The Veterans Administration Is Not Getting Better

VA Secretary David Shulkin, according to an IG report, has been misappropriating VA funds for his and his family’s personal benefit, and he’s been abusing his authority to require a subordinate to act as his “personal travel concierge.”  He

improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tennis tickets….

And his Chief of Staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, apparently tampered with evidence:

made false claims to a VA ethics official by altering an email to get official approval for Dr Shulkin’s wife to take part in the trip as an “invitational traveler,” a status that meant the VA would cover her expenses. Her airfare cost taxpayers $4,312.

A New Insurance Plan

Idaho has one.  Blue Cross of Idaho says it’s going to take advantage of newly issued State regulations to start marketing a plan that won’t meet Obamacare requirements, and they’re going to sell the plan alongside its existing Obamacare-compliant plans.

The Idaho Department of Insurance last month became the first state regulator to say it would let insurers begin offering “state-based plans” for consumers that involved practices generally banned for individual insurance under the ACA, including tying premium rates to enrollees’ pre-existing health conditions.

In particular,

Welfare Reform: MIA

Senate Republicans and Progressive-Democrats agreed in principle to a two-year budget deal that sets outer bounds on spending allocations that are yet to be debated and passed in the two Houses.  The deal increases defense spending by $165 billion over the next two years, and it increases domestic spending by $131 billion over those two years.

But at what price?

One price is the potential for a return to $1 trillion deficits.  To an extent, that’ll be reduced by a growing economy as the tax reform law begins to take effect.

A New Welfare Trap

This one is in the offing at the State level, and comes as a result of the punitive tax for not buying health coverage was repealed last December.

At least nine states are considering their own versions of a requirement that residents must have health insurance….


Maryland lawmakers are pursuing a plan to replace the ACA mandate, which requires most people to pay a penalty if they don’t have coverage. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, are publicly considering similar ideas.

Working for a Living

Indiana has joined Kentucky in getting approval to add a work requirement to its Medicaid program (separately: Federal approval should not be a requirement; the program should be a State-run and -funded program only).

Of course, there are objections.

Democrats and consumer groups are decrying the GOP push, saying it is antithetical to Medicaid’s goal of expanding health care.

A Thought on American Women’s Gymnastics

Unless you’ve been vacationing unplugged under a rock for the last several months, you’re aware of the atrocities committed by Larry Nassar, the ex-pseudo-doctor for the US’ women’s gymnastics team.  Now we find out that

The US Olympic Committee didn’t intervene in USA Gymnastics’ handling of sexual-abuse allegations against longtime national-team doctor Larry Nassar in 2015, even after USA Gymnastics’ then-president told two top USOC executives that an internal investigation had uncovered possible criminal behavior by the doctor against Olympic athletes.

And pursuant to a lawsuit,

Yet Another Mueller Leak

As usual, it’s carefully crafted and timed (it came out Wednesday morning) to cast President Donald Trump and his administration in a bad light and to try to steal the headlines from Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking an interview with Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team, according to a person with knowledge of the matter….

As usual, too, Mueller is carefully silent on the leak and refuses to do anything to halt further leaks.

Aren’t these investigations supposed to be secret until they’re dropped or charges revealed?  Hah. Naïve me.


…will not compromise.  The Progressive-Democratic Party refused President Donald Trump’s offer of compromise and bipartisan work during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.  They booed Trump’s request that both parties work together on immigration reform, never minding that he offered DACA protections—via legislation, yet, rather than an ephemeral Executive Order—for one million more children brought here illegally and young(er) adults brought here illegally as children than ex-President Barack Obama (D) had.

They sat, refusing even to acknowledge with polite applause, our nation’s economic successes.

Another Biased Federal Judge

US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, of the Eastern District of New York, blatantly and zealously does not like President Donald Trump, as many folks do not.  However, the judge is hearing a case concerning whether to block Trump’s withdrawal of ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) unconstitutionally applied DACA protections, and that overt bias may well feed into his ruling on what should be an open and shut question: the DACA protections were illegally applied, and apart from that, they were applied by DHS Memorandum, and so even were Obama’s DACA legal, the protections can be removed by Memorandum or by a President’s Executive Order.

In Which the New York Times and the BBC Miss Again

It seems the women journalists in the pay of the BBC were being paid significantly less than their male colleagues, to the point that Carrie Gracie, BBC’s China Editor, resigned her position in protest (I’m citing a New York Times report about the BBC.  Why that’s important, rather than citing a BBC report directly, will come clear in a bit).  Gracie has returned to London, still a BBC journalist, but there she’ll be paid the same as her male colleagues.

And how did that equal pay come about, you might ask?

According to “the organization” (presumably a BBC mucky-muck or BBC mucky-muck’s spokesman),