Video of the day

Last week Fresh Air re-ran a clip of an interview with this utterly amazing Tuvan throat singer.  In part of the clip, they mention that there is some–unproven– belief that the strain from singing in this manner can actually lead to early death.  They re-ran the clip because the singer just died at the age of 51.  Here’s a sample– just wild that a human can make these sounds.  And the interview is fascinating, too.

NC Voter ID-palooza

Our dear governor just signed the Voter ID law.  Lots of great takes out there on this…

1) Love Weigel’s response to a McCrory video:

The careful viewer will notice a few things missing from this video. The governor says that the bill “includes” voter ID—which it does! That’s a bit like saying a bottle that’s half Advil and half castor oil softgels “includes Advil.” As Jim Morrill points out, McCrory doesn’t mention the “stand by your ad” provision that requires ad-buyers to disclose themselves (“I approve this message,” and so forth), kills public financing of judicial elections, and ends early voting on Sundays, which since inception have been disproportionately used by black Democrats. It would have been interesting for McCrory to tell how any of that prevents voter fraud, or counts on some kind of “commonsense” mandate. He hasn’t.

2) NC Political expert Gary Pearce cuts right to the chase:

Let’s be honest: The voter ID law that Governor McCrory signed is about political power, not fraud.
A letter-writer to the N&O got it right where the Governor got it wrong. McCrory said: “Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote.”
Thomas Magnani of Cary briskly summed up the difference. Unlike boarding a plane or taking medicine, he wrote, “voting is…everyone’s constitutional right.”
Normally, conservatives oppose government limiting Americans’ constitutional rights, like owning a gun. But when it comes to the right to vote, they can’t enact enough limits…
Again, this is about power – and Republicans’ willingness to use political power to disenfranchise people who might vote Republicans out of power.
Well, they certainly are making voting harder for some people. But they may make those people work harder in 2014 and 2016.
3) Great column from great guy, NC Common Cause’s Bob Phillips, focusing on the significant barriers this places on college student voters (an issue near and dear to my heart):

The law as signed allows a very limited number of acceptable IDs to vote. College IDs are not among them.

Neither Georgia nor Indiana, states considered to have the toughest photo ID laws, is that harsh. Both states allow students attending public universities to use their college-issued ID cards to vote.

Our law does allow a student from North Carolina to use a North Carolina driver’s license as ID, which will make voting much easier for many young people. But what of the 50,000 students from other states attending our institutions of higher learning? They spend money, often have jobs, abide by our laws and, yes, pay taxes – and have a constitutional right to vote here as well.

So those students should be able to use their out-of-state driver’s licenses to vote, right? That’s what nearly every other state that requires voter photo ID allows. But not North Carolina. The N.C. legislation prohibits out-of-state students from using their out-of-state driver’s licenses.

When lawmakers pushed for an ID law, they argued it would pose no real hardship because photo IDs are an everyday part of our lives. Yet in North Carolina, the new reality will be that, if you are a student from another state, we will accept your out-of-state driver’s license for everything but voting.

So wrong.  And so transparently wrong.  Absolutely indefensible (and I’m looking at you– and your father– EMG).

4) When the governor defends this law, he literally (the actual meaning) does not even know what he’s talking about.  Pathetic.

5) Yes, all of this is so wrong, but TNR’s Nate Cohn makes a strong case that this probably will not matter at the polls all that much.  He starts with an interesting comparison to our neighbor to the North:
What about early voting cutbacks? Ending same day registration? Ending straight-ticket voting? Well, consider Virginia. It’s quite similar to North Carolina, since it too has a large black population in both cities and the countryside, burgeoning liberal metropolitan areas, and a rural conservative base. But Virginia doesn’t have non-absentee early voting, same day registration, or straight-ticket voting. It even has a voter ID law, albeit a less restrictive one than North Carolina. Despite all of those things, Virginia had higher turnout than North Carolina: 69 percent of eligible voters turned out, compared to 68 percent in North Carolina. President Obama won by 3.9 points, which was in-line with the demographics and better than the polls anticipated. And I never hear Democrats complaining about how they’re screwed by the absence of early voting and same-day registration in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
And concludes:
There’s no question that North Carolina’s voter law package has a disparate impact on Democratic-leaning voters and turnout. In a democratic society founded on democratic voting principles, the outrage is justified. But when it comes to changing electoral outcomes, the preponderance of evidence strongly suggests that the overwhelmingly majority of voters are either unaffected by provisions such as these, or care enough about voting to make sure they get to the ballot box anyway. And since the sliver of affected voters must include some Republicans too, the electoral consequences are so small as to be indiscernible. What is discernible is the steady growth of the non-white share of the electorate. In North Carolina, the white share of registered voters declined from 76 percent in January 2005 to 71 percent in January 2013. Despite the North Carolina GOP’s best efforts to reduce voter registration and turnout, that trend will continue.

In the end, I’m optimistic that the law will actually have a very minimal impact on election outcomes.  But that makes it no less wrong!!

Video of the day

Apparently, NC has made Bill Maher’s New Rules and I missed it until JDW sent me the link.  Good stuff:

Photo of the day

Interesting photo essay of the KKK in its natural environment (clearly poor and rural) in Behold:

Carl, an Imperial Wizard of a southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm, takes aim with a pellet gun at a large cockroach (on the piece of paper just below the clock) while his wife and goddaughter try to avoid getting struck by a possible ricochet.

Carl, an imperial wizard of a Southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm (or state-level group), takes aim with a pellet gun at a large cockroach (on the piece of paper just below the clock), while his wife and goddaughter try to avoid getting struck by a possible ricochet.Anthony S. Karen

Coolest infographic ever?

The history of the world (circa 1931) in one giant map.  Via Slate.


Mandatory minimums

Great news that Eric Holder announced yesterday that the Federal Government is going to start being much smarter in it’s approach to mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug crime.  I’ve already seen a lot of concern/complaint that this doesn’t go far enough, but given where we are, I’ll definitely take it.  Basically, what Holder had to say about our current approach was spot-on:

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason,” Holder planned to tell the American Bar Assn. meeting here, according to an advance text of his remarks. “While the aggressive enforcement of federal criminal statutes remains necessary, we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.” …

In his speech, Holder endorses that point of view, saying that “a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities” and that “many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it.”

Amen.  Yeah, we need to do a lot more.  Especially at the state level.  But for the Attorney General– the chief law enforcement officer of the US– to talk so frankly and accurately about the folly of our current approach strikes me as a hell of an important step.

Are you man enough to drink diet soda?

I’m going to stay away from the health angle (for John F.’s sake) but I found this Slate XX post about diet soda and marketing to be quite intriguing.  I’ve long known that Coke Zero is Coca-Cola’s attempt to market a diet soft drink for men.  It strikes me as pathetic that men are worried about seeming un-manly based on drinking a “diet” soda, but that’s obviously the case.  It’s also sad that the Coke Zero ads– many of which are actually pretty funny– can also be very juvenile.  Apparently, the key to a man’s purchasing decision is treating him like he’s 15.  Anyway, I had not realized that Dr. Pepper 10 had taken the Coke Zero marketing formula and amped it up.  This should be an Onion video.

Anyway, here’s the interesting cultural analysis:

Marketers, as well as anyone who’s been to a Toys R Us in the last 10 years, are well aware that a common way to goose sales is to split a market by gender. If body wash is a product traditionally purchased by women, design a body wash exclusively for men. Persuade both genders that they’re better off with their own gender-specific stuff, and you could wind up with double the sales—households with two types of bath soap, two types of diet soda, two sets of nearly identical kids’ building blocks, with one set in pink.

Part of the reason this approach works so well is that men, apparently, don’t want to buy stuff strongly associated with women. This resistance has led to ads like one launched recently for Dr Pepper Ten, a diet soda that attempts to address the fact that male consumers think “diet’s kinda girly,” as one of Dr Pepper’s execs put it to me. The new ad showcases a mountain man who chews bark and canoes with a bear; the tagline is “the manliest low-calorie soda in the history of mankind.” …

One of Avery’s more surprising and urgent insights is that the theme of gender contamination—the idea that some products belong to men and some to women, and that women somehow ruin men’s products by using them—appears to be showing up more and more, both in advertising and in consumer responses of the sort Porsche experienced. Avery believes this is linked to marketers’ efforts to expand sales by “genderizing” products and also, counterintuitively enough, to the growing fluidity of gender roles in the culture at large. She points to other research suggesting that when a cultural hierarchy is threatened, it’s natural for those at the top to cling all the more tightly to symbols of their old rank. In other words, as more and more women become the breadwinners in their families, as men have lost their majorities on college campuses, their advantages in many blue-collar and white-collar jobs, their role as head of household, they can’t help but hang on to the traditional markers of masculinity. What do they still own if not their sports cars? …

And back then, just as now, gender contamination flowed just one way. Burnett assured Philip Morris that there was no risk of alienating female consumers with an explicitly male message. “Women often tend to buy what they consider a man’s cigarette,” he wrote. That’s because then, as now, men risked denigrating themselves by shopping like women, while women were only too happy to aspire to the higher status and power associated with men, even as they are gaining their own power. This is why boys’ names like Ashley that migrate over to the girls’ realm can never return. And this is why two years after Dr Pepper Ten launched—with an original tagline of “It’s Not For Women,” plus a Facebook page with a “manly shooting gallery” game for blowing up things like lipstick and potholders—40 percent of its drinkers are actually … women.

Honestly, I find the Dr. Pepper 10 campaign so ridiculous– and really offensive to any male with half a brain– that I’ll quite happily stick with my beloved Dr. Pepper.  On the Coke front, though, I will admit taste-wise, that I love Coke Zero (especially from a fountain) almost as much as non diet drinks.  And I hope I’m not sexist that I also like that black and red can design.

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