This the laptop evidence feds could use in Hunter Biden tax fraud case

Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and overseas exploits uncovered on the infamous laptop exposed by The Post could possibly be used by prosecutors in their reported tax crimes case against him.

When federal authorities kicked off their probe in 2018, investigators were initially looking at whether Hunter and his associates had violated various tax and money laundering laws amid their dealings in China and other foreign countries.

While it’s not clear exactly what evidence the feds have, the exploits of President Biden’s 52-year-old son are also in the scope of the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Emails and other records related to Hunter’s various overseas deals, which point to his alleged scheme to sell his father’s influence for millions of dollars to American adversaries, came to light when they were discovered on his abandoned laptop.

Here’s a look at some of the laptop revelations that may potentially come back to bite Hunter:

Hunter Biden
Emails and other records related to Hunter’s various overseas deals came to light when they were discovered on his abandoned laptop and reported by The Post.

10% cut for the “big guy” deal

Hunter and his associates had pursued lucrative deals with a Chinese energy company, CEFC China Energy Co, including one that listed a potential cut for then vice president Joe Biden, the emails show.  

An email sent to Hunter by one of his business partners, James Gilliar, on May 13, 2017 had outlined the “remuneration packages” for six people involved in an unspecified business venture with the Chinese conglomerate.

The plan included a proposed 10% share passed through Hunter for “the big guy” — a reference that Hunter’s former business partner, US Navy veteran Tony Bobulinksi, has since claimed refers to Joe Biden.

Hunter, who was identified as “Chair / Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC,” had his pay pegged at “850,” according to the email.

The email also outlined a “provisional agreement,” which would see 80 percent of the shares in the new company split equally among four people. The initials of the four people corresponded to the email sender and three recipients — with “H” apparently referring to Hunter.

$10 million for “introductions alone”

Hunter also sent an email on Aug. 2, 2017 regarding a deal he had struck with the since-vanished chairman of CEFC, Ye Jianming, over the 50/50 split ownership of a holding company expected to rake in over $10 million a year for Biden’s son.

He wrote that Ye — who hasn’t been seen since being taken into custody by Chinese authorities in 2018 — agreed to a three-year consulting contract with CEFC that would pay Hunter the hefty annual sum “for introductions alone.”

“The chairman changed that deal after we me[t] in MIAMI TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT to create a holding company 50% percent [sic] owned by ME and 50% owned by him,” Hunter wrote in the email.

“Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners inn [sic] the equity and profits of the JV’s [joint venture’s] investments.”

The emails were sent by Hunter to Gongwen Dong — the CFO of Hong Kong-based investment firm Kam Fei Group.

Hunter Biden
Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against Hunter Biden for tax crimes and making a false statement to purchase a gun.
AP

A $1 million retainer

An “Attorney Engagement Letter” executed in September 2017 was also uncovered from the laptop that promised Hunter a $1 million retainer.

One of Ye’s top aides, former Hong Kong government official Chi Ping Patrick Ho, had offered Hunter the hefty retainer for “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer.”

Ho was later convicted by a Manhattan federal jury in 2018 over two schemes to pay $3 million in bribes to government officials in Chad and Uganda. He ended up serving a three-year prison sentence and was deported from the US to Hong Kong in 2020.

$1 million a year to sit on a Ukrainian board

Burisma Holdings Ltd., the Ukrainian energy company, had paid Hunter $83,333 a month to sit on its board from May 2014, invoices on the laptop show.

While he was being paid the hefty figure, Hunter introduced Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi to his father — who was then-vice president — at a dinner in Washington, DC, in April 2015.

Less than a year later, Biden flew to Ukraine to strong arm government officials into firing a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma at the time.

Biden has said in the past that the prosecutor wasn’t doing enough to crack down on corruption — and that the push wasn’t related to Hunter’s position.

Then, two months after Biden ceased to be vice president, Hunter’s monthly compensation from Burisma was cut in half.

Pozharskyi had informed Hunter of the cut in a March 19, 2017 email that said “the only thing that was amended is the compensation rate.”

The amount listed on Hunter’s Burisma-related invoices was subsequently reduced to $41,500 from May 2017. 

Hunter Biden
The US Attorney’s Office in Delaware will make the decision on whether to bring a case against President Biden’s 52-year-old son.

A 2.8-carat diamond gift

A diamond once given to Hunter by Ye Jianming — the since-vanished CEFC chairman — was previously examined by investigators as part of the ongoing tax probe, according to a CNN report from 2020.

Emails from Hunter’s laptop show that the sparkler had become a sticking point during his divorce from first wife Kathleen Buhle.

In August 2017, her lawyer demanded proof it was “in a safety deposit box — accessible only by both parties together” and threatened to seek an emergency injunction against Hunter “to enjoin his further dissipation of assets, including the diamond.”

Hunter had told The New Yorker that he got the jewel from the then-CEFC chairman following an introductory dinner meeting in Miami amid Biden’s divorce.

Buhle had estimated in court papers that the diamond was worth $80,000, but Hunter put its value closer to $10,000.

Pursuing deals with Mexican billionaire

Hunter also pursued potential deals with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim when his father was still in office, according to records on the laptop.

He got involved with Slim after attending a State Department luncheon that the Mexican magnate was also at in May 2010, the diary on his laptop shows.

In the wake of that luncheon, Hunter made annual trips to Mexico between 2012 and 2015. He also held in-person and video conference meetings with Slim’s sons, Carlos Jr. and Tony Slim, between 2011 and 2015. The laptop doesn’t shed light on what, if anything, may have developed from those encounters.

According to emails on the laptop, Hunter’s uncle Jim had emailed him on May 7, 2015 about a possible deal involving Slim and Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) – a Mexican state-owned oil and gas firm.

“Have a very real deal with Pemex (Carlos Slim) need financing literally for a few days to a week,” Jim wrote in the email. “Have the seller (refinery /slims) and buyer major being delivered from pipeline in (h/ USA) Nothing is simple but this comes very close. As always the devil is in the detail! Any interest on the long skirts part?”

Hunter and his business partner Jeff Cooper were hoping to secure Slim money for an online gaming company, Ocho Gaming, and digital wallet firm, ePlata, that Cooper ran. Hunter had a 5.25% stake via his law firm, Owasco PC.

$142K Fisker sports car scrutinized

Separate from evidence found on the laptop, prosecutors are reportedly also examining Hunter’s 2014 purchase of a $142,000 plug-in hybrid sports car from Fisker Karma.

The Fisker Automotive start-up company had previously received a massive Obama administration loan touted by then-vice president Biden to help convert an abandoned General Motors factory for a planned line of family-oriented electric vehicles. 

But Fisker went bankrupt in 2013 after receiving $192 million in federal loan payments, the Wall Street Journal reported in March.

Boasting ties to White House and China

Hunter’s business contacts touted his access to his father, “State, Treasury,” his relationship with then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson, as well as his ties to the “highest level” in China, as they weighed whether to work with him on a potential Libya deal in 2015, emails unrelated to the laptop show.

The emails, obtained by Insider, date back to 2015 and reference getting Hunter’s help on a deal regarding billions in Libyan assets frozen by the Obama administration.

In the first email, dated Jan. 28, 2015, Democratic donor Sam Jauhari repeatedly referred to Hunter as “#2 son” — an apparent reference to Joe Biden’s VP role at the time — and noted that Hunter had requested a $2 million retainer.  

The business contact listed a string of positives to working with Hunter, including his business relationship with Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz and Hunter’s apparent self-proclaimed high-level access in China.

“Per phone conversation I met with #2 son. He wants $2 per year retainer +++ success fees. He wants to hire his own people – it can be close circle of people for confidentiality. His dad is deciding to run or not,” the email said.

“His positives are he is Chairman of UN World Food Program, son of #2 who has Libya file, access to State, Treasury, business partner SofS [Secretary of State] J. [John] Forbes K [Kerry] son and since he travels with dad he is connected everywhere in Europe and Asia where M. Q. [Muammar Qaddafi] and LIA [Libya Investment Authority] had money frozen. He said he has access to highest level in PRC [China], he can help there.”

Hunter and Heinz founded Rosemont Seneca Partners, a billion-dollar private equity firm, back in 2009. Their business dealings soured when Hunter opted in 2014 to join the Burisma board.

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‘The Midnight Club’ Season 2: Everything We Know About the Future of the Netflix Series

This October, Netflix is starting off the spooky season right with The Midnight Club. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Christopher Pike, The Midnight Club follows a group of terminally ill teenagers living together in a specialized hospice. Partially as a coping mechanism, they start telling each other scary stories. But it isn’t long before this hobby takes on an unsettling edge as the members of the club vow to try and contact the living once they cross to the other side.

Though this thriller from Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong is largely a self-contained story, there’s a possibility that there will be more to this series. Here’s everything we know about the future of The Midnight Club on Netflix.

Will The Midnight Club Have a Season 2?

It’s too soon to say. Typically, Netflix waits a few weeks before announcing whether it will renew a new original or not. Basically, if a lot of people end up watching the first season of The Midnight Club, we can expect another installment. But if viewership is low, this may be a one-and-done deal.

There is one detail that points to the possibility that this series may become an ongoing one. Mike Flanagan’s other Netflix series have been solidly described as miniseries. The Haunting of is the umbrella title used to describe one anthological miniseries, which includes The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. Likewise, 2021’s religious thriller Midnight Mass and the upcoming The Fall of the House of Usher have both been called miniseries. Conversely, The Midnight Club has always been described as a series or a drama.

Mike Flanagan has also addressed the possibility of a Season 2. During a press event, the creator and executive producer was asked if the series was built for expansion. “It is certainly designed that way,” Flanagan said. “We also didn’t answer some of the bigger questions this season. Those answers exist, but were meant to be for the next season. If there isn’t one, I’ll put them up on Twitter.”

When Could The Midnight Club Season 2 Premiere?

Let’s say that Season 2 of The Midnight Club is absolutely happening. When can we expect it to premiere? The series was first announced in May of 2020, but filming didn’t happen until a year later in March of 2021. Based on this timeline, it seems to take about a year to a year and a half to make a new season. If it is renewed, we can likely expect to see new episodes in the fall of 2023 or the spring of 2024.

What Could Happen in The Midnight Club Season 2?

Prepare for some spoilers. Season 1 of The Midnight Club ended with the unsettling truth that Julia Jayne (Samantha Sloyan) was likely never healed by any cult or magical ritual. She was simply one of the lucky ones who was able to recover from a terminal disease. That’s a lesson that Ilonka (Iman Benson) learned too late. Just as she was about to drink a tonic from Julia, Dr. Stanton (Heather Langenkamp) rushed in and stopped her. Since that tonic led to two of Julia’s followers having to go to the hospital, that was a very good thing.

Ultimately, Dr. Stanton forgave Ilonka for disobeying her and running away. Ilonka joined the Midnight Club for one final session where two very important things happened: Kevin (Igby Rigney) finally finished his story and the group said goodbye to Anya (Ruth Codd) once and for all. Afterwards, the final secret of this series revealed itself. Dr. Stanton had a tattoo from the same wellness cult as Julia.

If there is a second season, it will likely further explore Dr. Stanton’s connection to this cult. Also, The Midnight Club ends with most of the patients of Rotterdam Home still alive. Another installment would give the series the opportunity to further tell their stories in the form of spooky tales in the dark. Honestly, this should be how we all talk about our trauma.

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Americans spend about 4 hours applying to a job — and hate every second: poll

Job hunters have revealed their biggest complaints when looking for a new role – being turned down due to “no experience,” interview process being too long and lack of information on salaries being offered.

A study of 2,000 adults who’ve sought new employment in the past five years found they’ll typically spend four hours applying for a single job – with 33% of applications resulting in an interview.

But 75% find the entire process “stressful” and “time-consuming” – with common frustrations including unnecessarily lengthy interview processes and misleading job postings.

And lack of clarity on the annual salary – for instance, large salary ranges – is a significant issue, especially for the 54% who’ve declined a job offer upon discovering what they’d be earning.

The research, commissioned by Adzuna and conducted by OnePoll, found 77% believe companies should be more transparent in their job postings.

This could be concerning to businesses as it could be detrimental to their reputation – impacting their ability to find talented staff.

Nearly a third (32%) said suspect the employer is hiding something if they don’t include salary information in ads.

Similarly, 28% said such practices make a business appear untrustworthy and 29% said they appear unprofessional.

While 56% revealed they simply wouldn’t accept an interview offer if they didn’t know about the compensation offered by a prospective employer.

“With all the time and effort that goes into applying for jobs, it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful to stumble across issues along the way,” said Doug Monro, CEO and co-founder of Adzuna. “From the research, it’s plain to see salary is a critical component of the job process with jobseekers clearly pointing to a lack of clarity or detail on annual wages being a major frustration when applying for a job.

“Employers should be encouraged to be more transparent and include as many details on salaries in their job postings as possible to give candidates the financial peace of mind they need, as well as the all-important information around whether a role is right for them.”

And it’s not just salary info those polled are keen to see beforehand – workplace location and employee benefit plans are also important to many.

The study also found 73% think greater transparency over salaries would make workplaces fairer.

Further to this, 55% would be happy for their colleagues to know what they earn – with 31% neutral on the subject and just 9% unhappy.

“Jobseekers are increasingly concerned with finding employers that match their values and that they trust,” continued Doug Monro. “Being transparent by showing salaries on job postings is one way for companies to show they care about prioritizing fair pay.

“But there is room for improvement and the onus is now on companies doing their diligence to present job opportunities that fairly reward candidates.”

TOP 20 COMPLAINTS WHEN APPLYING FOR A NEW JOB

  • Turned down because ‘not enough experience’ despite already looking at the resume
  • Interview process dragging out over multiple weeks or even months
  • Lack of clarity on salary, e.g. ‘on target earnings’ or very large salary ranges
  • Saying you’re overqualified for a role – even though they’ve seen your resume
  • Not hearing back/not receiving a reply after applying
  • Needing to update your resume for every application
  • Not being totally transparent about the role/company after reading reviews online
  • Waiting too long to hear back after an interview
  • Too many stages to the interview process
  • Realizing mid-interview that this isn’t the job for you
  • Being asked inappropriate or offensive interview questions
  • Having to work half a day in the office as part of the interview process
  • Lack of feedback following rejection for a role
  • No salary being listed on the Job AD
  • Being asked irrelevant interview questions
  • Unclear stance on remote/hybrid/in-office working
  • Not offering desired staff perks or benefits
  • Misleading job ads
  • Unrealistic responsibilities/requirements
  • Rude or inappropriate interviewers

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American adults who have ever looked for employment in the last five years was commissioned by Adzuna between September 26 and September 28, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Fuggedaboutit the dollar slice — some of NYC’s best pizza is a ‘benchmark’ $5

Mamma mia, that’s a lot of dough.

Inflation is wreaking havoc on one of the Big Apple’s most treasured traditions — affordable pizza. Cheap pies and late-night fuel-ups for a dollar are on the endangered list, and a new, saucy trend is in the oven at pizzerias all over NYC: the $5 slice, leaving some New Yorkers crying, “Basta!”

The latest slinger to hop on the pricey bandwagon is Fini Pizza, an upscale Williamsburg shop newly opened by Sean Feeney (Lilia, Misi). The Bedford Avenue storefront has been charging $5 for a piece of the pie since opening up this summer.

The teensy shop has a photo-ready design complete with retro lawn chairs and classic delivery bikes artfully placed out front.

The white slice (far left), tomato (far right), long hot shallot, and regular cheese slices at Fini cost around $5 each.
The white slice (far left), tomato (far right), long hot shallot and regular cheese slices at Fini Pizza cost around $5 each.
Stefano Giovannini

It joins Brooklyn pizzerias such as L’Industrie Pizzeria, owned by Italian expat Massimo Laveglia, which charges $5.50 for its “New Yorker” slice, and the popular Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop in Greenpoint, where the famed Hellboy slice (pepperoni with Mike’s Hot Honey, invented by a one-time employee) now costs $5.

And judging by the lengthy lines snaking out of Fini earlier this week, plenty of New Yorkers appear to have made their peace with the new normal.

“It’s kind of crazy, the new $5 benchmark now,” customer Derek Lee, 24, a Bayside native and accountant living near South Street Seaport, told The Post.

Still, he conceded, “that’s the amount I’m prepared to pay now walking into most pizzerias.”

Ceava Kats, a Fini first time customer raved about the pies and said that $5 slices are simply a sign of the times.
Ceava Kats, a Fini first-time customer, raved about the pies and said that $5 slices are simply a sign of the times.
Stefano Giovannini

He forked over more than $30 for fan-favorite white pie at Fini.

Others called the price hike a sign of the times.

“In 2022, it doesn’t bug me — the $2.50 slice is a thing of the past,” Brooklyn Heights resident and Fini first-timer Ceava Kats, 48, told The Post.

Fini Pizza, albeit gourmet comes with a hefty price.
Fini Pizza, albeit gourmet, comes with a hefty price.
Stefano Giovannini

One customer pointed out that Fini felt more special than run-of-the-mill Ray’s.

“It’s almost like a treat. I wouldn’t group [this] into, ‘I’m getting a slice of pizza.’ I think of it more like, ‘Let’s get dinner’ with my friends or something. It’s fancier,” said Annie Gao, a 23-year-old p.r. worker who lives in the Financial District.

Still, even she has her limits, noting $7 is the most she’d shell out for a slice.

Of course, quality ingredients are frequently used by pizza makers as justification for the dramatic increase in prices.

At Scarr’s Pizza on the Lower East Side, owner Scarr Pimentel works with all-natural, 100% stone-milled flour to create one of the better classic slices available in New York City. A standard cheese slice is still a relative steal at $3.75, but for pepperoni, you’ll now pay nearly $5.

Slices around the city are going for a near $5 nowadays. Fini is no exception.
Slices around the city are going for a near $5 nowadays. Fini is no exception.
Stefano Giovannini

At Fini, however, $5 doesn’t necessarily pay for even a hint of cheese — one popular option is a tomato slice, made with costly San Marzano tomatoes and Calabrian chili oil, topped with garlic breadcrumbs. A scrumptious white slice, on the other hand, brimming with luxurious Fontina cheese and served with a lemon wedge, costs $5.25. A standard slice rings in just under the high-water mark at $4.75.

Factoring in tax and a 15% per table suggested gratuity, one each of the five slices offered at Fini — sans beverages like a $14 Brooklyn-brewed IPA — will cost you a whopping $30.86.

And some locals have had it with the upscaling of their neighborhood.

Fini's small storefront is known for having lines out the door by customers.
Fini’s small storefront is known for having lines out the door.
Stefano Giovannini

“When I was eating pizza there was a group of kids coming from school; they walked into the shop and then they exited, [saying] ‘We’re not paying $5 for pizza,’” said Veronika Guity, a 32-year-old marketing director from the Financial District, who posted pictures of herself “eating [a] $5 slice in a $500 dress” at Fini on her Instagram account.

She said she can personally justify the spending. After all, she’s been conditioned by living in lower Manhattan.

“It’s an $8 latte, a $5 pizza slice, a $20 sandwich,” Guity said. “That’s kind of where we’re at now in New York City.”

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Rare Frank Lloyd Wright home in a New York park lists for $1.52M

A rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home set on 2.5 acres in New York’s Clausland Mountain Park has listed for $1.52 million, The Post has learned.

Known as the Socrates Zaferiou House (the name of the first owner), the mid-century single-story home is only one of nine designed by Wright in the 1950s for developer Marshall Erdman. It’s also the only Wright-designed home on the Hudson River’s west bank.

Made up of four bedrooms and 2.5 baths, the property is considered a modified Usonian-style home. It features a walk-out basement with tall ceilings, not usually found in Wright’s style, according to the listing.

“Zaferiou appealed to Wright for two years to approve his site and expanded home style, and finally, this variation of the Usonian style design was eventually approved by Wright,” the listing says.

The home was briefly listed for rent last summer.

The home spans more than 2,600 square-feet.
The home spans more than 2,600 square-feet.
Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty
The foyer.
The foyer.
Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty
A hallway.
A hallway.
Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty

Spanning more than 2,600 square feet, features include an L-shaped open floor plan, a flat roof, an oversized masonry fireplace, large window expanses, wood paneling and Wright’s signature red flooring.

During construction of the home, Wright visited the site. But he passed away in 1959 before it was completed. The project architect for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City later took over the project and finished the home.

“I love the property for its classic Frank Lloyd Wright style and the drama it creates,” listing rep Richard Ellis, of Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty, told The Post.

The kitchen has breakfast bar seating.
The kitchen has breakfast bar seating.
Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty
A woodburning fireplace.
A woodburning fireplace.
Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty

Sarah Anderson-Magness (also an owner) and Zaferiou, who met Wright at the site “share a passion about preserving this historic home, and a desire that future owners will respect it in the same way,” Ellis said.

“Accordingly, we’re looking for a caretaker as much as a buyer who will appreciate and preserve this home and get as much joy as living there as the original and current owners had,” Ellis added. “What a fitting setting for a Frank Lloyd Wright home — built into a hill on a 532-acre state park bringing in all the elements of nature, yet still 30 minutes to New York City.”

The home was completely restored to include all original elements of the period kitchen, full walk-out basement, patio and planting areas, and rows of glass doors and windows.

1 of 11

Wright is considered one of America’s most prolific and influential architects and played an important role in the evolution of mid-century homes. His visionary work, spanning over seven decades, cemented his place as the American Institute of Architect’s “greatest American architect of all time.”

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Please, in 2024 could we elect a president who isn’t either out to lunch or addicted to chaos

The stumbling and bumbling of the Biden White House — did Joe’s people really think that his fist-bumping the Saudi crown prince would make Mohammad bin Salman forget Joe Biden said he should be treated as a “pariah”? — is a rueful delight for Republicans of all stripes.

For those of us who had spent decades rolling our eyes at Biden’s logorrheic blathering, ludicrous tall tales about his childhood, and out-and-out plagiarism of the experiences of other people, all this provides a certain level of vindication.

And for Donald Trump’s most devout enthusiasts, Biden’s manifest incompetencies and possible cognitive infirmities should be enough to make their hero look as good to people who didn’t like or appreciate him as Trump always looked good to them.

Would that it were so easy for the non-Trumpy conservative to look at Biden and through his reflection see Trump anew and in a brighter light?

But the two recently published blockbuster accounts of Trump’s presidency are so chock-full of reasons to dread a second Trump term that, even if you acknowledge the liberal media cocoon in which they were composed and thereby write off some significant percentage of their impact due to their inherent bias, you have strong reason to say that a 2024 handoff from the current semi-senile old man to the former and thoroughly crazy old man would be a rotten deal for America.

a picture of crew members walking by aircrafts on the deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.
One of Former President Trump’s goals was to pull American troops from South Korea, wrote John Bolton and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in their memoirs.
Getty Images

Both Maggie Haberman’s “Confidence Man” and “The Divider” by Peter Baker and Susan B. Glasser offer page-by-page reminders of the utter chaos of the four years Trump served as president. It wasn’t just the mean tweets that characterized the White House, but the wild shifts in mood, tone, and constancy.

And, even more important, some of the policy paths Trump seemed to want to walk down that his administration somehow ended up avoiding — paths that might have plunged this country and the world into the kind of disasters now plaguing it in 2022.

Two in particular merit mention. One is Trump’s keening desire to pull all American forces out of Afghanistan.

A picture of President Biden.
President Biden once told Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he should be treated as a “pariah.”
AFP via Getty Images

This was a promise he had made during his 2016 campaign, and it was an idea he kept advancing in the councils of power inside his administration throughout his tenure.

But it didn’t happen, in large measure because distinguished foreign-policy officials he disliked and eventually fired, but whom he himself had appointed, could not honestly come up with a plan they could see ending in anything but a disaster. Trump himself acknowledged as much in 2017 when he first moved off of the “get the troops out” line. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

Even though he said it, he kept returning to it. Indeed, national security council chiefs H.R. McMaster and John Bolton pretty much lost their jobs because of his unhappiness with them about this, while his second secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, retained his job in part because he began to work on negotiations with the Taliban.

We can now see how these gatekeepers saved Trump from himself. Biden’s 2021 pullout of Afghanistan was not only catastrophic at the time, but arguably gave Vladimir Putin the idea that America and NATO had grown too gun-shy not to accede to his efforts to swallow up Ukraine. Continued deterrence of the Taliban in Afghanistan might have been exactly the thing to give Putin pause before he began his wild, barbaric and frightening adventure.

President Biden was welcomed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
President Biden was welcomed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Now imagine Trump had achieved another desired goal — pulling American troops from South Korea, a story told both by John Bolton in his memoir and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in his. The nominal reason for such a move was Trump’s anger that South Korea supposedly wasn’t paying its fair share to help support the American presence there.

This would have been Afghanistan on stilts. An American pullback from the Korean Peninsula and East Asia with China on the military rise and Kim Jong-un exchanging passionate billets-doux with Trump? It’s almost impossible to imagine the destabilizing impact of that move.

The kinds of voices around the table in Trump’s administration that helped keep the chaos at bay around the world — and engaged the animal cunning of a president who was instinctively able to pull himself back from the brink at key moments — would likely be entirely absent from a Trump 2 Situation Room.

And what about Trump’s triumphs? Well, from the four books written by insiders about the Abraham Accords, what one learns is that Trump’s relative disengagement from the process is what allowed it to flourish.

A picture of a plane taking off at Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Biden’s 2021 pullout of Afghanistan arguably gave Vladimir Putin the idea that America and NATO had grown too gun-shy not to accede to his efforts to take Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

Perhaps there could be similar types of the policy pursued during a second Trump administration, but from the behavior of the former president after his defeat in November 2020, it seems more likely we would have the foreign-policy equivalents of Sidney “Release the Kraken” Powell and Mike “My Pillow” Lindell — yes-man lunatics with a taste for extremism and semi-apocalyptic measures.

John Bolton likened working in the White House to being inside a pinball machine. Now imagine that pinball machine without buffers and no gyroscope to say “Tilt” when everything went haywire. In the White House today we have a president who goes to a fundraiser and begins musing about how close we are to “Armageddon.”

Here’s an idea: Maybe, in 2024, we could elect someone under the age of 75 who isn’t either permanently out to lunch or permanently addicted to chaos.

jpodhoretz@gmail.com

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Bling Empire’ Season 3 on Netflix, A Return To Asian-American Opulence And Drama

Netflix’s reality show slate continues to churn out new content, as Bling Empire returns for its third season (and a New York City-set spin-off is on its way). The new season picks up where season 2 left off, as Kane continuously found himself at the center of the drama and Kelly tries to move on after another break-up with Andrew.

Opening Shot:  A flyover of the freeway lands us back at Anna Shay’s Beverly Hills mansion, where she’s chatting with her friend Anna when Kelly’s ex-boyfriend Andrew arrives bearing gifts.

The Gist: The third season of the reality series about ultra wealthy Asians and Asian-Americans in Los Angeles returns to Netflix. Petty drama between cast members continues to be the name of the game as some occurrences from Season 2 begin to see their fallout.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Bling Empire is another installment of “rich people reality TV,” with ludicrous amounts of wealth on display kind of like the Real Housewives franchise. The cultural Asian twist puts it in league with Family Karma.

Our Take: There are a few key aspects that make reality shows such as these successful: interesting characters and impactful storylines. Bling Empire has the characters down: from the meddling Kane to the standoffish Anna to the eager-to-please Christine, the series has a good mix of interesting characters who interact with one another in entertaining ways that keeps the show moving at a good pace.

But it’s unclear whether the show will ever transcend beyond petty drama between members of the cast. And to be fair, that’s totally fine and what some people come to these shows for. However, I think reality shows can be a place to talk about real life in the communities it’s centering on — like when Family Karma took the opportunity to explore how homosexuality is unfavored in traditional Hindu homes, and overcoming generational gaps in ideology. Bling Empire has an opportunity to dig deeper into what it means to have wealth as a perceived immigrant in America — especially as many of the cast members are self-made — but so far it’s just focused on small, inconsequential squabbles between the cast.

Sex and Skin: None in the first episode.

Parting Shot: Christine and Jaime have an awkward meal where Jaime accuses Christine of inserting herself into drama with a magazine editor. 

Sleeper Star: Anna’s droll line delivery is always a delight. Even though she feels almost too cool to be part of this gang, her air of nonchalance is a welcome personality.

Most Pilot-y Line: “I spent $2K on this jacket and shit girl, I look good,” Kane says as he walks down the street in a jacket adorned with mini stuffed animals (yes you read that right).

Our Call: SKIP IT. It’s perfectly fine if you’re looking for high school drama, but it isn’t a place to find deeper stories about the Asian-American community.

Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a TV-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on Paste Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vulture and more. At any given moment, she can ruminate at length over Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You may call her Rad.

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Bling Empire’ Season 3 on Netflix, A Return To Asian-American Opulence And Drama Read More

BIDEN ECONOMY: Job Destruction – US Adds the Lowest Number of Jobs in 18 Months

Joe Biden is destroying the American economy more and more as each day passes.

This morning the jobs report came out from the US Labor Department and it wasn’t good.

Hotair reported:

The jobs report looks decent on its own — but the trendlines are all going the wrong way. The US economy added 263,000 jobs in September, the lowest level in more than a year, and a miss even off the lowered expectations of 275,000 by forecasters.

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The more significant news is that Americans are falling behind in wages and the labor participation rate is still less than the rate in February 2020, before COVID.  These results will not impact the FED’s expected increase in rates in the next month or two.

The Biden economy is in horrible shape.  The markets are down again.  Last week we knew jobs would be down.

BIDEN ECONOMY: August Job Openings Post Biggest Drop Since COVID Shutdowns in April 2020

BIDEN ECONOMY: Job Destruction – US Adds the Lowest Number of Jobs in 18 Months Read More