The federal government is largely closed today in honor of Washington’s Day or, if you prefer, Presidents’ Day. A little history – the federal celebration was first codified into law in 1885 to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday, which is February 22. Ironically, today’s celebration will never actually be on the 22nd as the 22nd is never the third Monday of February, a requirement Congress placed on celebrating the day in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971.
In 1968, an attempt was made in Congress in an early draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to rename today in honor of both Presidents Washington and Lincoln, the latter’s birthday falling on February 12. After debating the issue, Congress decided against renaming the holiday.
In the mid-80s, there was a push from advertisers, fresh off a Valentine Day’s high, to start calling the day Presidents Day. Makes for better sales, I guess. Several states, in turn, have renamed today as Presidents Day or, in at least one case, “Washington and Lincoln Day.”
If you work for the federal government, are home from school, or are with an employer who is closed for today’s holiday, check out this link for some ideas on how to celebrate today.
As far as security, it is a quiet day today relatively on the security front. A few highlights from the last few days:
- Congressman Peter King and Senators Kit Bond, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham are calling for John Brennan, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, to resign. The latest reason? Mr. Brenner’s citation of recidivism rates at Guantanamo. Interestingly enough, press accounts report that his comments were strikingly similar to those made by Condoleeza Rice in 2005.
- The sparring over which party is better on national security also continued on the morning Sunday shows with Vice President Biden and former Vice President Cheney battling it out. Did they agree on anything? Well, a few items including:
- “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”- Cheney agreed with the Obama Administration’s decision to ask the military to drop its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
- Some agreement on the decision to ratchet up efforts in Afghanistan.
- Discussion over the “complexity” and “hardness” of decisions on a variety of issues, most of which have been reduced to political soundbites.
- More focus on Iran’s announcement of increased levels in its uranium enrichment program. Secretary Clinton was quoted by the New York Times this morning as saying that the U.S. is “developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to [Iran] how isolated [it is] from the international community as a whole.”
- Washington Post is reporting that the Christmas Day bomb suspect was not read his rights until nine hours after his arrest. The Post has included a timeline of events, starting with Northwest Airlines Flight 253 entrance into U.S. airspace to the reading of Miranda rights to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Happy Washington’s Day or President’s Day or Washington and Lincoln Day. If you are looking for a more obscure President to recognize today, here is a link to Time’s “10 Most Forgettable Presidents.”