Tempests, Tea Cups, And Conservatives

Recently David French had some interesting ideas on creating “Bill of Rights Republicans.”  They would replace law and order Republicans. We like Bill of Rights conservatives so we don’t need to associate with either party.   It is an interesting idea and you should read the whole thing.  There are four planks to David’s platform:

  1. End or substantially reform qualified immunity.
  2. Reform civil asset forfeiture and end “policing for profit.”
  3. Roll back “no-knock” raids.
  4. Rethink cash bail. 

We want to discuss the crucial wording in the first one and why conservatives want to be careful about embracing the whole platform.  We are absolutely on board with number two and three.  There is a wide variety of conservatives but one thing that most of us agree on it that we are reluctant to tear down stuff.  Yes, we know stuff is really vague but it is still true.  One reason to be reluctant to join David’s group is that the Bill of Rights isn’t being trampled by police.  The most serious problems in big cities and beyond lie elsewhere.  Here is Jason L. Riley at the WSJ using Chicago as an example of big city problems:

The reality is that the carnage we witness in Chicago is what’s typical, law enforcement has next to nothing to do with black homicides, and the number of interactions between police and low-income blacks is driven by crime rates, not bias. According to the Sun-Times, there were 492 homicides in Chicago last year, and only three of them involved police.

David’s recommendations may help a few people a great deal but they won’t help any of the big problems in cities.

We think there is a big difference between end versus substantially reform qualified immunity.  Qualified immunity prevents government workers like police officers from civil suits:

“government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

It seems likely that eliminating qualified immunity will lead to a plethora of law suits. We expect that teacher and school administrators to be a major target.  There might be a way to reform qualified immunity so in an egregious case like George Floyd and Derek Chauvin there might be a place for a civil case.  We should, however, be reminded that Derek has lost his job and faces substantial prison time.  We only know from TV shows but it rings true with us that former police officers in prison will have a tough time.  It appears that Derek will keep his pension. We will have a separate post on that later.  Surely, if Derek wasn’t deterred by prison and the financial losses then the possibility of a civil suit would not be an influence either.  So the only reasons for civil suits is to employ lawyers, possible financial compensation for the injured or heirs, and to harass government workers.

Neither is complete but the existing processes have worked in two very different cases in Minneapolis.  This story form over a year ago tries to argue that the response to the killing of a white woman by a black police officer in Minneapolis of all places show the existence of racism.  Some theories don’t stand up to the facts.  In both cases the existing criminal processes seem to be working.  As the woman’s family in the earlier case has received $20 million from the Minneapolis police we are unconvinced on the need to expand the legal opportunities to sue government workers.

We would generally be a bill of rights conservative.  We just don’t see that it will do much for cities or minorities.  If the GOP is to make political inroads in places like Minneapolis we would be disappointed if they did it with window dressing.  The people these often misgoverned cities deserve political competition.






On Wisconsin

Well, we in Wisconsin are lucky that we are in flyover country and that there is an epidemic going on so the stupidity of our state is not front page news.  Dan McLaughlin at NRO is mostly discussing the legal issues but he starts with:

The U.S. Supreme Court tonight issued an order setting the rules for tomorrow’s elections in Wisconsin. There is absolutely no justification for holding an election right now in the midst of a pandemic, …

Dan is exactly right: There is no justification for an election today.  On March 12 (well it was reported on March 12) our Governor, The Suit, declared a public health emergency for COVID-19.  Five days later The Suit closed almost everything in the Badger state:

[The Suit] has ordered a statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people as of 5 p.m. Tuesday [3/17], and closed all bars and restaurants, except for delivery and pickup orders.

As it happens that is exactly three weeks before today’s election.  We don’t know if The Suit forgot about the election because he isn’t on the ballot or what.  Anyways:

Long lines have been seen in cities like Milwaukee, which has only five polling places open, and social distancing is a concern. [Emphasis added]

The city of Milwaukee has a population of just under 600,000 people.  The usual number of polling stations is 180.  As the bold shows there are five today.  We checked to see that five is the correct number.  It also says that polling stations will close at 8 PM.  That could make the election even more interesting.   We tip our hat to the brave folks that worked at those polling stations.

And, of course, the mediablamed the GOP:

Wisconsin Democrats wanted to extend absentee voting and even postpone the election altogether, but Republicans successfully blocked both in court. As a result, Democratic turnout is likely to be depressed because of the virus and the deadlines for absentee voting. A crucial seat on the State Supreme Court is on the ballot.

And when did The Suit try to extend absentee voting?  Monday.  That is yesterday in case you are not keeping track.  So The Suit forgot and then tried to do something illegal late.  When you elect The Suit all you get is a suit.  The Donald has lots of shortcomings but his decision to stop travel from China is one of the best that a president has made recently.  The Suit shows the other side of decision making.


A Good Day For Freedom

Today, yesterday over there, citizens in the United Kingdom voted for a new parliament.  We love their efficiency.  The election was set in the fall and the voting was December 12.  In the US we have had a number of debates for the primary season that starts in February.  Our general election isn’t for 11 months.  And, in the US, you can start voting several months before the election.  We like our Constitution more than their parliamentary system but we have room for improvement.

We would like to talk about the UK results and the losers reaction to those results.  The election was largely about Brexit.  Jim Geraghty at the Morning Jolt set the stage this morning before the results:

The stakes for the Conservatives and pro-Brexit forces may be win big or go home. There are 650 seats in the U.K. Parliament, meaning to win a majority and control of the government, a party needs 326. The YouGov poll estimates that Conservatives could win anywhere from 367 seats to 311. {Emphasis added]

As the UK has ten parties that have won seats it is hard to get a majority with a single party.  As the Conservatives and UKIP (zero seats to date) are the only pro-Brexit parties, the stakes in the election are high.  Early in our evening the exit polls had projected the Conservatives at 368 seats.  That is one more than the maximum in the quote above.  More recent projections have the Conservatives down a few at 362 and they have just hit a majority, 331 with 49 seats left.  The results should give Boris and the Conservatives control they need to get Brexit done.  Equally important, it would deny Jeremy.  Freedom will be advanced by Brexit.  Then there will be the issue of Scotland and if it should be set free.  The Scottish National Party has tightened its grip on Scotland by gaining 12 seats so far.

Everyone hates to lose.  Especially handball players.  The good thing about most handball players is the only question is usually, “Whose serve or when do we play next?”  The left cannot bear to lose elections and they seem to take the worst possible route in blaming the electorate.  We have seen it in person, “It was the worst day of my life when [some Republican] won.”  We see it in the media and on the media.  Watch next November’s election returns with the sound off and only look at the reporters.  You will know who won.  Here are some comments collected by the Spectator with a few [of our comments] set off:

I cannot imagine how so many people in England can have been quite so stupid. [and how do you feel about Wales, Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom?  Then again, the conservatives did really well in England.]


BBC exit poll predicts Tories to take 70+ seats. If so – a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet. Scotland will leave UK. However it does not feel right compared to on-the-ground.  [Calling folks racists and selfish is a strange way to try and attract voters.  Perhaps you need to widen your ground to fix the last sentence.]


This country is utterly, quadrilaterally f**ked.  [Emphasis and ** added.  We don’t understand the adjective in bold.  What four sides are we talking about?]


This looks abysmal. The result will be devastating for communities like mine all around the country who are now facing five years of Boris Johnson with unchecked power. I am more fearful for our country than at any point in my lifetime. [How come the right (Conservatives or Republicans) gets unchecked power when they win and the left does not?]

And here is one from PowerLine (they also have most of the ones above):

The country is going to be staggeringly and bitterly divided now.  Worse than under Thatcher.  [It is the biggest conservative majority since Maggie.  How can big majorities lead to bitter division?  So when the right wins, and especially if it wins big, then the country is divided.  When Labor (the big party on the left in the UK) wins the country is …. what?  We wonder how these folks would describe the USA under the 44th president?]

It is amazing how folks that want your vote can insult you and yet they seem to think that this will help them win in the future.  And yet Labor (and the Democrats) will win before too long.  We hope they are neither bitter nor vindictive when they take office.

The Nature Of Voting In A Republic

We have been trying to explain to the NeverTrumpers that all votes to elect representatives are transactional.  Joseph C. Sternberg, from the European WSJ, has an op-ed in the WSJ that political insurgencies in Europe and the US but also the nature of our votes in a republic.  For us, Joe’s critical paragraphs are:

Disappointment is the normal state for a voter in a democracy. But voters casting their lot with established political parties typically know which disappointments to expect.

The twist now is that insurgent voters can’t predict exactly how their unorthodox coalitions will let them down. Expect the big political story of the next few years to be what happens—for good or ill—when those voters find out. Emphasis added.

The bold part of the quote can be turned around because the non-insurgent voters can’t predict exactly how these coalitions will work for them.  Every voter should know that he is part of a coalition and that means disappointment.  Joe’s summary of the Trump coalition is as follows:

The [Donald’s] administration is stymied most often not by a loony liberal “resistance” but by the vicious jostling among the working-class, social-conservative, constitutional-conservative and anti-swamp elements of the unwieldy coalition of voters that propelled the president to victory.

We are not interested in counting “most often” or debating the exact nature of The Donald’s coalition but the critical point is that the different elements of every coalition have different priorities.  Thus, there are splits when the coalition tries to do things but the opposition remains steadfast.  To rework Mick and Keith for voting in a republic, you never get what you want but you might get something you need.

We are almost always disappointed with our votes in a republic and we get precious few positive surprises.  Everyone, but especially folks that are experienced with the political process must recognize the transactional nature of every vote in a republic.