Uncompassionate Conservatism

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has a solution to the humanitarian crisis brewing at the U.S.-Mexico border, as thousands of unaccompanied minor children flee horrific atrocities in Mexico and Central America. Send the little lawbreakers back.

Cruz asserted that “the most heartbreaking aspect of this is you look at some 90,000 little boys and little girls coming in illegally, the people bringing them in, they’re not well-meaning social workers.”

“These are hardened, transnational, global carters,” he insisted. “They are cruel, vicious men. These little boys and little girls are being subjected to physical violence, to sexual violence.”

According to Cruz, drug cartels “cut off and send back body parts” of children to try and force their families to pay a ransom.

“They will force one little boy or one little girl to cut off the fingers or ears of other little boys or little girls,” he pointed out, adding that officials told him that children immigrating to the U.S. had been “maimed.”

“This is heartbreaking, and it is the direct result of President Obama’s lawlessness,” Cruz said.

But the senator proposed a solution: Send the children back to the countries where they had been mutilated and raped.

“The children will not stop coming, and will not stop being subjected to this horrific physical violence and sexual violence unless and until this administration begins enforcing our laws,” he warned. “That is the opposite of a humane policy.”

I’m still unclear how President Obama is wholly to blame for everything going on in various parts of Latin America right now, but I suspect that clarity is not the point for the Senator that my state shamefully elected.

I just want to know—specifically—which laws Senator Cruz thinks President Obama could enforce that would somehow end all of this and, presumably, allow all of these children to return to their homes on a wave of flowers and puppies. (Of course there are no such laws, or at least none that could offer any sort of solution to the conditions as they currently are. The Senator is just using whatever scenario presents itself to bash the President. If a group of children from, say, El Salvador had marched up to a border crossing in California requesting asylum in exchange for a verified cure for cancer, Senator Cruz would want to know why Obama hadn’t come up with the cure himself, since he’s supposed to be smart and stuff. Then he’d suggest he bomb the capital of El Salvador for withholding vital medical knowledge from American pharmaceutical companies. Then he’d eat a live goat as a sacrifice to the bald eagle god he secretly worships……okay, I’ve said too much.)

Fir0002 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

“Wait, what was that last part?”

Photo credit: Fir0002 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.


What I’m Reading, June 18, 2014

Erik Adam Klausz [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)], via FlickrThe Truth About Pavlov’s Dogs Is Pretty Disturbing, Esther Inglis-Arkell, io9, June 17, 2014

When did Pavlov’s dogs start salivating? When they heard a bell, you say? Au contraire. Pavlov’s dogs started salivating when they saw lab coats. Workers at a lab that studied digestion noticed that the dogs used in the experiments were drooling for seemingly no reason at all.

It was only Ivan Pavlov, a scientist working at the lab, who made the connection between the lab coats and the drool. The dogs, Pavlov reasoned, knew that they were soon going to be fed whenever they saw a lab coat. What intrigued Pavlov was the fact that a physical response could be produced solely by way of a mental association. The dogs couldn’t drool on command consciously, but they could be trained to do so just the same.

Agriculture isn’t Natural, Keith Kloor, Collide-A-Scape, June 12, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, June 4, 2014

Insomnia Cured Here [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)], via FlickrThe NRA’s Frankenstein monster, Mano Singham, Freethought Blogs, June 3, 2014

The Frankenstein story is a morality tale that gets played over and over again in political life. A group (a government or political party or other organization) covertly supports and encourages extremists in order to achieve their own goals, thinking that they can control their surrogates and rein them in after they have served their purpose, only to find that the group has grown beyond its control and is determined to continue on its own path and in order to do us, turns against its own creator.


Things are so bad that the extremists are spawning even more extreme groups. The recent spat between the NRA and the group known as Open Carry Texas is a case in point. The NRA has been promoting the idea that people have the right of completely unbridled ownership of guns and to carry them anywhere at any time. The OCT took them at their word and its members went into a Chili’s fast food restaurant toting large semi-automatic weapons, freaking out the regular customers and this resulted in them being asked to not bring their guns into the store again.

This episode resulted in such bad publicity that the NRA, of all groups, has issued a sharply worded admonishment to the OCT telling them to cut it out. But OCT has turned on the NRA, accusing them of betraying the rights of gun owners.

*** Continue reading


Signal Boost: “Conscientious Objectors” in Health Care

From “Why We Need to Ban ‘Conscientious Objection’ in Reproductive Health Care,” by Joyce Arthur, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, and Christian Fiala, Gynmed Clinic for Abortion and Family Planning. Published at RH Reality Check, May 14, 2014:

Do health-care professionals have the right to refuse to provide abortions or contraception based on their “conscientious objection” to these services? Many pro-choice activists would retort, “No way! If you can’t do your job, quit and find another career!” We agree with them, and have detailed why in our new paper, “‘Dishonourable Disobedience’: Why Refusal to Treat In Reproductive Healthcare Is Not Conscientious Objection.”

Reproductive health care is the only field in medicine where freedom of conscience is accepted as an argument to limit a patient‘s right to a legal medical treatment. It is the only example where the otherwise accepted standard of evidence-based medicine is overruled by faith-based actions. We argue in our paper that the exercise of conscientious objection (CO) is a violation of medical ethics because it allows health-care professionals to abuse their position of trust and authority by imposing their personal beliefs on patients. Physicians have a monopoly on the practice of medicine, with patients completely reliant on them for essential health care. Moreover, doctors have chosen a profession that fulfills a public trust, making them duty-bound to provide care without discrimination. This makes CO an arrogant paternalism, with doctors exerting power over their dependent patients—a throwback to the obsolete era of “doctor knows best.”

Denial of care inevitably creates at least some degree of harm to patients, ranging from inconvenience, humiliation, and psychological stress to delays in care, unwanted pregnancy, increased medical risks, and death. Since reproductive health care is largely delivered to women, CO rises to the level of discrimination, undermining women’s self-determination and liberty. CO against providing abortions, in particular, is based on a denial of the overwhelming evidence and historical experience that have proven the harms of legal and other restrictions, a rejection of the human rights ethic that justifies the provision of safe and legal abortion to women, and a refusal to respect democratically decided laws. Allowing CO for abortion also ignores the global realities of poor access to services, pervasive stigma, and restrictive laws. It just restricts access even further, adding to the already serious abrogation of patients’ rights.

(Emphasis added.)


What I’m Reading, May 7, 2014

By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsU.N. Human Rights Chief: Stop Lethal Injection in U.S., Noa Yachot, ACLU Blog of Rights, May 2, 2014

The pain and suffering of Clayton Lockett during his gruesome execution in Oklahoma this week has been met with outrage around the world. Today the United Nations human rights chief said that Lockett’s botched execution may violate international law, and called for an immediate moratorium on the administration of the death penalty across the United States.

Should scientists ‘Jurassic-Park’ extinct species back to life? John D. Sutter, CNN, May 2, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, May 5, 2014

Paul T. [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via FlickrCreationists’ Neil deGrasse Tyson hysteria reaches fever pitch, Dan Arel, Salon, May 2, 2014

Not surprisingly AiG’s own Danny Faulkner, an astronomer by degree, but not in practice claims that if stars are being formed today that we do not need science to explain how because God has the ability to make such things happen on his own.

This kind of thinking is what stunts scientific growth in the US and around the world. Faulkner and those like him aren’t looking for natural answers to the amazing universe we inhabit and simply credit anything and everything to God. When science does make a massive discovery that happens to through a wrench in their faith based beliefs, they simply reject the science.

Saudi Arabia Clueless About Human Rights, Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture War, May 1, 2014 Continue reading