Happy Monday one and all. I'm rousing myself from my Euro-sickbed because, notwithstanding being in the priority check-in for death's door, I was reprimanded by several SteynOnliners for having nothing to say about the Trump indictment. Last week's Trump indictment, that is. I'll probably have nothing to say about this week's Trump indictment either. Because I said it all right after January 6th 2021. From our Clubland Q&A two days later on January 8th:
After what's happened to Comey, Clapper, Brennan, McCabe, Peter Strzok, all the guys with the book deals and the CNN contracts, and on the other hand Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, all the rest on the receiving end of those guys, what do you think is more likely? That Hunter Biden is in danger of prosecution by the Department of Justice? Or that Trump is?
So here we are two-and-a-half years later. From the traditional Friday news dump:
A federal judge has formally dismissed the two misdemeanor tax charges against Hunter Biden following last month's surprise collapse of a plea deal.
Yeah, some "surprise": Politico has one of those spoonfed scoops about how Hunter Biden had "threatened" to put Joe Biden on the witness stand. That's like Blazing Saddles when Cleavon Little takes Cleavon Little hostage and "threatens" to shoot himself. By the way, next time you get a demand from the IRS, be sure to ask where you check the box for "The Hunter Biden Treatment".
So no, I haven't been reading a lot of Trump indictment analysis by Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Turley, Alan Dershowitz... They're all great legal minds, but how naïve do you have to be still to think that America has anything recognizable as a "justice" system? I have the advantage of Andy et al in that I'm a Canadian who has been in a mere civil lawsuit in the District of Columbia that is now entering its twelfth year. When you turn the calendar on Year Twelve, you know it's a racket - and all that's happened over the last decade or so is that the racket's gotten more shameless and cocksure.
My DC rubbish is a First Amendment case, so you can imagine how impressed I am, eleven years on, by my so-called rights under that Amendment. Trump's is also a First Amendment case, and perhaps a more consequential one - because there won't be a First Amendment if a politician can be charged with conspiracy for disputing the results of American elections, which objectively are among the crappest in the world, by comparison with Norway, Bostwana and most other functioning or even semi-functioning polities.
The point I always make is on the agreed line of ninety-nine per cent of American politicians, judges, bureaucrats and media experts - that, oh sure, they found a little bit of fraud but relax, it wasn't enough to change the result.
Not to go all Turleyesque on you, but what's the evidentiary basis for that statement? In non-corrupt countries such as, say, Denmark, that's not the standard: it's not that there's not enough fraud to change the result, it's that there's no fraud - period.
But I see I'm in danger of wandering down the Dershowitz path, and taking the codswallop seriously. America has a corrupt justice system, a corrupt revenue agency, and corrupt elections, which is why you don't need to be a legal scholar to analyze all these fascinating cases; you just need to know which one involves the Democrats and which one involves the Republicans.
That seemed pretty obvious to me during the laughably misnamed "peaceful transfer of power". Early into the three-month "peaceful transfer", I advised President Trump to take a non-government plane to a country with no extradition treaty with the US. Because it was very clear where all this was headed. Here is a little more of what I said on January 8th 2021:
What they've done this last week is decided it's not enough for him not to be president, they don't want him to be a former president either. They don't want the Grover Cleveland scenario, where he comes back in four years. So it's important to them, as I said this morning, that he be the most ex ex-president ever, more ex- than Nixon. Nixon they still invited when they had these photo ops in the Oval Office, where all the presidents get together and stand around the desk with the incumbent. They're not gonna be inviting Trump to that... They want to put him in jail.
Schumer and Pelosi never let a crisis go to waste. (The Paul Ryan view of conservatism is never let a victory amount to anything...) So they weaponized, they seized their moment with what happened at the Capitol on Wednesday, and they are determined to make Trump the most ex ex-president in American history.They actually would like to get him in jail. The guy, the District Attorney in New York would like to put Trump in jail. The Supreme Ayatollah in Iran, the Iranian government has just filed charges against Trump for murdering Soleimani a year ago. I don't entirely rule out Biden extraditing Trump to be hanged on a scaffold in the middle of Tehran, I wouldn't entirely rule that out, because you see from what Pelosi and Schumer are doing that what matters to them is nothing to do with Trump, it's way beyond Trump. It's to teach you guys the lesson, the same lesson that the European Union has tried to teach some of its member states, that you can't do this, that the choice is between... a left-of-center party and an ever so slightly, barely discernible, right-of-left-of-center party.
Remember, even as J6 was still happening I was choking on the sanctimonious drivel of the bipartisan bollocks:
By the following morning - January 7th - I was even more steamed. Whatever the appropriate term for a legislature that passes thousand-page bills unread by any legislators, it certainly isn't a "citadel of democracy". So, in a cranky mood, I called it a "citadel of crap":
Mark Steyn says the 'wanker press' and its allies in the halls of Congress are in denial about what the Capitol now represents to millions of Americans.
The conservative icon scoffed at the coverage of this week's security breach at the Capitol by groups of Trump supporters...
'I was surprised that even politicians and pundits could utter all that eyewash about "the citadel of democracy" and "a light to the world" with a straight face. It's a citadel of crap, and the lights went out long ago.'
Alas, on talk radio, Cumulus responded by telling its hosts they would be fired if they brought up the matter of America's crappy elections, killing the subject so thoroughly that it was safe for Time magazine to run a big piece boasting about how Zuckerberg & Co had successfully "fortified" the election. To be sure, the butch boys got to keep playing all the butch bumper music, and apparently, if you play "Eye of the Tiger" while purring like a pussycat, that's butch enough for most listeners.
So two years later the American right still talks about the justice system and the election campaign as if either term means what it does in functioning societies. As I said above, I don't intend to comment on this week's Trump indictment either, nor do I wish to talk about who would make the best president, who has the best platform, who has the skill-set to implement the platform... That would be all well and good if we were in, say, France, but, when the dirty stinking rotten corrupt US justice system is criminalizing political opposition, there's no point pretending this is a normal situation, right? So what follows has no bearing on whether Trump would make a better president than, oh, Asa Hutchinson; it's a strictly psephological and then psychological analysis.
Let's start with the most recent poll of Republican primary voters:
Trump never had anything close to a fifty-point lead in 2015 or 2016. Matter of fact, he never broke fifty per cent at all. Eight years later, a vice-president, a senator and four governors can't pull fifteen per cent between them.
That's rather remarkable, not least because the primary voters' preferred candidate is likely to be on trial (if the prosecutor gets his way) in the weeks before Iowa and New Hampshire. That's what a bleephole (to use a Trump formulation) America is right now.
So the base is trying to tell the worthless GOP establishment something important here:
We don't think this is a normal election, and we can't see the point of pretending that it is.
So they don't want the respectable governors. And they don't want the sinking DeSantis either: with due respect to Ann Coulter, the chap who was supposed to offer Trumpism without Trump has been a seriously lousy national candidate. And I see that Ramaswamy, the only candidate who's not hostile to Trump, is now in third place - because, issues-wise, he's not paddling around in the shallows with Nikki Haley, Pence, Christie and the rest.
In other words, the gulf between the base and the elite is wider now than it was in 2016. Which is kind of impressive, given the battering of the former by the Uniparty, the media, the IRS, the FBI and all the rest.
We're assured continually that Trump is bound to lose. My friends at Powerline note that sixty-four per cent of poll respondents say they "definitely or probably" won't vote for Trump. Which is a steep hill to climb.
On the other hand, from the common-or-garden polls of the last month:
Quinnipiac: Biden up 1
Marist: Biden up 1
The Economist: Biden up 1
InsiderAdvantage: Biden up 1
Fox News: Biden up 3
And how about these polls..?
New York Times: Tie
Harris: Trump up 4
So 64 per cent "definitely or probably" won't vote for Trump, but Biden can't break out of margin-of-error territory?
Those are pretty staggering numbers for a guy with a pseudo-criminal record in three-quarters of American states. Indeed, with one or two isolated outlying exceptions, he never polled that close to Hillary or Joe in 2016 or 2020. Either he's not as dead as the conventional wisdom would have it - or they're just monkeying with the numbers so that he doesn't drop out and leave it to a winner like this Burgum guy.
John Hinderaker's and many others' theory is that anyone other than Trump could beat Biden in what they used to call a cakewalk. So how's DeSantis doing?
Oh, Biden wins by four, five, six...
Matter of fact, Vivek Ramaswamy gets closer to Trump's statistical tie - and, unlike The Donald in 2015, no one had heard of Ramaswamy until twenty minutes ago, he's barely out of short trousers, and his ethnicity is so exotic that (on my unscientific survey) ninety-eight per cent of American commentators pronounce his first name wrong - or at any rate differently from when Vivek introduced himself to me over dinner at Tucker's pad a while back.
Yet what's the betting on when he passes the flailing DeSantis and moves into second place?
Oh, sorry, my bad: I got head-faked into doing all that poll-of-polls margin-of-error stuff, and thereby making the mistake of considering this election a free and fair democratic contest such as would be held in Sweden or Slovenia.
Will it be? Or are the Dems and the media and the FBI and Big Tech planning on "fortifying" this one too?
From the brazenness of these indictments-a-go-go, thar's the way to bet. In my experience of Third World crapholes - and, actually, upon further consideration, I apologize for that comparison because it's unfair to the crapholes: the corruption at the heart of the American state is on an entirely different scale. But still... in my experience of Third World crapholes, you don't start criminalizing your political opposition unless you've already decided there aren't going to be any election-night surprises. And happily, in America, you can rely on the bumper-music butch boys to do the biennial orgasmic panting about this season's incoming "red wave" to give it all a veneer of genuine competition.
Yet, right now, unlike "conservative" politicians and "conservative" media, GOP primary voters seem to be doing some elementary logic:
1) Everyone says, if you nominate Trump, he'll lose in the general;
2) But that only matters if the general is on the up-and-up;
3) And, if it isn't, you might as well take a stand with Trump rather than losing with Nikki Haley.
Indeed, if you think the central issue is not Ukraine or the next variant but the suffocating corruption in which the most powerful agencies in the land behave ever more openly as organs of a one-party state, you're sticking with Trump because the permanent state's weekly indictments of him are the most outrageous embodiment of the problem.
These are not normal times: in the years ahead, ever greater corruption - political, judicial, bureaucratic, technological - will be necessary to constrain the people's choices to the shriveled offerings of the Uniparty. So, if you reckon it's bad now, wait till next time. GOP primary voters seem to get that at least. The real GOP "suicide mission" (to use John Hinderaker's phrase) is pretending that any of what's happening right now is part and parcel of politics in a long-settled society of self-governing citizens.
Whatever their "suicidal" inclinations, the base seems to get that - and they're disinclined to be told by their betters to pretend otherwise.
~Notwithstanding my one-step-forward-three-steps-back health, we had a very busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with Andrew Lawton's return to the anchor seat of our Clubland Q&A. For his Saturday movie date Rick McGinnis plumped for Judy Garland and Robert Walker in The Clock. My Sunday Song of the Week tipped my hat to the late lyricist Tom Jones with "Try to Remember". And our marquee presentation was our latest Tale for Our Time: my summer diversion on a theme of H G Wells. Click for Part Thirteen of Out of Time, Part Fourteen and Part Fifteen.
If you were too busy spending the weekend trying not to get collaterally offed in the FBI takedown of your septuagenarian 300-lb neighbor, we hope you'll want to check out one or two of the foregoing as a new week begins.