The Spectacle Blog

Mountain Men’s Conservatism

By on 6.23.14 | 11:51AM

Mountain Men is roughly a quarter of the way through its third season and continues to surprise critics with its popularity. The second season averaged between 3 and 3.5 million viewers per episode. 

What makes this remarkable is the incredibly repetitive nature of the show. The mountain men give voice-overs where they discuss the inevitable difficulties of living off the land as well as the dangers they face. The camera then moves to B-roll of beautiful landscapes. Predictably, a challenge arises and the characters must overcome it, until next week at least. There is almost no variation from this pattern, and yet the show remains quite popular. Why? 

There are two reasons for Mountain Men's success. First, it isn’t critically acclaimed shows that garner the highest ratings; even my favorite Mad Men gets crushed by formulaic (and entertaining) shows like The Big Bang Theory. These programs are popular because parents and families know what they are going to get. They can tune in and tune out because each episode is a self-contained story arc. Mountain Men is no different.

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Morning Round-Up 6-23

By on 6.23.14 | 8:47AM

Feature of the Day: Why Does the USA Depend on Russian Rockets To Get Us Into Space?

Morning Headlines

Domestic                                                          

Associated Press

  1. Obama Encouraging Family-Friendly Work Policies
  2. Kerry Confronts Threat of New War in Iraq

Politico

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Cons in the Voting Booth

By on 6.23.14 | 12:12AM

Senator Rand Paul believes ex-cons should be allowed to vote. He explained to David Gregory on Meet the Press Sunday morning how he plans to introduce legislation next week that would allow felons convicted of non-violent crimes to have their voting rights reinstated after they have, as the phrase goes, paid their debt to society.

Paul says his bill would allow between a half million and a million felons who can’t vote now back into the voting booth. Exactly why people who have broken and shown contempt for our laws should help select those who make and administer those laws, Paul did not say. Nor did he mention why he wishes to override the mechanisms various states have established to restore the rights of felons.    

Should Paul’s legislation become law, many of the reinstated voters will be drug offenders. Paul also wishes to see drug sentencing “reform” — i.e. making the penalties for drug related crimes less — and would like to see some drug crimes that are now felonies be reclassified as misdemeanors.

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Self-Satisfied Ear Mites

By on 6.23.14 | 12:08AM

At a much-covered hearing on IRS stonewalling of its vendetta against conservative groups, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen — who has been unashamedly retailing that agency’s fantastical “the dog ate my emails” dodge — that he, Ryan, did not believe Koskinen.

Came Koskinen’s remarkable reply, “That’s the first time anybody has said they do not believe me.”

Well, John, if you plan to stick with the current incredible story, you better get used to not being believed. And if Americans don’t insist that this serious case of government abuse be sorted honestly, and offenders held responsible for their actions, Americans will have to get used to being pushed around by arrogant, self-satisfied government ear mites like Koskinen.

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The State of the Christian Right

By on 6.20.14 | 4:21PM

The Faith and Freedom Coalition held their annual “Road to Majority” conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C. today. The gathering, hosted by evangelical leader Ralph Reed, is a conglomeration of the biggest names on the right, and a rallying point for conservative evangelicals across the country. It is a test of strength for one of the three stool legs of conservatism: traditional values.

While there were fire and brimstone speeches at this year's event, there was a clear division in the room between politicians, think tanks, and religious leaders. While many of the religious leaders focused exclusively on religious matters, the politicians and think tanks fused the two to promote their own personal agendas.

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Waiting Up for Chris Christie

By on 6.20.14 | 3:07PM

Covering a conference is hungering work if you forget breakfast, and the Road to Majority conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition was no exception. It was time for lunch as I approached the exit. The doors were closed and, reaching to open them, I was stopped by a big man in a suit stepping in front of me.

“You don’t want to leave,” he said. “Governor Christie is about to make news. You shouldn’t go.”

With no inclination to argue and some interest in what Christie would have to say—would he announce his presidential bid? Would he fold in the face of mounting corruption allegations? This will be unfortunately nothing, won’t it?—I returned to my seat and waited for The Governor to make his way to the podium.

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Rick Santorum’s Worker Utopia

By on 6.20.14 | 12:14PM

Rick Santorum stepped up to the podium at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference this morning and delivered an impassioned argument for the Republican Party to become the party of the working class. Rather than joining many of his fellow speakers in bashing President Obama or Hillary Clinton, Santorum set out his vision for the future of the GOP. The platform he created, and the pointed jab he made at Mitt Romney, seemed like early preparation for a 2016 bid. His decision not to preach to the choir, however, left his speech with a subdued reception—cordial, but hardly enthusiastic.

“We are a party, we are a movement, that continues to focus on certain issues that I believe are—well—not as relevant as they used to be,” Santorum said. Referring not only to Wall Street and big corporations, Santorum was also critiquing the Republican emphasis on small businesses and business owners, and questioned the widespread conservative rejection of President Obama’s “You didn’t build that.” The populist conservatives at the conference sat in silence as they listened to the laborer’s populism Santorum was advocating.  

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Senator Ron Johnson on the Liberal Addiction to Power

By on 6.20.14 | 11:53AM

Today in a speech to the Road to Majority Conference, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin gave a rousing speech that infused a conservative economic push with a cry for more freedom from federal intrusion.  

Johnson took shots at both Congress in general and the liberal mood of D.C.’s power-hungry elite. When discussing Congress's microscopic approval rating, he quipped, “That’s too high.” Slamming the Democrats, Johnson said, “The other side has been more interested in power. The Left wants to get America addicted to the government.”

Johnson concluded his speech with a positive message of peace during a time of war in the Middle East: “Very shortly after I was elected I went to Afghanistan and had unlimited access to talk to all the Afghani forces there. I went up to one and asked him why he was training. He said, ‘I’m doing for my nation, I want peace.’” Johnson finished, “I want peace. All Americans want peace.” 

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IT Troubles at the IRS

By on 6.20.14 | 11:41AM

The congressional investigation of the Internal Revenue Service for improper scrutiny of conservative groups has sputtered to a stall. Faced with the loss of key emails to and from Lois Lerner, who recused herself on Fifth Amendment grounds from the investigation last year, the investigative committee, and the American public, are receiving an education in computer crashes and IRS backup policy.

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