Texas AG Ken Paxton: We Were on the Verge of Losing our Constitutional Government

Texas has anywhere between 40-45 lawsuits ongoing against the federal government on any given day. Several of those lawsuits have been won and many could become a moot point with the new administration coming into office in January 2017. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stopped by The Glenn Beck Program to explain how he believes we were on the verge of losing our constitutional form of government, as well as share good news on the topics of amnesty and global warming.

Read below or listen to the full segment for answers to these lawful questions:

• How close were we to losing the separation of powers in Washington, D.C.?

• Why were federal administrative agencies allowed to make 25 times more laws than Congress?

• What was Obama's worst legal defeat in eight years?

• Is Ken Paxton personally responsible for FanDuel leaving Texas?

• Is Ken Paxton for or against Article V and a Convention of States?

Listen to these segments from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of segment one, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Attorney general of the great state of Texas, Ken Paxton, a guy who last I saw -- I think we were in 20 different lawsuits against the federal government, were we not?

KEN: Well, the state of Texas has over 40 -- probably around 45. I've sued them about 15 times in about a year and eight months. So it's hard to almost keep track of how many exactly on a given day we have, but it's a lot.

GLENN: Feel free not to answer this, either way -- you know, either way, but was there ever any serious talk at higher levels -- I'm not saying your level or the governor's level, but at higher levels, did you ever hear any serious talk about, there may come a day where we do need to secede?

KEN: So, you know, it's interesting. You hear Californians talk about that now.

GLENN: Right. Oregon too.

JEFFY: Oregon.

KEN: Certainly when I was out campaigning for attorney general, there were people -- there was a secessionist movement. There were people --

GLENN: Oh, but that's Texas. There's always Texans who are like, "What are we part of this Union for?"

KEN: Sure. You're right about that.

GLENN: Right.

(laughter)

KEN: No. Governor Perry made mention of it one time and got a lot of coverage for it. But beyond that, not much --

GLENN: We were trying to get our gold back at one point. Did we ever get that back?

KEN: I think we were trying to do some bank that had our gold. Yeah, I don't think it's ever happened.

GLENN: Yeah, yeah. What a surprise there.

Okay. So tell us the good news. Because you promised me good news.

KEN: So the good news is -- I mean, we were literally on the verge of losing our constitutional form of government, I believe. The separation of powers. The transfer of power from Congress to the courts were going from the administration to all these agencies. He would just issue law, and it would be put through -- instead of going through our representative form of government -- and then Congress would fund it. So we were filing lawsuits, and we were successful in many of these lawsuits in getting preliminary injunctions, which means we stop it for a while. Stays, which means we stop it for a while.

So we stopped, for instance, the amnesty program that Obama tried to put in place at the end of 2014. It was his worst legal defeat in eight years because it slowed everything down. It stopped him from implementing. But the truth was, some of those were really Hail Marys with no receivers out in the coverage. Because if we had lost this election and Hillary had appointed another liberal judge, I'm not convinced that we would have lost many of our freedoms and also this separation of powers. In all these cases where we're trying to control this overreach by the federal government and an out-of-control executive, I think we've had the chance of losing --

GLENN: Tell me how do we -- because I haven't heard anybody talk about this. Right now, the left -- George Soros has called together a convention of the Democrats and the lefties. And basically has said, "How do we stop them from making and reversing all the things that we've done? And how do we get back into power?" Let's just say that Donald Trump is a great president and has eight years, how do we stop this back and forth? Because then what they'll do is then they'll come in and reverse everything that you've done.

KEN: Yeah, I agree. That's a great question.

GLENN: How do we do this?

KEN: So, one, Trump has to immediately rescind these executive actions. That's the first --

GLENN: He said he would do that on day one.

KEN: Right. And that gets rid of our Title 9 issue, the transgendered bathroom issue, that gets rid of the illegal immigration issue that Obama put through. But there's still all these rules that are in place through all these agencies. They have to go back and undo those or at least not defend the lawsuits that they're in.

And then Congress -- this is going to all come back to Congress. They need to pass laws that box in these agencies so that if we end up back with another Democratic president and more liberal courts, they're at least boxed in by the language, the statutes.

GLENN: Right. The law needs to be that the agency can work within it. But if you're doing a regulation, the regulation has to come from Congress.

KEN: Absolutely. So we had, in 2014, 3200 pages of laws passed by Congress. Do you have any idea what the administrative agencies -- that's over 80,000 pages. That's like 25 times more laws from the agencies. That can't keep happening.

GLENN: Did you see TARP? Or, not TARP. The stimulus package when it came out. Did you see the actual printed stimulus?

KEN: I actually did.

GLENN: I did. And didn't it happen, Pat, right before inauguration? It was out already. Or right after. It was within weeks of him getting into the office.

PAT: Yeah.

GLENN: And we printed it out. And it was huge. And it was sitting on my kitchen table. And we were all taking pieces of it and reading it. And I said, "This isn't six months of work. This has been in the works forever."

And what they have done -- what we have watched them do has been monumental. God only knows, with a brain like Cass Sunstein, what levers they have pulled, that we don't even know they've pulled.

KEN: No. I think you're absolutely right. And you're right. There's no way they developed that in just --

GLENN: No. Years. Years.

KEN: This was designed, setup -- yeah, and they got power and they just did it. Because we have all three branches of government, the Republicans -- there's an opportunity here to at least put the law -- narrow in what all these agencies can do.

GLENN: Will they do it? You and I both know, there's one thing -- there's one thing that was universal in Washington, DC, at least I believe, when Donald Trump won. And that was, because they held on to power. It wasn't about -- for a lot of people in Washington, it was about the Constitution. But I think even more, it was about power. They will do whatever they have to, to hold on to power.

KEN: Yeah. And I just had a meeting with all the Republican AG's in Texas. I hosted an event. And that is -- that was our focus. We are going to continue -- you know, we've been suing the federal government in groups, en masse. Some of these lawsuits have been in 27 states, 25 states, 21 states. We just had one this week that we argued on overtime, where they made up these new overtime rules that are massively going to affect business. We had 21 states in that.

But our message to Congress is, "Please, for the future of our country, go in and reign in these agencies." Because they're basically taking over the legislative branch of government. And for all effects and purposes, even the courts -- because the courts were giving them deference. They weren't even reviewing what these agencies were doing, as much as what Congress did. So we were -- fundamentally losing one of the most important part of our Constitution, which was this idea of separation of powers. Because, ultimately, the Founders, as you know, did not trust power in the hands of too few people. And if they let that go and they don't fix it now, we will get it -- we were that close to losing it. And that's what I think we need to prevent.

GLENN: So what -- what happens to all of the lawsuits now? Can they just be dropped?

KEN: It depends. So the ones that were done by -- so it's so interesting that Obama did a lot of them by executive order, which is very easy to do because he doesn't have to use Congress at all. Those are the easy one to get rid of. Because now Trump can go back and undo them the same way. So hopefully those just go away. The ones that were put through by agencies, through the Administrative Procedures Act, where they actually passed final rules. Went through a comment period and all that, the agency is going to have to come back and undo that. Or the Trump administration can stop defending those lawsuits. I mean, just say, "We're not defending them anymore." And we'll win.

And then the third is like Obamacare. We have our own Obamacare lawsuit. Because in this process, they created new taxes for all the states, which is not in statutes, costing Texas 120 million a year. So it's costing every state millions of dollars. Not in any statute. We're going to have to go back and have Congress undo statutory changes like that. But there were very few statutory changes made. It was all through agencies.

GLENN: When they say we're going to repeal and replace, I've hated that from the beginning because I want the free market to replace. But Donald Trump is -- and so are the G.O.P., they're still doing -- they want the 26 years old and you're still a kid. And you can't turn away somebody for preexisting conditions. So the government is still going to be involved in there. But it's my understanding that they can't just shut it all down now. It's in and it's never really going away.

KEN: Well, I hope that's not true. I think they can over time shut it down. It's obviously not something they're going to shut down in one day. But they need to pass provisions that wean people off of what we have and go to what you're talking about, which is we need to break down barriers across state lines so that we can have competition. We need to do tort reform, like we've done in Texas, which has driven down medical costs in Texas because we don't have these outlandish lawsuits. And we need to have a complete free market reform. Because there is no perfect system. But by far, the best one we have is free market. Nothing --

GLENN: If you were on the other side, what would you be doing right now?

KEN: If I was on the --

GLENN: If you were on the progressive side -- I don't even want to say Democrat. If you were on the progressive, let's destroy the Constitution, and have this an administrative state, what would you be doing?

KEN: Do I have to tell them that?

GLENN: What should we be watching for?

KEN: You know, I would say the key is watching to see if they slow Congress down from making some of these -- Congress doesn't have to do a whole lot to fix this. They can literally just put bounds around what was happening. Because fundamentally Congress was losing all authority.

GLENN: Do you hear anybody in Washington, writing that, talking about that, knowing that, spearheading that?

KEN: I don't know anybody specifically, but they're certainly going to hear from many of the AG's from across the country. Because that's what's we've been fighting for eight years.

GLENN: Okay.

STU: I have one important question I must ask.

JEFFY: I saw this one coming.

STU: This was definitely coming. I want to go to my fancy phone right now, and I want to go and go to my FanDuel app. And I want to enter my FanDuel contest. But when I do that, it tells me I cannot enter in Texas, of all places. The place of freedom --

GLENN: You know what, he would like to do that, and he would like to do that in the Tesla that I can't buy in Texas.

KEN: Sure.

GLENN: Because of the laws in Texas.

STU: Are we getting this stuff cleared up, or what?

KEN: So FanDuel chose to leave Texas. They made a choice based on state law. They were not forced to leave Texas. They chose to leave Texas --

STU: Because they want to be on the right side of you. Right?

KEN: Right. No, not of me.

STU: Not of you. But they want to be on the right side of the government. So they're trying to be as cautious as possible.

KEN: In Texas, you can have a fantasy football league. And you can also have betting in that fantasy football league. But the law is very clear that a third party can't take a cut of that. So that's just Texas law.

my job was to issue an opinion. I was asked, "What's the law in Texas?" And I told them what the law was. None of that is my personal opinion. I write opinions every day that I agree with and don't agree with.

GLENN: So what he's saying is we shouldn't kill him, Stu.

KEN: That's right. Another day.

No. That's up to the Texas legislature. Current law is what it is. And many states have similar laws. So it's not like fantasy sports are outlawed. It's just that you can't have a third party taking a cut.

STU: Okay. So we need to pressure the legislature to change that, and then we can --

KEN: Right. Or just have your own league, where you put your own money in.

GLENN: Are you for Article V? The Convention of States?

KEN: You know what, I'm very open to that. The one challenge though is -- the one challenge I've always wondered about is, if we're not following the Constitution now, what does changing the Constitution -- I mean, how does that fix that? That's my fundamental issue with it. Otherwise, I like it --

GLENN: We would at least be clear on it.

KEN: Look, I love the idea -- I love the balanced budget ideas. I love almost every idea. What I can't figure out is, if you get a president like President Obama who doesn't care about the Constitution, who ignores it anyway, does fixing -- adding some clarity in a certain spot, does that change the fact that he's going to ignore it? We have to have people in office that are going to follow what you write, right? And if they're not going to, how does changing that fix that?

GLENN: Yeah.

PAT: Can we go back to what Glenn brought up? I think we're all stunned that Texas, as free as it is here, doesn't allow a free standing car dealership. How is that possible? How can Tesla not be able to come here and not have their own dealership?

[break]

GLENN: Talking to Ken Paxton. He's the attorney general for the great state of Texas. A really good, straight-shooting guy. And I will tell you, it was people like you that made me want to move to Texas. Because I feel that our state is in good hands and we at least abide by the Constitution.

KEN: We want people like you to move to Texas. So we're happy you're here.

GLENN: Good. So can we talk about building the wall on the northern border? It's time to stop all this riffraff from coming in, you know what I mean? Got to keep those New Yorkers and Californians out of here.

KEN: I'm kind of with you.

PAT: So on Tesla. Back to Tesla now.

JEFFY: Thank you.

GLENN: This is really a hot topic for the two of us. We can't believe we live in Texas of all places, and you can't cowboy enough to say, "I want to open up a dealership for Tesla."

KEN: You've got the legislative process to get through.

PAT: It really is illegal to have a free-standing car dealership? How is that --

KEN: So my understanding -- I'm not an expert on this issue.

PAT: Okay.

KEN: My understanding, the manufacturer can't directly sell to the consumer in Texas. I think that's similar to a lot of other states. If people want that -- if they want that changed, the process is set up for the legislature to make the change. But it has to go through --

GLENN: But that was really put -- that was a favor at some point done for the dealerships.

PAT: Yeah. Some massive dealership lobby.

GLENN: Yeah, some massive -- yeah, that came in and said, "Hey, let's make sure that nobody can come in."

PAT: That's crazy.

GLENN: Yeah, it's really foolish.

PAT: Crazy.

STU: In Texas.

PAT: I mean, why?

KEN: But it's around -- it's been around for --

GLENN: Does that make it right, Ken?

KEN: No, I'm not saying it does. No, it's not. I'm just telling you it's been around for a long time. And there is a process --

GLENN: So has cancer.

KEN: Exactly. I'm not disagreeing with cancer.

GLENN: Boils have been around for a very long -- scurvy was with the pirates.

STU: But do you get that a lot though because, you know, I think this is going to happen with Trump too. People are going to be tempted to use all the crazy things that Democrats have done for the past eight years.

GLENN: Just to fix it with a pen.

STU: Do you get that a lot? Do you get people --

KEN: A lot of people want me to do things that is not within my constitutional authority to do because they want me to go fix something. And even though I agree with the topic, I -- it's not my job to fix certain things. My job is to represent the state of Texas in legal actions and to defend the Constitution.

GLENN: That's what -- it, you know, bothered me when I saw that 26 percent of everybody who voted on this last election wanted a strongman. That scared me. We don't want a strongman.

KEN: We had one of those. And he's leaving office.

GLENN: Yeah, we want a strong constitutional viewpoint. We want a strong balance of power.

KEN: We want a strong leader, but we want a strong leader that believes in the separation of powers and does his job in that role. Nothing more, nothing less.

GLENN: How concerned -- how concerned were you with the way the Department of Justice and Comey and everybody else handled this Hillary Clinton thing? I mean, from the outside, it -- I can't understand how somebody who took pictures of their little hovel inside of a submarine went to prison and Hillary Clinton, nothing was wrong. I --

KEN: It's...

GLENN: It was concerning.

KEN: It's hard not to have a lack of trust in the justice system when you see somebody like her not even have a real investigation. You know, he basically came out and said, "Yeah, we are looking into this." And suddenly, they went through 650,000 emails in like, what, two or three days? That's not a real investigation. And so it's hard to trust -- I think that's going to be one of the big functions of this new administration, is dealing with the Department of Justice and fixing some of the corruption --

GLENN: Got to clean it out.

KEN: We have to have confidence in the rule of law, that it's going to be applied fairly to everybody.

GLENN: If the Justice Department -- for the Republicans or the Democrats, anybody, becomes just a tool to persecute or protect, we got nothing. We have nothing left.

KEN: Absolutely. I totally agree with that. Americans know that we've got a problem, I think. I think that may be why we had a change.

GLENN: Thank you so much.

KEN: Absolutely.

GLENN: Thank you for all of the things -- say hi to your wife.

KEN: I will. And y'all have a great Thanksgiving.

PAT: You too.

GLENN: Thank you very much. Okay.

Featured Image: 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!