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Romney in a Brave New World
September 12, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

On September 4, 2012, the first ever Bitcoin extortion attempt was made public. The target? Mitt Romney and his tax returns.
posted by Clementines4ever (112 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile, Larry Flynt (of Hustler magazine) has offered one million dollars for the Romney tax returns, so why don't these 2 meet up and let us see that in fact Mitt paid no taxes ford the past few years. Why do I say no taxes? Because in earlier returns he paid at 13% and so if he was later paying that or close to it, he would have no qualms about revealing his returns.
posted by Postroad at 9:33 AM on September 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


As absurd as Bitcoin is, I really hope this is legit. Because it's hilarious.
posted by kafziel at 9:35 AM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I call shenanigans. You don't plan a heist to steal blackmail material from a politician, and then release it on a Friday.
posted by Garm at 9:35 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if it is not legit, the blind transfer of bit coins will still be hilarious.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:36 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, 63% of Americans (and 67% of independents) think Romney should release additional tax returns. (CNN/ORC)
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:36 AM on September 12, 2012


The group demands $1 million worth of the online currency Bitcoins. It also says that people who want the documents released can send money as well, and whichever side sends $1 million first will win.
posted by exogenous at 9:37 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


While the postings, on the website pastebin.com, refer to "a team" involved in the alleged break-in, one ends with a line stating that certain "considerations did not deter me from the path of duty" and a reference to "the will of my Heavenly Father."

Why does CNN seem to find this so confusing? The last two lines aren't any kind of reference to the person making the threat, are they? They're supposed to be lines from the stolen material to verify that they really have what they say they have, and yet CNN seems to be implying that there's some sort of lone wolf crazy religious nut thing going on here because of them.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:37 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


its almost certainly a hoax- $1 million on bitcoin would be so easily traced, it's not funny (I've vainly tried to convince a friend who buys drugs on silkroad that every transaction is logged publicly, by protocol definition), and any attempt to liquidate that many bitcoins into cash- or launder it through bitcoin- would not be feasible. Plus, they haven't even released the encrypted copies- did they learn nothing from Wikileaks? If it was real, they'd leak some of the [presumably] less damming documents now, to prove they are genuine.

Although... since they aren't extorting Romney, just the tax office, why is the Secret Service involved?
posted by hincandenza at 9:39 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where's the kickstarter to get this project funded?
posted by twjordan at 9:41 AM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Once it gets out that Mitt's name is really Willard, it's curtains for his presidential hopes. I mean, Willard?
posted by chavenet at 9:42 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Secret Service's domain includes Financial Crimes as well as the President's Security.
posted by COD at 9:42 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want the file, it is here.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:44 AM on September 12, 2012


Other than he made a lot of money and paid very little tax, could there be anything in his tax returns that we don't already know?
posted by tommasz at 9:45 AM on September 12, 2012


Once it gets out that Mitt's name is really Willard, it's curtains for his presidential hopes. I mean, Willard?

Hey, he has to be on the ballots as Willard, I think. In NH we had a deal where "Granny D" couldn't run as that but had to use her real name, which nobody knew and therefore she didn't win.
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2012


Whether or not this indicates it's a fake or otherwise, the lines quoted appear to be from the source quoted here. But I'm not sure if that means that a scammer just found something that sounded Mormon and included it because it would make it seem like it could have come from Romney's correspondence, or if Romney would have been quoting that for some reason.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:51 AM on September 12, 2012


Once it gets out that Mitt's name is really Willard, it's curtains for his presidential hopes. I mean, Willard?

Because "Mitt" is so much more dignified?
posted by Skeptic at 9:57 AM on September 12, 2012


Hey, he has to be on the ballots as Willard, I think.

I'm sure it varies by state, but Mitt is his actual middle name. It's not like he's asking to be listed as "Awesomely Presidential Romney."
posted by Etrigan at 9:59 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I said this in another thread, but:

I had thought that Mitt was avoiding releasing tax returns because he'd have to discuss tithing and the whole argument of does tithing to a church really = pure charitable giving. But my tax accountant brother mentioned no, he must have taken advantage of the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, so of course he won't go back further than 2010.

I wait for them to be leaked now with baited breath.

But then again, he's been gunning for the presidency for a while, so one would only think that every move would be taken with the idea of future scrutiny?
posted by readery at 10:02 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


could there be anything in his tax returns that we don't already know?

We don't know.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Other than he made a lot of money and paid very little tax, could there be anything in his tax returns that we don't already know?

Oh yeah sure, just a few reasonable possibilities:

1. He carried forward losses from 2008 and quite literally paid 0% in taxes in 2009
2. He might have taken advantage of the IRS amnesty program to disclose secret offshore accounts in 2009 in exchange for reduced financial or legal liability
3. He might have bet against the US economy in some way
4. His tax returns will disclose how much he gave to the church (and how much he should have), and either it's a huge number or worse he vastly under-tithed
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Amnesty from criminal prosecution for the failure to pay taxes on oversees funds is not a crime, but boy-o-boy the speculation is downright palpable.
posted by vozworth at 10:07 AM on September 12, 2012


(none of the above is illegal btw, just embarrassing)
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:07 AM on September 12, 2012


could there be anything in his tax returns that we don't already know?

We don't know.


There are known knowns...
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why does CNN seem to find this so confusing? The last two lines aren't any kind of reference to the person making the threat, are they? They're supposed to be lines from the stolen material to verify that they really have what they say they have, and yet CNN seems to be implying that there's some sort of lone wolf crazy religious nut thing going on here because of them.

The quoted passages are from the writings of early Mormon leader Heber Kimball, presumably a reference to Romney's religion. It would be strange for Romney to be quoting religious text in his tax filings.

Not sure why CNN couldn't google those lines.
posted by justkevin at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2012


I though CNN uses Bing.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:10 AM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


It would be strange for Romney to be quoting religious text in his tax filings.

It could be a hint regarding his under-tithing (or excessive tithing) to the LDS church.
posted by almostmanda at 10:15 AM on September 12, 2012


The group demands $1 million worth of the online currency Bitcoins. It also says that people who want the documents released can send money as well, and whichever side sends $1 million first will win.

Adding a competitive element to the (probably fake) extortion. Brilliant!
posted by asnider at 10:19 AM on September 12, 2012


Adding a competitive element to the (probably fake) extortion. Brilliant!

I don't like fighting either. Get there first
posted by griphus at 10:22 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't find the comment, but someone mentioned that the investigation into Bain's Tax Avoidance coupled with Romney's numerous offshore accounts suggests the possibility that Romney was or is involved with a kind of corporate profit money-laundering to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for executives of Bain.

Of course, we have no idea what he might be hiding. But after this long, we can be sure it's something.

Making a shit-ton of money? Paying a obnoxiously low effective tax-rate that might highlight the disparity between the ultra-rich and everyone else? Legal but immoral tax amnesty? Lying to the Church of LDS when you were leadership? Tax fraud that could land you in jail for a decade?

One of these things is not like the others, and I wonder which one made McCain hightail it all the way from Massachusetts to Alaska in 2008?
posted by Vysharra at 10:22 AM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


4. His tax returns will disclose how much he gave to the church (and how much he should have), and either it's a huge number or worse he vastly under-tithed


I can't imagine anybody caring about this very much, except for perhaps other Mormons, but they aren't really much of a swing vote, now are they?

Although I'm a bit of an unorthodox Mormon I personally don't give a single damn about his donation status with the church. I would, however, be interested in the other items on that list of potentially embarrassing reveals.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:33 AM on September 12, 2012


4. His tax returns will disclose how much he gave to the church (and how much he should have), and either it's a huge number or worse he vastly under-tithed


I can't imagine anybody caring about this very much, except for perhaps other Mormons, but they aren't really much of a swing vote, now are they?

Although I'm a bit of an unorthodox Mormon I personally don't give a single damn about his donation status with the church. I would, however, be interested in the other items on that list of potentially embarrassing reveals.


Well, if his 10% tithe is way, way higher than his 13.9% tax bill, that might be of some significance.
posted by kafziel at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


OK, so where are the encrypted files?
posted by memebake at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2012


NB: Bitcoin transactions are public, but who owns a particular bitcoin address is not.
posted by memebake at 10:39 AM on September 12, 2012


memebake, check up thread, I posted the download link.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:42 AM on September 12, 2012


I can't imagine anybody caring about this very much, except for perhaps other Mormons

If it's far under-tithing, he's dishonest on a number of levels. Here's two of them: 1) lied to the church and 2) as a conservative thinks that "charity begins at home" but then doesn't walk the walk.

If it's over-tithing, it's going to play hell with evangelical Christians, who are going to think he's Mormonchurian Candidate (if they don't already).
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2012


But after this long, we can be sure it's something.

Assuming that there's nothing illegal or ethically wrong with his tax returns, releasing his tax returns would immediately:
1. Give Mitt instant credibility;
2. Destroy Harry Reid;
3. Take away a huge, longstanding, irksome talking point of this election.

Given those results, I think it's safe to say that there's definitely something not right about Mitt's returns.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder if his taxes look just fine at first glance, and he did not take the offshore account amnesty, but he should have taken it, still has secret offshore accounts, and doesn't want anyone digging.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:46 AM on September 12, 2012


For those wishing to keep an eye on the totals in both wallets, here are the links:

Bitcoin Address to Stop Release:
1HeF89wMjC48bWNgWvVo7Wu3RaLW8XVsE8

Bitcoin Address to Promote Full Release:
12AP6iCwRNFQqKLStH3A4b4hw3SL6RaNgB
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:46 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think his returns are bog standard, and he just doesn't want the guys at the country club making fun of him for paying taxes.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


For those wishing to keep an eye on the totals in both wallets

So what's the approximate target in BC? To hit the 1 million USD mark....
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2012


RolanOfEld, 1 bitcoin is equal to, at present, 10 USD, so the target is 100k bitcoins.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2012


I think around 88,340.
posted by subtle-t at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2012


he just doesn't want the guys at the country club making fun of him

I'm sure being Prez should make up for the indignity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2012


I'm sure being Prez should make up for the indignity.

But what self-respecting conservative would bother to bribe a Republican President who paid taxes?
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2012


Better yet, keep an eye here, romneyransom.com for easy memorization. (Link found on bitcointalk)
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2012


Bitcoin Address to Promote Full Release

God help me, I cannot but read this as a stilted headline about using digital currency to pay for handjobs.
posted by cortex at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


So, I'm guessing this isn't like kickstarter where you get your money back if the project isn't funded....
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The proposal to use Bitcoin for this is pretty crazy. As hincadenza notes, BTC is neither untraceable nor particularly liquid. Current estimates are that about $3 million / day is being transacted with BitCoin; it'd take months to move that $1 million without being obvious. And you still have the infinite transaction log stored forever for anyone to analyze. Maybe not impossible, but I have to believe there's better ways to manage blackmail payments. What do the professional DDOS pirates take payment in these days?
posted by Nelson at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those wishing to keep an eye on the totals in both wallets

I find it mildly amusing that the "stop" side has received about 4x as many payments (at the time of writing this comment), but had acheived less than a third of the money raised by the "release" side.
posted by asnider at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2012


What do the professional DDOS pirates take payment in these days?

Unmarked €100 bills.
posted by asnider at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2012


My guess about the tax returns is that they're perfectly above board but at first glance *don't* look it, or at least contain sections that could cheerfully be taken out of context.

As for this incident I think it as likely to be someone trying to influence the bitcoin exchange rate as it is someone trying to mess with Romney. Or a twofer.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:31 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nelson: Current estimates are that about $3 million / day is being transacted with BitCoin; it'd take months to move that $1 million without being obvious.

Maybe this will put stolen bitcoins back into circulation.

Tell Me No Lies - influence the exchange rate up or down?
posted by tilde at 11:41 AM on September 12, 2012


remember when 'hilarious' meant "things I find funny" and not "things that make me uncomfortable and everyone with Good Opinions agrees for some strange reason"

also remember when my scorn counted for something because god help me, I can't
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:09 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole Bitcoin economy is in turmoil right now after the default of the largest "Bank and Trust" (i.e., Ponzi scheme) which has triggered defaults from the next five or six largest "banks" /"deposit takers."

The largest "bank", Bitcoin Savings and Trust, claimed to have a balance north of 500,000 bitcoins, or $5 million US. That seems unlikely, but on the Bitcointalk.org forums, individual depositors have claimed losses of a total of about 80,000 bitcoins to date.

Once Bitcoin Savings and Trust went down, other Bitcoin financial institutions started folding. It turned out that many of the "guaranteed" and "insured" deposit and "investment" opportunities were guaranteed and insured by nothing but other accounts in Bitcoin Savings and Trust.

Meanwhile, a new and quickly growing Bitcoin/ USD currency exchange, Bitfloor, announced that it had been successfully hacked and that all the Bitcoins it was holding for clients had been stolen.

This has not been a good few weeks for Bitcoin.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I encourage anyone who doesn't find Bitcoin culture hilarious to spend some time on the Bitcointalk.org forums. This one topic alone is fascinating.

When I was in college, we studied the South Sea Bubble in some detail. The stock offering for "an Enterpryse, with purpose not to be nam'd, and no one to know what it is" was everyone's favorite. Imagine my surprise to see dozens of these advertised for sale on the Bitcoin forums, with people eagerly buying them!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, the plucky Internet detectives at SomethingAwful.com did a good job of dissecting the "hackers"' claim and highlighting inconsistencies that make it seem more than likely that this is a hoax.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2012


One of these things is not like the others, and I wonder which one made McCain hightail it all the way from Massachusetts to Alaska in 2008?

A quick Googling brings up McCain flat-out denying those accusations. There are solid, pragmatic arguments to be made for not voting for Romney/Ryan. Character assassination, however, is a baseless, gross part of the election cycle that is better off left to those who rely on blind faith to justify their opinions and treat concrete evidence as a thorn in their side.
posted by dubusadus at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


@sidhedevil

i think SA's deal with bitcoin has more to do with the politics of the concept and who's doing it than anything, and i also think that they are the main source of a lot of the talk against it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2012


This, of course..., I don't think that's relevant to their pointing out that the "supporting information" released by the supposed Romney tax return hackers smacks of an inept forgery by someone who has never filled out a 1040 for unearned income.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2012


forgot to add: which is kind of bizarre if you think about it because of the extreme usefulness of anonymous e-money for supporting e.g. liberal causes/human rights, which i am told they support. just kind of odd, is all.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:50 PM on September 12, 2012


Bitcoin Address to Promote Full Release

God help me, I cannot but read this as a stilted headline about using digital currency to pay for handjobs.


Common mistake: you've confused this with Undress For Stilted Release. You can buy the stilts..er...nevermind.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:52 PM on September 12, 2012


Again, did you read my link? I would think that if SA had a vendetta against Bitcoin, they would try to make the "hackers" look legit to further embarrass the Bitcoin community, rather than pointing to telling details that suggest the whole thing is a stupid hoax.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2012


also i mean like banks and credit unions are robbed and have failures, and we don't suddenly go "oh no more banks" or start calling them crudit unions or whatever
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:57 PM on September 12, 2012


dubusadus, while I agree with you in principle, I tend to disagree in practice.

Facts, reasoned arguments and appeals to the greater good are useless arguments in this election cycle. I have spent th last 4 years getting shouted down by rhetoric, racial/religious/"socialist" slurs and willfully false recollections of past events.

This cycle I have been a part of the conversation. Attacking an opponent using their own tool kit has shut nasty people up, opened some to new thinking and had my political stance validated. Is it right? No. Does it feel good to be a part of the conversation again? Yes.

My closing remark may have been in bad taste for the Blue, but my sentiment stands. If we could have a rational national discourse about real qualifications and policy, we would have already.
posted by Vysharra at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about you, but my bank and credit union deposits are insured, so in the unlikely event that their proprietors showed up on IRC one day and said "whoops not paying, lost all your monies" I'd be made whole. Not told that my insured, guaranteed accounts were all in the same pot of money that some guy had made off with.

Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency is an incredibly interesting and potentially useful idea. The folks at The Bitcoin Project seem to be doing great work.

Right now, though, a big part of the (English-language, at least) Bitcoin community is caught up in South Sea Bubble 2: Electric Boogaloo. This is, of course, normal growing pains for new financial models and will change as the concept becomes more mature.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


@sidhedevil

if it's normal growing pains, why all the schadenfreude and stuff? of course bitcoin has problems, it's just that the political inconsistancy of nominally non-authoritarian leftists attacking the concept/goals of the project kind of skeeves me out.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:09 PM on September 12, 2012


Vysharra, it's pretty clear that John and Cindy McCain make shittons of money, and that given Mrs. McCain's business acumen they probably pay very low taxes, just like their fellow ultra-rich folks like Mitt Romney. There are understandable reasons that people in those income brackets would find release of their 100% painstakingly legal, all t's crossed and it's dotted, tax returns to be a bit awkward in terms of maintaining their bond with the rank and file of voters. I have no reason to suspect that the Romneys or the McCains have ever done anything other than file perfectly accurate, perfectly legal tax returns, but as you say those 100% legit tax returns will still spotlight the gulf between their lives and those of the average voter.

So IMO there's no need to speculate about any possible skulduggery.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2012


So IMO there's no need to speculate about any possible skulduggery

You don't think it has any chance to cast a pall over them or plant suggestions of sketchiness in the minds of voters?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This..., I find it funny when people are fanatical and short-sighted. I wear clothes every day, and find fashion shows hilarious. I use postage stamps every week, and the stamp collecting community is an endless source of delight to me. Comic books are one of my most favorite things in the world, and the over-the-top fan kerfuffles that Artw and others bring here make me roar with laughter. I am a devout Christian who checks FreeJinger.com every day.

Funny things are funny. Human heedlessness and self-delusion are funny. At least to me. I have to laugh, or I'd never stop crying.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering the number of assumption Romney and his campaign has made about my life (female, low income, college student receiving FAFSA, taking BC) his tax returns are fair game.
posted by Vysharra at 1:18 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course speculating about whether candidates have cheated on their income taxes affects voters' perceptions of them. I'm saying that ultra-rich candidates whose income is primarily from capital gains rather than salaries are in a bind, because releasing their tax returns might on the one hand prove their honesty but on the other hand will make it very clear how small of a percentage of their income (quite legally) goes to taxes. So saying that Romney's reluctance to release is itself an indication that he did something wrong is unfair, in my opinion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2012


FreeJinger.org, sorry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:22 PM on September 12, 2012


It's easy to laugh when you got no worries. (Herein goes the standard boilerplate I read on the other sites every day about how charging money to post will only disenfranchise the lower classes, etc. etc.)

The politics of this are kind of screwed up, though.

also who the fuck cares about what's "fair" for Romney
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:25 PM on September 12, 2012


With all respect, This..., you know nothing about what worries I face and have faced in my life, and how humor has helped me to get through them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:51 PM on September 12, 2012


And I think "maybe Romney cheated on his income taxes" is a side issue to the real one, which is that he didn't have to cheat on his income taxes to pay 13% on $22 million.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The politics of this are kind of screwed up

It'd be funny if a fake currency outed a fake candidate, though, politics aside.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


@sidhedevil

i wasn't referring to you specifically!

but seriously, looking at people that a) are against/concern-trolling anonymous currency on principle, and b) also against/concern-trolling stuff that has the potential to negatively impact Mitt Romney, it's real hard not to draw conclusions
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2012


I'm saying that ultra-rich candidates whose income is primarily from capital gains rather than salaries are in a bind, because releasing their tax returns might on the one hand prove their honesty but on the other hand will make it very clear how small of a percentage of their income (quite legally) goes to taxes.

I can't imagine the bind Romney creates for himself by refusing to release his returns is less than it would be had he released them and the only problem was he paid 13% - which he's already stated publicly. There was speculation that he took advantage of the 2009 Swiss Bank Account Amnesty. If he took amnesty from prior criminal tax evasion himself, it would be a little harder for him to argue against immigration reform that included some sort of "amnesty." I think it is perfectly logical to speculate that he is hiding something more than just a low tax rate.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies - influence the exchange rate up or down?

Up. Advertising for Bitcoin == more users == more demand.

Anything that gets Bitcoin in the news (especially in the context of something that people would actually take in place of cash) is good for Bitcoin prices.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:09 PM on September 12, 2012


Wait, how is Bitcoin "fake"? "Unofficial" or "ill-conceived," sure, but Bitcoin is accepted as Bitcoin in exchange for goods and services.
posted by griphus at 2:09 PM on September 12, 2012


If we stipulate that there isn't anything illegal or hugely embarrassing in Romney's returns, at what point between now and the election would releasing them give him any benefit? My feeling is that it's too late; not releasing them has already damaged him and helped define him as an entitled rich guy with things to hide.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:22 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bitcoin is accepted as Bitcoin in exchange for goods and services.

At least if the goods you're interested in are narcotics, stolen financial documents, or that one guy who sells hand painted fantasy miniatures. That's part of why I find this demand for $1M in Bitcoin to be so implausible; what are they going to spend it on?
posted by Nelson at 2:41 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Enough alpaca wool socks to cloth a digital army, man.
posted by cortex at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doomsday devices and blow.
posted by griphus at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


what are they going to spend it on?

Narcotics, obviously.
posted by asnider at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2012


A Scrooge McDuck swimming pool to hold all the Bitcoins, naturally.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least if the goods you're interested in are narcotics, stolen financial documents, or that one guy who sells hand painted fantasy miniatures. That's part of why I find this demand for $1M in Bitcoin to be so implausible; what are they going to spend it on?

Donate to the Ron Paul 2016 campaign, of course.
posted by kafziel at 2:54 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've come to that point in the show where the lovely Nelson has to pick with whom he's going on that all-expenses-paid date to the Terre Haute Rollerskating Rink and Food Court. Is it going to be Wiseass #1, Wiseass #2 or Wiseass#3?
posted by griphus at 2:54 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, how is Bitcoin "fake"?

It's a fake currency, in that it gets promoted as a currency, when in fact it is more like a mechanism for trading the functional equivalent of baseball cards or comic books.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2012


people being able to buy narcotics is a bad thing, said the leftist

we should respect law and order and not trade stolen financial documents of the powerful, said the radical

it's a good thing i have to spend money to get my opinion heard, said the poor and the lower classes
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:24 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if processing blocks with the target addresses in them could be considered participating in the conspiracy. One wondes about the legal liability for miners.
posted by humanfont at 4:35 PM on September 12, 2012


people being able to buy narcotics is a bad thing, said the leftist

we should respect law and order and not trade stolen financial documents of the powerful, said the radical

it's a good thing i have to spend money to get my opinion heard, said the poor and the lower classes


The only people I ever hear crowing about Bitcoins are von Mises-style American libertarians as part of their endless rants about the evils of the Fed. And crow they do, to absurd levels. That's why "leftists" tend to shun it.

You trying to paint this as some liberating force for the poor is absurd. A currency which requires technology and specialized knowledge and training to even use, and then can only be used in special exchanges to buy drugs and novelties? Bitcoins are toys for the middle-class suburban kids who style themselves "hackers". A poor person has much greater ability to use, and have use for, actual "fiat currency" then your digital fetish.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:30 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm saying that ultra-rich candidates whose income is primarily from capital gains rather than salaries are in a bind, because releasing their tax returns might on the one hand prove their honesty but on the other hand will make it very clear how small of a percentage of their income (quite legally) goes to taxes. So saying that Romney's reluctance to release is itself an indication that he did something wrong is unfair, in my opinion.
Sidhedevil

No, it does seem to indicate something odd going on. Golden Eternity is right. Whatever pain he might have felt being labeled as "rich guy who pays little taxes" can't be greater than the pounding he's let the Democrats give him over it. I mean, he could have destroyed Reid and taken that issue off the table in one fell swoop if there was nothing there. You can always spin low taxes in a way his base will eat up.

So why has he let the Democrats hammer him for months on it? Why let Reid wildly speculate on the issue and pass up the golden chance to publicly humiliate him?

It seems to me that either there is something he feels to be so harmful in there that it's worth the heat not releasing them brings, or else it's a tactical blunder. Maybe he initially felt as you say, and didn't want to expose how little taxes he's paid. But he let it drag on too long and miscalculated how much damage not releasing them would do, and now, as kirkaracha says, the damage is done, so he might as well never release them.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:49 PM on September 12, 2012


Sidhedevil : The whole Bitcoin economy is in turmoil right now [...snip...] This has not been a good few weeks for Bitcoin.

Funny... The BTC to USD exchange rate has held fairly steady in the USD 9-11 dollars per BTC range (and trending slowly upward) for the past two months; previous to which, it held steady at roughly half that for most of 2012.

Indeed, it only shot up because of the publicity over the BitFloor attack and the BST scam (which incidentally, congratulations - You finally got to use the phrase "Ponzi scheme" correctly! That stopped clock did show 8:49 at 8:49!). Neither of which, of course, have any more connection to the currency itself than did Madoff dealing in US Dollars. But hey, "No such thing as bad press", right?

However, could you define your use of "turmoil" and "not good" for us? You don't seem to have used them in a way connected to their conventional meanings.
posted by pla at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2012


Bitcoin is a Scrip.

A "real" currency has legal status, most particularly in that a government can force people to accept it. It is impossible, for example, to set up a business in the United States that does not accept USD.

At this point if Bitcoin really wants to expand they should start a video game and sell virtual property. WoW, Second Life, and Eve Online currencies all do more business in a day than Bitcoin does in a year while having only slightly more credible backing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


What the hell, pla? When did I ever use the phrase "Ponzi scheme" "incorrectly"?

Businesses are folding like mad in the fallout from the Pirate ripoff. This will shake itself out, but right now all the big lenders/deposit takers on Bitcointalk.org are out of the game, and a bunch of the GLBSE "securities" are in trouble. How is that not a crisis or turmoil?

Agree that it's a relatively local (temporally) crisis, but it's interesting to watch it play out. One studies things like the Hunt brothers' silver play and the South Sea Bubble in school, but watching a bubble, crash, bank run, and credit crunch on a small scale in real time is fascinating.

If there had been a three-week period in which the English-speaking world's largest bank had been revealed to be a Ponzi scheme, dozens of other banks had thus gone out of business, and a major trading and currency exchange announced it had been hacked and all customer accounts stolen, I would say those were a "bad few weeks" for fiat money as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:14 PM on September 12, 2012


Seriously, pla, are you confusing me with someone else entirely? What have I ever "incorrectly" called a Ponzi scheme?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:17 PM on September 12, 2012


You trying to paint this as some liberating force for the poor is absurd.

the last line of that wasn't talking about bitcoin, it was talking about something else. nor did the first two lines really have much to do with liberating the poor, nor do I view bitcoin specifically as for that. I can imagine it'd have a lot more use under, say, a repressive/bad government, etc.

And none of this is to say I even really think it's that mature or great of a technology, just that its detractors are kind of weird about it and have affiliations that shouldn't inspire confidence in their proclamations.

you have to be careful in your compensation for the fact that not everyone has technical skills to avoid being one of the "#firstworldproblems" people who think, say, that algerians live in mud huts and don't own computers; it's kind of like saying that they (people who aren't "middle-class suburban kids who style themselves 'hackers'") are stupid.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:17 PM on September 12, 2012


just that its detractors are kind of weird about it and have affiliations that shouldn't inspire confidence in their proclamations.

An odd statement. What "affiliations" are you talking about? There are no sinister forces here; it's just people calling an absurd thing absurd. I think you're reading too much into the criticism, and bitcoins and the hype surrounding them deserve a lot of criticism.

you have to be careful in your compensation for the fact that not everyone has technical skills to avoid being one of the "#firstworldproblems" people who think, say, that algerians live in mud huts and don't own computers;

It's nothing of the sort. It's a simple fact that a currency that requires technology and training to even use has more barriers for the poor than regular physical currency. It's not me living in the fantasy world, it's the people who think bitcoins are going to change society when they are toys for the idle well-off and well-educated.

it's kind of like saying that they (people who aren't "middle-class suburban kids who style themselves 'hackers'") are stupid.

You mean accurate? I've long grown tired of earnest wealthy/middle class white kids preaching the gospel of libertarianism and how if we only got rid of market intrusions like labor laws and anti-discrimination laws we'd be free. bitcoin enthusiasts are the same: pushing something that is basically only useful for themselves as a panacea.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:38 PM on September 12, 2012


Flim-flaming on his taxes? Screwing about with a Swiss bank account? Off shore accounts and money laundering?

Pfft! Minor details. Unlike that other guy, Matt's got a birth certificate that he can show that PROVES he's a one hunnert percent, boni-fide, red bludded 'merikin boy!

His first name's Willard? That's easy to remember--just like the rat boy.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:00 PM on September 12, 2012


Finders Weepers: Early Bain Disputes Cast New Light on Its Business
posted by homunculus at 7:26 PM on September 12, 2012


I think you're reading too much into the criticism

Just saying, it seems to have a kind of common origin/milieu/attitude. I mean, if it really is just a toy for idle rich kids, why the hostility? No one seems to feel that way towards Corvettes or Long-EZs. Anyway, I thought that it was for like nerds who live in basements. Maybe the demographic shifted, I dunno.
I've long grown tired of earnest wealthy/middle class white kids preaching the gospel of libertarianism and how if we only got rid of market intrusions like labor laws and anti-discrimination laws we'd be free

No one's saying that here. This doesn't actually seem to have anything to do with Bitcoin.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:05 PM on September 12, 2012


Conspiracy theory: Romney is holding his own tax returns hostage, knowing that there is nothing of interest in them (or knowing he will never actually release them) but hoping that enough people on the left think there is something in them to get significant donations. Hence, Romney gets money that might have been given to Obama.

As much as I do not want Romney to win election, I would love for a conspiracy theory like this to be true.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:27 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


On a purely tactical level, Obama partisans ought to never let up on the notion that "Romney massively cheated on his taxes." Even if his taxes were totally honest, any mistakes can be pitched as cheating. Even if they are totally honest, and have no mistakes, they'll be so complex that it will be possible to spin some elements as cheating. And if that fails, redefine "cheat" to include some perfectly legal dodges. If it's hammered at enough, Romney can never be free of it. It also plays perfectly into the larger (and, IMO, mostly true) narrative that the Romney/Ryan ticket loves greed and money, but does not love the truth or the American people.
posted by tyllwin at 9:44 PM on September 12, 2012


A lot of these private equity firms rig their books so that salaries look like capital gains, and are thus only taxed at 15%, and supposedly the IRS has been trying to find a way to go after these people (though I'm sure they'll hold off at least until after the election to avoid charges of trying to influence the election).

If all of Romney's tax returns show tax paid of 13% or less even during all his time working at Bain, then he was either working for them for free, or...
posted by eye of newt at 9:50 PM on September 12, 2012


Sidhedevil : Seriously, pla, are you confusing me with someone else entirely? What have I ever "incorrectly" called a Ponzi scheme?

Hmm... Oops. Yes, actually, I did - And you have my sincere apologies!

Every time Bitcoins come up on the Blue, a particular MeFite goes out of his way to mislabel BitCoin-the-currency (rather than specific uses of it, as you did) as a Ponzi scheme.

I suppose it has become something of a "trigger" word for me now. Again, sorry!
posted by pla at 3:24 AM on September 13, 2012


Is this the right place to post this?: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-17/today-mitt-romney-lost-the-election.html
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys : today-mitt-romney-lost-the-election

Except, his supporters consider that no more controversial than calling the sky blue.

And, 50-70% of that 47% won't actually vote - The candidates could safely alienate literally 75% of the US population if they could count on the remaining 25% to vote for them (why do you think both sides go out of their way to support the old-and-weak (yes, even the Republicans) while throwing the young under a bus (yes, even the Democrats) at every turn? Simple answer, look at what percentage of each of those groups votes).

Candidates only really care about two groups - Their own base, and the undecided/independents. Romney couldn't care less about what a poor blue-collar union worker in Middle America thinks; and Obama couldn't care less about about what an investment banker thinks.

Both, oddly enough, care what I think, but they seem to have gotten the message wrong, insofar as they both seem set on losing my vote as fast as they possibly can.
posted by pla at 5:09 PM on September 17, 2012


Candidates only really care about two groups - Their own base...

Interestingly enough if you look at the wealth demographics, a huge number of that 47% live in the red states that make up his base. Not that it'll make a difference in the election...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2012


Just for the record, the person behind this gave up today and took everything out of the accounts.

The final totals were:
0.72 BTC / $8.91 to stop the release
3.07 BTC / $37.98 for the release
posted by dragoon at 1:04 AM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


0.72 BTC / $8.91 to stop the release
3.07 BTC / $37.98 for the release


Not using MasterCard: priceless.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:53 AM on September 29, 2012


So, no releasing, then.
posted by tilde at 4:50 PM on September 29, 2012


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