Glenn's civil discourse with Sean Hannity over Trump continues

Last Friday, Glenn posed an honest question for prominent small government conservatives, including Sean Hannity, who have voiced their support for Donald Trump. Hannity answered Glenn's question in a rather lengthy reply on Sunday.

On radio Monday, Glenn said he disagrees with Hannity, but - what a shock - they don't hate each other.

"Sean and I are different, obviously. Different people. And we run different shows," Glenn said.

Glenn described Hannity's show as an opportunity for viewers to see as many candidates as possible and make decisions accordingly. As for his own show, Glenn sees his role a little differently.

"There are many candidates that will not come on my show because they don't like me. And they know that I will express and assert my opinion and push back, not in an interview way, but push back as a citizen. That's not what Sean does," Glenn said.

Glenn will join Hannity's show on Fox News tonight at 10pm ET to share his thoughts on Donald Trump, insights on the 2016 Republican field and other issues.

Listen to Glenn's discussion on radio or read Hannity's full response below.

Glenn,

You are a friend and a patriot who has asked an honest and thoughtful question, and I will attempt to answer it in this post.

You asked, "Can we actually have a civil discourse based on facts? Not on emotion or feelings?" Of course we can! For all of you leftists out there in the media and elsewhere hoping this will become a "food fight," you will be extremely disappointed.

Let me first point out that I am personally UNDECIDED as to whom I I will support in the GOP primaries. The good news is the Iowa Caucus is February 1, 2016. That gives us over 5 1/2 months before the REAL process begins in deciding who the Republican presidential nominee will be. Five and a half months is an eternity in political terms.

A lot can and will happen between now and then. Some candidates will trip and fall or stumble. Some will recover and others may not. Polls will shift, debates will hopefully enlighten, and voters (that is, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE) will decide which way this is going to go.

This is not my first rodeo. I began my talk radio journey in 1987. I am about to begin my 20th year on the Fox News Channel. I have followed presidential politics closely since my early teens. I often remind both my listeners and viewers that this is a PROCESS. We do not have to decide today.

As a registered conservative in New York state, I only have one vote. From a voting perspective, I will have no say, really, in deciding who the Republican presidential nominee will be in 2016. Just as I have in past presidential cycles, I feel I can best serve both my television and radio audiences by giving them as much access as possible to all of the candidates so they can make an informed decision in the primary.

For example, in just the last 2 weeks I have had on both radio and TV Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie.

I have given many of the candidates a FULL hour on my TV show, as well. My plan is to continue to offer all the candidates more airtime throughout the entire process.

As I mentioned, I have two jobs that I love to do every day (which is to build an audience, and to generate revenue), but that is not my primary motivation. As somebody who follows the news closely every day, I am extremely concerned about the direction of the country and the world in general.

In my view, America is at a crossroads -- a tipping point. To me, this election is not about ME OR WHO I VOTE FOR. I personally want the most CONSERVATIVE candidate (because conservatism works) with the best, most inspiring solutions for the country; someone who can passionately articulate those solutions, and win.

Which Republican candidate can offer solutions that will:

1. Create jobs and help the 93 million Americans who are out of the labor force get back to work

2. Help get nearly 50 million Americans out of poverty

3. Help nearly 46 million Americans who are on food stamps get back to work

4. Stop robbing future generations with record debt and deficits. We now have over 18 trillion dollars in debt and over 100 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

5. Balance the budget, force the government to live within its means, and lower taxes by transforming our tax code

6. Save Social Security (because the "Lock Box" has been stolen)

7. Save Medicare

8. Repeal Obamacare, and hopefully replace it with personal healthcare savings accounts

9. Make America energy independent. This would create jobs, lower the cost of energy, and reduce our dependence on imported oil from countries that hate us.

10. Protect our borders from those who do not respect our laws and sovereignty, and those who enter the country to cause us harm

11. Transform a broken educational system and replace public schools with school choice for parents and kids trapped in failing schools

12. End burdensome regulations

13. Restore constitutional order and separation of powers with co-equal branches of government as our founders intended

14. Identify by name our biggest enemy (radical Islamists) and take every step necessary to defeat this evil

15. Undo this horrific, naive, and incredibly dangerous deal with the radical Mullahs in Iran that chant death to America

16. Restore America's sacred and special relationship with Israel

17. Empower moderate nations and people in the Middle East and elsewhere to defeat enemies in the region

18. Confront Putin with strength to stop his geopolitical ambitions

19. Confront China and thwart its geopolitical ambitions and unfair trade practices

20. Commit to the idea that America is the single greatest force for good in the world, and that America's role is to lead the fight for freedom around the world

This is only a short list of challenges we now face as a country. As our mutual friend "The Great One," Mark Levin, says, we are living in a post constitutional America. I have a sense of urgency that I have never had before in my life that the "America" we love and grew up in is slipping away, literally hanging in the balance. Now is NOT the time for half measures It is time, as Reagan said, for a "revitalized second party with no pale pastels but BOLD COLORED DIFFERENCES."

I am extremely disappointed with current congressional "leadership," as they have failed to keep their most BASIC promises. They refused to use their constitutional authority of the power of the purse to defund Obamacare. They caved on their main 2014 campaign promise to stop Obama's illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty. And they are generally weak, timid and afraid to confront Obama for fear they will be blamed for a government shutdown.

With that said I am greatly encouraged by many of the 17 candidates currently running for the GOP nomination.

Sen. Ted Cruz has shown a willingness few in Congress have shown TO FIGHT! His filibuster in 2013 was inspiring, as is his willingness to take on his own party.

Sen. Rand Paul's reminders about limited government and fidelity to the Constitution is similarly refreshing.

Sen. Marco Rubio offers an extremely bright, articulate and friendly vision of conservatism that will inspire many Americans.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum is making a strong push to rebuild the "Reagan Coalition" and is articulating how blue collar voters will benefit under conservatism.

Gov. Scott Walker has shown that a conservative can win in a blue state, and turn deficits into surpluses, create jobs, and he was willing to put his political career on the line for his conservative beliefs.

Gov. John Kasich similarly took record deficits in Ohio and turned them into record surpluses. He also created hundreds of thousands of jobs. While budget chairman in DC, Kasich was the architect of REAL BALANCED BUDGETS.

Gov. Jeb Bush's record in Florida is equally impressive. He created 1.4 million jobs, the nations first school voucher program, and produced balanced budgets.

Gov. Rick Perry, but for his leadership in Texas, America would have experienced a NET loss of jobs in Obama's first term. Obama owes Gov. Perry a debt of gratitude.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is young, bright, and vibrant, had massive reductions in the size of government, vouchers, and a proven willingness to take on the status quo.

Gov. Mike Huckabee deserves major kudos for his commitment to religious freedom, the Constitution and the Fair Tax, which, I believe, will transform the American economy for the better.

Gov. Chris Christie deserves credit for taking on the third rail in politics, i.e., ENTITLEMENTS! The bottom line is we have been lied to and stolen from, and unless we deal with these entitlements (which have become the majority of government spending), our kids will not have a future.

Dr. Ben Carson has articulated a version of common sense, conservatism, and courage in confronting Obama that congressional Republicans should learn from. His vision for healthcare savings accounts is the perfect antidote to Obamacare.

Carly Fiorina has been nothing short of inspiring in confronting Hillary Clinton's moral, ethical, and legal deficiencies. Her knowledge of the economy and world affairs has captivated the country.

Now, I could point out areas of disagreement and deficiencies in all the candidates ... but I will leave that to the voters and the liberal Obama-loving media. The Republican field of candidates offer a far more inspiring vision for our country than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. If conservative principles are implemented we can save and preserve the country for our kids and grandkids.

My hope is that the GOP candidates will all push each other to become stronger in their commitment to this conservative vision -- all of which will get this country back on track before we become another version of Greece.

Now to Mr Trump: The first debate attracted 24 million Americans, by far a cable television record. There is zero doubt in my mind that he was a big part of that record breaking debate.

By comparison, the first Republican debate of the 2012 cycle hosted by Fox News in May 2011, drew just 3.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Its highest-rated Republican debate (in 2012) drew 6.7 million viewers.

Kudos to Donald Trump for creating an audience that not only benefitted him, but every other candidate and the entire country. He single handedly made politics refreshingly fun, unpredictable and interesting. That is a great benefit to the country.

Now to your specific points, because you said you "really want to understand."

First you wrote:

"I get that Trump is reflective of what people are feeling; secure the border; fight to win; don't give in to China, etc. I really do understand that he is saying things that people are feeling. Justifiably.

I get the fact that he is saying that America is a great place and that we can be great again. That is rare and refreshing.

I understand that he is seen, and has the proof in New York City, as a guy who can get things done. I understand and like the fact that he just says what he is thinking. No politically correct BS, no focus groups, and he does it with out apologizing."

My only comment to this, Glenn, is ... you are answering your own question in many ways. These are not insignificant things. Why, at this early stage, would you be so dismissive?

1. Fight to win

2. Stand up to China

3. Make America great again

4. Trump has a track record of getting the job done

5. Secure the border 6. Straight talking, non-politically correct politician!

To address what you say you do not understand:

1. "He is part of the problem when he, by his own admission, buys politicians":

How refreshingly honest that he admits what we all know. I asked him about this and he answered by saying he "hates" the system, wants to change it, but as a businessman he played the game. I applaud the honesty and desire to change it.

2. Trump "identifies his policies more as a Democrat; he makes President Obama look truly humble..."

If you are looking for humble, Trump is not your guy.

As for his political views I asked him a number of times about it, including this week. He was clear that he was once a Democrat and changed his views. You will have to decide for yourself how sincere he is. My sense is that he is sincere. He is correct in pointing out that Reagan was was a pro-choice Democrat who also evolved.

Glenn, one of the things I admire about you is how you have changed. Your life story is extremely compelling because of the significant changes you have made in your life.

You are not shy about pointing out how you once led a pretty fast life. (I did, too, when I was young, as we have all sinned and fallen short), how you found your faith, how you changed your politics, and how your thinking evolved by studying our founders and framers. I read that you recently became a libertarian. I like the changes you have made and your willingness to share those things with your audience. Are you a better person as a result of these changes? My guess is you are.

3. Trump was very pro-abortion until very recently.

His answer at the debate was extremely compelling, about how his views changed. He said he changed his mind because of a child that was going to be aborted, but then wasn't. That is believable to me. Do you think he is lying about that?

4. He still says, "Don't defund planned parenthood ..."

I asked him about that this week, and he was very clear that funding would be dependent on whether Planned Parenthood gets out of the abortion business. Personally, with our debt situation, and with what Planned Parenthood has done, I wouldn't give them a penny.

5. Trump is pro- "assault weapon ban ..."

He said to me he that he "was" for the ban, past tense. He now has a pistol carry-permit in NYC and said he believes law-abiding Americans should have the right to "carry."

6. He is in favor of a wealth tax that would just "take money out of people's bank accounts ..."

I also asked him about this earlier this week. He said when he supported this one-time tax on the very wealthy that we were at a point when, if implemented, the tax would have paid off the entire federal debt. He wanted this coupled with a balanced budget amendment. My impression of this was that it would be meant as a patriotic gesture by those who have greatly benefitted from the American Dream. Misguided, well intentioned, perhaps. But he says he is against it now.

7. Trump "says he is for boots on the ground in Iraq, and for 'taking the oil' from the Iraqi people..."

Mr. Trump and I disagreed about the Iraq war; I was for it and he was against it. But I loved his idea of making Iraq pay for its own liberation. I also love the idea of Iraq paying the families of nearly 5,000 Americans who were killed fighting in that war. They deserve that money. They deserve millions of dollars. Similarly, so do those soldiers and families that suffered severe injuries. It's the least Iraq should do for them.

As far as Trump's plan against Isis of creating a perimeter around the oil fields, which is their main financial source for terror? I like that idea, if it is a part of a more comprehensive plan of defeating them. Americans died in Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah and Tikrit, cities now controlled by Isis. They are modern day Nazis and are getting stronger and richer and more evil every day. I have one caveat: IF AMERICA FIGHTS ANY WAR, WE MUST WIN IT AND WIN IT QUICKLY. NO MORE POLITICALLY CORRECT WARS THAT ARE POLITICIZED AND THEN ABANDONED.

This out of the box thinking is refreshing. Why didn't Iraq pay our military heroes?

8. Trump is a progressive "Republican ..."

He says he is a conservative. It's up to you as to what you want to believe.

9. He says single payer healthcare works; he would give people more than just Obama care ...

Again, this week, in his interview with me, Trump went into great detail about how he supports healthcare savings accounts to replace Obamacare. I have been an advocate of healthcare savings accounts since reading the book by the Cato institute, "Patient Power." A GREAT IDEA.

10. The First Lady would be the first to have posed nude in lesbian porno shots ...

I thought you were libertarian? Also I go back to the fact that you have changed. Trump's wife is a mother and what she did in the past doesn't make my top 10,000 list of problems we face as a country.

11. He said he keeps all the Bibles he is given in a "special place," outside the city -- and he only goes to church on Christmas and Easter ...

I have met atheists and agnostics who seem more in awe of and dazzled by the majesty of God's creation than those who can cite every chapter and verse. To me, religion is a deeply, deeply held personal issue that involves the heart. I am a Christian but a deeply flawed one who regularly needs forgiveness. Having been raised a Catholic, I also have issues with the "church" since sex scandal. I have never lost faith in God. The Bible does say, "... The Kingdom of Heaven is within us," and instructs us to "go into our closets and pray." I hope for Trump's sake, and for everybody's sake, that he has peace in his faith; I know I do.

12. Trump is generally not a likable guy ...

The polls show Republicans like Trump at this moment more than the other candidates. I have known him for years and have found him to be extremely likable and engaging.

13. He has around 16 percent favorability with Hispanics ...

I also saw a poll where he was leading with Hispanic voters in Nevada. IMHO, it's too early to conclude where that settles out.

14. He has gone bankrupt four times.

I thought his explanation at the debate was extremely solid. He never went bankrupt personally, and of the hundreds of business deals he has been involved in, four of them didn't work out well. Shouldn't that be balanced out with all of the deals he has made that have been successful? I think that is only fair. How many jobs has he created over the years? How many careers were made because of his risk taking. Also the proof is in the pudding. He has by every measure been an extremely successful businessman who has made billions of dollars. Not something many people can pull off. I admire success stories. If Trump was president, and he made hundreds of decisions and only four of them went badly, we would likely be in pretty good shape.

15. Just based on his favorability ratings, he could never win in a general. Research shows that he may be near his ceiling now ...

In the end, that's up to the American people to decide, not us.

In conclusion, Glenn, I repeat ... I am personally undecided at this point. But I am glad Donald Trump is in this race. I like his straightforward outsider's view of politics. His personality and background are impressive and refreshing. I like anybody who is not politically correct.

I hope his outspokenness and his courage rubs off on his fellow Republicans, who have all become stale, timid, weak, and generally (especially in DC) useless. Many Republicans can learn a thing or two from Trump.

We have 5 1/2 months until the Iowa caucuses. My promise is to dig deeper into the questions you and others have raised that deserve answers. I also promise to give Mr. Trump and every other candidate a fair shot to explain their views in detail. I think a FAIR SHOT is the best way to serve my audience. Then it's up to the American people, as it should be.

My hope and prayer is that we elect a bold, inspiring conservative visionary who will undo the damage caused by Obama and leftist politicians, and that we can work together to save the country we both love.

Best always,

Sean

Featured Image: NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Host Sean Hannity on set of FOX's "Hannity With Sean Hannity" at FOX Studios on April 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

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