What is Presidents' Day?
Presidents Day (or Presidents' Day), is the common name for the federal holiday officially designated as Washington's Birthday. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency) on February 22.
While the holiday is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has become popularly known as "President's Day", honoring both Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.
ALL the other presidents? We wish to honor all the presidents equally with Washington and Lincoln? I doubt if Washington and Lincoln would like that.
Would make an interesting book. But let’s focus just on President Bush. George Washington helped craft a Constitution notable for its balance of powers among executive, judicial, and congressional. If any imbalance were considered, the Founders believed the Congress should be the leading branch. But modern U.S. history is equally signalized by the steadily increasing executive power at the expense of the other two. “The separation of powers,” writes Chalmers Johnson in Nemesis, “that the Founders wrote into our Constitution as the main bulwark against dictatorship increasingly appears to be a dead letter.” “Congress [is] no longer capable of asserting itself against presidential attempts to monopolize power.”
Let us forget Presidents’ Day February 21 therefore and return to a joyful commemoration of Washington’s Birthday February 22, for Washington and our other Founders, “envisioned a supreme legislative branch as the heart and soul of America’s central government….America’s modern presidency, with all its trappings, would be unimaginable to men like Madison, Washington, and Franklin.” The intent of the Founders was to prevent a recurrence of the tyranny they had endured under Britain’s King George III. The result was the US Constitution with its sophisticated scheme to balance power in a republic.
Berkin, Carol. A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the Constitution. Johnson, Chalmers. Nemesis:The Last Days of the American Republic. 2006.
THOSE WHO KNOW
Gary Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. Penguin, 2010. Wills reveals how the atomic bomb transformed our nation down to its deepest constitutional roots by dramtically increasing the power of the modern presidency and redefining the government as a National Security State. He draws a direct line from the Manhattan Project to the usurpations of future presidents and particularly to George W. Bush.
Joe Conason, It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush. Dunne/St. Marti's, 2007. Presidential power has expanded in the direction of dictatorship. Take Pres. Nixon: he and the Republican Party had perverted the electoral process, the law enforcement system, and government itself in a manner the nation had not seen before. He dismissed congressional authority: by impounding funds appropriated for purposes he didn't approve,reorganizing the government without consulting the Congress that had created those departments, and by circumventing Congress in his conduct of war in Vietnam and Cambodia. Add wiretapping, burglaries, infiltrations of antiwar groups, espionage against Democratic campaigns, misue of the IRS and Justice Dept., dirty tricks of every description, bribery, obstruction of justice, perjury, and all financed by illegal corporate slush funds. (pp. 168-69). And later generations of Republicans have sought to vindicate Nixon by further expanding his authoritarian vision of executive power. And they were often enable by the Democrats.
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Doubleday, 2008. President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, his adviser David Addington, and others used the post-9/11 crisis to further their long-held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history and to obliterate constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment in constitutional government.
Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgement INside the Bush Administration. Norton, 2007.
Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, Sorrows of Empire, Nemesis (the "Blowback" Trilogy). Esp. see
Robert Scheer, The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hjiacked 9/11 and Weakened America. Hachette, 2008. Esp. the final chapter, “Empire VS. Republic.”
February 17, 2011
“Democracy Uprising” in the U.S.A.?: Noam Chomsky on Wisconsin’s Resistance to Assault on Public Sector, the Obama-Sanctioned Crackdown on Activists, and the Distorted Legacy of Ronald ReaganShare8256
World-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky discusses several domestic issues in the United States, including the protests in defense of public sector employees and unions in Wisconsin, how the U.S. deification of former President Ronald Reagan resembles North Korea, and the crackdown on political activists with anti-terror laws and FBI raids.
To watch this Conversation google Democracy Now, Feb. 17, 2011.
And see Dick's Post on Ronald Reagan.
A MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA and the PUBLIC
So let us speak out against these unconstitutional usurpations of power by the executive branch, and speak up to President Obama not to repeat them, but to reverse them, and return our government to one of separation of powers as our Founders had intended. But if Roger Hodge in The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism is correct--that substantive reform was never on Obama's table, that behind Obama's election was a business-as-usual corporate machine, a bloc of political investors, campaign contributors, and lobbyists expecting big returns on their investments--then our only hope for reform is public revolt.
ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE TO PRESIDENTS' DAY February 21:
DAISY BATES DAY
Daisy Bates Holiday
Arkansas Honors a Remarkable Woman
Forty four years after Daisy Bates broke the color barrier by aiding nine Little Rock students in entering Central High, Governor Mike Huckabee honored her life by declaring the third Monday in February the Daisy Gatson Bates Holiday.
Daisy Bates was instrumental in organizing, inspiring and assisting the Little Rock nine in 1957 when Central High was integrated. Recently, the street that runs parallel to Central High was named in her honor.
On February 19, 2001, a state holiday was also named in her honor. The third Monday in February of every year (the same day as President's Day) will now also be Daisy Gatson Bates day in Arkansas.
Arkansas is the first state to honor an African American female with a state holiday. Daisy Bates would have been proud to again be the driving force behind one more small step for racial equality in Arkansas. However, as the Governor was quick to point out, we still have a long way to go.
On this day, the Governor also participated in the ceremonial ground breaking for the new Central High Commemorative Garden. This Garden will contain a monument to Central High. It is across the street from the Central High Museum & Central High.