View Full Version : Wall Street Journal: Dear White House: Please Tell Us the Truth About E.T.

28th October 2011, 05:08
There is a short video interviewing the author at the above link.

Has anyone posted this yet? It looks pretty significant!
Oct 18, 2011

When the White House promised to answer citizen petitions on the most pressing problems of the day, it may not have had extraterrestrial life in mind. Laura Meckler has details on The News Hub.

WASHINGTON—When the White House promised to answer citizen petitions on the most pressing problems of the day, it may not have had extraterrestrial life in mind.

More than 10,000 petitions have poured in since the new initiative was announced last month in a bid to bring government closer to the people. And issues like massive federal deficits, two wars and high unemployment don't appear to be on the people's minds.
The Top Ten Petitions

Legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol -- 57,239 signatures

Call an investigation into allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the case of Sholom Rubashkin -- 37,877 signatures

Forgive student loan debt to stimulate the economy and usher in a new era of innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity -- 29,819 signatures

Abolish the TSA, and use its monstrous budget to fund more sophisticated, less intrusive counter-terrorism intelligence -- 26,328 signatures

Allow industrial hemp to be grown in the U.S. once again -- 18,021 signatures

Edit the Pledge of Allegiance to remove the phrase "under God" -- 17,964 signatures

Legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana -- 17,490 signatures

Crack down on puppy mills -- 17,236 signatures

End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive "War on Drugs" -- 16,422 signatures

Stop interfering with state marijuana legalization efforts -- 15,178 signatures
And Some Others

Formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race - Disclosure -- 10,316 signatures

Allow seriously backlogged EB2/EB3 Beneficiaries with their I-140 approved to file I-485 and apply for EAD & AP -- 7,530 signatures

Immediately halt the cruel and unnecessary use of monkeys in Army chemical casualty management training courses -- 6,324 signatures

Save the Postal Service -- 4,125 signatures

Bar courts and lawmakers from creating a "second-class" religion status for minority religions like Wicca and NeoPaganism -- 3,930 signatures

Complete the U.S. transition to the modern metric system, allowing us to manufacture items we could sell to the world -- 2,038 signatures

Allow BASE jumping in national parks -- 1,826 signatures

Proclaim Oct. 29, 2011, as World Psoriasis Day -- 1,689 signatures

Remove racial and ethnic classifications from the U.S. Census -- 478 signatures

-- Number of signatures as of 6 p.m. Oct. 17

View all petitions.

One petition wants to legalize raw milk sales. Others seek to mandate the spaying and neutering of pets, abolish the Transportation Security Administration and "formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race."

The White House has promised that any petition meeting a threshold for a number of signatures—more than 50 so far have met it—will get an expedited hearing and an official policy response.

The first responses could come as early as Tuesday.

Some of the petitions are somewhat cryptic: "Make Bribing Politicians Illegal" refers to banning corporate campaign contributions. Others are narrow; the second most popular by number of signatures calls for an investigation into the prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin, a former kosher slaughterhouse executive spending 27 years in prison on 86 financial fraud charges. And others could use help with their marketing, such as "Allow Seriously Backlogged EB2/EB3 Beneficiaries with Their I-140 Approved to File I-485 and Apply for EAD & AP." Nonetheless, that last one, which would aid people awaiting employment green cards, has collected more than 7,500 signatories.

Then there's Stephen Bassett, who wants to end the "truth embargo," or what he believes is the government's deliberate decision to withhold what it has long known about the existence of extraterrestrial life.

"The fact is that there is an extraterrestrial presence. I know this because I'm familiar with the research and a couple hundred government witnesses have come forward in the last couple years," he said. "Acknowledging this E.T. presence is about open government."

Mr. Bassett decided to post a petition as soon as he heard about the opportunity and immediately sent a link to his 10,000-person email list. He posted to six Facebook pages and his Twitter account and the petition now has more than 9,500 signatories, making it the 20th most popular.

The "We the People" petition project was proposed a couple of years ago by Macon Phillips, director of digital strategy at the White House. The idea languished until David Plouffe, a major force behind the 2008 Obama campaign's online push, arrived in January to serve as a senior adviser to the president. Mr. Plouffe overrode concerns of others in the White House about increased workload, privacy implications and sticky situations such as requests for clemency for a particular individual, a White House official said.

The petition drive was inspired by a similar project in Britain. The most popular petition there currently calls for convicted London rioters to lose government benefits.

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Bloomberg News

Mr. Phillips allows that some U.S. petitions submitted so far are a bit outside the White House agenda for America. "Some of these issues are going to be inconvenient," he said. He added that all these issues are important to someone and deserve a government response.

Asked which official or agency would tackle the E.T. question, Mr. Phillips said it would be decided at a meeting the next day. Asked after the meeting who drew the assignment, a spokesman said they wouldn't be commenting until the official response is ready.

What about that truth embargo? "You're going to have to wait," Mr. Phillips said.

Of the 202 petitions posted with at least 150 signatures, not one mentions President Barack Obama's jobs plan, something the White House talks about almost every day.

Indeed, the only mention of federal spending is in reference to the TSA's "monstrous budget," which, at $7.7 billion, is 0.2% of the total. Only one petition refers to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that's a call to provide troops with free Internet service.

The White House's initial threshold for consideration was 5,000 electronic signatures in 30 days, but more than 30 petitions met that in the first week, blowing past expectations. Officials then raised the bar to 25,000 names.

Mr. Bassett's E.T. petition quickly surpassed the first threshold and he hopes a "very large number" will force attention to the issue. "We'll never catch up with the legalized marijuana petition, but everyone knows that."

Marijuana legalization is the reigning champion of we'll-take-any-question politics, reaching the top of the heap every time the White House takes suggestions from the public. Indeed, five petitions calling for pot legalization in one form or other are in the top 10. Mr. Obama has said repeatedly he doesn't favor legalization.

Dan Bingham, a 25-year-old software developer from Bloomington, Ind., was having trouble sleeping when he tried his hand at a petition draft and picked the first issue that came to his mind: forcing the patent office to stop issuing software patents, a move he thinks will protect small developers from larger companies. He accidentally submitted his petition before proofreading it and posted the link on a couple of techie websites. The next morning, he found several errors in his text, but the link had already gone viral.

"People were signing it despite my poor writing, though the most frequent comment was something along the lines of, 'Did anyone proof read this?' The answer is 'No. They didn't,' " he said. His petition is now the 12th most popular, with more than 13,800 signatures.

JP Massar, a blogger for the liberal DailyKos website, decided not filing a petition was the better strategy for one of his causes: promoting same-sex marriage. After consulting with like-minded allies, he concluded either Mr. Obama would say he was against it, which would hurt the cause, or he would be for it, which could hurt the president's re-election chances.

That didn't stop others. A similar petition blew past the signature requirement and now has more than 10,000 names.

Write to Laura Meckler at laura.meckler@wsj.com