The White House announced Thursday that it is building a new webpage, entitled "We the People," designed to give Americans the ability to digitally create and sign petitions to propose various government actions, particularly regarding job creation.

This new government tool will be available at the White House website, and it is "a new way to petition your government to take action on a range of important issues," says the narrator in a White House video. "It’s a new way for your voice to be heard in our government," Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital strategy, suggested.

"When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens," President Obama proclaimed in a taped announcement, and this new tool will provide Americans with "a direct line" to the White House for issues they are concerned about. Critics say the timing of the new project is not coincidental, as it comes at a time when the President and congressional Democrats are eagerly discussing how the federal government can promote job growth — through legislative action.

WhiteHouse.gov has the details on how the petitions will work:

Europe is Dying? And, reports that God is dead are premature.

The Ohio School Athletic Association seems to be taking the non-constitutional maxim of “separation of Church and state” a bit too far. The Association, along with one of its referees decided to penalize the Louisville High School football team’s receiver for making a gesture to heaven, and is now facing harsh criticism as a result of that decision.

The team defended the gesture for which they were penalized by explaining that it was intended to commemorate a friend of theirs who had been killed a week earlier. The Blaze reports:

After scoring what would have been the game’s winning touchdown — putting the team up 26-24 — Alex Schooley, along with his teammate Gavin Lovejoy, pointed their fingers toward the sky in a commemorative gesture for their friend, Dom Wilgus, 16, who was killed in a car accident the week earlier. It so happened Schooley had also been pallbearer at Wilgus’ funeral that very morning.

Who says Ron Paul can’t beat Barack Obama? The Texas Congressman’s threat to prevent the President’s upcoming speech to Congress from occurring the same night as a Republican presidential candidates’ debate — a debate in which Paul will participate — may very well have been the deciding factor in forcing Obama to postpone his appearance.

Obama sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday morning requesting to speak before a joint session of Congress on September 7 at 8 p.m. Eastern. Shortly thereafter the White House announced the President’s speech, which is to present his proposed jobs program. There was just one problem: A GOP presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is already scheduled to take place at that same time.

No one seriously believes the White House’s denials that Obama’s speech was timed to keep television viewers from seeing the opposition. NBC’s Chuck Todd, for instance, remarked that the timing was “hardly a coincidence.”

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) used her congressional office funds to pay for a fancy $20,000 luncheon for some of her constituents in May, calling it a "briefing" to get around House rules prohibiting such expenditures. Jay's Catering handled the details of the party complete with singing, dancing, and "special consideration of [guests'] dietary and medical needs." Chris Kuhles, catering manager, said "It was a Polynesian-themed event — Huli Huli Chicken, fried rice, green salad, Hawaiian sweet rolls [and} for dessert, truffle cake."

It was all according to Hoyle, said Richardson's spokesman Ray Zaccaro: "All expenses associated with the event were in keeping with the rules and standards of the House Members Representational Account (MRA)." However, a close look at those rules showed that Richardson's "briefing" violated at least three of the MRA rules including these:

In an effort to create an ultimate Nanny state, the California Assembly has recently passed legislation that legislates the proper treatment of babysitters, as per the Assembly’s standards. The new legislation requires that babysitters receive rest and meal breaks. Additionally, parents who hire babysitters would be required to provide workers’ compensation benefits.

Written by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) Assembly Bill 889 makes these requirements and more. The bill applies to all “domestic employees,” to include housekeepers, nannies, caregivers, and babysitters.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a law, passed by the Texas legislature in May, that requires a woman seeking an abortion to receive a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure so she can see the baby’s features and hear its heartbeat. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin ruled that the law, set to go into effect on September 1st, “compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen.”

In his August 31st injunction, reported the Baptist Press News, “Sparks wrote that the law’s requirements expand beyond medically necessary information and ‘are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment right to be free from compelled speech.’” Specifically, continued the BP news story, “Sparks argued that the First Amendment rights of doctors and patients are violated in the law’s requirements that doctors show the patient an ultrasound of the baby, make the heartbeat audible and give a verbal description of the child.”

A woman in Idaho has filed the first ever lawsuit against the “fetal pain” abortion ban. Filed by Jennie Linn McCormack against Bannock County, the lawsuit contends that the new law that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy because of fetal pain is a violation of the Constitution.

Idaho is one of six states — the others being Kansas, Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Nebraska — to enact the fetal pain abortion ban in six years. Nebraska was the first to pass legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks because of fetal pain at that stage of development. LifeSiteNews.com explains the premise behind the bans:

Declaring a First Amendment right to videotape police making an arrest in public, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has denied a police claim of immunity and allowed a civil rights suit against three Boston police officers to go forward. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Simon Glik, a Boston attorney who was arrested on the evening of October 1, 2007 for using his cellphone to record police officers making an arrest on the Boston Common.

Glik's suit claims police violated his First Amendment rights by stopping him from recording and his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable cause. The officers appealed a district court ruling denying them qualified immunity from the suit. A ruling by a three-judge panel of the appeals circuit on Friday of last week upheld the lower court's decision.  
 

One of the terms of the recent debt ceiling deal between Congress and the White House was that Congress would vote on, but not necessarily pass, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The deal did not, however, specify the language in the amendment, giving legislators plenty of opportunities to sneak in loopholes that might very well render any amendment that does pass meaningless.

One Senator, in fact, is doing just that. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has proposed an amendment with more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese — “the worst idea of them all,” according to Colin Hanna, president of the Pennsylvania public-policy organization Let Freedom Ring. While Udall’s amendment does require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, it also provides Congress with several ways to skirt the same requirement for the budget it passes.

For instance, if 60 percent of both houses of Congress votes to override the balanced budget requirement for the current fiscal year, it’s a goner. (Hanna notes that this “effectively applies only to the House, since the Senate typically requires 60% for nearly everything already.”)

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