Ryan: Jeffrey Epstein and the authenticity mirage

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First thing that morning, millionaire socialite and prolific pedophile Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell. With a State-issued bedsheet would you believe? Supposedly no thicker than off-brand toilet paper.

Ever since Epstein had been arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, people had been waiting for something unbelievable to happen. How light would his slap on the wrist be this time around? Or maybe not. This was the post-MeToo world, after all.

Then, when his bail was denied — Epstein's first bout of misfortune in decades, possibly ever — we all wondered if he'd actually face justice this time. And what did that mean for all his high-powered friends? Political and otherwise. Surely they had a problem with all his secrets. Supposedly he had incriminating video footage of important people, for blackmail, and here was his chance to share it with the world.

For weeks, the joke was "Wanna bet that he gets suicided?" Now he was dead. Via suicide. Which looked a lot like "suicide." It was hard to tell what was news and what were memes anymore.

*

When the guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center noticed Epstein all droopy, they slammed into his cell and yelled and yelled and yelled, "Breathe, Epstein, Breathe."

Alas, he was blue and stumpy and by then probably stiff.

An odd way to begin a Saturday, any Saturday, but especially the first weekend of the Iowa State Fair, as you're gnawing on a fried Oreo, chomp gnash chomp and you get the news that Hell just welcomed yet another prodigious monster.

Plus, most suicides happen on Monday's or Wednesday's, and usually after midnight.

Saturday bright and early was a strange one. But I suppose even the weekend sucks when you're a celebrity millionaire stuck in high-security prison for prolific sex trafficking and molestation that was international in scope. And all you can do is think about all the high-powered people you pose a threat to, or your connections to an embarrassing amount of celebrities, including at least one member of the British royal family.

The coward. He'd stayed alive despite himself for six-and-a-half decades, raping and extorting and bullying and eluding, why couldn't he just wait until the next figurative commercial break?

Ideally, he'd have waited till trail. So that all the people he'd tormented could stare him in his dead, sharky eyes and lob words like spit in the direction of his miasma.

And why in the middle of an already-bizarre election? Now it was Hamlet on an Iowa Saturday. A silly wacky mix-up. So lifelike because the irony is gross. Because the slip-ups are so perfectly timed.

Daddy Epstein drank the poison meant for who knows who.

And now Epstein's whimpering pouty ghost cast a shadow on the American public. Wasn't it enough that he'd existed at all? And it was annoying, the way none of it made sense.

Why hadn't he been on suicide watch? Wasn't he a celebrity? Was this the first time in his life he didn't get lavish treatment? His first time really alone, and he couldn't handle it?

Didn't sociopaths tend to aviod suicide, for narcistic reasons?

And was it true that the security cameras — all of them?! — went off for thirty minutes, the same half-hour that all the guards took a nap? A nap?

And why did he kill himself before the trial? Didn't people usually wait until after they were convicted, when there was no hope that they'd be free ever again?

And worst of all he was sulking on our weekend.

It was about disgust. We were repulsed. Like when you see a brown recluse spider and your skin gets itchy for a few minutes and you suspect that something awful has occurred.

*

All day in Iowa, at all the various rallies and speeches and events, none of the Democratic candidates mentioned Epstein. We all know they had heard the news. But who could smile after biting into a lump of charcoal? And these people were all about smiling and not at all about charcoal.

So they were playing dumb or acting smooth or just confused and annoyed like the rest of us. Whatever the case, excellent decision, to zip their lips. But it still felt odd.

Because I suspect that if the BBC ran an article about Joe Biden telling reporters, "We need justice for the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, who is similar to Donald Trump. What he did was cowardice. When I'm President I will handle this situation as such..." or if Kamala Harris tweeted "#EpsteinWasMurdered!" and if any of that boosted Biden's or Harris' favorability online and in polls and with the media, then game on for all the other candidates.

We get it, they signed up for a year-long debate tournament and crazy shit keeps happening and at every moment they have to be ready with some brilliant answer.

But it still felt grimy. Like they were closer to Epstein's world than to ours.

The world of politics is gross. You can read Plato's "Republic" in a library all day, but politics is still disgusting. Politicians are the plungers of humanity, chugging toilet water and shit for a living, a thrill. They make a game of our lives and our country. Those rubber leeches cling to dark pipes and keep climbing through the sewers and the gutters like maniacs. Some of them are gifted enough at navigating excrement and latching onto pvc pipes that they make it to the finest waste treatment facility in the land. And right there in piles of you-know-what, they duke it out until the best plunger wins.

"Hooray-glorg-SLURP," bellows the champion at the wobbling podium, ribboned by tufts of thin white tissue.

*
The personal is political insofar as politics as a whole belongs to humanity. In service to we the people. And humanity must always precede politics, which is just the lengthy — at times begrudging — set of rules that we do our best to adhere to, even as the global population nears 8 billion. Because roughly 107 billion people lived and died before us.

Yet we are really not much closer to the great realities than the ancients were. But we are closer to something.

And it's not Jeffrey Epstein. The opposite. Or something far, far away from him and his cruel, depraved empire of mud and paper. He is the dark ghost behind us, the skid mark leading to the fatal crash.

He typifies what we have learned and now regret knowing. Yet, he represents the undefined lower reaches of the American psyche. If Taylor Swift is the Magic Kingdom at DisneyWorld, Epstein is a speakeasy stripclub in downtown Tampa, full of backroom syringes and deadly venereal diseases.

Same city, but two horrifically different environments. Which is more American?

Easy. Disney. Hope. Wonder. Beauty arrayed into the sky despite all the dark winds that howl through mankind. Because, for the most part, America is everything in between.

So drive and drive, through the wild-eyed curves and humps of the country.

You will witness the capillary strings of fog in the morning, the soliloquy chatter of tiny red birds waiting for a storm to pass. Broken ground in the summer, and the last sheaf of daylight like a dark low jack of the ocean, and the whine of a grasshopper that sees our world the way we see the universe.

You will meet grocery-baggers and lawyers and people of so many other professions. Most things about them will be different than you. At the surface. But what you'll find are people with the same depthless stirring as you.

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

Beto's BACK! And now he's imparting all of his PRICELESS wisdom to the next generation...

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Since November, Americans have been on the edge of their seats wondering just what will Beto O’Rourke do next? How will he follow up losing a U.S. Senate race, dropping out of the U.S. presidential race, and then losing the Texas governor’s race? How do you top a trifecta like that?

Well, now we finally know the answer. He’s going to be a professor this semester at the University of Chicago. And not a moment too soon. Professor Beto will be teaching college students about Democracy… which is a terrifying idea.

Fortunately, we got our hands on an advanced copy of Professor Beto’s course syllabus…

Syllabus

Course Title:

Failing Upward 101: How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying

Session 1

Cultural Appropriation: Why It’s Wrong and Why You Should Also Try It

Session 2

Converting White Guilt into Cold Hard Cash

Session 3

Marrying Wealth: The Underrated Value of Money Over Love

Session 4

Ensuring a Woman’s Right to Choose Abortion Every Time

Session 5

Campaigning as a Career Path (Special Guest Lecturer – Stacey Abrams)

Session 6

Effin’ Fundamentals: Winning Techniques for Swearing Good

Session 7

Squirrels Are People Too: Animal Rehab as Spiritual Discipline

Session 8

Abolishing Republicans in Our Lifetime: Gulags and Other Viable Options

Session 9

The Subtle Art of Caring Too Much: Why Socialism Rocks!

Session 10

Style Over Substance: My Foolproof Life Hack

Today, Glenn talked with San Fransicko author and "Twitter Files" reporter, Michael Schellenberger about the threat Elon Musk poses to the global elite's monopoly over free speech—and Musk agreed!

Replying to Glenn's tweet, Musk wrote, "Citizen journalism is vital to the future of civilization."

The Twitter files have exposed the revolving door between big government and big tech to control the media narrative for their own benefit. Hopefully this will inspire structural change to put free speech on social media back in the hands of the people rather than just the elites!

15 MLK quotes the far-left does NOT want you to read

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While members of the far-left often herald Martin Luther King Jr. as an emblem of their movement, it is ironic that many of MLK's core values and teachings are at odds with their values. On this day when we honor Martin Luther King Jr., one of America's most articulate and transformational leaders, it is important that we remember his teachings as they truly were, and not what the modern-left would like them to be. Here are 15 of MLK's most impactful quotes the far-left would like you to forget.

MLK was a firm believer in non-violent demonstration, unlike ANTIFA and many of the modern-left movements today. He also taught the motivation behind these non-violent movements should be love, not hate.

1. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So, the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.—Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
2. After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.—Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964
3. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.—"I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
4. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.—Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964
5. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.—Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964
6. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.”—Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964

MLK believed just laws are derived from God's law alone. He defined unjust laws as those that do not treat all men equally in dignity, as God's law requires. Civil disobedience is only justified when it involves breaking an unjust law in pursuit of moral law, he taught.

7. How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.—Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
8. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an "I - it" relationship for the "I - thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.—Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
9. We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws—Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

MLK did NOT hate America. On the contrary, he loved America's founding principles and fought for the equal application rights of principles and America's Judeo-Christian heritage. He was hopeful rather than hateful of the future of America and mankind.

10. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
11. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.—Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
12. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.—"I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
13. I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him.—Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964

Unlike Critical Race Theory and modern leftist movement, MLK fought against applying special privileges to a particular race. Instead, MLK dreamed of both black and white people living together in love and brotherhood as equals.

14. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.—"I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
15. When this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.—"I Have a Dream" speech, 1963

THIS heals your brain, and it contradicts our 'self-help' culture

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Glenn has been discussing the correlation between the "me-centered" culture and the rise in cases of mental illnesses. Could it be that turning our focus away from ourselves and toward others could help our mental health epidemic? Recent studies indicate, YES.

Indiana University psychology professors Dr. Joshua Brown and Dr. Joel Wong conducted a study that found the practice of gratitude expedites recovery for mental illness patients seeking psychological therapy. Their findings are pretty astonishing.

Patients who adopted a gratitude practice showed significantly more progress than those who didn't.

Brown and Wong's study followed nearly 300 adults, mostly college students, who were seeking mental health counseling at a university. Most of the participants reported critically low mental health when the study began, the majority of whom were seeking treatment for either anxiety, depression, or both.

The participants were then randomly assigned into one of three groups while receiving counseling services. The first group was instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks. The second group, on the other hand, was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group was not assigned any writing activity in addition to counseling. What did they discover?

Those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health after four weeks compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling. Moreover, those who wrote gratitude letters reported that the improvements to their mental health persisted 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended.

This study demonstrates the incredible, healing impact of gratitude on patients with critical mental illnesses. So how does gratitude actually change your brain? Brown and Wong explained the science behind it.

"Gratitude unshackles toxic emotions."

Practicing gratitude releases toxic thoughts and language and replaces them with positive language. When studying the writing samples from the two groups, Brown and Wong discovered that those in the gratitude writing group used a higher percentage of "positive emotion words" and a lower proportion of "negative emotion words" than those in the other writing group. The study showed that the practice of gratitude allows people to process negative emotions where they can be released and replaced through positive emotions.

Gratitude changes your focus from "I" to "we."

Brown and Wong also said they looked for the repetition of "we" as opposed to "I" in the writing samples as evidence of a positive emotional change. Repetition of the word "I" indicated the writer was internally focused on their negative emotions while repeated use of the word "we," on the other hand, was evidence that the writer was grounded in the world outside of their internal emotions. Gratitude practice forced participants to look past their current circumstance and examine how they were a part of their social circles in a positive way. This, according to Brown and Wong, turned out to be extremely healing.

Gratitude is counter-cultural.

Glenn has been discussing the state of our "me-centered" culture and its detriments on our mental health. In 2022, Glenn rightly said "we have built a society that does NOT connect" and that "humans need human interaction. Humans need to develop compassion. Humans need positive input."

Is it any coincidence mental health is at an all-time low and suicide rates have risen 30 percent in 2022? Perhaps our "me-centered" culture is one of the key causes of our isolation and loneliness, and turning our focus toward the world around us, as Brown and Wong's study suggests, is the start of building a happy and fulfilling life.