Mike Kueber's Blog

May 10, 2011

If kill missions are OK, why isn’t torture?

While watching Bill O’Reilly’s TV show last night, I learned two things:

  1. His show, The O’Reilly Factor, is taped.  I learned this fact when Bill closed the show by saying he was in Boston to watch the Celtics’ game against the Miami Heat.  I immediately changed channels and joined the Celtic/Heat game at the start of the fourth quarter.  Although I had assumed that some of the show’s segments might be taped, I am a bit disappointed that the show is not as lively as it seems.  Don’t tell me that Bryan Williams isn’t live.
  2. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is not ready for prime time.  On Sunday I saw Donilon on Meet the Press (his first appearance) and was struck by his lack of command.  Although he was given relatively easy questions from David Gregory about the highly successful Osama mission, he continually gave nonresponsive answers.  Even worse, his talking points were poorly drafted and horribly delivered.  In reviewing the transcript, I counted six times where he said, “With regard to that, I’d like to make (two, three, or four) points.”  Last night’s The O’Reilly Factor showed that Donilon also appeared on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and was completely unable to answer Wallace’s question about why the Obama administration was unwilling to waterboard a terrorist, but it was willing to shoot an unarmed terrorist.  Although Donilon was obviously prepped for his interviews, this line of questioning seemed to catch him off-guard and he was completely unable to think on his feet.  If I were President Obama, I would keep this guy away from public interviews.

Regarding an appropriate answer, I haven’t seen the pundits discuss Wallace’s question.  In my opinion, the terrorists should be treated like the enemy combatants that they are.  Therefore, it is appropriate to kill a combatant unless he is “conspicuously surrendering,” but after surrendering, it is wrong to torture him.  This, of course, begs the question, because we don’t have an agreement on whether waterboarding is torture.  I think I agree with O’Reilly and Bush-43 – i.e., waterboarding is borderline torture than should be utilized only in extenuating circumstances authorized by POTUS. 

Most people forget that, when Bush-43 authorized waterboarding against three terrorists, he declined to authorize two types of enhanced interrogation that he concluded crossed the line into torture.  Perhaps there is a Pulitzer waiting for the enterprising journalist who identifies those types of interrogation.

January 13, 2011

The emergence of “Slick Barry” at the Tucson memorial service

This morning on the talk show “Imus in the Morning,” Don Imus interviewed FOX News’ Chris Wallace about President Obama’s speech at the Tucson memorial service.  Imus suggested that it was one of the best presidential addresses he had ever heard, and he complimented Matthews’ colleague Charles Krauthammer for delivering a similar post-speech analysis on FOX News immediately after the speech. 

Wallace (son of Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame) earned Imus’ wrath by being less fulsome in his praise.  Wallace agreed that the content and delivery were excellent, but opined that the speech at 34 minutes was too long.  According to Wallace’s research, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush had delivered similar gold-standard speeches in 10-15 minutes.  Imus would countenance no criticism of the Obama masterpiece and responded that the speech wouldn’t have taken so long if he hadn’t been interrupted by applause so often. 

For those of you who might have missed the speech, you might be surprised to learn that there was continual applause at a memorial service.  I turned my TV on just as AZ governor Jan Brewer was completing her address.  Shortly, thereafter former AZ governor, current Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano was introduced to read a passage from the Old Testament, and the crowd erupted with screaming applause – before and after.  The service was in a university arena, and the sound seemed to emanate from an arena full of 14,000 young girls seeing Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus for the first time.  I have heard no explanation of what caused this memorial service to transform into a political rally.

And there is no doubt that it was a political rally.  Although President Obama has received plaudits for forcefully repudiating the liberal charge that the crazed killer was empowered by vitriolic talk from conservatives, the remainder of Obama’s speech belies those plaudits and shows him taking the low road, not the high road. 

The high road would have consisted of stopping after the repudiation of the baseless liberal charges.  But instead President Obama stepped down to the low road by claiming that a nine-year-old victim who dreamed of political service would have wanted government discourse to be more civil.  So let’s resolve to make this change for her.

How slick is that?  In the name of a nine-year-old victim, Obama is able to bash those who vigorously opposed his policies.  Slick Willy would be proud.

September 4, 2010

An open letter to Glenn Beck re: the stock market

Dear Glenn Beck:

 I was recently listening to you being interviewed by Chris Wallace on a Sunday talk show following your big Saturday event in D.C.  During the interview, you smugly reminded Chris of your prescient prediction on the collapse of the stock market in late 2008 and early 2009.  I might say that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, but that would unkind and unfair.  It is fair, however, to say that your prediction was a disservice to your country and your patriotic listeners.

You seem to think of the stock market as a betting place like Las Vegas – instead of betting on games, you bet on whether business is going to get better or worse.  But that is a fundamental misconception.  The stock market represents the ownership of American business, and that ownership entitles us to participate in future profits from the business.  This concept of ownership applies to both public and private companies, but ownership in public companies is much more liquid – i.e., easy to buy in or sell out. 

Liquidity is a major attraction of public stocks, but it can be a drawback, too, when prices fluctuate dramatically based on speculation about short-term earnings.  Unfortunately, speculators base their investment decisions, not on the long-term prospects for profits, but rather on the profits for the next few quarters. 

In 2008-2009, you told your listeners that the world economy was, essentially, going to hell, and therefore they should sell their ownership interest in business and place their cash in the safest place they could find.  In making this warning, you were suggesting that your listeners should act like a speculator instead of following Warren Buffett’s advice of “buy and hold.”    

Although your advice was focused on the stock market, I assume the same advice would apply to someone who had private ownership of a business.  It may not be as easy to sell private assets, but if you are jettisoning Buffett’s buy-and-hold philosophy, there is no reason for small proprietors to ride out the storm. 

Another issue with your advice – where can you safely place your money if the world economy is going to hell?  Your advice reminds me of John Denver, who was criticized for working toward energy independence while hedging his bet by installing several fully-stocked, industrial-sized fuel tanks in his back yard.  Don’t you realize that by living in fear of the future, you are exacerbating the problems that currently confront us? 

You probably aren’t old enough to remember this, but in my youth there were people who were building bomb shelters because of their fear that Russia was going to bomb us into oblivion.  These people wanted to be among the few who remained breathing the morning after.  Well, if Armageddon hits the world economy, let it be said that the Becksters followed the advice that Beck learned from his granddad:

“The people who survived the Great Depression were the ones who had money to buy when everybody else was selling.”

Some questions to ponder:

  • Do you want to plan your finances so that you will survive a financial meltdown?
  • If you put your money on the sidelines, will you be rooting (like Rush Limbaugh) for America to fail so that you can buy low later? 
  • What will happen to the American economy if everyone acts like you and decides to cash-out and go to the sidelines? 
  • Won’t the collapse of big businesses spread to small businesses and to families? 

I think your suggestion to abandon the American stock market was one of the least patriotic things you could do.