List of Obama's Czars

As of July 20, 2009:

• The Brainroom counts 32 czars in the Obama administration, based on media reports from reputable sources that have identified the official in question as a czar.


• In addition, President Obama has said that he will create the position of cyber czar, and there have been media reports that there could be a health insurance czar and a copyright czar. When and if those positions are filled, that would bring the total to 35.


• Since czar isn't an official job title, the number is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.

NOTE: positions that also existed under previous administrations are indicated with an *.

1. Afghanistan Czar - Richard Holbrooke

Title: Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Appointed: January 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Will work with CENTCOM head Gen. David Petraeus to integrate U.S. civilian and military efforts in the region.


• 45 years of experience have made him a fixture of the Democrats' foreign policy establishment.


• Was U.S. ambassador to U.N., 1999-2001


• Brokered the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia


• Also served as Assistant secretary of state, East Asia and the Pacific (1976 to 1980); worked in foreign service (1962 to 1976)


• From 1972 through 1976, was the editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

2. AIDS Czar * - Jeffrey Crowley

Title: Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy


Salary: $102,000


Reports to: President Obama (as part of the Executive Office of the President’s Domestic Policy Council)


Appointed: February 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Coordinates HIV/AIDS policy domestically and internationally.


• Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute and a Senior Scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center.


• Was Deputy Executive Director for Programs at the National Association of People with AIDS


• Has Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health

3. Auto Recovery Czar - Ed Montgomery

Title: Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Larry Summers, the president's top economic adviser, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis


Appointed: March 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Labor

• Will work to leverage government resources to support the workers, communities and regions that rely on the American auto industry.


• Was Deputy Secretary and Chief Economist at the Labor Department (1997 to 1998)


• Is Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland (2003 to present)


• Has PhD in economics from Harvard


• In 2008, made $1,200 in political donations, all of which went to Obama’s presidential campaign.


• Wife is the granddaughter of a General Motors worker from Portland, Mich.


• Drives a 2000 Lincoln

4. Border Czar * - Alan Bersin

Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano


Appointed: April 2009


Agencies that might have handled similar issues: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

• Will coordinate all of the department's border security and law-enforcement efforts.


• Essentially had the same job under President Clinton; served as Attorney General Janet Reno's special representative on border issues, a job that he held while retaining the position of U.S. attorney for San Diego.


• This time, boss will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who will expect him to handle illegal immigration and drug violence issues along the Mexican-American border


• Previous experience: Chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority (2006 to 2009); Secretary of Education for California (2005 to 2006); Superintendent of San Diego Public Schools (1998 to 2005); U.S. Attorney for San Diego (1993 to 1998)


• Graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School


• Talking about border security shortly before he was named Clinton border czar in 1995, said he wanted to focus on suspected smugglers of both drugs and people and was not interested in prosecuting “economic migrants.”


• Often tied to the 1994 border policy called “Operation Gatekeeper.” The policy shifted the U.S. focus from the arresting of immigrants who actually crossed the border to an increased border presence designed to stop border crossing in the first place. When Bersin left the position in 1998, border arrests were on pace for an 18-year low of just more than 200,000. Latino groups complained that Operation Gatekeeper was immoral, saying the program monitored the border near San Diego but simply forced illegal immigrants to other, more dangerous areas.


• Has given more than $50,000 to political campaigns since 1999, almost all of it to Democrats.

5. California Water Czar - David J. Hayes

Title: Deputy Interior Secretary


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar


Appointed: June 2009


Confirmed by Senate (as Deputy Interior Security): May 20, 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Interior

• Charged with coordinating federal agencies to ease California's water shortage


• Graduate of Stanford Law School; clerked for U.S. District Court for the D.C., has been a partner at two big D.C. law firms


• Was deputy interior secretary under Bruce Babbitt during Clinton administration


• From 1993 to 1995, was chairman of the board at the Environmental Law Institute, a non-profit research center.


• As a lobbyist, represented the Southern California Metropolitan Water District in 2001


• In August 2008, wrote a policy report while working at the Progressive Policy Institute accusing the Bush administration of leaving a “damaging legacy” in their natural resource management policies


• Donated $2,300 to Clinton during 2008 campaign; after she withdrew, donated $2,300 to Obama

6. Car Czar - Ron Bloom

NOTE: on July 13, 2009, Bloom took over as head of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, replacing Steven Rattner

Title: Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council head Larry Summers


Appointed: July 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• A leader of the White House task force overseeing auto company bailouts; worked on restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler LLC.


• Was special assistant to president of the United Steelworkers union from 1996-Feb 2009


• Has negotiated restructuring deals for more than 50 companies, getting major concessions from unions and companies.


• Was raised in New York in a pro-union family, which included a schoolteacher mother and unionized relatives.


• After working for the Service Employees International Union, got an MBA from Harvard University because he thought unions lacked business smarts, he said in a 1996 interview in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


• From 1985 to 1990, he worked as an investment banker with Lazard Freres & Co., which specializes in mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring, before co-founding the investment-banking firm Keilin and Bloom.

7. Central Region Czar - Dennis Ross




Title: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region (encompasses the Middle East, the Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia)


Salary: unknown


Reports to: National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones


Appointed: June 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Spent 12 years in the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations trying to create a permanent agreement between the governments of Israel and the Palestinian territories


• In 1981, was named to President Ronald Reagan’s national security staff as the director of Near East and South Asian Affairs.


• Was director of the State Department’s Policy Planning office during President George H. W. Bush’s term.


• 1993: appointed to the position of Middle East coordinator, making him the top negotiator for peace between Israel and Palestinian territories


• After he left government in 2000, headed up Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish think tank with a pro-Israeli bent

8. Climate Czar - Todd Stern

Title: Special Envoy for Climate Change


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Appointed: January 2009


Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency; State

• Responsible for developing international approaches to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.


• Served in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1999; Was Head of the Initiative on Global Climate Change (1997 to 1999) and Adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury (1999 to 2001)


• As a top aide to President Clinton, helped negotiate the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate pacts, both of which fell apart partially because of a lack of U.S. support during Bush administration.


• After Bush was elected to office, went to the Wilmer Hale law firm, where he is a partner in the regulatory and government affairs division.


• Was most recently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focused on climate change and environmental issues.


• Has written extensively on climate change, and has called on the American government and the international community to take a series of steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.


• Supports a national cap-and-trade system that would limit carbon emissions and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil


• Has law degree from Harvard

9. Domestic Violence Czar - Lynn Rosenthal

Title: White House adviser on Violence Against Women


Salary: unknown


Reports to: President Obama and Vice President Biden


Appointed: June 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Will advise the President and Vice President on domestic violence and sexual assault issues.


• 2000-2006: served as the Executive Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence


• Was an advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2000 and 2005 and has assisted states and local communities with implementation of this federal legislation


• Was director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence

10. Drug Czar * - Gil Kerlikowske

Title: Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy


Salary: unknown


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: March 2009


Confirmed by Senate: May 7, 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Justice

• Directs drug-control policy in the U.S.; is expected to shift drug policy to intervention, treatment and a reduction of problem drug use.


• Was police chief for the city of Seattle from 2000-2009


• Was Deputy Director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (1998 to 2000); Police Chief for the city of Buffalo (1994 to 1998); Police chief of Fort Pierce, Fla. (N/A to 1994)


• A strong gun-control advocate, urged both the Washington legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass an assault-weapons ban and has worked to close the loophole that doesn't require background checks at gun shows


• 2003: admitted that busting people for personal marijuana possession was not a top priority of the Seattle police department.


• As Seattle police chief, assigned an officer full-time to the drug court, which commuted sentences of drug users who complete medical treatment in lieu of going to jail.

11. Economic Czar * - Paul Volcker

Title: Chairman of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board


Salary: Volcker reportedly isn't paid for his advice.


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: January 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Charged with offering independent, nonpartisan information, analysis, and advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery.


• Some reports say he's been marginalized by Larry Summers.


• Former Federal Reserve chairman (1979-1987)


• Was Undersecretary for Monetary Affairs, Department of the Treasury (1969 to 1974); Deputy Undersecretary for Monetary Affairs, Department of the Treasury (1963 to 1965)


• Gave Obama campaign $2,300 in 2008.

12. Energy and Environment Czar - Carol Browner

Title: Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change


Salary: $172,200


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: January 2009


Agency that might have handled similar issues: EPA

• Coordinates energy and climate policy, emphasizing regulation and conservation.


• Was Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Clinton administration (1993-2000)


• Was Florida Secretary of the Environment (1991 to 1993)


• Founded and continues to serve as a principal of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Also a principal of Albright Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that concentrates on emerging markets.


• Worked on the Socialist International's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which argues that the global community must work collectively to address environmental policies


• Described Bush administration as the "worst environmental administration ever"


• While orchestrating private discussions between the White House and auto industry officials on vehicle fuel efficiency standards, kept the talks as quiet as possible. Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, said, "We put nothing in writing, ever."


• 2003: A federal judge held the Environmental Protection Agency in contempt for destroying computer files during the Clinton administration that had been sought by a conservative legal foundation. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth also ordered the EPA to pay the Landmark Legal Foundation's legal fees and costs because the agency disobeyed his order to preserve the electronic records of Browner, the former EPA chief.

13. Faith-Based Czar * - Joshua DuBois

Title: Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships


Salary: $98,000


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: February 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Acts as a liaison between faith and secular community groups and the White House, often partnering with them to tackle social issues. Helps these groups apply for federal grants available to them.


• Is 26 years old


• Has master’s in public affairs from Princeton University; served as associate pastor


• Worked for Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) as an intern and then as a fellow for Rep. Charles B. Rangel (DN. Y.).


• Hired as a legislative correspondent in Obama’s Senate office in May 2005


• In 2008, at the age of 25, was appointed director of religious affairs for the Obama campaign.

14. Government Performance Czar - Jeffrey Zients

Title: Chief Performance Officer


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag


Appointed: April 2009


Confirmed by the Senate (as deputy director for management for the OMB): June 19, 2009


Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Charged with cutting costs and finding best practices throughout government.


• Has never worked in government before


• Was a chief executive and former management consultant


• Was founder of Portfolio Logic (2004 to present); Partner of the Washington Baseball Club (2004 to 2006); CEO of the Advisory Board (1998 to 2004)


• Has donated just over $90,000 to political campaigns since 1999, almost all of which went to Democratic candidates

15. Great Lakes Czar - Cameron Davis

Title: Special advisor to the U.S. EPA overseeing its Great Lakes restoration plan


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson


Appointed: June 2009


Agency that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency

• Oversees the administration's initiative to restore the Great Lakes' environment.


• President of the Chicago-based environmentalist group Alliance for the Great Lakes


• Was a litigating attorney and served as an adjunct clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.


• Served with the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya, where he worked on the Montreal Protocol to protect the Earth’s ozone layer, and U.S. EPA’s Office of Regional Counsel in Chicago.

16. Green Jobs Czar - Van Jones

Title: Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Head of Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley


Appointed: March 2009


Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency; Labor

• Will focus on environmentally-friendly employment within the administration and boost support for the idea nationwide


• Rose from near obscurity in the Oakland, Calif., grassroots organizing scene to the leader of a national movement to spur the green economy.


• Founded Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas


• Also co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, which includes Bay Area PoliceWatch, a group devoted to "protect[ing] the community from police misconduct"


• Published New York Times best-seller The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, in October 2008


• Started career as a prison-reform advocate in Oakland, Calif., lobbying for reform of the juvenile justice system and youth-violence prevention programs


• Has law degree from Yale


• 2007: worked on the Green Jobs Act with then-Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the bill in the House


• 1993: was arrested at the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of cops in the Rodney King beating. "I was arrested simply for being a police observer," says Jones, who had just graduated from Yale Law School and was working with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco.


• 1999: was arrested in the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization


• Excerpt from a Nov. 2005 interview in the East Bay Express:


Jones had planned to move to Washington, DC, and had already landed a job and an apartment there. But in jail, he said, "I met all these young radical people of color -- I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.'" Although he already had a plane ticket, he decided to stay in San Francisco. "I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary." In the months that followed, he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist." In 1994, the young activists formed a socialist collective, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, which held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin and dreamed of a multiracial socialist utopia. They protested police brutality and got arrested for crashing through police barricades. In 1996, Jones decided to launch his own operation, which he named the Ella Baker Center after an unsung hero of the civil-rights movement.

17. Guantanamo Closure Czar - Daniel Fried

Title: Special envoy to oversee the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton


Appointed: March 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Justice; State

• Works to get help of foreign governments in moving toward closure of Guantanamo Bay, in fulfillment of Obama's promise to close the prison within a year of taking office.


• Was Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, State Department (2005 to 2009); Director for European and Eurasian Affairs, State Department (2001 to 2005); U.S. Ambassador to Poland (1997 to 2001)

18. Health Czar * - Nancy-Ann DeParle

Title: Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform


Salary: $158,500


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: March 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services (HHS)

• Coordinates the development of the Administration's healthcare policy agenda.


• Experience: Managing Director, CCMP Capital (since 2001); Adjunct professor (focusing on healthcare policy), Wharton School of Business (since 2001); Commissioner, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (since 2001); Fellow, Harvard Institue of Politics (2000 to 2001); Director, Healthcare Financing Administration (1997 to 2000)


• Has law degree from Harvard


• Served as the OMB’s representative on health-care reform during Bill Clinton’s first term


• As head of the HHS Health Care Financing Administration under Clinton, ran the largest health insurance provider in America, overseeing $600 billion in payments annually to 74 million recipients of Medicare and Medicaid


• 2001: left government to take a year-long fellowship at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, where she was part of Harvard’s Health Care Policy Forum and led a weekly study group on reforming Medicare.


• During Bush administration, sat on the boards of many health companies, from medical treatment producers to hospital systems


• In September 2008, donated $2,300 each to Clinton and Barack Obama.

19. Information Czar - Vivek Kundra

Title: Federal Chief Information Officer


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag


Appointed: March 2009


Agencies that might have handled similar issues: other federal agency CIOs

• Basically in charge of overseeing other federal agency CIOs and for setting technology policy across the government.


• Head of a federal technology budget that amounts to $71 billion annually


• Operation is housed in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and will likely have authority to question how money in departmental technology budgets is used


• Formerly head of the District of Columbia's technology operations


• Shortly after he joined the OMB, federal authorities raided his old District government office. They arrested two technology office managers and a subcontractor, charging them with a bribery scheme that allegedly defrauded the city out of at least $500,000. Kundra was not a suspect in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.


• Has a masters from Maryland in information technology.


• Experience: Washington, D.C. Chief Technology Officer (2007 to 2009); State of Virginia's Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade (2006 to 2007); CEO of computer security firm Creostar

20. Intelligence Czar * - Dennis Blair




Title: Director of National Intelligence


Salary: $197,700


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: January 2009


Confirmed by Senate: January 28, 2009


Agency that might have handled similar issues: CIA

• Nation’s top intelligence official.


• Retired four-star admiral.


• Graduate of the United States Naval Academy, 1968; sixth-generation naval officer


• Lacks professional roots in the world of intelligence


• Held a number of prestigious Washington posts, including the Pentagon’s top liaison to the CIA and director of the Joint Staff.


• Ran the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which focuses primarily on issues related to national security, and does a lot of work for the Defense Department. Left IDA under a cloud of controversy in mid-2006.

21. Mideast Peace Czar - George Mitchell




Title: Special Envoy for Middle East Peace


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton


Appointed: January 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Works to maintain the shaky peace between Israel and Hamas after recent hostilities


• Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1994


• Was special envoy to Northern Ireland during the Clinton administration and lead investigator into steroid use in Major League Baseball.


• 2000: led a fact-finding committee to study violence in the Middle East; 2001's Mitchell Report formed the basis for the road map for Middle East peace

22. Pay Czar - Kenneth R. Feinberg

Title: Special Master on executive pay


Salary: reportedly receiving no compensation for his work.


Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner


Appointed: June 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Named to examine compensation practices at companies that have been bailed out more than once by the federal government


• Oversaw the payouts to the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks


• Was the chief administrator to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which commemorates the students who died in the April 2007 shooting rampage at Virginia Tech


• Founder and managing partner of Feinberg Rozen LLP (1992 to present), law firm specializing in mediation


• Was Chief of staff for Sen. Edward Kennedy (1978 to 1980)


• While working with the Feinberg Group, donated over $150,000, nearly all of which has gone to Democratic candidates and political action committees. In 2007, donated $2,300 to 2008 presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani (R).

23. Regulatory Czar - Cass R. Sunstein *




Title: Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Office of Management and Budget head Peter Orszag


Appointed: January 2009


Nomination was sent to Senate on April 20, 2009 - no action yet taken


Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Will be responsible for reviewing draft regulations and assessing their costs and benefits


• Is a Harvard Law School professor; prior to that, was a professor at the Univ. of Chicago Law School (1981-2008)


• Academic specialties: constitutional law, administrative law, and regulatory policy


• Obama: "Cass is not only a valued advisor, he is a dear friend"


• Known for advancing a field called "law and behavioral economics" that seeks to shape law and policy around the way research shows people actually behave; though embraced by conservatives, critics say it fails to account for the sometimes less-than-rational aspects of human behavior.


• In his 2002 book, Republic.com, discussed the drawbacks of limitless choices on the Internet that allow people to seek out only like-minded people and opinions that merely fortify their own views; he talked about the idea of the government requiring sites to link to opposing views. He later came to realize it was a "bad idea."


• In his 2004 book, Animal Rights, suggested that animals ought to be able to bring suit, with private citizens acting as their representatives, to ensure that animals are not treated in a way that violates current law.


• In a 2007 speech at Harvard he called for banning hunting in the U.S.


• The American Conservative Union started a website, Stop Sunstein, in an effort to keep him out of the White House.

24. Science Czar - John Holdren




Title: Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology


Salary: unknown


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: December 2008


Confirmed by Senate: March 19, 2009


Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Energy

• Top adviser to Obama on science and technology, issues that are increasingly relevant to other issues such as homeland security, energy and environmentalism


• Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1996-2009); Harvard University Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy (1996-2009); University of California, Berkeley Professor of Energy and Resources Emeritus (1996 to present)


• Studied aerospace engineering and plasma physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where he earned his BS and MS — and Stanford University, where he received his doctorate in 1970


• Is an outspoken advocate of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and believes the United States should sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.


• In a 2008 New York Times op-ed, Holdren called climate change skeptics “dangerous” members of a “denier fringe.”


• In 1971, co-authored a paper in Global Ecology suggesting "some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century."


• Some conservative media outlets have called attention to a book Holdren co-authored in 1977 titled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment. The book reportedly includes this statement: "population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution." Holdren's office says he "does not now and never has been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive measures to limit fertility."

25. Stimulus Accountability Czar - Earl Devaney

Title: Chair of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Vice President Biden


Appointed: February 2009


Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Leads oversight board that monitors money spent by the stimulus package


• Experience: Inspector General at the Interior Department (1999 to present); Director of criminal enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency (1991 to 1999); Special Agent at the Secret Service (1970 to 1991)


• During his tenure at Interior, uncovered the shady dealings of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, an investigation that eventually led to Abramoff's imprisonment and the resignation of Interior's no. 2, J. Steven Griles, for lying under oath about his own role in the scandal.


• On July 8, 2009, the U.S. General Services Administration issued a press release announcing an $18 million contract for a new recovery.gov web site, which quoted Devaney as saying, “We are pleased that another major milestone has been achieved."

26. Sudan Czar - J. Scott Gration




Title: Special Envoy to Sudan


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Appointed: March 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Will coordinate U.S. role in the aftermath of the genocide in Darfur


• Experience: Supreme Allied Command, NATO (2004 to 2005); Air Force assistant deputy undersecretary for international affairs (2003 to 2004)


• Commanded all air operations during the Iraq war in 2003


• 2006: left Air Force position to join Obama’s staff after traveling to Africa with the then-Senator from Illinois, even though he was a Republican


• Has won a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a Defense Superior Service Medal and 16 other awards


• Is a fluent Swahili speaker who grew up in the Congo


• Has called on the Obama administration to incentivize participation by the Sudanese government in peace talks by lifting sanctions, a position that is controversial. Also worked to position himself as the principal negotiator between the Sudanese government and its adversaries in Darfur, and is planning an international conference for September 2009


• Has M.A. in security studies from Georgetown

27. TARP Czar - Herb Allison

Title: Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner


Appointed: June 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Leads the government's $700 billion financial rescue program in the office of financial stability


• Veteran Wall Street banker and interim head of the mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae


• Worked at Merrill Lynch for 28 years, reaching position of president and COO


• Was CEO of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund (2002 to 2008); CEO of the Alliance for Lifelong Learning (2000 to 2002)


• Has undergraduate degree from Yale and MBA from Stanford


• 2000: was John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign finance chairman


• In 2008, donated $2,300 to Obama's presidential campaign

28. Technology Czar - Aneesh Chopra




Title: Chief Technology Officer


Salary: unknown


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: April 2009


Confirmed by Senate: May 21, 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Commerce

• Will lead in the effort to eliminate wasteful government programs


• Will probably work to increase broadband access nationwide and computerize medical records


• Was Virginia’s secretary of technology (2005-2009)


• Has degree in public health from Johns Hopkins, Master's from Harvard in public policy


• Worked at Morgan Stanley as investment banker; also worked at Advisory Board, a health-care research and consultancy firm


• Has donated more than $24,000 since 1997 to various campaigns. With the exception of a $1,000 donation to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in 2004, all of Chopra’s contributions have gone to Democrats. From 2007 to 2008, Chopra donated $2,750 to Obama’s presidential campaign.

29. Terrorism Czar - John Brennan

Title: Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism


Salary: $172,200


Reports to: National Security Adviser James L. Jones


Appointed: January 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Homeland Security

• Under Obama's plan the homeland security adviser’s office would be eliminated, and the National Security Council would take over those duties. Brennan would be responsible for guarding against natural disasters and terrorism.


• Has called for increased integration between the Departments of Commerce, State and Defense


• Graduated from Fordham University in 1977 after a year of intensive Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in Cairo. Earned his J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin before joining the CIA as an intelligence director in 1980.


• Is a CIA veteran and fluent Arabic speaker


• Was CIA deputy executive director (2001 to 2003) and National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chair (2004 to 2005)


• Worked at Analysis Corp, (2005 to 2008);


• Staunch supporter of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Program; defended the use of extraordinary rendition, saying it is “an absolutely vital tool.”

30. Urban Affairs Czar - Adolfo Carrion Jr.

Title: White House Director of Urban Affairs


Salary: $158,500


Reports to: President Obama


Appointed: February 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Housing and Urban Development

• Job entails coordinating transportation and housing initiatives, as well as serving as a conduit for federal aid to economically hard-hit cities.


• Has undergraduate degree in world religions from Kings College; became an associate pastor at a Bronx church; earned his master’s degree in urban planning from Hunter College


• Was Bronx Borough President (2001-2009); President of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (since 2007); City Council member (1998 to 2000)


• Many reporters say he has higher ambitions and will probably run for New York City mayor in the next ten years.


• Was an active campaigner for Obama, travelling across the country to speak on his behalf. He focused particularly on states with large Hispanic populations.


• The NY Daily News reported numerous developers made tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to Carrión around the same time he was considering approving their projects in the Bronx.

31. Weapons Czar - Ashton Carter




Title: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics


Salary: unknown


Reports to: Defense Secretary Robert Gates


Appointed: April 2009


Confirmed by Senate: April 23, 2009


Department that might have handled similar issues: Defense

• Will coordinate the Pentagon's acquisitions, technology and logistics for weapons.


• Will oversee a weapons-buying system that Obama has placed at the top of his list of federal programs he wants to fix and will be asked to quickly weigh in on difficult decisions concerning at least 10 major defense programs, while also instantly dissecting the procurement system’s ailments so he can advise the administration on its Pentagon acquisition reform agenda


• Is a physicist and Harvard academic whose only previous Pentagon stint was in a mid-level policy post from 1993 until 1996 under the Clinton administration


• Graduated from Yale summa cum laude; studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and earned a doctorate in theoretical physics.


• Chair of Harvard’s International Relations, Science & Security Area International Security Program within the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (1993 to 1996); Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School (early 1990s)


• Has donated primarily to Democratic politicians since 2000. He donated $6,900 to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2007 and 2008. He gave the same amount to then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during that same span.

32. WMD Policy Czar - Gary Samore




Title: White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control


Salary: unknown


Reports to: National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones


Appointed: January 2009


Department or agency that might have handled similar issues: NSC; Defense; State

• Will coordinate issues related to weapons of mass destruction across the government. His portfolio includes proliferation, nuclear and conventional arms control, threat reduction, and terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.


• Position sits within the National Security Council.


• Is a veteran arms control negotiator.


• B.A. in sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his PhD in government from Harvard University in 1984.


• After brief stints with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the RAND Corporation, joined the State Department during the Reagan administration in 1987. Held several positions there, including director of the Office of Regional Non-proliferation Affairs; special assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Energy Policy; and deputy to Ambassador-at-Large for Korean Affairs Robert Gallucci. Helped to negotiate the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Framework Treaty


• Joined the Clinton administration’s National Security Council in 1995 as an adviser on nonproliferation. Coordinated U.S. policy on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.


• Was Director, Council on Foreign Relations (2006 to 2009); Vice President for Global Security and Sustainability, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2005); Researcher, International Institute of Strategic Studies (2001 to 2005)

Ever since Mia Love lost her seat to Ben McAdams in Utah's 4th congressional district, Republicans have been wondering who would be the person to step-up and take back the seat.

I bet you nobody saw this guy coming. And that's just the way he likes it.

When I got the call from a friend of mine who was tapped to be Burgess Owens Communications director, I was excited and couldn't wait to visit with him. Owens hadn't even announced yet and as a long-time listener of Glenn, I've heard Burgess in his many interviews and thought I knew what I was in for. But as I made the winding drive up the mountain at sunset over the south end of Salt Lake valley, there was one thought that wouldn't get out of my head — why would he want to get into politics?

I've heard many answers to this question and rarely do I believe their canned responses, but his answer rang true to me.

"I've never thought about it. It's been brought up a few times over the years but it never crossed my mind. I'd never seen politics as the answer," Owens said. "I started a nonprofit called Second Chance 4 Youth and the mission is to help kids stay out of the juvenile system. If we don't win back the house, keep the senate and the presidency, those kids don't have a ghost of a chance to make it. Because the leftists will continue the process to do what they've done in the past."

Over the course of our conversation, he was very passionate about the black community but his call to serve isn't about race or one community over the other.

It's the marxists and socialists that have destroyed my community and they're now trying to do the same thing to our country.

"This isn't a black or white issue, it's ideology. It's the marxists and socialists that have destroyed my community and they're now trying to do the same thing to our country," Owens said.

"If we don't keep power away from these leftists, it doesn't matter what I'm doing with these kids, it's just a pebble in a big ocean. But if I'm able to be in a position to not only empower our party, but empower our president who is actually one of the best friends the black community has ever had, hopefully I can be a part of making lasting change for these kids."

I've had the opportunity to interview quite a few politicians over the years and I can count on one hand the number I can stand and the number drops off greatly when I get to the ones I feel like I can actually trust. But this message strikes deep at the core of what the real problem facing our nation and his solutions are simple and make sense.

It is a 4 pronged approach: Head, heart, hands and home. Education, God, industry and family.

"It's simple, something we can teach our kids without debate. Every policy will be tied to this message. You take those things away and you get what have now. No hope, no education, no dreaming, anger and no belief in God."

Growing up in the deep south in the 50's and 60's, there was chaos all around. It was the height of Jim Crow laws and integration of the school systems and Burgess lived the real life scenario portrayed in Remember the Titans as one of four black football players on his team. But despite the hate and bigotry surrounding him, his black community was strong, patriotic and loved the country. He believes the four tenants listed above are the foundation that made that possible and they are what can bring our country back from the brink.

The only thing that rivaled his passion for our country and the solutions to fix it, was his unbridled support for President Trump. Many believe Mia Love lost her seat because of her spat with the President, but his support is no political stunt. He flat out loves the guy — warts and all.

"Anyone who has had a family or heritage that's gone through unfairness or persecution where you've seen the type of carnage we have in the black community then you have somebody come on board and for the first time in the history say this is what I'm going to do to resolve the misery and issues in the black community and then does it — personally, I don't care how he speaks," Owens said.

It comes to a point where we have to decide if our feelings are more important or the lives of other people.

"If people are living their lives with hope again, with vision, we should all be on board with that. It comes to a point where we have to decide if our feelings are more important or the lives of other people. President Trump has been the greatest friend the black community has ever had, President Obama was the worst. The black guy who was articulate and spoke so well, but he brought so much misery to our race. Who would I choose, someone of my same race who is terrible or someone of another race but gets results? I'm all about results. I don't put any distance between myself and President Trump."

As the conversation moved along, I had to ask Glenn's favorite question — what's the state of his soul?

"As I think about my approach as candidate and getting into politics, it has never been attractive to me, the power and prestige, all the stuff that goes along with it," Owens said.

I've heard that one before too. But it's what he said next that made me believe him.

"As a football player, I know what it is to be the center of attention and I also know how pride steps in, because I've experienced it. I'm at a point in my life now, where there are three things that are most important: God, country and family. If it's not embracing those, I don't have time for it now. The family unit has been put into place by divine law. Heavenly Father has a plan for the family, he put it in place so we can be happy and produce and nothing we do can change that," Owens said.

He also said "now is not the time to be squeamish about God" and putting Him first is the "key to becoming who we were meant to be." It was his closing statement that should speak to the souls of patriotic Americans of any creed or color: "When America wakes up, we win."

Have you had enough winning yet?

A whale in a raincoat turns to a starfish.

“Why do you need a raincoat when we're surrounded by water?" asks the starfish.

The whale laughs, “Water? I don't see any water."

We are the starfish in this situation. There's something suspicious happening. We can sense it. But it's often hard to prove. The media tells us that we're delusional. That all this Ukraine business is a conspiracy theory.

Only it's not.

And we have proof.

Something wasn't right. Something smelled fishy.

I was talking about Biden's shady connection to Ukraine months before anyone else. (Perhaps you watched our candidate profile on Joe Biden from April of this year.)

My team and I knew, even then, that something wasn't right. Something smelled fishy.

Then we discovered the truth. We couldn't believe it. The evidence kept piling on. And, thanks to cavalier journalists like John Solomon at the Hill, many of the documents and recordings and videos rose to the surface.

Yet, for the most part, the media ignored this glaring story, a story full of shady dealings and deep corruption, corruption that went all the way to the Oval Office. So why weren't the media leaping to cover it? Why were journalists so focused on Biden's creepy issues with personal space, and not the unexplained loss of $1.3 billion? That's roughly the GDP of Gambia.

amp only placement

We made it our mission to expose the truth.

When the news broke about the Trump impeachment, we were ready. Here I am in September, explaining the Ukraine scandal:

The misdeeds that took place with Ukraine are far more serious than one of Trump's phone calls. This runs deep.

If there's any semblance of justice left, this scandal will go down as the Watergate of our time. Sort of. Because, despite what the media insists, the guilty parties are all attached to the Obama Administration.

We refuse to stand by and remain silent.

We've spent many days and nights working on this, on bringing you the truth. And we've tried to make it as approachable as possible. Because it's enough to make your head spin.

Our months of grueling research paid off. People loved our special, Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia.

It exploded. Went viral. For that week, it was all over social media. People were talking about it.

"We punish a man for his ignorance if he is thought to be responsible for his ignorance."

The special is there for you. But, as I said in the special, the important part of this whole debacle is education. In the words of Aristotle, “We punish a man for his ignorance if he is thought to be responsible for his ignorance."

We are all responsible for our ignorance. Anymore, with all the information in the world available to us at all times, there is no excuse.

I get it. All of this Ukraine business is daunting and complex. All the more reason to understand its intricacies.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to see the sequence of events that led up to Trump's phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. What better way than to give you an interactive chalkboard?

Explore the timeline at your own pace. The truth is in your hands. You have all the power now.

FEB 2014

New President in Ukraine

It all began with the appointment of a new President in Ukraine. Petro Porochenko.

The pro-Russian regime in Ukraine officially collapsed as President Yanukovych was forced to flee to Russia. After three months of demonstrations, the protesters seized control of Kiev, and new elections for the brand new government were set up for just a few months later.

This would lay the foundation for systematic corruption by the Democrats.


Within a couple years, the Obama Administration will become the biggest advocate for the new regime in Ukraine, and high-level Democrat political influencers will take root in Ukraine. This is just a few of the many:

  • Greg Craig: former Obama White House counsel
  • Tad Devine: Chief Strategist for Bernie Sanders
  • Tony Podesta: Brother to John Podesta
  • Mark Penn: Chief Strategist for Hillary Clinton
  • John Alazone: Obama campaign pollster
  • Joel Benenson: the Obama campaign LEAD pollster

An overwhelming show of force in a country with crucial ties to one of our enemies. But it evolved into so much more than that.

Here's Obama meeting with Porochenko later that year:

MAR 2014

Obama Makes Biden Point-man in Ukraine

Then-President Obama wanted to prove his devotion to Ukraine. So he appointed then-Vice President Joe Biden to be the new point-man in the country.

Here's what author Peter Schweizer had to say about this decision:

APR 2014

Biden Flies to Ukraine, Hunter Tags Along

As I pointed out in our Candidate profile on Biden, April 2014 was a crucial moment in the Ukraine scandal.

In April 2014, roughly a month after the Russian invasion, Devon Archer visited Joe Biden at the White House. Remember, Archer is one of Hunter Biden's two partners in Rosemont Seneca. We don't know what the meeting was about — maybe they were just exchanging cookie recipes. But five days later, Joe Biden landed in Kiev for high-level meetings with Ukrainian government officials.

He brought with him specific plans for a program to assist the Ukrainian natural gas industry, as well as details of over $1 billion in U.S. assistance and loans. Part of the energy portion of the program reads:

U.S. technical experts will ... help Ukraine develop a public-private investment initiative to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply.

MAY 2014

Hunter Biden, Devon Archer Become Burisma Board Members

The day after Biden arrived in Ukraine, Devon Archer was named to the board of Burisma, the gas company run by Kolomoisky, the oligarch who was banned from entering the U.S.

In 2016, Foreign Policy magazine reported:

No one in the U.S. government has wielded more influence over Ukraine than Vice President Joe Biden.

Three weeks later, Hunter Biden also joined Burisma's board.

And he's still on the board. Burisma announced these appointments publicly. U.S. media reported on it. Check out these headlines:

This wasn't a secret. But no one really noticed or cared, because hey — this was the Obama White House.

This was a pattern with Biden. Whether it was meetings with foreign leaders in Washington, or traveling to foreign capitals, business opportunities and deals magically materialized for Hunter Biden's company. Need proof? Just take a glance at this interview with Joe and Hunter Biden in Popular Mechanics.

NOV 2014

U.S. Aid to Ukraine Increases

The Obama Administration ratcheted up their monetary support of Ukraine. U.S. aid to Ukraine included:

  • $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee
  • $320 million in general assistance
  • $118 million in equipment and training for their security forces
  • $20 million for law enforcement reform
  • And a fleet of advisors in banking, politics, energy, media, and human rights.

APR 2015

Obama Admin. Mandates Setup of NACB

In April 2015, the Obama Administration helped set up — actually they mandated it through the IMF — the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, whose purpose was to seek out and eradicate government corruption.

A man named Artem Sytnyk was tapped to be the first Director of the Bureau.

The following month, George Soros released the following strategy memo for dealing with Ukraine.

A year later, the Anti-Corruption Bureau signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with the FBI, giving the Obama Administration a direct line into whatever dark secrets the Ukrainians might dig up.

??? 2015

Owner of Burisma Loses $1.8 Billion from the U.S.

What's the most money you ever lost? And I mean lost. Not misplaced. Or spent. Or were swindled out of. Or had picket-pocketed. I mean lost. You had the money and it vanished.

For most of us, the answer is probably under $100. Maybe you lost a $20 bill at the State Fair.

I'm going to take a guess and say that absolutely none of you have lost a billion dollars.

A billion. The number one followed by 9 zeros. 1,000,000,000. The total value of Apple, the most valuable brand in the world.

It seems that putting a Ukrainian oligarch in charge of $1.8 billion isn't a great idea.

Well, in March 2016, this is exactly what happened. Oh, and it wasn't one billion dollars. Actually, it was $1.8 billion. I forgot about that extra $800 million.

Lesson of the story: It seems that putting a Ukrainian oligarch in charge of $1.8 billion isn't a great idea. An oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky, head of Burisma — the largest private natural gas company in Ukraine.

As pointed out in an article for Ukranian newspaper Kyiv Post:

Court filings reveal that Kolomoisky was divvying up and fighting over the rusting U.S. steel mills with other Ukrainian oligarchs — in the same way that they fought over Ukraine's Soviet-built industrial plants in the 1990s and 2000s. One deal, involving Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, bled into the sale of a Warren, Ohio steel mill.

JUN 2015

Trump Announces Presidential Run

I can picture it so clearly. Trump descending the golden escalator as “Keep Rockin' in the Free World" played loudly in the background.

At the time, most people shrugged Trump off and focused on other candidates. He would prove to be a far more formidable opponent than anyone expected.

LATE 2015

Research: Alexandra Chalupa

Donald Trump was already surging in the polls. Still not a word about the Russia meddling. There was nothing out on Manafort yet. There was no Steele Dossier. George Papadapolous wasn't on the campaign yet. There was no FISA request for Carter Page.

Yet, an American lawyer named Alexandra Chalupa — the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants — began doing opposition research on Trump. And her employer had a lot of influence in Ukraine. Her employer? None other than the Democrat National Committee.

The DNC paid her over seventy-one thousand dollars for her work during the 2016 election alone, but her work with the DNC goes all the way back to 2004.

In January 2016, Chalupa approached an official at the DNC and told them, regarding Trump's campaign:

I felt there was a Russia connection.

Chalupa concentrated most of her research on Paul Manafort and his work with the — now exiled — President of Ukraine (Yanukovich). Interestingly enough, all of her energy was focused on Manafort and NOT on his partners in helping get the Russian backed Yanukovych re-elected. Those partners were Tony Podesta and Tad Devine. I guess the fact that both Podesta and Devine were Democrats made everything ok ... just not for Manafort.

The same month Chalupa was telling the DNC that there was a Russia connection between Manafort and Trump, the Obama White House summoned Ukrainian prosecutors to the White House.

Here's a hacked DNC email, that was released on Wikileaks, between Chalupa and the former DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda. In that email, Chalupa checks in, reporting that she will speak at the Library of Congress specifically about Manafort.

Source: WikiLeaks

Source: WikiLeaks

MAR 2016

Biden Replaces Shokin with Lutsenko

During a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Vice President Joe Biden made his now infamous statement about his role in getting Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired, bragging that he had withheld $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

"I looked at them and said: 'I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," he said.

At the time, Shokin was investigating a Ukrainian company that Biden's son was involved with. Biden has claimed that what he did was based purely on Shokin's corrupt conduct, and nothing to do with his son's business dealings.

Here's a sworn statement of from Shokin:

This intimidation by the Obama administration was also used against Shokin's succesor, Yuriy Lutsenko. Here's his statement to the Hill detailing corruption from Obama-appointed Marie Yovanovitch to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine:

Here's the kicker:

The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors. I assume Burisma, which was connected with gas extraction, had the support of the Vice President Joe Biden because his son was on the Board of Directors.

Shokin detailed Obama's systematic control of Ukraine, noting that Obama was “telling the heads of the Ukraine law-enforcement system how to investigate and whom to investigate."

Shokin had another unforgivable sin on his record. He had launched an investigation on the actions of an NGO called the Anti Corruption Action Centre.

Shokin alleged that the NGO might have improperly diverted, or even embezzled, millions of dollars. So why would this be an unforgivable sin to Obama and Biden?

See for yourself (scroll down to the finances section of their website and mouse over 2016 to see the funders).

Source: Screenshot from Anti Corruption Action Centre website

If you look at the top two financiers for that year, the top two are the International Renaissance Foundation and the U.S. Government. The International Renaissance Foundation is yet another group headed by ... George Soros.

MAR 2016

Bank Loses $2.2M and $1.8B in IMF Loans

James Stafford, a journalist who covers the energy industry wrote:

Burisma fails to pass the most basic due diligence check. Its registration documents are impossible to run down. It publishes no asset information or financial records, nor does it release any audited financial statements. The complete lack of transparency means that anyone interested — including potential investors — must rely solely on press releases about Burisma's future plans and intentions.

Here's part one of my chalkboard exposé on the underhanded deals that took place in Ukraine.

After Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board, the company's owner, Kolomoisky was suddenly taken off the U.S.' entry-ban list. Kolomoisky's ban wasn't the only thing that disappeared. Remember that $1.8 billion loan the U.S. promised to Ukraine?

Most of that money flowed through PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest bank, owned by who else? Kolomoisky. $1.8 billion simply vanished.

Where did it go? A Ukrainian watchdog group traced the money by researching a series of court decisions. Basically, the billion dollars from the U.S. was laundered through Kolomoisky's network of offshore entities.

Ultimately, the Ukrainian government took control of Kolomoisky's bank, but the $1.8 billion was never recovered.

MAR 2016

Chalupa Begins to Work Directly with Ukraine Embassy

Around the time Manafort joined the Trump campaign, Chalupa began working with embassy staff to raise the alarm bells regarding Manafort to the Ukrainian president. She said the embassy "worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions."

In other words, the Ukrainian Embassy, right here in the United States, was working directly with a DNC operative to damage a Republican candidate for president to influence the U.S. election.

Chalupa and the DNC deny this, but a Ukrainian Embassy political officer who worked there at the time, stated that the Ukrainians were working with Chalupa.

They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.

At the end of March, 2016, the Ukranian Head of a Department of the Prosecutor General's Office met with representatives of the BlueStar Strategies. Here's a translated memo of that meeting:

APR 2016

Pillow Talk with the Ohrs

Bruce Ohr led a double life. He worked for the Department of Justice associate deputy attorney general, but he also played a part in starting the Russian meddling accusations against Trump.

As I mentioned earlier, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS to write the Steele Dossier, which was supposed to crush Trump. Then Fusion GPS hired Bruce Ohr's wife Nellie Ohr, a Russian specialist, to “research" Donald Trump.

(Check out these reports from the FBI's investigation into Ohr.)

Trump has been pretty open about his opinion of Ohr.

MAY 2016

Isikoff Memo: Chalupa Embassy Press

Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff has been probing around this whole time, and in 2018, he compiled all his findings in his book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.

Within a few months, Federal authorities would use this article by Isikoff for a FISA warrant application in order to justify surveillance of Carter Page.

In late May, these State Department memos were sent, revealing contacts between George Soros' firm and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

JUN 2016

FBI & National Anti-Corruption Bureau

Remember the Ukranian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NACB)? The supposed anti-corruption agency created with the help of Obama and the DNC. It hadn't even been in operation for a year when the FBI instituted a “Memorandum of Understanding" between the FBI and the NACB.

As noted on the NABU website:

This document establishes the parties' joint work on crimes related to international money laundering, international asset recovery, and Ukrainian high-level officials' bribery and corruption.

In the words of then the FBI Acting Deputy Assistant Director Mathew S. Moon:

If, for instance, your criminal proceeding has the accordant proceedings in the US, you [NABU] can give us the numbers of the bank accounts and it will be the reason for us to issue a notice of suspicion for a person and receive the necessary information much faster.

Another important legal proceeding that will receive very little attention is Citizens United v. The U.S. Department of State. Here is an FBI agent's affidavit in Citizens United FOIA lawsuit, including the declaration of Michael Seidel:

The FBI will play a crucial role in this whole thing. As recently as July of 2019, members of Congress were sounding the alarm about questionable activity:

JUN 2016

Obama Appoints New Ambassador

Without much ado, then-President Barack Obama appointed Marie Yovanovitch to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch is a big supporter of Artyom Sytnik, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The following State Department memos reveal that, a few weeks before Obama appointed Yovanovitch, George Soros and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed Ukraine:

JUN 2016

Manafort Sentenced

In June of 2016, with the election just months away, Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and promoted Manafort to the position. Suddenly, Manafort was in charge of Trump's entire campaign.

Around that same time, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power sent this email reacting to Donald Trump UN plan:

Half-a-year later, Power gave this speech about Russia:

And here she is discussion the Russia Trump speech in an email:

LATE 2016

No Visas for Ukrainian Prosecutors

The Deputy Director for Ukraine's Prosecutor General's International Cooperation Department stated that she didn't grant his delegation visas to travel to the United States. They wanted to come to deliver information to the U.S. Attorney General evidence of Ukraine's misdeeds during the 2016 election.

This evidence included:

  • Sworn statements from Ukrainian officials admitting that their agency tried to influence the 2016 election. (This must be whistleblowers inside the Anti-Corruption Bureau regarding the Manafort “Ledger.")
  • Contacts between Democrat figures in Washington and Ukrainian officials involved in gathering dirt on Donald Trump. (This is probably the DNC, Chalupa and the Ukraine Embassy.)
  • Financial records showing a Ukrainian natural gas company routed more than $3 million to Hunter Biden.
  • Records showing Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire Shokin.
  • Correspondence that proves the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Ukraine interfered in criminal cases on Ukrainain soil.
  • Disbursements of as much as $7 billion that may have been misappropriated and taken out of the country.

Two other important events happened in late 2016. Obama appointed a new Ambassador in Ukraine, and the Manafort “Black Ledger" was released by Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Bureau.

But the Presidential election was in full swing. It took up all the time and space in the news. So these two crucial moments passed by mostly unseen.

A member of the Ukrainian Parliament named Leshchenko and the Anti-Corruption Bureau Director, Sytnik — who had just signed a memorandum of understanding with the FBI just a month prior — jointly released pages in the Ledger that showed illegal payments given to Paul Manafort.

Were the Ukrainians trying to influence the election? Check out this article from the Financial Times.

(If you're unable to access the article, the headline is a good summary of it: “Ukraine's leaders campaign against 'pro-Putin' Trump")

The article actually states direct quotes from the Member of Parliament (Leshchenko) that disclosed Manafort's name in the ledger:

A Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy. For me it was important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is a pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.

In other words, the Ukrainian government actively tried to sink Donald Trump's campaign for President.

NOV 2016

Trump Wins the Election

November 8, 2016. The day everything changed.

The day that shattered so many news anchors and Hillary supporters. It wasn't supposed to happen. According to the media, Trump wasn't supposed to win. But he did.

Hillary was so upset that she refused to concede.

From that moment, Democrats made up their mind. They decided that they were going to get Trump out of office however they could. No rules. Anything goes.

Within hours of Trump's win, journalists were calling for his impeachment.

He was still months away from being sworn in, barely into his first day in his Presidential legacy, and the left wanted him out.

A Change.org petition to Congress titled “ Impeach Donald J. Trump" raised nearly $500,000.

Down the line, a former British intelligence Officer will compile a dossier — a 35-page compilation of 16 reports supposedly offering evidence of conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government — an accusation that will haunt Trump for years. But it ultimately proved to be a dud.

Most importantly, it was the DNC and the Clinton Campaign that contracted Steele to write the dossier.

Steele leaked the dossier to journalist Michael Isikoff, who had been working with DNC-operative Alexandra Chalupa. Isikoff wrote an article for Yahoo News detailing parts of the Steele Dossier.

Note that the email was sent in May 2016, exactly one month after the DNC hired Fusion GPS to work on the dossier.

The last line of this email is significant:

... there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I'm working on you should be aware of.

The FBI used the leak as corroborating evidence to justify a FISA warrant for Carter Page.

Here is the FBI Human Source Validation Report on Christopher Steele:

JUL 2017

First Mention of Ukraine by White House

Then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders first mentioned Democrat corruption in Ukraine during an off-camera briefing on July 12, 2017, alleging that the DNC had colluded with the Ukrainian Government and targeted people within the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Sanders said:

I think if there's been any evidence of collusion in 2016 that's come out at all or been discussed that's actually happened, it would be between the DNC and the Ukrainian government. I don't often quote the New York Times, but even one of their reporters tweeted earlier today that — why this example provides evidence of collusion: "Cooperation was between DNC officials and officials from the Ukrainian government, not just some associate."

Ukrainian actions to coordinate with the DNC was actually successful, unlike anything shown by Don Jr.'s emails. Information passed to the DNC from the Ukrainian government directly targeted members of the Trump campaign in an attempt to undermine it. And that was just Ukraine. The other big news was the foreign intelligence dossier that the President's political opponents funded and disseminated widely, and was based on discredited opposition research from foreign intelligence sources. The only collusion I've seen, and that's certainly been proven, would be between those people.

Then, President Trump mentioned Ukraine on Twitter:

Later that month, Senator Chuck Grassley wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining shady activity among the Ukrainians, the DNC, and Alexandra Chalupa.

Nothing ever came of it.

OCT 2017

Two Ukrainians Found Guilty, Secret Audio Released

Ukraninan People's Deputy Borislav Rosenblatt filed a claim charging both Leshchenko and Sytnik with interfering in the U.S. election by publicly disclosing the information on Manafort. The Ukrainian court agreed. After Leshchenko appealed the decision, Rosenblatt leaked the audio recording.

In April of 2019, former Prosecutor General Lutsenko gave an interview with the Ukrainian media. In that interview he makes a stunning comment:

I don't know how, but the Americans got an audio recording of Mr. Sytnik's conversation: he is resting with his family and friends and discussing how he would like to help Hillary.

Sytnik is the Director of the Bureau that the Obama Administration mandated they set up. He then made public information directly to influence the U.S. election.

Here's that audio:

We'd rushed around looking for a Ukrainian translator. It was pure chaos here at the studios. But we knew it was important. Eventually, we got it. And we were absolutely floored. We had our smoking gun.

Mercury Radio Arts Inc | October 02, 2019 | Transcript by TransPerfect

KOLYA: Did they … those Russians … help him? Your people?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: I think they did.

KOLYA: Oh, did they?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Yep. I helped him, too. Not him, but Hilary. I helped her.

KOLYA: Yeah, right. Then her position tottered, right.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Well, this is how they write about it. Right.

IVAN: Hilary's humanitarian aid [INDISCERNIBLE] America?

KOLYA: Well, I am about … the commentaries. At that time, we were not in [INDISCERNIBLE].

IVAN: No, there it was …

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Trump … His purely inner problem … issue… They dominate over the external matters. While Hilary … she is – how shall I put it? She belongs to the cohort of politicians who comprise the hegemony in the US. Both in the US and in the entire world. Right. For us, it is …sort of … better. For the Americans … what Trump is doing is better for them.

KOLYA: Well, we have lots of those American experts here now... [INDISCERNIBLE].

ARTYOM SYTNYK: A woman. Masha.

KOLYA: How do you find her?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: They don't keep any different people.

KOLYA: They - who?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: As our Ambassador in Germany once told me… He said: in order to get to the Ambassador's post to a foreign country in Germany – it seems easier to win the Noble Prize, than to get the position of Ambassador.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: There is a very tough selection process there. Unlike in our country. See, we sent Lytvyn to … so to say… Now the entire borer is open. We sent him to the position of the Ambassador. And then he disappeared there.

KOLYA: Well, not quite so… It was done via the system, of course…

IVAN: Come on, what are you talking about?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Well, there, you see. Why Hilary lost the elections? I was in charge of investigation of their “black accounting" records.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: We made the Manafort's data available to general public.

KOLYA: So what?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: He was imprisoned. Manafort then was the head of the Supreme Headquarter of Trump. Right. Then he was dismissed, too. Including due to the “black accounting". After that, he was sentenced to 80 years of imprisonment term. How about Trump? He did not give a shit. They have their system working there, and it works smoothly.

KOLYA: Everybody works smoothly there.

ARTYOM SYTNYK: And when they carried out the elections. A week before the elections, FBI reopened the investigation in respect of Hilary. So her rating dropped for 7%, and that is why Trump managed to win the elections at a pinch. I am still unable to understand why he is fighting with FBI? They try to catch him on the hand. If it were not the FBI, he would not have won the elections. They torpedoed Hilary's rating for 7 %.

KOLYA: I say... Is FBI - ФБР?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: Yes. Of course, it is a solid structure there.

KOLYA: The solid one, right?

ARTYOM SYTNYK: You bet! A real stronghold!

APR 2018

Mueller Report Finds Nothing

The Mueller Report. I'm sure you remember exactly where you were the day it was released.

In December of 2016, exactly a month after Trump was elected President, academic Joseph Mifsud, with links to Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, sent this:

Here's an email from Mifsud to Papadopoulos:

And another, from February 2017, to the FBI:

Mifsud regularly attended meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, which often included Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here's Mifsud's deposition testimony on Vladimir Putin:

Several months later, in June, Mueller charged Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian political operative, with alleged ties to Russian Intelligence and a Manafort business partner, with witness tampering. Kilimnik was once described as “Manafort's Manafort," his contact in Kiev.

MAY 2018

Trump Boots U.S. Ambassador

President Trump recalled Obama-appointed Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

In October of 2019, Yovanovitch will give a closed-door testimony before the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence. Here is her opening statement.

She wrote:

Understanding Ukraine's recent history, including the significant tension between those who seek to transform the country and those who wish to continue profiting from the old ways, is of critical importance to understanding the events you asked me here today to describe. Many of those events — and the false narratives that emerged from them — resulted from an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system, and Americans who either did not understand that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.

JUL 2019

Donald Trump Makes Phone Call to Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Then, the fateful phone call. If you haven't heard or read the call transcript yet, here's my reenactment of it:

President Donald J. Trump has released a declassified, un-redacted transcript of his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from July 25th, 2019.

The media swiftly and uniformly sided with the unknown whistleblower.

Even when Trump responded, they stuck to their guns.

After months of resisting calls for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for an impeachment inquiry.

Here's a notice of suspicion signed by the Ukraine general prosecutor on March 28, 2019, announcing the opening of a new investigation against Burisma Holdings Founder Zolchevsky:

Here's Ambassador Kurt Volker, Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, giving testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 3, 2019:

In yet another bizarre twist, the man who beat Poroshenko in the Ukraine Presidential election this year was Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian.

OCT 2019

What's Next?

Which brings us to now. What's next, you ask?

Well, you've seen all the evidence. What do you think? Do we have a case or what?

Without a doubt.

But that's not enough. It's not enough to know the truth. Not anymore.

So now, we've got to get the facts out there, in the open, so that everyone can see them, and decide for themselves. It's imperative that we reveal the truth. To shrug this off would be a disservice to our nation.

Good luck and godspeed.

My fellow supporters,

It is with a heavy heart that I must make a sad announcement today. The time has come to press pause on the dream of Beto for president. It's not the end of the Beto dream. It's just pressing pause for a while, like pausing a Foss CD. The dream will keep right on spinning, until we return to it and press play again. I mean, look at Bernie Sanders. That guy's almost twice my age and he's still running for president. That means you can look forward to Beto running for office for decades to come. I have found there is tremendous joy and freedom in running for office and never winning. All the travel, Vanity Fair cover stories, food and free beer, with none of the hassle or responsibility of having an actual job in elected office (or any job at all). It's really great.

With the exception of myself, no one has supported Beto more faithfully and true than you, the fans. I'd also like to thank my wife Amy for continually raising our children so that I can travel this great land in my never-ending quest to find myself (and also to connect with you, the fans). From attending my very hip and not-at-all contrived jogging town halls, to slapping those trendy Beto bumper stickers on your hybrid-SUVs, to steadying tables all over America so I could jump on top of them and yell and jab the air, to clicking "like" on all those Facebook videos of my dentist visits – you perpetuated this Beto dream way longer than it had any right to be perpetuated.

So, I'm sure you're now wondering – what's next for Beto?

Other than pursuing my career as a solo rock recording artist, I believe the best way I can serve America and bring true justice to this great land of ours is by stealing from the rich and giving to those who fall in the sweet spot on the intersectionality charts. Except I won't steal from my billionaire father-in-law, only because getting my family cut out of the will would not be in America's best interest. You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I. Plus, as you know by now, from following the 2020 presidential campaign so closely, the only acceptable status quo in America is leaving the wealth of Progressive elites alone. Everyone else's wealth is fair game, including the middle class. It's the right thing to do.

You need a Beto who is independently wealthy via his wife and so do I.

Therefore, from this day forward I will henceforth be known as Beto Hood. You will be able to join the cause by purchasing official Beto Hood merch soon at Beto Hood dot com. Together, with my band of merry men, who will be known as "merry non-binaries", we will roam the land, righting all the wrongs and bringing about all the social justice that Donald Trump refuses to let you have.

Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will live on the road. And in the woods (in eco-friendly, fully sustainable treehouse yurts). And in the shadows. We will skateboard and learn archery and rappelling. We will become proficient in hand-to-hand combat. We will become experts in all weaponry except guns, since guns are the evilest weapons. We will care for all the animals of the forest. You already know my affinity for squirrels. Not only will we continue to rescue all the orphan squirrels, we will train them in petty thievery and nimble sabotage. We will affix tiny helmets on them, fitted with tiny Go Pro cameras to live stream their heroic exploits on Facebook. Side note: my colonoscopy next week will also be live streamed on Facebook and available to rent on iTunes.

Using the skills I honed as a college graduate scaling the gates of UTEP, Beto Hood and his Merry Non-Binaries will scale the gates of America's richest and steal from their grotesque wealth. Jewelry, high-end electronics, precious antiques, art, women's shoes – nothing of value will be off-limits. Drawing on my experience while my father was a county judge, we will live above the law. It will be dangerous work, the Lord's work as some people say. But totally worth the risk.

Also, we will not wait for Constitutional amendments nor judicial overreach to get rid of America's AR-15s. We will steal those too. One by one. Using very large versions of those stretchy sticky hands that come in cereal boxes, we will literally be able to snatch these vile guns right out from under the noses of the monsters who own them. Then, with our literal mountain of confiscated AR-15s, we will melt them down and use the metal to build a flotilla of sturdy watercraft, called Beto Boats (trademark pending). Families will be able to use these Beto Boats to save themselves and others when the rising waters of climate change overtake our cities in exactly ten years.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero.

Who needs the presidency? I have big, bold plans for a bright future as an outlaw hero. So, don't cry for me, America. Beto will be just fine. Dropping out of this race is nothing that another months-long, head-clearing road trip won't cure. And after that, I'll start shopping for some tights.



[NOTE: The preceding Memo was a parody written by MRA writer Nathan Nipper – not Beto O'Rourke.]

Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

My side was life.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com