The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 8 April 2014.

Air Date: 
April 08, 2014

.  Photo, above: The French president, Francois Hollande, has named Manuel Valls as France's new Prime Minister. 

Sacré bleu – un socialiste du droit?  "du côté de l'offre"?  . . . In other words, the choice of Manuel Valls as new Prime Minister could be seen as a sign of Hollande's renewed willingness to go ahead with at least some of the supply-side reforms recommended by the European Commission to put the French economy back on track. However, the road ahead for the new French cabinet looks far from easy . . . The first test for Valls and his cabinet will be to push through the so-called 'responsibility pact' - a plan to cut taxes on businesses in return for more hiring announced by Hollande in his New Year's address, and the details of which are due to be unveiled later this month. [more]

Dès le début Jacques Delors avait souhaité accompagner la création de l'euro par un gouvernement économique, ce qui était une façon de lier la politique monétaire aux autres politiques économiques notamment budgétaires. Mais l'Allemagne a refusé. Ce débat n'a pas été poussé plus loin car la création de l'euro a été, dans un premier temps, un grand succès et que les pays membres de l'euro n'avaient aucun intérêt à se lier les mains à commencer par la France et l'Allemagne qui se sont affranchies ensemble du pacte de stabilité.


Co-host: Larry Kudlow, CNBC senior advisor, and Cumulus Media radio

Hour One

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Larry Kudlow, in re:  Harry Reid attacks the GOP by proxy: the Koch brothers. I know David well, and his fabulous wife, Julia; they’re personal y lovely, ad their privately-held business works smoothly.. They hold to economic liberty, bring on attacks, incl from Harry Reid, who's protected by Senate libel laws and can say anything he wants, dopey-dope that he is.  Charles Koch points to the reasons that this economic recovery is working poorly; this govt's heavy hand has been in large part responsible.     David Koch was VP candidate on Libertarian party in t he 1980s. Supports: dignity, respect, equality before the law.  Are principal sponsors of American for Prosperity & other 501(c)4s.  Note: the Kochs are law-abiding – they’ve never done anything illegal.  The Democrats can’t talk about Obamacare, so they revert to mudslinging. Mitt Romney unfortunately took many months to respond to attacks on him; the Kochs are responding immediately. 

Image a gauche: Ciel!  Comment dit-on "supply side" en francais?  With economy ailing, new French prime minister sells his ideas to suspicious fellow Socialists  France's new prime minister is a Socialist who has disavowed the word, a cipher on the economic policy he must sell to both the French people and the European Union, and an unapologetically ambitious climber more popular than his conciliatory boss.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls goes before the Socialist-led national assembly for the first time since he was given the job in a government reshuffle triggered by his party's dismal showing in local elections. He is facing a confidence vote from lawmakers suspicious of the economic turnaround he is supposed to lead — and the 50 billion euros ($69 billion) he is supposed to cut from the budget. With unemployment hovering around 10 percent for more than five years, minuscule economic growth, and a public debt that . . .


Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Bill Whalen, Hoover / Advancing a Free Society, in re:  Does Conventional Wisdom Apply to the Parties’ 2016 Conventions?   Where to have the next GOP convention – Las Vegas, Dallas, Alaska?

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Joseph Rago, WSJ editorial board & Pulitzer Prizewinner, in re: The ObamaCare Copperheads    How many have signed up for ACA, how many have paid?  The number who’ve actually paid who were previously uninsured my be a couple million-plus.  HHS is known as a dysfunctional, slow-moving agency, but when they want to make a political point, they move with speed. I think it’s a crime against public [tax dollars].   This law has survived a lot, will probably keep limping on.  We've gone from "repeal and replace" to "replace and repeal."  . . .  Individual mandate is dead: you can get out of it simply be saying you had some kind of economic hardship during the year. The longer it’s not enforced, the harder it'll be to enforce.  . . .  Morgan Stanley: predict in some states 40-50% . . .  ad hoc rules every week scaring the daylights out  of insurers.

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Paul E Polzin, Montana State University & LA Times, in re:  US energy & frakking.  People of the Bakken: two counties, one in Montana, one in South Dakota.  Wages for food-service employees rose much faster than in non-Bakken regions. Areas with low population density and a significant increase in employment. Lot of people driving long distances, looking for accommodations.  Bradford Co., PA, on New York border. 

. . . And wage growth hasn't been limited to the oil and gas industry: Lower-paid workers in retail trade, food services and accommodations jobs experienced much faster than expected increases in wages per worker. The data don't lie.  [more]

Hour Two

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton prof Emeritus ; Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, & The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin, in re: Lavrov  today suggested a meeting among Russians, Americans, and representatives from all over Ukraine.   We have three information sources: Kiev (lots of misinformation), US (some misinformation), Russia (some misinformation).  Since Moscow seems to have accepted the Ukrainian foreign minister, which the Kremlin considers illegitimate, this is a big change. Baroness Ashton continues dip efforts, will meet widely next week.    Steve Cohen said last week, "We're closer to war now than we have been in decades" – and now I see that this is an escalation game.  Kerry spoke to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bellicose and inaccurate: All the secessionist protest in the Eastern Ukrainian towns are occurring by Russian provacateurs and agents operating ham-handedly. Whenever a pol starts a sentence with "frankly," there's a lie in there.  In all the demonstrating crowds there are agents from multiple countries, all gathering intelligence. 

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton prof Emeritus ;  author: Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, & The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin, in re: a vocal group in the vast bureaucracy of Brussels: NATO troops must be moved deeper into eastern Europe. Recall that when it first moved into the Baltics, it did not put forward military bases in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, et al.  Now because of the annexation of Crimea, NATO should move deeply east toward Russia – which Russia takes very seriously.  Were NATO to move its troops to the Poland-Ukr border, then Russia would move troops into Eastern Ukr.  We don’t know if NATO is moving  mof-re infrastructure in.  When you read press, check dateline: all from Western Ukr or Crimea; nothing fro the east. No Western media reporting on what seems to be an ultra-nationalist movement in the West and a Russian nationalist takeover of the east, then Kiev controls nothing and it’s very dangerous.  Estonians alarmed and the local Russian speakers electrified by news of Russian troops there, That would be Article Five triggered. 

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton prof Emeritus ;  author: Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, & The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin, in re:  See, "Cold War Again" in The Nation magazine.  Estonia, on Narva River; travel from Talinn to Moscow – in the town Narva, the population is Russian-speaking heavily unemployed, complain abt requirement to learn Estonia; across the River is an Estonian-speaking city. Lavrov signed a border treaty a few y=months ago.  If Russia crossed the river into Estonia, all the NATO countries would have to fight Russia.  What Es La Li had in common with Ukraine is that Stalin in effect created them; when the Red Army drove back to Berlin, Stalin annexed them again Gorbachov gave them independence first.  Regulations keep non-Estonian-/Latvian-/Lithuanian-speakers unable to vote, and restricted.  Eastern Ukr is now almost an exact copy of what happened in Kiev – demo, seize bldgs, raise a flag, demand a new legislature.  Putin might send troops into Eastern Ukraine but is deeply unlikely to send troops into the Baltics.  US foots a disproportionate amount of NATO's defense expenditures – one reason Euros don't want to reduce NATO, so the US can pay.  Article Five of the NATO treaty has never been tested; it now has 28 countries.  Russian media are pounding on a tale that Russian-speakers are endangered throughout [East Europe].  My anti-Putin Russian friends are angry with me.  I the old days, only the Kremlin hated me.  The three major national TV channels are govt-controlled, these are telling that tale. The print media are much more diverse, are pushing back vs the Kremlin line, as are many streaming media.  More diversity in Russian print media than in the US on the Ukrainian crisis. In the US, no one much is opposing Washington's party line. 

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton prof Emeritus ;  author: Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, & The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin, in re:  One narrative: Democracy ns under attack in Venezuela, Cuba, Ukraine and Iran – under attack by the US!  Dual narrative an=s the US and Russia accuse each other of the same sins.  On 22 Feb in Ukraine, was a profound violation of democracy in the one place – the former USSR – you don’t want to do that. Yanukovich was a horrible crook, but was elected in "the free-est and fairest election" in the FSU. Next was scheduled for this past March.   In light of profound US and Euro involvement. Russians now think that the goal here isn’t democracy but the movement of NATO into the FSU.  Siemens signed a deal with Gazprom last week to provide eqpt for Southstream gas pipeline.  Seve: Euro who think that damaging Southstream will hurt Russia haven’t thought it through. If Europe refuses Russian energy, China will gladly buy it.  American [hubristic] notion that the US can supply all of Europe's energy needs: it'll take twelve years. Before that, the lights go off.

Hour Three

John McCain: John Kerry speaks softly and carries a twig.

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 3, Block A:   Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re:  When Will America Burst D.C.'s Bubble? | RealClearPolitics  When Will America Burst D.C.'s Bubble?

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 3, Block B:  John Bolton, AEI, in re:  In a crisis, now anent Ukraine, this Administration merely raises the level of rhetoric. Putin is pursuing a strategy based on his cost-benefit analysis; the US is pursuing – nothing.   Since Putin sees no resistance form the US and Europe, his vista is expanding day by day. He said in his message to the Russian people, "The breakup of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century."  In Ukraine he's not just achieve hegemony, he's annexed it.  Kiev looks at the West's pathetic response. The crisis in Ukraine is an existential crisis for NATO: the Europeans are going to have to decide if they'll defend themselves or not.

Vladimir Putin: Imposing his will on the world.  . . .  Russia’s strongman is proving to be a strategic player as he outmaneuvers President Obama globally while pursuing a mission to restore his country’s status as a superpower. The Cold War may yet return.  Vladimir Putin has breathed new life into the ancient Roman saying, "audaces fortuna iuvat": "fortune favors the bold." And given Moscow’s longstanding view, dating back to the czars, that it is the “third Rome” (Constantinople being the second), this assessment is historically fitting as well.

In the weeks before the crisis in the Ukraine exploded, Putin inserted himself and Russia at the center of the world’s attention via successfully hosting the Olympics. 

Despite embarrassingly incomplete preparations, including wild dogs in the streets and a weak performance by its hockey team, Russia emerged from the Sochi Winter Olympics with the most gold and most overall medals. Critically, the games ended without a terrorist incident, despite well-founded fears that terrorism would be Sochi’s dominant story, as Munich’s 1972 Olympics are forever remembered for the murder of Israeli athletes. Many Western observers too readily concluded that Putin would regret bidding for the Olympics, but Russia’s successes plainly exceeded expectations. 

As the years pass, Sochi’s minor inconveniences and even the excessive cost will fade from view. History’s dominant recollection will not be that of aestheticians and green eyeshades. It will be that Vladimir Putin rolled the dice to show the world that Russia had survived the Soviet Union’s collapse, and that, under his leadership, Russia was back. That is already the view in Russia, and increasingly elsewhere. Just as Putin’s “ring of steel” worked to protect the athletes and spectators from terrorist attack, the strength of Putin’s will and determination were essential to realizing an unexpected triumph for himself and Russia. 

Putin’s Grand Strategy

While the Sochi Olympics were hardly earthshattering geopolitically, they were nonetheless a manifestation of Putin’s grand strategy, his personal imperative to restore Russia to its communist-era status as a global great power. 

That does not necessarily mean recreating the Soviet Union or disinterring communism as an ideology. It does mean renewing the concentration of political and economic power in the Kremlin, which Putin has worked assiduously to do since 1999 when Boris Yeltsin first made him prime minister. This process continued during Putin’s first term as president (2000-2008, when he stepped down due to term limits); his second stint as prime minister (2008-2012) where he remained dominant even though Dmitri Medvedev served as president; and now Putin’s reprise as president (from May, 2012, for a six-year term).

Based on the record of Putin’s second presidential term, he is having an extraordinarily successful run. Internationally, he has moved rapidly to re-establish Russian hegemony within the space of the former USSR, especially in the still-unresolved contest whether Ukraine turns West or is reabsorbed into Russia’s orbit. 

Putin has restored Moscow’s influence in the Middle East to levels not seen since before Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military and economic advisers in the early 1970s. Russia remains a critical player in protecting Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, and its oil and natural gas assets provide the potential for enormous leverage over central and Western Europe, regardless of . . . [Newsmax]

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 3, Block C:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: According to the deputy head of Russia’s space agency, they are not planning any retaliatory sanctions against NASA.  Whew! That’s a relief.

Seriously, I never expected them to do anything, as the sanctions NASA has imposed, excluding ISS, are so minor that they mean nothing to Russia. The only people NASA really hopes will react to these sanctions are Congressmen and Senators when they realize how dependent we are on the Russians to get to space.

Curiosity catches a mysterious flash of light on the Martian horizon.

Be assured, despite what some reports are suggesting, it isn’t an alien flashing a mirror at us. The top theory now is that Curiosity caught a reflection off a “glinty” rock.

As the NASA lunar probe LADEE nears its planned end — where it will crash onto the Moon — the scientists running it admit that they have as yet been unable to solve its primary scientific question about levitating lunar dust.

A major goal of the mission was to understand a bizarre glow on the Moon’s horizon, spotted by Apollo astronauts just before sunrise. “So far we haven’t come up with an explanation for that,” project scientist Rick Elphic, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said at a media briefing on 3 April. One leading idea is that the Sun’s ultraviolet rays cause lunar dust particles to become electrically charged. That dust then lofts upwards, forming a cloud that caught the light and the astronauts’ eyes.

LADEE [pron: ladd-ee] carries an instrument that measures the impact of individual dust particles, as well as the collective signal from smaller particles. Lunar scientists had expected a certain amount of tiny dust to explain what the Apollo astronauts saw. But LADEE didn’t find it. “We did measure a signal that indicates that the amount of lofted dust has to be at least two orders of magnitude below the expectations that were based on the Apollo reports,” says Mihály Horányi, the instrument’s principal investigator, who is at the University of Colorado. Perhaps the dust lofting happens only occasionally, he suggests, and the astronauts were in just the right place at the right time to see it.

This remains an important question. Knowing what caused that horizon glow and knowing how often it occurs is essential knowledge for any future lunar base or research station.

The launches at Kennedy, delayed because of a fire at an Air Force radar facility, have now been rescheduled.  This includes a military launch by an Atlas 5 rocket on April 10 and SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 launch to supply ISS. The Falcon 9 flight will also include an attempt to bring the first stage back to a soft vertical landing over water.  [more]

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Paul R. Gregory, Hoover &, in re:  Putin's Attack on East Ukraine Began Today: What This Means for Europe and the US  Vladimir Putin had to act before the Ukrainian presidential election of May 25, at which time his narrative of neo-Nazis and nationalist extremists in charge of Ukraine would vanish into thin air.  Even Putin’s genius spin meisters could not portray a President Poroshenko from ex-boxer Klitschko’s UDAR party as a wild eyed extremist, nor could they whitewash the trivial vote for rightist candidates, although they would try.

Putin’s anti-Ukraine propaganda juggernaut rests squarely on the single fiction of a neo-Nazi, Jew-hating, extreme nationalist government in Kiev. If Putin waits out the election, his anti-Ukraine disinformation campaign directed to his Russian, southeastern Ukrainian, and Western audiences loses its credibility, even in receptive leftist quarters in the West.  . . . [more]

Hour Four

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Michael Ledeen, FDD, in re: Arming the Mullahs Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel.  The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts [1] for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft.  Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously.  Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet.  The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service.  Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s.  Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Meanwhile, as my buddy/boss/colleague Mark Dubowitz explains, the Russians and Iranians are working on ways to bust the oil sanctions on Tehran.  They’re gonna swap stuff:  Russian goodies (probably including military equipment such as submarines, torpedoes and antiaircraft missiles) for Iranian oil.  This will not be the first time.  Iran has done swaps with India and, most recently and outrageously, with the Turks (Iranian natural gas for Turkish gold, along with a plethora of other deals).

Mark rightly insists that if this deal is consummated, we should come down on the Russians with all four claws, but how likely is that?  As I write, Soviet — no, make that Russian — special forces are hard at work in Ukraine, stirring up ethnic conflict, the better to justify forceful action against Ukrainian territory.  We’re clucking our tongues and sending some fighter planes to Romania, but Putin won’t worry much about that sort of gesture;  he doesn’t believe Obama has the courage or the will to confront Russia.

Commentators are looking for . . . [more]

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Matthew Kaminsky, WSJ, in re:  Tallinn, Estonia   From the pinkish presidential palace here, the Russia border lies 130 miles due east across a flat coastal Baltic plain. Toomas Hendrik Ilves took up residence in 2006, two years after his small Baltic state joined the European Union and NATO. At the time, most people assumed that any Russian threat had been buried with Peter the Great, who first brought Estonia into Russia's empire. [more]

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Michael Auslin, AEI & Opinion Asia   China's Diplomatic Hate Machine  Beijing foments anti-Japan hatred at home and abroad.  Big news this week in Asia: For the first time since both entered office more than a year ago, Japanese leader Shinzo Abe and South Korean leader Park Geun-hye met, on the sidelines of a nuclear-security summit in the Netherlands. That this first meeting was so significant reveals how dysfunctional relations are between Tokyo and Seoul these days. And the beneficiary of this state of affairs, of course, is China.  [more]

Tuesday  8 April   2014 / Hour 4, Block D:   Sid Perkins, Science magazine, in re: EARTH  Explainer: Strong Quakes Rock Yellowstone  Science explores the meaning—and impact—of the temblors.    CHEMISTRY  Airborne Iron May Have Helped Cause Past Ice Ages   Metal seeded growth of marine organisms that sucked greenhouse gas from the air.

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"La croissance francaise reste faible" . .  . En décembre, la reprise était qualifiée de «poussive» . Désormais, elle est «modeste». Quel que soit l’adjectif choisi par l’Insee pour caractériser l’activité économique en France en 2014, une chose est sûre: la croissance restera faible au moins jusqu’à juin.

Financial Times article from January 19, 2014:  Last week, we heard another Frenchman, President François Hollande, proclaiming: “L’offre crée* même la demande”, which translates as “supply actually creates its own demand”. If you want to look for the real political scandal in France today, it is not the sight of the president in a motorcycle helmet about to sneak into a Parisian apartment building. It is that official economic thinking in Paris has not progressed in 211 years.    * [créé?]

..  ..  ..


Hour 1:  Deadwood.  Vertigo. Break.  

Hour 2:  Red Army Choir. Hunt for Red October.  Bourne Ultimatum. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. 

Hour 3:  Inception.  Eastern Promises.  Apollo 13.

Hour 4:  Noah.  Elysium.  I, Robot.  Inside Man.