16 January 2020

I'm tired of seeing "presidential pens"

They are in the news today because of the hoopla surrounding Pelosi's signing of the articles of impeachment.
The House speaker sparked the opposing party’s ire on Wednesday when she used a remarkable number of writing implements – more than three trays littered with them – to sign her name on the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.

The pens, engraved with her signature, were intended as souvenirs for Pelosi’s allies. She carefully signed the documents, apparently stroke by stroke, using different pens for each portion of her signature. Then she distributed them to impeachment managers and committee members.
The process has such a long history that it has become a tradition:
Barack Obama used 22 pens to sign his landmark healthcare law. Lyndon Johnson is said to have used 75 to sign the Civil Rights Act. The tradition goes back to at least Franklin Roosevelt, as Time explained in 2010: “The pen used to sign legislation itself becomes a historical artifact. The more pens a president uses, the more thank-you gifts he can offer to those who helped create that piece of history.”
It also happens in state legislatures:

And they are available for purchase online.
There are actually three main types of pens typically called presidential pens. The first and perhaps the most well-known are bill signing pens. These are the pen or pens used by the President when he signs a bill into law during a signing ceremony. The second type is pens distributed by The White House or government agencies, as souvenirs or gifts. The third type is pens given out during presidential campaigns or during visits to events and locations by the President during his term of office... [the record for most pens] belongs to President Lyndon Johnson, who in 1964 signed the Civil Rights Act using a whopping 75 pens
Ridiculous.  Stop spending my tax money on gifts to your friends.  Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.  Get off my lawn.


  1. It's worth pointing out that this is a very American habit, the monetization of democracy. For instance, in the UK, the Queen just 'assents' in a Privy Council meeting, which is held standing to keep it short. The Dutch and Belgian Kings get cramped hands from signing many many many bills because those countries don't really do omnibus bills. Other than the King, no one needs to be present when bills are signed.

  2. I have to say, as someone that had to adjust to being able to sign million dollar orders without oversight, you can get desensitized to the amount of money your spending. I learned this with a personal quarter million dollar fuck up. What kept me out of hot water was I reported it to my boss before anyone else did with steps I was going to take to fix it. I was a lot more careful after that.

    The federal government doesn't even investigate expenses of less than 50 million dollars because if they do, they spend more money than they save. Everyone in the federal government knows this and some use it to their advantage.

  3. I'm with you. Knock off the bullshit; send these people to a pen-itentiary! And get off my lawn too!

  4. I'm with you. Put a limit of 1 pen to each signing. What a waste, and so ridiculous.

  5. Industries are probably more concentrated today because of political arrangements, not technological advances.


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