The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 25 April 2013

Air Date: 
April 25, 2013

Photo, above:  The celebration of the ten-year reign of King Abdullah II of Jordan at the International Stadium of Amman.  Queen Rania, Abdullah II of Jordan, Richard Attias, Princess Salma, Prince Hashem


Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; Andrew Leigh, Australian parliamentarian; Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents

Hour One

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:     Edward Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: After roughly 16 hours of questioning, investigators were surprised when a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney's office entered the hospital room and read Tsarnaev his rights, the four officials and one law enforcement official said. Investigators had planned to keep questioning him

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Andrew Leigh, Australian parliamentarian, in re: Australian politics and parliamentary system; avian flu; Great ironies of Australia-- more urbanized than US but, "We have this really strong bush ethos."CBC News -- H7N9 transmitted from chickens at poultry markets in China to humans-- evidence of human-to-human transmission. Moved to Taipei, Beijing, interior China.What does Australia do to protect itself from Chinese potential pandemics?  "We take the vaccines as quick as we can" --the high Australian dollar means we have a high rate of tourism overseas, which in turn means Australians are more susceptible to these disease.  So far, has killed more than 20 out of 100 cases; ergo, a  20% mortality rate. (MK:   "Can't bring anything into that country")  We don't have a land border, so we get to keep some things out, like rabies.  Have no thermometers at gates, as Singapore does. 

Economy of Asia: still rosy; our savings rate are at a record high-- we have a higher saving rate than the Japanese.  Australia is a very cautious country, but not removed from the slowdown in China -- nothing you can do to keep that from your shore.  Mining & service sectors are very strong: just this week, the Central Bank of Australia is going to start Chinese yuan-denominated bonds, and so trade with China in its own currency.  "You're basically edging the United States and the dollar out of the equation; is this what we get for running these crazy monetary policies?" Mining: You can see the steel intensity of China is about to taper off but India has a huge way to go. PLA aggression and white papers naming US as troublemakers in the region.  This is regrettable. China has strong claims for the international processes but they haven't been pursuing them as states would, as Australia's been encouraging.  A lot more Asian countries speaking to each other nowadays thanks to China-- has Australia formed more linkages?  We've always had good relations with Japan; it ebbs and flows with India; good relations with Indonesia over the years; increasing in Malaysia and South Korea.  PM election on Sept 14.


Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover, in re: Obama’s Psychodramas National Review Online

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Lara M Brown, Villanova, in re: Six-term representative from Montana suddenly resigns as it becomes obvious that his chef d'oeuvre f/b/o pres Obama, the Affordable Care Act, may in fact be unworkably. Nary a public mention or word of thanks by the president as he notes the end of a major political career.  Democratic sr leaders are asking for withdrawal of 11-16 Sept _________. 

 Republicans Are Losing to Win in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District  Democrats are thrilled. Not only is Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch leading former Republican governor Mark Sanford by 9% in the latest PPP survey for the special election in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, but Sanford’s comeback campaign has completely collapsed.  Last week, news broke that Sanford was scheduled to appear in court on May 9 to defend against a trespassing charge lodged by his ex-wife in February. Not long after, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) withdrew its support and a fundraiser that was scheduled for this week in Washington was scotched. Making matters worse, Sanford’s “please, let me explain” campaign has become all too reminiscent of a GOP embarrassment from the 2006 cycle, Don Sherwood. In short, all signs point to Colbert Busch becoming South Carolina’s second Democrat in the U.S. House on May 7. But as election watchers understand, Colbert Busch is also likely to have a very short congressional career.

Between the district’s heavy Republican leaning (Cook Partisan Voting Index is R+11) and the historical undertow that tends to sink the incumbent president’s party in midterm elections, Colbert Busch has scant chances of winning reelection in 2014.  Even though Democrats know this, they’re pushing hard to elect Colbert Busch now. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a Democratic super PAC (House Majority PAC), and a progressive group, VoteVets, have all spent large sums on the race. Colbert Busch’s campaign has also produced a racially-charged 60-second radio ad aimed at ginning up turnout among African-Americans.

Why put in overtime in what is likely to soon become a lost cause? One word: spin.  Democrats are hoping that this high-profile win will give them the credibility to claim that they not only have the momentum heading into 2014, but also that Republican fecklessness persists—even in “deep red” areas of the country. With President Obama’s help, they’re trying to bluff their way into creating a Democratic House majority.  But what Democrats don’t seem to realize is that their strategy is likely to backfire badly. Aside from setting expectations far above what they’re likely to achieve in the midterms, they’re hindering their efforts to even reach their goal. By turning Colbert Busch into a Hollywood-connected, party “superstar” with a national base of supporters, they’ll be forced to raise and spend money on her race in 2014. They’ll also find it more difficult to get the media to focus on the competitive seats when they can write a story (and gain more web clicks) about an embattled “celebrity” incumbent.  By ceding the special election to Colbert Busch, Republicans stand to gain a better 2014 candidate, an “easy” midterm cycle pick-up, and an overall weaker opposition. Like punting instead of pursuing a fourth down and one, losing to win is sometimes the smartest play.

Hour Two

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  .Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Does the Syrian have chem. weapons.? Yes, the larger stockpiles in the entire world; spread out in distant locations.  Has he regime used them?  Israeli general remarked 48 hours ago that they may have.  "A small amount' varying degrees of confidence in confirmations," says the Obama Administration.    Chem weapons antiaircraft, & missile movement, & jihadi groups nearer and nearer to the Golan – these are t three points that Washington called "red lines."  There are photos of people foaming at the mouth; a physician had photos of people he'd treated; spoke of sarin-type chem. weapons. "No conclusive   evidence that lethal amounts of sarin have been used."  1. Strike was out in the open, 2. vs a civilian population, and 3.damaged Assad's troops – all inconsistent with use by use of chem weapons by Assad.   The big question is: will the US Administration honor its commitment to act when a red line has been crossed?  Britain and France also agreed to this. An Arab Middle Eastern leader this week, colleague of MH, was watching closely, as have been many leaders and govts.

 The minaret of Syria's famous Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, which was built between the 8th and 12th centuries, has been destroyed during clashes between government troops and opposition forces who have traded blame. The mosque is in Aleppo's Old City, which has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. UNESCO described it as "one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world." The minaret dates back to the 11th century. Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported fighters from the Islamist al-Nusra Front caused the destruction, while an Aleppo-based activist said a Syrian tank shell had "totally destroyed" the minaret. The destruction came just over a week after the minaret from the 7th century Omari Mosque was destroyed in the southern city of Daraa. Heavy fighting was also reported near Aleppo on Tuesday over control of the Minnigh military airbase. According to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, "The rebels, who had laid siege to the airport for months now, entered it for the first time around dawn." Meanwhile, the Syrian government has waged a campaign to convince the United States that it is on the wrong side in supporting the opposition in the Syrian civil war. Regime officials allowed New York Times journalists limited access to Damascus in attempts to convince the West that the opposition is dominated by Islamist extremists. Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi said, "We are partners in fighting terrorism."

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Michael Singh is managing director of The Washington Institute and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, in re: Testimony in Congress about Syrian humanitarian crisis. Chem weapons are local-effect weapons, so establishing their use from a far is questionable, incl chain of custody of the soil samples.  Obama Adm can choose to say that a red line as been crossed, or not.  Iran—uses talks to stall and gain time for addtl enrichment, maybe gain acceptance.  Egyptian economic crisis.

"The Iran Project" – people who take a soft approach to Iran's uranium-enrichment program toward bldg a miniaturized nuclear weapon for use on missiles --  says that talk can lead to behavioral change by ayatollahs.  Highly questionable thesis.  What to do?  Mil aid to Israel and UAE; use our assets in he region in a smart way that obliges Iranians to think twice. Of course, they don't – the IRGC and other big-mouths routinely tell their people that they’ve won and the US is on the road to defeat.   JB: Take own an oil well?  MS: Umm, not escalatory dynamic, but oftimes our messages aren’t consistent with discouraging Iran's nuclear plans; need to do this consistently over time.

The Iran Project report extensively quotes Trita Parsi, of whom ". . . In 2007, the Arizona-based Iranian-American journalist Hassan Daioleslam began publicly asserting that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response, Parsi sued him for defamation. As a result of the lawsuit, many internal documents were released, which Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake stated "raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law." The documents included e-mail correspondence between Parsi and Mohammad Javad Zarif, then Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. In September 2012, a U.S. federal judge threw out the libel suit against Daioleslam on the grounds that 'NIAC and Parsi had failed to show evidence of actual malice, either that Daioeslam acted with knowledge the allegations he made were false or with reckless disregard about their accuracy.' "

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., in re:  You and I can afford to express opinions with no real effect, but if the US president does with no effect, it's in trouble. Assad is still sitting in Damascus after Pres Obama insisted e be gone. Soon enough, US policy there will look like a bluff. As the Iranians see that America draws red lines then moves the goal posts, nothing will discourage Iran from competing nuclear weapons.   This president in his speech abt backing for Libya op two years ago that more than humanitarian work was needed, also needed strategic intl interests.   Once it's established that hem weapons here used by Syria, imperative that the West take action.  German factory owned by a web of subsidiaries controlled by Iranian Ministry of Intelligence; nominal intention was to have access to car industry technology – dual use for centrifuges, and raw materials – carbon fiber – are critical in nuclear dvpt. Brought Iranian engineers to copy technology. Very troublesome. Journalist visiting saw 2,500 lbs of carbon fiber sitting on the floor – essential to bldg centrifuges. All employees but upper mgt were Germans – and they saw something was wrong, and reported it. Iranian agts crawling all over Germany, which  has he best tech after the US. Dozens of companies linked to the factory that haven’t yet been exposed. factory machinery being liquidated – but to whom? Still assoc with front companies.

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  David Makovsky. director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute; also adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; in re: Palestinians: Fayyad resigns.   "Fayyad was a visionary state-builder; said it was 'wrong to go to the UN because we'll be cut off from funding and be unable to pay salaries' – then he was blamed when the money stopped coming in." Hamas wants to take over the PLO. Bringing Fatah and Hamas together? Not.  Fayyad was a believer that if Palestinian could focus on security Israel wd remove checkpoints - which is what happened. He did credible audits, put them on the Internet.  Spain opens a consulate in Gaza today; Erdogan goes to visit Gaza. Three Sunni nations giving Hamas lots of money: Qatar $400mil; Turkey; Egypt.

Hour Three

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Egyot is vital – largest Arab country; Ikhwan victory as very important, However, people are beginning to starve – decades'-long subsidies being removed, Egyptian pound down hugely. No gas (petrol). Sinai: clash between Bedouin and Muslim Brotherhood – a cleric spoke very ill of Bedus, who promptly arose in rage.    Redline: chem. weapons.  "No conclusive med evidence of an attack, esp 19 March" Syria & chem. weapons  - from red lines to . . . pink lines? dotted lines?  Pro-Assad army is now breaking down into militias – goons – where Christian, Alawites and Druse fight together, paid a bit and looting.   Hezb fighting in Damascus, warehousing its corpses. Syrian Alawite Assad regime is on he offensive: cuing off the rebel forces (Turkish ml intell hirelings, et al.), underlining the Russian position that without Turkey this war wd have ended long ago.

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Khaled Abu Toameh, a veteran, award-winning journalist who's been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades; in re: Turkey—military power on Assad’s northern border. If intervention comes in Syria, it'll come from the North.   Turkey is pressing incessantly in NATO meetings for intervention in Syria.  Erdogan is going to Gaza as though he’s visiting a sovereign nation, but Palestinian Authority doesn’t want him to.  Erdogan is no fool—he sees Hamas as being the legitimate representative of Palestine—he’s siding with Hamas, democratically elected - why should he go to the PPA if Palestinian people by and large don’t support it?  By going to Gaza, he boosts boosting Hamas’ popularity, but not breaking a “blockage” or anything.  Erdogan well understands that radical Islam is on the rise.  Hamas lost Iran’s support—now Erdogan is trying to step in but Qataris won’t let him—they're the major players/sponsors in the region, and it's they who're supporting Hamas; feel as though they have a monopoly over Hamas now

    Jordan:  For past two years the so-called Arab Spring has been knocking on Jordan’s door: “If I were the king I would not be sleeping well at night.”  We saw the king using his country as a launching pad into Syria, but now he understands once these jihadis are done in Syria they'll start targeting his regime; they see King Abdullah as a traitor.  Wait till the Palestinians get involved: Palestinians have scores to settle with the Hashemites – recall Black September.

     Erdogan: Is he sympathetic to jihadist tide? I believe it's both.  He has internal considerations—he’s trying to boost himself inside Turkey. Are we dealing w/ a man who wants to lead an Islamic republic?  Some people say that Erdogan is trying to reestablish the Ottoman Empire—he wants to be the hero of the Arab and Muslim masses—the best way to do it is by sounding radical with all these statements, and appearing uncompromising, and taking a tough line against US.

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  .Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: HE AMERICAS  Latin Leaders Abandon Democracy in Venezuela  …The April 14 contest did not provide even minimal transparency. The Capriles camp was never allowed to inspect the results of the partial audit done on election night. The opposition also says its election witnesses were expelled from hundreds of voting centers, and that in many places voters were followed into voting booths by government enforcers

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Dan Henninger, WSJ, in re: WONDER LAND  Boston and the Un-Bush  …But let us posit an unimpeachable fact: Whatever their eventual opinion of "Bush-Cheney," Bostonians and Americans generally would have happily signed off on a warrantless wiretap of the Tsarnaevs' phones before the deaths and mutilations of April 15, 2013. The long fight over the Bush domestic antiterror effort was a case study in partisan extremism run amok in Washington, even as a silent majority of Americans across the political spectrum wanted such protections.

Hour Four

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: A new report from Russia suggests that the undeployed antenna on the Progess freighter will interfere with ISS’s docking port and prevent a docking. It appears that the antenna would allow a soft docking but prevent the hard docking necessary to allow for the opening of the hatch. Something similar to this had happened on the Russian Mir station in the 1987. Two astronauts did a space walk to clear the hatch of a piece of debris. Now the Russians are suggesting again that if a hard dock becomes impossible a spacewalk be performed to get the antenna out of the way.  Chicken Little report: The dismal predictions of the future from the first Earth Day in 1970.

Love the last two predictions, since I expect them to sooner or later become popular again.

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Clair Cain Miller, NYT in re:  Stern Words, and a Pea-Size Punishment, for Google In the latest example of a meager fine for corporate wrongdoing, German regulators assessed Google $189,225 for violating privacy laws with its Street View project

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Richard A. Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution),in re:  Today’s army of activist groups is not focused on restoring jobs, however. The hot-ticket item in the current labor market disputes is legislative mandates for paid sick leave. The unintended consequence of paid-sick leave legislation, whether in New York City or elsewhere, will be to block the creation of new jobs by limiting the deals that employers and employees are lawfully allowed to make with each other.

Proponents of paid sick leave argue that a worker of marginal means should never be put into a position whereby he can only take care of himself or his family by risking the loss of a day’s wages or indeed his job. This theme resonates with politicians. Connecticut’s paid sick leave statute has been in place since January 1, 2012, and it now looks as though the New York City Council will overcome the sensible resistance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to enact a program of its own, which would cover perhaps a million New York City workers.

Thursday  25 April  2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Richard A. Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), continued:  Down With Paid Sick Leave

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Barbara Bush Doesn't Want Jeb to Run While former President George W. Bush says he wants his brother Jeb to run for president in 2016, their always-blunt mother told CNN she feels differently.  Said Mrs. Bush: "He's by far the best qualified man, but no. I really don't. I think it's a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it's not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes." Former First Lady Barbara Bush says that the Country has had enough Bushes in the White House

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