The Watering Hole, Monday, March 25, 2013: Are We Getting Carried Away?

Do you know how many aircraft carriers the United States has? Would it surprise you to know the answer is ten? Would it surprise you even more to know that under U.S. law, the military is required to maintain eleven aircraft carriers (and their associated vessels)? That’s right, eleven. And just to put that in some kind of perspective, no other country has more than one aircraft carrier. We’ll get our eleventh one, a new class of carrier, in about four more years.

From an article published by Raw Story,

“After 100 years, the carrier is rapidly approaching the end of its useful strategic life,” wrote Captain Henry Hendrix in a report published this month by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think-tank with close ties to President Barack Obama’s administration.

Changes in naval warfare mean that carriers “may not be able to move close enough to targets to operate effectively or survive in an era of satellite imagery and long-range precision strike missiles,” Hendrix wrote.

With huge cuts in defense spending inevitable (either because of the sequestration or because everyone on the planet will be dead), the cost of these humongous vessels is under greater scrutiny.

The new carrier carries a prohibitive price tag of $13.6 billion, double the cost of the last aircraft carrier. And that does not count the $4.7 billion spent on research and development for the new class of carriers.

It costs about $6.5 million a day to operate a single carrier strike group, which includes five other warships, an attack submarine, an air wing of 80 fighters and helicopters, and a crew of 6,700.

But not everyone agrees that we should get rid of the carriers.

Pete Daly, a retired vice admiral who once commanded the USS Nimitz carrier strike group, defended the ships as a vital element of US military might.

To hit deeply buried targets, fighter jets flying off a carrier were more effective than Tomahawk missiles, and knocking out a super carrier is “very, very hard,” said Daly, now head of the US Naval Institute.

This is a conversation Americans need to have. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us know absolutely nothing about the US Navy, or the difference between a ship and a boat, or why the Seven Seas need eleven aircraft carriers to patrol them. One thing is for sure: We can’t afford to keep paying the enormous costs of running these things. A new way of thinking is needed. Luckily for me I’m exactly the wrong kind of person for the job. I can’t even swim.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss our over-bloated military or anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday Roast: March 24, 2030 – Future Edition

Karl Rove- The Architect of the Republican’s Downfall

May I venture a guess? A few years down the road, say in 2030, the current state of the GOP will be seen by political scientists and historians as follows:

By opening up the GOP right wing to the Evangelicals Karl Rove achieved a short term victory, which brought the defeat of the Republicans in its wake. The Bush Presidency, Rove’s biggest strategic achievement, and its costly illegal war in Iraq, in addition to its unchecked supply side economics, unbridled spending, while lowering revenue, led to a deep recession which left Millions of Americans on the brink of destitution.

The conflicts within the party were glossed over by a victory in the 2010 mid-term elections, which came at the height of the economic fall-out and was aided by inherent racist tendencies against a black President. Tendencies in constituencies which have been tapped years before, when Rove’s strategy opened the GOP to the right.

In the aftermath of this “victory” the “purists” in Congress managed to bring Government to a virtual standstill, thus enabling the sitting President to win re-election. A victory won not on policy in the first place, but on a deep seated division in the country mostly about “social issues” brought to the forefront by some contenders for the nomination, which have to be counted as candidates for the Rove constituency.

The loss in 2012 brought about a prolonged battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, which showed victories of both sides, but left relevant policy making on the sidelines for years to come. Meanwhile, the society and economy in the United States evolved and modernised, while the conflict left the GOP without any discernible answer to economic and /or societal problems. It took the Republican Party another 16 years to regain their footing and be competitive again.

The name of Karl Rove, highly acclaimed in the early 2000s has by now become synonymous for self-defeating strategy among GOP politicians.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A draft of the above post was found near the Way-Back Machine. We post it now for your reading pleasure.]

OPEN THREAD ~ CARPE PREDICTUM

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 23, 2013: Perchance to Dream

As happens to everyone at one time or another (or several others, for some people), this hasn’t been a good week for me. I wasn’t feeling great last weekend, and as I headed into work this past Monday morning, I could tell I was only getting worse. I left work early on Monday in the hopes of getting some rest and staving off this cold, but, alas, not only did I awake Tuesday morning to several inches of snow on the last full day of Winter (thank you very much, Mr. Very Old Man Winter), but my cold had worsened and I needed to stay home for the day. So I did. I couldn’t have gotten much work done that day because I was sneezing or coughing violently approximately every other minute. I’m a serial sneezer. I don’t usually just sneeze once, I sneeze many times in a row. In fact, it’s very rare that I only sneeze once, and not that often that I only sneeze twice. For me, sneezing twice just means the next one has been delayed by up to three minutes. No, for me, a “lighter-than-usual” sneezing fit is only three sneezes. Typical is more like seven or eight sneezes, sometimes even going more than ten in a row. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, you know that sneezing fits can sometimes lead to physical injury, such as throwing your back out or possibly even fracturing a rib. On the other hand, there is the belief out there that if you try to suppress a sneeze, you could rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck, which could lead to death. Hmm, which would I rather suffer? A broken rib or back, or death? Let me get back to you on that one.

The next day I felt better in the sense that I wasn’t sneezing or coughing every other minute, but I felt worse in the sense that I could not think straight and sometimes found myself “blanking out.” After getting showered and dressed anyway in order to make a go of it, I drove down to the local deli to get my mother’s newspaper and decided that it would be safer for all concerned if I got myself back home and stayed in bed. So I did. After seeing Jane off to work, I went back to bed and slept for several hours. I woke up around 1:30 in the afternoon, watched a little “NCIS” (great show, BTW), then went back to bed for another four hours of sleep. I was up for a few hours after Jane got home, but then I turned in early again and slept some more. (I had to, as I could not stay home one more day without falling seriously behind in my work.) In all, I probably slept about 17 hours that day. And it did help. But then I had to return to work the next two days.

I’m still feeling some of the remnants of that cold, so I’m going to go back to bed and try to sleep as much as I can today, for I will probably have to go into the office tomorrow to catch up on some things that have to be done before Monday. So, please, enjoy your day without me. I’ll feel much better after I get some more sleep. Ah, sleep. To sleep perchance to dream. Maybe even dream of winning the Powerball Lottery drawing tonight, with an estimated jackpot of $320,000,000. By my rough calculations, when you take the cash value payoff – which is the cash value of the annuity they would buy to pay you the $320 million over a 25-year period – you get, after taxes, roughly 25% of the total jackpot prize. Roughly. Still, $80,000,000 would be nice to have. I’ve dreamed of winning the Lottery just so I could give an answer I’ve always wanted to hear someone tell reporters when they ask on what will they spend their winnings: “Hookers and blow.”

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss being sick, sleeping, prostitutes and cocaine, or anything else you want. I’m going back to sleep.

The Watering Hole: Friday March 22, 2013; CPAC Defined

The annualized nonsense of last weekend’s 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (aka CPAC) was stimulating, although probably not in the way the country’s far right wingnuts hoped it would be. I didn’t pay that much attention, of course, caught only a snippet here, a blog there, comments now and again made by obviously sane people, plus a handful of stupid comments made by attendees. Oh, and yes, I did see that photo of Sarah Palin sipping a giant soft drink of some sort — her attempt to mock New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the size of sugar-laden soft drinks. Also saw a shot of Donald Trump wearing that squirrel pelt skull cap as he spoke to a giant crowd of three or four attendees. I heard a brief clip of Romney clarifying once again — in case anyone missed it in the last two years — what an ass he truly is. And somewhere, I ran across a snippet of Rand Paul trying to sound as upside down as his father always did (and, from what I could tell, he succeeded perfectly). Oh, and I almost forgot (actually, I DID forget, till just now) — the NRA spokesperson (he is NOT a spokesman, not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination . . . in fact, using the word ‘person’ even bothers me) Wayne LaPierre was there too, spouting his incessant thesis that real men need assault weapons, ’cause if you wanna BE impotent you gottta LOOK impotent and ACT impotent! As I said: last weekend offered a brief encounter with annualized CPAC nonsense — which pretty much sums the extent of my involvement. Lucky for me, for my sanity.

But the main impact of the silliness came late last Sunday night (or maybe it was early Monday morning — I wasn’t wearing my glasses so couldn’t see the clock). In any case, I caught myself recalling something I’d read once, so I looked it up to see if it was as close to a ‘definition’ of CPAC-style conservatism as I thought it might be and lo, yes indeed it was exactly that. Here it is, a (slightly modified) summary of today’s CPAC/Tea Party/Republican/Right Wing politics, aka the conservative agenda:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Conservatives tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in conservative regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of conservative nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under conservatives, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in conservative nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a conservative nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a conservative government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Conservative nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under conservatives, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in conservative nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Conservatives almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in conservatives for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in conservative nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Conservative nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

OK, so by now the ‘slight modifications’ I’ve made to the original document are, most likely, painfully obvious. And yes, it’s true, I did indeed make a pair of very simple adjustments: I changed every occurrence of the word “fascist” to conservative”, and every occurrence of the word “fascism” to “conservatism”. Aside from those two details, the entire balance of the original document, entitled The 14 points of Fascism, is reproduced verbatim. For those interested in further defining details, a second article on the same topic entitled What is Fascism? may also prove worthy of review.

Fascinating it is how simply changing two words can result in a detailed synopsis that most ably summarizes the obvious aims, goals, intents, and methods which are clearly implicit in and often even spoken by today’s Republican Party. The GOP was once — and not all that long ago — far less extreme in its political philosophy than it is today. In fact, today even such “conservative” political stalwarts as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would very likely be cast off as traitors to the party’s current . . . umm . . . fascistic philosophy.

One of the more curious aspects of today’s conservative movement in the US is its loudly professed and complete disdain for “government” — even as its adherents attempt to USE government at all levels to impose official restrictions on a wide variety of every day activities. They have, for example, gone after women’s reproductive privacy via their attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, to either restrict abortion or ban it completely, to impose totally unnecessary medical procedures (e.g. transvaginal ultrasounds) when a pregnancy termination is sought, and even to attempt either restricting or outlawing completely hormonal contraceptives, all such actions parcel to their attempt to ultimately declare the fertilized egg to be “a person”  and thereby endowed with full constitutional protection.

Meanwhile, they also work diligently to eliminate anti-poverty programs which feed children already born, along with other programs designed to provide such children (and their families) with the means of obtaining medical care; and speaking of children, conservatives refuse to work toward the banning of military-style assault weapons even as they ignore the recent murder, by military-style assault weapon, of twenty school children, each of whom was six or seven years of age, students at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (along with six adults). Guns are more important than children, after all, except when the “child” is but a fertilized egg — at which point both gun and fetus enjoy apparently equal Constitutional protection, a protection which clearly does NOT apply once the child is born and reaches the age of, say, six years. Or so.

And on yet another front there is the movement’s attempt to overturn a major provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act via a case which is currently under consideration by the US Supreme Court. At the same time, of course, conservatives work feverishly at the state level to pass bills which they hope might even further suppress the voting rights of minorities (who traditionally vote Democratic). They’re also attempting virtually every means possible to either destroy labor unions or to minimize their usefulness; they’re trying to defund public education even as they work to fund private school enterprises with public tax revenues; they promise to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to deny equal marriage rights to the LGBT community; and lest we forget, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has ruled that “Corporations are people, my friend” — and are therefore free to contribute virtually unlimited cash to election campaigns, the vast majority of which is ‘invested’ in those candidates who fully support unlimited corporate power and freedom from government regulation.

So much for their “keep the government off our backs” thesis. A fascist-style government has proven to be, in fact and across the historical spectrum, far more intrusive in the lives of ordinary people (see above) than is any form of government (socialistic included) that places the needs of ordinary people FIRST, and the needs of the powerful, the wealthy, and the corporate “people” on the bottom rung.

The World English Dictionary defines fascism as:

1.     any ideology or movement inspired by Italian Fascism, such as German National Socialism; any right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism
2.     any ideology, movement, programme, tendency, etc, that may be characterized as right-wing, chauvinist, authoritarian, etc. (boldface highlights added)

Sounds like classic American (so-called) Conservatism to me. Maybe it’s high time we start calling a spade a spade? I suggest changing the name of the Conservative Political Action Conference to something more appropriate and descriptive, maybe something like Fascists United by Conservative Know-how — Y’all come now . . . Y‘heah?!

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind . . . I just did!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 21, 2013: Free Dumb

Video

Oddly the tea party still believes it will control the Repubican party.  CPAC held a straw poll and the winner for the 2016 primary is Rand Paul.  While that’s not really much to worry about the fact that so many current members of congress legislate with an eye to avoiding a tea party primary challenge is.

Tea Party Leader Defends Membership In Fascist Group

 James_Ives_Fascist

Nothing says patriotic like good old-fashioned Fascism, at least according to the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party, James Ives. As reported by the Texas Tribune, Mr. Ives’ title before he joined the Tea party was quite different: the director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party (AFP). When confronted with this information, he wisely did not deny, but what he did say was far more revealing:

“From my point of view, it was all pro-Constitution, pro-America.

I never did anything. There really weren’t enough people involved to be a gathering, let alone a rally. It was basically a scattering of people across the continent just complaining.”

READ MORE AT LINK

Obviously we can’t afford to ignore Rand Paul and the Tea Party types while they continue to force their beliefs on the rest of us.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD.  WHAT’S UP?