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Sense and sensibility: Sunday readings

18 October 2009


Via Secret History, comes a link to an introduction to the work of Sor Teresa Forcades, a Benedictine nun from Barcelona with a doctorate in Public Health and a Masters in Divinity under her habit. Sor Teresa in the 21st century, like the great Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in the 17th century, is annoying the official church with her intellectual defense of the rights of woman and of free inquiry.

“God has placed the life of the fetus while it is not viable in the hands of its mother […] Because of this intimate link of the mother and the child while it is not viable outside of her, the decision to abort is inseparable from the mother’s self-determination, from her personal freedom. This intimate link between two lives means that the life of the child cannot be saved against the wishes of the mother without violating her liberty.”

These statements come from Sister Teresa Forcades, who … has already expressed similar opinions in other public appearances and has gone twice to Venezuela to participate in activities related to liberation theology and feminism, where she was well-received by the chavistas.

(“Rebel Girl”, Iglesa Descalza)

Nonsensible solutions

One has to wonder what Sor/Dr. Theresa would say about the stupidity of limiting public health care to “legal” residents:

Rather timidly, President Obama has suggested that the children of illegal immigrants might have to be considered an exception to the rule, since they will inevitably come in contact with the offspring of legal citizens. He didn’t explain how unvaccinated and infected adults would avoid contact with their own children, or how they would avoid passing the virus on to the people they serve in the businesses and industries that employ them by the millions. And of course, the Centers for Disease Control is wisely ignoring such invidious distinctions and is now urging everyone, regardless of status, to get vaccinated as soon as the medication is available.

That everyone tolerates the current emergency exception, regardless of ideology, reveals much about the furious resistance to healthcare for the undocumented. Public health experts and many health economists have always considered that bipartisan opposition to be stupid as well as cruel.

(Joe Conason, “Nativism is dangerous to our health,”

Stop making sense

Extreme right wing racist site, “The Political Cesspool” (at least it’s truth in advertising!) in a backhanded way undercuts the argument against same sex marriage.  I don’t link to racist sites, but it’s easy enough to find.

Keith Bardwell is a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana who’s in the national news because he refuses to issue marriage licenses to interracial couples based on his moral beliefs. He’s being denounced everywhere [obligatory fascist anti-Semitic tirade deleted]…

…. What’s shocking is the absolute silence from the “family values” crowd, who should be all over the media demanding that Bardwell be allowed to follow his moral beliefs, because nobody should have to choose between their job and their conscience. After all, isn’t that what they want for people who oppose gay marriage? They keep raising the specter of court clerks being fired if they refuse to issue a marriage license to two men if gay marriage is legal, or a judge being removed from office for refusing to perform a same sex ceremony. They tell us that this would be a terrible tragedy, and a real blow to religious freedom in America.

(some asshole from Memphis)


(Cartoon swiped from News of the Restless)

Since you asked

The justification offered for the new military bases in Colombia is the “war on drugs.” The fact that the justification is even offered is remarkable. Suppose, for example, that Colombia, or China, or many others claimed the right to establish military bases in Mexico to implement their programs to eradicate tobacco in the U.S., by fumigation in North Carolina and Kentucky, interdiction by sea and air forces, and dispatch of inspectors to the U.S. to ensure it was eradicating this poison–which is, in fact, far more lethal even than alcohol, which in turn is far more lethal than cocaine or heroin, incomparably more than cannabis. The toll of tobacco use is truly fearsome, including “passive smokers” who are seriously affected though they do not use tobacco themselves. The death toll overwhelms the lethal effects of other dangerous substances.

The idea that outsiders should interfere with U.S. production and distribution of these murderous poisons is plainly unthinkable. Nevertheless, the U.S. justification for carrying out such policies in South America is accepted as plausible. The fact that it is even regarded as worthy of discussion is yet another illustration of the depth of the imperial mentality, and the abiding truth of the doctrine of Thucydides that the strong do as they wish and the weak suffer as they must–while the intellectual classes spin tales about the nobility of power. Leading themes of history, to the present day.

Despite the outlandish assumptions, let us agree to adopt the imperial mentality that reigns in the West–virtually unchallenged, in fact, not even noticed. Even after this extreme concession, it requires real effort to take the “war on drugs” pretext seriously.

(Noam Chomsky, “Coups, UNASUR and the U.S.” via Little Alex in Wonderland)

A sense of what it’s like…

It’s not just Mexicans and Colombians who find that the U.S. drug culture (and the attempts to change the culture through coercion)negatively impacting justice and legitimate law enforcement.

Unscrupulous real estate lenders, buyers and investment brokers who dot the local landscape might want to send a little thank you note to Mexican drug cartels and smuggling rings. That’s because the latter is distracting prosecutors and police resources.

Lee Stein, a white collar defense attorney with the Phoenix office of the Perkins Coie Brown & Bain law firm, said prosecutors are interested in pursuing all kinds of white collar cases — from Medicare, mortgage scams and Ponzi schemes to fraud related to the stimulus program. The rise in such crimes is a reaction to the economy, said Stein, a former federal prosecutor.

But that interest does not translate to reality for states that border Mexico. Drug trafficking, organized crime, smuggling and immigration cases take up a huge portion of police and prosecutor resources in states such as Arizona.

“It’s sucking up a lot of the resources out of it,” said Stein.

(Mike Sunnucks, “Border crimes distract prosecutors from white collar fraud,” Phoenix Business Journal)

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