Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Auto-Man Empire



History was made last week when Barack Obama, whose every public utterance comes off a teleprompter, authorized the robotic "autopen" to sign a bill into law while the president himself was overseas drinking Guinness and singing "Danny Boy" with his long-lost Irish kinsmen.

The autopen is a machine which uses a real pen to create a duplicate of the president's signature, allowing "personally hand signed" letters and photos to be created for campaign donors and grieving military families without taking away from Mr. Obama's critical time on the golf course.

But the idea that the autopen's duplicate signature is, legally speaking, just as valid as Mr. Obama's signature is troubling to say the least. It suggests that the president himself isn't really a necessary part of the governmental process and is entirely superfluous... much like Joe Biden.

And the potential for abuse is huge. Just imagine a scenario in which someone swaps a grinning photo of Mr. Obama for a letter of resignation...the autopen signs it, and the president has no choice but to pack his bags and get out of the Whitehouse.

Come to think of it, maybe all this automation isn't such a bad idea after all.



Hope n' Change Pop Quiz: What's wrong with this picture?
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26 comments:

Bobo said...

What's wrong with this picture? Don't you see the scrawny little arm holding up the ice cream cone? I've got fingers bigger than that arm. Crimony. What does he do, curls with matchsticks? Overhead presses with a broomstick? Maybe the pen is too heavy for him use all by his lonesome. Eat some yams, man.

Proof said...

Why shouldn't the president have an autopen? The push button on those manual ballpoints can be so hard to figure out!

James said...

Haha, the idiocy of the whole idea of the autopen is almost funny enough to make me forget the punchline to today's comic.

Almost.

Jim Hlavac said...

I suppose the president has had to resort to the autopen to sign all the checks to spend trillions of dollars on say, auto companies, and banks, and cronies, and green industries, and assorted sycophants for government largesse. At the rate the mans signs checks there's no way he'd have the time to sign them all.

And actually, in our Republic, in fact, the president is not really that necessary -- his job is to guard the borders and run the military, and a few other minor tasks -- and the rest of the behemoth should be dismantled and given back to the states and the people. Congress can be part time too. Then they can all go golfing and leave us alone.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

I don't see the autopen instigating a constitutional crisis. That tired, old document isn't even a limiting factor for this regime.
Stilton: For the love of all that is holy...no more allusions to the Obama's getting frisky. Ewww!

Pete(Detroit) said...

The question *I* have, is the 'autopen' strictly a remote device, or does it have 'capture' technology...

Suzy said...

I read that Bush refused to use the autopen for signing laws for fear there would be a lawsuit over the validity of it. Which there WOULD have been...because it was Bush. Of course nobody cares since its Obama.

And yeah...I'm with Hoosier. Yuck, Stilt. haha.

John the Econ said...

Laws? Where we're going, we don't need laws...

Chuck said...

I agree with Angry Hoosier Dad: no chance of a Constitutional crisis when everybody in D.C. seems to think of the Constitution as more of a suggestion than anything actually binding or limiting. And, sad to say, that seems to go for the right almost as much as the left!

Chuck said...

But I REALLY like the letter of resignation idea!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Angry Hoosier Dad & Suzy- "Getting frisky?" Michelle was obviously referring to the fact that Obama can shake a can of paint that needs to be mixed, but the little robot can do it even better. What did you think I meant?

Rose said...

Are ye sayin' the robot cannot horse around on the golf course pretending to play golf? Or is it ye be sayin' the robot cannot eat Kobe Beef?

Dave said...

As an Irishman, I wish he would STAY long lost. Permanently.

Mike said...

What's wrong with this picture? Durn near everything as far as I can tell.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Mike- I didn't say it was a hard pop quiz.

JustaJeepGuy said...

The TelePrompter said, "...But SYRIAsly,..." That's an old joke. I read that in National Lampoon 35 years ago!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@JustaJeepGuy- Think of it like an old diamond in a beautiful new setting.

pryorguy said...

This is surprising to me...in a way I guess...I can see where it would be handy to be able to 'sign' a bill into law in absentia, but I can also see the downside to that. Guess I just don't have enough faith in our 'president'...(can't even bring myself to capitalize that word!)

Suzy said...

Pryorguy...if the law isn't important enough to be present to sign, its probably not important enough to sign...in my opinion, anyway!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Pryorguy- If an autopen is as good as the real signature, then why not a rubber stamp? Or a ream of pre-signed sheets of paper which can have laws added to them later? I know we live in a high-tech world, but couldn't we send the president (I can't capitalize it either, and haven't for over two years now) a facsimile which he could sign wherever the heck he is? It just feels like too much of this presidency is on autopilot (or autopen), and the ground is coming towards us awfully fast.

@Suzy- I agree. I think the reason the president should actually be present (ha!) to sign laws into being is so he can give the bill a last read if he wants. Or if he doesn't want to read it, at least he can be held responsible for ignoring the details. But this strikes me as the next automated step up (or down?) from the Obamacare bill that nobody read. If laws are created that no one has read, including the politicians who vote for them, or the president who signs them...then why should the rest of us be forced to live with the arcana they've created? What representative can truly say that his/her constituents want him/her to support legislation they've never read?

Maybe if we could teach the Autopen how to golf, it would free up more time for Obama to do a little work in his office...

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Stilton, Obama does a little work in the office now and then. Too bad the little work he does is so wrong for America.

DavidD said...

Has any other (alleged?) president ever had an autopen used to sign a law? Is an autopen signature legally binding?

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@DavidD- I believe that in 2005, a legal opinion was issued that the autopen could be used, but no president has actually done it until now - and the procedure certainly hasn't had to stand up to a legal challenge. Which is now overdue.

TickedMD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RightKlik said...

"What's wrong with this picture?"

Words in teleprompter at top and at bottom not mirror images.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@RightKlik- Good catch! I thought of putting in the mirror image but got lazy since I figured no one would notice. Oops.