S. 619, the Justice Safety Valve Act, would allow federal judges to sentence any non-violent offender to less time in jail than federal mandatory minimum laws would otherwise allow. Federal judges have had this power for almost 20 years in re drug offenders, but S. 619 would expand that power. About time, really -- why do we even have judges if we're going to tell them they can't hand out a sentence that fits the crime and protects the public? And S. 619 would also make judges both justify their decision to hand out such a sentence and notify all parties involved of their intent to do so, so they can respond. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has sponsored the bill, reminding us that mandatory minimums "cost() the taxpayers money without making them any safer." Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), the longtime Senate Judiciary Chair, has also co-sponsored the bill, thus putting the heft of his office behind it. And it's not a "get out of jail free" card, because the offenders still get a sentence. FAMM helps you tell your Senators to support S. 619.
Meanwhile, out in California, SB 323 would ensure that non-profits receiving state money adhere to state anti-discrimination laws. Seems common-sensical, doesn't it? Sadly, that hasn't been the "common sense" of most recent government thinking about the matter -- whether out of a desire to get more people help more quickly or just gum things up, Tha Bush Mobb allowed faith-based organizations to take federal money while continuing to discriminate against folks their "faith" told them weren't good enough, and the President of Super Happy Hopey Changey Bipartisan Fun Time Land has been no better. Again, it's left to California to lead, on an issue that's hardly "liberal," no less -- yes, SB 323 would protect ethnicities and gays from discrimination, but every time I say "if you take state money you should obey state laws" I feel like I should add "just like we did in the old days." If you're a California resident, Equality California helps you tell your state legislators to support SB 323.
Finally, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has created a SignOn petition helping you tell President Obama not to cut Social Security and Medicare. The budget he plans to submit to Congress this week reportedly does both, and Mr. Obama reportedly doesn't even support the Social Security and Medicare cuts in his own budget, but, as you know, he is the President of Super Happy Hopey Changey Bipartisan Fun Time Land, and so he has to make sacrifices to the Republicans on our behalf. Bet he'll say it hurts him more than it hurts us, too! Seriously, there's no need to unravel the 13-dimensional chess game he's supposedly playing here -- the Republicans rejected his budget right away (since it couples the cuts with indeterminate tax hikes), but folks will more likely remember that Barack Obama proposed to cut Social Security and Medicare, and independents won't cleave to Democrats because they feel sorry for them. Do good works, reap the rewards, that's what I say.