Ben Sasse is a Senator from Nebraska. He has been one of the very few Republicans in the House or Senate  willing to criticize Trump–actually, he may be the only critic who isn’t leaving public office–the only one who levels criticisms knowing that he will have to face voters and defend those criticisms.

After watching Sasse’s testimony during the Kavanaugh hearings, I have no doubt that he will be able to mount that defense. Here is a public official who has clearly studied the Constitution and considered the implications of its construction. Here, too, is a man who actually “tells it like it is”–who is sharing a thoughtful and informed analysis of where we are that is based upon knowledge of the political context and American history.

Please watch his testimony. It is only seven minutes, and it is very much worth your time.

There used to be a lot of Ben Sasses in the GOP. There are virtually none left, and America and its governance are broken as a result–not because he is right about the issues (I disagree with him on a number of them–and I find it ironic and depressing that despite his criticisms, he almost always votes with Trump )– but because he brings reasoned argumentation to the policy process.



  1. As is the case with too many of these important political videos, it is not closed captioned. But thanks Sheila; Senator Ben Sasse is another Republican name I know to watch for through this Kavannaugh fiasco and the pre-election news.

  2. Peter M Zuris

    I visited your web site and it does a good job of explaining the basics of climate science. Kudos! For others interested just click on Peter’s name (in red under recent comments).

    As for Sasse. It is great that he speaks out, but he, like Corker and Flake and the few others who may occasionally speak up still toes the party line no matter how destructive it is. He has brains but (crude I know) no balls. When I see Republicans begin to stand up, speak up and act then they will have my respect. Not before.

  3. The real test for Mr. Sasse is can he get his fellow legislators to follow him. I’ll be watching and hoping but won’t be betting the farm on an age of enlightenment in the US Congress.

  4. Ben makes an interesting point but the Fourth Branch of government is a “free press”.

    Who do you think is “politicizing the Supreme Court or POTUS?”

    The role of the free press is to hold the government accountable to the people.

    Ben says, “Congress has self neutered itself.”

    It can’t do this unless it has full cooperation from our free press.

    If Congress is “punting” it’s power, than the free press must point this out to the people.

    Does anybody hear or read about the level of corruption within our congressional bodies?

    Does our free press peak behind the curtains to see who and what lobbyists are writing policies/laws for the congressional body?

    Why do you think citizens are protesting consumer products who undertake political statements?

    They are voting with their dollars.

    I suspect it won’t be long before protesting against our employers will come next. God I hope so!

    When workers realize they have all the power but have been getting screwed for decades, hopefully they’ll use their power.

    Ben got the power imbalance correct, but the real imbalance is caused by shifting power of our government to corporations and the Donors (Oligarchs) who write the laws which favor themselves.

    The intention of the founders was to prevent the Oligarchs from ruling over the people. They might have gotten more power than I would have liked but the people retained power.

    We still have it but use it rarely because we’ve been treated as consumers for so long our brains our mush.

  5. Well said, but I fear he will now dismount the soapbox and fade into the crowd on the topic. Also, interesting that he traced this back to Republican nominee Bork rather than Democratic nominee Laurence Tribe, or maybe even another “red or blue shirt” before him.

  6. Theresa; we need to see Sasse’s voting record. As with other Republicans, they talk out of both sides of their mouth but continue voting to support Trump and their Republican cronies in Congress. I doubt it is any “lack of money” on their part but takes me back to “follow the money”. An entire political party denying Constitutional rights to Americans and REFUSING to follow their responsibility to uphold the Constitution – part of their oath of office – has a basis in fact somewhere. I keep going back to the beginning (what we believe to be the beginning) of why the Republican party dumped SIXTEEN viable presidential nominees and forced Trump on this country.

  7. JoAnn,

    Take another look at the video and watch the faces of Sasse’s fellow Senators and Kavanaugh. The message was hitting home for some of them and uncomfortably so. Sasse may well be the real deal. We will know when the Kavanaugh vote comes up.

  8. “It’s the fault of women,” a friend of mine says. She is referring to the desire of women to be master of their own bodies and Roe vs Wade.

    “Take that issue off the table and all other issues would face much more reasoned solutions,” she explains.

    She prattles on: “With today’s communication technology and the web of social connections already in place, an underground system of off-the-grid abortion clinics could be established the equal of and even superior to the open system available (and constantly under attack) under Roe v Wade.

    “The argument that without Roe women would be left with nothing but alley practitioners and coat hangers is invalid.”

    Besides, she adds, “The abortion mark that now goes into a woman’s record would disappear. That, for all practical purposes, would enable more control over one’s own body than exists under Roe. And it removes,” she claims, “the social consequences, the red letter, so to speak. If no one knows of my abortion and there is no record of it, then no one knows. How much better can it be?”

    Which makes me think: what price in terms of practicing anarchy (the failure of government to govern) must we pay for the useless totem of pretend women’s autonomy, Roe v Wade?

  9. As stated earlier today, Sasse may come across as reasonable, but he’s still a Republican and cannot, therefore, be trusted.

    The free press HAS shown us who ALEC is and all the other “think” tanks sponsored by the oligarchs. It’s up to us to understand what this means and vote accordingly. Republicanism remains the bane of our existence.

  10. Thank you Sheila!

    I saw an interview with Ben Sasse on MSNBC yesterday where he was commenting on the hearing and the state of the Republican Party and how, as a conservative, the is very seriously thinking about listing himself as an independent given the current direction of his party. There’s nothing wrong with being a conservative but his complaint was that they’re not getting anything done and that he was there to work. Nothing wrong at all about that either.

    Sasse seems like an earnest fellow wanting to do the right thing for the citizens of Nebraska and I always enjoy listening to him. Again, even though he is a conservative he seems like a throwback to the conservatives that I grew up with is in my own family that were not nuts and not right wing ultra nuts ideologues were ideology trumped everything.

    In the long run, however, Theresa is right, since his vote for or against Kavanaugh will have long lasting repercussions. At some point, one of these people, including Mr. Sasse, has to show that they have a backbone or stand up for what is right for this country and think past themselves and their electoral prospects. I am not going hold my breath in regard to that since even though I like the color dark blue I do not want that to be the tint of my face.

  11. Larry; did your “friend” explain exactly what “women’s record” would add that abortion mark? Medical records are confidential; or that is what we have been led to believe for many years. If someone is standing outside Planned Parenthood or Naral clinics recording all who enter; are they also tracking women who enter OB/GYN departments in hospitals and following them to the OR? Does she, like Kavannaugh, believe birth control medications produce abortions? Common sense, morals, decency, respect for privacy and ethics are becoming extinct in this country.

  12. Thanks Wray. It used to be clear to me that our addiction to fuel would be modern mankind’s downfall but now there’s competition between that and our addiction to entertainment.

    I had given up on ever hearing any member of government who knows any where near as much about ours as Sheila does. Now we have one candidate. He’s a Republican.

    He’s mostly right of course. We have a clown running the Executive Branch and ignoramouses throughout Congress. Let’s see, how did that happen? We voted them in? OMG. We chose them to run our country? How can that be?

    I’m going to repeat myself here. It’s not that we don’t have news available to us. It’s that it’s overwhelmed by entertainment like Fox News and company. There’s enough who don’t want responsibility because we prefer entertainment and like Congress the electorate is full of doofuses who have no idea what they are doing.

    Perhaps this is also the reason why we’re not competing well with the rest of the world in business. Maybe this is why we line up like lambs to the slaughter for 2X the cost health care holding our “blankly” to our cheeks hoping to stay one disease in front of bankruptcy. Maybe there is this connection between our falling down schools and bridges and with what we fill our time.

    But, hey, we have football.

  13. Thanks for sharing this video Sheila!

    While I am glad and appreciate his speech to his fellow members of Congress, I aware that his speech will not change or influence his fellow members of Congress. On a positive note, since his speech was recorded for any and all to hear, it could be used by citizens to demand better from their Senators and Reps. I suspect that he planned this speech for quite some time, with the expectation that he would actually be speaking to the public.

    I saw Ben Sasse being interviewed on one of the Sunday morning shows yesterday (Meet the Press or George Stefanopolous). He was asked if he intended to switch parties because he complains about the actions of the members of his own party. His answer was that he sees himself as more of an Independent than someone who identifies with either party. Interesting – that is how many citizens also view themselves, including me.

    After the Koch bros and their fellow billionaire/millionaire friends were able to buy SCOTUS in order to gain Citizens United, this country has been in rapid decline.

  14. I watched RBG on CNN last night. They played portions of her confirmation hearing. She came right out and spoke of the need for a woman to be in control of her own reproduction to allow her to achieve gender equality. Who today would give their opinion so straight forward on such a controversial subject? Also watch Netflix series Explained “Why Women Are Paid Less”. Points to the “Motherhood Penalty”. Makes sense and factual stats to back it up. Further solidifies RBG’s point made above.

  15. I don’t think Sasse is correct that the administrative agencies are the all powerful 4th branch of government. This is an old conservative trope.

    However, any intelligent and thoughtful comments coming from anywhere in government, whether I agree or not, are most welcome.

  16. Republican BULL ROAR. Sasse isn’t jumping the GOP sinking ship and Pence, like Trump, will never face Mr. Mueller unless unlikely unqualified subpoenas are issued.

  17. Ben Sasse should be given credit for being able to read a well thought out, complex, coherent statement. Even if Sasse had speech writers help him with writing the speech, his thoughts of how government should work is well stated. The speech Sasse gave is well beyond what either President Agent Orange or Pastor Pence could deliver.

    Sasse is totally correct when he observes, the lack of informed deliberation in Congress. This would be difficult to accomplish since PACS, Super PACS and Lobbyists have financial control of who will be selected. Wedge issues are then used to triangulate the electorate.

    Perhaps the best example of Congressional Abrogation of Power is the war making power that rests in Congress. Since the days of LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Congress has handed the Presidents a virtual blank check when it comes to wars. There are NO Debates or reasoned analysis of the gross expansion of our military foot print all over the world.

  18. Larry Kaiser @ 8:15 am. Sounds like your “friend” lives in some make believe world. I did not realize if a woman had an abortion some “Scarlet Letter” would be inserted into her permanent file for all to see and cast judgement.

    >> Which makes me think: what price in terms of practicing anarchy (the failure of government to govern) must we pay for the useless totem of pretend women’s autonomy, Roe v Wade?<<<

    Well the simple solution for you is – Do not have an abortion. For a woman the choice is not "pretend" it is reality.

  19. I join the wet blanket contingent on this blog in re Sasse, and suggest that the reason some of us are heartened by his discussion of approaches to issues is that there are so few if any Republicans who deviate from the Trump line that we are overly quick to give such a few deviants a pass. Yes, he is articulate. Yes, his talk of becoming an independent sounds good, but with no independent party in Washington, with whom will he caucus, a party of one? Let’s get real.

    However attractive his words, the record shows that he votes with Trump time after time and is a hidebound conservative. He seems to want to have it both ways, i.e., mildly criticize Trump but vote the Trump line. How does that compute? The old saying of “Pretty is as pretty does” comes to mind, along with “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” I note that he did not vote against the Trump-Ryan tax bill that amounted to theft of taxpayer money (and that of taxpayers’ grandchildren) and I have not yet heard him complain of Trump’s tariffs (even though he is from a farm state with soybean farmers who favor market capitalism but have become welfare recipients due to the whims of the tariff sheriff). Finally, the adages of “You can’t tell a book by its cover” and “He talks a good game” come to mind.

    Whether Sasse is courting a primary run against Trump in 2020 is immaterial since Trump will not weather the storm of impeachment and/or criminal indictment. I rather think he is positioning himself as an alternative to President Pence in 2020, and since both are right wing to a fault, I for one will be voting for (I hope) Elizabeth Warren.

  20. Maybe Sasse would care to comment on the basically ignored huffpost article about Trump’s rally in Montana where people in the crowd behind him were switched for not showing enough enthusiasm but the girl wiping her nose with what appears to be the flag is left in place. The brief bits of a Trump rally I watch, is to see the reaction of the crowds behind him; I have never seen them change mid-rant. Why has this video not raised questions from the Trumpers who glorify the flag about the behavior of the girl with the flag and apparent desecration of it? I have been in a “discussion” with someone on Facebook who keeps coming up with “explanations” for the change in the crowd but none have answered why the girl remained in place or why no one has complained. Has anyone else seen this offensive video?

  21. Sasse has been really,a republican,in the old terms,,, thanks…
    news from seems the so called republican tax cuts for the working class,are not,, (imagine that) well it seems if you claim as dependants on this years tax filing, you will pay in to the government,what is the full amount,sans the so called tax cut. seems those tax programs have cut the amount of tax that is taken from a employees gross,per pay period, is too little. now, i informed my employer,and she, said she noticed the reduced amont to be taken out,, but did not relize,when its still filed,it will be the same that would have been paid in,without that so called, tax cut,,, lies again, hey Bernie,burn this one up..

  22. Right you are, Heidi, and I will give odds on it. He talks up an attractive line from the usual right wing propaganda but when push comes to shove, he votes with the right wing time after time, so if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck! He’s a duck.

  23. Sasse will vote party line for no other reason than he doesn’t want to upset is money flow from the oligarch cash cows.

  24. I’m not understanding the approbation for Sasse. Some of his first words are about “screaming protesters shouting ‘Women are going to die'” and about this “hysteria” which “has been going on since Bork but has nothing to do with you”; is “you” supposed to be Kavanaugh? Pardon my so-called hysteria, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned when/if Kavanaugh is confirmed, women will lose most, if not all, access to safe and legal abortions. Sasse’s condescension about this issue is enraging. I couldn’t force myself to listen to much more of his speech.

  25. How odd so many people here today downplaying Sasse because he votes with President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence and may vote for Kavanaugh.

    So what about the same rigorous standards being applied to the Counterfeit Democratic Senator from Indiana Joe Donnelly. Donnelly voted for Gorusch, Pompeo, and Gina “Mommy Dearest” Haspil.

    According to ProPublica, Joe Donnelly and Elizabeth Warren are from the same party and have agreed on 60 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). Out of 520 votes in the 115th Congress, they have disagreed on 207 votes, including 14 major votes.

    Joe Donnelly and Bernard Sanders are from different parties but have agreed on 59 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). Out of 506 votes in the 115th Congress, they have agreed on 299 votes, including 21 major votes.

    Joe Donnelly and Mitch McConnell are from different parties but have agreed on 60 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). It is unusual for two members of different parties to agree on so many votes. Out of 520 votes in the 115th Congress, they have agreed on 314 votes, including 17 major votes.

    Joe Donnelly and Todd Young are from different parties but have agreed on 61 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). It is unusual for two members of different parties to agree on so many votes. Out of 519 votes in the 115th Congress, they have agreed on 315 votes, including 18 major votes.

    Just as a comparison:
    Elizabeth Warren and Todd Young are from different parties and have disagreed on 77 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). But they don’t always disagree. Out of 524 votes in the 115th Congress, they have agreed on 121 votes, including 4 major votes.

    One further example:
    Elizabeth Warren and Bernard Sanders are from different parties but have agreed on 93 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). It is unusual for two members of different parties to agree on so many votes. Out of 514 votes in the 115th Congress, they have agreed on 480 votes, including 35 major votes.
    Note the comment concerning “It is unusual for two members of different parties to agree on so many votes”, is Propublica’s, not mine.

  26. The GOP opposes government interference on a whole host of issues (especially interference with businesses and workplace and consumer safety) EXCEPT when it comes to women’s health and then interference is their coin of the realm.

    Brett Kavanaugh is a perfect example. He has upheld the right to deny birth control coverage to women – even when the employer didn’t have to pay for that coverage. He tries to hide his opposition to Roe v. Wade (has been on both sides of that being “settled law”) but he would also diminish that decision by a thousand restrictions. He opposes Obamacare which covers not only birth control but also maternity and pediatric care Poverty is the greatest motivator for abortions, yet the GOP seems intent on increasing women’s poverty with huge costs for maternity and pediatric care.

    Kavanaugh does not support equal protection of the laws for women. Please call Senators Joe Donnelly (317-226-5555 or 202-224-4814) and Todd Young (317-226-6700 or 202-224-5623) ESPECIALLY if you’re a Republican to say “I’m a Republican and urge you to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh”. If you’re a Democrat, please call too.

  27. Sheila, I worry that “reasoned argumentation” has left the building these days, and might not return for quite some time. I hear some on my side gloat that our side is more reasonable than theirs, but that does nothing to assuage my fears. For either side to lack respect for reasoning is a catastrophe for the nation.

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