The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 28 March 2013

Air Date: 
March 28, 2013


Engraving, above: Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians.

Roger Williams (1603 – 1683) was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church, was a student of Native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. Williams was arguably the first abolitionist in North America, having organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the original thirteen colonies.


Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; Edward Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence; Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents

Hour One

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Tim Wilson, Director of Climate Change Policy & the IP and Free Trade Unit

Institute of Public Affairs
  Julia Gillard insists you can trust Labor with superannuation  Julia Gillard has ducked questions about whether Labor will raid super funds in the May budget. Labor has a compulsory 9% pension fund instead of, for example, the US Social Security system.  But pols keep fiddling with the rules so no one really knows whether or not to save.  Poor people contribute little; rich people, lots – so pols are trying to get their fingers on the rich contributions.

     Compulsory preferential voting: your fave, your second-fave, your third-fave – if you don’t tick off all 47 candidates, for example, your whole vote is invalidated.

    Selling out press for a bit of pork - The Australian. Freedom of Speech and Media, Telecommunications and IT Unit The spotlight is on Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott to see whether they'll sell out our universal human right to free speech for some...

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:   LouAnn Hammond,, in re:  BMW I8, 3-cyl engine (carbon fiber), plug-in hybrid, 50+mph.  Widespread concern about 2016 CAFÉ emissions requirements. Turbotriple.   Rumor of Audi buying Alfa Romeo?  Audi denies; it currently owns Porsche, Bugatti, et al. European economy in "stagnation" – read: death spiral.  Jaguar: 186mph, $180,000

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: .Edward Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: Missing Hollywood Exec Was Murdered, Cops Say - Los Angeles police located the car of Gavin Smith, a man who went missing in May 2012.   /  British Police Detail Clues in Death of Russian Tycoon In a first brief detailing of the circumstances surrounding the death of the exiled Russian oligarch Boris A. Berezovsky, a British . . . (also, this circumstantial clue:) Sergei AbeltsevState Duma member from the LDPR, in his Duma address he commented on the death of Litvinenko with the following words: The deserved punishment reached the traitor. I am sure his terrible death will be a warning to all the traitors that in Russia the treason is not to be forgiven. I would recommend to citizen Berezovsky to avoid any food at the commemoration for his crime accomplice Litvinenko.   /  Offstage, Quinn Isn’t Afraid to Let Fury Fly  - according to the New York Times, she turns out to have a foul mouth – people have to hold telephone away from ear – and she issues curses for extremely long moments. Tourettes's Syndrome?

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Mary Kissel, in re: More evidence that Labor Secretary nominee Tom Perez views the law as an inconvenience, especially when it conflicts with his politics.  Tom Perez has been nominated  to be Labor Secretary; see Magner v Gallagher; Mr Perez is under scrutiny for add conduct anent the city of St Paul and settlements vs banks considered to be extortionate. Justice Dept cites eleven lower courts; avoids the total lack of any Supreme Court ruling on this set of issues. Error of the third kind? Takes money from banks and redistribute among favored  housing groups, not at al among owners who've been iced out of their homes.

A few recent selections from the weekday OpinionJournal show: - New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on gun control ;  WSJ Global View columnist Bret Stephens, on the White House’s nonexistent Middle East peace plan -  George Mason law professor Nelson Lund on the “science” backing gay marriage -  The Hoover Institution’s Bill Whalen on the GOP’s Sweet 16

Hour Two

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: The Middle East this evening. Israel asked the US to intercede to help repair Turkish-Israeli relations. When Erdogan apologized for bigoted statements, giving Netanyahu a chance to apologize for what displeased Turkey.  Erdogan's former hot-headedness boomeranged against him, and now he's about to visit Gaza. Turkey sent Syrian refugees back, gathering much condemnation, whereas Israel set up hospitals for Syrian refugees. Rebels are regrouping now for assault on Damascus.  Iran and Hezbollah acquiring lots of advanced weapons that Syria had.

--- A lot of high-level meetings in various places around the region (also in Qatar, Libya and Turkey) to discuss jihadist strategy for the coming fighting season. The jihadists can't topple Bashar al-Assad, and know that a regional war leading to a Western intervention is their only way to get to Damascus and then Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina. So they strategize. Obama's visit gives them great hopes for, at the least, US tacit support. Soon we'll see the jihadists testing the water with growing audacity.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Edward Jay Epstein, American investigative journalist and former HarvardUCLA, and MIT political science professor;  in re: How Iran could get the bomb overnight.  Mohsen Farizadeg, architect of the Iranian nuclear program, headed Project 111 to develop warheads – small enough to fit on the head of a missile, or in a plane.  Began 2001.  Iran and North Korea have collaborated for two decades; US concentrates on the idea that Iran wd mfr weapons, giving us four months from the beginning of mfrg; but if Iran bought ready-made weapons, that's the end.  Then it's too late for a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nukes, as Iran cd fie back. North Korea (DPRK) can now turn out four to six nuclear weapons a year; have a showroom for sales at, say $1 bil/weapon.  All the threats cyberattacks, tricks the US uses, will be meaningless. Once Iran has two nuclear warheads, it can launch into mfr because it has the nukes as deterrent and can mfr without fear of retaliation from the outside world.

The West has tried to stop Iran from manufacturing nuclear weapons by diplomacy, sanctions and cybersabotage, and with the threat of military action if Tehran crosses red lines in moving toward the final stages of making a bomb. If Iran becomes discouraged in its efforts, an easier and more immediately dangerous option is available: buying nuclear weapons from North Korea.  . . . But what if Iran buys one or two nuclear warheads from North Korea? The government in Pyongyang has already conducted three nuclear tests and claims that it has nuclear warheads that fit on its No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles. If that claim is true, then mounting the warheads on Iran's Shahab missiles, which are copies of the North Korean ones, would present little problem. After all, Iran has collaborated with North Korea on missile design for more than a decade. [more] Mr. Epstein's most recent book is The Annals of Unsolved Crime, published this month by Melville House.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Ilan Berman, VP, American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, in re: Chavez.  The Iran-Venezuela connection: we hope Chavez's death blunts it, as the relations were based on a personal friendship between Chavez and Ahmedinejad, wit the latter stepping down soon. Iran interested in Ecuador (Correa) and Bolivia, and also in Argentina, where Iran conducted terrorist murders; Kirchner reconceptualizing history.  China helps keep Iran in business by buying its oil; also sustaining its nuclear program; China also ships Chinese state arms for Shia rebels in Yemen, this China is fuelling proxy wars in the Arab world and elsewhere.  Twenty countries have received exemptions from sanctions vs Iran; Singapore doesn’t matter, but China is going whole hog.  Cyberthreat from Iran: not as sophisticated as China and Russia (major cyberespionage threats), but uses it to oppress its opposition – Orwellian, state-approved Internet; an alternate reality for Iranians; and bldg the capability to reach the US and its partners – see: Iran attacks on JP Morgan Chase, and Aramco.  Collaboration w DPRK, China, it stands to reason that Iran's cyberprogram is getting input from them. Also, malicious software, botnets, and even hackers, can be rented cheaply.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Jonathan Schanzer, FDD, in re: Israel and Turkey, and Pres Obama's visit.  Since the 2010 Gaza flotilla sponsored by Turkey, and its unfortunate denouement, Israel has been concerned about poor interstate relations. Improved now, but Erdogan called Zionism "fascism,"  created a furor at Davos, and has been overtly hostile.  Netanyahu called Turkey to apologize in order to hand a victory, however small, to Obama during his visit.

Another flotilla: "Gaza's Arc," from Gaza to an undisclosed location to export some of Gaza's great riches; same cast of characters seeking to delegitimize Israel. The way out for Hamas is Egypt, which is not happy with Hamas. German network, shipments, transshipments – does Turkey pretend not to know?  A state-owned bank was sponsoring much trade. Procurement networks in India, Turkey, elsewhere, headed to Iran. Turkey hasn’t had sufficient antiterrorism finance laws for five years (intentionally). Turkey gave $300mil to Hamas in 2012. Gas for gold.  Violations of intl laws on terrorism.  Only good things coming in relations between Turkey and Hamas. 

Hour Three

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, in re: Abbas long ago elected to be president of Palestinian Authority and long ago finished his term.  He's not ready to negotiate because he'll never recognize Israel or discuss really implementing a two-state solution. possibility of internal dissension is an excuse.   Gandaf (?) declares the US is the center of all conspiracies against Iran; say they'll consider suspending 20% enrichment just as Saudi Arabia and others exclaim at Iranian terrorist deeds in their countries. Iran launched a new destroyer into the Caspian.  Secy Kerry in Baghdad asks Maliki to interrupt truck convoys and overflights of Iranian weapons to Syria. Maliki is merely a front for Iran; why does Washington pretend otherwise? Al Qaeda in Iraq becomes al Nusrah in Syria. US has backed someone who's turned against us. Maliki's govt are stooges of the Supreme Leader of Iran. US has backed someone who's turned against us. Maliki's govt are stooges of the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Yuval Porat, political and business consulting in Israel, in re: research survey in Iran on attitudes toward democracy.

We created a map of the Iranian phone system, disguised our calls to look as though they were coming from inside Iran, and asked no political question. A woman from Qom answered all 57 questions; said, "Recently, I've been very depressed and you've made me feel better by asking about my life and thinking." We were careful with the information; it was all wholly anonymous. At the end of the day, no one could know the names of participants. Although the mullahs are a threat, Iran could become our best ally in democracy in the Middle East. 

Iranians Have Democratic Values  New research reveals that Iranian society has a pro-liberal value structure deeply at odds with the fundamentalist regime.

"Groundbreaking research recently conducted in Iran shows that contrary to common perception, the Islamic Republic has high potential to turn into liberal democracy."

My colleagues in Israel and I recently conducted innovative research in Iran regarding attitudes towards democracy and freedom, which we have presented in the Wall Street Journal. To explore the political tendencies of the Iranian people we surveyed a representative sample of close to 1,000 Iranians. The research found the Iranian people to have higher potential for liberal democracy than those in Arab countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, Asian countries, such as South Korea and India and even some Eastern European countries, such as Russia and Ukraine. In addition, we found in Iran a large gap between the societal potential for liberal democracy and the actual level of democracy. When such a gap exists, there is a tendency for the level of democracy in the country to adjust to fit the values of the people.

     The research involved the creation of an innovative methodology that measures political tendencies according to people’s motivational values. Our purpose was to avoid the biases prevalent among individuals who live under autocratic rule, which naturally affect their answers to direct questions about politics. Accordingly, a psychological questionnaire without political terms was used in the survey and then, in cooperation with cross-cultural expert Prof. Shalom Schwartz, we developed an index based on values that measures the potential of a society to foster democratization processes. This index was validated by representative samples from 62 countries and 158,918 respondents.       

     Immediately following the publication of the Wall Street Journal article, over 100 Iranian news websites and blogs from across the political spectrum publicized the research, many as top headlines. The Iranian responses to the research were reported on in the Tehran Bureau, a leading Iranian magazine in the U.S. In the same article Mehdi Khalaji, a leading Iranian expert and senior fellow at the Washington Institute commented on the research. See text.

    Furthermore, two of the interviewers who conducted the survey and I were interviewed during an hour-long show on Voice of America Persian TV station (The interview is in Persian):

     On September 6th 2012 the German Marshal Fund in DC hosted an event in which the research was presented and discussed. Hassan Mneimneh was the moderator of the event and Among the panelists were Prof. David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute and Golnaz Esfendiari, a senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Prof. Pollock commented on the survey as being the best he had seen in Iran in the past few years. In order to conduct the research and now follow-up on its implications, I have decided to forgo my business in political and business consulting in Israel order to focus solely on this.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Dan Henninger, WSJ, in re: WONDER LAND Looking for Leadership  The upwelling of support for the new pope, Francis, was about more than the Catholic Church. It reflected a felt need that what the secular world could use now, but does not have, is leadership. It is a yearning born of experience: When poorly led, the world tends toward disorder.  The one we've got just now looks to be coming under an unhealthy amount of negative pressure all at once—from the Middle East to the South China Sea to the Korean peninsula, atop a never-ending European financial crisis and a building fiscal crisis in the U.S. Scan the political horizon for a significant head of state willing or able to lead in this moment and you will see no one. "The hour has arived, but not the man."

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Three astronauts were successfully launched today from Russia and are expected to dock with ISS later tonight.   They are the first crew to use the fast route to ISS, only six hours, rather than the more traditional two day rendezvous path. The competition heats up: Elon Musk confirms that on future Falcon 9 launches they will do tests of a powered return of the first stage.  For the upcoming flight, after stage separation the first stage booster will do a burn to slow it down and then a second burn just before it reaches the water. In subsequent flights they will continue these over-water tests. He repeatedly emphasized that he expects several failures before they learn how to do it right. If all goes well with the over-water tests, they will fly back to launch site and land propulsively. He expects this could happen by mid-2014.   These tests are an extension of the Grasshopper tests, only this time they'll take place during an actual launch.

Science and sequestration in context  On March 21, the House accepted the continuing resolution proposed by the Senate for the year 2013. This continuing resolution will fund everything in the federal government though September of this year, and includes the cuts imposed on March 1 by sequestration.  As it always does, the journal Science did a specific analysis of the science portion of this budget bill. As usual, they looked only at the trees, not the forest, comparing the budget changes up or down for the 2012 and 2013 years only, noting how those changes will impact each agency’s programs. As usual, Science also took the side for more federal spending, assuming that in each case any cut was sure to cause significant harm to the nation’s ability to do cutting edge science.  I like to take a wider and deeper view. Below is a chart showing how the budgets for these agencies have changed since 2008. They give a much clearer perspective of the consequences of sequestration and the cuts, if any, imposed by Congress on these science agencies. 
Read more

Hour Four

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry; 1 of 4

     For four hundred years, Americans have wrestled with and fought over two concepts that define the nature of the nation: the proper relation between church and state and between a free individual and the state. These debates began with the extraordinary thought and struggles of Roger Williams, who had an unparalleled understanding of the conflict between a government that justified itself by "reason of state"--i.e., national security, and its perceived "will of God" and the "ancient rights and liberties" of individuals.  This is a story of power set against Puritan America and the English Civil War. Williams's interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop's vision of his "City upon a Hill." Acclaimed historian John M. Barry explores the development of these fundamental ideas through the story of the man who was the first to link religious freedom to individual liberty, and who created in America the first government and society on earth informed by those beliefs. The story is essential to the continuing debate over how we define the role of religion and political power in modern American life.

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry; 2 of 4

     *Starred Review* Barry traces American separation of church and state back to earliest colonial days, when John Winthrop (1588–1649), first governor of Massachusetts Bay, and Roger Williams (1603–83), founder of Rhode Island, argued over whether government should enforce religious conformity, a dispute that eventuated in—besides such more immediately consequential things as banishment (and worse) for dissenters from colonial theocracies—Williams’ written formulation of the concept Jefferson boiled down to “wall of separation between church and state.” Barry likes to get to the roots of his subjects, so he delves farther back about Williams, in particular, to the inspiration he took from his patron Edward Coke, England’s greatest jurist, and Coke’s bitter rival in government, Sir Francis Bacon. From Coke, Williams garnered faith in the law and due process as well as, through Coke’s battles with James I and Charles I, the importance of maintaining the rights of Englishmen (Coke’s concept) against divine-right regimes, whether under king or, as in Massachusetts Bay, council. From Bacon, Williams imbibed a penchant for real-world (scientific) testing of beliefs (hypotheses) that led him to launch Rhode Island. Winthrop and Williams were on cordial terms almost to the former’s death, which is just one fascinating strand in the swath of history Barry brings to urgent life with the same focused intelligence that distinguished his The Great Influenza (2004). --Ray Olson   This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition. Booklist

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry; 3 of 4

Thursday  28 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry; 4 of 4

John Barry's Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul establishes Williams as a brave thinker and also a deft political actor … Mr. Barry puts Williams squarely among our great political thinkers, crediting him with bringing liberal democracy to the American colonies."

John M. Barry is “a sophisticated sorter-out of theological strands.

    Roger Williams is one of those figures, famous but forbidding, who hover at the periphery, imposing, important, indispensable to our history and culture and yet still distant, unknown to most Americans … and yet Williams may be … the one whose breath gives life to modern American culture and whose fingerprints are most evident on the American Constitution. The task of reviving Williams has fallen happily to John M. Barry, chronicler of the great influenza of 1918 and the great Mississippi flood of 1927.

    Roger Williams deserves our thanks for his courage to fight for religious freedom and individual liberty with his very life at a time when few thought it anything but the rankest heresy. And John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history … Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail.

(The Seattle Times )

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