The Bombthrower is Back

In his rise to power as a Republican congressman, Newt Gingrich developed a reputation as a rhetorical “bombthrower.” And that was before Bill Clinton stepped foot in the White House. By the mid-2000s, the former Speaker of the House (he left Congress in 1999), seemed to grow mellower, and even recast himself as a treehugger.  Those were pre-Tea Party days.

Last year, Gingrich made headlines for his strange remarks about President Obama possessing “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” Last month, he called for the EPA to be abolished. Today, in addition to renewing that call, Gingrich proclaimed:

What you have from Obama Administration is a war against American energy.

That’s vintage Gingrich, circa mid-1980s to mid-1990s. It looks like the old firebrand, a perennial presidential aspirant, is gambling that this persona is more in tune with the times.

Category: politics

Where Are My Minions?

With great pithy I tried to caution people not to get so bubbly over the supposed wiki/peak oil revelations.  I suppose if I can’t get my three year old to listen to me, why should anyone else?

Fortunately, there is somebody much more learned and well-placed than me on the case. Maybe he’ll have better luck.

It’s high time I got some minions!

Category: peak oil

Blues Break

Turn it up. Are you listening!

Category: Blues

The Gang That Can’t Talk Intelligibly

A few days ago, House Republicans held their first hearing on climate science. Actually, as John Broder reported in the NYT, the ostensible purpose of the hearing was

to review the economic impact of pending limits on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. But much of the discussion focused instead on whether climate science supports the agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to health and the environment; that finding is what makes the gases subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Broder does a nice job distilling the highlights to support his nutgraph (what much of the hearing’s discussion focused on). But if you want a saltier taste of the event, head over to The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, where this post gives you the same news while also deconstructing the absurdist kabuki nature of a typical congressional hearing.

Posts like this demonstrate why reporting-centric blogs at magazines are much more engaging than those at newspapers. For example, I really like the Green blog at the NYT, but its style is only marginally less dispassionate than the house style of official NYT news stories. In that sense, the blog serves as just another platform to report environment and energy related stories, which is great in of itself. But if you want some color and verve with your news, you’ll have to look elsewhere, and that is usually at magazine blogs like Democracy in America.

Category: climate change, climate politics, Journalism

The “Oprah” of New Media

I’ve been growling all week at the stream of stories and blog posts dissecting the business angle to the AOL acquisition of the Huffington Post. As if that were all that mattered about this news.

But one post by Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor and new media maven, got me barking mad. Now I generally admire Jarvis and didn’t so much mind his fawning assessment of the $315 million deal that will merge Huffington Post with AOL, and make Ariana Huffington the overseer of all AOL-HuffPo content.  But he lost me here:

And let’s not forget that HuffPo gets journalism. I remember a few years ago when Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, goaded Arianna in a talk before his staff about why she’d possibly want such as them: reporters who cost a lot and are pains to work with. Because their stories get more traffic, Arianna replied. She understands the value of reporting.

No, Huffington understands the value of free labor, as Tim Rutten at the LA Times notes:

The bulk of the site’s content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they’re devoted. Most of the rest of the content is “aggregated” — which is to say stolen — from the newspapers and television networks that pay journalists to gather and edit the news.

So let’s not pretend that much actual reporting is being produced (or truly valued) by the Huffington Post. What is indisputable, as Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy points out (and echoed by some commenters at Jarvis’ thread) is that Huffpo produces

nearly daily dangerous antivax and alt-med stuff.

For this reason, Orac, in his own take-no-prisoners style, is contemptuous of the deal (“AOL is buying that wretched hive of scum and quackery”) and also wonders if the new mainstream platform portends that Arianna Huffington will soon

become the Oprah Winfrey of the “new media.”

He didn’t mean that as a compliment.

Category: Journalism