A special guest editorial by text2cloud’s newest staff member: H. Paunch.

Which is it:

  1. Presidents Day (no apostrophe)
     
  2. Presidents’ Day (“s” apostrophe)


    or

  3. President’s Day (apostrophe “s”)?
Some might argue for Presidents Day (option number one) on the grounds that the day is meant to recognize all the presidents.
 
Others–sticklers for the facts we might call them–will argue for Presidents’ Day (option number two), pointing out that the national holiday for recognizing the birth of George Washington (celebrated the third Monday in February) falls near the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (February 12th). For these folks, the apostrophe gives the day to two presidents in particular.
 
But, embracing the zeitgeist, I am going to insist that the correct answer is option number three: President’s Day.
 
Why?
 
This solution has many virtues.
 
First, it is grammatically incorrect. And, as we all know, the only thing better than being grammatically incorrect these days is being politically incorrect (a phrase that has been emptied of all its historical referents and now simply means the open celebration of self willed ignorance). Who, after all, cares about grammatical correctness other than nose-in-the air, pinky-extended elitists?
 
So, why President’s Day? First and foremost, because it pisses off the overly-fastidious, gee-punctuation-matters, know-it-alls.
 
To the grammar elite, I say, I’ve got your punctuation right here!
 
Second (note: “many” as used above actually means “two”), this punctuation has the clear virtue of returning the national holiday to the place our founding fathers clearly intended for it when they established it in the Constitution all the way back in 1787–namely, as the day set aside to celebrate our first and really, if you think about it, our only real President–George Washington.
 
*
 
 
Click to Enlarge
 
This painting captures why it is so important for us to correct another common mistake made by the nation of non-readers of the Constitution: the centrality of the Founding Father’s insistence that the thirteen colonies be constituted as “one nation under God.” 
 
Again, the sticklers are sure to insist on pointing out that the word “God” doesn’t appear even ONE time in the Constitution, but this is nothing more than quibbling about mere technicalities. God is there in Spirit, if only the sticklers had eyes to see.
 
Sure, the word “religion” doesn’t appear in the Constitution either, but the word “religious” does. It’s there in the Sixth Article:

 

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

 

Now, before you jump to the wrong conclusion, don’t overlook the obvious explanation for why no religious test is ever to be required of anyone seeking office.
 
You don’t need a religious test for office if every citizen is a citizen of one nation under the one and only God, the same God who is there in the painting holding the Constitution for all to see:
 
 
Only a Godless person would suggest that the signers of the Constitution (which comes to us straight from the hands of Jesus, after all) meant that the public profession of religious beliefs should not be a qualification for any office in the land (including the Office of Resident Dog Catcher and the Office of Chief Rooftop Dog Transporter). Sure, that’s what the Constitution says, but that’s not what it means.
*
 
 
Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life.
It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology.
Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.”

All right, maybe I’ve skated out on thin ice by offering a painting from 2009 as proof of what our Founding Father (see why it’s so important to get rid of that “s”?) intended.
 
Maybe.
 
But you can’t deny that the ice gets a lot thicker when I skate back over to the Declaration of Independence, where the word “God” not only appears, but actually grabs center stage in the very first paragraph in its first–and, admittedly, only–appearance in the founding document of the nation that we share:

 

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

 

Recall, that here the original Tea Partyers are claiming their status as “separate and equal” to the Brits, a status they assert they are entitled to by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
 
Nature‘s God? You don’t hear that phrase much these days, do you? 
 
Come to think of it, you don’t hear much today about being “required” by a “decent respect [for] the opinions of mankind” to make your intentions clear either, do you?
 
Is that a coincidence?
 
I don’t think so. 
 
So, to review. My point is that it’s right there in black and white: the signers of the Declaration of Independence identify the Christian (i.e. Nature’s) God as leading them in their battle to the death (i.e, their effort to achieve “separate and equal” status) with Satanic Evil (i.e., the Brits and their King).
 
 
 
Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God
 
*
 
Religion? A no show in the Declaration  of Independence.
 
The Creator makes a single showing: He is described as endowing “all men” with “certain unalienable Rights,” which include (and thus aren’t limited to) “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
 
All men? Really?
 
Do you think that included the enemy, as well? 
 
To paraphrase one of the other presidents: I guess it all depends on what you mean by “all.”
 
*
 
Anyway, after the signers of the Declaration finish listing more than two dozen “reasons” for throwing off the tyranny of the King’s rule (why they didn’t just cut to the chase  and say King George was an “evil doer” and Great Britain  was part of “the axis of evil” is something I’ll never understand), they send their fellow Revolutionists off with a rousing reminder that they are really the Chosen People and that God’s plan for the newly formed nation is unmistakeable:

 

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

 

That’s a mouthful, no doubt.
 
Makes me wish they had Twitter back then.
 
Notice, though, that while they declare that their power to act arises from the authority vested in them by the “good People of the Colonies,” they appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions.” 

Meaning? 

I don’t have a clue, but you can’t deny that they do mention “the Supreme Judge of the world,” i.e. Jesus.  
 
And then, with a rousing assertion that they will rely on “the protection of Divine Providence” during the coming war, they close by pledging their lives to each other.
 
Translation: with the full knowledge of God’s intentions, they head into battle, certain they will all share in the United States’ inevitable rise to global domination. 
 
*
 
Then, we’re back where we started, aren’t we: George Washington taking his Holy Army right up into King George’s grill and ripping the Holy Land of America from the clutches of the Godless Brits.
 
 
Twins separated at birth? You make the call!
 
And the next thing you know, there’s an actual country and Washington’s got the first presidency and then an unwanted second term and somewhere in there the passage of the Bill of Rights and, then, boom, GW declines a third term so he can spend time on the farm.
 
His Farewell Address is an amazing piece of prose. How do you sum up everything that went into waging a revolutionary war, inventing a government, leading the newly forming country through its first calamitous decade? 
 
Turns out, Washington actually was a religious man, unlike some of the other signers of the Declaration and the Constitution. And so, on this occasion, when he wasn’t signing on to a collaboratively produced, mutually acceptable document, he didn’t hesitate to stress that, when he looked out on the nation’s citizens, he saw a largely homogenous mass:
 
With slight shades of difference, you have the same Religion, Manners, Habits, and Political Principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
 
Having evoked homogeneity, Washington then goes on to acknowledge that it is not, in fact, the case that everyone in the nation shares the same religious beliefs. Indeed, he specifically states that there is another position–namely, that morality may arise through education rather than religious belief–and that he is willing “to indulge with caution” this supposition. Religion and Morality are essential, Washington insists, to “political prosperity”: they underwrite the pursuit of happiness, define the sense of duty, and provide the internal force that makes public oaths binding. They are not, however, synonyms. 
 
One could dwell on the distinction he is drawing between the religious and moral motivation, but to do so would obscure the larger purpose in Washington’s farewell address, which is to advise the nation about what stance it should assume stance towards other nations in the future. The former general tells his fellow citizens that Religion and Morality define what this stance should be:
 
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.—Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it?—It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example, of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
 
The magnanimous example of an enlightened nation guided by an exalted justice and benevolence seeking to cultivate peace and harmony with all.
 
That is, truly, a beautiful vision for what our nation might yet become. And it provides us with a bundle of useful terms to listen for on in the months ahead, as the primaries plunge the political rhetoric deeper and deeper into the muck of self-righteousness and prompt ever more surprising displays of small-mindedness guided by the infant narcissist’s exalted sense of injustice.
 
 
 
Drill Here, Drill Now (Obama’s backside in the foreground)
 
*
 
Fellow citizens, don’t you think we deserve better from our elected officials and from those running for office? Does their shared determination to keep discussions of political policy at the level of school children taunting one another on a playground drive you to despair?
 
Listen to Washington, writing more than two hundred years ago, as he says farewell. He chooses to close with a warning about “a matter of serious concern”–something that poses a threat to the union itself.
 
What does he fear?
 
Parties that seek to use geography (red state, blue state) to turn citizen against citizen.
 
One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.—You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations;—they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.
 
Speaking from beyond the grave, Washington describes a nation of citizens who feel “bound together by fraternal affection.” Today, such a vision is sure to seem the stuff of fairy tales. Doubtless, at some future debate moderated by the entire cast of The Jersey Shore we’re sure to hear one of the candidates say:
 
I got your fraternal affection right here.
 
_______________________
This is one of many sites that provides a searchable version of the U.S. Constitution.
 
This is one of many sites that provides a searchable version of the Declaration of Independence.
 
McNaughton’s “One Nation Under God” may be found here.
 
Rick Santorum’s remarks on Obama’s religious beliefs have been widely covered. One version of his quote may be found here.
 
Washington’s Farewell Address may be read in its entirety
here.
 

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February 24, 2012

Comments

Viva, George Washington! His wisdom, vision and prose! I would love to see this post in The New York Times and other well distributed media. It is an eloquent and provocative tribute, timely for President’s Day (-:
Thanks for providing a melancholy review of how far we have fallen from the ideals and motivations at the founding of the great US of A.

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