What Happened to “We The People?”

The White House "We The People" Page Before the Biden administration memory-holed it
The White House “We The People” Page Before the Biden administration memory-holed it

“The will of the people has been heard,” said President Joe Biden in his inaugural address on January 20, “and the will of the people has been heeded.” Later in the speech, Biden told us that “the American story” depends on “‘We the People’ who seek a more perfect union.”

At some point on that same day, Biden’s incoming administration shut down “We The People,” a section of the White House web site launched by the Obama administration.

“We The People” brought the First Amendment’s right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” into the digital age, with the promise of official responses to petitions receiving 100,000 or more signatures within 30 days.

So, why is it gone? As of this writing, I’ve been unable to find any public comment from the administration. They seem to have simply memory-holed “We The People.”

Maybe they’re just working on a site upgrade, but if so one might reasonably expect a placeholder page saying so. Instead, visitors to the site are redirected to the main White House page.

Or maybe the administration considers listening to “We The People” and responding to our concerns an embarrassment and/or a waste of time.

Granted, some past petitions have been a little silly (for example, one urging the US government to build a Star Wars-style Death Star), while others have been embarrassing to the president in power (more than a million signers sought the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns).

That last one may be a clue as to the administration’s motives. If Americans have an easy mechanism for demanding a presidential response to our grievances, and if the president doesn’t want to do what we’re asking of him, it puts him on the spot. He can tell us to buzz off, which no president really wants to be heard doing. He can offer a response that says nothing but feels good, or just ignore us, but we’ll notice.

For all his “We the People” guff, Joe Biden seems far more focused on “unity,” by which he seems to mean everyone doing what Joe Biden and his party tell them to do. In this, he’s not unlike his predecessors.

My columns don’t usually include a call to action, but this one’s an exception. I’ve created a petition at Change.org asking the Biden administration to restore “We The People.” I hope you’ll sign it at Change.org/RestoreWeThePeople.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Why I’m Still Not Worried about Biden’s “Gun Control” Proposals

Gun photo from RGBStock

In a column last November, I dismissed worries that the incoming Biden/Harris administration would — or, rather, could — successfully implement a more aggressive victim disarmament (English for the euphemism “gun control”) agenda than previous administrations.

On Valentine’s Day, Biden cynically exploited the third anniversary of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, asking Congress to pass laws making it even more difficult for people like the 14 unarmed students and three unarmed educators who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (while an armed cop on campus hid and failed to defend them) to defend themselves.

I’m still not worried. It’s unlikely that the laws will pass and impossible for them to be enforced if they do.

The proposed laws won’t make people like the Parkland victims any less vulnerable to criminals, but it won’t make them any more vulnerable, either. Government schools are already clearly marked by “Gun Free School Zone” signs as open playgrounds for mass shooters, and have been for decades.

What kind of legislation is Biden asking for?  “Commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.” Let’s take those one at a time.

With more than 400 million guns in the hands of more than 100 million Americans, background checks are silly dramatic flourishes. People who don’t want to submit will simply buy and sell one-on-one, ignoring the requirement. People who really want new guns from shops but who would be forbidden to buy one under existing (unconstitutional) law will have friends, spouses, etc. buy for them.

Actual “assault weapons” — fully automatic weapons — have been (unconstitutionally) banned for general ownership for decades. The current use of the term means “ugly, military-looking versions of standard hunting and sporting weapons which have been in public circulation for more than a century.” As for “high-capacity magazines,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates about 80 million of them in circulation. They can be built or converted with generally available machine tools. The absolute maximum effect of such legislation would be people getting  guns in wood-grain finish instead of black. Big whoop.

And as for “eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets,” no such gun manufacturers exist (see “assault weapons” above).

The laws Biden wants are stupid and would, thankfully, be ineffectual if passed. But most Republicans and several Democrats would vote against them, making them dead on arrival in the US Senate.

All Biden is accomplishing with his statement is outing himself yet again as someone who’s more than willing to dance in the blood of dead children to score cheap political points.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Same as the Old Boss, Julian Assange Edition

The abduction of political prisoner Julian Assange by British police
The abduction of political prisoner Julian Assange by British police

On February 9, the US Justice Department announced that US President Joe Biden, as in so many other areas, intends to serve Donald Trump’s second term when it comes to persecuting heroes guilty of exposing US war crimes and embarrassing American politicians.

As Trump’s presidency drew to an end, some activists held out hope that he’d pardon political prisoner Julian Assange, whose incarceration at the hands of the Swedish, British, and US governments has, according to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, gone on for more than a decade now (between British prisons and de facto house arrest in Ecuador’s London embassy). No dice. Trump handed out plenty of pardons to political cronies, but left Assange in stir.

In January, British judge Vanessa Baraitser declined to extradite the founder of WikiLeaks to the US on trumped up (pun intended) espionage charges. Not because the charges are clearly nonsense, though they are. Nor because neither Assange’s person  or his alleged actions were subject to US jurisdiction, though they weren’t. She denied the extradition because she (probably correctly) considers Assange a suicide risk if he’s handed over.

The Biden regime intends to appeal Baraitser’s decision instead of dropping the false charges, firing the prosecutors who filed them, pardoning Assange, and awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, all of which would come to far to less than he deserves.

Biden’s attitude is less surprising than Trump’s. During the 2016 campaign, Trump praised WikiLeaks for releasing Democratic National Committee emails that detailed the joint campaign between the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to ensure that she, and not US Senator Bernie Sanders, received the party’s presidential nomination.

Prior to that, WikiLeaks had embarrassed then Secretary of State Clinton with its “Cablegate” release, which demonstrated that Clinton had ordered US diplomats to spy on UN officials.

And even before that, WikiLeaks had released “Collateral Murder,” a classified US military video of US troops murdering Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists in Baghdad. The murders took place before Obama became president,  but his regime participated in the military’s cover-up of the incident and oversaw its failure to bring the killers to justice.

You can probably see why Joe Biden is less inclined than Donald Trump to let such a “criminal” walk free. If there’s a mystery here, it’s not why Biden won’t do the right thing; it’s why Trump didn’t.

The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but if they grind exceedingly fine the British courts will deny extradition with finality and free Assange, while Biden, Trump, and numerous others will eventually answer to charges of violating US Code, Title 18, Sections 241 and 242 — conspiracy against Julian Assange’s rights and deprivation of those rights under color of law.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.