Slate's Political Gabfest for March 27.

Slate's Political Gabfest for March 27.

Slate's Political Gabfest for March 27.

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
March 27 2009 1:39 PM

The Locavore Gabfest

Listen to Slate's review of the week in politics.

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Listen to the Gabfest for March 27 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Get your free 14-day trial membership of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audio book,
here. This week's suggestion for an Audible book comes from listener Dave Zobott: The Poet's Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family, edited by John Lithgow and read by Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, and many other well-known voices.

Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz talk politics. This week: the bank bailout, Obama's week on television, and the White House goes green (thumb).

The three talk about the latest bank bailout bill, announced this week. David calls it a sweet deal for the private investors who will be allowed to participate, because they have so little at risk.

John notes there wasn't one question about the bailout plan at President Obama's news conference this week, and there was relatively little about foreign policy.

President Obama held an online town hall this week.

Also this week, the Republicans released their budget proposal. It received little attention, in part, says John, because it was almost laughable—the proposal was a budget with no numbers, making the party of "no" the party of no ideas.

First lady Michelle Obama has begun an organic garden on the White House lawn. Emily says that, as Jennifer Reese pointed out on Slate this week, a garden is not a free source of food. And David says Americans tend to allow presidents to have "White House follies." He says the garden is little different from President Bush's desire to have T-ball games on the White House lawn.

Emily chatters about the trailer for the new movie Where the Wild Things Are, due in theaters this fall. She's angry that the movie, directed by Spike Jonze, may spoil the beloved children's book  by leaving nothing to the imagination of future readers.

David talks about the online satirical news Web site the Onion and its recent hire of former CNN news anchor Bobbie Batista. He calls the hire a strange confluence of fantasy and reality.

Posted on March 27 by Dale Willman at 1:43 p.m.

March 20, 2009

Listen to the Gabfest for March 20 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

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You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Get your free 14-day trial membership of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audio book,
here. This week's suggestion for an Audible book comes from Emily, who recommends Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson.

Emily Bazelon, Christopher Beam, and John Dickerson talk politics. This week: the AIG bonus mess, Dick Cheney says America is less safe, and Jon Stewart takes Jim Cramer to school.

Emily says she is surprised more people receiving money from the latest round of bonuses at AIG haven't given them up in light of the level of public outrage over the matter. And she says President Obama is being forced to spend too much political capital on the banking situation. John, meanwhile, explains how the Republicans can gain points: by saying the administration should have made sure no bonuses were being paid before extending the latest $30 billion to AIG.

John wonders whether President Obama's recent round of public appearances on comedy and sports shows may open him up to additional criticism for appearing not to take the current financial situation seriously enough.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the United States is not as safe now that Barack Obama is president. Emily says former President Bush's response to Cheney's comments was much classier.

Jon Stewart takes on MSNBC's Jim Cramer, in a fight scored in favor of Stewart by most observers. However, Chris sides with Tucker Carlson, who says the attack made no sense. Chris says Stewart's argument that he is just an entertainer no longer holds water.

The group discusses the very public fight among three prominent Republican women.

Emily chatters about a statement by Attorney General Eric Holder this week in which he said the Obama administration would soon effectively end the Bush administration's regular raids on distributors of medical marijuana.

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Chris talks about the rapid growth of so-called essay mills, Web sites where students can purchase term papers from around the world.

John chatters about the new bust in the Oval Office. A bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. has replaced one of British leader Winston Churchill.

Posted on March 20 by Dale Willman at 2:49 p.m.

March 14, 2009

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Listen to the Gabfest for March 13 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below: You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Get your free 14-day trial of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook, here. This week's suggestion for an Audible book comes from a reader, who recommended Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.

John Dickerson, David Plotz, and Hanna Rosin talk politics. This week, they discuss President Obama's workload, a renewed fight over stem cells, and Michelle Obama's arms.

President Barack Obama is being accused of doing too much. Prominent businessmen, including investor Warren Buffett and Andrew S. Grove of Intel, say the president should focus on the economy right now and suggest he is losing focus by also doing other things. Hanna says she has lost patience with this argument. She says Obama's plan is working out just fine so far. John thinks the administration must accept some blame; he says it could be talking up the economy more, but it's saying little so it cannot be blamed later on if problems occur.

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President Obama said this week that the nation's top teachers should receive merit pay. John says an announcement like this from a Democratic president would usually receive a great deal of attention, but all the focus on the economy has overshadowed other issues.

Charles Freeman, Obama's pick for chairman of the National Intelligence Council, has withdrawn his nomination after key senators questioned his views on Israel and his ties to Saudi and Chinese interests.

Bush administration restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research were reversed this week. The move quickly drew protests. Hanna said she agrees with the change but thinks the way the move was announced was smug and crude. John points out that a 1995 law has forbidden the use of federal funds for research linked to destroyed human embryos.

First lady Michelle Obama is being criticized for wearing outfits that leave her arms bare. Hanna says she looks great. She is also reminded of the Rosie the Riveter posters from World War II. Some groups find the bare arms to be a good thing.

David chatters about Kings, a TV show premiering on NBC this Sunday night. It's a modern-day retelling of the story of David and Goliath.

Hanna talks about the novel Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. The book is made up of transcripts from audio tapes recorded by a 16-year-old girl before she commits suicide.

John chatters about found items—objects lost for a long time that are suddenly rediscovered. This week, a portrait was uncovered that appears to be the only painting of William Shakespeare made while he was still alive. Another discovery involved a watch owned by Abraham Lincoln and the message hidden inside. This week, that message was revealed.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted on March 13 by Dale Willman at 12:12 p.m.

March 5, 2009

Listen to the Gabfest for March 5 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Get your 14-day free trial of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook, here. This week's suggestions for an Audible book come from a listener named Jennifer who loves narrators. The first recommendation is Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child, narrated by Nadia May and written by Noel Riley Fitch. The second narrator is David Case, good on biographies of P.G. Woodhouse and Winston Churchill.

Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz talk politics. This week: President Barack Obama's approval ratings, Rush Limbaugh as Republican leader, and newly released Justice Department memos.

Public opinion polls released this week show that President Obama is receiving the highest ratings yet, even as support for his policies is more mixed.

Controversy surrounds Rush Limbaugh. Michael Steele, head of the Republican National Committee, called Limbaugh an "entertainer" and said that what the radio host does is "incendiary" and ugly. Steele added that he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party, "not Rush." Limbaugh fired back, saying he would not want to be in charge of the party, given the "sad-sack state that it's in."

David talks about President Obama taking in a basketball game between the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. He says this shows how brilliant Obama can be at handling the public portion of being president. Obama even did some trash-talking and got in a little trouble for drinking a beer.

The trio discusses recently released Justice Department memos that former President George W. Bush used as the basis for many of his more controversial actions as president. At least some of the memos were released in response to a lawsuit filed against former Justice Department official John Yoo.

David chatters about the newfound recognition for Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh. A book about his work is coming soon from the M.I.T. Press, and there are two showings of his work under way in New York.

Emily talks about the Supreme Court. The court heard arguments in a case from West Virginia, where a state Supreme Court justice is accused of bias. The court also ruled that patients can sue drug companies for not providing adequate safety warnings, even if the drug in question has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

John chatters about a report that outlines the effect of the economic crisis on the nonprofit sector. The report indicates that nonprofits employ as much as 11 percent of the population—more than the auto industry.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted on March 5 by Dale Willman at 11:23 a.m.

Slate Senior Editor Emily Bazelon, Chief Political Correspondent John Dickerson, and Editor David Plotz host the Gabfest weekly.