During its first three seasons, I watched Downton Abbey sporadically. Even though I didn’t watch much of it, I pretty much knew what happened by virtue of osmosis. Downton Abbey has captured the public imagination unlike any other Masterpiece Theater series before it. In season four, I finally joined the legions of devoted Downton Abbey viewers and have enjoyed our own Natalie deMacedo’s summaries following each episode.
The Spectacle Blog
Actor, writer, and director Harold Ramis passed away today after a lengthy battle of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. He was 69.
The Chicago native cut his comedic chops with Second City and the National Lampoon Radio Hour. Later, he became head writer and a performer on SCTV. Ramis would co-write National Lampoon’s Animal House starring John Belushi and would also co-write Meatballs starring Bill Murray. Ramis and Murray would work together in five additional films — Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II and Groundhog Day. Of these films, Ramis directed Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. Ramis also directed National Lampoon’s Vacation starring Chevy Chase as well as both Analyze This and Analyze That starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. In recent years, Ramis appeared in films such as As Good As It Gets and Knocked Up.
One of the most effective, savvy voices in conservative media belongs to my long-time friend Matt Sheffield. He was responsible for creating and launching “Newsbusters,” a web site devoted to monitoring and exposing liberal media bias. Matt just announced that he will be leaving his post at the Media Research Center (MRC), which now operates Newsbusters.
But I’m pleased to report he will be pursuing a book project on the future of conservatism and starting a new syndicated television program. Matt was the ultimate “fusionist.” He brought in traditionalists, libertarians, religious conservatives, and those who were more secular. His book will devote time and attention to how the conservative movement can appeal to Americans who are not particularly religious but very devoted to limited government. Being a Christian conservative myself, we’ve had some great conversations and I have to concede the point that the movement has maxed itself out with certain blocs of voters.
I assume Rand Paul has the sense not to take political advice from The Nation, but in case he doesn’t, he and other Republican presidential contenders should consider the following suggestions.
Yes, writer John Nichols is right: The GOP should revisit its history. But certainly not through Teddy Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and “progressive reformers who laid the groundwork for a New Deal.” Instead, consider conservatives like Calvin Coolidge, Robert Taft, and John Adams. In other words, look to just the opposite.
Season four came to a close last night, leaving us relieved that we didn’t lose any of our favorite characters to brutal childbirth or sudden car crashes. In fact, we ended much like season two – with hope and love in the air.
The family travels to London for Rose’s coming out and American visitors shake things up.
When Mrs. Hughes asks Anna if she has any extra clothing for Russian refugees, Anna donates Bates’s old overcoat. Mrs. Hughes finds a ticket in the pocket, revealing what we all feared – Bates was in London the day Mr. Green died. She relays the information to Mary, who at first seems compelled to turn Bates in. Nonetheless, when Bates proves his loyalty to the family once again (more on this later), Mary tosses the ticket in the fire.
The debate over Chuck Hagel’s confirmation last year focused on his attitude towards Iran and allegations that he was an anti-Semite. But Hagel’s primary role at the Pentagon has been that of a quiet manager presiding over some of the most serious military cuts of our time. The New York Times reports:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.
One-hundred seventeen boxes in two hours. That’s how many Girl Scout cookies 13-year-old Danielle Lei sold outside the Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco, Calif., last Monday.
It’s a common sight this time of year to see young Girl Scouts with their trademark vests sitting behind booths outside stores and making the neighborhood rounds to sell the famous Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, and Trefoils. But this may be the first time anyone’s heard of a girl targeting medical marijuana users.
“It’s no secret that cannabis is a powerful appetite stimulant, so we knew this would be a very beneficial endeavour for the girls,” Holli Bert, a Green Cross staff member, said.
Danielle’s mother, Carol Lei, has had her two daughters set up their booths at various locations throughout San Francisco to teach them about different environments. She also told CBS station KPIX that the choice of sales location gave her an opportunity to discuss the topic of drugs with her daughter.
Although Piers Morgan hasn't been a fixture on the American scene for as long as John Dingell, it sure feels just as long.
I realize that it's easy for a British guy to seem pompous to Americans, but sometimes a pompous ass really is just a pompous ass.
Morgan's holier-than-thou attitude, especially when it came to his obsession with curtailing Americans' gun rights, quickly wore thin on American viewers, leaving Morgan sometimes losing the ratings race not just to Fox News (by a wide margin) but even to MSNBC. (To be fair, most CNN nighttime programming is losing to MSNBC. And for much of evening programming, the combined viewership of CNN and MSNBC amount to less than half of those watching "Fair and Balanced" Fox News.)
Last Tuesday, Morgan's show had its second-lowest ratings ever, with only 50,000 viewers in the key demographic of adults aged 29-54.
Representative John Dingell (D-MI) was first elected to Congress in 1955 and has been there ever since. He is, according to The Hill, the longest-serving House member in history.
In a Monday interview with the Detroit News, Dingell announced that he will retire at the end of this congressional term.
It takes a special kind of person to spend nearly 60 years imposing his opinions on an often unwilling country and then, upon the announcement of his far-too-late departure from our public lives, to say "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."
Though an immovable supporter of Detroit's harmful labor unions, Dingell is far from the worst member of the House. But 58 years in government is too much.
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