Your Virtual Front Page, Friday, the Ides of March, 2013

Here’s what we have:

  1. U.S. to Bolster Missile Defense to Deter Attack by North Korea (NYT) — Not that I think anybody’s really worried, but who wants to be the guy who didn’t take any action, in case something does happen?
  2. Vatican denies Dirty War allegations (BBC) — I haven’t even written a post congratulating Pope Francis on the new job, and already the guy’s in trouble.
  3. JP Morgan accused of flouting rules (The Guardian) — Well, duh. The guy was a robber baron. Oh, wait, this isn’t about the guy
  4. Judge Strikes Down Surveillance Law  (WSJ) — I’m a little surprised this isn’t getting bigger play.
  5. Maryland General Assembly repeals death penalty (WashPost) — Well, at least somewhere there’s a General Assembly doing something good.
  6.  Europe Torn on Arming Syria Rebels (NYT) — France and Britain want to, but not the others.

31 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, Friday, the Ides of March, 2013

  1. Steven Davis II

    5. So Brad’s anti-Death Penalty. Sounds about right. If more states went full-Texas the world would be a better place. Line them up on Fridays like cattle heading to slaughter.

    So nothing on the Senate Democrat’s budget… the one that with a trillion dollars in tax increases and still doesn’t include a balanced budget?
    “The Senate on Wednesday presented its first budget in four years, a proposal by leaders of the Democrat-controlled chamber that calls for nearly $1 trillion in tax increases but includes no strategy to make federal revenue match spending in the coming years.”

    1. T.J.

      SD II,

      You do realize that Texas has the highest rate of successful appeals of their death penalty cases. These appeals include findings of actual innocence on behalf of the convicted individual. It also includes horrific cases of prosecutorial misconduct. I guess you would just view that as collateral damage right?

      Ever read Romans 12:19?

  2. Doug Ross

    #1 – Afghanistan winding down, need to create a new “threat” to keep the military industrial complex humming.

  3. Juan Caruso

    The NYT article (“U.S. Is Bolstering Missile Defense to Deter North Korea”) curiously concentrates on North Korea, a blustery basket case commenters had earlier agreed is no real threat anytime soon. The message to China angle is given a scant sentence or two.

    Curiously, the NYT completely omits any mention of Obama’s disarmament policy actually behind the unnecessary U.S. move — Russia.

    The NYT reports an implausible policy decision for defense against North Korea’s missile threat. More recently, that has been exposed for another excuse to disarm ourselves against the increasingly potent Russian Federation. Russia announced this week it is rehabilitating its 4 titanium hulled submarines.

    Noting that real issue is particularly sensitive because Obama was overheard whispering in an open microphone last year telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at an international summit that he would have more flexibility on resolving their differences over the missile defense program after his re-election in November, Desmond Butler , WASHINGTON (AP) writes (“Missile plan changes may provide opening for talks”):

    “Canceling Phase 4 opens the door to another round of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions,” said Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association. “We give up nothing since Phase 4 was not panning out anyway. This is a win-win for the United States.”

    Sleep well.

  4. Steven Davis II

    Cyprus to tax savings accounts.

    Imagine if that came up here… 6.75% on balances under $100,000… 9.9% on balances over. Banks will be failing left and right. How did anyone think this was a good idea. You’d be better off putting money in mason jars and burying them in the backyard.

    Obama is thinking, “I should have thought of that”.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      It seems like there’s a lot going on with this Cyprus “bailout”. Savers are being told that the money they had in the bank is now less – the government just taxed it. First, WOW. If I were trying to create a bank run, this is one of the things I would do. I know the EU authorities are saying this is a one-time thing, but that’s what everyone says…until they decide to do it again. There’s also this interesting angle with Russia and money laundering. Maybe that made it an easier thing to do in a political sense….not sure.

      All I know is that I would be very uneasy if I had a large depositary account in Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and/or Spain.

      It will be interesting to see what the ripple effects are, if any.

    2. Silence

      The Cyrpus tax/theft is a big deal, even if it doesn’t go through. Whomever is promoting this is going to have a significant effect on market stability and banking stability. With interest rates near 0, a mattress, safety deposit box, or home safe looks better all the time.

      1. Mark Stewart

        What this is is a simple monetary devaluation. Only since there is now a common euro currency, that old path was out.

        What it also shows is that Europe is about to go through another major upheaval. They can go forward to a full political union, or they can go back to being a free trade zone. What they cannot do is remain joined by a shared currency and budgeted by separate nations.

        Last, what it shows is the strength and value of the U.S. dollar. We should keep that in mind as we bicker about the relative faults of our economy and our representative government.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I need to go long on mattress futures in Europe.

          How do you figure this is a currency devaluation, future law-breaker Mark? If you had 200,000 euros in your Cyprus bank account on Friday, you now have about 180,000.

          If you had 200,000 euros in your mattress in Cyprus on Friday, you still have 200,000. The currency isn’t worth less. The people who had money in the banks just don’t have as much. It was a tax on depositary accounts. The currency still has the same value as it did on Friday…you just have less of the currency. It’s closer to outright theft than it is to currency devaluation.

          It’s like a tax – except the people had absolutely no say in the matter.

          1. Mark Stewart


            Since they couldn’t devalue the Euro to “punish” Cyprus, your example cleanly illustrates why this was a de facto currency devaluation on that island.

            Silence is right, this path undermines banking stability. But even more, it undermines the European Union far more than it shores it up.

          2. Bryan D. Caskey

            “Since they couldn’t devalue the Euro to “punish” Cyprus, your example cleanly illustrates why this was a de facto currency devaluation on that island.” -Future Law-Breaker Mark

            Huh? They can’t devalue the currency, so they devalued the currency? The currency is still worth exactly the same as it was. The EU hasn’t officially or unofficially been devalued. If the free market decides the Euro is shaky, then that would be a depreciation of the currency.

            What happened was a levy, a tax, a surcharge, a fee… But whatever you want to call it, it’s bad policy. Europe is slowly starting to run into serious financial problems.

            Also, stealing money from Russians is almost always a bad idea.

  5. bud

    There are many reasons to be oppossed to the death penalty but my personal favorite is that it serves as a gigantic promotional campaign for killing. In the minds of deranged folks with a desire for fame what better way to gain noteriaty and go out in a blaze of glory than to go on a killing spree? If caught they will have their picture featured in the national news for years. Heck if killing is good enough for the government why not for me, they must be thinking. This effectively increases the number of murders by serving as an incentive. The whole deterient argument is in effect turned on it’s head.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Bud, I think most of those deranged souls kill themselves after their murderous spree is over.

      I don’t think any criminal is dissuaded from committing a crime because there is a death penalty statute on the books. It’s just a feel-good thing society has kept alive – sanctioned retribution if you will. That low ideal is scattered throughout our judicial codes. I guess we are just human.

      1. Silence

        I think it comes down to us courtesy of Hammurabi, so it predates English common law by about 2500 years. Today I think the main benefit is as a bargaining chip, something that prosecutors can take off the table in order to negotiate a plea deal. As such it saves us time and tax dollars, in many cases. Costs us time and tax dollars in other cases.

    2. Norm Ivey

      The death penalty should be abolished for just one reason: you can’t undo it. Our justice system makes mistakes, and while the mistakes we make in capital punishment cases are few, justice is not served by executing even a single innocent person.

      1. Steven Davis II

        So if John Doe comes over to your house and kills have of your family in front of the other half. He should be spared the death penalty because there’s a chance that he might be innocent.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Yes. Because eyewitness testimony has been repeatedly proven to be unreliable, and because I want to be better than a killer.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Death penalty for the murderer in that hypothetical. Public hangings at dawn would actually be my first choice, but that’s just the romantic in me.

          1. Silence

            Yes. Having the executions made truly public would force society to make a decision about whether or not we want the death penalty. In the meantime it would serve as a more forceful deterrent.
            As for me, I’m for public humiliations and corporal punishment. Stocks, pillories, tar, feathers, whippings, that type of thing. Punishment should be swift, certain, and public. Michael Fay might have continued to do bad stuff after his caning, but I’ll bet he never went back to Singpore…

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            But if you want it to be public, be serious: Who’s going to come out to see it at dawn? You’ve got to think about these kinds of things. You should consult with one of us PR professionals about that, and pay us a fat fee.

            How about Room 101? It used to be that if they took me to Room 101, I would be forced to give blood, because there was nothing that terrified me more. But I forced myself to overcome that.

            Now, they’d probably make me watch Reality TV or something…

          3. Silence

            Let the punishment fit the crime, Brad. Forcing people to watch “Real Housewives of South Congaree”, “Here comes Honey Boo-Boo” or “Moms who live vicariously through their daughters who dance” is cruel and unusual punishment, and should not be meted out to anyone by a civilized society.

            Anyways, there’s no need for a “Room 101” what with warrantless wiretapping, drones, renditions, extrajudicial killings and whatnot.

        3. Norm Ivey

          Not because HE might be innocent, but because sooner or later a jury will convict the wrong person, and THAT person should not die for the mistake we made as a society.

          1. Steven Davis II

            Doug, according to some… even though he admitted doing it, dozens of people saw him do it there’s a slight possibility he may be innocent. And we can’t execute an innocent man now can we.

            I’m just surprised that his lawyer and/or the judge didn’t haul his sorry ass out of the courtroom when he took off his shirt and sat there in his homemade “KILLER” t-shirt.

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            Juries have repeatedly convicted innocent people who were later exonerated. The Innocence Project helps those who survive…..

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