Veteran Walking 2,200 Miles Across the US to Bring Attention to Veteran's Issues

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 2 for answers to these questions:

• How many years was Ernesto Rodriguez in the US Army?

• How can you follow @NerdNesto as he walks across America?

• How did Ernesto help a homeless veteran in Dallas?

• How many states have completely eradicated veteran homelessness?

• Since Ernesto does not accept donations, what would he like people to do?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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

MIKE: It is the Glenn Beck Program. However, Mr. Beck having a holiday. Mike Opelka from Pure Opelka on TheBlaze Radio Network, filling in for my friend, my boss, my old buddy, Glenn Beck. And I appreciate his trust with his franchise. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Dom Theodore, for the love and support this year.

So much good has come my way in 2016. And yet, so much troubling stuff in 2016.

So many things I will be happy to wave goodbye to, 2016. And welcome 2017.

I'm excited about the future. I am very happy to put 2016 to bed, the year I lost both my parents. Just not a good year for me. Not a good memory. And I hope if you had bad memories, you too can put them away, and let's all go forward.

As a matter of fact, there's a good memory I want to share with all of you from 2016. Let me see if I can find it. This was -- this was from the White House Correspondents' Dinner, just about a year ago.

OBAMA: Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it's anyone guess who she will be. But...

(laughter)

MIKE: How about a little bit of schadenfreude there? How about a little bit of oops? Oops. "It's anyone's guess who she will be." Wrong-o, sir. You missed on that one. Yes, that's a little bit of schadenfreude.

I can take pleasure at the unfortunate happenstance that President Obama and the Democrats had. You know what's really weird was the way the people thought this was going to be such a massive landslide. And we'll get into that.

I talked briefly last hour about the subpoena for -- for the voice that was recorded and some of the requests made by people who have one of those Alexas or those devices you put in your house and you tell them to search things for you or turn down the lights or play a music number. And we're going to get into that in an hour with a lawyer friend of ours. Dr. Wendy Patrick will join us.

But I also wanted to do a little hero saluting today.

We still don't have Donald Trump's pick for the VA cabinet post. We still do not have someone who Mr. Trump would like to see handling the VA. And I know yesterday, Mr. Trump was -- was floating the idea as he has in the past, as others have in the past, about privatizing the VA or giving every -- every veteran a card for their medical treatment that they could take to any facility in the country and get paid back.

Now, obviously there are some issues with that and some things that need to be worked out in terms of logistics. But the fact that this president-elect is looking to help our veterans gets me on his side, gets me in his corner, cheering.

And the problem is so huge that anybody who brings attention to the lack of care that is -- that our vets are not getting, anyone who brings attention to the problems of the VA, I will give room on whatever show I'm dealing with. And I -- I happen to be introduced to one such person, who also happens to be a veteran of the United States military.

And I wanted to introduce him to you today because he is doing something that he wanted to do, to call attention to it. He's not out there on the streets asking for money. He's not -- he's not -- he doesn't have a GoFundMe program. He's just doing what he's doing to draw attention to the problems of the veterans.

And while I'm -- I'm going to let him tell the story. His name is Ernesto Rodriguez. He served this country quite bravely. And just recently retired.

Ernesto, welcome to the Glenn Beck Program, my friend.

ERNESTO: Sir. How are you?

MIKE: I'm good. Now, where the heck are you today?

ERNESTO: I am in the heart of downtown Dallas.

MIKE: You're in the heart of downtown Dallas.

Ernesto, for this audience that doesn't know you, that didn't hear the interview we did on Pure Opelka earlier, how long did you serve this country, and in what branch, sir?

ERNESTO: I was in the U.S. Army. I was an infantryman, and I served 15 years.

MIKE: Wow. First of all, thank you for your service. Were you deployed overseas?

ERNESTO: I was. I deployed twice to Iraq, twice to Afghanistan. The first deployment being the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

MIKE: Wow. Wow. That's -- you were involved in the real serious stuff, sir.

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: And I'm glad you're here. You're all in one piece, I take it.

ERNESTO: I am. I am.

MIKE: Good. Good. Well, Ernesto, you decided that you were going to try to bring attention to the plight of the veterans, not just health care, but the fact that we lose between 20 and 22 vets every day to suicide and the mental health issues that we obviously aren't addressing quickly enough.

And you wanted to do something that would -- that would draw attention to the issue. And what is that, sir?

ERNESTO: Well, sir, I started walking from Clarksville, Tennessee, on November 11th, Veterans Day, and decided to start a journey towards Los Angeles, California. It will be a total of 2200 miles. And just -- just to bring awareness the 22 that we lose every day to suicide. And also, the need for reform in mental health care for active duty soldiers and veterans.

That's what I'm doing.

MIKE: Okay. And you started in Tennessee, but why Clarksville, Tennessee? Why that starting point?

ERNESTO: So when I -- when I medically retired from the military, I happened to be at Fort Campbell. And Clarksville, Tennessee, is the neighboring city of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

MIKE: Okay. So basically you checked out of your base and stood -- and headed towards the west coast hoping to draw attention. You're walking. You're walking the whole way. And from Veterans Day to today, you've made it to Dallas.

Now, I noticed something, Ernesto. And if you want to follow Ernesto and his exploits, he is @NerdNesto, which I think is a very funny name. I should talk, with Stunt Brain. You can follow him on Twitter @NerdNesto.

You are posting little videos and little bits and bites of information along the way, one of which really tugged on my heartstrings when you met a homeless vet living under a highway overpass.

When did that meet-up happen?

ERNESTO: That occurred on December 22nd, as I was walking into Dallas. It was on Interstate 30. I was walked down Interstate 30. And I came to this overpass. I looked to my side, and I see a big old green Army duffle bag.

Now, I didn't know if it was going to be a veteran or not, but there was somebody moving up there, and I felt really bad because Christmas was coming up.

So I dug into my bag. I grabbed some beef jerky, a protein bar, and five dollars, and I went up and said, "Happy Holidays." And as I spoke with him, I found out he was a veteran. So what happened was, I was doing a Facebook Live at the time to show people how unfair it is that this gentleman, if he was a veteran, is laying on the streets after serving this country.

So not even ten minutes later, I got three messages from different nonprofit organizations within the Dallas area, asking me the location of the gentleman, to come pick him up, put him in a hotel room for the night, bring him a meal, and try to get him back on his feet.

MIKE: Wow. If you want to see this video -- you posted that on Facebook as well?

ERNESTO: Yeah. So I do Facebook Live. I try to do a little bit on every social media network. But I do tag links. But that one was so important to me because I want to make sure that this man got helped, that I posted it on every single outlet I could find.

MIKE: Well, that's a wonderful story. Ernesto, I can't even begin to thank you. This is such an important -- an important mission of yours. And I salute you for having the courage and the stamina to do this. Obviously, you have a long road ahead of you.

How long will it take you, do you think, to get all the way to Los Angeles?

ERNESTO: I'm looking at around March, beginning to mid-March at this point. I've been doing a little research on walking through Death Valley. So it may take me a little bit longer because I'm going to have to conserve my energy and my food and my water, through that trek.

MIKE: So are you going across I-10? Is that the way you're going to get all the way across the southwest?

ERNESTO: Yes.

MIKE: Okay.

ERNESTO: So I'll go from 20 to 10. To El Paso, to Tucson, Phoenix, and then into Los Angeles.

MIKE: Got it. Got it. I've traveled that via Greyhound. Never on foot. So I had the benefit of having a Greyhound bus ticket that would get me across the southwest.

His name is Ernesto. He is a 15-year veteran of the United States military. He is a guy I call a hero. Ernesto Rodriguez is trying to bring attention to the plight of our vets, the 22 we lose virtually every day to suicide. Guys -- men and women who served this country who don't have to die. The one story, Ernesto, that always sticks in my mind is one that you and I talked about before, and that is the vet who actually took his own life in the parking lot of the VA.

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: And I don't think you can highlight something as more of a cry for help and more of a need for the government to get involved and straighten out the mess they have than a soldier who was so desperate, that they actually took their life on the property in the parking lot of the VA.

What do we do, Ernesto? What can we do to either help you get the word out or help you get across the country? Because I know you're not taking donations.

ERNESTO: Right. What I love, you know, saying to other people is, "If you do feel like donating money, please donate it to a local nonprofit local charity in your area." Do your research. Because some nonprofits don't work as well as others. But on my behalf, donate to them. I just don't want money.

I have been lucky enough to surround myself with enough people that my hotel rooms, when I get a chance to stay in a hotel, are taken care of. Food is taken care of. All I have to focus is on walking.

But check your local organizations. Spend time with your veterans. Make sure that they have someone to lean on. And make sure that they understand that they are still wrong people, even if they're asking for help.

MIKE: You know what I always tell folks, if you can't ask for help, you can't be strong enough to give help. And that perception that asking for help is weakness is so misguided, and it's one we need to break now.

Ernesto, I know we can find you on Twitter @NerdNesto. Where -- how do we find you on Facebook and Instagram?

ERNESTO: Well, I've -- Dallas has been very good to me. And I've been on a lot of local media. I was able to meet some very well recognized celebrities last night. So now they're starting to follow me. So I'm actually starting to hit top hit on Google. So if you look up @NerdNesto on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, you can see all the news reports. I'm definitely -- I'm getting there.

MIKE: Well, that's good. That's good. I love the fact that people are starting to pay attention. And the story that you -- you shared with us, that Facebook Live post of that veteran living under an overpass is just heartbreaking. And I'm so pleased that at least three agencies raised their hands and came to help this man. Maybe we can do this.

I'm happy to say, Ernesto, that the state where I'm coming from you today, Delaware --

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: -- is one of three states in the country that does not have homeless veterans. We were officially certified, on Veterans Day, as one of the states that's solved the homelessness problem and has gotten housing and care and counseling for those homeless vets. But we still have 47 other states we need to get moving on.

ERNESTO: I agree.

MIKE: And your work is so much appreciated, sir. I want to say, God bless you, and have a great New Year. You know there's an open door any time you want to get news out.

When are you leaving Dallas now? If we can rally support to wish you well on your next leg of your journey, when are you checking out?

ERNESTO: I am checking out on the 2nd at 9 o'clock. An organization here called 22 Kill has actually started organizing a walk with me. If you're from the Dallas area, there is a huge eyeball sculpture in the middle of downtown. We're leaving from there at 9 o'clock, and everybody will be walking 2.2 miles with me. And then I'll continue on my journey that day.

MIKE: Beautiful, beautiful.

Well, I will post that up and encourage people to follow you on Twitter as well. My buddy, Nerd Nesto.

Ernesto, God bless you again, friend. And have a great rest of your year.

ERNESTO: Thank you. You too.

MIKE: When we get back, there's more news. Plus, I have to give you the latest on the mic drop moment from Vladimir Putin to Barack Obama. And, oh, my gosh, there's this story you're not going to believe. An arrest was made in California that if I'm ever in California, there's a good chance I would be arrested too. I'll share the story with you next on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: It is the Glenn Beck Program. Mike Opelka from Pure Opelka on TheBlaze Radio network, sitting in for my pal Glenn Beck, wrapping up 2016 and tying a cinder block to it and throwing it in the river. That's basically how I feel about this year. There are a couple of things this year that I will hang onto. One of which is the opportunity to be here. Another is my nighttime radio show on TheBlaze Radio network. If you want to know more, go to TheBlaze.com, click on the button that says Channels, and click on my mug and follow me. Would you?

I would appreciate it. And you will -- you'll see what I'm up to. Before we went away, I mentioned the fact that I don't know if I can ever go back to California.

And I have so many great -- great friends who are friends of this show and friends who live in California. I just don't know if I can go. I don't want to be arrested.

It makes me very nervous. My buddy at TheBlaze.com, Brandon Morris wrote this story a day ago. And he said: California police arrest a man for driving under the influence of caffeine. Not kidding.

This actually happened. A guy named Joseph Schwab, driving home from work in Solano County, reportedly he cut off a car. Driving that car that he reportedly cut off was an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Now, I didn't know this, but those people have arrest privileges. The agent claimed that Schwab was driving erratically, which in California, is about 90 percent of the people I've been around on the highway.

The officer pulled Schwab over and said, "You need to take a breathalyzer test." The guy blew a double zero. 0000.0000. Nevertheless, she arrested him, took him to jail, said, "You've got to be on something, the way you were driving." They did a blood test. Everything came back negative. No drugs. Nothing illegal in his system. They did find he had caffeine in his system. So they have now charged him with a substance, being driving under the influence of a substance, which is perfectly legal, sold to drivers to keep awake. How many cops do you see at a doughnut shop with a cup of coffee? It's craziness.

California, I can't come back, until you fix this. Free Mr. Schwab or arrest everybody with a Starbucks card. Come back after the break. There's more.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka with you on the Glenn Beck Program. Filling out the rest of 2016. And I will be back Monday to kick off 2017. Thank you, Mr. Beck.

Jeff is on the phone from Georgia, I believe. Jeff, we were just talking with my friend Ernesto a little bit earlier about the plight of the veterans in this country and the 20 to 22 we lose every single day to suicide. And you wanted to bring up something that is highlighting that as well. Hello, sir.

Did we lose him? Sounded like we lost his call. Well, put him on hold if he comes back. Let me know, please. Dallas, we will take care of that.

Earlier today, we talked about the fact that President Obama dropped the hammer, as he believed, on the Russians, kicking 35 Russian diplomats out of the country, giving them 72 hours to get out of town, the equivalent of the old west. You got to be out of town by sundown, son. Seventy-two hours to get out of town, to get out of America and go back to mother Russia.

And we also apparently told them we were going to take two of their compounds, one in New York and one in Maryland.

Well, Vladimir Putin -- Vladimir Putin dropped a bigger hammer, basically. He called Obama's tactics irresponsible kitchen diplomacy and said that it would -- it would hurt our relations, but they will take steps to further restore Russia/US relations based on the policies of the Trump administration. Which, you know, really?

The gracious thing to do would have been to do just that. The situation here -- what -- what President Obama has done in the past week, with both Israel and Russia, to me, is -- is akin to digging a bunch of holes in the White House lawn and putting explosives out there and then covering it over with new turf. You have landmined the future for an incoming administration, just because you lost. Just because the coronation of Hillary Clinton did not occur. And your legacy is at stake.

And what this president has done or is doing makes the shenanigans of the Clinton administration in the transition to the Bush administration look like a kindergarten prank.

Remember, they messed up all the White House keyboards. They took all the W's off. That will fix them. Yeah.

What a bunch of whiners. What a bunch of babies they were. But now this -- this to me borders on massive government meddling. And to say publicly that we're going to be supportive and we are going to help with the transition, and then to do the things that he is doing, are just disgusting to me.

They don't make any stinking sense, until you think about President Obama and what his intentions are and what his intentions have always been.

Here's a guy who -- well, let me go back to Putin and what Putin did. After Putin heard that -- that Obama was kicking out 35 diplomats and taking over these two compounds, Putin's right hand, his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said he had sent a recommendation to Putin to basically expel 35 American diplomats and take over a couple of American compounds. And everybody in the mainstream media said, "Yeah, yeah, that's what we'll do. That's what Russia is going to do. They're going to kick out the Americans." Well, after almost two hours of reporting that non-stop on CNN and MSNBC and just about everywhere, Putin put out a statement calling this -- as I mentioned earlier, the irresponsible kitchen diplomacy.

But he also -- this is when he dropped it right on Obama's toes, a big ol' hammer.

He said the diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year's holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for the American diplomats here. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their travel and leisure sites during the New Year's holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties at the Kremlin.

Notice the wording. Notice the wording. And as I say, "Notice the wording," I'm staring at the Christmas card I received from Vice President Joe Biden just a week ago.

I'm sorry. It's not a Christmas card. It's a holiday card. It has a -- what looks like a Christmas tree on the cover, but on the back, it says, "The vice president's holiday tree, 2016."

And inside, the message from the Obama administration's vice president says, "Happy Holidays."

Vladimir Putin, in his message: I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin.

Gee. You think you just got the hammer dropped on your feet, President Obama? Then he added, my seasons greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the perfect example of alpha maling somebody.

Putin just took the high ground. Just took all the air out of the Obama balloon. So there it is.

Oh, boy, this is going to be a fun one to watch. Now, on the subject of Israel. I want to talk about Israel as well and what's going on with the United Nations and Israel. We had hoped to have Louie Gohmert on the show today. Louie is introducing a -- a bill. And several in the House have said, "We need to defund the United Nations." Because in essence, we, one country out of the -- what is it? 260 countries that are part of the UN. We pay 22 percent of all the cost of the United Nations. And for those of us who live in New York, we incur 100 percent of the hassle every time the UN meets. Every single time those bobos come into town for their general assembly, which is also known as party weekends, every time those bobos come to town, New York is a mess. New York traffic is absolutely fishmeckled forever.

So I would not be opposed to defunding the United Nations or putting them on a barge and floating them out to sea. If you're so in love with the European Union, if you're so in love with -- or put them in San Francisco. Put them in a sanctuary city like San Francisco. But get them out of here.

But we were supposed to have Louie on to talk about that bill. And I guess he wants to be with his family on New Year's. So Louie is on the plane. So Louie, I appreciate you. I wish you could have been here to talk about this. But in the case of Israel and Barack Obama, we should talk about the duplicitous nature of this president. The duplicitous nature, especially when -- when you look at what John Kerry did and said recently and what Barack Obama said when he was trying to get elected in 2008 and he was speaking at AIPAC.

OBAMA: But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders.

(applauding)

MIKE: Wait. What? Any agreement? Any agreement? Let's go back and listen to the first part of that.

OBAMA: But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders.

(applauding)

MIKE: Hmm. Interesting. He seems to have changed his position on that. Or am I wrong? He also said something else.

OBAMA: Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

(applauding)

MIKE: Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided. Guess who got the votes. Guess who got elected in 2008. And then guess who has turned his back on Israel since that time. Barack Obama.

One of the more disgusting flip-flops ever. And now that he has 21 days left, he's going out the door, and he's sawing the bridge behind him. And is that word enough?

I wouldn't doubt he poured a little gasoline on it and dropped a match, as he wandered off into the woods, if only.

This president dropping -- dropping friends like Israel and treating them the way they are. Now -- now, you will hear from your friends that -- but wait a minute, what about -- what about the MUS? Do you know what the MUS -- the memorandum of understanding. MOU. The memorandum of understanding between Israel and America.

Everyone who you will talk to about Israel and what we've done with this UN deal -- and believe me, this -- this resolution is just the first part. In the next break, I'm going to tell you something that will shock you. But they all say, "But wait a minute. What about the MUS? What about the fact that we are -- MOU?" Why do I keep saying MUS?

The MOU with Israel. Where we give Israel $3.8 billion a year for the next ten years. We hand them that money. And it's -- it's money for foreign military financing as we call it.

But it also is a jobs program for the United States of America. The money we give to Israel, then they turn around and then buy stuff to protect themselves. And they don't buy it from Russia. They don't buy it from France. They buy it from the United States of America. In practical terms, this is a jobs program for America that also keeps our friends in Israel safe.

So if anybody pulls the MOU argument on you, just tell them, "Yeah, well, guess what, they buy those -- they buy those planes from the United States. They buy the fighter jets from the United States. They buy the parts they need for that fleet. Those F-35s from us, which keeps people employed here in America. Good jobs. Union jobs. Huge paying jobs. So don't play that game with me.

There's more on Israel though and what Obama's actions did, what the UN actions did, that I'll tell you about after the break. Mike Opelka in for Glenn Beck on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka in for Glenn Beck, wrapping up the new -- the old year and looking forward into the New Year. We'll kick that off Monday. You can join me here.

Before I jump to my guest, I wanted to tell you what I was talking about with Israel and the UN. Not only did they pass that resolution, they just approved $138,000 to build a database blacklisting any business doing ties with Israel. Anybody that's got a business doing business with Israel, prepare to be blacklisted by the UN. I'm telling you, the resolution was just the start. It is a big problem.

Now, I was talking earlier about this story -- this crazy story about Amazon's Echo, that speaker that you can talk to and it will talk back to you, and the subpoena from the prosecutors who think that it may have been a witness to a murder. And I wonder the legality of it. So I've asked our friend, Dr. Wendy Patrick. WendyPatrickPhD.com. To join us. Wendy has so much experience in the law. Well, she's a lawyer. She also understands the trial situations and how to watch candidate -- or, people testifying and see what their body language says.

But, Wendy, how are you going to know the body language of this device if it's feeding back all the data that it has? This scares me.

WENDY: Yeah. You know, we live in a brave new world, a world of drones and Siri and camera phones and all kinds of new technology, much of which has been untested when it comes to their admissibility in court. That is going to be the problem when you have devices that are witnesses. They're not live witnesses. You can't read their body language. They don't have any. They're not alive.

And it really sort of -- on the one hand, people could argue it's a greater sense of credibility because there's no inherent bias in a machine. On the other hand, if we are unsure as to the mechanics of how something works, that's going to be subject to judicial scrutiny.

So these are issues that have to be briefed on both sides. There's no precedent as of yet. And it's almost impossible to determine on a case-by-case basis, how these kinds of devices are going to be admissible in court.

Although, we're all going to be sitting back and watching because we're going to learn from each and every court decision as it comes down the line.

MIKE: Yeah, I sense this is going to go all the way to the top. I've got less than a half minute here. I hope you can hang up because I want to talk more about this, how it relates to our privacy, can you indict yourself, can you -- can you incriminate yourself because your voice was record by a technology company? So many questions, Wendy. Please hang out and join us around the corner. Will you?

WENDY: Will do.

MIKE: All right. Wendy Patrick will join us in the next hour as we try and unravel the legal problems from our brave new world of technology.

Can a drone deliver my drone? Hmm. Big questions. Mike Opelka on the Glenn Beck Program. We'll be back after the news.

Featured Image: Selfie by Ernesto Rodriguez

Can you remember the economic crisis of 2008 and how you felt when the news broke that Lehman Brothers had collapsed? I have found an economic threat that everyone needs to be aware of, so you can prepare yourself in case we see another 2008 type collapse. I am going to present the evidence to you and I urge you to verify everything and to form your own opinion.

What is that threat?

It is a bank called Deutsche Bank. They are by far the most dominant bank in Germany which is the world's fourth-largest economy. In 2018 they had €2.08 Trillion worth of assets and the second-placed bank (DZ Bank) had €506 Billion worth of assets. To show you how dominant this bank is, they have more assets than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th sized banks combined.
When we review a business there are three key parts to analysis:

  • Market sentiment
  • Business numbers
  • Technical Analysis

Market Sentiment

Deutsche Bank has a long history of potential scandals including going all the way back to World War 2 and dealing in Nazi gold. Below are five recent stories which have increased the negative sentiment around Deutsche Bank.

  1. In 2007, they purchased a portfolio of loans worth $7.8 billion and purchased insurance from Warren Buffets Company. It was discovered they did not set aside enough capital to cover any potential losses. Over the course of the ten years, they lost $1.6 billion, and when they sold the loan they did not update their financial statements to include the big loss
  2. The Panama Papers are an ongoing investigation looking for many things including offshore tax havens. These investigations have resulted in several heads of state resigning including in Iceland and Pakistan. Last November, 170 police raided 6 different offices in Frankfurt looking for evidence of money laundering.
  3. Estonia is a small country in Eastern Europe. It has a population of 1.3 million people and a GDP of €26 billion. In January, it was discovered Deutsche Bank got involved with a Danish bank called Danke Bank and processed over $230 billion worth of cross country payments (including from Soviet Russia) through one bank in Estonia.
  4. There have been rumors of issues with Deutsche for a while now and one of the solutions put forth was a merger with a bank called CommerzBank. The leaders of both companies met and they even got support from politicians. In April, news broke that the merger talks had failed because over worries the risks and costs would be too great.
  5. Last week in France, Investment banking boss Garth Ritchie and others were arrested in France over illicit tax transactions.

Business Numbers

Deutsche Bank is already struggling as they are losing staff, losing market share, and bonuses are expected to be down at least 10% and further rounds of cost-cutting to come. Now imagine the impact if business costs start going up.

The banking industry works in a very simple way. They raise funds through large bonds at low-interest rates and then sell those funds to business and individuals thru products like loans and credit cards at a higher interest rate which results in a potential profit.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank tried raising money through several bonds. They paid 180bp (basis points) on a two-year bond and 230bp on a seven-year bond. Let me put this in context for you. There is a small bank in Spain called Caixabank which paid 225bp on a five-year bond and one of the larger banks in Spain, BBVA paid 130bp on a five-year bond.

  • How and why is a small bank in Spain getting a better deal on bonds than a huge bank in Germany?
  • Why is a large bank in Spain getting a bond 100bp cheaper than a German bank?
  • What does the market know that we do not?

Stock Price

Deutsche is also missing revenue projections which further hurt the business ability to survive and prosper. As you can imagine all of this news has a deep and lasting impact on its stock price which is in deep trouble. Before I share the stock price, I need to put this into the context of the market and the industry compared to the big economic crash of 2008. Below you will see a chart of some banking stocks from around the world with their peak price prior to the 2008 crash, the low of the 2008 recession and the price today:

As you can see from the above chart the banks in America have recovered from the 2008 recession by anywhere up 375% and JP Morgan has not only recovered its price in full but is constantly setting new high's. Ireland went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the EU/IMF following the 2008 crash and even our national bank has more than doubled its price since 2008. The worst performing bank I could find was Societe Generale which has issues but is still hovering around its 2008 low price levels.

Now let's put that into the context of Deutsche Bank. Not only has the stock not rebounded but it is over 65% below its 2008 low at $6.75.

Technical Analysis

When you are dealing with the stock market, you also have people who study pricing through technical analysis. Experts look at things like FIB sequences, trend lines, and support levels. Support levels are a key metric for a stock failing because are looking to find where it will find support and potentially bounce higher.

We are very close to a key support level ($6.40) and if the price goes below this level, there is no saying exactly how low the price could go. At least one company expects Deutsche to fall below this support level, as several weeks ago UBS downgraded the stock to a sell order. This news was compounded last Friday when rating agency Fitch, downgraded their credit rating to BBB or two levels above JUNK status.

Other Information

I know you are likely reading this and thinking "this bank must have smart people in charge and surely they have a plan, right?" I am sure there is a plan and while they have kept their cards close to their chest, they have spoken in the past about the areas they foresee having growth for the company – they include business in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt. Do they strike you as countries which are stable and will offer steady and reliable growth? Do you have to think really hard to imagine how this could go potentially very wrong?

Questions

I believe there is at least a solid case Deutsche is in a LOT of trouble. So what are possible scenarios for the future? I will lay out the key questions below but I must stress that it's impossible to say for sure what exactly will happen. One of the key numbers to remember here is they have roughly €50 billion worth of derivatives.

  • How likely is it that the bank can turn things around and survive?
  • How likely is it the bank continues to run into trouble, its stock price fails and eventually fails?
  • If you think it is likely it will fail, the question becomes what will the fallout be? Who will be affected?
  • Will they be bailed out?
  • If so, by whom? The German government, ECB, IMF, the Federal Reserve?
  • What will the German government think? Some members recently spoke out saying they would block public money for the proposed merger? Will they block funds if it failed?
  • Will other banks be exposed and affected? Will they have to take losses?
  • Will those losses be spread around or will one or more bank be mainly affect?
  • Will this affect the sentiment of the banking sector and cause a panic?
  • If there are issues and it starts affecting the stock prices, what will be the impact on other industries?

Last Question

The last question revolves solely around the banks and the regulators? How secure are the other banks? We all hear about how banks are now put through "stress tests" but how much trust do you put in those results? How much trust do you have in the regulators?

I know this may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist to some but it's an honest question. The Fed is on public record saying they want to keep this economy strong as long as possible. If a bank did not perform strongly in a stress test or even barely failed one, do you think they would report it?

Can you imagine the pressure that body would come under to stay silent? Can you imagine the rhetoric they would face with questions like, "Are you really going to fail one bank? Do you know how many people will lose their jobs if you do that?" Am I saying this is happening? No, but can you really rule it out 100% as a possibility?

I urge you to ponder on these questions, do your own research and find YOUR answers.

Update: The most freaquently asked question I have received from this column / show is how much time do we have to prepare. This is an impossible question to answer, as it could fail tomorrow, next week or might be next year. However I want to provide you a potential date for your diary – July 24th. That is when Deutsche will release their next earnings report and if it comes in below expectations, it could cause a further drop in price casting more doubt over the future viability of the bank.

Please support Jonathon's weekly podcast which is exclusive to the Blaze Media and available for FREE. He offers a unique perspective by promoting America's Founding Principles and brings every issue back to a set of core principles which are always based around the laws of nature. You can find links to his show by clicking here or by searching for Freedoms Disciple on your favorite audio platform.

Survey: Where do you stand on these conspiracy theories?

Thought Catalog / Unsplash

Have you seen this survey on the most-believed conspiracy theories in America?

It's no surprise the survey has been getting so much attention. The results are actually a pretty disturbing.

Infographic: Belief in Conspiracy Theories in the United States | Statista

I decided to put together a quick survey of my own, with slightly different wording.

Up-vote the ones you agree with and down-vote the ones you disagree with.

I believe Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK alone. However, I would not be surprised to find out the government sealed evidence that others were involved.

If by "deep state" you mean long-time Washington power brokers who are used to calling the shots and now feel threatened by Donald Trump not listening to their advice or council — yes, I do believe that many people like that are working against him and his administration.

Whether alien bodies are in Area 51 or not, I do believe the government knows more about UFOs than they have told us.

I do not believe the U.S. government was involved in 9/11, but as we know, NSA advisor Sandy Berger was caught destroying documents from the national archives related to both Bush and Clinton. All U.S. administrations have been to close to the Saudis, and the Saudis were involved in 9/11 at some level.

I believe the climate is always changing — it's natural. I would be willing to accept that man MAY play a role in this. But I do not believe in the solutions currently being discussed, nor do I believe the intention of most political activists are pure.

Any talk of the Illuminati provides the true dangers to man's freedom — like very powerful NGOS and men like George Soros — a perfect cover.

The U.S. government has done some horrible experiments on people and land — I also suspect they will do more things in the future. But I do not believe in the systematic spraying of chemicals using chemtrails.

The moon landing was real, but I see a time coming when people will not be able to trust their eyes due to deep fakes.

What do you think?

Let me know in the comments section below.

This edition features a brand new number two, a big mover in the top five, and the biggest drop since we started the power rankings.

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.

24. Mike Gravel: 15.3 (Debut)

The month Ronald Reagan moved into the White House, Mike Gravel left his last government job.

He was a Senator from Alaska from 1969-1981, where he was known for his anti-war efforts and attempts to implement direct democracy. The latter is what led a couple of teenagers to attempt to draft him into the 2020 race. When I say "draft," I mean "ask him once on social media."

Gravel fought for something called the National Initiative, which would allow state style ballot initiatives to be passed on a federal level. What could possibly go wrong?

He is probably best known for one of the strangest political ads in history during his Presidential run in 2008. Entitled "Rock," the commercial begins with Gravel staring into the camera for well over a minute. Then it gets really boring. He also was a self-described "womanizer" which you might think makes him a perfect fit for the VP slot for Joe Biden— however, he's been critical about "Joe Biden's creepiness around young girls."

Gravel is 89 years old, making him one of the youngest candidates in the field.

23. Wayne Messam: 15.8 (Previous: 20th / 13.4)

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A full 3% of Americans have a positive opinion of Wayne Messam.

Admittedly, that sounds bad.

Coincidentally, it also is bad.

The good(?) news is that another 8% know who he is. Unfortunately, all of them have a negative opinion. Messam is the Mayor of Miramar, FL, which is actually larger than South Bend, IN — the home of Pete Buttigieg. That strikes me more as a point against Buttigieg, but we'll count it in Wayne's column for now.

And hey! He's out of last place!

22. Eric Swalwell: 20.2 (Previous: 17th / 20.2)

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Swalwell has navigated his desperate quest for attention in campaign form with little success so far, which is unsurprising. (Even his parents are Trump voters, and it's not yet clear if they will vote for him.)

Candidates like Elizabeth Warren have rejected town halls on Fox News, but not Swalwell. He would love to have a town hall on Fox News. It's just that Fox News doesn't want him.

Running for President is hard.

21. Marianne Williamson 20.6 (Previous: 19th / 17.1)

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"I'm deeply grateful to the many people who expressed early support for my candidacy. Today we reached an important milestone and we can go full steam ahead from here."

This is the sort of thing you say when you've accomplished something major in a campaign. Marianne Williamson said it after this: "We just hit 1% in our 3rd poll!"

It's a microcosm of the bizarre nature of the 2020 Democratic primary experiment, but in theory, this feeble showing in the polls may be enough to get Williamson on the debate stage.

It's on that stage where she is sure to shine, as she explains the narrow logical pathway of her worldview. She is a self-described "capitalist with a conscience" but also seems to admire socialism: "What's supposed to scare me about socialism, the free health care or the free college?"

Usually, it's the 100 million dead in a century. But, when you find out how much that "free" health care and college cost, they can get pretty scary too.

20. Seth Moulton: 21.5 (Previous: 16th / 20.6)

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"America is not a socialist country." Sure, this statement used to be entirely uncontroversial (like, way back in 2018). But, Seth Moulton is saying those things in 2019, in a Democratic primary, which seems almost disqualifying. It's hard to imagine a path towards success for someone with this opinion, unless maybe your last name happens to be Biden.

"There are elements of our party that are going too far toward socialism." True enough. But, it's a little like saying "There are elements of this orange juice that are going far too close to oranges."

Warning: The orange juice is made out of oranges.

19. John Delaney: 21.8 (Previous: 15th / 20.3)

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John Delaney is probably one of the most moderate candidates in the field. He is even selling himself this way, arguing "to beat Trump, we need a moderate."

It's an interesting window into the state of the Democratic party. If the introduction of a $4 trillion global warming tax and spend scheme makes you moderate, what makes you a liberal?

18. Tim Ryan: 24.3 (Previous: 14th / 20.7)

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Tim Ryan was elected as a pro-life Democrat. Now he's thanking NARAL and Planned Parenthood for convincing him that some babies just shouldn't be alive.

Essentially, your local drive-thru abortion hut won the moral reasoning battle against the Pope, which is an interesting decision for a Catholic: "I believe my faith supports my position because to me being Catholic, to me being Christian, to me following the teachings of Jesus is about being compassionate and an open-hearted toward people who you shouldn't be judging."

Someone should tell Ryan and his other deeply religious Democratic colleagues that judgment of behavior is actually pretty central to faith in general.

Religion may be a lot of things, but it is not about being "open- minded." The foundational book of Christianity is most famous for its list of "commandments."


"Thou shalt…or shalt not, whatever you want to do…let me know." -Exodus 20:9024325 or something.

17. Bill de Blasio 24.9 (Debut)

No one loves Bill de Blasio more than… well, no one loves Bill de Blasio. After his announcement, the New York Post ran the headline "Everyone Hates Bill."

Bill de Blasio is essentially a socialist, but that's not why New Yorkers hate him. They're fine with the left-wing craziness. They just want someone who can at least do his job half as well as he promotes himself.

De Blasio is so disliked in New York that even left leaning publications like New York Magazine admit they struggle to find one person who actually supports him for president. He begins his run with the highest unfavorables in the entire field, an amazing accomplishment considering his late entry into the race.

If you want to find something positive for Bill, it probably comes in the form of cash. As Donald Trump used to describe business life in New York, he would routinely donate to Democratic politicians he didn't like, because it helped grease the wheels for his company. De Blasio will likely get a considerable amount of cash from people who hate his guts, but realize that a hefty "donation" is a great way to get favorable treatment from a powerful socialist.

16. Steve Bullock 27.7 (Debut)

On paper, Steve Bullock could be a strong Democratic candidate for president. He's one of a few governors around the country that fit a very popular profile: in a deep red state, he's a Democrat, but tries to be seen as a "sensible" one. Larry Hogan, Republican from Maryland, has the same approach from the other side.

Bullock ran for governor of Montana with promises of streamlining the regulatory system, fighting prescription drug abuse, tax refunds, protecting the coal industry, and the baby sister to America first— "hiring Montanans first."

This approach had Bullock win reelection in a red state that Trump won by over twenty points. He was also the 4th most popular governor in America with an approval rating of 66%, with only 19% disapproving.

However, there are plenty of hints that Bullock is no moderate. He blocked multiple bills to restrict late-term abortion, supported DACA, supported net neutrality, and is deeply in the pocket of the unions, including wanting to force unwilling participants to pay dues until it was ruled unconstitutional.

Policies aside, Bullock seems to lack a certain je ne sais quoi. If you don't speak French, it's kind of hard to describe why, but basically most people find it difficult to pay attention to him.

Bullock is trying to sell moderation with a wink. The idea that one can sound moderate to get elected, then run the country as a relatively strong progressive, similar to the package he delivered to Montana. In the era of "shout your abortion," it seems like a difficult message to connect with primary voters.

Maybe there's a VP window for Bullock, but if you do want the moderation with a wink approach, it's unclear why you wouldn't just go with Biden at the top of the ticket.

15. Andrew Yang 28.3 (Previous: 12th / 27.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Andrew Yang continues to have the highest buzz-to-poll results ratio in the race. This is partially because of his embrace of issues well off the normal path of politicians. I.e., pennies must go!

Yang does have some legitimate credibility when it comes to our governments pathetic technology infrastructure and is capable of talking about issues like AI, cryptocurrencies, and probably Fortnite. He's embraced meme culture and has a way of going viral that eludes other candidates who try way too hard to do it (see Booker, Cory and Gillibrand, Kirsten.) Unfortunately, you can't tweet yourself into the White House. (Most of the time.)

14. Michael Bennet 28.8 (Debut)

Michael Bennet grew up in Washington D.C. and went to a high end prep school and is currently serving as a U.S. Senator from Colorado. A political outsider, he is not.

He was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and went on to a somewhat surprising victory over Ken Buck in the Tea Party wave election of 2010. He's a Democrat from a purple state that outperformed Hillary in 2016. And it's not the worst thing in the world for his candidacy that his little brother is the editorial page director of the New York Times.

But Bennet is one of a handful of little known, unremarkable, pseudo-moderates in this race that have no chance to win unless Joe Biden slips his hand up a female moderators skirt in the middle of a debate.

The best part of Bennet's candidacy is the fact that he was born in New Delhi, India. Who's ready for another cycle of the media highlighting every random Facebook users posts about birtherism! I know I am!

13. Tulsi Gabbard 28.8 (Previous: 13th / 25.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The Las Vegas shooting was just a distraction for the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Russia didn't hack the DNC.

The Parkland shooting was a false flag.

Pizzagate is real.

Bill Cosby was framed.

Is this a grouping of opinions from Alex Jones? Well, probably yes, but they also happen to be the views of the biggest online fundraiser for Tulsi Gabbard.

As pointed out in her candidate profile, Gabbard is a bit of an odd bird as a Democratic option for president. But the main reason for her support among conspiracy theorists and racists like David Duke, seems to come back to her role as supporter and excuse factory for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Tulsi was able to get herself on the Joe Rogan podcast, which has brought a lot of attention (along with no poll number increase) to her campaign. While there, she mentioned her affection for South Park—the Human Centipede episode in particular.

However, Gabbard does not endorse turning people into human centipedes, that we know of...as of this writing.

12. Jay Inslee 30.4 (Previous: 11th / 30.4)

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Jay Inslee is trying to branch out from his single issue climate change campaign.

Forget sanctuary cities, Jay wants sanctuary states. He's also signed a public option add on to Obamacare in Washington, which was part of Obama's original plan. (Also, not part of his plan was an individual mandate, but I don't see many Barack originalists in the Democratic party on that point.)

Inslee has hit the magical 65,000 donor level to get him into the debates, but has made as much of an impact in this race as his favored amount of carbon emissions: zero.

11. John Hickenlooper 32.0 (Previous: 10th / 32.0)

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Is John Hickenlooper a moderate? He wants America to think he is… but he wants Democratic primary voters to know that he isn't.

"You can have progressive ideas, but you have to present it to them in a moderate way."

This is a very typical Democratic politician approach, or at least it used to be. Today, Hickenlooper couldn't avoid being unmercifully booed for daring to say that socialism isn't the answer… when it comes to beating Donald Trump. In other words, you can have the terrible ideas, but don't tell everyone about it.

Hickenlooper's CNN town hall did beat Beto's town hall in the ratings, which unfortunately says more about Beto's failure than it does about Hickenlooper's success.

10. Julian Castro 34.5 (Previous: 10th / 35.7)

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I usually write these things in order from worst to first, and it's always around Julian Castro where I have the same thought: I've been writing too long to just be at Julian Castro. However, this is a race in which some polls show 17 of the 24 candidates are at zero or one percent, allowing an enormous disappointment like Castro to still squeak into the top ten.

One bandwagon that Castro has jumped on is the "fight for $15"— an attempt to try to force McDonald's to pay its employees $15 per hour. Of course, there are plenty of high-end restaurants/coffee shops/political campaigns that cater to left-wing audiences that don't pay $15 an hour, but McDonald's seems to always be the target.

This is bizarre, considering McDonald's is known for its high-volume, low-margin business model, making it among the most easily damaged by higher minimum wages. It, also, already has technology available to have kiosks replace workers, which can easily be more widely distributed.

Of course, the "fight for $15" is much more about grabbing attention than helping workers. Now, I'm hungry for McDonald's.

9. Kirsten Gillibrand 36.7 (Previous: 9th / 38.1)

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Kirsten Gillibrand is not good at this. One of many examples: she was asked during her Fox News town hall why she flip-flopped from pro-gun to anti-gun after leaving her conservative district for the more liberal audience statewide.

Her answer was to explain that her previous district was more conservative and wanted more gun rights, but the state as a whole was not.

That was the accusation against you. It's not supposed to be the same as your excuse.

When asked what gun policies would have stopped the recent shooting in Virginia Beach, she said we should "stop being beholden to the NRA." This quality analysis wouldn't get you an internship under a low-level editor at Think Progress, but somehow she's a Senator and running for President.

But if you think that's bad, look at her fundraising. "Gillibrand raised less money from small contributors in her first quarter as a presidential candidate than she had in six of the eight previous quarters when she wasn't running for president."

I continue to believe that Gillibrand will drop out long before Iowa casts a vote.

8. Amy Klobuchar 41.9 (Previous: 8th / 45.1)

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Klobuchar's campaign hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire so far. That's the bad news. The good news is there isn't a long list of gaffes on the campaign either. (Bonus! She hasn't abused any underlings on camera!)

This formula probably isn't enough for her to compete for the nomination, and she claims the third largest point drop from our last power ranking.

But this news is not entirely terrible for Klobuchar either, who is likely still a top tier VP candidate. She's been working on entirely controversy-free legislation like securing tax breaks for Gold Star families. If she can look competent in the debates, show some gravitas, and not light an interns torso on fire in front of gasping kindergartners, she might be fine.

Klobuchar's best path to success continues to be avoiding mistakes and hoping Joe Biden wins the nomination.

7. Cory Booker 51.6 (Previous: 6th / 54.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Cory Booker is your white knight, ladies.

Swoon.

Cory wants you to know that men are the problem, which is why he wrote an open letter to all men. The topic? How men need to fight alongside women who are facing new restrictions in their moral crusade to make children more available for expiry. How can a society possibly demand women to endure "lengthy 72-hour waiting periods?" (Yes, it's a real quote. You see, 72 hours sounds long. Three days sounds short.)

Booker wants to heal our divisions about abortion by… what else?... creating yet another government bureaucracy. All hail the "White House Office of Reproductive Freedom."

There is some stunning evidence that voters seem to like Booker, challenging the virtue of democracy, and perhaps our civilization as a whole.

6. Robert Francis O’Rourke 52.8 (Previous: 5th / 60.2)

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Beto's campaign is falling apart. His 7.4 point drop from our previous power ranking is the largest drop since the rankings began.

However, a high-profile launch, followed by a complete fizzle does not always mean the death of a campaign. John McCain's 2008 run began the same way, even leading to a mass firing of campaign executives before relaunching and capturing the nomination.

But McCain was a well-known D.C. power player with massive name recognition and political connections. O'Rourke is essentially a viral video about Colin Kaepernick and a travel blog to find himself wrapped into an Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic.

O'Rourke doesn't have to win to give himself a future in politics (as we've already seen), but he does need to avoid complete embarrassment. This is something he should keep in mind next time he decides to live stream his own haircut.

5. Elizabeth Warren 53.4 (Previous: 7th / 45.3)

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It shocks (and pains) me to say this, but Elizabeth Warren is having a little bit of a moment. Her 8.1 point rise leads the field in this edition of our rankings, and she has created a nice little niche for herself. She's claimed the progressive high ground on policy, with her somewhat effective but twice as annoying "she has a plan for that" mantra. In another era, the idea that a politician has a way for government to be involved in every aspect of your life would show up in an opposition commercial. But today the left eats it up.

To be clear, none of them have actually read any of these proposals. And they all rest on an impossible to pass, completely unenforceable, and almost certainly unconstitutional wealth tax on the rich.

But her combination of a furious technocratic pace, along with her individual outreach to voters (Elizabeth Warren called me!) has lifted Warren out of her self-imposed gaffe-a-thon and back into a serious contender.

We now estimate that Warren has a 1 in 1,024 chance to win the presidency.

4. Kamala Harris 65.9 (Previous: 3rd / 68.6)

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If you're going to make a massively misleading statistic one of the cornerstones of your campaign, you should probably understand how the statistic is calculated.

Kamala Harris is supposed to be one of the intelligent options in the Democratic field, but at times, one is amazed at her ignorance of basic facts.

Literally anyone who has studied or debated the gender pay gap is familiar with the massive problems with the statistic. It simply averages all women working and compares it to all men working. It doesn't account for experience level, choice of industry, education level, and so on.

Harris said to Stephen Colbert "In America today, women on average are paid 80 cents on the dollar of what men are paid for the same work." She then doubled and tripled down on the "same work" aspect of the claim. It is most certainly not a measure of different pay for the same work. We should also note that, of course, Harris is paying women in her campaign less than men. But you probably guessed that one already.

This isn't about the gender wage gap, which can be easily explained in the book 'Why Men Earn More,' for example. It's more of a study of the early disappointment of the Harris campaign. She just occasionally blurts things out that make you crinkle your forehead.

Another example: "Very few people can get by and be involved in their communities or society or in whatever their profession without somehow, somewhere using Facebook." This was said in an explanation about regulating Facebook as a utility. But about a third of adults don't use Facebook at all. One could not say the same about electricity, water, or sewage.

These are minor examples of a potential larger issue. Harris needs to know what she's talking about a little more often. To quote Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac polling, "I don't know why she's not caught fire. But she hasn't."

3. Bernie Sanders: 67.2 (Previous: 2nd / 68.3)

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Most people who follow politics realize that Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. But, the democratic primary has brought his pro-communist and anti-American views of the past into a new light. This has left many Democrat friendly media sources to discover that conservative media has pretty much been correct all along. The New York Times wrote about his past support for communist governments in Central America, including the Nicaraguan Sandistas.

"The Times shows that Sanders went well beyond mere opposition to funding the war. He wrote to Sandinista leaders that American news media had not 'reflected fairly the goals and accomplishments of your administration.' On a visit to the country, he attended a Sandinista celebration at which the crowd chanted, 'Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die,' and complained that American reporters ignored 'the truth' about Nicaragua's government, telling a CBS reporter, 'You are worms.'"

Sanders "…at times crossed over from mere opposition to American policy to outright support for communist governments." This isn't from the Blaze. It's from New York Magazine.

"Any politician is going to frame issues selectively, but Sanders is presenting a spin on the controversy so selective it completely fails to convey any of the points relevant to the controversy."

Ouch.

It's getting harder to see Sanders actually winning the nomination, given what seems like a ceiling in his support. The thinking goes, why pick Bernie, when you can get Bernie's policies in a much more attractive package from almost anyone else in the race?

The answer may come down to how dumb, uninformed, and oblivious the primary voters are… at least, according to NBC news:

2. Pete Buttigieg 68.8 (Previous: 4th / 62.9)

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It's completely shocking to see the mayor of South Bend, Indiana at number two in a 24-candidate field. This is a guy that 31% of Democratic primary voters have still never even heard of.

In fact, I had recently been under the impression that the Buttigieg bump had started to fade away. But the numbers say what they say, and Mayor Pete has pushed himself all the way to number two in our rankings.

The first time we ran these numbers, Buttigieg had a candidate score of 30.8, now he's at 68.8. He's moved more than any other candidate, and it's not even remotely close.

Why?

Given this is a Democratic primary, one would be committing a crime against the obvious if we didn't note that identity politics are playing a role. But Buttigieg is an obviously smart, well-spoken candidate that plays well in this particular moment.

In short, he's the polar opposite of Donald Trump—in demeanor, in age, in his interest in hooking up with female supermodels from the Eastern Bloc.

Buttigieg gives Democrats exactly what they're looking for—a candidate to signal to everyone around them that they're more tolerant, more intelligent, more reasoned, and just generally better than those Neanderthal Republicans.

He's basically a Prius in the form of a candidate.

1. Joe Biden 82.3 (Previous: 1st / 78.8)

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Saying that Joe Biden is the "leader" or the "favorite" in this primary doesn't really do him justice. Biden is in a tier by himself. Sure, he continues to hold massive leads in the polls, but perhaps more importantly, those leads are affording Joe the ability to execute the perfect Joe Biden game plan.

1. Run away and hide in the polls

2. Run away and hide in real life

Biden has near universal name recognition and access to the very valuable 2012 Obama campaign voter list. He doesn't have to be seen in public to lead the polls. When he does have to show his handsome face, he's on prompter, and he's keeping his hands to himself.

Most analysts don't think that Joe Biden will simply cruise to a 20-point victory. He will be challenged by someone as this race gets closer. He will be forced in front of cameras. He will say that television was invented in 1593, and he will inhale the follicles of a passing pre-teen. We all know this--and more--will happen at some point in this campaign.

The question is, does Joe have enough in the tank to protect this lead? Can Joe defend himself over what will be uncovered from his political past?

For instance, video emerged of Joe Biden joking about "panty raids" that he once participated in. Can a party constantly talking about male privilege nominate a candidate who once stormed female dorms, only to steal their undergarments?

The fact that Biden made the comments in the 80s, about the 60s, while in his 40s, does not exonerate him.

It somehow makes it even more creepy.

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history.

The Allied invasion force included 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, and almost three million allied soldiers, airmen and sailors. Despite such numbers, the location and timing of the invasion was still an enormous gamble. The Nazis fully expected such an invasion, they just didn't know precisely when or where it would be.

Despite the enormous logistics involved, the gamble worked and by the end of June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops were ashore in Normandy. The human cost was also enormous – over 4,900 American troops died on D-Day. That number doubled over the next month as they fought to establish a foothold in northern France.

There were five beach landing zones on the coast of northwestern France, divided among the Allies. They gave each landing zone a name. Canada was responsible for "Juno." Britain was responsible for "Gold" and "Sword." And the U.S. had "Utah" and "Omaha."

The Nazis were dug in with bunkers, machine guns, artillery, mines, barbed wire, and other obstacles to tangle any attempt to come ashore. Of the five beaches, Omaha was by far the most heavily defended. Over 2,500 U.S. soldiers were killed at Omaha – the beach so famously depicted in the opening battle sequence of the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan. The real-life assault on Omaha Beach included 34 men in that first wave of attack who came from the same small town of Bedford, Virginia. The first Americans to die on Omaha Beach were the men from Bedford.

amp only placement

America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it.

America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it. Maybe that's because it wasn't a government project and it's not in Washington DC. It was initiated and financed by veterans and private citizens. It's tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the small town of Bedford, Virginia. Why is the memorial for one of the most famous days in modern world history in such a tiny town? Because, as a proportion of its population of just 3,200 at the time, no community in the U.S. sacrificed more men on D-Day than Bedford.

There were 34 men in Company A from Bedford. Of those thirty-four, 23 died in the first wave of attacks. Six weeks after D-Day, the town's young telegraph operator was overwhelmed when news of many of the first deaths clattered across the Western Union line on the same day. Name after name of men and families that she knew well. There were so many at once that she had to enlist the help of customers in the pharmacy's soda shop to help deliver them all.

Among those killed in action were brothers Bedford and Raymond Hoback. Bedford was the rambunctious older brother with a fiancée back home that he couldn't wait to return to. Raymond was the quieter, more disciplined younger brother who could often be found reading his Bible. He fell in love with a British woman during his two years in England training for D-Day. Like in that opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, Bedford and Raymond barely made it down the ramp of their Higgins Boat in the swarm of bullets and hot steel before they were cut down in the wet sand.

Bedford and Raymond Hoback's mother, Macie, learned of both their deaths from two separate telegrams, the first on a Sunday morning, the second the following day. Their younger sister, Lucille, remembered her mother's devastation, and her father walking out to the barn to cry.

The day after D-Day, the killing field of Omaha Beach was already transforming into the massive supply port that would help fuel the American drive all the way to Berlin over the next year. A soldier from West Virginia was walking along the beach when he saw something jutting out of the sand. He reached down and pulled it out. He was surprised to find it was a Bible. The inside cover was inscribed with: "Raymond S. Hoback, from mother, Christmas, 1938." The soldier wrote a letter and mailed it with the Bible to Raymond's mother. That Bible, which likely tumbled from Raymond's pack when he fell on D-Day, became Macie Hoback's most cherished possession – the only personal belonging of her son that was ever returned.

Of the 23 Bedford men who died on Omaha Beach, eleven were laid to rest in the American cemetery in Normandy.

These men, many of them barely out of their teens, didn't sign up to march to the slaughter of course. They had hopes and dreams just like you and I. Many of them signed up for adventure, or because of peer pressure, and yes, a sense of honor and duty. Many of the Bedford Boys first signed up for the National Guard just to make a few extra bucks per month, get to hang out with their buddies, and enjoy target practice. But someone had to be first at Omaha Beach and that responsibility fell to the men from Bedford.

Over the last several years, the D-Day anniversary gets increasingly sad. Because each year, there are fewer and fewer men alive who were actually in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The last of the surviving Bedford Boys died in 2009. Most of the remaining D-Day veterans who are still with us are too frail to make the pilgrimage to France for the anniversary ceremonies like they used to.

It's difficult to think about losing these World War II veterans, because once they're all gone, we'll lose that tether to a time when the nation figured out how to be a better version of itself.

Not that they were saints and did everything right. They were as human as we are, with all the fallibility that entails. But in some respects, they were better. Because they went, and they toughed it out, and they accomplished an incredibly daunting mission, with sickening hardship, heartbreak, and terror along the way.

So, what does the anniversary of D-Day mean in 2019?

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough.

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough. You can't learn about the logistics of the operation and above all, the human cost, and not be humbled. But as a society, we have not emphasized well enough the story of D-Day and all that it represents. How can I say that? Because of an example just last weekend, when common sense got booed by Democratic Socialists at the California Democrats' State Convention. When Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said during his speech that "socialism is not the answer," the crowd booed loudly. When did telling the truth about socialism become controversial?

Sure, socialists, and communists and other anti-American factions have always been around. America certainly had socialists in 1944. But the current socialists trying to take over the Democratic Party like a virus don't believe in the D-Day sacrifices to preserve America, because they don't believe America is worth preserving. They are agitating to reform America using the authoritarian playbook that has only ended in death and destruction everywhere it is followed.

Ask a Venezuelan citizen, or an Iraqi Christian, or a North Korean peasant why D-Day still matters in 2019.

The further we move away from caring about pivotal events like June 6, 1944, the less chance of survival we have as a nation.

At the same time, the D-Day anniversary is a reminder that we're not done yet. It's an opportunity for us to remember and let that inform how we live.

Near the end of Saving Private Ryan, the fictional Captain Miller lays dying, and he gives one last instruction to Private Ryan, the young man that he and his unit have sacrificed their lives to rescue in Normandy. He says, "Earn it."

In other words, don't waste the sacrifices that were made so that your life could be saved. Live it well. The message to "earn it" extends to the viewer and the nation as well – can we say we're earning the sacrifices that were made by Americans on D-Day? I cringe to think how our few remaining World War II veterans might answer that.

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more.

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more. I don't want to believe it's too late for us to rediscover those traits as a nation. I want to believe we can still earn it.

The challenge to "earn it" is a lot of pressure. Frankly, it's impossible. We can't fully earn the liberty that we inherited. But we can certainly try to earn it. Not trying is arrogant and immoral. And to tout socialism as the catch-all solution is naïve, and insulting to the men like those from Bedford who volunteered to go defend freedom. In truly striving to earn it, we help keep the flame of liberty aglow for future generations. It is necessary, honorable work if freedom is to survive.

The end of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is remarkably relevant for every anniversary of June 6, 1944. This is what D-Day still means in 2019:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – 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."

Letter from Corporal H.W. Crayton to Mr. and Mrs. Hoback – parents of Bedford and Raymond Hoback who were both killed in action on June 6, 1944

Álvaro Serrano/Unsplash

July 9, 1944 Somewhere in France

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Hoback:

I really don't know how to start this letter to you folks, but will attempt to do something in words of writing. I will try to explain in the letter what this is all about.

While walking along the Beach D-day Plus One, I came upon this Bible and as most any person would do I picked it up from the sand to keep it from being destroyed. I knew that most all Bibles have names & addresses within the cover so I made it my business to thumb through the pages until I came upon the name above. Knowing that you no doubt would want the Book returned I am sending it knowing that most Bibles are a book to be cherished. I would have sent it sooner but have been quite busy and thought it best if a short period of time elapsed before returning it.

You have by now received a letter from your son saying he is well. I sincerely hope so.

I imagine what has happened is that your son dropped the Book without any notice. Most everybody who landed on the Beach D-Day lost something. I for one as others did lost most of my personal belongings, so you see how easy it was to have dropped the book and not know about it.

Everything was in such a turmoil that we didn't have a chance until a day or so later to try and locate our belongings.

Since I have arrived here in France I have had occasion to see a little of the country and find it quite like parts of the U.S.A. It is a very beautiful country, more so in peace time. War does change everything as it has this country. One would hardly think there was a war going on today. Everything is peaceful & quiet. The birds have begun their daily practice, all the flowers and trees are in bloom, especially the poppies & tulips which are very beautiful at this time of the year.

Time goes by so quickly as it has today. I must close hoping to hear that you receive the Bible in good shape.

Yours very truly,

Cpl. H.W. Crayton