With the observance of Presidents' Day, Grumpy Editor is taking the day off and will return tomorrow.
Few readers of Sunday newspapers were aware that yesterday marked Abraham Lincoln’s birthday --- a sad reflection on modern editors who usually relish anniversaries as easy ways to fill up columns around ads throughout the year, notes Grumpy Editor.
Just last week, much editorial space was filled with two lengthy Associated Press stories on English novelist Charles Dickens birthday --- three years after Lincoln’s in 1809.
Marking Lincoln’s birthday, once widely celebrated on Feb. 12, is now combined with all other presidents on next Monday’s Presidents’ Day.
However, Illinois, in observance of the 16th president's birthday, closes government offices, courthouses and libraries today (since Lincoln’s birthday falls on Sunday this year). Even there, though, honoring the occasion is limited. A banquet, organized by the Abraham Lincoln Association, was held last night at the President Lincoln Hotel in Springfield.
In New York, the state designated Lincoln's birthday as a floating holiday in 2012 for state employees in certain bargaining units.
Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., yesterday celebrated Lincoln’s birthday and the opening of the Center for Education and Leadership with a day of free programming and activities that started with the National Park Service commemorating the occasion with wreath-laying in front of the theater.
One of the noteworthy tributes to Lincoln came yesterday in a Christian Science Monitor story by Peter Grier, who reminded:
“Abraham Lincoln may be the greatest of all U.S. presidents. He ended slavery, won the Civil War, and ensured that the United States would remain united in the modern world. His face is printed on the five-dollar bill and stamped on the penny. The Lincoln Memorial is one of the nation’s iconic sites.
“But Lincoln’s Birthday on Feb. 12 is not a national holiday, and it never has been.”
In one of the few mentions on television, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee, interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, greeted the host with “Happy Abraham Lincoln birthday.” He responded by noting her birthday was the day prior (in 1964, at Sandpoint, Idaho).
Wonder why there are a lower number of Washington datelines in newspapers? Congress has been quiet, mostly out of town. But some action resumes today with a call of the House at 6:30 p.m., Eastern, notes Grumpy Editor.
But House members are only scheduled for six days in session this month while the Senate convenes next Monday.
On the way to fewer sessions this year despite pressing matters, don’t look for any solid month of action in the House. February, the shortest month on the 2012 calendar (despite being Leap Year), will see the House active the most days: 14. Among the leanest months, the House is scheduled to meet only eight days in April, three in August and five in October.
The Senate, meanwhile, schedules a number of “state work periods” that allows members more time to spend with constituents in their home states --- and for “fact finding” trips. For the House, time spent in home districts is called “constituent work week.”
Despite the many days off, Washington press corps’ reports will imply that just about every day --- even during holiday periods --- carries a full slate of pursuits by lawmakers busy in the nation’s capital.
( House and Senate calendars, below.)
2012 Senate schedule, 112th Congress, 2nd session
Jan. 23 - Senate convenes
Feb. 20 – 24, state work period
April 2 – 13, state work period
April 30 – May 4, state work period
May 28 – June 1, state work period (Memorial Day, May 28)
July 2 – 6, state work period (Independence Day, July 4)
Aug. 6 – Sept. 7, state work period (Labor Day, Sept. 3)
Oct. 8 - Columbus Day federal holiday
Nov. 12 - Veterans Day federal holiday
Adjournment date to be determined
2012 House schedule, 112th Congress, 2nd session
Jan. 17, 18, 23-25, 31
Feb. 1-3, 6-9, 14–17, 27–29
March 1, 5-8, 19-22, 26-29
April 16-19, 24-27
May 7-10, 15-18, 30, 31
June 1, 5-8, 18-21, 26-29
July 9-12, 17-20, 23-26, 31
Sept. 10-14, 19-21
Nov. 13-16, 27-30
Dec. 3-6, 11-14
Schedules are subject to change.
Catching up on some year-end events that Grumpy Editor feels some folks (and editors) may have missed ---
+ The Census Bureau’s projected U.S. population going into 2012: 312,780,968. The agency also calculated one birth is expected every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds in the U.S.
One would think that with more people contributing to the federal pot, taxes would be lowered much like a going-away office party in which the more participants involved mean less contributions per person toward an outlay for a gift.
+ A dopey year-end Verizon Wireless move to yank $2 a month for online or telephone payments from each customer lasted a day before the pickpocket idea was shelved. The “convenience fee” plan immediately triggered a lot of grumbling and complaints from users of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodaphone Group Plc.
It followed the bad PR Bank of America received two months earlier when it attempted to impose a $5 monthly fee for debit card use.
+ Associated Press got excited when a lone gray wolf crossed into California from Oregon. That warranted an eleven-paragraph report, noting the animal --- wearing a global positioning system collar since February --- had wandered more than 300 miles from its original location. Last gray wolf spotted in California was killed in 1924.
+ Radio listeners during the holidays heard much of “best of” (the upscale name for repeats) talk shows. What talk show hosts and their syndicators seem to forget is that radio is hailed for immediacy. Year-end airing of such things as preparing for Thanksgiving dinners and other “upcoming” events that have long passed is just plain stupid.
Guest hosts should be used to keep the focus on current events in a fast-moving world. It’s an opportunity, too, to develop fresh fill-in talent at microphones.
+ The stock of once-booming Eastman Kodak Co. closed 2011 at 65 cents a share, compared to the year’s high of $5.85. The struggling image and printing company’s stock sold for about $30 a share on the New York Stock Exchange as recently as mid-2007. Its last dividend was in December, 2008.
Three Kodak directors resigned in December as the company works on shoring up an eroding cash position.
Year-end observations conclude tomorrow.
Marking Thanksgiving, Grumpy Editor is getting away from his cluttered desk today to feast on turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
Turkey sandwiches will follow tomorrow.
Then, perhaps more leftover turkey dishes over the weekend.
He will return, a few pounds heavier, on Monday.
Veterans Day today finds many operations --- from restaurants to parks --- honoring those in uniform, past or present, with special deals and offers; yet the fine gestures often do not make it into newspapers, notes Grumpy Editor.
Deals and offers range from free lunch or dinner at many restaurants to a free donut at Krispy Kreme outlets.
Home improvement chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s dangle 10 percent discounts. And a number of parks, commercial and federal, offer free admissions.
Applebee’s, in efforts to get the word out, for example, paid for half-page ads in some newspapers around the country to announce its free meals today to military veterans and active duty personnel. With almost 2,000 locations, the neighborhood restaurant chain, an operation of New York Stock Exchange-listed DineEquity Inc., last year served more than one million meals to current or former military.
In enjoying the attractions and to weed out those not qualified, past and present military are required to show proof of military identification.
Compiling the many Veterans Day offers is a giant task. Few newspaper editors assign the time-consuming chore.
But Ryan Guina, an Air Force veteran who writes about military money topics at themilitarywallet.com goes into detail with a long list of operations that offer Veterans Day deals. He also writes at cashmoneylife.com.
On The Military Wallet, he explains, “the military will always be near and dear to my heart, and I want to share as much information with our nation’s veterans and family members as I can.”
The Web site, he points out, is designed to help military members, veterans, retirees and dependents find information about military money matters including pay, benefits, legislation and more.
Lost in the shuffle of this week’s holiday news reports (and newsroom short staffs) was a Rasmussen Reports national survey, released on July 4, that finds only 65 percent of the 1,000 adults sampled consider Independence Day --- the Fourth of July --- one of the nation’s most important holidays, notes Grumpy Editor.
Amazingly, three percent of those surveyed consider the Fourth of July as one of the least important holidays while 31 percent see the observance as somewhere in between.
The Fourth of July, a federal holiday, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (from Great Britain) on July 4, 1776.
Perhaps, as recent reports indicated, growing lack of knowledge of U.S. history was a factor in not getting a figure above the 65 percent who consider the observance as one of America’s most important.
This week’s holiday marked the 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s adoption.
Independence Day this year was mostly associated with fireworks displays (yet disappearing in many communities), backyard barbecues, picnics, fairs, family reunions and even political speeches, among other events.
But patriotic parades, still popular in many small towns, seemed to be fading as attractions.