The problems with American politics and media can all be traced to the extent with which the rich are allowed to game the system and to keep the facts of their gaming out of any news outlets that the average American is likely to encounter. This is why I was so glad to see this bit of good news coming out of Arizona, in an e-mail from the Clean Elections people:

While much of the nation’s attention has been focused on two controversial bills coming out of the Grand Canyon state, Arizona’s Clean Elections law has been under attack. The program, which went into effect in 2000 after voters approved a ballot initiative in 1998, changed the face of Arizona politics. In the four election cycles it’s been in use, the Clean Elections system has seen an ever-increasing participation rate, with two-thirds of candidates using the program in the 2008 cycle.

Despite its popularity among Arizona voters and politicians, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has set out to kill the system by passing a law to place a Clean Elections repeal measure on the ballot. Throughout the 2010 legislative session the Arizona Chamber has played dirty politics and has tried every trick in the book to get legislators to wipe Clean Elections from the books. We’ve beaten back their attempts at every turn with the help of our friends and allies making calls and sending emails opposing the repeal effort. We placed ads on Monday in the Yuma Sun and Tuscon’s Arizona Daily Star highlighting the Chamber’s big campaign contributions to the Speaker of the House, who spearheaded the latest repeal effort.

And all of our hard work has paid off. The Arizona legislature adjourned last night and the repeal bill is dead for now! However, we need to stay on our toes as the threat of a special session still looms. Thank you so much for all of your help, we could not have achieved this victory without you. Arizona’s Clean Elections will continue to make elections about voters instead of big money donors thanks to the Arizona Advocacy Network and many activists like you.

In other good news, I’ve finally got my tomato plants outside, though under see-through wraps as our night-time temps are for the most part still dipping below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. (Helpful hint for those with worn-out Ziploc freezer bags: These make nice impromptu greenhouses; just use chopsticks in the soil to hold the sides apart, and presto! Instant micro-greenhouses.) I must confess that while I do have a lot of sprouted tomato plants, they’re still tiny, so I broke down and picked up three nicely-vigorous specimens at the Farmers’ Market in downtown Minneapolis last week. The onions in the strawberry pot wintered over, and they’re growing quite nicely. The garlic clove that had sprouted a month ago in the fridge now sports a stalk nearly eight inches tall. Speaking of sprouts, I’ve got parsley, basil and chives started in little tiny clear plastic hard-walled greenhouses indoors; in about three weeks or so, or around the time it might be safe to unsheath the tomato plants, they should be ready to go into bigger pots and out onto the balcony to join my other babies in the gardenette.

So what good things and/or green shoots are news in your neck of the woods today? And could somebody tell me where they put the coffee?