Petition Tag - congress

1. Revoke Lamar Alexander's Honorary Doctor-of-Laws Degree from William & Mary

Senator Lamar Alexander currently chairs the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions which recently voted to support the nomination of Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education.

Throughout the nomination hearings, Senator Alexander stridently supported DeVos, despite her history of devaluing public education and her shockingly obvious lack of qualifications for the position.

In 2002, Senator Alexander received an honorary doctor-of-laws degree during the spring commencement ceremony at The College of William & Mary for his role as "an outspoken advocate for education."

Based on his vocal and legislatively substantive support of a clearly unfit candidate for US Secretary of Education, and based on The College of William & Mary's long and accomplished history as both a publicly-funded institution and its role in advocating for affordable public education, we are asking The College to revoke his honorary Doctor-of-Laws degree.

2. Mr. Steve Bannon Must Resign From President Trump's Administration

I think Ian Tuttle's article in National Review Steve Bannon Is Not a Nazi—But Let’s Be Honest about What He Represents...said it best:

QUOTE: "The problem is not whether Bannon himself subscribes to a noxious strain of political nuttery; it’s that his de facto endorsement of it enables it to spread and to claim legitimacy." UNQUOTE

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442189/steve-bannon-trump-administration-alt-right-breitbart-chief-strategist

3. Free Domain Names Offer for UF Students

The petition at the bottom of this page is intended only for the signatures of University of Florida (UF) students who are interested in creating a UF Civics Club. Once this new UF club is established, it will be encouraged to gradually expand and also become the home base for a Florida Civics Club and National Civics Club. And if I'm as pleased with their progress as I think I'll be, the UF Civics Club's members will subsequently be given offers for other free domain names such as CitizenCosponsors.Org, IssueOfTheYear.Org, MidtermPlatforms.Org, NationalDebate.Org, and NationalReferendums.Org that aren't for sale at any price—just like the ones in this initial offer.

Acquiring free domain names might not seem important to some of you at first, but bear in mind that speculators (who sometimes reap $millions by reselling them) have been buying them up ever since the first one was registered in 1985. Being willing to pay such a huge sum for a domain name might seem ridiculous to anyone who has never created a website. For those who have, however, it's pretty much common knowledge that the more accurately a domain name reflects a website's subject matter or name, the more that it could help to increase that site's first-time and/or repeat visitors all by itself. And due to the fact that the total number of registered domain names has risen to over 330 million, the value of a domain name that can enable a website to stand out amidst this growing clutter has grown as well. For instance, the price for the "Com" version of the first one I bought 14 years ago (Amendment28.Org) has risen to $10,000.

I have focused on acquiring civic engagement types of domain names that could potentially be used to help us rise above the intense partisanship and political gridlock that has developed in our country, and effectively work together towards the achievement of social and governmental goals we hold in common. My intention has been to hold on to each one of these impactful domain names until I could find an organization or individual I believed could be relied upon to make good use of it. And I never planned to make a profit, but to donate them or charge only what it costs me to purchase and maintain their ownership—which has been about $100 apiece. (Ownership of domain names is not permanent. Each one must be officially registered, which is paid for in yearly increments. And if a registration isn't renewed in time, one's ownership of that domain name is terminated.)

Unfortunately, after more than a decade of seriously examining and gradually eliminating every existing organization I thought might be capable of putting one or more of my domain names to good use, I came up empty. That's when I starting thinking that it will take the creation of an entirely new type of nationwide organization that is capable of handling all of them. And that's what I'm giving you the opportunity to do.

The rest of this background section will be devoted to explaining what has driven me to attach such importance to the creation of a nationwide system of civics clubs; why I've chosen to trust such relatively young and inexperienced individuals as college students with turning that vision into reality; and some specific projects I recommend the members of those clubs undertake over the next few years.

THE PROBLEM



Although Mr. Dreyfuss did an outstanding job of describing the problem and its seriousness, this video didn't explain what he meant by such statements as "what you have to do is get it back;" and that we need to "relearn the tools of reason, logic, clarity, dissent, civility, and debate;" However, the following statement and video from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools covers that quite well:

"In recent years, civic learning has been increasingly pushed aside. Until the 1960s, three courses in civics and government were common in American high schools, and two of them ('civics' and 'problems of democracy') explored the role of citizens and encouraged students to discuss current issues. Today those courses are very rare. What remains is a course on 'American government' that usually spends little time on how people can – and why they should – participate as citizens."



And judging by this excerpt from Florida's current "Requirements for a standard high school diploma," the state we reside in has been one of the worst offenders: "Three credits in social studies.—A student must earn one credit in United States History; one credit in World History; one-half credit in economics, which must include financial literacy; and one-half credit in United States Government." This doesn't make much sense in light of the fact that, of the 24 credits required for graduation, eight are electives!

And regarding those in our country who move on to higher education, guess what? "The vast majority of our colleges have made a course on the broad themes of U.S. history or government optional." For those of you who are inclined to assume that merely being exposed to a collegiate environment for 2-4 years ought to make up for such widespread deficiencies in our civics education, the major findings of a Civic Literacy Report from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute will be a real eye-opener:

  • A College Degree Fails to Promote Active Civic Engagement Beyond Voting
  • Greater Civic Knowledge Trumps a College Degree as the Leading Factor in Encouraging Active Civic Engagement
  • Civic Self-Education Increases Active Civic Engagement; Video Games Detract
[It's the above-mentioned civic self-education that I'm counting on to gradually transform members of this new system of civics clubs into model citizens. And one of the main reasons I chose college students to create these clubs, is because they tend to have a deep appreciation for the value of education.]

That so many people in positions of power have been ignoring this problem for the past half century is difficult to understand, particularly in light of the point of view our country's Department of State has been disseminating to the rest of the world through this and other means. (Note: With the exception of the following quotation's title, the highlighting in bold is not in the original.)

"Democracy and Education

"Education is a vital component of any society, but especially of a democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: 'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never shall be.'

"In contrast to authoritarian societies that seek to inculcate an attitude of passive acceptance, the object of democratic education is to produce citizens who are independent, questioning, and analytical in their outlook, yet deeply familiar with the precepts and practices of democracy. Vanderbilt professor Chester E. Finn, Jr., said in his address to educators in Nicaragua: 'People may be born with an appetite for personal freedom, but they are not born with knowledge about the social and political arrangements that make freedom possible over time for themselves and their children....Such things must be acquired. They must be learned.'

"From this perspective, it is not enough to say that the task of education in a democracy is simply to avoid the indoctrination of authoritarian regimes and provide instruction that is neutral concerning political values. That is impossible: All education transmits values, intended or not. Students can indeed be taught the principles of democracy in a spirit of open inquiry that is itself an important democratic value. At the same time, students are encouraged to challenge conventional thinking with reasoned arguments and careful research. There may be vigorous debate, but democracy's textbooks should not simply ignore events or facts that are unpleasant or controversial.

"'Education plays a singular role in free societies,' Finn states. 'While the education systems of other regimes are tools of those regimes, in a democracy the regime is the servant of the people, people whose capacity to create, sustain, and improve that regime depends in large measure on the quality and effectiveness of the educational arrangements through which they pass. In a democracy, it can fairly be said, education enables freedom itself to flourish over time.'"

THE SOLUTION

A number of organizations have been addressing this serious deficiency in our country's civics education system for quite a few years now, and the activities of 3 of them are outlined below:

1. In 2001, The Joe Foss Institute was created. It has a wide variety of programs, most of which are covered in this video:



The goal of The Civics Education Initiative mentioned in the video, which has probably been the most highly publicized and effective of any organization's efforts thus far, is to require "high school students, as a condition for graduation, to pass a test on 100 basic facts of U.S. history and civics, from the United States Citizenship Civics Test." However, although it has already been successful in 14 states, its website openly acknowledges that it is only "a first step to ensure all students are taught basic civics about how our government works, and who we are as a nation…things every student must learn to be ready for active, engaged citizenship."

2. In 2004, the previously mentioned Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools was created. Aside from the video and other efforts at publicity, its website's "Action Center" page includes a petition to "the President of the United States, the United States Congress, the United States Secretary of Education, the Governors of each State, each State Schools Chief, all State Legislators, all State Boards of Education, each local Superintendent and School Board to take action now to strengthen and improve civic learning (civics, history, economics, geography, service learning linked to the classroom) policies, standards, assessments and funding."

3. In 2006, the same year in which his previously shown video was filmed, Mr Dreyfuss created The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative. Its purpose is to "revive the teaching of civics in American public education to empower future generations with the critical-thinking skills they need to fulfill the vast potential of American citizenship." Among other things, it has established a Civics Discussion Club "to get the general public to think critically and discuss how we can improve our country."

Unfortunately, as noble as these and many other efforts have been, they just don't seem to be enough to get the job done by themselves. Here's just one example of the difficulties they've had: In spite of how informative and inspirational the 3 previously shown videos might seem, the number of "views" they've received over the total of 16 years they've been online is under 75,000. And that's at YouTube, where a single video submitted this year has already been viewed 135 million times ! So helping these and other organizations to spread awareness of this issue will be one of the most important initial goals for your civics clubs.

Of course, the purpose of creating a nationwide system of civics clubs is much broader and more long term than merely restoring formal civics education to its accustomed place in K-12 curriculums. Whereas a solid formal education in civics (especially in our high schools) could symbolically be seen as the root structure of our country's "tree of liberty;" the goal of this nationwide system of civics clubs will be to serve as the trunk of that tree in the years ahead. Carrying this symbolism one step further, whatever national, state, or local activities these clubs will engage in (alone, or in conjunction with other social and political organizations) can be looked upon as the branches. And with every success of these civics clubs, however small, one or more fresh leaves will burst forth on the tree of liberty.

Why College Students Should Create & Operate Them
I have a number of reasons for making this decision, and they are all based on the same premise: The membership of civics clubs organized on college and university campuses will tend to be composed primarily of individuals who are more idealistic, less set in their ways, and more capable of improving their civic skills through experiential learning than would be the case if any other large nationwide group of voting age individuals & locations were chosen. And why is this so? Because most of you are still under the age of 25. The following video gives a scientific explanation for why I believe your ages are such a key factor:



In an interview with PBS's Frontline, the researcher in the above video (Dr. Giedd) provided a great deal more information on this subject. Some excerpts are provided below.

"One of the most exciting discoveries from recent neuroscience research is how incredibly plastic the human brain is. For a long time, we used to think that the brain, because it's already 95 percent of adult size by age six, things were largely set in place early in life. ... [There was the] saying. "Give me your child, and by the age of five, I can make him a priest or a thief or a scholar.

"[There was] this notion that things were largely set at fairly early ages. And now we realize that isn't true; that even throughout childhood and even the teen years, there's enormous capacity for change. We think that this capacity for change is very empowering for teens . . .

"So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they're lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going [to] survive."

Although words like adolescent, teen, and young were often used in the video and interview when discussing this critical period for the development of your brains, don't forget that research shows it normally lasts until our mid-twenties:

  • University of Rochester - "The rational part of a teen's brain isn't fully developed and won't be until he or she is 25 years old or so."
  • Mental Health Daily - "All behaviors and experiences you endure until the age of 25 have potential to impact your developing brain."
  • MIT - "As a number of researchers have put it, 'the rental car companies have it right.' The brain isn't fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car."
So now that you know why I've chosen college students to create this new nationwide system of civics clubs, it's time to move on to a brief discussion of how I envision these clubs operating, as well as a look at two of the projects I hope you'll undertake with the 2 domain names that don't have the words "civics club" in them. Bear in mind, however, that these are only suggestions. Once you acquire the domain names in this or any subsequent offers, the only restrictions you have on using them are those that are in the terms of the offers you agree to. And one of the most important reasons I picked UF is because I'm retired and live nearby, which means I'll be available just about anytime you think my advice might be helpful.

Domain Names in Initial Offer
CIVICS CLUBS
This includes the UF Civics Club, Florida Civics Club, and National Civics Club domain names, The differences between them (and the clubs they will be used for) are mostly just ones of size and scope, so there's no need to address them separately at this time.

One of the first things you'll find out if you research civics clubs is that a lot of them have chosen to use "civic," rather that "civics." I chose to include the "s" for one big reason: To reduce the confusion created by this and other webpages dealing with Honda Civic clubs, one of many problems that those who starting forming civics and civic clubs a century ago didn't have to deal with in their far less technologically-advanced times.

And if you dig a bit deeper in your research, you'll find that another group of college students was engaged in creating their own nationwide system of civic clubs (without the "s") way back in 1906. You'll also see that The Intercollegiate League of Civic Clubs they formed was considered to be so important that delegates from the 14 participating universities were invited to an "informal talk" with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. (I wasn't able to find anything out about why it failed to catch on, but I don't think it's overly important because our modern world is so radically different from theirs.)

From what has previously been discussed in this background section, you have a pretty good idea of the overall purpose of these civics clubs. As to how they should actually operate, you have a lot of active civic and civics clubs out there that you can study, and whose elected or appointed officers and advisers you can consult with. In particular, I'd like to draw your attention to the Madison Civics Club. It is significant for several reasons, starting with the fact that it has managed to stay in operation for over a century (other than a brief closure during WWII). Another interesting characteristic is that it has operated (albeit at different times) as both an active and crusading organization of many accomplishments, and as one focused more on the common dictionary definition of civics as being merely the study of our rights and responsibilities as citizens.

I recommend that you don't limit yourselves to examining organizations that identify themselves as civic(s) clubs, however. For instance, there's a great deal that can be learned from well-established "public interest" organizations such as Common Cause, Public Citizen, and the 96-year-old League of Women Voters (LWV). And there's also a great deal that can be learned from well-established "service" organizations such as the Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs—all 3 of which predate the founding of the LWV.

And the most important procedural policy I hope you'll establish for your civics clubs, at every level, is that important decision-making should be made in as democratic a fashion as is reasonably possible. After all, just about any definition you can find of "civics" involves studying the rights and duties of citizens. And there's no better way for students and citizens in a democracy to accomplish that than through experiential learning. Here as well, there are a lot of organizations whose procedures you can study and learn from. On the local level, I would put Portsmouth Listens right at the top of the list. Since 1999, it has been utilizing a form of deliberative democracy in which: "The key has been a commitment to empanel citizens in small groups of 8-12 people, charge them with the responsibility of deliberating like a jury or policy board, and honoring their resulting conclusions."



And on the national level, I believe that America Speaks has provided the best procedures to study and learn from:



Unfortunately, it "closed its doors" 2 years ago after 19 years of operation. However, there are a number of other national level organizations that are still in operation, and whose activities are well worth studying. And although they might not have engaged in as large scale activities as America Speaks, there are at least two of them that possess a feature which might prove to be of even more value: Local representatives.

1. The National Issues Forums has been around since the 1980s, and it has a number of "network partners" here in Florida (including 2 at UF).

2. The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) has been in existence since 2002, and has one representative at UF.

And there is also at least one organization that is worth taking a look at on the international level. Stanford University's Center for Deliberative Democracy has been "devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling" around the world for over 10 years now.

No matter how you choose to operate internally, however, I urge you to do as was recommended earlier in this background section regarding outside activities: Look upon your system of civics clubs as being the trunk of our country's "tree of liberty," with formal high school civics education being the tree's roots. And whenever there are social or political problems that a majority of your members want to address, always try to "branch out" by contacting and offering assistance to well-established organizations with expertise in those areas.

I believe that your members and your fellow citizens will be better served by working together with (rather than competing against) other reputable organizations. A lot of them have been doing wonderful things on our behalf for many years, after all, but have recently fallen on hard times. This is primarily because they (like so many other well-established businesses and nonprofit organizations) have had a great deal of difficulty adapting to the monumental changes in communications technology, especially social media and the powerful handheld devices that are rapidly become ubiquitous.

Before bringing this section on civics clubs to a close, I'd like to caution you against moving too far, too fast. In a free society such as ours, there is a natural tendency for the most enthusiastic and capable individuals to rise to the top of organizations. When that happens in the business world, it spells success. When it comes to citizen-based organizations, however, just the opposite often happens. And that's primarily due to their leadership being too gung-ho and wrapped up in their work, thereby losing touch with the limitations imposed on most of their fellow citizens by their day-to-day lives.

I've seen it happen time and time again: A civic engagement organization is formed by one or more highly-accomplished, dynamic individuals. With each success, the level of their membership, donations, and expenses (paid staff, rental space, etc.) tends to increase. This encourages them to increase the frequency and scope of their activities, which tends to increase the level of their membership, donations, and expenses even further. On and on this cycle goes, until they eventually reach a point at which they are stretching the time and resources of their supporters to the breaking point.

Then, rather than scaling back the frequency and scope of their activities, they double down by increasing the frequency and urgency of their appeals for support—alienating and gradually driving away more and more of their supporters. And this goes on until their organization becomes a mere shell of its former self, looking very much like a dinosaur facing extinction to anyone (especially young adults) looking for an organization to support (and possibly join) in that organization's area of expertise.

And with those last words of advice, I leave the creation and operation of this system of civics clubs in your capable hands—with the understanding that I'll be available to add my two cents' worth whenever it's asked for.

AMENDMENT 28
I recommend that this domain name be used to create an Amendment 28 website that is dedicated to deciding what our country's next constitutional amendment should be, and then coordinating whatever activities will be necessary to get it passed into law. This might seem like an overly optimistic goal to set for such a new organization, but I look at it this way: If you can succeed at this, which is generally acknowledged to be the most difficult political objective of them all, then your nationwide system of civics clubs will have firmly established itself as one of the premier civic engagement organizations in our country.

And besides, I'm not recommending that you try to accomplish this overnight, or that you drop everything else to focus on it. By all means, take your time and strive to accomplish it in a series of steps such as the following:
  • On January 1 or some other date early n 2017, publicly ask for suggestions from all the important sources you can think of (including members of Congress). And as they come in, compile them and list all the important individuals and entities that endorse each one.
  • After you've allowed sufficient time for everyone to weigh in (perhaps 9 months), set up panels of members within your civics clubs to analyze them and make their recommendations for a "Top 10" list.
  • Once that is accomplished (perhaps after 6 months), take all their recommendations into consideration for the compilation of an official "Top 10" list. And on a propitious date in 2018 (perhaps July 4th), announce the activation of 10 separate petitions directed to the National Civics Club. Each one of the petitions will be devoted to one of the Top 10 recommendations for our country's next constitutional amendment, with the understanding that the 3 which gather the most signatures (or "votes") will comprise the final 3 choices.
  • After a predesignated time period (I suggest at least another 6 months), close all 10 petitions. Then start all over again with another round of voting, which will determine the final winner. This time, however, I recommend that only members of the National Civics Club will be entitled to vote. This is not only justified because they are the ones who will have the primary responsibility for doing what it takes to get the next amendment passed, but because it will be a good promotional tool for getting more people to join your civics clubs.
  • Once again, after a predesignated period (another 6 months?), close the polls and announce the winner on as propitious a date as possible (perhaps July 4th again?). And then the ground game begins, with the first step being to initiate a petition to Congress requesting its passage. You will be well into 2019 by this time, but not so far that you won't have plenty of time to get it passed before the next congressional election in November, 2020. And even if you fail in that first attempt, it would make a great issue to publicize for that election—placing all those who didn't support its passage in danger of not being reelected.
So, as you can see, what I'm recommending is a 3-4 year plan just to complete Phase 1 for Amendment 28: Getting it passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress. That ought to give you more than enough time to get it accomplished. But even if it fails to pass for some reason, all the knowledge and experience you acquire in the process will virtually guarantee that your second attempt will turn out differently. And just in case you think that I've been making the task of amending our country's Constitution appear much more difficult than it actually is, take a look at the following video:



WHITE HOUSE PETITIONS
At President Obama's direction, a White House petitions website was created in September, 2011. And although it has certainly had its critics since then, one of its truly positive aspects is that an official response has always been guaranteed for every petition that accrues a clearly established minimum number of signatures. (Of course, submitted petitions must first meet the White House's criteria for acceptance.)

In spite of that minimum being raised from its initial level of 5,000 to 100,000 in January, 2013, over 300 responses like these recent ones have been issued since the petition site was activated 5 years ago. And as to whether any of them have ever accomplished anything beyond eliciting an online response, the Obama White House recently provided "a look at some of the petitions that jumpstarted conversations between citizens and their government on important national issues and drove real government action."

Just because it has proven itself worthwhile, however, doesn't guarantee that one of President Obama's successors won't pull the plug on it. And there's reason for concern about President-Elect Trump's intentions: As of this petition's submission on 12-3-16, the only means that he has provided for interacting with him (or his transition team) at his GreatAgain.Gov website was this "Hear more from the transition team" e-mail page.

That's why I recommend that, once you have used this domain name to establish a website entitled "White House Petitions," the first petition you create and promote should be similar to the example highlighted in bold below. (And by the way, your website needn't be equipped to prepare and process petitions on its own—not now, not ever. All you need to do is display duplicates of the petitions you are encouraging your fellow citizens to sign, and then provide links to the originals at the White House's We the People petition site. And until President-Elect Trump is sworn into office on January 20th, you can use nongovernmental petition sites such as this one to prepare and process any petitions directed to him.)

To: President-Elect Trump

One of the things that we have liked most about President Obama is the emphasis he has always placed on providing ways for his fellow citizens to communicate with him and his administration. Even before he was sworn into office the first time in January, 2009, his transition team had already conducted several "Open for Questions" sessions that over 100,000 people participated in. And since then, he has provided us with many other opportunities to make our voices heard.

What has probably been the most effective and popular of them all is the "We the People" e-petitions system that has been in operation since September, 2011. As an indication of how effective it has been, the Obama White House recently provided "a look at some of the petitions that jumpstarted conversations between citizens and their government on important national issues and drove real government action." And as to how popular it is, the Chief Digital Officer of the White House stated last April that it had acquired over 23 million total users. And at the end of that same blog entry, he pretty well summed up our feelings about this innovative e-petitions system that President Obama established 5 years ago:

"Our true hope for We the People is that it will become an essential tool of civic participation — one that outlives this Administration and is carried on by the next and the next (and the next)."

We therefore ask that you make a commitment to continue operating this White House e-petitions system, and to archive all of the responses issued by the Obama Administration.

Respectfully,

(End of Prospective Petition to President-Elect Trump)

4. The right for Veterans who have an honorable discharge to be able to shop at the Exchange and Commissary

We don't think that it is right that we have served our Country and just because we didn't retire from the military that we don't have rights to the Exchange or the Commissary.

If a Veteran has an Honorable Discharge they should be able to still have those privileges.

5. STOP Illegal Protesting! DO YOUR JOB!

CALL TO ACTION:

Call on All Elected Officials to pledge their support for Congress to immediately declare George Soros funded MoveOn.org as an International Terrorist Organization operating within the USA using paid agitators to violently protest against the new President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Without Law & Order chaos will continue hurting people and property dismantling our very society. We ask that you do your job!

Please sign your names to this petition!

6. Common Sense Politics 2016

The Common Sense Politics 2016 is here to give the populace power through education in the principles and values of personal responsibility, individual liberty, traditional American values, free markets, limited government, and a strong national defense.

We believe the role of government is to protect & hold sacred the rights of free people to pursue their own goals and we advocate conservative policies that generally emphasize the empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

Common Sense Politics 2016 promotes and defends these traditions throughout the United States at the Local, State, and Federal level; and to support the election of candidates who personify these values & beliefs.

7. Term Limits Now for ALL elected offices

Many elected officials forgot the citizens that elected them into office. We see it all the time. They become surrogates to the big donors, lobbyist and party affiliation.

It's time to end the corruption that has invaded our political system. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Let's demand that term limits become the law. This will be our first step to end the cycle of corruption in politics.

8. Citizens against taxpayer funded abortions

The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1977 following the legalization of abortion. Its purpose to prevent persons and religious organizations from being forced to pay for abortions against their conscience, their religious beliefs, or moral beliefs.

Hillary Clinton would like to reverse this amendment and force taxpayers to provide free abortions on demand. She would also like to lift all time limits for abortions allowing an abortion to occur up to the day of birth. Abortion limits and prevention continues to be a fight for human rights. With so many opposed to this act against humanity itself, the notion of free funding with taxpayer money is absurd.

At over 300,000 abortions a year, it is also an undue and unjust burden placed on taxpayers struggling with their own household bills.

9. Bring Congress back from Recess

Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, we ask the President to call a Special Session of Congress.

This Special Session should address these 3 items:

1.) Human Rights
Action: a. Outlining the rights of Civilians (when apprehended or detained in Police custody, the process of public defense, easier process to restore voting rights to returning citizens) and -
b. the rights of police (proper/unified training, psychological evaluations, fair wages/ treatment for PTSD)

2.) Race Relations
Action: a. Updating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include anti-profiling language & increased funding to Community Relations Service (CRS)

3.) Gun Control
Action: Background Checks for those seeking to obtain a firearm and closing the Gun Show Loophole. A vote on reinstating the Federal Assault Weapon Ban.

10. Establish Term Limits for the United States Congress

The Congress of the United States of America past legislation in 1942 that limited the Office of the President to two terms. This tradition has been passed on to each president through the years.

The purpose of the law was to limit the power of the president in such a way as to not allow what is commonly know as a dictator or monarchy to develop. It is time to pass that legislation on to our Congressional members.

It has become very relevant that those in power for extended periods of time accumulate a great deal of power and pull to the point that it has been used to sway elected officials votes on matters directly concerning the people of the United States and the will of said same.

11. Ryan: Vacate your speakership now

Congress and the speaker have betrayed conservatives in the past but most recently they handed Obama a blank check to fund illegals and refugees which the majority of American's oppose.

12. LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI

We all feel the disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose & The suspicious death of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri In Tashkent are completely linked & carried out deviously by a political party in India!

For the sake of the country & countrymen & for the sake of putting the future of our children in the right hands, WE WANT THE TRUTH OUT!

13. End Taypayer Funded Abortions at Planned Parenthood

End Taypayer Funded Abortions at Planned Parenthood.

14. Stop the IRAN DEAL in CONGRESS

The Iran Deal is a bad deal meant to keep Iran from producing and using Atomic Weapons. This is a bad deal because it takes 24 days to even begin to check on an area in Iran where it is suspected of producing Atomic weapons and it does not allow inspections on approximately 50 military bases.

Furthermore, Iran will receive billions of dollars near the beginning of the deal and they are likely to use this for more terror, and for obtaining more weapons.

15. Congress Must De-Fund Planned Parenthood Immediately

A shocking new expose’ video has caught Planned Parenthood’s top doctor describing how the abortion business sells the body parts of aborted babies.

New undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted unborn children.

Responding to this travesty, Rep. Diane Black has asked Congress to pass her bill, The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood performs upwards of 327,000 abortions a year is heartbreaking and barbaric enough on its own. The news that its employees engaged in the harvesting of aborted babies’ body parts is almost too much to bear and is incredibly revealing as to the true nature of the big abortion industry,” she said.

16. Please Create a Petitions Commission

[11-28-16 Update From Petition's Author: I closed this petition on January 7th, with a commitment to revise and reactivate it "soon." I apologize for not having done so yet, but most of my time since then has been devoted to caring for a terminally ill family member. The task of revising and reactivating this petition is now in the process of being turned over to students at the University of Florida, with a target date of activation in early 2017. A link to their new version will be provided on this page as soon as it's available.]

[This background section is extremely long, so take a look at just the 6 embedded videos (as well as the paragraph immediately above each one) if you're pressed for time. None of them lasts longer than 5 minutes, and they contain enough information to give you a good idea of what public petitions committees are, how they operate, and why it's in our best interests to have one established in our United States Congress.]

So that you can see right away what you are being asked to sign, a copy of the petition is provided immediately below. Anyone wishing to add their signature should scroll down to the original at the bottom of the page.
Please Create a Petitions Commission

We urge you to pass legislation this year creating a joint Senate and House of Representatives Petitions Commission. Its objective will be to make recommendations to Congress concerning the establishment and operation of a congressional petitions committee and e-petitions system.

Elected representatives in many other national legislatures have already provided their fellow citizens with these participatory democracy reforms, and we believe the time is long overdue for you to do the same for us.


(End of Petition)

If you have ever signed a paper or e-petition to Congress and never heard another thing about it, you have an inkling of just how disorganized and discouraging the entire congressional petitioning process has always been. And you would undoubtedly find it welcome news if someone told you that just a few years from now:

  • A bipartisan petitions committee and e-petitions system will be established in Congress.
  • Every e-petition submitted in their new system will be expeditiously reviewed.
  • If it meets the committee's criteria for acceptance, it will immediately become one of their website's active petitions. And the petition's author will be given its URL (complete web address), so that it can be more easily publicized and its progress tracked. On the other hand, the petition's author will be notified if the petition is rejected; and the reasons for its disqualification will be clearly explained.
  • If a petition acquires an established minimum number of signatures, those who submitted it will be contacted and (in many cases) given an opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss the issue(s) involved. And whether or not the petitioners appear before the committee, their petition will be given an official response that will be permanently posted online in a manner similar to what is being done in the United Kingdom and President Obama's White House.
  • This bipartisan committee will probably have a lot more women on it than their meager 19.4% share of seats in Congress would indicate. That is, assuming that membership on such a committee proves to be as attractive to them as it has been with women in Germany's Bundestag, as well as some other national legislatures around the world. There has also been a distinct shortage of women appearing before congressional committees. According to this 2014 analysis, less than 1/4 of those testifying before the House of Representatives have been women. That low participation rate admittedly can't be attributed solely to the under-representation of women in congressional committees. However, it stands to reason that the higher the percentage of women on these committees, the more women that will be invited to testify before them. The net result ought to be that the atmosphere in most congressional committees will gradually become a lot less partisan and confrontational than has traditionally been the case.
  • This committee will also probably have a powerful attraction for those members of Congress who are outspoken advocates for making our political system more responsive to the needs of the American people. To get an idea of how much more impact such individuals could potentially have as members of a bipartisan petitions committee, take a look at the following videos of Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) and Representative Paul Ryan (Republican).





Well, guess what? Having Congress provide us with such a petitions committee and e-petitions system isn't some sort of pipe dream. Legislatures in a number of other countries have been operating similar ones for years. Take the Federal Republic of Germany, for example. For the past 11 years, if an e-petition on the official government petition site accumulates at least 50,000 signatures during its first 4 weeks, "the parliamentary commission for petitions usually holds a public debate on the issue, whereby the petitioner is invited and has the possibility to present his or her arguments before the delegates." And for a much more recent example, here's the policy that Luxembourg established two years ago: "If a petition garners 4,500 signatures or more in this time (6 weeks), parliamentary committees are bound by law to hold a public debate with the ministers concerned and a maximum of six petitioners."

Here is a look at the membership of some of the public petitions committees in other parts of the world. It is limited to those for which photos of the members were readily available online, so it's much shorter than a complete list of such committees would be: Australia; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Germany; Israel; Scotland; Singapore; the United Kingdom; and the huge one in the European Parliament. It should be noted that some petitions committees provide and oversee the operation of e-petitions systems, while others do not.

You may have noticed that many of these committees have attracted a far higher percentage of women than one might expect in national legislatures, which have traditionally been dominated by men. Indeed, when compared to this list of the proportion of women in national parliaments, the higher percentage is quite surprising in some cases. For example, of the 8 petitions committees shown above, the highest percentage of female membership is Germany's 61.5%—which dwarfs the 37% figure for their national parliament.

Of course, there is no guarantee that a new petitions committee in our Congress would follow the same trend. However, if one takes a look at the impressive backgrounds of just about every one of the 104 women currently serving in Congress, it becomes difficult to imagine very many of them not trying to make the most of their congressional careers by seeking membership in such a potentially powerful new committee. Judge for yourself regarding the 14 newest female members of Congress. Here are links to the official government web pages for the 2 new female members of the Senate: Shelley Moore Capito and Joni Ernst. And here are the links for the 12 new female members of the House of Representatives: Alma Adams, Barbara Comstock, Debbie Dingell, Gwen Graham, Brenda Lawrence, Mia Love, Martha McSally, Kathleen Rice, Elise Stefanik, Norma Torres, Mimi Walters, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Now for an examination of what has been taking place in the UK, where ongoing efforts to improve their Parliament's petitions system might very well end up producing what will arguably be the best in the world.

In 2011, the UK's Parliament launched an e-petitions system in which those acquiring at least 100,000 signatures would be "eligible for debate in the House of Commons." And it quickly became so popular that, as this summary of its first 100 days states: "Of the six e-petitions which have passed the 100,000 threshold, two have been debated (the London riots and Hillsborough petitions), two are scheduled to be debated (Fuel Duty and Babar Ahmad – as part of a wider extradition debate) and one has been accepted for debate but will not be scheduled until the new year (Immigration)." And it has remained popular enough for the last 5 years that in March, 2015 it was stated that, "Since the launch of the Government’s e-petitions site, more than 3.7 million individuals have given their support to the 37 petitions that reached the qualifying 100,000 signature threshold for debate. The topics of 32 have been the subject of debate in the House of Commons, most as a direct result of the e-petition."

That e-petitions system was recently changed to one overseen by a newly created petitions committee. Although the threshold of 100,000 might wind up being adjusted, the most important part of the old system will be retained: petitions acquiring a significant number of signatures will still be "considered for debate in the House (of Commons)." However, it is no longer left up to individual members of Parliament to sponsor a petition and recommend that it be scheduled for a debate. That responsibility now belongs to the Petitions Committee, which is also empowered to support the petitioning process in a number of other ways: ask for more information in writing—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations; ask for more information in person—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations; write to the Government or another public body to press for action on a petition; and ask another parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by a petition.

Meanwhile, what sort of system for submitting petitions does our own Congress have?

Search as you will, you'll find that there is virtually no official system at all. Even the Parliament of our neighbor to the north, Canada (which also still doesn't have a petitions committee), at least has been providing petitioners with extensive guidelines on the "Form and Content" of "Written, Typewritten or Printed" petitions. Not only that, but Canadians will also have access to an e-petitions system run by Parliament "When the House of Commons opens for business after the next election," which is currently scheduled to take place on October 19, 2015.

To put in perspective just how unfriendly and discouraging the process for submitting petitions to government officials has been in our country, it's useful to note that in 1984 the Supreme Court held that "Nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court's case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to communications of members of the public on public issues." Although this started out as a local case (Minnesota Board for Community Colleges v. Knight), it pretty well encapsulates what citizens have been faced with when petitioning Congress.

So here we are, without official standards to go by in preparing petitions; and not only must we determine which member(s) of Congress to present them to, but also when, where, and how they should be presented. And now that we're in the age of television, home videos, cell phones, the Internet, and social media, this has naturally led to a wide variety of both cooperative and confrontational scenes of citizens presenting petitions to members of Congress; but either way, they normally amount to little more than isolated publicity stunts. The type of ongoing, respectful, and potentially productive interaction with a group of nonpartisan (or at least bipartisan) members of Congress that a petitions committee would offer—especially one with a large and diverse membership—has been noticeably absent.

As the author of this petition, and as someone who has written a few petitions and signed thousands more during his lifetime, I'm tempted to declare "CASE CLOSED" at this point. However, I know that I've always been very reluctant to sign a petition before I have a firm grasp of the information and issues related to it—no matter how worthy the goal of the petition, or how simple and unambiguous its wording might be. And because I assume that most of you feel the same way, the remainder of this background section will be devoted to explaining some aspects of the petition in more detail.


ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1. Here is proof that neither our Senate nor House of Representatives already has a petitions committee.

2. The reason for requesting a "joint" commission is that one of the key issues its members will have to contend with is determining whether a Senate, House of Representatives, or joint Senate & House Petitions Committee would best serve the interests of their fellow citizens. And there is even a fourth option of separate petitions committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives for them to consider, although it seems very unlikely judging by how few other countries have gone that route. India provides one of the few examples, with a petitions committee in its Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and another in its House of the People (Lok Sabha).

3. As to how this new congressional petitions system might operate, take a look at the following 2012 video about the petitions committee in the European Union (EU). It provides an excellent example because it has been functioning effectively for many years, and has managed to do so in spite of having to contend with the incredible linguistic and cultural barriers that exist among the EU's 28 member countries. Any problems that might be faced by a petitions committee in our Congress pale by comparison. Another great reason for using this video as an example is that it shows just how effective a petitions committee can sometimes be: The petition featured in it was instrumental in bringing about a "historic victory for people power."



As stated in the above video, "The Petitions Committee's goal is simple, to draw attention to a particular problem and open a debate." Although it's rarely stated so clearly, that just about sums up the main purpose of every other public petitions committee around the world as well. Bear in mind, however, that these committees vary widely in their scope, operating procedures, and powers. Also bear in mind that there probably isn't a single one of them so good that we should simply copy it. That's why this petition calls for a commission tasked with making recommendations as the first step, rather than simply asking Congress to pass legislation that would establish these two participatory democracy reform measures.

4. Because it will be such a critical factor in determining how beneficial a congressional petitions committee might be for our country, it's important to delve more deeply into what kind of senator or representative is likely to seek membership in it. From what I've seen while researching public petitions committees around the world, there's only one thing I know for sure: The idealism and enthusiasm displayed in the 2012 EU video, especially by the lady who was the Petitions Committee Chair, are by no means uncommon traits among petitions committee members. For example, take a look at this video of the current Committee Chair, as well as the following video of another member of that committee. There are most assuredly a number of other personal qualities we might hope for in members of a congressional petitions committee. However, the beneficial effects of these two qualities alone will probably be enough to make most of us wonder why we didn't urge Congress to create a petitions committee and e-petitions system 15 or 20 years ago!



It's entirely possible that if due consideration is given by the commission to the size and makeup of a congressional petitions committee, it will attract a significant number of such highly motivated public servants. And if that happens, our Congress could very well end up with such an outstanding petitions committee that it will inspire the creation of 50 more in our state legislatures.

5. "Long overdue" refers to the fact that neither of the congressional reforms we are requesting are new innovations. Indeed, public petitions committees have existed (in one form or another) for centuries. For example, a journal entry from New Zealand's House of Representatives mentions one in 1877. And turning the clock back three more centuries, a "Committee of Grievances, to which it was the practice to refer Petitions," was appointed by the English Parliament in 1571.

E-petitions systems naturally don't date back so far, with the Scottish Parliament claiming the title of "the first legislature in the world to accept e-petitions" just 16 years ago. Nonetheless, it's still hard to understand why the national legislature of the country that produced technology giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel, IBM, and Microsoft has yet to seriously consider installing a similar system. And it's even harder to understand why Congress hasn't done so since 2011, when the White House led the way by creating its own e-petitions system.

6. Now that the existence of the White House e-petitions system has been mentioned, it's a good time to explain why we need to have a separate congressional one. And it's also a good time to explain why we still need to have a congressional petitions committee. That's because, as you can see in this video, members of the White House staff have already been performing many of the functions of other public petitions committees. So here are three of the most important reasons why it's in our best interests to have a public petitions committee and e-petitions system in Congress, whether or not there is one in the White House:

If they are worth having at all, it is best to have them situated where they are most likely to become permanent fixtures of our government. And whereas the White House system was established voluntarily and can be terminated by President Obama or any of his successors whenever they wish, a congressional system would almost surely be mandated and funded by legislation—and therefore much more difficult to eliminate once we the people grew accustomed to its availability. Once again, the Federal Republic of Germany provides a good example. Its Basic Law (which became effective in 1949, and is the equivalent of our country's Constitution) not only guaranteed the right of petition, but also required the establishment of a Petitions Committee:

(1) The Bundestag shall appoint a Petitions Committee to deal with requests and complaints addressed to the Bundestag pursuant to Article 17.

(2) The powers of the Committee to consider complaints shall be regulated by a federal law.

And in case anyone thinks it's highly unlikely that the White House system will ever be removed, consider what happened not too long ago in the United Kingdom. Their Prime Minister's office launched an impressive e-petitions system in 2006, only to have it discontinued following the election of another Prime Minister in 2010. And guess what? It hasn't been reinstated since then, but has been replaced by the one the UK Parliament established in 2011. And that system is obviously here to stay, as evidenced by the extensive improvements being made to it that were described earlier.

Presidents have always tended to be polarizing figures, and it's gotten decidedly worse in recent years. Another example is that the votes of 52% of those of us who took part in the 2014 midterm election were meant to "send a message" of opposition or support for Obama, despite the fact that his name wasn't even on the ballot! This polarization inevitably turns any White House petition site into a lightning rod for attracting political extremists, as well as just about anybody else with an axe to grind.

The resulting petitions are often very personal, such as this one submitted one year after the site was launched—right after President Obama won election for his second term. The same sort of thing happened during the UK's 4-year experiment with the petition site run by their Prime Minister's office, as can be seen by the over 72,000 signatures on a petition calling for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to resign. And the situation doesn't seem to get any better the longer a president serves in office, as evidenced by the one accusing him of treason that was submitted in March, 2015. The threshold for requiring a response had been raised to 100,000 since the first example, so this one's 31,356 signature total meant the White House could ignore it. However, it was still prominently featured for a month, discouraging political independents and moderates in both major parties from having anything to do with the petition site. And because those that accrue enough signatures to require a response are normally featured for a much longer period of time, their tendency to alienate and drive away political independents and moderates is much greater.

Add to this the fact that a disproportionate number of the most popular active petitions deal with legal and foreign affairs issues that are of little interest to the general public, which is a direct result of the President being the head of our federal government's executive branch. This gives most newcomers to the site little reason to ever make a return visit. The end result is that such petition sites tend to be very poor indicators of public opinion because they represent the views of very narrow segments of the population—much more so than nonpartisan sites run by legislative branches have proven themselves capable of doing.

That narrowness also detracts from the potential impact of executive branch petitions because of the relatively small number of signatures they acquire. After nearly 4 full years of operation, for example, the top two White House petitions (1, 2) have both fallen short of 400,000 signatures. Now compare that to the 2,8 million who signed the Anti-ACTA petition that was featured in the 2012 video shown earlier, or the over 16,000 in Wales (with a population that's only 1% of our own) who were acclaimed in this 2009 video for signing a petition to their Parliament.

Because Presidents must oversee the operation of so many Government Departments and Agencies, there is a natural tendency for the maintenance and operation of a voluntarily created e-petition system to become a very low priority. And that tendency has revealed itself in a number of ways during the White House petition site's 4 years of operation. Some are simply annoying, such as seeing signature totals for some petitions get drastically reduced overnight and having no explanations posted. Several others have been so discouraging and downright insulting to hundreds of thousands of petitioners, however, that they have largely negated all the positive effects of providing the petition site. And the worst part is that they are still occurring now, almost 4 full years after the first e-petitions were received by the White House.

[10-30-15 UPDATE: It turns out that just two weeks after this petition was launched, major improvements were made to the White House's petition site. And although minor problems still persist, such as this petition's signature total being inexplicably reduced from well over 2,000 to just 4 sometime during 5 or 6 October, the two major problems addressed below appear to have been just about eliminated. Most importantly, the White House responded to "every petition in our We the People backlog  —  20 in all —  re-affirming its commitment to the petitions platform," and made the following commitment for the future: "if a petition meets the signature goal within a designated period of time, we will aim to respond to it  —  with an update or policy statement — within 60 days wherever possible."]

First off, numerous petitions have accrued signatures for days or weeks on end, only to be officially "removed from the site under our Moderation Policy because it is in violation of our Terms of Participation." And the latest one had already qualified for a response with over 105,000 signatures before it was removed on July 13, 2015! (For some strange reason, it subsequently was listed as "archived because it did not meet the signature requirements," and had its signature total reduced to 34,009.)

Secondly, there are the incredible waiting times for responses to many petitions, in spite of the fact that the site's main attraction since the day it was launched has been the pledge that, "if a petition gathers enough online signatures, it will be reviewed by policy experts and you’ll receive an official response." And although the size of the backlog has been reduced since last year's analysis, there were still six petitions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that had been waiting over two years for a response at the time of this writing. And the petition in that group with the longest waiting time had been submitted just one day after the White House petition site was launched on September 22, 2011!

It's unimaginable that members of a petitions committee in Congress would ever allow such things to happen. Even if common decency and respect for their fellow citizens weren't enough to preclude it, then their instinct for political survival would. After all, unlike Presidents who are limited to 2 terms in office, most of them would be running for reelection every 2 years (House of Representatives) or 6 years (Senate). The majority of them therefore have a strong incentive to avoid offending any large bloc of voters, especially with recurring problems that never should have occurred in the first place.

7. As to whether or not petitions ever actually accomplish anything, take a look at the successful examples in this 2012 article. Unfortunately, getting members of Congress to act is rarely so simple as using a petition to shame them, "with the online equivalent of a tarring and feathering." This White House petition to "Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal" provides a good example. It got the ball rolling when it was submitted in January, 2012, but it took 2 years of intense lobbying by a group of dedicated "citizen lobbyists" before legislation was passed and signed into law.

The point is that we shouldn't expect miracles from a petitions committee and congressional e-petitions system. Their main purpose is to give us a quick and relatively easy way to temporarily put issues on the agenda in our nation's capital, but that will probably only be enough (by itself) to have a lasting impact on rare occasions. In spite of that, it will still be a heck of a lot better system than what we've had in the past!

I don't know about you, but I'd consider this new petitioning system to be a resounding success if 10 or 15 years from now a congressional leaflet on petitioning could say, "Petitions have brought about changes in the law, in government policy, the production of revised guidelines on an issue, a change in a decision. Even just raising awareness of the issue in Congress can be a success." With the exception of my having substituted "Congress" for "the Parliament," that's a direct quote from this leaflet on petitioning Scotland's Parliament—whose members can proudly boast that 16 years ago they became "the first legislature in the world to accept e-petitions." Another very important gauge of success for such a petitioning system, especially one that has been around for so many years, is how effective it has been in bridging the seemingly intractable divide/disconnect (1, 2) that has developed between most citizens and those elected to represent them. And judging by how pleased the Scottish petitioners in the following 2013 video obviously have been, I'm confident that helping to bridge that divide is one area in which a congressional petitions committee will be virtually guaranteed of success. (Notes: 1. This video's volume is annoyingly low at certain points, so don't blame your speaker(s) if you have a hard time hearing something. 2. Because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, its legislature is limited to dealing with issues that tend to be more similar to those addressed by our state and local governments than to those that fall under the authority of Congress.)



8. Before making a final decision on whether or not establishing a congressional petitions committee and e-petitions system will be worth the effort, it might be useful to consider how recent history could have been significantly changed if we had successfully petitioned Congress to establish both of them 16 years ago when Scotland led the way. For instance, might the votes on 10 & 11 October, 2002 (House, Senate) for and against H J RES 114 (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002) have turned out differently if an e-petition similar to the following fictitious one had been submitted on a congressional e-petitions system 3 weeks earlier, on September 21, 2002?

Petition to the United States Congress

According to a September 20th NY Times editorial, "Congress seems all but ready to sign off on an omnibus resolution proposed yesterday by President Bush that would authorize the use of force against Iraq, even in the absence of United Nations support."

We firmly believe that votes for legislation that could have a major impact on the lives of your fellow citizens, especially regarding matters of war and peace, should never be rushed into unless it's absolutely necessary. And the evidence that has been made available to the public in this case certainly doesn't justify a hasty debate and vote.

We also believe that in order to prevent political considerations from overwhelming reason and common sense regarding such important matters, members of Congress should avoid scheduling votes on them this close to a federal election. And judging by the following excerpt from the same NY Times' editorial, this legislation has already become overly politicized:

"The newly bellicose mood on Capitol Hill materialized almost overnight. Last week, Democrats wanted the Security Council to act first and were calling for measured consideration of the political and military issues involved in going to war. The haste is unfortunate, all the more so because it is clearly motivated by campaign politics. Republicans are already running attack ads against Democrats on Iraq. Democrats favor fast approval of a resolution so they can change the subject to domestic economic problems."

We therefore urge you not to schedule a vote on authorizing the use of force against Iraq until after the upcoming November 5th, 2002 election.

(End of Sample Petition)


You don't have to be a political scientist to know that the biggest mistake members of Congress want to avoid making shortly before an election is to antagonize any voters unnecessarily. And because postponing the vote for 4 weeks was by no means an unreasonable request, the odds are that an e-petition like this one would have been successful—especially if it had amassed millions of signatures during the 3 weeks before Congress actually voted on the legislation. There's no way to know for sure if delaying the vote until after the election would have changed any of the votes cast. However, it could very well have encouraged other concerned citizens to write and/or support petitions aimed at slowing down the rush to war in other ways, or even derailing it altogether.

Now take a look at the following October 10, 2002 video of the weary-looking leader of the opposition in the Senate (Robert Byrd), trying one last time to convince his fellow senators to vote against the Iraq War Resolution that a bipartisan majority of them ended up passing the following day. I can't help but think that if Congress had created an e-petitions system 2 years earlier when Scotland did, Senator Byrd would almost surely have had millions of petition signatures (as well as testimony from petitioners and expert witnesses) to back him up. That alone would probably have been enough to convince members of the Senate to at least postpone their rushed and highly politicized vote until after that year's congressional election, which would take place in less than a month. How might their vote on that legislation have turned out then—especially if like-minded members of a petitions committee had been available to speak out against it as well, both publicly and in Congress? And what if one of those committee members had been as skilled and persuasive as Elizabeth Warren, who has been described as having, "the unique ability, especially for a non-presidential candidate, to put an issue on the map!"

END OF BACKGROUND SECTION

17. Demand and end to Institutionalized slavery

My name is Rene Neal-De-Stanton. I wrote this petition because I believe that slavery should not be legal in any form in the United States of America. The main reasons for my beliefs are constitutional. Slavery is a violation of human rights.

Since the formal petition can only be 1000 characters long, the rest of the petition can be seen below. If there is anything in this petition you do not agree with, please do not sign it.

"... To resolve the issue, we want a law to be passed by congress that will make all forms of slavery illegal in every state of the United States of America.

We also do not want individual states to be able to decide the laws in their jurisdiction. We believe that this issue is dividing the United States as a whole and that action should be taken quickly."

18. Tell the House to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

The United States is one of the few nations in the world that allows abortions up to the day of birth in some states.

To protect unborn babies from abortion, the House of Representatives will hold a vote near the anniversary of the murder conviction of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell on a pro-life bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy because unborn children feel intense pain in abortions.

As Congressman Trent Franks explains: "More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America. These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia."



"Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don’t hear them," he says.

Unborn children have a right to life and should be protected from abortion. We call on the House to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth.

19. Investigate and Prosecute GOP

Republicans in Congress have now contacted foreign governments with the intent of negotiating with them regarding United States ongoing discussion about foreign policy, namely inviting the head of a country (Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel) to invite him to speak to the U.S. Congress about his country's desires on topics the executive branch must perform.

In addition, Republicans in Congress have now contacted Iran's leadership that Congress could nullify any negotiated agreement the Executive branch has made, warning Iran that they would likely abort or alter such an agreement once the current president leaves office. In the first case, Israel's Netanyahu was invited by John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House to speak to congress & in the latter case, Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority Leader along with 47 others signed the open letter to the Iranian leadership. Both acts are against the Logan Act regarding negotiations.

The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 30 January 1799, currently codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953) is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

The Act was intended to prohibit United States citizens without authority from interfering in relations between the United States and foreign governments.

20. Allow All Veterans In American Legion

The American Legion does not allow any member of the military to join as a Legionnaire unless they served during a specific conflict.

We have disabled veterans who cannot join due to not serving in a conflict, however, their spouses who have family who have served are allowed membership into the Legion.

Specifically, a spouse with no military affiliation can join the Legion, and subsequently join the American Legion Riders, but the husband as a disabled veteran can only be a social member due to not having any family member been in the service and he is not eligible to join as a Legion Rider.

21. Congress Must Ban Abortions Because Babies Feel Intense Pain

The United States is one of the few nations in the world that allows abortions up to the day of birth in some states.

These babies feel intense pain during abortions. In fact, one researcher, Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

As Congressman Trent Franks explains: "More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America. These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia."

"Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don’t hear them," he says.

Unborn children have a right to life and should be protected from abortion. The House will vote on this important pro-life bill on January 22. We call on Congress to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth.

22. STOP Funding Give-Aways of Our Citizenship Rights

It is a great, special, privilege to lawfully reside or visit the United States of America. It is not a give away, and not a privilege "for the taking". We are nice and grateful for what we have in this country of ours, but we are not to be taken advantage of.

This so-called Executive Order announced on Nov. 20, 2014 circumventing the U.S. 113th Congress is not "Executive", but is "Legislative" in character, for it grants work permits to the favored trespassers, and is therefore a fraud and an insult to every U.S. citizen.

Republicans in the House of Representatives (now in the majority) must be stopped NOW from funding this so-called Executive order at anytime. It ignores the deportation of trespassing illegal aliens in the millions, and ignores current Federal law ordering the U.S. President to seal the porous borders (especially the 2000 mile long, bordering Mexico) and to prevent further illegal crossings from occurring.

This, in-effect legislative order allows unconstitutional privileges for illegal aliens who are CONTINUOUSLY trespassing on our U.S. soil, privileges bought with the blood or effort of our nation's heroes, privileges heretofore reserved solely for U.S. citizens.

The U.S. President's main role, and the great powers entrusted to him (temporarily) are explicitly for the protection of our national security, a job description he once accepted, but an essential role he has decided out of arrogance to ignore.

The President's legislative order must be kept unfunded entirely, at all costs. Congress defaulted already in the same President's previous "Dream Act" legislative order (also indecently called an Executive Order), and Congress therefore signaled it is okay for the President to by-pass Congress. It is not okay; for it makes our expensive, in-debt Congress in-effect a waste of money.

Note: If ALL our laws are not enforced, it is ridiculous to have passed laws, or pass new laws. And if our laws are not enforced, of what use is the judicial branch of government? Therefore, a President's Legislative Order does away with the power of Congress, and circumvents the judicial system. It is due time now for Presidents to be held accountable, and only conscientious voters can get that done through the power of their single vote, and spreading the word.

There is only one way now: by vowing to abstain from voting in the 2016 election! For, Republicans cannot win elections without the Conservative Republicans. Let's clean House, first (no pun intended.)

It is our prerogative, and it is our right to abstain from voting nationally in 2016. So, I hereby vow.

See:
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/11/letter_obamas_immigration_order_stands_on_shaky_ground.html

See:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/12/03/texas-leads-lawsuit-by-17-states-against-obama-immigration-actions/

See:
http://www.gingrichproductions.com/2014/11/the-presidents-gruber-speech/

and:
http://www.gingrichproductions.com/2014/11/gingrich-obama-illegally-created-new-laws-in-plan/

and:
http://www.gingrichproductions.com/2014/12/obamas-lawlessness-the-greatest-obstacle-to-immigration-reform/

23. Petition Congress to End the Escalation in Iraq & Syria

Congress must use its constitutional powers under the War Powers Resolution to place limits on the unauthorized US military intervention in Iraq and Syria. By executive orderalone, our government is plunging into a deepening sectarian war. Congressional debate can shed light on this new war, and a Congressional vote can allow American citizens to hold our elected representatives accountable in 2016. While pledging "no US ground troops", the administration has dispatched 3,000 American troops as advisers and to provide close air support in combat zones, where they will come under fire. The bombing campaign cost $580 million through mid-October, and the president is asking for a down payment of $5 billion for a war projected to last three years.

Starting with serious public debate, a new peace movement is needed to stop the drift towards quagmire.

Led by a handful ofdissenters, Congressional opposition was critical in ending the Vietnam War, and in bringing the most recent Iraq War to a formal ending. The checks andbalances which were imposed by Congress on the powers of the presidency andintelligence agencies in the 1970s have fallen away.

Since the presidentsays there is no military solution, the Congress should vote no against another war in the Middle East. Should Congress vote in favor, crucial amendments are need to prevent another open-ended war. The "enemy" must be narrowly defined. The pledge of "no American ground troops" must be codified. A sunset must be placed on the authorization so that Congress is compelled to vote again before 2016. Independent reporting on taxpayer costs and civilian casualties must be assured. A political settlement that protects disenfranchised and oppressed Sunnis from the US-sponsored Shiite regime inBaghdad must be assured.

Many Americans rightly oppose the shocking religious extremism of the Islamic State and embrace our military action. Forgotten in the rush to war is the fact that we have been at this abyss before. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 preceded the growth of Al Qaeda there. ISIS became its malignant offshoot in Sunni regions repressed by our client state in Baghdad. Is this not a case where the military medicineworsens the disease? The last Iraq War led to long-terms costs in thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars wasted which should have been spent on the environment, education and jobs. We simply cannot afford to repeat the past.

24. Declare access to uncensored and unrestricted internet a human right

Knowledge is power.

Easy, fast-access information is the key to bringing equal power to a populace that all need knowledge on current events, medicine, arithmetic and other things to survive and thrive. Easy access to knowledge has turned our world into more of a global consciousness than it has ever been.

The control of knowledge, or the restriction of knowledge and information has always given power to the wrong people. During the dark ages, when the catholic church wanted people to only believe what they told them to believe, they would destroy books and documents from civilizations all over the world so that nothing could question their doctrine.

Governments - your government, our government, every government, also benefit from the control of information because they can convince people to vote the way they want and to quietly comply to demands that without important knowledge, no one would know enough about their own human rights to question. A lot of times more elite members of society - the rich, the politically connected, those who have the most to gain by selling commercial ideas instead of information or connections to humanity - have used restrictions on knowledge and bombardment of twisted information to get what they want out of the poorer populace. An informed citizen gets their information from multiple sources and scrutinizes it heavily.

As a generation with the internet we have the option to access instant uncensored information, which is something that no generation has previously had, and something that governments don't want anyone to have if it means it can threaten their absolute power to make decisions for a populace, whether that populace is willing or not.

Governments all over the world including China, Russia, and the United States are trying to either censor or control content or access to content on the internet.

Here in the "land of the free" it started with SOPA ( "Stop Online Piracy Act") and PIPA ("PROTECT IP Act").

SOPA and PIPA were bills proposed by Congress in the guise of stopping online piracy by giving the attorney general of the United States authority to command internet service providers to shut down Domain Name Server records that point people to a site, and force Google and other search engines to shut down links to sites that the attorney General expresses official disapproval of. This was proposed so that the United States could prevent people from pirating movies, music, and other goods with copyrights belonging to corporations or businesses, meant to be sold for their profit only. However, the ability to command a website be taken down and access to information be cut off had widespread censorship implications, so activists started petitions, took to the streets, and demanded that Washington drop both bills.

So the government, instead of respecting the demand for access to uncensored and unrestricted information, decided it needed to regroup and try another tactic.

That's where the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, comes in. While claiming to be working towards Net Neutrality, the FCC proposed, then passed rules saying service providing companies can charge content providers for faster access to their sites, potentially creating "fast lanes" and "slow lanes" on the internet, which would ensure that poor people or new businesses will receive less traffic if they aren't able to pay fees for faster access for their potential customers.

Internet users and activists reacted about the same way as they did to SOPA and PIPA.

In response, Democratic lawmakers proposed a bill that would stop the FCC from allowing ISP providers from creating "fast lanes" and "slow lanes" on the internet by charging for speed of access, but the bill neglects to address the issue of anyone claiming authority over the internet, something that belongs to the entire populace that participates in its constant creation, in the first place.

So, we've come up with a proposal of our own, to declare uncensored and unrestricted access to the internet a universal human right, and to declare the internet a collective-belonging, which means that no person or entity, whether government or corporate, has the right to declare authority over it in the first place.

25. Solve the Immigration Problem and do what is in the best interests of American Citizens

Below is a copy of the petition/fax I will soon be sending to the President, congress, senators etc. and possibly other representatives.

But, keep in mind Immigration is, for the most part, a Federal issue so please no radical suggestions.

26. Say No to changes to Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

The new U.S.-Afghanistan security agreement adds restrictions on already bureaucratic rules of engagement for American troops by making Afghan dwellings virtual safe havens for the enemy, combat veterans say.

The rules of engagement place the burden on U.S. air and ground troops to confirm with certainty that a Taliban fighter is armed before they can fire — even if they are 100 percent sure the target is the enemy.

In some cases, aerial gunships have been denied permission to fire even though they reported that targets on the move were armed.

27. Support Prayer In Public Schools

Hello, and greetings from Clean Slate Fellowship!

We are excited to launch a campaign to reinstate prayer in the Public School System. Starting January 1, 2014, we will be collecting signatures to petition congress to reinstate the allowance of prayer in the Public School System.

We, as Christians must maintain an active involvement in our government. Failure to do so has already resulted in several changes to the constitution of this country, that we feel, are detrimental to the spiritual growth, and overall morality of our children.

As Christians, (or people of any faith), our children should be allowed to pray before school begins. We feel very strongly that failure to do so contributes to the decay of the moral attitude in all students, not just Christians. Peoples of different faiths should also be afforded this right.

Thank you in advance, and we encourage you; if you are Christian, to spread the word via your social outlets, and share this cause. As with any campaign, support is crucial to it's success.

Let's give our children the right to pray. If we don't stand up for the rights of our children, who will?

28. Get Our Government under control

We the People need to take our government back.

We need to put a halt to congress or any elected official to be able to set their own wages and retirements AND we need to re-do their entire wage and benifit package that should be finalized by a Nation wide vote.

29. Stop the Congolese Conflict

The conflict in the Congo has raged for close to 2 decades, resulting in the bloodiest war since World War 2.

House Resolution 131 would change everything, sending a US Special Envoy and other resources to the Congo to help those who are continuing to be affected by the destructive civil war.

30. Arrest Tea Party members guilty of sedition

Whereas the Republican Tea Party members of Congress have conspired against the duly elected Federal government and have caused a shutdown of the federal government they are guilty of the crime of sedition.

They like their predecessors the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers are criminals.