Dear Weekend Jolter,

The ethos of the “In This House” yard signs is being tested like ...

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WITH JUDSON BERGER September 16 2023
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WITH JUDSON BERGER September 16 2023

A Favorite Slogan of the Left Clashes with Reality

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The ethos of the “In This House” yard signs is being tested like never before.

You know the signs. They’re everywhere. They contain statements that are meant to look defiant but are actually anodyne. They’ve even inspired parodies. But porch posturing is one thing. Attempting to carry out those sentiments at a government level is another.

“No human is illegal” has essentially been at the core of the Democratic Party’s border approach since the latter Trump years. Then–presidential candidate Julián Castro called for decriminalizing unauthorized crossings in 2019, most of his rivals for the nomination joined him, and the party platform that cycle made no mention of deportation as a legitimate enforcement tool. Easing restrictions at the border, federally, and broadcasting the message that cities would welcome all regardless of legal status, locally, have since combined to create an earthquake that is now forcing a fissure straight through the Democratic ranks.

“No human is illegal,” it turns out, is every bit as unsustainable as “Defund the police” when translated into policy.

For mayors such as New York’s Eric Adams, the migrant crisis gripping cities across America today has dramatically and probably irreversibly changed the way they talk about immigration and the rules governing it. For others, this moment is indeed a test of faith. As Brittany Bernstein reports, progressive pundits were quick to compare Adams to Donald Trump (the phrase “black Trump” was used) and condemn his “anti-immigrant” campaign; immigrant advocates voiced similar disappointment. More than 100 House Democrats signed a letter calling not for stricter border measures but work permits.

New York is perhaps the most vivid example, for the time being, of the strain the crisis is putting on cities — as well as on the party platform — with the Adams administration having shifted into full-blown-emergency mode in a matter of days. A little over a week ago, the mayor gained national attention for warning that the influx of over 110,000 migrants since last year “will destroy New York City.” He previewed that agencies would face cuts to offset the costs; City Hall swiftly announced that overtime pay for police officers and other personnel would be on the chopping block.

New York is far from alone. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy recently spoke out against the idea of relocating migrants from NYC to the Atlantic City airport “or, frankly, elsewhere in the state.” Massachusetts governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in August, and the mayor of Woburn is now urging state lawmakers to reform a “right-to-shelter” law, under strain from arriving migrant families. Chicago is scrambling to move asylum-seekers into “winterized base camps” before the weather turns. Earlier this year, the mayor of Denver warned the community could not “continue to financially shoulder the burden of this humanitarian crisis alone.”

It should be noted that the influx is only partly a product of the controversial and widely covered decision by GOP governors to send migrants to Democrat-run cities. The New York Times reports that Texas-funded buses have “sent about 34,740 migrants to other states since April of 2022,” a “paltry subset of the hundreds of thousands who have crossed the border during that period, most of whom have probably also made their way to destinations outside Texas,” though migrants arriving on the buses may require more assistance than others.

Jim Geraghty, in surveying the unfortunate situation both cities and immigrant families find themselves in, considers how we got to this point. As he notes, the United States already surpasses every other nation in welcoming legal immigrants, and it was never immoral or xenophobic to enforce basic immigration law:

All these Democratic lawmakers were fine with insufficient border security and lax immigration enforcement, as long as the associated problems were mostly contained to border states such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. . . . The sudden about-face by these Democratic officeholders is a de facto confession that they didn’t really think all that hard about the likely consequences of their policies.

Charlie Cooke’s take is further along on the pH scale: “Was their willingness to serve as a ‘sanctuary’ only operative when they believed that nobody would show up?”

Immigration being a federal responsibility, these mayors and governors are escalating pressure on Washington to relieve their own — making this, increasingly, a Biden problem, one that will be difficult to downplay come the election year. Adams’s budget director complained in a memo that state and federal aid has been “grossly inadequate.” Healey demanded a “national response.” While President Biden faces pressure from his left flank, House Freedom Caucusers threaten a government shutdown if a funding package doesn’t include a House-passed border-security measure. The administration reportedly is considering a way to force certain migrants in Texas to stay there, an idea Governor Greg Abbott responded to by threatening to send “even more buses” to Washington.

Yet, despite the White House claim that Biden “has done more to secure the border, to deal with this issue of immigration, than anybody else,” it’s not clear the president feels motivated to make that statement marginally less refutable — especially now that an impeachment inquiry (not to mention the Hunter indictment) has the administration on a war footing.



Biden influence-peddling deserves a thorough investigation, but the newly announced impeachment inquiry could backfire: The Impeachment Risk

The administration gives Russia and Riyadh reason to cheer: Biden’s Attack on the Oil Supply


Andrew McCarthy: What to Make of the Hunter Biden Gun Indictment

Rich Lowry: Yes, Joe Biden Is Corrupt

Noah Rothman: Democrats Should Not Be So Confident the Biden Impeachment Inquiry Will Be a Bust

Dan McLaughlin: Impeaching Biden Is Just but Unwise

Dan McLaughlin: The 9/11 Generation Rises in American Politics

Jimmy Quinn: Eric Adams Advisers Traveled in China with Suspected Chinese Police-Station Agent

Charles C. W. Cooke: Why Not Arrest Governor Lujan Grisham?

Caroline Downey: Democratic New Mexico AG Refuses to Defend Governor in Gun-Order Lawsuits

Ari Blaff: CIA Officials Took Hush Money to Bury Covid Lab-Leak Theory, Whistleblower Claims

Philip Klein: Mitt Romney Was No Profile in Political Courage

Robert Zubrin: Has NASA Found a Second Genesis?

Haley Strack: How Often Do Men Think about the Roman Empire?


Check out Dominic Pino’s remarks on the father of free-market economics: Celebrating Adam Smith at 300

Joe Tabor & Bryce Hill report on Chicago’s latest tax scheme: Chicago Mayor Pushes ‘Mansion Tax’ on Homes over $1 Million


Brian Allen heads to Madrid to check out, well, many things — but first, a one-room exhibition at the Prado that makes connections between Picasso’s Cubism and El Greco: The Prado Finds in El Greco the Key to Picasso’s Cubism

Armond White, on the Stones: The Rolling Stones Redefine Political Anger

Christian Schneider is just having a little fun: Tom Hanks Is a Boring, No-Talent Hack


Alexander Raikin: How Death Care Pushed Out Health Care

John McCormack: Vivek Ramaswamy’s Got Ambition to Spare

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The War on Drugs Is Necessary and Just


More from the NR editorial on Biden’s impeachment inquiry:

There is no doubt that Biden’s connection to his son Hunter Biden’s shady foreign business dealings is a serious matter that deserves a serious investigation and accountability to the public. The only question is how best to go about it. . . .

The best defense Biden could make, which isn’t particularly flattering (or convincing), is that he was somehow unwittingly duped by his son into becoming the prop in a lucrative global influence-peddling operation and lied about his role because he was too embarrassed about it. But the even more alarming possibility is that the elder Biden not only was aware of what his son was actually up to and closely involved but enriched himself and may have even been bribed to influence U.S. foreign policy. Neither the use of a web of shell companies by the Biden family nor the alleged use of a fake name by Biden himself would appear to have a plausible innocent explanation.

While all of this cries out for further investigation, McCarthy’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry is risky.

One immediate issue is the matter of votes. McCarthy bypassed a floor vote on opening an inquiry, deciding instead to direct the relevant committees (Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means) to pursue this inquiry. This indicates that he did not have enough support among Republicans to get the requisite votes to open the inquiry. Now that he has taken this step, if Republicans don’t end up having the votes to pursue actual articles of impeachment, it will be touted by Biden as a full exoneration.

If they do manage to impeach Biden, the Democratic Senate would never vote to convict him. And the recent experience with failed impeachments is that they are dismissed by voters as partisan exercises. This was true when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton and when Democrats impeached Trump the first time.

All that being said, Rich Lowry has seen enough when it comes to the many allegations against the Biden family. Really, anyone paying attention has:

Let’s assume that Representative James Comer and his colleagues discover nothing else about the Biden family business, that the state of play stays exactly the same as it is now.

We already know that Joe Biden is corrupt.

He may not be Representative William Jefferson cash-in-the-freezer corrupt, or Governor Rod Blagojevich I’m-going-to-sell-this-Senate-seat corrupt. But he was complicit in an inherently corrupt enterprise that centered on selling access to him when he was a high official of the United States government who had incredible power and was entrusted with handling sensitive matters.

Consider Burisma, the corrupt Ukrainian energy company that paid his son lavishly to serve on its board. At any point, Biden could have shut down this operation to use his son to get to him, and at any number of junctures it should have been obvious — if it wasn’t all along — what was happening. Biden did nothing and, in fact, played along.

In other words, he made himself party to a grotesque influence-peddling scheme beneficial to his family. Is there any standard by which this is okay? . . .

The quick version of the background on Burisma is that it was founded by Mykola “Nikolay” Zlochevsky, who had to go on the lam after the government of Viktor Yanukovych fell in the Maidan Revolution. The new government of Petro Poroshenko put Zlochevsky under investigation. (The practice of investigating and prosecuting officials of the prior regime is a common practice in shady parts of the world, and now, also, of course, the United States.)

So Burisma needed a helping hand. The company put Hunter Biden on the board for $1 million a year shortly after Vice President Biden, in charge of Ukraine policy, was in Kyiv for meetings in April 2014. Hunter’s business partner Devon Archer had a similar deal.

It was completely obvious why Burisma would want the vice president’s son on the board. (Indeed, Hunter’s pay was cut in half when his father stopped being vice president.)

Assuming for the sake of argument, though, that Joe Biden wasn’t aware of the arrangement with Hunter beforehand, as soon he found out, the upstanding and honest thing to do would have been to say, “No, sorry — there’s no way a son of mine is going to be on the take in a foreign country that’s part of my policy portfolio.”

The newest issue of NR is out, and you can thumb through it (scroll, rather) here. It’s got some heavy material. To set the mood, try Michael Brendan Dougherty’s defense of the war on drugs:

The message from pop culture and policy circles alike is that the drug war is no better than prohibition of alcohol, in that attempts to enforce the law paradoxically benefit the drug-dealing that the law tries to criminalize. In this telling, drug enforcement leads to the over-policing of racial minorities and mass incarceration.

And the conventional wisdom has been trending toward a suite of alternative policies, some of which are already being pursued in various states and nations. These include decriminalizing the sale of softer drugs such as cannabis, and possibly even the possession and use of harder drugs such as heroin. Money currently given to drug-enforcement agencies could be rededicated, according to the Brookings Institution, to mental-health and addiction services, prison reform, and community reinvestment.

Ultimately the case for ending the war on drugs is that the demand for them is close to constant and cannot be significantly changed by policy, that many drug producers and dealers are criminal only because the law makes them so, and that enforcement causes only harm. It is based on the idea that we can sufficiently regulate and ameliorate the harms of drug abuse in the same way we do with alcohol, by making a robust market for selling well-regulated versions of the product. For those who still abuse drugs, we will have publicly and privately funded institutions and initiatives to help addicts recover, and we will morally stigmatize abuse among the potential pool of problem users.

Unfortunately, the case for ending the war on drugs is wrong in every jot and tittle. It is wrong at the level of theory, it has proved impractical wherever it has been tried, and ultimately it aims at an intolerable settlement built on a moral inversion: Toleration is given to those who profit from selling life-destroying drugs, at the expense of justice for those whose lives are destroyed by them. The case for surrender has been wrong for decades, and the rise of synthetic drugs only makes it more obviously destructive to pursue; the war on drugs is a just war and necessary.

That the war on drugs is just does not mean every policy pursued in its name has been just or wise. Far from it. Some sentencing guidelines for repeat offenders have been needlessly punitive. During the Cold War, some strategies for disrupting the drug trade in South America were compromised by other foreign-policy priorities. Similar conflicts plagued our involvement in Afghanistan. Some enforcement actions tend to increase violence between drug gangs without stemming the flow of drugs.

We should admit that the glib internet commenters are probably correct to say that drugs are currently winning the war on drugs. The United States has the casualty figures to prove it. In 2021, the number of Americans who died from preventable drug overdoses was 98,268. That’s an increase of 781 percent since 1999. Our new normal is that more Americans die of drug overdoses annually than died in the entirety of the Korean War and Vietnam War combined (36,574, and 58,220, respectively).

That brings us to the first fallacy in the case for surrender. Our inability to prosecute the war on drugs perfectly is not an argument for ending the war on drugs. If we had grouped a number of crimes together and called our enforcement effort a “war on violence,” we would not respond to the persistence or increase of violence in our society by giving up or decriminalizing less grave forms of violence in the hopes that they would satiate the demand for murders. Instead, our desire for justice would impel us to build on our past successes and to look for new tactics and opportunities to improve enforcement.

ICYMI, new scoopage from Jimmy Quinn dropped last weekend:

Two longtime advisers to New York City mayor Eric Adams traveled in China with one of the defendants in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against an illegal Chinese-government-run police station that operated in Manhattan, National Review has learned.

The presence of that individual, Jianwang “Harry” Lu, on the 2019 trip to China — before Adams became mayor — alongside members of Adams’s inner circle indicates that his administration has closer ties to the defendant than it has disclosed. Lu was arrested in April on charges related to operating the police station and doing the Chinese government’s bidding.

His participation in the trip is being reported here for the first time. He is believed by federal prosecutors to have entered into a “relationship of trust” with the Chinese government, stretching back to at least 2015, after which he assisted Beijing’s efforts to hunt down Chinese dissidents in America.


Jazz Shaw, at HotAir: What did Eric Adams know about the Chinese police station in NY?

Ben Schreckinger, at Politico: The 2024 candidate-bots are here

Jennifer Hiller, at the Wall Street Journal: Even Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Can’t Find a Reliable EV Charger


It’s been about six minutes since I slipped some prog into this spot, so I’ll close today with a British band called the Pineapple Thief. “Fend for Yourself” is very pleasant, I think, and a little Radiohead-y at times (not a bad thing) — the clarinet is a nice touch.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.


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