Welcome to the Huckabee newsletter, the only media outlet in America that isn’t leading with a coronavirus story! You’re welcome! (That’ll come later.)

Last night, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders squared off in the Democrats’ first one-on-one “debate,” mano y mano (or “old mano y old mano.”)

There was no studio audience, to prevent the spread of disease and to keep from spooking the participants with any sudden noises. The DNC once again changed the rules to keep their one remaining, interesting, appealing, “diverse” candidate, Tulsi Gabbard out, so the Democrats are down to this Hobson’s Choice. Each candidate had a clear objective: Biden had to prove he could go for two hours without wandering off the stage or lapsing into word salad, while Bernie had to prove he had the “fire in the belly” to go after Biden hard on his vulnerabilities and take him down.

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By those measures, Biden could be judged the winner, since he held up remarkably well with only a few brain lapses (like calling the H1N1 or “swine flu” virus that happened under his and Obama’s watch the “N1H1” virus, and deflecting with a “Come on, man” when Bernie challenged him to list the nine PACs he accused Bernie of taking money from.) However, while Bernie launched some aggressive moves on Biden, he didn’t land any knockout blows (neither he nor the moderators even brought up all the questions about Biden’s health, something unimaginable if he were a Republican.) If Bernie had a “fire in the belly,” then he must’ve taken some Mylanta for it before the debate. Any hopes he might have had of painting Biden as the old and out-of-touch guy (at 77, he’s actually a year younger than Bernie) died when Bernie used the phrase “Go to the YouTube,” and immediately became a trending Internet meme.

The only news to come out of the debate was Biden’s promise to choose a female running mate and to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. So, aside from the fact that identity politics continues to be the #1 concern of Party leaders, that tells us that Biden would not choose Bernie as a “unity” running mate. Biden did pledge to support Bernie if he won the nomination, but that’s the kind of easy, empty promise politicians make when they’re sure it will never happen (like Hillary promising to respect the results of the election if she lost.)

A few more random thoughts: Biden has moved so far to the left to challenge Bernie that calling him a “moderate” is about as believable as calling him an Olympic decathlete. Both of these guys, should they ever (God forbid!) become President, vow to end fracking and oil drilling, and replace it with sun power and windmills (they might as well toss in unicorn burps for all the good it will do.) That would not only destroy the domestic fuel industry and millions of jobs, it would send gas and oil prices skyrocketing and vastly enrich and empower Russia and OPEC at our expense.

They also seem to be in agreement that virtually all immigration laws should be scrapped. They would turn millions of current illegal immigrants into US citizens, give all illegal immigrants free health care, end ICE raids that arrest illegals with criminal records and deportation orders, end all deportations for at least six months and not deport anyone just for having a criminal record in their home nations (only after they commit a felony here), and be a lot nicer at the border, making it easier and faster for people who cross illegally to get processed and released.

But they’re not for open borders! Perish the thought! They’re just for the functional equivalent of open borders. Instead of building a wall on the border, they’d build a giant WELCOME mat. And they'd do much better than Trump at preventing the spread of foreign diseases, apparently by making it illegal to call them "foreign diseases."

They’re also in agreement (in the midst of a pandemic) that Donald Trump is the only “existential threat” America faces, and that everything he’s doing to stop the coronavirus is wrong, so we have to elect them so they can do the exact same things only with no travel restictions. Here’s an example of how much they really know about this issue.

Bottom line: since the debate didn’t seem to change the dynamics of the race, and Bernie shows no intentions of bowing out, it looks as if things will drag on as before. Biden will likely win the most delegates but possibly fall short of enough to clinch the nomination before the convention. If Biden picks a woman VP, that means no Bernie on the ticket, which will infuriate the Bernie Bros. If he does pick Bernie, he will infuriate women and anyone who cares about the future of America. So once again, in an unbroken winning streak, the winner of the Democratic debate was Donald Trump.

Believe it or not, there are other things going on in the news besides the “novel coronavirus.”

Turn on your TV, though, and chances are 99.99999 percent that the word “coronavirus” will be mentioned within the next 15 seconds. If you're lucky, it’s reasonable and useful information about what is being done on a variety of fronts to deal with the virus and its possible effects on our lives. This is important and we do need to know about it. But the relentless hysteria has become tiresome, especially considering that a distressing amount of the coverage comes from a blame-Trump-at-all-cost political perspective.

Remember, this virus has no agenda except to spread wherever it can. It is not into identity politics: it doesn’t care if you’re black or white, American or Chinese or Iranian, Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, famous or unknown, male or female or trans-whatever. It doesn’t care whether or not President Trump gets re-elected. And It certainly doesn’t care what else is going on that normally would be getting media attention right now.

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But we should care. The world still turns, and what goes on behind the scenes now will determine the direction our nation takes, long after the novel coronavirus is no longer a threat.

For example (speaking of insidious viruses), Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, worked to make sure the revisions to the FISA law that were up for review last week won’t interfere with the FBI’s ability to continue with business as usual. Here’s the full story.

Also, while most media have been obsessed with coronavirus, investigative reporters such as Margot Cleveland have been tediously dissecting Michael Horowitz’s IG report on FISA abuse footnote-by-footnote and creating timelines to piece together what the FBI and CIA were really doing to target Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as President. (I suppose that’s one way to minimize exposure to any virus; instead of being out and about, just sit alone in front of a computer screen. Periodically wiped down with sanitizer, of course.)

Cleveland’s latest column deals with Stefan Halper, a confidential human source (CHS) for the FBI who isn’t identified by name in the IG report but at this point doesn’t have to be. If you’ve read Lee Smith’s THE PLOT AGAINST THE PRESIDENT, you’re already well-versed on Halper. We know he did quite a lot of spying on the Trump campaign; he secretly recorded Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and even Sam Clovis, who was co-chair of the campaign. Horowitz’s report shows he was involved in this surveillance work before being tapped by the FBI for “Crossfire Hurricane,” which started on July 31, 2016.

So, if Halper was spying on Trump’s people before the FBI started using him as a CHS, who hired him for that? We know he had a previous relationship with the CIA, so perhaps it was John Brennan who got that started. Halper was highly paid (note: with taxpayer funds) by the Defense Department’s Office Of Net Assessment on four government contracts for projects he supposedly completed for them. (There’s much more on this in THE PLOT AGAINST THE PRESIDENT.) But Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has raised questions about the merits of these contracts.

Were the contracts really just a cover, and what was Halper REALLY doing while on the Defense Department payroll? We’ve asked these questions before, but Cleveland now raises the possibility that Halper was working for...drum roll, please...Hillary Clinton. It seems he was talking to the press about Carter Page at about the same time Christopher Steele was being paid by Fusion GPS to peddle the “dossier” and work up suspicion about Trump’s campaign and Russia. Since the Clinton campaign and the DNC (same thing) were paying Fusion GPS to “seed” the media with tales of Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia, the activities of Steele and Halper appear to have been coordinated. I’ll link to her column and let you decide for yourself.

John Solomon has been busy putting pieces together as well, and it’s now clear that our nation was put through two years of an investigation into President Trump over an issue (working with Russia to undermine the 2016 election) that had been discredited as of January, 2017, by information in the FBI’s own files.

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By then, they’d received multiple warnings about the lack of credibility of Christopher Steele and his “dossier.” They’d determined that key targets of their counterintelligence investigation, such as newly appointed national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, had made exculpatory statements denying any collusion. And they’d concluded that Flynn had NOT colluded with Russians. A motion filed by Flynn attorney Sidney Powell on September 11, 2019, refers to “an internal DOJ document dated January 30, 2017, in which the FBI exonerated Mr. Flynn of being ‘an agent of Russia.’

We know about that motion because Solomon obtained a 2018 letter between Robert Mueller’s office and Flynn’s attorneys that references it. As Solomon reports, it shows that the DOJ exoneration memo was written after Flynn was ambush-interviewed in January 2017 and was based on the fact that Flynn had briefed his agency on the contacts he’d had with Russia. It was all on the up and up, and they knew it.

Yet they pursued Flynn anyway and eventually got him to plead guilty to lying to investigators, who have said they didn’t think he was being deceptive. Presiding Judge Emmet Sullivan is still resisting the idea of letting him withdraw his guilty plea. And Powell still can’t get the original DOJ exoneration memo from prosecutors. “It’s just horrible,” she said during a podcast with Solomon. “They gave us a little three-line summary of it and the letter and told us it existed but have refused to give us the actual document, which I know means there’s a lot of other information in it that would be helpful to us.”

But wait --- there’s even more exculpatory evidence dripping out. Recently released documents about the infamous Trump Tower meeting back accounts of Donald Trump, Jr., and other campaign officials who said there was no talk of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. This was in the testimony of the translator present at the meeting. The agent’s “302” notes read, “There was no smoking gun according to Samochornov [the translator]. There was not a discussion about ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. Samochornov did not think Hillary Clinton was mentioned by name.”

Oh, and guess what? Two years later, when Mueller’s special counsel report was finally released, these exculpatory notes were not included.

By the way, even though President Trump has a nasty virus on his plate right now (yechh), he’s still keeping up with all these developments. In fact, he says he’s “strongly considering” a full pardon for Michael Flynn. After what Flynn has been put through by the “Justice” Department, it’s hard to imagine Trump wouldn’t pardon him, and sooner rather than later.

This Coronavirus is really having an impact on our lives. The stock market has been in free-fall because of the uncertainty of how many people will get sick and what it’s doing to all sectors of the economy, especially the travel industry. Cruise ships are empty, entire nations like Italy, are virtually shutting down, and flights are being canceled all over the world as well as major events being canceled like the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. At public events, I’m now noticing that most people prefer an elbow bump or a wave instead of the customary handshake. Here in our theater, I conduct a meet and greet with our audience after the show, and I’m finding that more of the audience prefers a simple hello rather than shaking hands as well, but I think it’s mostly because there are rumors about me—not that I have coronavirus, but that I have cooties.

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The medical advice hasn’t been consistent in this. Some say not to worry, go on with your business and others say don’t travel at all and stay home. The one thing agreed upon is to wash your hands—a lot.

The one sector of our economy that’s booming is the sale of hand-sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. They’re sold out everywhere. There are even instructions on how to make your own sanitizer by mixing aloe vera gel with rubbing alcohol or with vodka. So, if you see a bunch of your Baptist friends at the liquor store buying up the booze, I’m sure they are there to get the ingredients for hand sanitizer. But boy are they licking their fingers a lot!

I don’t mean to make light of this. It’s a serious issue and one death from it is one too many, but while I’ll take all the precautions I can, I’m not going to stop living my life out of fear of what might happen. I will stop eating directly off buffets with the serving spoon or drinking out of water bottles that people have left opened and half used in airplane seat-back pockets. But I already wash my hands a lot and usually scrub them like a surgeon, especially after shaking a lot of hands. I try to never touch the bottom of my shoes and I do wipe the surfaces around my tray table and seat on airplanes. I only sneeze on planes when the guy in front of me puts his seat right in my face and try to limit my coughing in the direction of people who talk loudly on their cell phones on planes or in restrooms.

We have to take the coronavirus seriously, but we need to use common sense and ultimately trust the Lord to protect us when all our efforts won’t. It’s not practical for me to stop flying, but now that so many in the public are afraid of being on planes because of the virus, I’m flying with fewer people these days so there is a silver lining in those clouds. So if I see you in the airport or on the streets, a nice wave, deep bow from the waist, or tip of the hat will do fine as a greeting to replace the handshake or the kiss on the cheek. And I’m speaking of the cheek on my face of course!