Friday, August 31, 2012

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Rule 5 Post: Faded Poster Edition

Farrah Fawcett (1976)


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GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Wednesday evening that "College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters."

Actually, if you are a college graduate living with Mom & Dad and still have an Obama poster on your wall, then maybe you should have to live out your 20's that way. This is what we in the adult world call "reaping what you sow." Also, "poetic justice."

But far be it from me to be unforgiving to people who voted for Obama as naive college students. I did far more foolish things in college, after all. As my fraternity brother Eric "Otter" Stratton once said, "The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did."

In this week's Rule 5 post, I want to lend you unemployed Millennials a hand in choosing something to replace that fading Obama poster on your wall. Something with the same retro charm, but that doesn't also scream "I am a socialist race-baiting douchebag" to all and sundry.

Option 1 has to be the classic 1976 Farrah Fawcett poster pictured above. It sold many millions of copies, so while your dad may not cop to having had it pinned up in his Carter-era bedroom, there's a good chance that he, or at least one of your uncles, did.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Didn't Build This: Rule 2 FMJRA Post

I wrote all the posts, but as far as getting people to actually read them, somebody else made that happen. And while this blog is new, it takes a back seat to nobody in its obedience to Stacy McCain's Rule 2. So thank you to the following blogs for linking to Senator Blutarsky: 

Why the Auto Bailout Is Far Costlier Than Treasury Claims was linked by


Bigotry Just Ain't What It Used To Be was linked by


Forbes' Defense of GM Is A Steaming Pile of Fail was linked by


The Many Contributors to General Motors' Next Bankruptcy was linked by


Alert The SPLC: The Boston Red Sox Are A Hate Group was linked by


Bacon Is A Hate Crime Now? was linked by


Rule 5 Post: Even Communist Air Power Now Superior to Ours was linked by


Bigotry at The New York Times was linked by


Special thanks to LEGAL INSURRECTION for naming Senator Blutarsky the "Newborn Blog of the Day"

If you linked to me and I failed to link to you, I apologize; please remind me and I will rectify the oversight forthwith.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is Warren Buffett Putting Politics Ahead of His Fiduciary Duty?

Over the weekend Newsbusters reported that actor R. Lee Ermey believes he was fired as a GEICO spokesman for publicly disparaging the Obama administration. Ermey doesn't seem to have offered any evidence beyond stating that "If you’re a conservative in this town, you better watch out," which certainly rings true but doesn't prove anything.

The identity of GEICO's owner would seem to lend support to the allegation. GEICO is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is run by the increasingly outspoken liberal billionaire Warren Buffett.

Buffett's long track record as an investor is exceptional, if perhaps not commensurate with the level of acclaim he receives. On a risk-adjusted basis, there are a number of hedge fund managers with records that compare favorably with Buffett's.

But if one looks beyond the adulatory press showered on Buffett, his record in recent years is one of unexceptional investment returns and increasing participation in partisan politics. While by all accounts he leaves day-to-day management of Berkshire-owned companies to their respective executives, it isn't especially difficult to imagine him making a call asking - like Matt Damon - whether, in addition to a cartoon gecko, metrosexual cavemen, the stack of money with eyeballs, and the Rod Serling impersonator, GEICO didn't already have a surplus of spokespeople.

But shedding Ermey for espousing conservative views may be bad business for an auto insurer.

The Right Way To Combat Bullying

Of late, many steps taken to combat "bullying" seem like poorly concealed end-runs around First Amendment protections of speech and religion.

Via Towleroad, however, comes an uplifting story about private citizens coming together to right a wrong without abrogating anyone else's rights:

A gay man in Roanoke had his car vandalized repeatedly, and he could not afford the cost of repairs. The manager of a local garage, Quality Auto Paint and Body, got local businesses to chip in and cover the cost of not just repainting the car, but pimping his ride with $10,000 worth of other improvements.

As I think about it, I'm not sure "bullying" is the most accurate term for the offenses committed. I think of bullying as something done primarily by children to each other. This seems more like "vandalism," "harassment," and probably some other longstanding criminal offenses.

In any event, here is a feel-good story about a group of typical Americans coming together on their own to fix a problem:

"Jordan Addison told WDBJ-TV that his car was vandalized four times between March and May of 2012. And someone even keyed “dye” into the side of the vehicle because he is gay.

Addison said no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t completely get rid of the slurs. Plus, the lowest estimate he received to fix the car was $2,500, which he said he couldn’t afford.

Some Roanoke businesses heard what happened and pitched in to fix the damage for free.

“Once I saw the vandalism that was done to it, I said ‘that’s uncalled for. We’re gonna fix your car.’ That’s the least we can do,” said Quality Auto Paint and Body’s Richard Henegar Jr."

Video here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bigotry at The New York Times


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Outgoing New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane is getting a lot of attention for his final column in that role,  in which he concedes what is obvious to any unbiased observer:

"Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times... As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects."

Brisbane also allows that this is "a phenomenon... that is more easily recognized from without than from within."Which assertion was immediately validated by the criticism of the Times' executive editor Jill Abramson:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong and the Eulogy Nixon Never Delivered

Two links to mark the passing of Neil Armstrong: the video most have already seen of the first Moon landing, and the text most have not seen, prepared for President Nixon by William Safire, to be delivered in the event that the mission went wrong Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were stranded.

Added: The New York Times' report of the Apollo 11 landing.

UPDATE: There seems to be some confusion about who Neil Armstrong is, from youngsters born after people stopped going to the moon, to the vaunted layers of editors and factcheckers of the mainstream media. As a public service, I'll try to clear up the confusion:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Def Leppard's Hysteria at 25


This month marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Def Leppard's Hysteria (the actual anniversary was three Friday's ago on August 3, but I wasn't blogging then, so cut me some slack).

The album came four years after Pyromania, which would have seemed completely unreasonable had it not been only a year after the release of Boston's eight-years-in-the-making Third Stage. And Def Leppard had to overcome real obstacles, whereas Tom Scholz just seems to have been a perfectionist at war with modernity.

Anyway, to mark the occasion, here is the video for Pour Some Sugar On Me. Enjoy.

Rule 5 Post: Even Communist Air Travel Now Superior To Ours


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Senator Blutarsky's inaugural Rule 5 post also serves the secondary purpose of illustrating just how inferior US air travel has become compared to the experience in ostensibly less civilized corners of the globe.

While here in the US we go to the airport in the expectation of ever-more-degrading treatment at the hands of the TSA, Vietnamese travelers on VietJet's maiden flight to Nha Trang were greeted by a "Hawaiian dance performance" by a group of bikini-clad beauty queens.

My father tells vivid stories about his involvement in Vietnamese aviation during the 1960s, but never mentioned anything like this.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Circus Magazine's Dead Pool - February 1970

Courtesy of

Circus featured a very morbid cover in February 1970, asking which of 20 pictured musicians would survive the 1970s.

All but four made it, those four obviously being Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Elvis, the first three succumbing to illicit drugs and Elvis succumbing to a combination of illicit drugs, plus bacon.

Thoughts on some of the selections for the cover:

All four Beatles - Sensible enough if perhaps a bit excessive. It's not as though they held a monopoly on drug abuse.

Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts - In a feature about the survival prospects of rock stars, how do you include any member of The Rolling Stones not named Keith?

Grace Slick - No argument here. If I were filling out pool brackets, I'd have taken her over Janis Joplin.

Johnny Winter - Another logical inclusion, though I'm not sure on what basis they included Johnny while excluding Edgar. Both brothers survived the 1970s, as did my 8-track copy of They Only Come Out At Night.

David Crosby - Probably responsible for thwarting more dead pool participants than anyone else, ever, full stop. Picking him must have seemed as easy as picking the Harlem Globetrotters over the Washington Generals.

Jimmy Page - A solid pick, though perhaps no more so than any other member of Led Zeppelin would have been.

Pete Townshend - In a feature about the survival prospects of rock stars, how do you include any member of The Who not named Keith?

In The War On Women, Victory Shall Be Ours

I write to you, my Republican comrades, with news of a great success in our War on Women.

Along every front, in each theater of battle, we are making great strides. While we have miles to go before we sleep, ultimate victory draws nearer each day, and rest assured we shall accept no terms but unconditional surrender.

But no war is without casualties, and so let us all take a moment to give thanks for Todd Akin, who selflessly sacrificed his hammerlock on a Senate seat in the recent #magicaluterus offensive. As MacArthur did in the Philippines, we must sometimes abandon our comrades to their fate in the service of the greater good, and as sorry as we will be to lose Akin, his feint successfully opened the door to a great strategic victory.

Sadly but inevitably, we have lost the element of surprise. Savvy Democrats are now alert to our War on Women, and have been attempting, with no small success I remind you, to rouse their fellow feminists, statists, and general malcontents to battle. Yet they were drawn by our brother-in-arms Akin into a counter-offensive likely to stretch their support lines to the breaking point and leave them isolated.

Already, the Akin feint has drawn out some of our less temperate adversaries. Senator Barbara Boxer publicly speculated about us "Maybe they don’t like their moms or their first wives." If we can encourage more such hyperbole, public faith in the judgement of women may collapse in time for football season. While Senator Boxer is distinctly unrepresentative of womankind, as the majority tend to think before speaking, one Boxer can drown out dozens of rational women in contemporary discourse.

We have now learned that the Democrats have rejiggered (mental note: ask Toure if "rejiggered" is racist) their convention speaking lineup to reflect an All-Harridans-All-The-Time strategy, putting forth people like Nancy Keenan of NARAL, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, and harridan-without-portfolio Sandra Fluke.

When Americans are presented with such implacable extremists as the face of the Democratic party, they are likely to recoil as they have not done since our Gallipoli-like Pat Buchanan offensive of 1992, thus delivering the Presidency (and prospective Supreme Court nominations) to our comrade, Mitt Romney.

Now this is not the end (except for Todd Akin). It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Onward to victory!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breaking Up The Banks Is No Free Lunch (Nor Even A Very Nutritious One)

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has offered a qualified endorsement of the call by some conservatives such as Paul Rahe, Erick Erickson and others to break up the big banks.

I write this blog under a pseudonym in order to express political views without risking professional repercussions, so I want to be careful about what I say and how I say it. But I will say that this is a topic about which I am alleged to have some measure of professional expertise, or at least experience. So I will offer some observations about this ongoing debate. This will necessarily be an abbreviated analysis, but I welcome feedback and will be happy to expand upon or clarify parts of this upon request.

I am no great fan of universal banks; it has been clear to me since well before the Citicorp - Travelers transaction in 1998 that this structure, and indeed vast scale regardless of scope, tends to reward senior executives while inflicting inferior returns on shareholders. That we have such institutions at all is due less to free market forces than to the thwarting of free market forces by friction in our corporate governance structures. The transactions that built these institutions were generally very painful indeed for shareholders.

I am also shocked that neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has advocated creaking up the big banks. All merits aside, the idea seems to have great populist appeal on both the right and the left, and would thus seem to be pretty low hanging fruit for candidates fighting for whatever marginal edge they can get.

So breaking up the big banks may make political sense. And it may well prove shareholder-friendly, which implies at least some economic benefits.

But we should be deeply, deeply skeptical of claims that breaking up the banks would meaningfully reduce the risk of either financial catastrophe or of related pressure for future bailouts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bacon Is A Hate Crime Now?


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The NYPD Hate Crimes Division is investigating an incident at the New Dorp Beach field after bacon was found on the ground before a Ramadan service.

Gateway Pundit has the details.

I blame Obama. Bacon was never hateful when George W. Bush was President.

I always opposed hate crime legislation, but that was before I knew hate crimes could be so delicious.

Update: Amy Alkon points out that you don't have a right to not be offended.

Update #2: Pamela Geller notes that someone has claimed credit for the bacon but disclaims any improper motive. We'll just see what the SPLC has to say about that...

Post-Akin, Let's Have A Sir Bedevere Litmus Test For GOP Candidates

As we await 5 pm and hope Congressman Akin sees the light and steps down, this seems like an opportune time to propose a Sir Bedevere test for aspiring GOP candidates.

First, though, let's congratulate Senator McCaskill - she clearly viewed Akin as her weakest prospective opponent, and I think it safe to say that her judgement has been vindicated. Well played, Madam Senator.

Akin's now notorious comments played into the Democratic war-on-women meme, but while it has gotten far less attention, they also reinforce the Republicans-are-anti-science meme.

And I have to say, I am fascinated by Akin's implication that there exists some sort of natural ovarian rape shield through which the female body intuits the intentions of a woman and her partner in coitus and somehow thwarts conception under coercion. Enough with the mea culpas, I want to learn more about these new biological insights.

When I first heard what Akin had said, the first thing that popped into my mind was King Arthur saying the Bedevere, "This new learning amazes me Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alert the SPLC: The Boston Red Sox Are A Hate Group


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Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has performed a great service with his examination of the Southern Poverty Law Center, its role as self-appointed arbiter of "hate groups," and its, shall we say, expansive definition of them. Instapundit, Power Line and Stacy McCain have brought attention to this issue as well, and I'm glad they have, because they've really opened my eyes to something that has been staring me in the face for years:

The Boston Red Sox are a hate group.

I had always thought the Red Sox and their fans were just fellow citizens peacefully exercising their rights, including the right to express opinions with which I disagree. How blind I was.

Based on the crtiteria of the SPLC, the Boston Red Sox and their followers are a textbook example of a hate group, and it's high time somebody did something about it.

According to the SPLC, "hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics," with said practices including "criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing."

It's as though they crafted that definition with the Red Sox in mind.

The Red Sox' history of intolerance is a matter of public record:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Forbes' Defense of GM Is A Steaming Pile of FAIL


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One thing is certain: Forbes will be correct about whether or not GM returns to bankruptcy.

In the wake of all the attention garnered by Forbes contributor Louis Woodhill's piece, General Motors Is Headed For Bankruptcy Again (which I expanded on here), Forbes published a defense of GM by staffer Joann Muller including a headline stating flaly that "No, It Is Not Going Bankrupt."

Does Muller's rebuttal reflect indignation at the baseless slander of a great corporation, or a rear-guard effort to pacify sources (and advertisers)? The world may never know, but given the poor quality of the arguments she puts forth, one might be forgiven for thinking the latter.

Let's grant Ms. Muller that GM is not going bankrupt this week, or even this year. But "going bankrupt," to paraphrase Talleyrand, is a matter of dates. GM need not be on the precipice to be moving inexorably in that direction. And GM is indeed moving in that direction.

Ms. Muller's arguments to the contrary are deeply, almost comically flawed and I, gentle reader, will tell you why.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Many Contributors to General Motors' Next Bankruptcy

Joe Biden is making a lot of noise about the "success" of General Motors; he should enjoy it while he can.

It may be doomed by its understated pension obligations, or by its substandard product line, or by its return to subprime lending, or by the rapacity of the UAW, or some combination thereof, but doomed it is.

While his gaffe regarding the current century yesterday is getting all the attention, his comments were actually a gaffe two-fer:

"Once again General Motors [is] the largest automaker in the world. Folks, where is it written that we cannot lead the world in the 20th century in making automobiles? I’ve not seen it written anywhere."

Not only has it been the twenty-first century for a little over a decade, but General Motors' brief reign as the largest auto manufacturer in the world is also a thing of the past.

General Motors did lead the industry in sales in 2011, not due to the good offices of the Obama administration but rather due entirely to Mother Nature, in the form of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that crippled the production of Japanese competitors. With supply chains restored, Toyota lost no time in displacing General Motors in the first quarter of 2012, and there is every reason to expect that Volkswagen will consign GM to third place in fairly short order.

Looking down the road, though, the greater concern for General Motors is not the loss of bragging rights for top of the league tables, but the substantial probability of a return to bankruptcy.

Thank You: Senator Blutarsky Hits 10,000 Pageviews

After just a few days this blog has reached the minor milestone of 10,000 pageviews.

That's a drop in the bucket to the big dogs of the blogosphere, but I started this blog Monday wondering if anyone would have any interest whatsoever in my musings, so this has come as a very welcome surprise.

Thanks must go first and foremost to The Blogfather, Glenn Reynolds, who has graciously bestowed two instalanches on this blog. I have also gotten significant traffic from the guys at Power Line, who were nice enough to link to me, and Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, who generously named Senator Blutarsky the Newborn Blog of the Day yesterday.

Shameless self-promotion alert: See?! All the cool kids are linking to Senator Blutarsky. If you have a blog, you should link to me too! You want to be cool, don't you?

I have also gotten smaller numbers of incoming readers from National Review, Hot Air, Daily Caller, Gateway Pundit, and Via Meadia. I am proud to have attracted the interest of readers of sites of this quality.

Mostly, I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to click through and read this blog, with special thanks to those who have left comments. I am honored by your readership. Today my post on bigotry attracted the first comments that disagreed with my post, and I am particularly gratified that both commenters disagreed quite agreeably. I hope this blog attracts more such commenters going forward.

Onward to 100,000 pageviews!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bigotry Just Ain't What It Used To Be


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The Other McCain helpfully identifies the true culprit in the shooting at the Family Research Council: Rachel Maddow.

"And why not? If you Google her name with Chick-fil-A and Family Research Council, you get more than 450,000 hits."

Stacy McCain isn't seriously accusing Ms. Maddow, and it should go without saying that she bears no responsibility for the actions of a madman (or plain old criminal), whether or not he believed himself to be acting on behalf of a cause she advocates. And that's true even if her blog did imply that responsibility for Rep. Gabby Giffords' shooting lay at least in part with Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle. 

I hope and expect that those of us on the right resist the urge to respond in kind, whether through such odious casting of blame on political opponents, or through what Ann Althouse accurately describes as civility bullshit.

If reports that the shooter was carrying a Chick-Fil-A bag are accurate (HT: The Other McCain) then that may suggest a political motive, coming as it does in the wake of the Great Chicken War of 2012.

With respect to which, I had assumed that we were at the point where just about everything there was to be said had been said, even if everyone had not yet said it. But I'll take this opportunity to lob in my two cents.

Bigotry just ain't what it used to be.

Thanks Professor Jacobson!

Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has graciously named Senator Blutarsky the Newborn Blog of the Day!

Thanks, Professor!

Paul Ryan and the Net Present Value of Human Misery

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate has at least temporarily shifted the debate out of the gutter and into the classroom, notwithstanding the best efforts of President Obama and Vice President Biden to shift it back.

In the long run, possibly Ryan's most significant contribution to public discourse is not the willingness to address "third rail" issues like Medicare but the implicit introduction of the concept of net present value.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fast Times at Ridgemont High at 30

Via Althouse, Throwing Things highlights the 30th anniversary of the release of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

When I think of the movie now it is as a cultural barometer. There is a dream sequence in which Stu Nahan interviews Jeff Spicoli about a surfing competition, and when Nahan names a pair of rivals, Spicoli dismissively exclaims, "Those guys are fags!"

In 1982 that was a punch line, but a year or two back I saw that scene on a cable network and the epithet was bleeped out. Bleeping out epithets strikes me as prissy, and for a number of reasons I would prefer a world in which we don't censor them. Particularly when we're dealing with art; if we removed everything now viewed as offensive from Gone With The Wind it would be about 30 minutes long.

Yet we live in a world where epithets against selected groups are in fact censored, and given that reality, it struck me as an encouraging marker of progress that "fag" had been excised from acceptable discourse - suggesting that ridicule of homosexuality is, at least, no longer considered broadly acceptable.

Beyond that, I think Fast Times stands out as the Citizen Kane of the teen sex comedy genre. Jeff Spicoli begat Joel Goodsen, who begat Walter Gibson, who begat Ferris Bueller. The cast was remarkable; Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Forest Whitaker, plus Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, with tiny roles for Anthony Edwards and young Nicholas Coppola as he was credited.

And while Orson Welles peaked with Citizen Kane, Amy Heckerling went on to capture equally well the zeitgeist of a later generation of teens in Clueless.

Nothing To Worry About Here: Government Motors Bidding On Bank of Obama

Somehow I doubt that this has the makings of an arms-length transaction: GM (26% owned by the government) is bidding on the international operations of Bank of Obama Ally Financial (74% owned by the government).

In other words, a car company controlled by the Obama administration is bidding on part of a bank controlled by the Obama administration. If the Obama administration weren't such a model of financial probity, I'd be worried.

It's entirely possible, of course, that this transaction gets done on rational terms; the fact that GM is a public company should be at least a partial check on mischief. Yet given the epic dishonesty that has surrounded the Obama administration's dealings with both the auto and financial industries, I don't think they deserve the benefit of the doubt. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why The Auto Bailout Is Far Costlier Than Treasury Claims


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Via Instapundit, the Treasury Department now estimates taxpayers' losses on the auto bailout at $25 billion. This figure, however, relies on some optimistic assumptions; the reality is likely to be far worse.

One optimistic assumption is noted by the Detroit News in the linked article: GM's stock price. The $25 billion figure (equal to 46.7 solyndras) is based on GM's closing price at the end of May, $22.20. However, the stock has continued to decline through the Summer and despite rallying off its late July lows, the stock now stands at $20.47, at which price the loss on GM is $850 million (or 1.6 solyndras) greater than in May. Were the stock to retest its 52-week low of $18.72, the loss would be $1.75 billion (or 3.3 solyndras) more than the Treasury estimate.

Optimistic assumptions are also embedded in GM's balance sheet, for example in its pension plan accounting. At the end of 2011 GM estimated that its domestic pension plans were underfunded by $25.4 billion, but this figure relied on an assumed long term return on plan assets of 8.00%. When ten-year US Treasuries are yielding 1.65%, "optimistic" doesn't quite capture the full measure by which GM's estimate is detached from reality. The term "lunatic" springs to mind as a more accurate substitute.

The Real Problem With The Romney-Ryan Ticket

Based on recent history, Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate dooms his candidacy for one simple reason: neither man is a DKE.

In the nine Presidential elections going back to 1976, seven of the GOP tickets have included at least one DKE. The GOP record in those elections is 5-2, a 71% winning percentage. The record of GOP tickets without a DKE? 0-2. The data:

Welcome to Senator Blutarsky's Blog


I used to blog under my own name but came to realize that expressing my political views put me outside the bounds of polite society in my corner of the world. For you see, I am <shudder> a conservative. A decidedly libertarian-leaning conservative, mind you, but holding only some of the correct opinions cuts no ice with my many liberal friends and colleagues. So I now return to the blogosphere under the pseudonym Senator Blutarsky, in honor of one of Faber College's most distinguished alumni.