Nebraska Senator Questions Donald Trump on Core Principles

Newly elected Senator Ben Sasse joined Glenn's radio program to discuss how the presidential election is shaping up from a Washington, DC perspective Tuesday morning.

Glenn asked about a Twitter campaign the Nebraska senator carried out over the weekend, in which he questioned how Donald Trump would govern, should he become president of the United States.

"I have lots of concerns," Sasse answered. "It's not at all clear what the core guiding principles are of Mr. Trump."

He continued.

"Trump is entertaining. He's a lot of fun. He calls it like it is about a bunch of things that are broken. Now, who is he really? And what would he do if were president?" Sasse said.

Below are some of the questions Sasse posted on Twitter.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript below.

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

GLENN: We have very few friends in Washington, as you might imagine. We don't like a lot of people, especially in the capitol or in the administration. But there is one senator that is a new senator that we really, really trust. And he had an interesting weekend on Twitter. And we're going to start there with some questions that he posed. He joins us from Washington, DC. Ben Sasse, right now.

(music)

GLENN: Welcome to the program. From Nebraska, Senator Ben Sasse. How are you, sir?

BEN: Doing well, Glenn. Good morning. Thanks for invite.

GLENN: How are things feeling in Washington, DC, with the way the presidential election is shaping up? It looks like Hillary Clinton is in trouble. And we may be looking at a Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side and possibly either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. How are people feeling in Washington? What are you hearing in the halls?

BEN: You know, I don't pay a ton of attention to my colleagues' chatter on that stuff. Just to be honest, it's amazing how much there's certainty in Washington, until there's not certainty. And there's another certainty two weeks later. I don't think Washington knows very much about all of life. But what's the old line? Often wrong, but never in doubt. So prognostications, predictions by politicians --

GLENN: But what I'm asking is, you know, the establishment has come out for Donald Trump now, and they're talking about deal-makings. And he's on the road talking about deal-makings with the establishment.

Are they concerned about a Trump or a Cruz presidency? Are they concerned about a -- a Clinton or a Bernie Sanders? I mean, I would imagine if you're the Democrats, you might be a little freaked of the idea of Bernie Sanders.

BEN: Yeah. I mean, Bernie is such a likable guy. But, you know, sometimes it feels like -- the ideas sound like we might have just gotten our finger stuck in a light socket for a moment, so I don't know how seriously many people are often taking that possibility. But I agree with you that Mrs. Clinton's legal predictions look very, very complicated.

But, you know, the whole deal-making aspect of it, you know that I'm new here. I've been here 13 months. I've never run for anything before in my life until I was elected to the Senate. And I still live in Nebraska, and I commute most weeks. I bring a kid back. We have three little kids, and I bring a kid back and forth with me every week. So my community or my neighbors are people at church and at the grocery store back home. And one of the great things to say amid all that is wrong in Washington, is most of America doesn't take this place very seriously. They're not addicted to politics. When I'm back home, very rarely do you find anybody in line at the grocery store saying, "If only there were only more insider deal-making in Washington, that would fix all of our problems."

(laughter)

GLENN: Okay. So why for the love of Pete, it's very dangerous and hazardous to your career and health to take on Donald Trump? This weekend, you went on -- you're not endorsing anybody. But you went on and you started doing a Twitter storm here on -- you said you've struck a cord with the American people, Mr. Trump, if I may quote. I think you've rightly diagnosed much of what's wrong in DC. You're very talented and on a roll. If I were betting, you're likely to be the next president of the United States, and congratulations.

But in our house, we've talked about your phenomenal campaign a lot. Good to see how people are talking directly about DC's big mess. But at the same time, we have questions of how you would govern. We'd like to ask some questions, if you're willing to take them.

BEN: Yeah, this is actually what we talk about in my house, with my family. But also with my dad and my brother and my sister-in-law and my grandpa. And there's a debate about, what does Trump actually believe in a whole bunch of issues? It's clear that he's tapped into a vein that most of what's happening in Washington right now is a mess and is broken and is not headed in the right direction. Okay. Good so far. Now, where do you want to take us?

I have lots of concerns that it's not at all clear what the core guiding principles are of Mr. Trump. And so, you know, if Cam Newton hadn't been so dominant the other night. If Arizona had had any defense, maybe none of this would have happened. But Sunday night, I'm watching the NFL game, and I was just back from New Hampshire. I spoke at the first in the nation presidential primary in New Hampshire, and I heard the same things in New Hampshire that I hear in my house, which is, Trump is entertaining. He's a lot of fun. He calls it like it is about a bunch of things that are broken. Now, who is he really? And what would he do if were president? So we threw a few of those questions.

GLENN: All right. So here are the questions. You want to go through them, one by one?

BEN: Sure. Let's do it.

GLENN: All right. Go ahead.

BEN: Well, first, he has advocated for single-payer health care before, which I think is term for it was government pays for everyone. The government will pay all the bills.

GLENN: So you know, he said that just last year. He said that in September of last year.

BEN: And so now he's campaigning as a conservative. And I don't know of anybody who holds the conservative principles that most of life should be lived outside of Washington that thinks the best thing you can do is insert government bureaucrats between doctors and nurses and sick people in America. That's not a conservative position. And if he doesn't believe in single-payer anymore, that's great. I would be glad. I -- there might be a legitimate conversion story there, but I'd like to hear it. And I think people in New Hampshire and Iowa and certainly in my state in Nebraska people would like to hear it. If you don't believe in single-payer health care anymore, when did it change, and why did it change? And what are you precisely for?

GLENN: Next question.

BEN: There's some video out there that I've seen on the internet. I'm a big defender of the Second Amendment. It is my right because God made me a dad and a husband, to defend my property and my wife and my kids. No government gives me the right to defend myself.

And so we're big Second Amendment people in our family. And I've got a brother who pretty much if you rank ordered 100 different issues on earth and then you gave him 100 marbles, he'd put all 100 of his marbles on the Second Amendment and nothing else matters to him. So he asked the other day, what does Trump think about guns? Because there's this video going around where he's on 60 Minutes or somewhere saying I hate the concept of guns. I believe he's advocated for different kinds of assault weapon bans and things in the past. And so if he doesn't hold that view anymore, if he actually affirms the Second Amendment, how does he understand the Second Amendment? When did his view change? Why did it change? You know, what are his fundamental positions on that?

GLENN: I was in Iowa this weekend, and this is kind of what I said. I said, "Look, I understand people changing their mind. I understand people changing their opinion. I believe in redemption and forgiveness. I believe people can make mistakes. I'm the king of redemption. I needed it more than most. So I understand that. But my problem is, I haven't heard when these things have changed for him." And like you said, there might be a really great reason, but because of this administration, is not -- you know, because, "Well, the country is not going in the right direction or because Obama is doing these things or because it's not working," is not enough of a pain to make you fundamentally transform on government health care and "I hate the concept of guns," I'm totally behind the Second Amendment.

BEN: Right. And let's be clear. I want to underscore your point about redemption. I'm a big believer in sin. It's at the core of my identity that I'm a sinner and Jesus is my savior because of the fact that I'm a sinner. So I believe that. I believe you can change views. But you have to be able to explain it. You have to be able to walk people through a process that is coherent, other than saying, "Hey, there's a big constituency out there, and it appears they have a different view than mine, so now I'm going to adopt their's." That's not leadership. That's running in front of a mob. And maybe it's genuine. But I'd just like to hear the story, and I have not heard it.

GLENN: This is one of the reasons, I think, he doesn't want to appear on this program. When we asked him was after months and months of questioning, and we started asking him in late August, early September if he would come on the show. We asked him three times. And the reason why we wanted him on the show was, maybe he has a good reason for all of these things. Let's hear the reason for all of these things. And that's when he didn't want to appear on the show and all the trouble started.

BEN: Thanks for clearing that up, Glenn, because I actually thought it was because you had no audience. I thought there were four people listening and you were going bankrupt. And I was just here as a social call frankly for you and your loneliness.

GLENN: Gosh. Darn it. You let the cat out of the bag.

We're talking to Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Senator from Nebraska. One of the good guys. Number three.

BEN: Where does he stand on taxes? What is his view -- goal of trying to shrink government? We have a government that is out of control. We have 18 trillion dollars of debt. We've got something like three times that much in unfunded obligations that that the government lies about and keeps off their books in our entitlement programs in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. And a few years ago, Mr. Trump had a proposal that he thought he could address a lot of this. By raising taxes $6 trillion. Trillion with a T. That's not even stuff that Bernie Sanders dreams of.

So I'm just curious as to what his view is on taxes in the future. And, frankly, does he agree with Vice President Biden who said, "Higher taxes equal more patriotism?" If you have a view that there's a way to solve our problems by just raising taxes exponentially, I think that would collapse the economy. But I'd love to understand your position because I think most the people that are supporting him don't know he advocated for a 6 trillion-dollar tax increase.

GLENN: Number four.

BEN: Number four. I'm going to read this precisely because we got hit a lot in the press for this. People saying we said things that were quite different than the actual point we were making.

GLENN: No.

BEN: Number four was, you brag about affairs with married women. The key verb here was "brag." Have you repented, not only to the harm to children, but to the spouses that you stole from? And do you think any of this matters?

GLENN: Hang on. I don't know of these stories where he's bragging about having affairs about married women.

BEN: So I read a piece by Lash over the last week that summarizes some pieces of different books he's written. And I guess along the way -- and then I went and looked up one of them. He says, "I've had all kinds of women." And he sort of lists out categories. But one of the categories are beautiful women, famous women, women you would know, pro athletes, or whatever. I don't have the quote in front of me. But along the way, he said single women, married women. There's a sort of bravado about this that lots of guys have done in locker rooms since we were 17 and 24. And men often say and act stupidly.

But there's something quite different than just a question of whether or not certain aspects of fidelity and infidelity are private or public matters. There are reasonable debates to be had about a lot of that. It's something different to brag about having married women. So I'm just curious as to whether or not he thinks relationships and oaths and vows mean anything. Because I'm setting up the next tweet, which is going to be about the Constitution. The commander-in-chief and the president of the United States takes an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. And I'm curious as to his view of both.

GLENN: Have you had any response?

BEN: You know, strangely there's this thing called Twitter. I don't know if you've heard of it. But it turns out, on Twitter, if you ask a question and some people don't like it, they're able to create these computer programs called bots. And you can create news by having gazillions of people retweeting that I maybe stole a car or I stole some land, I evicted an old lady. Maybe I was involved in physical violence or sexual violence.

GLENN: Hold on just a second. Well, that's why we had you on, on this washed up show that only has four listeners. We thought you had evicted and abused a little old lady, which was my grandmother, I hear. That's not true?

BEN: I've never been in politics before. You know this. Let's be clear about that. I mean, I am anti-establishment. That's not enough. You have to be more than that. I'm not skeptical of nonpoliticians trying to serve the American people by defending the Constitution. I'm raising my hand here on radio to say, "I've never run for anything before in my life, until a year ago when I was elected to the US Senate. I was a college president for the last five and a half years and a business guy for, you know, a decade and a half before that. So I'm all for lay governments of America. I am against the permanent professional, political class. So that is not my gripe with Mr. Trump.

GLENN: Oh, is that what they're saying about you? You're part of the political class now?

BEN: Oh, I'm sort of -- I don't even know.

GLENN: It's funny. It's amazing. Michelle Malkin. I just talked to Michelle Malkin yesterday. Michelle Malkin is stupid. She's one of the smartest women I know. I'm a washed-up loser has-been, which actually is pretty darn close to being accurate, compared to all the other things he says. But I've sold out. I'm betraying the Constitution. I'm betraying the conservatives. I mean, it's amazing --

STU: You can't even vote in Texas' open primary.

GLENN: Yeah, I can't vote in a Texas open primary.

BEN: You're a Canadian, aren't you? Glenn, I'm trying to level with you.

GLENN: It's amazing how many people we now have to hate if we're on the Trump bandwagon.

BEN: Well, I don't want to go too far afield and get accused of being too much of a nerd here, but it really is worth going back to the Founders for just a second and remember that America is fundamentally about a certain kind of anthropology, a certain kind of belief about human dignity. We are frail, and we are fallen, and we are broken. But we believe in the potential of self-restraint, of growth and discipline and local community and human dignity. And the reason you want self-restraint is because I don't want the government restraining everything. There's so many things that can go wrong in the world, but I don't want more power to try to compel all of life. I want more persuasion. I want more conversion. I want more voluntary engagement. But when you look at Twitter, you realize what some of the Founding Fathers were a little bit worried about --

GLENN: There's no self-restraint. Ben Sasse, thank you very much for talking about us. We appreciate it. I know you have to do something, probably evict an old lady. But we certainly appreciate it. Have you selected a candidate yet, or are you going to?

BEN: No, I don't expect that I will. Who knows where it will end at the back end. But I don't think Nebraskans elected me because they need a lot of advice on who to vote for. But I do think it's a wonderful thing that the Republican Party has a whole bunch of candidates that believe in the Constitution. We already have one party in the country that's gone basically post constitutionalist. If the Republican Party does that, where will we reform from in the future?

GLENN: Good for you. Thank you very much, Ben Sasse. Senator from Nebraska. And really, truly one of the really good guys.

Featured Image: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) (L) is ceremonially sworn in by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with Sasse's wife Melissa Sasse, son Augustin Sasse and daughter Elizabeth Sasse in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak.Not to act is to act."
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The cost of discipleship can be daunting and few people are willing to sacrifice and stand in the face of evil to do what they know God is asking of them. The "Bonhoeffer Angel Award" is awarded to someone with the vision and courage to act when others only talk, to dig in and listen to the whisperings of the spirit when others turn a deaf ear. It is only fitting the inaugural award go to the visionary founder of Mercury One, Glenn Beck.

The award was presented by the Board President of Mercury One, David Barton and CEO of the Nazarene Fund, Tim Ballard. There was a touching video tribute as well including the likes of Penn Jillette, Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Joe Liberman, Congressman Loui Gohmert and Rabbi Daniel Lappin.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Glenn will be hosting the annual Operation Underground Railroad gala Saturday, November 2nd with keynote speaker Tim Ballard. If you are able to join us, tickets are still available and donations of all sizes are welcome.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!