clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: How to have a sane, compassionate Thanksgiving, without pretending everything is okay

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Donald Trump goes GOP normcore with his latest Cabinet nominations; no, seriously, the election was almost certainly not hacked, please stop it; the "Talking About Politics at Thanksgiving" pieces you should actually read.

Your next edition of Vox Sentences will come on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bless his heart

Nikki Haley Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • On Wednesday, Donald Trump appointed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — a former Trump critic who once delivered the president-elect the ultimate Southern putdown, "Bless [your] heart" — to be his ambassador to the United Nations. [AFP]
  • Haley's only foreign policy experience is a few trips overseas to secure trade deals for her state, and (if confirmed) she's heading into a UN where she'd have to fight to make her presence known. (Current UN ambassador Samantha Power, who has much more experience, has been rendered largely impotent.) [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • But because she's a relatively mainstream Republican — where "mainstream" as much as anything means "used to be a critic of Donald Trump" — she's seen as a conciliatory pick. [RealClearPolitics / Caitlin Huey-Burns]
  • Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is also an establishment Republican figure — but a much more experienced one. She has a long record of fighting for school vouchers, signaling that Trump's Department of Education will prioritize encouraging children to attend private schools over overseeing public ones. [Chalkbeat]
  • DeVos is not, however, a staunch opponent of Common Core — in fact, in the past she's supported it — leading some elements in Trump's base to feel betrayed (if the Breitbart comments section is any reflection of Trump's base, at least). [James C. Downie via Twitter]
  • The next likely nomination: secretary of housing and urban development. Former presidential candidate Ben Carson has confirmed that Trump offered him the job, but he hasn't taken it yet — probably because, as he told press last week, he doesn't feel qualified to take a Cabinet position. [Slate / Henry Grabar]
  • Carson is particularly unqualified to lead HUD. He has no experience in housing or in development. But his possible appointment is in line with Trump's tendency to use "inner cities" as a synonym for "black people." [Vox / Victoria Massie]

Read this before you share that "OMG HAXXORS!" article

Voting booth Michael Mathes/AFP/Getty Images
  • If you have Facebook friends of a particular ideological persuasion, you have probably seen this claim: Computer scientists have urged Hillary Clinton to request recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, having found evidence that voting machines were hacked in those states. [NY Mag / Gabriel Sherman]
  • (Clinton isn't yet calling for one — and the deadline to call for a recount is coming in the next few days in all three states — but Green Party candidate Jill Stein is trying to raise money to call for a recount herself.) [Huffington Post / Akbar Shahid Ahmed]
  • The initial report about the computer scientists' findings, it turns out, overstated the case. One of the scientists himself explains that he doesn't believe the machines were hacked — he just thinks it's good to have recounts to make sure. [Medium / J. Alex Halderman]
  • Let's be clear. If you look at the actual evidence in all three states, there are no suspicious discrepancies. The vote tallies are totally consistent with what's known about demographics, turnout, and other factors in this election. [FiveThirtyEight / Carl Bialik and Rob Arthur]
  • It's true that, unlike in other elections, the 2016 election featured someone who could try to hack voting machines — the head of the NSA, after all, has said that Russia attempted to direct results of the election with its hacking efforts (though he was talking more about its use of email leaks than about suspicions of hacking voting machines). [Mother Jones / David Corn]
  • But something for liberals to bear in mind, now and for the next two or more years, is that there's suggestive evidence that members of the out-of-power party are more likely to be susceptible to conspiracy theories. [Washington Post / Joseph Parent and Joseph Uscinski]
  • This isn't to say that recounts aren't generally a good thing, just as a matter of hygiene. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • It's to point out that while "we can't know for sure if we don't investigate" certainly sounds persuasive, an investigation might not be enough to squelch conspiratorial doubts; recall the Warren Commission. [NYT / David W. Belin]

Real talk about real talk at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner Rawpixel/Shutterstock
  • Some difficult truths as you prepare to deal with family over the Thanksgiving weekend:
  • You are probably not in the mood to be kind to anyone about anything. This election has been exhausting, unnerving, and — for many — borderline traumatizing. [The Atlantic / Julie Beck]
  • You probably have particular feelings around discussing the election itself. (Though it's possible that you'll be surprised by what happens: the odds are better than you'd think that you're wrong about your parents' politics — and that your parents are wrong about yours.) [Vox / Alvin Chang]
  • If you're white, you're probably facing the unappealing prospect of sitting around the Thanksgiving table with people you know — or suspect — voted for the other party for president. And if pre-election polling is any indication, you probably don't respect them — or you think they don't respect you, or both. [Pew Research Center]
  • If you're going to be in that situation, you could do worse than to read Todd VanDerWerff's tips on how to have a sane, compassionate conversation about politics — that isn't a lecture on either side. [Vox / Todd VanDerWerff]
  • If you're not white, you might be looking forward to the ability to process a collective trauma together — in which case, we at Vox Sentences hope no petty fights get in the way of your talking about politics. [Vox / Jenée Desmond-Harris]
  • And if you're white and consider yourself an ally to nonwhite people, please read this guide before your next opportunity to shrug off, or challenge, the archetypical racist uncle. [BuzzFeed News / Hannah Giorgis]


  • Happy Thanksgiving! Did you know that the workers who debone Butterball turkeys have to do 23 every minute and suffer brutal hand and back pain as a result? [Slate / Gabriel Thompson]
  • Anonymous sperm donation seems like a modern phenomenon, but it's been around since at least the 1880s. And thanks to genetic testing services, people from their teens to their 70s born to sperm donors are starting to de-anonymize the process. [NY Mag / Alexa Tsoulis-Reay]
  • This year's election shocked everyone. Each person is adjusting in their own way. But there's one obvious question that's on everybody's mind: What does this mean for book publishers? [NYT / Alexandra Alter]
  • Sex: It's good. But why is it good? One neuroscientist has a theory. [NY Mag / Drake Baer]
  • Asian Americans didn't catch up to white people economically due to education. They caught up because white people got less racist. [WaPo / Jeff Guo]


  • "It would be better if farm animals didn’t have to exist." [Marie Gibbons to MIT Technology Review / Andrew Rosenblum]
  • "This is John Fowles, 1949-65: 250,000 words of adolescent whining, groaning, anomie, enthusing about Antonioni films and wishing he were somewhere else, with more glamorous people, doing more glamorous things. A marathon of self-obsession, self-pity, misery, filth, shame, loneliness, isolation, and a lot of embarrassing stuff about sex." [LRB / Ian Sansom]
  • "Public Enemy No. 1 of Venezuela’s revolutionary government is Gustavo Díaz, a Home Depot Inc. employee in central Alabama." [WSJ / Anatoly Kurmanaev]
  • "If you think your loved one is probably deep into the British costume drama lifestyle but aren’t sure, here are some signs: You aren’t sure what Cranfordis, but she has it on DVD. She has hopefully mentioned the prospect of something called 'English country dance.'" [Jezebel / Kelly Faircloth]
  • "I recall I said, 'I always wanted to put a live kid through a Rube Goldberg machine where they would be the pinball in [the game] Mouse Trap.'" [Double Dare co-creator Geoffrey Darby to A.V. Club / Marah Eakin]

Watch this: How America became a superpower

From a colony to a superpower in 200 years. [YouTube / Sam Ellis, Zack Beauchamp, and Johnny Harris]

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.