Tuesday 3 September 2013
Photo, above: The Great Peterhof Palace - Peter the Great's Summer Palace (also called Petrodvorets) - which is situated 18 miles west of St Petersburg, is a series of palaces and gardens. The Great Cascade is composed of three waterfalls, 64 fountains, and 37 garden fountains; all are entirely gravity-fed and constitute one of the most brilliant fountain designs in history. It's safe to say that this is also one of the loveliest man-made vistas in the world.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Larry Kudlow, The Kudlow Report, CNBC; and Cumulus Media radio
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Larry Kudlow, in re: Why is he US going to bomb Syria – to do real damage to Assad? If not, why are we going in? We have to send any TLAM rockets from our Arleigh Burke-class destroyer around Lebanese airspace, meaning that a rocket arrives forty minutes later. Russia will tell Assad about it, so anything on wheels has plenty of time to skedaddle. Democratic hawks: the ghost of Lyndon Johnson is wandering the halls. Pipelines: Kirkuk to the MED: 1.4mil Bbls/Day; much more out of Basra. Oil could go up to $200;bomb attack on Kirkuk-Ceyhan line today. G20 in Petersburg: changes the agenda of this talk shop -
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Sudeep Reddy, WSJ, in re: the Fed and Syria. The Fed meets 17 and 18 Sept – when the Senate will be voting to give Pres Obama war authority on the ninth – in theory, could get air strikes just before or after the Fed meeting. If Chaos in markets will much encourage the Fed to trip lightly. At Boehner's announcement this morning, stocks dropped 'way down then made their way up again. Oil traders get jittery at war warnings.
The Fed taper and the emerging markets and our markets. Recap: Bernanke Faces House Lawmakers Fed Chairman Bernanke starts a two-day visit to Capitol Hill to address whether the economy is growing fast enough for the . . .
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Jeffrey Singer, MD –surgeon in Phoenix, and Cato Institute, in re: The Man Who Was Treated for $17,000 Less Bypassing his third-party payer, my patient avoided a high hospital 'list price.' However, as of Jan 1, individual mandate penalty if you have no insurance; but govt-mandated plans – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – oblige, for example, males to pay for gyn coverage. . . . In Oklahoma City, there's a physician-run surgery center [The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, (405) 475-0678; Dr Keith Smith) that takes no insurance, have transparent list prices – global prices– including everything. Prices are about 20% of what hospitals charge; have been successful for 15 years. Most of their patients are working poor – a Medicaid card merely entitles you to get in line, doesn’t guarantee care. When a patient first sees his physician, first discuss straight prices. If the MD accepts Medicare, cannot take a Medicare patient outside of the system.
PPO = preferred provider agreement.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: David Malpass, Encima Global and Dep Asst Treasury Secy for Reagan, in re: suggest in WSJ article that GOP lay out certain obligations to restrain the president in adding debt (to reduce spending); if Democrats decline for three months, then they have to go to president to renew and eventually will get tired of this. Let the Dems vote for more debt over and over again.
Sept 30 Continuing Resolution – can the confluence of war and fiscal events be done in an orderly way? Yes, tens of thousands of people in Washington are assigned to this; however, Pentagon spending will go way up. Getting some weapons systems funded; will use this opportunity to make govt bigger. Two tracks: reduce spending and be supportive of the president in whatever intervention he wants to do. GOP needs to be clear; this president keeps leading from behind and being unclear; he needs to say what weapons systems he wants and where he want to go with that. Whatever negotiating occurs in the small window till week after next, then CR on Sept 30 – only a few weeks' time; not only will they try to break the sequester, they'll demand to raise taxes and may even cut the Pentagon short. GOP is divided; need a unified front.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: OPINION ASIA Obama Pivots to Syria From Asia Allies are starting to suspect that Washington is no longer looking their way. Our Asian allies are alarmed; it’s a gift for Russia and China, allows Putin to poke us in the eye. "A confused superpower" "rehearsing for Hamlet more than leading the Fee World." When a great power starts to talk of different regions in which it'll act, it’s no longer global. "Pivot" was the [bad] first move. Tokyo and the Senkakus: US intends to bomb Syria, is it still ready to back up Japan? Long-term corrosive effect of an Administration that says one thing and then does a volta face, a president who needs political pressure; no articulation of what American interests are. America turning away fro its traditional globale responsibilities; will make our allies everywhere concerned – can one count on the US? Rogue states – Syria, Iran. Pakistan. North Korea – must think it’s Christmas in September. US pres publicly draws red lines then backs off. Unstable decision-making process. If Xi makes costs seem high, this president will blink. Russia and China working together to frustrate American plans. @michaelauslin
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Martin Fackler, NYT Japan, in re: Radiation Near Japanese Plant’s Tanks Suggests New Leaks The crisis over tons of contaminated water at the plant, crippled two years ago by an earthquake and tsunami, has worsened. Looks as though the overall management by Tepco is so bad that there's no solution – every fix they produce for a previous problem generates a new one. It’s not sudden; clear that the plant has been leaking ab initio. Plant is not under control. Storing contaminated water in tanks that are leaking because they were poorly constructed in the beginning. Have to keep pouring water on them to keep them from overheating (and going critical). Water flows underneath has gone into bldgs and been contaminated, has to be stored; have 400 tons new every day – an Olympic swimming pool every week. At present, 420,000 tons stored and growing. Tepco scrambles to build tanks- but they’re shoddy and leaking. Bottom-feeding fish in the ocean are irradiated, not eaten. Plant sites there bleeding 1800 milliCuries per hour.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute, in re: Obamacare’s Shutdown Shock-Jocks / Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, among others, believe that Republicans ought to use Congress’s continuing resolution. The closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government bureau. Tranche 1 – Medicare ; Tranche 2 – subsidized insurance plans, weaned off as you get richer (used successfully in Switzerland). A govt shutdown will not advance a conservative agenda, and that's not the only option to stymie the program today or in future. Govt is pulling out all the PR stops: it knows that if it can’t persuade young people to buy in ["to a bad deal"], it's a failure. In California, avg young person makes $30K PA; has to make $21K to be eligible. If you delay not the mandates but the subsidies for a year, that'll have an effect on the law in a real way – the exchanges aren’t ready; let's see if in the first year people actually save money.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re:
Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood Leaders Charged With Inciting Murder The charges seemed to extinguish hope of a political resolution that would bring the Muslim Brotherhood out from underground and back into the political process. The statement said Mr. Morsi’s supporters killed a journalist, Al-Hussein Abu Deif. But it made no mention of at least eight other people, all supporters of Mr. Morsi, who were killed that night, nor any charges against the perpetrators of those killings. No trial date was announced. Prosecutors have also been investigating Mr. Morsi on charges related to his prison escape during the 2011 uprising against Mr. Mubarak, saying the escape was part of a conspiracy with the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Stephen F Cohen, NYU, in re: diplomatic relations between Russia and ht US are under serious review. Sergei Lavrov says the evidence for Assad's having committed the neurotoxin attack is "not convincing." Were Russia any sort of partner with the US there'd be sharing of intell. Russians have good intell in the Middle East. Several US Congressmen and -women have said the evidence is general, not conclusive. Ive been arguing for twenty years that the road to American security runs through Moscow; almost every president has made sure that were not partners. "Putin's bad, a demon, not in favor of US security>" In fact, because of Russia, we can supply troops in Afghanistan. And we wouldn’t be talking of bombing Syria. US has made no effort to turn post-Communist Russia an equal partner. When Obama arrives in St Petersburg in a few days, he'll be meeting someone whom Obama called " a bored schoolboy" – which is not good. Incompetence. Lavrov: If someone tries to make gross violations of international norms, we will create chaos." US has refused to take the Syria issue to the UN – "Because Russia will veto military intervention." True; but shoudn't we have a full discussion. If Russia thinks Assad didn’t use as, let it demonstrate. Putin ahs become an excuse for the folly of American policy. Stevenson always took these issues to the GA and Security Council. The demonization of Putin is [institutionalized]; ht arrogance of American power, having been shown by Clinton (bombed Kosovo in 1999) – but Clinton at least had AT; Obama hasn’t even gone to Brussels. Looks as though the US doesn’t want to present the intell it has.
• — With the U.S.-Russia relationship already strained, President ...
• Obama, Snowden and Putin - NYTimes.com The Russian president is doing more harm at home than anywhere else.
• Putin's contempt for Obama will drive the G20 summit | Washington ... If the summit is a staring contest between Obama and Putin, it's already over; Obama blinked.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Stephen F Cohen, NYU, continued. The idea of the Russians sending a delegation to the US Congress to consult. Russian Parliamentarian (upper house) intends to send members to US to speak. SC: The idea that he Russian Parliament shd send a delegation to lobby the US Congress not to send rockets on Syria is the worst idea since Yeltsin tried to ban vodka. Awful idea. Must've been Putin being polite to a woman who used to be in effect mayor of St Petersburg. Kennedy-Khrushchev, Nixon-Brezhnev, Reagan-Gorbachev, all had better relation than Obama has with Putin – Obama lacks the idea, the understanding, and also lacks the leadership. Putin doesn’t ask if the US is weaker or stronger; rather that the US has become a dangerous power, beginning with Bush and Iraq. However, Obama is no different from Bush except that he's a weaker leader. No sense that he keeps his word. So Washington thinks Moscow is dangerous, Moscow thinks Washington is dangerous. Putin is being urged privately by his aides to meet with Obama; Obama has no such advice.
Putin's contempt for Obama will drive the G20 summit President Obama will meet with Russian President Putin this week in St. Petersburg at the G20 Summit. The official agenda is the world economy; the real agenda will be Syria. Putin has a clear policy on Syria, and he has pursued it with cold determination; Obama’s actions have been hesitant, and his policy objectives are general and obscure. Putin knows clearly which side he wants to win in Syria and why; Obama can’t begin to explain why America should want jihadists to take control of Syria. Each man will justify his policy and actions at the G20 summit, and Obama, despite America’s enormous military power and vastly larger economy, will be at a disadvantage against Putin. If this is a staring contest, Obama has already blinked. Obama’s problems this week are partly due to his August 7 decision to cancel the one-on-one summit he’d scheduled with Putin to precede the G20 gathering. That was a deliberate snub following Putin’s decision to grant former NSA contractor Edward Snowden temporary
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Israel is adjacent to Syria, but Assad is unlikely to attack Israel, which would respond strongly; similar to Hezbollah. Heard nothing from the EU or European human rights movements despite an appalling violation of human rights. These are the groups that attack Israel regularly for putative HR violations. Meanwhile a Syrian refugee camp is now the fifth-largest city in Jordan. Instability! USS Nimitz sailing into the region; force build-up invites happenstance or problem. Arab states have not acted. In the US, polls against Obama's policies are very low. MiG-300. Russians have put excellent units in Med to pick up Western rocket firing. With troops on ground, incidents will occur, more refugees. Israeli hospitals have treated many hundreds of Syrians, since Iran sees a divided Congress, a British Parliament in revolt, no Europeans, plus China and Russian on their side. The message is that there's no fear of the US. All of a sudden, Washington asserts that it's the US and Israel, shoulder to shoulder?
Iraq has decided to give Jordan $25 million worth of oil assistance, Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammed al-Momani said, WAM reported Sept. 3, citing Jordan's Petra news agency. Al-Momani said the Iraqi Council of Ministers had agreed to offer Jordan aid in the form of crude oil.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, continued. Morsi, president of Egypt deposed in July and now in jail accused of multiple murder – also of colluding with Hamas for a mass jail breakout in 2012. Prosecuting Morsi twelve days after releasing Mubarak. The people got a taste of what a Moslem Brotherhood govt means; now have retained up to about 25% of the vote. Eighty-five million Egyptians: 800,000 people enter the job mkt annually – govt needs to turn its attn to young workforce immediately before it seeks an outlet. Today Egyptian army killed 15 people in northern Sinai, plus some guys with a weapons ship in Suez. Gaza tunnels have been shut down – Hamas cut off from its smuggling funds. It’s ltd by losing Iran and MB patronage; still get some help from Iran and Qatar. Plot just uncovered to bow up a mall in Jerusalem (maintenance workers with Israeli ID cards). Egyptian tanks moving into Sinai. Abbas, of Palestine, vacillates on peace. He now blames Obama for all the problems in Syria. Turkey broke off relations with Israel a few years ago; Erdogan speaking increasingly incoherently, has an army on the northern border of Syria, has an intell operation critical for the Syrian rebels (Salafists); is said to be speaking wit Obama; has been a driving force toward mil intervention. Heavy shipments of advanced eqpt out of Saudi Arabia via Turkey to Syria, which is essential in his drive for a enw Ottoman empire; and the Fight with Iran for Sunni-vs-Shia. Iran is a fundamental strategic issue. Erdogan still caught up in the telekinesis theory of Israeli involvement.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Fouad Ajami, Hoover and Bloomberg View, in re: Destroy Assad’s Regime, or Hold Your Fire
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Gretchen Morgenson, NYT in re: New Jobs! If Only It Were True The United States Department of Agriculture often trumpets the numbers of jobs that are expected to result from loans. Whether these jobs are actually created is another question.
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re: Next on Syria: Leading from Russia?
Tuesday 3 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: David Drucker, WashingtonExaminer, in re: House Republicans poised to say no on Syria A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 59% oppose U.S. missile strikes in Syria, far more than the 36% who support them.
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Hour 1: Dark Shadows. Robin Hood.
Hour 2: Crysis. Gears of War.
Hour 3: Atonement. John Carter.
Hour 4: Dark Knight Rises.