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Vatican: Washing Machines More Liberating than the Pill for Women

1950s Maytag washing machine

1950s Maytag washing machine

Michele Hanson in the Guardian UK:

To mark International Women’s Day, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, has graciously commented on women’s lib for us. Its editorial decrees that the washing machine has contributed more to the emancipation of western women than the pill, or the legalisation of abortion, or being able to work outside the home. But it would, wouldn’t it? Abortion and pills aren’t allowed over there. Washing machines are.

What a bizarre world L’Osservatore describes, with its “image of the superwoman, smiling, made-up and radiant among the appliances of her house”. It’s more than half a century ago, back in 1953, that the automatic washing machine took off and women apparently went mad in the suburbs, turning to drink and sex. Only I didn’t notice my mother and her chums being radiant and smiling. They may have got rid of their heavy mangles and twin-tubs, but it was still a fairly bleak life, stuck at home fiddling with these new machines.

This is an open thread.

Woman Excommunicated for Daughter’s Abortion

Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho

Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho

This is an unbelievable story. It’s a few days old, but I hadn’t heard about it before. I just saw it reported on CNN.

A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The girl, aged nine, who lives in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins.

It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather.

The excommunication applies to the child’s mother and the doctors involved in the procedure….

Abortion is only permitted in Brazil in cases of rape and where the mother’s life is at risk and doctors say the girl’s case met both these conditions.

Police believe that the girl at the centre of the case had been sexually abused by her step-father since she was six years old.


Despite the nature of the case, the church had to hold its line against abortion, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said in an interview aired Thursday by Globo television.

“The law of God is higher than any human laws,” he said. “When a human law — that is, a law enacted by human legislators — is against the law of God, that law has no value. The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion have incurred excommunication.”

From AOL news

Fatima Maia, director of the public university hospital where the abortion was performed, said the 15-week-old pregnancy posed a serious risk to the 80-pound girl.

“She is very small. Her uterus doesn’t have the ability to hold one, let alone two children,” Maia told the Jornal do Brasil newspaper.

But Marcio Miranda, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in northeastern Brazil, said the girl should have carried the twins to term and had a cesarean section.
“It’s the law of God: Do not kill. We consider this murder,” Miranda said in comments reported by O Globo.

If the girl had continued the pregnancy and died, what would that be?

Time Magazine reports that unwanted pregnancies and abortions are extremely common in Brazil, despite the laws and the influence of the Catholic Church.

Although abortion is illegal, an estimated 1 million women each year have one. The poor are forced into clandestine clinics or take medication, while the better-off are treated by qualified physicians at well-appointed surgeries known to anyone with money and overlooked by colluding authorities.

That secrecy has a price. More than 200,000 women each year are treated in public hospitals for complications arising from illegal abortions, according to Health Ministry figures. Those who don’t have the courage or the money to be treated take the pregnancy to term. Although the fertility rate has fallen considerably in Brazil (from 6.1 children in 1960 to about 2 today), 1 in 3 pregnancies is unwanted, according to Dr. Jefferson Drezett, head of the Hospital Perola Byington, Latin America’s largest women’s health clinic.

I don’t even know what to say. Please tell me we aren’t going to go back to this kind of inhumanity in the United States.

Is Barack Obama an Intellectual?

He reads books!

He reads books!

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

— H. L. Mencken

“As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

— H.L. Mencken

During the election campaign, a number of writers advanced the thesis that Barack Obama is an intellectual. For example, Nicholas Kristof wrote in October, 2008:

If Obama is elected as now seems likely, he’ll be the first real out-of-the-closet intellectual in the White House in many years. Clinton was certainly an intellectual, but he hid that aspect behind folksy Arkansas expressions about greased pigs. Nixon was an intellectual, but a self-hating one (he also despised other intellectuals). Kennedy was more or less an intellectual, and he surrounded himself with academics.

Kristof repeated this claim in another column after the election. CNN published a piece by Julian E. Zelizer asking whether the “intellectual label” would hurt Obama as a candidate.

He has degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, he taught at the University of Chicago, and, yes, he even wrote his own books. In speeches and debates, he has bombarded voters with detailed arguments about public policy. When his character is attacked, his instinct is to respond with facts and figures.

That’s odd. I thought when his character was attacked Obama tended to respond with race baiting and misogyny. But that’s just me. Continue reading

Working in a Cole Mind


As many of you know, I was a regular at Balloon Juice until they started mainlining Haterade last year like so many other lefty blogs.  That’s why I was amused to read this post from yesterday by John Cole:

On a serious note, the last few years have been really eye opening for me.  I was never one of the Republicans who thought the media was liberally biased. I always felt they were just lazy and superficial (and MoDo is a fine example) and on issues outside their safety zone (faith and religion, for example), and they just were not equipped to discuss them. However, it becomes more and more clear every day that the media is not biased towards liberal or conservatives, but rather, it is simply in the business of defending the status quo for the wealthier members of society. The reason social conservatives and progressives both hate the media is because they really don’t care about either group or their issues. This is about protecting the amassed wealth of the few.

I agree with Cole that the media are “in the business of defending the status quo for the wealthier members of society.”  Unfortunately, he and his readership are not ready to consider the logical implications of that idea.  Consider these two facts:

1.  The media opposed Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

2.  The media supported Barack Obama.

The only logical conclusion is that the media supported Barack Obama because they believed him to be the candidate that would best protect the amassed wealth of the few.

Continue reading

Monday: Obama says blogs don’t count

Obama gave an interview to the NYTimes recently.  Nice!  As I understand it, the NYTimes has been working on that “get” for awhile now.  He’s been avoiding them for some reason.  He says the stimulus package is what it is and we shouldn’t expect any more, even though the bankers can get as much money as they like.  He also recommends that we don’t stuff our money under our mattresses and that we spend money but that we should also be prudent because, heck!, you might get laid off.  I love this part:

“Look, I wish I had the luxury of just dealing with a modest recession or just dealing with health care or just dealing with energy or just dealing with Iraq or just dealing with Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said. “I don’t have that luxury, and I don’t think the American people do, either.”

Yes, we wish that too but a proclivity towards wish fulfillment isn’t generally a characteristic we look for in a president.  However, we did have the luxury  of dealing with a modest recession last year when we could have picked a different candidate who might have been more up to the task of dealing with the *major recession* that we, the losers, saw coming from a mile away. Fortunately for Mr. Obama, the bankers came to his financial rescue and did away with all that messy choice thingy in the primaries.  With enough money greasing the hands of the superdelegates, and the right kind of Change!™ propaganda, not to mention the governor of NJ who is a former CEO of Goldman-Sachs who can be counted on to invalidate the results from his own state, you can do away with all that luxury of choice that primaries afford.  Mr. Obama is only reminding us that elections have consequences.  Or not, if the money men are behind you.

And he had this to say about blogs:

NYT: [Obama] said he did not find blogs to be reliable, citing the economy as one example. “Part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs,” he said, “is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully, then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another — well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine.”

Anyone here surprised by that?  Raise your hand, don’t be shy.  You in the back?

Naive and silly Conflucians.  You, in particular, are the LAST people that Obama will listen to.  You never supported him in the first place.  But those other bloggers, like Baseline Scenario, Naked Capitalism, Conscience of a Liberal and even election year obsequious toady Josh Marshall, he doesn’t have to read them either because they only see one part of the big picture.  There is no clean answer, says Obama.

Yes, we know, Barack.  There is no clean answer because the bankers set it up that way.  They all have their hands out saying, “gimme, gimme, gimme, NOW!, NOW!, NOW!”.  And they appear to be too big to fail and they have rigged the bankruptcy laws in their favor and, HOLY HEMIOLA!, if we pull the plug on them, all Hell will break loose!  It is a very intractable problem.

But here’s the problem, Barack, you are listening to the guys who are feeding you Armageddon stories because it is in their best interest to make it sound like nationalizing the banks is the worst thing you can do.  I’m betting you even agree with them that if it hadn’t been the stupid American consumer, just living for today and not taking personal responsibility, for which sins they shall now be required to “sacrifice”, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.  Then the bankers wouldn’t have had to lend all that money and aggregate all those mortgages and slice them up into tranches.  They wouldn’t have had to offer subprime loans except that the damn consumers were demanding them when their lack of wage increases wouldn’t produce the requisite 20% downpayment on a hyperinflated house.  The investors wouldn’t have had to insure each other against losses, again and again…and again.  It’s all their fault, those thoughtless consumers. Our skin just slid into their mouths and they had no choice but to bite.

Of course, the head of the FDIC, Sheila Bair, has been trying to cut some deals with the investor class on their mortgage tranches but every time she makes a move in that direction, they investors threaten to sue.  And your Timmy Geithner and Larry Summers won’t play nice with her because she’s a smelly girl.  What’s a president to do?  He can’t serve EVERYONE and if he listens to the blogs and nationalizes, er, actually, takes the insolvent banks into receivership, the banks, the bankers might not lend him a billion for his re-election.  Besides, it would interfere with their lifestyles and bankers are people too- sort of, in a neo-feudalistic sense of the word.  I mean, it would upset the natural food chain if we got rid of all of the predators at the top.

I understand.  I’m a working girl, faced with my own imminent layoff caused by the insularity of the new CEO who for some reason listens only to the executives and marketing people, who are trained in the ways of propaganda, who point to the hapless scientists who wear denim to work and not business suits and say, “It’s all R&D’s fault for being too bureaucratic and not getting things done!  Let’s throw away half of our seed corn.  They’re consuming too much money!”  Nevermind the endless mergers that bring research to a screeching halt for several years at a time while the managers fight over the turf.  Nevermind the empty labs that are never filled by chemists and biologists because there is a hiring freeze caused by the endless mergers that suck up financial resources required to pay off the shareholders.  Never mind the fricking lab animals who never seem to cooperate and produce blips in the data that may freak out the bureaucrats at the FDA and send us all back to the drawing board again and again. Nevermind the class action lawyers who are scanning adverse drug reaction reports in anticipation of some unforseen blip in the data that will lead to a goldrush.  It’s all R&D’s fault for getting investors into this mess, the corporate guys say.  Life would be so much easier if we didn’t have those damn scientists trying to make drugs.  Besides, they are so much cheaper in China.  Not smarter.  Just cheaper.

Then again, maybe laying me off would have unexpected side effects.  For instance, I would have a lot of time on my hands to organize –  the blogs.

In other news:

Elizabeth Warren has been tasked by Congress to follow the bailout money.  In her most recent report to Congress, she is still waiting to hear from the new team at Treasury.

[Update by Katiebird] Do you like this post?  Pass it around with these links:

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