A New Year’s Day Pep Talk

So I just made it back from the other side of LA; had to see Spielberg’s new film, The Post.

And I know it’s New Year’s Day and I should be hangin’ out with friends and family but, as luck would have it, my immune system’s taken a slight hit and who wants to infect the peeps you love?. Besides, even though Oklahoma is playing Georgia in the Rose Bowl right down the street, I couldn’t care less. And like I always say, when in doubt, why not see a movie?

I would’ve seen The Post just to hear Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s concurring opinion over the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, the New York Times Co. v the United States. I wasn’t disappointed when the opinion was read aloud as part of the script, “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

Justice Black was no wild-eyed progressive; he was a U.S. Senator from Alabama from 1927-1937. Black was a conservative Democrat and member of the Ku Klux Klan. And maybe after some 46 years, it was finally time (a few weeks ago) for another Alabama surprise. But what a difference a decade makes.

2008 might have been the best year I’ve personally ever hadโ€ฆif you leave out the fact the country almost went El Busto and we were engaged in two deadly wars paid for by a credit card.

But from June of 2007 through the summer of 2008, my team and I visited Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry and Garth Brooks; I went to the Masters and U.S. Open Golf tournaments; spent 3-weeks in Italy and even visited my mom’s family’s home town in Sicily. Our practice grew; we even did a remodel while I was away seeing Palermo, the Amalfi coast, Rome, and Florence. In September of 2008, while we were celebrating goals achieved and enjoying breakfast in Waikiki, I read about American financial institutions collapsing, seemingly, by the minute. It’s still hard to believe how quickly a sense of security can vanish.

For the next three years, unlike the financial institutions that were bailed out by the tax payers who were also the victims, we retained all of our co-workers, including health care benefits. We expanded. And even though 401Ks became 201Ks, and credit limits dropped right along with credit ratings; we kept on keeping on. But something else happened in 2008. And I was so proud of the U.S. I actually shed some tears on the evening of November 4. We elected someone with vision, intelligence, and leadership, thoughtful almost to a fault; and he was African-American.

In 1971 and the Pentagon Papers, the government unsuccessfully attempted to edit the First Amendment and manage Freedom of the Press. And after only nine years following one of our nation’s finest hours and the beginning of an epic American recovery, the greatest safeguard to our Democracy apparently faces a 1971 vintage challenge once again.

Forty-four years ago, freedom of the press was upheld by a Supreme Court Justice who’d been a KKK member. Nine years ago, a Black President led a rescue from a possible Great Depression, part II. Seems like today, we might need another unlikely hero; the likes of which would be purely American.

All in all, it was inspiring experiencing a timely 2-hour First Amendment pep talk on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood on Day One of 2018. And after watching USC in the Cotton Bowl, who needed more football anyway?