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  1. It would be incredibly difficult simply based on the way money is spent, how it's funded (appropriated funding vs mission funding, etc) and how one would classify that spending. For example, a multi-national exercise where NATO members and non NATO members participate on a US installation may incur a direct cost of $20 million, of which X amount is paid by each participant according to the number of personnel they spend but time and land use may be accepted rather than payment so that you can use a facility in the future without incurring cost. Sounds fairly straightforward but depending on the purpose of the exercise, you may be reaching into different pots of money to include the State Department based on the stated objectives. I can say, in general, US Army Europe spends money to enhance the lethality of its forces with thoughts of interoperability with NATO members to maximize total lethality, but the readiness of its forces comes first. Geographic location and distance from Russia plays a huge role in this. These are wave tops that I'm happy to discuss in depth if you want to talk more about any one in particular. The Baltics. Estonia, for example with a population of only 1.2 million and a conscript army that has around 5k personnel active at any given time, no amount of spending increases are going to secure a single brigade without tanks from the multiple divisions of Russia's western military district. Spain on the other hand, is not necessarily concerned about a Russian invasion because there is a lot of ground to cover to get to them. Their concerns are similar to those of Italy in regards to north African refugees crossing the Med. With concerns that are not necessarily focused on conventional ground combat, their budgets are not likely to increase. Greece and Turkey we've already touched on. Turkey is massive, any increases in spending are likely to focus towards securing it's border with Syria and ongoing operations in northern Syria. France, Germany, Austria have different priorities in the way of terrorism. At the end of the day, NATO is a consensus based organization comprised of 29 countries with their own strategic and operational concerns Absolutely. People often forget that it is a political alliance first, military alliance second. There is something to be said about the alliance serving as an undercurrent to the political stability of European political theater although I think it would be bold and assuming to say that it's holding it together. Furthermore, the collective defense aspect of NATO, the very thing that Trump is challenging right now has brought us one of the most peaceful periods in history (it may not seem like it, but it is). I would argue that Russia's number one strategic goal is to invalidate Article 5 (collective defense) of NATO. It is their number one strategic goal because it would serve to shift what they perceive as a mono-polar world lead by the US to a multi-polar world headed by regional powers that can act within their sphere of influence as they see fit. Current operations and terminated opeartions:
  2. I do not think you understand fully what that 2% spending GOAL looks like in actuality. There is no NATO bank account or funding line that exists where countries deposit 2% of their GDP to be used at the discretion of NATO. Each nation has set a spending GOAL, again I use the word goal because there is no forcing mechanism to ensure each country spends 2%. During the Cold War, countries were spending 3% or more and that has naturally subsided following the dissolution of the USSR in favor of other domestic priorities. Anyway, the 2% spending goal is intended to support national military power to then be contributed to NATO in the event of an Article 4 or Article 5 event. Different nations contribute to NATO in different ways; basing, intelligence, etc. The US spends 3.6% because we feel the need to maintain 11 nuclear carrier groups and project global power where as other members concern themselves with regional focuses. Fun factoids about that 2% spending: Greece spends roughly 2.6% of its GDP meeting the goal but most of its military forces is directed towards another NATO member...Turkey. If Germany increased the pay of its entire force by 2(ish)%, it would also meet the 2% spending goal without ever contributing "more" to NATO. As I alluded to before, members contribute in different ways to the alliance which have farther reaching strategic implications that spending 2% of their GDP.
  3. Congratulations, we now have a full ban in effect that was intended to stop immigration for 6 months from specified countries while the executive branch reviewed our processes for safety. It only took them 9 months to get the hollow victory they needed in order to do so. Had they simply started with reviewing the process from the outset, we would have already had reviewed, "extreme vetting" processes in place on top of an already stringent process for the last 3 months. A cheap and hollow "victory" for this dumpster fire administration so people like you can sit around and circle jerk yourselves on keeping America pure while ignoring the realities of facts surrounding this entire debacle.
  4. I'm sure Franken will resign right after Trump steps down for that whole "grab 'em by the pussy" thing and Moore bows out of the Alabama race. The country lost any moral authority to demand politicians step down for sexual misconduct following Bill's impeachment and lack of follow through.
  5. melch


    "Call the collusion bungled or inept, it's still collusion" - Krauthammer The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there's a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a "Russian government attorney" possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, the Kremlin is willing to share troves of incriminating documents from the Crown Prosecutor. (Error: Britain has a Crown Prosecutor. Russia has a State Prosecutor.) Donald Jr. emails back. "I love it." Fatal words. Once you've said "I'm in," it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were copied on the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended.
  6. melch


    You mean DJT Jr. didn't actually meet with the Russian lawyer after he released his own emails stating that he did in fact set one up and Kushner admitted to having attended (but don't worry, he left early)?
  7. In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. Name that author...
  8. Prior to Port Arthur, 13 mass shootings. After the 1996 legislation, 0 mass shootings. I'm not sure how much clearer one needs that to be as evidence of progress. You don't have to be a statistician to know that 0 is less than 13.
  9. While the claim is currently false, you're going to have to do better than that to explain the levels of violence from 1982 until 2010.
  10. You spoke too soon. Alex Jones went off the rails after ISIS claimed the shooter was their instrument and then followed up with another story that ANTIFA material was found in the hotel room and this is the beginning of the ANTIFA/Democratic Soros controlled conspiracy to start a civil war in November. I've also seen roll ups on FB stating he was a fan of *insert a number of left leaning pages here* but no one has been able to post a screenshot of the shooter's profile confirming and the Trumpets are just eating it up.
  11. I see this argument a lot, the idea that people are the issue and not the weapon. While this is true and in no way can we presume to legislate morality, we can put forth legislation to remove the tools used to exponentially affect evil upon others. Had this man not had access to the tools allowing him to exponentially project his evilness on others, 59 people (and counting) would not be dead this morning. The morality argument is bunk.
  12. You've hit the nail on the head with the counter point. Allow me to wax poetic for a moment by saying that, in my estimate, 85% of the people that join the military do not join because of an overwhelming sense of patriotic duty. They join for much more tangible reasons: benefits, healthcare, education, skill training, financial stability, escaping a bad situation, etc. There are some that join purely to serve their country but the numbers are not many. Through basic training, advanced individual training, and unit training, the esprit d'corps, culture, and patriotism are established in the individual (or indoctrinated if you want to argue that point). Ask an initial term member why they serve and they will provide a much different answer than someone that is on their 3rd contract or a lifer. If someone wants to join just for a sex change, I don't really care. They will sign up, serve their obligation as deemed by their respective branch and move on. I roll that under Veterans benefits the same I would education benefits or any other benefits packages available to vets. The amount of fraud, waste, and abuse in the acquisitions and logistics area are far more concerning to me than the negligible costs of hormone treatments for an estimated 1500-6000 people. The military budget spends more on medical necessities of dependas and their broods than on actual service members. At least the transgenders are actually serving. To your last comment, I can trust them because I don't care about what is in their pants. I care about their demonstrated ability to uphold the physical standards set forth by the Army for their appropriate gender marker, their professional competence, and desire to achieve success on behalf of themselves and the unit.
  13. Let's just keep them out of the military. We need warriors not emotionally disturbed, gender confused victims in the ranks. You seem to forget that +85% of the military serves in a support role for roughly 15% of the forces that actually have a combat role. Additionally, if we are kicking out the emotionally disturbed or those with "mental disorders", the American people would be quickly shocked to discover the numbers of soldiers (I can't speak to the other branches) that visit Behavioral Health services for everything from bi polar disorders to severe addictions. If they can meet the standards (Army are incredibly low by the way) let them serve. They are already better than the majority of Americans in my opinion simply because they are willing to serve a country that tries to belittle them. When people make comments about "special accommodations", I laugh at their ignorance. There are no special trans bathrooms or barracks nor will there be. When you are a one gender, you use the appropriate facilities until your marker changes IAW the current policy and then you use the other facilities. In the field, everyone shits in a hole, problem solved. My only concern as an active duty member is their ability to deploy. I have not had to deal with it personally, but I would be intrigued by their transition plan and how long it puts them in a non-deployable status. I've had soldiers undergo spinal surgery and extreme dental procedures (the kind where they break your jaw to correct issues) and be non-deployable for 9 months-ish. If we are willing to put that kind of commitment into one soldier then we should offer another soldier the same luxury.
  14. melch


    It was a drunk Tweet, it doesn't count. But seriously, either Jr.'s lawyer is a genius and spoiling the jury pool or should be put on suicide watch. I just can't fathom what Jr. was thinking? Maybe that the email proves their is something on Hillary and that's what is important here? Which puts them all in a juxtaposition on the narrative that the leaks are what matter, not the content.