Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize - but the conflict in Ukraine is also likely to be on the Nobel committee's agenda.
A record 278 candidates, including 47 organizations, received nominations for the 2014 prize, said the Norwegian Nobel Institute's director, Geir Lundestad.
Committee members who met on Tuesday added their own proposals with a focus on recent turmoil around the globe.
Surely many other candidates, if not most, are much more deserving:
Pope Francis and former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden also received nominations as well as Putin.
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' right to education, is also thought to be among the candidates, as are several Russian dissidents who have spoken out for human rights.
"We are getting an increasing number of nominations from people in countries that have never submitted nominations before," Lundestad said.
Presumably most Nobel Peace Prize recipients spend their lives advancing the cause of social justice, in some way, through peaceful and nonviolent means. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, of course, are two of the award’s most famous recipients, who lived up to that standard. Imagine, though, if they had to share that award with President Putin, of all people? That strikes me as rather unjust.
That being said, the number of people eligible to nominate candidates is virtually limitless. Thus, one wonders if in a stunning act of hubris, President Putin merely flexed his muscles and ordered one of his henchmen to put his name forward:
Although nominations are kept secret for 50 years, thousands of people around the world are eligible to propose candidates, including any member of any national assembly, and many make their picks public.
The committee narrowed its list to between 25 and 40 on Tuesday and it will cut its list to about a dozen by the end of April.
Will more belligerence from Moscow affect the committee’s decision? Let’s hope so.
The Senate has voted 52 to 47 to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. All Republicans and Democrats Coons, Heitkamp, Manchin, Pryor, Donnelly, Casey and Walsh voted against the nomination.
Adegbile came under heavy fire for his voluntary advocacy of convicted and unrepentant cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Major law enforcement orgazations, inlcuding the National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, were opposed to the nomination. Philadelphia Democratic Prosecutor Seth Williams was also against the nomination. Daniel Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, repeatedly begged Senators to block Adegbile's confirmation. News of Adegbile's nomination first came from former DOJ attorney and whistleblower J. Christian Adams.
Now that Adegbile has been voted down (technically he could still be brought back, but that won't happen), President Obama will need to find someone else to fill the open position at DOJ.
This post has been updated.
Here it is in its entirety. Today was Darrell Issa's (R-CA) second attempt to get a testimony from former IRS Exempt Organizations Director, Ms. Lois Lerner. Lerner swears (again) to tell the whole truth and nothing but it, but as she's questioned about her IRS-led probe into conservative organizations, she pleads the fifth. Issa shuts down the hearing while Elijah Cummings (D-MD) tries to defend Lerner. Issa shuts off his mic and leaves the room. Cummings gets his mic back on and continues his defense of Lerner proclaiming that there was "no conspiring against conservative organizations" by Lerner's IRS. As Cummings spoke, Lerner appears breathless.
UPDATE: Here's the seven "best moments" from this morning's hearing compiled by the NRCC.
Possessing under an ounce of marijuana and consuming it in one's own private home is no longer a jailable offense in the District of Columbia. The D.C. council voted yesterday to partially decriminalize marijuana. Now, persons caught with the drug will be subjected to fines, not jail time. Seventeen other states have decriminalized or partially decriminalized marijuana, and two, Colorado and Washington, have completely legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes.
From the Washington Post:
...the penalty for possession of up to an ounce would drop to a fine of $25 — smaller than in any state except Alaska. Consumption in private residences would draw the same fine, unless in public housing, which is governed by federal law. The bill would equate smoking marijuana in public to toting an open can of beer; a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $500 and up to six months in jail, down from a potential $1,000 fine and one-year jail sentence.
More than 5,000 people each year are arrested in the District of Columbia for marijuana use or possession. Council members considered allowing public smoking in the bill, but Council President Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, intervened, citing concerns from parents and comparing smoking in public to drinking in public.
“Society says you can’t drink in public. I’m sure the public will feel that way in short order with regard to public smoking of marijuana,” Mendelson said. “It’s one thing to talk about treating the substance like we do alcohol; another to talk about how we treat the behavior.”
Vincent Gray, the mayor of DC, is expected to sign the bill. While technically Congress could intervene to block its passage, this is considered to be unlikely.
Texas Democrats may have voted Wendy Davis as their nominee for governor in Tuesday's primary, but it wasn’t pretty.
Aaron Pena, a former member of the Texas House of Representative, shared a few of the embarrassing results:
Tonight's embarrassing losses by Wendy Davis in South Texas confirms my observations about the Democratic party's neglect of the region.— Aaron Peña (@AaronPena) March 5, 2014
To the east of Hidalgo County, Wendy Davis also lost Willacy County 61% to 39%. Little support for Davis in the Valley. #txlege— Aaron Peña (@AaronPena) March 5, 2014
Just how little? Try $900.
This fall, reports showed Davis had raised “less than $700 from the four largest cities in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Even more amusingly, Davis's opponent claimed $0 in contributions on his campaign finance report in January. Yet, he still came out on top.
Wendy Davis couldn't crack 80% against a single primary opponent who raised $0. She lost more than two-dozen counties.— The Real Wendy (@WendyDavisTruth) March 5, 2014
Question: How does Battleground Texas think they’re going to “Turn Texas Blue” by neglecting one of the most important regions in the state?
Embattled Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is grasping at straws. Nonetheless, while he did say he was grateful -- and thankful -- for Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) military service, his comments reek of desperation, arrogance, and contempt.
Ed Morrissey reminds us that the irony here is exceedingly difficult to ignore. Pryor, after all, is the dutiful son of a former senator and governor himself. In other words, running for and winning high national office is oftentimes made easier when Daddy Dearest is the patriarch of a burgeoning political dynasty. Evidently, this irony was completely lost on Mr. Pryor, who accused his opponent of suffering from a false sense of entitlement. Really?
Nonetheless, it’s true that many great public servants have not served in the military. And I agree with Pryor’s suggestion that serving in the military is not -- and should never be -- a prerequisite for serving in Congress, although it almost once was. But I also agree with Cotton -- and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, apparently -- that the American public would be better served if more U.S. Senators were veterans. Over the last 40 years, the number of American veterans serving in Congress has declined steadily. Thus, at a time when we’re constantly at war, fighting nameless and faceless enemies, electing more veterans to the upper chamber would serve us well.
They know better than most the exigencies of war.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.
Single mother and cancer patient Julie Boonstra isn't taking Democrats' mean-spirited and misleading attacks on her credibility lying down -- but we already knew that, didn't we? Boonstra, whose life was turned upside-down when Obamacare stripped her of her existing coverage, has teamed up with Americans for Prosperity to produce a second television ad targeting Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI). It was Peters' lawyers who pressured television stations not to run the original spot, citing a MSM fact check to which Boonstra has responded in detail. In response to his attorneys' machinations and his ongoing refusal to meet with her face-to-face, Boonstra is calling Peters out:
When the Senate convenes at 2 pm Sen. Reid will speak about the Koch brothers' attempt to buy an America rigged to benefit the top 1%.— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) March 4, 2014
Reid just told the insane lie that AFP spent $400M on TV ads last cycle. Does he just make this stuff up???— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) March 4, 2014
Reid curiously has zero problem with billionaires "rigging elections" or whatever when they're named Soros or Steyer. Weird, right? He and his party have also been more than happy to accept the cascade of Big Labor's special interest dollars, much of which is extracted from rank-and-file working Americans who have no say in the matter. And the Senate Majority Leader, who perpetrated 2013's "lie of the year" on the American people, has the stones to accuse others of "making up facts." Take heart, conservatives. Reid's mendacious whinging is leading journalists to an inescapable conclusion:
Somewhere at AFP, they're watching @SenatorReid's floor remarks, more convinced than ever that their ads are working.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) March 4, 2014
Rule of politics: Talking about campaign cash probably means you're losing. The small segment of voters in the middle just don't care.— Reid Wilson (@PostReid) March 4, 2014
It’s not as if Democrats haven’t tried this before. The last time Koch-rage reached such hysterical levels was 2010, a year that began with President Obama chastising the Supreme Court justices—in unprecedented fashion—to their faces during his State of the Union address, and then culminated in the most lopsided midterm “shellacking” since 1938. Back in 2010, despite all the caterwauling from Democrats and the press about “the billionaires bankrolling the Tea Party,” the “Tea Party puppetmasters,” and the “billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama,” independent voters were unfazed. In fact, they voted for Republicans by a 55-40 percent margin, in large part due to their dissatisfaction over Obamacare. And that was before the American people found out what was in the law, which currently has an average approval rating of 39 percent.
What was especially ironic about that line of attack is that Democrats vastly outspent Republicans in 2010, and still got blasted at the polls. Are desperate Democrats on track for another shellacking?
The Post-ABC survey affirms those projections, showing Republicans in a stronger position than Democrats in the states with Senate races this fall and more than holding their own in the battle for control of the House. In the 34 states with Senate races, 50 percent of voters say they favor Republicans and 42 percent favor Democrats. That is the case despite the Republican Party’s poor image nationally.
The House of Representatives will vote on the SIMPLE Fairness Act today, a bill that would delay implementation of Obamacare's individual mandate tax by one year and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would cut the deficit by $10 billion over the next five years.
“The President recently issued another delay to unilaterally change his own law, a delay that protected businesses from the employer mandate tax," bill sponsor Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said Friday, "It is not fair to give relief to businesses with big checkbooks, yet not help hard working families with relief from these unaffordable mandates."
Jenkins' legislation would not only ensure that no American would pay an Obamacare individual mandate tax penalty in 2014, but it would also shift implementation of Obamacare's entire mandate tax schedule back a year. So the $325, or 2 percent of taxable income, fine scheduled to begin in 2015, would now begin in 2016.
According to a CBO report released Tuesday, the SIMPLE Fairness Act would "reduce deficits by roughly $10 billion over the 2014-2019 period" as more than one million Americans would freely choose not to receive taxpayer funded Medicaid benefits or insurance premium subsidies.
“This legislation is about fairness, as it would authorize the same delay for individual Americans that the President keeps giving to businesses,” Jenkins added.
The White House has already said they would veto the bill, but President Obama will not wield a veto pen forever. Eventually there will be a new occupant in the White House, and the SIMPLE Fairness Act is a preview of how conservatives can roll back Obamacare in the post-Obama era.
Appearing in front of the House Oversight Committee Wednesday morning Lois Lerner, former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS, refused to answer questions asked by lawmakers by pleading the Fifth Amendment. Earlier this week, Lerner's attorney William Taylor confirmed to Committee members in an email that she would testify. Lerner was issued a subpoena last summer after admitting the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
"On the advice of my counsel I respectfully exercise my fifth amendment right and decline to answer that question," Lerner said.
Last year, Lerner was called to testify in front of the same Committee where she also invoked her Fifth Amendment rights after making the statement, "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee." The Committee voted and concluded that because Lerner made a statement before pleading the Fifth, she effectively waived her Fifth Amendment rights.
When asked by Chairman Darrell Issa if she believed there wasn't a smidgen of corruption inside the IRS when it came to the inappropriate targeting of tea party and conservative groups, Lerner answered, "On the advice of my counsel I respectfully exercise my fifth amendment right and decline to answer that question."
The Committee hearing was quickly dismissed after Issa put contempt charges for Lerner on the table.
"Ladies and gentlemen, seeking the truth is the duty of this committee and I see no point in moving forward," Issa said. "We're adjourned, close it down."
This post has been updated.
One of our favorite unhinged Democratic Congressmen, Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, has been accused by his wife of allegedly assaulting her during a domestic dispute. More from the AP:
Florida U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson's wife has accused him of pushing her during an argument over the weekend, but he claims the allegations are a lie.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed Tuesday that it was investigating a reported domestic violence incident between Grayson and his wife, Lolita, but no charges have been filed.
Grayson's office released a statement denying his wife's accusations. Grayson says he never touched his wife, even after she physically attacked him.
Grayson's wife filed for divorce in January, and the central Florida Democrat claims he was attempting to visit his children when the incident occurred.
More from the Orlando Sentinel:
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a judge has granted a temporary protective injunction against Grayson after Lolita Grayson filed paperwork accusing the congressman of pushing her against a door during a confrontation at their home on Saturday, causing her to fall and injuring her.
Here's a quick flashback to Grayson railing against Republicans for their war on women.
And another clip of Grayson falsely implying his 2012 Republican opponent was a wife beater.
Todd Long’s wife had alleged that he had been “very abusive and manipulative” in divorce papers, but didn’t accuse him of being physically abusive, which Grayson implied in his quip, “if you’re going to ask anyone, ‘are you still beating your wife,’ that kind of question, ask him!”
We'll have to wait and see how this whole thing plays out, but already the hypocrisy is strong. I'll leave you with this pointed question from my colleague Guy Benson:
First Filner, now Grayson. Do Democrats have a domestic abuse problem? #TheirPlaybook— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 4, 2014