The Political Gabfest for Aug. 28, 2009.

The Political Gabfest for Aug. 28, 2009.

The Political Gabfest for Aug. 28, 2009.

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
Aug. 28 2009 12:08 PM

The Political Gabfest, the Unkindest Cut Edition

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

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Listen to the Gabfest for Aug. 28 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

John Dickerson, Emily Bazelon, and David Plotz talk politics. This week:  Ted Kennedy's legacy, investigating torture, and the delicate politics of circumcision.

Here are some of the links and references made in this week's show:

Timothy Noah's piece in Slate about how Ted Kennedy was the Kennedy who most influenced America.
Martin Nolan writes a retrospective of Ted Kennedy's life in the Boston Globe.
The CIA inspector general's report as posted on the National Security Archivesite.
David chatters about Steven Brill's article in TheNew Yorker about the infamous New York City "Rubber Room" for incompetent teachers.
Emily chatters about Gordon Brown's response to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
John chatters about Yelp, a service that allows you to view reviews of local businesses and services, which he found particularly useful while on vacation in unfamiliar territories.

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 Aug. 28 by Amman Sood at 12:08 p.m.

Aug. 21, 2009

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Listen to the Gabfest for Aug. 21 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

Get your free 14-day trial membership of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook. This week's recommendation comes from Mark Baus: Julian Rubinstein's The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber. Set in Hungary, the book tells the true story of Attilla Ambrus—a hockey player who began to rob post offices and banks in the early 1990s while Hungary was resurfacing from communist rule.

June Thomas, Julia Turner, and Jacob Weisberg talk politics. This week: The latest developments in health care, elections in Afghanistan, and a renewed rivalry between New York City and the nation's capital.

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Here are the links and columns mentioned in this week's show:

June references Bob Herbert's article on health care reform in the NYT.

Julia points out the importance of Ted Kennedy's vote on health care.

Ted Kennedy asking Massachusetts state legislature to change the laws on his congressional successor.

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Updates on the Afghanistan election.

Julia chatters about the video of Barney Frank debating a woman who asked why he was endorsing Obama's "Nazi policy" at a recent town hall.

Jacob chatters about John le Carre's A Most Wanted Man.

June chatters about the Jo Becker's piece in the NYT regarding Theodore B. Olson's advocacy as a conservative for same-sex marriage.

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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 Aug. 21 by Amman Sood at 6:45 p.m.

Aug. 14, 2009

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Listen to the Gabfest for Aug. 14 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

Get your free 14-day trial membership of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook. This week's recommendation comes from listener Edward Butler, who suggests Blind Side by Michael Lewis. Read by Stephen Hoye, the novel is about the story of Michael Oher and the trials he went through to be a successful football player.

Slate's Political Gabfest features Emily Bazelon, David Plotz, and Gabfest intern Jefferson Pestronk. This week: turmoil in the town halls, the tricky politics of presidential vacations, and a farewell to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Here are some of the links and other items mentioned in this week's show:

The New York Times Prescriptions blog post on the generation gap in the health care debate.

Mark Ambinder's Atlantic blog post on the exploitation of emotions over health care.

A Gallup poll showing the anti-health care reform protests may be working.

The David Broder column David Plotz actually finds interesting.

Jefferson chatters about a CNN article on urban farming in Detroit.

Emily chatters about a libel case by Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith's former lawyer, against Rita Crosby. She claimed in a book that Stern is gay. The judge dismissed the case, ruling that calling someone gay is no longer defamatory.

David chatters about the Yale University Press book on the controversy over a Danish newspaper's cartoon portraying the Prophet Muhammad. The author reproduced the cartoons and other historic images of the Prophet, and as a result the publisher pulled the images at the last moment.

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 Aug. 14 by Amman Sood at 7 p.m.

Aug. 7, 2009

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Listen to the Gabfest for Aug. 7by 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.



Get your
free 14-day trial membership of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook. This week's recommendation comes from our very own David Plotz, who recommends Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, a novel about the great social unrest in post WWI Boston.  



John Dickerson, David Plotz, and Daniel Gross (of Slate, The Big Money, and Newsweek) talk politics. This week: Is the economy getting better?; the latest on health care; and former President Bill Clinton brings home two Americans imprisoned in North Korea.



While the recession shows signs of ending, the Gabfesters say the economic recovery may prove to be the most arduous task for the Obama administration. Dan wonders which figure may be more powerful in swaying public opinion: 10 percent unemployment or the Dow Jones rising above 10,000. The Obama administration would be quick to point out that the increasing unemployment is slowing



John points out how Obama is losing support among the working class, although he remains popular with wealthy Americans.



John brings up a focus group for independents in southern Maryland in which participants pointed to Cash for Clunkers as the one beacon of congressional success. David counters that mathematically the Cash for Clunkers program is wildly inefficient as we overpay for the environmental benefit tenfold. Dan retorts that the program is only partially for the environment and it serves more as an icon for the public that citizens are buying cars again.



As Congress goes to recess, many members are holding town halls to discuss health care with their constituents. But these forums have been overrun by fiercely passionate conservative dissenters unhappy with Democrats and the Obama administration. John brings up how some House members are trying to cope with the takeover by meeting one-on-one with their constituents, in addition to other strategies the White House passed down to them.



David modestly recalls how he won an essay contest in 1990 in which he argued that constituents should corner lawmakers with video cameras and demand interviews, a tactic often employed by cable news programs.



David praises former President Bill Clinton for being disciplined during his North Korean visit to negotiate the release of two American journalists. Dan reflects on his sympathy for Al Gore, who still lives in Clinton's shadow despite winning a Nobel Peace Prize and becoming a champion of the environment. Dan makes the best joke in the history of the Slate Political Gabfest. John points out how conservatives are giving Clinton flak for yielding to North Korean demands, even though the administration is maintaining a hard line on nuclear proliferation.



David chatters about Josh Levin's brilliant series in Slate called "The End of America," which discusses potential ways the United States may come to an end. The series includes a "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" game with 144 ways to end America.



Dan chatters about David Wessels' In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic, which sheds light on the Fed chairman's role in the bailouts and his own personal history.



John chatters about The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election by Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz. It takes a close look at the McCain/Obama race.



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 Aug. 7 by Amman Sood at 2 p.m.

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