MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The Democrats devoted little attention to the unborn in debate this week. But one candidate was a bit surprising.
GABBARD: I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she’s correct.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday. Plus Megan Basham reviews HBO’s comedy about depression.
And Word Play with George Grant.
REICHARD: It’s Friday, October 18th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Pence announces ceasefire in Syria » Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday announced a ceasefire in Syria. That came after hours of face-to-face meetings in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
PENCE: It will be a pause in military operations for 120 hours while the United States facilitates the withdrawal of YPG from the affected areas in the safezone, and once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire.
“YPG” refers to America’s Kurdish allies in the region.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say we’ll believe it when we see it. And they note that Turkey did not agree to leave Syria.
But one of the harshest critics of the troop withdrawal in northern Syria, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said he’ll “give it a chance.”
GRAHAM: Whether it results in peace, I don’t know. But I think this may be a breakthrough we can build upon.
Earlier in the day, Graham introduced a bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen to hit Turkey with additional sanctions.
Perry stepping down as energy secretary » Energy Secretary Rick Perry has notified President Trump that he intends to leave his job soon. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Perry traveled with the president to Texas on Thursday and shared the news aboard Air Force One.
His departure had been rumored for months, though he denied reports he was planning to leave in a Wall Street Journal interview Wednesday.
Perry is under scrutiny from House Democrats for his role in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland on Thursday spoke to lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry. He said President Trump directed him, Perry, and special envoy Kurt Volker to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine policy.
Sondland said he wasn’t happy about that. He also said the president told him there would be no quid pro quo.
And the ambassador stated firmly that it would be wrong to hold back aid to pressure a foreign government to conduct investigations to sway U.S. elections. He said he would never participate “in such undertakings.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Washington mourns the loss of Rep. Elijah Cummings » Capitol flags are flying at half-staff today as Washington mourns the loss of Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. His office said the 68-year-old Democrat died Thursday of “complications concerning longstanding health problems.”
Cummings had been hoping to return to Congress after an unspecified medical procedure. He only expected to be away for a week.
Maryland Senator Steny Hoyer said in a time of increasingly angry rhetoric, Cummings was a beacon of civility.
HOYER: He would say to all of us in a loving way, we are better than this.
President Trump clashed fiercely with Cummings but tweeted his condolences on Thursday. And White House spokesman Hogan Gidley called it a “sad day for this country.”
GIDLEY: He is an icon. He is a formidable political foe, but he has been serving this country for a long time and he is to be revered.
Cummings chaired the powerful House Oversight Committee. It is one of the panels leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Cummings won election to Congress in 1996 after serving more than a decade in Maryland’s House of Delegates.
Prosecutors: Retailer broke law by selling rifle in Texas attack » Federal prosecutors says a sporting goods retailer broke the law by selling an AR-15-style rifle and large capacity magazine to the man who later used them to kill more than two dozen worshippers at a Texas church.
The gunman in the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting presented a Colorado driver’s license at an Academy Sports and Outdoors store.
Federal prosecutor Paul David Stern said “Academy was not permitted to sell” him that rifle because it “would have been illegal in Colorado.”
The Justice Department wants to add Academy as a responsible third party in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
British prime minister pitching newly struck Brexit deal to lawmakers » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a tentative Bexit deal in hand after talks with EU officials.
Leo Varadkar is Prime Minister of Ireland. It’s member of the EU. Varadkar said the agreement provides a reasonable fix for the key sticking point—managing the border between his country and the UK’s Northern Ireland.
VARADKAR: Creates a unique solution for Northern Ireland, recognizing the unique history and geography of Northern Ireland, one which ensures there is no hard border between North and South, one which allows the all island economy to continue to develop.
The proposal would keep Northern Ireland within the EU single market for goods and eliminate custom checks at the border with Ireland. After four years, Northern Ireland would get the chance to vote on whether to continue the arrangement.
EU leaders unanimously approved the deal, but Boris Johnson still has to sell British lawmakers on the plan.
JOHNSON: Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together to work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive, both for the UK and for the EU.
It’s unclear if Johnson can secure the needed votes. After he announced the deal, a chorus of British party leaders immediately said they would vote against it.
Global sting operation nets hundreds of child pornography suspects » A massive worldwide sting operation led to the arrests of hundreds of suspects tied to a child pornography website. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The global law enforcement effort netted more than 300 suspects in numerous countries. In the process, officials rescued 23 children from their abusers in the United States, the UK, and Spain.
The operation came to light this week after the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against a 23-year-old South Korean man. Prosecutors say Jong Woo Son operated the world’s largest child sexual exploitation market—an encrypted darknet website called “welcome to video.”
It was among the first to sell child abuse content using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. That made tracking the transactions difficult but not impossible. Investigators seized data from the website’s servers and traced the transactions to find the website’s users.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the Democratic presidential candidates debate abortion. Plus, a once-popular form of hyperbole you don’t hear much any more. This is The World and Everything in It.
REICHARD: It’s Friday, October 18th, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Democratic candidates for president debated this week and I counted in the transcript 30,000 words. Most of the words were about President Trump and impeachment. President Trump and his policies. President Trump and even Hunter Biden.
Also, we learned who the new frontrunner is—judging by which candidate was on the receiving end of the attacks of others on the stage. And that would be Elizabeth Warren now.
But in that lengthy debate were just 10 minutes devoted to abortion and that did not get a lot of attention. It was certainly worth noting, though, and today we will give it some attention.
REICHARD: It’s Culture Friday and John Stonestreet is here. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning!
EICHER: I listened a couple of times to all the Democrats’ comments on abortion, John, and I picked three that I thought were most significant. They all basically agree with one another, but I think there were a few that stood out.
Let’s begin with Senator Kamala Harris of California.
REICHARD: And before we get to that clip of Senator Harris: she’s going to talk about “preclearance” by the federal government of certain state laws. There is a history for this, for example, certain southern states had to get preclearance of laws they wanted to pass concerned with voting. The Supreme Court eventually struck that down. But what Senator Harris is suggesting is a dramatic departure from abortion jurisprudence. Here she is:
HARRIS: For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect. That’s called pre-clearance.
EICHER: I’m not going to play sound from Elizabeth Warren, but it was interesting to me that she didn’t take this sort of approach. Obviously she’s very much in favor of abortion, but she said she wanted to firm up the abortion right democratically. Harris took the opposite view here. What do you think?
STONESTREET: She does take the opposite view and she takes a view that’s completely out of step with the American, larger American people and where they are on this particular issue. And that’s what we’ve seen more and more from the entire Democratic party with, you know, I think one exception on the stage the other night. I mean, look, this won’t stand. It’s actually not possible for Senator Harris—if she becomes president—to actually pull this off. It’s trying to put abortion in the same category of, well, she says it in her line. You know, that violates the Constitution and in particular Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade is not in the Constitution. Abortion is not in the Constitution. It was something that was legislated by the Supreme Court in Roe.
So, it was interesting that she said this. It’s an impossible thing for her to actually accomplish if she does become president.
EICHER: Let’s listen now to Joe Biden. He has a very long career in Washington, and I found this interesting because it was more traditional. He cited his experience and specifically his effort to stop President Reagan’s nominee Robert Bork and the result that Anthony Kennedy joined the court in his place.
BIDEN: I want to point out that the justices I’ve supported, when I defeated Robert Bork—and I say when I defeated Robert Bork, I made sure we guaranteed a woman’s right to choose for the better part of a generation. I would make sure that we move and insist that we pass, we codify Roe v. Wade.
REICHARD: In other words, because he defeated Bork and held out for Kennedy, the abortion right essentially held steady on the high court for three decades. That’s Biden talking about his ability to get results.
STONESTREET: Well, yeah, I mean, decades ago. Look, he was the vice president since then and I think it’s interesting—this is why, by the way, and I know we’re supposed to have a conversation about abortion and not politics but this is why Elizabeth Warren is a new front runner and Joe Biden isn’t—is he’s pointing back to accomplishments from the Reagan administration.
And, you know what, the fact of the matter is that was a huge thing. Having Kennedy instead of Robert Bork did ensure that Roe v. Wade wasn’t in play. Right now Roe v. Wade is in play. And Roe v. Wade is in play because the court has dramatically shifted and, politically speaking, Biden has not at any level communicated to his base or to the Democratic base that he’s still able to pull off the sort of things that he’s claiming victory for, you know, before many people were even alive.
And, look, most of the voters now that are going to move this—and this is, I think, what we see this energy coming—where the energy’s coming into the Democratic party from these younger folks. They’re coming from younger people. They don’t remember Bork. They don’t even remember Reagan for heaven’s sake.
EICHER: All right, now last, a little daylight between abortion on demand, all the time, any reason, no reason: Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii. She brought back a phrase we haven’t heard in awhile.
GABBARD: I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she’s correct. I do, however, think that there should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.
Again, significant, because this is not nearly enough to get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood or the National Abortion Rights Action League. And to the contrary, it may be enough to earn their opposition. That’s a departure from orthodoxy by Congresswoman Gabbard.
STONESTREET: It’s stunning to me that this is kind of a new conservative position from the Democratic party on abortion. Safe, legal, and rare was the left part of the party not that long ago. And then there were pro-life Democrats. And now this is not only the kind of conservative position within the Democratic party, it’s the basically unwinnable position of the Democratic party. Listen, Tulsi Gabbard is not going to be the nominee. If she were, she’d have to move on this in order to secure those sorts of endorsements. But, again, this was the mainstream position just yesterday, culturally speaking.
And that just tells you two things. Number one is that those on the left side of the political spectrum have dramatically moved on the abortion issue. They have gotten more radical on this. What that has done, number two, is basically encouraged an industry in these districts where they’re in charge to go unregulated. And, third, it’s just out of step. It’s out of step with the entire world. The positions that the Democratic candidates are presenting—other than Tulsi Gabbard—are basically to the progressive left of most nations in the world. It’s not, specifically, where America is. America has moved more conservative on this issue and this tells you just how out of step the Democrats are on this one.
EICHER: John, we did not get a chance to talk about this last week, but a week ago—more than a week ago, now—the Democrats had a town hall on “equality.” And I know you had some thoughts on that. So let’s talk about that before we let you go. What do you think was most significant in that town hall?
STONESTREET: First of all, I think what was said and what happened at that town hall was more significant than what happened in the debate. And here’s why: first of all, during that kind of same time frame—after we heard the language come out of each and every one of the mouths of the candidates in this town hall as they interact on issues of LGBTQ issues and equality and so on—was completely diametrically opposed to the speech given by the U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr at Notre Dame this past week, which was a remarkable understanding of the significance, purpose, and reason we have the First Amendment and specifically when it comes to religious freedom. Basically you had a complete line-up of Democratic candidates replacing the First Amendment—from free speech association and religion, to basically sexual freedom. And that’s what you heard. Religious freedom was put in scare quotes and so on.
The second thing, though, that I want to point out, Nick, was something that I found to be absolutely remarkable. It was a particular scene in which an African-American woman had a microphone, was scheduled to ask a question, and she stood there beside her child. And a man ran out of the audience dressed as a woman, grabbed the mic, stole it from her, stole her time, and then ran to the front of the room and started to rant and rave. Yelling. I mean, listen, we’ve all been at Q&As where this sort of thing happens, where someone literally becomes unhinged. And what happens is, you know, security takes over. And what the moderator is trained to do is to get the mic out of their hand as soon as possible. Well, the CNN anchor hosting the event succeeded. Did what he was trained to do. Got the mic out of this person’s hand. But you could see in his face the, ‘Oh, I just silenced a transgender person.’ And he gives the mic back to the ranting, raving person who—if it were any other situation—would have been arrested, would have been at least escorted out of the room. Now, I bring this up not because of even what happened and what was said. I bring this up because it’s another example right now of how the rules simply don’t apply to those who identify as transgender, especially men who want to identify as women.
We hear all this stuff today about toxic masculinity. About how men are basically stealing from women, taking kind of women’s positions, keeping women silenced and oppressed, and I thought to myself when I saw that, ‘That is the most clear example of toxic masculinity that I have seen in a long time.’ A man stealing time and a voice from a woman. And it’s just like a man stealing a woman’s college scholarship and a man stealing a woman’s small business loan because she’s a woman and he wants to identify—he’s a man identifying as women.
REICHARD: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. John, thanks!
REICHARD: Gotta pumpkin patch? Well, you could win $15,000 in the annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh Off. W-e-i-g-h. We’re trying to quantify how big these things are.
So how heavy a squash do you think we’re talking here?
Twice that? A thousand pounds?!
Nope! Double that again! World champion pumpkins usually top 2,000 pounds! A whole ton.
Cindy Tobeck was a grand champion pumpkin grower in 2016. She told KTVU that growing monster pumpkins is not easy.
TOBECK: I’m building greenhouses. I’m putting soil heating cables in the ground, ambient light for the pumpkins in the greenhouses.
She said while it’s hard work it is—in her avid gardener’s words—“crazy fun” to watch them grow.
TOBECK: It’s amazing. In August, they can grow 40 or 50 pounds a day! That’s like two pounds an hour! I can’t think of anything else that does something like that.
This year’s winner trucked in a pumpkin weighing 2,175 pounds.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
REICHARD: Today is Friday, October 18th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a new HBO comedy special that tackles a topic you’d think isn’t exactly natural fodder for laughs.
It’s called The Great Depresh. D-E-P-R-E-S-H. Depresh. Meaning, depression.
Here’s WORLD’s movie maven Megan Basham.
MEGAN BASHAM, REVIEWER: I first saw Gary Gulman in 2004 on the NBC comedy competition, Last Comic Standing. The former Division I college football player stood at six-foot-six with broad shoulders, thick, dark hair; and a chiseled jawline. My husband and I shared a brief eye roll, assuming Gulman had made the cut based on his looks—not unusual for reality TV. But then he launched into his act. And his performance, if a little unpolished, was truly funny. It was marked by silly, relatable riffs like his mother, uh, embellishing, the Ten Commandments.
CLIP: We weren’t raised incredibly religious. My mother taught us everything we knew about being Jewish. And a lot of the stuff, turns out, wasn’t even—she would say things were against our religion when really they were just bad for the carpet. Cause I scoured the Old Testament looking for something about, uh, Thou Shalt Not Finger Paint. But there was nothing about that. And Moses wandered the desert for 40 years because he played wiffle ball in the living room.
Every time I came across Gulman after that it seemed his career was going from success to success. He had guest appearances on Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and all the other late night talk shows. He was headlining clubs all over the country. And he was starring in his own comedy specials on Comedy Central and Netflix.
His latest special is a hybrid stand-up act/documentary on HBO. And it proves just how deceiving outward trappings can be. Beneath his prosperous, likeable exterior, Gulman had sunk into a pit of despair. Like certain a Old Testament king, he felt his life had become an exercise in futility. In The Great Depresh, Gulman comes clean about that pain. And, ingeniously, he offers audiences a way to laugh about it with him.
CLIP: I just went on suffering silently which was the only thing you could do back then. The only anti-depressants we had access to in the 1970s and 80s pretty much was, “Snap out of it” and “What do you have to be depressed about?” That was the second leading brand of antidepressant.
As Gulman stands alone on stage discussing the crippling depression that landed him in a psychiatric ward, it’s both heart-breaking and some of the funniest work he’s ever done.
CLIP: It’s interesting because millennials take so much flak. So much guff. Flak as well as guff. I don’t know which irritates me more. The flak or the guff. From middle-aged men talking about participation trophies. Their argument is how are they gonna learn how to lose, how are they going to learn how to lose? Oh, they’ll get some practice. You familiar at all with life? Oh it’s mostly losing. My twenties—a losing streak that embarrass the Browns.
Gulman, who is Jewish, doesn’t talk about God in The Great Depresh. But he has in previous specials. During interviews he mentions praying fairly frequently. His comedy has always been on the milder end of the stand-up spectrum. And he told one Jewish magazine that his faith was one reason his act has grown cleaner as his career has progressed. The only instance of profanity in this special is when another comedian blurts an f-bomb during an unscripted conversation.
As we’ve seen with some recent, high-profile losses in the church, Christians also aren’t immune from mental illness. And the black thinking Gulman describes during impromptu exchanges with his wife, his mom, and other comics, will likely remind believing viewers of a friend, family member, or perhaps themselves.
CLIP: Yeah because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to earn a living to pay my rent. And when you’re depressed you catastrophize and you think, I’m going to be homeless. Not thinking that, worst case I could live in your shed. Yeah. I mean, the way you paused when I put out living in your shed. Was the shed not open to me? No, the shed’s open to you. I was just thinking how much I would have to charge you. Because I couldn’t just give it to you for free. I’d have to give you goals. Right. It’s funny because I didn’t know I had depression until a few years ago. I just thought that’s how everybody is. You get great at something and then you feel good about yourself. That’s the reward. And then you get great at something and you’re like, I still feel the same.
Part of the problem is a culture—and sometimes even a church—that idolizes positivity and preaches a gospel of success. It’s no surprise then that so many hurting believers find their faith questioned if they reveal struggles like Gulman’s. As if Elijah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and many other Biblical figures didn’t lament with the psalmist, “Darkness is my closest friend.”
As Scottish Pastor Martyn Llloyd Jones wrote in 1965, “There is nothing more futile, when dealing with [depression], than to act on the assumption that all Christians are identical in every respect.” Years before his time, Jones also pointed out that while the condition has, at root, a spiritual component, it can also have physical causes. Some brain—even faithful, Bible-believing brains—just seem wired for introspection and melancholy. And God uses that personality, too, to build His kingdom. Just ask Charles Spurgeon. Or John Piper.
And though Gulman isn’t a Christian, his experiences offer insight, along with laughs, for a church that must do a better job caring for its own. Along with medication, he says he made the biggest strides when he felt he could be open about his struggles. Whether it be sin or suffering, man wasn’t made to bear burdens alone. To borrow from King David, when we keep silent, our bones waste away.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: Today is Friday, October 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time now for Word Play, and this month George Grant tells us about a kind of exaggeration that I have to confess I used a lot when my kids were young.
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: An Adynaton is a kind of hyperbole, though in its most extreme form—exaggerated from fantastic incredulity to utter impossibility. It is from a Greek word that means “exceedingly improbable,” “wildly impractical,” or “altogether impossible.” It is a rhetorical device used to heighten, embellish, or amplify a contrast or comparison.
We’re using adynaton when we say, “It is raining cats and dogs.” Or, “I am so hungry I could eat a horse.” Or, “That’ll happen when Hell freezes over.” Or, “It’s like pulling hen’s teeth.” Or, “It’s slower than molasses in January.” Or, “That’s harder than herding cats.”
Adynaton is a common feature in traditional legends, folklore, riddles, and proverbs—and was often used by Medieval troubadours and jongleurs in their romantic ballads, boasting of the unending, undying power of love.
The Roman philosopher Seneca ably used adynaton asserting, “One can expect agreement between philosophers sooner than between clocks.” And, Plutarch’s “Eclogue” contains a list of ancient proverbs—the first section of which he calls, “Impossibilia,” sayings that turn on adynaton.
Though some commentators have attempted to find alternate interpretations, it is likely that Jesus was using adynaton in Mark 10, saying, “‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
The disciples were exceedingly astonished, and said to Him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus said, ‘with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.’”
Shakespeare used adynaton to emphasize the weight of guilt felt by Macbeth. Following his murder of King Duncan, he declared even the oceans were insufficient to wash the blood from his hands: “Whence is that knocking? How is it with me when every noise appalls me? What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? Alas, no.”
The other day, I was reading a picture-book to my grandchildren and came across this delightful string of adynatons: “It was a week of four Thursdays and the pig in yellow slippers climbed up the pear tree.”
Though not used as often as it once was, surely adynaton remains useful. How else can we appropriately describe the possibility of civil political discourse or the prospects for bipartisanship than to assert: “when pigs fly!”
For WORLD Radio, I’m George Grant.
EICHER: Well, it’s that time to thank the hardworking team who brought you the program this week:
Megan Basham, Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, George Grant, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Andree Seu Peterson, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
REICHARD: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early. J.C. Derrick is managing editor and Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief.
Quick reminder if you are near Nashville: exactly one week before Thanksgiving, The World and Everything in It Live is coming to Music City! It’s free, but you do need to register. Just go to worldandeverything.org, look for the “engage” tab, then click “live events.” All you need is right there.
I hope you have a restful weekend, and we’ll talk to you again on Monday.