A good day to be an American

Marriage equality and foam in the corner of Scalia’s mouth. Amazing Grace and presidential duende.  And all amid the afterglow of a decision that affirms a successful government initiative that helps millions as claimed.

So, this is what a first-rate country feels like.








  • Greetings again David, Today was my first trip to your fine site, and tonight I decided to visit some of your other post. I happen to be 78 years old and been in the front line of the gay rights movement for over 40 years. When I was 16 in 1953, I quit a Chicago high school because I had “those” tendencies. Back then it was taboo just to know someone queer(that’s what we were called) let alone be gay. There were no support groups at home,in school or the work place and we were still considered mentally ill.

    I moved to San Francisco at the tail end of the beatnik era in 1960. Most people think that S.F. has always been a liberal city,not so! There were laws on the City books,that if you dressed in drag(not my forte), you had to wear a lapel tag saying I AM A BOY, or you could be arrested,even on Halloween. I bought a cheap Kodak Instamatic camera to send tourist like images back to friends and relatives of the bridges,wharf and cable cars. I remember in 1965, there was an upstairs downtown gay bar called the Rendezvous. The manager wanted to change the atmosphere from a sing-a-long piano place to attract a younger crowd from Berkeley and Stanford and the suburbs. He hired a couple bands to alternate Sundays during the summer. There was no cover charge and beer in a bottle cost a quarter. One of the bands was called “The Neighborhood Children” and the other “The Grateful Dead”! The owner was content that over 40+ people showed up. Hippies began to show up in a quiet area called the Haight-Ashbury. I smoked my first joint, and bought my first 1 oz. lid of pot for $7 bucks at a Tupperware like party. The Summer of Love was quite a happening. The politics of change filled the air(besides weed) and Peace Mongers woke many of us about the realities of the Vietnam war. One thing I noticed, that there seem to be many gays within all the different movements going on.

    To begin the 70s, I moved to a changing working class neighborhood in the Eureka Valley called the Castro. I bought a better camera and started displaying my photos in a bakery shop window just yards away from today’s Harvey Milk Plaza. A new camera shop opened just a block away owned by a couple of New Yorker’s Harvey Milk and Scott Smith. I began to buy my film there and we became friends. His shop soon looked like a small town’s general store without the potbelly stove. People came in to pet Harvey’s dog,talk politics or just look out the big plate glass window at all the never ending parade of young men passing by. By the mid-70s, by osmosis I became a publicist specializing in gay clients and businesses and became involved in the early gay rights movement

    In May of 1977,I created the Anita Bryant’s Husband is a Homo Sapien! T-shirt and outed myself nationally via UPI. A week later I was able to get Jane Fonda to wear one at a gay fundraiser and that was picked up by A.P. wires too. And on 6/7/77 I took part in an impromptu march after the results of the outcome of election in Dade County Florida led by Miss Bryant to rescind a gay rights ordinance. Harvey Milk led that march out of the Castro using a bullhorn and shouting “Out of the bars and into the streets!”,past City Hall and downtown to Union Square. By the time we arrived there, over 5,000 angry people joined in. Harvey alerted the crowd by saying if it could happen in Dade County Florida, it could happen anywhere,even in San Francisco. I snapped some photos and after the crowd dispersed… I took my film over to the Associated Press. At first the bureau chief was not interested. I convinced him that 5,000 people responding to a local election 2,000 miles away was a national newsworthy story. They then ran it, and that introduced Harvey as an openly gay spokesperson nationally 5 months before he was elected.

    I honestly believe that was a pivotal moment in gay history. Looking back Anita Bryant was the best thing to happen to the gay rights movement… she put wheels on our movement, bringing all segments of the gay rights community together with a common cause… to fight back. Once in a while, in the gay press there would be a story about gay marriage… however there were very few of us who believed it was possible.

    It’s amazing the progress I have seen in my lifetime, and the friends and pioneers I met along the way like Milk and Mayor Moscone. And I also think of the many I knew who died from AIDS and so many of them were much younger then me. During that time my constant companion was my camera and together we witnessed changes here,there and everywhere. HOWEVER, we still have a long way to go for equality. How lucky for kids who have Gay/ Straight Alliance after school prorams and P-Flag so parents no longer have the stigma of shame. It’s great to see allies help in the fight for equality. Thanks for being one of them.

  • Hello Mr. Simon. Noticed you haven’t updated the site for the premiere of Show Me a Hero. Anyway, I saw the first two episodes and they were GREAT! Really looking forward to the rest of the series. Thank you.

  • Mr Simon:

    You rascal you….show me a hero and I’ll show you a damn good show. You didn’t it again. I’m sure as with anything show business the obvious set of individuals will get all the recognition, as it is with film it’s always those most directly responsible with bringing to life the story and the content: actors director writer or producers. But with the first two installments of show me a hero I’m most impressed with the technical aspects of the show, the lighting, cinematography, costume and set designers, the music and even the linguistics. I guess that’s always the struggle with period pieces is having the viewing audience be truly captivated to where they actually believe they are being transposed to that period. I hope at some point you could speak on a little bit those individuals who made that happen. But yeah great show again.

  • David,

    What do you make of Scott Walker’s chances of getting the GOP nod? When the likes of Trump have fizzled away I’m terrified that he will start looking like a feasible candidate. He’s young and he’s experienced. He also seems to have a way of dressing up his toxic beliefs in fiscal and legal discourse.

    He’s bad news.

    • He’s a plague and Wisconsin has taken sick. Cruz would be as bad, Rubio too. Kasich, not so much, but he’ll never sway the red-meat eaters in that party.

  • I used to think you were way too hard on O’malley. I thought it was kind of weak to blame him for the federal governments war on drugs. There isn’t one mayor (who is electable) who wouldn’t fight the war.

    But after running by the headline today “O’malley apologizes for saying all lives matter” I realize that he really is just your classic politician who pisses himself at the thought of criticism. It might be a great time to be an American, but 2016 is shaping up to be the worst election ever. Between the republican clown show and the SJW’s ruining the left in this country, there doesn’t seem to any alternative to Hillary. And in a real first rate county, voting for the Iraq war would disqualify anyone from being president.

    • One has to follow up with what Drew said and ask Mr. Simon is he proud of this day where OMalley (regardless of how Mr Simon feels about him) has to apologize for stating “All Lives Matter”? This is going beyond PC culture/policing. I am about to start At Canaan’s Edge, in small part because of Mr Simon’s association with the work. As a black man experiencing (and often being turned off by the black lives matter ideology) I am being drawn back to MLK because of what I feel his biggest cause for success was, that he had an absolute moral authority versus those who fought against him. The basis of that is simple: treat others the way you want to be treated. During his time (and arguably today still) the average white person, white people as a collective and all institutions public and private didnt treat others the way they wanted or expected to be treated. From there, I believe, MLK further cemented his moral authority through his oratory brilliance: he never said or advocated for anything to a black person for which he couldnt to a white person nor did he say anything to a white person for which that white person couldnt have said back to him. His Dream speech was so good literally anyone could recite it and it have the same meaning and elicit the same results.

      America I believe isnt about doing what’s right or wrong but more over about what you can get away with (See Cosby). What facilitates our ability to get away with anything is power which could be attained by money or fame…..or in most cases being within a group, often a majority, that allows it to happen. “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him”. I am disheartened at progressives who in yester-years were outside the powerful majorities *allegedly* fighting on the grounds on whats right and whats wrong who today, after years of scraping up enough to counterbalance traditional powers are now embodying the same tactics of those of whom they once fought against. They are in the business of silencing.

      I believe in having the moral authority, like MLK….or like recently like the Charleston 9. That flag came down because it was no more right today than it was 50 or 150 years ago. It came down in large part because those 9 individuals gave their lives by doing for that white kid what he and many in SC and elsewhere would never have done back for them as well as their forgiving families embodying a christian tenet of forgiveness towards others who would never do so in return.

      Regardless of how you or anyone feel about OMalley, it is a terrible day that in the party of *so called* progressives we are in the business of not establishing a consistent moral authority or some standard of fairness, but rather in the traditional american business: acquiring power, silencing any dissent or views that challenge the fallacy for which your power is based upon.

  • Hello David,

    I’ve just seen a video from Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013, and heard you comment about getting money out of politcs.

    Are you aware of the TYT wolfpac movement?

    I think it’s trying to achieve exactly what you are talking about, and it seems to be getting attention the way poltical movements should, from people on all areas of the spectrum.

    please check it out.

  • Mr. Simon,

    Thank you so much for The Wire, which exploded my awareness as both a screenwriter, and a citizen of the world.

    I’d really like to know your thoughts on Sen. Bernie Sanders, and any advice you have for a concerned voter desirous of progress, as we approach this election year.

    Thanks again! And best of luck bringing Legacy of Ashes to life; I can imagine no greater meeting of subject and writer!

  • It was a good, good week and I celebrated by heading up to Santa Clara to boogie with the Grateful Dead where the California Bear, the Stars and Stripes and the Rainbow flag flew over a crowd of 83,000 people who were smiling and kind and dancing under a giant rainbow that arced over the stadium on the first night (it was not manufactured by the band). While I miss Jerry what I miss more is the coming together to celebrate with people without there being someone whinging – okay there was that guy who couldn’t handle his buzz, but the people he came with took care of his, and he was a happy f’d up dude.

    I felt a hopefulness I haven’t in so long. I have been marinating in encroaching cynicism and distrust for about 10 years. I was turning into Lady Judgy Curmudgeon and it’s not a look I’m going for – pinched is not attractive.

    I too am getting HOSED by the ACA. I can’t afford to pay the premiums AND go to the doctor, but I am actually more disturbed by the infant mortality rate in the USA as of the end of last year. At 34th we are ranked just a bit above the third world. What the what?

    I was thrilled the ACA stood in court because we must move toward a single payer system (and get rid of insurance companies because they are akin to the mob and our health and well being should not be a “for profit” venture). I am thrilled about a living wage and OT for salaried employees (things we already do in the small company I work for where the insurance I have to pay to operate equals 38 cents off every dollar we make and although we cannot afford to insure our 10 employees now that they have the ACA they are all covered). I am thrilled that my gay and lesbian family members now have the right to get married if they choose.

    I like feeling hopeful. And if I’m going to hell in a bucket at least I’m enjoying the ride (again).

  • I wonder if the stability in bipartisanship will be sturdy enough to let these politicians come to an agreement that being a good American is not balanced on a political party winning their way for the sake of trying to drum up more votes to advance individual political careers. It was left in the Supreme Court playing field, they made the play & if there is a reason to be bipartisan, this would be the ideal motive to roll with the tide.

  • To imply that anyone that was against ACA is a cold-hearted person that doesn’t want uninsured to be protected is such a vicious mischarachterization of the truth and issue. Many are against trusting an institution that has lied, cheated, stolen, spied, and generally not looked out for the best interests of the people. So for you to put the issue in a nice, small box with a bow on it certainly helps your blog post, but doesn’t present reality. I think time will tell if the government should be handling yet another gigantic sector of our economy. So far, there have been disastrous errors, erroneous spending, and layoffs in every medical sector in the country, and the majority of working class people had rates increase. A friend of mine had to sell her house to pay for care for her special needs child, coverage she had before but now doesn’t. Hip Hip Hooray! On the positive side, an extra 5% of the population now has insurance. But go ahead, stand in front of that “Mission Accomplished” banner with your boy Obama. Obama, who is getting credit for gay marriage, even though he was against it when it helped him and for it when it again helped him, and sang amazing grace in a church that is historically and adamantly against marriage equality. Neat, tidy box. How’s that committee membership treating ya?

    • I didn’t imply that anyone was cold-hearted. I did suggest directly that it was a better America that successfully crossed the rubicon to national health care and successfully endured legal efforts to prevent such. Moreover, your characterization of ACA and its viability is simply belied by the facts. The jeremiad that you claim against it — the threatened loss of jobs, the coverage declines, the accelerated costs — simply haven’t happened. Read Krugman this week. He uses stats, not hyperbole.

      Your contempt of government is noted. I’m going with the fundamental that this government is ours — of the people, by the people, for the people — and if we can’t act on that premise and make it more true than not, then there is little hope to be had otherwise. By contrast, I’ve lost faith in the ability of markets and the private sector to deliver anything other than profit as an answer to myriad societal needs. The answer to bad government is better government; no government is a great libertarian slogan, but in practice, it amounts to nothing save for inert, second-rate societies. Libertarian ideology finds negation easy and actual societal achievement impossible. I can’t regard it as anything other than human selfishness shaped into weak ideology and bad literature. Sorry. We disagree.

      As to marriage equality, I didn’t credit Mr. Obama with that. You reveal your own pointed anger and ideology, not mine. I credited the U.S. Supreme Court with that achievement, directly. I mentioned Mr. Obama with regard to the words spoken over those good people lost in Charleston. Apparently, your distaste for the man is such that even a humane sermon over the murdered people of that church is sufficient to invoke your contempt. That’s telling. It’s hard to see what Mr. Obama did wrong in his remarks there, and easy to see what was quite right in his performance.

      • Mr. Simon, I’m a big fan and value your opinion. Please help me reconcile my situation. As a dual self-employed household, I’ve watched our monthly premiums increase from $530 to $1,230 in eight months. Did we start smoking or skydiving? Nope, we just wanted to be our own boss. Shopping around for better plan was futile.

        I would have more respect for a program that said, “Hey everyone, too many of our citizens are woefully underinsured. Let’s institute a flat 10% premium increase to everyone.” Could this work rather than exhorbitant punishments to small business owners? I haven’t received one thank-you note, tax break or Whitmans Sampler from any of the millions who I’m helping.

        The ACA reminds me of new prisons and power plants. Everyone knows we need them but “not in my neighborhood”. Am I the only self-employed person who is struggling to find how this is good for their family?

        U2 got skewered for presuming everyone would want a bad, free album. That’s nothing compared to my 50-year-old snipped self paying for contraception. Why not use some vision and force me to pay for a full-body scan? At least that could assist with early detection while potentially reducing our reliance on big pharma and “non-profit” hospitals that generate more revenue than some third-world countries.

        I’m not an Obama basher but I’m stumped on this one. Thanks.

        • Prior to ACA, did you ever had to go on COBRA after being in a comprehensive group-health care plan? Under every previous and existing system of insurance, it has been notably harder on those seeking individualized health insurance. ACA didn’t begin (or end) that dynamic, no doubt. I agree with and acknowledge the inequity, which is a function of the tiny cohort of individualized coverage for the self-employed.

          But I am entirely unsympathetic to the anti-social argument that because you are in a cohort that requires less or little of X, and more of Y, that you should be able to segregate and achieve your needs and not subsidize anyone else’s. That’s not how any group health insurance works, or ever will work under any conditions. The Balkanization of the collective that says, I don’t need contraception coverage, or a repair of that highway, or a raise for firefighters, is, as you note, vented routinely in our political culture. In Florida, 75-year-old retirees, whose children were long ago raised in viable public school systems, now don’t see why they should pay taxes to support schools that their households won’t use. They often vote accordingly. The result: shitty schools, undereducated citizens and a second-rate society. Similarly, you are fifty. You may not need contraceptive coverage, true. You will soon likely need more medical services than say, the average, 25-year-old participant. That is the younger fellow’s rightful burden, and that is how group insurance must and should be.

          I agree that the costs for the self-employed are still disproportionate for health insurance. That was as true pre-ACA as now, maybe more so if I remember my monthly COBRA payments when I left the Baltimore Sun. But the corrective for that will not be a gutting of national health insurance. That is not the goal of ACA, and that is not the overall trend.

          • Thank you for your reply, Mr. Simon. I certainly don’t advocate gutting the existing system (I think the lack of a better idea and the chaos that would have resulted with a different outcome entered the judges’ minds) or shirking my responsibility of helping the greater good whether I’m a recipient or not.

            I’d just like to see a smaller gap in the sacrifice between Fortune 500 employees and small business owners who hire workers but not enough to utilize the law of large numbers. If the ACA is our new baseline, I hope tweaks are still in play.

            I’ve adapted to meet the $700 asditional monthly outflow. It had to come from somewhere so it replaced the donations I made to causes I support and contributions to my kids’ college accounts, which may lead to a future conversation on the student loan crisis.

            • We get started on student loans, we’re both gonna pick up a brick and go after somebody.

              But I agree with you that the closer to cohort gets to global, the more plausible the system will become.

              • Americans endlessly fret about minutiae instead of facing the elephant in the room: A privatized health care does not and never will work, as health care can not be run like a business. Why? Because health care providers in the US have no more interest in getting patients healthy than drug dealers have in getting their customers clean. The sicker they get, the more money can be made off them.

                If Gary lived in Germany, he’d pay $400 for his entire family even if he was in the highest income bracket and $200 if he was in the lowest income bracket. If he were unemployed, he’d pay nothing at all. His employer would pay in the same amount. There’d be 24 paid vacation days for him, a dozen national holidays, paid sick leave, paid parental leave, paid maternity leave for the wife, child benefits for the kids and so on.

                This system has worked over here since 1883, back when Chester A. Arthur was President of your country. It survived several changes in government (Empire, Republic, Dictatorship, Socialism, Republic) and two lost World Wars.

                So if Germany could do this back when people travelled by steam ships and communicated via telegraph, why is the country that defeated our grandfathers and great-grandfathers and later sent men to the moon unable to get its shit together and provide its citizens with a public infrastructure that is equivalent of every other wealthy and developed nation?

                Unless you address that, the best you can hope for is more band aids like Obamacare that do not fix the fundamentally flawed system.

                As for student loans, my master’s degree cost me zero bucks. Like health care, people over here simply consider education a right and not a privilege that only rich people are entitled to. What’s the point of having a country and paying a lot of taxes if you don’t get such basic necessities out of it? What is the point of government, if it does not keep the citizens safe, healthy and well educated?

                So maybe besides the obvious – the corruptive lobbying power of private insurances over elected officials – the real issue here is the American pride in its exceptionalism. Americans always believe they are number one in everything, when in reality, no developed nation has a worse mortality rate for people under the age of 50 and higher health care fees than anyone else. When you pay more for a service than everyone else and get less in return than everyone else, it’s really time to do what about 40 other countries have done successfully before you – establish some kind of public, socialized and universal health care. Don’t let false pride get into the way of adopting what worked elsewhere. It might not be an easy process to get this done with the political system you have currently, but it’d be worth it.

                In a nation as rich as the US, there’s really no need for millions of citizens to die well before their time just because they are too poor to afford treatment. In fact, it’s a damn shame.

        • Well, at least now your premiums will actually continue covering you if you get sick or have an accident. There’s that.

        • Gary, my premium went up from $140 to $480 a month. I make enough that I don’t qualify for subsidies, but just barely (I work freelance so my pay fluctuates), so this is something that I notice. I am getting better coverage now, but the price increase has been difficult and has put a strain on my financial situation. I feel your pain.

          However, just getting rid of ACA is not the answer. I always saw ACA as a first step, but one that needs more work and further steps made in the future. The fact that so many in the government have just spent their time trying to repeal it means it’s unlikely that we will see additions and fixes to some of the problems in the bill. A bad situation was made slightly better, but for self-employed Americans in some ways it is worse.

          I’ve never had a problem with the concept of nationalized healthcare, at least for basic needs and emergencies. Health care isn’t a choice, it’s not like buying a fancy car or a home or a big TV, it’s something that affects every single living human being. If we want to live in a first world country, you have to pay for that. And with the amount being spent currently on healthcare in this country, there’s no reason every American shouldn’t already be covered. It is a tough situation. The middle class has had a rough couple of decades and this is a problem that goes beyond a single president or political party.

    • Scalia is a hack and Alito is heavily ideological as well. And Thomas and what he offers as intellect (slavery with dignity!) is beyond description. Those three votes will follow the conservative platform even if somersaults and cartwheels are required. And you see it in the ACA briefs, with Scalia shedding his own arguments for a holistic reading of legislation to determine intent in order that he might undo this administration’s signal legislative achievement.

      On marriage equality, as much as I welcome the decision and believe the Fourteenth Amendment can be safely expanded to include LGBT civil liberties without being violative of the Constitution, I see merit and integrity in the argument made empathetically by Roberts, and crankily and petulantly by Scalia. If you don’t believe that the current Constitutional protections can incorporate marriage equality and governmental sanction of same-sex marriage, then either state actions or a Constitutional amendment is required. Absent the latter, the former needs to happen — and was happening over an extraordinarily brief span of time, historically. Let the matter play out as it was playing out and preserve — not just for this issue, but for all issues — a stricter and narrower reading of what the Constitution actually declares in the manner of individual rights and federal authority. It isn’t ethically or legally inconsistent for Roberts or Scalia to advance and support that argument. Me, I believe that our highest court is capable of a broader reading of the text and that the artifice of a supermajority of individual jurisdictional states being required to actually amend an 18th Century document for 21st Century society is, in fact, as subjective as gathering five people in black robes and getting them to take their best shot at justice. But I am not a strict constructionist. And I don’t think the Founding Fathers themselves would claim the mantle of infallibility that strict constructionists are so ready to confer.

  • If this is all it takes to entertain the populace, think of what the government can take away.

    TPP is ten times more important than the distraction that gay marriage is. Something affecting the entire country versus something affecting at best 3 to 5% of the population.

    And the President sparking an even bigger rift between racial communities. Of course they also load on discrimination for asking for credit checks. God knows it is discriminatory to make sure somebody is able to pay for something and they haven’t been delinquent.

    Yes, what a great, great day to be an American. A country full of buffoons swindled by cheap parlor tricks while the man in the back robs them blind. A truly amazing day.

    • All that needs to happen has not happened? Problems remain? Arguments are still ongoing?

      You don’t say.

      But establishing national health care is a parlor trick? Transforming American society so that our union allows millions more to experience the full dignities and rights of true citizenship is for buffoons?

      You embarrass yourself with your all-or-nothing hyperbole.

  • There were some surprisingly good Supreme Court rulings this past week, however regarding the second court case mentioned in your post–King v. Burwell which upheld Obamacare–I’m worried that the fight over that isn’t actually done yet. It just gets kicked back to the legislative branch for the time being where the Republicans still seem intent on a repeal. And how might a repeal attempt look if there’s a Republican in the White House after 2016? Here’s one possibility:


    I don’t even want to think about a Scott Walker presidency. At least another four years and millions more covered by Obamacare would make it that much harder to actually follow through with some convoluted repeal attempt.

    • God help the Republicans if they go back in on the ACA again. Right now, every GOP candidate worth his salt is thanking SCOTUS for that ruling. As with Roe v. Wade, they can rail against the decision itself but thank whatever god they think is listening that they don’t actually have to deny millions of women the right to choice or millions of newly insured Americans the right to basic health care. Actually acting to make abortion illegal or to roll back the obvious success of ACA are losing propositions, politically. Crying about abortion or Obamacare to your political base is as far as that currency actually spends.

      • You know, it may sound silly and off topic but I actually spent several minutes debating whether or not to refer to the health care law as “Obamacare” or “ACA”. I initially thought not to use “Obamacare” since it started out as a pejorative term–and in some circles continues to be so–but then decided to go ahead since it seems to have gained widespread acceptance as the law’s sort of general use nickname. I thought I might confuse less casual readers with that than “ACA” or more fully “PPACA”. I’m sure I’m over thinking this.

        I agree with you regarding continued calls for repeal of the ACA being mostly currency with limited use beyond the GOP base. I currently figure that such calls are simply anti-anything-Obama-has-done pro forma in advance of the 2016 elections and such calls will die down afterward. Of course, I’m a political novice and figured that I should draw some attention to Kevin Drum’s blog post since it could be a possible route to take for someone insane enough to take it. Again, he singles out Scott Walker who I’m not sure how viable a general election GOP candidate he is (and yes, I know he hasn’t declared his candidacy yet), but he seems to have a successful track record of enacting conservative “reforms” in Wisconsin and beat a recall effort as well. I guess even if a President Walker is insane enough to sign a repeal, enough sane congressional Republicans would see this and block such a bill from making it to his desk?

        Augh! I guess we’ll just have to pay attention to what happens in the near term so that no future Congress and president pulls some sort of jiggery-pokery.

        I now turn my attention to Evenwel v. Abbott. Now what were John Roberts’ and Anthony Kennedy’s views on stare decisis again?

        Thanks for your response Mr. Simon. Cheers!

  • The other side lost all three Big Items in the past week. They lost socially today, politically yesterday, and morally on June 17 in Charleston.

    Dylann Roof set out to create a race war and ended up opening the door to a better world.

    • Me too. I hope this new week has bought good blessings and the resources to overcome all that was lousy. Working on a program that teaches youth how to repair bicycles helped me get over my lousy.

  • As a cockeyed optimist AND Canadian, not to mention a long-time true believer in the promise of America … indeed!

      • The irony is that while the United States is implementing equality, Canada is moving in the opposite direction, towards second-class citizenship.

        • We haven’t had equality in Canada since long before Confederation in 1867.

          In many respects, we have always been going in the opposite direction and so we have a lot of work to do as a country to achieve equality.

        • By the way, “second class citizenship” has always been part of this country and the relationship with its original inhabitants since the beginning and is hardly something new that we have been moving towards.

          • Hi Elizabeth, I didn’t claim that the movement towards second-class citizenship is something new in Canada, only that it is something which is happening. From your other reply it seems that we agree on this point. So I would say that the US is at least moving in the right direction, whereas Canada is not.

            • Hey, David!

              We would probably agree on quite a lot.

              But, what do you say we leave Canada behind, so to speak, and just bask in the glory that is America for a while. And, I mean that sincerely, I’m not trying to be facetious here. 🙂

        • David, I disagree. Same sex marraige has been a fact here for about a decade. Gay Pride week is off to a great start. Prime Minister Harper? This too shall pass.

          • Same-sex marriage is not the ONLY measure of equality. Canada’s Bill C-24 is very much the opposite of equal treatment.

  • I was actually pleased with John Roberts’ appointment to the Supreme Court at the time, even though my left-wing colleagues were crying that the sky would fall. I had a sense that he would exercise legal judgment independently of his personal views.

    Now, if we could only go back and revisit Citizens United …

    • David,

      This is a bit shortsighted. The Roberts Court has been without a doubt the most pro-corporate SCOTUS in history, and that’s really saying something. Citizen’s United is just the beginning. Yes, Roberts is smart enough not to follow the conservative movement’s most extreme dictates, but that’s just to preserve his political capital for the causes he really cares about. For example, the pro-coal ruling the Court issued was an absurd sop to dirty energy.

      • What need does he have for political capital? He holds a lifetime appointment. He’s not great, but it could have been so much worse. Imagine Alito times two.

      • The ruling you are talking about had nothing to do with coal. The case involved a rather technical question about what stage in the regulatory process the EPA had to factor costs into its regulations of certain pollutants. It was not about being “pro-coal” or “anti-coal”. And when exactly did “pro-corporate” become a dirty phrase? Who do you make investments that grow the economy and provides jobs? Citizen’s United, by the way, wasn’t really a “pro-corporate” ruling. Corporations may have benefited from it in theory but, if anything, it probably put them at a disadvantage when compared with wealthy individuals. In case you haven’t noticed, wealthy individuals who like to donate to political campaigns are often on the opposite sides of issues compared with corporations. The Chamber of Commerce has been losing a lot lately in the political sphere, both from the extreme right and the left. Citizen’s United was a pro-free speech ruling. In reality, it probably had very little practical effect one way or the other.

        • Citizen’s United was pro-capital. The affront of speech = money fools no one. To make that equation work, you very nearly have to embrace the best Orwellian Newspeak: Freedom is slavery, war is peace.

          Money is money. Speech is speech. And an electoral process that equates the two is beneath contempt.

          • That says it all.

            Which leads me to wonder if there is any sort of movement underway to rectify what the Supreme Court unleashed and what would all of that entail …

            • You mean poison Justice Alito, or push Scalia in front of a bus?

              Seriously, unless the nine votes track differently, the precedent of Citizens United seems insurmountable at present. They have indeed equated speech with cash, to the delight of those rich enough that they believe their political influence should be worth more than the next American by virtue of all the extra wisdom that their affluence purchases.

              • Heh. Well, I had in mind something slightly less extreme than knocking off a couple of Supremes. 🙂

                I am sorry to hear, though, that it would take nothing short of another SCOTUS decision to reverse this horrible situation. On the bright side, the election of Jerry Brown, the new and renewed Governor of California, over Meg Whitman and her highest spending non-presidential campaign in the history of the US should give some quantum of solace.

                In other words, it seems entirely possible to overcome the money factor with superior candidates …

                • There actually is a way to reverse Citizens United, but it would require a Constitutional amendment–which takes a LOT of political will to make happen. (There actually is a movement, End Citizens United–you can google it.)

                  • Yes, that’s the kind of thing I was talking about … I think.

                    But, as a Canadian who has suffered through various unsuccessful attempts (some thankfully so) to amend our constitution, I was hoping there might be a more achievable option available.

                    I guess you’ll just have to produce better candidates seeking public office, especially at the higher levels.
                    Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown apparently could not be persuaded to mount a presidential run in 2016. 🙂 Good for California, not so good for the rest of the country. Now, there is an up-wing politician that we could all use more of …

                    • Yeah, it would take a Constitutional amendment or the Supreme Court reversing itself. (This has also happened, but it’s very, very rare.)

                      I think we’ve got a couple of good candidates. In a way, I think it’s great that Bernie Sanders is running. He (probably) won’t win the Democratic nomination, but he’s getting a lot more press and support than anyone expected, so he’s pulling Hillary to the left, and I think that’s a good thing. Regardless of who wins the Dem nom, fingers crossed that we’re closing an ugly chapter in American history.

                    • Time and transformation can result in a different outcome. The same institution that gave us Dred Scott and Plessy also made Brown the law of the land once there was national consensus for change and a more liberal and modern demeanor on the Court. Citizens United waits for a better time, when massed capital is held in little regard as anything other than an economic metric, and when the national ideology against favors the notion of one man = one vote rather than one man + all of his disposable cash = his vote + all the political influence he can buy.

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