Next Presidents' Day
By R. D. Flavin

Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, MA on 2-22-08.

     Today, February 22, 2008, is George Washington’s birthday and there are plenty of sales offered by stores for consumers to honor the “Father of Our Country,” though it’s just another Friday for most of us.  This past Monday, the United States of America celebrated its thirty-sixth ‘Presidents’ Day’, ...sort of.  The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was signed into law in 1968 (though it didn’t take effect until 1971) to essentially grant federal employees more three-day weekends and which required changing the observance of four federal holidays to the nearest Mondays (Washington's Birthday, Memorial or Decoration Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day).  Actually, there is no federal holiday named Presidents’ Day (a name change proposal didn’t get enough votes and it’s still officially Washington’s Day), though several states celebrate the third Monday in February as Presidents’ Day with various caveats (e.g. Massachusetts honors U. S. presidents from the Bay State, though they’ve decided to ignore the forty-first president, George Herbert Walker Bush, as even though he was born in Milton, MA and went to the prestigious Phillips Academy high school in Andover, MA, his ‘home’ was in Kennebunkport, Maine, his dad was a senator from Connecticut, and his family hated the Kennedy family–all valid reasons, though more than a tad immature.

An unfinished painting of George Washington by Gilbert Staurt in 1796.

     Presidents’ Day, for some, has been regarded as a convenient way to recognize and combine the birthdays of our two most beloved presidents, as Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 and George Washington was born on February 22, 1732.  The third Monday in February will always (barring a radical change in our calendar) occur between the two birthdays.  The British Chesterfield's Act of calendar reform which accepted the relatively modern Gregorian calendar (as the rest of Europe had for many years previously), tossed the Julian calendar with its Caesar salad mix of bissextile intercalary days derived from algorithms few could calculate and fewer could remember to incorporate, and mandated that Wednesday, September 2, 1752 be followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752.  The British adoption of the Gregorian calendar was extended to its American colonies and while Washington, like all Americans at the time, may have lost twelve days in a single night, that calendar reform doesn’t usually reflect how we refer to dates before the reform, in other words, Washington was born on the twenty-second day of February and unless relative dating needs to be scientifically superceded by absolute dating, it’s okay to still honor our first president’s birthday on February 22nd.  Unless, of course, you’re a U. S. federal employee (see above).

     Many, however, have decided that Presidents’ Day is meant for all of our past U. S. presidents.  It’s a reasonable and polite judgement which I agree with and personally follow (though with a gun to my head I’d likely be unable to name all the presidents before the trigger was pulled).  Still, setting aside a day of commemoration for our past presidents seems a considerate, nationalistic and patriotic thing to do.  Jesus encouraged us to love our enemies and on Presidents’ Day even the stubbornest of Democrats should acknowledge the service of such recent Republican presidents as Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush.  It’s called respect and some find such a concept impossible to accept as proper.  George H. W. Bush vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister in 1992 and later declared that because he was the ‘President of the Untied States of America’, he didn’t have to eat broccoli because it was served to him.  Enter vowels; I, I, Oh, he was such an ‘idiot’, but we must honor his service as a past Commander-in-Chief.  Next Presidents’ Day we’ll have to honor his son, George Walker Bush, our forty-third president, and an idiot who gave the creepiest of new meanings to the descriptive term.  And, gladly, I’ll honor the idiot next year with a special appreciation of the past.  The past eight years have been rough and next Presidents’ Day, no matter the outcome of this November’s election, things will be better.  For that, and more, I’m grateful.

U.S. Senators Clinton (D-NY), McCain (R-AZ), and Obama (D-IL).     

      Sex, drugs, politics, and religion used to be topics we seldom, if ever, addressed in public as offense could easily result from difference of opinions and the a lack of anger management.  So, we've talked about sports, the weather and how the overall quality of American  ‘life’ has climbed into a handbag for its descent into Hell.  We still discuss sports and the weather, but apparently there’s more room available in the handbag that’s on its way to Hell and many have chosen to go along for the ride.  For some years now, if a feature story doesn’t include some mention of sex, drugs, politics or religion it’s often deemed of little interest to audiences.  We’ve become a nation as dysfunctional as a wasted David Hasselhoff trying to eat a cheeseburger.  It ain’t pretty, but it’s the U. S. of A. and we’re stuck with it.  The ‘Hoff” seems to have learned better eating habits and perhaps America will one day learn we’re supposed to stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther and not cut off the legs of the .giant which greatly inhibits our view and how far we can see.  Few are blameless, and while I did briefly peruse those nude shots from The New Yorker magazine showing a nude Lindsey Lohan insulting the memory of Marilyn Monroe, I must admit to be waiting patiently for more photographs of Condoleezza Rice in boots.

     After months of shake-down campaigning for the job of President of the United States of America with many silly performances which wouldn’t have made the first round of American Idol, at this writing, it appears that the Republican nomination for president will go to Sen. John McCain and the Democratic nomination for the big chair in the Oval House will be either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama, Jr.  Honestly, all have their good points, some not so good points, but I like and trust all three candidates and I’m tremendously relieved we’ll soon see an end to the Bush/Cheney administration.

     Perhaps I should fully explain my political views, as some are simple and others complex, but over the years through my ‘Flavin’s Corner” columns I’ve had my say about a great many political issues.  For those interested, be like our current president and his use “the Google,” do an advanced search and enter a domain name ( and then search for keywords.  Just a suggestion – for those search-engine challenged readers.

     For now, unless there’s credible evidence that The Holy Father does indeed occasionally defecate in the woods and bears are Catholic, I’ll quickly summarize my take on the three leading candidates for our nation’s highest elected office.  Hillary – polarizing, but I like her.  I once wrote about dropping three twenty dollar bills on a bar in Brooklyn and offered to buy a round on the house to toast our ‘First Lady’.  At least one third of the bar walked out and refused a free drink.  That was around 1996.  After the 9/11 attack, there was a special benefit held at Madison Square Garden to show all the firefighters, police and EMT workers a night on the town.  After many free beers, when the junior senator of New York, Mrs. Clinton, was introduced all the drunk New York assholes loudly booed her.  Apparently the time for mourning was over and New York was back to its usual insulting ways.  A dozen or so minutes later, however, Bill Clinton took the stage and the applause went on longer than any other previously introduced rock-star or celebrity.  Hillary does seem to elicit strong and extreme emotions.  Regardless, she has tirelessly championed health care for a long time and I extend much appreciation for her efforts.

     McCain?  He’s been a hard working senator for many years, his domestic and foreign experience is second to none, he’s quick to anger and even quicker to smile, I trust him and don’t give a damn about gossip regarding his personal life.  Many years ago I voted for a Republican govenor in Illinois (Jim Thompson) and have never voted Republican since.  I’m a Democrat, unless ...someone else is better equipped for the job.  I don’t have major disagreements with McCain and I wish him all the best.  Whether he gets my vote seems unlikely, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s not beyond my personal realm of possibility.

     And, cracking my knuckles to improve my typing quasi-skills, ...there’s Obama.  He’s from Illinois, my home state, he’s young, which is refreshing, he’s ...African-American, which no one should have a problem with, however, ...the guy seems to lack experience and hasn’t done much or chosen a significant platform for change other than to repeat pre-scripted lines which most in the audience will clap for.  Nice guy?  Hey, he’s from Chicago, the city of my birth (like Hillary), and there’s been some talk about some weird money with some shady types, but as I’m familiar with Chicago politics, I’m not phased by such innuendoes in the least.  Bottom line – Sen. Obama, you’re young and clever, but you haven’t done anything yet.  Please, do our country a profound favor and spend the next four years doing good things in the Senate and run for president again.  We need experience...  Please?

Tolkien's "The One Ring" from Jackson's 2003 film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

"I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like: and like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."  [Many in the audience had trouble figuring out if the comment was a compliment or an insult-RDF.]  ".... I am going.  I am leaving NOW.  Good Bye!"   He stepped down and vanished.  There was a blinding flash of light, all the guests blinked.  When they opened their eyes Bilbo was nowhere to be seen (Tolkien, J. R. R.  1954-1955.  The Lord of the Rings.  Three volumes.  London” Allen & Unwin.  See: Vol. 1; The Fellowship of the Ring; Book I: Chapter 1.  A Long-Expected Party)."

     Bilbo Baggins paid a heavy cost for the occasional use of his magic ring.  It kept him rather young looking, but the passing of time took its toll and he finally felt a tremendous weariness as if he were stretched too thin.  I do, as well.  Though there’s differences between that fictional half-pint and what I’m doing.  I don’t have a magic ring, I’m not going to disappear, but rather ...for the first time in my adult life I don’t feel that the upcoming presidential election might possibly go horribly wrong.  I'm going to do my best to avoid discussing the upcoming presidential election and concentrate on other topics and things.  Next Presidents’ day we’ll have a new president (whoever that may be) and Bush/Cheney will be a historical stain even a gallon of detergent and a scrub-brush will never be able to clean up.  I look forward to next year, same time, perhaps a different place, with a new president, and a sense of relief that the United States of America will be a better nation without Bush/Cheney. 

waiting for The Green,

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