Ryan: Trump and the Louisiana funhouse

Part 1

The police car sharked onto Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, strobing blue and red and white and wailing like a baby with a fever.

"I don't like it when they catch me," I said, slapping the dashboard. The same way President Trump slaps the dias at his rallies, glowering behind the decorous seal and the slanted glass teleprompters and the mayhem of a teenage nation.

This was outside Arcadia, Louisiana, about a potholed hour from Monroe, Louisiana, where we currently needed to be. Myself and fellow journalist Jade Byers, who needed a break from the story she'd just begun, an ethnography of Texas State Fair carneys.

Media check-in for the Keep America Great rally would end at 5:00 p.m and it was 4:00 p.m., and it wasn't the sort of occasion you could be late for, so in the afternoon pallor all I wanted was to keep driving, on and on and on past nowhere.

"Just slam the gas," said Jade, "ahead of that semi."

But life was no movie. Especially not in Louisiana, land of corruption and sky-high incarceration. And jail is awful. So we both shrugged, and I guided my white Subaru to the side of the bare grey highway.

We'd just been discussing the nature of justice. Was it a form of truth? Or an attempt to enforce it? I sensed that Louisiana was not just. Did you know that it has the highest murder rate in the nation? Later, Trump would bring this up, and, because Trump is a man of superlatives, it spun all the journalists into a fact-check scramble. Sure enough. Number One.

My mind had wandered, as usual. With a blink, I snapped back. This was no time for fanciful thoughts about justice.

The State Trooper pointed for me to get out of the car, then to the woody embankment 15 yards from the road. He pointed in that way that police could point but politicians are not supposed to because it sends the wrong message. Aggressive, capable of violence.

I loved it, every bit of it. Confrontation is lovely. So I strode to the cop in my white Birkenstocks and my stained white "Music for 18 Musicians" t-shirt and my white jeans, looking so much like a Millenial Big Lebowski.

The trooper had already started writing the ticket when he asked where we were going and why. His eyebrows sprouted when I told him I was a reporter for Blaze Media covering the Trump rally in Monroe, where, that very moment, Secret Service had begun letting the first round of rally-goers into the Monroe Civic Center.

"You work for Glenn Beck?" he asked. Then lowered his glasses and scoped me over again. "You're messin' with me."

At the sight of my press badge, he restrained a smile, as if fighting an eagerness to speak freely.

"I am not allowed to talk politics," he said, "being an guardian of the state and all."

Well I'd never heard anything like that and I suspected it was horseshit, so I smiled as he proceeded, unabashedly, to talk politics.
"Glennnnn-Beck," he said, ending with a "Hm." And, right on cue, "I listen to ole Glenn in the mornings, and Stu."

They're my bosses, I said. He liked that pretty well.

"You going to Shreveport too?" he asked. So I nodded and grinned and pretended to know what he was talking about. I smiled the way you smile when everyone around is speaking a language you've never heard and it's time to get going but nobody understands you.

Trump would mention Shreveport later. "I'm coming back here on Thursday, can you believe it?" he said. "I'm doing a double — I'm doing a double." Just six days after the Monroe rally, he would return to Louisiana, and so would I, this time with Jim Dale, an author and lifelong sailor.

Louisiana felt like a State Fair house-of-mirrors. Some kind of warp. Too much of yourself then none of you at all. A ghost following a helium-choked balloon. The homes seemed to rise from nothing, all shadows and grey shrub as if misshapen on purpose. And a wide shaggy green overtook the bare hills. Even the sky, the way it tilted, like a petri dish of glittery dark.

Much of America has untouched land and old-world buildings, but nowhere else I'd been left me feeling so indescribably odd. Not quite sad, but certainly not happy. Like when strangers in a dream know everything about you, and nobody acknowledges why or how.

*

The Trooper shifted in his tall shiny black boots. Was he still talking about Trump? Boy, I zoned out pretty hard. It was Wednesday and I could flip a coin for days.

"He sure has done a lot for the elections here," he concluded.

Then he gave me a rundown of the political situation in Louisiana. Explained how run-offs work, and why a Republican would be good for the roads and oceans or something, and how a majority was counted a little different in Louisiana. Something like that — I don't know. It was all so boring.

How long had we been standing there? Never in my life had I been so bored.

At the time, the big meme was "OK Boomer," which Generation Z used to disparage the Boomer Generation as part of a feud that popped up for no discernible reason, and which I hated because the joke was kind of mean and never funny yet all four generations kept repeating it and repeating it like big dumb squawking parrots. But in that moment, I understood it. And, may God forgive me, but I whispered that disrespectful phrase.

And I had to pretend to be interested, in case he got the urge to search my car. Whereupon he would find marijuana concentrate and sativa gummies. Paraphernalia. Not a ton. Not much, even. But enough. Some unopened beers, a flask. No guns, but a few knives. An ordinary amount of knives.

All of which would land me a night in the clink, no doubt.

And who had the time or the money for that. Not me, with a Trump rally to cover and a fiery career and a pregnant wife with our two dogs at home, waiting.

Then I felt rotten for getting bored while the guy was talking. The man risked his life every day just so he could protect the community. Never mind the exorbitant ticket. What was $300 when this guy risked everything every day?

You were supposed to listen to people when they trusted or admired you. To care. To give them a chance, no matter their rank or stature or political affiliation. Especially the police.

Before, in situations like these, I resorted to military-style salutes, gestures I had seen as a child in cartoons. However you were meant to signify honor. I was not a military type. But I felt a great reverence for them and their service and whatnot.

Turns out, that's not how they do it at all. The salute, the hard stomp down with the heel, the huge grunt, the serious face, the violent turns of the waist, the gibberish that sounded like military phrases.

So I didn't salute anymore, but that didn't make it any easier not to salute. Usually I boiled and boiled till all of a sudden I was shouting out a long-winded, hard-to-follow story. So I told him what it's like to work at Mercury Studios.

"We've got the Forrest Gump bench," I said. "For a while it was in the dining area and, one time, I saw an intern sitting on it, eating a burrito. We have the original Darth Vader mask, too. And Dorothy's shiny red shoes that were supposed to be silver."
His face spread in all four directions, like I was a child reciting Socrates.

"And the tree from Barney, you know, that dinosaur kids show? And JFK and Robocop and an Eric Clapton video and Guns 'N' Roses, all filmed there. And a few months ago Sean Spicer stopped by. Before all the Dancing with the Stars drama. Interesting people are constantly stopping by. Pat Boone told me that Elvis had stage fright. But, between you and me, I think Pat Boone has stage fright."

I don't care who you are, all of that is fascinating. So I yammered on about this election series and justice, ignoring the trooper's polite impatience. He'd stopped me so the least he could do was listen to my weird story.

Secretly, I wanted to rip the ticket from his gloved hand and wad it up and toss it into the grass below my feet. It was paper. I would litter. It would vanish and no harm done, anonymous among all the other garbage of Louisiana.

There are places where nothing is wasted. America is not one of them.

*

Jade slumped in the car, fidgeting. We'd never talked about it but I assumed she didn't like police all that much. I get it. Usually, when the police show up, someone's day is about to plummet. But I like them, personally. Which I made sure to tell the trooper again, as he blabbed about some recent mayoral election.

Then I laughed, because this situation had gotten pretty funny. There I was on the side of a highway named after former President Ronald Reagan, on my way to see current President Donald Trump, my hair dismantled by the violent wind of a passing semi-truck, as a Louisiana state trooper in a prim uniform gave me a civics lesson.

It was just barely November, and the cold had not descended. Not in the sunshine at least, all pale orange and soft still.

"Trump sure seems to be doing a lot of things right," said the state trooper. "Jobs, economy, all that. And as you know, he's a friend of the police."

Was that a wink? Best to wink back. WINK! A good one.

Oh great now my eye was twitching into rapidfire winks. Too many winks. Veering into sexual wink territory. Oh this will not end well. This will not end will. He will misread my winking and then what? Nothing good. But it stopped, thank God.

Then I spat out some crap about Trump and NATO, something that I'd heard someone at the studio say, something about the parameters of heroism and Milton What's-his-name.

Around us, the aroma of tree bark. Deciduous perfume. A piney landscape that rose out of mud. Forested swamp lined with rivers purging toward a fat, chubby delta. That was where freshwater meets the ocean. Or the other way around.

"Well anyway, here's your ticket, Mr. Ryan. You have a nice day." Then he, a real tough guy, smiled. That was pretty neat.

By habit, I was about to wink but stopped just in time.

Then, he paused, grabbed the ticket. Rip it, rip it, rip it. Be wild, my man. Rip. Rip.

But he just rewrote the station's telephone number, as if to say "Maybe things can change." Not justice. It could not change. Not for me, not in Louisiana. Not under God and all the angels that don't have a gender.

Plus, we all know I wasn't going to pay the ticket anyway. Better to just never return to Louisiana. Drive around it if need be. Fly over. And once the police car was out of view, I stomped on the gas pedal and we were lawless again. Like a comet, friend. A comet.

Welcome back to the election series. New installments are going to be Monday through Thursday leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

Glenn Beck: Adam Schiff is a LIAR — and we have the proof

Image source: Glenn Beck Program on BlazeTV

On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck didn't hold back when discussing the latest in a long list of lies issued by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during the Democrats' ongoing endeavor to remove President Donald Trump from office.

"I'm going to just come out and say, Adam Schiff is a liar. And he intentionally lied. And we have the proof. The media being his little lapdog, but I'll explain what's really going on, and call the man a liar to his face," Glenn asserted. "No, I'm not suggesting he's a liar. No, I'm telling you, he's a liar. ... Adam Schiff is a lying dirtbag."

A recent report in Politico claimed Schiff "mischaracterized" the content of a document sent to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as evidence against President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Read more on this here.

"Let me translate [for Politico]," Glenn said. "House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lied about a text message exchange between two players in the Ukrainian saga. And we know it, because of the documents that were obtained by Politico."

A few of the other lies on Schiff's list include his repeated false claims that there was "significant evidence of collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 presidential election, his phony version of President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine, and his retracted claim that neither he nor his committee ever had contact with the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower. And the list just keeps getting longer.

Watch the video below for more details:

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On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere discussed recent reports that former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, wasn't the only family member to capitalize on his connections to land an unbelievably lucrative job even though he lacked qualifications or experience.

According to Peter Schweizer's new book, "Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite," Joe Biden's younger brother, Frank, enjoyed the benefit of $54 million in taxpayer loans during the Obama administration to try his hand at an international development venture.

A lawyer by training, Frank Biden teamed up with a developer named Craig Williamson to build a sprawling luxury resort in Costa Rica, which claimed to be on a mission to preserve the country's forests but actually resulted in the decimation of thousands of acres of wilderness.

The then-vice president's brother also reportedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars as the front man of a for-profit charter school company called Mavericks in Education.

The charter schools, which focused on helping at-risk teens, eventually failed after allegations of mismanagement and a series of lawsuits derailed the dubious business venture.

Watch the video below to get Glenn's take on these latest revelations in the Biden family corruption saga:

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Ryan: Bernie at the disco

Photo by Sean Ryan

Saturday at El Malecón, we waited for the Democratic socialist. He had the wild white hair like a monk and the thick glasses and the booming voice full of hacks and no niceties.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The venue had been redecorated since we visited a few nights before when we chatted with Castro. It didn't even feel like the same place. No bouncy castle this time.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A black curtain blocked the stage, giving the room a much-needed depth.

Behind the podium, two rows of mostly young people, all holding Bernie signs, all so diverse and picturesque and strategic.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Lots of empty seats. Poor showing of Bernie fans for a Saturday afternoon. At one point, someone from Bernie's staff offered us seats in the audience, as if eager to fill up those seats however possible.

There were about 75 people in the dancehall, a place built for reunions and weddings and all those other festivities. But for a few hours on Saturday, August 10, 2019, it turned serious and wild for "Unidos Con Bernie."

Photo by Sean Ryan

People had been murmuring about Sanders' speech from the night before at Wing Ding. By all appearances, he had developed a raving lust to overthrow Trump. He had even promised, with his wife just out of view, that, were he elected, he'd end white nationalism in America. For good.

El Malecón lacked its previous air of celebration. It had undertaken a brooding yet defiant spirit. Media were sparse. Four cameras faced the podium. Three photographers, one of whom had been at nearly all the same events as us. A few of the staffers frowned at an empty row of chairs, because there weren't that many chairs to begin with.

At the entrance, Bernie staff handed out headsets that translated English to Spanish or Spanish to English, depending on who the speaker was. The translators stood behind the bar, 20 feet from the podium, and spoke into a lip-ribbon microphone.

Bernie's staff was probably the coolest, by far. As in, they looked cool and acted stylishly. Jeans. Sandals. Careworn blazers. Tattoos. One lad had a black Levi's shirt with lush crimson roses even though he wasn't a cowboy or a ranch-hand. Mustaches. Quirky hats. A plain green sundress. Some of them wore glasses, big clunking frames.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The outfits were distinctly Bernie. As Bernie as the tie-dyed "BERNIE" shirts for sale outside the club. Or later, at the Hilton, like a Grateful Dead cassette stand.

Immigration was the theme, and everyone in the audience bore some proof of a journey. Because America offers life, freedom, and hope.

Sanders' own father emigrated from Poland to America at 17, a high school dropout who could barely speak English. As a Jew, he'd faced religious persecution.

Within one generation, Bernie Sanders' father contributed to the highest stratum of American society. In one generation, near hopelessness had transformed into Democracy, his son a congressman with a serious chance at the presidency.

Photo by Sean Ryan

That's the beauty of America. Come here broken and empty and gutted and voiceless. And, within your lifetime, you can mend yourself then become a pillar of society. Then, your son can become the President of the United States of America!

Four people gave speeches before Sanders. They took their time, excited and nervous. They putzed. Because how often do you get to introduce a presidential frontrunner?

All the native English speakers jammed their earpieces when the woman with the kind and dark energy took the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

She mumbled in Spanish and did not look up and said that, when her parents died, she couldn't go home for the funeral. She fought back tears. She swallowed hard to shock herself calm. And the room engulfed each silence between every word.

It felt more like a therapy session than a political rally. A grueling therapy session at that. Was that what drew people to Bernie Sanders, that deep anguish? That brisk hope? Or, rather, the cessation of it, through Sanders? And, of course, the resultant freedom? Was it what gave Sanders a saintlike ability to lead people into the realm of the confessional? Did he have enough strength to lead a revolution?

Photo by Sean Ryan

While other frontrunners hocked out money for appearances, like the studio lights, Sanders spent money on translators and ear-pieces. The impression I got was that he would gladly speak anywhere. To anyone. He had the transitory energy you can capture in the writings of Gandhi.

Photo by Sean Ryan

I'm not saying he's right or wrong — I will never make that claim, about any of the candidates, because that's not the point of this, not the point of journalism, amen — what I'm saying is he has the brutal energy of someone who can take the subway after a soiree or rant about life by a tractor or chuck it up with Sarah Silverman, surrounded wherever he goes.

Without the slightest fanfare, Sanders emerged from behind the black curtain. The woman at the podium gasped a little. The room suctioned forward when he entered. In part because he was so nonchalant. And, again. That magnetism to a room when a famous or powerful or charming person enters. Not many people have it. Not many can keep it. Even fewer know how to brace it, to cull it on demand. But several of the candidates did. One or two even had something greater.

Photo by Sean Ryan

I'll only say that Bernie had it with a bohemian fervor, like he was a monk stranded in a big city that he slowly brings to God.

"We have a President who, for the first time in my lifetime, who is a President who is a racist," he shouted. "Who is a xenophobe and anti-immigrant. Who is a sexist. Who is a religious bigot. And who, is a homophobe. And, what is very disappointing is that, when we have a President, we do not necessarily expect to agree with him, or her, on every issue. But we do believe that one of the obligations is to bring people to-geth-ah. As Americans."

Photo by Sean Ryan

After listening silently for several minutes, the audience clapped. Their sweet response felt cultish. But, then again, what doesn't feel cultish these days? So this was cultish like memes are cultish, in a striving-to-understand kind of way.

"The essence of our campaign is in fact to bring people together," he said. "Whether they're black, or white, or latino, or Native American, or Asian-American. We understand that we are Americans."

At times, this meant sharing a common humanity. Others, it had a slightly more disruptive feel. Which worked. Sometimes all we want is revolution. To be wild without recourse. To overthrow. To pass through the constraints of each day. To survive. The kind of rowdy stuff that makes for good poetry but destroys credit lines. Sanders radiated with this intensity, like a reclusive philosopher returning to society, from his cave to homes and beds and fences and maybe electricity.

Photo by Sean Ryan

But, as he says, his revolution would involve healthcare and wages and tuition, not beheadings and purges and starvation.

Seeing the Presidential candidates improvise was amazing. They did it constantly. They would turn any of their beliefs into a universal statement. And Sanders did this without trying. So he avoided doing the unbearably arrogant thing of pretending to speak like a native Guatemalan, and he looked at the group of people, and he mumbled in his cloudy accent:

"My Spanish — is not so good."

Photo by Sean Ryan

This is the same and the opposite of President Trump's Everyman way of speaking English like an American. Of speaking American.

Often, you know what Sanders will say next. You can feel it. And, anytime this happened, it brought comfort to the room.

Like, it surprised no one when he said that he would reinstate DACA on his first day in office. It still drew applause.

But other times, he expressed wild ideas with poetic clarity. And his conclusions arrived at unusual junctures. Not just in comparison to Republicans. To all of them. Bernie was the Tupac of the 2020 election. And, to him, President Trump was Suge Knight, the evil force behind it all.

"Donald Trump is an idiot," he shouted.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Everybody loved that. Everybody clapped and whooped and some even whistled like they were outside and not in a linoleum-floor dancehall.

"Go get 'em, Bernie," someone in the back shouted.

This was the only Sanders appearance with no protestors.

"Let me say this about the border," he shouted. And everybody listened to every thunking syllable. He probably could have spoken without a mic. Booming voice. Loud and clear. Huddling into that heavy Vermont slug accent.

They'll say many many things about Bernie. One being, you never had to lean forward to hear him. In person, even more so. He's less frail. More dynamic.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Despite the shoddiness of the venue, there was a sign language interpreter. Most of the rallies had a designated interpreter.

"If you work 40 hours a week you shouldn't be living in poverty," he shouted, provoking chants and applause from the audience, as if he were talking about them. Maybe he was.

An anecdote about the people at an emergency food shelf blended into the livable wage of $15 an hour. He shifted into his spiel about tuition-free college and pointed at the audience, "You're not doing well," then at the kids behind him, "they are." He craned his head sideways and back. "Do your homework," he told said.

Laughter.

Half of the kids looked like they hadn't eaten in days. Maybe it was their unusual situation, a few feet from Bernie Sanders at a stucco community center.

Before the room could settle, Sanders wove through a plan for how to cancel debt.

Did he have a solution?

Tax Wall Street, he shouted.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And he made it sound easy. "Uno dos trey," he said. "That's my Spanish for today."

A serious man, he shoved through his speech like a tank hurtling into dense jungle. He avoided many of the typical politician gimmicks. Proof that he did not practice every expression in front of a mirror. That he did not hide his accent. That he did not preen his hair. That he did not smile for a precise amount of time, depending on the audience. That he did not pretend to laugh.

Photo by Sean Ryan

He laughed when humor overtook him. But it was genuine. With none of the throaty recoil you hear in forced laughter.

"I want everyone to take a deep breath," he said. And a palpable lightness spread through the room, because a deep breath can solve a lot of problems.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then he roused some more. "Healthcare is a human right," he shouted. "A human privilege," he shouted. He told them that he lives 50 miles from the Canadian border in Burlington, Vermont, and healthcare works better up north.

Each candidate had a bad word, and Sanders' was "corporate."

Photo by Sean Ryan

At every speech, he mentioned "corporate media" with the same distrust and unpleasantness that conservatives derive from the term "mainstream media." Another would be "fake news," as popularized by Sanders' sworn enemy. Either way it's the same media. Just different motivations that irk different people.

But the discrepancies varied. Meaning two opposing political movements disliked the same thing, but for opposite reasons.
It sounded odd, Sanders' accusation that the media were against him. The media love Bernie. I can confirm this both anecdotally and judiciously. Yes, okay, in 2016, the media appeared to have sided with Hillary Clinton. As a result, Sanders was publicly humiliated. Because Clinton took a mafioso approach to dealing with opponents, and Sanders was her only roadblock.

Imagine if a major political organization devoted part of each day to agitating your downfall. And then you fail. And who's fault is it?

Sanders wanted to know: those negative ads targeting him, who paid for them?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Corporations, of course. Corporations that hated radicals like him. And really was he so radical? He listed off the possibilities: Big pharma, insurance companies, oil companies.

Because he had become a revolutionary, to them. To many.

He said it with certainty, although he often didn't have to say it at all. This spirit of rebellion had become his brand. He would lead the wild Americans into a utopia.

But just as quickly, he would attack. Trump, as always, was the target.

He called Trump the worst president in American history.

"The fates are Yuge," he shouted.

The speech ended as informally as it had begun. And Sanders' trance over the audience evaporated, replaced by that suction energy. Everyone rushed closer and closer to the man as Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin in the Free World" blared. Sanders leaned into the podium and said, "If anyone wants to form a line, we can do some selfies."

Photo by Sean Ryan

It was like meeting Jesus for some of the people.

There he was, at El Malecón. No stage lights, no makeup, no stylist behind the curtain. Just him and his ideas and his erratic hand commotion.

Then a man holding a baby leaned in for a photo. He and Sanders chatted. And, I kid you not, the whole time the baby is staring at Bernie Sanders like he's the image of God, looking right up at him, with this glow, this understanding.

Bernie, if you're reading this, I'd like to suggest that — if this election doesn't work for you — you could be the next Pope.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Monday, Harvard Law professor and lawyer on President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team Alan Dershowitz explains the history of impeachment and its process, why the framers did not include abuse of power as criteria for a Constitutional impeachment, why the Democrats are framing their case the way they are, and what to look for in the upcoming Senate trial.

Dershowitz argued that "abuse of power" -- one of two articles of impeachment against Trump approved by House Democrats last month -- is not an impeachable act.

"There are two articles of impeachment. The second is 'obstruction of Congress.' That's just a false accusation," said Dershowitz. "But they also charge him, in the Ukraine matter, with abuse of power. But abuse of power was discussed by the framers (of the U.S. Constitution) ... the framers refused to include abuse of power because it was too broad, too open-ended.

"In the words of James Madison, the father of our Constitution, it would lead presidents to serve at the will of Congress. And that's exactly what the framers didn't want, which is why they were very specific and said a president can be impeached only for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," he added.

"What's alleged against President Trump is not criminal," added Dershowitz. "If they had criminal issues to allege, you can be sure they would have done it. If they could establish bribery or treason, they would have done it already. But they didn't do it. They instead used this concept of abuse of power, which is so broad and general ... any president could be charged with it."

Watch the video below to hear more details:



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