Monday, February 21, 2011

Minor Holidays

February features two very different days to celebrate. First, there's Valentine's Day, when even the desperate get a shot at romance. I spent the day the same as with the last several - singing the high notes in a barbershop quartet in order to raise scholarship funds. We made around 15 stops in the day, finding our way to a supermarket, a laundry, a medical office or two and the local newspaper, as well as to private homes. We broke in a new lead singer this year, and I wasn't sure we'd make the musical grade, but we ended, I think, with fewer clinkers than I had expected. You know you're getting it done when there are tears, and I'm happy to say that happened a few times. I just hope they weren't shed on behalf of any mangled music.

Then there's Presidents Day, the compromise made after someone noticed that Washington and Lincoln had both been born in February. Historians, normally ignored the rest of the year, get the chance to opine about presidential administrations, both successes and failures. About half the population can't go backwards naming presidents beyond Reagan, but we should still put out the flag with the energy we would normally spend fetching the mail. As to who's over or underrated as president, I have enough opinions to guarantee that if I wrote them all down, you'd never read this blog again. Let's just keep it short and say Truman was a success after taking over from FDR. Buchanan was a failure, barely even trying to head off the Civil War.

And it's possible, though not likely, that future generations will pause to recall the events in Madison, WI happening as we speak. The state has a newly-elected GOP tough guy governor determined to balance the state's books on the backs of public unions, particularly teachers. It's not just a matter of givebacks, which the teachers have done before and say they would do again. It's retaining the legal right of collective bargaining. The Guv and the state GOP majority want to turn the clock back to the days of "take it or leave it" for teachers. Their level of concern for retaining or recruiting future good teachers for today's young people? They're too young to vote yet, right?


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