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Slow Food Nation Comes to San Francisco

This weekend, Slow Food Nation is taking over San Francisco's City Hall with food vendors, conferences, workshops, and farming demos. All last month I got to watch as hearty volunteers turned the stinky, pigeon-befouled strip of concrete in front of City Hall into an amazing herb and vegetable garden. It reminded me of the sustainable, organic backyard garden I grew up with in Oregon,...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 8:37 PM EDT

slow-food-nation.jpgThis weekend, Slow Food Nation is taking over San Francisco's City Hall with food vendors, conferences, workshops, and farming demos. All last month I got to watch as hearty volunteers turned the stinky, pigeon-befouled strip of concrete in front of City Hall into an amazing herb and vegetable garden. It reminded me of the sustainable, organic backyard garden I grew up with in Oregon, long before "green" was hip. There were the same kinds of vegetables—squash, cucumbers, tomatos, corn, beans—as well as flowers to attract birds and bees. The garden was such a welcome respite from the hot concrete surrounding it, I wondered, Why can't we do this more often?

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Sarah Palin on Iraq

SARAH PALIN ON IRAQ....I thought that maybe if I transcribed this podcast it would make more sense, but no dice. Here is Sarah Palin a couple of weeks ago talking about energy supplies and the war in Iraq:The GOP agenda...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 8:17 PM EDT

SARAH PALIN ON IRAQ....I thought that maybe if I transcribed this podcast it would make more sense, but no dice. Here is Sarah Palin a couple of weeks ago talking about energy supplies and the war in Iraq:

The GOP agenda to ramp up domestic supplies of energy is the only way that we're going to become energy independent, the only way that we are going to become a more secure nation — and I say this, of course, looking at the situation we are in right now, at war, not knowing what the plan is to ever end the war that we're engaged in, understanding that Americans are seeking solutions, and they are seeking resolution in this war effort, so energy supplies, being able to produce and supply domestically, is going to be a big part of that.

....I have a 19 year old who's getting ready to be deployed to Iraq. His Stryker brigade will leave on September 11th of this year. He's 19, he'll be gone for a year. [And so] kind of on a personal level, when I talk about, umm, the plan for the war, you know, let's make sure we have a plan here, and respecting McCain's position on that.

So it turns out that not only does John McCain's running mate not have even the slightest background in foreign policy, but that she can't even talk about it coherently. McCain's handlers really have their work cut out for them.

And here, Matt Yglesias confirms that McCain had apparently met Palin exactly twice before today: once a few months ago when she came to Washington to talk about oil drilling and once more for five minutes via phone last Sunday. [UPDATE: Nope, three times! He also met with her briefly on Thursday morning before offering her the VP slot at 11 am.]

This is all part of what I was talking about the other day when I noted that McCain is running such a palpably unserious campaign. Steve Schmidt seems solely interested in winning the daily news cycle; his staff spends its time gleefully churning out juvenile attack videos; McCain himself has retreated into robotic incantations of simpleminded talking points; and now he's chosen a manifestly unqualified VP that he knows nothing about. I've honestly never seen anything like it.

But hey — as long as we're on the subject of unseriousness, I have to say that humorists sure do work fast these days. Within a couple of hours of Palin's announcement, we got Palin on the cover of Vogue (the real Vogue pictures are here) and Sarah Palin's blog. For more, ThinkProgress and Andrew Sullivan have both become 24/7 Palin trivia machines.

More Reaction to Palin

MORE REACTION TO PALIN....Noah Millman on Sarah Palin:I realize, of course, that she's totally unqualified to be President at this point in time. If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 5:38 PM EDT

MORE REACTION TO PALIN....Noah Millman on Sarah Palin:

I realize, of course, that she's totally unqualified to be President at this point in time. If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor.

....What's the Vice Presidency for, anyhow? Arguably, it's not for anything at all....Palin fits a different model. She's not a President-in-waiting; she's a President-in-training. That's what Quayle was supposed to be, and to the extent he failed it was mostly because of his own personal qualities.

And this is from a guy who likes her! Jeebus.

Lessee. What else? Ramesh Ponnuru weighs in here. Andrew Sullivan has two letters from readers here and here. The second one echoes my reaction to McCain's body language while he was introducing Palin. McCain was obviously pleased at the idea of being a father figure to a young woman who would accept his lead without question and never challenge him. Elsewhere, Steve Doocy, who apparently read my joke earlier this morning, seriously suggests that living across the Bering Strait from Russia makes Palin a foreign policy expert. And Jon Chait notes that a couple of bloggers have already unearthed the fact that Palin supported Pat Buchanan in 2000:

Neither of them really dwells on the significance of this, so I wanted to back up for those who don't remember the circumstances of the time. This isn't like supporting Buchanan in the GOP primary. When Palin was supporting him, Buchanan was running as a third (actually, fourth) party insurgent, appealing to conservatives who thought George W. Bush was too moderate. This suggests that she's not just a run-of-the-mill movement conservative but a hard-core right-winger.

That's all for now. Conservatives on the tube are really, really struggling to defend this choice. I almost feel sorry for them. I'm sticking to my guns that before long this will be seen for the debacle it is.

Friday Cat Blogging - 29 August 2008

FRIDAY CATBLOGGING....I can't let Palin fever distract me from more important duties, can I? And what's more important than catblogging? On the left, Inkblot is cruising the fence, looking for a branch to scratch himself on. On the right (taken...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 4:09 PM EDT

FRIDAY CATBLOGGING....I can't let Palin fever distract me from more important duties, can I? And what's more important than catblogging? On the left, Inkblot is cruising the fence, looking for a branch to scratch himself on. On the right (taken a few minutes before), Domino is napping on the garden bench while his majesty snoozes in the background.

By the way, one unanticipated benefit of the new blog is its sheer size. Those of you who have been begging for years for larger catblogging pictures finally have them. Maybe still not as grand and glorious as you (and the cats) would like, but bigger than they used to be. Enjoy!

God Understands Irony, A Postscript

We're not claiming God's a Democrat, but it's clear She doesn't respond to Republican wingnut raindances. First the Good Lord sent a tropical storm to bungle a meeting of global warming deniers in Florida. Then She conjured up Gustav to threaten to delay Bush's speech at the RNC. Last night, God flat-out denied ex-pastor (and ex-meteorologist) Stuart Shepard's entreaties to rain on the Obama...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 3:41 PM EDT

We're not claiming God's a Democrat, but it's clear She doesn't respond to Republican wingnut raindances.

First the Good Lord sent a tropical storm to bungle a meeting of global warming deniers in Florida. Then She conjured up Gustav to threaten to delay Bush's speech at the RNC.

Last night, God flat-out denied ex-pastor (and ex-meteorologist) Stuart Shepard's entreaties to rain on the Obama parade. In the Focus on the Family video clip shown below, the group's digital media director encouraged viewers to pray for rain during Obama's speech at the DNC. Not just "torrential rain," but "network-cameras-can't-see-the-podium rain, attendees-can't-walk-back-to-the-indoor-arena-without-wishing-for-hip-waders rain."

Watch the raindance here:

Nowhere to Go

NOWHERE TO GO....Sarah Palin is getting props in the media for her decision last year to cancel Alaska's notorious "bridge to nowhere," but it's worth pointing out that this was hardly a brave decision. Originally, while she was running for...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 3:39 PM EDT

NOWHERE TO GO....Sarah Palin is getting props in the media for her decision last year to cancel Alaska's notorious "bridge to nowhere," but it's worth pointing out that this was hardly a brave decision. Originally, while she was running for governor and stumping for votes, she thought the bridge was a fine idea:

As for the infamous "bridges to nowhere," [debate moderator Steve] MacDonald asked if the candidates would forge ahead with the proposed Knik Arm crossing between Anchorage and Point MacKenzie and Ketchikan's Gravina Island bridge. Each has received more than $90 million in federal funding and drew nationwide attacks as being unnecessary and expensive. He also asked if they support building an access road from Juneau toward — but not completely connecting to — Skagway and Haines.

"I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the state of Alaska that our congressional delegations worked hard for," Palin said. She said the projects link communities and create jobs.

She later changed her tune, but only after Congress had already decided not to fully fund the Gravina bridge and it was clear that Alaska itself would have to put up most of the money for the project. What's more, it's not as if she was giving up anything: the funding that had been approved still went to Alaska. It just wasn't earmarked for the bridge. So this wasn't quite the profile in courage that the McCain campaign would have us believe.

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The Palin Factor

Below is a guest blog entry by economist and MoJo author Nomi Prins: Election campaigning is about winning. Winning is...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 3:27 PM EDT

Below is a guest blog entry by economist and MoJo author Nomi Prins:

Election campaigning is about winning. Winning is about not underestimating your opponent or how their choices might impact voters outside the pundit-belt. So, perhaps Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wouldn't have been McCain's first choice for vice president if there weren't any lingering hard feelings about Hillary's campaign or lack of consideration for the VP slot. Or perhaps Palin would have been selected anyway.

Whatever the case, the Democrats are in a tough position after Obama's electrifying speech. It would be as hypocritical for them to attack Palin's experience level as it is for McCain to have selected her after dissing Obama's lack in that department.

McCain's Angle

McCAIN'S ANGLE....I should add, in case it wasn't clear from my previous posts, that I certainly understand the political calculation behind John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Their thinking is that she's a hard-right conservative who...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 3:01 PM EDT

McCAIN'S ANGLE....I should add, in case it wasn't clear from my previous posts, that I certainly understand the political calculation behind John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Their thinking is that she's a hard-right conservative who appeals to the base (David Brody was just on CNN telling us that Christian conservative leaders were high-fiving each other over the Palin pick), but not a famous hard-right conservative who's going to scare off independents. Soccer moms will like her. She's inexperienced, but no one can hold that against her this year — and anyway, her lack of a track record also means she doesn't bring a lot of baggage to the campaign. She's got great anti-corruption cred. She's young and vibrant and has an attractive family. Joe Biden will have a hard time going on the attack against a woman. She's unknown, but frankly, to most low-information voters (i.e., to most voters), all VP picks are unknown.

So sure, I get it. And who knows? Politically speaking, it could turn out to be an inspired choice. Frankly, I doubt it, and I suspect her weaknesses will become clearer as everyone gets over their initial shock and starts thinking this through a little harder. But you never know.

As for mooseburgers, I'll bet I'd like 'em too if I ever got a chance to try one. Anyone know where I can score one in Southern California?

What The Palin Pick Says About John McCain and the GOP

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate this morning was a bit of a...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 1:57 PM EDT

sarah-palin.jpg

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate this morning was a bit of a shocker. After all, the vast majority of Americans have never heard of her. But that could be an advantage for the Republicans: suddenly, their convention next week isn't about John McCain or George W. Bush. It's about introducing Sarah Palin to America. That could be the best distraction imaginable from issues like Katrina, Iraq, and the economy.

On balance, though, Palin could be bad news for the Republicans. Unconventional running-mate choices (and a first term governor who until recently was the mayor of a town of about 9,000 people is certainly an unconventional pick) signal desperation. Confident candidates make safe picks. Candidates who are trailing and need to make big moves make unconventional ones. McCain is taking a big risk by picking Palin because he has to.

The selection of Palin smacks of tokenism. Every four years, the Republican party trots out its few non-white, non-male leaders for the Republican National Convention. Many get prime speaking spots. Apparently Sarah Palin gets the Vice-Presidential nomination. The pick is clearly partly directed at disaffected Hillary voters with the idea that simply putting a woman on the ticket will win their votes. This is obviously wrong, as Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro will tell you. But the GOP and their mouthpieces don't get it: on Fox this morning, an anchor said: "It looks like the glass ceiling hasn't been broken by Hillary Clinton, but by Senator McCain." There is just so much wrong with that sentence, but for starters: it's obvious that this pick is more about John McCain than Sarah Palin. It's not about women succeeding on their own; it's about them being given something by a man. Frankly, the comparison to Hillary Clinton is just insulting.

Yet More Palin

YET MORE PALIN....Well, Palin just managed to get a crowd of 10,000 Republican die-hards to throw up a huge cheer for Hillary Clinton. That's a first. This whole thing is crazy. Various conservatives and TV talking heads, now that they've...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 1:41 PM EDT

YET MORE PALIN....Well, Palin just managed to get a crowd of 10,000 Republican die-hards to throw up a huge cheer for Hillary Clinton. That's a first.

This whole thing is crazy. Various conservatives and TV talking heads, now that they've gotten used to Palin, seem to be working hard to dig up reasons why she's the most brilliant choice ever. She's a reformer, her son is headed to Iraq, her husband is a union member, anybody with five kids knows how to handle pressure, she's popular with Alaska voters, women are going to love her, etc. etc.

Look, call me a partisan hack. Whatever. But I'm just stunned by the cynicism of the whole thing. I'm sure Palin is a fine person, loving mother, devoted wife, learning her way as governor, and so forth. But a heartbeat away from the presidency? Someone with virtually no serious political experience, and no serious experience of any other kind to make up for it? She's going to shake up Washington?

I don't know how she'll do on the stump or in the debates. Maybe she'll be great. Who knows? But a potential leader of the free world? You gotta be kidding.