Friday, September 30, 2011

Exercise Your Right to Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Even if it's just for show, even if nothing ever gets done because of them, it's important to do this, if only for your signature to serve as witness to what people really want.

Michael Bersin at They Gave Us A Republic opened my eyes to how this petition thing is taking off. I clicked on the link, and spent the next hour immersed in the passionate demands of my fellow Americans for the changes they want.

Yes, it's hilarious and rewarding that the top signature-getter is for legalizing marijuana. But there are more than 100 petitions so far, and there are other gems - popular and not-so - to be found among them.

Top vote-getters, as of noon Thursday:

Legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Abolish the TSA, and use its monstrous budget to fund more sophisticated, less intrusive counter-terrorism intelligence.

Forgive student loan debt (This one proves it's not old people e-signing these petitions)

Call an investigation into allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the case of Sholom Rubashkin. I have no idea who Sholom Rubashkin is, but he has a lot of friends.

Take the phrase "Under God" out of the pledge of allegiance.

Grow industrial hemp in the U.S. again.

My personal favorites:

Reverse the Citizens United decision by supported constitutional amendment. Yeah, yeah, I know, but it needs more support, people - sign it!

Support Sen. Sanders bill to fix social security by removing the cap on income. Needs your signatures, people!

Extend unemployment benefits past 99 weeks for ALL long-term unemployed Americans - for the 99ers and ANY "exhaustee". - needs signatures!

Investigate Bush administration for war crimes. Needs signatures!

Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline - this one needs signatures ASAP, especially since some fossil-fuel asshole has added a "Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline" and that one already has 250 signatures.

Grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Needs signatures!

Make all federal election days national holidays to increase voter turnout. This one already has its minimum signature requirement, but it's important, so sign it anyway.

End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive war on drugs. Also has lots of signatures, but this one can't have too many.

Repeal the Patriot Act. Another that has met its minimum but can't have too many.

Restore democracy by ending corporate personhood. Can't have too many signatures on this one.

There are some hilarious ones, too. Release secret information on extraterrestials is popular, and 372 people want a presidential commission to investigate the covert use of mind-control techniques on American citizens. First, it's been done. Second, nobody cared. Third, the government wants you to sign that petition.

There are several that are so specific and technical I think they refer to specific corporate loopholes, like:

"Antineoplastons, cancer drugs in FDA trials since 1995, results publicly audited by Congress, to gain final FDA-approval." Gonna need more information on that one.

Some are outside federal government purview - like abolishing abstinence-only education in schools (which are run by the states). Some are too vague, like Protect Children from Dangerous Air Pollution. Some have the right idea but the wrong method, like Make Bribing Politicians Illegal. (It already is illegal - the problem is the legal stuff that's not bribery)

There are some duplicates - at least 10 variations on legalize marijuana, and one "abolish" the Patriot Act and one "End" the Patriot Act, each with more than 5,000 signatures. These need to merge.

It's annoying that you have to click to add just 8 petitions at a time, And when you click on one to read about it and sign it, the back button takes you back to the first 8 petitions, not petitions 81-90, which is where you left it.

But it's absolutely fascinating to read, find out what your fellow Americans think is important, and add your voice to theirs.

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