Ryan: Julián Castro at a Mexican Disco in Iowa

Photo by Sean Ryan

El Malecón Events Center and After Hours Club slumped behind a dumpy Git-N-Go, around the corner from Val Vista Trailer Park and New Hope Open Bible Church and Romantix, which was once voted Des Moines' "Sexiest Adult Boutique." In Spanish, "malecón" means "a stone-built embankment or esplanade along a waterfront." No obvious connection existed between El Malecón, the building, and malecón, the word.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Not a single stone in El Malecón, mostly drywall and plywood. The nearest body of water was a man-made lake frequented by pontooners. El Malecón was 800 miles from an ocean. But as evening shuttled darkly over the building's sagging roof and blacked-out windows, semantics didn't matter.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If you listen to "Seabird" by the Alessi Brothers outside El Malecón, on an August noon, you can catch the point in the sky when day tips into afternoon.

Inside, it was all drenching shade. For some reason, there was a bouncy castle at the back of the room. Inside! Children screamed over the generator and the rush of air and inflation. The balloon colors brightened a rig of Corona signs and tired bartenders, who glanced periodically at Julián Castro holding court beneath a disco ball.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Castro strained to focus as Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" boomed from mounted speakers. Surrounded by banners for his 2020 presidential bid, he barely moved as everyone else nodded to the words: Out along the edges, Always where I burn to be, The further on the edge, The hotter the intensity. All you could hear were music, and kids' yelps, and the occasional fumbled beer glass.

The meet-and-greet had started four hours ago. Now, it was 9:00pm, the second Thursday in August, opening day of the Iowa State Fair, where Castro would be speaking the next morning.

He may have looked tired, but he also looked sharp with his white button-up with the sleeves rolled and his strong handshake, his hair flawlessly pomaded.

Twenty-somethings in blue "Castro" t-shirts folded chairs and untied banners. Most people had left, all but a dozen or so, clumped into a line. Castro spoke to each person, all hispanic, mostly men.

Photo by Sean Ryan

In that half-light, Castro looked like he had sped through life without adventure. This was probably not the case. And for a guy who conservatives often consider hateful or combative, he was friendly, if a bit reserved.

Castro's campaign slogan adorned the walls: "One nation. One destiny." Various Castro stickers, signs, and momentos covered a poker table by the entrance.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The night before, Castro was all over CNN. He had tweeted a picture with the names and occupations of 44 San Antonio residents who'd donated to President Trump's 2020 campaign. Castro wrote that the people's "contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as 'invaders'." Conservatives decried it as doxxing, and warned that posting Trump supporters' personal information would put them in danger. Dirty gaming, on Twitter no less. Liberals, surprisingly, pivoted into a conservative stance by calling the tweets free speech. The information was freely available, after all.

As the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Castro was the youngest member of President Obama's Cabinet. Before that, he was the Mayor of San Antonio. Before that, City Council. Meaning, in 13 years, he expanded his power from the county level to the federal level, earning a seat near the most powerful man in the world, and now he was vying for his shot to earn that spot himself.

His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, serves in the House of Representatives. Texas, district 20. Also Democrat. Like many twins, the brothers look and act enough alike to make you squint, and different enough to make a career doing the same thing.
His mother is controversial civil rights activist "Rosie" Castro, who had joined La Raza Unida, a political party that sought to elect more Hispanic people. Castro's brother and mother introduced him at the San Antonio rally where he announced his bid for the presidency. In doing so, he'd signed up for a gold rush. 2019 had barely started and here was another Democratic candidate vying for the 2020 White House.

If Castro were elected President, he'd be the first Hispanic to get the job. And young, 44. Sharp. But everybody was saying that Castro didn't stand a chance, stuck at 1 percent in the most recent polls.

I had trekked 800 miles to follow the Democratic candidates around Iowa. My dad came along. The man had never held a proper camera before but would he be my photographer? Earlier, at the Joe Biden event, he proved adept at photography. A maniac for the perfect image!

Photo by Sean Ryan

Eventually, he wandered up to Castro, whose campaign manager smiled and asked if we wanted a picture with "Julián." Without answering, my dad extended his hand toward Castro. "I'm from Ireland," he said. "And I want you to know that my heart aches for El Paso, for what happened in El Paso."

Four days earlier, a psychopath killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso. He'd posted a manifesto full of bizarre and contradictory political ideas.

A mere 13 hours later, another psychopath killed ten people, including his own sister. It was the kind of terrible that filled your gut with darkness and made you wonder why, why, why. The shooters had designed their attacks to be explosively political. Everybody was nervous. Everybody kept wondering, "Who the hell would do something so heinous?" Politicians took it upon themselves to answer this question. They had to. Beto O'Rourke even cancelled his Iowa appearances and stayed in his hometown El Paso, although many people had begun to speculate that O'Rourke's campaign was collapsing.

When my dad said "El Paso," Castro had a graceful downtilt to his face and an immediate crestfallen slump in his eyes. It was the perfect display of empathy and sadness, with a dash of hope in there, because nuance is presidential. Then he said, "that's why I will make an excellent president."

Outside, my dad smiled. "I didn't want to tell him that I can't vote," he said. He is not an American citizen, but Irish. "I just wanted him to know that he wasn't alone. That El Paso is weighing on all of us."

A food truck puttered in the parking lot, and the sun declined into an ocean of violet red. We were not far from the birthplace of John Wayne, 30 miles. Where the world gets so quiet all you hear is birds and shush and the occasional green tractor ribboned with corn husk. Iowa retains an enduring, motherly spirit, like those birds that can fly for a year without landing, their saffron beak slicing the clouds.


Alessi Brothers - Seabird www.youtube.com

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

Terry Trobiani owns Gianelli's Drive Thru in Prairie Grove, Illinois, where he put up a row of American flags for the Fourth of July. But the city claimed he was displaying two of them improperly and issued him a $100 ticket for each flag.

Terry joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to explain what he believes really happened. He told Glenn that, according to city ordinance, the American flag is considered "ornamental" and should therefore have been permitted on a federal holiday. But the city has now classified the flag as a "sign."

"Apparently, the village of Prairie Grove has classified the American flag as a sign and they've taken away the symbol of the American flag," Terry said. "So, as a sign, it falls under their temporary sign ordinance, which prohibits any flying, or any positioning of signs on your property — and now this includes the American flag. [...] The only way I could fly the American flag on my property is if I put it on a permanent 20 to 30-foot flagpole, which they have to permit."

Terry went on to explain how the city is now demanding an apology for his actions, and all after more than a year of small-business crushing COVID restrictions and government mandates.

"COVID was tough," Terry stated. "You know, we're in the restaurant business. COVID was tough on us. We succeeded. We made it through. We cut a lot of things, but we never cut an employee. We paid all our employees. I didn't take a paycheck for a year just to keep our employees on, because it was that important to me to keep things going. And, you know, you fight for a year, and you beat a pandemic, and then you have this little municipality with five trustees and a president, who just have no respect for small businesses. And right now, what I see is they have no respect for the republic and the United States ... I think it's terrible. The direction that government, at all levels, have taken us to this point, it's despicable."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


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The Biden administration is now doing everything it can to censor what it has decided is COVID-19 "misinformation." But Glenn Beck isn't confident that the silencing of voices will stop there.

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, where there is no freedom of speech, and she joined Glenn to warn that America must not let this freedom go.

"Whenever authoritarianism rises, the first thing they go after is freedom of speech," she said.

Watch the video clip below from "The Glenn Beck Podcast" or find the full episode with Yeonmi Park here:

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Most self-proclaimed Marxists know very little about Marxism. Some of them have all the buzzwords memorized. They talk about the exploits of labor. They talk about the slavery of capitalist society and the alienation caused by capital. They talk about the evils of power and domination.

But they don't actually believe what they say. Or else they wouldn't be such violent hypocrites. And we're not being dramatic when we say "violent."

For them, Marxism is a political tool that they use to degrade and annoy their political enemies.

They don't actually care about the working class.

Another important thing to remember about Marxists is that they talk about how they want to defend the working class, but they don't actually understand the working class. They definitely don't realize that the working class is composed mostly of so many of the people they hate. Because, here's the thing, they don't actually care about the working class. Or the middle class. They wouldn't have the slightest clue how to actually work, not the way we do. For them, work involves ranting about how work and labor are evil.

Ironically, if their communist utopia actually arrived, they would be the first ones against the wall. Because they have nothing to offer except dissent. They have no practical use and no real connection to reality.

Again ironically, they are the ultimate proof of the success of capitalism. The fact that they can freely call for its demise, in tweets that they send from their capitalistic iPhones, is proof that capitalism affords them tremendous luxuries.

Their specialty is complaining. They are fanatics of a religion that is endlessly cynical.

They sneer at Christianity for promising Heaven in exchange for good deeds on earth — which is a terrible description of Christianity, but it's what they actually believe — and at the same time they criticize Christianity for promising a utopia, they give their unconditional devotion to a religion that promises a utopia.

They are fanatics of a religion that is endlessly cynical.

They think capitalism has turned us into machines. Which is a bad interpretation of Marx's concept of the General Intellect, the idea that humans are the ones who create machines, so humans, not God, are the creators.

They think that the only way to achieve the perfect society is by radically changing and even destroying the current society. It's what they mean when they say things about the "status quo" and "hegemony" and the "established order." They believe that the system is broken and the way to fix it is to destroy, destroy, destroy.

Critical race theory actually takes it a step farther. It tells us that the racist system can never be changed. That racism is the original sin that white people can never overcome. Of course, critical race theorists suggest "alternative institutions," but these "alternative institutions" are basically the same as the ones we have now, only less effective and actually racist.

Marx's violent revolution never happened. Or at least it never succeeded. Marx's followers have had to take a different approach. And now, we are living through the Revolution of Constant Whining.

This post is part of a series on critical race theory. Read the full series here.

Americans are losing faith in our justice system and the idea that legal consequences are applied equally — even to powerful elites in office.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he believes will come next with the Durham investigation, which hopefully will provide answers to the Obama FBI's alleged attempts to sabotage former President Donald Trump and his campaign years ago.

Rep. Nunes and Glenn assert that we know Trump did NOT collude with Russia, and that several members of the FBI possibly committed huge abuses of power. So, when will we see justice?

Watch the video clip below:


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