10 things to know today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
AP Wire
Feb 14, 2014

1. 'OH, NOT AGAIN': NORTHEAST SLAMMED BY ANOTHER STORM

At least 20 people killed, including a pregnant New York City woman hit by a snow plow while loading groceries into her car.

2. WHY YOU COULDN'T FOLLOW THE DEBT LIMIT VOTE AS IT UNFOLDED

Senators on both sides worried that investors might panic when passage appeared dicey, so the tally clerk was asked to keep quiet on the running count.

3. FACEBOOK MAKES BIG MOVE ON GENDER LABELS

The social media giant adds about 50 different terms beyond male and female for users to identify themselves.

4. COMCAST-TIME WARNER DEAL POSES QUANDARIES

Watchdogs say the agreement will give the company too much power and lead to higher prices while regulators wonder how they should handle the conglomerate.

5. PEDIATRICIAN CONVICTED OF WATERBOARDING

A Delaware jury convicted Melvin Morse for holding the head of his companion's 12-year-old daughter under a faucet.

6. THE U.S. IS BACKING AWAY FROM AN AFGHANISTAN TIMETABLE

White House officials signal they may wait to see whether Karzai's successor might be easier to work with on a security pact.

7. ATLANTA WON'T BELIEVE IT, BUT JANUARY TEMPS ABOUT NORMAL

Nearly every state west of Colorado and Wyoming had a much warmer than normal month, offsetting the cold that hit the rest of the country.

8. ONE OF FIGURE SKATING'S ALL-TIME GREATS SAYS GOODBYE

Evgeni Plushenko, the first figure skater in the modern era to win medals in four Olympics, retires shortly after withdrawing from the men's competition in Sochi.

9. GOOGOO AND GAGA DON'T CUT IT

New research shows that talking to babies sooner with longer and more complex sentences helps build crucial skills.

10. DRAKE SAYS HE'S DONE WITH MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS

The rapper says he's "disgusted" after Rolling Stone replaced him on the cover with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Comments

Vladtheimp

11. Noted liberal constitutional law experts on Obama's lawless assumption of legislative powers:

Respected Constitutional Law Professor

"I'm afraid this is beginning to border on a cult of personality for people on the left. I happen to agree with many of President Obama's policies, but in our system it is often as important how you do something as what you do.

And I think that many people will look back at this period in history and see nothing but confusion as to why people remained so silent when the president asserted these types of unilateral actions. You have a president who is claiming the right to basically rewrite or ignore or negate federal laws. That is a dangerous thing. It has nothing to do with the policies; it has to do with politics."

"Well, you know, a system in which a single individual is allowed to rewrite legislation or ignore legislation is a system that borders on authoritarianism. I don't believe that we are that system yet. But we cannot ignore that we're beginning to ignore a system that is a pretense of democracy if a president is allowed to take a law and just simply say, 'I'm going to ignore this,' or, 'I'm going to shift funds that weren't appropriated by Congress into this area.'

Read the whole thing: http://www.realclearpolitics.com...

Well known Constitutional Law Lecturer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a...

Noted Liberal Journalist

Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility. But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the ACA as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.

If not illegal, the changes are fueling suspicion among Obama-loathing conservatives, and confusion among the rest of us. Even the law's most fervent supporters are frustrated. http://www.nationaljournal.com/w...

Lanivan

Your Repetition of a Fallacy strategy in the continuing efforts to portray Obama as an illegitimate, lawless, "Other", unfit for public office, running rampant as the Imperial King, only highlights the pathological need for the GOP to deflect attention from their own internal stress, frustration, and implosion. Obama as Scapegoat - a coping mechanism that says "There is nothing wrong with us - Obama is the problem".

Since 2010, Congress has become the laziest Congress in US history. Since 2010, the approval ratings for Congress have sunk to negative double digits - the lowest levels ever in the history of polling. The GOP Congress has become totally corrupt, doesn't want to govern or, in fact, do anything at all except: Sabotage the country; Refuse to perform their duties; Demonstrate disdain for vast swatches of the public whom they are under oath to serve; Won't fund laws they pass; Won't pay bills they run up; Shut down government; Continue to collect their salaries of $174,000+/perks/benefits.

They are lousy at governing, but are very smart at controlling the legislature so they can prevent Obama from doing so. They pick and chose which laws they will obey. They put up congressional blockades repeatedly all the while denouncing Obama as "lawless" when he does his job. They focus their energies on taking Rights away from citizens to impose their religious and moral beliefs under the guise of law. For example, South Dakota GOP legislators proposed a law a few years ago that allowed for the KILLING of ABORTION PROVIDERS. Let's think about this for a minute. This is the face of the 21st century GOP.

As for presidential executive orders, it has been shown on these pages that many other presidents, including every Republican president, have used executive orders extensively and far more often than Obama. So then the strategy pivots to focusing on the nature of the EO, knowing that most citizens are not going to research the historical context of each and every EO made since George Washington - and there has been thousands of them.

Bottom line: The ACA, based on a Republican proposal, promoted by Republicans, and implemented by a Republican governor, which includes HUNDREDS of Republican amendments, and which has been ruled legal by the Supreme Court, has been relentlessly under attack by the GOP. The GOP has chosen the ACA, i.e. Obama's signature achievement, as their Whipping Boy, and have governed via Congressional blockade in order to ensure it's failure. It is not working, just as other GOP forms of non-governance did not work in the end, and therefore Obama is given no choice but to govern the most important country in the world through Executive Orders, if need be.

It is shameful and sinful, frankly, that the current GOP willfully refuses to do their job, and then heaps scornful fallacies on Obama to detract from their treasonous sabotaging of government when he steadfastly does his.

Lanivan

Ever consider changing your name to 'Barry Goldwater'?

Barry Soetoro

No but in a different career I was known as Jerry Longwood.

Tri-cities realist

Lmao

Lanivan

I love pizza. I could have been checking you out shortly.

Vladtheimp

Well, I was wrong - I expected this kind of wild rant from MM, but I had really thought you would seriously consider what Jonathan Turley, Ron Fournier, and President Obama himself said about the dangers of the executive acting as an authoritarian, especially what Turley said about people questioning in the future why they remained silent in the face of this dangerous precedent. I clearly overestimated both your ability to consider what this precedent means for the country, and your ability to shed the cult of personality when it comes to Obama.

Fortunately, you are in the significant minority of the citizens of this country in that regard.

You can't excuse this quasi-dictatorial mindset on statistics regarding presidential use of Executive Orders. As I have explained rather patiently, the most egregious of the executive actions have not been memorialized in formal Executive Orders - they have been undertaken at Obama's request and in furtherance of his lawlessness by his minions in the executive branch - Sebelius and Treasury employees to change the law of the land that was known as Obamacare, Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to invoke phony prosecutorial discretion to fail to enforce DOMA and our Voting and Immigration Laws, and the IRS to target and harass conservative groups opposed to the policies of this regime (like the fact that 100% of the 501(c)(4) Groups Audited by IRS Were Conservative).

I guess I'm disappointed, but not surprised, although I admit I was at times taken in by your claim that you are a middle of the road, conservative, non-ideologue - this proves that you are willing to sacrifice the Constitution to enable Obama to continue to illegally push his socialist agenda. Congratulations!

Lanivan

Rule #12: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it". By choosing to frame your argument in response to me in personal terms, you are following Rule #12 by the book. Call me a liar. Label my words a "wild rant". Isolate me by declaring my argument as being in the "minority". Claim you are "disappointed" and "surprised" in me - not my opinions, my political beliefs, but me personally.

Rule #5 & #6: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon" & "A good tactic is one your people enjoy". You've "overestimated" me, making me the incorrect one; you revert to labels that are red meat terms, that have no discernible relationship to that which they are directed - "socialist", "lawlessness", "dangerous precedent", "cult of personality".

Rule #9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself". Pull the 'Constitution card'; suggest that Obama passes the buck onto his 'minions'; create a fairy tale where recent events will be perceived as entirely new and unprecedented - 'Obama Gone Berserk with Power Scenario Never Before Seen In Any (White) President'.

Meanwhile, you can't or won't rebut my comment within, perhaps, a historical context. You ignore the facts within my comment with irrelevancy. And you heap lie upon lie - "(like the fact that 100% of the 501(c)(4) Groups Audited by IRS Were Conservative)". The only thing that attains 100% status in your statement is that it is a completely unsubstantiated fallacy, and has been proven false, extensively.

Please be neither disappointed nor surprised by me, and please don't twist my words. I'm exactly what I say I am; I have no secret agenda; I write based on critical thinking. Come see me sometime when you decide to do the same.

Vladtheimp

I have neither the time nor the inclination to attempt to rebut the stream of consciousness, wild, unsubstantiated charges you crammed into that comment while ignoring what the three liberals stated in my links.

"Additionally, we now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s. At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83 percent were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100 percent were right-leaning." http://waysandmeans.house.gov/ne...

When you stop sputtering, maybe you can address why Lois Lerner invoked her Constitutional right against self-incrimination, which could only protect her from CRIMINAL charges resulting from false sworn testimony before a Congressional Committee. I'd be interested to learn some new law. In that regard, you might consult Federal Judicial Obama appointee Arenda L. Wright Allen http://judgepedia.org/Arenda_L._... , who wrote the Virginia Decision permitting same sex marriages, and who discovered new law when she asserted in her written scholarly opinion that "Our Constitution declares that 'all men' are created equal." Funny, my Constitution doesn't say that; my Declaration of Independence does, but I guess if you're an Obama Judicial appointee, like your boss, you can Say and Do Anything That you Want.

Happy Valentine's Day -

Lanivan

"I have neither the time nor the inclination to attempt to rebut the...". But I note you had plenty of time and inclination to poison the well....And, FYI, my comment did not ignore the statements in your links, but was a serious rebuttal to them. Of course, it stands to reason that governance via presidential executive orders is not the most desirable scenario; that it creates a possible precedence for a unilateral power grab by some future 'House of Cards'-type president. But I argue that Congressional Republicans have worked hard and diligently to establish an environment whereby Obama has virtually no choice but to fall back on EO's. The Republicans have manipulated through extortion, filibuster, threats to nullify, and blockades, the ability of a twice-elected Democratic president to lead. The Repubs have made every attempt to de-legitimize Obama so they could then skewer him when he inevitably fights back. I think the comment was succinct and reasoned, and certainly did not deserve the time and inclination on your part to label it "wild" and "crammed sputtering".

Well, enough of that. As for the IRS 'scandal', your link - David Camp - says this:
"Before February 2010, the IRS was processing and approving Tea Party cases within three months without Washington, DC intervention.
Tea Party cases were flagged due to “media attention” in February 2010, not as a result of any confusion as to how to interpret 501(c)(4) law".

My link say this: "Ever since the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money in political elections as long as they didn't coordinate their activities with campaigns or donate directly to candidates, groups seeking to influence elections but not disclose their donors have flocked to tax-exempt 501(c)4 organizations. The IRS said that applications for tax-exempt status shot up from 1,751 in 2009 to 3,357 in 2012". http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/t...

The Wall Street Journal reports the following (no mention of 100% of anything): "The IRS back in May released a list of the 176 groups that had been approved. At the time, one tax expert, Martin Sullivan of Tax Analysts, said that 46 of those 176 had Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their name, 76 were other conservative organizations, 48 were “non-conservative” organizations, and six organizations couldn’t be determined". http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/20...

And, finally, Lois Lerner. I turn to the experts on this:

"Had this been an actual criminal trial, in an actual courtroom, and had Lerner been an actual defendant, then yes, it would not have been permissible for her to testify in her own defense and then refuse cross-examination on Fifth Amendment grounds. But a congressional hearing is not a criminal trial in two important ways, Duane tells Daily Intelligencer.

First, unlike in a trial, where she could choose to take the stand or not, Lerner had no choice but to appear before the committee. Second, in a trial there would be a justifiable concern about compromising a judge or jury by providing them with "selective, partial presentation of the facts." But Congress is merely pursuing information as part of an investigation, not making a definitive ruling on Lerner's guilt or innocence". http://nymag.com/daily/intellige...

What?...no cool music video?

Tri-cities realist

So if a congress has a majority of members from the opposite party of the president, it is okay for him or her to usurp power from the other branches, just because the other party doesn't agree with the president's agenda? Is that really what you are inferring? Let's not use words like less than desirable. Either it is constitutional or not. Just be careful what you support. Perhaps hearing it from a woman I believe you admire might help.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NJx...

Lanivan

Who's usurping power? Looks more like Congressional Republicans are forfeiting their responsibilities to me. Executive power has been growing since the early 1930's - what Obama is doing is nothing new, nothing unprecedented, nothing unconstitutional. Perhaps there is a correlation between burgeoning presidential power and extreme Congressional partisanship. Makes sense to me - another thing you can research and report back.

You and Vlad must have a secret crush on Hillary - you both are stuck on this video.

Tri-cities realist

I can't speak for Vlad, but I do secretly like those flattering pics of her, so hot!

Tri-cities realist

Forfeiting their responsibilities? I don't recall reading in the constitution that house members are required to agree with a president and pass his agenda, please show me I am wrong.

Vladtheimp

I'm sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, or a racist, or making the President "The Other." We need to stand up and say we're Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

Tri-cities realist

Sounds eerily familiar. What was her name? Haha

Vladtheimp

Yeah - I have a crush on her like you have a crush on the Koch Brothers. As far as the video, I at least,intend to reference it frequently to remind people of the shrieking harridan who wants to be President, having done nothing as a carpetbagging Senator and worse than nothing as Secretary of State (Egypt, Syria, Libya and Benghazi, and of course, Russia. http://www.politico.com/news/sto...

Vladtheimp

Regarding Lois Lerner taking the 5th to avoid a CRIMINAL prosecution:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 47 > § 1001

§ 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

-snip-

(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—

(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or

(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

Don't need no stinkin video, or an opinion piece from a professor at something called the Regent Law School (and the article was on whether she in fact invoked the 5th, not whether or not invoking the 5th is to avoid a criminal prosecution). But, I guess since Obama said there isn't a smidgeon of corruption on national TV, before his phony DOJ investigation is completed, we should just go all media and say "Nothing to look at here, just move along."

Lanivan

I apologize. I thought an article quoting James Duane, an expert on 5th Amendment issues, would carry some weight with you. After all, Mr. James did graduate magna cum laude from Harvard, with a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School, not to mention that Regent University is where Marcus Bachmann, Michelle's husband, received his Masters.

But knowing how credentials are all-important to you, I offer this:

"Did Ms. Lerner forfeit her Fifth Amendment protections? "..but it’s never been clearly articulated exactly what constitutes a waiver of privileges in this situation, Andrew D. Leipold, a professor of criminal procedure at the University of Illinois College of Law, told Law Blog. Yale Kamisar, a retired University of Michigan law professor who is an expert on criminal procedure, said it didn’t seem that Ms. Lerner disclosed any incriminating facts that would demand further explanation".

“A denial is different than disclosing incriminating facts,” he said. “You ought to be able to make a general denial, and then say I don’t want to discuss it further,” he said. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/05...

Sounds like the law experts all agree, to me. So, being ever mindful of your time and inclination constraints, perhaps you could address, in layman's terms, why you believe Lois Lerner took the 5th to avoid criminal prosecution when the experts say she was not in a criminal court setting, but strictly a congressional fact-finding investigation, and was within her legal right to do so. Unless your concern is not so much a legal one, but to keep the spotlight on the unprecedented direct line of corruption between the IRS and Obama, a claim for which no proof has yet been uncovered.

{EDIT} In addition, your thoughts please on the following regarding congressional oversight: Some critics have charged that Congress has in some instances failed to do an adequate job of overseeing the other branches of government. In the Valerie Plame Wilson episode sometimes known as the Plame affair, some critics, including Representative Henry A. Waxman, charged that Congress was not doing an adequate job of oversight in this case.[13] Wiki.

Vladtheimp

As soon as you can explain why Ms. Lerner (Lois Lerner, Esq. who practiced law at the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission), represented by competent counsel,( http://www.zuckerman.com/william...) said this:

"And while I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing. After very careful consideration, I’ve decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today."

And if you want to cite attorney credentials, it might surprise you that distinguished Constitutional scholar, defense attorney, Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School, liberal democrat, Alan Dershowitz stated regarding Lerner and the Fifth Amendment: "You can't simply make statements about a subject and then plead the Fifth in response to questions about the very same subject," the renowned Harvard Law professor said.

"Once you open the door to an area of inquiry, you have waived your Fifth Amendment right . . . you've waived your self-incrimination right on that subject matter."

While you're working on that one, you might explain why her lawyer demanded that she be granted full immunity from criminal prosecution before she would testify ""They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way ... immunity," William W. Taylor III said in a phone interview. "That's the way to resolve all of this."

Nostrilla - Really? In all seriousness, undoubtedly Congress has often failed to do an adequate job of oversight, but it is somewhat understandable when you are dealing with a lawless regime that stonewalls, lies, withholds documents, demands immunity for testimony from a government employee, and ignores the Constitution and acts illegally because the head of the regime has a cell phone and a pen.

Tri-cities realist

So if a president only issued one executive order during his presidency, one that declared him king, not subject to the will of the people, nor congress or the courts, would he be the best president, since he had the fewest EO's? Silly thought, I know, but the point is not just the numbers of EO's, but what is contained within them.

Lanivan

You are right - that would be a very bad thing. Would you kindly research each and every EO dating back to George Washington so that we have a historical understanding of the nature of the thousands of EO's issued over the years? For comparison's sake. Just guessing here, but I think you would find some pretty serious situations being affected by EO's - perhaps far more serious than delaying by one year the imposition of ACA penalties on medium-large businesses. Remember - this is not a major change to the law, but simply a delay that actually affects very little of the populace. And it does not restrict medium-large businesses to move forward under the law if they are indeed ready to do so.

Tri-cities realist

Yeah, I'll get back to you on that one.

So if this is not a major change to the law and affects very little of the populace, why delay it then?

Lanivan

I agree. First of all, I don't think employers should be in the health insurance business in the first place. Secondly, employers have known about their responsibilities under the ACA since 2010. If 4 years isn't enough time to prepare, what is? Thirdly, Obama is basically making the calculation that in an election year when the Repubs are planning a fete of national proportions to spend hundreds of millions on false advertising about the ACA, this delay might help him with medium-large businesses. Sort of like Snyder signing MI RTW law in gratitude to prime campaign financier DeVos.

Tri-cities realist

So since you agree there should be no delay, do you also agree that the president should not pick and choose which parts of legislation are implemented and when? I know that should be a rhetorical question. And what about the president choosing not to enforce the law because he doesn't agree with it. Should that be allowed?

Thank you for admitting it was a purely political move, admitting it is the first step...

Tri-cities realist

News flash: the Senate is controlled by the democrats. They didn't produce a budget for over 1000 days. Who are the lazy ones? And while you may disagree with the 40 plus bills that were introduced in the House to defund or repeal the ACA, you can hardly call that lazy. A little consistency, please.

Lanivan

Correct, again! The Senate is controlled by the Dems, but the House Repubs have been very good in attaching all kinds of provisions and amendments to the budget that they know right out the gate will be rejected out-of-hand by the Senate Dems. And then there's the matter of the Senate Repubs unprecedented abuse ofthe filibuster, which throws a monkey wrench in the works. Check out this chart that highlights the use of the filibuster for Obama nominees only: http://www.nytimes.com/interacti...

And yes - I consider the time, energy, and money wasted on House proposals to nullify the ACA, when they knew it would not be successful but was only for show, was laziness in the extreme, and I think every one of them should be run out of town. I have never had the privilege in my jobs to throw a snit when things didn't go my way, have you? I have always had to problem solve, make compromises, and focus on getting the job done. I certainly expect this of our elected officials, as well. Don't you?

Tri-cities realist

I don't expect the Repubs to abandon their beliefs and go along with the Dems. Why don't you call for the Dems to compromise their positions and go along with the Repubs, in the name of bipartisanship? Why is it that compromise is only desirable when it means the Repubs cave? I will support compromise after the Dems show a willingness to budge from their position.

No snit throwing here.

Lanivan

I think Dems did compromise. From what I understand, Dems wanted single payer, which would have been a much simpler and more direct reform, but didn't think it would pass at that time. This was back in the day when Republicans appeared on board with the proposal, since, after all, it was their original idea, and Obama thought that Repubs, in the face of a severe recession, would be amenable to compromise and integration, but of course, the facts have shown that governance was not on their agenda.

Remember the Grand Bargain of 2011? Obama compromised 'til the cows came home, but the Repubs, believing they had the upper hand, wouldn't hear of it. Now that they've backed themselves into a box, they are in snit mode. Typical bully behavior.

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