AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

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NAFTA is Not the Problem, NAFTA is the Solution

People on both the Left and the Right side of the ideological aisle bitch and moan about the economy and the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) , but rarely do any of these people know the actual details of what makes the economy work and how NAFTA affects it in a positive manner. This is why I appreciate pieces such as this one from Captain Ed Morrissey at HotAir who points out the many benefits NAFTA brings and the many ways we would actually improve our economy immensely if we would stop being so PC-ified by kissing the asses of the environazis and apocolyptic global warming dufuses.

The Reality of NAFTA

[ … ] However, as John Engler points out, almost the entirety of the NAFTA trade deficit comes from energy imports as the US has made Canada and Mexico the top two nations for oil purchases. [ … ]

What the antitrade advocates have been hiding from the candidates (or maybe don’t know themselves) is that almost all of the increase in our Nafta deficit since 2000 has been in increased U.S. imports of energy from Canada and Mexico. In fact, $58 billion of the $62 billion increase in our Nafta deficit has been in energy imports. That’s 95% of the total increase.

We need that oil and gas, and we would rather get it from our friendly neighbors. Surely no one seeks to argue that America would be better off saying no to Mexican and Canadian oil and gas, advocating that we instead import that energy from less secure sources farther from our borders.

Except for energy, though, our trade deficit within Nafta has hardly grown at all – only $3.5 billion from 2000-2007. Our agricultural and manufactured goods sales to Nafta countries have just about kept pace with our imports. That’s a lot more than one can say about the rest of our foreign trade.

While the nonenergy deficit within Nafta has grown less than $4 billion since the job loss started, with the rest of the world it grew over $150 billion. Put another way, the increase in our nonenergy deficit within Nafta has accounted for only 2% of the increase in our global nonenergy deficit since 2000.

Why are the candidates so focused on 2% of our trade problem rather than on the other 98%? Our nonenergy deficit with the high-wage, high-environmental-standard European Union (with whom we have no free trade agreement) grew 10 times as much as it did with Nafta. And of course, with China the deficit grew even more.

Of course, we could import less oil from Canada and Mexico if we drilled more of our own oil domestically. We could open ANWR and the coasts to oil production, and we could build the first new refineries in 30 years to produce our own gasoline. That would employ more Americans, drop the cost of gasoline, ease our reliance on Middle East oil, and eventually strengthen the dollar. That would not only end the NAFTA trade imbalance, but would make us a stronger nation..

Would Hillary or Obama consider that approach? Of course not.

Engler, the former Michigan governor, says that NAFTA is the solution, not the problem. Had the US applied NAFTA to the rest of its trade, our imbalance would have dropped from $155 billion since 2000 to a mere $25 billion. That represents a lot of American jobs and more capital remaining within the American economy. Instead of losing across the board, we would have increased American agricultural exports and bolstered our own manufacturing base.

Engler isn’t sure whether the two Democrats are ignorant of NAFTA’s real impact or simply want to use it to demagogue people they assume are ignorant of it. Neither reflects well on their ability to lead this nation, economically or in any other fashion.

My guess is that it is the latter: they are demagoguing people whom they assume are ignorant of the details of NAFTA. They understand that most Americans are ignorant of the details of American policies and usually fueled by ignorant emotion, rather than tempered logic. And so, instead of being statesmen and leaders and explaining these policies to the American people to help educate them to make good decisions for the betterment of the country, the politicians simply demagogue to gain votes and power and then govern in a way that keeps the status quo and keeps them in power.

Pretty pathetic, but, to be honest, I tire of people bitching and whining about politicians and how *they* are screwing up this country. Newsflash to the Left, the Right and everyone in between: *WE* are screwing up this country. *WE* vote (or don’t vote) and *WE* are uninformed and continue to perpetuate ignorance among the populace by giving into our ignorant emotional rants, instead of helping to educate and inspire our fellow citizens with tempered logic and discussion of the details.

We, the People, of America need to stop playing the victims. The politicians are NOT screwing us over. The President is NOT screwing up this country. The Senate is NOT screwing up this country. The Congress is NOT screwing up this country. The mass media is not screwing up this country. Sure, they are contributing, but it is about damn time that we all said: THE BUCK STOPS HERE. And take some personality responsibility and have some personal pride in our country.

Government is not the solution. A President is not the solution. WE are the solution. We, the People, are what make this nation great. And we, the People, are the cause when this nation goes downhill. Our problem is not a matter of government or a matter of politicians, it is a matter of Americans not taking personal responsiblity and feeling that it is their duty to this country to make it the best it can be.

Politicians serve us… We, the People. A government is only as good as the people who put that government into place. Until we all realize that and stop the petty bickering and stop relishing hatred and spewing vitriol, our country will continue to suffer.

The Buck Stops with We, the People.

April 21, 2008 , 7:14PM Posted by | Barack Obama, Conservatism, Economy, Hillary Clinton | Comments Off on NAFTA is Not the Problem, NAFTA is the Solution

Quotes from the Gravediggers in Iraq

In this case, I believe the Gravediggers is the name given to a unit of soldiers in our American military. Either officially or just a self-given nickname.

Via Lt G at Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal: The Gravediggers’ Cache of Quotes (1)

This is long overdue. Four months into the Suck, and some brilliant (or otherwise) quips have been uttered by me and my men – usually in the hazy, ambiguous hours after midnight and before dawn. Rip-It abuse can only carry a man so far. Here’s the initial collection of bodacious, quotalacious wisecracks; some of them were intended, but as is the case with something so repulsively serious as war, most of them were not.

Here are the two I found the most hilarious, but be sure to go visit his site to read the rest and check out his other posts:

1 – “But Sergeant … I do not mean to brag, but my dick. It will not fit into the hole.” Then PV2 Das Boot, who, after receiving a verbal class on pissing in an empty bottle while on mission from SSG Boondock, still did not grasp the concept of utilizing the air pocket rather than sticking his entire member into the hole. Only after a whiteboard class complete with sketch drawings, and much verbal harassment regarding the size of his dick hole, did PV2 Das Boot successfully urinate in a bottle.

*****

8 – “What the fuck? It’s not like these god damn mother fuckers are the fucking Vietcong and tunneled the fuck out of here. Where the fuck did they fucking go?” SSG Boondock, the night of the (in)famous IED-emplacement. And yes, that was a transmission on the Troop radio.

Found via the most excellent The Thunder Run.

April 21, 2008 , 4:42PM Posted by | Iraq, Military, Military Blogs, Operation Iraqi Freedom | Comments Off on Quotes from the Gravediggers in Iraq

Vet Groups File Lawsuit against the VA Over Bogus Military Suicide Claims

Dadmanly has the details at Mudville Gazette’s Milblogs: A Suit with Agenda

As he notes, the Left has been drumming up outrage over false reports and misinformation put forth by the ignorant and incompetent mass media. This does absolutely nothing to actually help the situation with the Veterans’ Administration (VA), which actually does have issues which need to be resolved in order to help our military veterans. But, things like this from faux military supporters who are simply using the military as a political tool make things that much more difficult to get things fixed. Way to go leftist scumbags.

[ … ] Here’s the AP background on the lawsuit, and the positions of litigants:

The lawsuit, filed in July by two nonprofit groups representing military veterans, accuses the agency of inadequately addressing a “rising tide” of mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.

But government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don’t have the authority to tell the department how it should operate.

The trial is set to begin Monday in a San Francisco federal court.

An average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day, and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide, according to a December e-mail between top VA officials that was filed as part of the federal lawsuit.

“That failure to provide care is manifesting itself in an epidemic of suicides,” the veterans groups wrote in court papers filed Thursday.

MILBLOGGERS have long recognized this line of criticism against our military, the VA, and the Bush Administration. Much of what’s been written and press-released for the public has been filled was misinformation and distortions, if not outright fabrications. There’s been no “epidemic of suicides” in the military, and the suicide rate for the military is actually lower than the rates for non-military when like data sets are compared.

[ … ] Many reputable media outlets just make honest (but ignorant and amateurish) mistakes, but partisans have been seeking to manipulate and misrepresent reporting in this area.

Now, these same have started some non-profit 501c organizations and launched a class action suit to hype their claims:

“We find that the VA has simply not devoted enough resources,” said Gordon Erspamer, the lawyer representing the veterans groups. “They don’t have enough psychiatrists.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the VA takes too long to pay disability claims and that its internal appellate process unconstitutionally denies veterans their right to take their complaints to court.

The groups are asking U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, a World War II U.S. Army veteran, to order the VA to drastically overhaul its system. Conti is hearing the trial without a jury.

“What I would like to see from the VA is that they actually treat patients with respect,” said Bob Handy, head of the Veterans United for Truth, one of the groups suing the agency.

Handy, 76, who retired from the Navy in 1970, said he founded the veterans group in 2004 after hearing myriad complaints from veterans about their treatment at the VA when he was a member of the Veterans Caucus of the state Democratic Party. The department acknowledges in court papers that it takes on average about 180 days to decide whether to approve a disability claim.

“I would just like to see the VA do the honorable thing,” said Handy, who is expected to testify during the weeklong trial.

I would never in a million years claim that the VA is perfect, or deny that the VA is currently burdened pretty heavily with an influx of new Veterans seeking assistance.

But I’m a disabled Veteran, who served in Iraq in 2005, and the VA of my generation has dramatically improved and demonstrates greater responsiveness than at any time in its history. If VUFT Founder Handy ever experienced the VA first hand back then, he can’t possibly think it’s not light years better today. If he thinks so, he’s lying, and what’s more, he’d know it. The VA during the years since Vietnam until the Gulf War was a failing institution, overwhelmed, under-supported, and trying to counteract the shameful embarrassment of how the US – our Government and our citizenry – treated Vietnam Veterans.

We had several Vietnam Vets deploy with us to Iraq, and the services, care, and attention they received from the Army and the VA quite literally brought them to tears on more than one occasion. At all levels of command, we encouraged soldiers to take advantage of resources, Mental Health and other medical services, that were available pre-, during, and post-deployment.

As a First Sergeant, I can adamantly declare that no soldier was left alone, to his or her own devices, leaders at all levels monitored their soldiers, and the VA made no less than half a dozen visits to our unit for post-deployment health reassessments. Our NY State Veterans Representatives, at the State, County and local levels, made every effort to assist soldiers and point them (and even push them) towards any needed services.

Some resisted, especially those who served in the National Guard as Active Guard Reserve (AGR) or State Technicians, fearful that a VA filing or claim or any treatment could jeopardize their employment. (I don’t think their fears were founded, everybody seems like they are looking out for our Vets, but I don’t blame them for being suspicious.)

Others soldiers just took the “tough it out” approach or minimized any problems they had. People who serve in the military tend to be stoic by nature, and place great value on self-sufficiency, sacrifice, and dedication to their mission. Sometimes that means they ignore symptoms, but if any did, it was in spite of a massive effort to identify soldiers for treatment.

I attended a couple of counseling sessions at the VA Vet Center, and I know guys that are being treated for PTSD. Things aren’t always great, they get frustrated, I personally think there’s a too frequent tendency to medicate rather than commit to counseling therapies, but I know that many need what the medications provide, at least in the beginning. Locally, many of the guys with real difficulties had big time difficulties before they came in to service, or have real personal difficulties. Several came to the VA now, with problems that originated in the Gulf War. I think we have some Vietnam Vets that likewise have aftereffects from Vietnam that are being stirred up with new combat experiences.

My initial VA claim took 8 months to process, and a second, additional claim took about 6 months. From what I’ve heard over the years, that seems like a pretty fast response, given the data gathering, medical evaluations, boards, and so forth.

Can the VA improve, or hire more psychiatrists, or better, psychologists and counselors? Certainly. But the idea that the VA has been somehow negligent, or that a class action lawsuit will help anything, is insane.

Be sure to go to Dadmanly’s site to get all the details on these so-called Veterans groups leading the charge on this nonsense.

The VA has many better things to focus on than some bogus waste-of-time – and money – lawsuit.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, this does not help the situation of real problems at the VA. When partisans with an agenda keep crying wolf and making up crises that do not exist, instead of getting people interested in wanting to help, it simply creates more apathy among people after they find out their claims were bogus.

There are many of us out here who look to help – and do help – the military in any and every way that we possibly can. People do not need to make shit up to get people engaged. This is the most giving society in the world when it comes to charity and humanitarian and volunteer work. When we find out there is someone in need, the majority of us jump at the opportunity to help our fellow man. But when people keep making shit up like this, it tends to cultivate cynicism and apathy, as we can’t figure out which issue is real and which is just some partisan bullshit. I am glad there are military veterans out there such as Dadmanly who are cutting through the bullshit to help us know which issues are credible.

April 21, 2008 , 3:37PM Posted by | Military, PTSD, Veterans Administration | Comments Off on Vet Groups File Lawsuit against the VA Over Bogus Military Suicide Claims