Scott Simon

What is the power of prayer? Is there any?

The front page of Thursday's New York Daily News featured quotes from prominent Republicans about the murders in San Bernardino. Headline writers thought they saw a theme.

Dr. Rand Paul had tweeted, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims." Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, "Our prayers are with the victims." They echoed Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted, "Please keep the victims ... in your prayers."

Jonathan Pollard is out of prison, if not totally free, after 30 years. He's on parole for another five years, during which he'll have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, won't be able to give interviews, or leave for Israel, where he is considered a hero, and says he wants to live.

He also won't be able to use the internet without U.S. government scrutiny. Someone will point out: can any of us?

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We're following to news from France today after a night of devastating violence in Paris. Coordinated attacks killed more than 120 people in six separate attacks, leaving the city really and on edge. A Parisian man spoke with France 24 today.

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And part of what makes life go on is the love of sports. Our Tom Goldman joins us on a sad morning. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

Millions of people grew up in a time when we had nuclear nightmares. We worried that a few huge bombs might blow up the world, and we rehearsed how we should hide below our school desks if sirens ever sounded.

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It's tempting to make jokes about the demands Republican candidates made of broadcasters for future debates — and believe me, I have.

But I've also squirmed to see reporters bark at presidential candidates to raise their hands, yes or no, to reply to a question, as if they were schoolchildren asking for a bathroom break. And including 30-second long opening and closing statements sounds like the least an audience might have the right to expect in a two-hour debate. Thirty seconds is just a fifth of the time of this essay.

Milton Schwartz might get hauled in front of the Human Resources department these days for the kind of remark that endeared him to generations of women.

"They'd walk in, and he'd say, 'You're a 38B,' " his son, Ben Schwartz, told the Chicago-Sun Times when he father, Milton, died at the age of 94. "He knew his product. To him, it was a profession."

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When is a panhandler a performer? And do nearly naked women perform when they pose for a photo, or are they unclad panhandlers who get tips because people want them to buy a coat?

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