consultants are sandburs

Monday, March 12, 2018

Two views of getting the VA's mind right. Right as in "correct," not as in "right-wing stupid" privatization, per Koch-Hegseth.

Axios, this link, and a hat tip to a friend for emailing the link. Painting a tenuous picture for Shulkin's clean-up effort:

It took a few weeks to land on his radar, but President Trump now views Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin as a major problem. Trump has been telling associates he doesn't know what's happened at the VA, but he doesn't like what he's hearing and he may have to fire Shulkin if the situation further deteriorates.

[...] John Kelly met with Shulkin at the White House on Monday afternoon. Shulkin brought along his deputy Tom Bowman and his chief of staff Peter O'Rourke, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

= Kelly told Shulkin he's got to end the drama at the VA and stop fighting with his staff. Kelly's sick and tired of Shulkin freelancing and talking directly to the press. He wants Shulkin to just shut up and stop causing drama, those sources say.
= Kelly's bottom line message to Shulkin: Continue your mission and get back to work. We can't keep going on like this. (But Kelly did tell Shulkin he'd help him deal with the personnel problems at the VA.)

Right after his meeting with Kelly, Shulkin was brought into the Oval Office to talk to Trump. The conversation quickly turned to discussing important legislation to reform the VA health care system.

= Trump surprised Shulkin by dialing in Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth on speaker phone to get his opinion of the legislation, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation. [...]
= The Hegseth call put Shulkin in an awkward spot, according to those sources. Hegseth competed for Shulkin's job and favors more aggressive reform for the VA. Trump talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on Fox and Friends.

What came next shocked Kelly: After visiting the White House, Shulkin spoke to The New York Times. He declared victory, announced he had the power to can insubordinate political appointees, and said he had the White House’s full support.

[...] Shulkin remains in a perilous position. He has cut off communication with about a half dozen key people at the VA. They include Press Secretary Curt Cashour, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs John Ullyot, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Brooks Tucker, senior adviser Jake Leinenkugel, and a senior adviser at the Veterans Health Administration Camilo Sandoval. And now, his relationship with the White House is more frayed than ever.

[bolding, link, and italics in original]

Jake Leinenkugel? A Wisconsin beer baron who likely was a Trump bundler; boycott his beer. He's as much a Koch idiot as Hegseth.

The linked NYT item:

For now at least, it appears moderation has prevailed, with the Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin, thwarting a pitched conservative push to drive him out.

“It’s my job as secretary to get the organization singly focused on making the V.A. work better for vets,” the secretary, a physician and holdover from the Obama administration, said in an interview on Monday, after the latest in a string of meetings with the White House chief of staff. “I’ve been making it clear to the organization that we will not be distracted as we have in the last couple weeks.”

“People need to get on board with that or need to leave,” he added.

For weeks now, Dr. Shulkin, a political moderate who was confirmed by the Senate 100 to 0, has been locked in a bitter and unusually public battle with a band of Trump administration officials who he said were out to overthrow him. The plotters included White House officials and the two men charged with safeguarding the secretary’s public image — who instead worked to undercut it, according to loyalists of the secretary.

Offstage lurked Concerned Veterans for America, part of the constellation of political groups funded by the billionaire libertarian-leaning activists Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, in this case to push the department away from government-run veterans’ care and toward private care subsidized by the government.

Dr. Shulkin forced the fight into the open, running a one-man media operation via his own cellphone while betting that the White House would eventually offer reinforcements. On Monday, after meeting with the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, Dr. Shulkin signaled that his gamble had paid off.

He said in an interview that President Trump and Mr. Kelly supported his making changes at the department, including the removal of any staff members who did not support him. Mr. Kelly made no mention of finding a new secretary, Dr. Shulkin said, and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, publicly expressed her support.

Staff changes could be announced on Wednesday, Dr. Shulkin said, without providing details.

[italics added] NYT did not name Hegseth, but instead named the should-be-defunct Koch inspired, Hegseth fronted, faux Veterans advocacy operation.

Hopefully Shulkin has Kelly's approval to mop up the mess and institute progress and better ways and means. And Hegseth, he's like a FOX funded throbbing hemorrhoid causing undue pain on the body politic.

Links: Here, here, Stars and Stripes, and pages, home, new top gun, and meddling. While opinions can differ, any veteran who buys that brand is a fool, of a tool.

___________FURTUER UPDATE___________
If you get the flavor of as a Republican front organization, look to two field staff organizers, Russ Duerstine and Tom Greer.

Would a Democrat touch that operation? Likely not a real one. A blue dog perhaps, perhaps not.

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