MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
State and local lockdowns that reflect personal preferences of politicians rather than constitutional analysis is coming to light.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also today, the Monday Moneybeat—living, working, investing, and spending—can that coexist with uncertainties around the coronavirus?
Plus, the WORLD History Book. Today, the end of a 17-day hostage situation in Lebanon.
And Trillia Newbell on where to find true hope.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, June 29th. 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: Coronavirus cases surpass 2.5 million in United States » The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday. That as new hot spots are emerging from Arizona to Florida.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told NBC’s Meet the Press…
AZAR: We’re seeing surging in cases in counties, especially in the southern parts of the United States. We’ve gotten reports from our governors that the majority of the positive cases we’re seeing are age 35 and under. A large number of those are going to be asymptomatic.
Georgia is the latest southern state to break daily case records. On Friday, Georgia set a new record with 1,900 new cases and then broke that record the next day with nearly 2,000.
That came as the United States hit an all-time high of 40,000 new cases on Friday.
In Texas, Vice President Mike Pence joined Governor Greg Abbott at a news conference in Dallas Sunday. Pence said it’s “all hands on deck.”
PENCE: If the governor needs additional public resources to expand testing, that will be made available.
And in Florida, where the caseload is also spiraling upward, Governor Ron DeSantis said his state is testing more than ever, but the results are troubling.
DESANTIS: We have seen the positivity rate increase from the May standby of 4 or 5 percent to now 6/14 was almost 10 percent and now 12 percent.
Global coronavirus cases surpass 10 million » Globally, confirmed coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark Sunday, as voters in Poland and France went to the polls for elections already delayed by the virus.
French voters cast ballots wearing mandatory masks and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.
Coronavirus cases are still rising in some parts of Europe, but not at the rate seen right now in the United States.
The European Union is expected to place new travel restrictions on Americans soon.
White House denies report of briefing on Russian bounties against U.S. troops » President Trump is calling a Friday New York Times report fake news. The Times reported that Trump had been briefed on U.S. intelligence that Russian military operatives offered bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing American troops.
In a Sunday morning tweet, the president said “Nobody briefed or told me” or Vice President Mike Pence or chief of staff Mark Meadows about “the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.”
He added “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pounced on the report over the weekend.
PELOSI: This is as bad as it gets. And yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score—denies being brief. Whether he was or not, his administration knows. And some of our allies who work with us in Afghanistan had been briefed and accept this report.
In a statement, the White House did not confirm or deny the accuracy of the reported intelligence. But it said the Times story “erroneously suggested” that Trump was briefed on the matter.
Miss. lawmakers working to remove Confederate emblem from flag » Mississippi legislators have voted to remove a Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.
The state House and Senate voted in succession Sunday to retire the flag, with broad bipartisan support. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill.
A commission would then design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.”
Trump tweets, deletes video clip of supporter shouting racist phrase » President Trump is taking heat tweeting a video on Sunday showing one of his supporters chanting a racist phrase.
The video showed heated dueling demonstrations between Trump supporters and opponents at The Villages retirement community in Florida.
The president tweeted the video saying “Thank you to the great people of The Villages.” Moments into the video clip, a man drove past in a golf cart displaying pro-Trump signs and shouting…
AUDIO: [Sound of demonstration]
The White House later said the president did not hear the “white power” chant on the video.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the lone Black Republican in the Senate, told CNN…
SCOTT: There’s no question he should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down.
The president did delete the tweet a short time later. White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm” from his supporters.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: A federal judge rules that New York applied a double standard in placing tighter restrictions on church services than other gatherings.
Plus, Trillia Newbell on finding hope that never disappoints.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Monday morning and a brand new work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 29th of June, 2020.
Good morning to you, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Two more days to go for our June Giving Drive, today and tomorrow. Still enough time for you to get involved in it if you haven’t already. Now, I’m not saying you need to get on your bike and ride across the country to deliver it in person! Wasn’t that great?
REICHARD: That must’ve been a surprise for you on Friday! To have David and Sharon Lucas drop in on you like that. They did the preroll today. Impressive dedication there! And very muscular.
EICHER: It was so great to meet them, so unexpected. I was chatting with them outside and Sharon told me she wanted to do a preroll, and of course I did show her how to do that on her phone and then thought, hey, if you’ve got a minute, hop on into the studio with me and you and your husband can just use my microphone. So that’s what we did!
REICHARD: We’ve got such wonderful listeners and readers, both magazine and online. And as you said, Nick, you don’t have to pedal all the way to Asheville. You can donate online. We’re modern and up-to-date around here! Just go to wng.org/donate. We’re so close, but not quite there yet.
EICHER: And so close to the end of another term of the U.S. Supreme Court. How’s that for a transition?
We expect U.S. Supreme Court opinions this morning as well as tomorrow. Thirteen decisions remain and I’ve heard rumors that the decision making term may extend into July. That’s unusual, but not unprecedented.
We will report on today’s rulings tomorrow.
REICHARD: Also, a quick note on vacant seats in the federal courts. Last week, the Senate confirmed two more of President Trump’s nominees to the federal bench. And that means the federal appeals court is 100 percent filled! These are lifetime appointments, so these judges have lasting influence.
Several dozen vacancies do still exist in the federal district courts. Nominees there are waiting for approval from the Senate.
EICHER: At this point, overall, nearly 1 in 4 judges seated in the federal system is a Trump appointee. He’s successfully placed 200 federal judges on the courts and that’s not been done at this point in any presidency in 40 years.
REICHARD: Well, now that oral arguments are all complete and analyzed, we begin summertime Legal Docket.
That’s when I report on goings-on in lower courts and look for trends in the law. And hear from people I don’t have time to talk to when the Supreme Court’s in session.
EICHER: Let’s kick that off with a story out of New York, where officials have clamped down on First Amendment freedoms.
Mary, you mentioned early on when public officials announced coronavirus rules that you expected to encounter some constitutional clashes.
REICHARD: I did, because our Constitution is unique in the restraint, theoretically, that it places on the power of the federal government, and on state governments.
The first 10 constitutional amendments really hem in government power and serve to protect the most important freedoms we enjoy. We call those the Bill of Rights. And right there at the very top are freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Our First Amendment, the freedoms it guarantees, are special, and as a result special legal analysis applies when the government wants to curtail any of them.
EICHER: You’re talking about how public officials are ordering the manner in which normal life can return. Such as in New York, where phased reopening with physical distancing and masking requirements haven’t been consistently applied.
REICHARD: Yes, and it led two Catholic priests and three Orthodox Jewish petitioners in New York to seek counsel. They brought a lawsuit asking a court for a preliminary injunction to stop officials from singling out for restrictions worship gatherings not placed on other similar gatherings. The named defendants are Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Lititia James, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe issued that injunction.
Their lawyer, Christopher Ferrara, is special counsel to Thomas More Society. That’s a religious freedom law firm.
Here are portions of what he told me, edited for time. I started by asking him about the law involved.
FERRARA: The case law is clear that if it’s not even handed, if the regime has exceptions for favorite activities, and discriminates against religion, then it’s subjected to what the courts call strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is the highest level of scrutiny a court can give a law or regulation. And in order to survive strict scrutiny, which laws or regulations rarely do, the state must adopt the narrowest possible remedy for whatever interest it says it’s advancing.
Ferrara going on to say that here, the narrowest possible remedy is social distancing of the same kind observed by businesses and outdoor gatherings. Those don’t involve arbitrary 25 percent occupancy limits.
Now we’ve had gatherings of another kind. He goes on to explain.
FERRARA: Especially now when throughout the state, we have massive protests against the death of George Floyd. Fine. That’s the First Amendment protected activity. We also have a Black Lives Matter protests in the thousands. We have Juneteenth celebrations, including marching bands. We have a total free for all on outdoor gatherings of people packed closely together. They may or may not wear masks. They’re certainly not socially distancing. So that development has also affected our case. And now we’re saying to the federal judge involved look, the whole thing has been revealed as essentially a sham.
I ask Ferrara to elaborate on the sham idea.
FERRARA: The political leaders, in particular Mayor de Blasio in New York and Governor Cuomo in Albany, completely caved in and allowed the protest. Why? Because they favor those causes. And they said so. Mayor de Blasio, in fact, specifically declared that this cause as protest over the death of George Floyd represents an emerging movement against 400 years of racism in America, which is more important. He says, I’m sorry, it’s not the same issue as devout believers who want to go to religious services. You could not ask for a more blatant, double standard in violation of the First Amendment than Mayor de Blasio saying these protests about George Floyd are more important than religion.
But there are people who will say you can’t stop a protest, that racism is more important to address at this moment than other things. He continues:
FERRARA: Well, let’s assume that were true. Let’s just say we could come up with some justification that makes these protests more important than other kinds of First Amendment protected activity. Okay. Then what are you doing? You’re making individualized exceptions from your regulatory scheme. You’re saying, well, this protest is more important than that protest because of X, whatever factor it is. Once you do that and introduce exceptions into your scheme, strict scrutiny is triggered. It’s no longer a generally applicable and neutral set of regulations. It’s a set of exemptions and prohibitions. And so strict scrutiny requires that if you’re pursuing what you claim to be a compelling state interest, and you’ve created exceptions to your pursuit of that interest, you have to adopt the narrowest possible tailoring, to your regulations.
And so someone comes along and says, Hey, you’ve given a political exemption to 25,000 people on the Brooklyn Bridge. Why can’t we have full occupancy of a synagogue? You need to show that the narrowest possible tailoring forbids that. Well, it doesn’t. They created the exceptions. Therefore they have to undergo strict scrutiny and they can’t survive it because the system doesn’t make any sense anymore. It’s just a hodgepodge of value judgments, really. A governor makes a value judgment that this protest is important because in his opinion it will save lives.
That was Christopher Ferrara, special counsel to Thomas More Society, and represented the religious people who challenged New York’s unevenly applied restrictions.
As I mentioned, after I spoke to Ferrara, District Judge Gary Sharpe issued the preliminary injunction he’d sought. That stops state and city officials from ordering or enforcing restrictions in this discriminatory way.
Judge Sharpe found the limits on houses of worship were not justified, because nonessential businesses allowed a certain capacity limit aren’t justifiably different from them. The different treatment is partly what triggers the courts to apply the strictest scrutiny.
The judge specifically pointed to Governor Cuomo’s special exemption of outdoor graduation ceremonies from the 10 or 25 person limit on other outdoor situations.
The judge also found that Mayor de Blasio’s messages encouraging protests clearly undermined the legitimacy of his rules.
This matter isn’t over and more proceedings will follow. But these kinds of skirmishes are happening around the country. People in several other states have also successfully challenged governors’ restrictions on similar grounds.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: Consumer spending overall for May saw a record jump, coming as it did on the heels in April of a record slump. This is the comprehensive spending number, not just retail sales. It’s all personal consumption expenditures—PCEs—and it includes what we spend on goods and services.
After dropping almost 14 percent in April—that first full month of lockdown—spending recovered more than 8 percent last month. It’s the biggest recovery on record, but makes up only about half the losses in April.
PCEs matter. They give us more than two-thirds of overall gross domestic product, so it is a bit of a preview of the GDP number we’ll see for the second quarter of the year, which ends tomorrow.
It’s time now to talk with David Bahnsen, financial analyst and advisor. David, good morning.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, Nick. Good to be with you.
EICHER: I like to bring up these spending reports, especially the PCE figure, even though I do know business investment is the better barometer for the underlying strength of the economy. But did you find anything new here, anything interesting?
BAHNSEN: No. I don’t think that that particular number mid-month has a lot of update to it. It does seem to me in the weekly numbers that some of the things that were headed in the right direction have slowed down a bit. I don’t think that’s a big surprise in the sense that you would have expected a surge higher at the immediate part of the reopening. But I definitely think that this week, seeing that weekly jobless claims number, even though it came down a little bit week-over-week, it is still staying stubbornly high for new claims. And I think that the PCE number you refer to and where we’re trying to just get some feel for what consumer behavior is, is very tricky right now because the weekly data has so much volatility in it.
EICHER: Let’s go onto business investment, David, do you see any signs that that’s starting to fire up?
BAHNSEN: No, I don’t. And, yet, there’s a tiny increase in industrial production and ISM manufacturing that we see in June from the month of May. And yet that increase was not nearly at the same level from a percentage basis that you saw in some of the consumer data, such as spending and retail and mortgages and things of that nature. So, that’s not totally unexpected, but I think we’re going to have to see really into Q3. I think it’s going to be August, September before we start getting a feel for where businesses are. And if I’m being totally long-term oriented, which is actually what I mostly care about, I think it’s even into the end of the year and beginning of next year. Because this is what the economy was dependent on changing before COVID was whether or not after corporate tax reform and after the trade war businesses were finally coming out of the shell they were in throughout the post-financial crisis years. And now COVID has represented a whole other dimension in that complexity and there’s plenty of reason to be apprehensive that businesses are ready to go forward. They’re plenty capitalized. But do they have the long-term confidence and opportunity set to go generate a return on invested capital for the future? That’s the question.
EICHER: What about the reported increase in COVID cases? We’re seeing local officials tap the brakes on reopening around the country. That can’t be good news for the economy
BAHNSEN: Well, it really is going to depend on a couple of things, because I believe that we’re in a transition period right now where the economy is going to have to lead the way for the media in accepting the reality of COVID cases as a long-term reality.
But if—and this is a big if—but if we really do maintain what I’m seeing right now that’s held very steady for about a month, which is deaths are not increasing. Thank God. But cases are.
That has to then at some point message the media that we’re done just talking day after day after day about case growth, which is not in the real macro sense the significant data input. In other words, you have just a wider set of people in the country that get the case that are either asymptomatic or very low symptomatic and that it has a quick recovery rate and so forth.
I guess in a crass way what I’m saying is, is the economy on the verge of being prepared to live with coronavirus? I very much think that’s what’s going to happen. I very much think it’s necessary until the virus just simply starts to go away on its own or the vaccine everyone talks about, that kind of stuff. But right now with the case growth being the leading factor in the media every single day and yet mortalities and severities either not going higher or in a lot of cases declining, I really believe that then you get to the question of what’s going to be just the economic comfort level with co-existence.
EICHER: Do you have the sense, though, that the COVID stories are spooking the market? We had a big drop on Friday, and it took the market down overall for the week. Is it COVID or what do you think drove the market week?
BAHNSEN: Well, again, you’re talking about a market that was down like 700 or 800 points on the week, but it had three days that were up 600 points in aggregate and two days that were down 700. And so it’s really a lot more volatility. It’s more the market just being driven by uncertainty and headlines.
Look, I think there’s uncertainty around where we’re headed on our dynamic with China. I think that there’s going to be ongoing election uncertainty. And, in fact, that uncertainty in the election may go away. If the polls don’t tighten in August and September, there won’t even be uncertainty about the election because the market will just price in an outcome ahead of time. But I don’t expect that. I actually think that the election may tighten a bit more than the polls are indicating now.
But my point being that there’s more than just COVID that’s driving the markets. I still maintain that I can’t get any validation that in any other data point. Meaning, mortgages are still trading very rich. Corporate bonds are still trading very rich. Bank loans, high yield. So that, to me, is a real conflicting signal.
EICHER: David Bahnsen is a financial analyst and advisor. David, thank you very much.
BAHNSEN: Thank you for having me.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, June 29th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.
Today, the end of a two-and-a-half-week hostage crisis. Plus, the debut of the 50-star American flag.
But first, 160 years ago, a famous debate over Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the descent of man. Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today on June 30th, 1860, at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
WILBERFORCE: Any contribution to our natural history from the pen of Charles Darwin is certain to command attention.
A debate is underway over Darwin’s book: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
WILBERFORCE: Mr. Darwin claims that every living thing…every fish, plant, elephant, man, turnip, are all equally the lineal descendants of the same, common, ancestor.
The two most dynamic personalities in the debate are Samuel Wilberforce, a skillful orator who’s also a bishop in the Church of England, and Thomas Henry Huxley, a respected biologist and anthropologist.
Audio here from a reenactment for the 2001 PBS documentary: “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.”
HUXLEY: We have to admit that there is as little interval as animals between the gorilla and the man, as there is between the gorilla and the baboon.
WILBERFORCE: Natural selection is an ingenious theory for denying the working, and therefore the existence of the creator…
No transcript of the debate exists, and accounts afterward vary wildly. But the debate’s most memorable exchange came when Wilberforce allegedly asked Huxley a personal question. Reimagined here by PBS:
WILBERFORCE: I wonder, Mr. Huxley, is it through your grandfather or your grandmother that you claim descent from an ape?
Huxley reportedly responded that he would not be embarrassed to have a monkey for an ancestor—but he would be ashamed to be descended from a bishop who used his talents to hide the truth.
The debate didn’t get much public attention, but many identify it as a significant turning point in the academic acceptance of Darwin’s ideas.
Next, the story behind the current United States flag.
CLIP: I pledge allegiance to the flag…
It all started when 17-year old Robert Heft of Lancaster High School in Ohio decided to design a new flag for a class assignment. At the time, there were only 48 states in the union, but Heft began dreaming how to increase the number of stars on the flag to 50, if Alaska and Hawaii became states.
Much to the distress of his grandparents, he cut up an old flag and reattached a blue field with five rows of six stars, and four rows of five stars. It took him 12 hours.
HEFT: And he gave me the grade of a “B-” on it…I said “you’ve got to be kiddin’.” He said “If you don’t like the grade, get it accepted in Washington, and then come back and see me, and I might consider changing the grade.”
And that’s just what Heft did. He started with the Ohio governor, and eventually got the attention of President Dwight Eisenhower. Heft’s flag debuted on July 4th, 1960. Even though he was no longer in school, his teacher was true to his word and ceremonially amended Heft’s grade.
And finally, June 30th, 1985. President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation:
RONALD REGAN: The 39 Americans held hostage for 17 days by terrorists in Lebanon are free, safe…They’ll be home again soon…
The ordeal started on the morning of June 14th. TWA flight 847 left Cairo en route to San Diego—with scheduled stops in Athens, Rome, Boston, and Los Angeles.
In Athens, a new crew boarded the plane along with additional passengers—two of whom were hijackers. Not long after take-off, they showed a pistol and a couple hand grenades and took control of the plane.
They forced the pilot to redirect to Beirut. The terrorists refueled and demanded the plane head to Algiers. Over the next few days terrorists flew back and forth between the two airports.
REAGAN: The United States gives terrorists no rewards and no guarantees. We make no concessions; we make no deals.
The hijackers’ demanded the release of the terrorists behind the 19-83 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, freedom for 766 Lebanese Shias in Israeli custody, immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, and international condemnation of Israel and the United States.
REAGAN: Terrorists, be on notice, we will fight back against you, in Lebanon and elsewhere.
After two and a half weeks, negotiators settled on an agreement and the hijackers released the hostages. Shortly after, Israel freed 700 Lebanese prisoners—though officials insisted it was not related to the negotiations.
REAGAN: We will remember and offer our thanks to all who helped us and who stood with us. We will not rest until justice is done.
Authorities later caught and tried one of the hijackers in Germany. The court gave him a life sentence, but he gained release in 2005. The other perpetrators are still on the FBI’s most wanted list.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, June 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentator Trillia Newbell now on the source of true hope.
TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: If you’ve ever taken the enneagram, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I’m a 7. The enneagram is an old system for assessing personality types that’s gained new interest over the past few years. I can’t turn around without seeing it referenced.
Enneagram 7s are described as “extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined.”
I don’t know how well I fit into this description, but I imagine that if you’ve only met me a few times or are acquainted with me only through social media, you might conclude that I am optimistic.
It’s true that I’m not cynical and I do tend toward seeing the best possible outcome in situations, but it’s not because I’m optimistic.
Optimism can be defined as a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions. It also means expecting the most favorable outcome, or the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
But optimism isn’t rooted in absolute truth. Rather, it depends on one’s thoughts, disposition, and how the person perceives the world.
Biblical hope is significantly different. Hope is rooted in what God’s Word says about Himself and the world. We may not all be optimistic, but each and every one of us can have hope.
We can and should have hope because of the character of God. God is not reeling over our circumstances or the state of the world. God is not anxious. God does weep over unrighteousness and does not overlook sin (Psalm 5:4), but He has also made a way for repentance through His Son.
When all things seem difficult and confusing, remember that we serve a God who knows all things and acts out of His good and sovereign will. He isn’t receiving flawed counsel from our earthly leaders. The prophet Isaiah wrote that He “brings princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (40:23). We can rest and have hope because there is no one like our God; God commands us to lift up our eyes and see the One who created all things (40:25-26).
We also have hope because we do not serve a holy and awesome God who is far off. His words to His people in Isaiah 41:10 are the same for His people today: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The hope found in God’s Word promises us that we will have a God who will uphold us.
And Jesus is our ultimate hope. We have hope for today because, right now, He reigns and is interceding for His own. He is not dead—He is our living hope!
Optimism isn’t bad. If you are optimistic about the future, that is great. But we can be more than optimistic—we can be sure. Sure that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, even when it seems like all is lost. He is our only hope.
I’m Trillia Newbell.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Supreme Court rulings expected and we’ll summarize those for you.
And newlyweds find creative ways to honeymoon despite the uncertainty around coronavirus.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Just today and tomorrow to go in our June Giving Drive—WNG.org/donate
The Bible says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, so let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!