Susan P. Crawford in Bloomberg View on the Olympics and America's Internet Crawford reminds us that 64 territories are able to watch every Olympic event livestreamed over the internet, but only paying subscribers in the U.S. can do so without a connection that disguises their location. "Concentration in Internet access and the close corporate connections between distributors and programmers have brought us to this point," she writes. This speaks to broader shortcomings with America's Internet infrastructure. "Even if Americans were allowed to watch these online streams, about a third of us don't subscribe to broadband. Those who do are paying more for less ... The U.S. isn't upgrading to fiber, with its enormous capacity to support uploads as well as downloads."
Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast on Romney's irrelevant tax returns Beinart argues that the focus on Mitt Romney's own tax returns, how much and by what means he has minimized his tax burden, is irrelevant to the race. "If presidents conducted their public affairs the way they conduct their private ones, then the latter might have some predictive value. But people are too complicated for that." Democrats argue that Romney's personal aversion to paying taxes symbolize his political goals on tax policy, but Beinart disagrees. "If you make Romney's policies the issue, you can make a clear distinction between them and Obama's. If you make Romney's personal behavior the issue, you're inviting the Republicans to find some rich Democrat who also didn't pay very much in taxes and turn the focus from public policy to personal conduct."
Josh Barro in Bloomberg View on handing Chick-fil-A a victory Barro says Boston Mayor Tom Menino's initial attempt to discourage Chick-fil-A from building in his city because of the founder's views on gay marriage actually hurt the cause. "Chick-fil-A no longer has to answer for its CEO's position on gay marriage and its owners' support of organizations that oppose gay rights," Barro says. "Instead, the company is on the much more comfortable ground of simply defending its CEO's right to express a constitutionally protected opinion without reprisal from the government." The politicians in cities with favorable LGBT policies rallied people in areas without such protections. "In other words, Menino has helped to make environment more hostile for gays in the hinterland."
Richard L. Hasen in The New York Times on voter fraud "Does voter fraud sometimes happen in the United States? You bet," writes Hasen. "But we are dealing with this relatively small problem in an irrational and partisan way." Republicans are attacking impersonation fraud rather than the more well-documented absentee voter fraud, and Democrats are resisting, fearing disenfranchisement of their voters. Republicans don't attack absentee voter fraud because it might make it more difficult for reliably Republican elderly people and military voters to cast ballots. "We need to move beyond these voting wars by creating a neutral body to run federal elections and to ensure that all eligible voters, and only eligible voters, can cast a vote that will be accurately counted on Election Day."
Bill Keller in The New York Times on leak fever Keller says Washington is "going a little nuts" over leaks of classified information, with both Democrats and Republicans sounding off more than usual about it. Keller describes the functional system that's getting harder to maintain. "Over the decades, rival interests — the government's legitimate responsibility to keep some things secret, the press's constitutional freedom to ferret out information and report it — have coexisted through informal understandings," he writes. "In a saner Washington, a reasonable effort to control truly harmful leaks might be balanced by an equally serious effort to roll back excessive classification, so that we could have a more informed debate about drones and cyberwarfare and kill lists. In that Washington, we could worry a little less about where the stories came from, and a little more about what’s in them."