The World and Everything in It - September 13, 2021
WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - September 13, 2021
On Legal Docket, the first person with a disability to clerk for the Supreme Court; on the Monday Moneybeat, the latest economic news; and on History Book, significant events from the past. Plus: the Monday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Today, the economics of President Biden’s vaccine mandate.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on the Monday Moneybeat.
Also today, Legal Docket: one woman’s story of overcoming blindness and becoming a high-level attorney.
Plus, the WORLD History Book. Twenty years ago, fears of biological terrorism.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, September 13th. 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Republicans blast Biden vaccine mandates » Republicans are pushing back against President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates.
GOP governors swiftly denounced the mandates and vowed to sue, and private employers may do so as well.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told NBC on Sunday...
HUTCHINSON: This is an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate, authority, that really disrupts and divides the country.
He said he believes the mandates will be counterproductive.
But Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the new mandates are appropriate.
MURTHY: To be clear, the requirements that he announced are not sweeping requirements for the entire nation. These are focused on areas where the federal government has legal authority to act.
Critics disagree, calling it federal overreach. The mandates could impact 100 million Americans, including workers with any company that has more than 100 employees.
FBI releases newly declassified record on Sept. 11 attacks » The Biden administration declassified an FBI document on the anniversary of 9/11 that sheds new light on support given to two Saudi hijackers. The document details contacts the men had with Saudi associates in the United States leading up to the Sept. 11th attacks.
It does not provide proof that senior kingdom officials were complicit in the plot.
The 16-page document is a summary of an FBI interview done in 2015 with a man who had frequent contact with Saudi nationals in the United States … who supported the first hijackers to arrive in the country.
Victims' families have long sought the records as they pursue a lawsuit in New York alleging that Saudi government officials supported the hijackers.
GOP Congressman Tony Gonzalez commented on the report Sunday…
GONZALEZ: There’s no doubt the Saudi nationals helped plot and execute this terrible act on September 11th. What level that dipped into the Saudi government, I still think that’s murky. But one thing that isn’t murky is the Taliban housed al-Qaeda. They harbored them.
Al-Qaeda chief appears in video marking 9/11 anniversary » Also over the weekend, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri appeared in a video marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, months after rumors spread that he was dead.
An intelligence Group called SITE that monitors jihadist websites said the video was released Saturday. In it, al-Zawahiri praised al-Qaeda attacks including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January.
SITE said al-Zawahri also noted the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. Though that does not necessarily prove the video was recent as withdrawal plans were in place earlier in the year.
Manchin still a “no” on $3.5T spending plan » Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday that he is a hard no on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, reiterating his opposition.
He noted the federal government has already pumped more than $5 trillion into the economy since the start of the pandemic.
MANCHIN: We have done an awful lot, and there’s still an awful lot of people that need help. But you have 11 million jobs that aren’t filled right now, 8 million people are still unemployed. Something's not matching up. Don’t you think we ought to hit the pause and find out?
That from CNN’s State of the Union.
In an evenly divided Senate, Democrats cannot pass the spending package without Manchin’s vote.
He told NBC’s Meet the Press that he also has concerns about the plan itself. Those include the lack of “guardrails” in the called-for spending on social programs.
MANCHIN: I think that if you’re going to make sure that we’re helping our children, let’s make sure the children are getting the best benefit of that. Let’s make sure that a guardian or a parent is nurturing the child and give them the resources to do it. But if you don’t have any work requirements, there’s no means testing on so much of this, it didn’t make sense to me.
He also said while he supports raising corporate taxes to a degree, he’s concerned the tax hikes as outlined in the proposal would make America less globally competitive.
The West Virginia senator said he might support a spending plan in the $1-to-$1.5 trillion range, but definitely not $3.5 trillion.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a supreme story of perseverance.
Plus, a historic Supreme Court nomination.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICAHRD, HOST: It’s Monday, September 13, 2021. Thanks for listening to The World and Everything in It. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Legal Docket.
This past week, the Legal Docket Podcast gave us an inside peek at what it’s like to work as a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice. We talked with five clerks about what goes on when the court is not in session.
REICHARD: That’s right. I keep thinking: Some kid is going to listen and become a lawyer because of it!
Well, one of those law clerks that we profiled has quite a remarkable story. Her name is Laura Wolk, W-O-L-K, and she is blind—the first woman law clerk with that disability. Today, we’d like to tell more of her story.
And to do that, we welcome my co-host on the Legal Docket Podcast, Jenny Rough.
EICHER: Hi, Jenny!
JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: Hi, Nick, hi Mary. Yeah, I agree with you, you know, Laura Wolk does have quite the moving personal story. I’ll begin at the beginning. She was still just a baby when she lost her eyesight to cancer. Listen to this …
WOLK: I am completely blind. I don't have any vision at all. And it's been that way basically since I was 15 months old. I had a type of retinal cancer. So I probably had some vision before I lost it all. But I don't have any visual memories or anything like that.
REICHARD: It’s not so easy for a person who can see to understand what it’s like not to be able to.
WOLK: So the biggest thing that I think people misunderstand is that if you are blind, you’re just floating around in space.
ROUGH: She says it’s not like that at all.
WOLK: Some people think that if they don’t have vision, they probably don’t have a good sense of where they are in the world. How could I get from my front door to the bus stop? Like I wouldn’t know where anything was on the way from point A to point B. But actually, the way our brains work, your spatial map is there. It’s just that if you have vision, that visual information is layered on top of it. But if you took it away, if you went blind tomorrow, you would still be able to create an image in your head of what your house looks like or what your office looks like.
REICHARD: Or streets in your neighborhood. Wolk is a runner. She runs to stay in shape and to clear her mind. That might raise a question in your mind as to how she does that.
WOLK: If you’re blind and you’re running, you can use anything. I use a lanyard actually. You and a sighted person just hold opposite ends of it. And as you run, they give you verbal cues, about turns or maybe if there's like a choppy sidewalk or something like that.
ROUGH: It’s one thing to learn how to move through the world without sight, but it seems like a pretty difficult thing to go to law school and become a lawyer. So many obstacles.
She grew up reading Braille. And using a very elementary version of a talking computer.
WOLK: And now, through the course of my lifetime have watched like this complete transition of technology where now you can have, you know, thousands of books on a Kindle or an iPhone or you know, it's just been totally transformative.
REICHARD: She says for her, the practice of law is a vocation, work she is called to do.
In law school at Notre Dame, she took classes from then professor Amy Coney Barrett; now, of course, Justice Barrett. Statutory Interpretation was one of those classes. Wolk says that class was intimidating—but to this day, also the most helpful.
ROUGH: Right. There’s more than one way to interpret a law written on the books. And the fact that one person interprets the words differently than another? The cause of many legal disputes!
REICHARD: Statutes can be interpreted roughly within three main theories. One is textualism. How would a reasonable person understand the words? Second:
ROUGH: A good vocabulary term for the day.
WOLK: Purposivism. Basically, yeah, you're like looking to, you know, what the purposes of the statute are, and you should be interpreting the text in light of the goals of the statute and things like that.
REICHARD: A focus on the spirit of the law instead of the letter. More policy-oriented than the semantics-based approach of textualists.
And thirdly, dynamic interpretation.
WOLK: You actively can update a statute over time. It's the least adopted view.
ROUGH: That approach applies a present day social, political and legal context to the statute. As a lawyer, it’s good to know not only how you interpret statutes, but how others do too!
WOLK: I learned just how people who interpret statutes differently than I do, how they think. And so you know, when you're reading or if you're arguing in front of a judge who thinks differently than you do. You're not just sort of trying to convince them that they're wrong, but just like having a better understanding of what principles matter to them, or what values that they're considering when they're interpreting a statute.
REICHARD: After law school, Wolk clerked for two years in the federal court of appeals. Then, in 2019, she got one of the most elite, hard, and fun jobs in the legal profession for young graduates: a clerkship with Justice Clarence Thomas.
ROUGH: She’s the second blind person and the first blind woman to clerk for a Supreme Court justice. The previous blind clerk was in 2008. In one sense, not too long ago. In another sense, ages ago.
WOLK: So technology now moves very, very fast. And so it can be the case that, you know, you have a system that works, and then all of a sudden, one day, the app updates or the whatever, the software updates, and now everything is completely inaccessible again. Those types of access barriers, they’re still very prominent, especially in the law, which was traditionally pretty open to folks who are blind.
REICHARD: Traditionally open to the blind. Old school law—think of trials.
WOLK: Trials used to be about oration and the skilled lawyer who stood up and told the story. And now it’s like you have the graphics and the power points and all of these things. It’s just a product of our changing world. But all of those things can pose access barriers to someone who has the same exact skill as a sighted person but they just might not be able to access software because of problems with the design of the software. So I think that's just really important for anyone who, you know, cares about inclusion of folks with disabilities to bear in mind.
REICHARD: Wolk says Justice Thomas was one of those people.
WOLK: I do think Justice Thomas, he's a really great example of that. He knew I could perform the functions of a clerk that I needed to perform. If anything came up, that was an access barrier issue, he made it very clear, it was not a reflection on me. He understood that it was something beyond my control, and something that we would need to work on together to fix.
ROUGH: When she clerked for Justice Thomas, she used her running time to draft work and puzzle through legal problems in her head.
WOLK: So there’s a lot to process and to have your mind wrapped around! When I was running, a lot of it was sort of planning out in my head, especially if you're working on, you know, drafting an opinion. How can I write this in a way that will make sense? Or how can I organize my thoughts in a way that will make sense to someone who doesn't know anything about the case? Or sometimes you would just need to step away, you turn to something else and all the sudden the answer just clicks in your mind.
ROUGH: Wolk has a good sense of who she is and Whose she is. She has a strong faith in God.
REICHARD: She says her faith affects what she does in the broadest sense.
WOLK: I think the law has a lot of things that transfer very well over to my faith. You often take oaths to uphold the Constitution, or you have duties to your clients. Basically, these promises, and I think that my faith helps me to approach those with the appropriate level of gravity and to make sure that, you know, when I'm serving as a counselor or an attorney or an advisor, you know, I really am doing it from a place of service with an understanding that I've given someone my word, you know, that I will do these things, and I need to be I need to treat that with honor and do the right thing.
That’s this week’s Legal Docket.
And a teaser for the next Legal Docket Podcast? The case of the foul-mouthed cheerleader who took her case for free speech to the Supreme Court.
NICK EICHER, HOST: New Yorkers endured a power outage recently that stranded hundreds of people using the city’s subway system. The outage put more than 80 trains out of service for hours.
Perhaps you guessed the storms and flooding had something to do with that, but as it happens, you’d guess wrong.
Janno Lieber is the Metro Transportation Authority CEO. He explains what really happened:
JANNO: It appears that a button was pushed accidentally that was not supposed to be pushed.
Yup. Someone accidentally hit the off button.
Investigators found a “strong possibility” that someone accidentally pressed the button, because the plastic guard was missing that normally covers the button.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul ordered a full review of operation control centers to fix potential weaknesses.
And I’m pretty sure they’ve ordered a new plastic cover for that button.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen joins us now for our weekly conversation and commentary on markets and the economy. David, good morning.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, good to be with you.
EICHER: Need your help here off the top. A lot of smallish economics stories last week, but nothing really stood out, couldn’t discern what the true, big story was of the week. What was your sense of that?
BAHNSEN: Oh, I do think even though it has such a big political overtone, and obviously is connected, all the COVID stuff, but I think even economically, this move by the administration on vaccine mandates on Thursday night of last week will prove to be the big economic story of the week. It also was a, you know, modestly challenging week in the stock market each day saw a little bit of downward pressure. It wasn't anything substantial.
So then you get down to what took place Thursday night and the idea of the executive branch of government, using OSHA as an enforcement mechanism, DOL, to mandate vaccines for any company over 100 employees. Why do I say it's an economic story? You know, I imagine people listening have different opinions on the subject. My point is that economically, the executive branch, utilizing explicitly regulatory discretion, this abusively has no limiting principle, and economically employers that now have to price in to the way they think about their business. The fact that not just particular local agency or regulatory body or something, you know, that they have proximate kind of accountability over, but that the White House, or the president knighted states has this kind of authority, the enforcement mechanism is going to be wild. Potentially, the cost to businesses will be wild, I imagine there won't be as much because there'll be so much non compliance, and fraud and just all kinds of, you know, really unexpected outcomes from it. But my point being, this invites a level of uncertainty into a period of time in the job market where it's the last thing it needs. We're living in really interesting times.
EICHER: David, I read a handful of stories on the mandate and came across several—and I grant this is anecdotal—business owners quoted suggesting they’re a bit relieved to have government be the bad guy here, they’ve wanted to require a vaccinated workforce, but they didn’t want to be the bad guy. Now they can say, my hands are tied, you’ve got to get the vaccine, government says so.
So the economics of that—studying the tradeoffs—you have the heavy hand of government, but isn’t the tradeoff that maybe Covid goes away completely and faster and we get on with normal life? How do you analyze that?
BAHNSEN: Look, I do think that you'll get more vaccinated people out of this to some degree. But then there's tradeoffs. A great economist once said, there's no free lunch. And and I've decided to write a book by that name. What's the tradeoff here? I think you'll get more people vaccinated. And that is what I want. I don't mind at all saying to our listeners, I'm vaccinated. I'm for the vaccine, all of that. I also, by the way, Nick, and this may be somewhat controversial, but I have no problems with employers who mandated the vaccine to the extent that it is their company, and they have the right to do it. And I have to be consistent in my application or free exchange, I think the employee or would have had a right but you're bringing up interesting point employers who wanted to do it, but didn't do it. And now can say, Okay, well, I can rely on the mandate of the government to get away with it now. That what the trade off is that it further exacerbates the distrust of government. It further exacerbates the split that's taking place. There are a substantial amount of non-vaccinated people that are still not going to get vaccinated. They're digging in their heels. So we are living in times where civilly and socially, there is a great deal of unrest, and that rift has been getting worse, not better for about, you know, five years. I think this is going to make that worse, and that has an economic cost to this is something I've been arguing for for some time. I wanted more people vaccinated but did not want mandates. Because I wanted persuasion and human empathy and argument and friendship and conversation to make the case not mandates and unfortunately, they're going about it in a way that I think is yeah going to get more people vaccinated but also going to further divide the country, and that has all kinds of effects, and one of them is economic.
EICHER: We’re still watching the big government spending drama play out—many, many moving pieces to all of that—but you’ve started I know thinking about the economic impact of the related tax increases to pay for some of it. Is it worth walking through that before we go—the economic impact?
BAHNSEN: The economic impact, the negative economic impact from this bill is going to come down to the size of the spending, because it isn't like, well, let's say they decide to spend $2 trillion and not three and a half. And I think that's very likely that the number becomes between one and two, I think Manchin and Sinema have set this thing up to cut the bill in half. At that point, then if they decide to pay for half of it with taxes, or a quarter of it with taxes, the biggest economic issue is that we raise the size of government. And therefore you inevitably decrease the size of the private sector. And that crowding out of the private sector, the percentage of GDP of the economy, represented by government is the problem. That is what put because it is less productive, you then have a less productive workforce, you have less productive engines in the economy, less innovation, so forth, and so on. And so the size of the package will matter. The vast majority of this spending is pure transfer payments. There is very now the infrastructure bill has some things that are more productive in their orientation around the infrastructure of the country, broadband and water and rail and highway and things like that. But for the most part, this larger spending bill is social spending. There isn't an economic productivity that's associated with it, there's just simply a cost that currently exists that gets moved to somebody else. That's why we call it a chance for payment. As far as where I think the biggest economic costs will be borne in tax increases. As a supply sider and one who believes so deeply in capital formation and investment as a means of boosting productivity. Anything you do to tax something, you get less of it. So if you tax more of investment, you get less of investment. National Savings is what is impacted by a bigger government, but just definitionally Okay, it's a tautology, you have less savings, when you have more government spending, you cannot have investment without savings. That's where investment dollars come from, and savings dollars. So the less savings you have, the less investment and the less investment you have, the less economic growth and so I am concerned about the size of government concerned about the size of spending and then I want to get concerned on what they might do with some of the tax stuff, but we really just don't have clarity for me to get overly worried there. And we have bigger fish to fry.
EICHER: David Bahnsen—financial analyst and adviser. He writes at dividendcafe.com. And that’s your Monday Moneybeat. Thanks David, appreciate it.
BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Before we move along today, I want you to know about WORLD Watch—debuted last summer. We’re in Season Two now and we’re working hard to get this product in front of as many families as we can—families with young people at home, maybe in a homeschool context, maybe as a supplement to classrooms. It’s an excellent 10-minute daily TV news program. Here’s a bit of a promotional video we made this summer.
AUDIO: [World Watch promo]
The feedback we’ve received from families has been highly encouraging—they feel it’s really met a need for them, and over the next few weeks we’ll share some of that feedback with you.
But what I want to leave you with today, what I want you to know is that we’re giving away 1,000 30-day trials to WORLD Watch, so you can try it for yourself, for your family.
The program is formatted for high schoolers, but we’ve found the whole family really enjoys it and our team keeps it family-appropriate. But as I say, check it out for yourself. We’re going to do a thousand free trials. If after 30 days you like it, do nothing and we’ll keep it coming or cancel anytime inside that window and owe nothing and we’ll say thanks for trying it out.
If you’ll head to worldwatch.news right now and we’ll have a link in the program transcript today—worldwatch.news, you’ll see a large orange button in the middle of the screen that says “Claim your free 30-day trial.” Just click that and follow the instructions.
I think you’ll be glad you did.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, the WORLD History Book. Today, unwelcome deliveries, a woman joins the nation’s highest court, and the first publication of the Gray Lady. Here’s senior correspondent Katie Gaultney.
KATIE GAULTNEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, different folks will end up on different sides of the debate over whether today’s first milestone is one worth mentioning. The New York Times was born 170 years ago, when it was published as The New-York Daily Times on September 18th, 1851.
It's long been regarded as the country's premiere newspaper, but claims of liberal bias have marred its reputation in recent decades. Fox News host Sean Hannity:
HANNITY: … their conspiracy theories, Russian lies, their misinformation, propaganda, all to help the Democrats, and they failed miserably with their lies and conspiracy theories…
One example of its left-leaning tendencies: The paper hasn’t endorsed a Republican Party member for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.
But, its origins were altruistic enough. Henry Jarvis Raymond, a journalist and politician, joined forces with banker George Jones to found the paper. They sold that first issue for just a penny, and they put forth a sort of mission statement to explain where the Times was coming from:
KIM RASSMUSSEN: We shall be Conservative, in all cases where we think Conservatism essential to the public good;—and we shall be Radical in everything which may seem to us to require radical treatment and radical reform. We do not believe that everything in society is either exactly right or exactly wrong;—what is good we desire to preserve and improve;—what is evil, to exterminate, or reform.
Moving from the paper known as the “Gray Lady” to another lady: The first woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
SONG: “People’s Court” theme
It’s been 40 years since the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor to sit on the nation’s highest court. That happened on September 15th, 1981.
REAGAN: During my campaign for the presidency, I made a commitment that one of my first appointments to the Supreme Court vacancy would be the most qualified woman that I could possibly find. Now, this is not to say that I would appoint a woman merely to do so.
O’Connor caught President Reagan’s attention as a judge and a Republican elected official in Arizona. Analysts considered O’Connor a swing vote, though she most frequently aligned with the court's conservative bloc.
The topic of abortion put O’Connor in the hot seat during the confirmation process. Pro-life groups expressed their discontent, believing she would not overturn Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, O’Connor answered Senator Strom Thurmond’s question about her personal views on abortion candidly:
O’CONNOR: My own view in the area of abortion is that I am opposed to it as a matter of birth control or otherwise. The subject of abortion is a valid one in my view for legislative action.
Eleven years after her confirmation, the issue of abortion did land on her docket. And it turns out those pro-life groups were right; she didn’t move to overturn Roe. With two of her fellow justices, she co-authored the lead opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That case arose from a challenge to a Pennsylvania law that would have required spousal notice prior to an abortion, among other stipulations. Ultimately, the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirmed a woman's right to get an abortion, but it did give states new opportunities to impose limits.
More landmark decisions followed, including Bush v. Gore, where O’Connor sided with the majority.
In 2005, O’Connor announced her plans to retire to support her husband as he battled Alzheimer’s disease. Samuel Alito took her place on the Court in January 2006.
And we’ll close with a brief reminder of the terror our country faced after the September 11 attacks—this time in the form of bioterrorism.
COURIC: Now to the homefront and those concerns over anthrax in Florida. After one man died from the illness and his coworker was contaminated, the FBI has taken over the investigation.
It’s been 20 years since the first mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey, on September 18th, 2001.
Those letters targeted members of the media and two Democratic U.S. Senators. Each mailing contained just one gram of powdered spores—about the amount of sugar in a sugar packet. Dr. Ali S. Khan worked in emergency preparedness for the Centers for Disease Control. In an informational video, he talked about why terrorists find anthrax a desirable weapon.
KHAN: Anthrax is the most likely agent to be used in a biologic attack. It only takes a small amount to infect a large number of people. It’s inexpensively grown from just a few spores and can be easily engineered to be drug resistant.
The words accompanying the powdery substances carried further threats. NBC’s Matt Lauer read the contents of some letters sent to media outlets:
LAUER: This is next, take penicillin now, death to America, death to Israel, Allah is great…
In total, 22 people became infected, and five of them died. Government investigators suspected a U.S. Army medical researcher, Bruce Ivins, of carrying out the attacks. Ivins committed suicide in 2008 when he learned the FBI planned to file criminal charges against him. Doubts remain around whether Ivins acted alone.
That’s this week’s History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: vaccine mandates. We’ll unpack some of the reactions to the president’s sweeping regulation.
And, we’ll take you to California. Voters there are deciding whether Gov. Gavin Newsom remains governor.
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.
The Bible says “Fear not, for [the Lord] has redeemed you; [He] has called you by name, you are [His].
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.