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Mark Pincus: Biden Is Even Riskier Than Trump

FOR FREE PEOPLE

TGIF: Dark Brandon Edition

The war on porn and Shakespeare. The demise of ESG and fake meat. A big win for Dave Portnoy. DeSantis ‘reloads.’ And much more.

We’re hosting our first live debate and it’s gonna be a blast. Come argue about sex and feminism. Come drink. Mostly, come meet me. September 13 in Los Angeles. Details and tickets here.

Okay, let’s get into the news.

→ Maui burning: As of late Thursday night California time, the death toll on the island is 53 and is expected to rise. “The full extent of the destruction of Lahaina will shock you,” Hawaii governor Josh Green said at a press conference, saying it looked like “a bomb went off.” Some people ran into the Pacific to escape the flames. The pictures (see above) are as horrible as Hawaii is beautiful. If you’re in Maui, let us know what you’re seeing in the comments. We’re thinking of you.

→ Things are heating up with Iran: The U.S. military is planning to put soldiers on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz to stop Iran from seizing and harassing those ships, in what the Associated Press describes as “an unheard of action.” (I know very little about foreign policy, but this sounds like the straight plot of Captain Phillips.) Thousands of Marines and sailors are reportedly on their way to the Gulf. From the same AP story: “International inspectors also believe it has enough enriched uranium for ‘several’ nuclear bombs if it chose to build them.” Meanwhile, Biden plans to trade several Iranian prisoners held here for some Americans held in Iran—and is unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds held in South Korea to the country “for humanitarian purposes.” This is a very large ransom. As Gabriel Noronha, former State Department advisor on Iran, put it: “This is about to unleash a massive wave of further taking of American hostages—they are now worth $1.5 billion a head.” For whatever reason, the Biden administration, like the Obama White House, are obsessed with giving money to a regime that wants nuclear weapons. I saw Oppenheimer last night, so that seems like a really bad idea. 

→ It’s only Dark Brandon now: When it comes to the Biden family and the question of whether or not they have profited off Joe’s position, the goalposts just keep moving. First, after it became untenable to pretend otherwise, everyone acknowledged that, yes, Biden was loosely involved in his son’s foreign business deals. Then, he was on the phone with his son’s business partners. A new memo from House Oversight Chair James Comer summarizes much of the findings and the money—more than $20 million—that flowed into Biden family member coffers during his vice presidency. Now the new line of defense is: sure, but nothing shows “direct payment” to Joe Biden. Unless there is a picture of Joe Biden literally receiving a silver briefcase of cash, and then in exchange giving an IOU with the presidential seal on it, there’s no corruption (honestly, even then I’m not sure). 

My favorite part is no one is even pretending the money paid to Hunter and others was in exchange for anything other than access and influence at the White House. There’s not a pretend story about skills Hunter might bring to the deals. He didn’t do a Six Sigma course for appearances. Nary a certification in international commodities trading. It’s just silence. “No one in the Biden Administration or in the Minority has explained what services, if any, the Bidens and their associates provided in exchange for the over $20 million in foreign payments,” the report states. 

Mostly the response to this from Dems is a sputtering whataboutism: So you want Trump?! You think they’re not corrupt? The answer is obvious and I want neither one (Chris Christie, what up!). But also: it’s okay not to want our highest office defiled with petty corruption from characters like a Kazakh oligarch who bought Hunter a sports car. A Kazakh oligarch? The words themselves make me want to shower.

When I look for anything about the Comer investigation—that’s the one into the Bidens, in case, like me, you didn’t know there was an official name—on the New York Times homepage, there is nary a mention. Zilch. How many times is the word Trump on the homepage this lovely August 10, 2023? Sixteen. 

Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign has embraced the new YOLO middle-finger vibe. The top-selling products on his campaign website this week are Dark Brandon items. As the old saying goes: never explain, never apologize. 

→ DeSantis isn’t restarting, he is “reloading:” Ron DeSantis ousted his campaign manager and brought in a new one in a shakeup. But his campaign is adamant that everyone calls it a “reload.” As in, nothing going wrong here, just reloading. In this metaphor, is America the deer? Dems are the home intruder? I just need more context before I use reload. What it feels like is more of an unplug. Yank out the wires, stand there for a bit sort of marveling about how somehow this is your only recourse when you have a broken computer, and then plug it all right back in and hope the problem disappears.

→ Billy Porter is losing his house: The pain of Hollywood’s strike is setting in. Porter, who starred in FX’s Pose, says he still lives paycheck to paycheck and now has to sell his home. Meanwhile, the union is granting some waivers, offering strike exemptions to folks like Mark Wahlberg and Viola Davis, the latter of whom declined to take advantage of the waiver. Fire up YouTube and sharpen your TikTok-swiping talons. We might be in this for the long haul. 

Also on strike for a day this week: 11,000 Los Angeles city workers. The wheels are falling off the wagon. Everyone saw Barbie and decided they all wanted the job of Beach. Just kidding, I’m pro-labor battles for folks who do real labor. The people who pick up trash should be paid well. Get ’em. 

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