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Petition the U.S. Government to Force the TSA to Follow the Law (schneier.com)
180 points by thoughtsimple on July 11, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

We all realize that there is no direct measurable effect on government from signing these petitions. And we also realize that signing these petitions and then taking no further action does not make you a hero.

But for god's sake, stop posting about how they're useless every time someone starts talking about one. First off, we get it, some people think they're painfully useless. Second off, just because you can't see any direct effect, or just because the effect wasn't exactly what you wanted it to be, doesn't make them useless. They are a good tool for rallying support behind an idea. They are a good tool for spreading awareness. They are a good tool for getting a cause a little bit of noticeably. They are a good tool for collecting thoughts in a coherent matter so they may be further discussed.

TLDR: We get it. You don't get petitions. Please figure it out or stop complaining. You're not helping a goddamn thing.

I speak up and say they're bad because I think signing these petitions uses up what little political activity the typical citizen is willing to exert. If they sign this, they're goign to be less likely to pressure their representatives directly, which, as we've seen from lobbyists, is the only way to get anything done.

On the other hand, these petitions spread awareness to far more people, educate them to start researching, and may instigate further action and discussion.

You say that his is "using up" what little people are willing to do... (and what are you doing?) Being against a small step in favor of an unstated big step does not make you a hero.

educate them to start researching, and may instigate further action and discussion.

In my experience, this is a highly optimistic prediction.

+1 Right on. I agree that the petition will do little practical good but I still signed it and sent a request to my family and friends to do the same.

I predict it will end up just like every other "successful" petition on whitehouse.gov:

"We hear you, but you're wrong and we aren't going to change a damn thing."

The SOPA petition got Obama to publicly say he would veto anything that is overly broad, without due process and threatens the nations security (the DNS stuff in it). Soon afterwords they dropped it.

Albeit they made a new differently named one later, but still I don't think the situation is quite so hopeless.

Edit: fixed the spelling of publicly.

Was that a change, or just a press release clarifying his existing position on the issue? Cause I'm betting the latter.

The answer is not to be quiet. Shady operators in government count on your cynicism to win. Do not give up.

No, but why waste the time with a tool that seems so ineffective that one almost wonders if it isn't designed to make people feel like they're doing something while they actually accomplish nothing – essentially it's starting to look like a bit of a dark design pattern, in my eyes.

Has any substantial change come from a Whitehouse.gov petition? (I'm genuinely asking and would really like my above cynicism to be wrong).

I suspect that we'll get another non-answer as well, but that's not stopping me from spending 30 seconds to sign the petition. (Okay, more than 30 seconds because their site is slow.)

Damn skippy. I signed a similar petition campaigning against airport user fees that would basically charge pilots to talk to air traffic control.

What I got in response was a paragraph of bad analogies and poor logic...basically a "FYVM for your time" letter.

The comments box at Dunder-Mifflin was more effective than petitions.whitehouse.gov

Isn't this the administration where things were going to be "different?" You know, Change and all that? I'm feeling kinda duped.

Well if you have standing, take them back into court (you know, the place where the government is actually willing to listen to you). Petitions are meaningless.

None of this matters. Look at the response we got to "Legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol"


Let's face it, the only petition that will make a difference is the big one on November 6th. I'm amazed the TSA's policies and practices have not become a campaign issue. If you care about this, then petition the candidates to take a stance for civil liberties.

ok i'll make sure to vote for the candidate that has a reasonable anti anti-terror terror policy

Vote for "someone else" and don't buy into the two-party system. Our votes are basically ineffectual anyway.

"Our votes are basically ineffectual anyway."

That sentiment was quite prominent in 2000 during the Bush / Gore election. A lot of people voted for Nader hoping to legitimize a third party on the ballot. The common thinking was Gore and Bush were no different.

Given how world events unfolded, that view (in hindsight) was probably a pretty dumb one.

No, they are ineffectual, period. Read up on the Electoral College, who doesn't have to follow the popular vote at all if they don't want to.

Doesn't the court itself have some power to enforce its mandates?

If you want change with the TSA first figure out what a politican can say when (s)he will be attacked for being soft on terrorists cos that's what's going to be happen if anyone tries to reform the TSA.

Simple - they are defending your civil liberties and they won't let terrorists destroy the freedoms we are granted by the constitution. They can also say that they won't continue increasing debt further through ineffective, unproven, and personally violating policies.

Attempting to login to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ is very slow and eventually gives an error message:

Our Apologies....

The site is currently undergoing maintenance. We appreciate your patience while we make some improvements.

Please check back soon.

I got this informative error message: "Additional uncaught exception thrown while handling exception."

The x-ray machine industry interprets net outrage as damage and censors around it.

yes. looks like they preempted not having to care ;-)

Looks like https://petitions.whitehouse.gov is using MongoDB

  Additional uncaught exception thrown while handling exception.

  MongoCursorException: couldn't send command in Mongo->__construct() (line 35 of /mnt/codebase/petition-release-2012-07-11/sites/all/modules/contrib/mongodb/mongodb.module).

  MongoCursorTimeoutException: cursor timed out (timeout: 30000, time left: 0:0, status: 0) in MongoCollection->findOne() (line 22 of /mnt/codebase/petition-release-2012-07-11/sites/all/modules/contrib/mongodb/mongodb_cache/mongodb_cache.inc).
Edit: The page is loading correctly now.


''' Our Apologies....

The site is currently undergoing maintenance. We appreciate your patience while we make some improvements. Please check back soon. '''

Not so web-scale after all (at least not the way the whitehouse has configured it.)

I bet it's probably on the default setting where it starts dropping writes if it becomes overwhelmed.

MongoDB, and apparently they're still on Drupal too (I'd read they used it some years back. Interesting that nothing has changed there.)

Apparently the White House petition page uses Mongo and has no dedicated 500 side. I am sure the tax payer paid many millions for this

"Additional uncaught exception thrown while handling exception.


MongoCursorException: couldn't send query:  in Mongo->__construct() (line 35 of /mnt/codebase/petition-release-2012-07-11/sites/all/modules/contrib/mongodb/mongodb.module).


MongoCursorException: couldn't determine master in MongoCollection->findOne() (line 22 of /mnt/codebase/petition-release-2012-07-11/sites/all/modules/contrib/mongodb/mongodb_cache/mongodb_cache.inc)."

...because the fact that they simply ignore the law presently means that a petition will make them willfully start following it.

Delusional. It's time to leave America.

Are any of you seeing a lot of duplicate Signature #'s? http://o7.no/NhQtfu

The duplicates indicate a kind of tie. What I've noticed before are sequences like 100,101,101,103, suggesting that the two middle signatures happened at more or less the same time.

5704, 5705, 5705, 5708 is a little odd - there should be a third 5705, or a 5707.

More: http://citizentools.netalyst.com/2012/liberating-signatures-...

Are there petitions for poverty and healthcare somewhere?

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