August 01, 2012

In Praise of Our Small and Dull Campaign
12:00 AM

If there’s one thing politicos across the spectrum can agree on these days, it’s that the 2012 campaign is awfully “small.” In today’s Washington Times, Charlie Hurt slapped the s-word on President Obama, who has “become like an old, washed-up rock star, playing to small and smaller crowds but never quite able to get that old magic back.” We had Obama himself, in his comments on the Aurora, Colo. shootings, making what was surely a thinly veiled reference to the tit-for-tats of the campaign: “What matters at the end of the day is not the small things.

Bitcoins Are Back, at Least for Porn and Poker
12:00 AM

If last November you had pressed an economist on the life expectancy of the bitcoin, you would have likely heard a variation of the doctor’s worst words: “It’s not looking good.” The bitcoin, a digital currency that operates free from central authority, was furiously shedding value, having lost nearly 95 percent of its spending power in the five months prior. By the time its freefall thudded to a halt around the two-dollar-a-coin mark, many of bitcoins’ biggest supporters had turned their back on the cryptocurrency. Yet for the past three months, bitcoin has been making a quiet resurgence.

The Real Reason Romney Wants To Talk About Israel and ‘Culture’
12:00 AM

All it had to be was one more slip-up; one more gaffe with which Mitt Romney could have further flooded the gaffe market, further devaluing all the others. That would be the logical plan, and it seemed to be the one his campaign was following after it was reported that Romney had attributed the massive difference between Israelis’ and Palestinians’ per capita GDP to “culture” (and “the hand of providence”) while speaking to Jewish donors in Jerusalem Monday morning.

Sure, Mitt Romney Will Lower Your Taxes—If You're Part of the Richest Five Percent
12:00 AM

Attention middle-class Americans: One of the men running for president wants to raise your taxes. And it's not the guy who has the job already. For some time, Mitt Romney has been promising to reduce income tax rates and then pay for these cuts by closing loopholes. But he's never specified which loopholes he'd close and now we know why.

Washington Diarist: A Saint in the City
12:00 AM

“HE IS THE RARE man of sixty-two who is not shy about showing his ass—an ass finely sausaged into a pair of alarmingly tight black jeans—to twenty thousand paying customers.” This panting observation about a rock star was committed by the editor of The New Yorker. I miss Eichmann in Jerusalem, almost. David Remnick’s 75,000-word profile of Bruce Springsteen is another one of his contributions to the literature of fandom.

July 31, 2012

The Senate Gets a Little More Hispanic and a Lot More Conservative
12:00 AM

The holy crusade that movement conservatives undertook against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst concluded with Tuesday’s Senate runoff, producing his once-unlikely defeat at the hands of his much-celebrated Tea Party challenger, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz.* What makes the election so interesting is that Dewhurst, who has been denounced from one end of the conservative blogosphere to the other as a “RINO” and as “Dewcrist,” can’t really be accused of any specific ideological heresies.

The Troubling Calm at This Year’s AIDS Conference
12:00 AM

When delegates began arriving for last week’s 2012 International AIDS Conference, the significance of the setting was clear. Facilitated by the overturn of the decades-old INS barrier on HIV+ travelers, this year marked the first time the annual conference was held in the United States in 22 years.

The Other Value of Life
12:00 AM

Kenneth Feinberg, who adminstered the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in the wake of the Deep Horizon oil spi

July 30, 2012

Mormonism’s Occasionally Unrequited Love For Israel

During their trip to Israel this past Sunday, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, made an unscheduled stop at one of Judaism’s holiest sights, the Western Wall. As is customary, Romney, donning a black yarmulke and bowing his head, spent several solemn minutes at the wall—the largest remnant of the Second Temple, which Roman armies destroyed around 70 CE. Later at a speech in Jerusalem’s Old City, Romney collapsed America’s security interests with those of Israel.

Romney: I Love Socialized Medicine
12:00 AM

Conservatives have spent a lot of time accusing President Obama of trying to bring socialized medicine to America. It’s a grossly misleading charge: For better or for worse, the Affordable Care Act relies heavily on private insurance and involves far laxer regulation than most universal coverage schemes. No, if you want to see a system with truly socialistic characteristics, you have to look elsewhere. Israel, for example. And guess who just praised that system?