Thursday, November 24, 2022

Blog in the strict sense of the term: Thanksgiving


Narragansett turkeys, Murray McMurray Hatchery

This blog is produced on land belonging to the Lenape people.

Cut the pastry for a one-crust pie, and it's resting in the refrigerator. One of the bloody-minded things I'm up to today involves forcing people to eat pumpkin pie and (theoretically) discover that it's really good. At the big extended-family Thanksgiving in New Jersey we've missed since the pandemic began (and which I don't feel great about missing again—maybe next year!) there are about five pies so you've always got an excuse for skipping the pumpkin, but this is a small one and I'm managing it. Tough luck, skeptics!

The other particularly bloody-minded thing is that I spent an ungodly amount of money on a "heritage" turkey (Narragansett or Bourbon Red), also in the fridge, since yesterday morning, in a dry brine of fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and juniper berries, in a similar effort to convince them that turkeys are fully edible. It's going to be fantastic, too. With oysters in the stuffing, not dressing (no need to worry about bacteria with these pampered birds, I'm told). The oysters aren't bloody-minded but rather on request. I like how they work too, though, almost dissolving into the mix but contributing a beautiful briny perfume.


The pie is in the oven for its final baking, with a crust somewhat the worse for wear, and some pumpkin filling dribbled out to the oven floor, where it's creating some smoke.

I'm thankful I almost certainly don't have prostate cancer, if you want to know the truth. I got a bad test result at the beginning of October, saw a urologist and got some meds, and a very good test result in the email yesterday. It's been a pretty stressful couple of months, with a lot of medical attention neglected over the last years. I also have cataracts in both eyes, which I can't start fixing until the end of December (I thought it was under socialized medicine that you had to wait in line for three months for essential care), and they make working difficult, both in the day job and here at the blog; rather than a blur when I'm looking at text onscreen I get a sense as if the air ahead of me were divided into vertical planes and the text is inscribed on a plane somewhere behind the one I'm looking at. 

It's weird that I'm doing this, but the post I'm working on is not as exciting as I want and I always do some kind of Thanksgiving post, usually on the plight of North America's Indigenous peoples. I'm thankful, by the way, not just on their behalf but everybody's including my own, that the most blatantly racist anti-Native president in recent American history is out of office and that the current president is Joe Biden, whose plans as he signaled them shortly after inauguration

“It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy,” Biden wrote.

were kind of breathtaking, when you think about it, and accompanied by real-world progress in the unprecedented commitment to hiring Indigenous people for Senate-confirmed positions, financial commitments to tribes in the American Rescue plan and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,  and attention to the protection of culturally and spiritually important territory (though not above criticism). And the revival of the Obama administratioin's annual Tribal Nations Summit dropped, of course, under the Trump administration—this year's will be held Wednesday and Thursday.

Even as the Supreme Court seems intent on ditching the Indian Child Welfare Act

passed by Congress in 1978 to address the nationwide epidemic of American Indian children being forcibly removed from their homes by child welfare agencies and placed into non-Native homes at disproportionate rates. Throughout history, federal and state governments have sought to undermine and threaten the existence of tribes via the forced separation and assimilation of Native children. 


Turkey's been in for a couple of hours, which means it will be coming out fairly soon (it's just eight and a half pounds), assistants have been peeling potatoes, my intention of boycotting Qatar has weakened for US vs. Wales, of all the silly places for one's resolve to break.

Somebody on the radio mentioned that the first fourth-Thursday-in-November proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, and I thought I'd look up the text, apparently written by radical Republican secretary of state William Seward, and what I noticed is that it's got nothing to do with Miles Standish and Priscilla Mullins and Squanto and the shining city on a hill; and this being the greatest country in the world.

Indeed, what the Union was invited to be grateful for in November 1863 was basically that they hadn't lost the war yet;

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
And bought Alaska. 

Though Wikipedia suggests that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish" had something to do with the 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation,

In the United States, the story brought the Pilgrims to the forefront of American culture, contributing to the establishment of a national Thanksgiving holiday in 1863.

Because not only does the Proclamation not mention the First Thanksgiving, Longfellow's poem (composed in the same weighty hexameters as Evangeline, "In the old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims/To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling...") doesn't seem to mention the First Thanksgiving either. It's got lots of social details about the Pilgrims, but the Indians don't play any personal role at all. No doubt the feast described in the primary sources (which wasn't a Thanksgiving, a religious event, but a multiracial party) took place, but the national holiday decreed by Lincoln had nothing to do with it, or Longfellow either—all this narrative we have so much fun with in South Park and  The Addams Family is stuff that was actually invented after the end of Reconstruction.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Twitter Is People


Note the presupposition, now that he's the proprietor, that it's some kind of extension of his self, like a puppet in his hands, or a pet. "What trick should I teach it?"

But it really isn't his; I mean, I guess the proprietary software is, but the community isn't. That's something that's assembled itself over the years, and can't be owned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

For the Record: Ego


Win McNamee/Getty, via Newsweek.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Red Ripple


Heh. I guess that last unpleasant fantasy I had, that GOP talking up the Red Tsunami was setting up for a Stop the Steal movement after Democrats won big, was way off base. Not that Democrats didn't win big, in this peculiar and ambiguous way where who actually won remains uncertain (I'm calling 51 Democratic senators when it all washes out and a Republican majority in the House so narrow that Speaker McCarthy will be effectively Gym Jordan's puppet), but that Republicans seem really kind of humbled, some of them reduced to whimpering about how long it's taking them them to count the votes in Arizona and Nevada, or holding their fire a bit even over the vote-counting system, like my little Margie here, who seems to think she hard at work counting them herself

While others lend themselves to intraparty recriminations, like these Dolchstoss allegations from the house Nazi

Monday, November 7, 2022

Election Eve

So here we are, helplessly watching MSNBC and clutching the arms of the chair, and feeling a compulsion to type in what the great anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski called a "diary in the strict sense of the term"—

I wish people had realized, back in mid-2021, that 40 years without significant inflation didn't mean it was gone forever, and just maybe sent out some warning that it could happen, not necessarily that it would, and if it did it would probably take some time to beat it back and it wasn't going to be fun. The whole conversation got politicized so quickly in the antics of the Republicans and Joe Manchin trying to stop the Build Back Better plan. It would have been useful if Team Transitory had just said something like, "It's true, some of this stuff might put some upward pressure on prices, and if it does we'll have to deal with that if it does—but worrying about it is no reason not to do the stuff we need to do now, to keep people alive..." To have some kind of preparation, and regular reports from Biden and Yellen, to clarify that Democrats and the Federal Reserve were in fact getting ready for it, just in case, being responsible even though they weren't expecting it, because if it did happen it wasn't going to be easy.



If you haven't got a sawbuck for an
Impoverished billionaire,
Then you really don't belong at all
In Elmo's "public square

Saturday, November 5, 2022


Photo by Getty Images.

I have a message of reassurance with regard to that NPR/Marist survey on voter enthusiasm on the way to Tuesday, which found that people most likely to vote Republican—the old, rustic, the evangelical, the white—are fired up with wild enthusiasm while those likely to vote Democratic—the young, the urban, the relatively poor, Latin, and Black—are not:

In the last few weeks, however, as more voters have begun tuning into the election — and with inflation persistently high — Republican enthusiasm has outpaced Democrats'. It's not so much that Democrats aren't gaining in their enthusiasm levels — they are — it's that Republicans have increased theirs by more in that time.

Democrats are also losing ground on the generic congressional ballot test. That's when pollsters ask who a respondent would vote for if the election were held today, a Republican or Democrat.

Namely, that it's clearly misleading in some important way, if you contrast this with the pattern showing up in the actual vote in early voting, which has started in 47 states, easily beating the records set in the watershed 2018 midterms, and younger, more diverse, and more Democratic, and in some key states—Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—even more than 2020, but also very strong in Michigan, Wisconsin, and particularly Georgia

Georgia, in particular, is seeing significant early voting turnout among Black voters. More than 130,000 more Black voters have cast ballots so far than at this point in 2018. While there are also roughly 371,000 fewer Black voters this year than in 2020, so far Black voters make up the same share of Georgia’s early electorate in 2018 and an even larger share than in 2020.

In addition to high Black voter turnout, the majority of Georgia early voters who didn’t cast a ballot in 2018 are non-White. Nearly 40% of non-voters in the Peach State are a race or ethnicity other than White – a higher share than in any other key state.


The youngest voters – those aged 18-21 years – are showing up in higher numbers in all six key states compared to this point during the 2018 general election. The number of these youngest voters in Michigan has risen from fewer than 500 in 2018 — before absentee voting was available to all in the state — to more than 23,000 so far this year. In every state except Wisconsin, 18-21-year-old voters are roughly the same or a larger share of the electorate than even this time during the 2020 election.

That and Ohio

As of Tuesday, 265,062 people across the state have voted early in-person — 88,016 more than had voted early a week before the statewide gubernatorial election in 2018. Overall, 817,644 ballots have been cast in Ohio so far, an 11% increase from this point in 2018.... Much of the state's increase in early voting numbers can be attributed to a higher early voter turnout in urban counties.

and North Carolina

The Lake Lynn location has been the busiest early voting site in the state this year, according to data from the Wake County Board of Elections.

Before polling sites opened Saturday morning, the North Carolina State Board of Elections reported about 1.97 million votes cast either in person or by mail, which means nearly 27 percent of all registered voters already had voted.

(Wake County being the state's most populous).

Which doesn't mean, obviously, that Democrats have won already—we all know that Republicans have a  tendency to favor election-day voting just as Democrats favor early and absentee—but it does point at some kind of defect in the Marist survey, and it seems to be concentrated in those states where the real nailbiter Senate contests are (minus Michigan, which isn't voting for a senator this year, and plus New Hampshire, which doesn't have early voting).

It's as if the voter enthusiasm itself was distributed that way, weak in states where Democrats have it easy (in New York a lot of people don't even realize Schumer is running, but nobody imagines he's going to lose) or where they're felt to not have a chance (in Florida early voters seem to be mostly Republicans, sad to say), focused on the places where it has a real chance to win those Senate seats. And if there's a similar lumpy distrbution in congressional districts, even the House. Just saying.

More best-quality hopium here, on the same themes, from Robert Kuttner at the Prospect.