Barbarian Politics

Barbarian Politics

Yesterday, in the wake of the Hunter Biden plea-deal announcement, Andrew McCarthy (or the copy editors working on his piece) wrote (in the subhead) that “Democrats are not hiding the two-tiered justice system; they’re flaunting it . . . quite intentionally.”  McCarthy continued:

Hunter Biden committed tax offenses that could have been charged as evasion, which is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for each count. Furthermore, he made a false statement that enabled him to obtain a firearm; that’s a ten-year felony under legislation pushed through by then-senator Joe Biden to show how very serious Democrats are about gun crime.

Biden apologists have tried to minimize that transaction as a “lie and try” case, which they say is often not prosecuted. But such non-prosecution (though it shouldn’t happen) occurs because of what you’d infer from the “try” part — i.e., the liar got caught and failed to obtain the gun. Hunter’s case, to the contrary, is a lie and succeed case. He got the gun. What’s more, he was then seen playing with it while cavorting with an “escort” (see the New York Post’s pictorial, if you’ve got the stomach for it). Shortly afterwards, he and his then-paramour — Hallie Biden, the widow of his older brother — managed to lose the gun near a school (it was later found by someone else).

Those are the kinds of gun cases that get charged by the Justice Department even if the suspect hasn’t, in addition, committed tax felonies by dodging taxes on the millions of dollars he was paid, apparently for being named Biden. Yet after refusing for years to appoint a special counsel despite the five-alarm conflict of interest attendant to investigating the president’s son ( . . . and family . . . and the president himself), the Biden Justice Department is permitting Hunter Biden to dispose of the case with misdemeanor tax charges that will allow for a probation sentence, and diversion — essentially, no prosecution — on the gun felony that would result in imprisonment for most Americans who engaged in similar conduct.

Now, as regular readers undoubtedly know, we’re actually quite sympathetic to the Biden family.  Joe and Hunter have been through hell, the former losing his wife and baby daughter in a tragic automobile accident and his eldest son to cancer, and the latter losing his mother, baby sister, and older brother.  These are events that have, inarguably and obviously, shaped their lives and burdened them with misery and suffering we wouldn’t wish on anyone.  As we’ve said before, these tragedies don’t excuse their bad behavior, but they do explain it, at least in part.  And we hope and pray that they have found or will find peace and consolation.

But then…

As McCarthy suggests the major problem here isn’t necessarily with the Bidens and the sweetheart deal that Hunter received, but with the Democrat-activist-media complex that is normally oUtRaGeD!™ about the inequities in the American justice system but is nevertheless thrilled with this case, specifically because it “owns the cons.”

In 2014, for example, Salon published the following:

The third example of contemporary racism is about the near-permanent limitation on life chances for some that is caused by our country’s rules about criminal justice. These rules and practices—from police behavior and incentives to prosecutorial power and on through the policies behind our criminal laws—have also come a long way since the 1960s. But the clear direction has been toward mass incarceration of human beings who, upon release, re-enter a society that despises those who have been incarcerated. The vast majority of these people are young black and brown men….

our system of justice—leading inexorably to confinement for so many people—differs from Kafka’s in one frightening sense. It appears to have a purpose. The point is to marginalize a certain proportion of the population….

What the larger national statistics on racial disparities in crime fighting mean is that, because of the correspondence between race and economic status, black and brown men in poor communities have an entirely different experience of constitutional freedom than do the rest of us….

In short, the criminal justice system is biased against “black and brown men,” punishing them more often and more heavily for crimes than comparable white offenders, which creates a vicious cycle that perpetuates poverty, crime, and systemic racism.

Yesterday, by contrast, Salon published this:

Democratic leaders and legal experts pushed back against the comparison, arguing that bringing charges against Hunter Biden proves that the Justice Department is anything but politically motivated against conservatives.

“This development reflects the Justice Department’s continued institutional independence in following the evidence of actual crimes and enforcing the rule of law even in the face of constant criticism and heckling by my G.O.P. colleagues who think that the system of justice should only follow their partisan wishes,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

“Important context for Hunter Biden deal: it was made by a Trump appointee who has said he had 100% authority to decide what to do ultimately on the matter,” NYU Law professor and attorney Andrew Weissmann noted in a tweet

Other experts and justice reporters further countered the GOP leaders’ claims of unfair prosecution online, arguing that the charges against Hunter Biden are unusual….

Others wondered why the DOJ had not looked at Trump’s well-publicized tax issues.

“The biggest issue the Hunter plea underscores is where are the federal tax audits/cases with respect to Trump, the Trump Org and related businesses, and his former CFO Weisselberg— all of whom have reported tax issues,” Weissmann wrote.

That’s quite a change in perspective, we’d say.  “Leave the millionaire white guy alone!”

Part of the problem – clearly – is that everyone involved on both sides wants to couch Hunter Biden’s prosecution and plea deal in terms of the prosecution of Donald Trump.  This is, to put it mildly, stupid.  The cases are unrelated.  The charges are unrelated.  And the comparison is pointless.  The arguments against a “two-tiered” justice system have nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans receiving favorable treatment.  They have to do with people in positions of power (wealth, authority, public notoriety, etc.), Republican and Democrat, receiving favorable treatment.  And the Biden deal – independent of the Trump cases – tends to show that they do.  And more to the point, it shows that the usual suspects don’t care and will rationalize it any way they can, as long as it allows them to gloat at Republicans’ expense.

On the flip side, many Republicans – Trump himself being a notable and ironic exception – don’t seem to care about the inequities in the justice system unless they perceive those inequities being directed at them personally or at “their” guy.

And that brings us to the bigger part of the problem, namely the reinforcement of the idea that nothing is more important than politics, nothing is more important than “our side” winning petty and soon-to-be-forgotten victories over our “enemies.”  Or as Arnold/Conan famously put it, what is best in life is “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”

How do you get a liberal to claim that the two-tiered justice system is a conservative myth?  How do you get a conservative to care about the unequal application of the law?  The answer is the same!  You make those claims beneficial for their “sides” in the “war” against the other side.  In that case, principles, arguments, ideology, whatever, lose their power.  All that matters is winning!

This is a dangerous path we walk.

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
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Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.