One of the alleged “non-human” bodies presented at a Mexican government hearing about extraterrestrial sightings. (Press Office of Mexican Parliament via Getty Images)

TGIF: Stranger Things

Hunter’s smoking gun. JFK’s magic bullets. Aliens in Mexico. Disappearing books in Toronto. Plus, Taylor Swift saves journalism.

Hello and welcome back. On Wednesday evening we hosted our first-ever in-person event, and not to toot our own horn, but it was probably the best night in L.A.’s history. Writing with me this week is Oliver Wiseman, The FP’s new hire, who is British, which I assume means smart. More on him soon. 

→ Biden’s gaffe-tastic week: Our elder-abused president found himself onstage in Vietnam giving a press conference about upgrading the country’s diplomatic ties when he started rambling. I swear to god, these are the words that came out of his mouth: “The Indian looks at John Wayne and points to the Union soldier and says, ‘He’s a lying, dog-faced pony soldier!’ Well, there’s a lot of lying, dog-faced pony soldiers out there about global warming.” As the ramble continued, he said: “Remember the famous song, ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’?” Then he said he was gonna go to bed, and then went on to something about the “Third World,” then corrected himself because we don’t say Third World, it’s the Southern Hemisphere. Suddenly a voice comes on overhead: “Thank you, everyone. This ends the press conference.” Jazz immediately starts playing, loudly. Biden tries to answer another question, but they’ve cut his mic. 

Upon his return to the U.S., President Biden gave a speech on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which he falsely claimed that he was at the World Trade Center the day after the attacks. He said: “I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow: never forget. Never forget. We never forget. Each of us—each of those precious lives stolen too soon when evil attacked. Ground Zero in New York—I remember standing there the next day, and looking at the building.” Fact checks like this, to me, aren’t a huge deal (I always remember myself as the hero of situations; if I drive past a car crash, I sort of think I probably also saved a baby from the car, and the best thanks is to LIVE, goddammit!). But technically speaking, Biden didn’t go to Ground Zero the next day. He went more than a week later. Even CNN fact-checked that one. 

→ Fun to give Vivek a hard time: I’m not sure why, but it’s very fun to find wacky stuff Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says, likely because he’s willing to say a lot of crazy things. This week’s gem: “Had dinner with @JakePaul on Sunday. He changed my mind and convinced me to join TikTok. . . . It’s bad when the CCP collects data from U.S. users via TikTok, but the truth is it’s no better when ‘American’ companies like Airbnb do the same thing by handing over U.S. user data to China.”

Where to begin? I guess if you want to be president of the United States of America, you should think America’s interests come first. So if a Chinese company spies on American citizens just like America does, maybe that’s equal on some cosmic moral level, maybe equal under the eyes of God, but if you are the President of these United States, China spying is much, much worse. As my favorite, Matt Yglesias, says: “I miss the days when only wild-eyed leftists would say stuff this dumb.” With the Republican primary in full swing, we are honored and excited to continue to bring you the craziest nuggets, which was probably also what was on the menu at the Vivek–Jake Paul dinner. 

→ Smoking gun: In another historic first for the Biden administration, the president’s son has been indicted on three federal criminal counts relating to gun possession. As you’ll remember, Hunter had an absolutely squeaky-clean, not at all dicey plea deal ready to go, but that fell apart in July. Thursday’s indictment is an about-face from special counsel David Weiss, and it means we face the prospect of yet another high-profile, politically relevant court trial between now and Election Day 2024. It also means that the president’s son faces up to a combined 25 years behind bars. 

Hunter’s alleged crime—that he lied about his drug use on a form he filled out when buying a gun—set up the strange prospect of a Democratic president’s son leaning on the Second Amendment to stay out of jail. But don’t expect the NRA to rally to his defense. “Laws should be applied equally against all criminals,” NRA spokesperson Billy McLaughlin told Politico

All that matters, of course, after justice being served equally, yadda yadda, is that Hunter gets in on the prison yard friendship forged between Elizabeth Holmes and Real Housewife Jen Shah. 

→ Our friends in the CIA would never do that: A CIA whistleblower claims the agency paid agents to say Covid came from a wet market.

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