Sure, there’s less whoopla about the candidates, no Presidential or Senator’s races in some states, but here in Texas we have candidates for the top State offices, including Governor. If you are one of the 17 million eligible voters in Texas (who haven’t voted in the Early Voting) March 1 is your last opportunity. (For a list of dates for Primary in the other states -see below.)
It’s your right and responsibility to go to the polls to vote to help solve local, state, and national problems. Particularly right now, as citizens in Ukraine are fighting to remain free and hold tight to their free and fair elections, you who can do so must exercise this right.
I live in Texas, where people are flocking to avoid state taxes. * We do have our own challenges. Voting precincts are being carved up to favor one Party’s candidates, but that is even more reason for Texans to VOTE. Texas historically has had one of the lowest rates of voting in primary elections, 25% in 2020. Even general elections do not entice substantial numbers of voters to turnout here –the rate rose to 66% in 2020, but that’s not a number to brag about. Texans don’t like to rank so low, preferring to be at the top. SO help Texas get on top as a voting state.
Important choices indeed. By failing to vote in a primary, you are leaving it up to others to decide who will be on the ballot in November. Write in candidates very, very rarely stand a chance to win. Others will decide, leaving you with a far-left or a far-right candidate from which to pick. Today’s much smaller net of Primary voters tends to cling to the two sides of the political spectrum because they are voting with their ideology, not their community in mind.
Do not forfeit these crucial primary decisions about who will represent you and be on your ballot in November. If you sleep in, work late, or go out to lunch instead of voting, you let someone else make the decisions about who will lead in Washington, your State Capitol, your local government, and your neighborhood.
If you want to help America to pull back from the edges, check out the League of Women Voter’s Voting Guide online. www.vote.org It publishes a nonpartisan flyer about the candidates and short biographies. If you cannot find this in your community, then go to your local library for a listing of the candidates along with biographical information. Be informed. If you go to the polls without doing a bit of research, you might actually vote against your best interest. It is well worth the effort to strengthen your community, your State, your country by participating.
Now MORE THAN EVER is the time to vote in your STATE’S Primary. Here’s a list of the Primary voting dates in the States. Check for 2022 Primary times and locations. Go to www.vote.org for local information by inserting your zip code to get specific information about candidates you will be voting for in your precinct at the time of the primary in your state.
State Primary Timetable
March 1 Texas, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Michigan also listed on Aug. 12. First date is the primary.
May 3 Indiana, Ohio
May 10 Nebraska, West Virginia
May 17 Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania
May 24 Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas
June 7 California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota
June 14, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia
June 28 Illinois, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Utah
August 2 Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington
August 4 Tennessee
August 9 Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin
August 13 Hawaii
August 16 Alaska, Wyoming
August 23 Florida
September 6 Massachusetts
September 13 Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
November 8 Louisiana
Exercise your right. Get to the polls early or before 4 pm, so you don’t get lost in the 7-8 pm and avoid the wait.. Insure you don’t miss your opportunity. I commend those of you who stand in long lines. Bring water or snacks, just in case. Trust me, it is worth the effort!
*There are no state taxes and the schools are supported by local property taxes in Texas. Tough decisions will need to be made to maintain quality elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions Texan’s brag about. With the growing number of people flocking to the state, timely decisions about the energy grid that supports the Lone Star state are also essential to those living here. So important decisions need to be made here and in every state. Primaries are the entry point, so we have the most qualified people running in November.
How 44 Years of the Presidential Records Act Impacts Us Today
When Congress passed the Presidential Records Act (PRA) in 1978, it placed the records of subsequent Presidents in federal custody to prevent their destruction. Congress reacted to Nixon’s destruction of incriminating documents. PRA reduced secrecy, allowed the public a peek behind the veil of government, and provided historians and journalists the resources to do their jobs. Politics being politics, PRA didn’t have enforcement teeth, nor could it overcome future Presidential Executive Orders designed to limit what power it did carry. As a young Congressional staffer and future amateur historian, I believed PRA would be a highlight of my four-year career on Capitol Hill. Ignorance was bliss.
A House Government Operations Subcommittee crafted the PRA bill in 1977 to assist America in preventing a future President from swiping or destroying documents created in the Oval Office. At the time, it seemed impossible to believe there would be another President whose ego, fear of reprisals or concern about his (or her) legacy would supersede an interest in the public’s need to examine the Chief Executive’s records.
Specifically, the PRA put the ownership of official Presidential Records in the hands of the American people to build trust in the work of the federal government and its Chief Executives. The National Archives and Records Administration scheduled retrieval of documents under PRA to begin January 20, 1981, as the Reagan Administration began.
Under this custody and management of Presidential records, the Chief Executive would file personal papers separately from official Presidential records. Then, when leaving office, the official records would be automatically transferred into the custody of the U.S. Archivist at the National Archives.
Under PRA, the Archivist has five years to process the documents from a retiring Chief Executive before releasing any. Unfortunately, processing has become a Herculean task with a minimum of 30 million records coming from a single four-year term, including audio files, and videotapes. Freedom of Information requests, based on the 1974 law from citizens, journalists, and historians, are accepted after the documents are processed. But can in emergencies, like court orders seen recently, can be applied earlier.The Archives can have 12 years to protect various aspects of a President’s records. (The Pandemic partially halted the Archives’ efforts to process documents, increasing the timeline.)
President Richard Nixon’s worries about being defeated are evident in the secret tapes he recorded in his office. That marked the beginning of his demise in August 1974, when he left the White House. While Nixon died two decades later, the final release of those secret tapes did not occur until 2013—thirty years after his death and 48 years after he left D.C. for California. LBJ’s audiotapes, recorded in the Administration before Nixon’s, were released piecemeal, but the last batch did not open until 2016.
The temptation to Presidents to protect “certain” documents from public view has stretched America’s patience, and now we are in another battle that could rival what’s gone before. I mention the role Executive Orders have played to amend, stretch, and sometimes erase the intent of the Presidential Record’s Act.
Power of the Pen: Executive Orders
Today, with the nation politically sliced in half, winning legislative battles has become an eternal struggle. However, to accomplish some segments of the legislative agenda that don’t require a Congressional vote, a President can take advantage of the Executive Order.
Now with changes made sinde 1987, the complexity of the guidelines issued by Executive Orders requires a spreadsheet to comply. During the last four decades, the weaving routes of politics and culture have complicated the process.
Three critical Executive Orders concerning Presidential Records have been signed since 1978, adjusting PRA or countermanding the prior President’s penned desires. Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12667 in 1989 when he left office. It allowed former U.S. Presidents to limit access to certain records created in their terms. Before releasing any presidential records, the Archivist must notify both the incumbent and former President which document is requested and whether they may claim Executive privilege.
President George W. Bush increased the number and types of documents and the withholding timetable for Presidential Records when he issued Executive Order 13233 on November 1, 2001. It permitted a President or former President to withhold several types of documents. In addition, his father’s papers (George H. Bush’s Vice Presidential and Vice Presidential papers–1981 and ended in 1998) fell under enhanced protection.
Executive Order 13233 allowed a President to retain certain types of documents longer, including:
“military, diplomatic, or national security secrets, Presidential communications, legal advice, legal work, or the deliberative processes of the President and the President’s advisors and to do so in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. 425 (1977), and other cases….”
Some aspects of George W. Bush’s executive order were a reaction to 9-11, which occurred less than two months before he issued the order. As a result, security rose to top priority. Still, the only way to avoid future disasters would be to know how the intelligence community failed and where America could be better prepared.
The Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association criticized the President’s exercise of executive power. They charged George W. Bush’s order with “violating both the spirit and the letter of existing U.S. law on access to presidential papers as clearly laid down in law. They noted that the order “potentially threatens to undermine one of the very foundations of our nation.”
John Wertman, a member of former President Bill Clinton’s White House staff, wrote in 2006: “Order 13233 “represents a wholesale change in the way the federal government preserves and promotes our national public memory.”
Going Backwards to Iran-Contra
Questions arose about the Iran-Contra Affair in Reagan’s second term. The official justification for arms shipments to Iran in 1985 was that they were part of an operation to free seven American hostages in Lebanon held by Hezbollah. Reagan needed to return these Americans, fearing a repeat of the backlash that chased Carter out of the White House ahead of him.
Senior Reagan Administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to the Khomeini government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo. (President Jimmy Carter established the ban after Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in 1979 and took 52 hostages. Reagan pledged to continue the arms sale ban after his inauguration in January 1981.)
Congress had passed the Boland Amendment in December 1982 to prohibit further funding of the Contras. Oliver North and his assistant testified before Congress in 1985 that National Security Council documents related to the arms sale were destroyed to prevent proof of the arms sale and funding to the Contras.
International relations and national politics wound their way around Reagan’s pledge. Under the Reagan Administration’s plan or one devised among his advisors, the U.S. would use $15 million from the sale to Iran to fund the Contras fighting the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
Reagan vocally supported the Contras but told the independent Tower Commission (in testimony as a sitting President addressing the arms-for-hostages scandal) said he did not authorize the deal. The Commission’s 200-page report criticized Reagan’s oversight of the National Security Council (where Oliver North served as a military aide, who was indicted and fired for his role).
Bush’s Executive Order sealed documents related to Iran-Contra for an extended period. This frustrated historians and others trying to piece together American foreign policy decisions in the Middle East and Central America that still worry the U.S. and the world.
In 1985, personal health considerations arose in the Reagan Administration, which were not broadcast widely. The Gipper underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove two feet of his colon for cancer in July 1985. Three days later he met in the hospital with National Security Advisor McFarlane, who engaged in shuttle diplomacy with Iran to get hostages released. Later McFarlane resigned as one of the two dozen Reagan Administration staff or cabinet members indicted in the Iran-Contra Affair. Ten of those were found guilty, but George H. Bush, Reagan’s Vice President and a former director of the CIA, pardoned all on the last day of his presidency.
Before the PRA, Jimmy Carter, no questions asked, turned his Presidential Records over to the Archives at the end of his term. Former President Gerald Ford said: “I firmly believe that after X period, presidential papers, except for the most highly sensitive documents involving our national security, should be made available to the public, and the sooner, the better.”
Obama Reflects Faith in History
The day after his inauguration Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13489 revoking George W. Bush’s Executive Order. It would be unfortunate if Presidential Papers were to be tossed from one Administration to another like a ping pong ball or hot potato. I merely touched on the current matter of the former President’s records because of their coverage in the daily news, but this background information might shed some light on how we got here.
The lack of trust in American culture today has multiple sources, but locking up Presidential Records for an extended time further erodes confidence in the American government. As we live through dark political times, ignorance of our history can pull us full circle to relive the worst of our past. Or we can learn from our history and shine light into the future.
Story to remember Abraham Lincoln on his birthday 213 years ago (February 12, 1809).
On October 15, 1860, * eleven-year-old Grace Bedell from Westfield, New York, wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for President from Illinois. She admitted it was “very bold” for her to write just a few weeks before the national election. But she “very much” wanted Lincoln to be President.
Grace wrote Lincoln that her father “came home from the fair and brought your picture.” She noticed in the picture that Lincoln had a narrow face. “You would look a great deal better if your whiskers grew,” she wrote. Then suggested that “ladies like whiskers” and would “tease their husbands” to vote for Lincoln.
Her four brothers were split on who they preferred for President. But both of her parents supported Abe. She agreed with them.
Before completing her note, she asked Lincoln if he had any daughters. If you have any daughters “as large as I am,” give them my love. Grace thought maybe this older daughter, if he had one, could write her back if Lincoln were too busy.
Lincoln responded within the week, thanking Grace for her “very agreeable letter of the 15th. Regrettably, I have no daughters, but three sons: seventeen, nine, and seven.” At the time of the letter Lincoln questioned the whiskers: “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?”
He closed with “very sincere well wishes.”
After the 1860 Presidential Election, Lincoln took a long train trip to Washington, D.C. from Illinois for his inauguration. Lincoln visited several larger cities, including New York City and Philadelphia. But he made a special stop in one small town: Westfield, New York. There he thanked Grace and had a surprise. He bent his tall figure down to shake Grace’s hand, so she could get a better look at his face:
“You see I grew these whiskers for you!” +
Your chance: Presidents and governors answer letters from Americans of all ages. Maybe you would like to express your thoughts and opinions. You can write the President today at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500 or open White House.gov to send an email message.
Your thoughts and ideas are important because you will become voters who are especially important to America’s future!
*More than five months into the Civil War
+ America did not have national pollsters in 1860 and the letter came so close to the election, the impact Lincoln’s whiskers is impossible to judge. But Lincoln did continue to wear them. He either thought they helped soften his image or he liked not needing to shave!
A pillow on my couch reminds me to relax and enjoy life, not sweat the small stuff!
Hard to believe the Beatles hit the charts 60 years ago. We learn the backstory about Paul McCartney’s creative work in Lyrics. Now the British Library that I visited in January carries the exhibit. Here’s an inside view on the thoughts and melodies that grew into “Hey, Jude,” “Let it Be,” “Yesterday,” and “Eleanor Rigby,” plus hundreds of other songs we hum, dance to, and are inspired by–the background music of our lives.
“My interest in music came initially from my father, who was a musician,” McCartney said in an interview with Barnes & Noble and Waterstones (UK) CEO James Daunt, when Lyrics dropped late last year. Daunt noted that seven years of research took place to find and retrieve the Beatles archives around the country and stage interviews with the creators, directors, and producers of this tremendous trove of music. The book on the lyrics from 1956 to the present runs to 863 pages, but as one reviewer said, “It reads like having a conversation with Paul. It flows easily, and it’s a lot of fun.” As the Brits say, songs are alphabetic from A to Zed, which make it easier for casual readers.
Although his dad worked at the cotton exchange and his mom was a nurse, the McCartney’s were not wealthy. They lived in “Council Estates,” the low-income housing projects in Britain. But they had a piano in the living room, so Paul learned to play early on. When his mother died of cancer when Paul was 14, music helped him cover the wound. He traces his beginning in music and songwriting to the Liverpool Institute for Boys of 1,000 students that he joined at 11. A teacher who gave him insight into Chaucer’s unexpected “bits” spurred McCartney’s interest in reading. It led him to Shakespeare and nurtured his curiosity, nourishing the ideas that worked their way into his songs.
His collaboration with John Lennon, his schoolmate in graphic design, grew on their shared interest in songwriting. Quickly they realized they both enjoyed Jabberwocky, a nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll included in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland.
Coming to America in 1964
Initially when they were Liverpool blokes trying to make a go of it, the Beatles’ financial aspirations were for a guitar, a car, and a house. But that changed when the Brits flew across the pond to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. Five-thousand crying and screaming teenage girls greeted them at LaGuardia Airport in New York (only 1,000 saw them off in London). Seventy-three million people watched the program; the crime rate went down that night! The audience included Elvis Presley, who sent them a congratulations telegram. Young Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen were also listening. The Beatles saved “I Want to Hold Your Hand” for their viewers, sending shouts throughout the audience.
McCartney wrote “Hey, Jude” for the next generation. Bandmate John Lennon’s affair with Yoko Ono resulted in his divorce from his first wife in 1968. Their son, Julian, felt sad and alone, like Paul had as a youngster. Lyrics like “Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders” and “Foolish to make the world colder” led to encouragement: “Take a sad song and make it better.” Julian poured himself into creative arts–producing seven albums since 1984, exhibiting his fine art photography, and authored children’s books.
“Let It Be”
The easy-going theme of the Beatles’ “Let it Be” could be living proof that there are fewer innovative ideas (or songs) than we might think. Consider “Let it Go,” an earworm for parents of eight-and-under daughters mesmerized by Disney’s Frozen. “Let it Be,” has a line recorded on their last album in 1970, “When I find myself in trouble, Mother Mary speaks to me.” In the November interview, Paul says this refers to his mother, who died when he was young. He said the phrase came to him in a dream, as she offered advice.
How Eleanor Rigby Evolved
As a British Boy Scout, McCartney visited an older woman and traded groceries and cheer for her counsel and friendship. He looked forward to his conversations with the older women, translating their lonliness into the song. In the song, the woman picks up the rice after a wedding, but never had her own. The sad story served with an upbeat tune. Paul created”Eleanor Rigby” as a name that fit the song’s tempo.
The song became a joint effort: John Lennon encouraged Paul to change the pastor’s name. Father McCartney became Father McKenzie, a name they picked out of the phone book under ‘MC.” George Hamilton suggested putting the song in C significant to provide drama, then added the trumpet and sax. Throughout their years together, McCartney and Lennon created 300 songs together.
“Yesterday”: Popular Melancholy
McCartney’s song, “Yesterday,” earned praise as one of the best songs of the 20th century. A dream inspired this song too. He thought of the composer Cole Porter and dancer Fred Astaire. It started in F chord, but George suggested they detune their guitars to get the mellow F tone he sought. Their manager George Martin suggested putting a string quartet behind it. Paul offered the song to the band, but they agreed this was a tribute to his mother. As a teenager in Ohio, I knew none of this, but a friend and I tried to sing it for a school variety show. If you ever try it, you will realize how difficult it is!
When McCartney and Lennon were not getting along in the late 1960s, John told Paul, “All you ever did was “Yesterday.” But, of course, he wanted the dig to reach beyond the single song. After Lennon was assassinated in New York, McCartney wrote, “If I Said I Loved You,” feeling that in the 1960s, it was not common for men to say that to each other. Instead, he remembered John’s smile and how he would lift his glasses and say, “It’s only me,” and laugh, putting them back in place.
Now that he writes alone, McCartney says, “I always have a song on the go.” It starts with a guitar or a piano, working with a melody. Then, if a line or a word doesn’t seem right, he moves over it, looks into a poetry book for inspiration, or considers how others’ songs he likes handled similar problems. If he can stretch out three hours in the afternoon, Paul says he can get the crux of a song, but it works best if he has an inspiration to ignite.
Words for Young Songwriters
McCartney encourages aspiring songwriters to read widely. He pulls inspiration from others and carries a poetry book in his back pocket to trigger the right word to fit into an open phrase. He also draws inspiration from world events. For example, McCartney wrote “Blackbird,” thinking about the little Black girl who integrated the schoolhouse in Alabama.
Not Afraid to Shake it Up
When the Beatles started making albums, audiences were satisfied with their picture on the cover. But Paul and John began to commission artwork. “Our agents were appalled that we spent 75 pounds on the (cover) art,” noting that the cost and variety of covers just kept going. They started the rush towards artistic album covers.
McCartney’s black lab comes into the room as one interview concludes, and he pets him while concluding the discussion about his music. Much as his composing work moves on, at a less frenetic pace, giving us more music to contemplate!