Introducing … ‘The Carlos Watson Show’

Dear OZY Family,

I hope you’re all well, and staying safe and healthy. 

We’re so proud to be launching The Carlos Watson Show on Monday, with an exclusive YouTube sneak peak today for our subscribers — and a special nod to our friends at American Family Insurance. We believe this is the perfect show for this moment, and as we launch, I wanted to share a few thoughts. 

  • First, a Bit of Background on Me: I grew up the son of Indian immigrants in the suburbs of Detroit. Like so many others, my folks worked incredibly hard to give my brother and me meaningful opportunities. A math and economics major, a music lover and die-hard Michigan sports fan, I moved out to California almost 10 years ago with my wife for an adventure, part of which was a new venture with Carlos called OZY, to satisfy our desire for smarter, fresher and more diverse media. Today, I’m older, humbler, more curious and open-eyed about what success demands — but also convinced that our vision for OZY is more relevant than ever.
  • A Time to Listen: As so many of you confirmed with your heartfelt responses to our #ResetAmerica effort, we are living in a moment that calls for action. But while striving to be true allies in the pursuit of racial and social equality, we must ground our action in real understanding and listening. I’ve known Carlos for a decade as a colleague, co-founder and dear friend — and I don’t think there is anybody more qualified to facilitate the honest and genuine dialogue that we’re craving. 
  • Carlos Is the Voice We Need: Whether he’s interviewing President Bill Clinton, hosting a town hall with 100 Black men or mentoring high school students, Carlos brings a warmth, intellectual range and open-mindedness that takes you beyond scripted Q&As or “gotcha” sound bites and into places of insight and inspiration. As best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates said recently in a conversation with him, “Carlos is good!” 
  • The Case for Open-Mindedness: Carlos and I talk often about where his innate curiosity comes from — I find him genuinely interested in a wider range of people than most of us, and uncommonly open to learning from each of them. And it means that each night, this show will deliver on one of OZY’s core promises: to introduce new voices that you need to hear, such as Rep. Karen Bass, Simon Sinek and Tina Knowles Lawson, alongside names we know well, including Malcolm Gladwell, John Legend, Sean Spicer and Jameela Jamil.  

    Like any two partners and brothers, Carlos and I disagree often, at times sharply. Especially in the charged moment we’re living through, where the loudest voices can drown out expressions of reason, I sometimes question whether everyone deserves the platform OZY provides. 
  • Choosing Not to Listen Is a Luxury: But as Carlos has shared, as a Black man who always fought against the odds — from working his way to Harvard, to hosting on MSNBC and CNN, to becoming one of the few Black CEOs in media — he has never had the luxury of choosing not to listen. There was no path available to him that easily sidestepped those with whom he might disagree — and he repeatedly, consistently chose to learn rather than walk away. 

    Many of us criticize the echo chamber of news and opinion we wish we could tune out, but I believe we must instead actively shed the privilege not to listen.
  • Fresh Conversations on The Carlos Watson Show: It’s time for a fresh set of conversations. Ones that are worth listening to. Ones that are as entertaining as they are illuminating. You may not necessarily agree with everything you hear, but we offer them as opportunities for us to listen and learn, together

Join us — starting tonight on The Carlos Watson Show — and tell me what you think. I promise I will read each of your comments and get back to you. 

Thanks,

Samir

Asian-Americans’ Full (Supreme) Court Press

Judge Denny Chen in his courtroom

Will Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan — a lanky 48-year-old — be donning black robes soon? The former Kansas high school basketball sharpshooter was a highly touted recruit to the District of Columbia’s Federal Court of Appeals, a well-known “feeder school” for the U.S. Supreme Court. A few years ago, he became the first South Asian to occupy such a seat when the Senate confirmed his appointment 97–0.

Next up in his docket: nomination to the Supreme Court? That’s what court watchers are saying — and desis from Punjab to Palo Alto are hoping — in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death over the weekend. 

Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan

Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan

Source Getty

Buoyed by unusually strong support from D.C. veterans, Srinivasan is now the de facto poster child for a growing line of Asian-American jurists seeking to add a dash of masala to the Supreme Court. While Asian-Americans have occupied elite legal circles for some time, few have risen to the top ranks. Out of the total federal court judges appointed, fewer than 3 percent are Asian-American.

Still, things are changing, according to Vincent Eng of the Veng Group, which advocates on behalf of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association on judicial nominations. Before Obama, there were eight active Asian Pacific American Article III judges; today there are 25. “Asian-Americans are entering a new phase in their history in the United States,” Eng says. “The pool that can be elevated to the Supreme Court is larger than it’s ever been.”

The president has of course made significant strides in diversifying the federal judiciary. More than 36 percent of his appointees have been minorities (compared with 18 percent for Bush), and, according to the White House, the four Asian-American federal judges he’s appointed represent more than the combined total of all past presidents. For Eng, it’s a no-brainer: Plenty of Asian-Americans are on the SCOTUS shortlist, and most are well-poised to make it through a difficult confirmation process because they “have a strong record of bipartisan support.”

Why now? For starters, the first generation of viable Asian-American candidates is finally coming of age, which for Supreme Court candidates means approaching 50. Not coincidentally, it’s been 50 years since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed severe quotas on Asian immigration to the United States. If law-school attendance and judicial clerkship stats are any indication, the talent pipeline will only continue to rise. Asian-Americans make up 14.8 percent, 12.3 percent and 10.1 percent of the law students at the three highest-ranked law schools in the country — Yale, Harvard and Stanford, respectively.

While Srinivasan seems the most likely candidate, Asian-American or otherwise, there are several other Asian-American prospects. Here’s a preview of the dossiers that might be floating across the president’s desk.

Formal portrait of Jacqueline Nguyen

Jacqueline Nguyen

Source Associated Press

JACQUELINE HONG-NGOC NGUYEN

Current position:  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Age:  50

Born: In Vietnam, daughter of a South Vietnamese army officer

Moved to: Los Angeles, in 1975

First jobs: Cleaning offices and dishing out doughnuts at her family’s West Hollywood shop

Undergrad: Occidental College scholarship

Law school: UCLA (note: not Harvard or Yale)

Why she kicks ass: First Asian-Pacific woman to serve on a federal appeals court

What you should know: If Obama wants to up the court’s female count from three to four, then Nguyen, a former prosecutor who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, will be a heavy favorite. As a graduate of UCLA Law School, she would also add some much-needed law-school diversity to the court.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Source Associated Press

KAMALA HARRIS

Current position: California attorney general

Age: 51

Born: Oakland, California, daughter of a Jamaican economics professor at Stanford and an Indian-born M.D. specializing in breast cancer

First ever: Female African-American and Indian-American attorney general in California

Semi-controversial superlative: President Obama called her “best looking” — before dialing it back.

Undergrad: Howard University

Law school: University of California, Hastings College

Plan B: Next governor of California?

What you should know: Now campaigning for the Senate seat Barbara Boxer will vacate, Harris was elected California’s attorney general in 2010. Before that, she served as San Francisco’s district attorney. Some argue that it seems more likely that Harris will end up as Senator, U.S. attorney general, governor of California or even the VP pick. Harris has already told her constituents that she is not interested in being nominated, but if Obama picks her for the Supreme Court, she’d be the first active politician to be nominated since Earl Warren in the 1950s. 

Goodwin

Goodwin Liu

GOODWIN LIU

Current position: California State Supreme Court

Age: 45

Born: Augusta, Georgia, son of two Taiwanese doctors

Once clerked for: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (and wrote a draft of her dissent in Bush v. Gore)

Undergrad: Stanford, Rhodes scholar at Oxford

Law school: Yale

Career hiccup: In 2011, Republicans filibustered his nomination by Obama to the Ninth Circuit

What really pissed off Republicans: His comment during Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court that Alito’s “record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse.”

What you should know: Liu failed to pass the Senate Judicial Committee gauntlet in 2011, when Republican members painted him as wanting to make America more like “communist-run China,” filibustering his nomination to the Ninth Circuit. Unlike Srinivasan, Liu has a voluminous academic paper trail, and his writings on constitutional law and other issues are easy to scrutinize. But Liu was immediately scooped up by his local affiliate, the California State Supreme Court, and some say he could still make the jump to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Neil Katyal

Neal Katyal

NEAL KATYAL

Current position: Partner at Hogan Lovells, where he runs the appellate practice

Age: 45

Born: Chicago, son of a physician mother and engineer father

Bigwigs who held same jobs before him: Justice Elena Kagan, Chief Justice John Roberts

Undergrad: Dartmouth

Law school: Yale

Huge wins: Successfully argued the constitutionality of Obamacare; issued the Justice Department’s first public apology for the 1942 Korematsu Supreme Court case that upheld the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II

What you should know: President Obama named Katyal U.S. solicitor general when Kagan was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2010. He now runs the appellate practice once run by Chief Justice Roberts at the Hogan Lovells law firm. The Illinois son of Indian immigrants also represented Guantanamo Bay detainees in the landmark case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which the Supreme Court held that the Bush administration’s military tribunals violated the Geneva Conventions. 

—Leslie Nguyen-Okwu reported updates to this story, originally published in September 2013.

Clear Eyes, Full Wallets, Can’t Lose

The Cost of Seeing

According to the American Vision Council, Americans spend over $15 billion on eyeglasses annually. That does not include contact lenses. It turns out, though, that much of that $15 billion is pure profit. Eyeglass frames are routinely ranked as one of the five most marked-up products anywhere. So before you go to LensCrafters again, take a look at these figures:

$3 or less

Base cost: What it costs to manufacture a pair of frames (even designer models) in China.

$30

Wholesale price: What stores pay on average for the frames that they sell to you.

$263

Retail price: The average cost you’ll pay for a pair of designer frames.

$100

Online price: The approximate price that Warby Parker, Firmoo, Mezzmer, Eyefly and other online companies charge for the same $300 frames.

The NBA All-Stars You Forgot

Jeff in red uniform dribbling down court

Hard to believe but the midway point of the 2013-14 NBA season is fast approaching — and along with it our cherished tradition of identifying All-Stars.

Each year’s crop features the association’s perennial “No-Doubt-About-It” ballers: See Chris Paul, LeBron James and young guns like Stephen Curry and Paul George for the 2014 edition. And then there are the veterans who toil, passed over season upon season, until they finally get their moment in the sun — the chance to join the upper echelons of NBA stardom. It would be too easy to label them one-hit wonders: At OZY we call them stars worth saluting.

Lest your memory fail you, here is a starting lineup of unique All-Stars — players who reached that pinnacle once and somehow couldn’t make their way back to that epic court. 

1. “I was a one-man band.”

Shareef looking as if he's about to throw the ball in black/blue uniform

Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Source Andrwe Bernstein/Getty

Then: Shareef “Reef” Abdur-Rahim (Forward), 2001-02 All-Star. “Reef” – 6’9” and 225 pounds of brain and brawn — was the quintessential star on a team going nowhere. Fresh off his freshman year at Cal (where his 3.5 GPA might have been more impressive than his All-PAC 10 accolades), the rangy Abdur-Rahim was drafted third overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies. With a combination of finesse, footwork and fearlessness, he made a living in the paint, spinning to the basket more than was reasonable. But it wasn’t until Shareef, the second of seven siblings, returned to his native Atlanta Hawks in 2001-02 that he broke through to All-Star status, notching a 50-point game against Detroit en route to a season in which he averaged a career-high 21 points a game. This one-time All-Star now makes his home in the front office of the Sacramento Kings.

New-and-improved 2014 Edition: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trailblazers)

 

 

 

 

2. “White men can jump.”

Tom dribbling ball wearing blue unitform

Tom Gugliotta 

Source Getty

Then: Tom “Googs” Gugliotta (Forward), 1996-97 All-Star. From the ”big white guys who were more skilled than they got credit for” department, we present Tom Gugliotta. Refusing to be limited, like Woody Harrelson’s archetype in White Men Can’t Jump, Gugliotta did his fair share of work with two feet in the air, even if he was the understated sidekick to high school phenom Kevin Garnett (playing the role of Wesley Snipes). An Italian by way of New York, and the last North Carolina State grad to be anointed an All-Star, Googs was a deceptively slick passer in traffic and a nifty finisher around the cup. In his 1997 All-Star campaign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he averaged over 20 points, nearly 9 boards and more than 4 assists a game. Gugliotta’s most romantic claim to fame, however, may be his wedding-band tattoo — a tribute to his wife, who once saved his life after he suffered a medication-induced seizure.

New-and-improved 2014 Edition: Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)

3. “Michael Jordan was surrounded by All-Stars.”

Horace reaching for ball in blue All-Star uniform below the basket

Horace Grant

Then: Horace “The General” Grant (Forward), 1993-94 All-Star. 1994 was a coming-out party of sorts for Michael Jordan’s henchmen. After helping His Airness to his first 3-peat in 1993, Horace “the General” Grant, along with teammates Scottie Pippen and B.J. Armstrong, unexpectedly took center stage after Jordan’s retirement. Grant, with his trademark goggles and automatic free-throw line jumper, got dealt a better hand than his twin brother, Harvey, who he grew up sparring with and who also played in the NBA. (And, as it happens, Harvey’s son Jerai followed in Uncle Horace’s footsteps at Clemson University.) Alas, Grant’s 15-point, 11-rebound All-Star season in 1993-94 was as high as he would climb up the Sears Tower. He returned to the Finals with Orlando in 1995 in a losing effort, and managed to tack on another title with the Lakers in 2001, but nothing approached the individual excellence of that special season.

New-and-improved 2014 Edition: David West (Indiana Pacers)

 

 

4. “I’m such a famous coach, they forgot I was an All-Star player.”

Doc wearing white tops and shorts dribbling ball towards camera

Doc Rivers

Then: Glenn “Doc” Rivers (Guard), 1987-88 All-Star. There are those who wonder if Doc Rivers’ “I’ve got an animal in my throat” voice was as much a hallmark of his playing days as it has been during his broadcast and coaching tenure. You’d have to ask around Proviso East High School in Chicago, where Rivers was a McDonald’s All-American — or at Marquette University, where his assistant coach, the late Rick Majerus, first nicknamed him “Doc” for wearing a Dr. J T-shirt — or check in with Dominque Wilkins in Atlanta who scored many of the 3,866 baskets that Rivers assisted on as the Hawks all-time leader. The lean and long-legged Rivers had a stride that allowed him to transform a routine rebound into a fast-break bucket with aplomb. His 9.3 assists to just 2.6 turnovers earned him All-Star recognition in 1988; he returned to the All-Star game twice more, in 2008 and 2011 — as a coach.4. “I’m such a famous coach, they forgot I was an All-Star player.”

New-and-improved 2014 Edition: John Wall (Washington Wizards)

5. “They programmed me to never miss a shot in NBA Jam.”

Jeff in red uniform dribbling down court

Jeff Hornacek

Then: Jeff “Horny” Hornacek (Guard), 1991-92 All-Star. It comes down to the numbers: 67 straight made free throws, 8 consecutive triples in a game, a then NBA-record. Over his career, he could freaking make shots: 50 percent from the field and 88 percent from the free-throw line. Hornacek was a shooter’s shooter — the superhero in his class. And to think he wouldn’t have played real minutes at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Ill., were it not for a teammate’s car accident, which opened up a spot. The Iowa State walk on turned legend had a silky jumper and knew how to get to his spots on the court. From Phoenix, where he earned his one All-Star berth in 1992, to Philly and finally to Utah, battling his hometown Bulls, Hornacek excelled as the 2-Guard. And he’s come full circle, coaching a young and resurgent Suns squad in 2014. 

New-and-improved 2014 Edition: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

When the blaze of glory subsides, these guys got one shot at the history books. But one is more than most people get — and one great idea can be all it takes. Just ask the Baha Men. Or Harper Lee. So who are we, after all, to thumb our noses? We wish we were ballers.