Sunday, July 8, 2012

Deal will keep Sunoco's Philadelphia refinery operating

July 02, 2012
Updated 5:06 p.m.

 The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., private equity manager, announced plans on…
Sunoco Inc.'s Philadelphia refinery, which was threatened with closure at the end of this month, will be reborn as an "energy hub."

The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., private-equity manager, announced plans Monday to operate the refinery with Sunoco as a joint venture called Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The venture will save 850 jobs at the refinery, the largest fuel-production plant in the northeastern United States, and may employ hundreds more if plans to expand production are realized.

Carlyle officials say they are "reimagining" the business to exploit new, cheaper domestic sources of crude oil to replace expensive imported petroleum, a major reason the refinery was uncompetitive. In September, Sunoco announced plans to exit refining and to sell or shut down the plant this summer, saying it was losing a million dollars a day on fuel production.
Carlyle, which will have a majority interest in the venture and operate the refinery, also plans to increase dramatically the use of low-priced natural gas from Pennsylvania's booming Marcellus Shale region to reduce refining costs and emissions.

"We believe the changing nature of the energy paradigm in the U.S., coupled with a redefined operating model, can truly benefit this refinery," Carlyle managing director Rodney S. Cohen said at a news briefing Monday. Immediate upgrades at the 330,000-barrel-per-day refinery will require more than $200 million of new capital, he said, but he would not disclose the extent of Carlyle's total investment.

Closure of the refinery would have had enormous repercussions. The U.S. Energy Department had warned that the shutdown could lead to spot shortages of fuels and spikes in price. The state estimates that the plant, which hires a constant stream of skilled contractors for maintenance projects, supports 10,000 jobs indirectly. The site, originally two separate refineries merged into one, occupies more than two square miles of South Philadelphia.

United Steelworkers union members, alarmed by the threatened closure of several refineries in the Philadelphia area, mobilized to pressure elected officials to take action. Key players described an unusual collaboration between the Democratic White House, Republican Gov. Corbett, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Phila.), and Mayor Nutter to urge Sunoco to find a partner to keep the facility open.

"It's a big win — a big win for the community, for workers, for energy security in the United States," said Brian P. MacDonald, chief executive of Sunoco, which will retain a one-third nonoperating interest in the venture. "It's a really interesting situation where you had private equity, unions, and key politicians on both sides of the aisle working together."

Carlyle will receive $25 million in state grants to support upgrades at the refinery, including construction of a terminal to allow the high-speed unloading of railcars carrying crude from new oil-shale formations in North Dakota, Colorado, and Texas. Officials said they are also moving to include parts of the refinery in the Keystone Opportunity Zone so it can receive tax benefits for new construction.

State and federal environmental regulators have agreed to modify a 2005 consent decree to allow the Philadelphia refinery to receive some of the emissions credits assigned to Sunoco's Marcus Hook refinery, which was shut down in December. Those temporary credits should allow the Philadelphia refinery to more quickly implement its expansion plans.

"This is huge, at a number of different levels," said Nutter.

Jim Savage, president of Steelworkers Local 10-1, which represents the plant's 600 unionized workers, said his membership was "over the moon" about the deal. The union was to vote Monday night on a new three-year contract that gives Carlyle more flexibility on work rules and pensions.

To run Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Carlyle has hired Philip L. Rinaldi, who turned around a troubled refinery in Coffeyville, Kan., in 2005 for another group of investors, Pegasus Capital Advisors.

Rinaldi, who lives in Bridgewater, N.J., said the new management intends to refurbish a residual catalytic cracker, a unit that turns heavy oil into diesel. The project will create more than 1,000 contracting jobs early next year. He added that the venture wants to refurbish other units that would optimize production of cleaner-burning ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, for which there is a big market demand.

The company also is exploring plans to build a co-generation plant to produce steam and electricity for the refinery, and possibly new production units to manufacture derivatives of natural gas, such as urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a product line Rinaldi built up in Kansas into a separate $1 billion business .

"The idea here is to build out that entire complex into a strong energy and chemical industrial site," said Rinaldi, who also serves as chairman of the board of New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Carlyle Group, which has $159 billion in real estate and industrial assets under management, has established a reputation for turning around stressed businesses and selling them for handsome profits. Former President George H.W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III have served as advisers.
"Carlyle has been a very, very large investor for many years in what I would call unsexy industrial facilities," said David Marchick, Carlyle's managing director for external affairs. "We believe in manufacturing in the United States."

Carlyle was among the 150 prospective buyers that looked over the refinery last year after Sunoco announced that it planned to exit refining because of continuing losses. But Sunoco said it received no viable offers for the refineries. Only a few candidates had the operational experience and access to billions of dollars in finances needed to run such a capital-intensive business.

"Carlyle wouldn't even give us a number," said Lynn Elsenhans, Sunoco's former chief executive, who had overseen the company's painful sell-off of underperforming assets and noncore businesses, leading to the decision to exit refining.

But public officials and union leaders said they were frustrated working with Sunoco under Elsenhans, whom they said seemed to be hardened to the fate of closing the refineries. A critical moment, they said, came when MacDonald, formerly Sunoco's chief financial officer, succeeded Elsenhans as chief executive on March 1.

"Lynn Elsenhans was there to get out of the refinery business, and was going about that," said Gov. Corbett. "My conversations with Brian have gone much easier than my conversations with her."

"I think if we hadn't had a change of leadership at Sunoco, this deal wouldn't have happened," said Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers. "The other person was intent on leveling the facility, it seemed to us. We couldn't get a sensible discussion with them."

In an interview, Elsenhans, who now lives in Houston, called such characterizations "totally unfair." The refineries were consuming Sunoco's cash, she said, and would have required a massive long-term investment to operate in a declining market for motor fuels.

She said she was "absolutely thrilled" that Carlyle came back to the table. "Maybe they have figured out a way to run it differently, to be cash-neutral," Elsenhans said.

Marchick, Carlyle's chief lobbyist, described Brady as the "quarterback" who was "pushing and prodding" officials to take action.

"I just kept everybody talking," said Brady.

On Feb. 27, a few days before he formally took over as chief executive, MacDonald met in Washington with Brady. Both described the meeting as tense, but they cleared the air.

At Brady's urging, Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, arranged a March 8 conference call with MacDonald, during which the Sunoco chief suggested that Carlyle might be a good candidate to run the refinery in a joint venture, rather than buying the plant outright.

Immediately after the meeting, MacDonald called Cohen at Carlyle. White House officials also called Carlyle executives that night, urging them to talk to Sunoco, said MacDonald and Carlyle officials.

Marchick credited MacDonald with coming up with the proposal to do a joint venture, which reduces Carlyle's risk and allows it to channel its investment entirely into operating the refinery.

"He's the one who came up with this creative structure, proposed it to us," said Marchick. "But for his involvement, this facility would be shutting down next month."

Contact Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947 or or follow on Twitter @Maykuth

Darrell Issa Puts Details of Secret Wiretap Applications in Congressional Record

In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.
The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.
The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.
According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.
Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.
The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials in the department’s criminal division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco and another official who is now deceased.
In Fast and Furious, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed assault guns bought by “straw purchasers” to “walk,” which meant ending surveillance on weapons suspected to be en route to Mexican drug cartels.
The tactic, which was intended to allow agents to track criminal networks by finding the guns at crime scenes, was condemned after two guns that were part of the operation were found at U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder scene.
Straw purchasers are individuals who buy guns on behalf of criminals, obscuring who is buying the weapons.
While Issa has since said he has obtained a number of wiretap applications, the letter only refers to one, from March 15, 2010. The full application is not included in what Issa entered into the Congressional Record, and names are obscured in Issa’s letter.
In the application, ATF agents included transcripts from a wiretap intercept from a previous Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that demonstrated the suspects were part of a gun-smuggling ring.
“The wiretap affidavit details that agents were well aware that large sums of money were being used to purchase a large number of firearms, many of which were flowing across the border,” the letter says.
The application included details such as how many guns specific suspects had purchased via straw purchasers and how many of those guns had been recovered in Mexico.
It also described how ATF officials watched guns bought by suspected straw purchasers but then ended their surveillance without interdicting the guns.
In at least one instance, the guns were recovered at a police stop at the U.S.-Mexico border the next day.
The application included financial details for four suspected straw purchasers showing they had purchased $373,000 worth of guns in cash but reported almost no income for the previous year, the letter says.
“Although ATF was aware of these facts, no one was arrested, and ATF failed to even approach the straw purchasers. Upon learning these details through its review of this wiretap affidavit, senior Justice Department officials had a duty to stop this operation. Further, failure to do so was a violation of Justice Department policy,” the letter says.
Holder declined to discuss the contents of the applications at a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 7 but said the applications were narrowly reviewed for whether there was probable cause to obtain a wiretap application.
Thousands of wiretap applications are reviewed each year by the DOJ’s criminal division. The applications are designed to obtain approval, so they tend to focus on the most suspicious information available.
A line attorney first creates a summary of the application, which is then usually reviewed by a deputy to Lanny Breuer, the head of the division, on his behalf. It is then reviewed and approved or denied by a judge.
Cummings has sided with the DOJ in the debate over the secret applications, but the full substance of his argument is unknown.
A June 5 letter from Cummings responding to Issa’s May 24 letter said Issa “omits the critical fact that [redacted].” The entire first section of the letter’s body is likewise blacked out.
"Sadly, it looks like Mr. Issa is continuing his string of desperate and unsubstantiated claims, while hiding key information from the very same documents," a Democratic committee staffer said. "His actions demonstrate a lack of concern for the facts, as well as a reckless disregard for our nation’s courts and federal prosecutors who are trying to bring criminals to justice. We’re not going to stoop to his level. Obviously, we are going to honor the court’s seal and the prosecutors’ requests. But if Mr. Issa won’t tell you what he is hiding from the wiretaps, you should ask him why."

Dukakis, Kerry ... Romney?

9:50 AM, Jul 5, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Remember Michael Dukakis (1988) and John Kerry (2004)? It's possible to lose a winnable presidential election to a vulnerable incumbent in the White House (or in the case of 1988, a sitting vice president). So, speaking of losing candidates from Massachusetts: Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he's running?

Cartoon of Mitt Romney
Image Credit: Nate Beeler

Adopting a prevent defense when it's only the second quarter and you're not even ahead is dubious enough as a strategy. But his campaign's monomaniacal belief that it's about the economy and only the economy, and that they need to keep telling us stupid voters that it's only about the economy, has gone from being an annoying tick to a dangerous self-delusion.
As Frank Cannon and Jeff Bell, among others, have pointed out, the economy is not an automatic path to victory. It does provide a favorable backdrop for this year's campaign. But what are voters to think when they hear the GOP nominee say, as he did yesterday to CBS’s Jan Crawford, "As long as I continue to speak about the economy, I'm going to win"? That they're dopes who don't know the economy's bad, but as long as the Romney campaign keeps instructing them that it is bad, they'll react correctly and vote the incumbent out of office?

The economy is of course important. But voters want to hear what Romney is going to do about the economy. He can "speak about" how bad the economy is all he wants—though Americans are already well aware of the economy's problems—but doesn't the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank? No need for any of that, I suppose the Romney campaign believes. Just need to keep on "speaking about the economy."  

The Romney campaign will answer that they're imitating Bill Clinton in 1992, who famously focused on "the economy, stupid." But Bill Clinton was a full spectrum presidential candidate, with detailed policy proposals on welfare reform, health care, education, and foreign policy. He also made real efforts to convince the voters he was different from the losing Democratic candidates who preceded him ("a new kind of Democrat," "ending welfare as we know it," a hawkish-sounding foreign policy, Sister Souljah, etc.). So far, the Romney campaign doesn't resemble the Clinton campaign. It seems to be following more comfortably in the tradition of the five post-Cold War Republican presidential candidates who preceded Romney. They received 37.5 percent, 40.7 percent, 47.9 percent, 50.7 percent, and 45.7 percent of the vote, respectively. The average GOP presidential vote in these last five elections was 44.5 percent. In the last three, it was 48.1 percent. Give Romney an extra point for voter disillusionment with Obama, and a half-point for being better financed than his predecessors. It still strikes me as a path to (narrow) defeat.

By the way, Romney made his comment about speaking about the economy on July 4th—a date that might suggest there's more to the American experiment than the economy.  

‘Doesn’t Deserve to Win’: Krauthammer Slams Mitt Romney’s Strategy

It‘s no secret by now that the week following the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare has not been GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s best. And infuriatingly enough, it is precisely the week that should have been Romney’s best, given that the decision itself mobilized his base in a way that it hasn’t been mobilized pretty much since the general election began, a fact which has been compounded by the President’s recent job numbers. Yet Romney’s messaging on Obamacare has been confused at best, and his arguments regarding the job numbers have shown a stunning inability to gain traction.

This failure on Romney’s part has left even pundits who are ideologically in his corner confused and worried, as a Fox News panel today showed when conservative luminary Charles Krauthammer said frankly that if Romney couldn’t use moments like this to his advantage, he would not only lose the election, but deserve to lose it.

“Romney’s inability to bring home the argument,” Krauthammer sighed, “is simply incomprehensible. If he can’t make the argument, he doesn’t deserve to win the election.”

The root of Romney’s problem, according to Krauthammer, is a failure to make the correct ideological arguments while also failing to connect current economic misery to President Obama. This latter problem is especially harsh, given that the President is doing his utmost to draw a line, however flimsy, between Romney’s past with Bain Capital and the woes of average voters today. In stark contrast, as host John Roberts noted, Bill Clinton was able to unseat a sitting President on a narrow economic message even at a time when the economy was getting better precisely because Clinton was so charismatic.

Of course, Romney can be accused of many things, but charisma is not one of them. Which may explain why Krauthammer’s co-panelist Steve Hayes made the argument that Romney’s essentially myopic focus on the economy is hurting him, since voters have already worked out that the President is bad for the economy, and may be looking for stronger, more values-based arguments to motivate them. Neither Krauthammer nor Roberts nor Roll Call’s David Drucker (the third panelist) necessarily differed with this claim, though Drucker noted that criticism of Romney may be premature, given that his campaign has yet to really get on the rails after the primary.
Nevertheless, this obvious display of a lack of confidence in the ability of a major party’s nominee to persuade voters should trouble the Romney camp, especially given similar comments by conservative pundit Bill Kristol:

The economy is of course important. But voters want to hear what Romney is going to do about the economy. He can “speak about” how bad the economy is all he wants—though Americans are already well aware of the economy’s problems—but doesn’t the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank? No need for any of that, I suppose the Romney campaign believes. Just need to keep on “speaking about the economy.”
The Romney campaign will answer that they’re imitating Bill Clinton in 1992, who famously focused on “the economy, stupid.” But Bill Clinton was a full spectrum presidential candidate, with detailed policy proposals on welfare reform, health care, education, and foreign policy. He also made real efforts to convince the voters he was different from the losing Democratic candidates who preceded him (”a new kind of Democrat,“ ”ending welfare as we know it,” a hawkish-sounding foreign policy, Sister Souljah, etc.). So far, the Romney campaign doesn’t resemble the Clinton campaign. It seems to be following more comfortably in the tradition of the five post-Cold War Republican presidential candidates who preceded Romney. They received 37.5 percent, 40.7 percent, 47.9 percent, 50.7 percent, and 45.7 percent of the vote, respectively. The average GOP presidential vote in these last five elections was 44.5 percent. In the last three, it was 48.1 percent. Give Romney an extra point for voter disillusionment with Obama, and a half-point for being better financed than his predecessors. It still strikes me as a path to (narrow) defeat.
Kristol and Krauthammer both slamming Romney at once this way are a solid warning sign, and one that Romney cannot afford to ignore if he wants to end the reign of Barack Obama.

Krauthammer: If Romney Can’t Make Effective Argument On Economy, ‘He Doesn’t Deserve To Win’


On Fox News earlier today, John Roberts conducted a panel discussion on the economy and, more importantly, the fight President Obama and Mitt Romney are having over it. However, the panelists didn’t feel like Romney was doing enough to counter Obama, with Charles Krauthammer declaring that if Romney can’t properly articulate the right arguments against Obama, he doesn’t deserve to win the election.

RELATED: Mitt Romney On June Jobs Report, ObamaCare: ‘By The Way, The Proof Is That I Was Right’

The panel first discussed the sluggish jobs numbers released today, saying they’re certainly not the kind of numbers that would give President Obama a reasonable bump. Roll Call’s David Drucker noted that perception is always key, and that no matter what the numbers say, people need to feel like the economy is getting better. Drucker concluded that Obama’s best strategy, given today’s lacking news, is to “disqualify” Romney for the presidency.

Roberts acknowledged that Romney had a strong response to the numbers today, overall the Republican candidate has not been able to get the kind of traction on the economy that he needs. Krauthammer said that while people consider the economy to be a number one priority, Romney’s messaging has not exactly been that strong, and he has not come up with an effective means of rebutting Obama campaign ads linking Romney and Bain Capital to outsourcing jobs.
“Romney’s inability to bring home the argument… is simply incomprehensible. If he can’t make the argument, he doesn’t deserve to win the election.”
Steve Hayes suggested Romney should have a much “broader” economic argument, to address issues, like health care and entitlement reform, that have not gotten that much attention over the course of the campaign. Drucker made the point that all of the criticisms both candidates are getting are somewhat premature, given that it’s the middle of summer right now and the campaign only starts to get more heated and grab more attention in the post-convention fall. Roberts added that this is the time for candidates to define themselves before they hit the home stretch.

Roberts then brought up two recent mentions on the campaign trail of past presidents, with David Axelrod comparing the level of secrecy in the Romney campaign to Richard Nixon‘s administration and Romney comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter. Krauthammer dismissed Axelrod’s claims as not only ridiculous but hypocritical, considering the scrutiny the Obama administration has faced recently over secrecy in the midst of the Fast & Furious investigation.

RELATED: President Obama Calls Out Mitt Romney And Congress Over Weak Jobs Report

But as for Romney’s biggest problem, Krauthammer stated that the Republican candidate just “hasn’t been ideological enough.” He said that Romney hasn’t had any “charismatic speeches” criticizing the Obama administration in a way that many conservatives would want him to. Hayes added that Romney needs to be more aggressive in going after the president.

Watch the video below, courtesy of Fox News:

Congressman Barney Frank weds in same-sex marriage

BOSTON (Reuters) - Democratic Representative Barney Frank wed his longtime partner, James Ready, on Saturday, becoming the first sitting congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick officiated the ceremony and added some levity by saying Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, had vowed to love each other through Democratic and Republican administrations alike, and even through appearances on Fox News, according to Al Green, a Democratic congressman from Texas.

"Barney was beaming," said Green, who attended the ceremony. He added that Frank, a champion of gay rights and the sweeping reform of Wall Street, shed a tear during the ceremony.

After exchanging their vows, Frank and Ready embraced each other, Green said. "It was no different than any other wedding I've attended when you have two people who are in love with each other," Green said.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and a former chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has been an openly gay congressman since the late 1980s.

He is well known for his legislative acumen, including as an architect of the reforms in the Dodd-Frank bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis following the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market.

Frank's office in January announced he would marry Ready, whom he met at a political fundraiser in Ready's home state of Maine. Ready lives in Ogunquit, where he does carpentry, painting and welding work. Frank and Ready have been involved since 2007.

The evening wedding took place at the Boston Marriott Newton in suburban Boston, attracting political luminaries including Nancy Pelosi, top Democrat in the House of Representatives, and Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democratic representative.

Before the ceremony, Frank greeted family and friends in a traditional black tuxedo. He was tanned and appeared relaxed. News media were not allowed to attend the ceremony.

"We're not doing any media today," Frank told Reuters.

Frank won a seat in Congress in 1980 and said he will retire at the end of the current term. Besides championing financial reform and the rights of fisherman, Frank has been a vocal supporter of gay rights, which have been gathering support in public opinion polls and high courts.

In May, for example, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

The ruling on the 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, marked a victory for gay rights groups and President Obama, whose administration announced last year it considered the law unconstitutional and would no longer defend it.

Also in May, President Obama openly endorsed gay marriage, a move that will surely be a flashpoint in the upcoming presidential election.
His Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage, saying marriage should be limited to a union between one man and one woman.

Eight of the 50 states and the District of Columbia permit gay marriage. 

Several polls show public support of gay marriage rising.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the country where same-sex couples could be legally married. More than 18,000 same-sex couples since then have wed in Massachusetts, according to MassEquality, an advocacy group for gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

(This story corrected the 8th paragraph to delete reference to Elizabeth Warren)
(Reporting By Tim McLaughlin; editing by Todd Eastham)

Pelosi-Boehner photo: lots of buzz

Click! This photo speaks louder than words.
The snap of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., seemed to say it all, about the emotions surrounding the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's health care law--even though the photo was taken the day before and had nothing to do with the health care news.
The quirky picture was first surfaced by the Atlantic's Molly Ball, who tweeted it on Thursday afternoon, the day after it was snapped.
The photo quickly caught the attention of the Web. The Washington Post even held a caption contest.
The image, taken on Wednesday by a sharp-eyed Associated Press photographer at an event honoring members of the Montford Point Marines, seemed to express the partisan mood of the country.
Pelosi looks joyful; Boehner looks like a child who has had his toys taken away from him. Or maybe just a man sentenced to eating a lot of broccoli.
Comments like these on the photo were typical. Wrote @comancheblood: "… boehner about to cry." @SovernNation added, "Way more than 1000 words! Sums up #SCOTUS reax perfectly."
Indeed Pelosi was thrilled by the decision, tweeting, "Victory for the American people!" Boehner, for his part, vowed to repeal the law.
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
  • 1,756 people like this.
  • 50 of 506

    • Depot Cat
      ‎"And the government running all of our healthcare is going to make the system more efficient?" I love how people are making themselves look stupid by regurgitating Republican talking points... If Obamacare meant that the government was running all of our healthcare system, do you really think that it would have been a creation of the right-wing Heritage Foundation? That Massachusetts would have passed--and Governor Romney would have approved--an extremely similar version of it? So similar that MA is exempt from ObamaCare? ObamaCare will eventually SAVE taxpayers money unless everyone suddenly stops filing their taxes to avoid being taxed for not having purchased health insurance. THAT is how it forces the uninsured to buy insurance so that the rest of us are not paying for it with tax dollars when they go to the ER. Its not actually ObamaCare anyway, its The Affordable Health Care Act. The sooner that the right starts referring to it by its correct name the less embarrassing damage they will do to the Republican party. But maybe its too late for that.

    • Depot Cat ‎"it is important to differentiate between opinion commentary and news--this cartoon does not." Neither does Fox. The same could be said for many in left-leaning 'news' but it is not nearly as bad as Fox. (and btw, You could remove the cartoon as the 'Liberal Consipiracy' panel pretty much says the same thing)

    • Stephen Bonser Where is the outrage over a foreign national waltzing into the U.S. and taking over the political dialog with lies and radical propaganda? In most real democracies that person would be shunned and put out of business.

    • Mary Spradling Ferguson No people believe it, it's still a lie!

    • David Woolbright Dont be a fool

    • Rick Stephens Entertainer
      Democrats during Woodrow Wilson & FDR'S reign of socialism perfected propaganda and MSNBC has kept their dream and legacy alive. Fox News is the only news agency I trust for factual news. Now granted they do repeat the same news on every show they have but better that than the lies of MSNBC and the other government news programs. It is sad to see so many drones created by the liberals and progressives. I pray the TEA Party can take it back.

    • Robert L Walls This works very well on people that do not watch FOX, The ones that do watch it instantly know that everything but the cartoon is BS.

    • Dick Bigelow My favorite was Fox blaming the President for high gas prices, and then when they went down wondering on the air if it was a "bad thing". Canada won't even allow them to broadcast as a news network. You morons who love FOX are the most gullible sheep on the planet.

‘Shut Up You Mother F***er!’: Man Suing PA State Police After Gruesome Beating & Arrest (Watch the Video Here)

  • Posted on July 5, 2012 at 3:02pm by Jason Howerton
  • Would you want your child to look like this?  No matter what your child has done they do not deserve this.  
Robert Leone Beaten By Pennsylvania State Police in Dash Cam Video Posted on YouTube
(Source: Daily Mail)

A man is suing the Pennsylvania State Police, alleging police brutality after he was beaten so severely that one of the officers broke his hand punching him during the arrest, WBNG-TV reports. Video of the incident, which occurred in late 2010, was caught on one of the state trooper’s dash cameras but was just uploaded to YouTube a few weeks ago.

The suspect, Robert Leone, of Vestal, N.Y., was reportedly pulled over on suspicion of committing a minor hit-and-run in Bradford County, Pa. Some of Leone’s injuries are displayed in a gruesome mugshot where his entire right eye is swollen shut and his face is extremely bruised.

In the video, a terrifying scene plays out. Two Pennsylvania State Police cars box in Leone’s vehicle as troopers instruct him to exit. Shortly later, another trooper is seen shooting Leone with a Taser through the sunroof.
The same officer is then seen jumping off the car, kicking Leone as other officers cuff him. The troopers reportedly testified that Leone was fighting and resisting them, but the video doesn’t clearly show him being violent towards police.

Trooper Scott Renfer reportedly broke his hand after delivering “blow after blow” to Leone’s head. The suspect also argues he was repeatedly kicked and Tased while he was off-camera.

In the raw video, one of the state troopers can be heard yelling at Leone: ”Do you know who you’re messing with? This is the Pennsylvania State Police.”
The verbal abuse that ensued is undeniable.

“F***ing pull over means be pulled the f*** over. You’re going to be somebody’s f***ing butt f*** inside,” another officer can be heard yelling.

Robert Leone Beaten By Pennsylvania State Police in Dash Cam Video Posted on YouTube
(Source: Daily Mail)

Towards the end of the video, Leone can be heard moaning in apparent terror as he repeatedly tells officers he is “sorry.”
“Are you f***ing stupid?” a trooper asks.
“I’m sorry,” Leone says again before continuing to moan loudly.
“Shut up you mother f***er,” a different officer shouts back at him.
The lawsuit asserts police did not allow EMS personnel to treat Leone at the scene and refused to let him be transported by ambulance to the hospital. Instead, they hogtied him and threw him in the back of a police car before taking him to get medical attention.
Meanwhile, the trooper who broke his hand beating on Leone’s head rode in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Robert Leone Beaten By Pennsylvania State Police in Dash Cam Video Posted on YouTube
(Source: Daily Mail)

Joan Leone, Robrt’s  mother, told WBNG she was horrified when she spoke to her son for the first time after his arrest.
“They put him on the phone and he starts screaming that he has been beaten within an inch of his life. They tried to kill him through the night. He has been threatened that they are going to kill him and make it look like a suicide or an accident,” she said. “[Leone said] That these guys are crazy and you’ve got to get me out of here, they’ve been beating me. And the minute they said that, they pulled the phone from him and I was disconnected.”
Leone was convicted in late 2010 of a number of charges, such as assault, fleeing or eluding police and resisting arrest. He is currently serving a 48-month prison sentence. And though the incident happened more than a year ago, his supporters are still advocating for Leone’s release and want the officers involved to face punishment.
Author and former Pennsylvania state trooper Larry Hohol has made it a personal mission to get justice for Leone. He was the one who uploaded the video to YouTube and he regularly posts updates on the case on his website. He says Leone’s case reminds him of the infamous Rodney King beating.
Further, roughly 50 protesters took to the streets about month ago in Towanda, Pa., advocating for Leone’s release and punishment for the officers who beat him up.
“There‘s possibly a good chance that there’s a cover up at all levels,” said Mike Kitner, one of the protesters. “We just want some answers, we want somebody to come down and look into it because we’re not getting any.”
In a statement to WBNG, the Bradford County Commission said:
The Bradford County Commissioners are certainly concerned about any allegations of inappropriate treatment inflicted on any individual involved in the criminal justice system.
The Commissioners recognize that there are two sides to every story and a pending Federal Lawsuit should answer some of those questions. However, the County’s sole involvement in this matter is their legal obligation to incarcerate prisoners who have been remanded to their facilities through the court system by a District Magistrate or a County Judge.
Bradford County District Attorney Dan Barrett said Leone had “abusive levels” of the stimulant drug Adderall in his system when he was arrested, WBNG reports.

June 28, 2012 Updated Jun 28, 2012 at 1:30 AM EDT (WBNG Binghamton) Raw footage of alleged police brutality of Robert Leone of Vestal. The video you're about to watch is graphic and contents profanities.

Atheist S.E. Cupp: ‘I Would Never Vote For an Atheist President’

Atheist S.E. Cupp Says She Would Never Vote For an Atheist President on MSNBCs The Cycle

For those of you who don’t know, The Blaze’s S.E. Cupp is an atheist. She doesn’t exactly wear it on her sleeve but she never tries to hide from it either.
Nonetheless, Cupp made a fascinating personal revelation Thursday as she spoke with her co-hosts on MSNBC’s “The Cycle” about the always important role of religion in presidential elections.
The panel was discussing GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and how it has effected his presidential ambitions so far when co-host Krystal Ball threw a curve ball and asked, “What if he were atheist?”
Cupp responded almost instantly, saying Romney would have “no chance” running as an atheist candidate.
“And you know what? I would never vote for an atheist president. Ever,” Cupp added, clearly surprising the rest of her panel.
“You’re a self-loathing atheist,” Salon’s Steve Kornacki joked.

Atheist S.E. Cupp Says She Would Never Vote For an Atheist President on MSNBCs The Cycle

It may seem peculiar that someone who classifies herself as an atheist would say that atheism has no place in the Oval Office, but as always, Cupp put her bold statement into context with a concise and thought-provoking explanation.
“Because I do not think that someone who represents 5 to 10 percent of the population should be representing and thinking that everyone else in the world is crazy, but me,” Cupp said, pointing to her chest.
When asked by Ball what would be wrong with someone like herself representing Christians as president, Cupp said she “appreciates” religion and explained why the person she votes for needs to have faith in something bigger than himself.
“The other part of it — I like that there is a check, OK? That there‘s a person in the office that doesn’t think he’s bigger than the state,” she continued. “I like religion being a check and knowing that my president goes home every night addressing someone above him and not thinking all the power resides right here… Atheists don’t have that.”
Watch the segment below via MSNBC and weigh in on Cupp’s comments:

Iran says it has plan to close Strait of Hormuz

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will block the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil flows, if its interests are seriously threatened, a senior Iranian military commander said Saturday.
"We do have a plan to close the Strait of Hormuz," state media quoted Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi as saying Saturday. "A Shiite nation (Iran) acts reasonably and would not approve interruption of a waterway ... unless our interests are seriously threatened," Press TV quoted him as saying.
The comments by Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, come days after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program.
A halt in crude oil imports from Iran is intended to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level, an issue at the center of an international dispute.
Western powers fear material produced at that level — well above the 3.5 percent enrichment needed for energy-producing reactors — can be turned into weapons-grade material in a matter of months. Iran insists its reactors are only for energy and research.
Iranian lawmakers have prepared a bill that would order the country's military to stop tankers headed to countries that have joined the oil ban.
But Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted by Iranian media on Saturday as saying that the proposed bill has not yet been studied by parliament.
Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard has warned in the past that Tehran would order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz if the country's oil exports are blocked.

The ‘New Gestapo’? Maine Gov. Blasts Massive Expansion of IRS Agents

(Photo: AP via Politico)
Governor Paul LePage of Maine is making news for allegedly referring to the IRS as the “new Gestapo” Saturday, after blasting the president’s overhaul of our health care system.
He reportedly said:
This tax will add to the $500 billion in tax increases that are already in Obamacare. Now that Congress can use the taxation power of the federal government to compel behavior or lack thereof, what’s next? More taxes if we don’t drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?
This decision has made America less free. ‘We The People’ have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S.
Even more disheartening is that reviving the American dream just became nearly impossible to do. We are now a nation in which supports dependency rather than independence. Instead of encouraging self-reliance we are encouraging people to rely on the government.  [Emphasis added].
Listen to the entire radio clip here, via Dirigo Blue.
LePage has a history of making inflammatory remarks, saying the NAACP could “kiss his butt” in 2011, and that Barack Obama could “go to hell” in 2010.  At Maine’s GOP convention in 2012 he told the unemployed to “get off the couch and get yourself a job,” to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Watch the NAACP comment, below:

Maine’s Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant demanded a full apology for the remarks, saying:
“We’ve come to expect a bunch of nonsense from Gov. LePage, but this is a step too far. There appears now to be no limit to the extreme language he will use to misinform, degrade and insult people. Somebody needs to explain to him that he’s the governor of a state, and not a talk radio host.”
According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS will be adding 16,500 new auditors, agents, and other employees to “investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans.”
But is a “Gestapo” comparison taking it too far?


The Latest on Obamacare!

Hear what the President had to say after the Supreme Court ruling!

Obama dances his ass off before giving his speech on health

Published on Jun 29, 2012 by
Just try to illustrate the reason why he is so excited.


Obama Ad Calls Romney ‘the Problem’ With Job Losses to China

President Barack Obama speaks at Dobbins Elementary School in Poland, Ohio, Friday, July 6, 2012. Obama is on a two-day bus trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Jul 7, 2012 5:15pm
Undeterred by independent fact checkers that have debunked the thrust of their claims, the Obama campaign is redoubling attacks on Mitt Romney as an “outsourcer” in a new TV ad airing in eight battleground states.

The 30-second spot — titled “The Problem” — claims Romney condoned the Chinese “taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future.”

“He made a fortune letting it happen,” the narrator says, focusing on Bain Capital outsourcing to China, a country Romney has vowed to challenge as president.

It’s the latest in a steady drumbeat of negative attacks on Romney’s record as a corporate buyout specialist, alleging he profited off of deliberately bankrupting companies and sending jobs overseas.

The inclusion of China in the new ad also comes as Obama tries to bolster his image as a hard-liner against China. On Thursday, the administration lodged a new complaint against China at the World Trade Organization, challenging tariffs on U.S. auto exports. The case coincided with Obama’s campaign bus tour through auto manufacturing country of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Romney campaign called the latest ad a continuation of “desperate lies,” citing reports by several independent fact-checkers that have discredited the suggestion that Romney himself had a direct role in relocating U.S. jobs overseas.

“We found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas,” concluded in a report last month.

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler also concluded that while Bain-owned companies may have engaged in outsourcing, Romney’s ties to the practice are tenuous.

The ad blitz comes in spite of Obama’s comments to audiences on his bus tour last week decrying the negative tone of the campaign on TV.
“You guys are getting bombarded with all kinds of nonsense on TV.  So I know that sometimes politics can be discouraging, and especially Washington politics can be discouraging, and it can seem small and it can seem petty,” Obama said Friday.

Independent media monitors that track campaign advertising report that 76 percent of the TV ads Obama’s campaign has aired over the past month have had a negative, “anti-Romney” message.

The new ad begins airing today in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada, the Obama campaign said.

Map: Where Obamacare would expand Medicaid most

Interactive Map
While the Supreme Court narrowly upheld the core of President Obama's health care law Thursday, the justices came down hard against a provision that would have expanded Medicaid to millions more low-income Americans. As passed by Congress, the legislation expanded Medicaid to nearly everyone making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, which would have added an estimated 16 million people to state Medicaid rolls over the next seven years. States that refused to comply would run the risk of losing all Medicaid funding.

Seven justices ruled that the move went too far, and that the government can only withhold the funds to expand Medicaid, not existing money that helps states run their pre-expansion programs.

So will more conservative states take advantage of this new leeway and reject the expansion? That's what Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, suggested Thursday, when he said that he opposed expanding Medicaid in his state. A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has made a show of rejecting federal funds in the past, wouldn't say whether he would block the expansion. Medicaid is often one of the biggest lines in states' budgets, and that share is growing as health care costs continue to rise.
But some of the early opposition may turn out to be saber rattling. The federal government is funding 100 percent of the state expansion for the first few years before reducing their contribution to a permanent 90 percent. That's a much higher contribution than the government currently makes for Medicaid (at 57 percent), which every state now participates in, even though it is also an optional program. And in addition to the government providing a sweet deal, the states who sued over the expansion account for most of the country's unemployed people, which might make it particularly difficut for their governors to turn down a chance to insure their residents at a tenth of the cost.

In the map above, each state is shaded according to how much its Medicaid program would expand under the new law, according to the higher end of the Kaiser Family Foundation's estimates (pdf, page 45). Each state is also shaded red or green, based on whether it has passed a law or constitutional amendment opposing health care reform. (Alabama and Wyoming have proposed amendments on the 2012 ballot.)

According to the National Journal's Ron Brownstein, the 26 states that sued over the Medicaid expansion contain 55 percent of the nation's uninsured, a total of 27.6 million uninsured people. Texas alone has 6.1 million uninsured people. Expanding Medicaid in Texas would cover 2.0 million people, the Kaiser Family Foundation (pdf).

Conor Skelding contributed to this report.

Medicaid Coverage and Spending in Health Reform