Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Hamas Charter (The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement)


We hear about the Hamas Charter quite often... but we only see an occasional extract from it. I though it might be useful to post the whole document: The Hamas Charter

It is a tough read, but worth it! I understand that florid language is part of Arab culture... but still! There are bits that are hard to believe, like Article 19, line 4:

All this is utterly serious and no jest, for those who are fighters do not jest.

Here are a few other extracts that I found significant:

  • "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory). -- Foreword
  • Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised. -- Introduction
  • The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. -- Article 2
  • The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
  • "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim). -- Article 7, line 6
  • Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Muslim land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband's permission, and so does the slave: without his master's permission. -- Article 12, line 1
  • Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. -- Article 13, line 1
  • Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Muslim problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers? -- Article 13, line 2
  • There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. -- Article 13, line 4
  • It is necessary to follow Islamic orientation in educating the Islamic generations in our region by teaching the religious duties, comprehensive study of the Koran, the study of the Prophet's Sunna, and learning about Islamic history and heritage from their authentic sources. -- Article 16, line 1
  • The Muslim woman has a role no less important than that of the Muslim man in the battle of liberation. She is the maker of men. Her role in guiding and educating the new generations is great. The enemies have realised the importance of her role. They consider that if they are able to direct and bring her up they way they wish, far from Islam, they would have won the battle. That is why you find them giving these attempts constant attention through information campaigns, films, and the school curriculum, using for that purpose their lackeys who are infiltrated through Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others, which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs. -- Article 17, line 1
  • Woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and embuing them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam. She has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them. That is why it is necessary to pay great attention to schools and the curriculum followed in educating Muslim girls, so that they would grow up to be good mothers, aware of their role in the battle of liberation. -- Article 18, line 1
  • For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. ... They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there. -- Article 22, line 1
  • Secularism completely contradicts religious ideology. Attitudes, conduct and decisions stem from ideologies.
  • That is why, with all our appreciation for The Palestinian Liberation Organization - and what it can develop into - and without belittling its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea. -- Article 27, lines 3-4
  • The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion. It does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end. It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions. They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion. -- Article 28, line 1
  • The Islamic Resistance Movement consider itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism and a step on the road. The Movement adds its efforts to the efforts of all those who are active in the Palestinian arena. Arab and Islamic Peoples should augment by further steps on their part; Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews. -- Article 32, line 6
  • The Islamic Resistance Movement views seriously the defeat of the Crusaders at the hands of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi and the rescuing of Palestine from their hands, as well as the defeat of the Tatars at Ein Galot, breaking their power at the hands of Qataz and Al-Dhaher Bivers and saving the Arab world from the Tatar onslaught which aimed at the destruction of every meaning of human civilization. The Movement draws lessons and examples from all this. -- Article 35, line 1
February 2010

Don't let what's about to happen on December 3rd be the beginning of the end for today's free and open Internet!
Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:43 PM EST

Today I received the following email message:

Vint Cerf

Gregg, you asked us to keep you updated on Internet legislation and initiatives.

Starting December 3, the world's governments will meet behind closed doors to discuss the future of the internet. Some governments want to use this meeting to increase censorship and regulate the Internet.

Learn more about what’s at stake at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. And a free and open Internet depends on you.

Vint Cerf

And so, I did (as I did the earlier version, once before... but, what the heck)...

...and here's what I wrote in the "add your voice" field:

The United States (US) has more freedom of speech than any other country; and it's seen on the Internet, like nowhere else. In the meantime, countries with less freedom of speech -- some of them engaging in outright censorship -- obviously have a far less-free Internet.

Right-winged Republican conservatives, in the US would love to censor the Internet; to control who has has access to what information on it; and to charge extra money to access certain parts of it. Witness what AT&T and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have tried to do over the years; what they are planning to do regarding peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing starting next month (December 2012); and what they would do if they could pursuant to their International Telecommunications Union (ITU) activities, if they could.

My fear is that once those from the US get into a room, behind closed doors, with those from other countries where censorship is normative, those in the US who want effectively the same, and who get caught-up in that pro-censorship echo chamber, will feel bolstered.

The Internet must be and remain free, open and uncensored... no matter what. And that's coming from a person who has been seriously defamed and personally harmed, online, because of the horrible (and false, of course) things that those impacted by his activism have, over the years, written about him online... all of it either anonymously or pseudonymously.

In 1995, I wrote a piece for the Time-Warner "Pathfinder" website, which was picked-up by many other news organizations, and which has since been cited in other articles and even a masters thesis or two, wherein I advocated for no anonymity on the web; wherein I stated my belief that all persons who post anything online should do so using their real names, and so should be identifiable. That way, I argued, they could be held accountable for their online words and activities. If I had gotten my way, then, yes, it would have been far easier for me to track down those who've defamed me...

...but I've since come to the conclusion that I'd also, by then, be living in an unlivable world where government -- and, worse, business -- can control otherwise-free speech. When I wrote that 1995 piece, I was angry and emotional because I had been so defamed; and the worldwide web part of the Internet was new, then, so I hadn't really considered the long-term impact and consequences of there being no online anonymity.

I have, since, however, reconsidered; taken a giant step back. I have, with subsequent years' additional experience, and the widom gained therefrom, come to the inescapable and admittedly-sometimes-painful conclusion that I was dead wrong, back in 1995: Dead wrong! There absolutely must be online anonymity, and pseudonymity, whether or not any of us like it. Without the ability to anonymously and/or pseudonymously do things such as we all remember from "US History" courses like "pamphleteering" and "the posting of bills" on trees and barnsides in 18th century, our great nation, as we know it today, would simply not exist. The free expression of ideas -- all ideas, whether or not popular; and especially if they're things the government would prefer weren't expressed -- is part of the very means by which this great nation was formed. That same nation will not survive if the modern version of the means by which today's equivalent of pamphleteering and the posting of bills happens -- today's Internet -- is, in any manner, impeded.

The positive results over the past two decades speak for themselves...

We've seen no end of that imperative in our own time: witness the so-called "Arab Spring," for examploe, starting in December of 2010; and through which no small number of oppressive and even brutal and rights-suppressing and previously-untoppleable middle-eastern regimes have, indeed, been toppled. Social media, texting, and emails -- among other things; and largely via the Internet -- played hugely pivotal roles in those movements and their ultimate outcomes. Note that it is always the government in danger of being overthrown that wanted to stifle the Internet. China's doing it, with increasing both frequency and effectiveness, even as you're reading these words.

The horrible, game-changing, and facially-wrong 2010 " Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission" ruling, by a conservative US Supreme Court, found, in effect, that corporations are the same as people; and, so, have the same rights to free speech during such as elections as regular human citizens and voters. As predicted after that ruling, the uber-rich on the far-Right plowed literally billions of dollars into the campaigns of the candidates whom they wanted to win in the both 2010 mid-term election, and the 2012 general election. Republicans in the US, though, just suffered a defeat, in the 2012 re-election of Democrat President Obama to a second term, as well as the both election and re-election of House and Senate Democrats whom Republicans were virtually certai would win. Said defeat both took them by surprise, and they're still licking their wounds and now playing the blame game over it. Essential to understand about it all, though, is that it was, in large measure, the organizing and fund-raising by Democrats, using the Internet, that helped Obama, et al, to win.

Through such as Wikipedia, Bartlebys, and far too many other similar websites to here mention, literally billions of worldwide Internet users are able to obtain encyclopedic and literary information -- completely for free -- which, prior to the Internet, they tended to only be able to find by means which cost them money. As far back as 1996, in a consultative report to a south suburban Chicago elementary school district, I wrote (though quoting others, I need to make clear) that the Internet -- the public "worldwide web" part of which was but two years old at that point -- would become the great equalizer for poor and underfunded school districts across America because it would permit student access to learning and reference materials previously available only by their paying for expensive printed-on-paper volumes which said districts simply could not afford. Poor schools, I wrote, would be able to access, for free, the very same information, online, that rich schools could afford to purchase on paper. As Alex Maskovyak wrote, "[the Internet] flattens the world, removes boundaries, and empowers individuals." 

Or as President Obama wrote, "[the Internet] is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way."

Through what is coming to be known as "massive open online courses," or MOOCs, Internet users from around the globe are able to take college-level courses completely for free; and using, in effect, "crowd sourcing" as a means of prioritizing student questions so that professors can better both structure lectures and respond to inquiries. This not only educates more students, and better, but also deprives especially the egregiously overcharging, unethically/illegally-recruiting/funding, and sub-standard-coursework-delivering for-profit colleges and universities of their ill-gotten gain, and obscene profits. In places like India, Africa, and both in other countries and on other continents where affordable quality higher-education is simply not an option, MOOCs are proving a godsend.

All of what I've described in the previous five paragraphs -- only a tiny fraction of the good wrought by today's Internet -- nevertheless means that oppressive and free-speech-suppressing either governments or businesses are harmed by the completely legal actions/activities of those whom they want to control, and from whom they want to profit. It is no wonder, then, that such as they are behind the movement to control and limit and censor and charge more for the Internet.

Notice that I wrote "legal actions/activites" in the immediately-previous paragraph. Nothing that I'm here writing argues for the freedom of criminals and those who break civil law to have their unfettered way online. Remember, though, that behind every illegal online/virtual act is an actor in the off-line/real world; and we, as a society -- both nationally, and internationally -- must not take the easy route to suppressing their real-world illegal activity by committing wholesale suppression of the Internet... any more than we should suppress anyone's right to speak freely in the public square, or to simply talk on the telephone. We must stop criminals the way we have always stopped them: using good, old-fashioned, lawful law-enforcement tactics and procedures in the real/off-line world, only lawfully using the Internet, through the lawful use of subpoena power and warrants, as a mere means; and not, instead, effectively throwing-out the baby with the bathwater, as the old saying goes, by implementing broad Internet restrictions that will, in the name of more easily stopping illegality, also irretrievably chill free speech and other now-lawful Internet use.

In that same vein, we must also ensure that laws are not enacted which suddenly make illegal the very free speech, and what are now the lawful Internet activities, that we currently enjoy. So doing will then empower those on the Right (and far worse) who read such as my argument in the immediately-previous paragraph to then misleadingly claim that their Internet suppression is "lawful," just as advocated by my likes. Do not be fooled, though. The dispassionate and objective definitions of words like "freedom" and "liberty" never change; only what the oppressor would have you believe those things mean, does. Read George Orwell's "1984" for examples of where such as that would surely lead.

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."
- Benjamin Franklin

I want those who have anonymously and pseudonymously defamed me online to be held accountable. They have manifestly harmed me, in quantifiable ways, in the off-line/real world. However, limiting and/or impeding the Internet in any manner -- even if it makes it easier for me to bring to justice those who have so harmed me -- is simply not worth the manifest harm it will do to the world and its ability to freely communicate and do amazing things online in more, and increasingly-more-exciting, ways with each passing day. Today's Internet, like yesteryear's plain ol' free spoken speech -- and the pamphleteering and posting of bills that accompanied it -- comes with manifold pains and inconveniences; but it must still never be restricted.

As has many times been attributed to Voltaire, but as cannot be found anywhere in his works and so may well have been conjured by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre in her 1906 Voltaire biography entitled, "The Friends of Voltaire," the famous old quote most often used to convey the very essence of the importance of free speech has never been more profoundly appropriate as now, with respect to today's Internet: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Those, usually of big corporation or oppressive and free-speech-hating government -- who tend to nearly always be to the socio-political and theological Right, ranging from mere conservativsm all the way to downright facism -- abhor Tallentyre-as-Voltaire's famous words. They will, if we don't stop them, put an end to the free and open Internet as we now know it. And so we must stop them.

Vint Cerf, one of the co-founders, literally, of the forerunner of what we now know as today's Internet; and also the founder of, and evangelist for, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), wrote, today, in an email about this subject which invites everyone to take action by taking the pledge to which this is a comment, the truer-words-never-spoken following: "A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. And a free and open Internet depends on you."

Please read, learn and watch the video; then pledge your support for the free and open Internet at:

Thank you.

Gregg L. DesElms
895 Jackson St., #319
Napa CA 94559-1321

1-877-383-5148 (toll-free voice)
(206) 984-1288 (fax)

gregg at greggdeselms dot com (email)

Tell the world's governments you support a free and open web! Add Your Voice to Keep the Internet #freeandopen

Just as we celebrate freedom, we need to celebrate the tools that support freedom. Take the Free & Open Internet pledge.

SEE ALSO: Click here. (Free & Open Web and Net Neutrality Google search results)


Giant tortoise Lonesome George ‘wasn’t lonely after all’
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 21:52 EST

When Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, died in June in the Galapagos, the world mourned the demise of a species. It appears, however, that George was not that lonely after all.

There are at least 17 tortoises on the Galapagos Islands that have similar genetic traits to George, including some that may be from his same genus, the Galapagos National Park said in a statement.

George’s June 24 death “does not represent the end of the Chelonoidis abingdonii species of Pinta Island giant tortoises,” the statement said.

The Galapagos, located some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off Ecuador’s coast, is an archipelago of 13 islands and more than 100 rocks and micro-islands. The islands were uninhabited when Europeans first visited in the 16th century, and today has a population of around 25,000.

Lonesome George, who was believed to be 100 years old when he died, was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972 at a time when tortoises of his type were believed to be extinct.

Research conducted with Yale University experts “identified nine females, three males and five youths with genes of the Pinta Island giant tortoise species,” the statement read.

Researchers analyzed more than 1,600 DNA samples taken in 2008 from tortoises living on the Wolf Volcano, on Isabella Island, to George’s DNA and samples taken from the Pinta tortoise museum.

The results means that there could be “additional hybrids on the Wolf Volcano, and even individuals on Pinta that could be pure,” the statement read.

Experts estimate there were once some 300,000 giant tortoises on the remote Pacific archipelago, but the species was decimated by whalers and pirates in the 18th and 19th century, who took them aboard their ships as fresh food and introduced new predators.

Today there are about between 30,000 and 40,000 tortoises of 10 different species on the Galapagos.

The Pinta and Floreana island tortoise, and other hybrids, were probably taken to Isabella Island in the 18th century by sailors who threw them overboard when they no longer needed the animals as food, the statement read.

Park authorities have known since 2008 of the existence of hybrids with Pinta Island tortoise genes, but National Park biologist Washington Tapia said in June that he believed there were not enough to bring back Lonesome George’s species.

A more complete report on the find will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Biological Conservation.

The Galapagos became famous when Charles Darwin visited in 1835 to conduct landmark research that led to his revolutionary theories on evolution.

The archipelago has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 for the unique plant and animal life found both on its land and in the surrounding sea.

In 2007, the organization declared the island chain’s environment endangered due to the increase in tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

Dan Senor, Mitt Romney Adviser, Blasts Republicans For Deserting Candidate After Loss

The Huffington Post | By Nick Wing Posted: 11/21/2012 10:23 am EST

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Republicans trashing Gov. Mitt Romney now are the same ones vying for cabinet positions, a former top Romney adviser said Wednesday.

Former Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor on Morning Joe Wednesday criticized several unnamed “Republican officials” for trashing the former candidate.

“The Friday night before the election we went to Cincinnati. Tens of thousands of people. You could feel the energy. One hundred top-tier surrogates at the event. I’m backstage with some of them, won’t mention their names, but they’re talking about Romney like he’s Reagan. The debate performances – the best of any Republican nominee and presidential history – this guy is iconic. [They were] talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. Some of them were already talking to our transition, to position themselves for a Romney cabinet.”
The Cincinnati rally in question featured a number of top Republicans, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, all former Romney surrogates who have since spoken out against the candidate in the aftermath of his loss.

Jindal condemned Romney the most, slamming him for saying the president bought the election with “financial gifts” to voters.

No, I think that’s absolutely wrong,” he said at a press conference. “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote. And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.
Sen. Marco Rubio, who is already rumored to be eying a 2016 run, also spoke out against the remarks, but was less harsh.
“I don’t want to rebut him point by point,” Rubio said of Romney. “I would just say to you, I don’t believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work. I’m not saying that’s what he said. I think we have millions of people in this country that are out of work and are dependent on the government because they can’t find a job.”
Ayotte also sought to distance herself from Romney’s post-election comments, but took a softer approach to her criticism.
“I don’t know what the context fully was,” Ayotte said Thursday on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. “I don’t agree with the comments. I think the campaign is over, and what the voters are looking for us to do is to accept their votes and then go forward, and we’ve got some big challenges that need to be resolved.”
“Five or six days later, they were absolutely eviscerating him,” Senor said. “Many of these officials, I might add, chose to stay out of it. They chose not to run.”

But Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough says this about-face is a reflection of Romney’s sore grapes.

“If Mitt Romney, if he had gone quietly into the night, would not have been pounded as hard,” Scarborough said. “But Mitt Romney comes out and doubles down on his 47% remarks, when he confirms everybody’s worst suspicions.”

by Jed Lewison

 NOV 20, 2012 AT 08:32 AM PST / 87 NEW

It appears as though Grover's pledge has a loophole

Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge appear to have a problem: Not only are leading Republicans paying lip service to the need for more tax revenue, but after this month's election, neither chamber of Congress will have a majority of members who support it. But Grover says he's not breaking a sweat:
Mr. Norquist contends that every few years, several noisy Republicans say their support is squishy. Yet every time, he says proudly, the outcome is the same.

“It’s been 22 years since a Republican voted for a tax increase in this town,” he said in a recent interview. “This is not my first rodeo.”
This might not be Grover Norquist's first rodeo, but this is certainly a rodeo in which he's completely irrelevant. In fact, he's so irrelevant that not only could taxes could go up, they could go up with the cooperation of a majority of Republicans—and not a single one of them would need to violate his pledge.

The reason for that is simple: If Congress does nothing, taxes go up at the end of the year. Unless Senate Democrats suddenly cave and agree to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and President Obama agrees to sign such an extension or a last-minute tax reform package miraculously materializes, starting on Jan. 1, 2013, Bush's tax cuts on income above $250,000 will vanish.

That means the real question for House Republicans is what they will do with the middle-class tax cuts they've been keeping hostage for years now. If they do nothing, tax rates go up for everybody on Jan. 1, 2013. If they pass the Senate's legislation extending middle-class tax cuts, then the only taxes that will be going up will be on income over $250,000.

The point is that taxes are going up under current law. Republicans don't have to vote for tax hikes because the tax hikes are baked into current law. If Republicans pass the Senate legislation, it will effectively settle the issue of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy because those tax cuts will finally be decoupled from the middle-class tax cuts. The hostage crisis will be over. But they won't actually be voting to raise taxes, which means they won't be violating Grover Norquist's pledge. And if that happens, we can all stop talking about Grover Norquist's power. Because if Republicans can let taxes go up without breaking his pledge, the best word to describe Norquist will be this: irrelevant.

Why Hostess Had To Die

11/21/2012 @ 4:31PM |21,047 views
Susan Adams, Forbes Staff

Were outmoded products responsible for Hostess' demise?

Hostess Brands has now shut down and is going into final bankruptcy liquidation, killing 18,500 jobs and selling off its factories, brands and other assets. Yesterday bankruptcy judge Robert Drain had management and labor join him for a last mediation session aimed at brokering a new contract, but the session was abandoned last night.

What drove Hostess to this point?


Forbes Leadership ForumContributor

As the popularity of junk food faded a decade ago, the company, which stretches back 82 years, struggled with rising labor and commodity costs. It filed for bankruptcy for the first time in 2004.

In 2009, it came out of bankruptcy under the name Hostess Brands, named for its most popular division. Hostess made an effort to adapt to changing times, introducing new products like 100-calorie Twinkie Bites. But it also had new private equity backers, which loaded the company with debt, making it tough to invest in new equipment. At the same time, the workforce was heavily unionized and had very high labor costs. Hostess had a net loss of $1.1 billion in fiscal 2012, on revenues of $2.5 billion. In January, the company filed for Chapter 11.

But who was ultimately to blame for the company failure? Here at Forbes, Leadership contributor Adam Hartung had a provocative piece on Sunday where he fingered management. In its most recent bankruptcy filing, writes Hartung, the company imposed “draconian cuts to wages and benefits.” This was unrealistic and damaging, he says, “tantamount to management saying to those who sell wheat they expect to buy flour at 2/3 the market price.” The company also kept trying to prop up its old business of obsolete products, failing to cook up more palatable foods with higher margins. Then it scapegoated the unions.

Today Forbes has a piece by Hank Cardello, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and author of Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat. Cardello agrees with Hartung that Hostess management is to blame, for failing to alter its products amid dramatic changes in consumer tastes. Other junk food producers, including Coca-Cola and General Mills, have adapted and thrived.

Hostess should have picked up on changing consumer tastes years ago, writes Cardello, and begun reinventing its product line. The company could have even kept the iconic Twinkie, which still has its fans, if it had added more nutritional products. Cardello is a former marketing director at Coca-Cola, where he worked when the company introduced Diet Coke in 1983, so he knows of what he writes.

Other writers, including Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times, Holman Jenkins of The Wall Street Journal, and John Carney of CNBC, have described the inner financial dealings at Hostess and its relationship with its unions, as the reasons for the company’s demise.

Sorkin explores the notion that Hostess was “Bained,” a new pejorative that has emerged on Twitter in conversations about Hostess. That meme stems from private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings taking control of Hostess as it came out of bankruptcy in 2009. But Sorkin maintains that Ripplewood has not been a Bain-style manager, operating with the primary objective of scoring profits. Instead Ripplewood was founded by a big Democratic donor, Timothy Collins, who was trying to invest in heavily unionized, troubled companies with the objective of turning them around.

Sorkin describes how some observers have suggested that Ripplewood didn’t get enough union concessions, and also faced rising commodity prices and pressure from competitors. The bottom line, he says, is that Ripplewood is a huge loser here, instead of walking away with big profits. “So much for being Bained,” writes Sorkin. But I have to interject that Bain has made some bad deals too. Though Ripplewood’s objective may have included goals other than profit, its goal seems to me to be similar to many Bain deals—to bring in money by making changes at an ailing company.

At the Journal, Holman Jenkins says that private equity is not to blame for Hostess’s demise. Rather, “the real story is the story of two unions, the Teamsters and the Bakery union of the AFL-CIO.” As Jenkins has it, though the Teamsters agreed to givebacks to finance the latest Hostess turnaround attempt, the Teamsters held onto work rules that would have driven the company into the ground. Examples: Drivers couldn’t help with unloading, and products like Wonder Bread and Twinkies were not allowed to ride on the same truck. Jenkins says the bakers decided to strike because bakery operations were efficient compared to the delivery process, and they didn’t want to prop up a Teamster contract that would eventually bring the company down.

Carney’s piece on gets more into the weeds of the financial twists and turns that resulted in Hostess’s demise. He cites an excellent, long feature by David Kaplan that appeared in the August 13 issue of Fortune magazine that describes the company’s financial unraveling. In Carney’s summary, the parties most responsible for Hostess’s decision to shut down are two hedge funds, Silver Point and Monarch, which control hundreds of millions in Hostess debt and, as Carney has it, “finally decided they won’t squeeze any more filling into the Twinkie.” The funds are distressed debt investors, which buy debt of troubled companies at steep discounts. In Hostess’ case, if the unions refused to agree to major concessions, Silver Point and Monarch could not make money.

Carney explains that after Hostess came out of bankruptcy in 2009, the unions agreed to concessions that would save the company $220 million in annual labor costs. The lenders in turn agreed to make a new loan of $360 million. But that wasn’t enough to save the company. As sales declined and new products flopped, Ripplewood put more money in, as did Silver Point and Monarch, before and after the January bankruptcy filing. But then CEO Brian Driscoll abruptly quit and relations between union and management deteriorated further. In August, as Fortune’s Kaplan reports, Hostess stopped making union pension contributions. With its investment under water, Ripplewood ceased negotiating with the unions, which left workers to deal with the hedge funds. After the bakery workers went on strike, the hedge funds concluded that Hostess wasn’t worth saving, writes Carney.

So in the end, why did Hostess die? While I think Hartung and Cardello make compelling points about product innovation, I’m convinced, as Fortune’s Kaplan wrote last summer, that “the Hostess story is a microcosm of larger economic and political issues on the national stage, including the perils of debt and the inertia of unions on workplace reform.” If Hostess had come up with a fabulous, new, healthy product line two years ago, perhaps that would have helped things shift. But the company had $2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, unions that understandably didn’t want to make further concessions, and two hedge funds and a private equity firm with pressure to get some sort of return on their investments. As Kaplan writes, Hostess had “two root problems—a highly leveraged capital structure that had little margin of safety, and high labor costs.” A line of fabulous new products could not have solved those deep problems.

Brands Doomed To Disappear in 2012

Forbes Images
Sony Pictures

Sony's jump from electronics to gaming to movies hasn't paid off. To get back on track, the company would be wise to turn its efforts away from the movie business, and back to what it does best.


The fast food restaurant has been up for sale since January, and it does not look like it will find a buyer any time soon. A&W is too small to compete with the dominant chains McDonald's, Subway and KFC.

Global sales have plummeted and Saab is unlikely to bounce back.

American Apparel 

American Apparel
Retailer American Apparel grew rapidly and flamed out just as fast. The company's financial health has floundered and its CEO/founder has been slammed with multiple sexual harassment suits.


The success of competitors Walmart and Target has diminished Sears's revenue and relevance.
Sony Ericsson 
Sony Ericsson
Sony Ericsson's recently launched smartphone the Xperia Ray may be too little, too late. The company has failed to keep up with the innovation of its competition (namely Apple), and as a result, sales have suffered.

Once a breakfast staple, Kellogg's Corn Pops has fallen out of favor with health-conscious parents. Kellogg's is likely to move away from its high-sugar products.

Users and advertisers have fled MySpace for the sleek, giant Facebook.
Soap Opera Digest 
Soap Opera Digest
The cancellations of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live"essentially put the nail in the coffin of soap opera programming. The magazine industry is struggling and soap operas are a dying breed: Soap Opera Digest's days are numbered.
The launch of Nokia's N9 phone is unlikely to revitalize the Finnish communications company.
Classroom Revolutionaries 
These 15 education innovators are harnessing a slew of disruptive technologies to change everything from the way we teach grade school math to how we train the next generation of teachers.

Hostess' Twinkie Defense Is a Management Failure

11/18/2012 @ 2:09PM |49,292 views

Adam Hartung,

Hostess Brands filed for liquidation this week.
Management blamed its workforce for the failure.

That is scapegoating. Right On!!!

In 1978 Dan White killed San Francisco‘s mayor George Mosconeand city supervisor Harvey Milk. The press labeled his defense the “Twinkie Defense” because he claimed eating sugary junk food – like Twinkies – caused diminished capacity. Amazingly the jury bought it, and convicted him of manslaughter instead of murder saying he really wasn’t responsible for his own actions. An outraged city rioted.

Nobody is rioting, but management’s claim that unions caused Hostess failure is just as outrageous.

Founded in 1930 as Interstate Bakeries Co. (IBC) the company did fine for years. But changing consumer tastes, including nutrition desires, changed how much Wonder Bread, Twinkies,HoHos and Honey Buns people would buy — and most especially affected the price – which was wholly unable to keep up with inflation. This trend was clear in the early 1980s, as prices were stagnant and margins kept declining due to higher costs for grain and petroleum to fuel the country’s largest truck fleet delivering daily baked goods to grocers.

Hostess spent decades fighting the trend

IBC kept focusing on operating improvements and better fleet optimization to control rising costs, but the company was unwilling to do anything about the product line. To keep funding lower margins the company added debt, piling on $450M by 2004 when forced to file bankruptcy due to its inability to pay bills. For 5 years financial engineers from consultancies and investment banks worked to find a way out of bankruptcy, and settled on adding even MORE debt, so that – perversely – in 2009 the renamed Hostess had $670M of debt – at least 2/3 the total asset value!

Since then, still trying to sell the same products, margins continued declining. Hostess lost a combined $250M over the last 3 years.

The obvious problem is leadership kept trying to sell the same products, using roughly the same business model, long, long, long after the products had become irrelevant. “Demand was never an issue” a company spokesman said. Yes, people bought Twinkies but NOT at a price which would cover costs (including debt service) and return a profit. Demand statements are irrelevant if you are giving the product away!

In a last, desperate effort to keep the outdated model alive management decided the answer was another bankruptcy filing, and to take draconian cuts to wages and benefits. This is tantamount to management saying to those who sell wheat they expect to buy flour at 2/3 the market price – or to petroleum companies they expect to buy gasoline for $2.25/gallon. Labor, like other suppliers, has a “market rate.” That management was unable to run a company which could pay the market rate for its labor is not the fault of the union.

Failure was management’s fault.

By constantly trying to defend and extend its old business, leadership at Hostess killed the company. But not realizing changing trends in foods made their products irrelevant – if not obsolete – and not changing Hostess leaders allowed margins to disintegrate. Rather than developing new products which would be more marketable, priced for higher margin and provide growth that covered all costs Hostess leadership kept trying to financial engineer a solution to make their horse and buggy competitive with automobiles.

And when they failed, management decided to scapegoat someone else. Maybe eating too many Twinkies made them do it. It’s a Wonder the Ding Dongs running the company kept this Honey Bun alive by convincing HoHos to loan it money! Blaming the unions is simply an inability of management to take responsibility for a complete failure to understand the marketplace, trends and the absolute requirement for new products.

This Twinkie Defense of business failure is pervasive.

Sears has 23 consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales – but leadership blames everyone but themselves for not recognizing the shifting retail market and adjusting effectively.

McDonald’s returns to declining sales – a situation they were in 9 years ago – as the long-term trend to healthier eating in more stylish locations progresses; but the blame is not on management for missing the trend while constantly working to defend and extend the old business with actions like taking a slice of cheese off the 99 cent burger.

Tribune completely misses the shift to on-line news as it tries to defend & extend its print business, but leadership, before and after Mr. Zell invested, refuses to say they simply missed the trends in media and let competitors make Tribune obsolete and unable to cover costs.

Businesses can adapt to trends. It is possible to stop the never-ending chase for lower costs and better efficiency, and instead invest in new products that meet emerging needs at higher margins. Like the famous turnarounds at IBM and Apple, it is possible for leadership to change the company.

But for too many leadership teams, it’s a lot easier to blame it on the Twinkies. Unfortunately, when that happens everyone loses.

The Best Countries For Business

Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
#1 New Zealand
GDP: $162 billion
GDP per capita: $39,300
Public debt as % of GDP: 36%

Did Hostess Go Bankrupt In 2012 Because People No Longer Find Twinkies Appealing?
Did Hostess go bankrupt in 2012 because people no longer find Twinkies appealing? This question was originally answered on Quora by Randall Reese. read »Quora
Contributor Nov 21, 2012

Forget the Half-Baked Theories on Hostess. We Need Fresh Solutions to Help the Workers Left Behind.
Hostess's announcement that's it is closing underlines a harsh reality that many Americans are facing: Many steady jobs of the past are going away. It would be great if our leaders in Washington could wave a magic wand to "create" new, similar jobs to replace them--or other positions that are [...] read »Elaine Pofeldt
Contributor Nov 17, 2012

Hostess Blames Union For Bankruptcy After Tripling CEO’s Pay
But while headlines have been quick to blame unions for the downfall of the company there’s actually more to the story: before the company filed for bankruptcy, for the second time, earlier this year, it actually tripled its CEO’s pay, and increased other executives’ compensation by as much as 80 percent.
Nov 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Union Claims Hostess Executives Received Raises In Advance Of Bankruptcy (CORRECTION)

Posted: 11/16/2012 5:54 pm EST Updated: 11/17/2012 10:01 am EST

CORRECTION: An earlier version of as well as an earlier headline of this post incorrectly stated that Greg Rayburn received a 300 percent raise as CEO of Hostess as the company approached bankruptcy. Rayburn wasn't CEO of Hostess until after the company filed for bankruptcy. The post also incorrectly stated that he was paid a salary of up to $2,550,000 per year. His salary when he joined the company was $100,000 per month, according to a company spokesman.

Hostess could have ensured the Twinkie's survival simply by paying the executives less, one of the unions organizing company workers alleges.

Of course, to hear the company tell it, the maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies simply can’t survive ongoing worker strikes at its plants. The company claims its hand was forced when it only came to an agreement with one of its two unions after several months in negotiations.

The union says there’s another way the Twinkie-maker could have avoided liquidating and laying off all of its 18,500 workers: by paying the executives less money.

Hostess’ creditors accused the company in April of manipulating executive salaries with the aim of getting around bankruptcy compensation rules, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time. In response, Rayburn announced he would cut his pay and that of other executives to $1 until Dec. 31 or whenever Hostess came out of bankruptcy.

That was after Hostess had already awarded the company's top four executives raises of between 75 and 80 percent, even though the company had already hired restructuring lawyers, according to the WSJ.

The situation isn't specific to Hostess. Over the last 30 years, CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay, according to a July report.

Iowa's GOP governor: End the Ames straw poll
By Michael O'Brien, NBC News

Updated 1:42 p.m. — A major staple of the Republican presidential nominating process -- the straw poll of Republicans at the Iowa State University in Ames -- could go by the wayside if Iowa's GOP governor gets his way.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who's currently serving his fifth term as governor of the Hawkeye State, told the Wall Street Journal that the straw poll was no longer relevant.

© Brian Frank / Reuters / REUTERS
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaks as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack looks on during a news conference at the Iowa State Capitol March 28, 2012.

"I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,"Branstad told the paper. "It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over."

The governor's comments earned a rebuke from the chairman of the state Republican party.

"I believe the Iowa Straw Poll is possibly the best way for a presidential campaign to organize (put in place county and precinct leaders & activate them) for Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucus," said A.J. Spiker, the party chairman. "I think it is detrimental for any campaign to skip the opportunity presented in Ames and I disagree with Governor Branstad about ending our Iowa Straw Poll."

Ronda Churchill / AP
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, left, Indiana Gov.-Elect Mike Pence, center, and Republican Governors Association Chairman and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell participate in the RGA Annual Conference on Nov. 15, 2012, in Las Vegas.

The straw poll has more often offered a glimpse of candidates' organizational strength in Iowa, which traditionally hosts the first nominating contest in a presidential contest, than a good predictor of the nominee. Candidates often spend thousands (if not more) on courting votes in the straw poll, hosting elaborate barbecues and musical acts in hopes of emerging from the event with a burst of strength.

But the winner hasn't always gone onto the nomination. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won the straw poll this summer, earning a boomlet for her longshot bid for the nomination that fizzled weeks thereafter. Mitt Romney, the eventual Republican presidential nominee, didn't participate in the straw poll (though he stopped at the state fair during the same weekend); he lost the Iowa caucuses to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by just a few votes, despite not having campaigned in the state.

"You saw what happened the last time," Branstad told the Journal. "I don’t think candidates will spend the time or money to participate in a straw poll if they don’t see any real benefit coming out of it."

The event was consequential -- in a negative way -- for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had been thought to be a major contender versus Romney for the GOP nomination. But after Pawlenty's campaign bet almost all of its chips on the Ames event, he ended his bid for the presidency.

Still, the event is a major fundraiser for the Iowa GOP, and future candidates looking to add some momentum to their own campaigns might elect to participate anyway in the straw poll, a bit of presidential pageantry dating back to the 1980 election.

GOP Intel chairman talks about potential CIA director job

By Michael O'Brien, NBC News

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., did little to tamp down speculation that he's under consideration to become the next CIA director, saying he could neither confirm nor deny conversations with the Obama administration about the vacant position.

Speaking Tuesday on WJR radio in Detroit, Rogers, a former FBI agent who's helmed the intelligence panel for the past two years, acknowledged that his name has been among those in public discussion to replace David Petraeus as leader of the CIA. But he said he hd "every expectation" he would continue to serve as Intelligence Committee chairman.

A New York Times report following Petraeus's resignation in an adultery scandal named Rogers — along with deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell, Obama counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan and former National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter — as potential picks to helm the CIA.

Obama has shown a willingness during his first term to name Republicans to top security roles. For instance, he continued to involve Petraeus — a GOP favorite whose tenure begun under President George W. Bush — in security efforts, and kept Robert Gates as his defense secretary until mid-2011.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of relevant portions of Rogers's conversation Tuesday with WJR host Paul W. Smith:

Paul W. Smith: If you don't want the job, you can say so here and now, but it seems like you'd be a perfect fit for that kind of position, with your background.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R): Certainly, that name has been bandied about. They're going through a process now for that position. I have every expectation I will be the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is a great job, it's where I want to be, and it's the kind of worth that I think is important for the country.


Smith: Have you had any conversation that you can share with us, without getting into the details, regarding the position of director of the CIA with people who could be involved in that kind of decision-making process?

Rogers: I would not be able to confirm nor deny any discussions on the process they may be going through on the CIA director. I can tell you I have every expectation that I will be the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in January.


Smith: Anything else, Mr. Director — I mean, congressman — that we need to talk about?

Rogers (laughing): It's going to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a role that I'm honored and proud to serve in. And there's just a ton of work we're going to have to do in the next year.

Smith: That doesn't mean you wouldn't accept the position, should it be offered.

A) I doubt that's likely to happen, and 
B) I think it's important to have somebody that can walk in the office and sit down and have a level of trust.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. resigns from Congress
By Michael O'Brien, NBC News


Updated 2:59 p.m. ET — Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., resigned from Congress on Wednesday following a prolonged treatment for mental health issues.

An aide to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC News that the speaker's office received a letter from the Illinois congressman this afternoon.

"During this journey, I have made my share of mistakes," Jackson wrote in his letter. "I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities, and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone. None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right."

The son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, Jackson, Jr. had sought treatment for bipolar depression at the Mayo Clinic for much of the past summer and fall. His last vote in Congress was on June 10, and his mysterious disappearance from official duties prompted speculation about the reason for the Democrat's prolonged absence.

Jackson was first elected to Congress in 1995 in a Chicago-area district's special election, and had won re-election to eight full terms since then. He won re-election just 15 days ago by a 40-point margin in the heavily Democratic district. Jackson also survived a Democratic primary challenge this summer from former Rep. Debbie Halvorson. President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) each endorsed Jackson in the primary.

Amid his battles against mental illness, Jackson has also been embroiled in ethics allegations, which prompted the congressman to reportedly hire an attorney in recent weeks.

In particular, Jackson's efforts to convince then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint him as Barack Obama's successor in the Senate have drawn scrutiny. Blagojevich, a Democrat, was subsequently convicted of having sought favors and donations in exchange for the appointment.
Obama pardons Cobbler the turkey, but runner-up Gobbler gets to live, too

OK... last post about turkey pardons this year, we swear...
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, right, pardons Cobbler the turkey, along with National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen.
By Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY contributor

President Obama pardoned a turkey and a spare at a White House ceremony Wednesday.

Cobbler the turkey emerged victorious in nationwide poll against another turkey, Gobbler, in a twist to the annual tradition.

“They say that life is all about second chances, and this November, I could not agree more,” the president said during the Thanksgiving Eve Rose Garden ceremony, where he also spared runner-up Gobbler from someone’s dinner table. "If Cobbler cannot fulfill his duties as the official White House turkey, Gobbler will be waiting in the wings."

The 4-month-old, 40-pound birds will live out their lives at a nationally recognized livestock facility just outside the nation’s capital at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. 

“From here, these two lucky birds will be swept up in a whirlwind of fame and fortune that will ultimately lead them to Mount Vernon, where they will spend their twilight years in the historic home of George Washington,” said the president.

After the joking and gobbling, Obama wished American families a safe and healthy holiday. “Tomorrow, in the company of friends and loved ones, we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday. And think about just how lucky we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.”

The president went on to briefly address the devastation in the Northeast from Hurricane Sandy, and thank our armed forces. He reflected on his recent visits to tour the damage in New Jersey and New York: "While I’ve seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble, and heartbreaking loss and devastation, I have yet to find a broken spirit."

This year marked the first time the American public decided which of two birds would become the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey. The White House created a Facebook poll to determine the winner.

Voting was cut off Tuesday night, and Cobbler emerged as the victor. On Wednesday morning, Cobbler had 2,513 "likes" and 548 "shares" 
Gobbler had 2,230 "likes" and 484 "shares."

The names of the two birds were chosen from submissions sent by elementary school students in Rockingham County, Virginia, where the turkeys were raised. Two less fortunate birds will be donated to a local food bank, the president said. 

U.S. President Barack Obama pardons the 2012 Thanksgiving Turkey, Cobbler, next to next to his daughters Sasha and Malia (R) and National Turkey Federation chairman Steve Willardsen in The Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The pardon took place despite another annual custom — the written appeal by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals to end the Turkey Day tradition. PETA asked Obama to skip the pardon, insisting the ceremony mocked “the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds.” The organization also said the tradition portrays the president in cahoots with “the turkey-killing industry.”

The turkey pardon is a presidential tradition that harkens back to Abraham Lincoln, who wrote out a Christmastime pardon at the insistence of his son.

It was John F. Kennedy who appears to be the first president to bestow a Thanksgiving pardon. A Nov. 20, 1963-dated article from the Los Angeles Times noted the president reprieved a monster of a bird, a “55-pound broad white tom.”

“We’ll just let this one grow,” Kennedy said at the time.

President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, right, carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. After the ceremony, "Cobbler" will head to George Washington's historic home in Virginia to be part of the "Christmas at Mount Vernon" exhibition. National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen is at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Clearing up some myths about the turkey pardon

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From the Archives: Thanksgiving with the Presidents

Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration

November 21, 2012
10:00 AM EST

Apple, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, is photographed by guests attending a ceremony where President Barack Obama pardoned the turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Highlights of Presidents celebrating Thanksgiving over the years. 
Photo credits: U.S. National Archives and Presidential Libraries
See the full-size gallery

Did you know that before the 1940s Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be?

George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789. That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of “public thanksgiving.” The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November.

By the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Tradition had dictated that the holiday be celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, however, this tradition became increasingly difficult to continue during the challenging times of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt’s first Thanksgiving in office fell on November 30, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. This meant that there were only about 20 shopping days until Christmas and statistics showed that most people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. Business leaders feared they would lose the much-needed revenue an extra week of shopping would afford them. They asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday up from the 30th to the 23rd. He chose to keep the Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday of the month, however, as it had been for nearly three-quarters of a century.

In 1939, with the country still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression, Thanksgiving once again threatened to fall on the last day of November. This time President Roosevelt did move Thanksgiving up a week to the 23rd. Changing the date seemed harmless enough, but it proved to be quite controversial. Small business owners felt it put them at a disadvantage and they sent letters of protest to the President.

As opposition grew, some states took matters into their own hands and defied the Presidential proclamation. Some Governors declared November 30th as Thanksgiving. And so, depending upon where one lived, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the 23rd and the 30th. This was worse than changing the date in the first place. Families who lived in states such as New York did not have the same day off as family members in states such as Connecticut! Family and friends were unable to celebrate the holiday together.

In this telegram from November 13, 1940, Leota and Helen Care ask FDR what day they should serve their turkey.

(Photo credit: U.S. National Archives and Presidential Libraries )

President Roosevelt observed Thanksgiving on the second to last Thursday of November for two more years, but the amount of public outrage prompted Congress to pass a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

Six years later, another tradition was formally established when Harry S. Truman presided over the first live turkey presentation by the Poultry and Egg National Board. The event inaugurated a lighthearted ceremony that now occurs annually at the White House. Initially, the presentation birds were intended for the Thanksgiving meal. In fact, among our holdings are photos from 1963 and 1967 in which the presentations birds given to John F. Kennedy and later, Lyndon B. Johnson, wear signs that read, “Good Eating Mr. President.”

Here is a photo of the 1967 presentation to Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House.

Annual presentation of the Thanksgiving turkey - Senator Everett Dirksen and representatives from the poultry industry and farm organizations present a turkey to Lyndon B. Johnson in the Fish Room of the White House. The turkey has a sign around its neck that says "Good Eating Mr. President,” November 16, 1967. (Photo credit: U.S. National Archives and Presidential Libraries )

It was not until November 14, 1989 that President George Bush officially “granted a Presidential pardon” to a turkey. Below is a photo of President Bush and the pardoned bird from that year’s presentation.

(Photo credit: U.S. National Archives and Presidential Libraries )

For highlights of Presidents celebrating Thanksgiving over the years, here’s a gallery from the holdings of the U.S. National Archives and the 13 Presidential Libraries across the country.

Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images
President George W. Bush meets Liberty, the turkey to receive the annual Thanksgiving Presidential Pardon in the Rose Garden of the White House 19 Nov. 2001.