Struggling Artist

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Libertarian hero? At the end of last week, the Department of Justice filed nine tax evasion-related charges against Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

“The charges include evasion of assessment, failure to file and pay taxes and false or fraudulent tax returns,” reports Axios. Biden allegedly failed to pay $1.4 million in taxes from 2016 to 2019, for which he has since settled up.

During those years, Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills,” according to the indictment. Included in the indictment is a sketch of Biden’s budget, which included $772,548 in ATM withdrawals in 2018 (wonder what that was for…) and an entire category for “payments—various women” (separate from the “adult entertainment” category, mind you). It’s unclear when he found the time to work on his SoHo art show, but he’s nothing if not busy.

Careful observers will remember that this isn’t the first bout of legal trouble the president’s failson has gotten into. “In September, he was indicted in Delaware on three charges stemming from his illegal purchase of a handgun in 2018, a period when he used drugs heavily and was prohibited from owning a firearm,” reports The New York Times. (More on the government’s combo drug-gun war from Reason‘s Jacob Sullum.)

“If Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” said Abbe Lowell, Biden’s lawyer. This is, of course, patently absurd; if anything, Hunter has received more lenient treatment—including a cushy job and plenty of money to spend on, ahem, ATM withdrawals—because of his familial connections.

“There is now a very real prospect that President Biden’s son will be defending himself in two federal criminal trials during a presidential election year—as Mr. Trump, his father’s likely opponent, confronts the possibility of two federal criminal trials in his classified documents and election interference cases,” reports The New York Times.

Fallout: Liz Magill, who served as president of the University of Pennsylvania for less than two years, just resigned following pressure from the board and a dicey congressional hearing in which her answers regarding free speech and antisemitism on campus were deemed unsatisfactory.

Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, is facing similar pressure. The Harvard Corporation, which has the power to fire the president it appointed less than a year ago, will meet later today. “Gay, who had previously faced only a few isolated calls to resign from the presidency, has received mounting pressure to step down,” reports The Harvard Crimson. “On Friday, more than 70 members of Congress—including two Democrats—signed a letter to Harvard governance calling on Gay to resign.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times still somehow managed to eke out a “Republicans pounce” headline as if that’s the real story: “As fury erupts over campus antisemitism, conservatives seize the moment.” But I don’t think that’s really the right framing for this: When university administrators who spent the better part of the last decade policing microaggressions are suddenly totally fine with student groups drawing Hamas paragliders on their poster art, you should focus on them rather than their critics. (The correct approach, of course, is for administrators to permit all kinds of speech, even if it means refusing to coddle students.)


Scenes from New York: Catch two Reasoners on The Megyn Kelly Show if you know what’s good for you.

Wolfe-Welch
(Liz Wolfe)

QUICK HITS

  • “To be able to say a gun is destroyed, disposal companies crush or cut up a single piece that federal law classifies as a firearm: the receiver or frame that anchors the other components and contains the required serial number,” reports The New York Times in a big piece on how gun buyback programs aren’t actually destroying the guns.The businesses can then sell the remaining parts as a kit: barrel, trigger, grip, slide, stock, springs—essentially the entire gun, minus the regulated piece.”
  • Are scammers using QR codes?
  • Al Gore says social media algorithms “are the digital equivalent of AR-15s.”
  • They said it couldn’t be done: “On Sunday afternoon [Javier] Milei signed a presidential emergency decree mandating the reorganisation of Argentina’s government into just 9 ministries, down from 18 today,” per Financial Times.
  • Nothing particularly revealing or explosive in this overly sympathetic Wall Street Journal piece on Helen Toner, the OpenAI board member responsible for much of the drama that ensued last month.
  • Yes:

the real criminal here is the government that makes it illegal to build more, cheaper housing https://t.co/xzeBt9IC07

— Aella (@Aella_Girl) December 11, 2023

  • Possibly the softest piece I have seen in a long time, which fails to ask Virginia Democrat Susanna Gibson why exactly she streamed sex acts for money on the website Chaturbate, and what her expectation was, in terms of whether such things would be exposed during her campaign for Virginia’s House of Delegates. Gibson points to one study claiming that 90 percent of millennial women have taken nude pictures, and attempts to draw a close comparison to her own quite different conduct.
  • Too much beauty to handle:

pic.twitter.com/CjUft9HKYX

— Chris Freiman (@cafreiman) December 10, 2023

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