In the Loop: Who should get Obama's Nobel Prize money?

President Obama (Marvin Joseph/the Washington Post)
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By Al Kamen
Monday, November 30, 2009

President Obama is finally set to announce his Afghanistan plan. He's likely to call Tuesday night for what used to be called an escalation, and is now called a "surge," of about 30,000 troops in that mess of a country.

A week later, the White House has announced, he's off to Copenhagen for the big U.N. Climate Change Conference. The announcement doesn't deal with his plans the next day, but aides have said he intends to be an hour's flight away in Oslo on Dec. 10, the birthday of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, to pick up his peace prize -- a gold medal and a cool $1,451,260, as of last week's exchange rate. (He's actually made a few bucks on the sinking dollar. The award was worth only $1,435,340 when he got it in October.)

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters a few days after the announcement that the money would be donated to charity. "There will be a process to evaluate that from his perspective. I assume it will be many different charities. But he has not told me or anybody else here the specifics of . . . what those might be," Gibbs said.

We know from the deliberations on Afghanistan that Obama doesn't rush into things, but there's been no word yet as to whether he's made his final picks.

Loop Fans can help! It's the Loop Nobel Charities Contest, to select which charities the president should pick for his piece of the Nobel pie. Of course, there's ACORN, which as everyone knows has been hurting of late. Maybe a little something for Democrats wavering on health-care reform? After all, the president -- and congressional Democrats -- are pretty much toast if a reform measure doesn't pass.

For example, maybe Obama could give a couple hundred large to establish the Center for the Study of Ethanol Fuel in McCook, Neb., which, oddly enough, happens to be the birthplace of Sen. Ben Nelson. Or some money to fund the Blanche Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Helena, Ark., that senator's home town.

Submit your suggestions for worthy -- or not-so-worthy -- recipients of Obama's donations -- maximum two per entrant -- to or In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Winners will get a fabulous Loop T-shirt and the bragging rights that go with it.

Get those votes in quickly, because the president could make his decisions (without your guidance) at any time. The final deadline, is midnight Monday, Dec. 7.

Remember, to be eligible for this contest, you must include a phone number -- work, home or cell -- so we can contact you. Good luck!

The format police

Defense attorneys for five former Blackwater security guards heading to trial on charges of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007 got into big trouble last week with the federal judge presiding over the case. Their offense? They filed single-spaced court papers.

"Paragraph 1 of the Standing Order provides all submissions 'should be double-spaced, in 12-point Times Roman or Courier font,' " U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina wrote in a short notice filed on the court docket. "In disregard of this provision, the defendants failed to double-space their memorandum, in an apparent attempt to include more information in their submission than would otherwise be permitted."

Urbina declined to sanction the lawyers, our colleague Del Quentin Wilber blogs at The Crime Scene, the new Washington Post blog on area crime and courts. Urbina wrote he was "loath to strike the defendant's submission given the nature of the litigation and the proximity to trial." He added: "The parties, however, are put on notice that any further failure to meet the standards set by the court will result in sanctions." Keep it short. Less is more.

Can't tell you what was actually in the motion, since it was filed under seal.

All in the family

This town seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Democratic Hill veteran and Broadcasting Board of Governors nominee Michael Meehan recently announced the start of Blue Line Strategic Communications with fellow Democratic campaign and Hill veteran David DiMartino.

DiMartino, as noted by blogger Matt Armstrong at, is the husband of Kitty DiMartino, who is chief of staff to Undersecretary of State Judith McHale, who also has a seat on the BBG as Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton's designated representative.

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