Welcome to the one day a year where the market is wrong about the ineluctable blandness of turkey! (Djw and the Lemieux family did in fact celebrate early with an appetizer of tagliatelle carbonara last night.)
Whether you’re lucking out by getting salmon like us, are having turkey, or are more ethical, happy Thanksgiving (belatedly, in the case of our Canadian readers.) And remember the people who should be getting pardoned instead of the turkey.
My belief that Thanksgiving is the most overrated food day of the year is well-documented so I won’t go over the arguments again here except to say that most everything on the traditional Thanksgiving table (or at least the traditional Thanksgiving table of the 1980s that frames my experience with its boxed stuffing and canned cranberries, both of which are still hugely popular if not hip today) would be better replaced by something else in the same genre. Still, turkey would be better replaced by any other meat imaginable, pumpkin pie is at the bottom of the pie genre, etc. I’ll be doing part for the big family meal, making a ton of roasted vegetables with garlic and herbs while the wife creates a huge pot of mashed potatoes with enough butter to drown a small child.
Or maybe you are having a tasty TV dinner since ye Indians are hungry tonight.
And really if you are going to have to eat turkey, it would make sense to take some advice from our neighbors to the south with their superior culinary traditions.
As for the sides, Alexander Abad-Santos and Elspeth Reeve rank Thanksgiving sides fairly accurately, particularly noting that even the worst of them is better than the turkey. Also, roasted vegetables and macaroni and cheese are superior dishes at almost any meal. Of course, why ham is a side instead of the main course is something I can’t figure out. On the other hand yam/sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and Karo corn syrup is responsible for me not eating sweet potatoes until I was 30. Does it come with a side of insulin? And why don’t I ever go to Thanksgiving dinners that serve ham with turkey so I can just eat the ham? I need to know different people.
On a more serious note, Aaron Bady:
Also, obviously, the holiday is a racist and nationalist celebration of American manifest destiny, an expression of gratitude for God’s gift of “America” to the (white) people who arrived and took it by force from the (non-white) people who were living there. There are always debunkers, who point out that the original Thanksgiving never really took place—and they’re partly right, in that the “first thanksgiving” narrative is total bullshit—but the truly damning thing about the holiday is that it actually does go all the way back to John Winthrop’s corn-stealing and grave-robbing shenanigans in 1624 (albeit by way of a protracted editorial campaign by Sarah Josepha Hale, of Godey’s Lady’s Book and Abraham Lincoln’s canny deployment of this nationalist myth in the middle of the civil war). It was in the 19th century that the ritual practice took shape, and the holiday was created, but the events which it sanctifies not only symbolically happened, but they kind of actually really happened. The darker and more grisly version of the story—as David Murray tells it in Indian Giving: Economies of Power in Indian-white Exchanges—is of starving and traumatized Englishmen wandering through a unsettled and uncanny ghostly landscape, digging up graves for food: some of the objects they grave-robbed, they put back—realizing that it would be an abomination to keep them—and others they ate, though they pledged they would make some kind of recompense to the Indians if they could ever find any living ones. They didn’t, of course. In the end, they decided that that it wasn’t to the Indians that they owed their salvation: it was to God they gave their thanks for the Indian death they had found.
In any case, enjoy your in-laws and your turkey if such a thing is possible and remembering that the Detroit Lions exist for one day a year.
Over at the Diplomat I do some pre-emptive pundit pruning:
The momentum provided by the international nuclear agreement with Iran could reinvigorate the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts in East Asia, lending the United States the international credibility to press for an overarching nuclear deal in North Korea. Similarly, the pivot to diplomacy could open doors in the South China Sea and East China Sea disputes, displaying to all parties that the United States is an honest broker, interested in the peaceful resolution of the world’s most critical flashpoints. Domestically, Obama may be able to use the political capital won through this agreement to push back against Congressional critics of the Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately, almost none of the preceding is true.
On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, I spoke with Erica Chenoweth about the practicality and effectiveness of non-violent protest:
See especially implications for Occupy and other protest in the United States.
I know that if there were some sort of wingnut apex of stupidity, it wouldn’t really take the form of a sharp point; it’d be more like a longest plateau in the known universe. But I feel like this would, for sure, be up there on it.
The Supreme Court granted cert in two of the specious legal challenges to the ACA’s contraceptive mandate, and I’m not particularly optimistic.
One point I want to emphasize is that contraceptive coverage is earned, not “free”:
One argument that has been made again and again by supporters of the legal challenges is that the religious consciences of employers are being burdened so that employees can get “free” contraception. But this is an erroneous argument that misapprehends the basic concept of employer-provided health insurance. Contraception provided by health insurance isn’t “free,” it’s earned. Companies get substantial taxpayer subsidies for partly paying employees in health insurance instead of cash. In exchange, this insurance has to be comprehensive enough to provide value to the employee. Women getting basic health-care needs covered by insurance they’re receiving as compensation are not receiving any kind of free ride.
This point underscores just how weak the legal challenge to the mandate is. The employers in question are claiming that there’s a major religious freedom issue at stake depending on whether employees obtain contraception through direct wages or through the insurance employers get tax benefits for paying employees with instead. But there isn’t. The “burden” imposed by the mandate is utterly trivial, and the argument that it violates RFRA should be rejected by the Supreme Court.
Shorter Lambert: That Paul Krugman is such an unprincipled hack. Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton’s health care reform plan is acceptable only when it’s proposed by Hillary Clinton. And he’s so ill-informed about American politics he doesn’t understand that Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and the many other staunch liberals in the Senate were desperate to support single payer, and Obama DIDN’T. EVEN. TRY!
A couple of Wednesday morning conversation-starters…
*The first thing I wanted to address is my embarrassing holes. This is a family blog, so, no, this has nothing to do with my nostrils (which are real and exquisite.) It’s about holes in my…musical history, let’s say.
I’ve always loved music. Like, even when I was really little. But, of course, it’s when you get older that you have control over your listening habits.
When I was a teen, I had the same diverse taste I have today. But I tended to fixate on a handful or so groups/artists at a time and completely immerse myself in their works, while letting other artists go unlistened-to. YES, unlistened-to. So there are these weird, embarrassing holes in my musical history.
It seems like when you love music, there are artists that you must be familiar with. I hear the names over and over again. Some of them are from decades past–think Big Star or Captain Beefheart. Or they’re a bit more contemporary–think Nick Cave or Elvis Costello. But, see, for whatever reason, I know next to nothing about the aforementioned artists. And, honestly, I’m not sure how I missed them, even with my rabbit-holing habits. I just did. Now, there are a lot of artists out there…here’s a REALLY embarrassing one: THE SMITHS…I never got to know. But it seems like all “music people” know them. Could I get to know them? Sure. But there comes a point where getting to know them feels like homework to me. Like that classic movie you “must see.”
Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else have…embarrassing holes?
*Moving on, I have some questions for “Walking Dead” watchers. SPOILERS ARE MENTIONED, PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION.
- What are your thoughts on the return of The Governor? It seems like the show did a great deal to humanize him in one episode, then turned around and had him go Hyde in the next. Did that seem jarring to you? Do you think it was smart writing?
- Do you have any interest in knowing about the zombie virus? Did the government create it? Was it airborne, was it injected? Are the babies who are being born right now (Judith) infected with it? If every last person is infected, isn’t fighting on rather futile?
- What did you think of the symbolism of The Governor hanging laundry between the tank and the trailer?
Talk amongst yourselves.
For those of you who like long, detailed reports about the struggles of working people to earn a decent living in the United States, this report on home care workers is very much worth your while. An excerpt:
In-home workers are more than 90 percent female, and are disproportionately immigrants. One out of every nine foreign-born female workers with a high school degree or less works in an in-home occupation. In-home occupations are growing rapidly, driven by sharp growth in direct-care work, including personal care aides and home health aides.
In-home workers receive very low pay, and many have trouble getting the hours they need.
The median hourly wage for in-home workers is $10.21, compared with $17.55 for workers in other occupations. After accounting for demographic differences between in-home workers and other workers, in-home workers have hourly wages nearly 25 percent lower than those of similar workers in other occupations.
In-home workers are more likely to work part time than other workers. This is due in many instances to their own preferences, but it is also the case that a larger share of in-home workers than other workers want (and are available for) full-time jobs, but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.
The median weekly pay for in-home workers who have or want full-time work is $382, compared with $769 for workers in other occupations. After accounting for demographic differences between in-home workers and other workers, in-home workers who have or want full-time work have weekly wages 36.5 percent lower than those of similar workers in other occupations.
In-home workers rarely receive fringe benefits.
Only 12.2 percent of in-home workers receive health insurance from their job, compared with 50.6 percent of workers in other occupations. The majority of in-home workers who receive health insurance from their job are agency-based direct-care aides (18.4 percent of whom have employer-provided health insurance). Only 4.9 percent of maids and 6.3 percent of nannies receive employer-provided health insurance.
Only 7.0 percent of in-home workers are covered by a pension plan at their job, compared with 43.8 percent of workers in other occupations. The majority of in-home workers who are covered by a pension plan at their job are agency-based direct-care aides (10.7 percent of whom are covered by a pension plan). Less than 3 percent of maids and nannies are covered by a pension plan.
In-home workers have a higher incidence of poverty than workers in other occupations.
Nearly a quarter—23.4 percent—of in-home workers live below the official poverty line, compared with 6.5 percent of workers in other occupations.
Twice the official poverty threshold is commonly used by researchers as a measure of what it takes a family to actually make ends meet. More than half—51.4 percent—of in-home workers live below twice the poverty line, compared with 20.8 percent of workers in other occupations.
One of the strengths of SEIU comes from its ability to organize some of these workers and deliver concrete improvements in their lives. Given the growth of this sector of labor and the desperation of those who work at it, not to mention the fact that they lack the common shopfloor experience that has traditionally bound workers together, SEIU’s work organizing these workers is all that much more important.
As these researchers point out, it absolutely makes sense to engage in a significant emissions reduction program, even if India and China are going to pump out as much into the atmosphere as they can. Ultimately, preparing early for climate change is going to pay off down the road. But the political benefits of doing so, which are all short-term benefits, are very hard to see and discourage any action. Of course, as the huge methane emissions of Oklahoma and Texas demonstrate, we are far from showing any leadership on this issue.