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Charlie Stross on the current state of the Republican primaries

Home again - Charlie's Diary
I understand the basic point of the Republican presidential primary: get the party members out to pick a candidate from the shortlist of folks with a budget to run for president. And I understand that the candidates therefore need to appeal to the base. And I get that Romney is utterly unacceptable to one sub-group (due to not being a Real Christian) and to another sub-group (due to being the policy equivalent of silly putty), and that Gingrich is in there to deliver a big fat Fuck Off to the RNC over his past treatment (not to mention the narcissistic personality disorder). Rick Santorum I'm at a loss to explain unless he turns out to be Sasha Baron Cohen's greatest ever and longest running parody act: I'm waiting for him to either call for the reintroduction of the ducking stool for witches, or to be caught in an airport toilet cubicle with an underage [male] page and a couple of lines of cocaine. But what's with the whole race to the bottom over racism and sexism? I mean, these guys seem to be competing to shit all over the latin-American vote. And the whole ludicrous insanity of their anti-abortion and anti-contraception stance looks like they're actively trying to get every female of child-bearing age to vote against them. (It's like they've read "The Handmaid's Tale" and think it's a road map, not a warning.) It's one thing to try to appeal to an ageing, mostly white, mostly Christian, base: but it looks to me as if there's no way to get the Republican nomination and actually win in an election where they need to get the unregistered/independent voters to come out for them. Or am I missing something?

February 22, 2012

Republican judge strikes down Defense of Marriage act (DOMA)

BREAKING: Bush Appointee Finds DOMA Unconstitutional | ThinkProgress
Moments ago, Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause in a case brought by Karen Golinski. Golinski, represented by Lambda Legal, “was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.” White was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2002. The decision represents a serious setback for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) defended DOMA after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law.

Romney has a complicated history with abortion

He was pro-choice for a long time. Possibly decades, after a close family friend died during a botched illegal abortion in Michigan. The first record of him being anti-choice is from 2006. So here is what I've come to realize about Romney: much like McCain before him, I sort of like the guy when he is actually being sincere and talking about himself and his personal beliefs. It just happens too rarely and I doubt it will have any bearing on how he would govern. Like McCain before him, there was a point where Romney the man sacrifcied himself to become Romney the Candidate. Pretty much like a person dying to come back as a vampire: they have some cool new powers and strengths, but ultimately they are soul-less and have huge glaring weaknesses that can be exploited by a well-prepared foe. Romney the man though? Look at him back in 1994 giving straight talk about his pro-choice stance. That takes guts. It cost him. But it was real. I dare you to find me one moment on this campaign half as real as that. Mitt Romney’s abortion record: flip-flop or conversion? - Slate Magazine
Romney’s family had its first, fatal brush with abortion in 1963. Romney was 16. His father was the governor of Michigan. Mitt’s sister was married to a young man with a 21-year-old sister who was pregnant. The pregnant young woman, Ann Keenan, desperately wanted an abortion. But abortion was illegal in Michigan. So Keenan tried an illegal abortion. She bled to death. It’s unclear what Mitt Romney knew about this tragedy at the time. (Romney, his advisers, and his press office did not respond to emails, phone calls, or written questions for this article.) Though he would later recall Keenan as a “dear, close family relative that was very close to me,” the cause of Ann Keenan’s death was hidden from her friends, and Romney’s later descriptions of the episode leave open the possibility that he learned about the abortion later. But Romney’s mother, Lenore Romney, apparently knew the truth. It affected what she preached within the family and what she espoused as an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in Michigan in 1970. Like other moderates of her day, Lenore Romney didn’t believe in an absolute right to choose. During her campaign, she remarked, “I’m so tired of hearing the argument that a woman should have the final word on what happens to her own body. This is a life.” But Mrs. Romney did think current abortion laws were too restrictive. Her platform said: “I support and recognize the need for more liberal abortion rights while reaffirming the legal and medical measures needed to protect the unborn and pregnant woman.” The Romneys were Mormons. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that abortion was “like unto” murder but wasn’t quite the same thing. The church’s official Handbook forbids abortion for “personal or social convenience” but permits it in cases of rape, incest, health risks to the mother, or “severe defects” in the fetus. This was the general guidance Mitt Romney followed in 1981, when, at age 34, he became a Mormon bishop.