Probing the Attempted Murder of an Ex-Spy

Recall that an ex-spy and his daughter were attacked in a British park with a view to killing at least the ex-spy.  The weapon used was a nerve gas that’s only made in Russia.  The investigation itself is pointing strongly at Moscow as the instigator of the murder attempt; although the investigation is not complete.  Now Russia is refusing to cooperate in the investigation unless certain conditions are met.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would only cooperate with the UK’s investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy if London supplied the substance in question and opened up the probe to Russian officials.

An Unintended Consequence

The health coverage plan providers, companies like Humana, Aetna, Anthem, et al., are gaming the Medicare system to keep their Medicare bonuses coming in.  Surprise.

It seems that when Obamacare was passed, it included a system of paying bonuses from Medicare to those plan providers that got sufficiently high ratings on the quality of their plans.

But wait….

Medicare ranks privately managed plans…on a five-star quality scale and provides financial bonuses to providers of top-ranked plans. [A plan-holder’s] plan was set to be downgraded, which would have cost Humana its bonus. So the company merged plans covering [the plan-holder] and more than a million others into different contracts with higher scores. That preserved the bonuses.

Biofuel Mandates

The Wall Street Journal had a piece titled Biofuel Mandates Are a Bad Idea Whose Time May Be Up that centered on the possibility that these might get watered down, or even eliminated, sometime “soon.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard, which forces oil refiners to mix corn-based fuel into gasoline, is one of history’s great policy boondoggles.

Well, NSS.  The only things it’s done of practical consequence have been to serve as a backdoor subsidy for farmers and to drive up the cost of corn, corn substitutes, and food that eats corn.  And to drive up the cost of gasoline and to create ethanol fuel-related automobile engine maintenance costs.

A Telling Remark

It also emphasizes the magnitude of the Republican failure with the party’s choice for Senate candidate in last December’s Alabama special election.

In a Wall Street Journal piece centered on the intra-party fighting the Senate Progressive-Democrats are having over a banking bill that would release smaller banks from Dodd-Frank’s onerous requirements, Senator Doug Jones (D, AL), who won that special election, let slip this in response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) over his support for that banking bill:

I don’t really worry about things like that. I do what I think is best for me[.]

Federal Student Loans and State Regulators

The Trump administration has told States to stop regulating companies that service Federal student loans; that’s the Federal government’s job.  The States have demurred.

The whole thing could—and should—be made moot by the Federal government getting out of the student loan business altogether.  The Feds have no business here; it’s a private enterprise arena, and the States should be free to regulate, or not, to their hearts’ contents on intrastate student lending.  The Feds’ only role here should be to regulate Commerce…among the several States and not to compete in that commerce.

Discrimination and the Census Bureau

In a recent Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor, a correspondent wrote regarding Edwin Meese III’s and Mike Gonzalez’ Trump Can Help Overcome Identity Politics

Another [excellent idea to eliminate identity politics] might be to not collect any ethnic, racial, or national descent information on US citizens at all.

Indeed. We’re all Americans; all other discriminants are deeply secondary to that.

Besides, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, the way to end discrimination is to stop discriminating. The Census’ plot to collect all of its identity politics data is just another attempt to discriminate.

Another Leak

The Wall Street Journal reported another leak concerning Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s pseudo-investigation of all things related to supposed collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia [emphasis added].

A meeting in the Seychelles weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration between a Russian executive and a top Republican donor close to the Trump transition team has drawn the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, who has heard testimony that appears to conflict with an account of the same meeting given earlier to House investigators, according to people familiar with the matter.


An Interesting Move

Work for welfare is a tried and true means of helping folks who need a hand up and further for helping them get out of the government-dependency cage.  Wisconsin is applying an interesting twist to the thing.

Wisconsin is relying on an unusual argument to tie new work requirements to food stamps: it says it needs the workers.


[Wisconsin’s] labor force grew 1.2% in 2017, and the state’s jobs listings website shows nearly 100,000 positions unfilled. Mr Walker believes some of the 925,000 people on the state’s FoodShare program could help.

Governor Scott Walker (R):

Better than Nothing

…and good for the region, although not as good as it could have been with US involvement.

Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific nations [Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam] are set to sign a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, on Thursday.

This is a missed opportunity for the United States and a foreign policy mistake by President Donald Trump.

The goal of the pact is to open borders to more trade in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and to set international standards, which many see as crucial to managing the encroaching dominance of China….

You Didn’t Earn That

The European Commission has criticized seven member states for “aggressive” tax practices, whereby governments try to undercut others to attract multinational companies.

Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation, and Customs doesn’t like competition; he actually thinks it interferes with the “integrity of the European single market.”

[T]hese practices have “the potential to undermine the fairness and the level playing field in our internal market and they increase the burden on EU taxpayers.”