Well, gang, here it is. The bigger-than-life personality of Donald Trump rolls into the outsized vistas of big, blustery Texas. Two days before the second Republican debate, and not quite a week past the last gaffe to bounce off of him with no effect, the GOP frontrunner barrels into a sold-out American Airlines Center as the guest of our own ebullient billionaire, Mark Cuban. This may seem an odd fit, since Cuban probably agrees with little of Trump’s recent political pronouncements. But ever the salesman, Cuban is pleased to pack the AAC with a full house just before his Dallas Mavericks hit the building with their 2015-2016 NBA campaign. And Cuban clearly admires the Trump style of “think it, say it,” and with a private-sector edginess that politicians can only dream of wielding.
So what will the night be like for those of us who hit Ticketmaster and got the free admissions, max 2 per customer? (Which we can now apparently scalp as that market opened up when it sold out a few days ago.)
First, it is general admission, which means arriving anywhere near the 6 pm start time will put you in the rafters. Doors will open at 4, but the line to be first through those doors will started forming in the AT&T plaza at– get this– 8 am.
There has been some confusion because the Ticketmaster printouts have a section, row and seat number. They are just code numbers to identify each general admission ticket. The sections all start with “GA,” which means general admission. The “row number” on mine is 251. The AAC is big, but it ain’t got 251 rows in a section. So to be clear: There are no assigned seats. Get there as early as you can.
If you envisioned crafting some huge sign showing love for Donald, disdain for Jeb or a smiling Carly Florina, forget it. No signs allowed of any kind. And no cameras bigger than the simple point-and-shoots. No detachable lenses. And no audio recording devices, which is a weird rule since every smartphone can get an app that turns it into a tape recorder. Good luck enforcing that.
So with crowds pouring into the building at 4, an interesting question arises– when will the protesters arrive? A coalition of mostly Hispanic Democrats will march toward the AAC from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on Ross Avenue. That’s about a 25-minute walk, and they are gathering at 5. I’d like to think nothing untoward would arise from the mingling of Trump fans and Trump-bashers, but the protesters will be carrying a provocative (and false) narrative that the Trump phenomenon is based on hate. Not the way to engage civilly. I would hope the attendees would give the protesters (who say their numbers will exceed 1,500) just what they deserve, by ignoring them.
We won’t be in there a long time, which is good, because Ethan has homework. You bet we’re bringing him. We don’t bludgeon the kids with our politics, but they know what we believe and why. And he knows Mom and Dad are intrigued by Mr. Trump, energized when he connects on valuable themes with clarity, and deflated when he pops off like a mouthy adolescent. But in any event, nothing like this candidacy has ever happened, and that means nothing like this event has ever happened here. So we’re in for the history alone, and we’ll see what Mr. Trump offers from the stage.
I’m going to guess there will be some appreciation for Texas values, and maybe even a nod of appreciation for his rival, our junior Senator. Borders and trade will be big themes, and at some point he will say we are currently led by stupid people.
There will be no unforced error, no gaffe, nothing that would be an embarrassing moment if he ever felt embarrassment. Those tend to happen in off-the-cuff moments rather than prepared remarks. And they will be prepared, as this amazing Rolling Stone story revealed.
It is amazing because the writer, who works for a publication that despises every these Trump has been striking lately, cannot help but confess a certain appreciation, if not admiration. Read it and then hop in the car– early– and get on down there. Tomorrow, we can share stories on the show.
I’ll do some Periscope broadcasting from the AAC as showtime draws near, so make sure we are hooked up via Twitter @markdavis.
Quite the week shaping up. GOP Debate Wednesday night (with attendant watch party, also a sellout, but I’ll ‘scope from that as well), and oh, by the way, the Astros are in town for a 4-game set with the Rangers that may help settle the AL West. Hopefully, Houston will shuck off the ridiculous luck that helped them Sunday.
Good times all around. Looking forward to our time together this week.
So here it comes. September 16. Debate Number Two, but Watch Party Number One. If everybody loves this, we may do it again. So let’s discuss how this works.
The debate is at 8 PM. Good idea to roll into the Studio Movie Grill at 75 and Spring Valley (13933 N Central Expressway) say, 7:15. We’ll be doing a pre-debate straw poll, Jon-David Wells and I will have some delightful banter ahead of time, and it’s just a good idea to get a good seat. Once we are under way, we will gauge audience reactions during commercial breaks and the very odd intermission they have planned– but we’ll make the most of it.
After the debate ends at 9:30, we’ll open the floor for lightning reactions and do a second straw poll to see if opinions were changed by the debate content. J-D will then hop on the air for the remainder of his regularly scheduled show– you may stick around to watch the spectacle, or head home and listen as he opens the phones for everyone who has just consumed the evening’s developments.
It’s going to be a great time, and we look forward to seeing you. While you’re here on the site, jump back to the homepage and click the debate banner. Or just click here. Grab a fistful of tickets and bring your friends– especially your liberal friends. I’m actually serious about that– partly to watch them try to suppress envy at our broad and talented field, compared to the sparse wasteland of their own upcoming primaries, and second, in all seriousness, I always like hearing what Democrats think about the candidates their nominee could be battling against.
Don’t miss out, we’d love to see you. Arrive early and get ready for the rumble!
It’s always a joy to welcome my longtime friend Ted Nugent. But this morning I anticipated our chat with particular eagerness, wondering what he would share about the week of convulsions over an American killing a lion in Zimbabwe. He did not disappoint:
“The reason all legal hunting grounds in Africa, and North America, surround sanctuary-type areas like reserves and national parks, the reason it’s all legal— the animals have babies every year. They reproduce, they multiply. And within the confines of any ex-habitat, they will run out of food, and they will run out of support. So they leave the sanctuary where the legal hunting takes place. Even if you are so soulless as to reduce a magnificent, living, breathing, flesh-and-blood creature to the name of a Boo-Boo, Thumper, Cecil or Bambi, what this dentist did was legal.
“That lion, when he leaves the preserve, especially a 13-year-old lion, my God, the meat from that animal is cherished by the locals. The same with giraffe meat and zebra meat and kudu meat and elephant meat, just like deer and elk and moose all across North America.
“I’m telling you, just take it for granted, do the biological research, every statement about this lion in Africa is a lie. What this man did is standard operating procedure. The only reason people are going berserk is, the lion had a name. Are you kidding me?”
I asked about the tactics used to pursue Cecil— the lights, the blood trails, etc.— are those somehow against a broad hunting ethic?
“I’ve been to Africa two dozen times since 1978. And while we’re all comfy ordering our prime rib and our sushi, dead and prepared to our preferences— that is the standard operating procedure. When you hunt bear in North America, we kill hundreds of thousands of bears. We kill tens of thousands of leopards, lions over the years— think fishing hook and worm. Would you fish without a worm on your hook? Would you go to the area where the fish live? We have become so disconnected. All of these thousands of lions and leopards and bears have all been killed because you need to get them within a proper shot distance for a clean and ethical kill. The only reason we’re going crazy about Cecil is because his name is Cecil. Do you see Jimmy Kimmel crying over the real people hurt by a dictator in Zimbabwe? Can Americans name the five heroes killed in Chattanooga? No, but they know Cecil the Lion.
“In order to have value for the lions and certain wildlife around the world, you have to use the proven and legal methodologies where you do drag a carcass of an animal you have killed for a trophy and for meat and for balancing the herd and you try to get that lion out.
“I’ve hunted lions dozens and dozens of times. I’ve killed one. It is always a sport, it is always challenging. The meat and the bones and hide and the claws and the skin, it is all cherished. People have got to get over this nonsense, hyper-ignorance about “trophy hunting.” Every kill is a trophy. Every kill by law is sacred protein. Every kill is a challenging sport.
“These animals are surplus. If you don’t kill them, the locals will be killed and eaten. Their livestock will be destroyed, and then you’ll take more massive tax dollars to hire a sharpshooter to kill the lion after he’s eaten six people.”
Dropping big game in Africa is never going to make my bucket list. But I have been successfully inoculated against any instinct to wring my hands over those who choose to do it.
Remember what used to be called “spring” and “summer?” Remember that “spring” used to be a time to expect strong storms and “summer” was a time when it became what we used to recognize as “hot.” This was normal, it happened without fail every year, and it tended not to lead network newscasts as I was growing up.
The days of weather nonchalance are over. Now the storms of spring and the heat of summer, still as predictable as ever, have risen to red-alert, team-coverage panic attacks designed to— well, what? What are the forces that have led network TV to absurdly sensationalize what God put in place at the Creation and what man has noticed ever since the first meteorologists drew maps on cave walls?
If you’ve missed it, the phenomenon rolls out like this: at various times in the spring, the networks will find some example of torrential rain, with video of someone’s house or pickup or dog floating downstream. In a nation of nearly 4 million square miles, footage of this type will be easy to find any week from March to June. But a breathless anchor will wrap it in a panicked tone as if an asteroid is hurtling toward the Earth, turning immediately to the chief meteorologist, who will show us maps and more footage, all based on a basic truth down through the ages: It is spring, and in some places, it is raining like hell.
Every network does this, but ABC comes at it with extra gusto on “World News Tonight,” where anchor David Muir tells us on days where many states might see rain that “40 million are in the storm zone!”
Good Lord, “the storm zone?” Isn’t a “storm zone” a likelihood on dozens and dozens of days across America during most of spring?
Of course it is. But why let a good line rest idly in the summer? This week, a whole lot of the country is hot. For my entire lifetime, this has been called “July.”
But no such indifference at ABC, where Monday night they threw up a map featuring much of the East enduring the 90s (which it has done for most of summer since the dinosaurs), and told us— don’t get ahead of me— that “70 million people are in the ‘Hot Zone!’”
God in heaven, it’s “The Hot Zone,” where I seem to remember living from June to September in my Maryland youth, and where I now spend far longer now that my summers are in Texas. If the ABC editors ever fly down here when it’s 108 on some August afternoon, their heads may explode.
On the Monday night newscast, a thoroughly worthy reporter, Gio Benitez, was tasked with interviewing a city official on the streets of Philadelphia, asking him about the dire concerns of local citizens on a day in the 90s, which were likely the conditions as our Founding Fathers pounded out the Declaration of Independence in an un-air-conditioned room around the corner 239 years ago, and they did it in wigs, long coats and panty hose.
So what is with all of this nonsense? There are two plausible theories, and they may both apply.
The first is that this is all part of the dominant media campaign to jam into our brains images of weather gone wild, a false narrative that we have never had so many hurricanes, so much rain, so much heat, blah blah blah. The cause for this in the manuals of the left is man-made global warming, which most reasonable people doubt on its face.
But if they can bury us in constant images of what was once considered ordinary, maybe some people will say, “Dang, it does seem like the weather has gone nuts,” when in fact the only thing that has gone off the rails is the political agendas of the people bringing us most network TV news.
The second theory is even more likely. The reason the networks throw panicky weather coverage at us is that we are drawn to it like moths to a ratings-driven flame. Research shows that locally and nationally, breaking weather news is a stop-down viewing phenomenon, which is why every winter our local Dallas-Ft. Worth affiliates send armies of reporters to area bridges to get closeups of sleet.
So whether it’s a political agenda or good, old-fashioned market forces driving things, this will not change. Spring will be wet, weather will be hot, and both will be portrayed as shock-worthy on TV newscasts. Take it all in stride. Autumn will be here soon, where the only shock will be favorable coverage of the Republican debates.
U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (TX-5)
Marcus Luttrell, former United States Navy SEAL