WBEZ | pardon http://www.wbez.org/tags/pardon Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Strange Truth Behind Presidential Turkey Pardons http://www.wbez.org/news/strange-truth-behind-presidential-turkey-pardons-113943 <p><div id="res457267346" previewtitle="Liberty, a 45-pound turkey, is seen at the White House before being pardoned in 2011. The bird died two years later due to heart failure."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Liberty, a 45-pound turkey, is seen at the White House before being pardoned in 2011. The bird died two years later due to heart failure." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/ap_111123024197_wide-bb97f38d470ca664eca35b4c644209fdf6f7a139-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Liberty, a 45-pound turkey, is seen at the White House before being pardoned in 2011. The bird died two years later due to heart failure. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>The annual presidential turkey pardoning event at the White House, which took place again today, is a peculiar one. Presiding over his sixth one last year, even President Obama seemed confused by it all.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;It is a little puzzling that I do this every year,&quot; Obama said, &quot;but I will say that I enjoy it, because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it&#39;s nice once in a while to just say, &#39;Happy Thanksgiving.&#39; &quot;</p><p>He says a lot more than that. He makes embarrassing dad jokes, while his daughters stand next to him, about turkeys with punny names &mdash; and how they will live out their golden years in splendor. (Though &quot;years&quot; is a stretch. More on that below.)</p><p>&quot;Time flies &mdash; even if turkeys don&#39;t,&quot; Obama said Wednesday before looking off to his right for his daughter Sasha&#39;s approval.</p><p>There&#39;s always lots of laughter for a lighthearted moment the day before Thanksgiving, but the truth behind the turkey pardons is a strange and sad tale with a long and myth-filled history.</p><p>So, who are these overstuffed fowl? Where did they come from? And how did this whole thing get started, anyway? We try to answer those questions, and more:</p><div id="res457260183" previewtitle="A class of fifth-grade students from Eisenhut Elementary School in Modesto, Calif., cheered for their favorite turkey as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird for this year's turkey pardon."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A class of fifth-grade students from Eisenhut Elementary School in Modesto, Calif., cheered for their favorite turkey as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird for this year's turkey pardon." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/ap_383413758639_wide-b95a9ff3bf3cfdb25ee267fcf8f65980364331ac-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="A class of fifth-grade students from Eisenhut Elementary School in Modesto, Calif., cheered for their favorite turkey as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird for this year's turkey pardon. (Scott Smith/AP)" /></div><div><p><strong>1. Where did they find these turkeys?</strong></p></div></div><p>This year&#39;s birds are from an industrial turkey farm in Modesto, Calif., Foster Farms. This year&#39;s chosen ones are named Tom One and Tom Two. Not very creative, but they were given new ceremonial names &mdash; Honest and Abe &mdash; voted on in a Twitter poll&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/24/taking-home-title-who-will-be-years-national-thanksgiving-turkey">promoted by the White House</a>. The names were submitted from hundreds of kids from California.</p><div id="res457357330">&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Meet &quot;Honest&quot;. He&#39;s 22 inches tall and loves Country music <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TurkeyPardon2015?src=hash">#TurkeyPardon2015</a> <a href="https://t.co/guZ2q2MQPt">pic.twitter.com/guZ2q2MQPt</a></p>&mdash; NatlTurkeyFederation (@TurkeyGal) <a href="https://twitter.com/TurkeyGal/status/669199677863157764">November 24, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Just Tom One--Abe, in this case--stood in front of the president.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Meet &quot;Abe&quot; He has a wingspan of 6 feet and has a macho man strut style <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TurkeyPardon2015?src=hash">#TurkeyPardon2015</a> <a href="https://t.co/zdw0qZGDYe">pic.twitter.com/zdw0qZGDYe</a></p>&mdash; NatlTurkeyFederation (@TurkeyGal) <a href="https://twitter.com/TurkeyGal/status/669200272107941888">November 24, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Tom Two was selected as an alternate. Don&#39;t worry, both of their lives were spared &mdash; temporarily, anyway. The Toms were chosen out of a flock of 50, which were whittled down to a dozen finalists and picked in front of a class of fifth-graders. Foster Farms manager Joe Hedden&nbsp;<a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/63b2e9b5271d4503bea4392872bc0fbd/turkey-chosen-presidential-pardon-thanksgiving">said</a>&nbsp;Tom One was a clear winner because of his personality. He apparently really likes to strut his stuff (he gobbled quite a bit at the crowd gathered at the White House), Hedden said before parting ways with the turkeys, who boarded a first-class flight to Washington called, not kidding,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.modbee.com/news/article45524970.html">Turkey One</a>.</p><p>&quot;We want to present the president with a well-mannered and socially skilled turkey that&#39;s going to act right on the big day,&quot; Hedden said.</p><p><strong>2. Do they always get the turkeys from the same place?</strong></p><div id="res457281113" previewtitle="Men dressed as Secret Service agents stand guard next to Tom One and Tom Two, this year's turkey and alternate."><div data-crop-type=""><div class="image-insert-image "><strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-496023924_wide-bad7d3aee7611c359d04776598d0ce3cc2301828-s1200.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 348px;" title="Men dressed as Secret Service agents stand guard next to Tom One and Tom Two, this year's turkey and alternate. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)" /></strong></div></div><div><div><p>No. Here&#39;s the thing: This is an event run by the National Turkey Federation. Yes, even turkeys have lobbyists. (They have offices four blocks from the White House.) The group is so involved in the event that it even paid for the turkeys to take a presidential-style motorcade from the farm to the airport flanked by fake Secret Service agents.</p></div></div></div><p>The men in dark suits with earpieces are all part of the show, as are faux presidential decals depicting a turkey wearing a pilgrim hat at the center of the &quot;Seal of the National Turkey of the United States.&quot; The chairman of the federation usually picks a turkey from his home state, and this year the chairman is Jihad Douglas, president of Aviagen Turkeys, a &quot;<a href="http://www.modbee.com/news/article45524970.html">supplier of turkey breeding stock</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>3. When and why did this begin?</strong></p><p>This whole thing got started in 1947 when Harry Truman was president. And that has actually been a source of confusion. Bill Clinton in his 1997 pardoning ceremony proclaimed that Truman was the first to pardon a turkey. But that&#39;s not true. The<a href="http://www.trumanlibrary.org/trivia/turkey.htm">Truman Library issued a statement in 2003</a>&nbsp;saying:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;The Library&#39;s staff has found no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records in our holdings which refer to Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time during his Presidency. ... Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>So, Truman was the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eatturkey.com/why-turkey/history">first to receive</a>&nbsp;a ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation (and the Poultry and Egg National Board), but he ate it (as did Eisenhower). And that was the intention of the gift &mdash; to raise the profile of the bird and maintain its institutionalization as a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple.</p><p>The tradition of giving turkeys to the president goes much further back, though, than industry groups&#39; involvement. From 1873 to 1913, a turkey dealer from Rhode Island named Horace Vose, known as the &quot;Poultry King,&quot; became the unofficial turkey provider to the White House for Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.whitehousehistory.org/pardoning-the-thanksgiving-turkey">White House Historical Society</a>. In 1913, Vose got some competition from a former Kentucky congressman, who claimed his bird tasted better because it was fed a diet of red peppers. After Vose died in 1913, it was something of a free for all.</p><div id="res457262109" previewtitle="President John F. Kennedy reaches out to touch a 40-pound turkey at the White House in 1963. The presentation was made on behalf of the nation's turkey industry."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="President John F. Kennedy reaches out to touch a 40-pound turkey at the White House in 1963. The presentation was made on behalf of the nation's turkey industry." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/ap_31330392127-5e6ae6aff3709c1fe956df636d02117f0ad9ba3c-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="President John F. Kennedy reaches out to touch a 40-pound turkey at the White House in 1963. The presentation was made on behalf of the nation's turkey industry. (Harvey Georges/AP)" /></div><div><div><p><strong>4. OK, so if it wasn&#39;t Truman, then who was the first to pardon a turkey?</strong></p></div></div></div><p>It depends on your definition of &quot;pardon.&quot; An&nbsp;<a href="http://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/which-president-started-the-tradition-of-pardoning-the-thanksgiving-turkey">1865 dispatch</a>&nbsp;from White House reporter Noah Brooks is the oldest-known account of a presidential turkey clemency. It was about&nbsp;Abraham Lincoln&nbsp;sparing a turkey two years earlier. It was a Christmas turkey that his son Tad had taken a liking to.</p><p>John F. Kennedy&nbsp;appears to have been the first to let a Thanksgiving turkey go. &quot;We&#39;ll just let this one grow,&quot; he said. The&nbsp;LA Times&nbsp;headlined that 1963 event &mdash; in which a sign hung around the turkey&#39;s neck that read, &quot;Good eating, Mr. President&quot; &mdash; as a &quot;<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/presidential-turkey-pardons-not-long-history-you-might-think-f2D11663410">presidential pardon</a>.&quot;</p><p>Richard Nixon&nbsp;also chose not to eat that particular bird and sent it to a petting zoo instead.</p><div id="res457263362" previewtitle="President Ronald Reagan is startled as John Hendrick (center), president of the National Turkey Federation, presents him with a turkey in 1984."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="President Ronald Reagan is startled as John Hendrick (center), president of the National Turkey Federation, presents him with a turkey in 1984." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/ap_8411160115-01f655b83dec0156917b3323b0cd19aa1f8abd8d-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="President Ronald Reagan is startled as John Hendrick, center, president of the National Turkey Federation, presents him with a turkey in 1984. (Scott Stewart/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>Ronald Reagan&nbsp;in 1987 was technically the first president to use the word &quot;pardon&quot; about a turkey, but it was really just a way to deflect questions about the Iran-Contra scandal and whether he would pardon key players involved &mdash; Oliver North and John Poindexter. The bird, &quot;Charlie,&quot; was already headed for a petting zoo, but after Sam Donaldson of ABC News pressed Reagan on whether he&#39;d pardon North and Poindexter, Reagan&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1987/112387d.htm">responded</a>, &quot;If they&#39;d given me a different answer on Charlie and his future, I would have pardoned him.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Two years later,&nbsp;George H.W. Bush&nbsp;formalized the turkey pardoning ceremony, giving birth to the modern-day tradition.</p><p><strong>5. What happens to the turkey afterward?</strong></p><p>This is where the story turns very sad. They are sent to a farm in Virginia, where a former governor&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/presidents-pardon-turkeys-history/">raised his own turkeys</a>, but they do not live very long. In fact, every pardoned turkey is dead except for two &mdash; &quot;Cheese,&quot; the second half of last year&#39;s duo (&quot;Mac&quot; died in July of this year), and &quot;Courage,&quot; pardoned in 2009.</p><p>These birds, though, are bred to be eaten. Many industrially grown turkeys are fattened up with a&nbsp;<a href="http://minnesotaturkey.com/turkeys/fun-facts/">protein-rich diet of corn and soybeans</a>. They can&#39;t fly, because they are too big; their bone structures can&#39;t hold up all that weight for very long; and their organs fail if they&#39;re kept alive too long.</p><p>These unfortunate facts have been a sore point for animal-rights activists, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, which listed its complaints, including&nbsp;<a href="http://www.peta.org/features/white-house-turkey-pardon/">noting the fates</a>&nbsp;of the recent &quot;pardoned&quot; birds. Others, including writers at the&nbsp;Washington Post&nbsp;and Vox, have called the pardon &quot;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/11/26/the-turkey-pardon-is-americas-dumbest-tradition/">America&#39;s dumbest</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7276353/white-house-turkey-pardon">most absurd holiday tradition</a>.&quot;</p><p>But the turkey federation, of course, pushes back on that notion.</p><p>&quot;Think of the meaning of Thanksgiving,&quot; argued Keith Williams, vice president for communications and marketing at the turkey federation. &quot;It&#39;s always been about the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey &mdash; symbolic of the blessings of agriculture we have in this country. It becomes a time for the president to recall with the nation our blessings and celebrate the beginning of the holiday season.&quot;</p><div id="res457263813" previewtitle="Unfortunately for the birds, pardoning a turkey doesn't actually keep the meat off the White House table."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Unfortunately for the birds, pardoning a turkey doesn't actually keep the meat off the White House table." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/ap_111024072162-e724028a843c9deda5fdd517890bb1007dcffe48-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 186px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Unfortunately for the birds, pardoning a turkey doesn't actually keep the meat off the White House table. (Matthew Mead/AP)" /></div><div><div><p><strong>6. Why do presidents pardon turkeys? Don&#39;t they eat turkey at Thanksgiving?</strong></p></div></div></div><p>That irony may account for Obama&#39;s puzzlement. He also joked last year that he was saving those turkeys from a &quot;terrible and delicious fate.&quot;</p><p>People are full of contradictions.</p><p>It&#39;s clearly been difficult for politicians to say on camera that they would eat the bird presented to them, especially as America has grown away from an agricultural society and grown up with Disney movies heavy on the personification of animals. Americans are far more removed from the actual process of how their food makes its way to their table.</p><p>&quot;Your grandmother (1940s) would have killed her own and prepared it,&quot; Williams notes. &quot;Since the 1950s, it became more convenient for families to have the dressed turkeys (all ready to cook), which they bought from the butcher or their grocery store. Few people actually hunt and dress their own food &mdash; we thankfully have the farmers who grow and deliver food to us.&quot;</p><p>(Side fact: The turkey federation actually provides dressed turkeys to presidents, too. Obama has donated his.)</p><p>The turkey federation seems potentially open to a return to the days when presidents ate the turkeys presented to them.</p><p>&quot;The pardoning was a recent custom begun with President George H.W. Bush,&quot; Williams pointed out.</p><p>Some traditions are hard to change. It&#39;s something to think about after you walk through the grocery store, pick out that turkey &mdash; and sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner table.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/25/457253194/the-strange-truth-behind-presidential-turkey-pardons?ft=nprml&amp;f=457253194" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/strange-truth-behind-presidential-turkey-pardons-113943 Local jazz musicians profile boxer Jack Johnson in song http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-20/local-jazz-musicians-profile-boxer-jack-johnson-song-88053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-20/Jack Johnson AP File.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 1910, <a href="http://espn.go.com/gen/s/bhm2001/jackjohnson.html" target="_blank">Jack Johnson</a> officially became the first black heavyweight champion of the world. Now, over a century later, two lawmakers have taken up a fight for the boxing giant’s reputation. They’ve asked President Obama to pardon Johnson, who was convicted on morals charges in Chicago.<br> <br> Johnson was found guilty of traveling across state lines for immoral sexual activity. But some believe Jack Johnson’s real offense was to be a successful, unapologetic black man who also loved white women.<br> <br> Johnson’s life and times were documented last year in unusual fashion. In <em>Portrait of Jack Johnson </em>local jazz bassist <a href="http://imaginarychicago.com/seigfried.shtml" target="_blank">Karl Seigfried</a> composes musical profiles of Johnson and two other boxing champs. Seigfried, saxophonist Fred Jackson, Jr. and drummer Dave Williams joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> in 2010 to perform and talk about the project.</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-20/local-jazz-musicians-profile-boxer-jack-johnson-song-88053