The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 24 October 2013

Air Date: 
October 24, 2013

((TEST)) Photo, above:  Prince Bandar and Pres Putin.  Massive geopolitical shift. 


Hour One

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 1, Block A: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re: in deep trouble: "We have to consider delaying the mandate." LibDems want ACA to work but are disappointed - power struggle between Legislative and Executive branches.  Self-inflicted wounds. Recall GOP asking tough questions of G W Bush.

GOP in House and Senate – in the House, the tone became acid and angry during the last of the showdown. 

Are Republicans now toning it down?  --Rather, working within the confines of normal govt. The Am people expect them to govern; can't just scream NO at the top of their lungs. At the same time, they deeply oppose the ACA.

Now, GOP decided to use what’s available legitimately: key House Committees.  That is, it's a change in strategy.  Dem Senators of the last 48 hours led by Manchin of WV and Shaeen of NH: lack of discipline. 


"House GOP rebounds with new focus on investigating Obamacare problems   House Republicans hope to dig themselves out of a politically damaging government shutdown with a renewed focus on governing and aggressive oversight of Obamacare's troubled rollout.  Convening on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first time since the 16-day shutdown concluded, House Republicans seemed almost excited to spend their short work week debating a boring, low-profile water bill that was expected to clear the chamber Wednesday evening. But a return to normal legislative business also affords House Republicans an opportunity to shine a critical spotlight on Obamacare, and they plan to use key GOP-led House committees to launch a coordinated investigation into Obamacare's myriad problems.

“The biggest part of Congress' job is to provide proper oversight of the executive branch of . . . "

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re:  Lucky Guy, a successful play in New York, includes a main character based on Ed Hayes.  Start with 2013 politics: mayoralty election coming soon; GOP candidate, Lhota, says that if the Dem candidate wins, he fears for a crime wave returning.  De Blasio opposes stop, question and frisk – which is needed in some form, esp during an economically hard time.

Confession in 'Baby Hope' Killing Was Taped, but the Interrogation Was Not  n ..., Conrado Juárez, accused of killing Anjelica Castillo in 1991, said that his confession in the case had been coerced—the confession was recorded but the interrogation was not.  This is a problem: jury not likely to be sympathetic.  However, if the cops tricked him – and he may be borderline retarded – that would redound to the disadvantage of the NYPD.

The Chicago Way  Giuliani fears for NYC if de Blasio wins.

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Robert Zimmerman,,  in re:

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re:   Today's sincere Congressional testimony from contractors.  IT and the Federal govt: there's always an explanation that moves the story to someone else, and then on to someone else. "To explain something and never actually explain it."   -- "We just did what CMS [or HHS] told us to do."

"We have been and remain accountable for our tools and work product."  Whazzis mean?

No Congressman asked, "Why doesn't it work, and what will make it work?" – how do you get people who don't have insurance to get insurance, and have people who can afford to help pay?

"The system is working"  Meaning: some people can enroll.

These are from a former Administrator for E-Government at the Office of Management and Budget, the job that Obama turned into the Office of the U.S. Chief Information Officer.

The hearings today pretty much made a mockery of currently proposed contracting reforms, like modular contracting, and showed how quickly putting together puzzle pieces (a/k/a agile dvpt) doesn't make a pretty picture.  Having seen this with the IRS's original Tax System Modernization in the mid-90s and FBI Trilogy 10 years ago, it just proves that customer needs, not technology desires, have to drive big govt IT projects.  This is Cobb's Pradox right before our eyes, and based on today's hearing, the architecture is such a convoluted compilation of apps, data, content, and interfaces that it can never solve the problem HHS faces.  How to get people who don't need healthcare insurance to buy it and people who use emergency rooms for medical care to get into managed healthcare plans?  I really feel for the people who thought they won something when the contracts were awarded. But where was OMB oversight in all this??? Didn't they read the business case and realize that this is an unworkable architecture...or were they told to keep hands off because it was such an important initiative? Who was holding CMS and the HHS CIOs accountable for reporting 91.3% success as of August 31 this year? 

I think CMS clearly lied and there was a total breakdown of all the governance processes. 

Check the sections of Clinger Cohen about Secretary and OMB Director Accountability provisions.  The way this should have worked was OMB read the business case and knew that this either was a very risky approach or would not work.  Then people from my old office would either work with the Dep Sec and key people at HHS to re-do the solution or, if they were adamant, make sure that the project team had a world-class risk management plan. This is not rocket science, just technologists' overwhelming the capability of the business people who assumed that the techies know what they were doing and even protected them form overoversight. 

On the servers: this should uncover some of the bogus use of the term "cloud computing."  Based on the hearing, they built a kluge of traditional three-tier web apps architectures.  The problem is that the architecture is not an architecture . . . so adding servers can be a band-aid for each piece, but the problem is that more servers won't help each piece talk to another.  That's why they will not be able to fix this architecture. They're screwed and have wasted all that money.  The Republicans are going to have a field day here.

I agree that Todd was there when this started and it sounds like a convoluted techie thing he would have stayed involved with.

Hour Two

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Aug 2013 photo: Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Prince Bandar, now head of Saudi intell.  Saudi Arabia breaks with the USA after decades of alliance, obedience, and paying for everything – every scrap of intelligence  the US has given the Saudis since FDR.  Saudi Arabia has now broken with this Administration, esp with Pres Obama.  From the Arab Spring, from the US treatment of Mubarak, and not helping the Qataris , and failure to act on Syria – the US has helped keep Assad in power; US is negotiation with Iran and looking for appeasement.   Ergo, the West hasn’t helped Saudi Arabia and the Saudis are gone.   The Saudis are not forgiving people and they  have long memories. Recall that this president bowed down to the Saudi king.  A UN Security Council seat was offered to Saudi Arabia, a seat reserved for Mashriq or Mahgreb; Saudis were invited – and declined in protest.  Now Pres Obama argues that the US should delay sanctions against Iran: Rouhani demands less pressure.  This Administration is taking an unwise route. US holds about $50 bil in frozen assets of Iranians.   Rouhani says he inherited a $72 bil budget deficit, and will start a new weapons processing in Bushehr!  With the new centrifuges, can go from 5% to 90% enrichment, unlike old machines that had to go to 20% before 90%.  

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Amb Ron Prosor, Israel’s 16th Permanent Representative to the United Nations; in re: On sanctions against Iran - "You don’t need a physics degree to know that pressure works." –Ron Prosor. [See: Daily Alert, "UN and Saudi Arabia"] When Rouhani arrived in New York he came with a charm offensive precisely because the sanctions have been working, Effectively.   Reminiscent of a boxer dangling from the ropes; give him a moment to recover and he'll rise and turn against you.  We must continue sanctions in order to change behavior in Iran. A partial deal is worse than no deal at all.    Damascus: a threat generated behavior change anent chem weapons, Credible use of sanctions works.

For the first time, Saudis  did not give a speech during he 68th Assembly Session. 

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Ahmad K. Majidyar, AEI, in re: Danger of sectarianism in UAE, Oman and Qatar.  Events in Syria spill over  - original Arab Spring hopes of toppling dictators, but now a deathly sectarianism of Sunni vs Shia. Al Qaeda is re=establishing itself in Syria; destabilizing Lebanon; could encompass the whole region.  Note Qatif, eastern Saudi, where the pipelines are:  2 to 3 million Shiites, suffered discrimination for decades; now violent demos and sabotage vs Riyadh. Help from Iran.  Also cyberattacks. If Saudi e=ignore demands for civil right, region will become yet more unstable and cut into Saudi income. Surrogate war between Saudis and Iranians, but now sprouted into a real regional issue, a fight between many Sunnis and Shia.  Meanwhile, Shia are well  integrated into some Sunni-majority nations, esp Oman and Qatar. Where Shia are maltreated they see Iran their saviour.   Washington's disengagement in the region and failure to respond will have the US on the wrong side of whatever outcome. Failure to contain Iran and to act in the global fight against terrorism is grave.  Iran sees Saudis as vulnerable. Rouhani said clearly that he wants to engage t he West and use that rapprochement as a weapon against Iran's rivals in the region.  UAE  has its concerns, Israel has its concerns; none of these trusts Washington.  Saudis reaching to China and other world powers as the US evaporates. 

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Yossi Klein Halevi, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem; New Republic; in re: Like Dreamers The remarkable story of Israel's elite 55th Paratroop Brigade over the last four decades reads like a real-life version of Leon Uris's Exodus. The mood in Israel in the spring of 1967- can we ever get back to this euphoric and utopian state?  Author is child of Hungarian Holocaust survivors; book begins in summer 1967 while Yossi was fourteen years old.  Being in Jerusalem: Yossi saw his father, who'd lost his faith during the war, regain it at the Wall. After forty years of left-right schism in Israel, now the majority is more centrist incorporating elements of both left and right.  Left won the argument about peaceful solution, the right won the argument that there's no real peace partner there. 

Hour Three

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Angela Merkel called Barack Obama yesterday.   Pres Obama is in very bad repute with two historical allies of the US, who are allies because of FDR: Germany, obviously, and Saudi Arabia, as FDR stopped off to meet the original King Saud.  Prince Bandar and King Faisal are clear about their break with the US.  They’ve been explicit for five yeas that Iran is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia, Jordan Israel. They believe that Pres Obama does not listen and has "backstabbed the Kingdom." The signs of weakness anger them.  The photo from August 2013 of Prince Bandar smiling broadly at Vladimir Putin. Saudis have been at odds with the Russian since the 1917 revolution – think that he Russians are atheist demons.  The broker is General  al Sisi of Egypt.  New alliance: Moscow, Cairo, Riyadh. It was precisely the economic sanctions against Iran that allowed Rouhani, putatively not as much of a hard-liner, to win the last election.  Note Rouhani's writings bragging about pulling the wool over the world's eyes. 

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Khaled Abu Toameh, WSJ, London Times, J Post, Gatestone,  in re: Abbas, once elected as president of the Palestinian Authority, and the head of Hamas in Gaza, both sending affectionate good wishes to Damascus.  Palestinians have seen 200,000 Palestinians displaced and manymany ruthlessly butchered by the Assad terrorists.  Because they were kicked out of Syria, they lost all support from Iran and Hezbollah, and recently also of Egypt; obliged to reconsider their various positions.   Assad's reply has not yet arrived for Hamas; he might be more willing to patch things up with the PA.  What Abbas wants is political support – he was speaking of peace with Israel, which cost him a lot on the street.   As Israel demands control over the Jordan Valley, Palestinians try to harden their stance.   Americans have set a none-month deadline to solve their hundred-year-old conflict. Abbas seen as like his predecessor Abu Ammar: an authoritarian who consults with no one. 

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Mary Anastasia O'Grady, WSJ, in re:  THE AMERICAS, in re:  As Leftists Attack, Mexico's President Retreats

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Bruce Webster, and-still-i-persist [dot] com  in re: digital.  Mene mene

A very common pattern in an IT project such as the website is that those in the trenches know how bad things are, but those at the top don’t — or don’t want to know, leading to a phenomenon I noticed many years ago and named “the thermocline of truth“. What usually happens is that the ‘truth layer’ moves up the ranks as the scheduled deadline approaches, and the whole project is suddenly delayed just weeks or even days before going live.

Sometimes, however, the folks at the top insist that the system go live, even though everyone below them knows the system is not ready for prime time (or ready for late night or even ready for the wee small hours of the morning). They have this wishful belief that any “kinks” or “glitches” can be worked out after the system has launched, possibly by taking it off-line from time to time late at night or over weekends. They also believe that the vital importance of this system means that it just must somehow work, and that their sincerity and good intentions will . .  . [more]

Hour Four

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Bret Stephens, WSJ GLOBAL VIEW, in re: Iraq Tips Toward the Abyss   So far this year, some 7,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, but Americans don't seem to have noticed.

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Ed Pozzouli,, in re: The Future of the Republican Party Is a Winning Message of Freedom and Growth

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Raymond Stock, Foreign Policy research Institute, in re:  Islamist or Nationalist: Who Is Egypt’s Mysterious New Pharaoh? A man of today, or really a figure from history?

Thursday  24 October  2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Allysia Finley, WSJ OPINION, in re:  How Government Is Making Solar Billionaires

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Hour 1: Pirates of the Caribbean, Sin City, Prometheus, Brothers Grimm

Hour 2: The Road, The Kingdom 

Hour 3: Valkyrie, The Road, Zorro, Prometheus 

Hour 4: Gears of War 2, Michael Clayton