Glenn talks to John Lott

This morning on radio, Glenn spoke to author, economist and political commentator John Lott. His latest book, At the Brink, examines what the current administration is doing and what this government is doing to push us over the cliff. Lott will also be on The Glenn Beck Program tonight at 5pm ET on TheBlaze TV. Start a 14 day free trial to watch.

GLENN: John Lott is one of my favorite thinkers, especially when it comes to ‑‑ well, when it comes to facts and figures, you know, he's probably best known for his work on guns, guns by the numbers. I think his name is ‑‑ the name of his book is More Guns, Less Crime, and it is the ‑‑ it is the standard bearer, I think, for that kind of stat, and you won't read that anyplace else. Well, he has turned his attention now to what this administration is doing and what this government is doing to push us over the brink. That's the name of his new book called At The Brink. Will the man who won't be named on this program without a $20 fine, will "that guy" push us over the edge is the subtitle and John is with us now. Hi, John, how are you?

LOTT: Great to talk to you. Thank you very much for having me on.

GLENN: You bet. You're taking this on, and I wonder if we can ever come back from this because I look at the facts that you have in this. I just look at the things when you talk about the stimulus and how the stimulus is going to go down in history as the most expensive economic failure in all of history. You want to make that point first before I ask you the question on it?

LOTT: Well, I think there are some things that we can come back from and other things I don't think we're going to be able to completely. The economy's one thing. I think we're always going to be poorer than we otherwise would have been as a result of this policy. I mean, we've had the biggest increase in government spending and inflation‑adjusted terms that we've ever had in our nation's history, even bigger than the increase, even accounting for inflation, than we had during World War II.

GLENN: That's amazing.

LOTT: But the only thing that we've gotten out of that is a massive increase in debt, a debt that for a family of four now, publicly held debt is worth $200,000 per family. And we have incredibly slow growth. And those things aren't unrelated. I mean, the president keeps on saying that we can't cut spending at all, not even the growth rate, or we're going to somehow hurt the economy. And the exact opposite's true. You look around the world; those countries that have followed his policy, his Keynesian policy of increased spending and increased deficits ‑‑

GLENN: Lose.

LOTT: ‑‑ those are the countries that are hurting now those are the countries that have slow growth and bad employment growth.

GLENN: So where I want to go here are things like his stimulus and basically his policies is we're not going to be able to turn it around because in World War II we at the end had factories. We had hard goods that turned ‑‑ we could turn those things that we were building for planes and ships and everything else, we could turn those around and we had an engine to now start to build the best cars in the world and the best refrigerators in the world where at the end of this one we got nothing.

LOTT: Well, we got government and we have a lot of production that wouldn't exist without subsidies. You have all these green jobs that are out there and there's a reason why they don't exist without these subsidies. If you took away the subsidies, they would disappear because their costs are much greater than the benefits. They make us poorer. When you have a gallon of ethanol that cost more than twice a gallon of gasoline and produces less energy, it's almost as if you're just throwing away, you know, $100 a barrel that you, you know, that's just gone. You might as well just burn it up.

GLENN: So you ‑‑

LOTT: We're poorer by that amount.

GLENN: You talk about healthcare as another big problem, and I am stunned at the number of people who are just beginning to figure ‑‑ people I think are really smart are just beginning to figure out, "Wow, there's a real problem here." How long before the effects of universal healthcare really kick in and so everybody knows it?

LOTT: Well, some effects have kicked in. Over the last year, over the last 12 months the cost of health insurance premiums have gone up by 14.3%. Hardly the type of price control that the president was promising with his packages. But the real damaging stuff's going to go into effect this coming January. I mean, there's a reason why the president had the presidential election before the main bulk of these healthcare regulations went in effect. People I think are going to be shocked not just by, there's going to be additional big increases in the prices of health insurance but I think within a relatively short few years, the health insurance markets just for private insurance is going to disintegrate.

GLENN: Okay.

LOTT: And the reason why that's the case is that you have two conflicting rules. We are supposed to ‑‑ he's supposed to try to make everybody get insurance with these fines or penalties but at the same time he's said that there's no regulations that insurance companies can have on preexisting conditions. The problem is that the fines and penalties are small relative to the cost of getting insurance. The cost of insurance for a family of four will be about ‑‑ is about $14,000. It's going to go up probably to about $17,000 or $18,000 over the next few years under Obama's plan. And you'll be paying a few thousand dollars in penalties.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: It will make ‑‑ what will happen is it will be like running car insurance where you can wait until you get into a car accident and then buy insurance.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: There's going to be good people out there who are going to feel bad gaming the system and they will wait. But at some point even they are going to feel like suckers because as more and more people wait until they get sick before they buy insurance, you know, they'll pay the few thousand‑dollar fine that they have to pay there rather than have to pay, you know, the 15, 16, $17,000 that they have to pay for their family, insurance premiums are going to soar.

GLENN: Well ‑‑

LOTT: Because you can imagine how high car insurance would be if everybody waited until they had an accident before they bought it.

GLENN: Right. It would be the price of the car or the damage.

LOTT: Exactly.

GLENN: And that defeats the whole problem ‑‑ or the solution.

The other side of that is companies. And we're seeing companies already doing this. Companies are cutting hours. They're cutting their lower, you know, paid people they have to find that money for their healthcare some place. So they have to cut that. They are cutting hours back. So part‑time people are going to be even worse off than they were before. And a lot of companies are just saying, "I'll pay the damn fine. I don't care. I'm not going to provide it." And it forces people into, into the government which is supposed to be, his words, the provider of last resort. But he's made it so it will be the provider of first resort.

LOTT: Exactly. Look, when the ‑‑ when Obama, the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office were figuring out the impact and the cost of ObamaCare, they essentially assumed that people wouldn't be changing their behavior. But you and I know ‑‑

GLENN: They will.

LOTT: ‑‑ that when you go and make something more costly, people do less of it.

GLENN: Here's the thing, John. I don't believe for a second they didn't know that they wouldn't change their behavior. This is a guy who won the last election and not a lot of people reported on this, but he had behavior psychologists.

LOTT: Right.

GLENN: ‑‑ on his campaign. He's a guy who has Cass Sunstein as part of his administration. They know "nudge." They know exactly how human behavior is going to work.

LOTT: Right.

GLENN: It stops me from believing that these are honest mistakes. Lot lotto, I don't ‑‑

GLENN: Do you believe ‑‑

LOTT: Yeah, I don't believe they're honest mistakes. I believe, all I'm saying, when they would tell the public what it would cost ‑‑

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: When the official estimates went out on the cost, those cost estimates assumed people's behavior wouldn't change. I know they know that, we know it changes, and what I'm saying is that these cost estimates are going to be radically off. When people ‑‑ people are going to go under the government system, which is going to be much more expensive and, you know, we taxpayers are going to be having to pick up the bill.

GLENN: Okay. So ‑‑

LOTT: But this is part of a process. So I think part of a conscious design to basically destroy private insurance in this country. They didn't want to publicly go out for single‑payer government plan, but this is something that will lead to it fairly quickly I think.

GLENN: Yeah.

LOTT: Because ‑‑

GLENN: Of course it will.

LOTT: ‑‑ as the cost of private insurance soars and as people move onto the government plan, they'll effectively get there.

GLENN: Okay. So John, the congress isn't going to do anything, the president is just executive order after executive order, and the book At The Brink is not about healthcare alone. It's about the whole thing. What does the average person do? How can we possibly stop this?

LOTT: Well, there's some things that I don't think we can stop at this point, the destruction of the pharmaceutical industry, for example, the huge elimination of research jobs and the lack of future drugs that we're not going to get that would have saved lives not only in the United States but around the world. There's not too much we can do about that right now. And I don't think we can do too much in the near term about ObamaCare. He's there as president for four years.

On the economy there are some things we can do. We can try to make sure that things like the sequester goes into effect. I mean, it's just absolutely surreal to me ‑‑

GLENN: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

LOTT: To put off asking about the government spending and the lack of growth. Obama threatens that this $85 billion cut this year in government spending out of the $3.8 trillion budget is somehow going to send us off the rails. I mean, look around places, it's the places that have been spending the money that are off the rails. And to somehow believe that this kind of cut ‑‑ and this is after we just had $60 billion extra spent on Hurricane Sandy that somehow an $85 billion cut is going to be vast this year. And, you know, people need to keep Republicans' feet to the fire, not just on the sequester but on the debt limit bill that comes up.

The president constantly makes wrong, inaccurate claims about things like we'll go into default if the debt limit doesn't increase. It's simply false. I mean, any economist knows that as long as you can keep on paying the interest, you're not in default. And we have much more than enough money to pay the interest. Obviously almost 40 cents of every dollar that's spent by the government's being borrowed right now.

But look, if we were to just live within the revenue that we get, the government's still going to function. It's not going to do everything that everybody's going to want it to do, but it shouldn't be doing that anyway. And so, you know, the president can make the cuts as painful as he wants, but the thing the Republicans should point out then is, look, you could have spent the money on this. Instead you decide to make things bad and spend it on some pet green project that you wanted to have the money keep on going to.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: That's your fault that you're doing it. And if I were Republicans there, I'd say, look, you've got to cut spending. We've just had this huge increase in spending.

When Obama ran in 2008, his big promise, if you go back to the presidential debates, was to cut the size of government. He kept on saying over and over again the net size of government had to get smaller. A week after the election he starts talking about this stimulus and then it was supposed to be temporary, a year or two. We're five years into the Obama administration now and not only can't we keep any of those earlier promises but we somehow can't even slightly slow the growth of government.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: That somehow even now slightly slowing the growth of government would lead to financial disaster and, in fact, the exact opposite's true.

GLENN: All right. John, thank you so much. The name of the book is At The Brink and it's available everywhere by John Lott, a really truly brilliant guy. He's also going to be ‑‑ he's helping us on another book that we're coming out. We're crashing a book here and we've gone to the best experts, and I wanted to put together a, almost a guide for the Second Amendment and the truth about guns, and I'm calling the name of the book is Control because it is really all about control. Exposing the truth about guns. And John is helping us with some of the facts on that, and I so appreciate that. That's coming ‑‑ when is that coming out? Do you know, like ‑‑

STU: April, late April.

GLENN: Due I think this week. So late April is when it's coming out. Control. And he, John, will also be on with us tonight with the sheriffs because we have the, probably the most controversial sheriffs in all of Washington, but they are from all across the country and they are probably the most popular sheriffs because they are the ones who are saying, "I am folding. I will stand and protect and defend your right to have a gun," and they're not going to come in and search your house and they are not going to come in and take your gun. The sheriffs tonight, your last line of defense on ‑‑ at 5:00 on TheBlaze TV. Make sure you join us for that. John, thanks a lot. We'll see you later tonight.

President Trump couldn't personally make it to Houston for the 3rd Democratic Debate, so he paid $7,500 for a single-engine Cessna to fly in circles over Texas Southern University campus while pulling a banner that said, "Socialism will kill Houston's economy! Vote Trump 2020!"

For four hours, it chugged around up there. You could hear it everywhere. It was the soundtrack of the night.

You can just imagine Trump's face as he had the banner-plane idea. You can hear him putting in the order. You can see his list of demands. And at the very top, "I WANT THE LOUDEST PLANE YOU CAN FIND!!!"

*

Was that Bret Baier in the aisle, adjusting his reading glasses and thumbing at the strap of his comically small backpack as he crossed the blue-carpeted gymnasium? He looked like the human version of Wisconsin. He was saying something but all you could hear was the plane overhead.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Bret Baier, the stoic host of "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Fox News and the network's chief political anchor. He's underrated, if you ask me. Legacy. Old-school. He just delivers the news, which is what most people want. He talks the way anchors used to talk, with the American accent unique to news anchors even though he was born in New Jersey and raised in Georgia.

I had spent the last year-and-a-half on a series of in-depth profiles on some of the major countercultural figures of our time. People like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Carol Swain. So my first impulse was to rush over to Baier and profile the guy. Nobody else would, after all. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's. But they ought to. The man has a hell of a story.
He joined Fox News a year-and-a-half after it was founded, as the southeast correspondent in Atlanta. A few years later, on a Tuesday in September, nineteen terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and crashed into America.

When the first plane hit, Fox producers told Baier to just get in his car and drive to New York City. They needed back-up reporters for the next day. When the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., they said, "Step on it, Baier."

He and his producer were an hour outside Atlanta when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Still a good 8 hours away, but closer to D.C. than to New York City. So they re-routed to Arlington, Virginia, as fast as they could. Past a blur of fields full of indifferent cows. Past houses full of people who could hardly talk, people who couldn't describe what they were seeing and hearing, all the smoke and the blood and the office-supply confetti. Past towns that barely moved, gas stations with nobody in them, people sunken into a far-away stare.

Yet there was the sun, with only a few bangles of cloud every so often. America had been paralyzed but the earth kept trucking along, quiet and unbothered. It must have felt strange for Baier, to speed down empty highways — toward literal death and chaos — under a perfect sky, below cascading light and color.

Nature doesn't care if we make it out alive.

*

That day, Baier reported live from a Citgo station across the street from the Pentagon, rubble in heaps of flame behind him. It was like he'd fallen onto a different planet and was reporting back to home.

The next day arrived and it was so quiet everywhere. Nobody knew a damn thing. We could not believe our eyes. We all turned to reporters and anchors for answers. Most often, they blurted out whatever they could.

Something about Bret Baier gave audiences a much-needed boost. Reliable, sturdy. Like he said what had to be said and not a word extra.

Fox kept him in D.C., indefinitely. A friend helped him find an apartment. He never went back to Atlanta. Two weeks later, Fox News appointed him Pentagon correspondent, a position that saw him travel the world, including 13 trips to Afghanistan and 12 to Iraq.

Halfway through George W. Bush's second term, Baier became Fox News' White House correspondent.

Then, a year before he would earn his current position as anchor, Baier became a father. His son was born with holes in his heart — five congenital heart defects. Twelve days later, the boy underwent open-heart surgery. Baier and his wife waited in tiled rooms drenched with flowers and ESPN and drab ultraviolet light, surrounded by machines full of beeps and whirring and beeps and whirring.

Baier's son has since undergone two additional open-heart surgeries, nine angioplasties, and one stomach operation. In an interview with Parents Magazine, Baier said that his son's health problems have "given me perspective about my job, going through policy and politics in Washington, D.C., to see the bigger picture."

*Part of the reason I couldn't tell whether or not it was Baier is he's usually up on the main stage. For the 2012 election, he moderated five Republican debates, and co-anchored FNC's America's Election HQ alongside Megyn Kelly.

The 2016 election would propel him into a much larger role. He anchored three Republican debates, but this time he had to handle Donald Trump.

Baier knew Trump personally, from before the election. They'd played golf together. He described Trump as "a nice guy outside of his TV persona" and never thought Trump would actually make a run for the Presidency. Onstage, Trump was much different. And Baier had been tasked with maintaining control.

A devout Roman Catholic, he appreciates a nice glass of wine and a fine cut of steak. He likes a good joke, too. In January, 2019, Baier signed a multi-year deal with Fox News to continue "Special Report." A few weeks later, he and his family went to Montana for a ski trip. The weekend was wonderful. But they had to get back to New York because Baier was scheduled to appear on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that Tuesday.

Imagine him, again in a car hurtling toward a fateful destination. How he squinted through the frost-pocked windshield and gripped the steering wheel. As he guided the white SUV along the two-lane road to the airport. The land looked haunted, barren, lifeless. Everywhere, the world was frozen white. Snow and ice blanketing the fields, gauze over the sky.

At some anonymous intersection, Baier pumped the brakes, but the tires hit an ice patch, and the SUV spun loose. An oncoming car slammed into the driver's side, launching the vehicle into an embankment, wedged on its side. A man named Zach stopped his pickup truck and helped the family crawl free, and the Montana Highway Patrol rushed them to the hospital.

"Don't take anything for granted," Baier tweeted later. "Every day is a blessing and family is everything. It's always good to remind yourself of that before something does it for you."

Before every debate that he moderates, Baier spends 10 minutes alone, praying.

*

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2011 revealed that Fox News was actually right. That the Obama Administration really did hate them. And had intentionally excluded them from a press pool two years earlier. Then laughed about it.

The documents unearthed snarky emails between various high-ranking aides in the Obama Administration. In one, the Deputy White House communications director bemoaned Baier's reporting on the bias. "I'm putting some dead fish in the [Fox News] cubby — just cause Bret Baier is a lunatic." That same day, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest bragged in an email that "we've demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews."

The Trump administration pulled a similar stunt in July, 2018 by banning a CNN reporter from the press pool. Trump and Fox News had developed a beneficial relationship by then. And CNN was a lifelong competitor, a public enemy.
That night, Baier delivered an official statement, "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better. As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access."

Fox News rebuked Trump in solidarity with CNN. It was a heartening gesture between two seeming enemies. Fox News were standing up for truth, defending journalism, rejecting tyranny even though the ban would have benefitted them as a company.

Who knows how many books and dissertations and articles have been written about Fox News, usually in relation to bias, usually with a scathing tone. The conclusions differ wildly, yet each one claims certitude.

Generally, academics and journalists have taken a doomsday tone when talking about Fox News. Accusations of evil, fear-mongering, bigotry, hatred, misinformation, propaganda, racism, homophobia, and so on.

Despite these outcries, Fox News has consistently held its spot as the most-watched network in the country. Imagine how that makes its critics feel.

In an August 3, 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Baier said, "the biggest problem is that the people who are most critical of Fox are usually people who have not watched Fox News."

Fox News is composed of two distinct departments. Punditry and straight news. Or "opinion news" and "descriptive news." Consistently, surveys of the public rate Fox News as both the least- and most-biased news network.
Last year, a survey found Fox News to be the second most-trusted television news brand in the country, after the BBC.

In a separate study, Democrats rated its bias score at (negative) -87, while Republicans placed it at (positive) +3. Which is like if, at a football game, one referee said "Touchdown," while the other referee said "Turnover, leading to Touchdown for the Defense." It can't be both, can it?

Public opinion may not be the best metric for understanding Fox News, especially in 2019.

Quantitative studies have offered clearer conclusions. In 2016, a content analysis used crowdsourcing and machine learning to examine over 800,000 news stories published over a year by 15 major outlets, from the New York Times to Fox News. They wanted to chart media bias.

What they discovered is that news outlets are far more similar than we believe. Much of the perceived bias is a matter of separating "opinion news" from "descriptive news." For conservatives, it's punditry. For those on the left, it's op-eds and long form investigative pieces, although the left tends to insist that they're not biased, that they are instead just more apt to tell the truth, even though research has disproven this belief.

The researchers found a much larger bias-divide in opinion news, whereas descriptive news was practically neutral. One of the researchers described Fox News' descriptive news as "guided by similar news values as more traditional, legacy media."

University of California Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote that "Fox News stands next to industry, state government, church, and the regular media as an extra pillar of political culture all its own."

Say what you want about Fox News, they play a crucial role in the so-called mainstream media. And, despite what Fox News will lead you to believe, they are definitely part of the mainstream. And they are by no means the innocent victim. And certainly not powerless. And they have all kinds of problems that I will not defend. But we'll talk about that in a later installment, the one about Kamala Harris at a gun control rally, advocating for propaganda.

*

After two months of political events, I suspected that different news networks have their own signifiers, like the distinct stripes and markings on various spiders.

Wall Street Journal reporters tended to carry old-timey notepads and interview any bystander they could find. Breitbart usually only sent one person, and he wandered around with his iPhone, recording every single thing. Politico, prim-suited men who could just as easily work on the stock market.

Most of the reporters dressed like that, in stagey business attire. Prim for a high school job fair. Meanwhile, the photographers, mostly men, looked like professional paintball players. The camera crews and technical staff were the only ones decked in tattoos and wearing sandals and generally not caring about the chaos all around them. On-camera talent were covered in makeup and shrink-wrapped into dresses or suits with chip-clips along the spine.

The Washington Post sent the classiest and most bored-looking people I have ever encountered. They never looked at their laptops as their fingers chopped at the keys, and you assumed they were pretending until you read their stories online. You could spot ABC because their camera crew wore faded red ABC hats. Associated Press looked like they had just come back from a battlefield assignment in Syria, and never donned the same press credentials as everyone else, preferring a tattered AP lanyard. And you always knew when someone was with the New York Times because they announced it to the entire room.

And Fox News? At democratic events, they usually hid. But not that day, in Houston, as Bret Baier walked up the aisle to a table a couple rows in front of me.

Most people arrived in the Media Filing Center several hours before the debate. Fox News got there just slightly after that, as everyone was wiggling in their seats and connecting their laptops to a shared outlet.

There were seven or so in the pack of Fox News, all grinning. They all had white to-go sacks from Chick-fil-A. And the room got quieter, so Trump's plane got louder. It was a double trolling event.

As host of the debate, ABC would be providing dinner. This information was included in the credentials email that all of us had received. So nobody else had brought food with them. No need.

Even better, I was familiar enough with that part of Houston to know that there was not a Chick-fil-A anywhere close to us. Who knew where they'd gotten that Chick-fil-A, but odds are it wasn't warm. Who knew if there was even any food in the bags.

They had brought Chick-fil-A into a building full of national media during the third Democratic Presidential debate. The 2020 election was already full of outrage about plenty of things, and one of them was Chick-fil-A. To some folks, the red chicken logo might as well have been a swastika. That very week LGBT activists had vehemently — cartoonishly — protested the opening of several Chick-fil-A's throughout North America. Chicken sandwiches had become yet another flag on the tug-of-war rope in the Culture War of our country.

To be clear, the political left was anti-Chicken and the political right was pro-Chicken. The media tended to lean anti-Chicken, and frequently wrote about anti-Chicken causes, often scolding pro-Chicken voices, or ignoring the struggles of the pro-Chicken community only to deny any opinion on Chicken at all. That was the cowardly part, of you ask me, the pretending like they weren't activists.

The Democratic candidates definitely leaned anti-Chicken. Sometimes they took it so far that it upset moderate anti-Chicken advocates. Because was it really so bad to eat Chicken? Couldn't you be anti-Chicken but also enjoy Chicken occasionally? Why did everything have to be either "all Chicken all the time unless you hate freedom" or "no chicken ever unless you support hate"?

The fight had spread everywhere. Airports, stadiums, malls, campuses. All had served as battlegrounds for the anti-Chicken versus the pro-Chicken.

The previous President was anti-Chicken. In fact, he may well have enflamed the entire movement. During his tenure, there were nationwide protests that saw pro-Chicken advocates angrily and proudly eating Chicken while anti-Chicken advocates protested outside and occasionally engaged in homosexual affection, which was being threatened by Chicken, according to them.

Every time the pro-Chicken folks bit into a Chicken sandwich, it was like they were gnawing away at the anti-Chicken people themselves. Degrading their identity. Because, for them, it was about the identity.

But the current President, unabashedly proud of his pro-Chicken stance, once served Chicken at the White House to some winning sports team, and the anti-Chicken activists saw it as proof that Chicken and hate go together. And maybe Chicken would even lead to the impeachment of the President they hate, which would mean the Vice President would become the President, but he's one of the most pro-Chicken people in America, so they'd have to impeach him, too. And the Supreme Court, it was overrun with pro-Chicken types.

This election, the Democratic front-runners competed for the bolder plan. They would end Chicken in America once and for all. They would obliterate our evil President and his Chicken Supremacy. Their stump speeches relied on harsh criticisms of pro-Chicken voters, who pretended to find the whole anti-Chicken movement amusing but were secretly enraged by it. In fact, they were certain that the anti-Chicken movement had been systematically silencing them for years, and that they had to fight for their Chicken in order to keep everything that they valued, even all the not-Chicken.

The media and the democrats and Hollywood and academia — all hated the Chicken, because they hated the pro-Chicken people. If they had their way, no more Chicken, ever again. And no more pro-Chicken deplorables. And tonight the anti-Chicken politico-culture complex would prove it, with long rants which get confirmed by glowing articles, calculated takedowns about the merits of anti-Chicken and the evils of pro-Chicken.

Yet here was Fox News, with actual Chicken. And they were smiling. Maybe in part because the police who were guarding us all tended to be pro-Chicken. And this was Texas, after all, an incredibly pro-Chicken state. But there were 49 other states and 14 territories, and all of them were fighting for or against Chicken.

Some experts even said we were on the cusp of a Civil War.


New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter.

We've heard the catchphrase "follow the money" so often that it's nearly a joke. It gained added attention in the 1976 movie All the President's Men, which follows the story of the two journalists who uncovered Watergate. "Follow the money," their source told them, "and you'll find corruption."

Problem is, corrupters hide their bad behavior remarkably well. They are masters of disguise. But if you look closely enough, you can spot the seams splitting in their choreographed routine.

One technique that magicians use for psychological misdirection is called the false solution. The goal is to distract the audience, to make them believe that they know what's really happening. All the while, the machinations of the actual trick are happening right in front of them, because "implanting an unlikely and unfamiliar idea in the mind can prevent participants from finding a more obvious one."

Billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

I want to tell you a story of tremendous corruption, masked cleverly, using many of the same techniques that magicians have used for centuries. Only it's not a rabbit disappearing into a hat or a coin vanishing behind an ear. It's billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

And the people responsible are the same people who have been so monstrously worked up about Trump's impeachment. The same people screaming about Trump's malfeasance with Ukraine are actually the ones misbehaving in Ukraine.

It's essentially an elevated, highly organized form of projection. Only instead of one person lashing out at the world, it's an entire political party, right up to the top. The very top. Barack Obama. It's right there on video.

Or how about the audio recording we uncovered, with Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, openly admitting a connection between the DNC and Ukraine?

So far, the story told by the Democrats and the media has been about Trump and Ukraine. Every so often, you hear mention of Joe Biden's dubious history with the war-torn country.

We were the first to talk about Joe Biden's connections to Ukraine back in April, with our candidate profile on Biden.

It turns out, the whole debacle was much worse than we thought. It stretched further than Uncle Joe. What we found out is that the DNC was working with the Ukrainian government.

This isn't a conspiracy theory. And we have the documents to prove it.

Read on to discover everything you need for a 30-second elevator pitch that you can give to your friend and say, "Look, here's what you need to know. Here's what's really going on."

If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail.

Last night, in Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia I revealed the elaborate misdirection taking place.

I said it last night and I'll say it again: If Trump is guilty, he should go to jail. If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail. Because this is too important to the Republic.

Watch the hands, follow the money.

Here are the documents, video, and audio that we found in our reporting. This is the hard evidence that will help you explain this unbelievable situation to other people.



  • June 2016 State Department memos detailing contacts between George Soros' office and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.




As you can see, we did a lot of research on this, and we've done our best to condense it for you. It still requires you to do your own homework, but there's a tremendous freedom to that.

You are seeking the truth.

You are bucking the mainstream media. You are rejecting them. And you are seeking truth. Because they abandoned truth a long time ago and they certainly aren't interested in recovering it now.

Hurricane Bernie

Photo by Sean Ryan

The tropical storm kept cooking. Hurricane Bernard. A white-haired disturbance. Inland of the Gulf of Mexico 1,100 miles, no signs of stopping. Gale force winds so loud that at least one elderly woman, on that sunny August Sunday at the Iowa State Fair, had ear plugs and a sunhat, ready for disaster.

Photo by Sean Ryan

At about 15:30 hours, I observed a migration of Make America Great Again-hats, drifting westward, slowly but steadily, toward a one Mr. Bernie Sanders.

Photo by Sean Ryan

As you can see on the map here, from the southeast, a cluster of "Capitalism is Evil" sign-bearers building mass. If these opposing fronts collided, it would be catastrophic.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then, when it could not get worse, an isolated storm to the north began moving south, from a restaurant which happened to sell alcohol, which all parties appeared to have had enough of already, and their tribal outfits differed antagonistically, ramping up the atmospheric pressure.Then came a southeastern oscillation of ditzy stoners who had just seen Bernie Sanders on Joe Rogan's podcast and wondered, would he stay around afterward so they could get a selfie together? Followed by the goat wranglers who had just finished an exhibition.

And all of it was heading to one place. The Political Soapbox stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A man in a motorized scooter rolled by the fenced area for media, seemingly the most innocuous of all. No, no. He was wearing a MAGA hat and had a Trump/Pence lawn sign in his front basket. He passed a 20-something who shouted something about, "Did he like his wheelchair?" and "How much will it cost the rest of us?" but the man didn't hear because it was loud and his hearing aid was loose.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Two women held hands, scoping around for people's reactions. Nobody seemed to care.Meanwhile, the anti-Bernie factions had posted up in front of the stage as Bernie's staff was fighting through a squall of reporters and admirers from the west, and the suction energies were colliding. Millibars and millibars of barometric pressure.Sunlight cut through the clouds and the world was bright all of a sudden, too bright. The metal breath of heat, scalp-frumping heat. Viperous and hateful.

*

A tractor-led train nudged through the rows of Sunday fairgoers, then came to a stop. The cartoon character of a conductor yanked a cord and the train made an electronic "Toot toot!" He yanked and yanked, squinting ahead, edging into a panic. The crowd had overtaken the tractor-train like a handcart lost to quicksand. A horde of people were frenzying around. Cameras, microphones, lots of urgency, lots of shouting. The conductor could see over it all. The people looked like ants carrying an orange slice. Only it was Bernie Sanders at the middle. Everyone recognized that face, that wild white hair, those fingers pointing everywhere, that hunched-back stroll.A young woman passed behind the squall, "Aw, I can see his little head." The bald spot. To her, he was Buddha.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If you turned in any direction you'd see ruddy-faced people griping at other ruddy-faced people, contorting themselves like a mime because we're not great as a country about expressing negative emotions, especially in public.If only National Geographic had covered the event. They would sauce it up with classy references to sociology. Or they'd frame the commotion as a nuanced power struggle acted out as a performance, a dance, between the authoritarians and the revolutionaries, or the such-and-such tribe versus the so-and-so tribe. Or maybe they'd pin it on something like native aggression.

Photo by Sean Ryan

To me, it was greater than that. The air had the eerie weight that precedes a tornado. It stank like when you're near a rattlesnake. It was all energy, the entire country at war in this one locale. And everyone had something to say, wanted something to do, somewhere to go, some way to matter in the rioting disaster of a struggle that is bigger than all of us, and deeper than we know, but still within arm's reach.

*

All at once, every person started mumbling, in one way or another, and just as quickly people clashed with their enemies and bonded excessively with their allies.

They had no choice. It was "He is red and I am blue." Followed by rictus in the face and words that imply bashing.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And the whole time this wonderful commotion was playing out, you could turn in any direction and get a turkey leg, or fried pork chop, or a bucket of cookies. Imagine if there were concession stands during the Civil War. These are the kinds of silly habits we humans indulge in.

A woman rolled her eyes as she passed the stage, "Political soapbox, ugh."A single engine plane puttered by overhead, pulling a banner that read, "Sen. Ernst what the flood?" with the logo for LCV, League of Conservation Voters, and the hashtag "climate." They want to feel the world getting hotter? Get down here, in the bubbling muck.

*

Last time Sanders took this stage, a thousand people gathered. Five months later, he nearly beat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus, which was a shady nightmare for Bernie and his unyielding supporters. I'll tell you more about it in the "Embassy Fortress" installment of this series.

Today, Sanders was lither and sharper than he had been any of the times I'd seen him yet.Rachel Stassen-Berger, politics editor for the Des Moines Register, took the stage and introduced Bernie and laid down the ground rules. No heckling, no signs, just be Iowa nice. In some ancient ritual, a group of Trump supporters in red MAGA hats and "Iowa for Trump" T-shirts sang their tribal war songs. Crows on the powerlines stared down lustfully, waiting for someone to drop a fried pickle.

*

Twenty feet away, at a different gathering of Trump supporters, five middle-school-aged girls shouted as they passed a woman with a "Women for Trump sign." They said, "Racist. Racist. Racist. You're a racist. You're a racist." Every single one of them looked like Billie Eilish.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The woman shrugged, said, "I'm proud to hold this sign."Her high-school-aged daughter, nearby, rolled her eyes, "I don't care what they say."

The largest contingent of Trump supporters populated a patch of land between the fried Twinkie trailer and a lemonade booth. Right then, a massive migration of Bernie supporters, signaling their poisonousness with multi-colored hair dye, was navigating toward the stage. One particular subgroup wore T-shirts with Harry Potter references. Behind them, "Keep America Great" signs jutted up from the crowd like stiff dandelions.

It was possibly the largest Soapbox crowd yet.

"Boy that's a big crowd," Bernie said as he looked out over the stage.

*

He had hardly made it to the stage. From the moment he stepped through the front gates, he was surrounded by people and microphones and cameras. The New York Times reported that "he spoke to almost no one." Incorrect. He spoke to anyone who approached him. As much as he could, mobbed by media and fair-goers hoisting cell phones. What was he supposed to do, have biscuits over tea?

Out in the tempest, Benny Johnson of TurningPointUSA held a travel-size whiteboard inked with the words "Where has Socialism Worked?" above numbers next to blanks. At any given time, you could look over and see various Bernie supporters vehemently scrawling "Norway" or "Sweden" or "Canada" or "China," followed by his rebuttal and dry-erase ink smears on his hand.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Ten feet away, unaware that Johnson was filming a segment about socialism, a young man in jeans and a bandana and a sports jersey of some kind, scoffed at a roving herd of Bernie supporters. "Socialism sucks," he muttered, too quietly for them to hear, but loudly enough to find satisfaction.

Besides, the small band of Bernie supporters seemed too happy to have cared anyway. They buzzed and chattered like they were pre-teens about to see their favorite band in concert for the first time. A couple of them definitely were pre-teens. But, as is usually the case at a Bernie event, there were supporters of all ages.

*

A man in faded jeans and a plain red T-shirt passed by the outer edges of the natural disaster. "Who's this," he asked the people around him. "Bernie? Bernie?!" Then he spat. Then he snorted. Then he spat again. Then, with a crooked smile, he shook his fist sarcastically and shouted, "Tax 'em all to death, Bernie! Tax 'em all to death."

In no time at all, Hurricane Bernard had completely riled the environment. Ten minutes earlier, the first subgroup of the Make America Great Again clan was out at the edges of the crowd on their own. But now, they were embedded in the eddying mass, so far from the outskirts. So they waved their "Keep America Great" signs and sang about the good times and argued with college students and men in Chicago Cubs hats about the importance of taxes and health care and the meaning of the soul in relation to a cheeseburger.*

Photo by Sean Ryan

Earlier, rain had passed through just long enough to make for gasping humidity. It was 82 degrees but it felt like 100. People riot in the summers. It's the heat. It makes us crotchety and bold. So the atmosphere around the stage was perfect for combat. Unbearably muggy. Everybody had a temper or some eagerness or both.

As he ascended the walkway toward the stage, Bernie was like a saint or an anti-hero, the way people wanted to see him. No spectrum, only the magnets with a north and a south. People gasped at the sight of his unkempt hair and monastic bald spot.

A twelve-year-old boy in a bright pink shirt jumped and jumped, looking for Sanders. A man in a cowboy hat stroked his gray handlebar mustache as he said, "Bernie," with a pickled reaction. "Uh oh, Bernie. Sanders."Just around the corner, if you could get through the clotted masses, was the "Cast Your Kernel" poll. Passersby placed one corn kernel in the mason jar with their favorite candidates name on it. Later, at the end of the Fair, when the votes were tallied, Republicans would win, with 51 percent of the vote.

Trump would get 97 percent of the Republican vote. The closest Democrat would be Biden, with 23 percent. Anywhere else but Iowa this would mean nothing at all. But the more you learn about the Iowa Caucus, you'll realize that corn kennels in a mason jar would actually be a better system.

*

By the time Bernie started his speech, there were people all the way across the wide street, a solid battlefield of faces to the deep-fried Snickers trailer. And all around the stage, every side. Easily 700 people. Maybe 1,000. Maybe more, below the Ferris wheel.

Lots of Bernie signs. Lots of sarcastic whooping. Lots of very passionate, aggressive arguments. But also lots of people who'd come to the fair for turquoise rings or leather pants or personalized keychains, and all of a sudden they had been swept into tantrum warfare.

*

Behind the gated media area, two couples stood side-by-side. One couple had voted for Trump in 2016, the other had voted for Hillary Clinton, reluctantly, because they were Bernie supporters, so now they were shouting along in support of Bernie.

In response, the Trump couple muttered a couple phrases about "Aren't socialist so stupid?" Then the Bernie supporters performed an imitation of Trump supporters. It was fairly graphic and involved a recreation of incest and/or bestiality. Maybe not, it was hard to tell what the couple was miming. But it stoked the Trump supporters, and all of the oblique warfare was off the table. Now, it was hand-to-hand combat.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The woman of the Trump tribe was the more dominant member. The aggression of the Bernie tribe was equally distributed between its two members. This only strengthened and infuriated the Trump woman. She called the Bernie man a "beta." In turn, he lifted his nose to the sky and muttered something about health care and would the lady kindly go to a dermatologist and get the psoriasis figured out? His female counterpart looked at him with a mixture of pride and disgust. The Trump male member pecked at a pretzel with his teeth.The two couples looked similar in age and appearance. Their clothing choices differed slightly, but not enough to signify an ideological divide of such gravity. On any other day, maybe they would have gotten along.

All the while, Sanders shouted into the microphone. His speech blared out air-raid horns 10 feet from the two battling couples. Then, the couples stopped. Laughed. Nodded to each other, distracted by a man in American-flag short-shorts and a sleeveless American-flag shirt and American-flag socks and American-flag shoes and an American-flag cowboy hat and a double-knotted fannypack and a pair of round sunglasses that belonged to a woman. He had a tattoo canvas running down both arms and along his shoulders that featured war-planes dropping giant bombs into the oceans or onto land, it was hard to tell. He was the modern Uncle Sam, hooting and stomping.

"How you gonna do it?" He shouted. "Answer me, Bernie! How you gonna do it?" his American flag shorts billowing in the parched air, signifying the power of a nation at the top of it all.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

In a pinch, he could salute himself. He could stand at attention while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played from a bullhorn and everyone in earshot would straighten their backs and remove their hats and hold their hands over their hearts and tear up. If things ever got bad, real bad, he could hoist himself to the highest mountain as bald eagles screeched "Amazing Grace." And, look, as far as I'm concerned, he's an American hero.

I consider him the eye of the storm.



New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter.

Tulsi Gabbard and the Farmer Magic Show

Photo by Sean Ryan

At the junction of U.S. Route 71 and Highway 141, 80 miles west of Des Moines, a sign with a heartbreaking photo said "Fingers & Toes 10 weeks from conception." Sponsored by Pro-life across America. Just outside Bayard, a sign read "Save the babies. Life begins at conception." Any time you saw these signs, they were placed so you had to look the baby in the eyes as you waited at the stop sign. No other cars for miles. A soundtrack of animal life and unperturbed Mother Nature.

The narrow backroads were all so buckled that it felt like we were driving on a giant trampoline.

Just past Richland Cemetery on 141, another Tulsi Gabbard billboard. Other than that, it's mostly elongated plains. Neat green rows of cornstalk occasionally interrupted by a meadow full of cows or a chicken farm or a town with one stop signs and two side streets.

There were so many Tulsi signs all over Iowa, billboards, lawn signs, various-sized placards, plenty of regalia that you didn't have to buy. None of the other Democrats had that much advertising. Or any, really. You could still find Bernie bumper stickers, but that's everywhere now, isn't it?

Photo by Sean Ryan

The only other 2020 presidential candidate with a comparable showing was Donald Trump. His face and his name were everywhere, even when you couldn't see them, even when they were just below the surface of everyday life. At diners, in cornfields, on people's head accompanied by the words "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN," at gas pumps, on the sides of barns, at the top of grain silos, along listless highways that ramped into dirt like unchristened landmarks.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"Is Gabbard from Iowa?" my dad asked.

No, no, she's from Hawaii. Which is, hopefully, why she began and ended many of her appearances with "aloha." She had been elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives when she was 21, an age many people start with a tornado of a birthday. Gabbard was born in American Samoa. Starting in 2013, she served as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, then resigned in 2016 to endorse Bernie Sanders. If elected president, she'd be the first Hindu. And, if she were selected as Vice President by Kamala Harris, who then won the Presidency, we would have the first Hindu Vice President/President combo.

Gabbard gained some attention during the second debate one week earlier, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, when she attacked Kamala Harris' criminal justice record, a weak spot. Gabbard lunged full bore, like a Spartan fighting an ambush of Persians. If that doesn't sound lively enough, just know that, as a result, "#KamalaHarrisDestroyed" spiked on Twitter. And by the looks of it, Kamala Harris might well have been destroyed by that moment, at least for 2020.

By the end of the night, it was what most people remembered. Google searches for "Tulsi Gabbard" outperformed "Kamala Harris" in every state except South Dakota, for some reason. None other than the New York Times hailed it as newsworthy. For weeks, journalists recalled it, like bored sailors imagining monsters.

*

Photo by Sean Ryan

And so it was a little strange to see her at the Iowa State Fair, in her black blouse and black chinos and beige sneakers and blood-red blazer with the sleeves rolled up like they did in the 1980s. This sense of out-of-placeness arose with many of the candidates' events, if only as a flash at the beginning and the midpoint. An influx of surreality. Here she was, a presidential candidate, talking to a group of people who had wandered up holding foot-long corn dogs, asking, "Now who's this? Oh which one is she?" Or, "Less press here today. Bound to be a whole lot of them tomorrow, it being Saturday, the first Saturday and all. Ope, lemme squeeze around you and grab my pop and some mustard."

Photo by Sean Ryan

A decent semi-circle of a hundred-odd people stared ahead at Gabbard in their "TULSI" shirts and signs. They looked sweet and desperate. But outside that tightknit cluster, the fair strolled along as usual. Seniors in little motorized scooters. Teenagers desperate for hickies or rebellion. Families dressed in bright matching outfits and meeting points so they never ever got lost or divided or ignored.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A bric-a-brac of middle America. With the occasional MAGA hat and Trump 2020 poster. Because, any time we ventured outside of the Democrats' rallies and events, reminders of Trump floated by constantly. I cannot emphasize this enough. Partly because you will not hear a single solitary word of it from the so-called mainstream media.

In the 2016 election, 93 of the state's 99 counties voted Trump, the largest margin of any Republican candidate in Iowa since Ronald Reagan took 95 counties in 1980.

Iowa is not strictly conservative or liberal, despite its location at the center of the country, with so much farmland and so little commotion. In fact, that's a big part of why politicians shove themselves into jeans and schlep here. Iowans went wtih Obama both times. They even voted for Bill Clinton twice. George W. Bush in 2004, post 9/11. Reagan, both terms. Nixon. Lyndon Johnson. They chose Nixon over John F. Kennedy in 1960, and Charles Hughes over Woodrow Wilson in 1912, but for the most part, Iowa has voted for the winning player. They even voted for Abraham Lincoln, twice.

Iowans tend to choose the politicians who speak to them. Someone who will become their voice. Genuine. With attention to liberty and freedom, individuality. Tradition. Or change. And principles. 77 percent of Iowans are Christian. And there's a flexibility to that conservatism. These days, Iowa has over 3,000 wind turbines, which generate 25 percent of the state's electricity. The Iowa Supreme Court has pioneered social issues. Women's rights and segregation. In 2009, Iowa became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage, a full six years before it was legal on the federal level.

Gabbard talked about separation. The dismantlement of America.

"This is so heart-breaking," she said, pausing just right, "because we love our country. I love our country. I love our people. It's why, after the terrorist attack on 9/11, I enlisted in the Army National Guard." When she said that, many passersby jerked their heads up, patriotically. Maybe they were thinking about the elderly man just outside the front gate, limp-armed as he offered mostly-uncaring people flyers about suicide prevention for veterans and soldiers. Did you know that an average of 20 veterans kill themselves each day?

Gabbard has served as a soldier for 16 years, beginning with basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Then to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. She has deployed to the Middle East twice.

To which a man in the audience said, as if by accident, "Is that so?"

Then she had all the veterans and military families raise their hands, and she said, "Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. All of you."

Her voice had an oddly sonorous lull to it. There we all were at the kitchen sink and someone was cutting onions.

"The amazing thing that I felt," she said, "was that, those who I stood in that formation with, those who I served with, we all wore the same uniform, serving the same flag, focused on that mission that we have of serving our country, of keeping the American people safe. But there was no difference in that focus. That even though we came — Democrats, Republicans, Independents, conservatives, liberals, black, white, brown, different religions — we represented the diversity of this country, but we stood as one unit. With one voice. With one focus. On putting service above self, and putting country before self. This speaks to who we are, as Americans. This speaks to what unites us, as a country."

She said it so smoothly that people just listened. No clapping, no jeering. Maybe because the point of the speech was commonality, overcoming division, outfoxing dividers.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"And I think it's especially important for us to remember that now, as those who are in power seek to tear us apart for their own selfish gain, it is only when we the people stand up around this unifying principle of freedom, of justice, of opportunity, remembering those freedoms and inalienable rights that are enshrined in our Constitution, for every single one of us, those rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, when we come around these unifying principles, with love for our country and love for each other, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome, and it is only when we do that that we can begin to solve the great challenges of our day. And there are many. But we are starting on that common foundation. Coming together. Overcoming those partisan differences. Those ideological differences. And having conversations with each other based on respect, understanding that, when we care for each other, we'll find that we have far more in common than maybe we realized before."

Because it was 2:15 on a Friday at the fairgrounds, and, at 10:00 that morning, like every morning at the Iowa State Fair, the National Anthem blared from the dopey speakers around the SoapBox stage, outside the administration building. Or that, elsewhere at the fair, at that exact moment, there was a "Get Hooked on Fishing - Fish Local." Also, an "animal 'I Spy' activity" and something called "Oh My! It's Pie!"

Photo by Sean Ryan

Because the fair is American in a way unique to the country's middle parts. You won't find an "old-fashion hymn singing" class or a "milking demonstration" or a "thank a farmer magic show" in New York City or Los Angeles. Not unironically. Then, at noon and 6:00pm, Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the Maytag Family Theater. Because these days, ours is a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting.

Right as Gabbard started talking about the legalization of marijuana, a bald chap wandered by the crowd in a pizza restaurant's t-shirt that said "legalize marinara." Behind him, a group of seniors with overlarge yellow shirts bearing the sequined words "State Fair junky." One of them had "Granny" on the back as she scoured for where her friends went, then clapping and smiling when they reunited by a trashcan.


New installments to this series will come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out this page.