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Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2011

TUESDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* Not surprisingly, some of the initial accounts from Sunday's firefight at the bin Laden compound weren't accurate: "White House officials on Tuesday sought to correct the official account of the raid in Pakistan that ended in the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying that the Qaeda leader was not armed and that his wife was not killed."

* Obama in New York tomorrow: "President Obama will travel to New York City on Thursday to mark the death of Osama bin Laden by visiting the site of the World Trade Center and meeting with families of victims from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The president is scheduled to deliver a speech, tour the site and meet privately with family members, an administration official said."

* Iraq: "A car bomb tore through a cafe packed with young men watching a football match Tuesday in Baghdad, killing at least 16 people, officials said."

* House Republicans put together a new contract for attorney Paul Clement, and will once again pay him and his legal team $500,000 in taxpayer money to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

* I really wish more people still cared about this: "Arctic ice is melting faster than expected and could raise the average global sea level by as much as five feet this century, an authoritative new report suggests."

* Two UCLA geographers and a class of undergraduates authored a 2009 paper predicting Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. How'd they do? "According to a probabilistic model they created, there was an 88.9% chance that bin Laden was hiding out in a city less than 300 km from his last known location in Tora Bora: a region that included Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed last night."

* The Oklahoma state House of Representatives censured state Rep. Sally Kern (R) for her racism yesterday. Some of her Republican colleagues defended her, but they were in the minority.

* Congrats to Nico Pitney on his promotion, as he becomes the executive editor at the Huffington Post.

* The American Enterprise Institute tries to weigh in on for-profit colleges. The results aren't good.

* And easily the strangest thing I've seen all day is a collection of tweets from people who have no idea who Osama bin Laden is. The terrorist, it turns out, wasn't living in a cave, but maybe these folks have been.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

re: Melted Ice...

really, who needs Florida always.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on May 3, 2011 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I really wish more people still cared about this: 'Arctic ice is melting faster than expected and could raise the average global sea level by as much as five feet this century, an authoritative new report suggests'."

Me too. It would be nice if people "cared" about a problem that represents an existential threat to human civilization, and indeed to the human species, which is being largely ignored by the "mainstream" media in the USA because dealing with it would be "inconvenient" to the largest, most powerful and wealthiest corporations in the world.

May I respectfully suggest that you consider using the bully pulpit of Political Animal to stimulate public concern about the issue?

You often write about the politics of other issues -- health care reform, the federal budget, etc. Yet you rarely devote a post to the politics of climate change or alternative energy.

You are in a unique position to help move those issues from a niche concern to the mainstream.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 3, 2011 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, sea level rise is probably the least of our worries with regard to anthropogenic global warming.

Drought, floods and other violent extreme weather events will be much bigger problems, much sooner. Indeed, they are already very big problems and getting rapidly worse.

On the bright side, though, it will be easier to evacuate coastal cities inundated by sea level rise after they have been mostly depopulated by famine.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 3, 2011 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, it seems that most of the people who did not know who Obama bin Laden was are teenagers. My 12-year old son had no idea either, so we had him watch Obama's speech with us the other night.

Posted by: KenS on May 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, I won't be so hard on Fox the next time they put Obama bin Laden on the screen...

Posted by: KenS on May 3, 2011 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

We don't have to worry about sea level rise because Osama bin Laden is dead. Climate change was all a terrorist plot. And terrorism has been vanquished. Hasn't it?

Posted by: rrk1 on May 3, 2011 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"And easily the strangest thing I've seen I'll day "
was Pam Geller making the argument Obama acted against Osama because of the threat of a military coup.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on May 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"I really wish more people still cared about this: "Arctic ice is melting faster than expected and could raise the average global sea level by as much as five feet this century, an authoritative new report suggests.""

Any body that has NO working brain cells KNOWS there is no such thing as Global Warming !! AKA REPUGS

Posted by: barkleyg on May 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

bin Laden was "not armed"?!?

Then how much of an "existential threat" did he pose to the US military troops? Why could he not have been captured, as the original orders supposedly were?

The left is really going to be on Obama's case over this one. (While the 'right', of course, will deny that anything happened at all...)

Posted by: zandru on May 3, 2011 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the Huffington Post. I thought that monster died when Arianna sold out or merged with The Politico. Is there any difference anymore? From now on, let's not congratulate anyone or anything associated with that crap.

Posted by: mostel on May 3, 2011 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to do this but in spite of my long time progressive views this climate change dogma that I am supposed to accept without question leaves me with questions.
That unprovable stuff reported last week about the tornadoes being the result of global warming illustrates the rush to assign this effect to every event.
When I am viciously attacked for having doubts you will observe ideology not science.

Posted by: hornblower on May 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

* Congrats to Nico Pitney on his promotion, as he becomes the executive editor at the Huffington Post.

Replacing Andrew Breitbart.

&on the Tweets: Old enough to operate a two-finger keyboard, too young and/or stupid to know anything. Back to Andrew Breitbart.

My favorite Tweet: "Was he in a band?"

Posted by: ericfree on May 3, 2011 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

hornblower:


"When I am viciously attacked for having doubts you will observe ideology not science."

Wrong!! You are preaching REPUG ideology. Science is something REPUGS DON'T believe.

You aint no progressive with those "dark ages" ideas of the value of SCIENCE!

Posted by: barkleyg on May 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"A car bomb tore through a cafe...

B-b-but... we killed terrorism. Right?

Posted by: Grumpy on May 3, 2011 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

re hornblower @ 6:48 PM.

There isn't a "progressive" view regarding climate change; there's only a scientific one.
Whether the tonadoes last week occurred ONLY because of global warming is, almost assuredly, undeterminable. What IS determinable is that, as the atmosphere warms, it increases the probability of such occurrences.
Since tornadoes and severe thunderstorms occur when warm, moisture-laden air masses collide with cold, drier air masses, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere increases the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold. The more moisture in the atmosphere there is, the stronger the effects when a warm front hits a cold front; ie, more torrential downpours, more and stronger thunderstorms and, yes, more tornadoes.
If I understand it correctly, warm air is also more unstable, which helps to contribute to the strength of such outbursts. Global warming thus contributes twice over; the atmosphere has an increased ability to hold moisture and is more unstable.
That there were tornadoes in the south last week isn't unusual, but the strength and numbers of the storms WERE. That's the link, if any, between the tornadoes and global warming and is quite likely what the person speaking about the outbreak was trying to say.

Posted by: Doug on May 3, 2011 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Was he in a band?" Yeah, he played bass, but he really sucked and only did it for the attention. No, that was that guy from the Sex Pistols. No, that was Mike Huffington. No, Huckleberry. No, Huckabee. And that's why we shot him. Liked the whole thing a lot better when he was hiding behind his wife.

Posted by: ericfree on May 3, 2011 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

zandru asks, "Why could he not have been captured, as the original orders supposedly were?"

And why did Lieberman clearly call it "murder" on last night's PBS News Hour?

And why is that vampire Feinstein trying to pave the way for action against Pakistan?

For what it's worth, a lot of this is sounding like an intentionally muddy cover story, maybe to protect . . . who?

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on May 3, 2011 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, well, the geographers' paper makes sense only if you think Osama was "hiding out."

I don't think he was "hiding out." I think he was under house arrest. I think the Pakistani military built that house for him, put him in it, and told him to stay there. I think no one went in or out unless the ISI said they could.

Then, for some reason, someone decided it was time, and they got us to whack him for them.

Posted by: Bloix on May 3, 2011 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Obama going to NYC for 9/11 remembrance. The GOP has been calling for President Obama to include former President George W. Bush at the ceremony.

I like the idea. It would demonstrate respect for the tremendous amount of time, treasure and blood that has been spent fighting Al Qaeda. Inviting Bush would show that Obama is not politicizing current events. The struggle against Al Qaeda has been going on for a long time, and including George Bush in a victory celebration is the right thing to do. It is not a Democratic victory or a Republican victory, it is an American victory, and we should rise against partisanship at a time like this.

Bush can speak after Bill Clinton, and before Obama.

Posted by: danimal on May 3, 2011 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

daminal:

Obama invited George W (WORST AMERICAN EVER) Bush to ground zero, but King George declined.

King George aint going to share no stinkin stage with a Kenyan, socialist OTHER!

Posted by: barkleyg on May 3, 2011 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

@barkleyg--I was just trying to be a little ironic there, didn't know I was forecasting actual events.

It really is too bad Bush won't go, it would actually be a good thing for the nation. While the GOP flacks are somewhat insincere about their desire to see Bush in NYC on Thursday, a lot of (non 27%er) Republicans would appreciate seeing him get some credit and share the stage with Obama. Of course, Bill Clinton made targeting Bin Laden a priority and seeing Clinton there as well would make some wingnut heads explode.

Posted by: danimal on May 3, 2011 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a pathetic roundup of right-wing dodges of Obama's takedown of Osama. About which: I wonder what perspective on the shooting of Osama is to be had, if he was not armed and resisting. I do realize the "rules of war" are muddied by these non-national struggles ...

And Lieberman, called killing Osama "murder"? That schmuck, carrying water for neocons?

Posted by: neil b on May 3, 2011 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

danimal- you is too reasonable to be a REPUG, so we is on the same "side"

Didn't George W( WORST AMERICAN EVER) Bush want Obama dead or alive, but he was tooo lazy to carry out his plan? King George closed down the Osama unit early in 2006, about the same time that Osama moved to Abbabbodad(sic)!

King George deserves the credits you see as the screen goes black at the end of the movie credits!

Posted by: barkleyg on May 3, 2011 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Didn't George W( WORST AMERICAN EVER) Bush want Obama dead or alive," should be OSAMA.

Must have been a Bush "Freudian thought"!

Posted by: barkleyg on May 3, 2011 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Cantor and Sarah Palin, who refuse to give President Obama any credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, are very small people.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 3, 2011 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

barkleyg-trying to be nice and conciliatory. I didn't mention the
(a) wimpy-afraid of casualties or
(b) cynical-needed Bin Laden alive to justify Iraqi invasion
failure at Tora Bora. We had him cornered and we let him get away by relying on Afghan troops. Trust me, every soldier and sailor I've ever talked to would have risked any level of sacrifice needed to kill him when we had the chance.

Posted by: danimal on May 3, 2011 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

FYI and FWIW, this is not the much-circulated but debunked (found to be shopped version from previous photo) "dead Bin Laden" photo:
http://photo-journ.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-2-450x337.jpg
In night-scope green, with soldier, looks like OBL but who knows ...

Posted by: neil b on May 3, 2011 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

BG,
I have no idea what using the word "Repug" has to do with the notion that someone is unconvinced about climate change.
Doug,
I never said there was a progressive view about climate change. I do, however, believe there is a cottage industry that uses any unusual weather event to push the certainty of future doomsday scenarios.
I am very much in favor of alternative energy.

Posted by: hornblower on May 3, 2011 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's good John McCain is being so gracious with praise for Pres Obama because some of us remember 28 Aug 2008 in Investco Field when some guy with big ears and a funny name said: "You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."

Posted by: IDTT on May 3, 2011 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kinda late to the party, but there are a couple things bugging me...

1. I guess we'll never know, but why didn't bin Laden have a weapon? After all the bluster about never being taken alive, did he see some advantage to being captured? Or just that much of a chickenshit?

2. There's a 40-minute gun battle going on in a relatively small city, and Pakistani police don't get there until after the thing is over?

Posted by: beep52 on May 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

The old Bush crew and republicans in general are now clearly in full overdrive to hijack the narrative of Obamas success into vindication of their torture policies of the past.

This warrants strong and persistent pushback from all progressives with a platform and from grassroots too.

But we need to keep in mind that what they're up to is really a defensive maneuver. By demanding credit for Bush and for torture they hope to the discussion that would otherwise have been unavoidable:

Bush failed. Yet again. It was perfectly possible to take out Bin Laden all along, but Bush and the republicans failed to get the job done for seven long years.

The narrative first laid out by John Kerry and others was true:

Bush took his eye off the ball. Instead of getting Al Qaeda and Bin Laden he got us into Iraq. He squandered our resources. He neglected Afghanistan, year after year, allowing the taliban and Al Qaeda to resurge and thrive in inpunity while we were bogged down in Iraq.

Once the democrats preferred policy was implemented the Taliban and Al Qaeda were beaten back, and we finished the job and got Bin Laden. We moved out of Iraq without "the terrorists winning" and we stopped torturing because neither was central in our fight against Al Qaeda. History has proved Bush and the republicans wrong.

Of course Obama himself could make this argument, and maybe he will to some extent.

But when he does he will be attacked for being ungraceful, claiming credit for himself (maybe even accused for stealing glory from the troops), making americas triumf about partisan politics, etc.

That's how they work.

It's therefore preferable if the narrative, the facts americans needs to be reminded of, can be told by surrogates outside the admin.

Posted by: Danny on May 4, 2011 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

@beep52, I've seen suggestions/guesses that the Technical Application Programs Office and the Aviation Technology Evaluation Group(both part of JSOC) used some sort of disguise for the helicopters, whether it was technological for radar and/or physically altering the appearance.

Whatever they did, it worked, at least long enough to get out safely.

Posted by: Holmes on May 4, 2011 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

@Danny, after Carney pointed out that this was a win for America, he did sort of pushback on the republican narrative by saying that any evidence gathered nearly 8 years ago being the key to capturing OBL "strains credulity".

Posted by: Holmes on May 4, 2011 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

@Holmes

That's great! But other progressive voices than the admin also need to push the argument hard, because if it's too much the admin they'll be vulnerable to the usual meta bullshit about being ungenerous, ungraceful etc, all of it a coverup of what's really happening - republicans trying to steal credit for a guy and an admin that delivered naught for seven years.

Posted by: Danny on May 4, 2011 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

I remember hearing about the geographer experiment on the Rachel Maddow show last year. Looks like I wasn't the only one watching.

Posted by: AgentX on May 4, 2011 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Not surprisingly, some of the initial accounts from Sunday's firefight at the bin Laden compound weren't accurate"

I would be extremely surprised if those minor facts were the only misinformation passed along.

Posted by: flubber on May 4, 2011 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

As to the prediction of where OBL was hiding: I'm unimpressed. They narrowed his location to a 283,000 sq. km. area, centered around where he was last known ro have been hiding. That means they had him pegged to an area larger than the state of Wyoming. And Abbottabad is about 280km from Tora Bora, so that means he was on the outer edge of their prediction.

The town that the study zeroed in on, Parachinar, is wildly different in nearly all respects from Abbottabad. It's the equivalent of predicting that someone would be in California, and saying "probably South Central L.A." when actually the person is in San Diego.

Posted by: Mark Kawakami on May 4, 2011 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

I guess one piece of good news on the climate change front is that the automakers are now making good money making small cars, which are very difficult to find.

Posted by: bob h on May 4, 2011 at 6:15 AM | PERMALINK

About sea level rising due to global warming, the figures you hear in the news are due to thermal expansion of ocean water. If all the ice in the world melted, the sea level would rise a great deal more.

This site says 66 meters, but in other places I've read 100 meters.

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/environment/waterworld.html

Posted by: anandine on May 4, 2011 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

I just can't get too worked up over climate change.

We, as humans are dumping toxins and radioactive particles into our environment, many of which are altering our gene pool.

Climate change won't drive mutations, but Fukushima will.

Let the seas rise, just stop dumping poisons into the environment!

We blab about our CARBON footprint, yet very little discussion about our trans-Uranic footprint, or our organo-phosphate/dioxin footprint.

It's the nasty stuff that ruins my DNA that scares me, not climate change.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 4, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

I certainly agree with your point on pollution, Tom, but I don't think this is limited to an "either-or" position.

Posted by: Ken on May 4, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bin Laden's death: Some people (certainly not many right-wingers) worry if it was appropriate to shoot Bin Laden now hearing he was unarmed. The European press is fretting over the legality of it. However, aside from worrying what would happen if he was taken alive: I have seen various reports that OBL's associates were sworn not to let him ever be taken alive, that they were to shoot him if he would be compromised. Hence, this wasn't in principle like charging into a bunker in WWII and having the squadron and their leader surrender. Any attempt to take OBL out would have been dangerous, everyone else they would keep resisting regardless of how subdued he was. Also as said today, OBL might have had a bomb on him, trackers to help confederates, etc.

Posted by: neil b on May 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

hornblower wrote: "That unprovable stuff reported last week about the tornadoes being the result of global warming illustrates the rush to assign this effect to every event."

That's an inaccurate caricature of what climate scientists are saying about the relationship between anthropogenic global warming and violent, extreme weather events -- including last week's record-breaking tornado outbreak.

I assume it is offered in good faith, in honest ignorance, and I encourage you to take a closer look at what climate scientists are actually saying about the attribution of extreme weather events to global warming.

No individual weather event can be attributed to any single cause. Weather events do not arise from single causes. They arise from the confluence of a whole host of causes and conditions.

Anthropogenic global warming is now a pervasive and inescapable condition that affects all weather events, extreme or otherwise. We live in an anthropogenically warmed world. There is no longer any such thing on this Earth as weather that is unaffected by global warming.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 4, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson wrote: "I just can't get too worked up over climate change."

When extended, intense, continent-wide mega-droughts lead to world-wide crop failures and famine, and your food supply becomes extremely expensive and then scarce, maybe you'll get worked up about it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 4, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

* Not surprisingly, some of the initial accounts from Sunday's firefight at the bin Laden compound weren't accurate: "White House officials on Tuesday sought to correct the official account of the raid in Pakistan that ended in the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying that the Qaeda leader was not armed and that his wife was not killed."

I'm glad bin Laden was killed, whether it was by his own body guards or our soldiers. They declared war on us, killed almost 3,000 people in NYC, and he got exactly what he deserved. Remember the images of people juming to their deaths to avoid being burned to death? These conflicting account stories are amusing to me because I remember in Vietnam trying to reconstruct what had happened the morning after a 3:00 AM firefight. You have a bunch of tired, still excited people sitting in a tent drinking warm beer, everyone talking at once, while trying to figure out who shot who and what everyone did. If you haven't been in combat you might think this can be sorted out. Not always. When it happens your heart rate is probably about 180-200, you're terrified, it's dark, people are shouting all around you, people are screaming at you on the radio net, and everything seems to be happening at once. Five or six of these and you're applying for PTSD benefits through the VA one year later. I don't care how this special op went down. I don't care if we had shoot to kill orders. I'm just glad the bastard is dead and I hope we got enough intel to stop future attacks and find and kill more of this crazies.

Posted by: max on May 4, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

"That schmuck, carrying water for neocons?"
Posted by: neil b on May 3, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Seasonally and personally appropriate for this particular schmuck:
"Why is this night different from all other nights?"
He's been not just "carrying water for," but operationally and functionally one of, them for a long, long time. This is no surprise.


"That unprovable stuff reported last week about the tornadoes being the result of global warming illustrates the rush to assign this effect to every event."
Posted by: hornblower on May 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Ironically, both the vast majority of climate scientists and the mass media have, for over a decade now, gone way too far in the opposite direction.
We've been seeing (and feeling, and surviving -- or not) highly elevated rates and magnitudes of extreme weather events of all kinds -- not just hurricanes and tornadoes, and "once-a-lifetime" heat waves and cold snaps, but also "once-a-century" droughts and floods.
Contrary to the deliberate misrepresentations and outright lies of the climate-change-denialist industry, all of these are both perfectly consistent with, and were repeatedly and accurately predicted by, the global-warming observations and theories that climatologists have been making over the past two decades. (The only thing they got wrong is that the changes are more extreme in magnitude, and happening much sooner, than they had anticipated.)
Both the scientists involved and the media --- for completely different reasons -- have actually been highly reticent about the obvious connections between the proven AGW phenomena and these elevated rates of meteorologic extreme events. For their part, the researchers are, if anything, overly mindful of the fact that no individual event can be reliably determined to have been caused directly, or even necessarily influenced by, the known AGW processes. Further, the political, economic, and personal pressures that have been brought to bear on those climatologists who have gone public with warnings about the very real dangers we're bringing upon ourselves, have almost certainly had an impact on the reticence of most investigators to go public with what are now inescapably obvious correlations, even if the media aren't loudly announcing them.
And speaking of the media, you'll notice that this pattern of clustered events whose clustering is never directly addressed (or even acknowledged) by the mass media is virtually identical to the pattern of murderous assaults on lefty or left-identified persons and enterprises, triggered by Publican / Conservative lies and eliminationist rhetoric.
(Murder of cops in PA by a nutcase convinced Obama's coming to take his guns. Murder of several in a Unitarian Universalist Church in, was it Tennessee? -- by a nutcase who announced he was a devoted Fox-consumer, looking to assassinate "liberals" and "Democrats." Murder of Dr Tiller in his church. Killing of the California Hiway cop(s?) who thereby prevented a planned mass-murder assault on the Tides Foundation in the SF Bay Area. Murder of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum. But of course there's no pattern here, so no worries.)

"When I am viciously attacked for having doubts you will observe ideology not science."

Standard Publican projection.
Nobody is "viciously attack"ing you.
To say that blatantly and obviously false and baseless assertions are blatantly and obviously false and baseless is neither an "attack," nor "vicious," and it is not about the person making the assertions; it is about the assertions.
I realize this probably disappoints you. If it will make you feel better, I can throw a few 4-letter expletives your way. I'd hate to leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Posted by: smartalek on May 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK
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