Some 3 A.M.'s come either earlier, or later than others. Occasionally, it's a night when I'm 27 hours into the customary 24 hour day. Other times, I may have been laboring over some family situation, or issue that a friend or colleague was losing sleep over. And...like a good neighbor, as the saying goes, I tried to be there in someone else's hour of need.
Then there are the days when some icon of my youth has their earthly existence cut short, regardless of whether that event is brought about by accident, illness, or natural causes. A short time ago, the loss of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, shocked us all, with it's eerie reprise of a very "Michael Jackson-esque" scenario. And tonight, it was the loss of Muhammad Ali, which had sports fans in general, and many of my peeps calling, texting or emailing...not realizing for the moment that they were seriously cutting into the 97 minutes which I typically consider "a good night's sleep".
I didn't cut anyone short. And, even though from a boxing perspective, I'm not a fan at all...and if I was, I would have been a fan of The Champ's arch enemy, Joe Frazier, you simply have to acknowledge and give MegaProps to a guy who didn't retire as the champ, but was known as "The Champ," until the day he died.
It takes an amazing amount of courage to step into the ring and enter combat against a person who could end your life with a single blow. But, it takes even more courage to take perhaps the most unpopular personal, political and societal stand of an entire era...and then have to defend that position, by staring down the nine robed Justices of the United States Supreme Court, all the while realizing that you have already sacrificed a good portion of your available career as a professional athlete...and that only five of these Jurists, can snatch the balance from you with no more than the stroke of a pen.
The pen may be mightier than the sword. But, Muhammad Ali's commitment to the conviction of his faith, was even too much for the Members of the Supreme Court to strike down. I find it very odd, to on this morning, pay my own form of tribute, to a person whose faith is seen today, as vile, evil and destructive...while simultaneously noting that the Highest Court in the Land, fifty years ago, was able to acknowledge that same religion, as being the justification for Muhammad Ali's claim that murder in any form, even when sanctioned by the government...is against the teachings of that faith.
In the latter stages of his life, and the very early stages of my own career, Howard Cosell became a good friend of mine. Howard was not just a broadcaster made famous for his banter with Muhammad Ali...and throwing up on Don Meredith's cowboy boots during a Monday Night Football Game. Howard was also a pretty darned good labor lawyer, as some suggested I was, as well.
Howard and I would always start out talking about some labor-management relations fiasco occurring in professional sports...and end up drunker than either of us should have been,,,with Howard telling three hours of Muhammad Ali stories, where he would do the worst impressions of not only Muhammad Ali...but, Howard Cosell, too. I sincerely wanted to ask Howard why his own end of each story didn't sound anything like himself as he told those stories. But, Don Meredith once said, "When Howard stops sounding like Howard...put a tarp over your boots if you want to hear the end of the story".
I've met so many interesting people on the road of life. I can't even remember the last day that didn't have more twists than Chubby Checker hawking chickens in the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. Some would say that I have led a charmed life. Others call it a Blessed existence. Me...I think I've a;ways been "Lucky". Urban legend suggests that its better to be lucky than smart. Well, I don't know if I'd totally sacrifice "smart"...but right now, I would welcome a little "Lucky" in my life.
But, it's in the moment when an icon departs, that your own mortality bitch slaps you back into reality. Cosell is gone. Don Meredith is gone. Now, Muhammad Ali is gone. And, I was fortunate enough to have shaken hands and broken bread with all three of them. Love Ali or hate him...for his boxing, his flair oft mistaken for arrogance, for his faith, his politics, or for any reason at all... Some people really do change the world. Not with a gun, or even their fists...but just by being present and causing the rest of us to think, feel, or act in ways we never would have, absent their presence.
It's a class unto itself, that has far less to do with money, power or fame...and everything to do with heart, soul and courage.
And, Muhammad Ali will forever have a roster spot on that team..
After 38 years battling the same disease which brought down Howard Cosell...be at peace Muhammad. Say hi to Howard for me... And, keep a tarp over your shoes///just in case.
Now...about our good friend, Brian Pagliano...
Having tried cases in federal court in some 30 different Districts in almost as many states, I can safely say that I would rather wrestle an alligator, naked and blindfolded...that give a single smart ass remark to a federal judge.
Municipal Court judges own their courtrooms. And, once in awhile, they feel occasioned to let you know it. State Court judges will remind you a little more often, as to who runs the show.. Federal District Court judges really don't have to tell you anything. From the moment you step into their ballpark...the treatment they receive by the cast of characters they see daily, and who know that judge better than Ben knows Jerry...makes it real clear that unless the judge cracks wise first... "Yes, Your Honor," and "No, Your Honor," are pretty much where you want to leave it.
Someday, I'll do a blog piece which highlights my 2, 10 or 100 courtroom gambits, which almost resulted in being forced to send a paralegal out to buy me a toothbrish.
For now, however...I have a simple question for Brian Pagliano. And, it's a question routinely asked of me as a child, by my grandfather,,,
"Fuckhead!!! What were you THINKIN'?"
By no more than a stroke of absolute good fortune...Pags falls into an immunity deal, in what could very well be, should it go to trial...the proverbial Trial of the Century...and AFTER that, he immediately pisses on the parade of a federal judge who has already flat out had enough of the bullshit that the State Department has labeled "a defense".
Many people have written me yesterday, asking how Pags could refuse to answer questions by raising his 5th Amendment privilege against self- incrimination, if he already had immunity?
Apparently, the judge in the civil case was wondering the same thing.
As I advised those who have asked...There are two types of immunity that one can receive. "Testimonial" or "Use Immunity," and "Transactional Immunity".
Testimonial, or Use Immunity exists where the government says it will not use your forced testimony against you in any future prosecution.
Transactional Immunity is much broader and farther reaching in terms of its protection, and prevents the government from prosecuting you at all, for any wrongs committed and acknowledged during your testimony/
Now, when Pags got his immunity, I had originally suggested that his immunity was likely testimonial. However, as time wire on, and his deal was followed by Goose's plea deal, and some pretty bold sounding statements by Pags and his legal team...I thought, well, maybe the government had to give the boy the grand prize in order to land the Big Fish.
Now, however...by Pags suggesting that he will not answer any questions in the civil suit...That suggests his testimony in the Clinton case might not even be as necessary as originally perceived...meaning that prosecutors could squeeze hum and get what they need against Clinton, without completely letting Pags skip out with a Get Out of Jail Free Card.
Either way...at this point, Tuesday, is now much more than just the date of six democratic primaries, including California. Tuesday is the day that the judge in the civil case has chosen to order Pagliano's legal team to present their legal theory upon which it advised Pagliano to refuse to answer questions, AND, to PRODUCE A COPY OF HIS IMMUNITY DEAL.
Forget their legal theory for the time being... Assuming that the judge either releases, or at least enters the terms of that immunity deal into the record in his court, we will then know EXACTLY how essential his testimony is in the Clinton criminal case...which in turn will allow us to make an even more accurate assessment as to the strength of the government's case against Mrs. Clinton.
And, here she thought losing California was going to be the one thing that could ruin her Tuesday...
Hat's off to you, Brian. You didn't just fricasse your own ass. You pissed off a federal judge just enough to have him use your own immunity deal to let the world know exactly how likely ir is that your old boss will, or will not be joining Rod Blagojevich in the furniture factory at Leavenworth.
Ya gotta love arrogance, lunacy and incompetent counsel. Or, as again, my grandfather used to say...
"Sometimes...all ya gotta do, is let 'em talk."
Here's wishing Bernie AND Lady Justice, a mosr exceptional Tuesday, June 7th.