16
Sep
09

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 48

We begin with some news from Australia.

After an Aussie warship stopped a boat carrying “nearly sixty suspected asylum seekers”, one of the country’s nattering nabobs had this to say:

“Situations around the world mean that large numbers of displaced persons are looking for settlement in wealthy, developed nations like Australia and can be targeted by, and fall prey to, people-smugglers,” Australian Home Minister Brendan O’Connor said.”

So, poor people want to move to Australia, and when the Aussies make it hard for them they improvise.  Friedman notes:

From the standpoint of the asylum seekers, O’Connor and the Australian navy are the enemy. The “people smugglers” are the ones on their side, the people who, for a price, are trying to get them into Australia. O’Connor is trying to keep them out. In an attempt to obscure that fact, he describes the situation as the immigrants “falling prey to” the people smugglers.

(A commenter objects that the people-smugglers are — he assumes, and I don’t doubt it — by and large Very Bad People.  Well, yeah.  And if Australia had more liberal immigration laws, the asylum seekers wouldn’t have to deal with those Very Bad People to escape.  If people want something badly enough, they’ll get it through extralegal sources — even if that means dealing with, and enriching, Very Bad People.  I thought we covered this in 1933.  But anyway….)

Friedman continues:

Stopping desperate people from escaping from their particular hell may, under some circumstances, be excusable. Pretending that you are doing it for their good is not.

If only there had been enough more of those wicked people smugglers in the late thirties for desperate emigrants to fall prey too, it might have been only five million.

Riffing off of the same post, TJIC notes:

I was targeted by, and fell prey to, an establishment selling iced coffee this morning.

It’s called “mutually beneficial trade” by decent civilized humans.

Of course, if you think that trade’s zero-sum — or you suspect that your voters do — there’s no room in your worldview for any such thing as “mutually beneficial trade”.

——

Uh-oh, I’m being racist again:

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law’s authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called “lone wolf” terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.

Doug Mataconis notes that none of these provisions requires either a search warrant or probable cause.  But that’s okay because OMG TEH TERR’ISTS LOOK OVER THERE!  And really, if you can’t trust the federal government, who can you trust?

In 2007, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted to abuses of the PATRIOT Act. In fact, there were more than 1,000 instances of the FBI misusing the law. According to the Washington Post, the “audit [covered] just 10 percent of the bureau’s national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI’s domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand.”

Naturally — unless I’ve missed out on some Stalinist-scale purges — most of the same people who abused the PATRIOT Act under Bush 43 are still there to abuse it under Obama.  (Hey, it almost looks like I’m criticizing Dubya as much as I am Obama.  Does that mean I’m only being half-racist?)  Chalk up some schadenfreude for the folks who pushed this through and are starting to find themselves flagged as domestic terrorists, but really….

——

Just for variety, here’s some praise for our 44th President.  In a recent speech — no, not that one — Obama helped me understand some of the details of the health-care plan that had heretofore eluded me.  Specifically, I was somewhat puzzled by the vague language surrounding the number of uninsured Americans and the insistence that insurance be mandatory.  Well, not any more.

Seems that a lot of young, fit, healthy people are passing up health insurance because it’s not a good tradeoff for them.  This is somewhat off-message for the Caring People pushing a universal insurance mandate, who would dearly love for the rest of us to believe that all people who don’t have health insurance can’t afford it — because, um, corporate America and stuff.  On the technical side of things, this is a fantastic opportunity: if those Caring People can force young, fit, healthy folks to buy health insurance — with a universal insurance mandate, for instance — they’ll be worth a shitload of revenue.  The Washington Post explains:

Drafting young adults into any health-care reform package is crucial to paying for it. As low-cost additions to insurance pools, young adults would help dilute the expense of covering older, sicker people. Depending on how Congress requires insurers to price their policies, this group could even wind up paying disproportionately hefty premiums — effectively subsidizing coverage for their parents.

And if you’re willing to bet on your own robust health, well, those Caring People are going to take your money regardless:

To discourage that attitude, the Finance Committee bill would fine individuals who do not purchase coverage. An early draft of the proposal set the penalty at $750 or $950 per year for single people, depending on income. But according to various insurance experts, even the least expensive plan under the bill could cost more than $100 per month, making it cheaper for people to pay the fine than to buy insurance.

Super.

——

Now some questions for the previous administration:

We come across this gem:

When it was explained to him that his concept of the bailout proposal wasn’t correct, the president was momentarily speechless. He threw up his hands in frustration.“Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?” he asked.

…that’s a very good question, George.

——

At last, I am pleased to report that the Obama administration has also said a resounding “Fuck you, Jimmy Carter” and thrown the sad-sack ex-President under the bus:

“The president does not believe that criticism comes based on the color of his skin,” Gibbs said in his Wednesday briefing at the White House. “We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be taken by both this administration and the previous administration.”

Hey, maybe I’m not racist after all.  That’s a relief.


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