Taking NATO To The Woodshed

On his way out the door, retiring U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lets it fly.

Gates Says NATO Could Face ‘Irrelevance’ in the Future

American Defense Secretary Robert Gates has told NATO members that they need to do more — and spend more — to support the alliance.

ROBERT GATES: “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the US Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

On Friday, Mr. Gates gave his last policy speech before he retires as defense secretary on June thirtieth. He spoke in Brussels, Belgium, at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO was created in nineteen forty-nine to defend western Europe against the Soviet Union.

See also:
Transcript of Defense Secretary Gates’s Speech on NATO’s Future
Gates rebukes European allies in farewell speech
‘Collective Military Irrelevance’
After Gates’ Blunt Warning, What’s Next for NATO?
US warns Europe over NATO future
Libya, Europe and the future of NATO
NATO’S future at risk, warns Pentagon chief
Gates offers grim account of NATO’s Libya efforts
Gates slams NATO allies over share of combat burden
Where Gates criticizes, Obama celebrates
How long will the U.S. find NATO relevant and affordable?

Just how worthless is NATO? They’ve been battling third rate military power Libya for three months now, NATO’s running out of ammunition, and Moammar Gadhafi is still there. What would NATO do if, say, Russia attacked western Europe? If NATO can’t defeat Libya, how can they possibly defend themselves? It’s more than obvious that NATO has outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded. Why should the United States continue to put up the vast majority of funding, troops, and equipment to support Europe’s defense, when Europe refuses to defend itself?

/and why the [expletive deleted] is Turkey a member of NATO, they not only don’t contribute much of anything, they actively work against the other alliance members, how insane is that?

Slip Slidin’ Away

Gee, the weasel politicians in Washington continue to abdicate their responsibility and keep kicking the can down the road and the Social Security and Medicare insolvency problem keeps getting worse year after year. Go figure.

Financial Outlook Worsens for Social Security, Medicare

Social Security and Medicare’s annual checkup found that the entitlement system continues to face long-term financial challenges. The Social Security trust fund is expected to be exhausted in 2036, one year sooner than was projected last year. And the date Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund is projected to be depleted has advanced up to 2024, five years earlier than in last year’s report. Once those dates pass, there will only be sufficient resources coming in to pay out about 77 percent of scheduled Social Security benefits and 90 percent of retirees hospital insurance costs, unless changes are made to the program.

Read the Medicare trustees’ report:

2011 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARDS OF TRUSTEES OF THE FEDERAL HOSPITAL INSURANCE AND FEDERAL SUPPLEMENTARY MEDICAL INSURANCE TRUST FUNDS

See also:
Social Security Board of Trustees: Projected Trust Fund Exhaustion
One Year Sooner

Outlook Worsening for Social Security, Medicare, Trustees Say
New report warns Social Security, Medicare could run out of money even earlier than feared
Outlook for Social Security, Medicare Poor: Trustees
Medicare could run out of money sooner than previously predicted
Bleaker outlook for Social Security, Medicare
Outlook for Medicare, Social Security worsens
Government: How bad is the news about Social Security?
Medicare and Social Security Trustees report: Capitol Hill reaction
Medicare funds will be depleted in 13 years, report says

And, since we’re already into the 2012 election cycle, I wouldn’t expect Obama or Congress to step up and have the courage to make the hard, politically unpopular decisions that will have to be made in order to put Medicare and Social Security back on the path to solvency. Just look at how Paul Ryan is already being attacked for lucidly speaking truth to the demagogues. And so, next year, there’ll be another report telling us that the insolvency problem for Medicare and Social Security has gotten even worse.

/seriously, you didn’t really think you were going to collect Medicare and Social Security benefits, did you?

Postage Due

If you’re mailing your taxes on Monday, make sure there’s enough postage on the envelope.

US postage rates set for 1.7% increase from Sunday

The US Postal Service is set to raise its prices on some of its mail services for the first time in nearly two years.

The rate rises do not affect Express Mail or Priority Mail, and will leave a basic one-ounce First Class Mail letter costing 44-cents.

Most of the changes are for commercial mail categories, including for First Class Mail, Standard Mail, periodicals, package services and other services.

. . .

The major changes for retail customers will include a three-cent rise in First Class Mail additional ounces (to 20c per ounce), a one-cent rise for First Class Mail postcards (to 29c) with stamped postcards going up to 32c, and a rise for letters or postcards bound for Canada and Mexico to 80c.

See also:
U.S. postage rate increase slated for April 17
Postage rates rising, just in time for tax deadline filers
Postage rates rising, but not for most letters
Postage rates rising, but not for most letters
Postage rates rising, but not for most letters
Postage Rates Going Up On Sunday
Some Postage Rate to Increase Monday
USPS – The United States Postal Service (U.S. Postal Service)

Of course, even with this postage rate increase, the USPS will still run massive multi-billion dollar deficits every year.

/the postal service should be privatized and/or they should raise the postage rates to the level where they actually pay for the service provided, instead of sucking taxpayer money into a government run black hole

Egypt Votes, But For What Exactly?

Egypt had a free and fair vote to amend the Egyptian constitution, that’s a good thing, right? Not so fast.

Egypt Approves Amendments

Egyptians voted in overwhelming numbers to approve a set of constitutional amendments, setting the stage for Egypt’s first truly contested parliamentary and presidential elections in decades.

Saturday’s historic referendum on the amendments saw millions of enthusiastic Egyptians wait patiently for hours to cast ballots in what for almost everyone was a novelty—a vote in which the result wasn’t effectively predetermined.

The largely peaceful and fraud-free vote was a marked contrast to past elections and a glimpse of how much has changed in Egypt in the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid widespread unrest, ending decades of single-party, autocratic rule.

Yet Saturday’s referendum also offered early clues into the rifts likely to shape Egyptian politics in the coming months and years. Many of the largely secular liberals who led the revolution that ousted Mr. Mubarak were opposed to the amendments, strongly suggesting the protest leaders have fallen out of sync with the vast majority of Egyptians.

Protest leaders criticized the amendments as part of a rushed and problematic timeline for establishing democracy; approving the changes started the clock on a race they said they are unprepared to run because they are still setting up parties.

Almost alone among the political groups in support of the amendments were the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, and the National Democratic Party, the former president’s ruling party. Both hope to capitalize on their already strong organizations in summer elections for parliament, which will then be charged with writing an entirely new constitution.
. . .

Journalists covering the announcement abandoned any pretenses of objectivity and yelled “Allahu Akbar!”—”God is Great!”—when the tallies were read out by officials.

See also:
How Egypt’s historic referendum could now bolster Islamists
Big majority vote for constitutional changes in Egypt
Egypt Backs Constitutional Changes That May Aid Brotherhood, Mubarak Party
Egypt: Constitution changes pass in referendum
Egyptians approve constitutional amendments in referendum
Egyptians overwhelmingly approve constitutional changes
Egyptians set for summer elections
Egyptian voters say ‘yes’ to speedy elections
Egypt’s Historic Referendum: Rushed But Moving
Egypt referendum results: 77.2 per cent say ‘Yes’ to the amendments
Egypt approves amendments, prepares for next step
Egyptians get taste of democracy in post-Mubarak era
Egyptians approve constitutional changes, clearing way for elections

Egypt has zero recent history of democracy or diverse political parties. So, obviously, whatever groups are already the most organized will benefit the most from the early elections just approved. And what’s the most organized group in Egypt? The Muslim Brotherhood. What happens if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to dominate the democratically elected parliament after this summer’s elections and, therefore, gets to write the new Egyptian constitution?

/it could very well turn out to be “one man, one vote, one time