Mike Kueber's Blog

January 12, 2013

Sunday Book Review #96 – Killing Kennedy

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 4:46 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Fox News talk-show host Bill O’Reilly surprised everyone by authoring a #1 best-seller in 2011 titled Killing Lincoln, which was #66 of my book reviews.  One year later, against all odds, he (and co-author Martin Dugard) has repeated his success with Killing Kennedy

Both books are highly readable and provide general-interest readers with a solid understanding of the people and their times.  Among the topics that O’Reilly incorporates into the Kennedy assassination are Vietnam, civil rights, the cold war, and the Mafia connection.  The LBJ-RFK feud also plays a huge role, with RFK portrayed as an immature, inexperienced attack dog and LBJ as an emasculated erstwhile titan. 

Coincidentally, I just finished reading the fourth volume Robert Caro’s LBJ biography titled The Passage of Power, and the contrast is stark.  Caro’s work on LBJ is comprehensive and contains more information on the Kennedy assassination than O’Reilly’s book on Kennedy.  O’Reilly’s book, along with being more superficial, also is more inclined to take subjective positions, which is the opposite of O’Reilly’s Fox News network, whose motto is, “We report, you decide.”

Killing Kennedy seems to idolize JFK as well as Jackie and Camelot.  Considering that O’Reilly is an Irish Catholic born in 1949, this sort of adulation is not surprising, but as a naturalized Texan, I take umbrage at his treatment of our native son LBJ. 

Despite O’Reilly’s hero-worship of JFK, I think he has done commendable work in describing an important part of American life in the early 60s. 




October 21, 2011

Celebrating the coup de grace of Moammar Gadhafi or worrying about the future of Libya

Filed under: Issues,Media,Politics,War — Mike Kueber @ 4:30 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

More and more often on weeknights, I find myself leaving FOX News shortly around 8:10 p.m.  After listening to right-leaning Bill O’Reilly off-and-on for an hour, I quickly tire of viewing far-right-leaning Sean Hannity and then start channel surfing.

My first stop is Piers Morgan on CNN.  Although he is a bit effeminate, he does good interviews if he has a good guest.  Unfortunately, he only rarely has a guest that I’m interested in listening to.

My next stop is usually Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.  Rachel is as far left as Hannity is far right, but she has a lot more sparkle in her personality, so a few minutes with her is usually more enjoyable than a few minutes with the dull Hannity.

I especially enjoyed Maddow tonight because she was waxing romantic over the killing of Moammar Gadhafi.  Her lengthy soliloquy was broken up only by a
conversation with an equally emotional Richard Engel.  Both individuals were nearly in tears of joy, not only because the wicked witch dead, but also because he had been killed by a collective of good guys and was being replaced by a bunch idealistic reformers.

When Maddow asked Engel about the new group in charge, Engel quickly admitted that they were highly religious Islamists, but these Muslims loved the Americans who helped them overthrow the evil Gadhafi.  Engels said he hadn’t had to pay for a cup of coffee in Libya for months.

While listening to Maddow and Engles, I couldn’t help but recall the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the greeting of Americans as liberators in Iraq.  The analogy was also similar in that Hussein was hiding in a spider-nest when he was captured while Gadhafi was pulled from hiding in a sewer.

Near the end of the hour, I changed channels back to FOX News and learned that Maddow might be sugar-coating things.  According to two FOX foreign-policy experts, America should be highly concerned about the people who will be running Libya.  Among other things, the country is a virtual munitions armory and the new leadership could do a variety of things with these armaments that could prove disastrous to America.  Who is right – FOX or Maddow?  I’ll find out tomorrow by getting outside the world of talk TV.

I finished my political fix for the night by listening to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  He was on the same page as Maddow and used a major portion of his show to make fun of the FOX fiends for begrudging Obama this unqualified success.  In fact, Stewart presented one of the most partisan, unfair segments that I have seen on The Daily Show.  He attempted to prove his point (a) by showing several clips of leading Republicans, like McCain and Rubio congratulating European countries, like France, Great Britain, and Italy and (b) by implying that America was actually the dominant power that brought down Gadhafi.

I haven’t been following Libya closely, but my understanding is that Europe, not America, played the dominant role in supporting the rebels in Libya and that Obama made America’s secondary status clear in his various communications.  Consistent with this position Maddow proudly pointed out during her soliloquy that America had never deployed a single combat troop in Libya.

During his Libya segment, Stewart criticized FOX for taking two inconsistent opinions – (a) the removal of Gadhafi may make things worse, and (b) we should have been able to remove him in one month instead of taking six months to do it.  I suggest that Stewart and Maddow are guilty of an analogous inconsistency in their positions – (a) Obama deserves credit for removing Gadhafi, and (b) America led from behind as part of a collective and we never seriously engaged militarily in Libya.

I’ve been a consistent supporter of America’s role in Libya, and I believe America should always prefer participating in a coalition instead of lone-rangering, so I completely agree with Maddow’s feeling good.  But even with MSNBC pundits saying “the war in Libya is over,” I think Americans should be reminded that despite the hoopla in the streets, “more work needs to be done.”

Someone famously told George Bush that if you break Iraq, it is yours.  That is why America’s huge short-term investment in overthrowing Saddam led to a huge long-term investment in the building of new Iraq.

By contrast, America made a relatively small short-term investment in overthrowing Moammar, but it is undecided whether America is going to make a long-term investment in the building of a new Libya.

We can start worrying about that tomorrow.  Tonight let’s just celebrate.