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Newsletter: One way the Hunter Biden indictment makes Joe Biden look a lot better than Trump

A man in a business suit walks outdoors
Hunter Biden, the president’s son, leaves after a court appearance in Wilmington, Del., on July 26.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)
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Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023 — so, happy Mexican Independence Day. Let’s look back at the week in Opinion.

Hunter Biden has been indicted on three federal charges related to allegations that he lied on a 2018 application to buy a handgun. The Justice Department prosecuting President Biden’s son is the same one responsible for two of Donald Trump’s four criminal indictments, so make of that what you will when it comes to the former president’s belief that this administration weaponizes federal law enforcement against political foes.

But what’s seen as a political headache for the president — and it’s most certainly that, as columnist Jackie Calmes made clear last week — also illustrates the stark differences between the likely 2024 (re-)nominees on upholding the rule of law.

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In his column on the Hunter Biden indictment, the former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general Harry Litman dissects the failed plea deal and Justice Department maneuvering that culminated in the charges. Though he paints an unflattering picture of the Justice Department missteps that essentially trapped it into bringing “charges that are seldom brought,” I see a bigger portrait of an administration so determined to prove its dedication to the independence of federal law enforcement that it blundered into a political crisis for the president.

In other words: I doubt Hunter Biden would have been indicted if he weren’t the son of a president whose predecessor made a mockery of Justice Department independence. What a way to look not bad.

We’re very far off course in meeting global climate goals. Get ready for Plan B. Humanity (mostly the portion of it in rich countries) is still copiously burning fossil fuels, and heat waves and dangerous weather events are killing more people. Since Plan A to fight climate change is to stop emitting greenhouse gases, and we’ve failed at that for now, former Times reporter Edwin Chen says many scientists have started embracing Plan B, “a Hail Mary attempt to cool the atmosphere by injecting aerosols up to 12 miles above Earth’s surface to reflect sunlight back to space.”

Kevin McCarthy is pushing a Biden impeachment inquiry so thin you can see right through it. The Times’ editorial board has harsh words for the House speaker’s desperate impeachment gambit: “Again and again the Bakersfield Republican has accommodated the extremists in his conference who hold his speakership hostage. McCarthy seems more interested in clutching on to his title than dispelling perceptions that he is anything more than a stooge of the far right.”

Trump prosecutor Fani Willis to meddling MAGA Republican Jim Jordan: Butt out, sir! “Please provide this information as soon as possible but not later than 10:00 a.m. on September 7, 2023,” wrote the MAGA pit-bull Rep. Jim Jordan to Willis in a letter accusing her of timing her indictment of Trump to affect his presidential campaign. So, did she get back to Jordan by his deadline? “Did she ever,” says columnist Robin Abcarian.

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With global warming, Angelenos are being cut off from the most glorious places in California. I confess, shamefully, that I sneered at the sight of 80,000 Burning Man campers trapped because of rain, prompting some to abandon their pretense of radical self-reliance and seek outside help. But, the nature lover in me sympathizes with anyone who looks for spiritual fulfillment in the wilderness but is thwarted by increasingly unpredictable weather. I wrote about other places a lot closer than the deserts of northwest Nevada that have been rendered off limits in an era of climate instability.

Feed your soul by watching this short documentary about Pasadena artist Helen Pashgian, whose work, says director Anika Kan Grevstad, asks you to “take a closer look at the microcosm of a world she’s created in each shining sphere of resin.” Yes, resin — a substance that starts as viscous material but quickly dries into a solid form, forcing Pashgian to sculpt somewhat heroically under tight time constraints.

More from this week in opinion

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As always, you can share your feedback by emailing me at paul.thornton@latimes.com.

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