The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Air Date: 
January 14, 2014

Photo, above:  The Animal Lover Vladimir Putin Teaches Flock of Cranes How to Fly South for the Winter.  In a program pioneered by a Frenchman and initiated over Adirondack lakes, Pres Putin took a break from fighting bears and flying jets to participate in a project aimed at guiding endangered cranes born in captivity along their migratory route to Central Asia.

Inspired by the 1996 film Fly Away Home, the Kushavet ornithological research station in Siberia sent Putin soaring in a motorized hang glider while wearing clothes meant to resemble an adult crane.  It took him three tries, but he finally got enough cranes to follow him.

"They are overtaking, approaching the wing from the left, from the right, from above," Putin told Rossiya 24 after the final flight. "Well done. Beautiful guys. Cute." See Hour 2, Blocks C & D,   Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus, and author of Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives, on Steve Cohen and John Batchelor as chairmen of the fledgling American-Putin Society.


Co-host: Larry Kudlow, The Kudlow Report, CNBC; and Cumulus Media radio

Hour One

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Larry Kudlow,  in re: "I have a pen and a phone," said Pres Obama.   . . .   Senate: Montana,   . . .   Coming: US trade surplus as it exports energy (Marcellus shale, et al.).

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Philip Izzo, WSJ, in re: Jobs number: 74,000 added in December!  All the blame on Jack Frost. Current market rally says the future is bright.   . . .  Even in the recession, the Internet is doing well – people bought on Amazon and not-brick-and-mortar stores.  J P Morgan and Wells had big drops in mortgage lending.  Yellin must be grateful that they began the taper in December, so lifting some of the pressure on this meeting. 

 Video: December Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate is 6.7%, 74,000 Jobs Added  The Labor Department said U.S. payrolls rose by 74,000 in December and the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 7%.  Where Did Consumers Spend Their Money in December? 
Retail sales in December increased 0.2% from a month earlier, but the gains weren't evenly spread.  Secondary Sources: Minimum Wage, London Property, Japan and U.S. 
A roundup of economic news from around the Web.  Secondary Sources: Technology and Protectionism, Not Enough Saving, Rich and Happy   Technology and Protectionism: Izabella Kaminska looks at what happens when technology starts to make jobs obsolete. “Over in the auto world, for example, a stealth revolution is currently being waged on car dealers by manufacturers. Thanks to the internet, there’s simply no reason why car manufacturers can’t deal directly with customers. Orders can be gathered online, and customers — rather than being targeted by pushy salesmen — can take full control of the decisions they make. Prices, extras and specs can be decided upon with the helpful advice of independent experts, fans, enthusiasts, and journalists on auto forums… The reaction in the US has been protectionist to say the least, due to the threat it poses for the decades-long gravy train that has been provided to US dealers via the margin-based sales and distribution model.”

Photo, right:  Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, right, and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer walk together past television cameras outside of the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, at Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole, Wyo. Bernanke made clear Friday that the Federal Reserve will do more to boost the economy because of high U.S. unemployment and an economic recovery that remains "far from satisfactory." (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 1, Block C: John B. Taylor, Hoover & Wall Street Journal, in re:  "Secular stagnation: The bogus claim is: Forces have made economic activity less attractive to businesses, so government needs to step in to solve it." In fact, what's dragging things down are current policies. A lot of businesses are sitting on big piles of cash; they don't know where to invest it because of the helter-skelter policies, or lack of policy.  Not confident of a stable regime. This sort of argument was made in the Thirties, similar ideas and calls for govt intervention – then proven wrong in t he post-War boom. Better to grow the pie larger. Current policies have not helped those at the bottom. Faster-growing economy; K-12 education – many places to focus other than redistribution. There are innovations  and growth in parts – signing bonuses at McDonald's in the Bakken. Lots of reasons to be optimistic. Tremendous tech advances, incl social media revolution – hiring and jobs – and biotech; and entrepreneurs. Shark Tank reality shows. Woman started a cake business; she got $50K from Barbara Corcoran (real estate) in New York, is selling cakes very successfully over the Net. She represents a self-invented person.  She and her mother have family recipes. Huge potential in health care if the govt would get out of the way. Soon enough, voters will get rid of this massive got intervention; then, an explosion of talent and growth.

John B. Taylor: The Economic Hokum of 'Secular Stagnation' The evidence continues to mount that government policy has been to blame for the disappointing economic performance in recent years. Yet many don't want to hear it, and they offer a series of alternative explanations including most recently the re-emergence of a chestnut, "secular stagnation."

When it became clear that the recovery from recession—which officially ended in mid-2009—was unprecedentedly weak, policy makers found an excuse in the depth of the financial crisis. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner argued in August 2010 that "recoveries that follow financial crises are typically a hard climb. That is reality." This argument is put forth frequently by government officials, and it's loosely based on a popular 2009 book by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, This Time Is Different.  A careful look at American history . . . [more]

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 1, Block D: James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, in re: Obaacae was considered a feminist triumph.  Women use more healthcare than men (go to the doctor more; are healthier), so would pay more; now, it’s not cricket to charge based on gender.  . . .   Obamacare cannot get men to sign up equally with women. "Older, sicker, poorer people" are signing up – 33% of enrollees. WH ad tweeted: "30% of people are under 35" – but they’ve added in small children to inflate the numbers.    Sicker? We have no idea – insurers no longer allowed to gauge people by health status/chronic conditions.  . . .  Single-payer re-insurance.

 All Your Health Are Belong to Us   An ObamaCare progress report. Well, a report. 

ObamaCare's Sex Problem  
Too many women is another sign of adverse selection. 

Humana: Obamacare Exchange Enrollment ‘More Adverse Than Previously Expected’

     Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute:  On January 9, health insurance bellwether Humana formally announced something that industry observers have long suspected: that healthy and young people don’t think Obamacare’s insurance plans are a good deal for them. Those people, Humana indicated, are choosing to stay on their previous health plans, where allowed, instead of participating in the Obamacare exchanges. As a result, Humana “now expects the risk mix of members enrolling through the health insurance exchanges to be more adverse than previously expected.” The question now is: will taxpayers have to pick up the bill for the Obama administration’s last-minute changes to the law?

Hour Two

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, and Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: he spooked and ha'nted bridge  $6.4bil eastern span of the Bay Bridge; a third of seismic-bracing rods fund to be busted, cost addtl$25mil.  Now, Caltrans will spend $10mil just to keep an eye o n the bolts this year.    FBI leak of no criminal prosecution anent conservative 5019c)(3) filings. IRS: Natl taxpayer advocate must report to Congress this year, "Desperately needs more funding" – IRS collects $255 for every dollar it get from  But IRS is supposed to collect from ACA overage.  Expect 21 million unanswered IRS calls this year.  Covered California.  Snags??  . . .  Kay Hagen. North Carolina: running for office, ducked an event where Pres Obama appeared. 

Expect 21 million unanswered IRS calls this year.

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Robert Zimmerman,, in re:  China’s rover and lander on the Moon have both been successfully reawakened after hibernating through the two week long lunar night.

Cygnus was successfully berthed to ISS today. This is the first operational station resupply mission carried out by Orbital Sciences under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA calling for at least eight flights and delivery of 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies.  The Cygnus captured Sunday will remain attached to the space station until mid February. At that point SpaceX will step up with launch of a Dragon cargo ship around Feb. 22. It will be the third operational resupply flight by SpaceX, which holds a $1.6 billion contract to deliver more than 44,000 pounds of supplies over a dozen missions.

Dragon 9, Elon Musk. SkyPerfect J-sat, Tokyo-based. SpaceX: 50 missions/$5 billion. Cash flow for FalconHeavy (will cost enormous amt to launch).

The competition heats up: SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third powered test flight today.  On release, SS2’s rocket motor was ignited, powering the spaceship to a planned altitude of 71,000 ft. – SS2’s highest altitude to date – and a maximum speed of Mach 1.4. SS2’s unique feather re-entry system was also tested during today’s flight. Two important SS2 systems, the RCS [reaction control system] and thermal protection coating, were tested during today’s flight in preparation for upcoming full space flights. The spaceship’s RCS will allow its pilots to maneuver the vehicle in space, permitting an optimal viewing experience for those on board and aiding the positioning process for spacecraft re-entry. The new reflective protection coating on SS2’s inner tail boom surfaces is being evaluated to help maintain vehicle skin temperatures while the rocket motor is firing.

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 2, Block C:  Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives, in re:   Steve Cohen and John Batchelor as Chairmen of the American-Putin Society: John Batchelor wrote an article suggesting that the US will find a friend and useful ally in Putin and the Russian government.    During the Cold War, voices proposing alliance were liberals; today, the liberatia have demonized Putin ad hominem, while conservatives are speaking for alliance of some sort. Putin has spoken in favor of traditional values of Western civilization – everything from same-sex marriage to   ______.  JB write not of personal traits but of security policy.   A Russian medium, Voice of Russia, despaired of ever finding a serious discussant, are now glad to have found JB and have invited him to speak on their program.   Doesn’t Washington see that Moscow is right where we need to be in the Middle East and China?   Nyetu.  White House seems to be shifting, moving to the position that there's no good alternative to Assad.  Putin and Lavrov have seen that ab initio; Washington won’t credit them.  Yeltsin left power when he could no longer carry on, and the political class turned against him. Putin is healthy and seen as indispensable to Russia's welfare. If that consensus cracks, he might leave but that moment is not close. Americans have a problem with no succession plan.  US tries t be pals with China where there's no scintilla of democracy, whereas Russia has votes and has a fairly open media.  Putin: power is vertical, from the top. The top personality matters too much; and if something happens, what’s next? Acting Prime Minister becomes president for 90 days till an election. "Managed democracy."  After 13 years, Putin's popularity is about 65% - rare!  (1 of 2)

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Can Putin be a US ally? by John Batchelor

Western conservatives' fascination with Putin: a backlash from long demonization, by Dmitry Babich  (see section: The West's stupidity - Putin's real strength)  . . .  the main obstacle is not the colliding interests, but the absurd ideology of the modern West. This ideology is based on a number of untruths: "deification" of elections (which are expected to bring prosperity), demonization of Russia and several other states, coercion of the weaker countries into accepting modern Western views on family, homosexuality and art. The imposition of the aggressive international finance system and unwise international distribution of labor already took place, destroying domestic industries around the globe. 

For example, when Mr. Batchelor writes that the US needs Russia's help in order "to contain the fury between Riyadh and Teheran", he forgets that for many years Washington supported Saudi Arabia against Iran. This trend continued until now, despite the fact that 15 out of 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis and that the US interests in the world were threatened by radical Sunni terrorists, not the Shiite ones. So, who can help the US to better protect its interests, if the US is not ready to do it? Only a change inside the US can make a positive change in international politics possible, including a thaw in Russia-US relations. The ball is on the American side.

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Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives, in re:   The Russian foreign policy elite desperately need and want Washington now. The notion of their waiting for another administration doesn't apply today: there's an opening is Syria, and one in Iran, and one coming in Afghanistan. Three crises en route. The only way to solve these is with an American-Russian joint effort. They need the White House now.   Putin just made it up and bailed Obama out in Syria.   Does he know that? I have no idea who's got Pres Obama's ear in these matters.  Snowden is a bogus issue; there was a moment when Putin might have handed Snowden over; but Russia didn’t want him. If Washington had returned a few Russians to Moscow, the trade could have occurred. By now, European sentiment is so much in favor of Snowden that Putin dasn't hand him over to Obama.     (2 of 2)

Hour Three

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Taegan Goddard, Political Wire, and John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast,  and Newsweek International, in re: Mr Christie and Mrs Clinton as presidential candidates.

Hillary's Iowa Problem   Peter Hamby looks at Hillary Clinton and the invisible primary in Iowa, a state the tripped up her presidential ambitions in 2008. "But beneath the surface here, familiar pitfalls might await Clinton should she decide to run: A restive and emboldened progressive base long suspicious of Clintonian moderation, a hunger for fresh Democratic voices, and a caucus electorate that boasts a cherished tradition of voting with its heart rather than its head."

Can Dems Spin Obamacare in 2014?Is Obamacare's December surge in enrollment enough to sustain Democrats through next year's midterm elections? The Daily Beast's John Avlon weighs in.

Was Christie Really the GOP Frontrunner?   Charlie Cook: "Christie indeed sat at the top of some of the polls that lay out a long laundry list of every imaginable contender (as well as some who are harder to imagine), but does that make him the front-runner? I think not."

"Think for a moment who makes up the Republican Party, and most specifically the part of the GOP base that dominates the presidential nomination process. Think about the people they seriously considered for their party's presidential nomination last time around. Think Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich. Now, quickly, think Christie. Now think Sesame Street: 'One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn't belong.' It's laughable that the party that has previously seriously considered some fairly inconceivable candidates as worthy of the GOP nomination would suddenly reverse course and head over to a center-right candidate such as Christie."

How will Obamacare affect elections? A race in Florida may provide a clue.  If Democrats hope for a political recovery, it starts with a House race in this Florida swing district. (1 of 2)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Taegan Goddard, Political Wire, and John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast,  and Newsweek International, in re:     (2 of 2)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 3, Block C:   Steve Eder, NYT, in re:   Rodriguez’s ‘Gummies’: Files Detail Doping  A report describes the complicated diet of a big-league doper who juggled four injections with two muscle treatments, two skin creams, two lozenges, and six oral doses.

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 3, Block D:  Bill Ardolino, author, Fallujah Awakens (US Naval Institute Press) , in re:  Iraqi PM says he won't order assault on Fallujah
But Maliki says local Sunni tribesmen must expel al Qaeda-linked militants who have taken over part of the city   I Fought at Fallujah. Here's What I Think About When People...

Hour Four

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Philip Bobbitt, author, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made   (1 of 4)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Philip Bobbitt, author, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made   (2 of 4)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Philip Bobbitt, author, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made   (3 of 4)

Tuesday  14 January  2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Philip Bobbitt, author, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made   (4 of 4)

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Hour 1:  Salt. 

Hour 2:  Mask of Zorro. Serenity. Alexander. 

Hour 3:  The Aviator. Field of Dreams. Elysium. 

Hour 4:  Oblivion.