The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 19 September 2013

Air Date: 
September 19, 2013

Photo, above: In San Francisco Bay, the J105 fleet in the Rolex Big Boat Series showed off the iconic visuals that America's Cup planners hoped would seal San Francisco's bid to host America's Cup racing. Photo: C. Rolex / Daniel Forster


Co-host: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Hour One

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re:  the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: De Blasio Has Huge Lead Over Lhota, Poll Finds  Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for mayor, leads his Republican rival, Joseph J. Lhota, by over 40 points, a new public opinion survey shows. De Blasio is known for his high ethics; the question from the larger electorate is physical safety in the city. Ray Kelly, Police Commissioner, has been criticized for stop-question-and-frisk; Bill Bratton (personal friend of Eddie Hayes), who’s received the Order of the British Empire from HRH Queen Elizabeth II; invented modern policing, is a visionary.  Had a special unit to find high-activity criminals who were parole violators; had a superb immediate staff.  Recruited, prompted, got the loyalty of fine people.   He's the head of a successful security firm now; will he accept the post?  Eddie fought though the wars in the 1980s and 90s – streets were dangerous; junkies broke in to steal TVs.  Ray Kelly has succeeded as well as he has because he has the full backing of Mayor Bloomberg; will Bratton have comparable support of de Blasio?

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review Online, in re: "Obamaphones" – lifeline phones - companies get $9-plus for each phone distribute to the poor – it’s a billion-dollar business and the firms are pushing phones without any information on the legitimacy of the applicants. Staff report  having been trained to commit perjury: a transfer from the US government (tax dollars) to these companies.  There's a $2.50 surcharge on everyone's phone bill to go to nonprofits.  Fifty of 51 people said their signature was forged, had never heard of Terracom; most addresses were traced back to homeless shelters.  Burner phones can’t be traced back to oneself; Obamaphones are widely sold.   This is the Adm that'll collate data from the IRS and others to tell us what we can afford in health care.   The FCC originally oversaw and subsidized landlines.   Street level sales make $3 a phone when they assign it.  Feds keep trying to reform this program; Terracom has fired some employees; the incentive structure is fundamentally flawed. A better choice would be subsidized landlines, or a cell that'll dial only 911. There are a lot of =/<$10 phones available now. Cui bono – organized crime?  Packaged and bundled it into big cash – hundreds of phones?  Who actually gets the money: Carlos Slim? He got $500 million for handing out these phones.  Go to the welfare office in the morning; you'll be approached in the street by Lifeline Program distributors: Trackphone, Terracom, other companies. 

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re: Senior Egyptian Officer Is Killed in Raid on Islamists  An unidentified gunman killed a senior police officer and 10 other officers were wounded on Thursday when Egyptian security forces raided a bastion of Islamist support on the outskirts of Cairo. MB is being decapitated by the al Sisi regime; MB appears to be endeavoring to reorganize and reconstitute itself under more "moderate" leaders.  The violence has spread around the country; thugs and others are prosecuting huge anti-Christian violence.  The generals are very aware that the MB's mobilizing organization is likely to want to return and assassinate the military leaders.  Is this decap permanent, or can it be overturned?  MB in contact with White House?  Not clear.

Morsi Speaks with Family by Phone, Lawyer Says  Mohamed Morsi, the ousted Egyptian president, had his first contact with his family since he was held in military custody and said he was in good health, his lawyer said.

Egyptian security forces on Sept. 19 fired teargas and exchanged gunfire with armed groups during a raid in Giza's Kerdasa district, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Cairo, Ahram reported, citing state television. Fifty-one people were arrested during the raid, and police are searching for further suspects in the area, a security source said.

Egyptian security forces have raided the pro-Morsi town of Kerdasa, sparking violent clashes in which a senior police officer has been reported killed. Kerdasa, about nine miles outside of Cairo, has been known as an Islamist stronghold since the July 3 overthrow of the former president, and there has been little or no state authority. On August 14, a police station was attacked and torched and 11 police officers were killed. Early Thursday morning, dozens of police and army vehicles entered the town, backed by helicopters searching for 140 suspects. Police have reportedly taken control of Kerdasa and imposed a curfew. According to a security source, up to 51 people have been arrested and dozens of weapons have been seized. The raid has come days after Egyptian troops stormed the Upper Egypt town of Dalga, which had been partially held by Islamists accused of attacking Christians and burning down homes and churches. 

Gunmen killed a senior police officer and wounded 10 other officers on Thursday when security forces raided a bastion of Islamist support on the outskirts of Cairo, redoubling fears of a violent backlash against the recent military takeover.  General Farag, who was carried away after being shot, died after reaching a nearby hospital.  The officer, Gen. Nabil Farag, the assistant security director for the province of Giza, was killed when a large convoy of tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into the town of Kardasa, across the Nile from Cairo, in an attempt to flush out Islamist militants hiding there.  An unidentified gunman appeared to have shot the general soon after security forces arrived in the town. In video of the shooting, the general is conspicuous in a white uniform and black protective vest, chatting at ease in . . . 

Hour Two

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: Follow Ways and Means! – a grind-it-out ground game.  Their officials are saying that 24 of 27 groups obliged by IRS to offer up donor lists are more conservative than progressive.  There are now more people outside Beltway than inside who are paying attention to Ways and Means and Oversight Committees.  Congresswoman Black.  Danny Werfel: Comptroller of the US, and OMB head till this spring; became Deputy Commissioner of the IRS. His reputation is to get the job done – getting rid of improper payments, inter al.. IRS is now releasing many hundreds of pages of documentation. Rumor that the Nixon WH said, "Hey want documents??" – and flooded everyone with documents.  IRS seems to be doing just this now.   GOP Congressmen seem to be using data to show that the IRS can’t be trusted to acquire, assemble or analyze information, and to use this proposition against ObamaCare.

IRS officials thought Obama wanted crackdown on tea party groups, worried about negative press.  IRS employees were “acutely” aware in 2010 that President Obama wanted to crack down on conservative organizations and were egged into targeting tea party groups by press reports mocking the emerging movement, according to an interim report being circulated Tuesday by House investigators.

The report, by staffers for Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, quoted two Internal Revenue Service officials saying the tea party applications were singled out in the targeting program that has the agency under investigation because “they were likely to attract media attention.”  In the report, the investigators do not find evidence that IRS employees received orders from politicians to target the tea party, and agency officials deny overt bias or political motives.  But the report says the IRS was at least taking cues from political leaders and designed special policies to . . . [more]

. . .  Committee officials told Secrets that of the 27 groups forced to cough up donor lists, 24 were conservative, nearly double the number suggested previously by IRS management. At a recent committee hearing, former acting Internal Revenue Service boss Steven Miller said that a majority of the requests were to non-Tea Party groups. Previously, Democrats have suggested that progressive groups were targeted in similar numbers. 

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Abraham Katsman, American Thinker, in re:  Barack Obama's Commitment Problem: Peace Process Fallout  Jeffrey Goldberg is as attuned as anyone to the thought processes of the Obama White House.  So it is worth paying attention when he writes in Bloomberg View that President Obama's lack of enforcement of his Syrian chemical "red line" does not imply that there would be a similar lack of enforcement of his Iranian nuclear red line.  But his explanation carries serious implications for America's international commitments and diplomacy, nowhere more so than regarding Israel and the peace process.  Goldberg believes it is a mistake to assume that just because Obama is hesitant on Syria, he will be similarly hesitant on Iran. Why the difference?  Because, he says, the president has defined Iran's nuclear program as a core threat to U.S. national security. He maintains that Obama has made it clear that only two Middle East issues rise to the level of core American national interests: destroying al-Qaeda and stopping Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold. Goldberg sums up with this formulation: "Not all red lines are created equal. Not all national security challenges are equally dire. It is not analytically sound to assume that  . . .    [more]

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Cygnus is operating well in orbit, with berthing to ISS scheduled for September 22.   More information here, including details about Orbital Sciences’ effort to replace the refurbished Soviet-era engines it uses on Antares in order for the rocket to have a long term viability.

A fundamental truth about America  This morning Orbital Sciences successfully launched into orbit its commercial cargo freighter Cygnus to bring supplies to ISS. This was also the second successful launch of its Antares rocket. If Cygnus berths with ISS as planned, the company will then begin cargo operations, joining SpaceX to give the United States two different freighters for bringing supplies to low Earth orbit.   After Antares’ first successful launch in April I wrote the following post, which I think still applies and should be reread. It describes how today’s Cygnus launch success reveals a lot about the future.

Yesterday, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the first test launch of its Antares rocket, developed, designed, and built in less than five years under a commercial contract with NASA to provide cargo to the International Space Station. The launch went like clockwork, perfectly, with no hitches at all, something that is quite remarkable for a new rocket on its first launch. Kudos to the engineers at Orbital Sciences for a job well done!  Besides demonstrating the skill of Orbital Science’s engineers, however, this successful launch illustrated in stark reality a fundamental fact about the culture of the United States that continues to allow it to stand out from the rest of the world, even as a large percentage of the present generation of Americans are doing their darndest to try to destroy that culture. Moreover, that fundamental cultural fact is basic to human nature, not just the United States, and if we recognize it, it will provide us all the right framework for what to do and not to do in trying to maintain human societies, both here on Earth as well as in the future in space. In order to understand the true significance of Orbital Sciences’s success yesterday with Antares, however, we must first review the capabilities of the world’s launch industry. I am not going to list all the rockets capable of putting payloads into orbit, only those that are successfully competing for business in the open commercial market.
Read More

The competition heats up: Arianespace has signed a contract to build 18 more Ariane 5 rockets.  This order takes the number of Ariane 5 launchers in production for Arianespace to 38, and guarantees the continued provision of launch services for the European operator’s customers at the Guiana Space Centre through to the end of the decade.  Without doubt Arianespace is now in a solid position through the end of the decade. What will happen to them, however, when Falcon 9 and other cheaper rockets begin to fly regularly will be the real story. They have not yet found a way to cut their costs.

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Another look at the leaked IPCC draft report. Key quotation:  To those of us who have been following the climate debate for decades, the next few years will be electrifying. There is a high probability we will witness the crackup of one of the most influential scientific paradigms of the 20th century, and the implications for policy and global politics could be staggering.  The article also takes a close look at the contradiction between the data and the IPCC models and says this: [W]hat is commonly called the “mainstream” view of climate science is contained in the spread of results from computer models. What is commonly dismissed as the “skeptical” or “denier” view coincides with the real-world observations. Now you know how to interpret those terms when you hear them.

Hour Three

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Daniel Henninger, WSJ WONDER LAND, in re:  The Obama M.O. We should admit the obvious: Barack Obama is the most anti-political president the United States has had in the post-war era. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter (even), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. All practiced politics inside the tensions between Congress and the presidency that were designed into the system by the Founding Fathers. Not Barack Obama. He told us he was different. He is.  Mr. Obama doesn't do Washington's politics. Disappointed acolytes say it is because he is "passive." That underestimates him. For Mr. Obama, the affairs of state are wholly a function of whatever is inside his mind.  Some things remain in his mind, like the economic benefits of public infrastructure spending, which appeared one more time in Monday's post-Navy Yard speech on the lessons of the financial crisis and Congress's obligations to agree with him. Some things enter his mind and then depart, like red lines in the Syrian sand.  From where he sits, it is the job of the political world outside to adjust and conform to the course of the president's mental orbit. Those who won't adjust are dealt with by the president himself. They are attacked publicly until they are too weak politically to oppose what is on his mind.  This is the unique Obama M.O. For historians of the Obama presidency, this September has been a case study in the 44th president's modus operandi.  Early in September,  . . . 

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re:  America's Cup in San Francisco. 

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution Defining Ideas, & Chicago Law, in re:  Syria and American Leadership  (1 f 2)

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution Defining Ideas, & Chicago Law, in re:  Syria and American Leadership  (2 of 2)

Hour Four

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far by John C. McManus.  (1 of 4)

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block B: September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far by John C. McManus.  (2 of 4)

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far by John C. McManus.  (3 of 4)

Thursday  19 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block D: September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far by John C. McManus.  (4 of 4)

..  ..  ..


Hour 1:  Ten Thousand BC.  Batman Arkham City.   Babylon AD.

Hour 2:  Spartacus II.  Persia.  Stanley Kubrick.  Serenity.

Hour 3:  Hotel California.  Serenity.  Michael Clayton.

Hour 4: