Diary

Morning Briefing for May 4, 2011

RedState Morning Briefing
For May 4, 2011

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1. Inconvenient Facts About The Takedown of Osama bin Laden

We must pity the dilemma of the anti-war Left in facing the enormously popular and inarguably successful takedown of bin Laden.To the mere Democratic partisan, there is no real conflict: as long as people like the results achieved under President Obama, his party wins. But the anti-war Left spent most of the Bush years shrieking to high heaven about Bush shredding the Constitution, staining the integrity of the nation, yadda yadda yadda. Everything he did in pursuing the War on Terror had to be the WORST THING EVER, and every effort made to argue that you were beyond the pale of civilization if you approved of the Iraq War, the detention of unlawful combatants at Guantanamo Bay or various secret CIA facilities, the use of “enhanced” coercive interrogation techniques (or for that matter any interrogation outside the Geneva Convention’s name-rank-serial number questioning of traditional POWs), or the “assassination” of terrorists. This is the politics of outrage, the idea that you win arguments by being the angriest man in the room, that rather than argue that policies are not worth the costs and tradeoffs that come with every successful policy, they were inarguably wrong in every particular.Consider the waterboarding debate. As it turns out, the CIA only waterboarded three men (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri), leading to the question of why the Left made such a colossal stink about it in the first place. Certainly, given those facts, nobody on the Right has argued that waterboarding or any other form of coercive interrogation should be the only or even the first recourse in interrogation (or even that they be used at all with criminal defendants or legitimate prisoners of war) – the argument is simply that these are sometimes-useful tools in an interrogator’s toolkit and that, in some extreme hard cases, it can be justifiable to use those tools against the very worst hard-core senior terrorist leaders. But critics of waterboarding have mostly long since painted themselves into the corner of insisting that the tradeoffs involved don’t need to be debated, because coercive interrogation never yields any information of any use in any situation.This is poor ground to make a stand on.Initial reports on the extensive detective work that led to cornering bin Laden have indicated a couple of things that are terribly inconvenient for these arguments.Please click here for the rest of the post.

2. The Winter of Republican Discontent

Republicans are unhappy with the present crop of candidates for the White House. Over last weekend, while overshadowed by bigger news, Republicans gathered at an NRA event, a Heritage Foundation event, an AFP event, and a few other gatherings. Grassroots activists lamented together about the current crop.Certainly each candidate has their acolytes, but largely the field is uninspiring. Republicans are on the verge of a self-fulfilling prophecy that their nominee will suck and not beat Barack Obama.For all the Republicans and Democrats either lamenting or celebrating the invulnerability of Barack Obama, I am reminded more and more of 1991. In fact, I venture to say that 2011 is to Republicans as 1991 was to Democrats.And as it was, it remains “The Economy, Stupid.”Please click here for the rest of the post.

3. Obama vs. Panetta In The Kill Osama Decision?

I don’t stand by what follows because I don’t know the author or the website. It also falls into the “too good to check” category.But read and decide for yourself which has a greater ring of truth: the cool, analytical Obama of the developing White House hagiography (or to quote the notorious catchfart Howard Fineman, “President Barack Obama just proved himself — vividly, in almost Biblical terms — to be an effective commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States”)? or this story describing the indecisive, goofy wuss whom we’ve come to know over the previous painful 29 months?Please click here for the rest of the post.

4. ‘Why does my gas cost $4.00 per gallon?’

Everybody is asking that question these days. The average nationwide price for all grades this week is $3.96/gallon; Californians are paying on average $4.26, the highest in the nation.Why does it cost so much, especially considering that the price was below $2.00/gallon just within the last couple of years?Nearly seventy percent of the price of a gallon of retail gasoline is the price of the crude oil it is refined from. Two graphs from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) make that point. The first shows the price of a gallon of gasoline (left axis) plotted against the price of a gallon of crude oil (right axis). The two move in virtual lock-step; if you know the crude oil price per gallon, add $1.00 and you’ll know the price of gasoline within a few cents. (At $105 per 42-gallon barrel, the per-gallon price of crude is $2.50; add a buck, and you get a gasoline price around $3.50.)Please click here for the rest of the post.