Down In Dallas

For a time, a few years ago, America knew Texas. The women had big hair. Their slinky metallic dresses had big shoulder pads and obviously cost a fortune, and were worn only once of course. The men ran oil companies. They wore two-thousand-dollar Italian suits with their two-thousand-dollar custom cowboy boots. And both the men and women were pretty – and nasty – and completely unaware of most everything. They didn’t do introspection.

They were amoral, and they were absolutely rich. And they had no taste. It was all glitz. This was Dallas – the wildly popular prime time soap opera that ran from 1978 to 1991 – week after week of ruthless nasty rich people having at each other. But damn, they did lead the good life. It would be so cool to live that life. That was the appeal.

Money fixes everything. Flaunt it. And of course Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous ran from 1984 to 1995 – feeding the nation’s need for “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” – showing the quite real shallow and totally unaware idle rich, surrounded by gold-plated everything. Such people actually existed, and the nation decided they were pretty damned cool.

Donald Trump noticed this. He turned himself into the outrageous absurdly rich man of the eighties. He figured it out. The totally unaware idle rich are a bit repulsive but also oddly compelling. Everyone wants to be just like them. Donald Trump saw that. He understood. He’d be crude and amoral and unaware of so many things. He’d be repulsive, but he’d be so damned cool. No one could take their eyes off him.

No one did. That’s why the nation elected J. R. Ewing president – and then tossed him out. America finally knew Texas. No one wanted to live deep inside another episode of Dallas. Those people down there were crazy.

They still are. Business Insider reported this:

Attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas have been handed cards outlining a 7-point-plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president ‘in days, not years…

The cards seemed to have been made by a group called Patriots Soar, which was not affiliated with the event organizers.

The plan involves ousting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and eventually installing Donald Trump in her place.

Donald Trump as Speaker would then call for a vote to impeach, charge, and remove “imposters” President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

As the Speaker of the House is third in the line of presidential succession, Trump would then take up the presidency again…

This seems a bit unlikely, give this particular detail:

The plan hinges upon Republicans regaining control of the House, which they plan to do by pulling back the curtain on “the horror show” of the Democratic Party, causing groups such as the Black Caucus to “flip” sides.

So, when every single Black officeholder in Congress joins the Republican Party, which they will say they should have done long ago, Trump becomes president once again. But there’s even more to this:

The card links to a website that elaborates on the scheme to reinstate Trump and claims to have proof connecting the Democratic party to satanic sacrifices.

The messaging alludes to popular QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theories that accuse the Democratic party of secret satanic abuse. A recent study found that around a quarter of Republicans believe that Satan-worshiping pedophiles control the US government.

The conspiracy theory that Trump will soon be reinstated as president has been popularized by prominent supporters, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and the lawyer Sidney Powell.

And this was the preamble:

CPAC, an annual gathering of top US conservatives, is taking place in Dallas this weekend. Donald Trump is scheduled to speak on Sunday.

But before that big speech, Politico reported that there was this:

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday widely praised those who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol, repeatedly using the word “love” to describe the tone of the event.

Echoing his rhetoric about the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump said, “These were peaceful people, these were great people.”

Speaking on “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” on the Fox News Channel, he also said the rally participants were patriots, that some of them were unjustly arrested and jailed, and that a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection was a great hero.

That’s what Vladimir Putin had been saying all along. Great minds think alike? Perhaps so:

The remarks reflected recent efforts by Trump and his supporters to cast themselves as the aggrieved parties from the Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead and others injured – and, for a brief time, halted the wheels of democracy as President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College was being confirmed by Congress.

Trump’s reference to “great people” was similar to his remarks after the fatal confrontation in Charlottesville. “You had some very bad people in that group,” he said in August 2017. “But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

In his interview with Bartiromo, Trump said those at the events of Jan. 6 were loving people who wanted to save the nation.

And then he reminisced about his favorite day as president:

“The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of his rally on the Ellipse. “That’s why they went to Washington.”

He added: “Too much spirit and faith and love, there was such love at that rally, you had over a million people,” inflating the size of his rally crowd.

But that’s not what people saw:

After Trump’s speech, the Capitol was invaded by backers of his seeking to disrupt the Electoral College count. On the way in, they battled with police officers; according to the Department of Justice, approximately 140 police officers were assaulted. Hundreds of those who entered the Capitol have been charged with various crimes, including more than 50 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.

But forget that:

Trump and Bartiromo both expressed outrage over the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt within the Capitol, implying repeatedly that there was a cover-up at work. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was fatally shot as she tried to climb through a broken window during the insurrection.

“Who is the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman, right in the head?” Trump said. “There is no repercussion – if that were on the other side, it would be the biggest story in this country. Who shot Ashli Babbitt? People want to know and why.”

Bartiromo then referred to Babbitt as “a wonderful woman fatally shot on January 6 as she tried to climb out of a broken window.” Their remarks echoed those of some of Trump’s backers, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who has claimed Babbitt was “executed.”

Really? But then this got even more bizarre:

Referring to his remarks to the crowd before they stormed the Capitol as “a very mild-mannered speech,” Trump also suggested that the blame for any violence that day could be placed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats because they didn’t take the potential for violence seriously.

“They are the ones that were responsible,” he said.

So there was violence and Pelosi and her people should have known what was coming, a violent riot was coming, which was pure love, not any kind of violence riot at all – which was all her fault. Maria Bartiromo nodded in agreement. Someone should ask her about that.

But that was just a preview. A few hours later, Trump gave his speech:

In an hour-long speech that fired up his base of Make America Great Again supporters, former President Donald Trump assured the adoring crowd at the CPAC convention in Dallas that with their help, they would “defeat the radical left, the socialists, Marxists and the critical race theorists.”

“We will secure our borders, we will stop left wing cancel culture, we will restore free speech and free elections and we will make America great again,” he said as the crowd erupted into chants of “USA!” and “four more years.”

But this was nothing new:

In many ways, Trump’s speech was very much the same substance his audience has heard in the handful of appearances he’s made since leaving the White House in January.

Trump spent an hour repeating a litany of the complaints about the “radical left” trying to silence conservatives like the CPAC crowds. He repeated claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” through voting fraud and manipulation, a claim repeatedly dismissed in several federal and state courts because of a lack of evidence.

He assailed the “political persecution” of him and his family and associates and accused the Democrats of taking over the government and its institutions, saying that “the entire system was rigged against the American people.”

No, the Democrats won the election. The winning party takes over the government. That’s how this works, and that’s not against the American people. The American people spoke. The majority of the American people agreed to this, unless the majority of the American people aren’t really the American people at all. Perhaps that is what he meant to say, but he said many things:

He boasted about the class-action lawsuit he filed last week against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for what he called the “illegal and shameful censorship of the American people.” Trump’s accounts on these social media platforms were shut down after the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol, which many have blamed the former president for inciting with his social media posts.

He assailed President Joe Biden for his handling of border security, saying he had “turned the border into the single biggest disaster in American history, and perhaps in world history.”

But he will fix everything:

“You never stopped fighting for me, and I will never ever stop fighting for you,” he said.

“They tried everything to get me out. They want me out,” he said. “But here I am on a nice, beautiful sunny day in Texas.”

Trump predicted that in 2022 Republicans will take back Congress, and in 2024, “that glorious White House that sits so majestically in our nation’s capital.”

But he didn’t say he would take back that glorious White House. He didn’t say he’d run next time. But it doesn’t matter. He made his point:

While CPAC conferences are meant to be networking and organizing events for the conservative base of the Republican Party, the Dallas event solidified its new reputation of mainly being a three-day lovefest for Trump, with many in the crowd hitching the hopes on the prospect of Trump making a White House run in 2024. Many said they believed the 45th president was still the president, leaving the White House in January because of a fraudulent, stolen election they did not recognize.

Still, there was a vote:

CPAC features a straw poll each convention period and serves as an opinion poll for some 3,200 attendees. The Dallas convention conducted a straw poll of 20 questions via an online app. The questions focused on some of the red meat issues dominating the conference, such as critical race theory, border security and religious liberty.

The most anticipated questions on the straw poll dealt with the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. In Dallas, Trump won the CPAC straw poll, with 70% of the voters choosing him in a hypothetical Republican nomination for a presidential candidate. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in second with 21% of the vote.

He’s more popular than ever:

The Dallas straw poll results showed a 15 percentage-point jump for Trump from the February CPAC straw poll in Orlando, where Trump got 55% of the vote and DeSantis 21%.

When Trump is taken off the poll, DeSantis led the pack with 68% of the vote, former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo got 5%, and Donald Trump Jr. had 4%.

But even without the straw poll, it’s clear from talking to participants and speakers at the Dallas CPAC that Trump continues to lead the Republican party and that his personality cult continues to thrive.

That would thrive, in Dallas. CNN’s Maeve Reston and Sara Murray add some detail:

Normally, CPAC events serve as an audition arena for the next slate of future Republican presidential contenders. But there was scarcely a hint of that here this weekend as Trump’s flirtation with another run for president in 2024 has effectively frozen the field – with his Sunday speech serving as the main draw for attendees.

Blue flags adorning a truck in the parking lot bore the slogan “Trump Won.” Exhibition booths overflowed with Trump hats, flags, and other “45” swag. One 2024 T-shirt pictured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis but only standing next to Trump as his potential vice president. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who was to speak Sunday before Trump, mentioned the former president within the first two minutes of her last CPAC speech and has allied herself so closely with him that GOP voters often say they’d like to see her as his No. 2 instead of Mike Pence in 2024.

At a gathering branded as “America UnCanceled,” Donald Trump Jr. warmed up the crowd on Friday night with quick-witted condemnations of cancel culture and digs at Hunter Biden. But his biggest applause line wasn’t even his own. During his speech, an attendee bellowed “Trump won!” eliciting a standing ovation and setting off a round of “Trump” chants.

And that was the only issue all weekend:

During a midday Saturday panel that was intended to be a “tough love” assessment of the Republican Party, GOP donor Bubba Saulsbury acknowledged that it has been difficult to shift the attention of both donor and voters to future contests because they are still “livid” about the 2020 outcome.

“I know we need to talk about moving forward, but we’ve got to be honest with ourselves about where we’ve been and what happened,” said Saulsbury, adding that every donor he’s met “believes that there was some level of election fraud.”

“Talking to all the donors – they’re apprehensive to donate to anything but election integrity right now, because their thoughts are, ‘Why am I going to spend my money if it’s not going to be a free and fair election?’“ Saulsbury said.

There was no talk of policy of any kind at all, and Forbes’ Andrew Solender adds more detail:

A painting depicting a viral moment at last year’s CPAC in which Trump hugged and kissed an American flag was auctioned off for $25,000 – less than the $35,000 paid to “sponsor” a long-horned bull, which the auctioneer called “the son of the world’s horniest bull.”

White nationalist Nick Fuentes attempted to attend CPAC with a group of his supporters, but was seen on videos posted to social media being ejected from the event.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) – who is being sued for telling Trump supporters to “start taking down names and kicking ass” at a rally preceding the Capitol riot – told CPAC attendees to “fight” and “sacrifice” like Revolutionary War soldiers.

Pastor James Altman said in a morning prayer “let us realize our health is in the name of The Lord, who actually did make Heaven and Earth,” adding, “that’s all the science we need to know.”

And of course there was the Big Guy:

“If it’s bad, I say it’s fake. If it’s good, I say that’s the most accurate poll ever,” Trump said of the straw poll, the result of which he did not know, during a speech to the conference on Sunday.

But it was that comment about science that people took to heart:

The federal government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed deep disappointment at conservative writer Alex Berenson’s remarks at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) this weekend that accused Fauci and others of trying to coerce Americans into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“They were hoping, the federal government was hoping, they could sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated,” Berenson said at CPAC, eliciting uproarious applause from the conservative audience.

The crowd in Dallas thought that was brilliant. Others did not:

CNN host Jake Tapper asked Fauci to respond to the conservative crowd cheering on Berenson’s remarks during Sunday morning’s State of the Union program. Berenson’s comments tapped into the opposition to government public health officials that was apparent under former President Donald Trump.

“He just goes on to say things that are not true about the vaccine, but I want to get your reaction to is the crowd cheering when this gentleman [Berenson] talks about how the government was not able to achieve a 90 percent vaccine rate. The crowd cheered. As a public health official, what’s your reaction watching that?” Tapper asked Fauci.

“It’s horrifying. I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” Fauci said of the CPAC moment which occurred Saturday.

“I mean, if you just unpack that for a second, Jake, it’s almost frightening to say, hey, guess what, we don’t want you to do something to save your life,” Fauci continued. “Yes. Everybody starts screaming and clapping. I just don’t get that. I mean, and I don’t think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that. What is that all about? I don’t understand that, Jake.”

Okay, here’s the deal. There’s the New Hampshire State Motto. “Live Free or Die!” The coronavirus said fine. That can be arranged. There’s Patrick Henry. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” The coronavirus again said fine. That can be arranged too. Anthony Fauci doesn’t understand patriots. Given almost any suggestion from anyone, but especially from the government, they’d rather die.

But no good will come of this CPAC silliness. The Independent’s Alex Woodward reviews the situation:

Federal prosecutors have warned that baseless conspiracy theories promoted by right-wing media that suggest Donald Trump will be reinstated to the White House could lead to more violence.

The claim – promoted by Mike Lindell and other far-right figures – follows a baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from the former president, a lie that fueled the riot at the US Capitol on 6 January.

In a court filing opposing an alleged rioter’s request to remove an ankle monitoring bracelet, prosecutors with the US Department of Justice said “it is more important than ever to ensure the safety of the community” by keeping it in place.

The former president “continues to make false claims about the election, insinuate that he may be reinstalled in the near future as president without another election, and minimize the violent attack on the Capitol”, prosecutors wrote in a court filing on 8 July.

“Television networks continue to carry and report on those claims, with some actually giving credence to the false reporting,” they wrote.

Trump has set up an insurrection more violent than that January thing. The pieces are in place. The key actors are ready to go again and do it right this time:

The Justice Department alleges that defendant Alex Harkrider – a Marine Corps veteran – “is not a good candidate to be out in the community without electronic monitoring to ensure the safety of the community and the safety of democracy in the current environment”.

Prosecutors allege Mr Harkrider drove to Washington DC with firearms, a ballistic vest and a “tomahawk axe” in a “misguided effort to obstruct the historically peaceful transition of power and overthrow the government” on 6 January.

Prosecutors allege that he carried the axe on the Capitol grounds. He has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyer told the court that he is paying a monthly fee of $110 for his ankle monitor, which has become a financial burden as he “lives on a small pension from the government, which he receives for his total disability” from his military service.

The court was not moved by his tale of woe. These people want the government to fall. They will bring it down. These are not amusing eccentrics: They are Trump’s shock troops:

Federal prosecutors and judges have repeatedly cited Mr Trump’s rhetoric in charging documents and other filings in riot cases.

More than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the assault on the Capitol, and federal law enforcement officials have suggested many other arrests and charges are likely.

The US Department of Homeland Security has also repeatedly warned in bulletins and to members of Congress that ongoing election-related conspiracy theories – amplified across social media – have spread among some groups “the intent to incite violence” against elected officials, government facilities, law enforcement and “perceived ideologically opposed individuals.”

Donald Trump is no longer an odd ill-informed braggart removed from office and now becoming more and more irrelevant by the day. That old Dallas prime-time soap opera was amazing until it became tedious, and then it was gone. This new Dallas CPAC show is simply dangerous, and Donald Trump is the star now. America knows this new show now. It’s not amusing.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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