Glenn delivers a 'truly horrifying' look at the origins of the Russian threat

All this week, Glenn is taking viewers on a journey to explore one of the biggest geopolitical threats to America: Russia and Vladimir Putin. In addition to the research for each segment, Glenn is also making the transcripts and key highlights from the episode available on GlennBeck.com.

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Tonight, I’m going to show you what’s coming in the next 12 or 15, 24 months, what’s over the horizon. This one is truly, truly horrifying. The information that is fed to you by politicians or the mainstream media or, God forbid, the think tanks never take us beyond the surface view. I believe it is critical to attack an issue on a much deeper level, pull it up from the roots like a weed. If you don’t, if you don’t get at the roots, the problems will continue to resurface time and time again, and you will see that what I’m going to show you tonight has repeated itself.

History is repeating itself right now. It was Aristotle that said it, and then history repeated itself, and Edmund Burke said it. And then history repeated itself, and then Winston Churchill. And depending on what time period you were born in, everybody always says…my generation, it’s Winston Churchill. It started with Aristotle. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. If you don’t know history, you certainly won’t know the future.

The next three episodes we are going to show you what is going on with Russia, and I’m going to show you tonight, history. I’m going to try to answer these three things and show you these three things, that Russia is awake and rising and not to be messed with. Two, is it communist? Is it fascist? Is it religious? What is it? And three, when did this all start?

And this really kind of goes back to history. It’s a disturbing driving force behind their aggressive geopolitical aims and how it relates directly to you, because it does. But let me go into short-term history, because really it all goes back to this chalkboard which was the last year of my show on FOX, this chalkboard which caused me probably to lose more credibility than anything I’ve ever done. People said this was madness.

This was the caliphate. Did you notice that it was the cyber caliphate that hacked into the president’s speech and into our global systems today? It was the cyber caliphate. That’s this chalkboard. Well, we’re past the caliphate now. We are now to this point: radicals, Islamists, Communists, Socialists will work together against Israel…past it. Work together against capitalism…we’re there now. Work together to overturn stability…we’re there.

The protests become contagious. They cascade. They sweep the Middle East…past this. Begin to destabilize Europe…you’re now seeing this. And the rest of the world…this is where we are at tonight. We are going to show you this part. We’re going to show you in the next three days. Episode two, you’re going to meet Putin’s idea man, the architect designing maneuvers that we’re currently seeing play out in the international stage, and it is incredible once you know what he’s doing to see it all laid out on a table and what the signs point to, a rising red storm, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades, and this time they’re playing for keeps.

But for it to all really crystallize, you have to take Edmund Burke’s advice. We have to learn the history first, the impetus of Russia’s recent international escalations. They go much deeper than merely a maniacal shirtless dictator who hunts sharks with his bare hands. I mean, that makes for good click bait, you know, and Putin’s machismo may be a, you know, good enough storyline to satisfy the casual observer, but I will tell you, as I talked about this show on my Facebook page, I actually had people in our audience say well, I like Putin better than I like President Obama. I like him because at least he’s doing something.

Oh, be careful. Putin is not just the self-absorbed thug the media portrays. His tactics are far more calculated than the average wannabe dictator, and his goals are far, far reaching. The brash military overreaches from the annexing of the Crimea to the pro-Russian militants who shot down MH-17, that’s just about Putin flexing his biceps for the rest of the world to see, but there is a deeply historical and deeply disturbing pattern that is playing out that reveals the endgame and opens Pandora’s Box almost quite literally of biblical proportions.

Tonight, we begin a three-day episode on the root of Russia’s coming red storm which went from 0 to 60 since Putin’s reelection in just the past year. Watch.

So the question is why? Why Ukraine? Why is this happening? What is his end goal? There’s also some disturbing news that came out last weekend about the anti-homosexual agenda in Russia that we will touch on here in just a few minutes and also what’s happening in France.

Now, prior to these aggressions, even the mere mention of Russia as a geopolitical foe or a geopolitical force was met with mockery. Remember?

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President Obama: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaeda. You said Russia, and the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.

Okay, this might have been amusing. The audience laughed. The line about the 1980s made people laugh but really only those people whose knowledge of Russia begins and ends with Rocky IV. The plain reality is and has been there is no humor in such a stunning display of ignorance. Dismissing the ambitions of what Putin has declared the new Russia without carefully examining what does he mean by “that could have disastrous consequences”?

What is Putin’s new Russia? What does it look like? Well, the best place to help make sense of what’s happening now, again, is history. Most people would trace the Western and Russia conflict back to the mid-1940s. World War II had concluded, and most nations were now focusing on how to reconcile, reconcile with this guy, Stalin.

I love this. This is actually a model of a very famous sculpture for Stalin from the Soviet Union after he died, and I love this because it looks like he was in a straitjacket, and that’s where this crazy man belonged, a straitjacket. Stalin’s Soviet Union, that was a scary place. One of the highest profile points of the dispute in the creation of the World Bank and the IMF is where we really started to see this conflict.

The U.S. played a leading role because leaders believed at the time the IMF, the institutions, the banking institutions would help prevent another Great Depression from happening and another great world war. Those things were on the high priority list, but Stalin refused to go along with it. Well, this confused so many people, because FDR had openly spoken of the spirit of friendliness and cooperation with Stalin.

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FDR admired Stalin. People thought Communism was neat and affectionately referred to Stalin as Uncle Joe. That’s what FDR used to call him. Stalin’s refusal to help prompted U.S. officials to start digging around and find out what is the deal with Stalin? Why isn’t he our partner? Why won’t he help on this? This is important. This is good for both of us.

Well, officials reached out to a U.S. diplomat named George Kennan. He was the head of the mission in Moscow. Kennan didn’t share FDR’s rosy view of the communist leadership and the Soviet Union. He knew what killers they were. He believed FDR’s fondness for Stalin was wildly misplaced. His response to Stalin’s request was stunning. He wrote it on February 22, 1946, and instead of a simple reply, Kennan unleashed a five-part, 8,000 word missive that would later be known as the Long Telegram.

In it, he pulled no punches. He explained, “I cannot compress answers into single brief message without yielding to what I feel would be dangerous degree of oversimplification.” Stalin’s unwillingness to help over some random policy hang-up was bothersome to people, but there were serious problems. It wasn’t just bothersome. It was serious, and Kennan explained in an article published in Foreign Affairs in 1947.

He called it the Sources of the Soviet Conflict, and here’s what he said: “The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” Got it? “Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the…application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points; corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence.”

What does that mean? It means you’re going to have to contain them, and they’re going to continue to try to get out of that box, and you’re going to have to continue to move. The solution? Take steps; block him at his expansion anywhere possible. So, who is Kennan? Kennan is now known as the father of containment. His message was the cornerstone of our Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, contain them at all costs.

Now, that’s when it’s commonly believed that it all started, competition born out of the ashes of World War II because of this guy. That is ridiculous. It doesn’t. It goes much, much deeper than that, and our researchers have now worked for four months on this program to try to show you. And this is going to be a lot of really heavy stuff to try to jam down in a, you know, an hour-long show, but all of these notes will be up at GlennBeck.com. You’ll be able to see this. You can watch it at will, but this is critical that you understand this, because this is the root.

Gotta take you back over 1,000 years to the split of the Roman Empire. Split of the Roman Empire in the late 1700s, the government power structure was in Constantinople, here. The religious center remained in Rome. Now, here’s how the power structure was divided at the time. There was the Eastern Roman Empire. The government was run, Constantinople, which was famous for its defense and large number of soldiers there.

Culture was heavily influenced by the Greeks, connected to the Byzantine Empire, the language, the customs, and everything else, and that’s all Hellenization comes from here. Gradually they move away from the Latin language, and they’re increasingly alienating themselves to Western Rome and the pope. The pope was based in Rome. That brings us to Western Rome.

The Christian pope based there in Rome became more and more alienated as they maintained allegiance to the pope. In the time of conquer or be conquered, Rome was a sitting duck because all of the troops were Byzantine. All of the troops were in Constantinople, and they were there to protect the pope, but the pope was in Rome. All of the defenses in Eastern, all of the spiritual in Western…that’s the way it was in the beginning and only a matter of time before somebody took advantage of the opportunity and attempted to take down Western Rome, because the pope was like a king at the time.

At the time, it was common for barbarian tribes to attack various targets. There was a tribe called the Lombards. They saw the Byzantine troops were spread too thin. They were all around Constantinople, and where they were, there was no real army, so they decided to take a chance, and they invaded what is now known as modern-day Italy with the intention of conquering and ruling Rome.

Well, the Byzantines were tied up in various other battles. They didn’t have the resources to protect them. Desperate, the pope turned to somebody else, to Charlemagne. Charlemagne was the new king of the Frankish Empire. He agreed to help the pope, so Charlemagne comes in, and he swoops down, and he crushes the Lombards. He liberates Rome but in turn also ended up uniting most of Western Europe.

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Christmas day, year 800, Pope Leo III is sitting on his throne. He crowns Charlemagne emperor, and his empire would stretch as far east as the Slavic lands, and this is really important, Charlemagne all the way over here. Let me show you a look. This is Charlemagne’s Europe. If you see, the Slavics to Charlemagne, that is the orange up here. The gray or the brown down here, that’s the caliphate. I’m telling you, this is all playing out now, the caliphate at the bottom, the Byzantine Empire, the Slavic Empire, and then the West.

Now, let me show you another map, the Cold War. Do you notice the division of power in Charlemagne’s Europe and Cold War Europe is nearly identical? After Charlemagne’s death, his empire was split among his sons. France and Germany’s beginnings stem from this moment, and from here on out, Rome is the spiritual center, and Carolingian Christianity would dominate Western Europe. The way the region is constructed today stems from this, this ancient division.

Understanding this helps make sense of what is happening there today, because…do we have the new map? The world today…Ukraine, what’s happening in Ukraine? Some of Russia’s seemingly strange actions that had most Americans and most people around the world going what the heck? What does he care about that? If you know the past, you will know the future.

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All right, so how does Charlemagne and his rescuing of Western Rome over 1,000 years ago matter to anybody today? It’s all about values or the stated values. I want you to look closely at what Putin values in his new Russia. There has been a trend now of events that indicate Russia is attempting to be one of the highest profile international defenders of global Orthodox Christianity.

Religion is playing a role, and pay attention here. It’s all about religion, just as it was in Hitler’s Germany at the very beginning before he really seized power. He cloaked himself as a defender of all that is good and decent and Christian.

You’ll recall that it was Vladimir Putin who beat Obama to the national stage when denouncing the violence against Christians in the Middle East. Remember? We looked like we were cowards. All of a sudden he was defending, and he said, “This pressing problem should be a subject of close attention for the entire international community. It is especially important today to make efforts to prevent intercultural and interreligious conflicts, which are fraught with the most serious upheavals.”

Well, everybody loves that, right? Except that’s a little strange, considering that the guy kills journalists. Journalists in Russia who pen a negative word about politicians, especially Putin, find themselves victims of freak accidents like falling out of a nine-story window, falling into an elevator shaft, suddenly being stabbed and thrown off a roof, consuming poison-laced drinks. That doesn’t exactly square with good Christian tenets, does it?

Nevertheless, the pattern is now here. Putin himself was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church. He had a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2002. I want you to know, I am not claiming that he is a religious guy at all, but I am telling you that he has made strong religious allies, such as one powerful bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

Leading up to the Olympics, Russia championed the fight against what they deemed as the West’s slide into immorality and greed, critical to pay attention to, most notably taking an overzealous opposition to the pro-gay activist movement. I talked about this two years ago on CNN because I found this abhorrent at the time, and it has only gotten worse. Watch.

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Glenn: I said on the air this week I will stand with GLAAD. I will stand with any, anybody who will stand up and say that’s crazy, that’s dangerous, that’s hetero-Fascism. That’s what that is. And we’re talking about Duck Dynasty? Really? Really?

Really important…he banned gay propaganda, and here he is defending this law. Watch.

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Vladimir Putin: Two is that I’d like to ask our colleagues, my colleagues and friends, that as they try to criticize us, they would do well to set their own house in order first. I did say, after all, and this is public knowledge, that in some of the states in the U.S., homosexuality remains a felony.

Okay, this is not actual Christianity. Putin is attempting to appeal to his Orthodox core of the country. Why? Because he knows trouble is coming, and he’s got to cobble together an army, and it appears to be working. Russia has aggressively sought far right allies wherever he can get them, and if you don’t pay attention to what the history is and what he’s really doing, you might think I’ve looked into pooty-Put’s eyes, he’s a good guy.

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There is one disturbing partnership with a group called the World Congress of Families. I know very little about this group. I don’t think they’re a bad group. They are very pro-family, but they are not doing what Putin is doing. And this group has a lot of well-known Christian organizations among its partners. Again, seems to be a good group.

They were set to have a conference in Moscow until the military conflicts with Ukraine forced cancellation, and sanctions by the U.S. then forced the WFC to suspend their partnership, but it seems to me, and this is only one group, that there are groups around the world that have bought Russia’s salesmanship that they are the new global champion of Christianity.

I warn you, be careful. Let me give you a quote. “Now Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma.” That one comes from Putin’s favorite businessman, a 40-year-old multimillionaire who recently started the Charitable Foundation of St. Basil the Great, $42 million. The charity became one of WCF’s official partners at a similar conference.

He did a talk on traditional values, the future of the European principles, and said “Civilization is on the verge of deconstruction, and only Russia can become a center of consolidation of all the healthy forces and resistance to the sodomization of the world, that is why the whole Europe is looking at it with hope.” I am telling you that our multiculturalism, our lack of any values, is leading us to exactly the same place Western Europe was in in the 1930s.

Examples of Putin attempting to appeal to the Orthodox Church: Moscow State University received the largest scientific grant ever, $19 million, to fund a project called Noah’s Ark, the case against an all-female punk rock band, Pussy Riot, who was charged with the severe crime of doing a performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It was wildly, wildly inappropriate. It was vile, yes, but these women got seven years in prison, and people cheered Putin on.

The pattern is very clear, and it begs the question why? This is not a religious guy. Why is he doing this? Why is Russia attempting to become the so-called voice of the Orthodox Church? The disturbing answer comes from history when we come back.

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The world is on a collision course, and we have to find out what the root of this is and what comes next. When Vladimir Putin first got into office, he described himself, and he was described by everybody as a pragmatist. He was a secular nationalist whose religious stances were separate from how he governed. He didn’t really care.

We just showed you he’s going at 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Why? Well, let’s start where it really started to happen with him, the economic crash of ’08. It caused major economic pain, and Putin’s popularity began to slip. So, what did he do? He had to appeal to the nationalism of his people and also to the religious aspect to garner popularity. It worked in his first term, but the downturn has taken that option off the table now, and the Kremlin’s new plan is a dangerous concoction of anti-Western sentiment, Islamic xenophobia which you’re going to see play out in the West, and we’ll tell you about that tomorrow, and Orthodox Christianity.

So, all of a sudden this guy is becoming a religious leader. Well, has he had a come-to-Jesus moment? No, not in his faith, but he has come to Jesus as the best weapon at his disposal to keep people in the palm of his hand. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Now, what makes him think that will work? History, again…that’s what tonight’s episode is about, but you have to go further back than Rome. You have to go all the way back to the Roman Empire, passed that to the days with Jesus and his disciples.

The Apostle Paul, we know he went west towards Rome to preach, but meanwhile, Ukrainian historical accounts claim the Apostle Andrew had preaching that took him north over the Black Sea and even further north along the Dnieper River, all the way making converts to Christ. The name of the cities he visited, you have become reacquainted with in the news lately thanks to Vladimir Putin, Crimea and Kiev. As you will see, Crimea plays a very important role.

It was in Kiev where Andrew first predicted a great Christian city would someday arise. Some 800 years later, the prediction would appear to come true when Prince Oleg of the Rus arrived. He landed precisely where Andrew made his prediction, and today in that exact spot stands this, St. Andrews Church.

Now, for the Kievan Rus, the new location proved fruitful, made them incredibly powerful, even more powerful or powerful enough to attack Constantinople on multiple occasions. So, now it was the Byzantines. The Byzantines with all their power and their troops, they were sitting ducks and outgunned and out of options. The Byzantines found a different way. They thought we will fight a different way. We’ll fight by culture.

A Byzantine monk named Cyril developed a written language and translated the Bible and other Byzantine prayers. The Christianization of the Slavs had begun. By the way, Cyril, Cyrillic language, if you see above on our set, that is the language of Russia. They’re still using it today.

In 988, Vladimir the Great…Vladimir Putin? No, Vladimir the Great, in 988 was baptized in Crimea, and Kievan Rus became a Christian state. Just as Rome was the spiritual center of the Western Europeans, this became the Christian center. Is Ukraine and why he is paying so much attention to it, why he wants Ukraine and Crimea so important to him? Why does he want it? Because it is the center of Christianity for the Rus.

In the mid-1400s, Ivan the Great began a campaign once again to unite all of the Rus under one banner. Ivan may have been the first Russian ruler to realize the power and influence of Orthodox Christianity and what it had on the Rus. Knowing that this had real power, he commissioned the building of the Kremlin, and in the middle of the fortress, he placed the Assumption Cathedral of Moscow.

It was the grandest Orthodox Church in all of Rus’ lands at the time, and it still stands there right in the middle of the Kremlin. In fact, you go to the Kremlin for a tour today, they pretty much bypass all of the Cold War stuff. They take you right here, the United Rus. Ivan the Great, he united the Rus, and he conquered the mongrels and forged a Russian Empire. With him, the entire way was Orthodox Church.

Ivan declared Russia the third Rome. He adopted the Byzantine double-headed eagle as the official symbol of Russia, and it still is the coat of arms in Russia, a constant reminder to all Russians of their responsibility as a successor to the Byzantines. Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodoxy would become fused into the DNA of every single Russia, deep in their roots, and places such as Kiev and Crimea peninsula, they are considered the holy sites. In fact, we just heard a speech from Putin just a couple of months ago where he said that that is as important to the Russian people as Jerusalem is to the Jewish people.

The legitimacy of that place traces all the way back to the apostle of Jesus. When the Byzantine Empire effectively collapsed, the Russians saw it as their holy succession to establish the third Rome. The Russian Orthodox Church provided divine legitimacy for Russia. The medieval Iron Curtain line was drawn.

The Roman Catholic Church officially split from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Western Europe continued to look to Charlemagne and France as their protector and leader. Eastern Europe looked to Russia as their champion and preserver of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. That’s what’s happening. He is now saying that West and the Western Christianity has failed the world. We need to restart Eastern orthodoxy, and it will save the world.

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Russian nationalism, it has always centered on the Orthodox Christian Church, and this is the power that Putin is after. It’s the Holy Grail. This fracture in history is critical to understand, because an ongoing dispute in the region is not about anything other than who’s going to be the third Rome, the modern-day successor of ancient Rome. Putin is talking about it in speeches now.

The offspring of this divide, both believe they are the rightful successor. Putin is appealing to the historic roots of the Russian people when he aligns himself with Russian orthodoxy. He is rallying them to a greater call than just his power, just his ego, just to oil or anything else. He’s calling them back to God. And it wasn’t until the dawn of the 20th century that a certain leader there tried to change the Russian struggle from cultural to class, but the root of this conflict began over 1,000 years ago, and now the bare-chested Putin is posed to claim the mantle of orthodoxy, the centuries-old, tried-and-true way to stoke nationalism.

Why is it that the media is so afraid of people like me or people, anybody on the right? Because they will always say anybody who calls for nationalism and religion you should run from. No, do your own homework. This should send a chill down the spine of every living human being on planet Earth, because the red storm is just beginning to rise.

He may not be a super hero like he plays in the movies, but Chris Pratt is proving once again why he's a hero to so many. The silver screen protector of the universe announced on his Instagram page a contest that will benefit the Brain Treatment Foundation, who is a partner of Mercury One that does amazing work with veterans. The Brain Treatment Foundation specializes in helping combat veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The contest asks fans to donate $10 to the foundation for a chance to win a trip to drop in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star on the set of his new film Tomorrow War.

Watch his video below to hear all the details.


Ryan: The Ascent of Kanye West

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Apollo, god of poetry, light, prophecy, dance. Star of Greek mythology, rivaled only by Zeus, his father. God of justice. God of purification, knowledge, healing. God of the Sun. But most of all, god of music. So they called him the Leader of the Muses.

And on a bright Sunday morning midway through November, at the tail end of a decade, Kanye West looked out at the congregation of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, a 16,000-seater originally built for the Houston Rockets, and said, "Jesus has won the victory: Now the greatest artist God ever created is now working for him."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye's newest album, Jesus Is King, had been out for three weeks, and like every Kanye album, it was controversial, as adored as it was unaccepted.

Critics had shown a mostly tepid response, but nobody could tell if their disinterest was genuine, or if it was politically motivated.

After all, for the past year, Kanye had once again managed to penetrate the epicenter of American society. The last two Presidents had literally shamed and cursed Kanye, but, still, who could've guessed he would befriend this one?

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The week after Kanye's Olsteen appearance, at the House impeachment hearings, as the entire country watched and listened, Congressmen and diplomats would mention longtime Kanye collaborator A$AP Rocky no less than five times, in casual reference to the Kardashians and the deal between Trump and Sweden, struck at the urging of Kanye West.

Meanwhile, Jesus is King became the ninth consecutive Kanye album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 — a feat he shares with Eminem and The Beatles — and the sixth time in the 2010s alone. And, to be fair, his only studio album not to debut at number one was The College Dropout, his first, which went triple platinum and earned the third-most Grammy nominations in one night, winning Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song with "Jesus Walks."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Jesus is King was also the first record ever to top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums, Christian Albums, and Gospel Albums simultaneously. All eleven tracks charted on the US Billboard 100, joining the other 96 Kanye songs to have landed on the Top 100.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

This album was different, and not just because of Kenny G. For the first time, Kanye was not a god or a self-destructive fallen angel. He was a father, a husband, a son, and, most important, a man full of belief, with his hands outstretched, surrounded by a choir.

"I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a breakdown," he told the congregation, "and there's documentations of me drawing a church and writing about starting a church in the middle of Calabasas."

That night, following an afternoon of ice-skating at the Galleria, Kanye returned to Lakewood Church and performed a concert. Imagine hearing a his electro-gospel opera in an arena designed, acoustically, for professional basketball games. Only better, because everything had been padded. With LSD graphics on the swirly blue carpet.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When we experience art, it changes us.

So there I was, four rows from the stage, crying in front of FoxNews. Because Kanye had brought his Sunday Service choir with him, and they were singing "Ultralight Beam," one of the few perfect songs ever made, a song that played during my wedding ceremony, the song my daughter, God willing, will be born to, a song I have never once listened to without at least tearing up.

“Jesus Is King" A Sunday Service Experience at Lakewood Church with Kanye West youtu.be

"This is a God dream, this is a God dream. This is everything."

Kanye was the only person onstage dressed in his own clothing, a neatened blazer. The choir were draped in grey, like holy silhouettes.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

So who cares about FoxNews and their snotty reporters in their shoulder-padded blazers. The rest of us had drifted into the immediacy of it all. And I wasn't about to play stoic journalist here. I wasn't a reporter first and a human or an American later.

The choir zigzagged on the loft flanking the stage. Each of them had a headset microphone, like Garth Brooks.

God only knew how they sang so perfectly. How did they project their voices like that? More beautiful than anything we had ever heard, more beautiful than water.

After "Ultralight Beam," it was "Every Hour," the mesmeric opening track of Jesus Is King.

Sing every hour, Every minute, Every second, Sing each and every millisecond, We need you

Every Hour youtu.be

The performance felt all the more sacred because this was church, where people gathered to lose themselves, to sing as a chorus, to confront who they really are.

Across the street, one protestor stood hollering.

Meanwhile thousands of people waited at the entrance, giddy to get in. They would join us in no time. Soon, they would fill every seat in this church.

*

That morning, Kanye told Olsteen,

"It's like the devil stole all the good producers, all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said, 'you gotta come over and work for me.' And now the trend, the shift, is going to change."

Jesus Is King was the result of a new cultural and artistic movement that more or less started with 2016's Life of Pablo, Kanye's closeted gospel album. Which was a surprising departure from 2013's Yeezus, with its tangled social commentary and fashionable solipsism. And that drum sound, the one every half-decent producer has spent the last six years failing to emulate.

The 2010's saw him grow more cerebral. He even teased a book of philosophy titled Break the Simulation.

Then, in 2018, he released Ye, the second of five albums in a Kanye-produced series, all recorded at his Wyoming studio. In keeping with the criticisms of hip-hop he voiced on "Ye vs. The People"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye eschewed many of the themes he'd embraced for so long, replacing them with meditations on mental illness, fatherhood, suicide, love, and addiction. The album's working title had been "LOVE EVERYONE."

On "I Thought About Killing You," he raps,

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest.

The title "Ye" is not just the diminutive of "Kanye."

As he said in an interview

I believe 'ye' is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means 'you,' so it's [saying] "I'm you, I'm us, it's us." It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I'm just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.

Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote that

All individuality is a manifestation of universal life, and hence everyone carries a tiny bit of everyone else with him, so that divination is simulated by comparison with oneself.

In the months following the release of Ye, Kanye would live out this idea, and build his own movement, a reflection of who we are, then begin his church in Calabasas.

*

At 10:30 that morning, the three of us — Samantha Sullivan, my wife Caroline, and me —- strolled into the arena and claimed seats in the media section.

That place resembled the inside of an ant colony. We were three ants.

The service began with errorless music, then shifted into a quick, stirring message by Osteen, who always seemed to appear onstage from nowhere, privvy to the kind of big-money stage tricks you find at a Shania Twain concert.

The entire place and all the Jumbo-Trons and all the people, it all had a cinematic presence.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

A preliminary giddiness spread through the room. Then, Kanye emerged, there on the stage, and the place erupted.

A man in a "Jesus is King" shirt danced around his seat.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Everyone took their seats, but one man standing in the crowd shouted affirmations. "Speak truth my brother," he shouted.

The man shouted several more times, then Kanye politely told the guy to hold off on the support because it wasn't helping, because Kanye needed relative quiet to capture and release his flow.

The ceiling glowed in skittish purple.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye described the corrupting force of the media. A chill came over the room. Behind him, the unapologetic blue of Jesus Is King.

It was my first encounter with Joel Osteen, and I was surprised and somewhat baffled to find him likeable, based on everything I'd ever heard about the man.

Kanye said as much, that Osteen is nothing like the version of Osteen many people have broadcast.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Osteen laughed, "When you've got Kanye defending you, you've made it, man."

Rays of light danced through the arena. I'm talking Pink Floyd light show levels.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

With 21 Grammys, Kanye is tied with Jay-Z as the most decorated hip-hop artist of all time.

Osteen asked Kanye what he would say to his younger self, if he could go back in time.

"You know, it's nothing I can say to the younger Kanye through words," he said. "I could speak to the younger Kanye through music."

*

Osteen played the middle section of "God Is," arguably the focal point of the album.

And Kanye danced and rapped along with it. And the surreality of the situation was daunting. Was that really Kanye West up there? with Joel Osteen? dancing to his gospel song?

Six or seven years ago, I saw Kanye a mile away at the Toyota Center — coincidentally, the current home of the Houston Rockets — for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tour. It was a much different experience than this.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When Kanye finished, the media flooded out. As did a quarter of the people in the congregation. This bothered many of the regulars.

Security and ushers yanked big grey mop buckets from cabinets, and dispersed them down aisles, and money music played.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then the time for prayer. Prayer leaders lined the walls and pews. And anyone could walk over to them and pray. Men and women clung to strangers, crying sometimes, hugging. Holding hands, whispering phrases.

*

One of the media coordinators pulled us out of the sermon, led us through passageways and elevators, past classrooms and security guards, through a black sheet, then behind a barricade.

This is where all the media had rushed off to like old folks trying to get the best seat for bingo.

Each news outlet was allowed one question.

After 15 minutes, the energy changed and you could tell they were near.

Then, Kim Kardashian-West was walking our way, holding her daughter's hand, followed by Kanye, who was followed by Osteen.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

"Nice tags," Kanye said, referring to my "GOOD" necklace.

Then:

Brief interview with Kanye West and Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Nov. 17 in Houston, TX www.youtube.com

Some of the outlets asked more than one question, but that was on them. They were the ones sinning in church.

*

As Kanye and Olsteen shuffled away, down the line of journalists, I said hello to a small crew from FoxNews as they packed their equipment.

"We're from TheBlaze," I said, smiling. To which they sneered and glanced at one another then got back to their conversation.
Samantha rolled her eyes and the three of us wandered around for an exit.

"Did we just get stiff-armed by Fox News?" Said one of us. "I didn't think they were allowed to look down on anybody."
"I've had that with people from Fox on several occasions," one of us replied.

"I mean, I thought I was doing them a favor a favor by acknowledging them. Nobody else does."

Then it happened again, a few minutes later, this time with someone we had worked with, someone who knew us.
You bet we were salty.

Bad as it felt to be judged like that, it was good to be underestimated. A relief. It meant we could perform without anyone caring or watching.

They had no idea who we were or what we were really doing. Good.

*

In November 2007, Kanye's mother died during a routine surgery. He and his mom, Dr. Donda West, had always been incredibly close. She raised him alone, after Kanye's father left, when Kanye was three.

A few months later, his engagement with Alexis Phifer abruptly ended.

He was 30 at the time.

Oddly, this tragic sequence of events would cause the birth of auto-tune in rap. Broken-hearted, Kanye wanted to sing. So he ran his voice through a vocoder.

Kanye's album 808s & Heartbreak, which like Jesus is King has no curse words, shoved music ahead at least two decades, into a world of synth-driven robotic R&B/Rap love songs belted out in janky auto-tune. That description doesn't sound ridiculous today. But that's only because Kanye eschewed the stale hip-hop of the early 2000s and reinvented the genre, something he has accomplished with every album.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then, he went on tour. But he never took off any time following his mother's death. And, by the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he'd fallen to what he calls his sunken place.

He and then-girlfriend Amber Rose brought a bottle of Hennessy with them to the award show. They took slugs in the limo. Then on the red carpet.

When Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, Kanye stormed the podium, sunglasses on, and grabbed the microphone, said "Imma let you finish," then let everyone know the award should've gone to Beyoncé, for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

He was kicked out immediately. He tweeted, "Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."

Followed by an apology. Then a few days later, during an appearance on debut episode of "The Jay Leno Show"

Leno asked Kanye, "What do you think [your mom] would have said about this?"

That hit Kanyelike a punch to the jaw. He teared up, froze.

He publicly apologized to Swift. Several times.

But it did little to quell the blowback. Once again, it felt like the entire nation hated Kanye. Compounded by a hot-mic recording of Barack Obama — the country's first black President — calling Kanye a jackass.

So the embattled Kanye retreated to Hawaii to record a masterpiece, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

*

"We are a Christian country," Kanye said at one point, to uproarious applause.

The vast majority of Americans, 90 percent, believe in a higher power.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

And America has the largest number of Christians in the world, with roughly 167,000,000, comprising 65-to-70 percent of the population. But that's down from 80 percent, as part of a downward trend over the last two decades.

The percent of Americans who attend a religious service of any kind — church, synagogue, or mosque — is even lower, less than half.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

One political scientist blamed the public's growing distrust in institutions. Another blamed conservatives. A writer from New York Magazine took it a step further.

Meanwhile, David French.

As always, the issue is far more nuanced than either side will admit.

Somehow, in the last twenty years, church and religion had become not just uncool, but slightly villainous.

All day, every time I looked around — at people singing, at people dancing, at people crying in joy or in the relief and recognition of their pain — I thought, "How could this ever be a bad thing?"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

I had spent my life going to concerts, had seen Kanye West numerous times, and this was something other than a concert, and unlike anything I'd seen from Kanye. It was also more than just religious or spiritual.

A family of strangers in a city of 6 million, in a world of 7-and-a-half billion, broadcast live, led by a man who fought off the devil in front of us for years. Who struggled with life just like we do, only we could nitpick through the one-way mirrors of our phones and our TVs.

But, now, he had been baptized in public.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Some people were still negative about Kanye's recent faith, especially Christians. As Kanye raps on "Hands On"

What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Consensus was, they couldn't believe him. As a Kanye fan since I was 13, I can tell you that he is genuine. It's really his only setting. Plus, his spiritual transformation has been building for quite some time.

*

By the time we returned to Lakewood that evening, the sky had turned dark blue, and frantic with airplanes.

The sidewalks around the arena overflowed with people. Police cars jutted out in crooked lines to block entrances or exits, the strobe of red-white-blue whirling onto pedestrians' faces.

Across the street, facing the giant arena, a man with a bullhorn ranted about the evils of sinful music.

Earlier that day, sheepish protestors had occupied the spot, holding red poster-sized letters that spelled out "I M P E A C H." There were only four of them, though, so they had to double up and share, and sometimes the "H" slanted down or the "I" slipped loose.

"Impeach Kanye?" one of us said, laughing.

"Kanye 2020," shouted someone.

The air was electric. People bounced when they stepped, or walked faster than normal, or turned oddly as they spoke like a third-year professor.

They sang along as they passed traffic-jam cars, most of which were blasting Kanye.

A chorus of police whistles and the usual rumble of semi-trucks passing on US-59. Just down the street, porn shops and strip clubs and a Ferrari dealership. Immediately Southwest, the Mahatma Ghandi District. West, the Galleria, home of the opulent Galleria mall, where Kanye and Kim and family gone ice-skating earlier.

Inside the arena, a different world, low-lit and glowing. A dreamscape of lambent crimsons and violets, a deeper, warmer, slower take on the lights atop the police cars outside. Globular squares of blue were arrayed along the ceiling.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When the musicians emerged to their instruments, the arena was still half-empty. The show had already been delayed 40 minutes. The demand to get in was so ferocious that the security gate was jammed up like a glass Ketchup jar.

Then, like spirits, men and women drifted onstage in all-grey uniforms and matching hats that looked like they should say "VIETNAM VETERAN" but actually said "Sunday Service."

Every single member wore brand-new grey YEEZY Boosts.

From the start, the performance was cinematic, a sort of new-world opera sung by a chorus of young American muses with nose rings or gold chains or dreadlocks or pink hair.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

From the huddle, a young man rose, and began reciting a poem. It was the invocation of the muse.

Gadamer wrote that poetry "becomes a test of what is true, in that the poem awakens a secret life in words that had seemed to be used up and worn out, and tells us of ourselves"

*

After a whirling rendition of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," the choir began "Ultralight Beam."

They let the song spread. It grew enormous.

The air swirled as the song widened.

Kanye waited out of view, then appeared without ceremony.

A collective gasp when people recognized the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Which sounds like a dream already, with all that wilderness.

So it was even stranger when the song morphed into SWV's "Weak," a skating rink anthem written by Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band. A classic.

The choir were their own countervailing force. Yet they also connected us to the drama of the performance.
Looking back, I wish I could live in those moments forever.

*

Then came their cover of "Father Stretch My Hands" by Pastor T.L. Barrett And the Youth for Christ Choir.

Father Stretch My Hands www.youtube.com

Kanye has paid homage to Barrett's track on two different songs, from two different albums.

It was his prayer.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, a man who's lived an exciting and at times difficult life, only to become a Pentecostal preacher on Chicago's south side, and form a choir of 40 teenagers from his weekly choir practice.

If you dive into Barrett, you'll better understand what Kanye is doing.

*

Ten seats from Kim Kardashian-West, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) stared ahead in a neat grey suit, occasionally poking at his phone and blasting people on Twitter.

Which means there were at least two people in the building who have appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There were other politicians, including Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. And even more at the earlier service. You could tell they were politicians the same you can tell a vegan burger from a real Whopper. Several times, Kanye held up his phone up and read the words from his newer songs.

Like "Selah," which built into "Hallelujah"s at the end, intoxicating and perfect, like being sucked into an undertow. Which led into "Follow God," a continuation of "Father I Stretch My Hands."

Kanye uses the image of stretched hands to express his own submission and the process that leads to his healing. As a reference to John 21:18

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

But the song is also about Kanye's literal father, and an argument they had. Then, under it all, he adds a sample of "Can You Lose By Following God" by Whole Truth. He ended the song with his Kanye shriek, somewhat confusing and abrasive with a choir present.

Then — something I did not expect. The thumping bass of Cajmere's "Brighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)."

And now this was cosmic gospel.

It felt like a rave. Have you been to a rave? It's people dancing, taking MDMA. That is what it felt like.

Flourishes like that were part of Kanye's genius. No other gospel performance would dare. You won't find that kind of diversity at any other hip-hop show, either. The acoustic instruments, the choir. Maybe during a set by electronic musicians like Moodyman or DJ Koze. But, no choir. Yet here Kanye was, at Joel Osteen's church, blasting classic techno.

Oddly enough, though, the most popular song of the night was "Closed on Sunday," Kanye's ode to Chic-Fil-A.

Everyone in the arena knew the words. So then there were two choirs, in a dialogue. I didn't think it was possible, but the collective harmony got even more intense and engulfing than it had all night. So much so that the house speakers started to peak in one corner of the arena.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use a chorus. In the 5th Century B.C., 50 actors would gather in the orchestra pit and sing in unison, commenting on the action of the play, describing scenes to the audience. They were a collective force. They represented one character, who was able to connect the audience to the characters and events onstage.

Kim Kardashian was front and center filming with her phone, as two of the West kids jumped around on the trippy blue carpet.

The performance was nearing its end, and suddenly Kanye was dressed like everybody else in the choir. Grey Yeezy kit and the Sunday Service hat. His transformation. From Kanye West to Pastor Ye, stretching hands.

Then, he was gone.
One by one, the choir began fluttering off the stage, to the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine."

Half were gone, when I noticed the singer with braided hair crying. With every exhale, she collapsed her hands into the floor. Let them fall like tired flowers. Arrayed in fitful blue. She gasped. She heaved her shoulders like a wingspan. For a moment it was like she would actually take flight.

A security guard peered over the railing from above the stage. He looked like God.Symbolically, he was.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Don't believe in time travel? Think it's just a wild conspiracy theory reserved for late night alien radio programs? Well, we have unearthed bombshell evidence that will blow you away and have you questioning everything!

A 120-year-old photo PROVES climate change activist teen Greta Thunberg is actually a time traveler warning all generations of the dangers of global warming.

Glenn did some exhaustive research and found several other photos and subjects in historical paintings. Check them out here and see if you are now a believer:

Warning Elvis fans

Ryan: Suction energy, pt. 1

Photo by Sean Ryan

After his speech at the Boone County fairgrounds, Joe Biden nodded and people engulfed him like he was their oxygen. Journalists shouted questions, photographers shoved people aside. Biden's bodyguards even drew closer. I found a good oak tree and hid out in the shade, 100 yards from the chaotic huddle.

Photo by Sean Ryan

They shoved closer and closer and closer, with a vacant urgency to their eyes. They had to get as close as possible. It was like some force of nature had taken control of everyone, and now their only goal was to merge their lifeforce with Biden's.

The frenzy of writhing arms and contorted bodies reminded me of Shark Week, when the hulking Great White breaks through the protective cage and how's the diver gonna make it out alive this time?

*

A need for convergence, often leading to upheaval.

Most of the Democratic candidates caused this effect. As did their opponent, to a far greater degree. Because he was the president, and he was Donald Trump, so, for the time being, he embodied this magnetism more fully than anyone else in the entire world.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time Trump entered a room or a building or a space of any kind, every person within a reasonable distance felt it. And they couldn't help but bob their head around, and arch up on their tiptoes, scouring till they saw him, and then all they could do was lean forward and wonder if it was actually him.

Some of the Democratic candidates had a stronger magnetism than others. Which meant the gravitational pull had laws that guided it. The term I started using for it was "suction energy."

It was something you could physically feel.

At the Iowa State Fair, Bernie Sanders' suction energy was so intense, so visceral that it reminded me of a hurricane.

Photo by Sean Ryan

People wanted to be as close to the man as possible. They wanted a picture. Proof that it happened—that they had actually seen someone that famous.

And they were perfectly right. And their reactions were understandable and lovely even, and altogether innocent. Encouraging. Because they were genuine.

Even journalists were susceptible to suction energy. In fact, they could spazz even harder. Unlike the public, they were there as workers.

*

Suction energy is an art, something you cultivate. But it's also a result of luck and reality. Some people will just never have an ounce of it.

Take, for instance, Jay Insleey, who was apparently a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election. At some point in my travels, I wound up in the same place as him.

Maybe it was a couple times. A couple, two, three. I can't remember.

All I know is that I went to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Democratic Wing Ding, to see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and the 20 other candidates, and this guy Jay Insless ... sorry, I mean Inslee took the stage at some point. It's hard to say when exactly because, as I mentioned, he was impressively forgettable, like a human thumbtack.

Wing Ding featured Jay Insee?Photo by Sean Ryan

He was yammering about something, and, man, he looked and sounded like P.C. Principal, from South Park, and that was pretty funny.

I told my dad, and then we were both laughing. Then my dad did an imitation of P.C. Principal, and we were really hooting.
Then all I could think about was P.C. Principal. So I ducked out into the hall to watch a P.C. Principal clip compilation, and I laughed and laughed and nobody went "Shush!," because there were plenty of others like me.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, boy, I laughed. I was actually a bit sad when the clip was over. I'd forgotten where I was, and when I caught a glimpse of the guy onstage, my sadness deepened into pity. The feeling you get when you realize that the amateur thinks he can beat the professional. When the replacements think they will know valor. When your dog thinks they're going to the park, but really it's the vet, and they wake up without balls.

Do we have an obligation, a moral imperative, to tell a Square when she's trying to shove into a Triangle hole? How much teeth-lettuce does a person lodge into their incisors before you are inclined to alert them?

Like, after this speech, that guy John Insley, would wander around the walkways of the Surf Ballroom, same as Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang, only he'd lack their glow.

Crowds flocking to Kamala HarrisPhoto by Sean Ryan

At one point, he'd clench his jaw into what must have been a smile, ready for any nearby journalists to sneak a candid photo or rush forward for a quote.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If any of the others noticed, they didn't let on. So here was this chubby kid in a costume knocking on the front door, and I know full well Halloween was weeks ago, but who's gonna feed the harmless lie if I don't?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Nobody, that's who.

So I groaned and shrugged and told my dad, "Let's give the tubby kid some Starburst."

"Wha?" he asked.

Then I asked would he get a picture of that candidate over there.

"Who," he replied. As in, "I can't see an important person over there, which one is running for president?"

In other words, Insleep had absolutely zero suction energy. To a near-magical extent.

Within a few weeks, he would announce the end of his campaign on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Yet there he was, somehow center stage, looking out at the packed Surf Ballroom, where, on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly played his last show.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Buddy Holly, now there's a man with suction energy. So much suction energy that, when he died, music went with him.

*

When I saw Kamala during the week of the Iowa State Fair, she was at the height of her campaign, having climbed to second place, within nine points of Biden.

Everywhere I went, there was Harris, with her personalized KAMALA bus, and her chartered press pool, and her entourage of staff and fans and media.

Photo by Sean Ryan

On the first Saturday of the Fair, my dad and I wound up seeing Harris five times. Five times! In part because she could hustle. She wanted that job. But also because she understood power and optics.

Before her speech at Jasper Winery, (when she played savage 4D chess with Andrew Yang, she spoke to several hundred people packed into the atrium of Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, her fourth rally of that day.

Photo by Sean Ryan

When she finished her speech, a horde surged straight for her, eighty or so.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Just a month earlier, The New Yorker had run a glowing profile on Harris. That was huge. As of the release of this story, Harris was the only 2020 presidential candidate that The New Yorker had featured.

Photo by Sean Ryan

At that point of the election, excitement for Harris was so intense that it seemed obvious she would get the nomination, or close to it. So I wrote five pieces about her.

But by the time I finished all five stories and added them to the publishing schedule, Harris had sunk 11 points to 4 percent, which put her in 8th place. In New Hampshire, the first state to hold primaries, she was polling at 1 percent. By comparison, Biden, Warren, and Sanders were locked at 19.

Now, the only headlines were about her foundering campaign and her dwindling cash and her downsized staff. In each case, the sentiment was the same, "Whatever happened to Kamala Harris?"

Which answer a question I posed in my first story. Would Harris "I got this one in the bag" attitude help her or ruin her? Turns out the ostentatious bus and the unnecessary press accommodations had been a premature move, and now she just seemed cocky.
Because suction energy can, and often does, vanish in an instant.

A Bernie can always become a Jay InslepInslee. Nobody is immune, no matter how powerful they appear. Look at Bill Cosby. Harvey Weistein. Both were godlike in their power. Both had a gravitational pull so intense that they raped women for decades and nobody did a thing. Cosby's suction energy was so intense that he collected honorary degrees like a vacuum collects dog hair. 70 of them. Then, off to prison to eat pudding in the dark.

By the time I saw Harris at the Democratic Debate in Houston, a month after she stormed Iowa, she'd begun transforming into Joe Biden, focused on all the wrong things, laughing at her own jokes, without realizing that nobody else was laughing.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com