Eric Wen

Mitt Romney officially declared his candidacy last June on a farm in Stratham, New Hampshire. One year later he returned, triumphant and ready to kick off his cross-country bus tour, eat ice cream with potential voters, and bash Obama’s record on the economy.  Romney’s speech in Stratham this morning was the first event of his “Every Town Counts” bus tour, an attempt to spread his campaign’s message to small town voters in swing states. And if today was any indication, that message consists mostly of criticisms of Obama’s management of the economy.

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When Ron Paul released a statement earlier this week informing supporters that “moving forward … we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primary states that have not yet voted,” it was easy to imagine Mitt Romney’s campaign staff quietly rejoicing.

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Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the disastrous BP oil spill. Triggered by the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010, the tragedy took the lives of 11 people and continues to threaten the animals and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. Two years later, TNR takes a look at some of the animals that continue to be affected by the spill, which spewed about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the water.  DolphinsIn the two years since the BP spill, over 600 dolphins have been found washed up on Louisiana beaches: 95 percent are already deceased.

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In case you weren’t convinced that we’ve reached the campaign’s silly season, the War on Dogs has arrived to erase all doubt. It started with Democrats poking fun at Mitt Romney’s dog-on-car incident. The Daily Caller retaliated earlier this week with a post “uncovering” the “shocking” “news” that Barack Obama once ate dog meat as a child (an event he had mentioned in his memoir). The battle moved to a new front when Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom alluded on Twitter to Obama’s dog-eating. And thus began the War on Dogs, just the latest of the innumerable wars waged this election cycle.

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Yesterday the Government of Canada announced it was eliminating the penny from Canada’s coinage system. The provided reasons: Its declining spending power, rising production costs (1.6 cents per penny), and the harsh reality that “some Canadians consider the penny more of a nuisance than a useful coin.” Likewise, other countries have been re-evaluating their lowest-denomination coins, with Australia, Norway, and Switzerland among those that have already stopped circulating them.

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Much of the thrill of watching Mad Men is the unabashed way it displays the retrograde views of its leading characters. The same is true, of course, of the ongoing Republican presidential primary. In fact, while it’s hard for us to picture the GOP candidates joining the hedonistic adventures of 1960s Madison Avenue (one pictures Mitt Romney gleefully pouring himself a second glass of chocolate milk), we did think some aspects of their personalities (and their political platforms) would fit right in.

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One of the most prurient aspects of reading the personal emails written to and by Bashar al Assad that were obtained by The Guardian has been the chance to observe the dictator’s strange shopping habits on iTunes. Apparently, the Syrian dictator is a big fan of contemporary party music. But Bashar is far from the first dictator to have a strange relationship with pop culture.

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Given that Mitt Romney is ostensibly the “establishment candidate” of his party, it’s surprising to see just how much of the Republican establishment has refrained from endorsing him. And that reticence is now starting to take its toll: There’s little doubt that if Republican elites more consistently rallied around Mitt, he could probably be spared an even longer, more dragged-out primary.

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Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum aren’t the only ones facing voters this Super Tuesday. Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich is one of eleven incumbents in Congress who will be fighting to keep their seats as a result of redistricting. Current polls suggest that Kucinich will lose to fellow Democratic Congressman Marcy Kaptur. But if today marks the end of Kucinich’s political career, no one can claim it was a boring ride.

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Last April, former TNR Senior Editor Jonathan Chait asked a piercing question: “Why Does the Weekly Standard Hate Hippies So Much?”  Chait’s pictorial tour of hippies on the cover of the right-wing magazine did little to stop the epidemic. In fact, The Weekly Standard may have taken it as a challenge: In the last six months alone, the magazine has had no less than five covers depicting liberals in long-haired hippie glory.    Sandals? Check. Unkempt hair? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Rolling Stones t-shirt? Check.  Poor George Harrison.

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