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Friday, Jan. 23, 2009 4:00 AM

Republicans are faced with the challenge of either reclaiming or reinventing/rebranding the mantle of conservative thought, without mistaking that for the 'We're a Christian Nation' song-and-dance, the lowbrow appeals to racial hatred that Sarah Palin gifted the McCain Campaign with, or the 'socialism' meme that talking heads seem to keep flogging.

If we can take $700 Billion from taxpayers to underwrite bank executives' retreats and million-dollar bonuses, somehow, I don't think we have to worry about the state taking everything and giving it to the undeserving poor.

As for Rush Limbaugh's latest idiocy, that racism is a fiction of the left, we offer as a rebuttal this story.

I won't go so far as to label Limbaugh as an unabashed apologist for racists and white suprema-- ... oh, wait, never mind.

I'm not only impressed with President Obama's executive order to begin the process of closing the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, review the military commissions process, and restrict CIA interrogation methods to those outlined in the Army Field Manual, but that he's also put the kibosh on warrantless wiretaps by the NSA.

Of course, House Republicans have drafted a measure to block the closure of Gitmo, because, gosh, we can't actually give the prisoners the benefit of our laws! We're just here to mouth platitudes about freedom being a gift from God, and how freedom-loving people will always choose democracy over terror.

What's that smell? Oh, that's right - the stench of hypocrisy. Vile stuff.

Of course, since detailed reporting on Gitmo and all the other Bush antics that Obama is spending his first days in office undoing would require the media to look in the mirror as well, they're more concerned with the shocking revelation that the performance by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriella Montero, and Anthony McGill was pre-recorded.

One article goes so far as to liken Perlman and the others to Ashlee Simpson and Milli Vanilli.

But unlike those tragic, manufactured pop sensations, the classical musicians were faced with a very real issue - the cold weather made it impossible to keep their instruments properly tuned.

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