« A faraway people, of whom we know way too much | Main | Who is behind the deficit hysteria? »

My pick for Senator: Nobody

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday June 1, 2010 11:30 PM

Every so often, when no old girlfriends have shown up on Facebook, when the weather has kept me off the boat, when the clavichord is so out of tune I can't play it, or face tuning it -- on such occasions, I may in despair pick up the New York Times.

Tonight was such a night. Here's what I found, O joy -- I should read the damn thing more often:

So You Still Want to Choose Your Senator?

Few members of the Tea Party have endorsed Rand Paul’s misgivings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but a surprising number are calling for the repeal of an older piece of transformative legislation: the 17th Amendment. If you don’t have the Constitution on your smartphone, that’s the one adopted in 1913 that provides for direct popular election of United States senators.

I'm, like, so totally with the Teabaggers on this one. The Senate -- as the Times guy goes on to acknowledge, by the way -- was set up to be an anti-democratic institution (like the Supreme Court, one might add). Popular election just drapes a tactful figleaf over the unlovely organ(*).

Away with the figleaf! Anything that tends to bring the Senate into further discredit is a good thing -- as with the Supreme Court, come to think of it.


(*) "Like an obscure tropical fruit not much prized even by the natives," as I believe Kingsley Amis wrote somewhere. Although Kingsley, if memory serves, was speaking of an organ considerably more prepossessing than the US Senate, if you ask me.

Comments (15)


fred allen pulls senator claghorn's strings


why mr allen
he's a god to me he is

tanx father S

its a joke son

Peter Ward:
It may be true that appointed senators, accountable only to state legislators, would never approve of many useful federal mandates designed to put the national interest above local parochialism — including everything from the minimum wage to the new health care reform law.

Eh? So the author admits, in spite of being less formally democratic, things might
become effectively more democratic as a result...but argues, implicitly, more democracy is "unuseful"?

By the way, quaint notions of democracy aside, in most cases--healthcare, public banking (as opposed to the Fed debt-tyranny)*, drug law, minimum wage, drinking age etc states try to be more progressive than the federal government and have their attempts vetoed. Surely its a reactionary federal government not state-parochialism that's to blame for hindering actual social progress.**

*Another issue only the Tea Party take at all seriously.
**Even if it means one or two states outlawing abortion or making Bible-study (which is no worse than imperial worship study--so called "social studies") mandatory for a time, I think the net result would be a vast improvement.


Good point, Peter! Worthy of being aired on this contrarian site. I recall Pat Buchanan recommending the same idea a few years ago. I immediately censored myself from taking it seriously, but secretly I felt a little thrill. For one thing, it would drive all the yahoos into one part of the country, and leave the rest of us alone to burn the flag, take drugs, cross-dress.


Indeed. The idea of "state's rights" is associated in my mind with everything awful. But on the other hand, the US has become such a menace that anything that weakens it as a nation-state would be good for the world. Okay, so the yahoos take over here and there. Move, then.



you think states rights would weaken
the nuclear death star or the global free pass armadas ??

those by god are earth wide institutions

states rights is indeed a Democrat once Republican now issue

i must admit however
on the kulturkampf front
why the fuck not

then again immigration policy and oil rig policy recently suggest local loco is pretty nasty

where's our huey long imagine how he'd deal with BP

Don't "deal" with BP. Lucy Parsons them.


We can't deny that the national govt did a superb job of regulating oil exploration in the gulf. Certainly Louisiana couldn't have been as accomodating to BP all by themselves. Shit, they might have even decided it was AGAINST their best interests, since less than 1/100th of a percent of the oil found thee would go to Louisana drivers.
I'm trying to think of a federal program that has been unquestionably good for everyone, that hasn't been overturned, underfunded, or de-regulated, or primarily enacted for the advantage of business.


lakoff strikes
framing uip ohbummer


"The central idea is Empathy. Democracy is based on empathy, on people caring about one another and acting to the very best of their ability on that care, for their families, their communities, their nation, and the world. Government must also care and act on that care. Government’s job is to protect and empower its citizens.

That idea is what draws together all the threads. The bottom line for corporations (whether BP, Massey, Anthem or Goldman Sachs) is money, not empathy. The bottom line for those who hate (whether homophobes, the Arizona Legislature, or al Qaeda) is domination and oppression, not empathy.

Empathy, and acting on it effectively, is the main business of government. And Obama knows it in his heart.

Yet the right-wing has intimidated Obama into dropping not just the word “empathy,” but the idea. "

man what a wallop

powder puff bulling league champ


"Particularly egregious in this respect was Democratic Party “framing” strategist and self-styled movement guru George Lakoff. Visibly angered by the occupiers’ refusal to leave Wheeler voluntarily (without any of their demands having been met, of course), Lakoff seized the megaphone to spew the morally bankrupt argument that since the students knew they would be met with police violence, they would themselves be responsible for creating that violence if they chose to remain. No more repulsive a phrase was uttered that day. And were this not sufficient, Lakoff was even heard lying repeatedly to the occupiers, insisting that there had been no police violence, no rubber bullets, and no injuries outside the building, all in an effort to manipulate those inside into abandoning the occupation."


"Certainly Louisiana couldn't have been as accomodating to BP all by themselves"
dangerously and utterly wrong
a gilf coast coalition of tx la mis al
and fla ???
check out the jap auto assembly deals

now one state among em might produce a huey long insurgent populist
but that's like a sun burn phobe
waiting for an eclipse to go outside


"..set up to be an anti-democratic institution "
indeed indeed indeed
belt and suspenders
along with the indirectedly
ie state gub elected elector elected
president/ vice president

however to add
"..like the Supreme Court..."
that i submit is another matter

in fact true of course but not by explicit founding father compact

the advent of chief justice marshall
was not part of the explict social compact
eh ?
and without him or his ilk
no judicial review JR
as we know it
let me wax pompous a tad here
---i need to stretch my mind's wings--

JR came as part of the pre established
invisible hand
of our republican brand of bourgeois hegemony
a product of it's over soul if you will

the law is above the people's reach
as a mob
even a majority mob
to that extent the law is never democratic

a court decision can be struck down by a higher court but not by "the people"
only the people's duely prescribed
agency "both" houses of the legislature
and even that requires if not the consent of the executive a two thirds vote of each chamber
-- not the absurd hurdle of an amending process but easily prone to iertial restraint

and even then only by the change of law
not the nullification of a specific decision

however a jury can nullify any
specific violation of a criminal law
ie a state crime by a verdict of not guilty
but alas
we have no jury system anywhere else
that is not itself subject
to pure judge review
no not any appellate process based on jury findings at all
--yes juries find facts
in civil cases
but civil cases are all subject to appeal
like guilty criminal verdicts of course

add in
the very selection of juries themselves
is not a matter for grand juries but
for the courts petty autocrats to determine
all judges in the end
are only subject to each other
and the mob's rope

common law is a collective product
the verdict of judge-magistrates
themselves over time
are subject to their own collective will
spontaneous mutation correction drift even
in the essemble of civil court decisions
as well as the overlay of legislatve statutes
remain the autocrats to play with at will
subject only to the higher will of another robed autocrat or panel of robed autocrats

all is trumped by judicial review
even the statutary law itself
ala marshall
thru the constitutional review powers
he arrogated to the supreme court
which as i understand it any way
--and here i make my point--
has no literal basis
in the constitution even as amended

in this light i see our constitutional drafters as innocent of that crime against the popular will
as the ...federal reserve system's "independence
--damn you to hell harry s truman
you weak needed popin jay --

i contend however
if the two other branches decided
to tame the supreme court
fdr showed the easy way
pack it
like the british house of august clowns can be packed

impeachment a pure act of congress can pick em off one by one
ah unitary congress awake !!!

-- i sound like cicero --
beyond that
we could neuter the supremes by amendment but talk about doin stuff the hard way

fortunately the fed so far
has yet to develop
a halo of pseudo
constitutionally sanctified independence

the two
---constitutional founding father intented-- active bodies nedd to kick both sets of asses of course

before i die ???

well i lived to see
a red sox world championship

what we really need
is a congress
like 1932 and 1866 elected

How about disbanding the senate altogether?


i really do prefer to
" house of distinguished clowns" it
then abolish it

as vestigal form it serves as constant reminder of the petty horrors of yore

I love this site for the level of discussion I'm able to read through. The linked articles were really interesting, thanks!

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Tuesday June 1, 2010 11:30 PM.

The previous post in this blog was A faraway people, of whom we know way too much.

The next post in this blog is Who is behind the deficit hysteria?.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31