Putin Outmaneuvered Obama and Dropped the Mic

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 1 for answers to these questions:

• How did Putin "alpha male" Barack Obama?

• Is Hillary Clinton the new Nemo?

• Is Mike obsessed with pyrotechnics?

• What has Mike so impressed by the NYPD?

• Who is D.A. Henderson and why is he the most significant person who died this year?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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

MIKE: Hello, friends and neighbors. My name is Mike Opelka. And I will be here today and Monday. I will be ending the year on the Glenn Beck Program and kicked off 2017. Coming to you live from the constitutionally protected free speech bunker in the woods of Delaware. The first state to ratify the Constitution.

I'm proud to be here. I'm proud to have returned to the show.

If you don't know me, I hope we get to know each other over the next couple of days. I am part of TheBlaze.com. Have been a part of TheBlaze.com for officially -- well, next week -- officially six years. Next week, I will enter my seventh year as part of TheBlaze.com. Written over 2500 -- almost 3,000 pieces for TheBlaze. And you can see them on TheBlaze.com.

I encourage you to visit TheBlaze, as well as other news sources. I'm a guy who believes that we need to take in as much information as possible in order to understand the whole picture, try and see it from as many different points of view as you can and try and find as much truth as possible because I'm a person who believes the truth has no agenda.

Today -- today I want to do a couple of things. Obviously, we are going to deal with the fact that Vladimir Putin just alpha maled Barack Obama in the biggest way I have seen to date. That's absolutely right.

Putin just alpha maled Obama, dropped the mic, and walked off. What am I talked about? Well, I'll tell you in a minute.

We are going to introduce you to a hero, a veteran, a retired Army vet who is doing something amazing right now. He's doing something. He's not asking for money. He's only ask for attention and awareness. And we're going to talk to him. A real hero.

We're also -- also going to talk with a doctor. I was fascinated by the story this week, you know, heartbroken as well, the story of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passing away within 24 hours of each other. What a tragic story.

But the speculation that Debbie Reynolds may have died of a broken heart and the theory that, "Hey, could that really happen?" It made me think, "We need a medical professional here." So we're going to talk to a medical professional today and get an opinion on that. A guy who has been -- he's on TV all the time. But he's got an operating practice in different parts of the country than I'm based. And he's a very clear speaker on topics of health.

And as heart disease is still killing more people in this country than anything, we need to be aware of that. So can you die of a broken heart? We'll find out later.

This is also the kiss-off of 2016. So if you want to join me today, you can -- you can talk about what you're not going to miss from 2016. The phone number here -- lines are always open. 888-727-BECK. 888-727-2325. Share your thoughts.

You can tweet at me as well. My Twitter identity is @stuntbrain. That's all one word. S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N. And use the #whatIwon'tmissabout2016. What I won't miss about 2016.

One of the top things on my list, if we could prevent it from happening in 2017, would be man buns. I'm really sick of the man bun. If you only knew how silly it made you look. If you had any idea of how the majority -- and maybe you don't care. And maybe I'm jealous because my hair, which had been very long for years, is gone. Pretty much.

But 2016 has been probably the most troublesome year in my life.

And, yes, there were blessings in 2016. There were new members in our family, our extended family. There were new engagements in our extended family. There were wonderful things happening. I was given the opportunity to do a nighttime show on TheBlaze Radio Network, which I do from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. I hope you will stop in for that.

And so many other things just to be thankful for. But there are things that I am very happy to just wave buh-bye to 2016. So you will be -- I welcome you. I welcome you to share your thoughts about what you won't miss about 2016.

Now, the news from yesterday, we heard for quite some time that Barack Obama was going to retaliate, was going to respond to Russia. And the reports that Russia meddled in our election. And yesterday, we got the news that, in fact, the president was going to give -- and this to me seemed like a game show: You've got 72 hours to get out of the country. Pack your bags and get out, Russia. Thirty-five diplomats or people masquerading as diplomats were told they had to leave. And they were going to close these two compounds. The one 45-acre compound in Maryland. Massive place that the Soviet Union purchased back in the '70s. I wonder what happens to that.

If you tell them they have to get out, I wonder what becomes of that property. Are we allowed to then go in and search it? Are we allowed to see what's been going on in there? What will happen, Russia?

You know what I need, I need to light up the Buck Sexton symbol and see if Buck will call in and explain. I know he's getting -- he's on vacation. But he's also working on something else for today. I think he's filling in for Rush Limbaugh actually.

But this morning, all of the mainstream media sources were reporting, "Oh, my God, Russia is react. Russia is going to react to President Obama telling the 35 diplomats they were expelled. They have 72 hours to get out." And reciprocity was going to happen. And so this morning, the mainstream media was full-on reporting that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had told Putin, "We must retaliate. We must expel 35 Americans from the country."

And I can't tell you how many times I heard this morning the phrase "tit-for-tat." Yes, we get it, Mainstream Media. They're still saying it. But despite the fact that that's not happening.

Lavrov Told Putin, quote, we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is a part of diplomatic law.

And Putin's spokesperson said there's no doubt that Russia's adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well.

Little did we know how accurate that statement was. Putin, as I mentioned earlier, has just alpha maled Barack Obama. Totally alpha maled him. And I think this is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Putin basically laughed at Obama and called this -- basically called this an 11th-hour temper tantrum and said Russia won't cause problems to US diplomats. Russia will not deport anyone. Russia has the right to respond, but will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy.

That's one mic drop right there.

Vladimir Putin just told the president of the United States what he did was irresponsible diplomacy. And he saved -- he saved some even bigger shots. He called it kitchen diplomacy. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible kitchen diplomacy, but will plan further steps to restore Russian/US relations, based on the policies of the Trump administration. Boom!

But wait, there's more. Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump and the American people on the New Year, and he did something -- first of all, when Putin says this, you know it's got to tick off the Obama administration because Putin just really -- he really did drop the mic on Obama, call him an irresponsible kitchen diplomacy, his move. But now, every one of those Russian diplomats has got to know that they're being watched even closer. Every one of them has to know -- and let's not forget, earlier in the year, we had a situation where an American diplomat was trying to enter their compound and was tackled to the ground by a Russian police and/or military person because they were claiming they couldn't identify with them. Russia has been messing with our diplomats for a while, and this is a big one. But Putin played an even bigger -- bigger card here.

Not only did he congratulate Donald Trump, the president-elect, and the American people, wishing them a Happy New Year. He invited all of the children of the US diplomats in Russia, all of them to come to the Kremlin and celebrate the holidays.

Obama lost the diplomatic war on the way out. Let's face it, 21 days from today, we will have a new president. Twenty-one days from today, it becomes the Trump administration versus the Obama administration.

He said, Putin, in his exact -- in the translated words, "It is regrettable that the Obama administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family. My seasons greetings to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. I wish you all happiness and prosperity."

Now, part of me believes that Mr. Putin has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, and he doesn't wish us anything close to happiness. But what he did here was the ultimate checkmate move in this diplomatic battle. It's just a piece of brilliance.

And will I get in trouble for praising a guy like Vladimir Putin? I don't care. That was a great move. Obama was -- Obama and Kerry this week have been so outclassed on both the Russian and Israeli problems. The only words I have for them is, "Bye, Felicia."

If you ever wanted an example of a kakistocracy, a word I've used before, a word Glenn has used before -- government by the worst possible individuals -- you have to look no further than President Obama and John Kerry on the situation of Israel and Russia in the past week.

It's a stunning example of the kakistocracy that we are currently dealing with. It's amazing.

I have to exhale. I know. I got all wound up. We just started the show. Mike Opelka is my name. This is the Glenn Beck Program.

You know, I have so much more to talk about because -- because there are so many things going on in the world today. I want to wrap up some of the memories of the year. We will -- we will recall some of the people who have left us. And since the media is focused on celebrities, I want to focus on some people who -- who left us in 2016 who were big difference makers. People you may never hear about. People the media seems to gloss over because they didn't have a movie out last year or they didn't sell 100 million records. But how about somebody that saved 500 million lives?

One person. You want to know about him? They lost -- we lost them this year. I'm going to stop away from it. When I get back, I will share with you the story of someone the media doesn't seem to be talking about, but we should be. At least I think we should be.

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[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka is my name, filling in for my friend, my boss Glenn Beck on this, the final Glenn Beck Program of 2016. We are discussing many topics, both the latest news and news stories and stuff we won't miss when 2016 finally leaves.

And I think someone is actually call in from Florida. I missed the name. Who is with me today?

CALLER: Hi, I'm Alex. And I'm in St. Petersburg, Florida.

MIKE: Hey, Alex. I'm jealous of your weather and your golf courses.

But what won't you miss about 2016?

CALLER: Well, I guess I'm optimistic to think that it won't happen in 2017. But I'm not going to miss disinformation, truthfulness -- truthiness, or post truth, or whatever you want to call it.

You know, I try to -- I joined every single Trump fan group on Facebook I could find. Not -- I don't comment. I just read. And I tried to understand what they think. Because, you know, I'm very different them. But also similar in some ways. But it seems that the things that get the most likes and the things that are best received are things that, with just a couple minute check -- you know, if you have the ability to check on the internet or, you know, at a computer at the library -- I don't know -- you would find out that it wouldn't be true.

MIKE: That's true.

CALLER: Little things.

MIKE: Yeah.

CALLER: But also huge things.

MIKE: There are many misconceptions and mistruths still being spread. And I think we have to vigilant. And somebody said to me, you know, not just to our own, but also to the snowflakes that we've been mocking. And I'm going to tell you, I'll raise my hand, I mock the snowflakes every day. But what I think we need to do is make sure we educate them. Each one of us has to teach someone.

Alex, I got to jump because I'm up against a hard break, and I have to share this story of a person we lost this year. Thank you for joining the show. Anybody can call in today.

888-727-BECK. 888-727-2325.

The guy I wanted to tell you about -- I know you're all thinking, "Antonin Scalia. You want to talk about Justice Scalia's death." No, that was a huge death. That was a massive death. And thankfully, it looks like we've weathered that storm. And we will have a Supreme Court that with any hope and luck and clear -- clear choices from President Trump, we will have a Supreme Court that will defend the Constitution going forward for decades.

I hope and pray that in my world, Justice Ted Cruz would be a wonderful gift from this new president. But the guy I think we need to salute and say, "God bless, rest in peace," is D.A. Henderson. D.A. Henderson died in August. He was a doctor, a doctor who basically saved 500 million lives.

Wait. What, Mike? How come we never heard of him? Henderson was a guy who led the eradication of smallpox by taking the smallpox vaccine around the world. He decided to do this in 1966. Led the World Health Organization's war on smallpox. And by 1977, the last known case was found in a hospital cook in Somalia.

The disease has been officially eradicated as of 1980. And, yes, we keep examples of it around to make sure that if it pops up, we can fight it off. But rest in peace, Dr. Henderson, you were one of the true heroes.

Now, what are you doing on New Year's Eve? I want to tell you about a really wildfire works show coming out of Dallas, Texas. And it's -- it's fascinating.

[break]

MIKE: It is Friday. The last Friday of 2016. My name is Mike Opelka. I'm typically heard on TheBlaze Radio network in the evenings on a show called Pure Opelka, which runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. And Saturday mornings. If you like what you're hearing here, I invite to you join me.

You can also see what I'm up to. If you go to TheBlaze.com and on the web page, there's a button at the top that says Channels, you can click on Channels and follow me. And you will get my -- my updates all the time and see what I'm up to, stories that I'm working on, et cetera. I would appreciate it.

And I would love to have more followers. We have a loyal group of stunt brainiacs who do follow the show and have made it a reality to -- to take it to five days a week -- or six days if you count Saturday's show. Things are -- things are happening here. And I appreciate my buddy Glenn Beck trusting me with his show to wrap up the year.

If you would like to join in the conversation, you can do so at Twitter. My Twitter handle @stuntbrain, all one word, S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N. And the phones are open. 888-727-BECK. That is 727-2325.

I was going to give Glenn a hard time for putting his name in the phone number, and then I realized that my own cell phone number ends in M-I-K-E. So I would be -- I would be -- I would be in trouble if I made fun of him and I did it myself.

So we were supposed to have a guest here. There's a big fireworks show in Dallas, Texas, happening this weekend -- a big fireworks show from the reunion tower.

Are you aware of the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas? It's a pretty cool structure. 500 feet tall. And if -- if you are -- if you are watching television and watching the fireworks on TV, CNN, and Fox, and all the networks will cover the fireworks from around the world, typically starting with Sydney, Australia. And you'll see the fireworks coming off the bridge.

In New York, you don't see too many fireworks. You just see the large group of people who would be gathered in New York City.

And, by the way, New York is a little nervous this year. Why? Because ISIS has tried to make New York a target, as they have tried to make many big gatherings this year a target, especially during the holidays, after what we had happen over the Christmas holiday in Berlin. And so around Times Square, there will be 65 sand trucks making effectively a barrier. And there will also be another 100 trucks blocking the -- the square of Times Square, but not just right up close. It will kind of make a protected perimeter.

They've also -- the NYPD, who are just amazing, the NYPD has been checking out all the parking lots in the area, looking for rogue trucks. They've been going to truck rental places to see what's going on. Times Square, which should be filled because the whether is not going to be too cold. Times Square will have probably close to a million people. A million people on -- on New Year's Eve.

And if you've ever been there, it's kind of an amazing thing because you get a million people on the street. And the one thing I don't -- I don't understand is: How do those people stay out there for all day long without really getting to a bathroom? Because they can't.

The bathrooms typically in the hotels and the restaurants that are right there in Times Square, they are kind of on lockdown. And it's really difficult to get past security.

The two times I have worked Times Square on New Year's Eve for broadcast jobs, if you are working and you are overlooking Times Square, you're usually doing it from a hotel. And the hotels get on lockdown at 4 o'clock.

So just being at the hotel, there's eight hours where you can't get in -- you can get out, but it's very hard to get back in. And a million people on the street, in those pens that they have people all locked up, the little metal pens, it's almost impossible to find a bathroom. I don't know how they're doing it.

And I don't want to know. But I -- I will be watching from the comfort of my home. We tend to watch the New Year's Eve broadcast with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. I find them funny.

If you don't, I'm sorry, but I think they're entertaining. Now it's getting a little -- a little predictable. And I will tune in.

But after -- after you watch the midnight show on the east coast and you watch whatever pyrotechnics they show you from the east coast, I encourage you to hang out because -- and this is how small the world is: As I mentioned before, I'm broadcasting from the constitutionally protected free speech bunker in the woods of Delaware.

And as I sit here, a neighbor of mine is in Dallas, Texas, not far from TheBlaze headquarters. My neighbor happens to be a pyrotechnics genius, a wizard, a who is capable of putting on an incredible pyrotechnics show from just about anywhere at any time, which is why I tread lightly around him. Because you never know when something is going to go off.

His name is Denis O'Regan, and he's with Melrose Pyrotechnics, the company that is putting together this incredible show tonight -- or, not tonight, tomorrow night, from the Reunion Tower in Dallas. Denis, I know you're working like 24 hours a day, so I appreciate you giving us a couple of minutes here.

How is it going?

DENIS: Hey, Mike. We're doing great. We really lucked out with the weather down here. All of the pyrotechnicians that came down from our Chicago office are really pleased to be here in milder temperatures, and they're getting up in the windy city on that show.

MIKE: Well, you've got a really interesting task here. And as I look at fireworks shows that I've witnessed, both at baseball parks and in being in New York for decades, watching the barges on the East River and watching them just shoot stuff up, you're doing this from a structure that's 500 feet in the air and has a geodesic sphere on top of it. Is this a challenge, a dream, or both?

DENIS: It is absolutely both. It's a great structure. And while we're used to designing and producing shows off of flat or slightly domed surfaces like rooftops and so forth, this is a true 3D opportunity here. Because it's a sphere. And we shoot effects, both radially and tangentially from the sphere, not to mention from the base and from the columns that support the sphere.

It's really so much fun, really.

MIKE: What do you have? A bunch of Spider-Man guys climbing up the side of the tower, putting charges on the building?

DENIS: Well, some of them do wear harnesses, fall protection and so forth. But there is a roof within that sphere. There are three stories within the sphere. There's a restaurant. There's a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in there, and there's an observation deck. And there will actually be people inside of an enclosed space within the sphere, while the show is shooting out.

MIKE: Wow. And this sounds like the biggest undertaking the reunion tower has done in -- in its New Year's Eve stuff. Am I correct on that one?

DENIS: Oh, yeah. It's the biggest show that reunion show has done. We -- we have been -- this is our third year here. But first time we're doing New Year's Eve from the tower. And it's a really nice show. We've just got -- just from a technical standpoint, we've got over 3 miles of cable, connecting all of our modules. We've got 82 positions with numerous pods in each position.

It's very complex. It's taken months to plan every tenth of a second of the show.

MIKE: So months to plan. Tenths of a second will matter. How long will the show with music, pyrotechnics, and lights last?

DENIS: Well, we start a minute out from midnight with a count-up, as we call it, to the ball. Because the ball is not going to move, unless we succeed in spinning it off into --

MIKE: Wow.

DENIS: Getting a little silly there. But, you know, when you're designing a show like that, you let your fantasies take off, and you try to imagine what a viewer would like to see happen as you're -- as you're shooting these effects on angles, you know, trying to make that sphere actually turn.

But, you know, it's -- it's a lot to install. We try to visualize what we might like to see happen. We've designed a vortex coming out of the top of the ball. And numerous chases and waves wrapping the ball. And then chasing up the in to complete the answer. It's about an eight-minute show all totaled from when things get really crazy at midnight. And we will be controlling the time from the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado.

So it will be exactly midnight. And all of the show is controlled by digital time code and synchronized to an audio track. And there's going to be a satellite up-link and everything else.

MIKE: So, wow, there you have it, Central Time Zone people, you don't get short-changed this year. As a matter of fact, you might just have some of the best stuff you're going to see. It is my buddy, Denis O'Regan from Melrose Pyrotechnics, who is leading it from the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas.

Denis, I usually fall asleep about 12:30. I am staying up this year just for you to see your work.

DENIS: Oh, well, thank you, Mike.

MIKE: And I hope it all goes off as planned. I'm sure it will. I know -- Denis' calm demeanor is what makes me feel comfortable in this. I know that inside he's swirling, but his calm demeanor makes me feel comfortable. When he pushes that button, it's (sound effect). It's all going to work. Have a great New Year's, my friend. I'll see you back in the woods.

DENIS: Hey, thanks. Good talking to you, Mike. Take care. Happy New Years.

MIKE: Take care. Happy New Year.

It is amazing, isn't it? That we live in a world where, at any given time, you could walk down the street and run into a friend who is then going off to Dallas to put on the biggest fireworks show, the biggest pyrotechnics production that city has ever seen. And we'll all be able to watch it because CNN is going to carry it live. Which I think is very cool. And I wish my buddy good luck on all of his efforts, but I don't think he needs it.

When we get back, I want to talk about some of the strange stuff going on in the world today. I'm very nervous about my technology listening in on me, especially since a judge just agreed with the police department that if your technology is listening to you, it can be subpoenaed. We'll talk about that when the Glenn Beck Program continues.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka is my name. I'm hosting for my buddy today, Glenn Beck, on the Glenn Beck Program. And I posted on Twitter earlier today my question of the day. I'm very nosy. I want to know what people are thinking. But it's usually mundane stuff because I think it is the mundane stuff that tells us more about somebody, how they live their lives, which way the toilet paper goes when you put it on the roll. Does it go over or under? Stuff like that. So I asked today on my Twitter, my Twitter feed, New Year's Eve, are you going out, staying home, or still deciding?

And currently, after just a couple hours, 14 percent of you are going out to party, 77 percent are staying home, and 9 percent still debating, which is fine because you have a day to think about it.

I'm a stay-at-homer. We tend to ride the couch and celebrate. That's why I talked to Denis -- my buddy, Denis O'Regan, just minutes ago, about the fireworks show in Dallas. And how about that Dallas? You guys are getting one of the big shows this year. I think that's very cool.

We are -- we need to do a deep dive on this situation with those -- those devices in your life that are constantly listening to you and the fact that a murder case has been at the center of an argument between -- a privacy argument where the court wants to get a hold of the device that is listening in your home so that when you say, "Search this for me," it's saving those searches. And if the devices are always listening, what is being done with that stuff?

And it worries me because I will tell you, for example, right now, I'm holding an i Phone in my hand. And I'm not -- I don't have anything but the front page engaged. But if I say, "Hey, Siri, what's the weather like?"

SIRI: Okay. The temperature today will range between 26 degrees and 39 degrees.

MIKE: See, she's listening all the time.

So all those devices -- it's very 1984. Orwell was so genius on this. But in order to get into this, we're going to need to bring in a legal mind. So when we come back, I want to talk about this story because a judge rendered a decision on that subpoena for that information, for that data. And I think this is stepping into the Fifth Amendment. This is stepping into our right to privacy as well, our right to be secure in our own thoughts.

But this is essentially dealing with bugging someone. And is our technologies bugging us? Are companies bugging us? We'll get -- we'll get an attorney's point of view on this. Dr. Wendy Patrick will join us next on the Glenn Beck Program. Of course, after the news. Come back.

Featured Image: Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) walks past US President Barack Obama as he arrives to pose for the family photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. World leaders at the G20 summit on Friday failed to bridge their bitter divisions over US plans for military action against the Syrian regime, with Washington signalling that it has given up on securing Russia's support at the UN on the crisis. (Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

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.