Monday 24 February 2014
Photo, above: Saint Catherine's Monastery, founded by the Emperor St. Justinian the Great, sits at the foot of Mount Sinai in Sinai, Egypt. (Hussein Talal/ AP ) . . . A violent insurgency and military crackdown sweeping across Egypt’s northern Sinai peninsula have brought an unwelcome quiet to the south, where the Bedouin tribes make their money from tourists. In August, the Egyptian government closed St. Catherine’s Monastery to visitors as a precaution. It was only the third closure in 50 years. While the monastery reopened its doors again after three weeks, Egyptian security forces are now everywhere, shepherding the handful of foreigners into the area in armed convoys. . . .
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR Detroit
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Aaron Task, Yahoo Finance, in re: the Dow nearly reaches an all-time high; great for investment houses and large-scale investors, but nothing helpful for the millions of us flat out of work. The Fed. G20 met this weekend: infrastructure support, stimulate the economies by keeping interest rates low and do things good for banks, large corporations. Henry Ford raised wages to $5/hr during the Depression and thus genuinely stimulated the economy. Today, corporations don’t think about American workers; rather, they plan to hire wherever is cheapest. Lots of Americans cannot make ends meet, even with three separate jobs. Become a zero-sum game. At present, 30% of internet traffic is Netflix. Comcast is becoming enormous – 40% of broadband users will be Comcast customers.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor; Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, in re: War fighting – Syrian front: oppo rebels, al Q or al Nusrah; a major alQ rep killed - he had surveillance tapes fo r9?11 and hand-delivered them to Afgh. Was Zawahiri's point man in Syria, killed last weekend. Also, a senior Talibat killed in Waziristan. Became head of Taliban shura (executive committee). Both gunned down/martyred. In Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, former al Q. Escalating blood feud. A lot of talented jihadists in Syria waiting to take over high positions. . . . US leaving the field, is a nonentity.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Arif Rafiq, PakistanRisk, in re: US Director of Cenral Intelligence visited Pakistan. Something large going on, maybe Sunni-Shi'a fight. Aircraft, antitank missiles. Does John Brennan tell Pentagon, don’t supply Saudi? Shoulder-fired missiles can transfer widely, be used to bring down civilian aircraft. Reports of Manpads in the region now, also antitank missiles. Iran: suicide attack, Pakistani Taliban in Iran? Since 2013 November, Sunni-Shi'ite riots, the TTP (Taliban) has been involved in this sectarian fight in Pakistan, while Iran is seen as supporting Shi'a. Pakistan Mustn't Surrender The insurgents intensify their killing, even as Pakistan offers to surrender. Negotiation is going nowhere. Murky, messy game going on. As the US exits, new wars will open. Pakistan: from security concerns to potentiality
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio; Lara M Brown, George Washington University, in re: Maryland ACA website is irretrievably messed up; has fired their contractor, Meridian Healthcare Solutions – aimed at 150,000 sign-ups by 1 March, but it'll be 75,000, so will send everyone to HeathCare.gov (yike). We're in a pause created by fuzzy numbers of sign-ups – no one seems to know – and the Obama Adm changing rules, leading to a confusing arbitrariness. Everyone waiting for March 31 to see how it shakes out. Jury is out on Obamacare for at least another year – no confidence, not many good experiences yet. However, not yet ready to give up completely on the whole idea. Kick the can plus wishful thinking. If Obamacare won’t be decided for another year, how'll that affect GOP strategy? Will help to maintain current seats and help in general, but the larger policy issue isn’t about 2014; rather, the next presidential election will feature the discussion of: improve or jettison. Ad with leukemia patient in the Michigan race ("I had everything in hand, then the ACA took it all away from me"); more of that ilk coming up soon.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block A: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner senior Congressional correspondent; John Fund, National Review Online, in re: A European who calls himself (an invented name) Piers Morgan lost his job in American media – a credit to him that he had a job; how did he American people for as long as they did? His ratings were always bad and only diminished. Tabloid sensibility while sneering as American values, and insufferable prig. Used cricket terms, persisted in not connecting. A bad transplant. CNN's ratings are now so awful they may even want Larry King Back. His departure cheered up my friend in Kansas, Gene Countryman. / House fighting over chairmanships; mostly, the senior leadership positions. Continuous jockeying for positions – prepare for their rise to mediocrity. Boehnner question: unlikely to leave before the departure of a president and esp before the chance to work with a possible Republican president. The very job of Speaker is difficult; no one visible to take over, although Paul Ryan may be understudy, Boehner's favorite successor. John Boehner has never been one to hold a grudge.
Dingell, Longest-Serving Congressman, to Retire Representative John D. Dingell Jr., Democrat of Michigan, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2014. He was first elected to the House in 1955.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner senior Congressional correspondent; John Fund, National Review Online, in re: Pres Obama is endearing himself to the electorate by being kind to dogs and children. Piers Morgan's (as he calls himself) evil brother Chris Matthews says that the Republicans can gain ten Senate seats. Best predictor to seats is the president's approval rating. Virginia is the state with the fourth-largest number of millionaires. Now Mark Warner's run is challenged by Gillespie. Warner seen as a moderate, pragmatic governor. However, Ed Gillespie knows the political landscape and how to run.
Photo, below: Egypt's Sinai desert provides fertile ground for Islamist militants: Vast areas of the strategically important desert, a buffer zone between Israel and Egypt, have descended into lawlessness in recent months.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Aaron Klein, WABC, in re: A lot of concern about safety of Jews n Ukraine (200, 000? 300,000?) the chief rabbi there, the IDF, and Israeli PM's office: all watching Kiev very closely; the Jewish Agency is sending funds and help, esp for security guards for synagogues and schools. Jews being told to say away from the protests. Officials in Ukraine Seek Stability and Ousted Leader The acting interior minister accused former President Viktor F. Yanukovych of the mass killing of civilian protesters. He also said that Mr. Yanukovych had arrived in Crimea on Sunday and had fled to an unknown location. Kremlin Says Instability Threatens Russian Interests / Sinai looks like a failed rogue state: Egyptian problems. Pay close attention in the coming weeks – as Syria II. Thousands of jihadists have arrived in Sinai and at Suez Canal, and just outside Cairo – from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,; a growing phenomenon. Not streaming in with no plans; are building cells, coordinating plans, This is huge. Same events that unfolded in Syria now occurring in Egypt. Attacks not only on Coptic Christians, but also on tourists, on gas pipelines, on ht economy. In different Internet al Q forums: When to declare the Islamic Emirate of the Sinai Peninsula? Will secede from Egypt – just outside of the Israeli city of Beersheba. Will answer to Zawahiri. Egyptians perplexed as to why res Obama does nothing about this. To close down the smugglers's route from the Red Sea would require air force. My information is that Egypt would need an enormous amount of help, esp incl intell, from Israel. Huge collaboration between Egypt and Israel on Sinai; but anent Suez, the Egyptian mil is pretty much alone. From Syria through Gaza to Cairo: coordination at local levels, bldg infrastructure, specific brigades loyal to al Qaeda.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Aaron Klein, WABC, in re: Russia denounces "armed mutiny" in Ukraine Russia is very preoccupied away from h Middle East; Saudi giving heavy weapons to Syrian oppo: antiaircraft and antitank missiles are changing one-the-ground dynamics. Oppo have recent taken down a govt helo near Israeli border and another near Damascus. Bashar al Assad is replacing helos with mil aircraft: earlier today, 26 people killed in aerial bombardments. First time that Syrian mil aircraft have been flying next to t h peace border near Israel in many years. Oppo intends to march on Damascus from numerous fronts – from the South, from the West. Take Damascus? probably not - but that'll change the balance at Geneva talks. Bibi Netanyahu visited an Israeli hospital in the north this morning: missile sirens blasted across the country in a test. Ukraine: Russia will not intervene to support Yanukovych. Most worrisome faction is ne-Nazis: large portions of Western Ukraine are dominated by the red and black flag of Fascists, from the 1940s till today. One anarchist group protesting says that 30% of protestors are [Nazis?]. Leaderships are not all of one mind. Some do not want any Jewish presence.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: San Jose and other local governments could be on the brink of bankruptcy. The unions are playing a reckless game. If they don’t back off, they may dig the bankruptcy hole deep enough that their fully accrued benefits could easily be put in jeopardy as well. California’s appellate court should affirm the constitutionality of Measure B, and avoid a far worse fate . . .[more] [Tried to restructure future pension plans to "taper" the obligation. Unions went to court, said, You can fire or demote me, but not diminish my guaranteed pension.] (1 of 2)
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: Defined benefit plan for pensions: employers often underfund. Could be as high as $4.5 Trillion in unfunded pension plans in the US!
San Jose and other local governments could be on the brink of bankruptcy. The unions are playing a reckless game. If they don’t back off, they may dig the bankruptcy hole deep enough that their fully accrued benefits could easily be put in jeopardy as well. California’s appellate court should affirm the constitutionality of Measure B, and avoid a far worse fate . . .[more] (2 of 2)
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: John Bolton, AEI, in re: Perhaps this prospect of massive strategic failure will awaken Obama and America as a whole, but that seems unlikely. Instead, the increasing danger is that only another 9/11, another disaster, will produce the necessary awakening. There is tragedy ahead for our country if we continue on this course. Read this article online.
John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad.
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: NOAA’s official prediction for this winter was worse than monkeys working on typewriters. The uncertainty of science: NOAA's official prediction for this winter was as bad as monkeys working on typewriters. “Not one of our better forecasts,” admits Mike Halpert, the Climate Prediction Center’s acting director. The center grades itself on what it calls the Heidke skill score, which ranges from 100 (perfection) to . . . Read more
The trial of the century. Michael Mann doesn’t like people calling him a fraud for torturing and manipulating the climate data to create the false illusion that the climate is warming. And so, he is trying to shut down any criticism or analysis of his very poorly done science by using the power of government to enforce his will. Two quotes from the article that are of interest:
Here is the point at which we need a little primer on libel laws, which hinge on the differentiation between facts and opinion. It is libel to maliciously fabricate facts about someone. (It is not libel to erroneously report a false fact, so long as you did so with good faith reason to believe that it was true, though you are required to issue a correction.) But you are free to give whatever evaluation of the facts you like, including a negative evaluation of another person’s ideas, thinking method, and character. It is legal for me, for example, to say that Michael Mann is a liar, if I don’t believe that his erroneous scientific conclusions are the product of honest error. It is also legal for me to say that he is a coward and a liar, for hiding behind libel laws in an attempt to suppress criticism.
These are all reasons that the lawsuit should have been summarily thrown out. It goes beyond the legitimate scope of libel and defamation laws and constitutes an attempt to suppress opinions that are considered politically correct.
And this: In other words, Steyn’s evaluation of Mann’s scientific claims can be legally suppressed because Steyn dares to question the conclusions of established scientific institutions connected to the government. On this basis, the DC Superior Court arrives at the preposterous conclusion that it is a violation of Mann’s rights to “question his intellect and reasoning.” That’s an awfully nice prerogative to be granted by government: an exemption against any challenge to your reasoning. I said before that I don’t know how the rest of us sceptics escaped being sued along with Steyn. Now we know. Mann is attempting to establish a precedent for climate censorship. If he wins this suit, then we’re all targets.
And global warming activists like Mann call me a “deny-er"?
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Kate Galbraith, NYT, Green Column, in re: Australia Divided on Fracking While the country appears to be ripe for developing natural gas from shale rock, environmentalists are fighting such projected . . .
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast, and Newsweek International, in re: The Mount Rushmore Fight Club: A History of Hating Presidents, from Washington to Obama We may think our modern partisans are nasty, but what about the critics who called Washington ‘Machiavellian,’ Jefferson a ‘howling atheist,’ and Lincoln an ‘ape-like imbecile?’ Perspective is the thing we have least of in our politics. And as the USA celebrates Presidents’ Day, it is tempting to lament the lack of respect given to the Oval Office these days—especially its current occupant.
Politics ain’t beanbag, but Barack Obama has been subjected what certainly seems like an unusual amount of paranoid projection from high places during his five years in office. In addition to the daily drumbeat from right wing talk radio and cable television, by the end of the 2012 election, no less than 89 books had been published with little purpose other that to propagate a monstrous image of the president. Among their titles were The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic; Trickle Down Tyranny; To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine; and The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency. The themes are often carried forward by conservative members of congress trying to play to the base. During the State of the Union in January Texas representative Randy Weber tweeted that the president was a “socialist dictator,” while Senator Ted Cruz summed up his Wall Street Journal op-ed with this tweet: “In the nation’s history, there is simply no precedent for an American president so wantonly ignoring federal law.”
There is, however, plenty of precedent for presidents being accused of tyranny, dictatorship and a determination to trample on the Constitution. Let’s start with a quick survey of the quartet of presidential greats enshrined in Mount Rushmore.
The original Founding Father, George Washington, is remembered as enduring example of character and virtue—and so we often assume that he was similarly respected by contemporary countrymen. But when our first president presided over the shaky young republic, newspapers like the Aurora (edited by Benjamin Franklin’s grandson) obsessively attacked him, calling on Washington to abruptly resign the office while declaring that “that the mask of political hypocrisy has been alike worn by Caesar, a Cromwell and a Washington.” Washington’s one-time ally Thomas Paine turned on him in vicious fashion after the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, writing, “the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.” Pamphlets published by early partisan opponents like William Duane denounced Washington’s “tyrannical act,” ‘Machiavellian policy,’ and “monarchical privilege.” The former general of the Continental Army was unused to being attacked in the press with such impunity, and he proved to be surprisingly thin-skinned, complaining in one last letter to Thomas Jefferson that he was being slandered “in such an exaggerated, and indecent terms as scarcely be applied to a Nero; a notorious defaulter; or even to a common pickpocket.”
One space over on Mount Rushmore, Thomas Jefferson attacked political opponents through the partisan press and was attacked in return with accusations of being an “infidel” and a “howling atheist.” The Federalist Gazette of the United States framed the election this way: “the only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is . . . [more]
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Michael Ledeen, FDD, in re: What If We Were Winning but Nobody Noticed? It’s all about winning and losing, but the best man doesn’t always win, and outcomes frequently have more to do with luck than with merit. Brilliant strategies fail, and fools stumble into glorious victories. Napoleon preferred a lucky general to a brilliant one. Which brings us to today. The headlines are grim, the pictures from Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are blood-chilling, executions and demonstrations are mounting in Iran, and Obama doesn’t know what to do about anything. So he doesn’t do anything; he and his strategists just dither. And yet . . .
And yet, our enemies may be on the verge of losing. Big time.
Maybe the elimination of the Russian Olympic hockey team was an augury, foreshadowing a shift in Putin’s destiny. Up until quite recently, he waved his mailed fist and barked out commands that were obeyed from Georgia to Syria. He, along with the Syrian, Iranian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Bolivian dictators and would-be dictators, was forging a global alliance aimed against the West, and nobody in the West seemed to notice, let alone take steps to combat it. The global alliance consists primarily of jihadis and radical leftists, the two principal forces committed to the destruction of what is sometimes known as the Western world.
That alliance is cracking, because many millions of people are fighting the anti-Western tyrants. They aren’t pundits, and they haven’t calculated the odds on success. They just fight. Almost none of the major events of the past few years was foreseen by the deep thinkers, most all of whom thought that Egypt was lost to the jihadists, Assad was firmly in control of Syria, and Chavismo was destined to rule in Venezuela for years to come.
But in Egypt, where the Muslim Brothers took over the most important country in the Muslim Middle East, they lost it within a year. They were brought down by what the BBC called “the largest demonstration in human history.” In Tunisia, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring,” the radical jihadists were briefly in control, and then lost to . . .
Monday 23 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Carson Bruno, Hoover: Advancing a Free Society, in re: Eureka: Assessing California’s Economic Growth by Region
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Hour 1: Robocop. The Eagle. Frost/Nixon.
Hour 2: iRobot. Oblivion.
Hour 3: 2012. Eastern Promises. Oblivion.
Hour 4: Oblivion. Frost/Nixon. Easter Promises.