The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Air Date: 
May 07, 2013

Photo, above:  Californian, the ship that did not rescue Titanic.  See: Hour 2, Block B:  Charles Pellegrino, author and explorer, on 14 April 1912:  the Californian incident as Titanic was sinking.


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

Hour One

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  Larry Kudlow, The Kudlow Report, CNBC; and Cumulus Media radio, in re:  The Heritage Foundation, a wonderful institution, has miscalculated.  We want to be a country where people come for education and opportunity; so does Mexico. I puzzle at those who just want to block entrants. We prospered for centuries because people who h ad the gumption came.  Of the eleven million illegal immigrants, they will not be deported. Shall we bring them out of he shadows? Make them wait X years for papers?  Then, we need to  have better border control. The Heritage Foundation's recent paper claiming that immigration reform would cost the US over $6 trillion is wrong.   CATO and AEI pushed back: we argue for the dynamic scoring of the economy. If The US is a magnet for people around the world – more people create more ec growth.

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:     Phil Izzo, WSJ, in re:  Jobs number.   . . .    The Fed will continue to inject $85bil/mo to sustain the market. Germany? Japan?  Germany had better eco numbers, but ECB may pull back precipitately. I doubt that one number in Germany is enough to turn it around.  Also, today: gold down and stocks up -  I like that.  Home prices going up – has underwater people gat above aware; gives a little extra money in their pocket, encourages homeowners. Lousy durable goods; good dividends – nice for the stock market, not necessarily for the economy.  No headwinds in the face, but no tailwinds. Forget 3-4% growth.

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: .Bill Whalen, Hoover Institution, in re: Mark Sanford has just won in South Carolina.  For once, Republicans and Tea-partiers got together. Also, when you introduce Stephen Colbert to politics, you dumb it down and make it a sort of clown show.  Pres Obama is going through a bad patch politically; it’s not quite a rudderless presidency, but what are his goals for the next four years?  The GOP is still split over immigration; affects Rubio?  Either immigration bill becomes law & Pres Obama can take credit and Rubio can campaign on it in 2016.  If it fails, it won’t be for Rubio's lack of trying and that won't redound to his disadvantage. If he runs for the presidency,  he'll have to look like the adult in the room. JB: Seems a natural match:  Rubio & immigration reform; does the whole Party see that?  BW: Border security, economic oppty, and immigration modernization are the three topics of the bill.  LK: Need to bring brainiacs in to this country.   BW: Former Pres G W Bush spoke eloquently at Hoover last week, on it as an economic issue.

 If the President Really Wanted Immigration Reform  Tuesday found President Obama in El Paso, delivering a speech on the need for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.  The President offered a “blueprint” for reform – outlining both a plan for bringing illegal aliens into the mainstream and the need for taking action (here’s the White House’s pdf). And then he called on Congress to work with him.  And therein lies the rub . . .  If the President indeed were serious about achieving immigration reform, he would not have started by giving a speech adorned with plenty of political trappings. And make no mistake: the President’s trip to Texas was fraught with campaign overtones. He chose to spoke close to the border, senior administration aides, to underscore miles of fence constructed, border agents increases, contraband seized and attempted illegal crossing on the decline. The message being: the federal government is suitably tough on immigration, now we need to be suitably compassionate – a message tailored to Latino voters in a handful of swing states like Nevada, New Mexico and Florida that likely will decide the 2012 election.   [more]

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Larry Kudlow, The Kudlow Report, CNBC; and Cumulus Media radio, in re:  the upcoming batch of Republican candidates for the presidency in 2016 are young, bright, have substantial management experience; note Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley.  . . .  Obama dropped behind enemy lines in both campaigns; Republicans need to be able to do this henceforth.  I think G H W Bush was the last Republican to win in California by 1 percentage point) and Ronald Reagan was the last to win New York. 


Hour Two

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover, in re: Is Benghazi Becoming a Watergate, or Iran-Contra, or Both? Tomorrow begin Congressional hearings on the tragedy at Benghazi with three identified State Department whistleblowers. Also, CIA knows a lot.  Elements of several historical scanaals.  Fellow who made the video to which the whole incident was attributed is in jail; that govt story has been discredited.  In Watergate, intell was forced to make bogus assessments, but here intell gave the accurate assessment, and the Administration crated a redacted assessment that was made public. Why did Petraeus, H Clinton, and Panetta all leave? Unlike Iran-Contra and Watergate, four people are dead.  If the narrative exposed tomorrow is that there was a cover-up to avoid having Benghazi look like Mogadishu right before the election, that would make the president look very bad.  He went to bed so he could attend a program the next day in Las Vegas?  The president held on to a false narrative for two weeks.  Axelrod and Ploufe appear to have said that a shoot-out would nullify the accomplishments of  killing bin Laden and getting rid of Gaddafi.  It may go to a joint hearing.  Pres Obama seems to believe that he's insulated from any popular or media criticism; this is harmful to him. 

Benghazi: Do as I Say, or as I Do? General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has concluded that generals do not live up to the standards they demand of others. According to the New York Times, “Under General Dempsey’s plan, teams of inspectors will observe and review the procedures . . . in effect for all generals. He said he would be subject to the same rules.”  Those new rules would seem to require an assessment of Dempsey’s own performance last September, when he decided not to respond with force to the terrorist attack in Benghazi for ten hours, although our ambassador to Libya was declared missing during the first hour of the assault and two former SEALs died in the tenth hour. Why did Dempsey choose to do nothing?  The military has conducted hundreds of assessments for battles throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. At the platoon level, an “After Action” critique is required whenever there are American fatalities. But at the highest level, there has been no military After Action assessment about Benghazi. The fight at the U.S. consulate waxed and waned for ten hours. Yet during that time, the Marine Force Recon unit on Sigonella Air Base, 500 miles away, was never deployed and not one F-16 or F-18 was dispatched. Granted, Force Recon and fighter aircraft weren’t on alert and did not appear on the Pentagon’s official list of “hostage rescue forces.” But they were one phone call away, and no general asked for them. Ten hours provided adequate time for a range of ad hoc responses. Commanders are expected to adapt in battle. Pentagon spokesman George Little said, “We have repeatedly stated that . . . our forces were unable to reach it in time to . . ."   [more]

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Charles Pellegrino, author and explorer, in re: 14 April 1912:  the Californian incident as Titanic was sinking. There was a ship on the horizon - you could see it. See: Kindle book on Californian. It seems likely that Californian could easily have arrived up to a half hour before the stern went under. I always looked at this (as mentioned in "Ghosts of the Titanic") a case in which the ship could have saved some of the people from the Titanic - perhaps 300 (which amounts to a lot), but not even half of the 1500 still aboard. A blogger for Encyclopedia Titanica has looked into the options in some detail, and compared this to the lengthy Carpathia rescue. The Californian's lifeboats would have been of little practical use - as easily swamped as Boat A, right near the Titanic and more than 1000 people in the water. I think the best that Californian could have done was to steam carefully around lifeboats and in amongst those swept into the water, with all gangway doors open and ropes and Jacobs ladders over the side.  Some have argued that the Californian could have done little, so this somehow excuses her crew for doing nothing. This excuses inaction little more than the claim that it was a lower class ship in trouble - and so they did not trouble themselves.  Californian: the ship that did not rescue Titanic.

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Jed Babbin, NRO, in re: The American Spectator: Benghazi Bullchips  The Benghazi scandal won’t bring down the Obama administration. And it’s too early to decide whether it will sink Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016. There are plenty of other things quietly waiting to do that.  But that scandal — persistent, patient, and always just around the corner from the White House — just won’t go away.  In just the past few days, we’ve learned a lot. For starters, from Stephen Hayes’s reporting in the Weekly Standard, we learned that the State Department is guilty — and that’s the proper word — of making “heavy substantive revisions” to the CIA talking points that State was supposedly relying on to tell the truth about the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate outpost in Benghazi. Hayes says that those changes were part of a “frantic” process that took place in the 24 hours preceding UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s now-infamous appearances on the Sunday talk shows in which she spun the administration’s line that the attack was in reaction to an anti-Islam video that no one had seen.  He also reports that about two hours into the eight-hour-long attack, it was obvious that al Qaeda terrorists were taking part in it. Shortly after that, the State Department was already working to remove those references including those to Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda-connected group that had already claimed credit for the attack.  Just yesterday we learned (from a House committee leak) that Greg Hicks, one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, will say in a hearing Wednesday that “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.” That, according to a CBS News report. Hicks is described as a 22-year Foreign Service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after . . .   [more]

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:    Gordon Chang,, in re:

Hour Three

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:   Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: CIA passes over officer tied to interrogation program  A female officer who was the first woman to lead the agency's clandestine service, but was also closely tied to its controversial interrogation policies, will not get to keep that job as part of a management shake-up announcedTuesday by CIA Director John O. Brennan, U.S. officials said.  . . . [more]

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . LouAnn Hammond,, in re:  Tesla.  

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block C:   Bradley Olsen, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: NATURAL GAS HITS THE ROAD   The natural gas motor fuel revolution is coming – and it’s not just the outliers who think so. Fill up for $1.50 a gallon? Natural gas-powered fleets and fueling stations are finally catching on.

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Ken Croswell, Science Magazine, in re:

Hour Four

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  David Sanger, NYT, in re:   U.S. Directly Blames China’s Military for Cyberattacks  The Pentagon explicitly accused China of attacks on government systems and defense contractors, possibly to map “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”   -- Same worries, different day: China's military continues its buildup. But the Pentagon acknowledges for the first time that China has targeted U.S. government computer networks. The Pentagon yesterday released its newest "China power report," here, and the assessment is pretty much the same as it was last year: continued growth with little transparency. But this time around, the Pentagon was pointed in its accusations that China was behind a number of the cyber attacks against the U.S. This comes on the heels of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey's trip to China - and American and international efforts to get China to do more to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. From the report: "In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military. These intrusions were focused on exfiltrating information. China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs. The information targeted could potentially be used to benefit China's defense industry, high technology industries, policymaker interest in US leadership thinking on key China issues, and military planners building a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis. Although this alone is a serious concern, the accesses and skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks. China's 2010 Defense White Paper notes China's own concern over foreign cyber warfare efforts and highlighted the importance of cyber-security in China's national defense.

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Liz Peek, The Fiscal Times, in re:  Critics charge that President Obama’s budget and tax policies target wealth redistribution – social engineering – rather than boosting the economy. His proposal to limit contributions to tax-deferred savings accounts strengthens their case.   In his budget released earlier this month, Obama proposed capping lifetime contributions to 401(k)s or Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) at “about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013,” in order to prevent “wealthy individuals” from accumulating “substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement savings.” 

This is the same president who said last year, “If you work hard your whole life, you ought to have every opportunity to retire with dignity and financial security….” Obama would like to decide what constitutes dignity and financial security for you.  This particular effort to “level the playing field,” as Obama is so fond of saying, will hit those who work hard, reap the rewards, and save aggressively. It especially sends the wrong message to young people. An analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Analysis suggests that anywhere from 1 percent to 6 percent of workers age 26 to 35 might ultimately hit the cap, depending on investment returns, asset allocation decisions and other variables. What is the point? The proposal is expected to save the government only $9 billion over the next 10 years – a drop in the budget bucket. This suggestion . . .  [more]

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: Report: Assad says Syria army capable of confronting Israel     According to Lebanese media, Syrian president describes alleged I...

Tuesday  7 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Private space is winning   Today I attended an space industry conference here in Orange County, California, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Unlike the Space Hackers conference which also occurred today and to which I was also invited, this was not a New Space get-together, but a standard aerospace event which included a lot of old time engineers from the big old-time companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.  Most of the talks today were engineering related. For example, one described in detail the engineering advantages of building ion engines and solar sails at the molecular level, nanotechnology to the max. Another talk, which I found astonishing and exciting, was an analysis of the orbital mechanics of getting to Mars. This analysis found that using constant acceleration as low as .01 G it would be possible to get to Mars in weeks, not years, and without the necessity of waiting for the perfect launch window. You could launch almost anytime. Though we don’t have engines that as yet can provide this much constant low acceleration, these numbers are not so high as to make it impossible. With some clever refinements, it might be possible to come up with propulsion systems capable of these constant Gs, and to do it in the near future. If so, it will open up the entire solar system to manned exploration very quickly. Not only will we be able to travel to the planets in a reasonable time, the constant Gs would overcome the medical problems caused by prolonged weightlessness.  It wasn’t these interesting engineering presentations that got my juices flowing however. Instead, it was presentation on public policy issues that completely surprised me and made me think the future of the American aerospace industry is really going in the right direction. This significant take-away was further reinforced by the audience’s reaction to my lecture in the evening.  
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