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.

It’s Time To Talk About Our Guns

On Feb 26,2012, in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old, 140-pound, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old, 250-pound George Zimmerman. Zimmerman has said that it was a case of self-defense. Despite the many facts that have come to light since the shooting, Zimmerman remains a free man, who hasn’t yet been arrested. The Sanford Police report also raises some questions on its own, such as why less than one minute elapsed from the time 9-1-1 was called until the time the police arrived to find Trayvon Martin face down and dead. If accurate, it would mean that George Zimmerman could not wait one single minute from the time he was told they did not need him to follow Trayvon until the time he killed him. [NOTE: Many people have brought up the racial aspects of this case, but since race has nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion I am having here, I have intentionally left those aspects out. I completely agree that had Zimmerman been black and his victim a 17-year-old white male, he would have been arrested immediately. But let’s save the racial aspects for another discussion.]

Although Zimmerman’s lawyer has said his client would not be invoking it, at the middle of this controversy is a law known colloquially as the “Stand Your Ground Law.” It says, in essence, that if you reasonably believe your life is in danger, you can use deadly force to defend yourself. The law was modeled on laws designed and written by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of legislators and corporations that propose bills to be passed by the states. Believe me when I say they are not acting in your best interests. They are dangerous, and the laws they’ve helped pass have put innocent people in danger. They must be exposed and dealt with, but for now we as a nation must once and for all settle this matter of what the true meaning and intent of the Second Amendment is, and what role guns should have in our Society.

For the record, and so that there is no misunderstanding about the topic Continue reading

CNN: Was Navy Sailor, August Provost, Murdered Because He Was Gay?

A sailor found dead earlier this week at California’s Camp Pendleton was shot while standing sentry, and a fire was set in an attempt to cover up evidence, the U.S. Navy said.

The death of Seaman August Provost of Houston, Texas, is being investigated as a homicide, Capt. Matt Brown told reporters on Thursday.

A sailor was taken into custody, because of his own statement and physical evidence collected at the scene.  My heartfelt condolences to the Provost family.