguments to be videotaped and shown on TV, thus leaving us with only boring audio from some seriously important cases.

However, Oliver has a solution, and it involves animals, and it made me spit out my glass of water I was drinking when I watched it. I would SO watch something like this if it really happened:

worldseriesgame1

**Finally today, the great Kansas City Royals postseason winning streak crashed to a halt in Game 1 of the World Series, but hey, it’s just one game. The best story to come out of Game 1 had nothing to do with the game itself, though.

Monday afternoon the wife of Royals pitcher Wade Davis was eating at a local K.C. restaurant and apparently liked her service a lot. Liked it so much, in fact, that as a tip, she left waiter Ryan O’Connor a ticket to Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night.

Very, very cool. Too bad the Royals lost

The Supreme Court doesn’t give a damn about women. Rafa Nadal with an amazing off-court feat. And a major moment arrives for USA Soccer

hobbylobby

The current United States Supreme Court believes in religion more than science.

It believes the beliefs of a few outweigh the rights of the many.

And it believes that requiring companies to cover women who want contraception, as legally required under the Affordable Care Act, is wrong and shouldn’t be mandated.

The right wing of America hasn’t just hijacked one political party. They’ve hijacked the Supreme Court.
And it’s a damn disgusting sight.

There were a ton of great pieces written Monday in light of this horrendous Hobby Lobby decision, one that will affect millions of lives. Here’s a roundup of what it all means, and here’s a devastating piece from Mother Jones about why what 5 justices did was so wrong.

**Next up, this is pretty freaking amazing. Rafael Nadal, during a day off at Wimbledon, decided to see how many times he could bounce a tennis ball off the frame of his racket.

He claims he once did it 100 times. Sunday, he did it 406 times. Insanely hard to do (I’ve tried hundreds of times and could never get past 20.)

What can you say, Nadal is amazing.

belgianwaffle

**Finally, pretty enormous moment arrives at 4 p.m. Eastern today for the U.S. men’s soccer team at the World Cup (and thank you, sports gods, for scheduling the game right about the time the terrific Wimbledon lineup on Tuesday should be wrapping up. Sometimes, the gods think of me).

If Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Co. find a way to beat Belgium and advance to the quarterfinals (nobody eat any Waffles today, support America), it might be the biggest moment in American soccer history.
I know we’ve made the final 8 before, in 2002, but the difference is, there are SO many more Americans paying attention to soccer now, so many more soccer fans thanks to a variety of factors (Premier League being on TV, U.S. being better, Major League Soccer thriving and expanding), and such a soccer presence on the Web.

I have no idea if we’ll beat Belgium, who from the snippets of highlights I’ve seen look really tough. But Jozy Altidore, our best offensive threat, is back from injury, Team USA is a lot more rested than they were against Germany, and hey, it’s been a wacky World Cup so far, so why not the upstart Americans advancing?

Really looking forward to the game. My prediction? Belgium wins in penalty kicks, which would be the ultimate drama and ultimate heartache (ask Greece about that).

Supreme Court defends sanctity of marriage for all. And a streak ends shockingly for Federer on crazy day at Wimbledon.

US-JUSTICE-GAY-MARRIAGE

Finally.

On the very last day of its year, the Supreme Court did a hell of a thing on Wednesday:
It acknowledged what those of us in the 21st century have known forever: That the act of marriage requires only two people who are in love and are committed to each other.

That’s it. That’s all marriage is. But for so long, and through so many long fights, same-sex couples have been forced to swallow the idea that they were unworthy of being married, that it was only reserved for “those people,” of opposite genders.

What the Court did Wednesday, in striking down the odious Defense of Marriage Act (and let that please remain a stain on Bill Clinton’s reputation as President; it makes me sick when Dems in revisionist history terms recall the “liberal” side of Bubba) and turning back a challenge to the legal overturning of California’s Prop 8, is simply and clearly say that the federal government deciding who gets to marry whom is not kosher.

I know the fight isn’t over; there are still 37 states that don’t allow gay marriage. But Wednesday was another huge, more than symbolic brick crashing down from a wall of intolerance that has stood for far too long.

Bravo to the Supreme Court.

wimbledon-20130627-001

*While the Supreme Court was making history, my man-crush Roger Federer was making history of his own, in a bad way.

For the first time in nine years our man Rog was knocked out of a Grand Slam tournament before the quarterfinals, an astonishing streak of consistency (36 straight tournaments he made the final 8; that’s mind-bogglingly good). In keeping with the bizarreness of the first week of Wimbledon, Fed lost to someone named Sergiy Stakhovsky, a player ranked out of the Top 100 (and the first time Roger has lost to someone that low since 2005).

Wednesday was maybe the wackiest day ever at Wimbledon; besides Federer, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Jo-Willie Tsonga all either lost or had to pull out with injury.

What does this mean? It means Andy Murray will never have a better chance to win Wimbledon.

It also means that without Federer and Nadal, Wimbledon got a little less compelling.

Another big breakthrough on gay rights. A hockey team with an awesome commercial spoof. And the joy of shiva food

Every day, every week, it seems, new breakthroughs come in the battle for gay equality.
One week it’s a male professional soccer player named Robbie Rogers coming out of the closet, only to say he’s stepping away from the sport for a while to try to get some peace.
Another week we have something like what happened Tuesday, which shouldn’t be astonishing but kinda is. Seventy-five prominent Republicans signed a legal brief, in conjunction with a Supreme Court case upcoming regarding California’s Proposition 8,  announcing their support for gay marriage.

Now, most of these GOP members are not office-holders anymore, so you might say the potential blowback from the intolerant bigots in their party and among their voters isn’t something they have to worry about.
However, when you have top advisers to ex-President W., and other major GOP players, finally agreeing that it’s ridiculous that a majority of their party doesn’t believe homosexuals are equal, it’s a big deal.

Again, 25 years from now, people in BOTH major parties in the U.S. are going to be amazed and puzzled that equality for all was such a big problem for so many to accept.
(Note: that commercial above for the Kindle, which I saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog Tuesday, is remarkable for being unremarkable, isn’t it?)

**Well this is all kinds of awesome. A minor league hockey team called the Fargo Force has decided to spoof those horribly sad ASPCA commercials by talking about all the “neglected” hockey players on their team.

I laughed hard, and the Sarah MacLachlan music just takes it to another level. (Hat tip to my buddy Will Springstead for pointing me toward this).

**So, this might only make sense to my Jewish readers, but as I mentioned yesterday, my Grandma died last week. Which meant, among other things, that my mother has been sitting shiva  for the past few days.
Which also means, as per Jewish tradition, friends have been sending loads and loads of food to my Mom’s house.
And let me tell you, it’s been fabulous. Cookies, cakes, pies for dessert, plus deli platters, chicken, and sandwiches up the wazoo.
The only good part of mourning comes to your stomach. And it’s been fabulous.

The John Roberts/Health Care decision details are very interesting. An awesome soccer goalie save. And a very painful way to make a living

As the fallout from last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that upheld President Obama’s landmark health-care legislation continues, I continue to be fascinated at new details showing how Chief Justice John Roberts came to surprise everyone by voting with the Democratic justices to uphold the laws.

Roberts, according to this very interesting article, had originally decided to strike down the legislation, only to change his mind while drafting the decision. And also revealing is that Anthony Kennedy, who most people thought was the “swing vote” on this, was absolutely lobbying Roberts for the conservatives, imploring him to vote with them.

On the one hand, it is kind of distasteful to think of Supreme Court justices lobbying each other; shouldn’t they each be entitled to come up with their own opinions and leave it at that?
On the other, it’s pretty obvious how deeply this issue divided the court.

Personally, I don’t ascribe any high calling to Roberts here; I don’t think he was trying to assert his independence from the lunatic fringe, or be on the right side of history (seriously, 50 years from now people will be saying “Really? Y’all used to argue whether it was a good idea to give everyone health insurance?)
And the effects of Citizen United, allowing billions of new money into our elections, will be stuck to Roberts forever.

But here, I just think he truly believed Congress had the right to do what it did. And with that one change of mind, the Chief Justice allowed millions of Americans to get health care they otherwise wouldn’t.

Pretty damn impressive part of his legacy, I say.

I don’t pay much attention to soccer unless something amazing like this happens. Watch U.S. women’s goalie Hope Solo make this spectacular save in a game against Canada last weekend.
How she didn’t injure something is a mystery; my groin hurt just watching this save.

**There are lots of dangerous jobs in sports: Hockey goalie. Football line judge (that’s the guy standing in the middle of the field who often gets run over). Standing between Marc Cuban and a microphone.
But I vote for center back linesjudge in men’s tennis as the most dangerous. That official is the one staring down the barrel of a 130-miles per hour serve, standing exactly still, and trying to judge in an instant whether it’s in or out.
Plus, you know, there’s a ball zooming at your face at 130 miles per hour. The reality of how scary that is was brought home at Wimbledon Monday, when this happened (above) to a poor woman just trying to do her job (the replay starts at around :36).

Ouch, babe.

Prop 8 overturned in California; Supreme Court up next? Once again, it’s time for Duke-Carolina. And the inspiring story of ALS patient Steve Gleason

And now, to the Supreme Court.

I guess it was kind of inevitable that the controversial Proposition 8 law in California, enacted several years ago to ban marriage between gay people, would end up in the hands of the nine most important judges in the United States.

Tuesday, yet another blow was struck for equality. The California Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, setting the stage for a fight in Washington, D.C. to hopefully settle this issue once and for all.

The Supreme Court could refuse to hear the case, of course. But I think it will, and it’ll come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who on this right-leaning court is the best hope for a swing, “moderate” vote.

I hope this issue does get aired before the Supreme Court. I get sick and tired of saying it, but the continued discrimination against gay and lesbian people in our society is a disgusting, antiquated blot on our country that decades from now, future generations will shake their head at.
Good for the California Supreme Court. One more court to go, and then maybe, we can stop arguing about whether two people who love each other should be able to legally say they’re bound together forever.

For more on the ruling, check out this excellent summary here.

**Tonight. Duke-Carolina. My favorite hyphenated phrase in the world, I look forward to the first game between the two college basketball rivals more than any other every year. It’s the greatest rivalry in all of sports, and I’ll keep on believing that until my dying day.

Not feeling too optimistic about my Blue Devils’ chances tonight; Duke has had an erratic season so far; there’s no leadership on this team, the guard play has been spotty (for every solid game Austin Rivers plays, he throws in a clunker; Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry, you too), and the Tar Heels are loaded and rolling. Sunday, my Blue Devils missed six FT’s in overtime and lost to a not-that-great Miami team, in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Tonight’s game could get ugly for the boys in dark blue. But I’ll be hoping for the best and going nuts between 9 and 11 p.m. If you’re a sports fan, you really ought to watch.

**Finally today, a tragic but a bit heartwarming story you may have seen on the Super Bowl pregame show. Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2010; for my money it’s the positively worst disease you can come down with. Gleason has a wonderfully positive attitude despite his fatal diagnosis; watch his story and be inspired…

Kagan confirmed, and more history is made. And Isiah Thomas. Oh, Isiah is back

It’s a Friday in August, so the news could pass easily without much comment or thought.
Elena Kagan, a perfectly acceptable nominee with not even a whiff of controversy about her, was confirmed as the next Justice of the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, a woman.

Who will now join two other women on the Supreme Court, making 33 percent of the highest court in our land composed of women. That’s incredible progress.
Ninety years ago, women fought for the simple right to vote for their elected officials.
Forty years ago, women fought to be allowed to have abortions.
In the last 30 years women have fought so many battles for equality, for justice, to be treated better in the workplace. So many fights are left. There are still so few women Senators, Congressmen, heads of major companies, yada yada yada.

But three women are now on the Supreme Court. That’s a remarkable thing, I think. And it shouldn’t pass unnoticed.

**I’m not a Knicks fan. In fact, I’m a Nets fan, so I hate the Knicks. But even I’m starting to feel sorry for Knicks backers this summer. First they don’t get LeBron,. Then they get stuck paying $100 million to Amare Stoudemire, a really good player but not someone who can carry your franchise.

Then you wake up Friday and discover they’ve re-hired Isiah Thomas as a consultant.

Isiah Thomas? Really???? The guy who got sued for sexual harassment, and cost the team millions of dollars after he was found guilty? The guy who gave Jerome James and Eddy Curry millions of free agent dollars? The guy who was such a bad GM, it made even his coaching look good by comparison???

This is a guy, James Dolan and Donnie Walsh, this is a guy you felt you needed to bring BACK to the organization as a consultant? What, so he could blow up Madison Square Garden and poison the NYC water supply for his final act?

The excellent Shaun Powell, over at ESPNNewYork.com, has, I believe the right take.

The truly astonishing part? James Dolan, the Knicks’ clueless owner, actually wanted Isiah to be brought back as general manager, the same position he used to have!

Disbelief. Sheer and utter disbelief.