American Elephants

On Being Nice to Muslims, Or Not. by The Elephant's Child

Last December, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) pushed through a U.N. resolution with the enthusiastic cooperation of the Obama administration, which was to condemn the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion. Team Obama led the way. No member state called for a recorded vote on the text, so it was adopted “by consensus.”

They have been trying to pass this for years, though strongly opposed by Western democracies. The resolution received a smaller number of votes each year.  Critics regard this as a measure to outlaw valid and critical scrutiny of Islamic teachings. Many OIC states have controversial blasphemy laws at home.

This year the text was revised, dropped the “defamation” language, and included a paragraph that reaffirmed “the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.”

More bureaucratese about discrimination on the grounds of religion, violations of human rights, concern about incitement to religious hatred and the failure of some states to “combat this burgeoning trend.” Also knock off the religious profiling.

This has had the expected influence in Islamic countries to control storming embassies, crucifying Copts, shooting rockets at Israeli civilians, killing American ambassadors, and that sort of thing.  That is, no influence at all.

The intent, of course, is to make people stop criticizing Muslims. You are not supposed to notice the screaming angry Muslims firing RPGs and climbing the walls of the embassies. And stop claiming that Iran is trying to perfect a nuclear weapon, when it’s only about peaceful nuclear energy.

A Senior Iranian official says U.S. President Barack Obama could face legal action in connection with the production of an anti-Islam movie by an American Jew. “A complaint could be filed with US courts against Obama for his violation of articles 18 and 27 of the ICCPR, adopted by the United Nations, which stipulates that the religion and the rights of minorities should be respected, said Javed Mohammadi, the deputy head of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution.

I think this falls under the category of “Hoist with his own petard”, or maybe not, I’m not too sure about my understanding of petards. Maybe it’s just tit for tat.

You Incompetent People Cannot Manage Your Lives Without Government Regulation.. by The Elephant's Child

Last week, 1,571 new pages of regulations were published in the 2012 Federal Register. That brings the total for this year to more than 55,300 pages. In those pages, 76 new final rules were approved.

That figure is equivalent to a new regulation every 2 hours and 13 minutes — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  That is absurd.

So far, 2708 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. At its current pace the 2012 Federal Register will run to 79,463 pages.

President Obama is out on the campaign trail, telling his listeners that Republicans’ only answer to anything — is to cut taxes, and to cut regulation — on Wall Street so they can do it all over again. He expects applause and a big laugh. Stupid Republicans!

Republicans have been attempting to tell the President and Congress for the last 4 years (well, longer than that) that one of the big reasons that businesses are not hiring, is the burden of regulation. The National Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have tried to lobby the government, to make them understand that excessive regulation is a big problem. They will not listen, because they know better. There are just so many things that annoy the perpetually discontented, and now that they are in charge, they must fix things. The people must conform to their ideas, however dumb.

There are rules and there are economically significant regulations. If they have costs of $100 million or more a year. Most businesses or kinds of businesses would consider that to be significant. The 36 economically significant rules published so far in 2012 have compliance costs of at least $17.4 billion. So far, 521 final rules affect small business. 72 of them are significant rules. Why would anyone think this might be a problem? Only small businessmen who must consider the risk of investment and the chances of earning a profit. (For Democrats, if there’s no profit, they go out of business entirely).

— Last week’s economically significant rule comes from— the EPA. It has set new performance standards for oil refineries under five years old. Estimated compliance costs are $79 million, but EPA estimates range from $200 million to $1.9 billion. Translation: they have no clue.

— The EPA also published a rule on paper mill emissions. They estimate $5.9 million in capital costs and $2.1 million in annually recurring costs. They declined to quantify benefits because they “were unable to quantify the emissions reductions associated with the new requirements in the final rule.”  Translation: they don’t know if there are any benefits, but they love making rules — the Clean Air Act is a great catch-all. They are truly zealous, constantly grasping for more power and issuing more useless rules. The agency should be abolished.

— Alpha Natural Resources announced today it would be laying off 1,200 workers and closing eight coal mines to face two new challenges: cheap natural gas and “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.” Coal supplies nearly half of the energy that supplies our economy, and cheap energy has propelled private enterprise to success. President Obama, at the urging of his Big Green supporters, doesn’t like coal. He likes windmills and solar cells (which he buys from China with Stimulus dollars). In July 175 goal-fired generators, or 8.5 % of total coal-fired capacity was expected to be closed in 2012.

— PBS Coals and RoxCoal Inc. laid off 225 workers, citing aggressive regulations. Ohio American Energy announced layoffs in Ohio and 50 employees would be affected. Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in July, which will impact 250 jobs in Southern West Virginia. Just subtract these out-of-work citizens from the approximately 300,000 jobs that Obama can possibly claim the economy created.

The 4.5 million jobs he claims to have created were always fantasy.

ObamaCare Is Already A Flop, And It Hasn’t Even Begun. by The Elephant's Child

Hundreds of thousands of American physicians and thousands of hospitals that fail to buy and install costly health-care information technologies by the deadline in just two years, will face penalties through reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments. Prescription records and patient histories will be required to be entered.

This mandate was part of the 2009 Stimulus legislation, and a major goal of health-care IT lobbyists and their allies in Congress and the White House.  Getting it all computerized so anyone could access the records would make medical administration ever so much more efficient, and lower medical costs by up to $100 billion annually.  Doctors have been obediently computerizing, but you will not be surprised that a new study indicates that physician reluctance was justified. The savings are just another myth of ObamaCare.

Since 2009, almost a third of health providers have installed at least some health IT technology. For a major hospital, the full range can cost $150 million to $200 million. But the software is generally not friendly to the user, and inefficient. The claim of savings is mostly hype.

To conduct the study, faculty at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and its programs for assessment of technology in health—and other research centers, including in the U.S.—sifted through almost 36,000 studies of health IT. The studies included information about highly valued computerized alerts—when drugs are prescribed, for instance—to prevent drug interactions and dosage errors. From among those studies the researchers identified 31 that specifically examined the outcomes in light of the technology’s cost-savings claims.

With a few isolated exceptions, the preponderance of evidence shows that the systems had not improved health or saved money. For instance, various studies found the percentage of alerts overridden by doctors—because they knew that the alerted drug interactions were in fact harmless—ranging from 50% to 97%.

The problem seems to be “true believers” in information technology — certain of their goals and unwilling to hear the concerns of skeptics. It will work— because we believe, a philosophy that has made the design of ObamaCare such a mess. There is even a government agency: the Office of the National Coordinator of Healthcare Information Technology, (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services). File under the Eternal Life of Government Agencies.

It is already common knowledge in the health-care industry that a central component of the proposed health IT system—the ability to share patients’ health records among doctors, hospitals and labs—has largely failed. The industry could not agree on data standards—for instance on how to record blood pressure or list patients’ problems.

Instead of demanding unified standards, the government has largely left it to the vendors, who declined to cooperate, thereby ensuring years of noncommunication and noncoordination. This likely means billions of dollars for unnecessarily repeated tests and procedures, double-dosing patients and avoidable suffering.

Other news among the true believers: The doctor shortage may swell to 130,000. The U.S. health care law’s process for providing insurance subsidies to middle-income families will produce an IRS quagmire. There is no chance the exchanges will get it right. Compliance with ObamaCare is estimated at 80 million man hours per year. It wasn’t intended to be a jobs program and another huge cost. The true believers who are so sure that they know how to arrange the health care for over 300,000,000 Americans need to face up to the facts. They’re not that smart and their ideas don’t work.

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