Ever wonder why politicians kiss babies? The answer is weirder than you think.

Political campaigns are wrought with cliché.

From the red, white, and blue banners to stump speeches in local coffee houses and coal plants to ceremonial balloon drops triggered by victory announcements. (What happens to the balloons if they lose though?)

But one image has survived longer than any other as the reigning champion of pander-y political campaign PR.


This one:

Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images.

The hero politician gleefully planting a smooch on the head of a baby who has been offered sacrificially by a nearby parent. The baby stares listlessly or crankily into the distance, wondering perhaps if this kind puckering stranger is their new dad.

Really, every politician does it. Republicans ... Democrats ... Russians...

Well, he tried. Photo by Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images.

If you're running for elected office, or trying to keep your current post, kissing babies is the name of the game.

Kissing tiny humans for political gain actually goes back quite a ways.

No one knows for sure who the first politician to do it was, but the act is believed to have originated with an incident involving Andrew Jackson. While touring the Eastern states in 1833, he was approached by a woman with a baby in her arm.

Jackson campaigning in 1829. Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

"Ah! There is a fine specimen of American childhood," said Jackson. "I think, madam, your boy will make a fine man some day." He then handed the boy to nearby secretary of war saying, "Eaton, kiss him?"

That boy's name? Barack Obama.

(Just kidding. Even if the timelines worked, Jackson would never be seen with baby Obama because he was a racist genocidal maniac who profited off slave labor and kicked 46,000 Native Americans out of their homes.)

Dick. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Anyway, by 1886 the act had become so widespread that "Babyhood," a 19th century magazine for mothers, covered it in one of their columns:

"History fails to record the name of the politician who first adopted the above method of gaining the favor of mothers. Henry Clay, Tom Corwin, and Van Buren did a good deal in that line; and I believe it was Davy Crockett who boasted that he had kissed every baby in his district."

Since then, it's been the go-to act for politicians looking to earn the favor of their constituents.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library's "Path to the Presidency" exhibit even has a section on the political history of baby kissing from Jackson to Hubert Humphrey.

Photo courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Why do they do it? After all, it's not like babies can vote.

And don't forget, before 1920, neither could their mothers. So who exactly are they pandering to?

The fact is, what we look for in a leader is ... complicated.

A president or any other elected official has to have many qualities and represent many values at the same time. You have to convey strength, leadership, and modesty in different and often contradictory ways.

On the campaign trail, you can score political points by touting yourself as the strongest, toughest, not-gonna-take-this-bullshit-anymore-est candidate in the race. But you score votes by being relatable, by shaking hands, and by being a candidate of the people.

Mitt Romney tried to overcome his "elite" status in 2012 by taking off his tie, rolling up his sleeves, and campaigning more with people on the ground. It wasn't enough. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The "perfect candidate" is strong enough to take on our enemies, but gentle and caring enough to pick up a baby and hold it. The perfect candidate is ... apparently ... a man.

Or at least society's image of a man. You know: a strong, upright, broad-shouldered gentleman with a sensitive side. A down-home guy with perfect teeth who's willing to lay down his life to protect yours but still enjoys long walks on the beach.

Admit it, America. It's not just a dating site trope. It's who we've elected pretty much every single time.

Needless to say, that macho-man-with-a-soft-spot-for-infants image makes the entire electoral process significantly harder to navigate if you're a woman running for office.

You might want to put her down, Hil. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

When voters see displays of stereotypical femininity from a female candidate (like kissing babies), they don't register it positively.

According to research from Nichole Bauer at the University of Alabama, voters associate those "feminine" actions with all kinds of negative, outdated, and backward female stereotypes, like being overly emotional, sensitive, and weak. Which, in turn, hurts their campaigns.

"Attributing stereotypical feminine characteristics to women candidates does tend to activate gendered concepts that reduce people’s support for women running for office," writes Bauer.

So while men can steal a quick political boost off every infant's forehead, this gendered double standard means women running for the same office risk hurting their political careers.

It's a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the "motherhood penalty."

Need I say more? Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you haven't noticed, one of the current frontrunners in the 2016 president race is a woman.

A woman who has spoken time and time again about the particular complications and unique double standards women face when navigating the political landscape.

It's absurd that next time a female candidate is handed a baby on the campaign trail, unlike her male opponents, she'd be better off handing it back without a kiss (just imagine how that would play out in the press). There's no way for a female candidate to "win" when it comes to this bizarre tradition of kissing babies. She kisses the baby and she's too weak; she hands it back and she's too cold.

Please, folks, stop giving presidential candidates your babies. And let's leave this gendered double standard in history, where it belongs. For everyone's sake.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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