Discover more from The Transom
2024: Donald or Hunter for Prison?
Everything else diminishes in comparison
It’s time to acknowledge the obvious truth about 2024: it’s going to be an election about who you want to go to the White House — and who you want to go straight to jail.
With all the normal caveats about unexpected crises, and acknowledging typical issues like the economy, Ukraine, abortion, China and the border, and the uniquely aged nature of the likely nominees themselves increasing the possibility of a health event between now and November 2024 — in a race between Hunter Biden’s dad and any Republican, but particularly Donald Trump, the orange jumpsuit looms over all.
In the context of the primary, this does nothing but help Trump. The overwhelming number of GOP voters don’t just shrug off his legal challenges; they cite it as a major rallying cry. In the latest CBS News poll, 73 percent of Trump’s voters cite “show support for his legal troubles” as a reason for their support.
Whatever Trump could be found guilty of in these cases, when set alongside the treatment of Hunter Biden by the Department of Justice in a plea deal that looks worse all the time, the targeting of the former president creates a contrast that is blatant and impossible to ignore. The New York Times had a deep dive this weekend into how close prosecutors came to striking an even weaker deal, upended only in the eleventh hour by IRS whistleblowers — a sign of just how far down the rot goes within the DoJ.
As Andy McCarthy writes at National Review:
Weiss and the Biden DoJ… acted as Hunter’s second set of defense lawyers. Predictably, given the Justice Department’s impossible conflict of interest in this case, Weiss sought to serve and protect the president. On the surface, that meant insulating Hunter from real prosecution. The main objective, however, was to steer the “ongoing investigation” away from Hunter’s dear old dad. To label the DoJ’s Joe Biden whitewash “the Hunter Biden plea deal” is like calling a green-new-boondoggle “the Inflation Reduction Act.”
The fact that Hunter’s deal making is now being reported more thoroughly in the Times, and Joe Biden’s past dishonesty about it is acknowledged even by the likes of Jake Tapper on CNN, demonstrates that it is a real albatross for the re-election campaign. But that shouldn’t be assumed to make any real difference in the likely scenario that Trump is the Republican nominee. His status as a figure of chaos and crisis was used against his proxies to great effect by Democrats in 2022 when he was not on any ballot. It will be all the easier for them to activate swing voters and Independents when he’s at the top of the ticket.
House Republicans will play into this as well, with a pending impeachment inquiry that seeks to cement the financial connection between father and son in the minds of voters.
This is not what American elections are supposed to be about. We have Democratic partisan corruption of our justice system to thank for the fact that 2024 will effectively decide this question. The frightening thing will be if it becomes the pattern not just for this election, but for all the ones that come next. It’s one thing to use the language of politics to accuse your opponent of all manner of skullduggery — from Tricky Dick to Crooked Hillary — but it’s another to use elections to decide who actually gets locked up.
Time for a U.S. Led Peace in Ukraine?
Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer counteroffensive has all but ground to a halt. The dozen new brigades trained by NATO have sustained huge casualties without ever reaching the first line of fixed Russian defenses in strength. Russian forces, fighting a textbook implementation of Soviet maneuver defense, frequently enjoy air superiority and are augmented by increasing numbers of cheap and effective weapon systems such as the Lancet drone. Every passing day draws closer to autumn and the dreaded rasputista—the rain and mud season that impedes maneuver warfare. By all accounts, the Ukrainian counteroffensive is on the clock and unlikely to achieve its major objectives.
Western arms deliveries offer little relief. Most of the pledged main battle tanks are already in the theater, and there is limited prospect for further deliveries. Reaching for antiques like the German Leopard 1, first introduced in 1965, won’t be a gamechanger. The “fighter jet coalition” has pledged F-16s, but it’s unclear when and where these will be deployed. In any case, they would be outmatched against an increasingly active and confident Russian Air Force and Russia’s formidable integrated air defense. Stocks of precision weapons are shrinking, which clearly plays a role in the Biden administration’s refusal to provide ATACMS missiles, vital for American security in the Pacific.
Given this grim outlook, is a “Korea Scenario” the most likely outcome? This means that by the time the Ukrainian counteroffensive culminates sometime in late August or early September, the conflict freezes at territorial borders roughly corresponding to the frontline. In effect, Ukraine trades significant parts of the four regions annexed by Russia in 2022 for robust Western (American) security guarantees.
This certainly wouldn’t be the worst outcome from an American perspective. Washington would be able to gradually defuse tensions with Moscow and reestablish a dialogue on the future trajectory of the European security architecture. Crucially, the United States will finally be able to focus once again on the Pacific. Ultimately, China is the true peer rival to the United States, and has been playing an aggressive diplomatic game in degrading American influence since 2022, in no small part due to the imposition of harsh sanctions on Russia.
The problem with the “Korea Scenario,” however, is that it assumes that the Russian leadership is desperate for a ceasefire and negotiations. There is scant evidence of this. Not only have the Russians fought the Ukrainians to a standstill in the south, but they launched their own offensive in the north, aimed at capturing the full extent of the Luhansk region, where Russian troops are steadily advancing. Russian society and the economy remain relatively stable, suggesting Prigozhin’s mutiny was indeed an aberration—and his criticism of the war always was that it wasn’t fought hard enough.
The Push to Fight the Cartels
“There were 80,000 ISIS [militants] controlling a large territory in the Middle East, and we had a couple thousand special forces as well as local supporting groups such as the Kurds,” Barr told National Review in an interview. “Over time, we were able to destroy them. Now, a lot of that included bombing targets, and I’m not suggesting we do that here, but the ability to use special operations and precision operations against what are paramilitary forces will allow us to reduce them in pretty short order.”
Opponents of using military force south of the border have caricatured their opponents, Barr argues, pointing out that force could be brought to bear without imposing significant costs on civilian populations.
“There’s sort of a bastardized version that has been put out mainly by the Left that says we’ll be bombing Mexico. That’s not what’s involved here,” he said. Barr’s preferred plan “would initially involve the collection of a lot of intelligence, using things like drones, to determine places where we either want to use law enforcement or military precision operations to either destroy or arrest or capture.”
Barr’s descriptions of proposed operations included “the use of units to go in and destroy” drug labs, which sound similar to counterterrorism operations conducted in the Middle East. Many other high-profile Republicans seem to be in agreement with his assessment.
Jim Webb: Preserving a Monument to Unity
In 1898, 33 years after the end of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War brought a sudden, unanticipated harmony and unity to a country that had been riven by war and a punitive postwar military occupation, which failed at wholesale societal reconstruction. In the South, American flags flew again as the sons of Confederate soldiers volunteered to fight, even if it meant wearing the once-hated Yankee blue. President William McKinley presciently seized this moment to mend a generation’s sectional divide.
McKinley understood the Civil War as one who had lived it, having served four years in the 23rd Ohio Infantry, enlisting as a private and discharged in 1865 as a brevet major. He knew the steps to take to bring the country fully together again. As an initial signal, he selected three Civil War veterans to command the Cuba campaign. Two, William Rufus Shafter, given overall command of the Cuban operation, and H.W. Lawton, who led the Second Infantry Division, the first soldiers to land in the war, had received the Medal of Honor fighting for the Union. The other, “Fighting Joe” Wheeler, the legendary Confederate cavalry general, led the cavalry units in Cuba, after being elected to Congress in 1880 from Alabama and working hard to bring national reconciliation.
Four days after the Spanish-American war ended, McKinley proclaimed in Atlanta: “In the spirit of fraternity we should share with you in the care of the graves of Confederate soldiers.” In that call for national unity the Confederate Memorial was born. It was designed by internationally respected sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran and the first Jewish graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, who asked to be buried at the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. On one face of the memorial is the finest explanation of wartime service perhaps ever written, by a Confederate veteran who later became a Christian minister: “Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank; not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity; but in simple obedience to duty as they understood it; these men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all, and died.”
But now in this new world of woke, unless measures are taken very soon, by the end of this year the Confederate Memorial will be gone.
Items of Interest
“The forces that run in American politics in our age are many and varied; they run in strange ways in our times of general education--they run in the meeting of white and black; in the nagging, daily concern for war and peace; in automation and unemployment. Yet one man must make them all clear enough for American people to vote and express their desire. He is the President.”
— Theodore H. White