David Barton: We Might Be On the Verge of Revolution

The Context

The South Carolina primary was Saturday and Donald Trump came out the big winner followed by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who were in a virtual tie for second place. David Barton joined the program and broke down the numbers behind the votes and what he found surprised him.

“Well, I thought there would be a revolution, but not in the sense of having a physical revolution,” Barton said Monday on The Glenn Beck Program. “I'm now more of a believer that it's a real thing. The numbers I saw in South Carolina . . . I was literally shocked. I was shocked at not only the numbers, but the words that were behind some of the numbers. The questions that were literally asked and how people responded to that, it really gave me a lot of pause in a way that I have not done in recent years.”

The Bubba Effect

If you've been a listener over the past few years, Glenn has talked extensively about a term called The Bubba Effect, something he believes is now here. The Bubba Effect is when a group of people feel they have been pushed over the edge by an overbearing government, and someone responds with force or violence. Even though they know it’s wrong, the majority of people support the violence.

“The Bubba Effect, I believe, is in full effect right now,” Glenn said. “I believe Donald Trump is The Bubba Effect, and I'll explain that later, based on some of these polls that are coming in. And they are frightening. They're truly frightening when you read the exit polls and you know what you're looking for.”

What was most frightening for David Barton? The term "betrayal."

“Well, the term we'll get into later is the term "betrayal," Barton said. “[Voters] feel betrayed. And when you look at betrayal and you look at what psychologists say that represents, that's a scary term. It's not like someone has just crossed me --- betrayal is deep stuff.”

Terrorism

The number one issue for South Carolina voters according to exit polling was terrorism at 32%, but the staggering number was that 75% of voters did not want Syrian refugees. Glenn explained why that is such a significant number.

“This is America saying, 'Look, we don't buy your bullcrap that it's a peaceful religion and the Muslim Brotherhood are largely secular.' What they know is, Muslims have come in from the Middle East, not necessarily American Muslims . . . Islamists is the better way to term this. Islamists are not peaceful. Muslims can be peaceful. But we have bent over backwards to say everybody is peaceful. And this guy is just a lone wolf, when we know that's bullcrap,” Glenn said.

What’s Sticking to Cruz

There may be several factors that hurt Cruz’ performance or why Rubio and Trump did so well, but there is one thing that Glenn believes is starting to take its toll on Ted.

“So here's the other thing that's hurting Ted Cruz that is sticking: that he's running the dirty campaign and that he's a liar. I have to tell you, I mean, I would not be with a liar. And I won't make any excuses,” Glenn said.

David has been hearing the same thing over and over and it might start to be something the Cruz campaign should be worried about even if it’s a lie itself.

“It's interesting the way they've gone at it. Trump says, [Cruz is] a liar. He lies about everything. He's the biggest liar --- just lie, lie, lie. That's the word [Trump] uses over and over, and people repeat that. And I say, 'Can you give me one example?' No, but [Cruz is] a liar,” Barton said.

Common Sense Bottom Line

If the exit polls in South Carolina prove anything it’s that we are a deeply divided country and at an extremely crucial point in our history. We have been pushed by an overbearing government and we might start to see violence, but we cannot let The Bubba Effect take root in our hearts. We must continue to be like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and serve our fellow man with love.

“And this is why I have been saying, 'Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, pick one. Pick one.' You've got to hold on to who you are, the principles that you have, and you can't fight hate with hate.” Glenn said.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN:  So glad you've tuned in.  We've run out of time for Courage Boys.  We'll have to move that or hit it tomorrow.  

I have David Barton here with us.  And he's been looking at the poll numbers out of South Carolina.  And we're going to get into those here in a bit.  But, David, I wanted to talk to you a bit because I know one of the headlines is going to be, "Glenn Beck says there's going to be a revolution."  I don't think you believed that until you saw the poll numbers coming out of the last three states.

DAVID:  Well, I thought there would be a revolution, but not in the sense of having a physical revolution.  You know, I thought there would be political or something.  I'm now more of a believer that it's a real thing.  The numbers I saw in South Carolina -- you know, I told you the email shocked me.  I was literally shocked.  I was shocked at not only the numbers, but the words that were behind some of the numbers.  The questions that were literally asked and how people responded to that, it really gave me a lot of pause in a way that I have not done in recent years.

GLENN:  And, quite honestly, if we had responsible journalists and responsible press, they would be talking to you now.  And this is why I have been saying, "Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, pick one.  Pick one."  But you've got to hold on to who and you are the principles that you have.  And you can't fight hate with hate.  And that's exactly what's happening.

And people -- the Bubba Effect, I believe, is in full effect right now.  I believe Donald Trump is the Bubba Effect.  And I'll explain that later, based on some of these polls that are coming in.  And they are frightening.  They're truly frightening when you read the exit polls and you know what you're looking for.

DAVID:  Yeah.  The numbers are scary on this.  And the terms are scary too.

GLENN:  What do you mean "the terms"?

DAVID:  Well, the term we'll get into later is the term "betrayal."  They feel betrayed.  And when you look at betrayal and you look at what psychologists say that that represents, that's a scary term.  It's not like someone has just crossed me.  Betrayal is deep stuff.

GLENN:  So I want to make sure that you hear this.  Because the media will spin this out of control.  And they'll make it into another crazy conspiracy theory.  But I just want to point out: '99, I talked about Osama bin Laden in New York and said that there would be blood and bodies in the streets and the signature would be Osama bin Laden.  And nobody believed me.  In 2006 and '7, I talked to you about financial crash, the crash of biblical proportions, based on the housing market.  I told you that there would be a caliphate, and everybody mocked that.  I'm telling you, we are on the path for revolution.  And a violent revolution.

Right now, we're talking about a velvet revolution.  But if we make the wrong choice at this point, we are -- and I'll make this case, based on the polls and what we're seeing.  And nobody in the media is going to -- they're going to mock it.  Don't mock this warning.  Please don't mock this warning.

All right.  So we'll get into that here in just a second.  And I'm actually anxious for David to hear the -- the -- the founders, the black founders, because David is the one who originally turned us on to black founders.  We had absolutely no idea.

Pat, do you know who this -- which is the black founder that we're hitting today?

PAT:  Crispus Attucks.

GLENN:  Who played a huge, huge role.  I was just up in Boston a couple weeks ago.  And I asked people, "So where is the Old North Church?"  And they're like, "You know, it's been years since I've been there.  I'm not really sure."  

So what is that memorial over there?  

That's Bunker Hill, I think.  I'm not really sure.  

I mean, It's amazing that people who live in that, with all of that history, how many people just dismiss it.  And they're just -- it becomes old hat.  I don't really -- I learned that in school.  And I don't really remember.

PAT:  Yeah, they don't pay attention.  You only pay attention kind of when you go to Boston on vacation and you're there to see the revolutionary sites and do all of that, and then you appreciate that stuff.  I think when you live there, you just kind of -- it's like living around Disneyland.  You get immune to it.

STU:  All right.  But ask them where the nearest Dunkin' Donuts is.

PAT:  Oh, they know where that is.

STU:  They will know that.  They will know that.

PAT:  Yeah.  Yeah.  Ask them what channel the Apprentice is on, and they know that.  Right?

GLENN:  I will tell you that I've never seen them -- I was seeing them from the window.  I've been to Boston a hundred times.  I've never had the opportunity -- never had the time to do it.  It's something I have to do with my kids because it's amazing.  It's all still there.  It's all still there.  And maybe we should spend a little more time learning about it.  

We'll learn something that no one in the mainstream media, no one in the educational system wants you to learn.  The history of our black founders, next.

Hour 2

GLENN:  I'll number Durango Hills today in Las Vegas.  At noon.  And 4 o'clock, I'll be in Elko, Nevada, which I've never been.  And then in Reno tonight.  Which is a beautiful city.  And then tomorrow, we'll be around another few places tomorrow in Nevada.  Just check GlennBeck.com for all the details or my Facebook page.  We'll make sure you can find out where we are.

So in South Carolina, quite honestly, it was like a kick to the gut in South Carolina.  But we learned an awful lot about what is happening in America and how high the anger is in America.  We never make a good choice -- how many times have you ever said these words, "I was so angry today, and I made the best choice I've ever made?"  We always start our apologies with, "I'm really sorry.  I flew off the handle.  I was really angry."  Never have I made a good decision when I was angry.

And David is going to take us through some of the poll numbers and what really happened in South Carolina.  David Barton is with us.

DAVID:  You want to start with the angry side --

GLENN:  You take us where you think we need to go.

DAVID:  Well, I'll tell you the way it started for me.  I was not in South Carolina the night the results came in.  I was speaking at a big event in east Texas.

PAT:  I'm just wondering if this is the David Barton --

GLENN:  Come on.  Let's get something out.

DAVID:  What is the website, Pat?

GLENN:  Oh, jeez.

PAT:  Keepthepromise.com.

GLENN:  We got it.  Let me just say -- if you would like to help the super PAC for Ted Cruz, you can go to keepthepromise.com.  Now, can we please move on?

JEFFY:  So this is the David Barton from --

GLENN:  Stop it right now.  Please, I'm begging you guys.  Turn the mics off, Sarah, in Dallas.  

Okay.  David, tell us what happened.

DAVID:  So I looked at the result after the event that night was over, and I saw all sorts of headlines.  I saw what had happened, that Cruz had come in third.  I saw that evangelicals had abandoned him.  That they did not do well.  The conservative state did not go for him.  And so I saw all these headlines.  Then as I was with you this weekend --

GLENN:  And you were as shocked as I was.

DAVID:  I was shocked.  I was absolutely shocked.  Our numbers were not close to what the results came in as.  Really, nobody's numbers were close.  They missed Rubio by a long way.  Trump overperformed.  Cruz underperformed by what was predicted.  So it was a gut blow.  It was kind of a gut blow.

So I had not thought about it much.  You asked -- you sent me the email and said, "What happened?"  So I sent you back a few articles that had exit polls, but I hadn't really looked at them.  And so as we were talking last night, I spent time going through the exit polls.  And the headlines completely misportrayed what the numbers show.

So, for example, you take -- and let me put it in perspective and then we can talk about how things felt.  The biggest issues that were on voters' minds in South Carolina, which were really different from Iowa and elsewhere, but the biggest issues that were out there -- number one issue was terrorism.  That was the number one issue at 32 percent, followed by jobs and the economy for 28 percent, government spending 27 percent, immigration 10 percent.

GLENN:  Okay.  Listen.  Now, when it comes to terrorism, it's specifically the Syrian refugees.

DAVID:  That's right.

GLENN:  And as I explained to David last night, this is the Bubba effect.  Because David is like, where are the Syrian refugees?  How is that even a story right now?

DAVID:  And, by the way, the reason I was struck with that was 75 percent of South Carolina voters said we like Trump because he doesn't want any Syrian -- and I had no clue it would be 75 percent.

GLENN:  Right.  And why is that number so high?  And I explained to David, this is the Bubba Effect.  This is America saying, "Look, we don't buy your bullcrap that it's a peaceful religion.  And the Muslim Brotherhood are largely secular."  What they know is, Muslims have come in from the Middle East, not necessarily American Muslims and Islamists is the better way to term this.  Islamists are not peaceful.  Muslims can be peaceful.  But we have bent over backwards to say everybody is peaceful.  And this guy is just a lone wolf, when we know that's bullcrap.

So when the government is not protecting us, that is the secret of the Bubba Effect.  When the government isn't protecting, the people push back on that.  They get angry and say, "You know what, get out of our town.  We know what the truth is, and you're part of the problem."  And that's why the Syrian refugees was the -- by far, the number one concern of the people who went to the polls in South Carolina.

DAVID:  And for those folks, Trump was their guy.

GLENN:  Because he says no Muslims.

DAVID:  He says, Muslims, shut it down.  That's where they went.  Although there were these other issues, 75 percent, that was a stunning number to me.

GLENN:  Right.

DAVID:  And the other numbers that stood out to me, is I was told -- let's see if I get the numbers.  74 percent were evangelicals that voted.  As it turned out, 74 percent were not evangelicals.  That was evangelicals born again.  So in the evangelicals, Cruz did really good with the evangelicals.  But among the born agains -- and evangelicals are born agains who are serious about their faith.  So those serious about their faith, Cruz did really well with.  Those who were not serious about their faith and not very conservative, that's where Trump cleaned up.  And so the media said, oh, all the evangelicals are going for Trump.  No, not so.  There was a definite categorization difference between those who practice their faith and those who didn't.

GLENN:  And actually those who practiced their faith, it was split between Rubio and Cruz.

DAVID:  That's right.  Rubio and Cruz had the high percentage of those who were serious about their faith.

GLENN:  So here's the other thing that's hurting Ted Cruz that is sticking, that he's running the dirty campaign and that he's a liar.  I have to tell you, I mean, I would not be with a liar.  And I won't make any excuses.  I think -- you know, I think like -- what was it?  Oh, the thing in Iowa where he said, you know, they sent out fliers --

DAVID:  Ben Carson.

GLENN:  No, no.  The fliers that they sent out and said, "You're in violation of voting violation."  That's been done over and over again by the Democrats and the Republicans.  So it's nothing new.  I don't like it.  I wouldn't have done that myself.  But it's totally fair game.  Nobody has ever had a problem with that in the past.

He's not playing dirty ball.  But the problem is, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump are all saying the same thing because they know, if they take him out, then the whole landscape changes.  And so he's an impediment to them.  So they're doing what they did to, you know, Mitt Romney and everybody always does.  You -- you target one, take him out.  Then you retarget another one and take them out.  So they're all targeting Marco Rubio -- Ted Cruz.

DAVID:  It's interesting the way they've gone at it.  Trump says, he's a liar.  He lies about everything.  He's the biggest liar -- just lie, lie, lie.  That's the word he uses over and over.  And people repeat that.  And I say, "Can you give me one example?"  No, but he's a liar.  

Give me an example.  

Well, he's a liar.

And it goes back to what William James said in the 1800s.  He said, there's nothing so absurd, but that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.

GLENN:  Hitler said the same thing.

DAVID:  That's right.  And that's what's been happening.  That did hurt Cruz in South Carolina.  The negatives went up on him.  We really can't trust him because he's a liar.  No evidence of that.  That's just a claim.

GLENN:  I know Ted Cruz.  That's the most incredible thing I've heard.  He's trying to be friends with everybody.  He's not taking these guys out.  He's the only one not engaging in those nasty -- you know, this nasty kind of --

DAVID:  Well, I'll tell you, when I -- when they asked me to take the super PAC and I did.  I said, "Here's the deal, I'm not going to be an attack dog.  I'm not going to do a super PAC that's going after everybody attacking.  I believe in Romans 12:21.  You overturn the evil with the good.  We'll run positive messaging.  I don't mind contrast ads.  I don't mind if someone is vote is somewhere, I'll show that.  But I'm not going to be attack dogs and demean the character of others."  And that's the way we run this thing.  And now we're liars for having run really a pretty straight-up campaign.  Now, we can't speak for everybody that does everything in the name of Ted Cruz.  But the super PAC side, our super PAC Keep the Promise.  Oh, wait a minute.  Keepthepromise.com.  Our super PAC,keepthepromise.com, we have really run a straight-up thing.  Because that's Ted's character.  That's what we want to reflect.

GLENN:  I will tell you this, David is in because he does want to raise money for the super PAC because he believes that the only reason why Kasich is still in is he wants to win Ohio.  And Ohio, it doesn't even look like he'll win Ohio.  And the super PAC needs to have the money to be able to go on and continue to fight.  So if you do believe in Ted Cruz, you can donate to the super PAC.

Now, let me switch to -- and, Pat, I don't know if you have this audio.  What Marco Rubio said this weekend on, I don't know if it was Meet the Press

PAT:  I got the Stephanopoulos audio where he was --

GLENN:  Okay.  So I want you to listen to what he said.

VOICE:  For what it's worth, PolitiFact has never been able to find -- none of us have been able to find any instance --

PAT:  That's.  Hang on a second.

GLENN:  And this is important.  Because here's the thing -- there's never been -- in modern history, there's never been somebody who has made it to the presidency without winning Ohio, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.  You have to win one of those three.  In modern history, nobody has made it without winning one of those three.  Hang on just a second.

On the other side, Bill Clinton didn't win anything until Georgia, which was March 1st.  So I want you to remember the comeback kid.  He did win South Carolina.  But South Carolina came later.  It came March 6th.  The first time he won any state was March 1st.  So no matter what's happening at this point, it doesn't matter.  You can win with the momentum.  So don't be discouraged if you happen to be for a candidate.  You know, I think you'll have a hard time -- anybody who hasn't won any of those three states.  That's the only thing that's an impediment.  This is truly a two-man race.  Okay.  Go ahead play the audio.

VOICE:  Three big contests so far.  You've come in third, fifth, and now second in South Carolina.  The big question for you is:  Where do you win?

GLENN:  Now, listen to this.

MARCO:  Well, when we get to these winner-take-all states, we have to start winning because they award all their delegates to one person.  And if you look at what we're doing now, we're going to be doing a national campaign.  I mean, I'm in Tennessee today.  Then I'm going to Arkansas.  Then we finish up in Nevada.  And tomorrow, more of the same.  We're campaigning everywhere.  

So the way this process works, for people that are watching is, these states right now are awarding delegates proportionally.  And -- and -- but come March 15th, if you win a state, you get all of their delegates.  That's when it's really going to start to matter, and we'll be in real good shape for that.

VOICE:  And Florida needs to be a win?

GLENN:  Okay.  Stop.  

Go ahead.

MARCO:  Well, I think that's true for everyone in this race, and it's always been true.  We feel real good about Florida.

VOICE:  True for everybody in this race.

GLENN:  Okay.  Stop.  True for everybody in this race that you have to win Florida.  He is currently polling third in his home state.

DAVID:  And notice he was asked what state can you win, and he hasn't named one.  He's naming where he's going to be, he's naming what they're going to work for, he hasn't given a state where he can win.

GLENN:  Right.  And if his strategy is, I'm going to win in Florida.  It's too late.  That was the -- what's-his-name's strategy?

DAVID:  Jeb Bush.

GLENN:  No.  Not only Jeb Bush, but Giuliani.  It doesn't work.  It just doesn't work.  So I don't know what that strategy is.  But you can't win if you say I'm going to win in Florida and you're polling third and it's your home state.  Imagine if, you know, Ted Cruz was polling third in Texas.  By the way, how is he polling in Texas?

DAVID:  He's polling first in Texas.

GLENN:  First in Texas.  Yeah, I mean, you just can't do that.  You just can't poll third in your own state at this point.  Rubio is not -- is not a winner.  He's just not a winner.  People are looking at him and saying, "Well, he can win in the general."  I'm not so sure.  

Featured Image: Supporters cheer as the South Carolina primary is called for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at his election night party February 20, 2016 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The New York businessman won the first southern primary decisively. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Ryan: Elizabeth Warren does the Wing Ding

Photo by Sean Ryan

Two thousand people yipped and howled as Elizabeth Warren bounced onto the stage like it was a stairmaster and she was a gym rat.

Sold out. Maximum capacity. Whole place writhing, all 30,000 square feet, with tight rows of folding chairs like checkers on the dancefloor big as a Walgreens.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Under the disco ball that hung from the dark blue ceiling, the crowd screamed like Warren was Led Zeppelin and the year was 1970, when really she was a 70-year-old Senator and this was a fundraiser called Wing Ding, in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly spent the last few cold hours of his life.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Warren did not stand behind the podium like Biden or Bernie Sanders.

She was a yoga grandma! A rapping pastor! A beat-boxing cop! An energetic manager! A cat who thinks it's a puppy!
It was like she needed to move around the stage and wave her arms and fire up the congregation or else the floor would belch into lava.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Iowa would work its magic on Warren. By the end of the weekend, she emerged as a top contender, a position she'd maintain with alacrity, then build on.

In her turquoise blazer and her shoes-that-meant-business, she strolled out to the edge of the stage and gave her speech like a natural-born specialist of hootenanny.

Only thing missing was The Who's "Teenage Wasteland," or, better yet, that "Sail away, sail away, sail away" song by Enya.
Warren was a car commercial, the kind directed at Millenials, with plastic indie rock and a phony "who gives a shit" vibe. She was expensive cheese from right around the corner. She was Nancy Sinatra, but without Lee Hazelwood.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Voice like a stack of hay catching fire, she made promises. She riled the crowd. And it was an odd sight, the way these meek folks attempted to get rowdy. The way they grimaced and writhed, it was like seeing the reclusive kid volunteer to be the mascot.

It was like they were trying to match the intensity of Trump rallies. No politician has been able to do that so far. The man fills arenas, for God's sake. And his supporters wait for hours outside hoping to get inside. Then he makes them wait. Let's the place get feverish.

Until people are so psyched that they literally cannot remain seated, and they stand their eagerly for thirty minutes, gasping every time a song ends with the hope it means he has arrived.

The Wing Dinger — God bless them — just didn't have that dragon energy, that ravenous devotion. Have you ever seen that show "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job"? The people in the ballroom were hyperventilating and spazzing like characters from Tim & Eric. The whole occasion would have been a pickpocket's dream.

Variously, they bulged and shuffled and freestyled to themselves. Who gave the kids sugar cookies at the Baptist youth sleepover? You know they can't handle it, you know they get twitchy, so manic it's almost violent.

And that fed Warren, revved her manic engines.

Full speech: Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding www.youtube.com

If this had been the 1980s, I would have suspected everyone there had spent all day railing cocaine. And Warren would be the Sly Stone of the event, guarding the vault full of drugs.

If only she could have pulled out a guitar and played AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" or performed a duet with a cat on a keyboard. My dad and I had arrived late, and both of us struggled to relax our eyebrows because this scene was unbelievable. It must have been especially odd for my father, who emigrated from Ireland at 33.

And right now he was frowning because it was so loud in there.

As Warren shouted into a handheld mic, my dad turned to me, almost upset, "Who is she?" he asked, but before I could answer, he said, "I do not like that woman."

*

When Warren was 12 years old, her father suffered a debilitating heart attack.

He didn't die, but he wouldn't be able to work for years.

The medical bills got so bad that Warren'sfamily nearly lost their home. The car was repossessed. Those were gritty, emaciating days.

Her older brothers joined the military. Her mother got a minimum wage job at Sears. And, at 13, Warren started waiting tables.

She grew up in Oklahoma, where I myself was raised, so I can tell you that it is the Cinderella of States. My personal favorite. At night, the stars croon down over you like they are checking on their infant in its crib and you are that infant. Much like Iowans, people from Oklahoma tend to be kind, and patient, and wild like Americans ought to be.

*

When Warren was growing up, Oklahoma was a Blue State. Her family wasn't Republican. And, these days, Warren is considered a progressive.

But her worldview has evolved over the past few decades.

Photo by Sean Ryan

As a girl, she had seen the effects of bankruptcy firsthand. But her early conclusions led her to personal responsibility. After all, she had taken a job at 13 to help pay her dad's medical bills.

One of Warren's former students, told reporters that, "What changed [Warren's ideology] was the stories of ordinary people filing for bankruptcy. That speaks really well of her that she was presented with information contrary to her worldview and adopted it."
Before that, she leaned right, politically. Or, in the words of one of her best friends growing up, "Liz was a diehard conservative in those days."

Another friend called her an "ice-cold Republican."

A colleague at the University of Texas in Austin, where she worked in the early 1980s, said that "Liz was sometimes surprisingly anti-consumer in her attitude."

Another colleague said "I remember the first time I became aware of her as a political person and heard her speak, I almost fell off my chair. She's definitely changed. It's absolutely clear that something happened."

Until 1996, when she was 47 years old, Warren was a registered Republican.

And I do not mean this in a snarky way. Opposite. It's admirable when people undergo personal change. We have to. It's a matter of survival. A person who never evolves is blinded by hubris and destined to fail.

Longtime Warren collaborator Jay Westbrook has told reporters, "It drives me crazy when she's described as a radical left-winger.

She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal. When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line."

At some point she got pregnant for the first time, setting in motion a series of events that may have involved discrimination, or may have been a fabrication she has since used in stump speeches as a heart-tugging anecdote.

As far as controversies go, it's as goofy and PG-rated as her onstage persona.

Who cares if she lied for the sake of a story and the benefit of victimhood? Trump lies constantly. Politicians lie constantly. It's part of the reason public trust in government has sunk lower than ever before.

No, it's not morally acceptable that politicians are habitually dishonest. But the outrage aimed at Warren isn't actually about that, is it?

*

Warren won state debate champion in high school. Shortly after graduating, at 19, she married Jim Warren, a mathematician who worked for IBM, then NASA.

The two dated when Elizabeth was 13 and Jim was 17. Warren chose marriage over a full-ride to the prestigious George Washington University.

Three years later, she gave birth to her first daughter. You can find the picture of her in the hospital bed, surrounded by white sheets, her eyes an oceanic blue, glowing as she holds her baby for the first time, a technicolor sash around her left shoulder.

She focused on being a mom for two years, then put herself through law school at Rutgers. At her graduation, she was eight months pregnant. Most airlines won't allow women so close to their due date.

After ten years of marriage and two children, her husband divorced her.

Warren hadn't expected it. One night, she asked her husband, "Do you want a divorce" and he said yes, even though she'd been asking in that, "Something's wrong but surely things aren't so bad" kind of way.

Imagine the enormity and disbelief she must have felt as her husband said he'd be leaving her. The kind of moment that gives a person vertigo.

Warren tried to revive the marriage, but her husband had given up. Before long he moved out, quit smoking, got super into dancing, then remarried.

Politicians tend to mention tragedies only as evidence for a policy stance. Or occasionally these stories will appear in a candidate profile. Or you can read the ice-cold Encyclopedia version.

I always wonder about the desperation people suffered in those moments that must have seemed so long, the quiet after bitter words or desperate outbursts. The enormity they must have felt.

In moments of trauma, we become intensely aware of the noises and smells and colors and momentos around us. What was the first object Warren noticed after hearing her husband say, "Yes"?

She has since said that she and Jim never really fought. That she didn't blame him for leaving. But that they just didn't work out. "I can't imagine anybody putting up with me over long periods. It's why I can never be cranky about Jim. I get it."

Still, a marriage has to be fairly bad for a couple with young children to divorce. But even an amicable divorce is devastating. It marks the death of a love that had once been good enough and deep enough for two people to bind themselves together, if only by law.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Now, Warren was a single mother. Surely, at times, that was lonesome. She must have felt moments of intense waywardness.

There must have been anxious nights, lonely mornings, swarming with memories about life as it was, all those plans for the future that must feel so naive in hindsight.

Warren's quirkiness has made her an easy piñata for her rivals.

But I just think about her, alone in a room, folding clothes or staring off, blinking and slouching there alone, and I feel disgust for politics as a bloodsport.

What do rancor or invective get us in the end? A winner who trounced a loser? What is the human cost? Not just for the people being targeted, but for the world as we'd like it.

Why isn't it enough to disagree with an opponent? Why does there have to be humiliation?

And if it's wrong from one politician, it's wrong from them all.

A person can't decry the abuse that President Trump faces — which is daunting in intensity and volume — then cheer him on when he's doing the same exact thing.

Somebody is going to have to take a slap or two to the face and not react, but it would accomplish far more than a vitriolic comeback.

At this point, three years into Trump's Presidency, there was no way to tell who started it and who was just reacting, so everyone involved in the fight was guilty.

In other words, people could no longer blame Trump for how the selfsame persona they had taken in response.

To quote Morrisey, "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind."

When the ram charges straight for you, all you have to do is take a step to the left or the right and off the angry bastard goes, headfirst into the ground. Do that a few times and you'll get more support than you might expect.

Which, I'm not saying to never fight. Conflict is healthy. Passivism can be worse than violence. To fight is to live honorably. But only if justice is the reason for fighting.

If the ram is coming at you because it wants to silence or control you, grit your teeth, chalk up your horns, lower your head, and go to battle. Courage and morality are vastly different than bravado and self-righteousness.

As Tolstoy wrote in his novel War and Peace, "If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war."

*

Two years later, Warren married Bruce Mann, a law professor. They've been married ever since.

For nearly three decades, she taught law, mostly at Harvard.

Then, she shifted to politics. In 2008, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed her to a congressional panel. Two years later, she became a special advisor to Barack Obama, who had selected her as special adviser to the Treasury secretary, but stopped short of nominating her as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Shortly after, she resigned. A month later, she announced her Congressional bid, which gained momentum after her speech at that year's Democratic National Convention.

In 2013, she was elected senior Senator of Massachusetts after beating Republican incumbent Scott Brown with 53 percent of the vote. She would go on to win a second term in 2018, this time with 60 percent.

Every candidate has a stain. Warren's happens to have led to mockery. For years, she claimed Native American heritage. For many of the right, it was yet another example of the left's allegiance to identity politics.

The left was more concerned with the way the issue come to attention to begin with, after remarks President Trump made during an event honoring Navajo code talkers. As has become the norm, many of the country's leading news outlets ran scathing anti-Trump op-eds that they labeled as hard news.

In other words, opinion was being packaged as fact. In other words, propaganda. Like the passive-aggressive tone of this Washington Post article.

Which is certainly not the right way to handle injustice. And is certainly not journalistically sound.

Once again, the media's blatant disdain of Trump only served to further empower him. Gave him more proof of fake news. And allowed him to justify, in the eyes of his followers, the repeated use of the Warren's nickname.

Worst of all, it widened the distance between the news media and the portion of the American public they'd long ago lost access to.

Likewise, conservative news outlets pounced with an air of, "See? I knew it all along?"

And responded with a different version of the same aggression used by the media. Outlets like FoxNews played up their masterful victim narrative, the idea that the mainstream media has a stranglehold on America, despite the fact that FoxNews has long been the dominant news source of the mainstream media they claim to be a victim of.

Photo by Sean Ryan

This feedback loop played out until Elizabeth Warren's genetics became a national conversation.

Last year Warren released a DNA test that revealed sher to be only between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native America. Fellow democratic candidate Corey Booker — a Senator from New Jersey — has more Native American DNA than Warren. And, unfortunately for Warren, the nickname that President Trump gave her gained more power.

During an interview on MSNBC, Warren said, "It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur. Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he is going to shut me up with it. It hasn't worked in the past, it isn't going to work out in the future."

In a bizarre twist, Warren's ex-husband was a pioneer in the field of genetics and helped make the technology accessible to the public when he co-founded FamilyTreeDNA, which sells genetic testing kits.

*

Across the street from the Surf Ballroom, 300 yards from the entrance, a Trump 2020 sign the size of a front door glared out, impossible to avoid.

Photo by Sean Ryan

It's a power play in line with Trump's own combat style — which, again, there's nothing wrong with a good fight, even if there is some dirty fighting, but why did it have to be all of the time? And why had everyone joined in on it?

*

Warren began her presidential campaign on Febraury 8, 2019, with a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the site of the 1912 Bread and Roses textile strike, a two-month-long standoff that led to 296 arrests.

Three people died, an Italian immigrant, who was shot in the chest. A Lithuanian immigrant who was beaten to death for wearing a pro-labor lapel pin. And a Syrian boy who was bayoneted in the spine.

The strike takes its name from a James Oppenheim poem.

"As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,For they are women's children, and we mother them again."

*

As Warren drove her speech to a close, Kamala Harris paced down the long ramp by the side of the stage, then walked through a curtain that divided the hallway from backstage, then into the crowded ballroom, immediately surrounded by cameras, lights, hands, selfies.

Ten feet behind the curtain, Joe Biden shifted at the side of the stage, chatting with several people in brand-new Biden 2020 shirts, and waiting to go on.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Each candidate had 10 minutes or so, which Biden, like most of the other candidates, would use to insult Trump and fumbled through his "President's words matter" speech, two days after his "poor kids are just as talented as white kids" comment, and I wondered if everyone else found the irony as hilarious as I did.

Now Warren was pounding her fist.

The already hysterical crowd became even more incensed with each of her words. It was the first moment I realized that Warren actually had a shot at winning the nomination.

*

Of all the towns we visited while in Iowa, Clear Lake was the most puzzling. It didn't feel like the rest of what we'd seen. It didn't resemble any other town in the country, far as I can say. Just a general ideal for "lovely American town."

Maybe Clint Eastwood's Carmel, California, or the wealthy part of Charlotte, North Carolina, or the gorgeous shaded Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

Warren shuffled offstage and shook hands with Biden.

Then cue the Bruce Springsteen song. And somebody hurry up and push the button that activates Biden's facelift.

"The words that Presidents speak matter," said Biden. And some of the crowd were hearing him say it for the first time.

Warren gabbed with a lady in a floral dress backstage. They held hands like sisters. After a minute or so, she vanished backstage. Then the whole gig was finished. Closing time had come.

Andrew Yang hung out in the lobby after all the other candidates left. He took selfies. Talked policy. Behind him, young people in Yang 2020 shirts and hats that said "MATH" handed out Yang money.

He hugged. He laughed.

People puttered out of the Surf Ballroom in no sort of hurry, giddy in their candidate t-shirts, ready to effect change, to dethrone Trump.

The air had a gentle sway, tilted by a northern cold that felt winter-like, especially for August.

Right as the last big group of Wing Dingers walked out of the Surf Ballroom, a small car drove by, windows down, packed with young men who kept shouting, "Vote for Trump, baby!"

Then, stalled at a stop sign, the driver revved the engine and spun the tires, and as it sped off, one of the guys in the back seat shouted "Trump 2020, bitches."

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

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