The World and Everything in It — November 17, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Proposals to change how the Electoral College system operates are being kicked around and we’ll talk about some of them.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Covid-related job losses are affecting women more than they are men and in a few minutes we’ll tell you why that is.

Plus the Olasky Interview. Today a conversation with painter and author Michael O’Brien.

And WORLD commentator Kim Henderson finds something she wasn’t looking for in an antique store.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, November 17th. 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: Time for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Health officials optimistic about coronavirus vaccine in December » Health officials are more optimistic than ever that a coronavirus vaccine is just weeks away. That after biotech company Moderna said Monday its vaccine appears to be almost 95 percent effective. 

Moderna President Stephen Hoge told reporters Monday… 

HOGE: We hope to have about 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year, the calendar year, and we’re looking forward to making 500 million to a billion doses next year, but that is going to be a 24/7 operation.

Just last week, drugmaker Pfizer announced that its vaccine also appears to have a 90-plus percent success rate. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Fox News …

AZAR: The Moderna one is more flexible. It can be kept in regular freezer or refrigeration, so it’s going to be amenable to that program we announced last week—going to your local chain or community pharmacist and getting vaccinated.

But experts say it will take multiple vaccines to entirely control the virus. 

Under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the federal government has paid the companies to ramp up vaccine production even as testing is ongoing. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, is the program’s chief scientific adviser. 

SLAOUI: Potentially two vaccines and two therapeutics may be granted an emergency use authorization before the end of this year. I think it’s a remarkable achievement within six to seven months. 

U.S. top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the Phase 3 test results—quote—“truly striking.” Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a vaccine that was 60 percent effective.

Biden calls on Trump admin. to coordinate with his transition team » Meantime, Joe Biden on Monday said it’s time for the White House to loop him in on plans to distribute the vaccine. 

Biden, who expects to take over the Oval Office in January said his team needs to line up its plan of attack against COVID-19 right now. 

BIDEN: If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. So it’s important it be done, that there be coordination. 

President Trump is still challenging election results in several states and his administration is not yet working with Biden’s transition team. 

Also on Monday, the former vice president held an online meeting with labor union leaders and top industry execs about how to revive the economy after the pandemic. 

Among the attendees, the CEOs of Microsoft, GM, and Target. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka also participated. 

Stocks soar on positive vaccine report » AUDIO: [Closing bell]

A big day on Wall Street Monday. Just as Pfizer’s positive test results cheered investors last week, Monday’s Moderna news boosted stocks once again. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The Dow soared 472 points to a new record high. And the S&P 500 jumped nearly 1.2 percent, also setting a new record. 

Travel related companies were big winners on Monday … as optimism grows that the world may begin to return to normal in the coming months. Cruise lines and airlines got a boost. 

Boeing stock also rose, both because of the vaccine news … and because of reports that the FAA may finally unground the company’s 737 MAX jets later this week. 

On the flipside, companies that have benefited from the stay-at-home economy were down, including Zoom and Netflix.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Michigan gov. imposes new restrictions, warns of possible lockdown » Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she does have the authority to impose a second large scale lockdown. 

But she told reporters she hopes it won’t come to that and she urged Michiganers to abide by current coronavirus restrictions. 

WHITMER: This is what we’re hoping, that people rise to this challenge and meet it together, and we push our numbers down so we can avoid more aggressive measures.

The Democratic governor spoke with reporters a day after announcing limits to curb a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Under the restrictions that start tomorrow, Michigan high schools and colleges will halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining and entertainment venues must close for three weeks. 

But many small businesses are pushing back. Brian Calley with the Small Business Association of Michigan said Monday…

CALLEY: This will mean catastrophic failure for many of them. They’re just in no condition to weather these types of conditions given the fact that some of them were required to be closed for five or six months earlier this year.

The new measures also impose new limits on group gatherings. 

Whitmer said with new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all spiking in Michigan, the state simply has no choice but to act. 

Another hurricane slams Central America » Central America is enduring the wrath of another hurricane this morning—this one a monster. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Hurricane Iota slammed the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua last night after strengthening into a Category 5 storm.

It roared ashore packing winds around 160 miles per hour. And it’s hammering the same part of Central America that Hurricane Eta ravaged less than two weeks ago. 

Iota is certain to trigger more landslides and floods as its wind and rain pound soil that is still soaked from the last storm. 

And forecasters have warned storm surge could reach a shocking 15 to 20 feet above normal tides.

Officials spent the weekend and much of Monday evacuating residents from low-lying areas. 

Iota is expected to push into Honduras later today. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: proposals to change the way we elect presidents.

Plus, Kim Henderson discovers a forgotten love story in the dusty corner of an antique store.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 17th of November, 2020. 

We’re so glad you’ve joined us for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning to you!  I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: the Electoral College.

In a little less than a month, 538 electors from all 50 states will cast their votes for the president and vice president. These electors make up the Electoral College. A candidate needs at least 270 votes to win the highest office in the land.

EICHER: Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia use a system we call “winner take all.” It is what it sounds like: whichever candidate wins the popular vote in each state receives all its electoral college votes. 

Well, now there’s a growing movement to change how the system operates. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Colorado voters had 11 amendments and propositions on the ballot this year. One important question? Do Coloradans want to change the way the state awards electoral votes. By a 52 to 48 percent margin, voters said they did. 

With that, Colorado became the 15th state to join what’s called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or NPV. The District of Columbia has also joined. 

Scott Drexel lobbies states to join the compact. He says it would make for much smoother transitions of power.

DREXEL: It eliminates all the chaos that we’re seeing currently play out the 2020 election.

Here’s how the NPV would work. Each member state would award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Even if that candidate didn’t win the state’s popular vote.

By agreeing to pool their electoral votes, member states could guarantee that the candidate who wins the popular vote would also win the necessary 270 electoral votes. 

Scott Drexel argues the change is needed because the current Electoral College system doesn’t treat all votes equally. Swing state votes are more important than votes in reliably Red or Blue states.  

DREXEL: If I went to either Joe Biden’s campaign or Donald Trump’s campaign, and I said I can give you 50,000 additional votes out of California or I can give you 500 votes out of Florida, they’re going to take the 500 votes out of Florida every time because those 500 could be determinative of Florida, which in turn could be determinative of the national outcome.

Frustrated legal scholars created the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact after the highly contested 2000 election. That year, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College to former President George W. Bush. 

Since 2006, every state legislature has considered National Popular Vote legislation. Most with Democratic majorities have passed it. 

Maryland and New Jersey became the first states to join the NPV in 2007. The Blue dominos have fallen from there—with one exception.   

Last year, the Democratic governor of Nevada vetoed NPV legislation passed by the Democratic state legislature. 

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He says Nevada rejected the NPV because it’s a rural state. And the Electoral College protects its interests. No matter its size, every state is guaranteed at least three electoral votes. If enough rural states get together, they can throw their weight around.   

VON SPAKOVSKY: The framers of the Constitution were afraid that if a president was simply elected through the national popular vote, then candidates would simply go to the big cities, the big urban areas. They would ignore the smaller, less populated states. So they came up with the Electoral College system, because it was a way of balancing those interests.

Von Spakovsky says that system also forces presidential candidates to appeal to a geographically diverse swath of the country. 

VON SPAKOVSKY: They wanted candidates going to the different regions. They hoped that would lead to candidates who are trying to appeal to a greater, more widespread cross section of the American public.

But Scott Drexel with National Popular Vote says today’s campaigns don’t appeal to that widespread cross section. Instead, they spend their time in a handful of swing states. 

DREXEL: The way the current system works means that a big blue state like Illinois, is as ignored as a big red state, like Texas.

Trent England is the founder of Save Our States, an organization that advocates for the current Electoral College. He disagrees. He says the Electoral College is what pushes both parties to choose candidates that appeal to voters in more places. 

ENGLAND: In the 2016 election, the Electoral College system says to the Democrats, in effect, you have to broaden your appeal, you have to be able to reach out to more groups of Americans in more states in order to win. The Democrats nominated Joe Biden, because they believe that he would be more appealing to Americans outside of the cities. 

Right now, with its 15 member states and the District of Columbia, the National Popular Vote compact has 196 electoral votes. Advocates say they only need 74 more for the system to take effect. 

But Save Our State’s Trent England and Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky have doubts about whether the movement is even legal.

VON SPAKOVSKY: The Constitution requires that state compacts be approved by Congress. So I don’t think it can go in effect without it. 

Scott Drexel says because the NPV doesn’t abolish the Electoral College or amend the Constitution, it doesn’t need congressional approval. 

DREXEL: Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution gives states plenary authority to determine how their electoral votes are awarded. So doing this on the state level is the constitutionally appropriate, historically consistent method of making this change.

Even if the NPV could survive a legal challenge, could it survive its own success? The first time voters in reliably blue Colorado have to watch their electors cast ballots for a Republican candidate, they might rethink the benefits of changing the electoral college rules.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: women in the workforce. Or maybe women leaving the workforce?

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Millions of Americans have lost their jobs since the pandemic hit, and most of them have been females. Why is that? WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown did some digging to find out.

AUDIO: Hey guys! Today’s video is going to be all about how I manage working full time as a new mom.

AUDIO: If you just recently started working from home with your kids, give this video a like so I know, so we can support each other.

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN: YouTube offers an endless stream of young moms with flawless makeup, perfectly styled hair, modern minimalist home decor, and slim coffee mugs inscribed with inspirational quotes. They all have this really perky music playing in the background.

Other videos take a more realistic approach.

AUDIO: I know there are some people that are near perfect and can keep their house clean while they do stuff like this, but I am not one of them. Definitely not one of them.

No matter how they’re packaged, these videos all target what was a growing segment of the workforce. In 2019, a lot of women were juggling jobs and families. A record number, in fact: The U.S. workforce included more women with kids under the age of 6 than ever before.

BATEMAN: Prior to the pandemic, topline measures showed working women were doing fairly well. 

Nicole Bateman is a research analyst with the Brookings Institution.

BATEMAN: Their unemployment rate was at a historic low, it was only 3.4 percent.

But over the past eight months, the number of women in the workforce has plummeted. According to Department of Labor statistics, more than 600,000 women left the workforce in September alone. That’s nearly eight times more than the number of men, which clocked in around 78,000.

BATEMAN: The share of women either working or looking for work has hit lows that we haven’t seen since 1987.

In September, 2.2 million fewer women filled the labor force than a year ago at the same time.

That’s partly because of the kind of jobs women tend to have.

Betsey Stevenson is a professor of economics at the University of Michigan.

STEVENSON: You know, frankly, women do more of the in-person work in the economy than men do. Because they tend to take on caring jobs. And if you’re caring for people, well, you’re with people.

And when the pandemic hit, those jobs evaporated first.

STEVENSON: Women tend to work in industries like health care and education services. Women also hold the majority of jobs in retail sales, and leisure and hospitality.

All of those industries took a beating in the early days of the pandemic.

Nicole Bateman points out that women also hold most of our low-wage jobs.

BATEMAN: Prior to the onset of COVID women comprised 54 percent of the workers earning low wages, even though they are only 47 percent of the workforce overall. 

Low-wage jobs were also among the first to go, early on in the pandemic.

But that doesn’t explain why so many women dropped out of the workforce this fall. Many of them didn’t lose their jobs—they chose to leave them. Not because of worklife, but because of homelife.

Joanna Meyer works with the Denver Institute for Faith and Work.

MEYER: Women are three times more likely to be responsible for the most of the housework and caregiving.

That’s been true for years. But the pandemic has exacerbated the difficulties of balancing family and a full-time job. Many working women hire babysitters, or send their kids to daycare. Both of those options are expensive, and also hard to find these days. So most women rely on other forms of child supervision.

MEYER: For lower income women, many of them relied on the free and reliable childcare that was provided by their local schools.

That, of course, went out the window in April. Even now, many kids haven’t been able to go back to school in person. And Betsey Stevenson points out that, even if they have, that doesn’t solve all the potential problems moms face.

STEVENSON: If your kid was in school, if they get sick, who’s going to stay home with them for two weeks?

For many women, making the decision to leave the workforce isn’t easy. Even if both the husband and wife work, they might rely on the wife’s job benefits—things like insurance and a 401k. And single parents don’t have a second income to fall back on. So the choice between working and staying home with a child is a catch-22.

Nicole Bateman from Brookings says balancing work and family life is a lot for anyone to handle.

BATEMAN: I think that what this crisis highlights is that our economy is not very family-friendly.

But Joanna Meyer with the Denver Institute for Faith and Work sees this whole situation as an opportunity.

MEYER: One of the things that’s valuable, that actually might be good as a result of the pandemic, is that it’s changing our understanding of what effective work looks like. 

All of a sudden, working from home is a viable option for millions of employees. Betsey Stevenson says that flexibility is good for women.

STEVENSON: It becomes much easier now to say, I’m working from home today, my kid is sick. People have been able to spend more time with their family and I, for one, don’t want to go back to spending less time with my kids. 

She hopes this season makes people think.

STEVENSON: What’s it worth leaving our families for a business trip? I think that it might cause us to reevaluate how we pair our work lives with our family lives with our personal lives.

Joanna Meyer hopes employers will also consider making some changes. That might include policies like more flexible work hours or paid family leave.

But it might just be a cultural shift. Meyer says Christian employers especially should be thinking about this.

MEYER: We often talk in the faith community about being pro family. And so that invites us to say, What does it look like to have a healthy approach to caring for both men and women in all of their responsibilities?

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Chris Nikic completed an Ironman triathlon earlier this month, setting a Guinness World Record.

AUDIO: Chris Nikic, you are an Ironman! [Cheering]

Ironman races are brutal: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile-marathon! The 21-year-old finished the race in 16 hours, 46 minutes, and 9 seconds.

Now anyone who follows extreme racing like this will know that his time wasn’t what earned him the world record. In fact, he finished just 14 minutes shy of the 17-hour cutoff time to complete the race.

But, when he crossed that finish line, Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.

Nikic celebrated with his family and a growing number of fans. His feat earned him 33,000 new followers on social media! But Nikic isn’t satisfied. After announcing his accomplishment on social media, Nikic posted: “Time to set a new and Bigger Goal for 2021.”

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 17th. 

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the Olasky Interview.

Today a conversation with Michael O’Brien. He started his career as a struggling painter and frustrated writer.

EICHER: Years of obscurity proved fertile ground, both for O’Brien’s art and his soul. Here’s an excerpt of his conversation with WORLD editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky:

MARVIN OLASKY: Now you lost your religious beliefs, but you had a transformation in 1969 at age 21…

MICHAEL O’BRIEN: From early childhood onwards I loved Jesus. I loved everything about our faith. I believed. I had no doubt. But after the encounter with human darkness and spiritual darkness, doubts entered. Rationalization entered. And it was also the mid to late 1960s, so there was a social revolution going on. That was pulling the foundations out of practically everything. I fell away from the faith.

After my reconversion, my “born again” experience if you will, new dimensions of life in Jesus Christ opened up for me with great power and great beauty.

OLASKY: Now, skipping maybe six years, marriage in 1975, and then God in his generosity over the next eight years gives you four children. We jump to say 1983, you are busy with your art. You also have a lot of financial insecurity. Tell us how you gripped that.

O’BRIEN: How did we get through those years? There was a grace given to both my wife and myself that I was called to paint the things of God, to paint Christian art, and later to write of the things of God in Christian fiction. That he was calling me to this specific work, against all odds against all likelihood of success. This was definitely the path that God desired for us. That it would not be easy. That there will be times of extreme tribulation, conflict. Many, many times when it would look as if it was all coming to nothing. There was a lot of rejection. There was a lot of slammed doors in our faces. 

Once in a long while I would sell a painting. But I also was being flooded with inspirations to write novels, which I wrote. And they too received tons of letters of rejection from publishers. For 20 years…19 years. 

OLASKY: Did you ever count them?

O’BRIEN: No, I never counted them but it’s a lot. Painfully a lot. But I remember in my painting, one year, I traveled all over Western Canada, meeting with gallery owners contacting gallery owners, trying to interest them and an exhibit in my, in my religious art. And I was told again and again—in, delicate terms—”Well we love your art, your style, this is great stuff, but, you know, the art buying public is no longer interested in this subject matter.”

So, with galleries, I was accepted at two galleries. One small gallery. I arrived in that city in Western Canada with my truckload of paintings, only to find that the curator of the gallery had had a nervous breakdown. And she and her family had decided to close the gallery. So no show.

A few months later I had another gallery show scheduled in Ontario, a very prestigious gallery, who were taking a big risk to show Christian art. Their gallery burned down just before I was to get in the truck to drive east with my paintings. They decided never to reopen. But always there was this sense of, keep putting one foot in front of the other across the desert. Keep moving. Keep creating. And above all, keep praying. 

Perhaps it’s a pattern for all faith—people have faith—there will be time of trials. And he has never, ever failed us.

OLASKY: From that difficult period in 1986-87, you have a couple of paintings entitled: the place where we all could live. Where there’s community, there are houses, a church, vast mountains in the background. It’s neither a cozy little thing, nor is it a Hudson River Valley worship of nature. I mean there’s lots of snow but people are walking and skating and they’re not hiding. So does that reflect your awareness of God’s majesty but also your confidence in His immanence?

O’BRIEN: Well Marvin I think you said it perfectly.You know it’s like holding a dream on high. So, the dream of a place of beauty and love, a family, and of faith. It is something that is true, and beautiful, and good, embedded in the hearts of our souls. It’s an icon, if you will. Of what we will know in Paradise, in eternity. But we’re not there yet. But we do need these images, either in the heart or even in our arts, that hold hope on high for us, and remind us of our eternal destination. And how beautiful it is. How wonderful it will be.

REICHARD: To read more of this interview with Michael O’Brien, check out the November 7th issue of WORLD Magazine, or you can read it online. We’ll include a link to it in today’s transcript at

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on framing up a marriage.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Anyone who’s been wed long enough will tell you some days of marriage are happy. Some are hard. For those landing on the hard side of the meter, let me tell you what I found at the Milltown Antique Mall last Thursday.

My quest for picture frames—sturdy ones—had me digging through the dark and dusty. On a back aisle I spotted a possible. It was propped between a concrete yard fixture and a complete leather-bound set of Arabian Nights. I moved in closer and fingered the frame. Nah. But what was this yellowed document?

Wow. A marriage certificate from 1914. And not just any old marriage certificate. One worthy of non-glare glass, double mats, and a frame gilded in gold.   

Evidently someone once prized this record of Henry L. Newman and Lula May Barnes’ union, but there it was, on sale for $12.95. Price stickers told the tale: This antique was at its second stop on the thrift market circuit.  

Bumping into Henry and Lula May like that had me wondering. What kind of happy and hard did the years hold for them? Did Uncle Sam draft Henry? Did Lula May survive childbirth? Were they an Aquila-Priscilla like team or the Ananias-Sapphira variety?

A few days later I tracked down their graves at Rose Hill Cemetery. It turns out the new Mrs. Newman was just shy of 15 when she said her vows. She kept them until she died of a heart attack at 65.

Then I managed to get in touch with one of the Newman’s granddaughters. She filled in some of the blanks.

The groom, Henry, had a barber shop downtown beside the railroad tracks. To accommodate hard working farmers, he opened before 5 a.m., six days a week. Lula May brought him a home-cooked meal every day around 11. On Sundays they took their five kids to First Baptist Church.  

Henry managed to build a house during the Depression. It’s still standing on land where their descendants live today. When he retired, the local newspaper celebrated him and a career built on 25-cent haircuts.

The Newmans’ 3 boys and 2 girls grew up and married wisely, too. No divorces in their family tree. The last layer of the immediate branch, a daughter-in-law, died in August.  

The granddaughter I spoke with has no idea how “Big Daddy and Big Mama’s” marriage certificate got discarded, but her sister went posthaste to retrieve it. The store owner didn’t charge her a dime. Seems a whole bunch of us agree that when it comes to framed masterpieces, beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Truth is, when Henry and Lula May started out, they probably couldn’t have imagined a time when nearly half of all marriages don’t make it. That’s why the fading cursive of their 11 by 14 love story is strong encouragement. It can help you see bigger pictures and the perspective of end results. It can even be rocket fuel on a hard day of marriage.

I’m Kim Henderson.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Political analysts said this year’s polling would be more accurate than 2016’s predictions. A low bar! But they couldn’t clear even that! We’ll talk about whether we can ever trust election polls again.

And, we’ll introduce you to a man taking the word of the Lord to the seamy side of Houston.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: 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.

Jesus said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Thanks for listening. Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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