Ryan: The game of politics

Photo by Sean Ryan

Bullfighting is a gruesome art. A hateful, stomach-churning game.

In Spain, bullfighters are called "toreros," and they lead a cuadrilla, or entourage, of assistants and other fighters. Picadors are the men on horses with lances jabbing at the bull strategically, forcing it to keep its head lowered. Banderilleros pace around on foot, and jab decorative barbs into the bull's neck, disabling the muscles so that the bull's head droops and it can't use its horns.

The torero is the star, decked in his garrish traje de luces, an elaborate weave of silk and sequins and pendants of gold and silver.

Toreros are superstitious. They choose their flamboyant outfits' colors with pristine caution. They believe that different colors provoke different reactions from the bulls.

Of course, bulls are colorblind. They do not see red and get pissy. What incites their rage is the torero's sudden, inflammatory movement. Because, let's be real, bullfighting is just the masculine version of flamenco. And this is a parable for politics, as performed by President Donald Trump and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, at this week's State of the Union Address.

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A bullfight has three stages.

One: eruption.

Two: disaster.

Three: humiliation, confusion, death, betrayal and/or victory.

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When bull trots out, he is full of rage and confusion and fear. The torero reads the bull. Taunts it with his capote, the red cape.
This stage of the fight is a dance, as the torero boasts his acuity as a dancer.

Distracted by the cape and the undulating torero, the bull is vulnerable to the surgical jabs and lances from the picadors and the banderilleros.

These cowardly bastards are savage.

For me, it's always excruciating to watch.

But, at this point, the bull is spirited and fiery, so the cuts have little effect.

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In the second stage, the torero prances to safety, to a dugout, and the banderilleros sweep in. They face the bull head-on, then lunge a small lance into its back.

The bull shrieks and moans and rattles its eyes with helpless confusion.

At the start of a bullfight, the bull's gaze is aimed downward, but, as the bullfight progresses, the bull's vision sharpens so that, by the end, they're locking eyes with the torero, straining to keep their head lifted. Then, finally, it's nothing but clotted dirt.

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So. Who's the bull? Depends on your view of the situation and your particular biases. Maybe it's Trump, maybe it's Pelosi. But also maybe we're the bull. That would be awful, wouldn't it?

Just remember that the toreros wear a montera, the sulky astrakhan fur hat with the velvet lining. The bulbous nubs on each side represent bull horns.

Because, although toreros fight the bull, they do so as a symbolic equal. A man so wild and dangerous that he can defeat a monster. A matador is just a bull in some wacky costume.

Or. You can see the mastery and performance of it all. That Trump and Pelosi are engaged in a mesmerizing dance. Above all, a game.

I have exactly one tatoo: "To do a dangerous / thing with style / is what I call art." From the poem "Style" by Charles Bukowski,

Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art
Bullfighting can be an art
Boxing can be an art
Loving can be an art.
Opening a can of sardines can be an art

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Also known as the "tercio del momento supremo," the final stage of the fight. When the torero lures the bull closer with each ballerina tilt and side hop.

By now, the bull is panting, coughing gasps, lungs contaminated with fluid, muscles severed, head impossibly heavy.

It moans occasionally, the lonesome bellow of an animal caught in unimaginable betrayal. All alone, facing hate and danger.

From the stands, you can hear its full-bodied exhalations, see the silver piercing quiver in its nasal septum. The torrero becomes the matador only if he kills the bull.

Matador means "killer," from "matar" to kill and the suffix "-dor," which signifies membership to an occupation.

*As his final maneuver, the torero takes his greatest risk. He must plunge a sabre into the bull's back, between its shoulders, dealing the fatal wound.

The toreros often fail to kill the bull on the first try. Only managing to deeply wound the animal.

The toreros repeat this dangerous maneuver until they shove the sword in deep enough that it pierces the bull's heart or severes its spinal cord.

As the bull writhes, the torero slits its throat slit, a spray of dark red into the well-lighted dirt.

Then it subsides. Surrenders. Its life vanishes, mostly.

Men on silly horses tie a rope around the bull's hooves and drag it out of the bullring, blood spurting into the chalky dirt.
It no longer matters whether you were even chanting for that bull, as the politician.

Because the bull seems so childlike and limp as men drag it through the dust and the occasional mud. Especially at the end.

If the matador did well, the crowd whistles, they wiggle white handkerchiefs into the air, and the matador is awarded one of the bull's ears. Or both if he performed flawlessly.

But, occasionally, the bull wins.

It may always die, but sometimes it makes sure not to die alone.

I've seen a few bullfights, in Madrid, and on one occasion the bull nearly won. It gored the torero's calf.

The audience gasped, recoiling, then leaned forward.

And the torrero — who was billed as the finest of the night —limped into a wooden crawlspace. He was young, lanky, all jaw and Roman nose like a jagged anchor. And, all decked in blinding pink, he became ladylike and uncertain.

He tiptoed around when he should have kept gliding. He trained his black eyes on floodlights pouring into the ring.

After a ten-minute pause, he returned with a bandage around his pink-and-gold socks, less mobile but still devilish enough to coax the bull into losing.

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It's no secret that I dislike politics, and that I strive, in my writing, to transcend ideology and tap into the deeper meaning of life, the human enormities we all face, in the hope that I can find an answer.

Despite the fact that I work at a conservative news site, I'm neither conservative nor liberal, not left or right or center, not anything. I'm a journalist. I believe in the old way: Find the truth, tell it clearly and honestly, then let the people decide. Leave the activism out of it, all of which I will cover in an upcoming installment titled "The Fourth Estate."

The night of the disastrous Iowa caucuses, at a fashionably indifferent dive bar in Des Moines, I had a few beers with bleary-eyed caucusers.

"I hate politics," I blurted out at one point, with a mouthful of popcorn.

A guy my age who'd caucused for Bernie asked, "If you don't like politics, why do you write for a political news site?"

It's a question I get asked a lot, something I've spent a lot of time pondering. And next month, I'll run an installment called "Outcast of the media world," which describes my weird journey from fiction writer to English teacher in Spain to academic to music journalist to reporter at a conservative news network with credentials for the White House. But in the moment, I had no decent answer, thanks to a long day and a row of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. But the question stuck with me, so here's my answer.

"I write about politics for many reasons," I would like to have said. "Most of all, I want to make people's lives better, or even just a tad brighter, and I've been told by many people over the years that my stories and my words are how I'll accomplish this."

I write about politics because I want to know the wolrd better. And being at political events is so illluminating and electric and surreal. So alive.

I write about politics because I believe that each of our lives matters, and I've worked hard to get here and now I have a platform and, in the words of French philosopher Albert Camus, "Those of us who can speak have a responsibility to say something for those of us who can't."

I write about politics because political writing has gotten so boring and it's time for a fresh voice.

I write about politics because, sometimes, politics is an art, and art is what will save us.

New stories come out every Monday and Thursday. In the next two installations, I'll describe my view of the chaotic night of the Iowa caucuses. Check my Twitter. Send all notes, tips, corrections, etc. to kryan@blazemedia.com As always, thank you for reading.

Bill O'Reilly joined the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" on Friday for his weekly take on the 2020 presidential race.

O'Reilly emphasized what a dangerous candidate socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) really is, and how the media is working to mislead voters by depicting other Democratic candidates, such as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as "moderate."

"The Democratic Party has been hijacked -- and this is no breaking news -- by the progressive left. Which is now being enabled by the national media," said O'Reilly.

"Bernie Sanders is a dangerous man. In any sane time, media time, that would be clear to everybody. But it's not," he added. "It's like, 'Oh, there's uncle Bernie and he just wants to give stuff away. What a great guy.' [He's] not a great guy, all right? He's a totalitarian. He'll take your freedom, in every area, away. Every area. There isn't one area, that Bernie Sanders wouldn't intrude upon, in your personal freedom. Yet, that's not reported. You don't know it unless you pay attention. It's all a bunch of dishonest blather that has obliterated the so-called moderate Democrat. And there are millions of those people. They don't know what to do because they have no voice in the media."

Glenn pointed out that the media has been "trying to make Pete Buttigieg into a moderate" ever since his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses last week.

"So, Pete Buttigieg: Harvard grad. Rhodes Scholar. Brilliant man, he is brilliant. Great speaker. Almost as good as Beck and I. Not quite, but almost," O'Reilly said. "He's only 38, all right? So, the guy goes out and runs for president after being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for eight years, and almost destroying that city. The city is in chaos, yet he's re-elected with 80% of the vote the second time. That's what a good BS'er Pete Buttigieg is.

The two went on to break down Buttegieg's radical policy plans on immigration, abortion, gun control, and more.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

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On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck and his chief researcher, Jason Buttrill, have uncovered new evidence that suggests the coronavirus death toll numbers coming from China are grossly inaccurate.

After vetting several deep-fake videos circulating on social media, Jason unearthed shocking whistleblower-videos released by citizens of the communist state that show entire warehouses filled with body bags, along with other atrocities.

Jason and Glenn break down the real numbers and discuss the possibilities of the outbreak coming to America. Watch the video below for more details:

Don't miss next Wednesday's TV special on the coronavirus in its new time slot at 9PM ET.

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream. Use code GLENN to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.


Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has surged in the polls in the past month.

With former Vice President Joe Biden dropping below far-left presidential candidates such as the unapologetically socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and the almost equally extremist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass), Democratic voters seeking a more moderate alternative are setting their sights on Mayor Pete.

But are Buttigieg's policies actually moderate? Not even close, Glenn Beck said Thursday on the radio program.

"[Pete Buttigieg] wants people to see him as a moderate. The mayor of a Midwest city in a red state ... and he's going for the middle, even though he is not a moderate candidate in any way," said Glenn.

Here are just a few example of where Buttigieg stands on the issues:

  • Supports late-term, partial-birth abortion
  • Eliminate the Electoral College
  • Buyback program for assault weapons
  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour
  • Expand Medicare
  • Decriminalize illegal immigration
  • Pay for infrastructure through changing taxes on corporations, the wealthy
  • Study reparations
  • Legalize marijuana
  • Increase existing taxes on upper-income Americans
  • Cancel some student debt
  • Don't use tariffs to pressure countries
Watch the video clip below for more information:

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An official at the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' health agency, has issued a warning, calling the coronavirus "the worst enemy you can imagine" and more of a threat than "any terrorist attack," during a media briefing on Tuesday.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director general, said that a vaccine for the coronavirus will likely take 18 months to develop. The virus has reportedly killed hundreds and infected tens of thousands of people, primarily in China.

"To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack. It's the worst enemy you can imagine," added Ghebreyesus.

On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck noted that the same agency in charge of developing this life-saving vaccine, has taken the time to officially change the disease's name to COVID-19, citing the concern of "stigmatizing" any specific geographical location, individual, or group of people.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Use code GLENN to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.