Kushner Nixed National Testing Strategy Because he Thought Covid-19 Would Only Ravage Dem States

A troubling Vanity Fair report says that at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner cobbled together a team which actually managed to come up with a decent national testing strategy for covid-19. Shockingly however, instead of the plan being rapidly deployed nationwide to curb the spread of the deadly virus, Kushner and some White House political operatives decided it would be politically advantageous for Trump, if they shelved the testing plan because the virus at that time was only ravaging blue/Democratic states like New York.

As unbelievable as this sounds, Kushner and the White House operatives believed it would be politically advantageous for Trump if they let people die in blue/Democratic states because they could turn around and blame Democratic Governors for incompetence in the run up to the November elections. The author of the Vanity Fair piece, Katherine Eban, told CNN’s Erin Burnett;“There was a shared feeling which turned out to be spectacularly wrong, that the virus was receding, it was going to be under control, and at the time it was just the blue states where the virus was surging. So the idea was, why go through all the effort to surge up a national plan? It wasn’t going to have political resonance, and if there was a political response that was needed, the blue state Governors could just be blamed..”

You’ll remember a recent Washington Post piece which said Trump, who had previously downplayed the seriousness of covid-19, even calling it a hoax at one point, changed his attitude towards the deadly virus only after senior White House officials presented him with data and maps showing that the virus is beginning to ravage “our people”–Trump’s base of rural White voters in Republican states. This means Trump’s bungled covid-19 response, which has led to more than 150,000 deaths so far and counting, is not only the result of a callous political decision by his son-in -law Kushner, but also the administration’s deep seated racism towards communities of color who Trump considers not “our people”, and who data has consistently shown to disproportionately bear the brunt of covid-19, both in infection rates and deaths. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Bottom line folks, as it currently stands, the coronavirus pandemic is arguably one of the biggest crisis ever to befall the United States, especially if you consider the fact that it has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the U.S. in less than six months, led to levels of unemployment most of us have never witnessed in our lifetimes, dealt a severe blow to the U.S. economy leaving economic giants such as the airline industry teetering on the brink of collapse, changed the manner and format of our beloved professional sports leagues, just to mention but a few. Reasonable people will agree that given the seriousness of covid-19, the American public is totally justified in expecting that the Trump administration, without regard to partisan politics or race, will spare no resources, and do everything in it’s power to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, the Vanity Fair piece saying Kushner shelved a covid-19 national testing strategy for political reasons, and the Washington Post piece saying Trump has not been serious about the pandemic because it’s not ravaging “our people”, prove beyond any reasonable doubt that partisan politics and racism are guiding Trump administration’s covid-19 response. All Americans of good conscience must loudly rebuke this immoral and callous disregard for people’s lives. We owe that to the families of the 150,000-plus people who have needlessly succumbed to covid-19.

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$1.5 Trillion Worth Of $100 Bills Are Unaccounted For

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with his wife Louise Linton

A bombshell Yahoo News piece says a staggering $1.5 trillion worth of U.S. dollar bills, predominantly the $100 bills(C-notes) are unaccounted for. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was confronted with this question on Fox Business Network (FBN) where he gave the explanation that weak economies around the world are increasingly using the U.S. dollar, meaning the missing $100 bills are probably sitting in bank vaults around the world.

Specifically, Sec Mnuchin told FBN’s Lou Dobbs,“Literally, a lot of these $100 bills are sitting in bank vaults all over the world…..The dollar is the reserve currency of the world, and everybody wants to hold dollars…….And the reason why they want to hold dollars is because the U.S. is a safe place to have your money, to invest and to hold your assets…….There’s a lot of Benjamins all over the world.” ($100 bills are colloquially referred to as “Benjamins” because they bear the picture of founding father Benjamin Franklin)

Reasonable people will agree that Secretary Mnuchin’s explanation, that the $100 bills are probably sitting in bank vaults worldwide, is very plausible. The question he was never asked however, is why we are having this problem now? Weak economies around the world have been using U.S. currency way before the Trump administration. Were the $100 bills also unaccounted for prior to the Trump administration? Yours Truly, always ahead of the curve, raised this question on Twitter.

Bottom line folks, we have witnessed shocking levels of corruption in the 3 short years Trump has been President. Under any other normal U.S. administration, the explanation given by Sec Mnuchin would be sufficient. Given the fact that the Trump administration has exhibited shocking levels of corruption, most notably the disappearance of $40 million of inaugural funds, congressional Democrats and the mainstream media owe it to the public to press Secretary Mnuchin for more answers regarding the missing Benjamins.

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Little Known FBI’s Race-Based Surveillance

There have been numerous media reports about a very troubling practice by the FBI to designate Black activists as “Black Identity Extremists”, an often bogus designation which is then used to justify subjecting the said activists to all levels of surveillance–private, local, state, federal and even military surveillance in major cities like Houston, LA, Chicago, New York and others. The rationale, a bogus one, is that a “Black Identity Extremist” or BIE is more likely to attack law enforcement officers and thus needs to be placed under 24-hour surveillance.

The controversy surrounding this program, beyond its prima facie racism, centers around the ease with which a Black activist could end up in this designation. Several media reports have said that even mundane activities like organizing or attending a Black Lives Matter rally could in the eyes of the FBI qualify a Black activist as a BIE subjecting them to unjustified long-term government surveillance, the fruits of which could be used in their criminal prosecution. Needless to say, Black activists who support/sympathize with Black Lives Matter on social media (Twitter, Facebook) can also very easily be designated as BIEs. Simply put, this is a very serious problem that is yet to garner the mainstream media attention it deserves.

Yours Truly has ranted and raved about the lack of mainstream media attention surrounding this seemingly–let’s face it–racist surveillance by the FBI for quite a while now, wondering when House Democrats would take up this serious issue with the justice department.

Well, it turns out Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee (R-TX) did indeed raise this issue with then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a House hearing on November 14, 2017. Rep Jackson-Lee asked Sessions; “My question is, as I hold up the poster dealing with the report under your jurisdiction–Black Identity Extremists. It is interesting to me that you are opposing [meant targeting] individuals who are opposing lethal force, similar to the attack on Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on Cointelpro, but there seems to be no report dealing with the tiki torch parade in Charlottesville chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Why is there an attack on Black activists versus any report dealing with the Alt Right and the White Nationalists?” AG Sessions responded that he was not aware of the report.

Cointelpro which Rep Jackson-Lee referenced in her questioning was a controversial and secret surveillance program the FBI deployed on Black civil rights activists in the 60s, most notably, on the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Historians agree that the primary reason the FBI ran Cointelpro on Black civil rights activists was to scare them into silence. This is precisely why when Black activists hear about “Black Identity Extremists” they are immediately reminded of stories they’ve read about Cointelpro and are justified in questioning whether the FBI has indeed reverted back to its 1960s tactic of stifling Black dissent.

Bottom line the “Black Identity Extremist” debate is one that begs for serious mainstream media attention. The mainstream media and indeed members of Congress must not remain silent as a section of the population is unjustly subjected to heightened levels of government surveillance all in an effort to stifle their first amendment compliant political speech. At moments like these, Martin Niemoller’s famous words come to mind; “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

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Decorated Veteran Amy Or MoscowMitch?

As the 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns are heating up all over the country, Kentucky voters are confronted with one of the starkest choices we’ve ever seen in modern political history–whether to send to the U.S. Senate a relatively young decorated military vet Amy McGrath, or stick with their 5 term Senator Mitch McConnell who’s not only associated with everything that is broken in Washington, but whose very loyalty to the United States is up for debate (hence the name MoscowMitch).

The battle between McGrath and McConnell for the Kentucky U.S. Senate seat is arguably the biggest 2020 senate fight. A lot of mainstream media coverage has already been dedicated to this great political battle so it will be an exercise in redundancy to relitigate the strengths and weaknesses of either candidate. Yours Truly will however reiterate what he has said all along that even with Kentucky’s long history of voting for Republicans statewide and the benefits of incumbency that accrue to McConnell, Democrat Amy McGrath is an excellent candidate who has a real shot at taking down Mitch McConnell–Kentucky’s Beto if you will. Remember folks, Yours Truly was a believer in Beto way back when he was trailing Ted Cruz by 20 points and the media was calling the race a lost cause.

There is no doubt in my mind that given the excellent campaign TeamMcGrath is running and the general fatigue people have with MoscowMitch’s hyperpartisan style of politics, Kentuckians in 2020 will settle for Dem Amy McGrath as their Senator.

It cannot also be left unsaid that there is an outside chance that Amy McGrath will end up winning by default–Yes, that McConnell will stare at the prospect of a defeat and decide to call it a career before the 2020 elections. Simply put folks, the MoscowMitch tag has really rattled McConnell and he’s very worried about losing because of that because that would become his legacy. He’d be better off bowing out thus giving himself room to reshape his legacy.

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GOP’s Joe Walsh:”Republicans Want Trump Gone, They Are Just Afraid To Say It”

Former Congressman and Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh announced today that he will be seeking the party’s nomination for President in 2020. This bring to three the number of Republicans who have declared a primary challenge to Trump in 2020–Former Congressman Joe Walsh, former SC Gov Mark Sanford and former Massachusetts Gov Bill Weld.

In announcing his candidacy, Joe Walsh made the bombshell revelation on ABC’s This Week show that most Republicans are sick of Trump and want him gone, but are just afraid to say it. The entire Joe Walsh segment is available here but the relevant clip is below.

Specifically, Joe Walsh told ABC’s This Week host George Stephanoupolos; “Most of my former colleagues think Trump is going to lose in November[2020] and they want him to lose in November. And then they think they are done with him and everything can go back to normal.” Host Stephanopoulos interjected, “then they lose the courts, they lose the Supreme Court, they lose the next vacancy, they lose taxes, that’s the argument the President’s been making” to which Joe Walsh replied, “They [Republicans] want Trump gone, they are just afraid to say that he is unfit.” This just adds another wrinkle to the growing public sentiment that Trump is simply unfit for the office he currently holds, an argument another Republican Anthony Scaramucci made just this week when he said we have “a full blown lunatic in the White House.”

All in all there is a lot of buzz about a possible serious primary challenge to Trump in 2020 and Democrats are hoping that a big name Republican will soon step up to the plate. Among the names thrown out there are former SC Gov Nikki Haley and former Ohio Gov John Kasich who is apparently scheduled to make a speech in the key primary state of New Hampshire soon.

Bottom line folks, even though we already have three Republicans who have declared a challenge to Trump in 2020, all eyes are on two big name Republicans–Nikki Haley and John Kasich. We can all agree however that it is only after either Gov Haley, Gov Kasich or some other GOP “big fish” jumps into the race that we will, to use a football analogy, “have a ball game.” Until then, it’s recruitment season and Yours Truly is certainly playing his part.

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Scaramucci:”We Have A Full Blown Lunatic In The White House”

Former Trump Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci today appeared on MSNBC’s AMJoy show and made the bombshell allegation that “we have a full blown lunatic in the White House.” This was of course in reference to President Trump with whom he is currently feuding and apparently recruiting a primary opponent against for the 2020 elections.

Concerns as to whether Scaramucci’s latest allegations can be taken seriously are valid especially given the fact that he has been for quite a while a very loyal defender of the President against the very kind of allegations he is currently making(mental unfitness). The problem however is that very credible professionals have also raised questions about President Trump’s mental fitness for office.

The question therefore is not whether we should believe Scaramucci but rather, what we are going to do about the very serious and existential threat of president Trump’s mental state? How many medical professionals have to give us flashing red warning signs before Congress starts to address this topic? There’s already talk about impeaching President Trump over a whole host of other reasons. Why not include mental unfitness in that list?

Bottom line folks, politicians have been known to say some of the wackiest things. We all know however that what is going on with President Trump is beyond wacky and deep into the 25th amendment realm–especially after his ridiculous “I am The Chosen One” comment–an out and out blasphemy. This latest outburst was so ridiculous that he has apparently taken it back claiming that he was just being sarcastic. Trump rarely takes his public comments back regardless of how ridiculous they sound meaning he must have realized how insane it appears to the public to have someone in his position refer to himself as “The Chosen One”

Simply put folks, the next time the topic of impeachment pops up, House Democrats must throw in the fact that Trump is simply mentally unfit to be president. Maybe, just maybe, this would be enough for Speaker Pelosi to finally hop on the impeachment train. Don’t bet the house on it though.

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Barr Must Resign Over Epstein Suicide

The recent alleged suicide by child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, which was arguably the highest profile criminal case in the country, has shaken the U.S. Justice Department to its core–so much so that Yours Truly believes it must be grounds for U.S. Attorney General Barr’s resignation.

By all accounts, including Barr’s, the events leading to Epstein’s alleged suicide represent a colossal failure in protocol at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons which falls under Barr’s docket.

The Epstein debacle comes roughly 4 months after the release of the Mueller report to the public. It is now widely accepted that AG Barr seriously mischaracterized Mueller’s findings in order to cast President Trump in a more positive light. When AG Barr was called to testify before Congress about his glaring mischaracterization of the Mueller Report, he refused to appear–a situation that has now led to a contempt of congress citation. A sitting U.S. Attorney General cited for contempt of congress, essentially lawlessness, puts a big stain on the justice department. Simply put, AG Bsrr’s handling of the Mueller report has seriously sullied the reputation of the justice department, and has even ellicited calls for his impeachment.

Therefore when Epstein’s case came along, another high profile case with huge political connotations, a lot of people including Yours Truly expected the justice department to “make right” or amend their ways after AG Barr’s mischaracterization of the Mueller report. Yours Truly hoped the justice department would go out of its way to dispell this widely held notion that we have a two tier system of justice–one for the rich and powerful and the other for the poor. As it turns out, the justice department has miserably failed this test.

It cannot be left unsaid that Epstein was not just any other criminal defendant caught in the crosshairs of Barr’s justice department. Epstein was tied to the Barr’s father. Barr even initially recused himself from Epstein’s case only to reverse himself days later. Because Epstein’s case involved AG Barr personally, the massive failure in protocol regarding his handling in jail creates an unavoidable appearance of impropriety regarding AG Barr–one that cannot just be excused by failures in protocol at Epstein’s jail facility.

It is also known that Epstein and Trump were acquaintances years ago and Epstein’s criminal prosecution had the potential to expose very damaging information about Trump. Barr is referred to in many circles as “Trump’s Roy Cohn” for the strange way he has used his position as AG to “shield” Trump from any legal implications of the Mueller report. Reasonable people will therefore agree that given Barr’s ties to Epstein plus his reputation for shielding Trump from potential legal troubles, Epstein’s suicide necessitates Barr’s exit from Main Justice.

Bottom line, we can already see the trajectory the Epstein suicide investigation is taking and that is, the possible criminal prosecution of the guards involved. The public should resist efforts to go after the “little guys” and instead insist that there be accountability at the very top of the U.S. Justice Department. That accountability begins with the immediate resignation of Attorney General Barr. Simply put folks, as along as Barr is AG, nobody will believe the findings of the Epstein Suicide investigation, a situation that will only further erode the public’s confidence in the justice system. Trump is not going to fire AG Barr and AG Barr is not going to voluntarily resign. It is therefore incumbent upon career Department of Justice officials to stand up and call for Barr’s exit if the justice department expects the public to continue taking it seriously.

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Trump Has Already Lost Tax Return Battle

In case you missed it, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in a very encouraging segment recently revealed that despite the unprecedented stonewalling Trump has engaged in regarding the release of his tax returns, there’s strong reason to believe he has all but lost the fight. According to Maddow, a lot of the banks Trump has used for his business dealings over the years have already shared these transactions with the various congressional committees. It therefore turns out that with these treasure troves of Trump’s financial records, we may not even need his actual tax returns to get an accurate picture of his financial dealings–especially with the Russians.

It is very sad that even in this day and age Americans would have to fight this hard to get a public official to release his financial records–records he swore on the campaign trail he would release to the public.

It is also very sad that a major U.S. political party–The GOP–has aided and abetted Trump in this unprecedented stonewalling in total breach of the public’s trust. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in particular has gone as far as violating well-laid IRS statutes in an effort to aid Trumps stonewalling–a total travesty of public service and borderline criminal conduct.

Bottom line if Maddow’s reporting pans out that congressional Democrats do indeed already have much of Trump’s financial records, then this should not only be celebrated as a big win for government transparency advocates, but it should also lead to louder calls for Secretary Mnuchin and others to be held accountable. This is especially so if evidence of criminal conduct is unearthed in Trump’s financial records–a very likely outcome.

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Did Koch Industries Bribe Cornyn As Texas AG?

An interesting Texas Monthly piece from way back in 2000 suggests that then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn went easy on the powerful Koch industries after they polluted Texas waters in return for their support for him during his 1998 campaign.

John Cornyn was a judge at the Texas Supreme Court from 1991 to 1997 and was elected Texas Attorney General in 1998. Prior to his stint at the Texas Supreme Court, Cornyn was a judge at the Texas 37th District Court.

According to the Texas Monthly piece, pipelines belonging to Wichita-based Koch Industries leaked oil products into the waters of Texas and several other states. The federal government went after Koch Industries for violations of the Clean Water Act and several states including Texas joined the lawsuit. Texas attorney General at that time was Dan Morales (Cornyn’s predecessor). AG Morales is famous for the major win he scored against the Tobacco industry that netted the Lone Star state a staggering $17.3 billion in fines from Big Tobacco.

It is against the backdrop of AG Morales’ win against Big Tobacco that Koch Industries backed John Cornyn’s candidacy for Texas AG–in essence to shield themselves from having to pay astronomical fines to the Lone Star state as Big Tobacco did. So you say, “OK @Emolclause you’re really grasping at straws here. Cut to the chase and explain how Koch Industries recruited Cornyn to avoid paying astronomical fines to the Lone Star state after polluting its waters.” Here it is in a nutshell.

As the Texas Monthly piece correctly points out, going after Big Tobacco, Big Oil etc in court usually involves very complex litigation that requires a battery of “cream of the crop” attorneys. Needless to say, such attorneys charge astronomical fees for their services–fees that most state elected officials(AGs) feel uncomfortable paying using taxpayer funds. What most states end up doing therefore (at least before AG Cornyn came along) is that they enter into agreements with these smart attorneys whereby the attorneys take on the complex litigation without any payment from the state in return for a share(percentage) of the fines they recoup from the offending company. In the case of Big Tobacco for example where Texas netted an astronomical $17.3 billion in fines, the attorneys in the case ended up getting paid a whopping $3.3 billion.

AG Morales attempted to duplicate his success against Big Tobacco in his fight against Koch Industries by using the same technique of a battery of smart attorneys not paid by the state. Koch Industries backed Cornyn’s campaign for Texas AG in 1998, donating $5000 to his campaign. Cornyn went on to win the election in 1998 and when he became AG, immediately began fighting the practice of using “outside” lawyers for complex litigation like the one the state was pursuing against Koch Industries. Cornyn wanted only state attorneys(from the AG’s office) to handle the complex litigation against Koch Industries and others–an obvious legal advantage to the big companies. He used the straw argument that the staggering $3.3 billion paid to attorneys in the Big Tobacco case should have ended up in the state’s coffers instead.

What ended up happening is that the high-powered attorneys AG Morales had lined up to go to trial against Koch Industries left and the Lone Star state was forced to accept a paltry $35 million settlement from Koch, a settlement that deeply angered environmentalists. Most experts agree that had Cornyn allowed Morales’ attorneys to take Koch to trial, they were looking at a possible $225 million or more in fines. Obviously some of the $225 million would have gone to pay the attorneys’ fees but the Lone Star state would still have ended up with more than the paltry $35 million “slap on the wrist” settlement Cornyn got. Therefore Koch essentially backed Cornyn as AG in order to save themselves from paying astronomical fines to the state for polluting its waters. Sad indeed!!

Cornyn when confronted about this “slap on the wrist” settlement against Koch industries reportedly answered that it was “pretty darned good for a Republican.” In other words he did not aggressively pursue Koch Industries as much as he should because they traditionally supported Republicans.

Even more troubling is the fact that Cornyn assailed his GOP primary opponent in the Texas AG race for engaging in the exact similar conduct he was now excusing–taking money(contributions) from a company the Texas AG’s office was pursuing in court. This means Cornyn knew what he was doing was unethical but did it anyway.

It also cannot be left unsaid that the Texas Monthly piece accused John Cornyn of “playing politics with the law at the expense of the public interest.”  This is especially instructive now that he is running for reelection in 2020. Hopefully his Dem challengers will dig into this excellent Texas Monthly piece to dig up other troubling aspects of John Cornyn’s political career

Bottom line, Texas has always been assumed to be a reliably “red state” by much of the national mainstream media and indeed by some establishment Democrats. Yours Truly challenged this notion back when nobody thought Beto O’Rourke had any chance against Ted Cruz and we saw what happened. The same needs to happen with John Cornyn, whose long record both in Texas politics and as U.S. Senator provides ample oppo-research fodder for his prospective Dem challenger. Yours Truly will certainly do his part to expose John Cornyn for the corrupt politician he has always been, beginning with this shady deal he did for Koch Industries against the best interests of the Lone Star state.

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