Tuesday 18 February 2014
Photo, above: Violence on the streets of Ukraine. Credit: Konstantin Savenko
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Larry Kudlow, The Kudlow Report, CNBC; and Cumulus Media radio
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Larry Kudlow, in re: Did govt spending save us from another Great Depression? This is the fifth anniversary of [extreme govt spending]. Pres Obama predicted that the unemployment rate would be 5% by 2012; it’s 6.6% now - and that only because so many have dropped out of the labor force. Fiscal multipliers: supposed to circulate again and again through the economy – unhappily, there's no evidence that a fiscal multiplier exists. Not even back in the Thirties or with Keynes, It was tried sporadically in the Forties (military spending during WWII was a different sort of thing). People usually ask for monetary stimulus . . . Never any evidence that the Fed's pump-priming has worked. Ben Bernanke's $4 trillion did not enter the main economy. The only thing that works is when free markets are free to invest. We need massive tax reform, regulatory reduction and a strong dollar. Money goes where’s it’s treated best. Recall the private WH dinner with the president, which Larry Kudlow attended, when those present explained in detail what probably would work. The president listened. No one on the planet thought that the Fed would put in $4 trillion. Since Keynesianism is a face-saver for the last 70years; the same players will cite 2009 as a success – facts don’t stop them. Sequestration you can make a case that he large slowdown in govt spending since 2011 can be associated wit the meager economic improvement: because the private sector is not being drained of all its resources. Will we now stop the federal pump-priming? Cloud over the mkt because no one knows how Yellin will handle this. In her testimony, she cited labor mkt conditions too weak for her taste – correct – but pumping money into the economy won’t solve this. Milton Friedman said in a famous speech: "The Fed has no impact on the real GDP of the economy; all it can do is stop or cause inflation." Businesses are not investing because they’re very concerned about how both fiscal and monetary policy will turn out.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block B: John Tamny, realcleareconomics, in re: Immigrants are risk-takers and the superstars. GOP is so dumb not to go after the low-hanging fruit, the "brainiacs" the engineers. The foreign students being graduated from our universities who want to stay and we won’t ket them, Why? Dunno – they want to control markets, want to pick and choose winner. This is so obvious – out nation is marked by entrepreneurialism. Someone asked Tony Blair, "Is the US in decline?" "Usually if a nation is in decline, not everyone on Earth wants to go there." . . . Even if the CBO says any job loss infinitesimally small (within the error factor) . . ." Our labor force has stopped growing – we could become like Europe, or Russia or Japan. It’s not about getting more people, it’s about getting ambitious people. Austin Texas has investment and talented people. America is great because of immigration.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Joseph Rago, WSJ editorial board & Pulitzer Prizewinner, in re: head of healthcare in Massachusetts breaks down in rears: Romneycare worked perfectly, but Obamacare is chaotic and each app has to be managed by hand – and there's not enough staff or time. Maryland: thinking of switching to federal website [yike]. Oregon: maybe criminal charges for creation of a bogus website to get federal money. Endemic This is an insanely complex and convoluted law- the problems are built into the architecture f the lay=w, not the website. Mandates pushed back through 2016; why? Politics? None of the mandates is changing, general ravelling? Partly political – bz reporting requirement are insane: monthly accounting of all employee hours to the IRS to see if they're eligible for a fine. Also, enrolment too low actuarial ma not working, Many more worker will potentially qualify under Obama care, and that's where they'll go. If I'm insured by XYZ Co, will I be insured in 205 or lose insurance all together. If it can’t be determined that you qualify, then I guess you're covered. This si completely improvised from one crisis to anther – trying to delay political accountability for the damage they’re causing. This will continue for years. Dems now have a hall pass to say whatever they want on Obamacare. "Risk corridors": if insurers take losses, they get bailed out for three years; White House is looking for ways to extend this longer! . . . We'll have had three years of Obamacare by the time of the next general election, will have to do clean-up. GOP needs to find alternatives beyond mere repeal. No one wants to return to the status quo ante. The president insisted he'd make no changes and now he's making changes willy nilly, probably unconstitutionally; delaying he mandates for your corporate friends?? Why not for individuals? Why not have a moratorium on everything till it's organized?
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Rep Devin Nunes (CA-22), in re: Rep Nunes co-hosted on KMJ 590 AM, Fresno, radio today. Now John Batchelor has been invited as a guest for the first time. LK: need a three-year moratorium on all aspects of Obamacare; the Ryan plan was originally the Ryan-Nunes plan. We need a national conversation on how to fix this mess. We owe it to the American people. Rumor: next HHCMS decision will be to allow people wrecked by the mandates to delay for three years. Problem is, big losses continue to mount. Because of a tweak in Obamacare, we seem now be about to lose 700 jobs in the San Joaquin Valley. First website debacle, then the mandate debacle, and now doctors turning away patients. DN: whoever is the next president, we need at least a year to fix this mess. In Congressional session next week . . . Keep the lights on, and Behind Retreat on Debt Limit, a G.O.P. Eye on Retaking Senate With their party on offense in its push to capture the Senate, Republicans say they are determined to avoid the mistakes and stumbles that Democrats exploited in 2010 and 2012.
Obama Announces Aid for Drought-Stricken California President Obama announced a push for a $1 billion “climate resilience” program, as well as several million dollars in drought aid for the state’s farmers.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Stephen F Cohen, NYU Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives (1 of 4), in re: Ukraine, where the impoverished and agrarian western half wants to join the EU; the prosperous, industrialized eastern half prefers to stay close to Moscow. Live rewet on BBC: VP Joe Biden calls on "Grave concern, calls on Pres Yanukovich to withdraw troops. SC: If protestors were shooting Molotov cocktails - fire bombs - at the White House, would the US withdraw troops? This is preposterous, not worthy of a vice-president. [See: Gates, "Every foreign policy decision Biden has ever made is wrong."] As for the leader of the Fatherland Party . . . Note that Yanukovich was in fact elected fairly; if he has to stand down now, a year before the next elections, that's a body-blow to Ukrainian democracy, In the last hours 18 people have died in the streets of Kiev. There's no turning back. If we don’t see some real effort to bring about peace, then we may see the division of Ukraine; this will be on Russia's border. Fraught with catastrophes. I was just watching MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell, watching a city burn, said, "Putin is to blame." Why" twenty days ago, as Ukraine was on the edge of financial collapse, the EU offered __ billion, Putin offered $15 billion, which is what's needed. If Ukraine melts down economically, and it’s on the verge, millions of Ukrainians will suffer horribly. Yatseniuk met with Merkel in Berlin.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives (2 of 4), in re: . . . at the end of today Ukraine time, Klitschtko said he was trying to get an appt with Yanukovich per Merkel's advice. Perhaps have a referendum. Where are the adults? Western Ukraine is out f the control of the capital, Kiev.
Independence Square is filled with provocateurs, some of whom are armed; have been for weeks, Ringed by troops who've been n holding back for weeks. To the European crisis: the EU has been frail to failing for years because of its mismanagement of money. EU is in financial crisis; why would they propose to take on the obligation of a basket case? EU didn’t want this crisis. Warsaw is part of this; also Romania and a piece of the Slovak Republic – all have labor pools that have flooded Western Europe. The EU activists should have been warned that this would occur. Merkel is as close to a center as we have. The US is leading from behind. Germany doesn’t think this is its problem. The Kremlin believes there's a secret hand here. Strong evidence that Warsaw was leading this. Poland wants influence over Ukraine to offset Germany's influence.
What we see in the current videos would not be permitted in any European capital. I have no doubt that Yanukovich is being told: Strike now with all the force you've got. You're getting terrible publicity any way. Does Yanukovich control the police and army now? May are Western Ukrainians – will they shoot Western Ukrainians? Dunno. If half the army splits off, that's civil war. There's a minority there of quasi-fascists – ultranationalists, a cult of race, In moments of crisis, organized and armed minorities can prevail. Ten per cent of people take over a country – in 1917, the Communists in Russia were a tiny minority. Note graffiti on bldgs; "JEWS LIVE HERE" – echoing pre-World-War II deeds. They have funds and are armed, are exceedingly dangerous. The Common Eurasian Home themes: Hollande was in Washington a few days ago, but Cameron and Merkel read history, know that he aberration where the US dominated Europe is ended. Henceforth, the capitals in Europe will take care of themselves – a major transition. Note relation Berlin-Moscow, big and powerful. Russia provides Europe with 25% of its oil and gas. Long history of cooperation, Putin speaks German fluently. White House makes it up as it goes along – maybe we'll get a concession in Damascus or elsewhere.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives (3 of 4), in re:
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Stephen F Cohen, NYU & Princeton Russian Studies prof Emeritus; author, Soviet Fates & Lost Alternatives (4 of 4), in re: Berlin and Moscow dominate the Common Eurasian Home; the US is on the outside, Can Washington accept this? Nope, not ready. The expansion of NATO began the new cold war. What Moscow saw as rat we moved NATO to its borders in the Baltic, under Clinton (in 1996?); Bush and Obama continued. Then the so-called NGOs – political action groups- operating inside Russia with US money, Then a missile defense system on Russia's borders. Russia sees a Western march since te fall f the Soviet Union. Putin calls his ideology Traditional Conservative. And China? Russia has a full-scale strategic alliance; with alliance with Germany has been tested by Kiev. Russian discomfort with China, which wants Siberia. Also, Russians have a racial thing about China going back to the occupation of the Golden Horde. Russia is Chinas largest supplier of oil and weapons; riddled with political suspicions on both sides. Obama is a president without policies in a whole lot of areas. Remaking for the global contest for the Twenty-first Century. Leadership is a key factor. Perhaps we have a week.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Gretchen Morgenson, NYT, in re: investors held shares of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mack; why is the money they're making now not flowing to the investors? Treasury document from December 2010 we learned that this Administration has a policy of NEVER allowing shareholders to participate in earning streams of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Owe the govt $190 billion – Fannie and Freddie bought a preferred stock (govt had to be paid back first) - but that referred stock has not been retired/redeemed. So $190 billion gas been put back in the Treasury but the stockholders have never been paid. If the govt had formally nationalized Fannie and Freddie, it would have had to pay back trillions; this way, govt gets all the profits and doesn’t have to pay back. All profits are called "net worth sweep" and go into Treasury! Why did the conservator allow this to happen? He also will be deposed. Dark-of-night decisions inside the government. The Untouchable Profits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac An internal Treasury memo put the earnings of two mortgage giants off limits to their shareholders.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re: North Korea. Sochi and North Korea: discusses North Korea’s presence at the Olympic Games despite not having any athletes competing.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Markos Kounalakis, in re: Shirley Temple and her remarkable career. Good Ship USA – A Remembrance of Ambassador Shirley Temple Black *
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: Orbital Sciences’ balance sheets booming as a result of commercial space.
“Orbital’s fourth quarter financial results reflected solid growth in revenues, earnings per share and free cash flow, and capped a very successful year in 2013,” noted Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. This highly successful report reflects the successes Orbital have enjoyed during the last year. The most publicly recognized successes have involved the opening launches of their new Antares launch vehicle, two of which lofted the first Cygnus spacecraft on their missions to the ISS.
I’m so glad: The FAA has given its permission for Blue Origin to expand its operations in Texas. “After reviewing and analyzing currently available data and information on existing conditions and the potential impacts of the Proposed Action, the FAA has determined that issuing experimental permits and/or launch licenses to Blue Origin for operation of suborbital RLVs at the West Texas launch site would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment,” the agency said in document posted on its website.
Two takeaways: First, Blue Origin is moving forward with the testing of more sophisticated suborbital and maybe orbital spacecraft. That is great news. Second, it really is annoying that they need the government’s app
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: Iranian official: US has accepted country’s nuclear enrichment The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Feb. 17 that negotiations over Iran's nuclear program will lead nowhere, Al Arabiya reported. Khamenei said that he does not oppose resuming negotiations with world powers, adding that the work started by Iran's Foreign Ministry will continue and Iran will stick to its commitments. While there will be disruptions along the way, Iran's normalization of relations with the West is unlikely to derail, since both sides need it.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Jed Babbin, American Spectator, in re: Like a college kid losing a weekend inside a tequila bottle, Obama is off on another round of binge diplomacy. The results won't be any better. And maybe they'll be a bit worse. Obama’s Binge Diplomacy | The American Spectator
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Jeff Foust, Space Review, in re: Who framed Jade Rabbit? For a time last week, Western media widely reported that China's Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit," lunar rover had died, only to have officials sources state that the rover was alive, if not completely well. Jeff Foust examines both the faults in the erroneous media coverage and the lack of official information about the mission.
Review: The Martian There have been, over the years, many science fiction stories of human Mars mission gone awry. Jeff Foust reviews a new book that offers a different but compelling take on that, a "hard" science fiction story of one astronaut's quest to survive after being left behind on Mars.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Gene Marks, NYT, in re: The minimum wage and small biz: Bloomberg does a big feature on why it 's good. Egad - THE CASE FOR A $10.10 MINIMUM WAGE "What’s the right minimum wage? And what’s the fairest way for the world’s largest economy—and most important beacon of social mobility—to arrive at it?” Bloomberg Businessweek ’s economics editor, Peter Coy, questions Obama's free-style justification for the $10.10 figure proposed in his January 2014 State of the Union address, examining the economic arguments, social implications, and global comparisons for setting the wage floor. Coy suggests that if you get beyond the political noise, there's a strong case for a 40 percent boost over two years. He also argues that we must “acknowledge that the minimum wage is being called on to do more than it reasonably can. A minimum wage job shouldn’t be any family’s primary means of support, yet in many cases it is… if strong economic growth generates more demand for workers of all kinds, and if education and training lift the skills of the lowest-paid so that employers get into a bidding war for their services… the wage floor [will be] largely irrelevant. That should be everyone’s objective.” Six striking covers were produced for this week’s issue, representing some of the many faces on the frontlines of the American minimum wage debate. The story is accompanied by a video portrait: "Life at Minimum Wage,"
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I’m a Shirley Temple fan. Not a big fan of her movies; they seemed more suited for my sister. I’m a fan of her diplomacy in Czechoslovakia. I was a Newsweek reporter living in Prague between the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” and 1991 when I saw up close how Ambassador Shirley Temple Black worked it. That’s how I became a fan. (Disclosure: I like ambassadors, my wife was U.S. ambassador to Hungary 2010-13.)
America has had many notable diplomats dealing with Czechoslovakia, or the more modern Czech Republic, a country split from Slovakia in 1993 following a “Velvet Divorce.”
But Shirley Temple Black’s watch came at a seminal moment in modern Czechoslovak history and she was, perhaps unexpectedly, the right person at the right time.
Her personal and informal style worked well with the new government, made up of formerly imprisoned, hard laboring and human rights Charter 77-signing artists, musicians, actors and a playwright president named Vaclav Havel. Many of those new Czechoslovak political leaders admired their American colleague, President Ronald Reagan, an actor-politician like themselves who expressed in the clearest terms – and to the whole world – their deepest desire for freedom.
In Shirley Temple Black, the Czechoslovaks had a new diplomat-artist colleague who shared Reagan’s sentiments and temperament.
During early street protests in Prague in 1989, she spoke out for more democratic freedom and in thinly veiled language against the Husak government to which she was credentialed. And as the Berlin Wall fell and the distinct scent of revolution filled the Eastern European air, people filled central Wenceslas Square and jangled their keys in protest. Shaking those keys meant that they wanted to lock out the communists and open the door to democracy. Suddenly she became the U.S. ambassador to a reborn and dramatically transitioning state.
Thankfully, she knew something about drama. And timing.
Timing brought her to Czechoslovakia for the first time in 1968, in the midst of the Prague Spring and the crackdown on reformers. And a combination of actor’s good luck and timing brought her back for the Prague Spring’s reversal in 1989.
The most visible part of diplomacy consists of public meetings or events, speeches given, parties thrown. But most of the work takes place away from the public eye. Public and private diplomacy require the ability to perform for and understand an audience, and she was skilled at both.
When it came to the new Czechoslovak leadership, she knew these people and what motivated them, understood their anti-establishment tendencies, and gained their respect not merely because of her recognized early film work, but also because her ability to take the stage and perform whatever diplomatic duties were necessary.
Because of her GOP star power and her husband Charlie’s own network she was able to attract a never-ending stream of American officials and business people to Prague. She enticed them to come and witness the unfolding story of the Velvet Revolution.
Peaceful democratic change was as strong a draw as the incomparable fairytale beauty of the Prague castle, and the visits got Czechoslovakia added attention in the halls of Congress.
The first six months after the revolution felt like a nationwide party. And the embassy grounds were no exception. Journalists often were invited to events at the ambassador’s residence and whenever congressional delegations came through town, she opened up the Petschek Palace doors, located on recently renamed Ronald Reagan Street.
At my first reception, I asked a white-jacketed staff member in Czech (and loosely translated into English) “Is Shirley Temple available?” He looked over toward the ambassador and nodded. I then said, “Please procure me Shirley Temple” at which point the bartender nearly dropped the glass he was holding. He had never heard of the drink.
At these receptions, every American or Czechoslovak guest eventually made it to the drawing room, where the ambassador’s Oscar statuette sat on a bookshelf. I often sat and watched as one person after another grabbed the Oscar, felt its heft and held it high, sometimes giving a very short acceptance speech. And the ambassador often would take a photo next to the new Oscar “winner.” This was the type of cultural diplomacy that money can’t buy.
Guests sometimes wanted to linger, but the ambassador usually made it clear when the party was over. She would stand in the foyer, kick off her sky-high heels, light up a cigarette and open up the garden door to let in her dog, a boxer named Gorby, named after Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorby’s latent herding instinct kicked in and moved guests slowly toward the exit.
Now that she's headed off-stage, it’s time to raise a glass of grenadine and 7Up and bid a fan’s fond farewell.
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