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Election 2012

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Green Party’s presidential candidate says it’s time to ‘take our country back’

The Green Party gathered in Baltimore last weekend to choose a candidate who will go up against Barack Obama and (barring some strange GOP catastrophe) Mitt Romney in this fall’s presidential race.

No surprises here: Boston physician Jill Stein bested second runner (and former sitcom star) Roseanne Barr by a 41 percent margin, winning 193.5 of a total 294 delegates. (One delegate was apparently split between Stein and a third candidate.) Stein, who ran against Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election and won 3 percent of the vote, is running on a platform centered on her Green New Deal, an ambitious plan that would guarantee full employment of all Americans at a living wage, develop a green economy based on renewable energy sources, tax banker bonuses at a 90-percent rate, and legalize marijuana.

In her acceptance speech Saturday afternoon, Stein railed against a two-party system that she says offers little in the way of alternatives. The U.S. is “at the breaking point, for our people, for our economy, for our democracy, and for our planet,” she said.

Stein’s vice-presidential running mate will be Cheri Honkala, who ran for sheriff in Philadelphia in 2011. In her acceptance speech, Honkala talked about being a homeless, single mom in Minnesota. After she lost her apartment, she and her son lived in her car, then, when a drunk driver totaled that car, sought refuge in an abandoned house during winter. The Green Party, with its promises of jobs and health care for all, was a natural fit for her and her values.

“We are the new and unsettling force that Martin Luther King spoke for,” Honkala said.

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Green streak: Green Party aims to stir up presidential race

Jill Stein, the Green Party's presumptive presidential nominee.

The Green Party came cruising into Baltimore on Thursday -- er, wait, came riding into Baltimore. No. Had party members been able to walk and ride bicycles into Baltimore, I’m sure they would have, but even presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein found herself riding in a jumbo jet in order to get here in a timely fashion.

But they made it nonetheless, and here they’ll stay for the next three days, holding workshops, fundraisers, and nominating their candidate for the highest office in the land. Barring any magical Roseanne Barr love-fest tomorrow at the nominating convention (the former sitcom star also tossed her hat in the ring), it will be Stein’s name on the ballot in, more than likely, 45 states by November.

In some ways it seems fitting that the Green Party chose Charm City as the location for its presidential nominating convention. Baltimore is sometimes forgotten to its bigger cousins, Washington, D.C., and New York City. It’s often seen as quirky and eccentric. And it’s easily stereotyped by the images we see in popular culture. (No, not every block is straight out of The Wire.)

Welcome to the Green Party, hanging on the heels of the Republican and Democrat parties, populated by an array of disparate interest groups, and written off by state election boards as unserious, tree-hugging, dove-releasing, organic-farming, grass-fed beef-ing … you get the point.

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Lay off the Konarka: Dem energy message risks defeating Dem energy message

So, what's the state of play on energy in the presidential race? I'm glad you asked.

Broadly, what's happened is that both parties now perceive, accurately, that the public is pro-energy. That's why both parties are grappling for the "all of the above" slogan.

"Pro-energy," in the U.S. public's case, means pro more energy, cheaper energy, cleaner energy, and more secure energy. What the public does not like is the trade-offs between those goals. It doesn't like hearing that it has to give anything up. It doesn't like hearing about "anti-energy" penalties and prohibitions. And it never likes favoritism, waste, fraud, or generic "spending."

Given that all energy policies involve trade-offs between various desiderata, a political party's ability to sell an energy policy to the public hinges on its ability to evoke the right frames. More/cheaper/cleaner/safer energy always polls well. Restraints, added cost, pollution, and foreign-ness (especially Middle Eastern-ness) do not.

This basic dynamic helps explain why Mitt Romney is not dropping Solyndra. Conservatives still see it as one of their bests attacks on Obama. It evokes Big Government spending, cronyism, waste, and failure (i.e., less energy). It tars the rest of Obama's clean-energy programs, nay his entire agenda, by association.

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The top five things voters need to know about conservatives and climate change

Five! (Photo by woodleywonderworks)I've seen a recent surge of stories about conservatives and climate change. None of them, oddly, tell voters what they most need to know on the subject. In fact, one of them does the opposite. (Grrrr ...)

I respond in accordance with internet tradition: a listicle!

5. Conservatives have a long history of advancing environmental progress. In a column directed to Mitt Romney, Thomas Friedman reels off (one suspects from memory) "the G.O.P.'s long tradition of environmental stewardship that some Republicans are still proud of: Teddy Roosevelt bequeathed us national parks, Richard Nixon the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, Ronald Reagan the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer and George H. W. Bush cap-and-trade that reduced acid rain." This familiar litany is slightly misleading, attributing to presidents what is mostly the work of Congresses, but the basic point is valid enough: In the 20th century, Republicans have frequently played a constructive role on the environment.

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Obama silent on climate change in big Iowa energy speech

Obama in Newton, IowaObama's energy speech: lots about wind, nothing about climate. (Photo by Darin Leach for USDA.)

A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Last month, the White House edited climate change from Obama’s Earth Day 2012 proclamation. That was after the president omitted any discussion of climate change from his State of the Union address.

But then, in a Rolling Stone interview, Obama unexpectedly broke out of his self-imposed silence on climate change, saying he thought climate change would be a campaign issue.

Of course, it would be hard for climate to be a campaign issue if the president doesn’t actually talk about it in public. After all, his challenger Mitt Romney seems unlikely to bring it up, having Etch-a-Sketched his position on that subject many times. And Lord knows that media isn’t itching to talk about climate.

So it was disappointing again once again that on Thursday the president reverted to form in his big speech on energy at TPI Composites, a wind-blade manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa.

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Could Romney’s scorn for wind power hurt him in the heartland?

Photo by Eric Tastad.

On Thursday, President Obama will visit TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer in Newton, Iowa (population, 15,254). There, he will reiterate his support for the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a federal support program that has helped drive wind's rapid expansion in the U.S. The PTC is now in peril, as Congress appears unlikely to renew it when it expires at the end of this year. The loss of the PTC would put tens of thousands of current jobs -- and almost 100,000 future jobs [PDF] -- at risk.

Newton's experience is illustrative, so let's recount a little history.

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Romney choosing climate skeptic as running mate

Mitt is thinking hard about which boring white man to choose as his running mate. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

OK, alright, Romney hasn't actually picked his VP candidate yet, but we can already say with near-100 percent certainly that it'll be someone who's skeptical about the climate crisis and doubts that it's significantly driven by human activity.

This is because virtually all high-level Republicans are skeptical about the climate crisis, at least judging by their public statements and actions. To find a Republican who believes that we ought to do even a little something about global warming, Romney would have to wade into the garbage bin of GOP politics and consort with losers and has-beens like Charlie Crist and Jon Huntsman. Fat chance.

Here are some of the incredibly boring white guys Romney might actually pick (along with a few outlier options who are non-white, non-boring, and/or non-guys), and some of the illuminating things they've said about climate change:

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Buzzword decoder: Your election-year guide to environmental catchphrases

bees saying buzzwordsDon't expect the environment to be in the spotlight in political campaigns this year. The economy will be the star in 2012, with the culture wars singing backup.

Still, environmental issues are getting talked about, often obliquely as part of larger discussions about energy -- though the words don't always mean what you might think they mean. And the words politicians don't say can tell you as much as the words they do.

Here's a guide to energy and environmental buzzwords you'll be hearing, or not, this election year:

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Fox News has finally figured out that low gas prices are bad

We've been saying for a while that expensive gas is good news -- not just because the expense of filling a tank could drive people into the arms of bikes and subways, but because affordable gas is a sign of a weak economy. But Fox News has continued to cling to the conviction that lower gas prices are best -- probably because Obama was president and gas prices were on the rise.

Well, now gas prices are dipping a bit, but Obama is still president, so it's time for their views to "evolve." Media Matters caught various Foxers claiming that lower gas prices are now a sign of Obama ruining the economy.

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Big Oil dominates political attacks on Obama

A still from an American Energy Alliance ad. (Click to watch.)

Here's an astonishing statistic, brought to us by Bloomberg:

In April, 16,991 negative ads aired in various parts of the country and 13,748 of them -- or 81 percent -- focused on energy, according to data provided by New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

Energy? Really?

The details of the story make clear that the vast bulk of these negative energy ads are attack ads directed at Obama, purchased by big PACs -- Americans for Prosperity, American Energy Alliance, Let Freedom Ring, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies -- awash in Big Oil money.

What the hell is going on? Why is energy dominating the right's campaign against Obama?