Elections

Can Republicans Recapture the House in 2020?

Based on the elections that have been called, Democrats will have 225 seats in the next House. They are leading in five of the 13 remaining seats. Henry Olsen concludes, “Come 2020, the GOP will need to gain only a dozen or so seats to retake the House, a mark it can easily meet by focusing on working-class Democratic districts and some close, mixed seats that Republican candidates barely lost this week.”

Republicans have not, however, tended to pick up many House seats during presidential-election cycles, even when they win those presidential elections. In 1988 (George H. W. Bush’s election), they won two fewer seats than they had won in 1986; in 2000 (George W. Bush’s election), they won three fewer seats than the election before; and in 2016 (President Trump’s election), they won six fewer seats than they had in 2014. Republicans’ best presidential-election year since Reagan left office was in 1992 — they picked up nine seats between the 1991 and 1993 Congresses — which I’m guessing reflects both Bill Clinton’s winning election with a minority of the popular vote and the GOP’s gaining ground because of redistricting and reapportionment.

If Republicans gain a dozen seats between the start of this next Congress and the start of the one after that, it will be their best presidential-cycle performance since 1984 (when they won 15 more seats than they had won in 1982). That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it provides a sense of the scale of the challenge.

Oh, and the last time control of the House flipped back and forth in two successive elections? Republicans won a majority in 1952 (with Eisenhower’s first election) and then lost it in 1954.

Culture

Friday Links

“The War to End All Wars” ended 100 years ago, on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. Before it was Veterans Day it was Armistice Day, for the fallen of the First World War: Here’s some history.

Rome’s Heroes and America’s Founding Fathers.

The Little-Known Reason Pencils Are Yellow.

Advice on hair washing from the Twelfth and 17th centuries.

Football Physics: Newton, Einstein, and The Forces Behind Those Big Hits.

NASA has plans to probe Uranus in search of gas.

ICYMI, Monday’s links are here, and include how telegraph operators were the first to know news of the Civil War (which arrived in code), political maps of the United States from 1850 and 1880, Nazi werewolves, making whiskey and wine in a lab, and Guy Fawkes Day.

Religion

Sir Roger Scruton Is a Friend to Muslims and Jews

Sir Roger Scruton (Wikimedia Commons)

Sir Roger Scruton, the eminent British scholar, has faced a barrage of criticism ever since he took an advisory position in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Finding his view that beautiful architecture and surroundings ought to be available to the poor, rather than just the purview of the rich, impossible to argue against, they have decided to resort to character assassination instead.

Sir Roger, Labour and Lib Dem MPs charge, is a bigot, with a particular animus towards Jews and Muslims. To anyone who has read his writings or listened to his lectures, the accusation is absurd. But as a Muslim, I find it particularly offensive. 

Sir Roger has a long history of engagement with Muslims and with the culture of Islamic civilization. Unlike “interfaith” types, who tend to basically believe in nothing, Scruton is a believing Christian, but to Muslims, this is a feature, not a bug. That he would consider it a disaster if Britain’s secularization meant his own faith, the Church of England, died out and Islam became the primary religion of the country is understandable for any believer. If you believe something is the Truth, you desire its prominence. Muslims feel similar anguish at the state of Islam in the Muslim areas of the former Soviet bloc.

When I was young, we had a group of visitors from a nearby church visit the mosque’s Sunday school— the church turned out to be a “Unitarian Universalist” one, whose teacher replied to my question about their theology by explaining that, “Some of us follow an earth-based religion, some of us are atheists, and some believe in a god.” This, from a Muslim position, is just absurd; not because their theology differed from our own, but because there was no theology to speak of. (And it felt a little insulting to be considered “the same” as a belief that worships rocks!) There can be no real dialogue with someone who doesn’t believe in anything, and yet this has been the guiding principle of liberal “interfaith” discussion, to so water down the discourse that no one gets to encounter, let alone tolerate and appreciate, difference. 

No amount of “interfaith” will reconcile the unitary theology of Islam and Judaism with the Trinity, and attempts to do so are insulting. But if we aim instead to focus on what our civilizations and worldview have in common, what we can learn from each other, and what poses a threat to this, there is a lot that can be accomplished. Sir Roger has been at the forefront of exactly these efforts. He has spoken at Zaytuna College, an Islamic college in a California, on God in modern society, on the meaning of conservatism, and on “Sacred Truths in a Profane World”. He has worked with Syrian Muslim architect Marwa al-Sabouni (the subject of an upcoming profile by National Review’s Marlo Safi) in her attempts to restore her battle-torn nation’s built environment in a way that respects its centuries of Islamic heritage. Al-Sabouni, in turn, is working with Dr Scruton in his efforts for better housing in Britain.

Such exchange is not without precedent; Imam Ghazali influenced Maimonides, who influenced St. Thomas Aquinas. Both of the latter were influenced by Averroes. The flow of ideas was not inhibited by the fact that all staunchly held the theologies of their respective faiths, of which each are among the most important codifiers. And as traditional religion is threatened by the laïciste turn in liberal politics and culture, the need for believers to form what Islamic scholar Timothy Winter at Cambridge calls an alliance sacrée becomes increasingly important.

As Sir Roger writes,

As in all times of conflict and besiegement, the first need is for alliances, not only between people of faith but also between them and those who have lost their faith but not their values. Zaytuna College has set a welcome example with its excellent publication, Renovatio, in which the three revelations—the Judaic, the Christian, and the Islamic—are brought together in ways that show their intrinsic harmony, despite all the real differences.

Like HRH the Prince of Wales, who has spearheaded similar initiatives, Sir Roger Scruton engages with Islamic scholars as a Christian, from a place of respect and accepting difference, rather than an attitude that patronizes by waving it all away.

The politicians’ charge against Dr Scruton is clearly a distraction. Unable to muster real opposition to his idea that beauty should be accessible to all, which has public support, they resort to lies. Sir Roger’s own words lay out out the proper response:

In the face of this, we must show that the way of faith does not mean turning away from the secular reality. The true face of religion belongs to the re-enchantment of our injured civilization; faith is a way of filling all the spiritual spaces in our damaged world with the vision of a loving God, the God described in the Qur’an as al-Raĥmān al-Raĥīm.

In the face of lies, only truth will do.

Energy & Environment

Toward a Conservative Approach to Climate Policy

The Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in Royalton, Pa., May 30, 2017. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters )

For years, major U.S. environmental groups have resisted the conclusion that nuclear energy ought to play a central role in addressing climate change. This despite the enormous practical barriers to scaling renewable energy and the fact that the shuttering of nuclear power plants, a policy often championed by mainstream environmentalists, has typically been associated with increased reliance on carbon-intensive energy. But that’s changing. As Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute observes, the Union of Concerned Scientists has come out in support of the continued operation of existing nuclear power plants. That is not as far as I’d like them to go, of course, but it’s an important and encouraging step.

Because the Breakthrough Institute has long championed nuclear energy (one reason I’m a supporter), Nordhaus offers thoughts on what this development augurs. “For environmentalists,” he writes, “it is time not just to recognize the importance of nuclear energy but also that making it so is not someone else’s job. If you care about the climate, you need to care about nuclear energy.” He then offers a gentle admonishment to critics of mainstream environmentalism from the right:

For my conservative friends, it is time to demonstrate that your commitment to a nuclear future goes beyond trolling environmentalists over their climate hypocrisy.

Though I take Nordhaus’s point — trolling environmentalists will only take you so far — the deeper issue is that most conservatives aren’t terribly invested in climate policy. There’s this myth that opposition to carbon pricing is rooted in Big Oil lobbying. If anything, Big Oil is increasingly supportive of carbon pricing. (See ExxonMobil’s support for Americans for a Carbon Dividend, a group championing a carbon pricing plan that, for the record, I oppose.) The real driver of opposition to carbon pricing on the right is anti-tax sentiment, and as much as advocates talk of carbon tax swaps, the message doesn’t resonate if you see climate as a low-priority issue. Nuclear advocacy has gained more traction on the right, partly because the central issues there have been reducing barriers to nuclear innovation (deregulation) and boosting public investment in advanced nuclear technology (making sure America plays a leading role in a key industry). I suspect there’s a lesson here.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in the future. For now, I’ll close by linking to my post on Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s proposed carbon tax — a bill I wouldn’t endorse (the proposed tax is unpalatably high), but which deserves a close look. Alas, for conservatives who are invested in climate policy, Curbelo’s defeat in this week’s midterms is a sobering sign. In the closing weeks of the campaign, the Florida Republican made a valiant effort to portray himself as a more devoted environmentalist than his Democratic opponent. And who knows, maybe that helped him lose by a smaller margin than it did otherwise. But his defeat reminds us that climate policy isn’t a galvanizing issue for the vast majority of voters, so the incentives to stick your neck out are weak.

Elections

Florida’s Democracy Dies in Darkness

I keep seeing national journalists insisting that Florida must “count every vote!”  And, frankly, I’m completely perplexed as to why, given that nobody is suggesting that the vote-counting should be halted. On the contrary: Rick Scott is suing Broward and Palm Beach counties not because he wants them to start trashing good ballots, but because they are failing to release the information that they are obliged to release under Florida law. Scott’s demand is for transparency, not for closure, and, in the case of Broward, it’s being made against a county that is notoriously incompetent and a commissioner who has already been found in violation of state and federal law, who has a habit of destroying ballots, and who is already under state supervision. The Washington Post says that “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Aren’t we all supposed to agree?

Florida election law requires that:

(b) The canvassing board shall report all early voting and all tabulated vote-by-mail results to the Department of State within 30 minutes after the polls close. Thereafter, the canvassing board shall report, with the exception of provisional ballot results, updated precinct election results to the department at least every 45 minutes until all results are completely reported. The supervisor of elections shall notify the department immediately of any circumstances that do not permit periodic updates as required. Results shall be submitted in a format prescribed by the department

Neither Palm Beach County nor Broward County has followed these rules, which has led to widespread confusion and mistrust as the vote totals continue to be updated without anyone knowing the context, sources, or scope. That is the problem here — not some imaginary injunction to stop counting votes.

Disappointing as it must be to those who hope dearly to become heroes — hello, Paul Krugman — this isn’t Jim Crow and it isn’t even Bush v. Gore. Rather, it’s good old-fashioned incompetence, with some law-breaking thrown in for good measure. And the bad guy? I’m sorry to inform you that it isn’t Rick Scott, but the people he’s insisting are made to follow the rules.

Sports

We Have a Winner

An Army-Navy game in Philadelphia (Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports)

My Impromptus today is mainly about the elections — with a sprinkling of notes on music, language, and food. Also a note on Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who passed away on Wednesday. This genial man of letters was the chief book critic of the New York Times for many years, and then chief obituary writer. He was a friend of WFB, David Pryce-Jones, and others we know. Splendid company, he was (both in print and in person).

Some mail? Yesterday, I mentioned The Bad News Bears, the 1976 movie starring Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. It was a touchstone film for some of us. The movie is about baseball (Little League), and its soundtrack is, essentially, Bizet’s Carmen.

A reader writes, “I had a favorite phrase when I was coaching Little League baseball. When the boys would start missing plays and throwing the ball every which way while the other team circled the bases, I’d say, ‘Cue Carmen.’”

Perfect.

In my Impromptus on Monday, I had reason to write this: “How did ‘Jesus H. Christ’ ever come about? (‘Howard,’ perhaps? Lots of great Jewish kids had that name, once upon a time.)”

Many readers responded, many linking to Wikipedia, here. Something about “the divine monogram of Christian symbolism.” One reader wrote, “The old line I heard very many years ago was that the ‘H’ stands for ‘Hallmark,’ because God cared enough to send the very best.”

Finally, to the main purpose of this little Corner post. In that Monday Impromptus, I wrote,

A long time ago, I heard Bob Novak say something about a basketball game. (Novak was a basketball fanatic — especially college basketball.) He didn’t like either team. And he said, “That game’s like the Battle of Stalingrad for me.”

I have used that line many times. (Other people say “Iran-Iraq War.”) But what I need is a phrase with the exact opposite meaning. What do you say when you love both teams?

I did not necessarily love both teams in the recent World Series. But I loved the two pitchers on the mound for the final game (what proved to be the final game): David Price (Red Sox) and Clay Kershaw (Dodgers). These are two of my favorite pitchers and two of my favorite athletes.

Not the Battle of Stalingrad.

From readers, there were many nominations. “Bach vs. Beethoven.” “Stones vs. Beatles.” “Ice cream vs. cookies.” Several readers mentioned the Civil War: “The Battle of Gettysburg,” for example. That does not work for me, although I certainly understand why it does for others.

A few readers mentioned the War of 1812. One reader commented, “The two most liberty-loving countries in the world at the time. A terrible waste of blood and treasure.” Well said, but I still have a rooting interest, so to speak. A few readers said, “Falklands War.” Two U.S. allies. I understand — but I still have a rooting interest (not Galtieri).

“Mary vs. Martha” (!). “Kasparov vs. Deep Blue” (I was rooting for Garry!). “King Kong vs. Godzilla.” “How about Batman vs. Superman?” writes one reader. “A movie with that title came out a couple of years ago. I didn’t want to see it. My boyhood heroes, my friends, fighting each other.”

A reader writes, “This is probably for too narrow an audience, but Kirk vs. Spock in ‘Amok Time.’” He helpfully provides a Wikipedia link, here.

“Palmer vs. Nicklaus.” Yes, in retrospect, maybe — but most of us would have had a rooting interest at the time. “The Williams sisters at Wimbledon, at least from the father’s perspective.” That’s a good one.

The clear winner, at least for me? Many readers said, “The Army-Navy game,” or “Army vs. Navy.” Yes, yes. Thank you! Thank you all.

National Review

On the Plus Side

(Pixabay)

I’m a print guy. (That’s an expression you hear: “I’m a print guy.”) I write for print and I read print — i.e., newspapers and magazines, that I hold in my hand. Just as of old.

This is what I say. But I really should stop, because I do almost all my reading online — I can’t remember the last time I held a newspaper or magazine (though I enjoy it when I do) — and I write more for the Web than I do for print, so . . .

My rhetoric should catch up to reality.

Enough about me, though — what about you? National Review has a new membership service called NRPlus. Sign up here. You get the magazine — the print magazine — online. When you look at NRO, you get reduced advertisements. Vastly reduced. I know you want to support all our advertisers, but still . . . You get to join a Facebook group exclusive to NR readers. You converse in this group with NR writers and editors, as well as your fellow readers. You gain access to National Review’s vast archives. Etc.

This is a really good deal. It is sort of one-stop shopping, NR-wise. Is it good for NR? Yes, I think so — and also for the consumer, the reader, the participant. Win-win, as in a blessed market. Again, the key link is here.

Politics & Policy

We Don’t Know How to Stop Mass Shootings

People at the procession for the Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., November 8, 2018. (Ringo Chiu/REUTERS)

This morning, we received news of yet another mass shooting, this time in California. That’s twelve more lives lost, added to the eleven lives just lost in Pittsburgh. In the 13 months since the horrifying massacre in Las Vegas, we’ve also seen mass shootings at a church in Texas and high schools in Texas and Florida.

It’s time to face facts. At this moment in American history, we don’t know how to stop — or even seriously reduce — mass shootings.

Yes, we’ll of course have the familiar fight over gun control and the NRA. The New York Times referred to the California shooting in the introduction of an extensive article about the evolution of the NRA. Yet the NRA has been thoroughly routed in California. Its gun-control regime exceeds even the dreams of most national Democrats. This Dana Loesch tweet provides a good summary:

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I keep going back to Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal 2015 essay about school shootings. At the risk of oversimplifying Gladwell’s argument, he argues that each mass shooting lowers the threshold for the next. In essence, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with the Columbine massacre in many ways the key triggering event — especially in the school-shooting context. As the “riot” unfolds, more people consider committing mass murder as a way of addressing their grievances. Here was Gladwell’s conclusion:

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

Now we’re seeing mass shooting after mass shooting, with a wide variety of motives in virtually every conceivable American gun-control jurisdiction — in states strict and lax. These mass shootings still represent a tiny fraction of overall violent deaths in the United States, but each one is a wrenching national tragedy.

And, even worse, they’re filtered through a polarized political environment where proposed “solutions” either have little relevance to the actual shootings themselves or are at best partial and uncertain. For example, while I support concealed carry by law-abiding citizens and know that armed citizens have foiled multiple attempted shootings, I view the presence of more concealed carriers as at best a potential mitigating factor. Even the fortunate presence of armed citizens doesn’t by any means guarantee a positive outcome. People can freeze. People can miss. A gunman can take down the armed citizen first.

The bottom line is that our nation is generating an excess of broken, damaged people, and at this point in American history, all too many members of that community are drawn to a specific, horrific way of inflicting pain on their neighbors and sometimes even their friends.

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., shootings, Senator Marco Rubio suggested a “national task force” to examine mass shootings. It’s an idea worth considering. And for those conservatives who roll their eyes at the idea of a panel of government-appointed “experts,” there is at least value in doing a deep dive into the motives and methods of mass shooters. Information can yield ideas. Until then, we’ll spend our days yelling at each other about policy proposals that will make no real difference in a terrible crisis that claims all too many American lives.

Economy & Business

When State Universities and Businesses Gang Up on the Taxpayers

Arizona State University junior Austin Mulshine at the ASU Palo Verde West polling station in Tempe, Ariz., November 6, 2018. (Lindsey Wasson/REUTERS)

State universities are supposed to help educate the citizens and receive tax-exempt status toward that end. But sometimes scheming business people figure out how to “partner” with such universities to take advantage of their tax exemption. Sweet for them, but it shifts their tax burden to the rest of society.

In yesterday’s Martin Center article, Sean McCarthy of the Arizona Tax Research Association explains how this has been done in his state, with Arizona State University providing the tax-exempt basis for business development.

McCarthy writes: “In Arizona, the university system has a cavalier attitude regarding the use of its tax-exempt status. In one glaring example, the state’s largest commercial office development, built in 2016 and anchored by State Farm Insurance, pays no property taxes and will not for 99 years, thanks to a tax avoidance scheme developed by Arizona State University (ASU). The 2.2 million-square-foot glass complex in Tempe is technically owned by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) and resides on their land; however, the effective owner is Transwestern Investment Group, which leases it to State Farm.”

Arrangements of this kind are both unfair and possibly illegal. McCarthy explains, “The deals also give their recipients an unfair edge over competitors. The State Farm office complex will certainly provide more revenue to ASU than the school would have received had the land remained a parking lot for students. But what of State Farm’s competitors down the street who pay full property taxes, supporting the local public schools to their economic disadvantage? Beyond fairness, the state Constitution requires that taxes be general and uniform among similar classes to prevent favoritism.”

If you live in Arizona, you should be upset over this abuse of ASU’s tax-exempt status. If you live in another state, you should be alert to the possibility that something similar is happening with one or more of your state universities.

McCarthy’s conclusion is right on target: “After decades of backroom deals that encouraged graft and corruption, transparency and accountability for tax incentives have become the minimum expectation around the country. The idea that cities and counties must jump through significant legal hoops to grant incentives while universities can simply use their private foundations to do the same is a troubling development”.

 

Religion

New Conscience Exemption to Contraception Mandate

Sister Loraine McGuire with Little Sisters of the Poor after the Supreme Court heard Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal demanding exemption from providing insurance covering contraception, in Washington, D.C., March 23, 2016. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

The Obama Administration went to war with religious dissenters to its HHS rule that required most employers to provide free insurance coverage of contraceptives and the morning after pill. This led to the ridiculous circumstance in which the feds litigated against nuns and to a big Supreme Court loss for Obama in the Hobby Lobby ruling under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

President Trump issued an executive order in May 2017 requiring HHS to reconsider the very narrow conscience exemption its regulations allowed.  That order has now borne fruit. HHS will issue two final rules revising the contraception mandate to relieve those with religious and moral objections from compelled contraceptive insurance coverage.

From the press release: 

The first of today’s final rules provides an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to services covered by the mandate on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. The second final rule provides protections to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that have non-religious moral convictions opposing services covered by the mandate.

The religious and moral exemptions provided by these rules also apply to institutions of education, issuers, and individuals.

The Departments are not extending the moral exemption to publicly traded businesses, or either exemption to government entities.

That last bit makes great sense. A publicly traded company cannot possibly have a religious or moral position on the question, since its owners are stockholders who will each have different views. And government cannot promote a religious perspective as this would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

This is elementary politics and really something the Obama Administration should have allowed from the beginning. Indeed, I believe the naked hostility exhibited by Obama’s HHS to religious liberty contributed mightily to the election of President Trump.  Hillary Clinton would probably have been even more hostile than Obama, which I think, c0nvinced many Christians to vote for Trump–not exactly a man known for personal moral probity–out of sheer self defense.

Demonstrating the point, the accompanying fact sheet states that only about 200 employers of 6400 women will be affected. Granting those companies a conscience exemption in the first place would have saved Obama and the Democrats a lot of grief.

Politics & Policy

Voting Out Your Nose to Spite Your Face

President Trump holds a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., November 7, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

Max Boot laments that the GOP House caucus will now be Trumpier because the Republicans who lost tended to be the ones who were least supportive of Trump.

Boot is largely right (I’ve been predicting exactly this for months, though the idea is hardly original to me).

Still, this case can be overstated — as Trump himself showed yesterday in his press conference. For example, Katie Arrington primaried Trump-skeptical congressman Mark Sanford on the grounds that he was insufficiently loyal to the president. She lost on Tuesday, giving the Democrats what should be a solid Republican seat. The reverse is overstated as well. The notion that Barbara Comstock would have won if only she had embraced Trump is ridiculous.

Regardless, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, this is what you get when people act as if we live in a parliamentary system. Support the leader of the ruling party, vote for the party, regardless of the individual merits of the person on the ballot. Ditto, if you oppose the leader. Let’s leave aside the veracity of Boot’s larger indictment of the GOP. If you think it’s bad for the country if the GOP were to become — in Max’s telling — a “white nationalist” party, shouldn’t you vote for the Republicans who would fight back against that? As I wrote the other night, I get the argument about sending Trump a message, but there is more than one way to send that message. Voting against the Republicans who stand-up to Trumpism sends a useful message, too. Voting them out of office merely hastens the transformation Boot laments.

Elections

Florida, by the Numbers

Democratic Florida gubernatorial nominee and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum concedes the race to Rep. Ron DeSantis in Tallahassee, Fla., November 6, 2018. (Colin Hackley/REUTERS)

As we head toward some recounts here in Florida, Politico reports that the county that brought you Bush v. Gore is destined to be at the center of the drama:

What is becoming the focus as the margins close is Broward County, a South Florida Democratic stronghold that has long been the catalyst for Florida-based election woes. Most recently, Democratic Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes was found in May to have broken state and federal law by destroying ballots cast in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s 2016 Democratic primary race. As a result, Snipes’ office was already under additional monitoring headed into the elections.

Fat lot of good that did:

In Broward County, the epicenter of the 2000 presidential recount, election officials don’t even know how many ballots are left to count.

“I think you would have to ask them [Broward County],” said Marc Elias, a Democratic election law attorney hired to lead Nelson’s recount fight. “I don’t know. They are still counting in Broward County.”

How many ballots we are talking about is unknown, though, per Politico, “there are some clues that indicate tens-of-thousands could be left.”

At present, Ron DeSantis is ahead of Andrew Gillum by around 43,000 voters (0.52 percentage points), while Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson by around 22,000 (0.27 percentage points). If those numbers remain true, DeSantis will avoid a recount entirely, while Scott’s race will be recounted by machine, but not manually.

And if they don’t? Well, that depends on what “tens-of-thousands” means. I ran some numbers and found that if the remaining votes in Broward County followed the pattern of the existing votes, Andrew Gillum would need 113,000 more returned ballots in order to win, while Nelson would need 58,000.

Further complicating things, Palm Beach County also seems to have some mail ballots left to count. I also ran those numbers and found that if the remaining votes there followed the existing ratio, Andrew Gillum would need 253,000 more ballots in order to win, while Nelson would need 129,000.

(Naturally, this Palm Beach number assumes no extra votes being found in Broward — and vice-versa. If, for the sake of argument, we assume half the extra ballots come from Broward and half from Palm Beach, Gillum would need 183,000 and Nelson would need 93,000.)

As for the recounts: Were both races to be re-checked, Andrew Gillum would need a net flip of just over 20,000 votes in order to prevail, while Bill Nelson would need a net flip of 11,000.

Politics & Policy

There’s No Good Reason to Harass Tucker Carlson’s Family

Fox personality Tucker Carlson speaks at a Business Insider conference in New York, N.Y., November 30, 2017. (Lucas Jackson/REUTERS)

Perhaps it’s the soft bigotry of low expectations, but it has been heartening to see a range of media figures denouncing the harassment of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s family at their home by a group of self-described “anti-fascists,” which NRO’s indefatigable Jack Crowe covered last night.

Carlson is one of the most widely known opinion journalists in America, and he’s not one to shy away from controversial subjects. What I’ve found, though, is that he is deeply interested in opposing views. He routinely hosts guests with whom he vehemently disagrees. Critics note that he can be hard on said guests. Yet it is also the case that his aggressive interviewing technique often turns out rather well for the guests with whom he’s parrying — it is not at all uncommon for his left-liberal or libertarian guests to share on social media clips of their exchanges with Carlson, as if to celebrate the fact that they had entered the lion’s den and, perhaps, scored a point or two in the process. One old friend of mine, an experienced liberal journalist and a staunch believer in increasing immigration levels, had just such an experience a year ago. My friend came on Carlson’s show swinging, and he was quite satisfied with how it all turned out. Is this because Carlson somehow made a miscalculation? Not at all. He recognizes that when you’re having a spirited exchange, you’re not always going to come out on top, and that’s okay. That is the high-wire act that can make short-form televised debate so compelling.

This all occurs to me because Carlson has even had guests on his program who share the putatively anti-fascist politics of the people who broke the door of his family home this week in the hopes of inspiring terror and dread, and in doing so he introduced their ideas to a large audience. He’s had these guests on his program because he believes that it is good and right to debate people with whom you disagree. Honestly, he goes further than I would in this regard. There are lots of folks I choose not to engage at all. And no, he’s not always warm and welcoming. But he does give his political opponents a valuable platform, one that in some cases has helped propel his supposed punching bags into minor pundit stardom. What he does not do is threaten their families.

Some have argued that Carlson’s support for immigration enforcement, for example, justifies terrorizing his family, as many unauthorized immigrants fear the prospect of removal from U.S. soil. Consider that this argument, if taken seriously, would justify terrorizing a rather large share of the U.S. population. I recently observed that a large proportion of Americans oppose granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants on rule-of-law grounds, or what a group of political scientists refer to as “rigid moralistic convictions about the importance of strict adherence to rules and laws.” How many American adults fall into this category? It depends on the survey in question, but a conservative estimate is that it’s around one in four. This was true long before Carlson became a Fox News host. Yet Carlson is, in effect, serving as a stand-in for this large and diverse group of people, who are drawn from a range of different ethnic backgrounds, occupations, and neighborhoods, some of whom are native-born and some of whom are foreign-born. Not all of these people are vocal about their political views. But it is sobering to think that at least some of their fellow citizens believe that their moral convictions about the rule of law make them fair game.

World

Stephenses, Simpsons, and Others

Characters from The Simpsons pose for photographers at the premiere of The Simpsons Movie in Springfield, Vt., in 2007. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Bret Stephens, a columnist for the New York Times, is my latest guest on Q&A, here. A superb guest he is. Before moving to the Times, he was for many years an editor and columnist at the Wall Street Journal. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary — eminently deserved. When he was practically a youth, he was the editor of the Jerusalem Post. And, speaking of youth, he grew up in Mexico City (all-American though he is).

In our Q&A, we talk about Mexico, and about Latin America in general — including Brazil, which has just elected a strongman, or would-be strongman. We further talk about the Middle East, including Israel, including Saudi Arabia. Is Saudi Arabia truly necessary as an American ally? Bret says that the game has changed, and he can sum up the change in one word: “fracking.” Beautiful, important word.

We also get into China, Russia, populism, nationalism, and other pressing issues of the day. We even touch on an issue past, though still fresh: the Kavanaugh nomination (and confirmation).

I’ve known Bret Stephens for a long time, and he is one of the most pro-American, most patriotic people I know. We end our discussion with America and its future. He says that his faith in the country is “limitless,” and that we have great “regenerative powers.”

His wife, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, is Bret’s fellow Timesman, a classical-music critic. His tastes run toward Zeppelin rather than Zemlinsky. In any case, let’s go to the opera for a second. It’ll be painless.

Yesterday, I had a review of Carmen, performed at the Met. I ended this review with a couple of pop-cultural references. Do yourself a favor and click on the Simpsons link, will you? Best thing I ever saw, almost.

So, another night, another Carmen. What a masterpiece, by the way — unstalable. I said to a young friend, “Did you ever see The Bad News Bears?” This was a 1976 movie, starring Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. Its soundtrack was Carmen. Many — millions? — learned the opera that way, or at least heard some of its music.

My friend countered with, “How about The Simpsons?” He meant this — which is great. Immortal.

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