Don't Let the House Hunter Biden Investigation Become a Russiagate-Style Search for Election Excuses

Plus: Lab-grown meat, the allure of raw milk, and more...


House GOP summons former Twitter execs to February hearing. Among the first orders of business in the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives is a probe related to President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden. The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, is already summoning people to testify at a hearing scheduled for early February.

"This investigation is a top priority for House Republicans during the 118th Congress," said Comer in a statement. "The investigation will inform legislative solutions to protect Americans' First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press and prevent public officials and their family members from using public office to enrich themselves."

Republicans have long insisted that not only did Hunter use his father's name to secure foreign business deals for himself but that Joe Biden was in on the game. There is evidence for the former, and not for the latter. Regardless, the first people lawmakers might want to question are those intimately involved with Hunter Biden's business dealings, right?

Apparently not. First up, per a Politico report, are three former Twitter employees.

Comer has invited former Twitter Deputy General Counsel James Baker, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, and former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde to the hearing to testify about Twitter's decision to temporarily block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden in 2020.

That decision was recently dissected at length in the Twitter Files, a series of reports based on internal documents that Twitter CEO Elon Musk has shared with a small group of journalists. The documents reveal Twitter executives engaged in ample deliberation and debate about how to handle the story, primed by warnings from the (Trump-era) Justice Department about the possibility of fake news being spread by foreign adversaries.

It's pretty clear that Twitter's decision to suppress the story—ultimately a wrong decision, albeit also a very short-lived one—was very much a product of people trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016. Authorities were on high alert—perhaps to the point of paranoia—about foreign propaganda that might influence the 2020 electorate. And tech companies, having just lived through years of being excoriated for letting foreign propaganda spread in 2016, were extra sensitive to allegations that they might let it happen again.

But Republicans seem to desperately want there to be more to this story. For it to serve as a smoking gun against Joe Biden, tech companies, or both. For it to be a tidy explanation as to why Biden won in 2020.

The whole thing echoes Democratic antics with regard to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. For years following that election, Democrats were obsessed with the idea that Russians had somehow cost Hillary Clinton the election and thrown it to Donald Trump.

We all remember the seemingly endless investigations, hearings, broadcasts, and reports on whether Trump himself was involved, the role social media company algorithms played, and whether tech companies were to blame. Even after it became clear that the whole business was overblown, Democrats—in Congress, on TV, and in print media—refused to let go of narratives about Trumpian collusion and negligent tech execs. It was, apparently, too good for firing up the base. For assuring supporters and viewers that their side was righteous—and wronged—and the other side was a bunch of treasonous crooks.

I fear Republicans are now headed down the same path. Here we are more than two years out from the 2020 election, and they're calling a congressional hearing over the fact that a private company suppressed a negative news story about the Biden family for 24 hours.

Twitter made the wrong call with the story, yes. But it did so temporarily, with much deliberation, influenced by authorities in the Trump administration, and to the effect that the Hunter Biden story got even more attention. The idea that Joe Biden would have lost the election had this not happened is crazy. And the idea that Biden himself helped cover it up because he's hiding something about his own business dealings lacks any evidence.

But these narratives are also very beneficial to Biden's enemies. And Republicans seem determined to wring every last bit of political capital possible out of them.

Once again we're reminded that the people in power—no matter which side that is—are more focused on making excuses for their own shortcomings and slinging mud at the other side than actually doing the hard work of becoming a faction more Americans can get behind.


"What do you think about meat grown in a lab? Would you eat it? Will your grandchildren?" asks Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. Friedersdorf is responding to a Spiegel International article titled "Can Stem Cell Meat Save the Planet?"

The Spiegel International article hones in on Singapore, where lab-grown meat is already on the menu:

Just imagine for a moment that you could save the world with chicken nuggets. All you would have to do is just eat them. Your teeth would sink into real meat, yet no animal would have lost its life for your meal. It will have been grown in the laboratory from a single chicken cell. Imagine that there would suddenly be enough meat from the laboratory to feed everybody in the world. Hunger would be a thing of the past. The land now used to grow corn for animal feed could be repurposed, perhaps even for a forest that could draw CO2 out of our atmosphere. Industrial livestock farming would no longer be needed.

To be sure, solutions that sound so simple should be approached with caution. But there is a place where the utopia described above isn't as far away as it might sound. Where such laboratory chicken can be tasted and where the nuggets are being served up on real plates. That place is Singapore.

Singapore is the first and, thus far, the only country in the world where meat grown in laboratories can be marketed to and eaten by consumers. The government is hopeful that the country can become home to the technologies behind the food of the future. It is likely, after all, to become an extremely profitable industry, with investors around the world already injecting billions of dollars into the new food sector. Alternative sources of protein, including lab-grown meat, currently make up 2 percent of the global meat market. By 2035, that share is expected to be five times as high. And now that food prices have skyrocketed due to the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, adding to the hunger and environmental crises already afflicting the world, some experts believe that meat grown from stem cells could develop into a technological revolution.

Read the whole thing here.


Raw milk renegades. The Free Press explores the allure of raw milk, which is still illegal to sell (for human consumption, at least) in many states:

For @modernTman and his followers, sourcing their own meat and raw milk—like investing their money in Bitcoin to escape the clutches of traditional banks—was about wresting back control they believed the government had taken away….

Farmers, hippies, health nuts, and crunchy cons—the conservative writer Rod Dreher's term for GOP voters who also wear Birkenstocks and shop at farmer's markets—have been drinking raw milk for decades. But the past few years have seen a dramatic uptick in raw-milk consumption. "The appeal of raw milk is that it's an unprocessed and natural food," says David Gumpert, who blogs about politics and food, and wrote The Raw Milk Revolution. "Milk is the first nurturing food that mammals have, including humans, so it has a lot of symbolism in that way."

And for new consumers, raw milk is a symbol. Most states don't allow it to be sold in stores—just twelve do. But most also have loopholes for the determined and savvy, and more states are giving it the legal go ahead. The Missouri state legislature has two bills on the docket of its coming session that would legalize retail sales of raw milk. A similar law in Georgia will go into effect this summer. But for now, to drink (and, especially, to produce) raw milk is a way of breaking with convention and raging against the machine—the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control, the FDA, doctors, PhDs, state regulators, and Big Dairy—all while engaging in caveman-inspired biohacking.

Raw milkers want control over their lives, and that includes their food—where it comes from, who farms it, how it gets to them.

More here.

In other milk news:


• What went wrong with the Federal Aviation Administration's Notice to Air Mission system yesterday?

• The Pentagon has officially dropped its COVID-19 mandate for U.S. troops.

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission chair says the agency has no intention of banning gas stoves, despite rumors to the contrary:

• Jesse Singal looks at vaccine hysteria and sports deaths.

Reason's Damon Root explains what's at stake in a case involving state sovereignty and the status of Puerto Rico.

• D.C. is planning to hang a bunch of posters that say "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

• "Aides to President Joe Biden have discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration, according to a person familiar with the matter," reports NBC News.