Ryan: Michael Bennet, Little League

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every day, life getting shorter. Every day, life going faster. Every day, like a roller coaster. These were the kinds of things that Michael Bennet was saying.

Michael Bennet, God bless him, he seemed like a decent lad. All week he had his family there. He said his campaign was their family vacation. He had had prostate cancer but would you believe he survived?

"Life is getting shorter," he said. "Every day."

Photo by Sean Ryan

He was well spoken. Dry. Talked with an air of consultation. Like you were in his office, and he had things to tell you.

Like a Little League coach who could actually be a coach someday.

*

I would encounter Bennet again the next day, at the Iowa State Fair.

Having just seen Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at a small Baptist church, we ventured to the fair to see Bernie Sanders' riot of a Sunday speech. Bennet was on before him, so I got there early, and I paced off to get a restroom break. The media center is in the basement of the administration building, right by the Political Soapbox stage.

For whatever reason, the first-floor men's restroom has giant windows along the wall, and you can see right out onto the walkway that wraps around the building. I did not realize that this was the path that the candidates take to get to the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, this far into the 2020 presidential election, they never went many places alone. They had a press swarm and their wives and maybe an old friend who relocated here when the hurricane sank his house.

I was rushing. Panicking, really. Because I heard all the commotion. But nature abides by its own pace. And as I shuffled to the sink to wash my hands, my pants fell all the way down. I was exposed. Out in the open and in such desperation, you clobber yourself outside of time. It was all slo-mo with the Chopped-n-screwed voices as I scrambled to lift my trousers and audibly gasped the words, "Well just no." At that exact moment, that "accidental Renaissance" painting occurred as I locked eyes with Michael Bennet, slowly maneuvering the walkway.

These sorts of things happened, didn't they? There you were in a restroom, at an NFL game or a concert or maybe a bar, and you see someone you work with, or someone from church or school, and you lock eyes for a moment in confusion then revert to cave talk and shrug and get on with what you were doing. But it's weird when only one of you is actively part of the etiquette and allowances of a restroom and one of you is held to a higher standard, for the sake of common decency. Now let's say that you, the restroom occupant, happen to be credentialed press, and the outsider, Michael Bennet, happens to be a candidate for president of America.

Once the herd passed by behind him, I laughed a bit, quietly, because life could be very funny.

*

Onstage, Bennet, a senator from Colorado, gave the performance of a cake falling into a pool. Like he had been ghost-busted. Like he had spent the last two months learning the Fortnite dance moves and now that he had mastered them, suddenly Fortnite was for losers, and Fortnite dances, well, they were even worse.

The Political Soapbox is great because every candidate has 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes were theirs. Most of the time, they got romantic like a Backstreet Boy singing up toward an open window. Occasionally, they lost it. Bennet did neither. He belly-flopped into hay bales.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Remember that the growing crowd had the dangerous feel of a natural disaster. And it was gaspingly warm that day. So neither the crowd nor the environment were ready to give Bennet a freebie.

He gave a ravishing speech, full of neat invective. Then looked up and realized he still had 14 minutes on the clock. Oof. That was most of it, and he'd already done the Floss and the Robot and the Electro Shuffle, and honestly his shoulder was a little stiff from all that dance practice. So he opened the floor for questions.

Now, that was not the greatest idea. For one, this was not the type of place for such a thing. They called it a soapbox because you were meant to live out the phrase "on a soapbox" by ranting and fist-pounding and all other theatrics.

The Bernie Sanders supporters hadn't arrived en masse yet, so most of the people around the stage were clad in Trump gear. And they all had their hands up ready to ask him questions. Well, firebombs, really, masked as interrogative statements. Bennet shouted without breathing, then said, "I want to find a non-male person who has a question."

This did not sit well with the males who did not like the trend of personalizing all things, cautious gendering, and the sudden change of direction so that now they had to just listen.

Most people did not care.

"I do not support Bernie's plan," Bennet shouted. But would you believe the Bernie supporters had literally just arrived, you could smell their hair dye.

They jeered, then acted exactly — and I mean exactly — like the Trump supporters.

"I would rather support free pre-school than free college," he shouted. "Many people talk about... " but the jeering was too powerful. And the Bernie supporters had likely just had quinoa açaí bowls at their pre-Bernie brunch, so they were unstoppable. Well God bless the man for scratching "Give Presidency a Try" off his bucket list. Because at least he had a bucket list.

What did they have? Student debt and a restraining order? They being the growing factions of Bernie and Trump supporters in the audience. You could not see any pavement. It was just people and faces like the Mediterranean in the evening, all the way to the towering walls of the Grandstand.

Looking out at all that chaos, all that latent disaster, Bennet must have felt a deep stirring.

The night before, Slipknot headlined at the Grand Stand, a sold-out show. Rollicking and bursting and howling. How many drumbeats could drummer Jay Weinberg get per minute? At one point, vocalist Corey Taylor unleashed a demonic bellow, then adjusted his mask and looked out to all those people, those devoted fans, because many of them had Slipknot tattoos, and maybe he, like Bennet, indulged a moment for himself, a personalization of the grand setting, then shrieked, then persuaded the audience to lift their hands into the air, maybe toward a constellation of their choosing, and extend their middle finger like it was an egg landing on a pillow, which symbolizes the human condition.

New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

10 lessons on prepping from around the world

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Prepping is a human condition practiced across the globe for thousands of years. Customs are influenced by geography, culture, politics, and threat. Here are ten applicable observations on preparedness from around the world.

1. Argentina: Get hard.

Fernando “Ferfal” Aguirre’s The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse is required reading for preppers, and it’s chock-full of real-life lessons from his experiences during Argentina's 2001 economic crisis. But the very first thing he starts with is preparing your body and your mind so you’re not a soft target. Stop being soft. Do difficult things to develop your body and your mind. Go camping. Hit the gym. Get in shape! It’ll do wonders for your health, survivability, and confidence.

Take home point: here’sa simple weightlifting plan that most able-bodied adults can perform. Learn to stand up straight and act confident. Get your dental and health problems fixed while you can—don’t put it off for after stuff hits the fan.

2. Netherlands: Involve the kids!

The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared” and the organization has taught boys wilderness and practical skills for over 100 years. The Dutch have their own version of inculcating confidence in their children via a cultural tradition known as Dutch Dropping. Kids, starting around the age of 11-12, are dropped off in the forest alone or in small groups at night with minimal gear and instructed to find their way home or to the campsite with ZERO adult assistance. Some nights are tough and miserable, but overall, the practice instills independence, decision-making skills, and is widely practiced.

Take home point: instill grit and self-confidence in your children early.

3. Israel: Always be prepared.

Entire books could be dedicated to the 10/7 attack, but the key takeaway is this: no one saw it coming. The folks attending the Supernova music festival expected a fun party, and what they got instead was hell. Israel is a bit of a special case, but the reality is you never know when a mass shooter or other disaster will strike. Never get too intoxicated, never let your guard down too much, because you never know when your life will change forever.

Take home point: you don’t have to live on hyper-alert (that is grossly unhealthy) but keep your wits about you and have a plan if things go south.

4.Taiwan: Grassroots communities are the best.

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Post-COVID and especially after the start of the Russia-Ukraine War, prepping has exploded in Taiwan. Fearing an imminent blockade and invasion, the Taiwanese have recognized their precarious position. Prepper groups have sprung up across the island and vary in their focus from all-hazards to gear geeks to weaponized resistance forces training with airsoft guns. Skills taught are varied; examples include building an emergency kit, learning first aid, and basic survival proficiencies.

However, some groups go much further and provide instruction on military simulations. Participants run the political gamut and are highly varied in their professions, reflecting a massive cross-section of the island. One common theme that appears across these groups is the adage that disaster can happen at any moment and can consist of assorted hazards. The April 2024 severe earthquake is proof positive of this understanding.

Take home point: community resilience is vital!

5. Bosnia: Get your ham radio license.

During the Bosnian War of the early 1990s, ham radio operators like Himzo Devedzija helped separated families stay in touch via radio. These days, the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones has made ham radio seem obsolete, but radio has a key advantage over more modern and user-friendly tech: it requires practically no infrastructure. Hook a radio up to a battery connected to a solar panel, throw a wire over a tree, and you’re in business. Master digital modes like Winlink and you can even send email over the air. The downside is the equipment is expensive, and you need to take tests with the FCC to obtain the necessary licenses. Your best bet is to contact yournearest ham radio club, who can help prepare you for the tests and recommend the best equipment for your area. But you can do a lot of interesting things even without a license, like listen to worldwide HF transmissions and learn how to track down radio transmitters through foxhunting.

Take home point: pick up a hobby, even if it’s not ham and make it FUN!

6. Russia: Plant a garden.

While the leadership of Russia is commonly maligned, the Russian people are damn tough. They’ve survived Genghis Khan, famines, a communist revolution, and total government collapse. One secret to Russian resiliency? Dacha gardens, which the Russian people have maintained for over 1,000 years. These small backyard gardens account for 3% of Russia’s land but provide over 50% of the country’s food, including 92% of potatoes, 77% of vegetables, 87% of fruit, 59% of meat, and 49% of milk. You don’t have to grow everything overnight, but simply starting with a single raised bed of lettuce and maybe a handful of chickens will give you invaluable real-world experience you can scale when the chips are down.

Take home point: build your resilience in bite-sized (pun intended) chunks.

7. Cyprus: Diversification saves.

During the 2013 financial crisis in Cyprus, Germany agreed to bail out the island, but with some characteristic German austerity: a tax of 6.75 percent from insured deposits up to €100,000 and a 9.9 percent from uninsured amounts over €100,000. People panicked, and Cyprus had to shut down banks for two weeks to avoid a run. Ultimately, depositors lost nearlyhalf of their savings. The crisis in Cyprussparked Bitcoin’s meteoric rise from obscure nerd money to a financial titan as the savvy rich realized that they couldn’t trust the banks. Of course, there are alternative places to store wealth other than a bank, but as for your liquid capital, it pays to diversify. Keep some in cash, Bitcoin, and precious metals.

Take home point: your mother was right, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

8.Japan: Government CAN be helpful.

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Japan overall, and Tokyo specifically, take disaster preparedness quite seriously. The 2024 New Years Day earthquake hammered that point home, yet again. At the national level, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force is habitually prepared to respond to calamity; everything from earthquakes to typhoons to tsunamis.

As a country, September 1st is nationally designated as Disaster Prevention Day, commemorating the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake which claimed 140,000 lives. School children, businesses, theme parks, and members of the national government participate annually. At the municipal level, Tokyo publishes a very thorough and thoughtful pamphlet on preparedness for its residents (English link here:https://www.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/english/guide/bosai/index.html). Tokyo also boasts the massive Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, near downtown, that is used both as a tourist attraction and an actual disaster response site.

Take home point: remembrance, codified in national action and tribute, contributes to a culture of preparedness.

9. Finland, Switzerland, Israel: Bunkers aren't mainstream, but the concept is widespread.

You would really have to be a tinfoil hat wearing loon to invest in a bunker, right? Wrong. Switzerland mandates either a personal bunker or a tax for a space in a public bunker. In 2023, Finland ascertained it had over 50,000 bunkers, enough to shelter nearly 90% of its population. For these countries, the shelters are due to nuclear fears. Israeli law stipulates residential homes should possess a Merkhav Mugan (translation: protected space) to protect from conventional rocket and mortar attacks. Some countries and some areas are at higher risk for conventional or nuclear attack. It is folly to ignore this.

Take home point: the need for a nuclear bunker at home should not be a top prepping priority, but many areas of the US could greatly benefit from a reinforced room (e.g. panic room, tornado, or hurricane shelter) to mitigate threats.

10. United Kingdom, Canada, Australia: International preparedness is growing.

Although the tide is turning (slowly), one negative export from America on prepping, especially to the Western World, is that prepping is fringe and even anti-social, if not downright dangerous. Fortunately, things are changing for the better. The United Kingdom is, at least anecdotally, seeing an uptick in interest. The reality series Alone Australia, a spin-off of the American show where survivalists test their wits in nature, is a hit. A December 2023 survey of Canadians found 7% considered themselves preppers with British Columbia reporting the highest levels. Given wildfires, home prices, and general angst regarding a host of potential crises, it’s not hard to see why many are changing their views regarding preparedness.

Take home point: prepping has been a human staple for millennia; the world is rediscovering this and taking action.

About the authors:

Josh Centers has no masters degrees, but he does own four chickens along with some meat rabbits on his Tennessee compound. He runs unprepared.life, the best-selling Substack newsletter on preparedness, where he discusses subjects like food storage, nuclear war preparations, homeschooling, and the importance of cleaning your dryer vents. His views absolutely do not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the Army.

Dr. Chris Ellis has four masters degrees and earned his PhD at Cornell University. He is a Colonel in the Army who specializes in a variety of disaster and homeland defense initiatives. His views are from his studies and experience and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, or his current command. Sadly, Chris does not own any chickens.

5 Christian denominations that have EMBRACED LGBTQ+

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The United Methodist Church (UMC) just lost one million members overnight, and they're on their way to losing another 1.5 million in the coming weeks.

Early this May, the UMC, which has been succumbing to the pressures of the progressive mob for years, made one of its biggest concessions to date. At the UMC's general conference meeting in Charlotte, they voted to allow LGBTQ-practicing clergy and reversed their ban on same-sex marriage. For the leaders of the United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast (EMCUI), this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and they voted to withdraw from the United Methodist Church. This was a massive blow to the Church, which has been losing U.S. congregations over the last few years.

The EMCUI's decision to stand up against pressures from the progressive wing of the Church and defend its core values is being reflected in other churches within the UMC. The 1.5 million-member-strong Korean Methodist Church may soon be on its way out of the UMC before long. The controversy stemming from the general conference meeting provoked the following response from the conservative faction within the Korean Methodist Church: "Homosexuality cannot be accepted until the Lord returns. This is not an emotional issue but a matter of unchangeable truth. Homosexuality is clearly a sin."

But the UMC is not alone. There has been a continuing trend of denominations across America changing their stance on LGBTQ matters and condoning gay clergy and gay marriages.

Here are FIVE examples of Christian denominations that have embraced the pride movement:

United Methodist Church (UMC)

The chargeable offenses for clergy being found to be "self-avowed practicing homosexual" or for presiding at a same-sex marriage or union ceremony are deleted.

Rev. Burton Edwards

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)

The [Presbyterian Church U.S.A] apologizes for the church’s previous unwelcoming stance on LGBTQ parishioners, celebrates LGBTQ church pioneers, and states the church will welcome, lift up, and fight for the human rights of all people created in the eyes of God.

Overture 11-13: "On Celebrating the Gifts of People of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities in the Life of the Church"

The Episcopal Church

Ordination and the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon are open to all without discrimination. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

The Episcopal Church's statement on "LGBTQ+ in the Church"

United Church of Christ (UCC)

LGBTQIA+ siblings know intimately the nature of being deemed an outcast. The clarion call for LGBTQIA+ advocacy is reverberating from state capitol rotundas, family dinner tables, city streets, and church pews.

The UCC's Love is Louder Campaign

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

We give thanks for the gifts, wisdom, leadership and faith of our LGBTQIA+ neighbors and siblings in Christ. We ask the Spirit to embolden us in advocating for social, institutional and legislative change that reflects justice, total inclusion and God’s boundless love for humanity in all its diversity.

The ELCA's prayer ventures; June 4, 2024

Trump's conviction: Press on for the sake of the republic

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Editor's note: This article was originally published on TheBlaze.com.

In today's world, everyone seems to get a trophy, which makes the trophy absolutely worthless. Unless it’s fought for, unless it’s earned and struggled for, the trophy doesn’t belong to you. The same goes for freedom. I’ve never earned the freedom we enjoy in America. I fear I spent too much of my life squandering it. And for what? Ease? Money? Just to go along to get along? A trophy that everybody gets but was never earned?

We must not accept defeat. If we do, we are not worthy of the freedom that is worth fighting for.

I do not accept, nor do I want that trophy. I want one that means something, and that means standing up for something.

Defeat is not an outcome. Defeat is a choice.

We were given an opportunity on Thursday to stand for something: our republic. The weaponization of our government to snuff out Donald Trump’s campaign represents a greater attack against the foundational freedoms that forged our republic: the right to a fair and impartial trial, the right to free and fair elections, the right to defend yourselves against your accusers. Will you stand for it?

Now is the time to decide, and our decision may very well determine whether our republic is heading toward victory or defeat.

I will never say we are finished. I will never utter the words, “We have lost!” Because defeat is not an outcome. Defeat is a choice. It is the choice of the person who is pushed down and refuses to get back up. It is the choice of the person who backs down when pitted against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The posture of defeat is the one who backs down when things get hard. Will you take that posture? Or will you stand for freedom and rise to the occasion that our republic demands?

It always sucks before you get to the summit. The question is: As you're driving your wagon train over the Rocky Mountains, do you press on? Do you actually have an unwavering belief in our republic? Do you really even know the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution? Do you know why we fight? Because if you don't know, you will lose.

Will enough of us call upon that unyielding spirit that has always been inside us? Will you stand for those values that we’ve been told our whole lives are self-evident? Apparently, they are not self-evident any more, according to our ruling elites.

Our country forged the greatest mission statement the world has ever witnessed, that all people are "endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," where justice and freedom can be had by all.

That is the summit of the mountain we now face, and it is a summit worth pressing forward to reach. We are still on the side of the mountain. We have a long way to go, and last Thursday, they tried to knock us back down. We must ask ourselves today: Do we just go back down? Is this as far as we go? Or do we just say, "Press on, America."

We must press on. We must not accept defeat. If we do, we are not worthy of the freedom that is worth fighting for.

FOUR takeaways from Fauci's hearing

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Did Dr. Anthony Fauci answer for the mismanagement of the Covid pandemic?

On Monday, Fauci sat before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability to answer lingering questions about how the pandemic was handled. Many of us, Glenn included, have serious concerns, such as:

  • Why did he lie about gain-of-function research?
  • Why did he try to cover up all the chatter among scientists that the virus DID come from a lab?
  • Did he know the U.S. government cut a deal with Moderna on vaccines before the pandemic?

While some of these questions were partially answered, Fauci's lack of credibility and Congress's lack of direct questioning left much to be desired. The American people deserve the truth, but it's being kept from us.

That’s why BlazeTV teamed up with Free the People to release The Coverup, a docuseries available NOW for BlazeTV subscribers. You can watch the series now and get $30 off your BlazeTV annual subscription by using the code FAUCILIED.

Here are the top FIVE takeaways from Fauci's hearing:

Social distancing was BUNK

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After a closed-door hearing in January where Fauci admitted that the 6-foot social distancing rule imposed on all Americans allegedly for our safety "wasn’t based on data," Fauci tried to distance himself from the controversial edict. Fauci shifted the blame to the CDC, claiming that he had little to nothing to do with the order.

Fauci is "open" to Covid origin possibilities

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For YEARS we were told COVID-19 originated from bats in China, and anyone who dared to offer any other suggestions—like the theory that COVID-19 leaked from the massive virology lab that worked on Coronaviruses and happened to be in the same city the pandemic originated in—was ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist. Now that the lab leak theory has been all but confirmed, Fauci is singing a different tune. On Monday, Fauci claimed he has always kept an "open mind" about the origin of the virus.

Deleted emails and FOIA evasions

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A series of emails released by the House Oversight Committee indicate that some NIH officials, including Fauci, were attempting to avoid public record laws by deleting emails and sending information to personal email addresses. In one such released email sent to Fauci from Dr. David Morens suggested they use personal emails so “there is no worry about FOIAs” [Freedom of Information Act].

MTG outburst

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The infamous Georgia congresswoman was arguably the star of the hearing, taking the opportunity to make her criticisms of Fauci known. Rep. Greene called for Fauci's medical license to be revoked and to throw him in jail. Throughout her time on the microphone, Greene refused to refer to Fauci as "doctor," instead calling him "Mr. Fauci."