Weekend Jolt: A Travesty of Criminal Justice

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Sometimes you have to scream to be heard.

Arabella ...

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WITH JUDSON BERGER July 23 2022
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WITH JUDSON BERGER July 23 2022
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A Travesty of Criminal Justice

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Sometimes you have to scream to be heard.

Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, a Minneapolis mother, proved that last weekend as she confronted Black Lives Matter activists gathered in support of the man who allegedly shot into her apartment while she and her kids were inside.  

Viral video of that encounter, if you haven't seen it, captures better than almost any on-camera moment the primary obstacle for the progressive criminal-justice project: the visceral frustration and anger on the part of people whose real-world experience clashes daily with the abstract vision of activists and policy-makers.

In this case, the Minneapolis mother had to shout at activists milling around that "this is not a George Floyd situation," after Tekle Sundberg — a black man who allegedly had been firing inside the building — was shot dead by police during a long standoff. Somebody can be heard telling her that "this is not the time or the place." When an activist approaches the mother and an argument ensues, Foss-Yarbrough loses all control — understandably.

"My black kid is in the car! . . . He tried to kill me in front of my kids!" she screams as loudly as a person can scream, enunciating and slamming her chest, desperate for those words to be understood by the protesters demanding body-cam footage, since released. She screams it again, and again, hammering her own body, as the activist says whatever it is one says to explain how the account of the mother with bullet holes in her kitchen isn't instantly dispositive.

Municipal leaders and the activists who pressure them would be wise to study this tape, as well as other signs from the universe that the constituency for inverting the treatment of victims and criminals — for treating culpability as something fluid — is diminishing.

Take Chesa Boudin, the erstwhile San Francisco district attorney who was recalled last month, rebuked by otherwise sympathetic residents fed up with social decay. As Ryan Mills reported at the time:

[Boudin] ended cash bail, stopped prosecuting drug-possession cases stemming from "pretextual" traffic stops, stopped using "enhancements" to extend prison sentences for convicted gang members, and stopped prosecuting so-called quality-of-life crimes — things such as prostitution, public camping, public defecation, and open-air drug use. Supporters of the recall say that sent a message that San Francisco was a consequence-free place to engage in low-level crimes, which simply encouraged more crime in the city generally.

Such lawlessness is affecting daily life for shop owners and residents well beyond the Bay. Isaac Schorr reported on a string of 7-Eleven robberies that prompted the company to encourage Los Angeles stores to briefly close. Starbucks, meanwhile, plans to permanently shutter 16 city locations over safety concerns, Brittany Bernstein reports, with "many" more to follow. Explaining this, CEO Howard Schultz accused government leaders of having "abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental health." Few might shed a tear for the Starbucks CEO. But the experience of your average barista or store clerk resonates — which is why the warped justice on display this month in New York City struck a chord. The Manhattan DA faced an immense backlash from bodega workers after he tried to prosecute one of their own who fatally stabbed his attacker in apparent self-defense. Afflicting the afflicted, again, has a small, if cruel, constituency. On Tuesday, Alvin Bragg at last backed off the charges. ("Best news of the week," Rich Lowry noted.)

More introspection is required in tackling crime, and the infectious culture of crime. America, it is true, has a mass-shooting problem; revisiting gun laws and mental-health policies should be part of that solution. More fatally, yet receiving less attention, America has an unrelenting violence problem, one that law enforcement is best equipped to confront. You'll find no objection here to demanding accountability and transparency from those entrusted with extraordinary power. As seen in the case of George Floyd, or the catastrophe in Uvalde, police officers sometimes do the patently wrong thing. But not every police-involved killing is George Floyd all over again. And not every effort to ease penalties for criminal offenders — or turn them into martyrs — is a blow for justice. Ask San Franciscans. Ask Arabella Foss-Yarbrough.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

The most important aspect of the Hunter Biden probe should not be the president's son: Hunter Biden Investigation Must Look at Joe

A brewing Obamacare deal seems to lean on the sort of budget gimmicks the chief dealmaker once decried: The Joe Manchin Obamacare Expansion

ARTICLES

Nate Hochman: Farewell, Sweet Pandemic Prince

Isaac Schorr: Pain Beyond the Pump: Democrats’ Climate Agenda Threatens to Destroy State Budgets

John Fund: Jefferson and Madison Homes Seized by 'Woke' Detractors of the Founding Fathers

Ryan Mills: Bureaucrats Sue Moms Fighting for Transparency in School-Reopening Fight

Charles C. W. Cooke: Why Isn't Hunter Biden Facing a Federal Gun Investigation?

Jack Wolfsohn: Merriam-Webster Changes the Definition of ‘Female’

Brittany Bernstein: Media Promote AOC, Omar Fake Handcuff Stunt

Diana Glebova: Trump-Backed Candidate Wins Maryland Gubernatorial Primary, Besting Hogan’s Chosen Successor

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Expertise Blinds Us

Jay Nordlinger: Cannon on Reagan, and Life

Kevin Williamson: The Dog Ate Their Accountability

Andrew McCarthy: Steve Bannon Turns His Trial into a Soapbox

Luther Ray Abel: Why My Ship Was Blown Up

Caroline Downey: Poll Shows Biden at 19 Percent Approval among Hispanics

A joint report: Telling the Truth about the 2020 Election

CAPITAL MATTERS

Thomas Hogan, with a Fed playbook: What Can the Fed Do about Inflation?

And Desmond Lachman, with a Fed excoriation: The Economic Consequences of Jerome Powell

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White unpacks Morrissey's controversial new single: Morrissey's 'Bonfire of Teenagers' Exposes Pop Treachery

Brian Allen on an exhibition that is pure Vermont and all things good: Lucioni Lights Up Vermont's Shelburne Museum

In which Armond White’s assessment of the new Jordan Peele movie is the same as the movie’s title: Nope Continues the Castigation-as-Entertainment Trend

ALL LINKS AND NO EXCERPTS WOULD MAKE THIS A DULL NEWSLETTER

NR's editorial on what the Hunter Biden investigators should be investigating:

The major question is whether Hunter is a vehicle by which his father, the now-president of the United States, indirectly cashed in on his political influence.

It's certainly true that Hunter Biden has major tax problems. His ex-wife acknowledged in divorce proceedings that they owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS, the revenue agency slapped a $112,805.09 lien on the formerly married couple in 2019, and the District of Columbia added a $453,900 lien in July 2020. Kevin Morris, a wealthy Hollywood lawyer and Joe Biden booster, has reportedly extended a $2 million loan to Hunter, in order to pay his back taxes and other debts — obligations he can apparently not yet cover through his latest new career as an artist (or, rather, his newest shady arrangement for huge paydays with no disclosure of where the money comes from and where it goes).

The issue is much bigger than taxes, though. . . .

The [Hunter] laptop yielded information about a 2017–18 Biden family venture with a conglomerate known as CEFC, which was patently a Chinese intelligence operation. But it's not just the laptop. After the New York Post broke the story, a witness came forward: Tony Bobulinski, an entrepreneur the Bidens and their associates recruited to build the corporate structure for a joint liquified-natural-gas venture with CEFC. Bobulinski has publicly stated that he had two face-to-face meetings with Joe Biden about the CEFC negotiations, as well as numerous meetings with Hunter and with Jim Biden, the now-president's brother. . . .

President Biden continues to insist that he knew nothing of any of this and never discussed his son's foreign business dealings. Even without Bobulinski's contradictory account, that assertion was already risible given the mounting evidence that, while vice president, Biden met with some of Hunter's associates from China, Ukraine, Mexico, and elsewhere. It is even more ridiculous now, given the recent revelation — reportedly due to the hacking of an encrypted back-up of a Hunter cellphone — that Biden left a voicemail for his son on the evening of December 18, 2018, after the New York Times published an article about the CEFC debacle. "I thought the article released online, it's going to be published tomorrow in the Times, was good," Biden said. "I think you're clear." Joe Biden knew CEFC was a big problem, and he was worried about it.

That, and not Hunter's taxes, is why the Biden investigation matters. And there's still more beyond CEFC. Hunter and his longtime partner Devon Archer (who was convicted in a federal fraud case in June 2018) were paid a combined $4 million to sit on the board of the shady Ukrainian energy company Burisma, beginning in 2014. The State Department raised the obvious problem with then-Vice President Biden that the arrangement was frustrating the administration's anti-corruption message, but Biden took no action and Hunter kept getting paid.

In 2013, Hunter hitched a ride to Beijing with his father on Air Force Two to strike an investment partnership deal with another group of Chinese regime–connected financiers, including the Bank of China, an arm of the communist government whose investments are guided by its objectives. Hunter introduced the then-vice president to Jonathan Li, the point man on the China side of what would become Bohai Harvest RST. China licensed the venture days later, and suddenly Hunter had access to $3 billion in funds and investment opportunities in China unavailable to the unconnected.

This venture worked against American interests.

As more damning accounts emerged this week of former President Trump’s January 6 conduct, a collection of prominent conservatives has scrutinized the "stolen election" claims and reached a clear conclusion. From the findings:

Continuing allegations that the 2020 election was "stolen" are roiling our politics and dividing our country. Indeed, now a significant percentage of the American public doubts the legitimacy of our system.

That caused us, political conservatives who have spent most of our careers working to uphold the Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it is based, to delve deeply into those charges and gauge their accuracy. All of us have either worked in Republican Party politics at multiple levels and in various capacities or worked in the government as a result of Republican appointments. Indeed, one of us, Theodore B. Olson, successfully represented George W. Bush in a Supreme Court case that ended Al Gore's unmerited challenge to the results of the 2000 presidential election. We have no affiliation with the Democratic Party. In our opinion, the most fundamental principle of our constitutional system is that the will of the people expressed through elections must prevail, whether "our side" wins or loses.

The source of the charges is not in dispute. Because allegations of fraudulent and rigged elections are so seriously affecting public opinion, especially among Republicans, we conducted an open-minded examination of the many claims by former president Trump and his supporters and allies who agree with him about the 2020 election and attempted to act on their beliefs. We take such claims seriously. Many of us have worked at polling places on Election Day as Republicans guarding against the kinds of fraudulent voting activity that Trump alleges occurred. Such a task is an important one in our system, yet is too often falsely derided as "voter suppression." If, in fact, we had found evidence of the sort that has been alleged, we would be at the vanguard of those demanding corrective measures.

Therefore, we painstakingly surveyed each of the 187 counts in the 64 court cases brought on Trump's behalf contesting the results of the 2020 election, the state recounts and contests brought in the name of the former president, and the post-election reviews undertaken in the six key battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) to determine whether there is any fire amidst all the smoke.

Our review has led us to conclude that there is simply no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election of the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, not even a single precinct's outcome was reversed. Our report, "Lost Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election," shows that only in one Pennsylvania case, involving far too few votes to overturn the results, could Trump and his supporters claim even a technical victory where a judge granted a demarcation of vote-counting that Trump wanted but that the state had already begun.

From Nate Hochman, a love letter to Fauci as he plans for retirement:

What is there to say about Saint Anthony that hasn't already been said in oozing puff pieces from star-struck journalists? How are we to express our deep and abiding gratitude better than the "Thank You Doctor Fauci — We Will Wash Our Hands" yard signs, the devotional Fauci candles, and the Fauci figurines (mask included, of course) touted by, among others, elected Democratic legislators? Skeptics will argue that the man who presented himself as the flesh-and-blood embodiment of science itself, and who regularly accused his critics of attacking The Science — "they're really criticizing science because I represent science," he told Face the Nation last November; "I'm going to be saving lives, and they're going to be lying" — is not well-positioned to "repair the national bonds that the pandemic shredded." But we know better. In Fauci we trust.

Okay, so Fauci may have had a few slip-ups here and there. Yes, he initially argued that masks don't "really do much to protect you" and then subsequently insisted that he had never denied the efficacy of masks but only advised against buying them, because of fears of a shortage among medical workers. Cut the man some slack — that was early on in the pandemic, and uncertainty abounded. Sure, he consciously lied about vaccines: "When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent," he told the New York Times in December 2020. "Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85." But that was out of a sense of paternalistic duty — it's just that Americans weren't ready to hear the truth. You can't end a pandemic without telling a few fibs here and there.

Shout-Outs

Toby Green & Thomas Fazi, at UnHerd: The return of Covid fearmongering

The Economist: The Democrats need to wake up and stop pandering to their extremes

Alexandra Steigrad, at the New York Post: Disney fans outraged after 'fairy godmother' ditched for gender-neutral titles

Sean Trende, at RealClearPolitics: Republicans Are Favored to Win the Senate

CODA

I'm from Jersey — the Shore, no less — so you'll have to allow a certain amount of ignorance on the topic of country music: My colleague Molly Powell recently informed me that Smokey from The Big Lebowski is in fact a well-known country musician, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

How about that.

I was delighted to find out his singing voice retains the character of his speaking voice (something that's not always the case). Here's a lovely cover, by him, of "Ripple." Enjoy, have a fine weekend, and thanks for reading.

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