Happy Turkey Day!

I know. Now that Barack trampled all over the Republicans like they were this year's grape harvest, you thought I would give up my Palin-bashing ways and let the poor woman alone. But it is Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Palin, despite sliding off the front-page news, has once again managed to make youtube history. This is much too delicious a platter for us to consider putting down our carving knife and moving on to other dishes. What's more, for once, we're staggered to find that we agree with her, sort of. And we love coincidences, so seeing this Palin turkey-pardon video on our friend Winky's facebook page the same day that we received Thanksgiving greetings from the great indoorsman was too much.

Our good friend Alejandro, putting his machete where his mouth is, went out to slaughter his own turkey. I didn't know how this was done until I checked out his post, but essentially one turns the turkey upside down, sticks its head through a funnel (is "guillotine" actually the technical term?), and then slices the head off. The walls of the funnel keep the postmortem involuntary spasms from getting out of hand, and gravity drains off the blood into a crimson trough. This, by the way, is artisanal turkey slaughter, not industrial. As Alejandro put it in an email: "as far as these go, this is about as nice as it's going to get." Check out the slideshow, it's really very beautiful, in a down-on-the-farm, Martha-Stewart-keeps-it-real kind of a way.

Back home in Wasilla, Mrs. Palin participated in a grand old Thanksgiving political tradition, the pardoning of a turkey. This is a tradition that speaks volumes about how things are done in government. The idea is to choose, as the focus of your media exercise, the one palatable exception to what is actually going on. Hence John McCain walking through the heavily militarized Baghdad Green Zone as a demonstration that things are safe and secure in Iraq. Another example: to have oneself filmed planting a tree in the context of announcing a new clear-cutting venture in a state forest.

In the turkey model, one proud bird is chosen to be free, to live to gobble another day, while somewhere, in some unseen abattoir, her family and thousands more of her cohorts are being murdered, plucked and packaged, ready to be whisked to your table. The only problem with Palin's photo-op is that the abattoir isn't unseen. In what can only have been a brilliant moment of cameraman-producer collusion, this Wasilla team lines up their post-pardon interview in such a way that the true business of the day is plain for all to see in the near background. So much for Palin's vaunted political savvy.

My favorite part is the way the guy sticking the turkeys into the chute can't stop goggling at the camera. Whenever this happens in the background of an interview I'm filming the producer typically calls a halt to the proceedings, because it is distracting to have some mook in the background staring down the barrel of the lens. Here, of course, it just draws more attention to what he's doing. I can't tell if the guy is just chuffed to be on camera, or wondering if he should be running over and warning the governor that death is unfolding behind her.

However, what's important here is not that we see carnage in the background, it's that our society has so shielded us from that carnage that a shot like this becomes grist for the political mill (or fat for the schmaltz). The bottom line is, if you don't like what you see here, eat something else, but don't argue that it should be hidden from view.

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