The Straight Talk Express ain't what it used to be: An on-the-bus dialogue with John McCain:

Reporter: Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?
McCain: [Long pause] You’ve stumped me.


Almost too amazing to believe: McDonald's UK has a new website to respond to various McDonalds-related controversies. (Bear in mind that, this being the .co.uk sector, the last phrase should be pronounced MACdonalds-related conTROVersies). Along with predictable questions like "Where do you source your salad items from?" is this little gem:

Q: Why did your employees ejaculate into my grandmother's milkshake?
A: Any rumors and stories about this kind of behavior have never been found to be true and are regarded as urban myths. If McDonald's receives any claims about bodily fluids in food these claims are fully investigated. If something like this were found to happen any employee acting in this way would be dismissed.
Am I the only one who doesn't quite feel better for reading this?

There are, however, lots of other good questions with equally forthright answers, including "How do you get your McDonald's meals to taste the same every time? Also, can I have a free pen?"


I think Hillary has just blown her shot at the nomination. Really. Of all the candidates, she's the one who can least afford nuance on the defining issue of the campaign.

I'm not sorry, either. Yes, she belongs to two categories of things I like (women, Clintons). But half the country already hates her. I know, I know: she changed a lot of minds in upstate New York. But she did so via time-intensive retail politicking, which doesn't scale. RIP Hillary for Prez. You'll make a great Senate majority leader.

So who do you like, Edwards or Obama?


Slate's Jody Rosen on the Arcade Fire and "the indie-rock cult of Bruce Springsteen."

Springsteen was once an indie bĂȘte noire, but today everyone from the Killers to the great beer-soaked poets the Hold Steady are aping Springsteen's musical cadences and open-road romanticism.
One connection that Rosen walks up to the edge of but doesn't explicitly make: the onstage theatricality. Plenty of indie bands put on great shows, but few of them have that E Street-style rock 'n' roll choreography.


My definition of 'affair' is where the guy repeatedly fucks somebody else's wife.

Attention, readers who want more Gavin Newsom Meltdown coverage (and you know who you are): So Newsom's girlfriend Jennifer Siebel was quoted in the Chron slamming Ruby Tourk, the former staffer who Gavin was schtupping:

The woman is the culprit. Alex Tourk is a nice man and it saddens me that his wife did that to him.
Predictably, the quote was picked up by local blog SFist. And here's where it gets interesting: Siebel jumped onto the comments thread and revealed that she is totally fucking batshit.
i am not going to blindly support a woman who has cheated on her husband multiple times and watch while my boyfriend is the only one who gets punished..and, what, for something a long time ago when the man was going through a crises- divorce, the loss of his mother, the pressures of being mayor, etc. and he was vulnerable and lonely? and, what's your definition of affair? he's been so hurt by this all -- personally and professionally- and it was a few nothing incidents when she showed up passed out outside of his door. come on guys, have a heart.... i honestly don't think what i said was in anyway mean to ruby- there are two sides to everything. i just wish her the best in her recovery and marriage and i just wish that she would leave gavin and i alone and stop causing all of this drama and gossip.
P.S. This episode has passed some kind of threshold: thinking about Gavin Newsom no longer makes me think about what a moron I am.


According to RoBros lore, a certain family elder once claimed that there is no such thing as a Jewish homosexual. (The first time we heard this story, Zack and I spent an afternoon naming every Jewish homosexual we could think of. It's kind of a fun game. Next we did black vegetarians.) Anyway: we now have proof that, not only are there plenty of Jewish homosexuals, there is at least one submissive Israeli diplomat.

Since the Washington Post's excellent series on conditions at Walter Reed, other publications have jumped on the wounded-soldier beat. Today's crop includes Salon on injured troops being sent back into combat and the NYT on the military health-care system's scramble to deal with the influx of brain-damage cases: "Largely because of the improvised explosive devices used by insurgents in Iraq, traumatic brain injury has become a signature wound of this war."


The LA Times's Jonathan Chait on the total collapse of John McCain's integrity.


Interesting Fortune piece calling Apple "the best retailer in America." Fun fact: "Saks, whose flagship is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy stores turn $930 - tops for electronics retailers - while Tiffany & Co. takes in $2,666." Apple: $4,032.

"I thought we would have to pay oil for freedom and democracy, but not our life's blood": Iraqi citizens are becoming nostalgic for Saddam.



Fifteen seconds to curtain, Mr. Libby

I feel weirdly ambivalent about Scooter Libby's conviction -- partly because my default position is to assume that no one deserves to go to prison, and partly, I think, because of some hereditary adaptation that makes me sympathize with good-looking people. (I was feeling sorry for the guy, and Tali had to remind me that this is a man who, for several years, woke up in the morning thinking How can I help Dick Cheney achieve his goals today?)

My irrationality aside, though, the verdict raises an interesting question: Is George W. Bush more of a dick if he pardons Libby or if he doesn't?

Harry Reid has already called on Bush not to pardon Libby, saying "It’s about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics." And that's fair enough: obviously, pardoning Libby would be just another example of the administration's belief that they're above the law.

But I think we can all agree that Libby isn't the only person culpable in this Plame thing. The evidence against Cheney, Rove, etc. might not be enough to convict them in a court of law, but it's clear they're guilty of recklessly abusing the public's trust, at the very least. (I'm only talking about the anti-Joe Wilson smear campaign here -- obviously they're guilty of far, far worse things.) So now Lewis "Scooter" Libby, loyal capo, is the one to take the fall, while Cheney goes right on making plans to bomb Iran and Rove goes back to playing Sudoku or whatever he's been doing since the midterms, and there's something sort of arbitrary about that.

If you're GWB and you have the power to get the guy out of jail, the argument comes down to: Sorry, Scooter -- we really appreciate all the hard work, and we know it's going to be tough for you, not getting to see that sexy wife for four years. And of course this might not have happened if Dick had testified for you, but then he'd have been up there under oath and, well, I don't have to tell you what kind of shit that might've shaken loose. But Karl says that if we pardon you it would look really bad, and my approval ratings are in the crapper as it is. So, you know, thanks, Scooty-Scoot. You're a real patriot.

Obviously, it's a personal-loyalty-versus-larger-morality issue. I honestly can't figure out which choice I would respect less.

Update: Lawrence O'Donnell makes this should-have-been-obvious point:

From the start, Libby's hopeless courtroom defense has been about the pardon. Libby has conducted a defense that is very friendly to the White House. He has made it clear to the White House that he had the power to call the Vice President, but, good soldier that he is, he declined to put Cheney through that ordeal.


Millions shocked as conversation breaks out: A right-wing blogger has launched a petition for conservatives to denounce Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark about John Edwards. What's kind of interesting are the comments, which cover the entire spectrum, from typical wingnut lunacy to (gasp!) serious discussion. Sample:

This isn’t about the First Amendment (no government actor involved) or even the concept of free speech (the audience has the same right; if it wants to boo or disassociate itself with a speaker who offends, it has every right to do so). This whole notion that criticism from the audience somehow stifles the free speech rights of the speaker is so juvenile I have a hard time believing those who toss the argument out are serious.

Clever and kind of devastating (unofficial) Obama video parody of Apple's famous "1984" commercial.


AP headline of the day: "Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein." [Via DF]