Privacy vs. Technology: Which Would You Choose?

Radio and news veteran Mike Opelka, host of Pure Opelka on TheBlaze and editor of FireWire, TheBlaze daily newsletter, filled in for Glenn on The Glenn Beck Program today, Friday, December 30.

Read below or listen to the full segment from Hour 3 for answers to these questions:

• Could our technology devices betray us?

• Should police officers get immunity for "hot mic moments?"

• Will a flying fulfillment center soon deliver your stuff?

• Is recording a phone call a Fourth, Fifth or Tenth Amendment issue?

• Can you die of a broken heart?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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

MIKE: Happy Friday. Happy farewell to 2016. Mike Opelka with you, sitting in for my friend, Glenn Beck.

If you want to know more, join me on Twitter @stuntbrain. S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N. You can also join me Monday through Friday evenings on TheBlaze Radio Network on a show called Pure Opelka. And we've just expanded to five nights a week and Saturday morning. So we have plenty of room.

If you want to join the conversation here today, you can do it on Twitter. So many of you have been tweeting in. And I appreciate you. We're asking what you -- what you won't miss about 2016. You can also call 888-727-BECK. (888)727-2325.

We're talking with my friend, our show friend, Dr. Wendy Patrick. Wendy Patrick, PhD. She is a lawyer. She is an author. You see on television all over the place talking about the politics and some of the things we're discussing.

Today, a legal question about -- about Amazon and these devices in our lives that listen to us, like Amazon's Echo.

Do these things -- could they betray us? The same way Chicago's police unions are saying, "If cops wear body cameras, they need to be protected for hot mic moments," where they might say something that could be I guess a problem. And the unions want protection.

Wendy, welcome back. I know you only have a couple of minutes here before you join some TV show, one of the hundreds you're on every day.

Did you hear about the cop thing in Chicago?

WENDY: You're going to have to fill me in, Mike. There's been a couple of different incidents that we've heard about in Chicago.

MIKE: Okay. In Chicago, the police union boss is saying, "Well, wait a minute, if you're going to put body cameras on the cops, first of all, we want more pay for any cop that wears a body camera," which I thought was pretty interesting. And the second thing: They want immunity in case the cop says something that could be considered a hot mic moment. You know, an embarrassing moment. And I was kind of surprised by this. I think that's a lot of hubris on the union's side.

WENDY: Well, you know, we live in a day and age where everything we do and say is caught on video camera/audio recording, whether it's inadvertent, whether it's intentional, whether or not it's going to be admissible in a courtroom.

So the instance in Chicago is representative of some of what we're seeing all around the nation when it comes to how much are we going to be able to use of the things that are recorded.

I mean, think about it this way: Recordings are now being used not only to solve crimes, but to exonerate people from committing crimes.

And so too in the law enforcement world, it's -- it's both a sword and a shield when it comes to how they are used in police work, when they're activated, how they're activated, whether they should have been activated, or whether something that was inadvertently recorded should be admissible.

So it's not a surprise that unions across the nation would be taking a look at this, just to make sure that these devices are used accurately and fairly in police work.

MIKE: It's interesting, Wendy, isn't it? That, as you mentioned earlier, that technology is ahead of the law, that so much of what's happening is venturing into untested territory.

We're putting our toes into waters we don't know what's underneath. And we're going to have to I guess -- we're going to have to have a few problems, a few kerfuffles before we actually figure it out.

And I'm fascinated by this murder case that they're actually -- it looks like the judge said, "I'll grant the subpoena," that the Arkansas man whose body was found in a hot tub, over a year ago, can now include a probe into new evidence that might be on his Amazon Echo smart speaker, which to me, that sounds like self-incrimination. I know you've only got like a minute left.

Are we protected from self-incrimination by devices that might record us that are personal devices?

WENDY: You know, Mike, I could talk for a whole hour on this. It's such an interesting question because on the one hand, obviously everybody's got a right not to incriminate themselves. On another, you don't have to buy these devices. I mean, there's lots of people that buy devices that are voice activated and then are upset that it works as designed.

But you also see a lot of cases where there are other things that activate devices. So you might have instances where perhaps you're recording illegally, where you don't have everybody's consent. You might have instances where something else is being recorded, and it has nothing to do with the suspect.

I mean, let's face it, it's unlikely somebody is going to activate a device and ask, "How do I dispose of a body? How do I clean up blood in my house?" Normally, they're asking about the weather or asking a device to play '70s music.

So you do see that sometimes these things work as intended. And why shouldn't they be admissible? But that is not exactly just a knee-jerk response when it comes to what a judge is going to rule as admissible.

A judge is going to have to see whether these devices are reliable, whether they've been tested and whether, in fact, the information is consistent enough to show to a jury. That's been untested as of yet. And that's why we're closely watching some of these early cases seeking to admit such evidence.

MIKE: This is fascinating stuff.

Wendy, I know you're short on time. Promise me -- will you come back on Monday and let's deep dive on this a little bit more. I'll grab some more cases, and we'll tear it apart.

WENDY: It's a date.

MIKE: It's a date.

Well, Happy New Year. Say goodbye to 2016 and all the craziness, and let's have a great 2017, my friend.

WENDY: Happy New Year to you as well, Mike.

MIKE: Take care. That is Dr. Wendy Patrick. If you want to know more about her, WendyPatrickPhD.com is where her digital world lives, and she really is somebody that I use on a regular basis on the nighttime show to talk about issues like this.

I'm fascinated by this case, especially -- it comes on the heels of the case with that guy Durst, who was wearing a microphone in a bathroom, while he was recording a -- a series, a documentary series. And they believe he admitted to committing a crime.

They believe he admitted he confessed to murder. And now that case is currently in court. And they were saying he was not admitting to it. And, in fact, he was just rambling because he was -- he was a meth addict. It's stunning what's going on right now. It's absolutely stunning. And it is the technology that's getting ahead of us.

For example, today the story is breaking -- the story is out there that, where did that go? Is it -- Amazon. Amazon who wants to use drone delivery for just about everything. And I was joking earlier when I said, "Can my drone be delivered by a drone?" Well, that's probably going to happen because it appears that this flying warehouse, Amazon, wants to put a gigantic warehouse in orbit. 45,000 feet above the earth. That will be a warehouse at high altitude. And when you order stuff, it will be deployed and delivered from the floating warehouse.

Imagine, sort of a giant blimp, an airship that is a fulfillment center.

Now, I'm guessing that it's got to be automated. Can you imagine saying, "Oh, I've got to get up to the -- I've got to get up to the warehouse," and you have to fly up to 45,000 feet and then supervise this. But they're going need to somebody to keep it in working order. They're going need to somebody to make sure the machines stay on track. They're going need to somebody -- oh, this is just amazing stuff.

We are truly starting to delve into the world of the jettisons, and this technology warehouse -- a flying warehouse fully functioning flying fulfillment center that will deliver drones -- that will dispatch drones to deliver stuff to you.

Just amazing. And, you know, we -- we -- we worry. Well, what about stuff falling from the sky? Do you know how many things that are above us right now in orbit that don't fall on us from the sky? There are thousands and thousands and thousands of things up there, circling the planet. And they're not going to come down and clunk us on the head. Just, we have to calm down about that.

But I will be looking forward to that. I love the technology. I'm addicted to technology. But I also love my privacy. And Dr. Wendy was talking about -- she was talking about, if you record somebody and not everybody in the room has given their permission, that could be a problem. It could render something inadmissible in court.

And I also believe that not only do we have a Fourth Amendment, a Fifth Amendment issue here, but we also have a Tenth Amendment issue because every state is different. Every state has different requirements on if you can record a phone call.

For example, remember the story of Monica Lewinsky and the phone calls where she admitted what happened with Bill Clinton?

She didn't know those calls were being recorded, but the state where they were being recorded only required one party to consent.

And there was the -- the rub, as it were. Lewinsky could not prevent those tapes from getting out, because one party, namely the party recording her, knew they were being recorded.

But I think now when you -- let's say you call a customer service line, they always say, "By the way, for training purposes, we record all our calls."

And they want you to start trying this out. Every time somebody says that to me, I always say, "Oh, yeah. That's great. We do that here too. I'm recording you on this end."

And pay attention to see if anybody picks up on it. Typically, they don't. But every now and then, you will get someone who says, "Wait a minute. You're recording me?"

And I always say, "Yeah, sure, I am. You're recording me. Why can't I record you? It seems like it's only fair, really."

Another story I want to get to, and we will get to this after the bottom of the hour, we talked about all the celebrities who died this year. And, yes, this week the horrific tragedy to the Fisher family with Carrie Fisher passing away at 60 and then 23 hours later, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, dying.

Can you die of a broken heart? Is that a thing? Is that possible?

Well, we're going to talk to a doctor about that very subject. And he's going to give us the explanation.

But before we get to that, there is a story that's floating out there. And it's one that I'm surprised hasn't got more attention. It is a rant against Caitlyn Jenner, a rant saying that Caitlyn Jenner should not be named one of Glamour magazine's women of the year. The magazine making that announcement or about to make that announcement, which will be the 25th anniversary. But somebody said I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this. That a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone else who was just born a woman. Interesting.

Imagine if I said that. If I said, "Caitlyn Jenner being named woman of the year or one of the women of the year by Glamour magazine, was misogyny, that a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman," do you think I'd have my job? Do you think if I went on to say, "Just because you lop off your (sound effect) and then wear a dress doesn't make you a (sound effect) woman." If I said, "I've asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I'm going to wear a brown coat, but that won't turn me into a Cocker Spaniel," do you think I'd still have my job? Somebody actually said that.

Somebody actually went public with that criticism of Jenner and hasn't really been called out. I'll explain to you what I'm talking about around the corner.

Mike Opelka in for Glenn Beck on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: Coming to you live from the constitutionally protected free speech bunker in the woods of Delaware, this is the Glenn Beck Program, hosted today and Monday by Mike Opelka. I am also here on TheBlaze Radio Network nightly, Monday through Friday from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern on a show called Pure Olpelka. You're welcome to join.

Looking for a little holiday film to see? I know a lot of people are saying, go see Sing. Go see Sing, the animated thing with all the animals singing. You might encounter some social justice warriors protesting out in front because they say it's racist. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.

But you also might want to take a look at something -- I'm just -- I'm just saying. I don't know if it's in theaters yet. But it looks like it could be very entertaining.

VOICE: New from Disney and Pixar, in association with the producers of Where's Waldo comes a major motion for our time. Ripped from the headlines, especially if the only headlines you see are on HLM. She's lost and all alone in a great big world, plucked from the headlines, trying to make it back home. Is she in the woods? Is she out of the woods? Is she in a coffeehouse? Is she being hacked by the KGB or in the secluded underwater prison, a captive of the evil Trump fish? Finding Hillary.

VOICE: Just keep voting. Just keep voting. Just keep voting. Just keep voting.

VOICE: The latest post-apocalyptic post-election animated classic, featuring a two-dimensional candidate in a three-dimensional political world. Finding Hillary. Opening Friday. Rated, gee, whiz, will you get over it?

MIKE: Thank you, Doc Thompson.

My buddy Doc Thompson sent that to me. And I love it.

Obviously, it's not a real movie. I will get back to my topic about the offensive comments made about Caitlyn Jenner. But Jeff is on the phone again from Georgia. Jeff, I'm sorry we lost you earlier. Welcome to the Glenn Beck Program, sir.

CALLER: Hey, Mike, thanks for giving me a second chance.

MIKE: Yeah, everybody -- you know, I am the leader of the first church of the second chance. And I believe that everyone deserves! Say it.

CALLER: Oh, I appreciate it.

MIKE: A second chance.

CALLER: I wanted to share a couple things about the 22 Lives movement that Ernest (sic) was talking about.

MIKE: Okay. What -- let me just fill everybody in. What Jeff is talking about is before -- last hour, we talked to Ernesto Rodriguez who is a former 15-year Army guy who retired who is walking from Tennessee all the way to California to raise awareness of the vets, especially those who are committing suicide at the rate of up to 22 a day. And Jeff wanted to chime in on another way to draw attention to this problem.

CALLER: Yeah. So I honestly didn't know about it till Christmas. My wife -- I'm a big fan of NineLine.com's apparel, which is Wounded Veterans' own company. And I live about 2 miles from the headquarters. And so I have a lot of T-shirts. And so she gave me a 22 Lives T-shirt for Christmas. And that's when she told me about it. But -- so I just want everybody to know, they can go there, and they can buy the T-shirts and everything else. And everything that they buy there goes to wounded -- Wounded Warriors.

But the other thing is, that I thought was pretty cool, is there's a -- unlike these, like, mannequin challenges and white bucket challenges, there's a 22-day challenge where you tag your friends on social media. You're supposed to do, I guess, 22 pushups for 22 days or something like that. But it brings awareness out, and I think it's really cool. I'm a veteran myself. So I appreciate, you know, all these kind of things that people are doing.

MIKE: Well, Jeff, thank you for your service. What branch did you serve in, sir?

CALLER: I was United States Army.

MIKE: God bless you.

Now, in terms of that company that is owned by Wounded Vets, that's giving a portion of their proceeds to help Wounded Vets, what is the name of that company? Because I didn't catch it.

CALLER: It's Nine Line.

MIKE: Nine Lines?

CALLER: Yes. Exactly like that.

Their shirts stick out. Everywhere in a crowd, I have -- every time I wear one, somebody is always wearing one across to me. And like, "Hey, nice T-shirt." You know, they're -- it's a really good -- good thing that they're doing.

MIKE: Okay. Beautiful. I will get -- I will get it out there. I will look for it. I'm -- I'm having trouble getting it up on the computer now. And I'm against a hard break. But, Jeff, thank you for your service. Thank you for calling attention to this. And I hope to be sporting one of those shirts myself soon.

CALLER: Thanks, Mike. Happy New Year.

MIKE: Happy New Year, sir.

When we get back, can you die of a broken heart? We lost Debbie Reynolds the other day. She lost her daughter Carrie Fisher. Dr. Jorge Rodriguez joins us because apparently this is a real thing. And, look, our hearts are kind of important to us. Number one killer in America is heart disease. We'll find out about this, next on the Glenn Beck Program. Come back, won't you?

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka with you on the Glenn Beck Program, on this the final Friday of 2016. A year I will long to see in my rearview mirror and won't miss in the immediate future. It is a year that saw -- well, there was some good things. Look, I got to participate in -- in my Super Bowl. In other words, I got to attend both of the political conventions. I had a front row seat to all the -- all the New York shenanigans and all the press conferences that Donald Trump was involved in. And then I was afforded the opportunity for TheBlaze and TheBlaze Radio to host or visit both conventions, both the G.O.P. convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Very unique experiences, each one of them.

I think the one unifying thing that both conventions have are the hats. Everybody's got ridiculous hats. That is -- and I always look for things that unite us, versus things that divide us. And if you're talking about political conventions, there is precious little other than the fever and the fervor and the hats. And I had a lot of fun taking pictures of the hats.

Now, I mentioned we were going to be talking about some of the notable deaths of the year. Obviously, David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Justice Scalia, and so many. But in the last week, everyone has been fascinated and heartbroken over the -- the death of Carrie Fisher at 60 and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, who died 24 hours after -- after Carrie Fisher died.

It's got to be heartbreaking. It's got to be heartbreaking. But can you die of a broken heart? And that was the thing we were trying to figure out. And I'm hoping -- I don't know. Do we have Dr. Jorge on the phone yet? Is our buddy, Dr. Jorge, there?

All right. We're trying to get him. So we will deal with this.

There is an actual condition that says that you can die -- you can die from a broken heart. It's something that happens to you. While we wait for Dr. Jorge, I'll call your attention to my survey question of the day. We are -- we're asking: New Year's Eve, are you staying in, are you going out, or haven't you decided yet? Answer the poll. It is on my Twitter. @stuntbrain. At S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N.

I'd like to know this audience, based on the little things in your life. So now that we have our buddy Dr. Jorge here -- if you want to know more about him, DrJorge.com is the place you can get the Wellness Wednesday tips from my buddy, a board certified internal medicine doctor. Also, a guy who has written books about your health, specifically focusing on how to avoid diabetes, which I think is an epidemic in this country. And it takes just little common sense things to deal with.

And I'm going to ask Dr. Jorge the poll question before we get to the broken heart question.

Dr. Jorge, are you staying in, are you partying, or have you not decided yet, my friend?

JORJE: I have not -- hey, Mike, how are you? First of all, Merry Christmas. And I have not decided yet. We're actually going to an L.A. Kings hockey game that ends around 10:30. And then after that, we'll decide whether we go to a party we were invited to or not. A little bit of a cold.

Chances are, you know what, we'll go out a little bit. But I don't like to party too much on New Year's Eve. I think it's kind of an amateur's night, you know. It usually doesn't live up to the expectation.

MIKE: Yeah. I have to admit, sheepishly I was part of the amateur night years ago and have backed off after I realized just how much dumb stuff we did and are so lucky to still be here.

JORJE: Absolutely. Uh-huh.

MIKE: Now, I did New Year's Eve for work a couple of times.

Times Square -- and it's crazy. And if you're working, you can say, "I'm sorry, I'm not drinking." And you can stay sober, and it's wonderful.

But to be among a million people is not my idea of a good time. It's for folks much younger than I. So I will be riding the couch, watching Kathy Griffin --

JORJE: And Anderson Cooper. Uh-huh.

MIKE: -- and Anderson Cooper have a good time. And I've got a buddy who's producing the 1:00 a.m. show from Dallas. You'll be at the hockey game. Who are they playing, by the way? Who are the Kings --

JORJE: I think they're playing the San José Sharks. Yeah, who is right up there, I think number two. And, you know, the Kings are on the bubble to make the playoffs.

And can you believe this, a Cuban boy who probably didn't see ice till he was 24, you know, into hockey. It's crazy

MIKE: Ooh.

A Cuban boy who didn't see ice until it was being shaved into a mojito.

(laughter)

But, no, I'm a hockey fan. I'm an undying, unabashed Chicago Blackhawks fan. And you guys almost knocked us off a couple seasons ago.

JORJE: Ooh. You just said fighting words when you said Chicago Blackhawks.

MIKE: Yeah, we're the original six. We're part of the original six in the NHL. And three of the last six Stanley Cups went to Chicago. So --

JORJE: But I got to tell you something. Chicago fans are great fans. Even when they were playing the Kings a couple years ago -- we were up in Chicago, and they were -- yeah, you know, they -- you bantered back and forth, but the whole time, they were very respectful and just really great fans.

MIKE: Plus, your team -- you've got fast skaters on your team. That is a fast and tough team. Enough with hockey talk.

JORJE: Yes, enough.

MIKE: Now, the Debbie Reynolds story, it struck a chord with me. Because grief is such a powerful thing and an overwhelming stress thing. Can you die of a broken heart?

JORJE: You can. And let me -- let me clarify that.

You know, there have been lots of studies that have shown that people that have been married or together for decades, they -- they die sometimes within weeks of each other. Statistically greater than they would have.

But there is definitely a syndrome called Broken Heart Syndrome that we doctors called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. To put it very simply, when you're under times of great stress or great sadness, your body releases this hormone called cortisone.

And cortisone, we have in small amounts. But when it's released, when it bombards your body in such high amounts, it can cause the heart to have crazy rhythms. It can cause your blood pressure to go up.

But what has been noted is that in many people, it actually makes the heart muscle sick. It's called cardiomyopathy. And the heart muscle -- the Japanese have a name for it, called (foreign language). And I'm practicing saying that. Because it looks like some kind of urn that they keep octopuses in. I looked all this bizarre stuff up. So the heart just sort of gives up and just becomes flaccid. So it -- it's crazy, but it definitely can happen.

MIKE: So in the case of somebody like Debbie Reynolds who -- who died suddenly, the initial report was a stroke.

JORJE: Right.

MIKE: So that possibly could have been -- and I'm playing my amateur doctor role here. Elevated heart rate that stressed the arteries, and she blew out an artery and had a stroke. And that may have taken her or pushed her over the edge.

JORJE: That could have done it. Her blood pressure could have gone way up, and that also could have blown an artery.

You know, so people that are more fragile, that already have heart disease, that have partially blocked arteries, definitely are at higher risks at times of greater stress, when things like this happen.

It could be fear. It could be a doctor. You know, it could be a letter from the IRS. It could be almost anything.

(chuckling)

But sadness can definitely -- and mourning can definitely affect you.

MIKE: Well, they say that those big life events can build up -- for example, if you move, if you change jobs, if you get married, if you get divorced, the loss of a loved one, and if you compound all of those, they could have a -- I guess an avalanche of emotion that takes you into the spiral. And in this case, what was the Japanese word for it again?

JORJE: I think it's (foreign language). (foreign language).

MIKE: I think I ordered that last night.

JORJE: I think I got sick from eating it actually.

(laughter)

MIKE: Doctor, it's -- it's such an important topic. I'm not trying to make light of heart disease.

JORJE: No, no, no.

MIKE: Especially on National Bacon Day. I don't know if you knew this. National Bacon Day is today, and I haven't had any yet. I plan on having a little bacon later.

JORJE: Today is National Bacon Day? Seriously?

MIKE: Yeah, seriously.

JORJE: Mike, I don't know if you know, but I live with a Texan. And two Thanksgivings ago, our turkey was a nice turkey really latticed on the outside with bacon strips. So I took an extra Lipitor that day and enjoyed bacon.

But, you know what, we are making light of it. The key is that heart disease is the number one killer in this country. The number one killer. Almost 700,000 people a year die from heart disease.

MIKE: Wow.

JORJE: And I always get a little annoyed with people when they don't want to take medications for their cholesterol or their blood pressure because they're feeling fine. And the problem with heart disease is that you feel fine until the day you don't. And then it may be too late.

MIKE: Wow.

JORJE: So a word to the wise, if you're over 40, if you have a high blood pressure or diabetes, for God's sake, check your heart. It is what keeps you alive.

MIKE: And you're saying, check your heart, don't just go to the health chair at Wegmans and put your hands on the blood pressure meter.

JORJE: No. No. Listen, I'm going to do some Wellness Wednesdays about the difference between high blood pressure, a stroke, and heart attacks. Because people really confuse them all.

Think of it this way, if you have a lawn, under the lawn is the PVC piping that supplies water. Right?

MIKE: Yep.

JORJE: For all you know, if you look at your lawn and it looks green, you're getting enough water to your lawn, you're getting enough blood. But you don't know if the pipes are 80 percent clogged.

And one day, one of them is going to get clogged 100 percent, and that sprinkler is not going to give water. That's a heart attack when that part of the lawn dies.

So if you have a family history, if you're overweight, you need to ask your doctors to do more thorough tests than just a blood pressure or even an EKG. All right?

MIKE: Yeah, now I'm getting panicked. Not just about my lawn --

JORJE: No. But go ahead and enjoy your bacon ice cream or whatever you're having today.

MIKE: Thanks. Yeah, from the guy who had a turkey wrapped in bacon last year.

(laughter)

But you did --

JORJE: I had a little bit.

MIKE: A little bit. Right. Right.

Weren't you the guy who was telling me about flawn (phonetic)?

JORJE: Well, yeah.

Listen, another model of mine is, if you can do it, moderation in everything.

MIKE: Well, I think that's key.

JORJE: You know, I really do believe that. I think in diets, if you deprive yourself of too much stuff, you end up binging and going overboard.

MIKE: Well, it is about -- and you and I have had these talks for years. And this is Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. DrJorge.com is his site. He's a great author. He's a common sense guy. He's a physician. An internal medicine guy. And he speaks plainly to us in the layman's world about health and medicine. And you're my go-to guy in stuff like this.

JORJE: Thank you.

MIKE: I'm sorry to say we had to bring up the topic, a broken heart can kill you. Now we know it can. It's not exactly your heart breaking in half.

But going forward in the New Year, Dr. Jorge, I hope we can talk about January and what we all need to do to kick off the New Year and stay healthy. And I hope you'll carve out some time for us going forward.

JORJE: I would love so. I'd love to do that. You know, we'll get on a plan together. So thank you, Mike.

MIKE: Well, the last time we did that, you told me I couldn't drink for the month of January.

JORJE: Well, did you listen to my advice?

MIKE: I listened.

(laughter)

Application was a different thing.

JORJE: I know. All right -- and I'm still about to send your Christmas present. You'll see what it is.

MIKE: I can't wait. I have one for you too. It's a trophy. And I think you're going to love it.

JORJE: Oh, Lord.

MIKE: Yes.

But good luck to your Kings. We'll see you in the playoffs, sir.

JORJE: Thank you. I'd love that. That would be great. We could banter back and forth. And Happy New Year to you and yours, Mike, and to your listeners.

MIKE: Thanks, Dr. Jorge. Take care, my friend.

JORJE: Have a great one. Bye.

MIKE: Thank you. He is one of the good guys out there. One of the good guys who explains medicine the way I wish my doctor -- and I wish my brother who is a physician, he's a surgeon, I wish he could speak as plainly and as clearly as Dr. Jorge. Just a good guy. And I appreciate him so much.

When we get back -- I think I have one more little story to share with you, and then we'll wrap up 2016. I've got to put a bow on 2016. And as I said, I'm tying lead cinder blocks to it and dropping it in the ocean. Mike Opelka in for my buddy Glenn Beck on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: It is the Glenn Beck Program. Wrapping up 2016. Mike Opelka from Pure Opelka on TheBlaze Radio Network saying thank you for joining me today and being a part of the show. So many of you participated via the Twitter. And we'll be back Monday. Monday, I have a very important story about the UN. There is something happening at the UN that nobody is paying attention to, at least I don't think so.

If you remember Agenda 21 and how evil it was, then you should know and you should want to be here Monday. Because the UN took Agenda 21 and pulled it off the table. Once we started pointing it out, once we exposed the one world government plan of Agenda 21, the UN shut down that program, but it's coming back. And it's bigger and more dangerous than the previous once. I will explain that to you on Monday.

Plus, we're going to look at food trends. We'll talk to Dr. Wendy more about your privacy. And I want to share something with you. When we started 2016, my -- my dream, my goal, my mission was to be situationally aware at all times and try and be more attentive to situations around me. And I think I accomplished that.

However, I want to put a new -- a new mission in place for 2017. And it struck me yesterday when I saw a rose bush trying to kick out a flower in -- in late December here in Delaware yesterday. And I thought, "Nature is relentless. Nature never stops trying to create beauty. Nature just never gives up." And so for 2017, I'm really hoping that I can be more like nature, that I can be relentless, but I can be relentless in my efforts to create things that are beautiful. Things that contribute. Things that make people smile.

Yes, we'll still educate. But let's push. Let's be relentless. Let's make beautiful things in 2017. Testudo, my friends.

Featured Image: Man looking over laptop, Tookapic

As we move along this endless primary season, we implement our first major adjustments to our power rankings model. Because of all the changes on the model itself, we'll keep the write ups short this week so that we can get an update posted before we hit the second round of debates.

There are now 40 separate measures of candidate performance which are summarized by the 0-100 score that helps us makes sense out of this chaos.We also have a new style of graphs, where the section highlighted in blue will show the progress (or lack thereof) made by each candidate over the life of their campaign.

In this update, we have our first campaign obituary, a couple of brand new candidates (when will it ever stop) and plenty of movement up top.

Let's get to it.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history. Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes. The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground. If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

Campaign Obituary #1

The Eric Swalwell Campaign

California State Congressman

April 8, 2019 - July 8, 2019

Lifetime high: 20.2

Lifetime low: 19.5

I ended my initial profile on Eric Swalwell with this:

"There's a certain brand of presidential candidate that isn't really running for president. That's Eric Swalwell."

amp only placement

It's now more true than ever that Swalwell isn't running for president, because he has officially dropped out of the race.

To any sane observer, Swalwell never had a chance to win the nomination. This was always about raising his profile with little downside to deter him from taking money and building a list of future donors.

In one of many depressing moments in his FiveThirtyEight exit interview, he noted that one of his supporters told him he definitely thought he'd eventually be president, but it wasn't going to happen this time. (This supporter was not identified, but we can logically assume they also have the last name Swalwell.)

Swalwell did outline a series of reasons he thought his ridiculous campaign might have a chance.

  1. He was born in Iowa. After all, people from Iowa will surely vote for someone born in Iowa, even if they escaped as soon as possible.
  2. He had what he believed was a signature issue: pretending there was no such amendment as the second amendment.)
  3. He's not old.

It was on point number three where Swalwell made his last stand. In an uncomfortably obvious attempt to capture a viral moment that would launch his fundraising and polling status, Swalwell went after Joe Biden directly.

"I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden." This pre-meditated and under-medicated attack, along with Swalwell's entire campaign future, was disassembled by a facial gesture.

Biden's response wasn't an intimidation, anger, or a laugh. It was a giant smile that somehow successfully communicated a grandfathery dismissal of "isn't that just adorable."

Of course, headlines like this didn't help either:

Eric Swalwell is going to keep comparing the Democratic field to 'The Avengers' until someone claps

The campaign of Eric Swalwell was pronounced dead at the age of 91 days.

Other headlines:

Eric Swalwell ends White House bid, citing low polling, fundraising

Republicans troll Swalwell for ending presidential campaign

Eric Swalwell Latest 'Cringe' Video Brags About Omar Holding his 'White' Baby

Eric Swalwell's message to actor Danny Glover is 'the cringiest thing I've ever seen in a hearing'

Eric Swalwell's 'I Will Be Bold Without The Bull' Bombs

25. Joe Sestak 11.0 (Debut) Former Pennsylvania State Congressman

Joe Sestak is a former three-star admiral who served in Congress for a couple of years in the late 2000s. Besides his military service, his most notable achievement is figuring out a way to get Pat Toomey elected in a purple state.

With Arlen Specter finally formalizing his flip from Republican to Democrat in 2009, he was expected to cruise to reelection. However, Sestak went after him in the primary, and was able to knock him off in the by eight points. Sestak then advanced to face Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. He lost by two points during the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

Needless to say, losing to the former president of the fiscally conservative Club For Growth isn't exactly an accomplishment that is going to help Sestak in the Democratic presidential primary.

Unfortunately, with the current state of the party— his distinguished service in the Navy probably isn't helpful either.

Other headlines:

Joe Sestak on the issues, in under 500 words

Joe Sestak, latest 2020 candidate, says it's not too late for him to gain traction

Sestak aims to 'heal the soul of America' with presidential bid

Joe Sestak Would Move the US Embassy 'Back Out of Jerusalem'

24. Mike Gravel: 12.5 (Previous: 24th / 15.3) Former US Senator from Alaska

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gravel was able to get celebrities and other candidates to send out pleas to raise funds in effort to get above 65,000 donations and qualify for the second debate.

We may never know if it was grift or incompetence, but Gravel probably should have known that crossing this line made no difference. He'll still be yelling at the TV when the debate starts.

Other headlines:

Gravel meets donor threshold to qualify for Democratic primary debate

Gravel spends a bit of cash to run an ad against Joe Biden in Iowa

Mike Gravel: Why the American People Need Their Own Legislature

Mike Gravel Is the Anti–Joe Biden

23. Wayne Messam: 12.7 (Previous: 23rd / 15.8) Mayor of Miramar, FL

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Messam has made no impact in this race so far, and has fundraising numbers that don't even get into the six digits, let alone seven. He's not really running a campaign at this point, so there's no real downside in staying in for now.

Other headlines:

Wayne Messam: Money Kept Me Out of the First Democratic Debate. Will It Keep Me Out of the Second?

22. Seth Moulton 17.2 (Previous 20th / 21.5) US Rep. from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Seth Moulton is the invisible man on the campaign trail. Most people don't even know who he is when they're talking to him. His appeal to the Democratic party is heavily flavored with his military service and appeal to patriotism.

Good luck with that Seth.

Other headlines:

Moulton: Buttigieg Was a Nerd at Harvard

Moulton: Democrats shouldn't go on 'moral crusade' against Trump

Moulton talks reclaiming patriotism from Trump, Republicans

Moulton: 'Trump is going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe'

Presidential candidates hear challengers' footsteps at home

21. Tim Ryan 18.4 (Previous: 18th / 24.3) US Rep. from Ohio

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tim Ryan's first debate performance was so bad he lost about a quarter of his score with this update. He's not without a plan to get that support back though. He wants to bring hot yoga to the people.

Other headlines:

Tim Ryan on CNN: Trump 'clearly has it out for immigrants'

Ryan Falls Way Behind in Q2 Fundraising Race, New Poll

20. Marianne Williamson 20.7 (Previous: 21st / 20.6) Author, Lecturer, Activist

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Williamson is not going to be the nominee for the Democrats, but if you throw a debate watch party, she might supply the most entertainment. So much so, Republicans have started to donate to her campaign to keep her in future debates.

Other headlines:

"I call her a modern-day prophet": Marianne Williamson's followers want you to give her a chance

Williamson Uses Anime to Explain 2020 Candidate's Holistic Politics

What Marianne Williamson and Donald Trump have in common

Marianne Williamson's Iowa director joins John Delaney's 2020 campaign

19. John Hickenlooper 22.5  (Previous: 11th / 32.0) Former Gov. of Colorado 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Hickenlooper has been shedding campaign advisors at a relatively furious pace as he admits "there's just a bunch of skills that don't come naturally to me" when it comes to campaigning.

Probably best to pick another line of work.

Other headlines:

Hickenlooper defends campaign fundraising to The Onion: 'The race is wide open'

WP: 'You are who?' The lonely presidential campaign of John Hickenlooper

Gary Hart Warns John Hickenlooper Against Campaigning On Bipartisanship Message

Hickenlooper refuses to condemn protesters who hoisted Mexican flag at ICE facility


18. Michael Bennet 27.4 (Previous: 14th / 28.8) US Senator from Colorado

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Michael Bennet is a bit of a boring no name, but give him credit for actually trying to differentiate himself from the field. He's one of the only candidates willing to criticize his socialist opponents from the center, calling out the open borders crowd and student debt. Obviously this has no chance of success in the democratic party, but at least he's trying.

Other headlines:

George Will touts Bennet to beat Trump in 2020

Bennet: America doesn't know what the Democratic Party stands for

17. Steve Bullock 28.3 (Previous: 16th / 27.7) Gov. of  Montana 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Bullock's biggest moment of his campaign, and quite possibly his only important moment , will come in this round of debates. He missed the first round, but squeaks in for round two after Eric Swalwell decided to take his zero percent and go home.

Bullock has a theoretical argument that doesn't look half bad on paper, but it seems impossible for another "moderate*" to make noise with Biden still hanging around.

(*-None of these moderates are actually moderate.)

Other headlines:

For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it's all about the 'dark money'

Steve Bullock hates 'dark money.' But a lobbyist for 'dark money' donors is helping his campaign.

Steve Bullock looking to introduce himself as someone who won in Trump country

Bullock said he's not one to eliminate all student-loan debt

Steve Bullock raises $2 million for 2020 bid in second quarter, campaign says

Lowering of state flag at capitol draws criticism

15. John Delaney 29.5 (Previous 19th / 20.3) Former US Rep. from Maryland 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The power ranking model likes Delaney more than voters seem to like him. He continues to pour his own money into the race and at some point you have to believe someone in his life stops him from setting his cash on fire.

He did steal a key advisor from Marianne Williamson's campaign, which doesn't seem like a path to success.

Other headlines:

Delaney: "Non-Citizens Are Not Covered By My 'Better Care' Plan, But…"

Delaney says he opposes decriminalizing border crossings

Undaunted by low polling, John Delaney keeps his show on the road

Delaney presidential campaign theme: fix what's broken, keep what works

14. Andrew Yang 30.0 (Previous: 15th / 28.3) Attorney and Entrepreneur 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Before the campaign started, if you would have said Yang would be in the middle of the pack at this point, he probably would be happy with that result. His embrace of quirky issues like banning robocalls, giving everyone free cash, and spending $6 billion to fix the nations malls is enough to keep him in the news.

His fundraising was decent, and he remains an interesting and thoughtful candidate. But, Yang has a better chance of dropping out and running on a third party ticket than winning in this Democratic Party.

You do have to wonder how long it will be before the word "Math" moves from his campaign slogan to the reason he needs to drop out.

Other headlines:

Andrew Yang Is Targeting The 'Politically Disengaged' To 'Win The Whole Election'

You can't turn truck drivers into coders, Andrew Yang says of job retraining

Yang's plan to give $1000 a month to everyone is popular with young, poor Democrats

13. Jay Inslee 31.4 (Previous: 12th / 30.4) Gov. of Washington state

CANDIDATE PROFILEf

Expect Inslee to capture the king-czar-chancellor role of the new climate police or whatever draconian nightmare the actual Democratic nominee creates if they win.

In the meantime, he should try to avoid cringe inducing nonsense like this.

Other headlines:

Presidential hopeful Jay Inslee says Trump's immigration policies will 'end his presidency'

Crowd roars for Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee follows to tepid applause

Inslee on listening to Carole King, wanting an anchor tattoo

Inslee Says He Tried to Arrest Fleeing Republicans


12. Tulsi Gabbard 33.4 (Previous: 13th / 28.8) US Rep. for Hawaii 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard really wants to be Joe Biden's vice president. Or, at least, she wants to hold an important role in his cabinet, like Secretary of Defense.

Gabbard has been running interference for Biden, aggressively going after Kamala Harris for her very successful but substance free bussing attack, while hammering Harris as not qualified to be President. These have been among the harshest criticisms levied by any candidate in the race so far, and there is definitely a purpose to all of it. Her presence in the same debate as Biden and Harris should be something Harris prepares herself for. Expect incoming fire.

Along with Yang, Gabbard remains among the most interesting Democratic candidates to Republicans and Libertarians, which is not helpful to her chances of actually winning the Democratic party nod.

Other headlines:

Gabbard says Harris used "political ploy" to "smear" Biden on raced

Which U.S. Wars Were Justifiable? Tulsi Gabbard Names Only World War II

Tulsi Gabbard Says It's A 'Good Thing' Trump Met With Kim Jong Un

Gabbard Sympathizes With Amash, Says the Two-Party System Sucks

Tulsi Gabbard Files Bill To Study Hemp's Uses For Just About Everything

Gabbard: '14-year-old girl hacked into a replica of Florida's election system'

11. Tom Steyer 33.5 (Debut) Billionaire hedge fund manager

Tom Steyer is a Democratic billionaire that has spent millions plastering his face all over MSNBC for the past two years begging people to consider impeaching Donald Trump.

The campaign power ranking model loves Steyer's potential because of his unlimited money and theoretical ability to put together a serious campaign team.

All of this is theory at this point though, as the millions spent so far has lead to a giant pile of zilch. If he's serious enough, he should be able to buy his way into the low single digits, and squeak his way into a debate or two.

Steyer's billionaire status isn't an obvious fit as the party of inequality attempts to take down Donald Trump. But, he does have legitimate movement credibility, tons of cash to buy support, and a long developed immunity to embarrassment—so the sky is the limit.

Other headlines:

Tom Steyer on the issues, in under 500 words

Tom Steyer announces 2020 bid, reversing course

Why We're Not Treating Tom Steyer As A 'Major' Candidate (Yet)

Steyer banks on South Carolina in 1st presidential bid stop

10. Kirsten Gillibrand 37.1 (Previous: 9th / 36.7) US Senator from New York

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There is probably no candidate that enters the second round of debates more clearly in do-or-die mode than Gillibrand. With headlines like "The Ignoring of Kirsten Gillibrand" lighting up her feed, she needs something big to happen, and fast. Her performance in the first debate wasn't actually horrible, but still went unnoticed.

She has zero percent in lots of polls, and that includes all of the benefits she says she's received from white privilege. Imagine if she didn't have that going for her.

Other headlines:

Gillibrand: I'd Tell Concerned Coal Miner the Green New Deal Is 'Just Some Bipartisan Ideas'

Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country

Gillibrand Annoyed by Question About Immigration 'Reversal'

9. Robert Francis O’Rourke 40.7 (Previous: 6th / 52.8) Former state Rep. from Texas

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The free fall continues for Betomania.

When campaigns show signs of death, reporters start to write long profiles that aim to tell the story of the demise, or launch the amazing comeback.

Politico's headline (What Beto O'Rourke's Dad Taught Him About Losing) probably wasn't all that helpful.

Beto did secure Willie Nelson's vote though, meaning he can now count on 2 votes, assuming his "Republican" mother votes for him.

Other headlines:

Welcome to America—It's a Hell Hole!

A desperate Beto O'Rourke goes for broke, claims America was founded on white supremacy

Beto O'Rourke finds 'personal connection' to slavery, argues for reparations to unite 'two Americas'

Beto boldly vows not to prosecute people for 'being a human being'Rebooto O'Rourke

Fact Checker: Has Beto O'Rourke visited the most Iowa counties? No.


Beto O'Rourke: Let's Forgive All Student Loan Debt For Teachers

8. Amy Klobuchar 42.9 (Previous: 8th / 41.9) US Senator from Minnesota 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar has been a massive underachiever so far, but is still sticking around in that third tier of candidates. Along with Beto, Booker, and maybe Castro— they aren't exactly eliminated, but can't seem to catch fire. Or even get warm.

Klobuchar would serve herself well to focus on the fundamentals and avoiding desperate pleas for attention if she wants to remain in the Biden VP sweepstakes. Or she could totally shake things up by throwing binders at her opponents in the debate.

Other headlines:

Klobuchar: I Don't Support Open Borders Like Warren, Castro

Deportation raids are about distracting from issues: Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar hoping 'nice' finishes first

Sports bookmakers put Klobuchar as "heavy underdog" in presidential race

7. Julian Castro 43.2 (Previous: 10th / 34.5) Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Castro is a good example of how overblown debates can be. His first debate performance was quite solid, but did more to sink Robert Francis O'Rourke than actually help his own candidacy.

One more good debate performance should be enough to get him into the next round of debates, as he has already passed the donor threshold. Polling, however, has been elusive. Perhaps there is a swath of America that is uncomfortable voting for a Castro for president, like say, all of south Florida?

Still, in a field of a zillion candidates that have shown no potential, he stands out as a long shot with a punchers chance to make some noise. This is reflected with a nice bump in his score for this update.

Other headlines:

Julián Castro Doubles Down On Decriminalizing Migration: Repeal Felony For Reentry, Too

Julian Castro: 'Instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE'

Bill Maher rips Julián Castro for remark about abortion for trans women

Julián Castro declines to hold baby

Julián Castro can't speak Spanish

Julian Castro wants to solve homelessness by 2028

A consulting firm made specifically to prevent sexual harassment is providing Castro and other 2020 campaigns advice and training

5. Pete Buttigieg 65.8 (Previous: 2nd / 68.8) Mayor of South Bend, IN

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There probably isn't a campaign that has been more bizarre than Mayor Pete. He was a complete nobody to the public, though as we initially noted, he had support from a bunch of Obama era celebrinerds.

This helped him rise to a top tier candidate with all the money and momentum to make a run at the nomination. Since then we've seen a complete fizzle. He is using the cash to build the infrastructure to make himself a serious candidate, and he should last a while, but he probably must win Iowa to have a chance at the nomination.

Also, finding one African American who will vote for him would be nice.

Other headlines:

Pete Buttigieg goes on hiring spree after top fundraising quarter.

Buttigieg, Struggling With Black Voters, Releases Plan to Address Racial Inequities

South Bend police call out Buttigieg for sending pizza rather than apology after race comments

CNN's Axelrod Rips Buttigieg: Blacks Doing Worse Under His Leadership

Only Pete Buttigieg gets standing ovation from Corn Feed audience

New Republic Drops Out Of Climate Forum Over Backlash To Pete Buttigieg Op-Ed

Pete Buttigieg says it's "almost certain" we've had gay presidents

Pete Buttigieg Sets Hollywood Fundraisers With Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler and More

4. Elizabeth Warren 70.4 (Previous: 5th / 53.4) US Senator from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Looking back at my initial analysis of this field, I'd say it's played out pretty closely to what I expected. Warren has surprised me though.

In an election where beating Trump is the most important characteristic for democratic voters, she seems to be grown in a lab to lose to him. She comes across as a stern elementary school principal who would make kids terrified to be called into her office, because she'd bore them to death by reading them the handbook.

Her DNA kit roll out was so catastrophic, I assumed democrats would see that her political instincts are awful. When put under the intense pressure Trump is sure to bring, she's going to collapse, and I figured democrats would recognize that.

Instead, she's in the top tier. This rise has been legitimately impressive for Warren.

It's also a dream come true for Donald Trump.

Other headlines:

The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President

Netroots Nation was the day Elizabeth Warren became president of the American left

Elizabeth Warren pledges to decriminalize border crossings

Warren plans to increase annual refugee admissions nearly 800 percent from FY2018

Warren, Biden Campaigns Appear to Find Loophole Around Paid Internships

Warren says she'll push to end Israel's 'occupation'

Warren staffer: 'I would totally be friends with Hamas'

Elizabeth Warren reintroduces legislation requiring corporations to disclose climate risk exposure

Elizabeth Warren Wants Reparations For Same-Sex Couples

Elizabeth Warren proposes executive orders to address race and gender pay gap

This is how Elizabeth Warren plans to close the pay gap for women of color

How much would a wealth tax really raise? Dueling economists reflect new split in Democratic Party

Elizabeth Warren Brings Ad Buying In-House

Elizabeth Warren says she raised $19 million in the second quarter of the year

3. Bernie Sanders 71.1 (Previous: 3rd / 67.2) US Senator from Vermont

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Sanders has fallen slowly but steadily in the polls the past couple of months, and while not every metric yet reflects it, the socialist wing seems more likely represented by Warren.

That being said, Bernie holds her off for third place. Warren and Bernie have reportedly struck a truce to not attack each other, an arrangement which benefits Warren far more than Sanders.

Bernie's machine and name recognition continues to keep him near the top of the heap, but one wonders how long that lasts as name recognition for other candidates get higher, and Iowa gets closer.

No matter if he wins or loses, he's moved the Overton window of the party in a dramatic way. And don't underestimate the appeal of his Medicare-for-all-humankind dream. Bernie may be too old and cranky to see socialized health care into the end zone, but he has advanced that ball much further than he had any right to.

Other headlines:

Bernie Sanders has 'deep sense of satisfaction' his positions are now 'centrist' among Dems

Bernie Sanders: I Will Cancel All $1.6 Trillion Of Your Student Loan Debt

Sanders hits back at Biden over criticism of 'Medicare for All'

Bernie Sanders: Nancy Pelosi shouldn't 'alienate' freshmen House Democrats

Why Sanders Wanted His Meeting With a Rabbi Kept Secret

Bernie Sanders Says Being the First Jewish President Would Be 'Another Barrier Broken Down'

Liberal billionaire calls Bernie Sanders a 'Communist' and 'a disaster zone'

Blackstone's Byron Wien: Markets are terrified of far-left Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Antiwar candidate Bernie Sanders faces backlash over the $1.2 trillion war machine he brought to Vermont

The time Bernie Sanders ranted about baseball in a low-budget film

Bernie Sanders shows off sword Ross Perot gave him

Bernie Sanders Raises $18 Million in 3 Months, Trailing Buttigieg

2. Kamala Harris 79.2 (Previous: 4th / 65.9) US Senator from California 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Harris has given back a good chunk of her post debate bounce, which is to be expected. While she rockets to number two in the power rankings, there are a few things to worry about.

The difference between Warren and Harris is notable. The candidates are nearly tied in most polls, but much of the strength of Harris is based on one spectacular moment. Warren alternatively seems to have a lower ceiling, but a stronger foundation.

The good news for Harris is she does incredibly well among voters that are actually paying attention, while her weakness lies with those who haven't really tuned in yet.

At some point, Harris has to clean up her mess of a policy package, which includes supporting a Bernie style Medicare for All without the Bernie style middle class tax hikes-- a combination that even the left admits makes no sense.

Quotes like this still feel way too accurate, "She's the easy-to-listen-to, poorly defined identity candidate." This needs to be sorted out eventually if she's actually going to win.

Other headlines:

It's Hard To Have A Conversation With Kamala Harris When She Doesn't Even Know What She's Talking About

Kamala Harris: Immigration Raids Are 'A Crime Against Humanity', there are 'babies in cages'

Harris doubles down on criticism of Biden's busing comments on The View

Mother Jones: Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Kamala Harris's Call for a Return to Busing Is Bold and Politically Risky

Race is 'America's Achilles' heel,' Harris tells African-American group

Kamala Harris claims her campaign is being targeted by Russian bots, also says she's not a plan factory

Harris proposes $100 billion plan to increase minority homeownership

What's Kamala Harris's record on Israel?

Kamala Harris Called Young People "Stupid" in 2015

Kamala Harris lags behind top-tier candidates in Q2 fundraising

Utah man arrested after alleged scheme to plan fake Kamala Harris fundraiser

1. Joe Biden 80.8 (Previous: 1st / 82.3) Former US Senator from Delaware and Former Vice President

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Biden's polling has mostly rebounded to his pre-debate status and he remains the favorite to be the nominee.

He can't survive too many more performances like his first debate however, and he needs to show voters that he can stand up to the heat President Trump is going to bring. In other words, don't get smoked again, fall over on your walker, or look like your dentures are going to fall out in the middle of a debate.

This is a real test for Biden's candidacy. He's had time to prepare, and he's had time to stretch the old muscles. No more excuses.

If Joe can get spry, he probably wins the nomination. But, that is far from a sure thing.

Other headlines:

NBC/WSJ poll: Biden tops 2020 Democratic field...

Joe Biden Decides He Doesn't Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

Biden campaigns as Obamacare's top defender

Biden says Democrats haven't been straightforward about 'Medicare for All'

Biden under fire for mass deportations under Obama

Biden refuses to apologize for high deportation numbers during Obama years

Joe Biden's campaign office opens in Philly with a protest, not a party

AOC: Segregationist controversy and debate performance raised question Biden could be too old for office

Are Biden's Apologies Killing His Electability Argument?

Liberal activists at Netroots Nation bet Joe Biden drops out of race

Joe and Jill Biden have made $15M since leaving White House

How Joe Biden, who called himself 'the poorest man in Congress,' became a multimillionaire

Penn Paid Joe Biden $775,000 to Expand Its "Global Outreach" … and Give Some Speeches

Biden: 'Occupation is a real problem'Joe Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter, campaign announces

Joe Biden: I Promise To 'End The Forever Wars In Afghanistan And Middle East'

Joe Biden promises to 'cure cancer' if elected president

No, stealth Obamacare won’t fix the failed status-quo

Online Marketing/Unsplash

Another day, another proposed fix to a pressing national problem by a Democratic presidential hopeful. Former Vice President Joe Biden has positioned himself as the "moderate" leader of the Democratic Party, putting pressure on him to come up with a "sensible" alternative to Sen. Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All plan. But Biden's healthcare proposal, released July 15, doubles down on flawed, top-down solutions without offering any new ideas. Presidential hopefuls should instead pledge to unleash market innovation and lower healthcare prices for all.

Of course, a former vice president will inevitably find it difficult to make a clean policy break from the administration he has repeatedly hailed and defended. Biden's tenure as vice president made him into a second-tier political rockstar, and it makes sense that he's reluctant to separate himself from former President Obama's Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). It's also no surprise that "Bidencare" preserves Obamacare's disastrous expansion of Medicaid, the federal government's insurance program for low-income Americans. His plan even provides a public option for residents of states that have not expanded Medicaid. Perhaps more surprising, or just disappointing, is how thoroughly the Democratic orthodoxy has embraced government medical insurance even at gargantuan cost, despite little evidence that it'll work.

RELATED: Medicare for all: Obamacare was only the first step

Back when he was a heartbeat away from the presidency, Biden vigorously defended Obamacare, criticizing Republican governors for failing to expand Medicaid and predicting that all states would eventually see the light. That never quite happened (as of now, 17 states wisely refuse to expand health insurance targeted at low-income Americans). But the Obama administration tried to cajole red and purple states into expanding the Medicaid eligibility threshold "up to 138 percent of the poverty level." Nevertheless, states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina wisely considered the evidence that Medicaid was breaking the bank — without helping the poor get access to the care they needed.

This evidence isn't just based on one or two stray studies produced by the "right" think-tank. In June 2018, Health Affairs published a blockbuster analysis of 77 studies on Medicaid's effectiveness, and the results may be disappointing for fans of government-provided insurance. Around 60 percent of the studies included in the meta-analysis found that health status and quality of care failed to improve for low-income patients after Medicaid expansion. The analysis also finds that a majority (56 percent of studies) found no improvement in the financial performance of hospitals post-Medicaid expansion. This finding contradicts claims by Obama, Biden and co. that Medicaid expansion would shift patients from the emergency room to doctor's offices, lowering system-wide costs.

These findings are scandalous for an expansion program that costs federal taxpayers at least $70 billion per year. How could all of this money be failing to improve outcomes? Plausibly, the types of institutions that accept Medicaid are larger facilities that aren't as great at delivering quality health-care as smaller offices? The copious paperwork and documentation required by the program don't really allow smaller facilities the bandwidth to deal with Medicaid in an efficient manner. Yet this documentation is necessary to curb rampant fraud in the program that costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment. Instead of pushing for ever-higher government spending, a President Biden could push for a streamlined Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs and medical devices, which would keep medical costs down and give a green light to innovators everywhere. The cost to develop a single medication is now more than $2 billion, and an onerous FDA approval process costs lives by being too risk-averse.

Presidential hopefuls such as Biden should also pledge to work with states to roll-back "certificate of need" laws, which force medical institutions to jump through countless barriers to expand their facilities and invest in new services. It's not just hospitals and their patients that suffer from these needless laws; Harvard medical scholar David Grabowski sums up the evidence that these laws make nursing homes far worse and costlier than they need to be. Getting rid of these laws nationwide would give patients and consumers far more options when shopping around for the care and facilities they need.

The price problem gripping the American healthcare system simply won't go away while regulatory barriers and onerous approval processes continue to stifle the sector. Presidential hopefuls such as Biden can make a dent in this problem by supporting market reforms, instead of doubling-down on failed government healthcare.

Ross Marchand is a Young Voices contributor and the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both fulfilled their goal of living to see the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, both died later that day — July 4, 1826. Adams was 90. Jefferson was 83.

Because of their failing health, Jefferson and Adams each declined many invitations to attend July 4th celebrations. Adams sent a letter to be read aloud at the 50th Independence Day celebration in his local town of Quincy, Massachusetts. He wrote that the Declaration is:

... a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

It's remarkable how well the Founders understood human nature and what could happen to the United States. It's the postmodern mindset that increasingly rules the U.S. now. It has infected our institutions and untethered us from the bedrock principles of the Declaration. In its place? Hypocritical and vitriolic partisan righteous indignation.

Less than a century after Adams' and Jefferson's deaths, the most serious attempt to undermine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from America's 28th president — Woodrow Wilson. He wrote:

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence.

As if that's a bad thing.

During Wilson's career as a college professor, he thought deeply and wrote extensively of his contempt for our founding documents. His issue with them formed the core beliefs of Progressivism that are still alive today.

In 1911, before he was elected President, Wilson said in a speech:

I do not find the problems of 1911 solved in the Declaration of Independence ... It is the object of Government to make those adjustments of life which will put every man in a position to claim his normal rights as a living human being.

See what he does there? He completely inverts the Declaration — he's saying, you don't have inherent rights until government puts you in a position to claim them. That's the heart of Progressivism.

In a later speech, Wilson said:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

Wilson did not think the equality, natural rights, and consent-of-the-governed parts of the Declaration defined the proper role of government. He preferred the Declaration's list of grievances because they addressed specific problems. That's what he thought government existed to do — solve problems for people. And since people's problems change over time, so should the Constitution and government to keep up with the times.

Wilson said:

No doubt we are meant to have liberty; but each generation must form its own conception of what liberty is.

We hear this sentiment echoed all the time today: follow your heart, find your truth, etc.

Another key to Wilson's Progressive theory of government was human evolution. He thought that because humans were now more enlightened, they could be trusted not to abuse government power. The Declaration's committee of five (Adams, Sherman, Franklin, Livingston and Jefferson) would've laughed Wilson out of the room.

It's hard to believe that less than 150 years after the signing of the Declaration, the U.S. president — Wilson — was saying this:

We are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence: we are as free as they were to make and unmake governments. We are not here to worship men or a document. Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us.

Wilson was so effective at imposing his philosophy on government that he forever diverted the U.S. presidency away from the Constitution. Progressives have kept Wilson's torch alive ever since.

Progressives are still hostile to the Declaration of Independence because of this idea of “historical contingency" which holds that truths change over time. Progressives think the “self-evident" truths of the Declaration are outdated and may no longer apply. And that means the Constitution based on those truths may no longer apply either. Wilson and Progressives especially don't like the whole separation of powers thing, because it hinders the fast action they want out of government. They want a justice warrior president who will bring swift change by fiat.

The current trend in attacking the Declaration and Constitution is to tear down the men who wrote them. In late 2015, students at the University of Missouri and the College of William & Mary, placed notes all over the statues of Thomas Jefferson on their respective campuses. The handwritten notes labeled Jefferson things like, “racist," “rapist," “pedophile" (not sure what that one's supposed to mean), “How dare you glorify him," “I wouldn't be here if it was up to him," and “Black Lives Matter."

That is the handiwork of students who are blinded by self-righteous victimhood and can't see the value and merit that the Declaration still holds for us today. After these incidents, Annette Gordon-Reed offered a reasoned defense of Jefferson. Reed is a respected history professor at Harvard Law School, who also happens to be a black woman. She wrote:

I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal. I think Jefferson's contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story to pretend that he was not there ... The best of his ideals continue to influence and move people. The statues should be a stimulus for considering all these matters at William & Mary and the University of Missouri.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Woodrow Wilson's disdain for the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln loved it. If there is one overarching theme in Lincoln's speeches, it is the Declaration. Lincoln pointed the nation back to the Declaration as a mission statement, which ended slavery and preserved the Union.

Unlike Wilson, who recommended leaving out the Preamble, Lincoln considered it the most vital part. To Lincoln, the self-evident truths were universal, timeless, and more important than the list of grievances. Lincoln wrote that these truths were:

... applicable to all men and all times ... that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

In a speech Lincoln gave in 1861, shortly after he was first elected president, he said:

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence… I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother-land, but that sentiment in the Declaration which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time.

Lincoln went on to say that he would rather be assassinated than see the nation forfeit the principles of the Declaration. His Gettysburg Address is a brilliant, concise renewal of the Declaration:

... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We cannot assume that this radical idea of freedom will always be embraced by Americans. It has found hostility on our shores every step of the way. The Declaration's principles must be continually defended. Because while humans do have certain unalienable rights that are endowed by our Creator, there is darkness in the world, and for some strange reason humans, while valuing freedom, also seem to have a natural bent toward tyranny. That's why we must understand and discuss the Declaration. It's not alarmist. It's not a quaint history lesson. It's a reality, right now, that the fundamental principles of the Declaration are under attack. The Founders would have undoubtedly shuddered at most of the rhetoric from last week's Democratic presidential debates. Left to its own mob devices, even America would turn its back on freedom.

Shortly before his death in 1826, 90-year-old John Adams was asked to recommend a toast that could be given in his honor on July 4th. Adams didn't hesitate. He suggested, “Independence Forever." The small group of visitors silently glanced at each other for a moment, before someone asked Adams if he'd like to add anything else. Adams shifted forward in his chair, leaned on his cane, stared intently at the men, and replied, “Not a word."

China is having its Boston Tea Party moment

Unknown Wong / Unsplash

Freedom. It usually begins as a whisper. A secret passed on between patrons at a secluded bar or private meeting. And no matter how hard the tyrants may try and stop it, no matter how many dams they throw up to try and contain it, the whispers eventually become a flood. Sometimes it takes longer to break through, but it's the same EVERY TIME. Liberty and freedom always wins. It's an unstoppable force that knows no immovable object.

For us it was exactly 243 years ago to this month that those whispers became a flood. A group of ragtag colonists took on the world's only superpower —and won. Our forefathers proved it — freedom refuses to recognize tyranny as an immovable object. The world was forever changed.

And I can't help but see the poetic justice as more whispers became a flood, defying their own immovable object, just three days before all of us were buying fireworks to celebrate our Independence Day. But this time it was just off the coast of mainland China.

Last week over a MILLION protesters filled the streets in Hong Kong. Literally a FLOOD of humans looking for one thing — freedom. They stormed the government building that is the equivalent of their Congress. They smashed windows, broke down doors, and a photo was taken that I think just might be the picture of the year.

A British colonial flag, a symbol thrown out when Hong Kong was given back to China, was draped — BY THE PROTESTORS — over the chair of their head of government. I can't restate how historic this actually is. The people of Hong Kong, with a population that is over 90 percent ethnic Han Chinese, are saying to the mainland that they prefer colonial rule over the tyranny of the Chinese government. Leftists would tell you that communism is the remedy for colonialism, but for those living in the dark shadow of communism, they actually prefer colonial rule over what they now face.

The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

When Hong Kong was given back to the mainland, China agreed to allow them a few freedoms that the rest of the Chinese don't enjoy. They're free to engage in protest against the government and they maintain a legislative body — both of which are outlawed on the mainland. But, as every tyrannical oppressor always does, China has been looking to reel that in. Most recently, China attempted to make it possible to extradite dissenters back to Beijing. The result? The quiet whispers of freedom, the secrets told in private at clandestine meetings, became a flood of millions in the streets.

On July 3rd, police began a crackdown. More than 13 people have been arrested so far. If China eventually gets their way, those 13 people will no doubt be the first of many to be extradited over to the mainland. Their crime? The dream of freedom. As of right now, the extradition law has been temporarily delayed. The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

History has shown who will win in the end. Yesterday, over 200,000 protestors gathered at the high speed train station that links mainland China to Hong Kong. The message was just as clear as the British colonial flag hung inside their legislative building. For our forefathers it was symbolized with the Gadsden Flag and the phrase “Death To Tyranny." The message is simple: “we will not be ruled. Freedom knows no immovable object."

News of the protest movement has been censored in mainland China, but how long will they be able to contain THEIR OWN whispers with over two hundred thousand freedom lovers camped out at the bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China? How long before those whispers spread to secret meeting locations in Beijing or Shanghai? How long before that cascades to the Christian and Muslim minorities that are tired of being rounded up and thrown into camps?

We might have just witnessed the Chinese version of the Boston Tea Party. July 4th is still a long way away for them, but — as it does time and time again — freedom and liberty always win in the end.