Abortion, Life and the Law (and a Snowden Postscript)

Abortion, Life and the Law

A few months ago the folks at Healthcare-administration-degree.net reached out to me to share an infographic on our attitudes about abortion. Too busy to pay proper attention I allowed the note to sink under a pile of other e-mail. As luck would have it, they gave me a poke this week at a very good time. The House just voted in support of a bill making abortion illegal after 20 weeks, in direct contradiction to current law and Supreme Court rulings. We won’t go into what a waste of time this vote was. The bill will never get through the Senate and if it did it would be vetoed by Obama. It was a symbolic gesture at a time when we need Congress to focus on doing what it can to improve a limping economy.

What jumps out from the infographic is the difference between what people think about life vs what they think about the law. Most folks consider themselves pro-life. Most folks think abortion should be legal in at least some cases. I think these findings illustrate something the most strident  “pro-life” people tend to distort about those who differ with them. Precious few people are “pro-abortion”. The most opinionated pro-life folks call pro-choice folks “baby killers”. The truth I think, is that 99% of folks think the ideal world is a world where every couple greets the news of an impending birth with great anticipation and joy. We don’t live in an ideal world so what do we do about those couples who, for whatever reason, do not welcome a pregnancy? The graphic below shows that most of us want pregnancies to go to term but we are at best ambivalent about the legal remedy when they don’t.

Clearly there is a difference in asking “do you support life” as opposed to “do you want to put women who get abortions in jail”.  Examine the graphic below and tell me what you glean from it.

What We Think About Abortion
Image source: www.healthcare-administration-degree.net

I should note that from my general perusal of the Healthcare Administration Degree web site, they do not appear to have a political axe to grind. The graphic, as far as I can see, simply tries to illustrate a truth about semantics and our attitudes toward abortion.

Random Thoughts about Edward Snowden

Hero or Traitor

I tend to agree with those who say Snowden is neither hero nor traitor. He clearly did us a service by putting a spotlight on a government technically capable of invading our privacy on a grand scale. For that we owe him some thanks. On the other hand, he is acting like a fugitive fleeing first to Hong Kong and now to Moscow. It’s a bit hard to admire the man when he is unwilling to “face the music”.

Oh, How Thick the Irony

A week or so ago I heard an NBC correspondent guessing at a psychological profile of Snowden from … wait for it … his old Twitter and Facebook feeds. The correspondent seemed oblivious to the fact she was using his Internet trail to report on his whistle blowing a government who uses OUR Internet trail to create profiles of us. In fact, the very same media stoking the outrage at NSA overreach has been using Twitter feeds to analyze folks from Trayvon Martin to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Methinks the media doth protest too much.

Espionage, Really?

In “sealed” papers, we have charged Snowden with espionage. I asked my readers in the comment thread of my last article what kind of sense this could make. Who was Snowden spying for? One of my readers hit it on the head, quite sadly, when he replied “He was spying for the American people.” We are at a point where we need our own spies to keep an eye on the Obama administration which has turned out to be anything but transparent.

Just cos You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean the Bastards Aren’t Out to Get You

Obama’s abysmal record in prosecuting and intimidating whistle blowers made what should have been a sad story of a fatal car accident into fodder for conspiracy theorists. Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed writer Michael Hastings died last week in a fiery automobile crash. Hastings was instrumental in getting General Stanley McChrystal fired from his post as Commander of our forces in Afghanistan. As recently as a few weeks ago he appeared on MSNBC calling Obama a liar regarding our drone program. I’m not a tin foil hat wearing kinda guy but when I heard about Hastings’ death I immediately wondered aloud if he had been killed.

Michael Hastings may have died driving recklessly in the middle of the Los Angeles night but I’d bet dollars to donuts that Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are looking over their shoulders right now.


Liberty, Safety and Unnamed Complicit Partners

Thanks to NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we now know, even if we suspect some exaggeration on his part, that the NSA has way more access to our private e-communications than most of us thought they did. As with every issue of the day, folks have lined up on either side of the controversy. Some say this breach of our privacy is the reasonable price we pay to keep ourselves safe. Some say this falls in the category of unlawful search and seizure, treating the innocent citizen like a criminal suspect. Up until now, the NSA has been the focus of public defense or prosecution. I haven’t heard much discussion about two other complicit partners in this emergence of Big Brother.

Verizon et al.

In May of 2012 a New York state court asked the social media micro-blogging site Twitter to hand over the tweets of one of its members. Twitter refused, backed by the ACLU. The NSA cannot amass phone and email records without the cooperation of the carriers such as Verizon. Where is the corporate loyalty to its customers? Where is the concern among these providers that they are violating an implicit trust placed in them by their patrons?

Folks, this smells to me like more than government overreach. This is a nefarious partnership of government and corporate where the little guy, once again, gets screwed. I have commented previously on my disgust at corporate America sitting on trillions of dollars and shipping jobs overseas when they could invest in America and bring down the unemployment rate. This latest development with the NSA is just another nail in the corporate coffin as far as I’m concerned.

The Fault is in Ourselves

Yes my friends, if you want to find another complicit player in this privacy crisis just look in the mirror. Never before has the public embraced a technology so ripe for misuse as we have embraced the Internet over the past 30 years. Has anyone noticed that no one is talking about the NSA opening postal mail, copying it, and then resealing it and sending it on? That’s because it isn’t happening. (Unless of course we are talking about mail sent to the President for example.) The most technically ignorant among us believes that our e-mail goes directly from us to our intended recipient. We don’t even get the notion of downloading mail from a server. Those of us more familiar with the technology don’t seem to care about our correspondence residing on servers that we don’t own or control.

I honestly don’t know what to do about the situation we find ourselves in. We have the perfect storm of a government “doing bad things for good reasons” with the compliance of a corporate infrastructure that doesn’t appear to give a damn about the privacy of its customers with the final ingredient of a populace that is so ensnared in the technology that is now betraying it that it can’t get loose.

I don’t know how we get this genie back in the bottle. I’m open to ideas.