The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 3 October 2013

Air Date: 
October 03, 2013

Photo, above: If you’ve always wanted to explore the universe but can’t afford the high price of a ticket into outer space, a few private companies are working together to offer the next best thing. It's the chance for your cremated remains to take a one-way journey into suborbital space after you pass away. Among those who have opted for this type of burial are Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek and James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in the Trek television show and movie. [more]


Hour One

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, &Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney, in re:  drawn-out Continuing Resolution drama, the non-negotiating.  House passed several smaller versions of budgets – DC and veterans.  Senate killed them, refused to go along w the GOP plan to open portions of the govt that are usu popular; out of fear of Dems looking weak.  CR: money to keep the govt going; the larger story, entirely separate, is the debt ceiling.  However, the need to raise the federal borrowing limit by 17 Oct is now occupying everyone's attention. President outbound for mtgs in Bali (APEC) and Brunei (ASEAN).  Apparently the shutdown will continue till the debt ceiling is solved. Treasury says: extraordinary measures have already begun.

Capitol gunshots this morning:  normally, a cop just reaches in and grabs the keys. You see a kid in the car, you take special precautions.. There might have been a better way to handle this. A miracle that they didn't kill the 18-month-old. You don’t usu try to commit suicide with a baby in the car.  "Shelter in place" is a little scary since you don’t know what's going on, but it’s vaguely comforting that they think you’re safes where you are. "Get out!" is genuinely fearful.   You just wishe that one cop had run up and looked in the window.  If she's just got her hands on the wheel and is flailing around, you reach in and pull her out. She was holding a good job so she couldn’t have been totally psycho.  The video is chaos.  A snapshot of 9/11.

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  LouAnn Hammond,, in re: Thousands of cars catch fire every year. Not to worry about this any more than you would about any car that has 30 gallons of fuel in it.   Bloomberg’s Scarlet Fu reports that Tesla Motors’ stock took a hit after one of its vehicles caught fire following a collision. The stock has since pared losses on news the car's battery did not cause the fire. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”  [more]  Debt ceiling, Treasury default: will have a huge effect on cars IF congress goes into default. 

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Jeremy Carl, Hoover, in re: Since November’s election and, with it, a referendum in the Golden State on higher taxes—Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30—reporters have a new pet story: the so-called “California Comeback” and the tale of a state that’s rediscovered its economic footing. However, the results of our Golden State Poll, which surveyed Californians on their economic confidence, tells a different story . . . [more]   People mostly expect a tax hike over the coming years.  We see a lot of checking and balancing in DC, but none in California; have a supermajority legislature. 

. . . However, judging by the results of the Hoover Institution’s latest Golden State Poll, which surveyed Californians on their economic confidence, the resurgence is fragile, with skepticism easily trumping optimism.  Following the passage of Prop 30, the state became flush with tax revenue, helping to “balance” the budget (that balancing act being a game of numerical smoke and mirrors). However, Californians aren’t convinced Sacramento won’t come a-knocking’ again. Seventy four percent of Californians in our Hoover survey believe state taxes will increase either a little or a lot over the next three years—this despite the fact that Prop 30’s tax increases won’t expire until the 2019 fiscal year. Just 15 percent of Californians think their taxes will remain the same, while 2 percent believe taxes will decrease.  The Golden State Poll showed that higher taxes are a concern that crosses incomes levels. Seventy five percent and 73% of those making between $40,000 and 100,000 and under $40,000, respectively, believe state taxes will increase a little or a lot. Interesting, liberals and Democrats (59 percent and 67 percent, respectively) predicted taxes would go up—reaffirming that the State Legislature, with a supermajority of liberal lawmakers in both chambers, has a default position of raising taxes and fees.  Californians not only think taxes are going to go up, but also are worried about covering the higher costs. Fifty one percent of Californians are either somewhat unconfident or not at all confident in their ability to pay higher taxes while meeting other expenses. Ironically, those most concerned are . . . [more]

Hydrofracking: vast deposit in California; the Monterey shale is he largest deposit that can be accessed in the country and we're not now; Cal voters are split about 50/50 – huge partisan split.  

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Robert F Graboyes, Mercatus Center, in re: Disruptive innovation: includes a drop in costs with an increase in quality.  Apple, Henry Ford – many American examples.

 Paging Dr. Jobs  American health care has no Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. No Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Burt Rutan, or Henry Ford. No innovator whose genius and sweat deliver the twin lightning bolts of cost-reduction and quality improvement across the broad landscape of health care. Why not? Either   we answer that question soon and uncork the genie, or we consign our health care to a prolonged,  unaffordable stagnation.  America leads the world in health care innovation—but not the innovation that sends costs  plunging and unleashes previously undreamed-of quality improvements. That kind of innovation occurs only in isolated pockets of health care. In the aggregate, health care spending rises rapidly and relentlessly.  If implemented as planned, the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) ensures the health care industry will never have the flexibility it needs to generate a Steve Jobs. Tightly constricted,  top-down micromanagement will deprive health care of the oxygen essential to attract and  incentivize cost-cutting innovators. This suffocating environment predated the ACA, but the law worsens things considerably by tightly controlling providers, patients, and employers. . . .  

Hour Two

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Andrew J Tabler, Washington Institute, and former ed., Syria Today, in re: Syria, Syrian opposition, CW,  Assad.   In Syria, heretofore separatist groups now mostly under jihadist umbrella.  Rebels' being trained by the US: fewer than 1,000, while Hezbollah has trained 20,000-plus. Lurch toward the right – Salafist & extremist ranks. Things in Syria are not going our way at all.  Pres Assad has an interest in dragging this out as long as possible. His accounting of chem. weapons stocky unlikely to be honest.  Al Nusrah: jihadists; in constant conversation w al Qaeda and the Isl State of Iraq and the Levant, and cutting throats. Al Nusrah is growing in strength and stature.  For the US, this is a medium-term threat. For Syria's neighbors, it's  a threat to their existence. 

SYRIA’S MILITARY OPPOSITION How Effective, United, or Extremist?  

Attacking Syria Is the Best Way to Deal with Iran

Although there is no indication that a leadership dispute between the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been settled, the two al Qaeda affiliates continue to fight alongside one another against their common enemies in Syria.  The argument between Al Nusrah emir Abu Mohammad al Julani and ISIL emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi became public in April. But reporting since then shows that the two emirs' fighters are still frequently allied despite their differences and reported rivalry.  Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) throughout September and into early October point to the al Qaeda affiliates' ongoing collusion against Assad's forces, Kurdish foes, and other mutual enemies. SOHR reporting also confirms that the two al Qaeda affiliates operate throughout Syria, including in . . .  [more]

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Mohsen Sazegara (محسن سازگارا‎), Iranian journalist, pro-democracy political activist, & former Minister in govt of Mir-Hossein Mousavi; he applied to become a candidate for president of Iran in the 2001 election but was declined; in re: Iran, Rouhani. On his way leaving the US, en route to Teheran, the president of Iran rcd a call from the president of the US.  Rouhani's challenge is to show that he has the authority to negotiate on nuclear matters; ergo a phone call, which reads well enough, but no photo op, which would play badly domestically in Iran.  Rouhani's background emanates from early in the revolution, when he was in the security forces.  he's always been in defense and security, which is why his cabinet is a KGB cabinet – nine of them have an intell background. "This describes Beria."  Present situation in Iran is very similar to the USSR in some ways.   . ..  hopes to reduce tension for increasing oil exportation – he needs money right now – he wants to jump from end of Brezhnev period to Putinism without going through Gorbachev.   . . . 18milpeople dd not vote for H

Iran's Ill-Tempered Letter to the IAEA An official Iranian protest to the world's nuclear watchdog could be an attempt to undermine its role in verifying the regime's compliance with potential diplomatic agreements.  On September 26, while Iranian president Hassan Rouhani exuded charm and reasonableness to the world's leaders and media in New York, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna released correspondence from Tehran that gave a radically different impression. In a vitriolic twenty-page protest littered with exclamation points, the regime harshly criticized the August IAEA report on Iran's nuclear activities. At its politest, the letter -- dated September 12 and released with Tehran's approval -- accuses the agency of stepping beyond its statutory and legal mandate. But the language grows increasingly heated when Tehran insists that its controversial program is focused solely on "peaceful nuclear activities" that have been "unlawfully put on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council." The letter accuses the council of taking "a wrong approach by adopting its politically-motivated, illegal and unacceptable resolutions against Iran," claiming that "any request by the Agency . . . [more]

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Ilan Berman, author, Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America; American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC; in re: Russia, Iran, Syria. Vadimir Putin, ncxt winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: what does he want with the Middle East now that he owns it?  True – they’ve outmaneuvered the US and  have pulled off a coup: Assad, their most stalwart MRE ally, no longer will be overthrown and has become our partner in deweaponizing, They're playing a long game and we're playing checkers. Maliki –in Iraq, where the US used to have interest . . . . 90% of Syria's arms are Soviet; Bandar and Putin grinning in Moscow, Russian influence in Egypt – in Russia, Muslims are 16% of the population, a e 99% Sunni but Russia has most supported Shi'ite Iran and Syria, which has outraged Sunnis. Al Qardawi this spring proclaimed Russia and enemy of Islam; over the long term. Russia maybe playing a losing game.  For Russia, getting the US bogged down in Syria, Iran, is good for them: they worry that the US will "come East."  Moscow sees that Barack Obama wants out and has left a vacuum, but realizes that eventually the US will return.  However, a nuclear Iran, whose nukes could reach the Chechens, looks risky.  A large minority opinion in Russia think this is a bad idea: cultivating Iran vs post-Soviet US intrusions into the space; are caught in their own recreation because if Russia backs off then Iran can activate the North Caucasus.  Sochi, in Krasnodar krai, very close to the seething Muslim Russian republics; intell people say that Moscow is not being transparent.   Saudis told Putin that if Russia plays along with the Saudis they'll see that there's no terrorism in Sochi.  Back to Damascus: battle plan? They’ve created a position for the US to walk off the ledge; Russia will keep Assad in as long as possible. Net benefit that jihadists from North Caucasus are going to Syria – i.e., getting out of Dodge. 

Lucy and the Nuclear Football
   President Obama desperately wants "engagement" with Iran. The Iranians aren't quite so enthusiastic.  If you grew up any time in the last half-century, chances are you have fond memories of Charles Schulz's iconic "Peanuts" comic strip and its hard-luck protagonist, Charlie Brown. Each week brought a new misfortune for the unhappy Charlie, but never more so than when his crafty friend Lucy offered to play football — a game that, no matter how many times it was attempted, invariably ended with Charlie flat on his back.  These days, that little vignette is a particularly apt analogy for the Obama administration's Iran policy. Time and again, the Iranian regime has succeeded in frustrating the White House's earnest attempts at diplomatic "engagement." So it was last week, when — on the heels of a very public diplomatic charm offensive aimed at the West — Iran's new, ostensibly moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, struck a familiar tone during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Ahead of Rouhani's visit, hopes in Washington had run high for some sort of . . . [more]

Iran's Charm Offensive - and Why We Should Be Skeptical       Russia, Poised for Failure

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Benny Weinthal, FDD & Iran Energy Project (Germany); in re: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah.  . . . The refugee situation is so bad from shelling – 115,000 Syrians have died  in two years.  They see the new agreement as consolidating Assad's position and thus no return home son.  Except for France, European view has been non-intervention. Germans have accepted 5,000 refugees in September. The refugee crisis is intense in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Syrian Refugees Blame Hezbollah, Syria’s Main Allies for Their Plight  ON THE TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER – Syrian refugees, who have gone to great lengths to escape President Bashar Assad’s bombing campaign, attribute a large part of the violence in their country to the regime’s allies.

In interviews at refugee camps on the Turkish-Syrian border over the past week, the displaced persons accused the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia of enabling Assad’s regime to persevere and to inflict violence on innocent Syrians.

“We were deceived by these countries and Hezbollah,” said . . . [more]

U.S. Allies and Syrians Deserve Better  National Review Online   The Turkey-Syria border — President Obama’s overtures to the Islamic Republic of Iran – the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism since its inception in 1979 – has created justifiable anxiety among U.S allies, ranging from Israel to the Gulf monarchies. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said prior to his departure for the U.S., “I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and onslaught of smiles,” a clear reference to the Iranian president’s efforts to charm the U.S. into giving him more time to advance his nuclear-weapons program. Iran’s jingoistic and expansionist revolutionary Islamic ideology is not only . . . [more]

Syria Chemical-Arms Resolution Passes UN Security Council  The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a breakthrough agreement to eliminate all of Syria’s chemical weapons.  The council voted 15-0 last night to adopt a resolution drafted by the U.S., the U.K. and Francein response to an Aug. 21 poison gas attack near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people. The resolution lacks immediate consequences if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fails to comply and it doesn’t assign blame for the attack, which U.S., U.K. and French officials attribute to Assad’s regime.  Russia, a Syrian ally, has said rebels were responsible for the attack and blocked tougher wording in the resolution. Russian vetoes of previous UN attempts to sanction Assad made last night’s vote the first diplomatic breakthrough at the UN since Syria’s civil war began 2 1/2 years ago.  [more]

Hour Three

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Bibi Netanyahu, laying out a conditional scenario, would consider meeting the new president of Iran, Hasan Rouhani, who said he would not negotiate or back down – because he sanctions are really hurting. In one of his books he brags about obfuscating and lying. Plenty of evidence about his pat: was Natl Security Advisor during Hobart Towers bombings and the Buenos Aires bomb.  He specific explains that he engages in falsehood as a matter of policy. He was always associated with the Supreme Leader.  Has long been associated with the secret police – like Beria. Rouhani is a Secret Police-type of cleric. Will be as aggressive as possible. Has the US president leveled with the American People? No, neither  has the media. He was approved by Khamenei.  False premise: They have "the right to enrich" – there is no right to enrich.  Have  to stop the heavy-water reactor and dismantle facilities. Today, Iran has enough e=EU for nine bombs. Rouhani speaks of a fatwah by the Supreme Leader vs the dvpt of a nuclear weapon is bogus; no one has found it.  Head of cybercommand was found in the woods with two bullets in his chest; the second bullet suggests it wasn't suicide. Once again, two guys on a motorcycle.  If Iran goes nuclear it’s like 50 North Koreas.

Three requirements:  Wd have to be an absolute threat of force; and toughest-possible sanctions- Iran not allowed to have nuclear weapos or their predecessors; and there has to be convincing performance by Iran. 

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Egypt: ongoing clashes between Muslim Brotherhood and he military. Main clashes are in the Sinai; officers concluding they have to neutralize Hamas, and Hamas is panicking, with most of its tunnels closed. Egyptian drones seen flying over Gaza photographing key sites – a powerful warning. Sinai is overrun with smugglers, drug lords, arms.  Hamas depends on it.  Their escape route through Egypt is now much shut down; Gaza increasingly turns to Israel for produce and goods. Egyptian army is creating a pressure-cooker to shut down Hamas.  PA, which is weak, not visibly interested in taking control of Gaza. Syria: refugee crisis; also in Jordan Catastrophe coming up; the pot is boiling, almost impossible to contain with millions of people on the move, hundreds of thousands in camps.  Conditions are nightmarish. US trained 1,000 rebel fighters whereas al Q trained 20,000.   No ray of hope. Pres Obama's trip that was to take him to Bali and Brunei has now been cancelled. Asian leaders will not meet with him. Other trips also cancelled: inadequate staff or funds.

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Dan Henninger, WSJ WONDER LAND  Obama's Washington Colosseum With Washington embarked on another of its oxymoronic shutdowns, everyone is giving it in the neck to the Republicans. So maybe someone should give it to Barack Obama in the knees. He's the president. He wanted this job and must bear some responsibility for what has become of politics in the nation's capital. Which is to say, the obliteration of politics.  By choice and disposition, Mr. Obama does not engage in the horse-trading and negotiation that defines Washington's political life. He passed a national entitlement, the Affordable Care Act, without securing any votes by the nation's other party. Readers of Robert Caro's biographies of Lyndon Johnson come away agog at the presidential effort to woo and win opposition votes.  On Wednesday the press started to write Where's Waldo? pieces about the president's non-contributions to ending the impasse, so Mr. Obama invited congressional leaders to the White House. They've been there before. The deficit-reduction supercommittee effort of 2011 produced nothing. In fact, it . . . [more]

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Robert Zimmerman,, in the Great Smokies (national parks: trail heads were barricaded while people were out hiking), in re: Virgin Galactic, suborbital flights to customers: SpaceshipTwo  having engine problems – one blew up in a May test (Richard Branson wanted to use a green engine, as using nitric oxide –laughing gas – instead of extremely toxic normal fuels).  May have been them testing a new engine with new propellants to get away from the earlier hybrid.  Whole operation is designed around the old engine; expect no flight till the end of 2014. SpaceX:  geosynchronous launch, SES (European); something happened, we don’t know what.   NASA's bots on Mars, is Curiosity being orphaned?  JPL still being funded; some of the data is being archived on the spacecraft; a mixed bag, some of which is nonsensical – just download the data. NASA Maven: new spacecraft with launch window to Mars from Nov 18 to Dec 7 for orbital mechanics. In the final weeks of preparation, the shutdown suddenly occurs.  If a delay, will be two years.  mars silis permeated with water – 2% –  and sulphur compounds, perchlorates ("evidence that there might be microbial life"). Private space: Space burials – service in Japan, taking US space burials since August. They put one gram of your cremated remains into an aluminum capsule, added to maybe 400 other capsules and sent into orbit.  Your spacecraft can be tracked on a mobile phone app by your family and friends, then after a few months the craft burns up.

Hour Four

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Sebastian Gorka, FDD, in re: Egypt to take over banned Muslim Brotherhood assets  Egypt's government says it will take over the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood, after a court ban on the group's activities was confirmed.  . . . Weapons going from Libya through Syria to the Sinai. Ikhwan burning down Coptic churches.  . . .

EU's Ashton says crucial for all to join Egyptian political process

Egypt's Brotherhood Vilifies Army Ahead of Rallies

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: David Davenport, Hoover, in re: The Republicans' Core Obamacare Message Is Lost in the Shutdown Noise   I take no joy in saying this: conservative leaders in the House and Senate have let down their movement by abandoning conservative means in order to pursue conservative ends.  Because their actions—shutting down the government—speak so loudly, people cannot hear their core message about Obamacare.   And their movement is harmed in both the short and long term because they show conservatives to be yet one more political group that cares more about winning than how they go about it, or what the consequences of their methods may be.  One of the founders of modern American conservatism, Russell Kirk, said that conservatives are about convention and continuity, guided by prudence.  As Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz reminds us in his recent book Constitutional Conservatism, moderation has long been a hallmark of political conservatism.  Conservatives believe in constitutional process, with its checks and balances and balances of political power.  They follow the rules until they can properly change them.  So what’s wrong with the picture Senator Ted Cruz and his conservative allies are painting today?  They are not following any kind of conservative playbook in their headlong desire to limit or defund Obamacare.  After every constitutional process was exhausted, they . . .  [more]

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Fouad Ajami, Hoover, Advancing a Free Society, in re:   The Caravan - Barack Houdini: Making Syria Disappear  The online publication, Politico, put it well: Barack Obama tripped over Syria and fell on Iran.  That remarkable Obama luck, the luck that saw him through his bid for the United States Senate, the obtuseness of the Hillary Clinton campaign that had her win practically all the primaries that matter only to lose the nomination, to a rival who had gamed the system by prevailing in caucuses in Montana and Idaho, the financial hurricane that erupted in September 2008 and doomed the candidacy of Senator McCain – that luck was there for him in the matter of Syria as well. President Obama made a mockery of his authority, and of much of America’s reputation abroad, when he threatened dire consequences for the Syrian dictatorship over the use of chemical weapons only to pull back and propose a congressional vote on the use of force in Syria.  Luck again intruded: Right in the nick of time, when it was clear that he would be rebuffed by the Congress, deliverance materialized in the shape of a Russian proposal put forth by Vladimir Putin that held out the promise of ridding the Syrian regime of its chemical weapons.  The Russian proposal was defective.  The only guarantee in it was a break for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.  The dictator was suddenly off the hook.  The war crimes of three years were forgotten, it was the crimes of a single day, August 21, when . . . [more]

Thursday  3 October 2013 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: IRAN MILITARY OFFICIAL: OBAMA HAS SURRENDERED Quds Forces chief: President's remark acknowledged inability to change regime.  Quds Cyber Forces post Image of President Obama surrendering.

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