Ali Frick

Will the Right Succeed in Butchering the American Clean Energy and Security Act?

Since Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), conservatives have grown increasingly hysterical in their opposition to clean energy and green jobs. Rep. "Smokey" Joe Barton (R-TX) -- a prominent global warming denier and top recipient of dirty coal funding -- renamed the bill. "They like to call it ACES but I call it C.R.A.P. -- continue ruining America's prosperity," he snickered. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) declared that a cap-and-trade system like the one proposed by Waxman and Markey "promises to cap our incomes, our livelihoods, and our standard of living" and will therefore "hurt American agriculture." Though Republicans have long falsely claimed that a cap-and-trade program will cost every American family $3,000, a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found "that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion -- or about $175 per household." This amounts to 48 cents per day -- a little more than the cost of a postage stamp. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Secretary of State Richard Armitage have argued recently that climate change is also "the biggest long term threat" to America's national security. Unwilling to wait any longer for much-needed action, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Monday that she plans to bring ACES for a House vote on Friday. Center for American Progress (CAP) CEO John Podesta acknowledged that ACES is "imperfect in its means" but ultimately "deserves the support of progressives." Though the bill may not be everything environmentalists and progressives want, Podesta, alluding to the Rolling Stones's Mick Jagger, said, "They must try this time to pass it through the House so that we can ultimately get what we need: a clean energy law that creates jobs, reduces oil use, and cuts global warming pollution."

For months, congressional Republicans have claimed that addressing climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy would cost every American household thousands of dollars. As the Wonk Room's Brad Johnson argued in March, the claim "is a deliberate lie." "Conservatives that cite horrendous dollar figures are engaging in statistical demagoguery in an attempt to scare enough representatives to defeat the American Clean Energy and Security Act," wrote CAP Director of Climate Strategy Daniel J. Weiss. The latest CBO analysis should end this once and for all. Indeed, the CBO found that, for "households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020." As Weiss points out, the analysis did not even include other aspects of the bill, like energy efficiency promotion, that would further mitigate costs. In fact, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy "estimates that the efficiency provisions alone could save businesses and consumers $22 billion annually by 2020. The savings would be $170 per household in 2020 -- roughly equal to CBO's cost per household estimate for ACES in 2020," Weiss writes. 
1.7 MILLION NEW JOBS: The day before the CBO's new analysis was released, two complementary reports -- prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PERI), CAP, Green For All, and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- determined that addressing climate change would create millions of new jobs. The PERI/CAP report found that a $150 billion annual investment in clean energy over 10 years -- an investment supported by ACES and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act -- could create a net increase of 1.7 million American jobs. The second study found that "clean-energy investments create more job opportunities than spending on fossil fuels, across all levels of skill and education. The largest benefits will accrue to workers with relatively low educational credentials." Investing in clean, renewable energy creates up to four times as many jobs as an equivalent investment in oil and natural gas. Most of these green jobs will be created by retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient and by building new clean-energy projects, like wind farms. "In other words, investing in clean energy means more work for machinists, truck drivers, builders, roofers, insulators, electricians, engineers, and dispatchers." Indeed, the addition of 1.7 million jobs this year would have translated into a full point drop in national unemployment, from 9.4 to 8.4 percent.

THE RIGHT WING RAMPS UP: As Congress inches closer to ushering in a clean energy economy that creates jobs, enhances national security and protects our planet, the far right is ramping up efforts to block the necessary legislation. The oil industry has spent $44.5 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2009 alone, and last year spent 73 percent more on lobbying than it did the year before. In fact, last week a Republican group circulated a document attacking ACES as an economic burden. The Powerpoint document turned out to be drawn almost verbatim from documents by the coal lobby and Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company. And conservatives are also using new web and TV ads to fearmonger. Yesterday, Newt Gingrich's group American Solutions for Winning the Future released a grainy, black-and-white ad comparing the national economy to the infamous wobbling Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The bridge collapses as the narrator warns about the effects of a "national energy tax." "We'll lose more jobs, pay more for gas and electricity -- pushing our economy to its breaking point," the narrator intones. An RNC ad declares that cap-and-trade legislation will make "power unaffordable for all of us." These are intellectually dishonest arguments. "The point is that we need to be clear about who are the realists and who are the fantasists here," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote. "The realists are actually the climate activists, who understand that if you give people in a market economy the right incentives they will make big changes in their energy use and environmental impact. The fantasists are the burn-baby-burn crowd who hate the idea of using government for good, and therefore insist that doing the right thing is economically impossible."

Iran Soccer Stars Show Their Support for Protests on Televised Game

The stars of Iran’s soccer team wore green wristbands in support of the anti-government protesters, during a game broadcast live on Iranian state TV yesterday. “State television, which has been broadcasting Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s competing rallies, has steered clear of images of Mr Moussavi’s protests,” the Financial Times notes. “But given the popularity of football in Iran, keeping the match off the air would not have been an option.” Twitter user mehdi115 posted this photo:

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When Will Hannity Allow Himself to be Waterboarded For Charity?

Fox News' Sean Hannity has long been a torture enthusiast. "I want to torture them to the limit," he once said of terrorists suspects. President Obama's recent decision to release Bush administration memos outlining how torture was approved at the highest levels has spurred Hannity to promote torture even more wildly. "People are going to die because of what Barack Obama is doing right now. People are going to die," he said last week, before slamming a football into his desk and declaring, "Imagine this is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's head. Dunk it in water so we can save American lives! You bet."

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Republican Texas Governor Threatens to Secede

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) was one of the dozens of Republican lawmakers who are addressing the anti-Obama tea parties today. He told the crowd he didn’t believe they were all “right-wing extremists,” as others had sought to portray them. “But if you are, I’m with you!” he shouted. After, he told reporters that Texas might have to secede from the union:

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South Carolina Unemployment Surges to 11 Percent

Unemployment in South Carolina reached 11 percent in February, a “dramatic increase from January’s 10.3 percent.” Five counties in the state face more than 20 percent unemployment, with the highest, Allendale County, at 23.4 percent. Even as he is being warned about enusing “chaos,” Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) continues his efforts to block $700 million in federal stimulus aid to the state, a move that could result in at least 4,700 teachers and prison guards being laid off.

Robert Gibbs Zings Steele for Limbaugh Apology

Within 24 hours of calling Rush Limbaugh “"ncendiary" and "ugly," RNC Chairman Michael Steele had bowed down before the radio host, declaring, "There was no attempt on my part to diminish [Limbaugh’s] voice or his leadership." When Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the episode today, Gibbs suggested Steele's reply proved that Limbaugh is in fact the head of the Republican Party:

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Ashcroft Joins Chorus of Bushies Attacking Obama

In a new article about how the Obama administration will confront the legal challenges of Bush's war on terror, former Attorney General John Ashcroft defends the continued detention of a terror suspect, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, on a naval brig in South Carolina. Al-Marri has been held as an "enemy combatant" for more than seven years, though the government has yet to charge him with a crime. Ashcroft told the New Yorker's Jane Mayer that the only difference between Obama and Bush on detainee policy will likely be how they spell their names:

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Obama Appoints Gay Man to Faith-Based Initiatives Office

A few days ago ThinkProgress noted that President Obama was stalling in overturning Bush's rule that allowed religious groups to discriminate -- usually against gay people -- in their hiring. Yesterday, Obama made an important gesture in naming Fred Davie, the openly gay president of Public/Private Ventures, to serve on on the policy council of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Speaking about his hopes for the Office yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama emphasized the importance of reaching out to "foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith":

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Bush Bitterly Attempts to Rewrite History on Hurricane Katrina

During his final press conference this morning, Bush defended his response to Katrina. He said he has “thought long and hard about Katrina” and admitted that “things [could] have been done better” but denied any problem with the federal response to the disaster, insisting, “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow!”:

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Illinois House votes 114-1 to Impeach Blagojevich

After a unanimous vote by a special impeachment panel yesterday, the full Illinois state House of Representative voted 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). The impeachment trial will be held by the state Senate.

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Jon Stewart Slams Mike Huckabee on Gay Marriage

For over seven minutes last night, Jon Stewart grilled former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on his opposition to gay marriage. Huckabee is touring the country to promote his new book, "Do The Right Thing." When Stewart compared gay marriage bans to interracial marriage bans, Huckabee restated his view that homosexuality is simply a behavior choice:

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RNC Spends Twice as Much on Makeup for McCain than Palin

Politico reports today that the Republican National Committee spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup for Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) in September -- in addition to the more than $150,000 the RNC has spent on clothing and accessories for Palin. AMERICAblog points out the amount is just half of what the RNC spends on makeup for Sen. John McCain: The RNC shelled out $8,672.55 for McCain's makeup in September, employing celebrity makeup artist Tifanie White.

Maddow Schools Frum for His Offensive Remarks

Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow hosted David Frum, former speechwriter to President Bush, to discuss the increasingly nasty -- and sometimes racist -- tone among some of the attendees at McCain-Palin rallies. Frum has been openly critical of the McCain campaign, and Maddow intended to discuss his concerns about the campaign’s turn toward negativity.

From his first answer, however, it was clear Frum had a very different agenda: to attack Rachel Maddow. Discussing the “ugliness of tone” in American politics, he said that Maddow’s show, “unfortunately, is itself an example of that problem.” He then compared her tone to the hateful outbursts of some McCain-Palin supporters:

MADDOW: Do you think that my tone on this show is equivalent to people calling Barack Obama somebody who pals around with terrorists, people yelling from the audience at McCain-Palin rallies, Bomb Obama. Kill him. Off with his head. Traitor. Are you accusing me of an equivalence in tone?

FRUM: I don’t think that’s an important question. I think the question is, given the small plate of responsibility that you personally have, how do you manage that responsibility? The fact that other people fail in other ways is not an excuse for you failing in your way.

MADDOW: But you did just say it’s the same thing, that you’re seeing the same thing on this show in a lot -


FRUM: I worry about that.

McCain Campaign Finally Agrees to Send Spokeswoman to Rachel Maddow Show

After repeatedly rejecting MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's invitations to appear on her show, the campaign for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) finally sent aide Nancy Pfotenhauer to appear as a guest on Friday night. Maddow opened by saying she "could not be happier" to welcome Pfotenhauer:

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World Opinion Favors Obama in 2008 Race

A new Pew poll surveying 24 countries finds that there is “a widespread belief that U.S. foreign policy ‘will change for the better‘ after the inauguration of a new American president next year”:

People around the world who have been paying attention to the American election express more confidence in Barack Obama than in John McCain to do the right thing regarding world affairs. McCain is rated lower than Obama in every country surveyed, except for the United States where his rating matches Obama’s, as well as in Jordan and Pakistan where few people have confidence in either candidate.
Today, however, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said that he has a “personal preference” for McCain because he “would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming (Group of Eight summits).” McCain is a month older than the 71-year-old Berlusconi.


Webb GI Bill Passes in Senate

Just over an hour ago, the Senate voted overwhelmingly — a veto-proof 75-22 — to approve Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill, which would expand educational benefits for veterans who joined the service after Sept. 11, 2001.

Before the vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced his own watered-down, paltry version of the GI bill, exhorted President Bush to veto the measure, as he has indicated he will. Graham also insisted that his Republican colleagues would “get rewarded in the next election” if they vote against GI benefits:

This is a defining moment for the Senate, for the Republicans, and this war. I can tell you if we leave the generals alone and support our troops, they will win this war. And to my Republican colleagues, if we’ll stand firm for a fair procedure and a sensible solution to the veterans’ problems, we will get rewarded in the next election, not punished. If we give into this, we don’t deserve to be here.

It’s an odd proposition. A recent poll documented Americans’ overwhelming support for dramatically increased educational benefits of the kind Webb’s bill provides:

Biden Blasts McCain on Iran Mistakes

Blasting Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in a speech Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said negotiating with Iran would make President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “unlikely to abandon the dangerous ambitions that will have given him a prominent role on the world stage.” When Time’s Joe Klein pointed out that Ayatollah Kahmenei and the National Security Council — not Ahmadinejad — set Iranian foreign policy, McCain dismissed the important distinction, arguing that “any average American” thought of Ahmadinejad as the Iranian leader, and so he would, too.

Speaking with ThinkProgress yesterday afternoon, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) blasted McCain for his “overwhelming lack of sophistication” when it comes to foreign policy, and said McCain, as a presidential candidate, should know more than “average Americans” when it comes to Iran:

I just think that it’s a reflection. I don’t want an average American as president. I have great respect for average — average Americans don’t want an average American president of the United States of America. I want someone above average. I want someone who knows what they’re dealing with. And it surprises me that John didn’t understand the complexities of the power struggle going on in Iran right now.

Watch it.

Both Decrease And Increase In Troop Deaths Prove The Surge Is Success

Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot is one of the most vocal supporters of a neocon foreign policy. He says those who favor withdrawal from Iraq engage in wishful thinking and claims there is copious evidence that Iran is training al Qaeda. He said former CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon's hesitation to bomb Iran embolden[ed] the mullahs, and claimed that the recently-revealed Pentagon propaganda program is simply part and parcel of the daily grind of Washington journalism.

He has also been a vociferous defender of the Iraq troop surge. Today, in an online debate on the surge, Boot points to the overall decrease in troop deaths as evidence of its success:

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Limbaugh Endorses Himself for President

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves after his holiday break. Rather than endorsing a candidate for president -- something his followers have long speculated about -- Limbaugh promoted himself for the top job, saying that his "experience" criticizing the Clinton administration through the 1990s made him the most qualified candidate:

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