Though some of the entries can get silly, I generally like the White House's "We The People" petition process, in which Americans can submit questions and/or ideas, have the public vote for their favorites, and get an official response from the Obama administration. A new one was released Friday night, and though Will published a fun item on it, I suspect for some folks, it was lost in the weekend shuffle.
The challenge was straightforward: "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016." Since there's really only one Death Star, the petition needed no further elaboration, and at last count, it generated 34,435 signatures, over 9,000 more than the minimum threshold for a White House response.
On Friday night, Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, took on the challenge with a serious reply, that just happened to be filled with not-so-subtle Star Wars references. "The headline, for example, read, This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For."
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
* The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
* The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
* Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
Shawcross went on to talk up the International Space Station, and added, "Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun."
Nice job, Shawcross. May the Force be with you ... always.
Incidentally, there's no word yet from John McCain and Lindsey Graham about whether it's outrageous for President Obama to take "blowing up planets" off the table, but I expect their press release any minute now.