Everything could change this week if Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage

Your livelihood, the way you work, the way you pray, how you associate with others, could radically change this week. Why? Because the Supreme Court will rule on a gay marriage case, and it has the potential to completely change the country. To help explain just how dire the situation is, Glenn invited Kelly Shackelford from the Liberty Institute onto the program. Once you hear this conversation, you’ll understand why this issue goes far beyond traditional marriage vs. equality.

Listen to the interview from Wednesday’s radio show below:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment:

GLENN: When Barack Obama said the fundamental transformation of the United States of America begins in five days, he was five days away from his -- his election in -- in 2008. And we have seen a fundamental transformation of America, but I believe we haven't seen anything yet. I believe everything leads to the Supreme Court decisions. Your -- your livelihood, the way you work, the way you pray, how you associate with others, everything is at stake now. We're talking about the Supreme Court's decision as it comes out probably on Monday. It could come out tomorrow. On gay marriage.

People are talking about this ruling as if, oh, you know, we have to defend traditional marriage. Or, hey, finally equality. They've tried to make this into an argument about, who are you to say if I love somebody else?

I think most Americans are fine with that. I think most Americans are like, look, I don't need to celebrate your marriage. I don't need to agree with your marriage, whether you're straight or gay. And I don't want to be in your bedroom, and I don't want to be talked to you about love. That's none of my business. That's your business.

But also most Americans, because we are tolerant, we feel this way, but we expect tolerance to go the other way. We expect if you're saying, celebrity diversity, that you understand that I might disagree with you.

Our churches are about to come under attack. And I had one of the most sobering conversations I have had in a very long time last night on the TV show. Because I had Kelly Shackelford with me from the Liberty Institute. Kelly joins me on the phone now, and we're going to talk a little about this because you need to wrap your arms around how your country could change in the next five days, dramatically so.

Kelly, welcome to the program. How are you?

KELLY: Great. Thanks for having me, Glenn.

GLENN: Kelly, tell me first of all what your institution does.

KELLY: Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the country that exclusively, solely handles religious freedom, you know, First Amendment cases all across the United States, free of charge for people of all faiths.

GLENN: Okay. And you've been doing this for a long, long time. And you've seen all kinds of cases, but you've never seen cases like the cases that are coming across your desk now. And this is only the beginning.

KELLY: Yeah. I think you hit it on the head when you said -- most people look at the case coming up -- let's say on Monday, is when most people think they're going to hand down the same-sex marriage decision, and they just think about it just affecting marriage. They don't think about the impact that it will have on the First Amendment and religious freedom. We filed a brief on behalf of, you know, all kinds of national groups. National religious broadcasters. Big ministries that people would know about. We've seen what happens in other countries when they do this. And the First Amendment -- Canada took no time to have hate speech laws and other things. And now Christian organizations can't even -- can't even come into existence and be like law schools or things like that because they violate the new right.

So I just want people to think about -- and I can run through real quickly -- if there is a new federal constitutional right created by the Court -- and that's two of the three arguments -- that's what they're asking that they do, then this new federal constitutional right for same-sex marriage will be -- you know, immediately, the question will be, well, all right, how does this constitutional right compare to this other constitutional right of freedom of religion or free speech? And we don't have to wonder -- I mean, some of this came out in the oral argument. The solicitor general of the United States was asked, hey, look, if this is a new federal constitutional right and if people are discriminating, in the past, we've taken away tax-exempt status from religious groups, for instance, who discriminated on the basis of race. So won't we have to take away the tax-exempt status of all the nonprofit groups that disagree with this new federal constitutional right. And everybody thought that the solicitor general would say, oh, we're not going that far, et cetera.

His answer was: That will be an issue. So you can start with tax-exempt status of all nonprofits who disagree with this new federal position will be open for discussion. Christian colleges, school accreditation will be under question and attack. Faith-based adoption organizations, foster providers. Federal contractors and grantees, including with those with just loans at religious schools. Religious staffing at faith-based organizations will now be under attack. Those in the military, you don't follow this new agenda will suffer the consequences as well. We're already seeing those cases

PAT: Kelly, are you saying -- are you saying that a student who gets a loan to go to a school like BYU, for instance --

GLENN: Or Liberty University.

PAT: Or Liberty University would not be able to get the loan based on this ruling? Or the school would be under pressure to, what? How does that work?

KELLY: Yeah, absolutely. And let me say something. I'm not saying that we will have lost all these. I'm saying, there's like a -- a battle line opens. One way to put it is, it's not that this case will be the end of the battle. It will be the beginning of the battle, and all these things now are going to be attacked. So they, yeah, it could say, we can't allow you to get a federal loan to go to an institution that engages in discrimination.

PAT: Wow.

KELLY: And it goes further. Faith-based businesses, which you've already seen, will certainly be under attack. There's all these federal laws that triggers will into place now when they change the definition of marriage. Things like Title VII, which covers employment of anybody who has 16 or more employees. Housing and Urban Development. Department of Labor. Think of education. The SCC, I mean, there's a lot of people that are thinking about this case that they're not even thinking about, hey, this might impact my minister that I listen to or watch on TV or something. Do you think the FCC will allow a license to people who engage in discrimination against this new federal constitutional right?

GLENN: So, Kelly, let me ask you this. Let's go through a couple of things.

First of all, there already is a case that you guys are handling of a guy who was -- a person who had a scripture taped to the bottom of their monitor of their computer. Tell that story.

KELLY: Yes. This is a marine who was actually court-martialed. And by that, I don't mean they were charged. I mean, they were convicted. Court-martialed for having a scripture verse taped to the bottom of her computer at her workspace. We're now appealing that. We weren't involved. And when we saw it, we immediately jumped in to get involved. Because this kind of precedent will affect everybody in the military. And so we've now appealed to what's called the Court of Military Appeals, which is sort of the military Supreme Court.

But, you know, Glenn, that's just one of many examples. We have a chaplain we're representing who after 19 and a half years of incredible service for our country -- he was not just a chaplain. He was like a chaplain to SEAL Team 6, to Special Forces, and after an impeccable record for 19 years, he's been essentially -- you would call -- it's called detached for cause. But he's essentially been fired because he was asked in 101 Counseling what the biblical answer was to sex outside of marriage and what the Bible would say about that. He answered according to his faith, and that person complained that he was intolerant. And a commander has literally fired him from doing his job. Now they're considering kicked him out of the entire Navy. Losing his pension and everything. So this is the kind of thing that is already happening before the decision -- when it becomes a federal constitutional right, you can imagine how that goes on steroids.

GLENN: Then it's done. Let me ask about the pastor that was fired from I think his second job because somebody went back and looked at sermons that he had online. Can you tell me that story?

KELLY: Yeah, this is a wonderful guy. Eric Walsh. He was the director of public health for the city of Pasadena, California. And the state of Georgia said, hey, we'd like you to come be our director of public health for about a third of the state, an area director. He accepted. Then the next thing he knew, some activist from California called the state of Georgia, said, hey, you need to check out what this guy believes about marriage. And he goes to a church where he's allowed to preach. You need to review his sermons.

We now have the copies of the emails from the Georgia government officials, back and forth, divvying up his sermons to decide which government official is going to review which sermon. The next day they fired him. Again, not for anything he ever did at work, but because of what he said at his own church on a Sunday on issues. So that's an example.

Unfortunately we're having a number of these kind of cases now where people are losing their jobs, not because of what they do at work, but because of what they believe and the intolerance, like you mentioned, that's now coming out against those of faith and not want allowing them to hold their own beliefs.

PAT: That's a lot like the Firefox CEO. Right? The web browser CEO because he contributed to --

GLENN: But that is political pressure being applied. Those are these people -- yeah, this actually will be enforced by law. So, in other words, you want to be a firefighter, you want to be a police officer, you want to be a lawyer, you want to be a doctor, a psychiatrist, any of these things. You're not going to be allowed because you will be defined as somebody who is a bigot. And so you will not -- how are you going to be a doctor if you believe in traditional marriage? You're a bigot. How could you possibly be a -- a lawyer? You're a bigot.

So you will start -- you will see people lose their jobs because of what they believe. The right of conscience is about to go away. Am I overstating this, Kelly?

KELLY: No. This has not only started -- it will happen if what we think the Supreme Court does -- if they do.

But this is the battle line that is opening. I mean, currently what should happen if you lose your job, there are federal laws and state laws that protect religious freedom in the workplace. And those corporations, those entities should not only lose. But they should pay a painful penalty for engaging in that type of religious discrimination. This will be an attempt to now change that.

So what I'm saying, not that we'll lose all these religious freedoms and First Amendment rights overnight, but there will now be a weapon to attempt to lose -- there will be lawsuits in all these things I mentioned. I can guarantee you. It's just a matter of us winning. We have to win these cases. We have to preserve how this country was founded. Which is on the right to dissent. The right to disagree with the government and hold your own conscience and religious beliefs

GLENN: If we -- I'm a Libertarian so I believe you have a right to be married, but you also do not have a right to tell another person how they have to live their life or how they need to worship or what can be done in their church. Libertarians slowly take over the world and then leave everyone alone. But I believe that there is so much hatred out there that people even like me, people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, all of us will be off the air because we're on federally held license. Our radio stations, they will lose their license if you have a -- a hatemonger or a bigot that is defined now by the Supreme Court as bigotry. We won't be able to broadcast. Would you agree with that?

KELLY: There's no doubt in my mind that that attack will come. That there will be an attempt to get Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh off the air. This is the exact argument they will try to make. These are the kinds of battles that I talk about are coming. I certainly hope and pray for our country that we will win those battles. But nobody can say because, again, this whole group of attacks is about to come into existence. So we haven't all these battles yet, but we're about to. We've seen the rumblings. We've seen the bakers and the florist and all those cases where the government is punishing people because they won't do something that's against their faith with regard to same-sex marriage. We've seen it with chaplains. We've seen it in a lot of different ways. I can give you examples of almost all these things where certain things have happened, certain cases. But this is about to be on a whole new level, and it will be across the country.

GLENN: Kelly Shackelford, he is the president of the Liberty Institute. LibertyInstitute.org. They take on religious freedom cases, pro bono, to try to set things right. I appreciate all of your hard work. We pray for you, Kelly. And we'll talk to you again soon with all these rulings coming down, I'd like to get some more advice from you and insight from you.

KELLY: Glenn, thank you for having me on. I did neglect to mention. Anyone who is a church or nonprofit, we have online things they can put in their policies if they have those beliefs to put themself in a position to be better protected if they are attacked. So I want to make sure that people know about that as well. That many churches are getting calls. They're getting the setup calls, where they'll probably be sued for not marrying two men or two women. They need to have those things about their beliefs and their doctrine in their legal documents that will help them out, if that ever happens.

GLENN: And you can get that at LibertyInstitute.org?

KELLY: Yes. Yes.

GLENN: Thank you very much, Kelly. I appreciate it. I talked to him yesterday for quite some time. We had him on TV for an hour and talked to him about these things. I highly recommend that your church prepares. And I highly recommend that you prepare. We'll have more on that coming up in just a second.

Ever since Mia Love lost her seat to Ben McAdams in Utah's 4th congressional district, Republicans have been wondering who would be the person to step-up and take back the seat.

I bet you nobody saw this guy coming. And that's just the way he likes it.

When I got the call from a friend of mine who was tapped to be Burgess Owens Communications director, I was excited and couldn't wait to visit with him. Owens hadn't even announced yet and as a long-time listener of Glenn, I've heard Burgess in his many interviews and thought I knew what I was in for. But as I made the winding drive up the mountain at sunset over the south end of Salt Lake valley, there was one thought that wouldn't get out of my head — why would he want to get into politics?

I've heard many answers to this question and rarely do I believe their canned responses, but his answer rang true to me.

"I've never thought about it. It's been brought up a few times over the years but it never crossed my mind. I'd never seen politics as the answer," Owens said. "I started a nonprofit called Second Chance 4 Youth and the mission is to help kids stay out of the juvenile system. If we don't win back the house, keep the senate and the presidency, those kids don't have a ghost of a chance to make it. Because the leftists will continue the process to do what they've done in the past."

Over the course of our conversation, he was very passionate about the black community but his call to serve isn't about race or one community over the other.

It's the marxists and socialists that have destroyed my community and they're now trying to do the same thing to our country.

"This isn't a black or white issue, it's ideology. It's the marxists and socialists that have destroyed my community and they're now trying to do the same thing to our country," Owens said.

"If we don't keep power away from these leftists, it doesn't matter what I'm doing with these kids, it's just a pebble in a big ocean. But if I'm able to be in a position to not only empower our party, but empower our president who is actually one of the best friends the black community has ever had, hopefully I can be a part of making lasting change for these kids."

I've had the opportunity to interview quite a few politicians over the years and I can count on one hand the number I can stand and the number drops off greatly when I get to the ones I feel like I can actually trust. But this message strikes deep at the core of what the real problem facing our nation and his solutions are simple and make sense.

It is a 4 pronged approach: Head, heart, hands and home. Education, God, industry and family.

"It's simple, something we can teach our kids without debate. Every policy will be tied to this message. You take those things away and you get what have now. No hope, no education, no dreaming, anger and no belief in God."

Growing up in the deep south in the 50's and 60's, there was chaos all around. It was the height of Jim Crow laws and integration of the school systems and Burgess lived the real life scenario portrayed in Remember the Titans as one of four black football players on his team. But despite the hate and bigotry surrounding him, his black community was strong, patriotic and loved the country. He believes the four tenants listed above are the foundation that made that possible and they are what can bring our country back from the brink.

The only thing that rivaled his passion for our country and the solutions to fix it, was his unbridled support for President Trump. Many believe Mia Love lost her seat because of her spat with the President, but his support is no political stunt. He flat out loves the guy — warts and all.

"Anyone who has had a family or heritage that's gone through unfairness or persecution where you've seen the type of carnage we have in the black community then you have somebody come on board and for the first time in the history say this is what I'm going to do to resolve the misery and issues in the black community and then does it — personally, I don't care how he speaks," Owens said.

It comes to a point where we have to decide if our feelings are more important or the lives of other people.

"If people are living their lives with hope again, with vision, we should all be on board with that. It comes to a point where we have to decide if our feelings are more important or the lives of other people. President Trump has been the greatest friend the black community has ever had, President Obama was the worst. The black guy who was articulate and spoke so well, but he brought so much misery to our race. Who would I choose, someone of my same race who is terrible or someone of another race but gets results? I'm all about results. I don't put any distance between myself and President Trump."

As the conversation moved along, I had to ask Glenn's favorite question — what's the state of his soul?

"As I think about my approach as candidate and getting into politics, it has never been attractive to me, the power and prestige, all the stuff that goes along with it," Owens said.

I've heard that one before too. But it's what he said next that made me believe him.

"As a football player, I know what it is to be the center of attention and I also know how pride steps in, because I've experienced it. I'm at a point in my life now, where there are three things that are most important: God, country and family. If it's not embracing those, I don't have time for it now. The family unit has been put into place by divine law. Heavenly Father has a plan for the family, he put it in place so we can be happy and produce and nothing we do can change that," Owens said.

He also said "now is not the time to be squeamish about God" and putting Him first is the "key to becoming who we were meant to be." It was his closing statement that should speak to the souls of patriotic Americans of any creed or color: "When America wakes up, we win."

Have you had enough winning yet?

A whale in a raincoat turns to a starfish.

“Why do you need a raincoat when we're surrounded by water?" asks the starfish.

The whale laughs, “Water? I don't see any water."

We are the starfish in this situation. There's something suspicious happening. We can sense it. But it's often hard to prove. The media tells us that we're delusional. That all this Ukraine business is a conspiracy theory.

Only it's not.

And we have proof.

Something wasn't right. Something smelled fishy.

I was talking about Biden's shady connection to Ukraine months before anyone else. (Perhaps you watched our candidate profile on Joe Biden from April of this year.)

My team and I knew, even then, that something wasn't right. Something smelled fishy.

Then we discovered the truth. We couldn't believe it. The evidence kept piling on. And, thanks to cavalier journalists like John Solomon at the Hill, many of the documents and recordings and videos rose to the surface.

Yet, for the most part, the media ignored this glaring story, a story full of shady dealings and deep corruption, corruption that went all the way to the Oval Office. So why weren't the media leaping to cover it? Why were journalists so focused on Biden's creepy issues with personal space, and not the unexplained loss of $1.3 billion? That's roughly the GDP of Gambia.

amp only placement

We made it our mission to expose the truth.

When the news broke about the Trump impeachment, we were ready. Here I am in September, explaining the Ukraine scandal:

The misdeeds that took place with Ukraine are far more serious than one of Trump's phone calls. This runs deep.

If there's any semblance of justice left, this scandal will go down as the Watergate of our time. Sort of. Because, despite what the media insists, the guilty parties are all attached to the Obama Administration.

We refuse to stand by and remain silent.

We've spent many days and nights working on this, on bringing you the truth. And we've tried to make it as approachable as possible. Because it's enough to make your head spin.

Our months of grueling research paid off. People loved our special, Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia.

It exploded. Went viral. For that week, it was all over social media. People were talking about it.

"We punish a man for his ignorance if he is thought to be responsible for his ignorance."

The special is there for you. But, as I said in the special, the important part of this whole debacle is education. In the words of Aristotle, “We punish a man for his ignorance if he is thought to be responsible for his ignorance."

We are all responsible for our ignorance. Anymore, with all the information in the world available to us at all times, there is no excuse.

I get it. All of this Ukraine business is daunting and complex. All the more reason to understand its intricacies.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to see the sequence of events that led up to Trump's phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. What better way than to give you an interactive chalkboard?

Explore the timeline at your own pace. The truth is in your hands. You have all the power now.

FEB 2014

New President in Ukraine

It all began with the appointment of a new President in Ukraine. Petro Porochenko.

The pro-Russian regime in Ukraine officially collapsed as President Yanukovych was forced to flee to Russia. After three months of demonstrations, the protesters seized control of Kiev, and new elections for the brand new government were set up for just a few months later.

This would lay the foundation for systematic corruption by the Democrats.


Within a couple years, the Obama Administration will become the biggest advocate for the new regime in Ukraine, and high-level Democrat political influencers will take root in Ukraine. This is just a few of the many:

  • Greg Craig: former Obama White House counsel
  • Tad Devine: Chief Strategist for Bernie Sanders
  • Tony Podesta: Brother to John Podesta
  • Mark Penn: Chief Strategist for Hillary Clinton
  • John Alazone: Obama campaign pollster
  • Joel Benenson: the Obama campaign LEAD pollster

An overwhelming show of force in a country with crucial ties to one of our enemies. But it evolved into so much more than that.

Here's Obama meeting with Porochenko later that year:

MAR 2014

Obama Makes Biden Point-man in Ukraine

Then-President Obama wanted to prove his devotion to Ukraine. So he appointed then-Vice President Joe Biden to be the new point-man in the country.

Here's what author Peter Schweizer had to say about this decision:

APR 2014

Biden Flies to Ukraine, Hunter Tags Along

As I pointed out in our Candidate profile on Biden, April 2014 was a crucial moment in the Ukraine scandal.

In April 2014, roughly a month after the Russian invasion, Devon Archer visited Joe Biden at the White House. Remember, Archer is one of Hunter Biden's two partners in Rosemont Seneca. We don't know what the meeting was about — maybe they were just exchanging cookie recipes. But five days later, Joe Biden landed in Kiev for high-level meetings with Ukrainian government officials.

He brought with him specific plans for a program to assist the Ukrainian natural gas industry, as well as details of over $1 billion in U.S. assistance and loans. Part of the energy portion of the program reads:

U.S. technical experts will ... help Ukraine develop a public-private investment initiative to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply.

MAY 2014

Hunter Biden, Devon Archer Become Burisma Board Members

The day after Biden arrived in Ukraine, Devon Archer was named to the board of Burisma, the gas company run by Kolomoisky, the oligarch who was banned from entering the U.S.

In 2016, Foreign Policy magazine reported:

No one in the U.S. government has wielded more influence over Ukraine than Vice President Joe Biden.

Three weeks later, Hunter Biden also joined Burisma's board.

And he's still on the board. Burisma announced these appointments publicly. U.S. media reported on it. Check out these headlines:

This wasn't a secret. But no one really noticed or cared, because hey — this was the Obama White House.

This was a pattern with Biden. Whether it was meetings with foreign leaders in Washington, or traveling to foreign capitals, business opportunities and deals magically materialized for Hunter Biden's company. Need proof? Just take a glance at this interview with Joe and Hunter Biden in Popular Mechanics.

NOV 2014

U.S. Aid to Ukraine Increases

The Obama Administration ratcheted up their monetary support of Ukraine. U.S. aid to Ukraine included:

  • $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee
  • $320 million in general assistance
  • $118 million in equipment and training for their security forces
  • $20 million for law enforcement reform
  • And a fleet of advisors in banking, politics, energy, media, and human rights.

APR 2015

Obama Admin. Mandates Setup of NACB

In April 2015, the Obama Administration helped set up — actually they mandated it through the IMF — the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, whose purpose was to seek out and eradicate government corruption.

A man named Artem Sytnyk was tapped to be the first Director of the Bureau.

The following month, George Soros released the following strategy memo for dealing with Ukraine.

A year later, the Anti-Corruption Bureau signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with the FBI, giving the Obama Administration a direct line into whatever dark secrets the Ukrainians might dig up.

??? 2015

Owner of Burisma Loses $1.8 Billion from the U.S.

What's the most money you ever lost? And I mean lost. Not misplaced. Or spent. Or were swindled out of. Or had picket-pocketed. I mean lost. You had the money and it vanished.

For most of us, the answer is probably under $100. Maybe you lost a $20 bill at the State Fair.

I'm going to take a guess and say that absolutely none of you have lost a billion dollars.

A billion. The number one followed by 9 zeros. 1,000,000,000. The total value of Apple, the most valuable brand in the world.

It seems that putting a Ukrainian oligarch in charge of $1.8 billion isn't a great idea.

Well, in March 2016, this is exactly what happened. Oh, and it wasn't one billion dollars. Actually, it was $1.8 billion. I forgot about that extra $800 million.

Lesson of the story: It seems that putting a Ukrainian oligarch in charge of $1.8 billion isn't a great idea. An oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky, head of Burisma — the largest private natural gas company in Ukraine.

As pointed out in an article for Ukranian newspaper Kyiv Post:

Court filings reveal that Kolomoisky was divvying up and fighting over the rusting U.S. steel mills with other Ukrainian oligarchs — in the same way that they fought over Ukraine's Soviet-built industrial plants in the 1990s and 2000s. One deal, involving Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, bled into the sale of a Warren, Ohio steel mill.

JUN 2015

Trump Announces Presidential Run

I can picture it so clearly. Trump descending the golden escalator as “Keep Rockin' in the Free World" played loudly in the background.

At the time, most people shrugged Trump off and focused on other candidates. He would prove to be a far more formidable opponent than anyone expected.

LATE 2015

Research: Alexandra Chalupa

Donald Trump was already surging in the polls. Still not a word about the Russia meddling. There was nothing out on Manafort yet. There was no Steele Dossier. George Papadapolous wasn't on the campaign yet. There was no FISA request for Carter Page.

Yet, an American lawyer named Alexandra Chalupa — the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants — began doing opposition research on Trump. And her employer had a lot of influence in Ukraine. Her employer? None other than the Democrat National Committee.

The DNC paid her over seventy-one thousand dollars for her work during the 2016 election alone, but her work with the DNC goes all the way back to 2004.

In January 2016, Chalupa approached an official at the DNC and told them, regarding Trump's campaign:

I felt there was a Russia connection.

Chalupa concentrated most of her research on Paul Manafort and his work with the — now exiled — President of Ukraine (Yanukovich). Interestingly enough, all of her energy was focused on Manafort and NOT on his partners in helping get the Russian backed Yanukovych re-elected. Those partners were Tony Podesta and Tad Devine. I guess the fact that both Podesta and Devine were Democrats made everything ok ... just not for Manafort.

The same month Chalupa was telling the DNC that there was a Russia connection between Manafort and Trump, the Obama White House summoned Ukrainian prosecutors to the White House.

Here's a hacked DNC email, that was released on Wikileaks, between Chalupa and the former DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda. In that email, Chalupa checks in, reporting that she will speak at the Library of Congress specifically about Manafort.

Source: WikiLeaks

Source: WikiLeaks

MAR 2016

Biden Replaces Shokin with Lutsenko

During a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Vice President Joe Biden made his now infamous statement about his role in getting Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired, bragging that he had withheld $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

"I looked at them and said: 'I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," he said.

At the time, Shokin was investigating a Ukrainian company that Biden's son was involved with. Biden has claimed that what he did was based purely on Shokin's corrupt conduct, and nothing to do with his son's business dealings.

Here's a sworn statement of from Shokin:

This intimidation by the Obama administration was also used against Shokin's succesor, Yuriy Lutsenko. Here's his statement to the Hill detailing corruption from Obama-appointed Marie Yovanovitch to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine:

Here's the kicker:

The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors. I assume Burisma, which was connected with gas extraction, had the support of the Vice President Joe Biden because his son was on the Board of Directors.

Shokin detailed Obama's systematic control of Ukraine, noting that Obama was “telling the heads of the Ukraine law-enforcement system how to investigate and whom to investigate."

Shokin had another unforgivable sin on his record. He had launched an investigation on the actions of an NGO called the Anti Corruption Action Centre.

Shokin alleged that the NGO might have improperly diverted, or even embezzled, millions of dollars. So why would this be an unforgivable sin to Obama and Biden?

See for yourself (scroll down to the finances section of their website and mouse over 2016 to see the funders).

Source: Screenshot from Anti Corruption Action Centre website

If you look at the top two financiers for that year, the top two are the International Renaissance Foundation and the U.S. Government. The International Renaissance Foundation is yet another group headed by ... George Soros.

MAR 2016

Bank Loses $2.2M and $1.8B in IMF Loans

James Stafford, a journalist who covers the energy industry wrote:

Burisma fails to pass the most basic due diligence check. Its registration documents are impossible to run down. It publishes no asset information or financial records, nor does it release any audited financial statements. The complete lack of transparency means that anyone interested — including potential investors — must rely solely on press releases about Burisma's future plans and intentions.

Here's part one of my chalkboard exposé on the underhanded deals that took place in Ukraine.

After Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board, the company's owner, Kolomoisky was suddenly taken off the U.S.' entry-ban list. Kolomoisky's ban wasn't the only thing that disappeared. Remember that $1.8 billion loan the U.S. promised to Ukraine?

Most of that money flowed through PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest bank, owned by who else? Kolomoisky. $1.8 billion simply vanished.

Where did it go? A Ukrainian watchdog group traced the money by researching a series of court decisions. Basically, the billion dollars from the U.S. was laundered through Kolomoisky's network of offshore entities.

Ultimately, the Ukrainian government took control of Kolomoisky's bank, but the $1.8 billion was never recovered.

MAR 2016

Chalupa Begins to Work Directly with Ukraine Embassy

Around the time Manafort joined the Trump campaign, Chalupa began working with embassy staff to raise the alarm bells regarding Manafort to the Ukrainian president. She said the embassy "worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions."

In other words, the Ukrainian Embassy, right here in the United States, was working directly with a DNC operative to damage a Republican candidate for president to influence the U.S. election.

Chalupa and the DNC deny this, but a Ukrainian Embassy political officer who worked there at the time, stated that the Ukrainians were working with Chalupa.

They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.

At the end of March, 2016, the Ukranian Head of a Department of the Prosecutor General's Office met with representatives of the BlueStar Strategies. Here's a translated memo of that meeting:

APR 2016

Pillow Talk with the Ohrs

Bruce Ohr led a double life. He worked for the Department of Justice associate deputy attorney general, but he also played a part in starting the Russian meddling accusations against Trump.

As I mentioned earlier, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS to write the Steele Dossier, which was supposed to crush Trump. Then Fusion GPS hired Bruce Ohr's wife Nellie Ohr, a Russian specialist, to “research" Donald Trump.

(Check out these reports from the FBI's investigation into Ohr.)

Trump has been pretty open about his opinion of Ohr.

MAY 2016

Isikoff Memo: Chalupa Embassy Press

Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff has been probing around this whole time, and in 2018, he compiled all his findings in his book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.

Within a few months, Federal authorities would use this article by Isikoff for a FISA warrant application in order to justify surveillance of Carter Page.

In late May, these State Department memos were sent, revealing contacts between George Soros' firm and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

JUN 2016

FBI & National Anti-Corruption Bureau

Remember the Ukranian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NACB)? The supposed anti-corruption agency created with the help of Obama and the DNC. It hadn't even been in operation for a year when the FBI instituted a “Memorandum of Understanding" between the FBI and the NACB.

As noted on the NABU website:

This document establishes the parties' joint work on crimes related to international money laundering, international asset recovery, and Ukrainian high-level officials' bribery and corruption.

In the words of then the FBI Acting Deputy Assistant Director Mathew S. Moon:

If, for instance, your criminal proceeding has the accordant proceedings in the US, you [NABU] can give us the numbers of the bank accounts and it will be the reason for us to issue a notice of suspicion for a person and receive the necessary information much faster.

Another important legal proceeding that will receive very little attention is Citizens United v. The U.S. Department of State. Here is an FBI agent's affidavit in Citizens United FOIA lawsuit, including the declaration of Michael Seidel:

The FBI will play a crucial role in this whole thing. As recently as July of 2019, members of Congress were sounding the alarm about questionable activity:

JUN 2016

Obama Appoints New Ambassador

Without much ado, then-President Barack Obama appointed Marie Yovanovitch to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch is a big supporter of Artyom Sytnik, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The following State Department memos reveal that, a few weeks before Obama appointed Yovanovitch, George Soros and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed Ukraine:

JUN 2016

Manafort Sentenced

In June of 2016, with the election just months away, Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and promoted Manafort to the position. Suddenly, Manafort was in charge of Trump's entire campaign.

Around that same time, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power sent this email reacting to Donald Trump UN plan:

Half-a-year later, Power gave this speech about Russia:

And here she is discussion the Russia Trump speech in an email:

LATE 2016

No Visas for Ukrainian Prosecutors

The Deputy Director for Ukraine's Prosecutor General's International Cooperation Department stated that she didn't grant his delegation visas to travel to the United States. They wanted to come to deliver information to the U.S. Attorney General evidence of Ukraine's misdeeds during the 2016 election.

This evidence included:

  • Sworn statements from Ukrainian officials admitting that their agency tried to influence the 2016 election. (This must be whistleblowers inside the Anti-Corruption Bureau regarding the Manafort “Ledger.")
  • Contacts between Democrat figures in Washington and Ukrainian officials involved in gathering dirt on Donald Trump. (This is probably the DNC, Chalupa and the Ukraine Embassy.)
  • Financial records showing a Ukrainian natural gas company routed more than $3 million to Hunter Biden.
  • Records showing Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire Shokin.
  • Correspondence that proves the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Ukraine interfered in criminal cases on Ukrainain soil.
  • Disbursements of as much as $7 billion that may have been misappropriated and taken out of the country.

Two other important events happened in late 2016. Obama appointed a new Ambassador in Ukraine, and the Manafort “Black Ledger" was released by Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Bureau.

But the Presidential election was in full swing. It took up all the time and space in the news. So these two crucial moments passed by mostly unseen.

A member of the Ukrainian Parliament named Leshchenko and the Anti-Corruption Bureau Director, Sytnik — who had just signed a memorandum of understanding with the FBI just a month prior — jointly released pages in the Ledger that showed illegal payments given to Paul Manafort.

Were the Ukrainians trying to influence the election? Check out this article from the Financial Times.

(If you're unable to access the article, the headline is a good summary of it: “Ukraine's leaders campaign against 'pro-Putin' Trump")

The article actually states direct quotes from the Member of Parliament (Leshchenko) that disclosed Manafort's name in the ledger:

A Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy. For me it was important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is a pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.

In other words, the Ukrainian government actively tried to sink Donald Trump's campaign for President.

NOV 2016

Trump Wins the Election

November 8, 2016. The day everything changed.

The day that shattered so many news anchors and Hillary supporters. It wasn't supposed to happen. According to the media, Trump wasn't supposed to win. But he did.

Hillary was so upset that she refused to concede.

From that moment, Democrats made up their mind. They decided that they were going to get Trump out of office however they could. No rules. Anything goes.

Within hours of Trump's win, journalists were calling for his impeachment.

He was still months away from being sworn in, barely into his first day in his Presidential legacy, and the left wanted him out.

A Change.org petition to Congress titled “ Impeach Donald J. Trump" raised nearly $500,000.

Down the line, a former British intelligence Officer will compile a dossier — a 35-page compilation of 16 reports supposedly offering evidence of conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government — an accusation that will haunt Trump for years. But it ultimately proved to be a dud.

Most importantly, it was the DNC and the Clinton Campaign that contracted Steele to write the dossier.

Steele leaked the dossier to journalist Michael Isikoff, who had been working with DNC-operative Alexandra Chalupa. Isikoff wrote an article for Yahoo News detailing parts of the Steele Dossier.

Note that the email was sent in May 2016, exactly one month after the DNC hired Fusion GPS to work on the dossier.

The last line of this email is significant:

... there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I'm working on you should be aware of.

The FBI used the leak as corroborating evidence to justify a FISA warrant for Carter Page.

Here is the FBI Human Source Validation Report on Christopher Steele:

JUL 2017

First Mention of Ukraine by White House

Then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders first mentioned Democrat corruption in Ukraine during an off-camera briefing on July 12, 2017, alleging that the DNC had colluded with the Ukrainian Government and targeted people within the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Sanders said:

I think if there's been any evidence of collusion in 2016 that's come out at all or been discussed that's actually happened, it would be between the DNC and the Ukrainian government. I don't often quote the New York Times, but even one of their reporters tweeted earlier today that — why this example provides evidence of collusion: "Cooperation was between DNC officials and officials from the Ukrainian government, not just some associate."

Ukrainian actions to coordinate with the DNC was actually successful, unlike anything shown by Don Jr.'s emails. Information passed to the DNC from the Ukrainian government directly targeted members of the Trump campaign in an attempt to undermine it. And that was just Ukraine. The other big news was the foreign intelligence dossier that the President's political opponents funded and disseminated widely, and was based on discredited opposition research from foreign intelligence sources. The only collusion I've seen, and that's certainly been proven, would be between those people.

Then, President Trump mentioned Ukraine on Twitter:

Later that month, Senator Chuck Grassley wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining shady activity among the Ukrainians, the DNC, and Alexandra Chalupa.

Nothing ever came of it.

OCT 2017

Two Ukrainians Found Guilty, Secret Audio Released

Ukraninan People's Deputy Borislav Rosenblatt filed a claim charging both Leshchenko and Sytnik with interfering in the U.S. election by publicly disclosing the information on Manafort. The Ukrainian court agreed. After Leshchenko appealed the decision, Rosenblatt leaked the audio recording.

In April of 2019, former Prosecutor General Lutsenko gave an interview with the Ukrainian media. In that interview he makes a stunning comment:

I don't know how, but the Americans got an audio recording of Mr. Sytnik's conversation: he is resting with his family and friends and discussing how he would like to help Hillary.

Sytnik is the Director of the Bureau that the Obama Administration mandated they set up. He then made public information directly to influence the U.S. election.

Here's that audio:

We'd rushed around looking for a Ukrainian translator. It was pure chaos here at the studios. But we knew it was important. Eventually, we got it. And we were absolutely floored. We had our smoking gun.

Mercury Radio Arts Inc | October 02, 2019 | Transcript by TransPerfect

KOLYA: Did they … those Russians … help him? Your people?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: I think they did.

KOLYA: Oh, did they?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Yep. I helped him, too. Not him, but Hilary. I helped her.

KOLYA: Yeah, right. Then her position tottered, right.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Well, this is how they write about it. Right.

IVAN: Hilary's humanitarian aid [INDISCERNIBLE] America?

KOLYA: Well, I am about … the commentaries. At that time, we were not in [INDISCERNIBLE].

IVAN: No, there it was …

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Trump … His purely inner problem … issue… They dominate over the external matters. While Hilary … she is – how shall I put it? She belongs to the cohort of politicians who comprise the hegemony in the US. Both in the US and in the entire world. Right. For us, it is …sort of … better. For the Americans … what Trump is doing is better for them.

KOLYA: Well, we have lots of those American experts here now... [INDISCERNIBLE].

ARTYOM SYTNYK: A woman. Masha.

KOLYA: How do you find her?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: They don't keep any different people.

KOLYA: They - who?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: As our Ambassador in Germany once told me… He said: in order to get to the Ambassador's post to a foreign country in Germany – it seems easier to win the Noble Prize, than to get the position of Ambassador.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: There is a very tough selection process there. Unlike in our country. See, we sent Lytvyn to … so to say… Now the entire borer is open. We sent him to the position of the Ambassador. And then he disappeared there.

KOLYA: Well, not quite so… It was done via the system, of course…

IVAN: Come on, what are you talking about?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Well, there, you see. Why Hilary lost the elections? I was in charge of investigation of their “black accounting" records.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: We made the Manafort's data available to general public.

KOLYA: So what?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: He was imprisoned. Manafort then was the head of the Supreme Headquarter of Trump. Right. Then he was dismissed, too. Including due to the “black accounting". After that, he was sentenced to 80 years of imprisonment term. How about Trump? He did not give a shit. They have their system working there, and it works smoothly.

KOLYA: Everybody works smoothly there.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: And when they carried out the elections. A week before the elections, FBI reopened the investigation in respect of Hilary. So her rating dropped for 7%, and that is why Trump managed to win the elections at a pinch. I am still unable to understand why he is fighting with FBI? They try to catch him on the hand. If it were not the FBI, he would not have won the elections. They torpedoed Hilary's rating for 7 %.

KOLYA: I say... Is FBI - ФБР?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Yes. Of course, it is a solid structure there.

KOLYA: The solid one, right?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: You bet! A real stronghold!

APR 2018

Mueller Report Finds Nothing

The Mueller Report. I'm sure you remember exactly where you were the day it was released.

In December of 2016, exactly a month after Trump was elected President, academic Joseph Mifsud, with links to Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, sent this:

Here's an email from Mifsud to Papadopoulos:

And another, from February 2017, to the FBI:

Mifsud regularly attended meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, which often included Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here's Mifsud's deposition testimony on Vladimir Putin:

Several months later, in June, Mueller charged Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian political operative, with alleged ties to Russian Intelligence and a Manafort business partner, with witness tampering. Kilimnik was once described as “Manafort's Manafort," his contact in Kiev.

MAY 2018

Trump Boots U.S. Ambassador

President Trump recalled Obama-appointed Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

In October of 2019, Yovanovitch will give a closed-door testimony before the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence. Here is her opening statement.

She wrote:

Understanding Ukraine's recent history, including the significant tension between those who seek to transform the country and those who wish to continue profiting from the old ways, is of critical importance to understanding the events you asked me here today to describe. Many of those events — and the false narratives that emerged from them — resulted from an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system, and Americans who either did not understand that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.

JUL 2019

Donald Trump Makes Phone Call to Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Then, the fateful phone call. If you haven't heard or read the call transcript yet, here's my reenactment of it:

President Donald J. Trump has released a declassified, un-redacted transcript of his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from July 25th, 2019.

The media swiftly and uniformly sided with the unknown whistleblower.

Even when Trump responded, they stuck to their guns.

After months of resisting calls for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for an impeachment inquiry.

Here's a notice of suspicion signed by the Ukraine general prosecutor on March 28, 2019, announcing the opening of a new investigation against Burisma Holdings Founder Zolchevsky:

Here's Ambassador Kurt Volker, Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, giving testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 3, 2019:

In yet another bizarre twist, the man who beat Poroshenko in the Ukraine Presidential election this year was Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian.

OCT 2019

What's Next?

Which brings us to now. What's next, you ask?

Well, you've seen all the evidence. What do you think? Do we have a case or what?

Without a doubt.

But that's not enough. It's not enough to know the truth. Not anymore.

So now, we've got to get the facts out there, in the open, so that everyone can see them, and decide for themselves. It's imperative that we reveal the truth. To shrug this off would be a disservice to our nation.

Good luck and godspeed.

My fellow supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that I must make a sad announcement today. The time has come to press pause on the dream of Beto for president. It's not the end of the Beto dream. It's just pressing pause for a while, like pausing a Foss CD. The dream will keep right on spinning, until we return to it and press play again. I mean, look at Bernie Sanders. That guy's almost twice my age and he's still running for president. That means you can look forward to Beto running for office for decades to come. I have found there is tremendous joy and freedom in running for office and never winning. All the travel, Vanity Fair cover stories, food and free beer, with none of the hassle or responsibility of having an actual job in elected office (or any job at all). It's really great.

With the exception of myself, no one has supported Beto more faithfully and true than you, the fans. I'd also like to thank my wife Amy for continually raising our children so that I can travel this great land in my never-ending quest to find myself (and also to connect with you, the fans). From attending my very hip and not-at-all contrived jogging town halls, to slapping those trendy Beto bumper stickers on your hybrid-SUVs, to steadying tables all over America so I could jump on top of them and yell and jab the air, to clicking "like" on all those Facebook videos of my dentist visits – you perpetuated this Beto dream way longer than it had any right to be perpetuated.

So, I'm sure you're now wondering – what's next for Beto?

Other than pursuing my career as a solo rock recording artist, I believe the best way I can serve America and bring true justice to this great land of ours is by stealing from the rich and giving to those who fall in the sweet spot on the intersectionality charts. Except I won't steal from my billionaire father-in-law, only because getting my family cut out of the will would not be in America's best interest. You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I. Plus, as you know by now, from following the 2020 presidential campaign so closely, the only acceptable status quo in America is leaving the wealth of Progressive elites alone. Everyone else's wealth is fair game, including the middle class. It's the right thing to do.

You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I.

Therefore, from this day forward I will henceforth be known as Beto Hood. You will be able to join the cause by purchasing official Beto Hood merch soon at Beto Hood dot com. Together, with my band of merry men, who will be known as "merry non-binaries", we will roam the land, righting all the wrongs and bringing about all the social justice that Donald Trump refuses to let you have.

Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will live on the road. And in the woods (in eco-friendly, fully sustainable treehouse yurts). And in the shadows. We will skateboard and learn archery and rappelling. We will become proficient in hand-to-hand combat. We will become experts in all weaponry except guns, since guns are the evilest weapons. We will care for all the animals of the forest. You already know my affinity for squirrels. Not only will we continue to rescue all the orphan squirrels, we will train them in petty thievery and nimble sabotage. We will affix tiny helmets on them, fitted with tiny Go Pro cameras to live stream their heroic exploits on Facebook. Side note: my colonoscopy next week will also be live streamed on Facebook and available to rent on iTunes.

Using the skills I honed as a college graduate scaling the gates of UTEP, Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will scale the gates of America's richest and steal from their grotesque wealth. Jewelry, high-end electronics, precious antiques, art, women's shoes – nothing of value will be off-limits. Drawing on my experience while my father was a county judge, we will live above the law. It will be dangerous work, the Lord's work as some people say. But totally worth the risk.

Also, we will not wait for Constitutional amendments nor judicial overreach to get rid of America's AR-15s. We will steal those too. One by one. Using very large versions of those stretchy sticky hands that come in cereal boxes, we will literally be able to snatch these vile guns right out from under the noses of the monsters who own them. Then, with our literal mountain of confiscated AR-15s, we will melt them down and use the metal to build a flotilla of sturdy watercraft, called Beto Boats (trademark pending). Families will be able to use these Beto Boats to save themselves and others when the rising waters of climate change overtake our cities in exactly ten years.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero. So, don't cry for me, America. Beto will be just fine. Dropping out of this race is nothing that another months-long, head-clearing road trip won't cure. And after that, I'll start shopping for some tights.



[NOTE: The preceding Memo was a parody written by MRA writer Nathan Nipper – not Beto O'Rourke.]

Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

My side was life.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com