Monday, February 16, 2015

President’s Day 2015

Parts of this post have appeared previously on Stonekettle Station. 


So, Presidents Day.

President’s Day.

Or is it Presidents’ Day?

I can never remember where to put the apostrophe.

We should call today what it is, Just Another Random Reason To Close the Post Office Day.

Whose dumb idea was this anyway?

No, really, considering the sheer level of contempt most Americans have for their government these days, not to mention specifically and in particular the president, we’re really going to celebrate something called president’s day? Presidents Day? Seriously?

What are the Presidents Day traditions? Do we burn down our garages while deep frying a turkey full of firecrackers? Is there animal sacrifice involved? Do we put up colored lights? Gift wrap fudgesickles? Paint eggs? Shoot guns into the air and light our farts? (that would be my choice, just saying). Should we maybe nail some guy to a cross and poke him with sticks? Burn witches and dress up in costumes based on the latest Spielberg movie? Is there a corned beef and leprechauns involved? Shouldn’t there be some kind of sporting event and a parade in New York? What? I’m a little hazy on what this day is supposed to be about. Does Hallmark even make a card for President’s Day?  Would it be like The holiday season? You know, Christmas cards for right thinking true actual Americans, Chanukah cards for the Jews, Generic Festivus Card for the non-believers, money orders for the Scientologists, and like that? 

Are there Liberal and Conservative President’s Day cards? If not, somebody is seriously missing out on a lucrative business opportunity. 

Like The holidays, do people get pissy if you don’t call it after their particular thing? Xidents Day? Ooooh, I’m so offended! Offended, I tell you! This is the day that we celebrate the magical virgin birth of little baby George Washington who was delivered unto America in a cloud of sparkly Angel wings by Jesus! By God, this day isn’t about celebrating Lincoln. It’s not about Taft. It’s not Grover Cleveland day! It’s Washington! George Reagan Jefferson Washington! Why has [insert generic political object of derision] declared war on little baby George Washington? Why?!

What’s the greeting? Every holiday has a salutation of some kind. Merry Christmas, Kiss Me I’m Irish lets go back to my place and have drunken leprechaun sex, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Easter (or as it’s known around here, Yikes! Zombies!).  What’s the salutation for Presidents’ Day?

Presidents Day. How can this be a real holiday?

Folks, think about it, there isn’t a even a pie

That’s right, all real American holidays worth closing the Post Office for come with pie.  Presidents Day? No pie.

I think I’ve made my point here.

Presidents Day, it’s ridiculous.

Now, of course, originally, we celebrated George Washington’s birthday and that was okay. No pie, but okay.

Because, Americans being Americans, they declared their independence from England, told the Crown to shove off, spit on the idea of aristocracy and royalty and the divine right of kings, and made all men equal – and then immediately set about elevating their own set of icons to worship.

Starting with George.

I guess I can dig that.  George Washington was the father of the United States, born in Texas, he was a personal friend of Jesus, he threw a hundred dollar bill across the Mississippi, he wrestled a polar bear when he was only three wearing nothing but a coonskin cap and freed the slaves at the Alamo, and then he fought off the Nazis after they bombed Pearl Harbor – or something. 

OK, I’m not sure exactly what George did, but he’s Sarah Palin’s hero and that’s good enough for me.

But that wasn’t good enough for everybody else, oh no.

Pretty soon, people wanted the day off for their favorite President too.

So then we had Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. That was fun, people dressed up in stovepipe hats and went to see a play…

But before you knew it, Americans were talking about taking the day off for Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday too.

And then there was Benjamin Franklin’s birthday - he was never the President, but he’s on the money and that confused a lot of people and besides he discovered electricity and Pop Tarts and that ought to be worth a couple days of drinking and tailgating and some kind of bowl game. 

Pretty soon folks were talking about taking Grover Cleveland’s wedding anniversary off and going up to Big Bear for a four day weekend.

Then somebody came up with the idea of Vice President’s day, and Speaker of the House Day, and Take Your Press Secretary To Lunch Day, and Spend A Night In The Motel 6 With Your Congressional Page Day.

By the end of the 1960’s, things were totally out of hand – there were so many holidays that the 60’s seemed like one long party. That’s where hippies and venereal disease came from. The 60’s were not, in fact, a cultural revolution, it just seemed that way because everybody had been basically drunk for a decade – which, come to think of it, also explains the hygiene issues.

So around about 1971, Congress sobered up long enough to create Presidents Day.

Technically, it’s supposed to be Washington’s Birthday but saying that out loud started the whole “what about my president!” thing all over again.  So we just call it Presidents Day. Or President’s Day. Or maybe Presidents’ Day – nobody is really sure what to do about that stupid apostrophe.

The problem with “Presidents Day” is that it is supposed to be a day we all take off and ruminate on the greatness of our leaders here in the US.  And sure, that sounds terrific in principle, but in reality there were some real duds in the ol’ Presidential line up.

Take Marty Van Buren:


Give this guy a red rubber nose and we’re talking Bozo the Clown here.  And that’s how a lot of people felt about him.  In the 1830’s there was basically no federal banking regulation and Wall Street just sort of did whatever it pleased – including handing out huge loans to people who couldn’t pay them back, ever.  A massive financial crisis resulted.  Marty was a rich elitist and liked to live the highlife, you can imagine what the average voter thought of him by the end of his first term. 

Fortunately, thanks to Congress and modern laws, nothing like that can happen these days.

Or how about John Tyler:


Tyler ended up in the White House by default.  President William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech in history – in the pouring rain, in freezing temperatures, without a coat or a hat. As a result he had the shortest presidency of all time when he died from pneumonia less than a month later. 

Hey, I’m all about term limits, but that seems a little extreme.

John Tyler, who was Harrison’s Vice President, was sworn in as the booby prize.  Tyler was so widely despised that he is often confused for George W. Bush by historians.  His entire cabinet resigned in protest of his policies. The House tried to impeach him and he was actually thrown unceremoniously out of his own party.  After he was eventually evicted from the Oval Office, he joined the Confederacy and died during the Civil War as a Representative of the CSA House. 

Personally, I think the guy missed his calling, he could have made a killing as the “before” picture for any number of laxative manufacturers.

And do we really want to celebrate James Buchanan?


It’s creepy uncle Fester! 

What? Nobody owned a comb back in the 1800’s?

Buchanan, besides being the inspiration for Donald Trump’s hair stylist, basically caused the Civil War.

No doubt they’ll be raising a few glasses in his memory down South today.

How about Rutherford B. Hayes?


The only President with a more sissified first name than Millard Fillmore (seriously, Millard? Were his parents just trying to get him beat up every single day of his life?).

Hayes lost the popular vote, but won the Presidency in court – thank God that kind of shit doesn’t go on any more. 

His inauguration was actually held in secret, for fear that he’d be assassinated if he appeared in public for his swearing in.  You know, I’m not a superstitious man, but I’d consider that a somewhat less than auspicious start to any administration.

Wait, it gets better, his wife was known as Lemonade Lucy because she banned alcohol from the White House – funny, but you’d think she’d drink pretty much continuously if she had to sleep with this guy. C’mon, Lucy, give The Beard some sugar!

Then there’s Warren Harding:


Widely regarded as “The Lost Munster,” Harding is considered by most American historians as probably the only US president who can’t look at George W. Bush and say, “Well, at least I didn’t suck as much as that guy.”

He was easily corrupted, a serial adulterer, an astoundingly horrible leader, and a worse public speaker – in fact, this guy was so bad at talking out loud, that he made Dan Quayle look like the president of Toastmasters.

Also, he was the guy behind the Teapot Dome scandal.

He died in office and the only reason anybody even noticed was because things started getting better.

How about this guy?


I’m going to be honest with you here, I think William Jefferson Clinton is the perfect role model for an American holiday.

No, seriously.

Frankly I don’t think it gets any more American than this guy.  Left, Right, independent, c’mon there isn’t a male in all of America that doesn’t secretly fantasize about getting a hummer from an amply cushioned cute intern in the Oval Office. I mean if you’re not getting free gratuitous sex, what’s the point of being President in the first place? It’s not like there’s pie.

Now, it is true that I hate Bill Clinton. It’s personal. He’s the guy who caused my conservative 80 year old mother to use the word “blowjob” in a sentence, at dinner. Folks, that’ll put you off sex, and dinner, for a while. Thanks, Bill.

But really, what better way to celebrate President’s day than we watch the game, we eat junk food and swap stories of our sexual conquests that may or may not be true. And later on we’ll have a cigar and not have sex with that woman (wink wink). Twice.

Now that’s a holiday tradition most Americans could get behind (or in front of, depending on your fancy, but I digress). That’s a damned holiday. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stuff the turkey with firecrackers before putting it in the deep fryer.

Happy George Washington’s Birthday, folks.


  1. Presidents day is the holiday where you get new furniture at 6 months same as cash. at least around these parts...

  2. President's Day 1981 I got laid by my wife, Feb. 15, 1981 I got laid by my girlfriend.

    What a difference a day makes.

    1. and for the next 8 years we all got screwed by Reagan. Concidence?

  3. Presidents Day is the celebration of the American Way: Loud, obnoxious, incessant sales pitches for over-muscled speed-obsessed superficially glamorous motorized behemoths. And the vehicles they drive.

  4. Actually. Way back when I was but a wee pup in the Oklahoma badlands and it was still called Washington's Birthday. It had a pie. A cherry pie. For obvious reasons I guess.

    1. See, this is the way I remember it too. When I was in kindergarten in NY, all the coloring pages for the day had Washington and cherry pie. It continued through at least 4th grade in NJ... Presidents Day got the cherry pie when Washington's Birthday got folded into it.

  5. You have to remember to put the deep fryer on the porch or at least under a wide over-hang close to a combustible wall surface in order to really get the full impact of the festivities. For all I know this feeds directly into the FB comments but if only for these few minutes it's like having a personal audience with Pope Wright. The above is not up to your usual excellence. Thanks for keepin' on.

  6. Cherry pie, boiled coffee, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Perfectly wonderful holiday! ( Oooops, my son informs me that it is supposed to be the flag, motherhood, and apple pie)

  7. Prior to 2009..., the only reason for me to celebrate "Presidents' Day" was because one President freed all of the slaves that the other Presidents used to own and abuse!

  8. I suggest a new tradition for Presidents Day: The President comes out of the Oval Office and gives a speech in the Rose Garden... and if he sees his shadow, we have twelve more months of bullshit coming from Washington.

    1. Daniel, didn't you mean to say: "...and whether he sees his shadow or not, we have twelve more months of..."?
      Please pardon the ellipses.

  9. A 'Millard' is the 'correct' term for a thousand million, a billion being a million million but the US way has taken over. I guess it needed to- what would a trillion be? A million billion? A billion billion? If you are going to run up huge leveraged debts, then demand bailouts you need everyone to be on the same page, and "A fuck of a lot of noughts on the end" tends to distract when you are trying to explain exactly how you, and the other 4 biggest banks have managed betrween you to lend 60 times the entire world's GDP. How you define a Millard as president may take inspiration from 'forgotten mathematical term'.

    I think we did Harding in history - O level History (that's the exams for 16 year olds in the 1980s in Britain, and why JK Rowling called her exams 'O.W.L.s') did the interwar years - cause of the Depression and rise of the Nazis. Harding is someone you skipped over, noting his resistance to the US becoming involved on the world stage didn't help, so my Tory voting History teacher could tell us what fuckwits Coolidge and Hoover were with their laissez-faire economics - the Depression being something that could never happen again because of banking regulation.

    (PS - the comments have stopped recognising me as 'Last Hussar'- inventor of the term 'Shooty Musket')

  10. My mother always made an "I cannot tell a lie, I cut down the cherry tree" pie for Washington's birthday. Just saying.

  11. Presidents' Day was a way to deal with the long-standing refusal of some of the States which were party to the late rebellion to celebrate Lincoln's birthday. By combining the two into one which is universally thought of as being a substitute for Washington's Birthday, Lincoln gets to disappear, except in the few states having a separate holiday.

    I note that the Wikipedia entry for "Lincoln's Birthday" shows that different groups of states refer to "Presidents day" "President's Day" or "Presidents' Day" So, as usual, Jim, you are correct. :)

  12. I always thought they combined Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays into a single holiday because the Feds were always taking Washington's off and the state (I live in IL) was always taking Lincoln's off and this was the compromise so everyone had the SAME DAY off.

    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredFebruary 17, 2015 at 9:19 AM

      I always thought that combining Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday into a single holiday (that avoids the pesky apostrophe all together) was the way we kept the overall number of holidays, but made room for Martin Luther King Day.

  13. We always had cherry pie on Washington's birthday. Pie which I hate with a passion .

  14. We always just called it George Birthingtons wash day.

  15. When I was a kid, we had both Lincoln & Washington's birthdays plus we had MLK's birthday in January. I always thought they combined Washington & Lincoln together because "they" didn't want us to have so many days off. Before anyone pooh poohs my theory, remember I was a little kid when I came up with it 👧

  16. C’mon, Lucy, give The Beard some sugar!

    With a privet hedge like that, if he had a use for women, it didn't involve smooching...

  17. Michael Kelly SchurmanFebruary 17, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    I thought they squeezed Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays together to form Presidents day because, when they added Dr. King's day, there were too many holidays, even for the feds, in a very few weeks.

    Here in Texas we already had a late-January holiday. It was Jefferson Davis' birthday originally, then became Confederate Heroes Day. Then one day everyone in Texas simultaneously and magically lost their racism and it changed to Martin Luther King Day.

  18. Ummm...Jim, would that be a "black powder dressing"? that goes so well with the soot, and smoke from my burning garage? ya would think that by the third or fourth time the garage burned down, one would have the cooking instructions down pat...including the number to 911...Prezdint's' Day? To hell with apostrophe's...

  19. I simply refer to it as "Linkinton's Washday"

  20. This year, at least, it's known in Louisiana as Lundi Gras (Shrove Monday), followed by Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Laissez Le Bon temps Roulez! Valentine's, Prez Day & Mardi Gras were all rolled into one weekend this year. Chocolate and parades!

  21. George Washington was a skilled military leader. Admittedly, he had reservations on his qualifications to fulfill the political role trust upon him. Among his many precedents includes the formation of the cabinet, advisors to the executive. Was he wise in welcoming the authorities to help with his shortcomings or did he leave the executive office open to manipulation?
    Point of Fact: George Washington, in many ways, served as a spokesperson to popularize the preexisting agenda of Alexander Hamilton.
    Big Idea: Serve “humble” cherry pie this time of year and eat it in honor of our first president.

    John Adams believed that his greatest gift to the American people was John Marshall. He worked to strengthen and define the judiciary. Is a strong Judicial Branch of government worthy of the label gift?

    For fun, give a stab at Andrew Jackson. His ethics were more than questionable. He used the power of the central government to squash the nullification crisis and drive countless Native Americans, like cattle, to their grave. You have to admit that “King Andrew” had balls, especially in telling the Supreme Court where to shove their opinions. However, he was unsuccessful in finishing what he started, in that questions on the validity of a National Bank and Nullification are still lingering in the powerful minds of this day.

    “Woodrow Wilson created the current central banking system of the United States by signing the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913. The Act created a Board of Governors to oversee twelve Federal Reserve Banks charged with controlling the cash flow in the United States and established a Federal Open Market Committee to oversee the buying and selling of government securities. All national banks were required to join the Federal Reserve System, and other banks could join as they wished. This important reform stabilized the nation's currency and financial systems, helping to control the cycle of economic panics, which periodically struck the country.”-The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
    I would focus your attention on the use of the word “struck” in past tense and remember to thank Woodrow Wilson while paying your income tax.

    Of all the choice words I have for Harry Truman, the kindest is strawman.

    I like this game, Jim. Can we all play? - GB

  22. Franklin D. Roosevelt believed himself too mighty to follow George Washington’s precedent in passing the torch. He died in office, leaving many, including Henry Wallace, to question why.

  23. Truman should have thought better before handing us the CIA and I should have thought better before handing Jim my third sentence. Where is the edit button when you need it? -GB


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