Normally when I do a "Show So Far" post, I've got a lot of legislation to cover, but since a) the House Republicans only pass bad legislation and b) the Senate Democrats seem disinclined to even consider much of it, we'll have more information on non-legislative action campaigns than normal.
Free Speech for People has produced a People's Rights Amendment, in response, of course, to Citizens United v. FEC, which ruled that corporations have certain "rights of people," at least as far as political contributions are concerned. (More recent Supreme Court rulings have pointedly refused to expand on those "rights," leading me to wonder if Mr. Chief Justice Roberts knows he's really stepped in it.) Free Speech for People wants you to contact your state legislators about the amendment, figuring that it'll get more traction at the state level than at the federal level, what with all those corporate toadies in tricorner hats serving in Congress now. That may be the correct calculation strategically, but I still think we should tell our federal representatives to pass the amendment, whether they like it or not. Our duty doesn't change because the idiot quotient in Congress goes up.
Meanwhile, amidst all this talk of cutting spending for grandma and the people getting foreclosed down the street, Families Against Mandatory Minimums featured prominently at a Congressional hearing on cutting wasteful criminal justice spending on April 14, which also featured prominent conservatives such as Asa Hutchinson and Grover Norquist. Also, Sen. Webb has reintroduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (now S. 306), which would create a bipartisan commission aiming to reform federal criminal justice statutes and procedures. Folks across the ideological spectrum agree that junking mandatory minimum-sentencing laws, making crack sentencing reforms retroactive, and increasing clemency for sick and elderly inmates would be good fiscal policy as well as good social policy. Funny how often that happens; funnier, still, how infrequently Congress recognizes it. Mr. Webb's bill -- which couldn't get through a filibuster last year, because, you know, Republicans! -- now faces a steeper climb, since too many of the new faces in the Senate seem to think gaining Tea Party support means "opposing anything that might do the American people some good." Still, here's a revised roster of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jewish Voice for Peace began a campaign last year to get one of the world's largest pension funds, TIAA-CREF, to divest from corporations that benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and how did TIAA-CREF react? By asking the SEC to help quash the shareholder resolution that would have asked them to divest. Sigh. TIAA-CREF did divest from Darfur in 2009, so it's not like they just don't do the whole divestment thing. You can still sign the resolution, if you're a TIAA-CREF shareholder, or you can tell your friends about it, and they can sign it, if they're shareholders. TIAA-CREF works with many universities, public schools, hospitals, and non-profits, so if you or anyone you know is a public school teacher or researcher or nurse or artist (you know, the kind of people Scott Walker hates), they've got a good chance of being a shareholder.
Finally, over 120,000 good folks signed the change.org petition demanding the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, arrested on April 3 after his numerous criticisms of the Chinese government -- and, perhaps not coincidentally, the change.org site weathered repeated cyber attacks emanating from China last week. They've hung in there, though, and the petition's still up. Ai is still missing, whereabouts unknown, as are several of his associates; the government has apparently charged him with tax evasion, bigamy, and spreading porn on the internet, and even claims that he's "begun to confess," after what "persuasion," I wonder. But totalitarians don't get every last word about every last damn thing in the world. I guarantee it.