Marco Rubio tells Glenn why he thinks all abortion should be abolished

While Glenn was on his doctor-recommended hiatus last month, he had an off-the-record chat with Senator Marco Rubio. And he ended up really liking him, thinking he was a decent, honest guy who did not flinch from the hard questions. Rubio joined Glenn on radio Monday for an on-the-record interview so you can decide what you think for yourself.

Among other things, the outspoken pro-life candidate candidly expressed his feelings on why the practice of abortion is equivalent to murder and should be abolished.

"I believe a human being is entitled to life, irrespective of the circumstances in which that human being was conceived in and so forth," Rubio said.

Acknowledging that other people don't hold that view and in order to save lives in this country, Rubio said he has supported bills in the past that have exceptions in them, while he personally feels very strongly that every human is entitled to the protection of his or her life.

"If we as a society start deciding which lives we will protect and which lives we will not, we put ourselves on a very slippery, dangerous slope," Rubio said.

Glenn also delved into Rubio's positions on immigration, ISIS and NSA spying. Listen to the full segment or read the transcript below.

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it may contain errors.

GLENN: Welcome to the program, Senator Marco Rubio. How are you, sir?

MARCO: I'm well. Thanks for having me on.

GLENN: So how did you feel last week when the embassy opened up and we raised the flag in Cuba?

MARCO: Well, I felt -- you know, a part of you feels like I wish that was happening in a free Cuba, where it was really a celebration. Instead, it felt like a recognition of an oppressive government. That they're now going to be admitted to the club of normal countries or normal governments. And it's unfortunate. I almost felt like we were surrendering to the idea that the Cuban people will forever be doomed and condemned in living under a repressive regime. You know, we have a government that will go. They will give some lip services to freedom and democracy. Basically we won't press them to do anything. And the result is, badly, I fear, that we're one step closer to this sort of regime that is now in Cuba, becoming a permanent fixture and remaining the only people in the western hemisphere who don't elect their leaders.

GLENN: Well, Fidel Castro said that we owed them reparations.

MARCO: Yeah. Well, and that's exactly one of the problems I have with it. The United States is going to be all these things that is good for the Cuban government. More travel. More remittances. More telecommunication. More commerce. The Cuban government has said thank you. We're not changing anything, by the way. And, in fact, you owe us money. I mean, that's basically been their attitude.

And people think Cuba is some benign Cold War relic. It's much deeper than that. In Cuba, they're harboring dozens of fugitives from American justice. For example, this woman who killed a police officer in New Jersey was jailed, escaped from jail. Took off to Cuba. They have been harboring her now for almost 30 years. There are multiple people who have come from Cuba to the U.S. They steal money and Medicare fraud. When they're about to get caught, they leave back to Cuba. There's dozens of them hiding over there. Two of their generals have been indicted for the murder of unarmed American civilian pilots and international air space in 1996, during the Brothers to the Rescues was down, they then -- (phone breaking up) both the Chinese and the Russians on the island of Cuba, and they used that as an outpost to spy on central commands, southern commands, special operations commands, all three of which are located in Florida. And, of course, NASA. So this is not -- (breaking up) -- last year was caught smuggling weapons to North Korea. Now they'll just have more dollars.

GLENN: So here we have a -- I've never seen our country on the wrong side as much as we are now. The president is pushing for Iran. And saying that we -- we have to do this. John Kerry came out and said, if -- if the Senate doesn't ratify this agreement, that we will lose the status of the reserve currency for the world.

MARCO: Yeah, that's silly. That's a silly thing for him to say. I mean, it's just absurd. Everyone laughed at him when he said it, including people around the world in the financial market. Our reserve status has nothing to do with our relationship with Iran or anyone else for that matter. And it's just really an absurd statement.

But going back to the point that you made, that's exactly right. I mean, the argument that the president is making is, either we expect this deal or we'll be the pariah, not Iran. Again, it's ridiculous. I know America has saved the world at least two times in the last 100 years. I don't remember when the world saved America. And so I think we need to enter these things with that sort of reality in mind. And the second point I would make is he is now also saying -- he's now isolating Israel. (breaking up) -- that opposes this deal. And in essence, trying to isolate Israel (breaking up) status on them if they don't go along with this thing. So it really is bizarre. I really never thought I would live to see the day where we had a president and an administration so hostile towards Israel and in general some of our allies. It's really unbelievable.

GLENN: You were on CNN and you said some of the most remarkable things I think I've heard any politician say on -- on Planned Parenthood and on abortion.

You took him on and I think sliced him to ribbons. But you made the -- you made the point that even in cases of rape and incest, abortion is murder and it should be abolished.

MARCO: Look, a human being, in my view, this is how I deeply feel. It's not a political issue, this whole abortion debate. I believe a human being is entitled to life, irrespective of the circumstances in which that human being was conceived in and so forth. And in order to be ideological consistent, I hold that position that you've just outlined. Now, I recognize that other people don't hold that view. And in order to save lives in this country, I have supported bills in the past that have exceptions in them. And I know a lot of people who are pro-life that support exceptions because they feel it goes too far.

You know, I support saving the life of the mother. But I think, in my view, I personally feel this very, very strongly, that every human life is entitled to the protection of our life. And if we as a society start deciding which lives we will protect and which lives we will not, we put ourselves on a very slippery, dangerous slope.

I actually think, in 100 years or so, or less, future generations will look back at this time in history and say it's really unbelievable that so many unborn human beings, their lives were ended, simply because they didn't have a birth certificate, couldn't hire a lawyer, didn't vote, or we couldn't see them yet. And I just feel very strongly about that. And again, for me, it's not a political issue. It's an issue that speaks to the core of our values.

GLENN: I have to tell you, Marco, speaking to Senator Marco Rubio, I am gravely concerned about how history will remember this time period and us. It's why we're going and meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, to stand up against Planned Parenthood. Or I should say for life in all of its forms. And that includes ISIS. What's happening in ISIS, it's a culture of absolute death. And the New York Times ran a story on Friday that said -- it showed how these ISIS fighters are coming off of the battlefield. And one of them was documented in praying before he bound and gagged a 12-year-old girl, raped her, and then knelt at the bedside and thanked Allah for the opportunity to do that.

It's sick what's going on. And what are we doing about it?

MARCO: Well, first of all, it is a grotesque perversion of any faith for that matter. What's happened with ISIS. And we've read in the last week how they've now come up with these theological interpretations that justify what they're doing both to women and in general. And it's an outrage. And as far as what we're doing about it, clearly not enough. I continue to believe that it's up to the Sunnis themselves to defeat ISIS. ISIS is a radical Sunni movement. And there are Sunni nations that are willing to do it. But they require America to be willing to help them. Because they don't have the capacity. They want more airstrikes from us. They want intelligence information. Logistical support. But they have to go in on the ground and defeat them themselves. And they understand that they are battling for the future of that region. It is their women. It is their men. It is their children. It is their cities that are being taken over by these radical Muslims. And it has to be defeated. It will not stop. This movement will not stop and say, okay, we're satisfied with the land we have now. They will continue to grow and spread until they are defeated. So we have a very simple choice here, either they win or we win. There is no accommodation for them, nor should there be with something as evil as this.

GLENN: Senator, the one thing -- there's two things that we have to bring up that are sticking points. With me and several people in the audience. And one of them is, I believe you're a patriot. I believe that you believe in America. I believe that you want to do the right thing. And I would hope that you would believe the same thing about me. But we have to have a rule of law and the Constitution. And you don't have a problem with the NSA spying. And I think it's one of the most dangerous things we have ever done. If you want to get -- if you want to find out what somebody is doing, then get a warrant. And we've even streamlined the warrant. But to have this mass NSA collection and spying on average Americans is -- is frankly frightening. Not -- not for how we're using it now, but how it can be used in the future.

MARCO: Well, I think those concerns are always legitimate. There have been times in the past where American intelligence programs have been abused for political purposes and otherwise. And it's illegal. And if someone is caught doing that, they should be caught and thrown in jail. I understand your concern about the capacity that it exists. I would argue the capacity also exists outside of government, with some of the technology that's now being used is readily available.

GLENN: But they don't -- but the argument there is, they don't have the right or the capability to round people up. And in more than one occasion, this government has rounded people up that they've disagreed with.

MARCO: Oh, you mean in the past.

GLENN: Yes.

MARCO: Yeah. Obviously as a society, we would always be vigilant about those sorts of things. And I understand the civil liberties concern, I do. I balance it with the very significant concern that we have about the fact that ISIS and other radical movements are actively recruiting Americans who have never traveled abroad, living among us.

A week ago, an honor student that just graduated high school, married someone who I guess had been radicalized, and they were headed to Syria to join ISIS. And you see here, rightfully, that there are individuals in America who, even as you and I are talking right now, they are now planning to kill Americans. Service men and women. Attack bases. Whatever it takes. We know this is happening. I'm a member of the US Senate Intelligence Committee. I review this information on a regular basis. And it's what led me to say, we got to know more about these people than they know about us. And I will admit, it is a difficult balance, having programs robust enough to prevent an attack, but also capable of protecting the civil liberties. So I'm not saying we take it lightly or ignore it or in any way allow these things to run amuck, but I do know that there will eventually be an attack on this homeland of great significance at some point. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when. And we have to try to prevent or delay that from happening as much as possible. And that's why I believe having these tools at our disposal are so important.

GLENN: Could I ask, this is -- this is one of the emails that came in to me. And it's in Arabic and also in English. And it's from an American citizen, or at least somebody who is living here.

The day will come when we capture you cross-worshiping, impure redneck polytheists of the United Snakes. Not only will we kill you. But we will take your women as slaves and all of your properties, and blood will be lawful for us. Have patience because the hour will not be established until we have removed your falsehood pagan religion from the world and killed many of you.

This comes from Arabic, along with several quotes of the Koran.

Wouldn't we be better off honestly saying the truth about what this is and then saying the truth about some of the mosques here in America?

MARCO: No doubt. 100 percent. And I think that is -- look, if there was a radical movement that was using Baptist churches or Catholic churches to organize, we would have no qualms about spying on them or monitoring them and watching them. I don't think we can allow political correctness to endanger the lives of Americans. And on that, there is no doubt and no quarrel with me. I agree 100 percent that that's the fact. And I think that law enforcement would say the same thing. So there's no doubt that we need to be clear about it. Does that mean -- of course, it doesn't mean that every Muslim or even the majority of Muslims in America are radicalized. You know, I've met very patriotic Muslims in this country who love the United States. But we cannot ignore the fact that there is a significant element in it. (breaking up)

GLENN: Hello?

MARCO: And we can't ignore them. (breaking up) So we're not not going to spy on a mosque because of, you know, political correctness.

GLENN: Right. We're having a horrible connection with you.

MARCO: Can you hear me better now?

GLENN: Yeah, we can. Let me ask you. Do you regret being a part of the Gang of Eight?

MARCO: I wouldn't use the word regret. I would say that we learned lessons about reality of where we stand as a country on that issue. We're not going to make any progress as long as Barack Obama is president. We're not going to solve immigration. And we're not going to be able to do it in one massive piece of legislation. And the reason being is, people just don't trust the government will ever do even what the law says. You can pass a law that promises a fence, people will say, they'll never build it. So it's clear --

GLENN: Well, we have passed that law.

PAT: Yeah, 2006.

GLENN: Yeah.

MARCO: Not only have they passed the law, but then they don't fund it. So you have to fund it. And the second part of it is on an entry/exit tracking system (breaking up), that's been delayed as well. So my point is -- the lesson I took from all that is, you're going to have to do it. You can't pass a law that says it will do it. You're going to have to do it. And once people see that you've done it and illegal immigration is under control, then I think they'll be willing to talk about what we do next. But you won't any progress until you do it. And that's just a fact. Whether people like it or not, that is the way it is. And anyone who doesn't accept simply is simply deluding themselves or they're lying.

GLENN: Okay. Senator, it's good to have you on the broadcast. And I hope to be able to spend some more time with you. We're -- we are excited to see that you are doing as well as you are in the polls. There is about four of the guys that we like. And currently at the top of the polls, Cruz and you are towards the very top of the polls. And we're glad to see that. There is one that we're not so glad that is at the top of the polls right now. But I don't think --

MARCO: These things all work out in time.

PAT: Yeah, it just takes a little time.

MARCO: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me on. I enjoyed it very much.

GLENN: You bet. Thanks, Senator. Buh-bye.

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