I read a depressing article in The Atlantic recently called “The 5 Turnip Amendments to the Constitution” (only it didn’t cite a winter vegetable). The author argues that The Former Chode changed our system of government in five profound ways with the following informal amendments:
- Amendment 1. No president shall be removed from office for treason, bribery, or any other crime or misdemeanor, no matter how high, should a partisan minority of the Senate choose to protect him.
- Amendment 2. Congressional oversight shall be optional. No congressional subpoena or demand for testimony or documents shall bind a president who chooses to ignore it.
- Amendment 3. Congressional appropriations shall be suggestions. The president may choose whether or not to comply with congressional spending laws, and Congress shall have no recourse should a president declare that his own priorities supersede Congress’s instructions.
- Amendment 4. The president shall have authority to make appointments as he sees fit, without the advice and consent of the Senate, provided he deems his appointees to be acting, temporary, or otherwise exempt from the ordinary confirmation process.
- Amendment 5. The president shall have unconstrained authority to dangle and issue pardons for the purpose of obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses, and forestalling investigations.
Put another way, Agent Orange exposed the fragility of our system due to overreliance on good faith. Now that one party has discovered that shamelessness is a democracy-annihilating superpower, we should codify what we can while we have the opportunity. Here’s Senator Whitehouse attempting to claw back Amendment 2 above:
Sen. Whitehouse accuses FBI Director Wray of giving politically sensitive info to GOP while withholding answers from Democrats for years
“You’ve been asked questions for the record. Are they going to go into the same hole where questions for the record go to die at the FBI?” pic.twitter.com/fzd8v7FjhQ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 2, 2021
Whitehouse is PISSED about the FBI stonewalling for partisan gain. Good. Everyone should be. As Whitehouse notes, oversight is as an important part of lawmakers’ jobs as legislating.
I really don’t know what to think about Wray. The Former A-Hole appointed him, but Wray has shown signs of independence. Let’s see if he coughs up the documents now without the “rigmarole,” as Whitehouse calls it.
Eek. It’s actually rigmarole.
I’m guessing that Wray is sitting there thinking Fuck You, that’s why.
did the Atlantic note that all of those amendments only pertain to Republican presidents?
I think there’s a different set if it’s a Democratic president
and there’s an even different set if it’s black Democratic president. It remains to be seen what the new amendments will be with a female Democratic president
LOL just wait until it’s President Harris, the it’ll be Moses and the 15 new rules on the tablets
@Steeplejack: Fixed — thanks!
Trump exposed how insufficient the Constitution is in preventing a president from doing just whatever the fuck he wants. Oversight is meaningless without full and honest cooperation. I don’t know what could be changed to compel it. The Attorney General made elective and non-partisan? Still leaves much room for fuckery. Laws forbidding something are useless when the enforcement does not bind the executive. I see a lot of ink spilled by people who imagine a slew of new laws will have any effect on an above the law President. He has an army and the congress does not.
There’s a rule the FBI director must be Republican. I thought everybody knew that.
I am not sure how you do this, codify any constraints. Congress, elected by the people, is supposed to be a check on presidential power. When a controlling bloc connives with a president, no set of codes can prevent abuse of power.
Worse, a chunk of the citizens have declared that they do not want democracy, and prefer a white imperial president.
There is no easy way to preserve democracy when a group of citizens have decided to abolish it.
Glad to see that Josh Hawley sure is sweating those FBI cell phone records
I ?Senator Whitehouse!
edit: I would like about 80 new senators, just like him. And yes, I would trade out some of our current Democratic senators.
@jeffreyw: Good points. There might be ways to enforce some mechanisms by which Congress obtains documents, e.g., FBI must comply with requests within 30 days or explain to a judge why not. But the totally made-up (AFAIK) rule that sitting presidents can’t be indicted basically creates sequential 4-year monarchies.
The only new thing there that was Trump’s doing is 5, and then only maybe.
This is nothing but a list of the ways Mitch McConnell’s fanatical, ethics-free, scorched earth partisanship were on most prominent display during that particular 4 years. The structure was there before and will exist at least until Mitch is gone, and is based not on any perceptions or rules about the presidency, only on Mitch McConnell’s ongoing project of being the most evil shit to ever gain power in America.
James E Powell
“He’s not as bad as Trump!” is not exactly winning me over.
I would follow a policy of “If you didn’t quit then, you are fired now.”
I do wish Jared had allowed Donnie to fire Wray. It would have made Biden sacking whatever toady was put in place that much easier. Now we are stuck with this mediocre GOP hack for another 7 years.
@Steeplejack: Eek from me too, but because was ignorant up until a few minutes ago. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I learned it as rigamarole, an acceptable, but less used, alternative according to Merriam-Webster.
I’ll be true to my roots and keep that extra ‘a’ in there.
I thought about the acting secretary thing in the past. I thought about a set of rules (laws!) to limit the amount of time a president can have an acting secretary. I know they aren’t perfect and maybe need to be tweaked for reasonableness and unforeseen circumstances, i.e. death of a secretary.
@M31: The 15… 10! rules (YouTube link for those that don’t know the movie reference)
Major Major Major Major
@Steeplejack: Now you’ve got me thinking about how it’s spelled and pronouncing it with a severe Italian accent. “REE-gah-mah-ROLE-eh”
If you read the article, it talks about the precedents set by presidents that become “rules” that they follow, such as Washington’s only running for two terms. What Trump did was shatter a lot of old ones and replace them with his. More than likely Biden will follow none of the new rules, but what will the next Republican do?
@James E Powell:
I agree. I think Biden can do a lot better than Wray. Maybe part of the process is to allow Wray to continue showing how bad he is compared to the new cabinet appointees. There’s less political cost to canning someone once he demonstrates poor performance relative to his peers. Who knows, after a month, maybe Wray will see where it’s all going and so decide to quietly step down, just in time to enjoy summer and see more of his family
ETA: Is it that Biden can’t name a new FBI Director? I don’t know how these things work.
Major Major Major Major
One interesting thing about this Wray hearing is that law enforcement keeps acting like not being able to read digital communication on demand is this novel threat to the world, rather than the natural state of things until I was like twenty.
@Betty Cracker: Maybe it’s time for Congress to pass a law that states presidents can be charges with a felony while in office.
@PsiFighter37: You could be right.
@Eric S.: While nice, 1 and 4 together would have allowed McConnell to ignore the nominations and then Trump would have had them as real secretaries.
@Chief Oshkosh: Wray would have to be fired for cause, I believe.
@PsiFighter37: He can be fired for cause, and cause as far as I am concerned could be anything from not covering when sneezing or farting in a meeting, perhaps even the inadvertent nose pick or ball scratch in the presence of a female staffer. That said if i were President and I wanted an FBI director gone cause would be found. It is about time that our Democratic politicians need to absorb the lesson that ruthlessness needs to be responded to in kind. The no drama, when they go low, we go high is just another way of saying please beat my ass and take my lunch money.
@Major Major Major Major: I’m pretty sure that’s a Canadian accent.
yeah, some if it is that a Democrat wouldn’t try to do the shitty stuff that a Republican would try, but if they did, their own party, the press, etc. etc. would raise a howl you could hear to the Moon.
But yes the next Republican president will have a different set of norms to conform to, and of course to push even farther in the white nationalist direction (spit)
@Major Major Major Major: Funny, the Italian accent happens in my head every time I read that word and sometimes when I speak it.
I don’t know why that would be the case. If it’s determined that he withheld info from congressional Democrats, then Biden would certainly have cause to fire him. Donnie fired Comey for much less.
The problem is that no Constitution can do what people want ours to do. The Constitution is just a bunch of words. It requires people to turn those words into a working government. Our problem isn’t that the Constitution doesn’t provide adequate remedies to our problems, it’s that a substantial minority of voters and the people they’ve elected to represent them are perfectly happy breaking the system if it lets them maintain power. No amount of rewriting the Constitution can solve that problem.
@Belafon: D’OH! Stupid logic rules. So there’s one of those holes I was worried about. I pulled that out of memory from months ago. I don’t think I caught that the first time around either. I was trying to think of rules to prevent shenanigans on both sides. I’m sure there’s a way around that.
We’re fortunate that Trump was too fucking stupid to realize how important gutting the Administrative Procedure Act (which includes FOIA) was to realizing his autocratic ambitions.
Neither Cotton nor Hawley will make the same mistake.
One partial solution is to make it quicker and easier to root out all of the past actions of a lawless president. I’m sure some sort of statute can accomplish that. So, for example, all the regulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration can be blanket declared null and void if they were promulgated with improperly appointed department heads and such.
Not a solution for when a Trump is in office. But it would make the cleanup easier.
Too bad we can’t do that with SCOTUS and lower court appointees.
James E Powell
I’d be surprised if he didn’t. I wonder if Biden told him privately that he’d like his resignation, if Wray would insist on fighting it.
Be careful what you wish for. You may find that it sucks when you get it.
@Major Major Major Major:
The extra a may have crept in because the word rigmarole already looked Italian. But it may have a Scandinavian origin.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Assuming there is a Republican party left after the Conservative Mega Thunderdome Festivus that going to happen over the new two years.
It is worth considering the limits on a Democratic president in a one party system.
@rikyrah: It’s like that extra “a” people put in realtor.
@Brachiator: The thing is, they don’t even see that they are against democracy. They get offended and don’t listen when they are named (correctly) as fascists. They believe that people not exactly like themselves are not real or not real Americans. What needs to happen is for a lot of them to have it bite them in the ass and they find out why laws have to be for everyone all the time, but I am not willing to let that demon out of the bottle.
There are variants, many of which gain “acceptance” through unending repetition, and then there are what I call bastard variants, born out of nothing but ignorance or laziness (or just fat-fingered typing). See woah for whoa.
Merriam-Webster is fine with rigamarole,
I’m not sure if I’ve ever used “rigmarole” in a written sentence, but I do know I’ve always pronounced it as if there was an “a” between the g and the m.
But then, until a few years ago, I pronounced poinsettia as “poinsietta,” so what do I know?
Regarding standards of conduct for Presidents – you know that saying by Churchill about how democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others? It’s true.
Democracy is the only system that allows common people to change their government without an armed uprising. That’s probably the only thing that makes democracy “better than all the others.” Take that away, as the GQP is trying to accomplish, and there’s no reason to prefer democracy to any other form of government – because without an actual, representative form of democracy, all of its drawbacks become fatal errors.
Yep. You have it exactly right.
Problem is, this flirtation with sedition may bite us all in the ass.
I think we need to stop being so defeatist. The ending here is not pre-ordained unless we act like it is.
Rule #4 gives McConnell the incentive to NOT hold hearings on DeVoss 2.0, and then allow them to be appointed without any oversight.
Major Major Major Major
@Brachiator: Ah, it’s one of them mystery words!
@CaseyL: Words are fake anyway, I wouldn’t feel bad.
@Major Major Major Major:
Chicken rigamarole is even better than chicken parm!
I think the problem is at least as much on the Senate side as on the President side. There needs to be a rule that basically says that a nominee who doesn’t get an up or down vote within a certain amount of time- 3 or 6 months- is considered to be approved. The Senate shouldn’t be allowed to keep positions open by stalling.
We’re (a constitutional republic that’s) in a tight spot!
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That was discussed at length in the legal blogosphere when McConnell hung Garland out to dry (IIRC, if you dig into the archives at Balkinization you’ll find several posts on the topic). A President with big enough balls could arguably make that happen by the simple expedient of holding a swearing-in ceremony for a nominee with respect to whom the Senate refuses to exercise its advise-and-consent role. It would be the epitome of what Con Law scholars call “constitutional hardball.”
@Roger Moore: Arguably the president could do that under a theory of tacit consent. There were people who wanted Obama to seat Garland for that reason, i.e., because McConnell refused to hold hearings and/or put the nomination to a vote in a reasonable amount of time. I wouldn’t mind seeing a president try that to set a precedent, albeit with something less weighty like a cabinet nominee. Do it once and the Senate will be motivated to at least hold an up or down vote so you can move on.
@Hoodie: My view is that the Senate should change its rules such that refusal to hold a vote within a specific period of time will be deemed to be approval. If they don’t have the votes, fine, but refusing to do your job because no one can make you is undermining our entire system of government. So the presumptions should be reversed, and if you fail to have a vote, well, sorry, you had your chance.
as has been alluded to here, the solution is to use the very same tactics against them that we’re employed against the country when Trump/McConnell were in charge… which boiled down to “you don’t like it? Fuck you” If you want rule by fiat, fine you got it, except its progressive ideas being implemented with no oversight. Don’t like it? Fine SCOTUS dissolved. No judiciary needed for legislative oversight. Executive order is the law of the land. Abortion legal everywhere. State’s don’t like it… fine, lock them up, those state lege folks can be put to work for the public good, at the 7.25 minimum wage that they think is so fine. You want to try and fuck with voting? Fine, it’s now a national holiday and enforceable via Homeland Security as a national right, three weeks, in person or by mail and handled federally, so fuck you Arizona, fuck you Georgia, maybe if you had acted in good faith you would still have a job.
will the Dems do this, c’mon you know the answer to that but I suspect it’s the only way to reach the GOP is to essentially fuck them with their own legislative dick. Then, suddenly they will want to talk about due process and laws and checks and balances.
The venerable Oxford English Dictionary says that rigmarole arose in the 1700s from such words as riggmonrowle, rig-me-roll and rig-my-role, all probably descended from Ragman roll. That was, as you said, a set of scrolls on which Scottish lords had to pay pro forma homage to Edward I in 1296. I think it likely that the word got its particular spin because ragman was also an old Scottish word for “a long or rambling discourse.”
Rigmarole: The New Malarkey
@Brachiator: the only good fascist is a dead one…the system cannot abide a sustained attack from within so we are going to have to excise this cancerous incarnation of the GOP
@Belafon: They will transition America to a post-democracy.
Maybe Manchin can wrangle a new coal mine out of it.
@gvg: I am. They wouldn’t hesitate.
Hell, they AREN’T hesitating. Chief Klanhood Roberts is prolly gonna gut what’s left of the VRA.
They. Are. Literally. Stealing. Our. Votes.
All this other bullshit? Kiss ot goodbye.
And nobody in our party seems to give a fuck. Certainly not Senators Coalhole and Sparkles.
We’re trying to be nice with people who will turn this country into South Africa before they acknowledge our humanity.
I am goddamned tired of the worst folks in America shitting on us and everyone else -including people we elected to represent us- acting like it is the natural order.
I mean, fuck. It just feels so goddamn hopeless some days…
I used to pronounce “misled” as “MY-suld” until my late teens. It just didn’t click that it was the past tense of “mislead”.
Unbelievably, I actually have more patience than most of you seemingly have. Maybe that is because I understand how things are supposed to work?
Whether Wray is fired is appropriately the job assessment of the Attorney General who has not yet been confirmed. It is not really the place of Biden to just fire Wray, he will let Garland make his assessment and give his recommendation. Any action on Wray should primarily be Garland’s decision.
I for one think Whitehouse would make an excellent FBI Director.
Off to my next zoomy!
I think the solution is to forbid someone to be simultaneously acting in a role and nominee to be the permanent holder. Ideally, the person in the acting position would be the most senior civil servant, so the president would have a strong motivation to appoint people to every position.
This would go well with a general reduction in the number of political appointees. We should have only a handful of appointees in the very top positions of each department rather than the whole upper stratum. That would provide better continuity between governments and reduce the amount of time and effort required to fill all the appointed positions.
There are currently about 1200 positions that require Senate confirmation, which is just way too many. There’s simply no way for the Senate to do an adequate job of vetting that many appointees. There just aren’t enough days in the calendar for them to give any but the most important ones anything but the most cursory examination. Most of those jobs should either be made into civil service positions or not require confirmation.
Neiter Cotton nor Hawley will ever be in a position to make the same mistake.
We had a discussion here about this a short while back. As a precocious kid reader I thought misled (“my-suld”) was the past tense of misle (“my-sul”), which for some unknown reason I never ran across.
The ruling (or whatever it’s properly termed) that a sitting president can’t be indicted has been cited often wrt ex-Prez Turnip, but it seems almost like a magical phrase. If one of the lawyers here could provide some brief answers to these two questions, I’d appreciate it.
1. What was the legal/historical context in which the ruling was made?
2. What is its legal status? It’s obviously not a law. Why and who determines that it must be followed?
@Ksmiami: True but not relevant under rule of law.
We don’t straight up murder murderers (or petty thieves, etc) either. We treat them like we can treat fascists: prevent them from doing their shit, period. They do not get to do that. They don’t have to be dead for being the kind of person who does it, but they don’t get to do that.
Rule of law. Rather out of fashion under Trump, but it’s been rocking the free world since the Magna Carta, and on the whole it works.
It doesn’t mean ‘you get to do your shit, if you insist on doing it and vow they’ll have to kill you to get you to stop’. Your opinion as the shit-doer is not relevant here. Rule of law means you don’t get to do your shit. I consider that would be appropriate for fascists.
Yeah, you have to deal with the GOP. Not sure what you do about citizens who yearn for an autocrat.
It’s not a ruling, it’s an internal Justice Department memo that was cobbled together during the Nixon Watergate crisis and somewhat “reaffirmed” in 2000. Pretty good explainer here.
Old Dan and Little Ann
For all intensive purposes, I always pronounced rigmarole as rig-a-mor-ole.
I threw in the first part because I didn’t know it was all intents and purposes until I was at least 30. : )
Just One More Canuck
@jeffreyw: take off, you hoser
Yep. And there is also this:
Funny how it also now is kinda faux Italian.
Heh. I was in fourth grade, and in my reading group I read from the book that a mass aj was given.
Despite the legend that grew up around the incident, I’m 90% sure I didn’t say “Oh, come on, a mass aj is a rubdown, like a muh sahj”. I did say “it’s a rubdown” to the amused faces of the other participants, I grant… and I grant, the full phrasing in the legend is more amusing. It just never occurred to me that “massage” could have the latter pronunciation.
I think it was partly because I never understood the concept of “stress” on a syllable until I heard the joke “putting the em PHA sis on the wrong sy-LAH-ble”, at which point it made perfect sense. (I similarly learned the passive tense from “the passive tense is to be avoided”.)
In ultimate Cancel Culture snub, Tucker warns us ALL men will be cancelled in 2045!! Lesbians will rule the world. I, for one, welcome our new lesbian overlords.
@Just One More Canuck: Shouldn’t that be, “Take off, eh”?
@Steeplejack: Thanks. The link you provided is exactly what I needed.
@Old Dan and Little Ann: Someone I knew said she thought the expression “take it with a grain of salt” was “take it with a grain assault” until she saw it written somewhere and realized her error. The poor thing was imagining being lashed with a sheaf of barley or something!
@Chris Johnson: I agree unless they restart their attacks on our federal government- then we drone them… sorry not sorry.
@Ascap_scab:”Tucker Carlson appears on TV and announces: ‘I am the face of low sperm count.'”
Regarding Amendment 3 above, I can’t remember how that was actually decided. Shitstain repurposed money for his wall claiming an emergency and the Supreme Court would not hear the legal case because….
I welcome education on this point.
Now that one party has discovered that shamelessness is a democracy-annihilating superpower
The author John Scalzi called this the “But What If We Didn’t” policy.
@Cameron: Not low enough…
@Betty Cracker: One Nation, Invisible..
Civil rights leader Vernon Jordan has passed away.
And also Bunny Wailer
She’d better nip that in the butt.
@Humdog: IIRC, it never got resolved. The case went to USSC, and there it remains. They gave Trump permission to continue while the case was pending.
Part of this is because no one wants to have sex with him.
@Ascap_scab: TMI, Tucker.
Hillary Clinton just can’t stop killing folk.
J R in WV
Perhaps a tiny new law specifying that Presidents are as liable to be indicted, tried in court, and jailed as anyone else might help?
Punishments for failure to provide requested information to any Congressional committee, or, hell, any congress person?
Like lose your job, your health care AND your pension first crack out of the box when you miss a very short deadline for providing requested information — like tax returns, phone records, etc.
But you’re right, once a political party with any chance of election winning by hook or crook decides to hell with democracy… we’re screwed. Unless we put enough of the fascists in jail quickly enough to make the point that you don’t want to be a Republican fascist any more…
@Betty Cracker: there’s also a common item of storage furniture that many people think is called a Chester draw.
I thought the surgical procedure was pronounced “SEEZ-er- EE-un” section until I was like 15, because I knew it was named after Julius Caesar. And it’s a SEEZ-er salad, right?
Don’t get me started on quixotic.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@Belafon: Of course, the “only 2 terms” precedent set by Washington was destroyed by FDR, so then the Repubs put it into the Constitution (22nd amendment). Otherwise I think Obama could have won a 3rd term.
@A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan): In the absence of a 22nd amendment, I don’t think President Obama could have ever run for a 3rd term because FLOTUS would have had his balls for pickled onions first.
I think that Mrs Obama would have come around.
I would have happily voted for Obama again.
Hell, maybe even for a fourth term.
I saw someone refer to “eggcorns” – misheard words where the mistaken word actually makes sense, in a reasonable context. So, like “eggcorn” for “acorn” (“it’s an oak tree egg…”), or, more broadly, “old timer’s” for “Alzheimers”.
I just saw your ideas. I think they are great. Especially if they are made to go into effect at the end of a Dem President’s term and await his/her/their Republican successor. (Warning: snark sighting!).
In the same vein, for ALL kinds of Presidents, Congress needs to change the rules on emergency spending. Requiring a 2/3rds vote to rescind emergency spending (Trump’s wall funding trick) is from someone else’s Constitution, not ours.
Give the President a limited window (e.g 90 days). If he-she can’t convince Congress to approve by majority vote by then, the emergency ends.
Even more important would be timed-out actions of a military nature. Enough already with 60 years of wars not so named and so not demanding Congressional approval!
ETA: 101st! My spirit is airborne.
ETA-2: Sorry, this was for Eric S., undisputed achiever of the 17th position, BIGLY coveted by all the 17 year-old reader of this blog.
To be Frank
I have no idea why you would give any of the previous guys appointees the benefit of the doubt