A Convenient Truth: States Can Seize the Lead on Global Warming

In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.

Update on Regulatory Takings Initiatives

As we detailed a few weeks ago, rightwing developers are using the cover of "fixing" eminent domain to push radical anti-environment initiatives on ballots across the country. Opponents ranging from outdoor sports organizations to labor unions have been mobilizing in response.

Multi-state Advertising Campaign Targets Public Employees

For public employees in four states, this may have been a rough week. As if balancing typical duties of work and family is not enough, a front group for anonymous business interests this week began running ads in Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon accusing public employees of being lazy and overcompensated. The campaign is connected to the well-orchestrated rightwing attempt to impose TABOR-style spending limits in numerous states through ballot measures this fall.

Vote-by-Mail Earns Backing from NAACP, Senator Kerry

Supporters of Oregon's unique universal vote-by-mail system got a serious leg up this month when the NAACP adopted a resolution formally endorsing the system. The NAACP joins the AFL-CIO in publicly backing the system, which has gained widespread support among representatives of working families for the way that it increases flexibility for voters and also serves as a reminder of otherwise low-profile elections for many of us in our busy day-to-day lives.

John Kerry Jumps on Vote-by-Mail Bandwagon

Jonathan Singer, an Oregon-based front page writer for MyDD, catches John Kerry extolling the virtues of Oregon's vote-by-mail ballot system. That system, which we've praised ourselves, has actually saved money in Oregon while increasing turnout, especially in historically low turnout local elections. The system works so well for a few reasons. First, it creates a documentable paper trail of every ballot. Second, the arrival of the ballot serves as a simple Get Out The Vote (GOTV) reminder.

Takings In Your State

As far-right funders like Howard Rich work across the country, dumping literally millions simply into qualifying these atrocious measures for ballots, progressives have experienced some good news and some bad news. Here's where the campaign stands in various states:

How Rich: The Man Behind the Takings Initiatives

Diving into the world of campaign finance and investigating the funders of the takings initiatives quickly reveals a number of organizations involved: Americans for Limited Government, America at Its Best, the Fund for Democracy, and Montanans in Action. What is odd, though, is that with more digging, they all appear to be funded and controlled by the same individual: New York Developer Howard Rich.

The Takings Trap: Kelo and Oregon's Measure 37

Exploiting the unpopular Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court decision, far-right ideologues are pushing a number of nearly identical ballot measures in dozens of states across the country as reforms to "protect our homes." The backers claim that their efforts will prevent big corporations from using eminent domain to seize people's homes. In reality, these faux populist measures -- backed almost entirely by one rich New York City developer -- will leave cities and counties powerless to protect the environment and strengthen communities in the face of sprawl development.

SCOTUS Strikes Down Campaign Finance Laws; Public Financing Strongest Constitutional Option

This week, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on campaign contributions and expenditures by candidates.  In a set of fractured opinions in Randall v. Sorrell, the Court did not put an end to all campaign finance limits but did put a roadblock in the way of anything much more restrictive than most present laws.  So if there is going to be more serious reform to lessen the power of special interest money in politics, the only real remaining route to reform are systems of public financing of elections like Maine and Arizona.