How much do you think the polls will change once the Republican primaries end?

Rasmussen just came out with a pre-debate poll that shows Obama leading both Romney and Santorum by ten and seven points respectively.  Couple this with headlines touting good news on the economy (some of which is definitely real and some illusory) and it’s enough to send something stronger than a frisson of fear coursing up a conservative’s spine.  While a few months ago it looked as if Obama could lose to a generic Republican candidate, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will be harder for a specific Republican candidate to beat him.

Or not?

Conservative and Republican voters are deeply divided between Romney and Santorum (although both have shamefully big government voting records, making them a Hobson’s choice).  Is it possible that, when a pollster calls a Santorum voter and asks him to give his opinion about a possible Obama vs. Romney match-up, that voter finds it very hard to imagine himself pulling the lever for Romney?  After all, today, he is as opposed to Romney as he is to Obama. The same holds true for Romney supporters who are asked to envision a Santorum vs. Obama election.

The question that ought to concern us is whether this distaste for the other Republican candidate will continue once the primary season is over, so that Romney supporters will hang back if Santorum wins the nomination and vice versa.  In that case, Obama will indeed win.  If, however, conservative and Republican voters consolidate behind the last candidate standing, that block should be sufficient to shift the polling weight and, more importantly, the election outcome.

What do you think will happen?  Will Republicans and conservatives be able to come together behind a single candidate, or has this primary been so divisive that the Republican party is too wounded to win?

Now that Obama has put contraception front and center, Progressives attack as insane and dictatorial those who want to raise human sexuality above base animal practices *UPDATED*

This is just the week for me to have sex on my mind.  It’s not my fault, though, because the culture insists on pushing it into the forefront of my brain.

Ours is a sex saturated culture.  Progressives like it that way and want it to stay that way.  Conservatives point out that, while sexual pleasure is one of life’s blessings, a sexually saturated culture is not a healthy culture.  Instead, it is one beset by fatherless children (who are more likely to live in economically unstable homes); unmarried teen mothers; demoralized women with low self-esteem; rampant sexually transmitted diseaseabortion rates high enough to shock even many of those who support abortion in theory; and nihilistic youth who squander their sexual capital in loveless relationships during their teens and twenties, and who then wonder why, Peggy Lee-like, they’re left asking “is that all there is?”.

Since the statistics support the conservative view, statistics have only one way to challenge the conservative narrative — they have to denigrate the conservatives themselves, without actually touching upon the narrative.  That’s what we’re seeing with Rick Santorum.

I haven’t yet warmed up to Santorum, but I don’t fault him for wanting to talk about problems in our culture.  Birth control has changed behaviors and — which is something few want to acknowledge — the Pill is a very powerful drug that profoundly affects a woman’s hormonal balance.  Blithely handing it out to teens, without parental knowledge or permission, is not something a culture should undertake lightly. And yet that’s what Progressives want to do.

Worse, if someone (Santorum, for example) says “Hey, wait a minute,” Progressives refuse to talk about the health risks of not only giving teens massive amounts of hormones, but also giving them permission to engage in activities that can harm them both physically and mentally. Instead, Progressives try to paint their challengers as maddened Victorian censors, intent upon using the full power of the federal government to return women to a barefoot and pregnant existence in the kitchen.

Don’t believe me?  Just watch Jon Stewart, who manages in a single segment to (1) gloss over the lies within the HHS mandate (because nothing is free); (2) misrepresent the Church’s position regarding Obama’s HHS mandate by pretending that the Church is attacking contraception, rather than fighting against a government putsch that forces them to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization; (3) launches a direct attack on the Church’s decency; and (4) shows Santorum as a mad man.  Warning:  this video is NSFW.

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(Mr. Bookworm, having watched this segment, turned to me and announced “this is why I can never vote for Santorum.  He’s a God freak.”  Mr. Bookworm was taken aback when I said that he couldn’t support Obama either, because Obama had used Jesus to justify higher taxes.  I got an earful of silence back after that one.)

James Taranto, in a post that looks at anti-Santorum attacks from conservatives who disagree with him on social issues, still manages to explain precisely what’s going on:

In truth, Santorum says only that he would “talk about” what he sees as the social harms of contraception. There is no conflict whatever between limited government and moral exhortation, provided the latter is unaccompanied by legislative or administrative action.

And the quote is very much in keeping with “a tradition rooted in the pursuit of happiness.” Santorum is merely making a case for deferred gratification. His claim is that the easy availability of birth control has enabled and encouraged a pursuit of pleasure that is inimical to the achievement of happiness. One may reasonably argue that Santorum is overgeneralizing or that on the whole he is mistaken. But to write him out of the American tradition on the basis of that quote, as Friedersdorf attempts to do, is simply bonkers.

[snip]

What he says is that birth control has greatly expanded sexual freedom, and that sexual freedom has had consequences that are harmful to society and to women in particular. Again, one may disagree whether, on balance, these harms outweighed the benefits. But what is so upsetting about the idea that they might have? What in the world explains Friedersdorf’s and Rubin’s overwrought emotionalism?

Here’s our attempt at an explanation: In liberal metropolises like Los Angeles, Washington and New York (homes of Friedersdorf, Rubin and this columnist, respectively), a high proportion of conservatives have internalized the assumptions of feminism. One of those assumptions is that female sexual freedom, an essential component of sexual equality, is an unadulterated good. Santorum’s statements to the contrary challenge this deeply held view.

Furthermore, contemporary feminism is, as we recently argued, a totalitarian ideology, by which we mean one that tolerates no divergence between the personal and the political. If you are not a feminist, you can enjoy a lifestyle of sexual freedom and also take seriously the idea that sexual freedom is bad for society. If you are a feminist, that is a thoughtcrime.

[snip]

Totalitarian ideologies sustain themselves in large part through fear, and feminism has been particularly fearsome of late, as the Susan G. Komen ladies and the Catholic bishops can attest. But our intuition is that this is a sign of weakness, not strength. The fearful reactions to Santorum’s heresies against sexual freedom reinforce that sense.

This column has its differences with Rick Santorum, but we admire him for his fearlessness in challenging feminist pieties. “One man with courage makes a majority,” Andrew Jackson is supposed to have observed. Is Rick Santorum such a man? If not, let’s hear a reasoned argument to the contrary.

Rick Santorum is not the only conservative who is subject to ad hominem attacks for daring to raise factual challenges to feminist pieties.  In today’s SF Comical, Amy Graff, who is one of the paper’s official bloggers, is disgusted by an anti-Planned Parenthood video that is filled with a collection of graphic sexual images.

Reading Graff’s post, one finds that she’s not at all troubled by the fact that the video is correct in stating that Planned Parenthood, with help from federal tax dollars, goes to schools all over America to sell sex as a consequence-free activity for young people that’s fun, fun, fun.  (Indeed, just the other day, a San Francisco high school celebrated Valentine’s Day, if not with PP’s help, at least with PP’s style.)  Instead, Graff thinks it’s disgusting that the dirty-minded people at the American Life League were sick enough to assemble all of the PP propaganda in a single place:

The video was created to show that Planned Parenthood is a “perverted” organization, turning America’s children into sex addicts through community events featuring penis-shaped balloons, vagina macaroons, vulva puppet shows, and giant vagina costumes. And then there’s all the masturbation literature, graphic images of naked boys and girls, and online descriptions of sexual organs. Planned Parenthood would tell you they offer these materials to educate youth and encourage safe sex but Michael Hichborn, media director of the American Life League, says, “They’re selling pornography to kids as science.” No matter, this video is quite an impressive collection of lewdness.

Graff’s right in a way.  Ripped free of the youthful “rah-rah” and feminist ideology in which PP packages these sexuality promotions, the material it routinely distributes as schools throughout America does look remarkably like pornography for the younger set.  Here — see for yourself, but just be sure not to watch this video in the office:

Although this may come as a surprise to Progressives, conservatives like sex.  Indeed, to the extent that devoutly religious people such as Santorum believe that human sexuality is a direct gift from God, they probably appreciate it even more than Progressives do, seeing as the latter simply view it as a pleasurable animal instinct.

Conservatives, however, are the ones who are willing to point out that nothing is free, not even a gift from God.  Sex comes with strings attached, and it’s a health society that respects those strings and weaves them into a strong social fabric, rather than rope with which to hang our young people.  It’s very important, therefore, that we fight back against the Obama narrative that has moderate social conservatives — meaning people who don’t want sexual segregation, burqas, the end of contraception, etc., but who do want sex, and women, treated with more reverence and respect — painted as the worst kind of puritanical totalitarians.

UPDATE:  Tina Korbe, at Hot Air, also weighs in on the now-pulled American Life League video, and includes a link to information about its contents.

Voters are left helpless and bereft when the political experts form a circular firing squad

I’m planning a trip this summer to Japan, a country about which I know nothing.  Actually that’s an overstatement.  I know some things:  it’s beautiful, historic, and clean (I love that part), and comes complete with great food and well-mannered people.  But that’s all I know.

Toji Pagoda

I don’t have this tabula rasa problem when I go to Europe.  Whether England, Germany, France, Belgium, or Italy, I have in my head enough information about the country to  be a little picky. It helps, too, that Rick Steves has published a series of European travel guides.  He’s not shy about being opinionated.  Indeed, that’s why people turn to him.  They have faith that they can trust his judgment so that, if he says a city is good and requires at least three days time, they can immediately book a hotel (one he recommends, of course) for two nights.  Likewise, if he says “don’t bother with such and such,” his readers know that Rick saved them time and money on a short, expensive trip.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

So far, I haven’t found a Rick Steves for Japan.  All the travel books make everything sound wonderful, without any rankings or priorities.  And I’m sure that, if I had unlimited time and money, I would enjoy traveling to every town, shrine and museum Japan offers.  But that’s not the reality of vacation travel, and I’m currently overwhelmed by the choices. Yikes!

My Japan conundrum isn’t unique.  In a world awash in information, there is no way one person can master all the data necessary to make important life decisions.  Inevitably, in various areas such as education, travel, politics, finances, etc., we select experts whom we trust and assume that, when they state an ultimate conclusion about their subject, we can rely on that conclusion.  This works both ways, of course.  Since I’ve long thought AlBore to be a rather foolish man with enough feral instincts to be a successful snake oil salesman, I have never believed in global warming.  Likewise, a friend of mine refuses to accept the rising tide of evidence against global warming, because it’s been published in “Republican” and “conservative” outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail.  The fact that AlBore’s theories are based on computer models while the evidence against global warming is based upon actual data disturbs him not a whit.  He’s found his reliable sources, and he’s sticking with them.

Right now, my reliance upon political experts is creating a dilemma for me, because my “experts” are turning on each other.  Before the primaries, they were all united in their profound dislike for Barack Obama.  Now, though, the circular firing squad isn’t limited just to the Republican candidates themselves.  The shoot-outs are taking place at every major conservative website, not to mention many of my favorite blogs.  Just check out PJ Media’s front page at any given minute to see astute political commentators, all of whom I respect, battering away at each other and the candidates.

To some commentators, Mitt is a RINO’s RINO, who flops, then flips, while Newt is the fiery voice of conservative truth who can reclaim America.  To others, Newt is an unprincipled loose cannon, while Mitt is a steady, conservative politician whose problem-solving skills make him the only one who can defeat Obama.  Still others see both Mitt and Newt as RINOs (one of whom has a backbone of noodle, while the other has the ethics of an alley cat), while Rick Santorum is the only true conservative in the house — never mind the fact, say entirely different pundits, that Rick’s conservative stances on social issues assure that he’ll lose to Obama.

I find all of the above viewpoints both interesting and credible.  Newt is an exciting speaker who articulates core truths about America, the economy, and national security that too many Americans, intimated by the PC police, have been stifling for years.  His fund of knowledge is impressive and enjoyable.  And of course, he’s the man whose insider skills in the 1990s forced the entire political system slightly to the right.  On the other side of the scale, he’s a man who has cheated on at least two wives (and I really don’t want to find out if he’s been cheating on a third), he’s known to be a terrible manager, his relationship to truth can be distant at best, he’s erratic, he too often sees Big Government as the vehicle for his own eclectic brilliance, and so on and so forth.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Then there’s Mitt.  We all know and appreciate the Good Mitt.  This is the Mitt who understands the market; the Mitt who has impressive organizational abilities; the Mitt who has proven to be an adept, albeit unexciting candidate; the Mitt who makes the Republican establishment feel loved; and the Mitt who, we are told, can entice the independents whom Newt frightens.  But all is not wonderful in Mitt land.  There’s also the Less Good Mitt, the unrepentant architect of RomneyCare; the man who, when he isn’t flipping, is flopping; the man whose Mormonism worries those who believe he is committing a profound doctrinal error that reflects on his judgment and intelligence; and, which might be the worst thing of all in a hyper-media age, the man who has the charm and warmth of a first generation android.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

And what about Rick?  My God, the man is a Boy Scout, and I mean that in a good way.  He’s honest, loyal, decent, moral, and truly conservative.  He’s definitely what we conservatives want.  Except for that little problem he has of fading into the woodwork, not to mention the fact that, with the nation trending further and further left on social issues, there’s the strong likelihood, say many, that he’ll be the poison pill candidate for independent voters.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Darn those independent voters!  They’re the real problem, because all three conservative candidate (and, yes, I am ignoring Ron Paul entirely) could easily win against Obama if we could automatically co-opt independents into conservativism.  We can’t, though, which paralyzes the Republican primary.  While the independents seem to dislike Obama with ever greater intensity, the mainstream media has trained them, like tens of thousands of Pavlovian dogs, to be very hostile to certain stand-out traits in the last three Republicans standing:  Newt is the evil architect of the Contract with America; Mitt is the evil Mormon; and Rick is the evil Christian who will imprison all your gay friends and relatives.  Evil!  Evil!  Evil!

The worst thing of all, though, considering all the alleged evil the MSM keeps highlighting, is the fact that America’s premier conservative commentators aren’t doing anything to help.  Rather than building up their candidate of choice, they too are just as busy as the MSM, and the candidates themselves, in the savagery of their attacks against the candidates they don’t like.

It’s worth remembering that Newt rose to prominence during the debates because, in the beginning, he kept a laser-like focus on Obama.  He pointed out Obama’s myriad, manifest flaws and failings, and articulated ideas that promised to help America recover from her experiment with a true Leftist in the White House.  His numbers rose.  When Romney went negative, though, so did Newt — and so did everyone else.  In the last couple of months, the flesh-ripping on the debate stage is sickening, and the political commentators, rather than stepping in to help focus the voters on their chosen candidate’s attributes, are standing at the base of the stage drinking up the flowing blood.

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL.  If you’re going to have an opinion, advance useful information that helps affirmative decision-making and that helps staunch the sanguinary stream we’re currently giving as a gift to the MSM.  Yes, it’s good for the candidates to get groomed to fight the dirty fight, because it’s going to be very dirty indeed when they stand on a stage opposite Barack Obama.  I think, though, that we can comfortably conclude that the current batch has the grit to take the hits.  It’s time now to give the voters the help they need to choose the best candidate, rather than just to avoid the worst.

Newt: There’s no zealot like a convert

One of the things my parents always told me was that there is no one more fired with zealotry than a convert.  Paul of Tarsus is, of course, the perfect example of the truth behind that statement.

One doesn’t have to look so far field, though, in time at space.  Just consider the fact that so many of the most prominent conservative bloggers today are former liberals.  Thomas Lifson, of American Thinker; the whole Power Line crew; David Horowitz; Roger L. Simon; Andrew Breitbart; and so many more, once having seen the light, fell compelled to share it with others.  To them, conservativism isn’t a background noise, it’s an epiphany.  In addition to their zealotry, these neocons have another significant advantage:  having once been liberals themselves, they understand the liberal mindset and they can challenge it more effectively than someone who has never seen Leftism from the inside.

Newt Gingrich is currently under attack for being the ultimate government insider.  He was an elected representative and then, no matter how he dances around it, he was a lobbyist.  Talk about being in the belly of the beast.

In this election cycle, though, Newt speaks with the zealotry of the convert.  Unlike Romney, who has the rich, earthy charm of a poorly designed android, and Santorum, who is the really nice guy no one notices, Gingrich is the one on the street corner hollering to the crowds about being saved.  Either it’s a fantastic performance, or he has genuinely bought into core conservative notions about the economy, about race in America, about welfare dependency, etc.  He is articulating core conservative principles with verve and wit. The added fillip, of course, is that, although Newt has arguably turned his back on the political establishment, he knows better than anyone how it operates and, therefore, is better situated than anyone to bring it under control.

Newt’s joie de vivre makes his presentation so natural that I am currently inclined to see him as a newly converted true believer, rather than a snake oil salesman.  Of course, the problem with converts is that, sometimes, they backslide.  If Newt has indeed seen the light, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent change to his core principles or a merely superficial fad.

Apropos Newt’s wit, stick with this short speech excerpt to the end:

 

Those chortling over the Santorum yearbook photo should remember that both time and photos can be cruel

Yesterday, my sister emailed me a “cheer up” email that’s making the rounds.  It’s intended for women, who tend to feel more strongly than men do that the mirror is their enemy.  The tag line is “It isn’t just us who suffer changes over the years!”  The rest of the email is photos of former male sex symbols in their prime and now.  Here, see for yourself:

Val Kilmer

Mickey Rourke

Russel Crowe

Brendan Fraser

Alec Baldwin

Pierce Brosnan

Richard Gere

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Roger Moore

Clint Eastwood

Rod Stewart

I wasn’t amused by these photos nor did I have a pleasant frisson of schadenfreude.  Instead, I was saddened.  Age is cruel.  Maybe I’m more aware of that right now than I would have been otherwise because of my mother’s health issues.  A certain part of my memory has her locked into place as a fresh, vital, energetic, extremely pretty woman, about the age I am now.  But the lady I’m dealing with today is so very, very different:  she’s fragile, shrunken, wrinkled, sad, and tired.  She’s still my mother, and I love her, but she also feels like a stranger to me.

Famous people, the ones who had their gorgeous youth played out in the spotlight, have an exceptionally sad fate when they age:  We laugh at them.  People delight in the fact that the same people who used to make them feel inferior are now suffering the same fate as everyone else.  Unless you want to take the punk rocker advice of “die young, stay pretty,” age will lay its hands upon you.

The Santorum yearbook photo demonstrates that aging is a process that places its benefits and burdens on different people at different times.  For those who didn’t peak young, age can be a blessing.  Rick Santorum is a very nice looking man.  He doesn’t make my heart beat faster (that privilege is reserved for Keanu) but I do think that, for a guy in the middle of middle age, he’s got nothing to be embarrassed about.

For the MSM, Santorum’s ordinary good guy looks are a problem.  Fortunately, help is on the way in the form of a yearbook picture that isn’t very flattering, unless you’re a fan of Napoleon Dynamite:

Rick Santorum high school picture

Rick’s features are good, but the disco design shirt, the wide lapels, the huge square glasses, and the bowl haircut (complete with sideburns) are, well, in a word “dorky.”  At The Atlantic, you can feel the thrill of excitement:

A quick office straw poll here at The Atlantic, conducted amidst uproarious laughter, confirms that this is, in fact, the single worst year book photo that most of us have ever seen. An outright disaster. I suppose it’s Santorum’s misfortune to have been in high school during this era. I’m pretty sure that 1976 wasn’t too kind to anyone. But still. Wow–he looks like McLovin in polyester. I have yet to meet the political consultant talented enough to spin this one. My condolences to Santorum. Brave of him to have struggled through this and made something of this life.

The Atlantic includes yearbook pictures of the other Republican candidates at the same link.  Mitt was good-looking then, and he’s good-looking now, but everyone else has changed.  They all look young, they all look very much like products of their own time period, and in all of them, in the smile, the eyes, and the bone-structure, you can see the adults they would become.  Some have improved, some have just aged.  Again, rather than feeling smug when I look at them, I’m simply awed by Time’s power.

The Anchoress, naturally, makes a very good point about these photos.  For most of us, high school was not our peak time:

Let’s face it, yearbook photos suck. They just do. They’re a snapshot of a moment, and usually not a great moment. I think everyone tries to do the best they can.

In the interests of fairness, The Anchoress includes at her post high school (and college) pictures of the past Democrat candidates.  Obama looks like an extra in Kentucky Fried Movie; John Kerry looks as if he was auditioning for the part of Lurch in the Addams Family, except that he overacted and lost the part; and Al Gore looks pompous (so I guess some things never change).  Mostly, they look young, and they look like their peers.  That’s life — and to savage a candidate or even a movie star, because he looked bad then or looks bad now is, as The Anchoress says, “high schoolish.”

As for me, unlike The Anchoress, I will not include a photo of myself here (and hers is much prettier than she would give you to believe).   Aside from my commitment to my anonymity, I am notorious for shying away from cameras.  I don’t take pictures, I don’t like having my picture taken, and, when pictures of me exist, I don’t spread them around.

 

One big post, filled with all sorts of fascinating stuff

I’m very suspicious of “studies.”  As a liberal, I was ready to trust anything that came out of academia.  As a conservative, I’m suspicious of academia, because I know it’s more interested in specific outcomes than in the scientific method.  A good example of this is a survey that was sent around to Marin County women about a decade ago, based upon the statistical fact that Marin County women have a higher than average incidence of breast cancer.  Putting aside the fact that we have a substantial population of very elderly ladies (who are prone to breast cancer) and a lot wealth (meaning the cancer can be caught), one would think the survey would have looked into types of birth control, age of first pregnancy, number (if any) of abortions, breast-feeding history, etc.  It didn’t.  It asked about bacon and power lines.  I threw it away.  My daughter is in a study about how young girls grow.  They want to know about the number of chairs with cushions in our home.  I can think of more useful questions to ask.

There are definitely experts out there, but they’re really not in the colleges.  They’re working in the real world, amassing real information.  Which is all the more reason for us to be very worried about the way the Obama White House is morphing into Thomas Friedman’s wet dream:  an all-powerful entity that uses a small number of academic experts to control America.  His is the anti-democratic presidency.

Changing topics entirely, I’d never heard of Gregg Popovich before today, but I know about him now because he’s just joined the ranks of famous Americans who feel that it is incumbent upon them to insult the Americans who write their paychecks. I might not have noticed this bit of foolishness if it hadn’t fault on the heels of a virtually identical insult from Glenn Close.  My first thought was, “Glenn, why are you offending ticket buyers?”  My second thought was, “Oh, never mind.  You don’t have a career.”  (Of course, when she said we average Americans have the IQs of newts, maybe she was comparing all of us to the brilliant Newt Gingrich, in which case she’s forgiven.)

Speaking of Newt, this is why we like him:

Erick Erickson, of Red State, says Santorum is a big government social conservative, which jives with everything else I’ve read about him.  That’s the reverse of what I think is necessary in the White House and electable in the polling places.  Except for the fact that Quinn Hillyer at National Review says Santorum is also a true conservative who isn’t a big government guy, but respects individual freedom.  Two smart writers, two completely opposing views — what’s a voter to do?

I just want to say that I really, really like Tim Tebow.  I can’t help myself.  I just do.

We knew this, but now it’s in writing from a sycophant:  Obama is subordinate to his wife and doesn’t like the job he fights for so viciously.  Oh, goody.  Just what we need in the White House.