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The Morning Grumpy – 2/17/2012

17 Feb

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Mom and Daughter from TLC's "Toddler and Tiaras"

1.  President Obama has plans to drastically reduce our nuclear arsenal.

According to a report this week from the Associated Press, President Obama is considering three proposals by the Pentagon to cut the number of deployed nukes. The biggest proposal would reduce America’s active stockpile to just 300 to 400 warheads—fewer than the US has had since the earliest days of the Cold War. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the US has reportedly built close to 70,000 atomic bombs. The recent New START treaty with Russia requires both countries to cut their deployed warheads to 1,550, so these new reduction plans would be dramatic, indeed.

Military strategists think it’s a good idea.

On the eve of the New START signing in 2010, three Air Force researchers argued in a military journal that the US should tweak its nuclear strategy to focus on “proportional deterrence”—the idea that America doesn’t need to annihilate its enemies out of existence, but instead just needs enough firepower to threaten an enemy’s most valuable targets. It’s straight out of Clausewitz: You can win merely by taking away the adversary’s will to fight.

Of course, Republicans disagree.

“I just want to go on record as saying that there are many of us that are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this preposterous notion does not gain any real traction,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) declared in a House Armed Services Committee Hearing.

Mutually assured destruction between two hostile superpowers is no longer the core tenet of our nuclear program. Perhaps it’s time to align our resources with that change in strategy.

2.  Listening to right-wing radio talk show hosts, pundits, and pols, you’ll often hear that America is a “center-right nation”. This argument is based on how individuals identify themselves on the political spectrum. Essentially, this is a measure of which party is doing a better job of marketing their brand. When polled on actual policies and issues, Americans are not even close to “center-right”, they’re actually quite progressive.

A 2009 study from the Center for American Progress tried a more specific calculation of Americans’ views, based not on which words they chose but their actual political positions:

Based on an innovative categorization of ideology, calculated from Americans’ responses to 40 statements about government and society split evenly between progressive and conservative beliefs, the American electorate as a whole records a mean ideological score of 209.5 in the Progressive Studies Program measure of composite ideology—solidly progressive in orientation.

And a new paper presented last month at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that political polarization in the U.S. has hardly changed at all in the last 40 years—but that Americans vastly overestimate how polarized we are.

Read more on the subject here, very interesting data.

3. Leaders in Latin American countries are essentially begging us to decriminalize drugs and destroy the market serviced by violent organized crime elements in their countries.

At a regional summit this month in Mexico, attended by the leaders of 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, officials declared that “the authorities in consumer countries should explore all possible alternatives to eliminate exorbitant profits of criminals, including regulatory or market options.”

4. More than ever, income and economic class is the dividing line in American education.

The New York Times has published a roundup of recent research showing the growing academic achievement gap between rich and poor students. It prominently features a paper by Stanford professor Sean F. Reardon, which found that, since the 1960s, the difference in test scores between affluent and underprivileged students has grown 40%, and is now twice the gap between black and white students.

5. Innocent re-design of a personal website or a countdown to a campaign website?

The blogger in me hopes it is a campaign website. Free content! Crazy, racist millionaire runs for office again! Huzzah! However, the citizen in me hopes he’s just re-designing his website into a new insulatatorium and virtual billboard for his disdain.

Fact Of The Day: Johnny Cash’s iconic song, “A Boy Named Sue” was written by well-known children’s book author Shel Silverstein.

Quote Of The Day: “When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.” – Shirley Chisholm

Cartoon Of The Day: “Feed The Kitty” – Chuck Jones

Song Of The Day: “Where Were you?” – The Mekons

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com