Photo of the day

Apparently there’s  a huge camel fair in India every year.  Makes for some pretty cool photos (In Focus):

Camels stand before the setting sun during the annual camel fair in Pushkar, on November 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

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The indescribably dumb opposition to Susan Rice

Fred Kaplan lays it out in full.  Especially the amazingly brazen and rank hypocrisy on the parts of John McCain and Lindsey Graham.  Now, hypocrisy is par for the course for politicians, so I’m generally not that big a fan of it as a line of attack, but there’s hypocrisy and then there’s hypocrisy.  Short version: their defense of Condeleeza Rice for far more serious crimes than one they are pillorying Susan Rice for.  But what I really wanted to highlight was one of the dumbest statements from a politician I’ve heard.  I actually heard the quote on NPR while driving today and thought, “I need to look it up.”  I didn’t need to, as Kaplan flagged it in this piece.  Here you go:

Odder still is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said on Wednesday, “I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of the contentious presidential election campaign by agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration’s position.” Imagine that! A senior administration official presenting her administration’s position!

If that isn’t about the dumbest excuse for opposing a potential Secretary of State.  She might as well criticize her for wearing clothes to work.  The whole episode is just embarrassing.

Spending cuts and public opinion charts of the day

From separate Yglesias posts.  First, even most Republicans have no desire to actually cut Medicare (though, it could use some in a thoughtful and efficient manner):

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Meanwhile, cutting defense remains far and away the most popular form of cut that could actually mean something to the budget (i.e., not foreign aid or “waste, fraud, and abuse”):

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Given the public opinion, it would be nice to see politicians be a little bit braver on this.  But, of course, we all know that the Republican response to taking a dime away from the Pentagon would mean that you were voting to let the terrorists win.

Photo of the day

From the Editors’ picks for best Nature photo submissions of the week for that National Geographic Photo Contest:

Shetland Pony running along beach

Photo and caption by Nick Owen

A little more on the youth vote

Nice take from Chait on the Pew findings I mentioned earlier:

More than four decades ago, Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril identified the core of Americans’ political thinking as a blend of symbolic conservatism and operational liberalism. Most Americans, that is, oppose big government in the abstract but favor it in the particular. They oppose “regulation” and “spending,” but favor, say, enforcement of clean-air laws and Social Security. The push and pull between these contradictory beliefs has defined most of the political conflicts over the last century. Public support for most of the particulars of government has stopped Republicans from rolling back the advances of the New Deal, but suspicion with “big government” has made Democratic attempts to advance the role of the state rare and politically painful.

This tension continues to define the beliefs of American voters. Among the 2012 electorate, more voters identified themselves as conservative (35 percent) than liberal (25 percent), and more said the government is already doing too much that should be left to the private sector (51 percent) than asserted that the government ought to be doing more to solve problems (44 percent). But this is not the case with younger voters. By a 59 percent to 37 percent margin, voters under 30 say the government should do more to solve problems. More remarkably, 33 percent of voters under 30 identified themselves as liberal, as against 26 percent who called themselves conservative.  [emphasis mine]

What all this suggests is that we may soon see a political landscape that will appear from the perspective of today and virtually all of American history as unrecognizably liberal…

Obviously, such a future hinges on the generational patterns of the last two election cycles persisting. But, as another Pew survey showed, generational patterns to tend to be sticky. It’s not the case that voters start out liberal and move rightward.  [emphasis mine]

That latter observation is surely one of the most pernicious myths of politics I come across– older people are more conservative.  But they didn’t age into that; rather younger generations are typically more progressive than their elders on social issues.  And that’s long been the case.  But, really the big point here is just how liberal on core issues and in identity, younger voters are.  If this generation follows historical norms of political socialization, we’re looking at a much more liberal nation in the future.

Gender and the news anchor

An interesting article on the increasingly bold fashion choices of women in the news

cites some really interesting research about how viewers respond:

Researchers wonder how the new look of news is affecting viewers. Maria Elizabeth Grabe, a telecommunications professor at Indiana University Bloomington, co-authored a study on the impact of sexualization on news viewership. She found that the more “sexualized” a female anchor is, (i.e. bold makeup and clingy clothes), the less likely male viewers are to remember the news. [emphasis mine]  For her 2011 study, a 24-year-old anchor read the same news broadcast twice, once in androgynous, loose-fitting clothing and little makeup and again while wearing bold makeup and attire that accentuated her waist-to-hip ratio. Viewers found the sexualized anchor less credible, but women remembered more from the sexualized anchor’s broadcast, indicating a gender gap in how viewers remember news content.

“The old wisdom of femininity not getting in the way of the news has been thrown out,” Grabe said. “I think the news consultancy business is driving the changes. . . . With cable news networks taking off, it’s all about eyeballs and getting an audience.”

Now, what in the world is with women remembering better from the sexualized anchor?  And it would be interesting to know why men remember less. Is it because their brains are distracted by focusing on other things than what the women is saying?  Something to do with the credibility?  Do they simply pay less attention period?  Anyway, pretty interesting stuff.

Video of the day

When Jeff P. tells me I should make something a video of the day, I damn well do.  This is pretty amazing video of super slo-motion, hi-defition cheetahs.  It’s a little long at 7 minutes, but you can get the cool gist of it in much less.  Definitely take a look (you should actually click through to the link or click the expand button for a larger image):

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