From my far-flung network of people who send me emails: “if you need proof that there’s a liberal bias, just note that they have a Nobel Peace Prize, but there is no Nobel War Prize. Outrageous.”
We have a longstanding debate in my house on the subject of bears. Specifically, which bear is the cutest. I stand by the panda bear. Kriston Capps is a supporter of the koala bear, which isn’t even a bear. Spackerman, however, is a polar bear loyalist and makes a strong case that this video supports his view. For some reason, he’s not posting it to TPM Muckraker (surely there’s an Alaska scandal here somewhere) but my voracious appetite for content will lead me to post just about anything.
This afternoon, Al Gore held a press conference on receiving this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC. From his remarks:
We’re going to donate 100 percent of the proceeds of this award to the Alliance for Climate Protection. That amount is very small compared to the enormous challenge that lies ahead and the Alliance for Climate Protection headed by Cathy Zoi is organizing a massive grassroots movement and a mass advertising campaign all focused together on trying to change the way people think in our country and all around the world about the urgency of the climate crisis.
It is the most dangerous challenge we’ve ever faced, but it’s also the greatest opportunity that we have ever had to make changes that we should be making for other reasons anyway. This is a change to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face now.
The Corner’s Iain Murray today suggested that Gore should share the Nobel Prize with “well known peace campaigner Osama Bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance – and that of the Nobel committee – in his September rant from the cave.”
Continuing with the inequality theme from this morning, on last night’s Daily Show I learned about Posh Tots, a company that will sell you, among other things, “luxury playhouses” like this lighthouse bedroom set for just $14,500. The more frugal family might want to invest $6,799 in a sassafras castle playhouse or the $8,299 victorian mansion playhouse. On the other hand, if the hedge fund really did well this year, for the low price of $38,000 you can have sophie’s magical windmill playhouse:
A PoshTots Exclusive! This exquisite windmill is sure to inspire dreams of fancy and flight. Crafted entirely by hand, it features a reading loft, charming windmill blades and an outdoor deck with hand rails. Interior flooring is maple wood vinyl and interior walls have wallpapered graphic panels. Exterior walls are a Douglas fir structural frame with bead board siding. The roof is made of Douglas fir structural trusses with exterior plywood sheeting and cedar shingles. Interior features include a loft with decorative hand railing, ladder, wood trims, operable windows, storage hideaways, concealed ventilation, bay window with reading bench, LED decorative lighting and upholstered cushions and pillows. Exterior features powder-coated metal planters, powder-coated metal flower motif and a second level deck with exterior hand railing. Playhouse measures 12′H x 6′ x 8′ (11′ x 15′ with decking). Please speak to a design consultant for custom options and shipping information. This item is custom made especially for you upon order.
Ah fancy and flight.
The CIA’s Inspector General (IG) has investigated some of the Bush administration’s most controversial programs, includings its detainee torture policies. In 2004, IG John L. Helgerson issued a report warning “that some C.I.A.-approved interrogation procedures appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the international Convention Against Torture.”
The New York Times reports today that CIA Director Michael Hayden, who has been unhappy with Helgerson’s aggressive oversight, has ordered an internal investigation into Helgerson. The move is “unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office.”
Helgerson wasn’t the only government official concerned with the Bush administration’s torture policies. Harper’s Ken Silverstein reports today that “several sources” have told him that a senior CIA legal official quit in protest of such “enhanced interrogations” policies:
[I]t turns out that a former senior CIA legal official quit in protest over the administration’s use of “enhanced interrogations.” This official, whose name I have promised not to publish, previously worked as a deputy IG for investigations under Frederick Hitz, who served as CIA IG between 1990 and 1998. From there, the official moved on the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.
What’s interesting is that this official was generally known as something of a hardliner. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of his departure, which may have occurred a year ago or more. However, the sources tell me he couldn’t stomach what he deemed to be abuses by the Bush Administration and stepped down from his post.
Silverstein also reported in April 2006 that there was “a quiet conspiracy by rational people” at the CIA to “avoid involvement” in some of the Bush administration’s most objectionable policies, such as rendition.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes’s (D-TX) reaction to Hayden’s investigation of Helgerson HERE.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid dismissed blog rumors about his pending resignation by responding, “Really, I’m not sure what a blog is, to be very honest with you. So I don’t know where the information came from.” (HT: Attytood)
Former Justice Department employees allege that Voting Rights Section chief John Tanner used “the force of the Department to further Republican aims.” In particular, the former attorneys say that Tanner’s half-hearted investigation of alleged African-American voter suppression in Ohio in 2004 was an effort to “poison the well” for “outside groups attempting litigation on the issue”:
“Tanner bent over backwards to rule that black voters did not have a right to the same number of machines as white registered voters, and then went out of his way to make that ruling public,” said David Becker, a former attorney with the section, currently with People for the American Way. “It’s one of the most remarkably disconcerting things to come out of the voting section in a long time.”
Tanner will soon appear before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to testify. Last week, Tanner told the National Latino Congreso that restrictive voter ID laws hurt elderly whites the most because minorities “die first” before becoming elderly.
Barack Obama learns his opponent’s name.
In an interview with President Bush yesterday, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo asked the President what he thought of Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate:
BARTIROMO: Did you see the Republican candidate debate? What did you think? Who came out a winner?
BUSH: Were you there?
BARTIROMO: Yes, I was. I was the co-host.
BUSH: You were trying to hoax me into saying you had brilliant questions.
BARTIROMO: No, that’s not what I’m looking for Mr. President.
BUSH: I didn’t watch. I didn’t watch.
The GOP candidates also ignored the President that night. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and Duncan Hunter never uttered Bush’s name during the two-hour debate.
Marc Ambinder asks the DC question du jour, namely now that he’s got a nobel prize, who’s Al Gore going to endorse in the Democratic primary:
Two candidates — John Edwards and Barack Obama — are working the ref. Gore has met privately with both men, and the two were the first to e-mail congratulatory statements upon the news of Gore’s Nobel dropping. (Edwards’s campaign hit the trigger at 5:17 a.m.)
Perhaps the bigger question, though, is how much would it really matter. John Edwards’ campaign is, at this point, severely hampered by financial constraints and by a perception that he’s already lost. Gore can’t help Edwards on the former item, since he’s already accepted public financing, and I’m not sure his say-so would convince anyone on the latter point. Because unions are well known for not wanting to endorse candidates they feel are doomed, more union endorsements would have been very helpful to Edwards because they would have both helped him directly and bolstered perceptions that he’s in the game. I don’t think Gore can do that.
Obama has a different problem, namely that a majority of Democrats — and especially the more economically and educationally downscale ones — think Hillary Clinton’s pretty awesome. Gore saying Obama’s awesome, too, isn’t really going to change things. Now what really might change things would be if Gore were to endorse Obama and use his standing as a former Clinton administration insider to mount a serious indictment of Hillary’s key credential — her experience in that office. But that assumes that there’s some reasonable indictment to make of her tenure as First Lady that we haven’t already heard and that Gore would be interested in doing something like that. Neither of those strike me as especially plausible, so under the circumstances I’m hard-pressed to see what kind of difference a Gore endorsement would make.