The Morning Jolt


Elizabeth Warren, Asked about Mollie Tibbetts: ‘Focus on Where the Real Problems Are’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Our Jack Crowe spotlights a stunningly tone-deaf comment from Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren:

CNN’s JOHN BERMAN: One last question in here, it has to do with Mollie Tibbetts, the young woman in Iowa, who was murdered. Her body believed to be found. A person has been charged, this person is an undocumented immigrant. Mike Pence and the president have suggested the immigration laws need to be stronger so that people like this man who is accused of this murder were not in the country. Your reaction?”

WARREN: You know, my —  I’m so sorry for the family here, and I know this is hard not only for her family, but for people in her community, the people throughout Iowa. But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where real problems are. Last month, I went down to the border and I saw where children had been taken away from their mothers, I met with their mothers who had been lied to, who didn’t know where their children were, who hadn’t have a chance to talk to their children, and there was no plan for how they would be reunified with their children. I think we need immigration laws that focus on people who pose a real threat and I don’t think mamas and babies are the place we should be spending our resources. Separating a mama from a baby does not make this country safer.

Some would argue that by discussing acts of murder, we are indeed “focusing on where the real problems are.” Some would ask what problem could be any more real than allowing a murderer into our country.

Warren offered a pretty cursory, check-the-box acknowledgement of an illegal immigrant committing an act of murder before reverting back to the rote talking points about child separation, and it’s pretty illustrative of the infuriating nature of the immigration debate in this country.

The media loves to put the spotlight on Dreamer children who grow up to be high-school valedictorians and go to Yale. And God bless them; we would be fools to deport them, and they show every sign of becoming great American citizens. Immigration restrictionists are foolish to deny the existence of great human beings who entered the country illegally, through no fault of their own, and who have much to contribute to our country.

But the flip side is that some illegal immigrants are very bad people. The NFL’s Indianapolis Colts have begun preseason play, but this year’s team is missing linebacker Edwin Jackson, because he was killed in February by Manuel Orrego-Savala, a Guatemalan citizen who entered the United States illegally in July 2004, according to detectives, and was deported twice, in 2007 and 2009. (This means he entered the country illegally three times!)

Jackson was in a ride-sharing vehicle when he became ill and asked the driver, Jeffrey Monroe, to pull over. Orrego-Savala was driving under the influence of alcohol when he veered onto the emergency shoulder and struck the men, killing both.

Neither high-school valedictorians nor deadly drunk drivers are representative of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, but a lot of Americans would like a system that prevents people from entering illegally or overstaying visas so that we can get more potential valedictorians and keep out the drunk drivers. For what it’s worth, the sanctuary city of New York City will not turn over an illegal immigrant to ICE even if the immigrant is found guilty of driving under the influence, deeming it a “lesser offense.” In an interview, Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the policy, saying he believed “drunk driving that does not lead to any other negative outcome” is a minor offense. Keep in mind, under New York state law, a first-time offender over the age of 21 faces a 90-day license suspension, a $300 to $500 fine, a minimum $250 annual assessment fine for up to three years, up to 15 days in jail, and possible enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program, which includes additional fees and fines. A second offense can bring stiffer fines and 30 days in jail —  and note, this is not for causing an accident, vehicular homicide, or vehicular manslaughter; this is just for failing a breathalyzer test.

In other words, the policy is that driving under the influence, even once, even without causing an accident, is a very serious crime . . . unless you’re an illegal immigrant, and then it becomes a minor offense. This is exactly backwards, and if you think there’s a rising tide of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment in this country, you should probably ask whether laws and policies such as this one are adding to that mentality. Because the net effect of the policy is that the city sees the crime as more serious when committed by a U.S. citizen than when it is committed by an illegal immigrant.

The Democrats’ Proposed Alternative to Kavanaugh: Two and a Half Years of Eight Justices

Senator Ed Markey: “I will not take a meeting with Brett Kavanaugh. He has been nominated by someone implicated, and all but named as a co-conspirator, in federal crimes. His nomination is tainted and should be considered illegitimate.” This is much less consequential than the senator wants to pretend, because Markey announced his opposition to Kavanaugh the night he was nominated. These visits with the senators before the confirmation hearing are a courtesy, and it’s fair to ask whether Markey deserves that courtesy.

I wonder how Markey feels about Justices Breyer and Ginsburg. After all, they were nominated by a man who lied under oath, who was impeached by the House of Representatives, had his law license suspended, paid a $25,000 fine, was found in contempt of court and paid a separate $90,000 fine, and who paid an $850,000 settlement to Paula Jones. Why wouldn’t their nominations be “tainted and considered illegitimate”?

Whether Markey realizes it or not, he’s calling for no Supreme Court justices to be confirmed until Donald Trump leaves office. Barring impeachment*, that would be January 20, 2021, at the earliest, leaving the Supreme Court with eight justices (or perhaps fewer!) for two and a half years? What if Trump is reelected? Then six and a half years? What if, God forbid, the roof of the court building collapsed, and all of the justices were suddenly slain? Would Markey demand that the country just operate without a Supreme Court for a few years, because he and his fellow Democrats believe that any Trump nominee is automatically “tainted”?

For what it’s worth, grassroots liberals are arguing, “When Trump goes, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch must also go, as well, since Trump’s crimes predate their appointments, and both appointments should be invalid.” That’s not how it works, but constitutional ignorance on Twitter is so plentiful that we wish we could turn it into an energy source.

But this is one of the many, many reasons it is difficult for a Trump-skeptic/Trump-critic like myself to sign on to or align with the Democratic opposition to him. The opposition party does not want to see justice served for any Trump crime or scandal; they just want to undo his presidency.

*Impeachment, as I laid out yesterday, is unlikely to occur, barring some indisputable evidence of serious crimes that generates bipartisan outrage. You’re just not going to get 15 to 17 Republican senators to vote to remove Trump from office without a smoking gun to an egregious crime.

Has the Era of Jack Ryan Passed?

Kyle Smith finds the new Amazon Prime series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, pretty disappointing, calling it a “bog-standard War on Terror thriller much like Homeland, with a slightly apologetic, don’t-hate-us-liberals undertone.”

Smith started a discussion at NR about whether the Clancy books ever doubted the moral authority and virtue of the United States, and I noted that while the heroes of Clancy’s books rarely doubt their cause, American leadership sometimes comes across as corrupt or deeply flawed. The president in Clear and Present Danger authorizes a pretty illegal secret program in Central America and then tries to sweep it under the rug when things go wrong. Sum of All Fears features a not terribly competent President Fowler in a crisis — more the book version than the movie version. In a B-plot of Debt of Honor and Executive Orders, we learn that Vice President Ed Kealty was using date-rape drugs on staffers, and he manages to evade any serious criminal charges.

But then again, one of the primary rules of the Ryanverse is that no one’s moral compass points to True North better than anyone named Ryan.

Smith writes that “Jack is flawless, omnicompetent, and hence a bit boring — in other words, a Mary Sue.” This is sad, but it’s the culmination of a long process of Jack Ryan becoming less interesting as the stories went on.

In the mid 1980s, the heyday of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as action heroes, Jack Ryan was something interesting and new, the analyst as action hero, a guy who thinks his way out of trouble instead of punching or shooting. But as Ryan kept getting promoted, the contortions necessary to get him into dangerous situations grew more and more implausible — with the movie version of Clear and Present Danger featuring CIA Deputy Director Jack Ryan getting into fistfights and joining a daring rescue of captured soldiers. Yeah.

Today’s spy-thriller realm is more crowded, and by comparison, well-meaning, did-the-research, Boy Scout Jack Ryan looks a little bland. James Bond is more stylish, Jack Bauer is more ruthless, Jason Bourne has more elaborate fight choreography, Sydney Bristow is better looking, Ethan Hunt does more amazing stunts. In the pages of modern fiction, Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath is tougher and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon is shrewder and more sophisticated. If we’re going to have an everyman, in-over-his-head spy protagonist like Ryan, we might prefer a funnier version like Chuck Bartowski.

The Tom Clancy books did a good job of showcasing the 80s–90s technological revolution in military affairs (laser-guided bombs, stealth bombers, spy satellites, etc.) and that was at least as important an element as the characters. But I think it’s fair to argue that Jack Ryan and his world just haven’t translated well to the post-9/11 era.

Clancy died in 2013. In 2003, Clancy started writing about his hero’s son, Jack Ryan Jr., taking over the family business of uncovering sinister threats, and while your mileage may vary, I haven’t heard anyone rave about the non-Clancy-written books. It’s easy to forget the last Jack Ryan film, Shadow Recruit, which took a lot of usually great ingredients (Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, and Kenneth Branagh, filming on location in London and Moscow) and turned out a film that was . . .  eh, okay, I guess.

Maybe part of the problem for a Jack Ryan series is that the War on Terror took the once fairly obscure world of military technology and the Central Intelligence Agency onto the nightly news. Former CIA analysts and operatives now populate cable-news programming as talking heads. Clancy’s best work felt like a dynamic lesson in the newest technologies in national security. Patriot Games offered a weird, chillingly cool scene of CIA officials watching a raid in Libya, live as it happened, through infrared cameras from a satellite high above. What would the equivalent in 2018 be? Drone warfare or cyber warfare? Audiences are much more familiar with all of that now. The Discovery Channel does a whole show on modern advanced weapons.

ADDENDA: Our Kevin Williamson offers a column observing, “There is no buying your way out of the human condition, not with money or any other currency.”

There’s also this keen observation about fame. We inherently want to be liked and admired by the people we encounter, highly-regarded in our field, and yet, “There is very little reason to put any value on the good opinion of the general public in our own time, and no plausible reason to think that the high opinion of future generations will deserve any more weight.”


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