Vissi d’arte.

Saturday was opening night for “Tosca” at the Detroit Opera House, and it’s a tossup what was more entertaining — the Puccini or the people-watching. Fortunately, there were two intermissions.

Women in floor-length dresses, weird party frocks with bubble hems and mink off-the-shoulder necklines, anything black, Lucite necklaces, pearls, bling. (And Botox. Shiny face was everywhere.) Men in black tie, regular tie, T-shirts, shaved heads and mohawks. One hot tranny-ish mess, well over six feet, in towering silver stripper heels and strapless satin dress, hair the color of cherry Kool-Aid.

Opera fans. Who knew?

“Tosca” was very enjoyable. I can’t speak with much authority, as it’s only the second opera I’ve seen performed. The first was at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Bizet’s “Carmen.” As I recall, the singing was fine, but the company was so impoverished the staging was minimal, not much more than a bare stage. Add to that the book (French) and the supertitles (Spanish), and it was, literally, pretty much all blah-blah to me.

Supertitles gave opera a second wind when they were introduced in the 1980s. I’m sure there’s some purist out there who disapproves, but I’m not one of them. I don’t speak Italian, German or French, and my music education was spotty enough that I need and appreciate a little help.

“Tosca” is pretty accessible, though; it’s Italian, the music is glorious, the plot a simple matter of jealousy, political oppression, betrayal, rape (attempted), murder, tragedy and suicide. What’s not to like? And when Tosca pours out her heart —

Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!

(I lived for art, I lived for love,
Never did I harm a living soul!)

— who can’t sympathize?

That was Saturday. Sunday brought the redemption our recession-battered state needs. Break out the hummus and kebabs, Miss Michigan was named Miss USA.

Hummus? Yes. Miss Michigan is Arab-American, a nice Lebanese girl from Dearborn, Rima Fakih. Reportedly she’s Shi’ite Muslim. The photos of her in her un-burka alone will likely keep her father up at night, for fear of both a fatwa and Donald Trump, come a-courting with his tongue hanging out. She is, how you young men say? Smokin’.

Seriously, however, this backgrounder on Fakih from the Freep is a pretty good picture of this community, its contradictions and, for want of a better word, diversity. She grew up in Queens and moved to Michigan seven years ago. The story mentions her being in high school when 9/11 happened — a Catholic school. In other words, Miss USA is a pretty American girl.

However! Already the far-right carping has begun. Roy has the roundup. Ahem:

Tonight, they celebrated and laughed at us from within at Dearbornistan’s Hezbollah restaurant, La Pita, where workers openly sing Hezbollah war songs and anti-Semitic “ditties” in the kitchen. It was the site of Fakih’s victory party, where falafel, and hummus, and hate were all on the menu, as they usually are there and throughout Fakih’s community.

Falafel, hummus and hate were on the menu. I’m going to write that one down.

I suspect, at the end of all this, Fakih will take her big pile of dough, spend it on law school tuition, and maybe, insh’allah, meet the author of the above passage in court someday. Now that’s something I’d like to see on prime-time television.

Not to crash the mood too much, but a little bikini news was welcome after the far more tragic incident earlier in the weekend, in which police executing a no-knock warrant in Detroit accidentally shot and killed a 7-year-old girl. More will be revealed on this one, no doubt; the current official version is that the first person police encountered tussled with them in some way, causing the gun to go off. I’m withholding judgment, but Jesus Christ, no-knock warrants? Flash-bang grenades? Note this detail:

Outside the home, the department’s special response team was prepared to go in. Film crews with A&E’s “The First 48” reality show, which follows police departments nationwide during the crucial 48 hours after a homicide is committed, were taping the team for a documentary. Police spokesman John Roach said the tapes will be reviewed as part of the investigation.

I’m sure that had nothing to do with the decision to go in like gangbusters, right?

We’ll see. In the meantime, I have Monday to get into gear, and an aria to sing in the shower.

Posted at 9:52 am in Current events |

43 responses to “Vissi d’arte.”

  1. Peter said on May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

    one commenter to the Tribune said that if he was promised 70 of her in heaven he’d blow up anything Osama asked him to.

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  2. Jeff Borden said on May 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Roy Edroso is a genius and a treasure. I love that line about how Debbie Schlussel and Michelle Malkin are just disappointed they weren’t born long enough ago to protest the Dodgers signing Jackie Robinson. That’s gold Jerry! Gold!

    It goes without saying that the entire conservative movement in this nation is driven by hate. My God, here is a beautiful, accomplished young woman participating in that most American of spectacles and she is trashed because of her religion and ethnicity. Christ, the Taliban would skin her alive. Osama bin Laden would drop a nuke on her ass. The religious leader in Iran would blame her for the nation’s earthquakes. But naturally, the bimbettes of bellicosity don’t see this as anything other than a huge affront.

    I have to say I do not care about her religion. Or her ethnicity. Or what toothpaste she uses. she is smoking hot. Period.

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  3. Deborah said on May 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I’m an opera fan. I used to like just the spectacle of it, not so much the music. After attending a dozen or so I became crazy about the music too. They’re so over the top emotional, I often have a good cry during a performance. My favorite aria is the Queen of the night aria from the Magic Flute. I bought a DVD of it and played it over and over at top volume in my car.

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  4. LAMary said on May 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

    If Miss USA was anything other than drop dead gorgeous I would be suspicious of Donald Trump rigging the pageant so a controversial contestant would win. The Donald likes that publicity stuff so much. She is a total knockout, though.

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  5. Dorothy said on May 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Speaking of crying through performances, did anyone else cry throughout most of the final episode of “The Pacific” last night? I sure did.

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  6. LAMary said on May 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I only saw the closing credits, Dorothy, waiting for Treme to start. They mentioned Ashley by name last night.

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  7. ROgirl said on May 17, 2010 at 11:39 am

    It’s refreshing to see the standard of beauty for pageants being expanded to include a more ethnically diverse field. All those blue eyed blondes are just going to have to deal with it.

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  8. Connie said on May 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I was in the other room as my husband was watching Treme, and I clearly heard those classic Ashley words, FYYFF.

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  9. Catherine said on May 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Really? We’re giving Donald Trup props because he’s now taken to objectifying *new* standards of beauty?

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  10. A.Riley said on May 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Oh, I’m totally an opera fan. You want to cry in the theater, go see a good staging of Madame Butterfly or La Boheme. Oh seriously. And the *staging!* I’m not a Wagner fan, but the way the Lyric stages those marathons of his is worth the price of admission right there.

    And something they don’t often tell you about opera is the presence of eye candy. Talented eye candy. Google “Nathan Gunn.” Rowr.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on May 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I watched all ten episodes. Thought it was well done,I enjoyed Band of Brothers a bit more, but that could be because the old man was 82nd airborne. I enjoyed learning about John Basilone. He didn’t have to go back into combat but still did,after reading about him on Iwo Jima he probably should have won another medal of honor. I have read both books the show was based on and they are both great reads. I am hoping they do a series on the 8th airforce next.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. beb said on May 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    And if the cops who burst into that hiouse are white we have a trifecta of bad actors. Why did the police assume that the man they wanted was a take-no-prisoners psychopath? They had the house surrounded. Just knock on the door and announce a warrent for his arrest. If he makes a run for it, then they’re justified in using lethal force.

    Nancy has it right, they were grandstanding for ’48 Hours’ and bungled the whole thing. But will anyone be prosecuted for making a bad decision? Hell, no.

    I stand agog that someone took offense that a Lebanese-American won Miss USA (It’s not even the good beauty pagent). The Lebanonese almost aren’t Arabic, they’ve been westernized for so long.

    At times like this I fear for all humanity. They’s such a bunch of idiots!

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  13. John said on May 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Lebanese? Who cares, isn’t Ellen one?


    Twist on the old Danny Thomas joke.

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Noooo-body expects the Conservative Movement! Our chief weapon is hate, hate and of course fear . . . our TWO chief weapons are hate, fear, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. No, wait, stop, our three . . .

    Cardinal Fang, come with me. (Exeunt)

    Noooo-body expects the Conservative Movement! Our chief weapon is hate. That’s all, just hate.

    And now, the comfy chair.

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  15. LAMary said on May 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    They are probably cheering for Rima in my old home town. Many Lebanese immigrants there as well as other middle eastern immigrants. Paterson, NJ is sort of a mini-Detroit, but about textiles instead of cars.,_New_Jersey

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  16. Jeff Borden said on May 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I stand by my assessment, Jeff TMMO. I do not discern any conservative leader, elected or unelected, who does not traffic in fear and/or hate. If you would care to share one with the class, I would welcome it.

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  17. Sue said on May 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I haven’t seen one of those pageants in awhile. When did contestants stop looking like they were auditioning for Lawrence Welk? Isn’t the winner a bit… exotic looking? Is that allowed?
    I mean, I just got used to guacamole being acceptable American food! Now I have to try hummus?
    What is this world coming to, I ask you.
    Edit: oh, and while I’m thinking of it, at least there won’t be a repeat of the Jesus Boobs incident. Maybe Donald did rig it.

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  18. paddyo' said on May 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Dorothy and Pilot Joe —

    Yes, the “Pacific” finale was throat-catching, all the way through. And the final sequence, with the actors’ photos and pix of the actual men (and woman) they portrayed, were VERY moving, especially the spare, unvarnished details of their post-war lives. I was also impressed at how the producers were able to cast actors who pretty closely resembled the real people. And oh, that long train ride home, dropping off the lost Marine boys, one by one, to resume interrupted lives — so poignant.

    Joe, I saw “Band of Brothers” during its original cablecasting years ago and was mightily impressed. I think I like “Pacific” better, however, because of its unflinching portrayal of the unrelenting hell those Marines had to go through, isle after isle. (I’ll be the first to acknowledge, though, that since “Saving Private Ryan,” cable TV has fewer qualms about showing the kind of full-on blood-and-guts that gave “Pacific” some of its power and, I’m sure, dissuaded a not-insignificant number of viewers from tuning in week after week.)

    I’ve mentioned this before, but as the son of a B-17 tailgunner who fought in the European half of the war (Dad’s “Purple Heart Kid” crew flew out of Foggia, Italy), I really never learned much about the nature of the Pacific front — at least, not beyond a line or a paragraph or two about Iwo Jima in grade-school history, or the usual array of fakey Hollywood re-enactings (“Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” “The Fighting Seabees,” et al.) This miniseries was brilliantly, and sadly, instructive in their sacrifice, and the high cost.

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  19. alex said on May 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I do not dis­cern any con­ser­v­a­tive leader, elected or unelected, who does not traf­fic in fear and/or hate.

    Actually, I’m quite impressed with Laura Bush for having a mind of her own as well as the courage to express treasonously sensible views. She’s one high-profile conservative who doesn’t traffic in hate.

    But she’s about the only one who comes to mind, frankly.

    Other than the few politicians who’ve gotten booed down for attempting to correct teabaggers and birthers and tenthers making outrageous statements at town hall meetings, I don’t see conservative leaders doing anything besides actively fanning the flames.

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  20. Jason T. said on May 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    “Hot tranny mess”? Um. Point of order: I know several transgender people (I run with an interesting crowd these days) and they’re pretty offended by the word “tranny.” It carries the same stigma as “f-gg-t” these days.

    Although I suspect they’d have agreed with you about that person’s wardrobe and hair color.

    Some people not only can’t be taken anywhere, you can’t dress them up, either. (Says the guy wearing the mismatched socks.)

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  21. Detroit Opera House said on May 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Nancy!

    We’re so glad you enjoyed the performance of “Tosca”! It’s one of our favorites. 🙂

    Next season you may enjoy “La Boheme” in November or maybe Rigoletto in May 2011.

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  22. Dexter said on May 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    It was quite a night, watching the last epi of “The Pacific”, seeing Ashley Morris honored by the character Dennis McAlary in “Treme” ( “BUY US BACK, CHIRAC!”)
    and then going online to see the agonizing faces of the dead Detroit girl’s family…that really got to me…and then seeing that a Dearborn woman had won the contest.
    Quite a lot to ponder.

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  23. LAMary said on May 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I see the Detroit Opera House is still showing the swastika as its symbol. Do they do the Ring Cycle frequently? Der Fledermaus?

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  24. jcburns said on May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Jeez, what was I thinking when I turned the gravatars on? And as all fans of Mediterranean cuisine know, hate doesn’t really go well with hummus. It’s more a dish best served with cold, soggy slices of week-old Wonder bread.

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  25. Scout said on May 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    I think it’s cool that the Detroit Opera House reads Nancy’s blog. The quilt square they have been assigned by the internet avatar gods is random, by the way.

    Alex, you are correct in your assessment of Laura Bush. Too bad she’s unlikely to run for anything.

    I just found out She-Who was in my state over the weekend to stand shoulder to shoulder with Gov Jan Brewer in unity against the brown hoarde. She-Who had the audacity to make the claim, “We’re all Arizonians now!” Uh… no thanks.

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  26. Rana said on May 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Jason T., that stood out to me as well. “Tranny” is just not acceptable language, unless you’re referring to a truck.

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  27. Rana said on May 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    She-Who had the audac­ity to make the claim, “We’re all Ari­zo­ni­ans now!”

    Really? Fuck no. This native of Arizona is seriously offended by that statement, coming from a shitty teabagger snowbird like Palin.

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  28. Scout said on May 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Yeah, Rana, I know. And Arizonians? Another example of She-Who’s language awesomeness also, too.

    Dear God, I know I probably am not due for another favor yet, but pleeeeeease can we elect Terry Goddard Governor in November?

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Cousin Jeff: Martin Van Buren, William Cullen Bryant, Ohio’s own Salmon P. Chase — or did you mean contemporary ones?

    That, sadly, will be harder. You said “the entire conservative movement” at first; I appreciate the shift while feeling rightly indicted by your asking after the relative hatefulness of party/movement leadership, which currently is pretty much awful. I continue to think y’all doth protest too much about the Lady (She-Who), but it is inarguable that if the Right had a bit more of a bench and much more of a spine, let alone a working cerebral cortex, she’d not have risen to her current precarious perch, high atop the lightning-struck tree that surveys the blasted heath where much of modern conservatism trudges in circles.

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  30. Dexter said on May 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I just posted this on my Facebook page. I had not seen it until just now. It a tribute to Ashley Morris.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on May 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Jeff, I might’ve mentioned someone like Richard Lugar, who was conservative before it became a cult, but he is almost invisible. I knew he was something of a foreign policy expert who actually studied issues. Alex mentioned Laura Bush, which I can agree with up to a point. Both she and Cindy McCain have endorsed gay rights and marriage and/or civil unions, but only after it would have no effect on the political fortunes of their husbands. And again, I don’t think you can call Mrs. Bush a conservative leader. She-Who is the leading feminine light on the right.

    At the moment, She-Who isn’t even the most loathesome political creature from Alaska. That would have to be that daughter of political nepotism, Lisa Murkowski, who is doing the bidding of big oil by standing up against raising the damage cap for disasters like DeepWater Horizon from $75 million to $10 billion.

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  32. David in Chicago said on May 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Jeff TMMO, your analysis of the conservative movement’s “shallow bench” is as honest as it is acute. As a born and bred Cincinnatian, I appreciate your nod to Salmon Chase, and concede that in a happier time, my personality and upbringing would make me a solidly moderate Republican. Unfortunately, that train seems to have left me behind for at least another generation.

    But I think you are too kind to She Who, who from even the most generous view of her public statements the last few months is in blood stepped so far that should she wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I’d love to call Dick Lugar a Republican leader, let alone a conservative straw boss, but sadly he’s got no real stature in the movement (insert bowel related joke *here*). Very polite man who is still working to guide & mentor college students into thoughtful public service, in many ways, including much direct involvement with young leaders here on the Denison campus, and keeping a conduit open between Granville OH and Washington DC.

    He would count as conservative in outlook and policy intent, but as for the movement, he’s perilously close to a non-entity. To our discredit. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is a gallon of whole milk on May 18 marked “sell by May 12” but is still out on the shelf as fresh product.

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  34. alex said on May 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Actually, Jeff B., Meghan McCain is another one who comes to mind, but she strikes me as a naif who wants people to join the conservative fold because, well, she was born into it but she’s not a mean-spirited POS and, hey, all the vapid platitudes are kinda cool ‘cuz they’re like retro fashion statements.

    I’m still dwelling on an unfortunate encounter this week with my neighbor lady (the one who keeps a black jockey statue on her back porch because she doesn’t have the balls to put it out front like she does the rest of her politics). She came up to me to advise about the impending death of an elderly neighbor, then launched into a diatribe about “that goddamn socialist in Washington.” I told her quite curtly that I wouldn’t discuss politics with her if she used such inflammatory language. So she stopped saying goddamn and changed the subject to the poor pharmaceutical companies getting screwed by Obamacare (which she knows all about via her daughter the pharmaceutical sales rep, as well as FOX News).

    Having to suffer fools is simply a fact of life here in the midwest, the offset of the high cost of living on the coasts I suppose, but having to suffer fools who go around primed for a fight with Glenn Beck talking points is a hazard worse than earthquakes and hurricanes. Amazing some entrepreneur hasn’t started insuring against it. I wish one had because I’m having some serious buyer’s remorse with this bitch.

    On Edit: And Dick Lugar is a true elder statesman, one I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for. He continues unchallenged in primaries, even in these teabagging times. Of course, he measures his words carefully and never bemoans the craziness happening around him in his own party lest he invite a challenge.

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  35. Kirk said on May 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Meanwhile, a moronic state attorney general shoots the Democrats’ chances of keeping Chris Dodd’s seat in the U.S. Senate because he has been lying for years about serving in Vietnam.

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  36. Denice B. said on May 18, 2010 at 12:39 am

    We are all Arizonians now? Does that mean they can stop me-a middle-aged Grandmotherly type, and ask for papers???? What for? Wearing tie-dyed shirts and Birkenstocks?? My Obama Bumper Stickers? My ‘George Bush Eats Kittens’ bumper sticker?? Oh, such ruffians!

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  37. Dexter said on May 18, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Kirk…I just read all about this guy…Blumenthal, with a military avoidance record to rival Cheney, except Blumenthal actually was in a stateside Marine Reserve unit. Sorta like Quayle. Or Bush43.
    “Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records. “—NY Times story
    I hold nothing against anybody who could avoid the draft and avoid service in Vietnam by any means possible, desertion, leaving the country before getting drafted, whatever it took, but these bastards who lie about it, saying they served when all they did was help build kiddies’ playgrounds stateside , that is way over the line.
    When I came back I quickly learned I had to be really careful who I told I was a Vietnam veteran because , quite frankly, a lot of people hated us and were disgusted by our service. Now I don’t give a damn who knows it or doesn’t know it.
    Now creepy politicians want it falsely attached onto their resume. THEY’RE the ones who are disgusting!

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  38. Hattie said on May 18, 2010 at 3:18 am

    L.A. Mary: That would be Die Fledermaus.
    –The Pedant who Corrects Commenters on Blogs.
    One of the regrets of my life is that I have not seen much opera, but I did get to see Tosca at the Met. What a treat that was.

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  39. brian stouder said on May 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Well, I love Jeff tmmo like a brother, and I know that he knows he cannot point to Salmon Chase as a “conservative”, at all; the man was a proud radical, back in the day, as was everyone else who went beyond opposition to the spread of slavery, into outright opposition to the “peculiar institution” as a whole (ie – abolitionism).

    But, if you pulled my finger I’d say Lincoln himself might be viewed as a genuine “compassionate conservative”, who indeed conserved the nation itself…except, much like an intricately cut crystal, every time you look at Lincoln, you can see something different; conservatism, radicalism, Whiggery, provincialism, shrewd politics, bare knuckle Chicago politics, opportunism – take your pick.

    Back in the day, a protracted argument which I occasionally engaged in on a Civil War forum, was whether Lincoln (et al) would be Democrats or Republicans in the modern day. It was great fun and, of course, mostly pointless. We pretty much all agreed (except for the odd Sons of Confederate Veterans cracker here and there) who was right and who was wrong, and we wanted our modern-day team to have bragging rights. Just sayin’

    And then, there’s the article about Rogue Zombie Satellites in Space, threatening to bludgeon the brains out of MTV and other cable channels!

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  40. alex said on May 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Great news! Tom Hayhurst to be our next congressman!

    Really, I never expected anyone as unsexy as Souder to have a sex scandal:

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  41. LAMary said on May 18, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hattie, thanks and I realized Der didn’t look right as soon as I logged on this morning. I know how to say I’m sorry in German but I don’t know how to write it. My German is learned from bad schlager songs. I own four Heino LPs, probably more than anyone within ten miles of my home.
    Alex, Glenn Beck has plenty of fans here in the land of earthquakes and liberal media. I sit near one at work. I stare her down.

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  42. Lex said on May 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Laura Bush is NOT a compassionate conservative. She’s just one more example of the truism that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good women to do nothing.

    As for Rima Fakih? Here’s all you need to know about her: She recently won a stripping contest without taking her clothes off. There’s a new sharif in town, and I think the wingnuts are screaming because they know it.

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    • nancy said on May 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      That’s the best pun I’ve heard in a while, Lex. Let that end our thread.

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