Weekend Jolt: Get Ready for a Border-Crisis Summer

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Democrats already are watching with dread the polling that shows ...

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WITH JUDSON BERGER April 23 2022
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WITH JUDSON BERGER April 23 2022
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Get Ready for a Border-Crisis Summer

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Democrats already are watching with dread the polling that shows voters in a state of high anxiety over inflation and economic concerns generally. But another issue that for now ranks rather low on the priorities list threatens to explode just in time for midterm sweeps.

Beware the border.

With the Biden administration set to lift the Trump-era measure known as Title 42 one month from now, officers on the front lines and bipartisan lawmakers alike are expecting a surge of historic proportions. That policy, ostensibly implemented to combat Covid-19, allowed the government to turn back many asylum-seekers, and even that has had limited impact on the flow of migration. We just learned Customs and Border Protection recorded over 221,000 migrant encounters along the U.S.–Mexico border in March, the highest total since President Biden took office. You can see the trend lines here, and it's an alarming picture. The administration is averaging about 7,100 daily encounters and, according to one report, is bracing for up to 18,000 after May 23. While officials apparently are planning for this, Axios reports that Biden aides are now discussing a possible delay on the repeal to buy time.

NR's Carine Hajjar just returned from a reporting trip to the border, and it was eye-opening.

"This is the worst I've ever seen it . . . this administration doesn't care," one 25-year Border Patrol agent told her.

Local ranchers in Texas described a daily battle to keep up with damage from migrant traffic, saying it's much worse than in the past. One ranch owner said he's seen "more property damage than if I were to add 30 years together." In a reminder that lax border security invites tragic consequences, he's also finding the bodies of migrants regularly, more last year "than I've ever had."

As for what happens after May 23, Carine relays the following:

Already, due to Biden's open-door messaging, the border is encountering record numbers of asylum-seekers, overwhelming and derailing Border Patrol operations. . . .

When Title 42 is lifted, opening the door for even more asylum claims, the crisis will only get worse.

Indeed, everyone I spoke to at the border — from law-enforcement officers, to landowners, to private citizens — had one word to describe a post–Title 42 border: disaster.

One Border Patrol agent, who was loading up a group of asylum-seekers to be processed, laughed when I asked if the Biden administration had a plan to deal with the impending crisis: "Not that they've told us," he said.

As Charles C. W. Cooke has noted, the sustained use of Title 42 on public-health grounds was tenuous given that the underlying pandemic emergency has become less of one. The administration used it as a crutch but without it has few options that won't enrage the base.

Heading into a midterm-election cycle that already is bad for the incumbent party, DHS could be looking at a surge that eclipses prior border-related political catastrophes: the unaccompanied children under Obama, the family separations under Trump, the Haitian migrants under Biden just last year . . .

Legal justification aside, moderate Democrats can smell the crisis coming this summer and are calling on the administration to keep Title 42 in place until an adequate plan is developed to deal with the influx sure to follow. Mark Krikorian assumes the administration will indeed kick the can on Title 42 but wants to see a reckoning on immigration policy.

As Phil Klein notes, you know things are bad when a Democratic senator from New Hampshire feels compelled to shoot a video at the border.

In other news — prepare to encounter raunchy, uncensored face nudity on your next flight. Catch up on the rest of the week, right here.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

One of the last barriers to normalcy is toppled, for now: The Friendly Skies Return

ARTICLES

In memoriam CNN+

Jimmy Quinn: Over 500,000 Ukrainians Deported to Russian 'Filtration Camps,' Zelensky Says

Brittany Bernstein: Betty Ford Foundation Breaks 73-Year Admission Record Because of Pandemic Alcoholism Surge

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Obama’s Crusade against Fake News

Neal Freeman: Divorce, Florida-Style

Ryan Mills: Former Administrator Sues School Board, Claims Colleagues Harassed Her after She Spoke Out against CRT

Kevin Williamson: Fairy Tales Won't Fix the Economy

Kristina Rasmussen: Washington Is Pushing Woke Health Care

Jack Butler: It's the Grassroots vs. the Establishment in Ohio's Pro-Life Movement

Isaac Schorr: Meet Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, the Judge Who Overturned the Transportation Mask Mandate

Andrew McCarthy: What's Wrong and What's Right about Judge Mizelle's Mask-Mandate Decision

Charles C. W. Cooke: Joe Biden Blew It on Masks

And for some point/counterpoint on Florida's Disney brawl . . .

Charles C. W. Cooke: Ron DeSantis's Misguided Attack on Disney's Legal Status

Ryan Ellis: Florida Republicans Are Right to Push Back against Disney

Philip Klein: Ron DeSantis and the Fight Club Conservatives

Jason Lee Steorts: Farewell to Free Speech, Say Florida Republicans

Rich Lowry: Let Disney Be an Example

CAPITAL MATTERS

Daniel Pilla examines a wealth tax by another name: Biden Proposes a New Wealth Tax

Samuel Gregg warns about the tough but necessary slog ahead to tame inflation: Fighting Inflation Is Hard, Messy, and There Will Be Casualties

Kevin Hassett believes much more than Elon Musk’s clout is at stake in his Twitter takeover bid: Musk Can Stop the Drift to Socialism

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White follows up on last week's praise for Father Stu: Is Father Stu a 'Religious Film' or an 'American Film'?

Brian Allen spotlights a couple of the lesser-known D.C. museums, starting with its American art collection. Factoids abound, including one I somehow didn't know — that the National Gallery is not actually part of the Smithsonian; this is: The Smithsonian's Splendid American Art Museum, with a Few Quibbles

ICYMI, this one by Kyle Smith went kinda viral last weekend: The World's Biggest Rock Band Is a Christian Rock Band

THESE EXCERPTS ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY DARK MONEY (DON'T TELL ANYONE)

Joe Biden played his hand on the transportation mask mandate about as shrewdly as the Earl of Grantham played his family fortune. Charles C. W. Cooke recalls the political errors that preceded this week's court ruling:

The policy was remarkably stupid, and that President Biden decided to renew it not once, but twice, after it had clearly run its course, was a testament to his near total lack of political guile. Back in November, I asked, "If, tomorrow, you told a plane full of Americans that they no longer needed to wear their masks, how many do you think would still have them on by the time you'd hung the intercom back on its hook? Twenty? Ten? Three?" Last night, we got an answer to this question. So thrilled by the judge's decision were America's beleaguered airlines that most of them chose to broadcast the news mid-flight, where it was met by a supermajority of passengers with the sort of glee that has usually been reserved for the end of a war. Had he been smart, Joe Biden could have owned that glee. Instead, it came in spite of him, courtesy of a Republican-appointed judge, from — of all places — Florida.

Why? What did Biden get for his recalcitrance? An extra two or three weeks of a policy that everyone has known for a while was absurd? For months, it has been obvious that there is a big gap between what people are willing to tell pollsters about their attitude toward Covid and what people will actually do when given a free choice. Normal people have been able to sense this. Joe Biden has not — even as his approval ratings have dropped inexorably into the mire. He didn't notice it when the Senate voted 57 to 40 to end the transit mandate. He didn't notice it when vulnerable Democrats in the House began to tell journalists that they were in favor of "whatever gets rid of mask mandates as quickly as possible." He didn't notice it when SNL — yes, even SNL — started making fun of progressive hysteria over masks. Now, it is too late.

The headwinds against this administration are real. Indeed, they have now grown so strong that the Democrats will probably end up regretting that they won the last presidential election. And yet, irrespective of the challenges that were thrown before him, one simply cannot imagine, say, Bill Clinton making Joe Biden's mistakes.

Kristina Rasmussen flags an alarming development in the field of health care:

There's a new front in the woke campaign to control our national institutions: health care. . . .

Every American needs to know what Washington is doing. It's using taxpayer money and unaccountable regulation to embed "critical race theory" and "anti-racism" into every level of health care. The secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, recently made this clear when he declared that "health equity pervades everything" his department does. In making this declaration, he was following the lead of the president he serves. It sounds nice. But ensuring health equity requires taking a divisive and discriminatory approach to treating patients and providing care.

Which is exactly what's happening. Since the start of this year, Washington has effectively bribed physicians to embrace discrimination on a day-to-day basis by offering higher Medicare-reimbursement rates to physicians who "create and implement an anti-racism plan." That's code for recasting everything that happens at the doctor's office in light of race, including patients' access to care and specific treatments. Ninety-three percent of primary-care physicians accept Medicare.

And with many medical providers still dealing with Covid-induced financial struggles, they'll probably find it hard to turn down the extra money.

Russia is sending Ukrainians to camps, deporting them from their own country. Jimmy Quinn reports on Zelensky’s description of those conditions:

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian troops have deported at least 500,000 Ukrainian citizens from Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine to Russia.

"This is deportation. This is what the worst totalitarian regimes of the past did," he said, in an address to Portugal's parliament today. He told the Portuguese lawmakers to consider that the half-million figure is twice the population of Porto.

Zelensky claimed that deported Ukrainians are "deprived of means of communication" and that the Russian authorities seized their identification documents.

"They are distributed to the remote regions of Russia. The occupiers set up special filtration camps to distribute people. Some of those who get there are simply killed. Girls are raped," he added.

Who can resist political tea leaves? Not me. And Neal Freeman reads them like a tarot-card dealer in the Vieux Carré backstreets as he envisions various scenarios that might play out to determine the future of the Trump-DeSantis relationship, or lack thereof:

Can this marriage be saved? The consensus seems to be: no, and it is more likely to end with a bang than a whimper.

I count four scenarios advanced with more or less conviction by the obsessed.

1. Health Troubles. Trump is 75. He is under constant stress, much of it self-generated. He has been categorized by an attending physician as "obese." He routinely orders fries with the cheeseburger. And he takes regular exercise by driving around his course in an electric golf cart. In a recent Washington Post interview, Trump himself admitted that his health could be a factor in keeping from running. "You look like you're in good health, but tomorrow, you get a letter from a doctor saying come see me again. That's not good when they use the word again," Trump said.

Probability: 15–20 percent.

2. Trump graciously steps aside. With DeSantis surging toward reelection in November, and his own crowds thinning, Trump makes the decent and apposite gesture and withdraws in favor of his promising young protégé.

Probability: 1–5 percent. Trump rarely does gracious.

3. DeSantis defers gratefully to his mentor. Acknowledging his enormous debt to the older man, DeSantis announces that, should Trump run himself, DeSantis will not run and, further, pledges that his formidable organization will deliver Florida for Trump in 2024.

Probability: 1–5 percent. DeSantis rarely does grateful.

4. Trump and DeSantis are involved in a high-speed collision on I-95. Failing to reach amicable settlement, Trump and DeSantis resolve their issues James Dean–style, with a game of highway chicken.

Probability: 70–80 percent.

Shout-Outs

Gordon Chang, at the Hill: In Shanghai, COVID-19 has become China's political disease

Kevin Daley, at the Washington Free Beacon: Why Is the Supreme Court Still Closed to the Public?

Susan Crabtree, at RealClearPolitics: White House Mum on Details of Garcetti 'Vetting'

Khaled Abu Toameh, at the Jerusalem Post: The new defenders of al-Aqsa

CODA

I've done it, I've found the longest song — by prog rocker turned born-again Christian rocker Neal Morse. Check out "World Without End," at a cool 33 minutes and change. This marks two Codas this month to feature the work of drummer Mike Portnoy. If you like, you can pull this postscript back to less proggy territory by sending your song recommendations to jberger@nationalreview.com, for sharing with this list.

Have a fine weekend, and thanks for reading.

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