Monday, August 3, 2015

Last Call For Investigations Are For Losers

You may recall that one of the first reactions by the GOP over this Planned Parenthood video nonsense was Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal trying to revive his moribund 2016 presidential run by immediately calling for an investigation into the organization's clinics in the state.

Well, seeing as how he only until tomorrow to get his terrible numbers high enough to get into the FOX debate in Cleveland this week, he's now no longer waiting for the results of the investigation.

Today, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals informed Planned Parenthood it is exercising its right to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid provider agreement. In recent weeks, multiple videos have surfaced showing Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior personnel and other employees describing how they actively engage in illegal partial birth abortion procedures and conduct these abortions in a manner that leaves body parts intact so that they can later be sold on the open market. Since these videos have surfaced, Governor Jindal has directed DHH to investigate Planned Parenthood’s activities in Louisiana and also sent a letter to both the Louisiana Inspector General and the F.B.I. asking them to assist in the investigation. 
According to the Medicaid provider contract between DHH and Planned Parenthood, along with relevant Louisiana law, either party can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice. Governor Jindal and DHH decided to give the required 30-day notice to terminate the Planned Parenthood Medicaid provider contract because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life. Pending the ongoing investigation, DHH reserves the right to amend the cancellation notice and terminate the provider agreement immediately should cause be determined.

As near as I can tell, the figures I can find have about 30% of the state on Medicaid.  You figure half are women (if not more) and with 4.65 million people in the state, that's roughly 700,000 women on Medicaid for Louisiana.

That's a lot of women who are no longer able to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic for basic services, because of a questionable video.

But what does Jindal care?

King Cotton And Queen Misery

Twenty years ago, textile mills in the Carolinas closed up shop due to cheap Chinese labor.  Now in 2015, Chinese textile giants like Keer Group are finding out that the cheaper labor is over here in Red State, "right-to-work" America.

Once the epitome of cheap mass manufacturing, textile producers from formerly low-cost nations are starting to set up shop in America. It is part of a blurring of once seemingly clear-cut boundaries between high- and low-cost manufacturing nations that few would have predicted a decade ago.

Textile production in China is becoming increasingly unprofitable after years of rising wages, higher energy bills and mounting logistical costs, as well as new government quotas on the import of cotton.

At the same time, manufacturing costs in the United States are becoming more competitive
. In Lancaster County, where Indian Land is located, Keer has found residents desperate for work, even at depressed wages, as well as access to cheap and abundant land and energy and heavily subsidized cotton.

Politicians, from the county to the state to the federal government, have raced to ply Keer with grants and tax breaks to bring back manufacturing jobs once thought to be lost forever.

The prospect of a sweeping Pacific trade agreement that is led by the United States, and excludes China, is also driving Chinese yarn companies to gain a foothold here, lest they be shut out of the lucrative American market.

Keer’s $218 million mill spins yarn from raw cotton to sell to textile makers across Asia. While Keer still spins much of its yarn in China, importing the raw cotton from America, that is slowly changing.

“The reasons for Keer coming here? Incentives, land, the environment, the workers,” Zhu Shanqing, Keer’s chairman, said on a recent trip to the United States.

“In China, the whole yarn manufacturing industry is losing money,” he added. “In America, it’s very different

Automation is a huge part of the deal.  Maximum profits, minimum workers.

“I never thought the Chinese would be the ones bringing textile jobs back,” said Keith Tunnell, president of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corporation, who helped put together subsidies for Keer estimated at about $20 million, including infrastructure grants, revenue bonds and tax credits.

The inner workings of Keer’s factory in Lancaster County help demonstrate why yarn can now be produced for such a low cost in the United States and point to the kind of capital-intensive manufacturing that could thrive again in America.

Inside the 230,000-square-foot spinning plant, giant machines help clean the seeds and dirt from the cotton and send the fluff into carding machines that assemble the cotton into thick, long ropes of fiber. Workers then feed the ropes into machines that spin the cotton into spools of yarn or thread.

The work is highly automated, with the factory’s 32 production lines churning out about 85 tons of yarn a day. Even when Keer opens a second factory next year, it will hire just 500 workers, a fraction of the thousands of workers who toiled at cotton mills across the South for much of the 19th and 20th centuries — a big reason Keer is able to keep costs down.

$20 million in tax credits for 500 jobs.  Seems like a pretty good deal for Keer Group, huh?

Not so much for Lancaster County taxpayers, or schools, or roads, or bridges, or infrastructure, or people.  TPP or not, Red State America is already moving forward with the dark side of international trade, and we're on the wrong side of the ledger for sure. No unions, no benefits, no hope.

But shrinking manufacturing jobs have spurred a willingness in places like Lancaster County to work for lower pay, making them increasingly attractive production bases. Global manufacturers have also been drawn to so-called right-to-work states like South Carolina, where there is little unionization.

“I think I’m going to like it here,” said Enabel Perez, a former apparel factory worker and one of Ms. Ni’s trainees. Ms. Perez said she had jumped at Keer’s call for workers, an event welcomed in Lancaster County with a segment on the evening news.

Future of America seems pretty bleak.

Saving America, Koch Style

Carles Koch considers himself a patriot, you know.  He's putting his considerable fortune as a billionaire on the line to help America stop the scourge of our age: billionaires paying taxes for programs that help the rest of us awful, unworthy, non-billionaires.

Koch, speaking on a low stage in front of an elaborately manicured lawn at the St. Regis Monarch Beach luxury resort, warned about 450 assembled donors and a slew of Republican elected officials – including Sens. Cory Gardner, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse and Dan Sullivan – of a “life or death struggle for our country.”

“One of the things I ask you to think about over this weekend is will you stand together with us to help save our country. It can’t be done without you and many, many others,” said Koch, who seldom speaks in the presence of reporters.

His speech, which came after on-stage interviews by POLITICO’s Mike Allen of GOP presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker, marked the kickoff of a three-day gathering hosted by the deep-pocketed political and public policy network spearheaded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Charles Koch – introduced by the meeting’s emcee Kevin Gentry as “our great leader” – stumbled slightly on his way to the stage, as attendees squinted into a hot Southern California sun.

“That was Harry Reid that was trying to trip me there,” Koch cracked of the Senate Democratic leader, who has waged a campaign to brand the Koch brothers as the personification of the big-money takeover of American democracy. “I didn’t see him, but I know he’s watching. No, he’s got the bad eye, he’s probably not even watching us anymore,” said Koch, alluding to exercise accident early this year that left Reid blind in one eye.

Koch went on to lambast “irresponsible government spending from both political parties that’s bankrupting out nation,” and a “foreign policy that repeats the mistakes of the past and feeds special interests at the expense of a national defense that truly makes Americans safe.” And he called on the assembled business leaders to reject “corporate welfare,” that he said is creating “a two-tier society” by “creating a permanent underclass, crippling our economy and corrupting the business community – present company excepted, of course.”

Now that's an interesting premise.  He calls it "corporate welfare" but what he's actually describing are the attacks used by Republicans on corporate taxes used to help fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare.  It's almost like Koch is expecting the government to stop helping small businesses at all, so that huge conglomerates like Koch Industries can rule America completely.

And the Kochs have the candidates in their pockets to prove it.


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