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Jim Healy: If at first you don't succeed, secede
Jim Healy

      Shortly after President Obama took office in 2009, his administration created the "We the People" website. Essentially, it offers a lot of information about the executive branch of government, how it works and, of course, the Obama administration's spin on issues.
      But the website also offers something rather fascinating - an area where you can petition the government on just about any issue that interests you. If 25,000 people sign onto the petition, the White House will post a response.
      For example, one of the petitions that garnered 25,000 sign-ons was the following request: "Sec. Panetta, get Rush Limbaugh off Armed Forces Radio NOW! No tax money for abusive, divisive, insulting language."
      Here is the response from the U.S. Department of Defense as to why they won't remove Limbaugh from the programming, which I edited for space:
      "AFN is charged with providing current information and entertainment programming to our Department of Defense audiences overseas, similar to what they could see and hear via the media in the United States. AFN does not censor content, and we believe it is important that service members have access to a variety of viewpoints."
      I like these petitions.
      Some of you may know that the hot petition right now is states requesting to secede from the Union essentially based on their concerns about the future of our nation after President Obama's re-election last week.
      All 50 states have petitions making the following request:
      "Peacefully grant the State of xxx to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government."
      So far, Georgia's petition has garnered 28,500 signatures and it is one of seven states to have the 25,000 plus signatures needed to receive a response. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida are the others with enough signatures.
      No response has been posted yet, but White House officials assure that one is forthcoming. I imagine it will be along the lines of: "Thanks for posting your petition, but no states are allowed to secede." I'm sure it will be far more detailed than that, but we will have 50 states come 2013 and beyond.
      The overwhelming majority of people signing the secede petition know nothing will come of it. Nonetheless, the petitions allow people to express a real grievance they have with the government in a peaceful manner.
      The petitions also allow signers to remain anonymous. The Georgia petition to secede is signed by Kelly W. of Statesboro, Elijah O. of Sylvania and Eli T. of Brooklet. They are signer numbers 27,962, 27,922 and 27,879, respectively, but no way to truly identify them can be seen on the petitions.
      As of Thursday afternoon there were 167 open petitions listed on the site. Here is, or rather was, my favorite:
"Have President Obama Do The Hokey Pokey"
      "We feel that in this time of despair, that President Obama should do the Hokey Pokey on national television during a special Presidential Address to the nation. As a show of bipartisanship, President Obama should lead with his right foot. After all, that's what it's all about."
      When I first checked it, only 185 people had signed up and it needed 24,815 more by Dec. 14.
      Jim H. from Statesboro became signer number 186, but the White House took the petition down. I guess it was too hokey.
      James Healy is operations manager for the Statesboro Herald. He can be reached at (912) 489-9402.

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