Saturday, August 1, 2009


Today is Confederation Day in Switzerland.

OK. So what?

Well, sometime between 1835 and 1850 my great-great-great grandparents and their son and daughter emigrated from Switzerland to Franklin County, Missouri, some 60 miles west of St. Louis. They farmed, raised their families, attended the nearby Lutheran church, buried their dead, and carried on their lives year after year, decade after decade. That past is silent now, but speaks volumes about their faith, their tenacity, and their stubbornness. Once they settled, they didn't move far - descendants still call Franklin County their home today, although my branch of the family married there and immediately moved to the "promised land" of Oklahoma in 1910. But it's always fascinated me that these stalwart people would uproot themselves from their ancestral home in the valleys of the Alps, lock stock and barrel, and plop themselves down in the middle of the frontier, barely to budge since.

I think they came from Kanton Glarus, because the Jenny surname is fairly common there, but I have no reason to prove that. All references are just to Switzerland, no canton and no community. There's no evidence they ever went back to visit. The two children married a brother and sister of the Jung family from Alsace. The naturalization records of another Jung brother stated he arrived in 1838 as a citizen of France, so it's possible both families came over about the same time, and could have come together. Ann Jenny's 1910 death certificate and another brother's 1926 death certificate list their parents as being from Germany and both of them born in Germany, but Alsace got bounced back and forth between France and Germany quite a bit during those years, so that comes with a grain of salt.

I've researched a lot of my other branches much further back than five generations. Still, this is my paternal line, from which I inherit my surname, and I'm the last male carrying that surname. The family homestead still stands, maintained by another line of descendants, and they've done an admirable job preserving the heritage.

One of these days, however, I hope to find out more about where they came from in Switzerland, and why. And, if health and wealth bear me out, to go back and visit someday.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Health Care in Oklahoma: Change Starts At Home

During this summer’s debate on health care reform, there’s no place in the country where the stakes are as high as they are in Oklahoma.

In the 2008 Annual State of the State’s Health report issued by the Oklahoma Department of Health last month, Oklahoma continues to rank as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to our quality of health. Our rates of deaths due to heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease and diabetes are through the roof. The report concludes we need to exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables, and avoid smoking tobacco. The entire report, which makes for interesting reading, is available to download at no cost from the Health Department’s website.

Despite the headlines, governmental intervention is not the only way to achieve health care reform. We first have to check our lifestyles and attitudes on a personal basis. It’s less expensive to eat better, exercise more, and stop smoking than it is to pay for emergency rooms or insurance premiums, and that applies to us both individually and collectively.

One of the most important things we can do this summer is to support the Obama administration’s efforts to bring about change in health care in this country. It’s been tried before, but this time with a Democratic Congress and White House there’s real hope that substantial progress will be made. President Obama has brought together the major stakeholders, usually at odds with each other, to bring about a consensus for change, and he wants results in the next ninety days or so. The results may not be perfect, but they should help improve the quality of life and stem the swelling cost of health care in the United States. If we don’t deal with it now, it will only get worse tomorrow.

Everyone has a horror story about how the health care system hasn’t worked for them or someone they know. The administration’s starting point is to collect those stories. They are encouraging Americans to meet and discuss both the problems and potential solutions, and at the very least raise awareness in the community. From there, they can start to fashion solutions. If there’s enough demand for a solution, the political tide can reach critical mass and solutions can be found.

A well-attended public forum for that purpose was held June 6 at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. One of the keynote speakers was Edmond’s Wayne Rohde, who has championed the cause for insurance coverage for autism care in Oklahoma. Those who attended were invited to share their frustrations and suggestions with policymakers in Washington. The public can still submit their views through the website

The next step is the National Health Care Day of Service on June 27. A free Health Fair is being sponsored by Change Oklahoma, Organizing for America and the Community Hope Improvement Project from 10 to noon in the south parking lot of the State Capitol. There will be free blood pressure checks, public health information, snacks and drinks, and a food drive for the Jesus House (please bring non-perishables and canned goods). There will also be plenty of people around to discuss health care issues and raise awareness about the need for change.

Change Oklahoma is also working with The Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) on a statewide Blood Drive on June 27. This is a perfect opportunity for almost all Oklahomans to participate; for some, it may be the first time they’ve donated blood. One of OBI’s bloodmobiles will be located at the Home Depot on Broadway in Edmond. Other events are taking place nationwide Saturday, and can also be located through

Change Oklahoma is also beginning an initiative to encourage Oklahomans to be more physically active. The Health Department study ranks Oklahoma as the fifth most physically inactive state with almost 30 percent of our adult population reporting no exercise in the preceding thirty days. Physical activity has a role in reversing or preventing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis and other health problems. Some physical activity is good, but increased activity is even better. In other words, go around the block one more time on your morning walk. Park a little further from the store. Spend less time on the sofa or in front of the computer, and find a new hobby that will get you up and moving. That’s a project I’m going to adopt myself.

We all need to go the extra mile to become a little healthier. That may be the greatest and least expensive health care reform of all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More to monument than meets the eye

The Edmond Sun, May 28, 2009

EDMOND — Well, here we go again. The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature, knowing what’s best for us, has approved the installation of the Ten Commandments on the State Capitol grounds and persuaded Gov. Brad Henry to silently approve it.

Republican Rep. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow has pushed this idea since discovering that Oklahoma was not displaying the Decalogue like Texas does. He took it upon himself to right this wrong, even going so far as to pay for it himself so no tax dollars would be used.

First, a little background. A group called the Fraternal Order of Eagles had been distributing paper copies of the King James Version of the Ten Commandments since 1951 as part of a program to fight juvenile delinquency. Apparently Cecil B. DeMille, who directed the movie “The Ten Commandments,” decided to have their artwork carved in stone and donate them to communities around the country. The project turned into a promotion for the movie, as actors from the movie appeared at dedications of some of the markers, and FOE members were encouraged to sell tickets to the movie.

At least 145 of the markers were erected in 34 states and Canada between 1955 and 1985. Many remain, including one at the Texas State Capitol. After four decades, a Texas lawyer challenged its presence on public land.

On June 27, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Texas monument and 5-4 against a related Kentucky display, with Justice Stephen Breyer changing his vote. Understanding the subtle distinction between the two cases may help explain why an Oklahoma monument is on shaky constitutional footing.

In the Kentucky case, county officials posted copies of the Ten Commandments in two county courthouses. After being challenged, they twice added other religious documents, and defiantly passed resolutions affirming the importance of the Ten Commandments to Kentuckians.

To favor one faith over another, or adherence to religion generally, clashes with society’s demand for “tolerance that respects the religious views of all citizens,” the Court wrote in declaring the display unconstitutional. By showing a purpose to favor religion, the government “sends the... message to... nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members....’”

In contrast, the Texas FOE marker stood for four decades with 17 secular monuments and 21 historical markers on 22 acres around the Capitol building commemorating the “people, ideals, and events that compose Texan identity.”

Rep. Ritze says his display will be constitutional because the same display approved in Texas. Not so fast. If the purpose is to promote religion, it’s unconstitutional. If the purpose is historical or secular, part of a broader educational context, it may pass muster. Where are the other secular monuments to the rule of law in Oklahoma? What about the Iroquois Confederacy that gave us three branches of government? Where is the educational nature? What of the long-standing acquiescence by the community, or the FOE involvement?

The 2005 cases did not reference their state constitutions, but in Oklahoma our Constitution may pose a problem. Article II Section 5 is pretty clear: “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

Ritze says his monument will quote the King James Version of the Bible, because that 1611 translation was used on the Texas marker approved by the Supreme Court. Will it be limited to the commandments set forth in Exodus 20, or will it include the laws in chapters 21 through 23 that were written by God’s finger on the stone tablets? Or will it be the summary in chapter 34 after Moses broke the first pair of tablets? If the purpose is to educate, why leave out the synopsis at Deuteronomy 5:6-21, or Christ’s new covenant recorded in Matthew? Should we prefer the Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, Evangelical or Methodist version, or even Islam’s ten moral stipulations in the Qur’an? Wars have been fought and churches have split over lesser issues; now one politician, not even ordained, will make that decision for all of us.

James Madison wrote, “The Religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” Maybe that’s the message we should carve in stone at the state Capitol.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bainbridge Sails Again

The dramatic release of the MV Maersk Alabama and the rescue of her captain from pirates off Somalia have been widely applauded as a major success for the Obama administration. But it’s not the first time the United States has flexed its muscle to protect American interests from pirates on the high seas, and it won’t be the last.

The Maersk Alabama was a 17,000 ton cargo ship containing emergency relief supplies destined for Kenya. Somali, enveloped in anarchy and poverty, has been a hotbed for pirates in recent years because of the enormous profits involved. There have been seventy pirate attacks since January, and 14 foreign ships and 260 crewmen are currently being held for ransom. The Maersk Alabama was the first American-flagged ship to be waylaid in almost 200 years.

Piracy has been around for centuries. Any local warlord with a few fast boats could hijack a passing merchant ship and hold it for ransom from its owner. Safe passage could sometimes be guaranteed in advance by the payment of tributes to local leaders, for whom it became a lucrative source of revenue. Although only used once during World War II, Article I of our Constitution authorizes Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal, meaning we could enter the piracy business if we wanted.

Dealing with piracy was one of the first great international challenges of the United States. After the American Revolution, our fledgling Navy was inadequate to protect shipping that was so essential to the country’s survival. In 1784, Congress began allocating protection money for pirates along the Barbary Coast of the Mediterranean. Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, argued that paying tribute would only encourage more attacks, but in the short run it was less expensive to pay the tribute until an adequate Navy could be built. By 1800, the ransoms and tributes we were paying amounted to twenty percent of the annual revenues of the United States.

When Jefferson became president in 1801, the ruler of Tripoli demanded $225,000 from the United States for safe passage through the Mediterranean. Jefferson refused, and began deploying ships and blockading ports on the Barbary Coast. For the next four years, American ships clashed sporadically with pirate frigates. One American ship, the USS Philadelphia, ran aground in Tripoli harbor while chasing a pirate ship, and was converted to a Tunisian gun battery against the Americans until it was torched by Stephen Decatur Jr. and the U.S. Marines four months later.

In 1805 an expedition of eight Marines and 500 mercenaries marched from Egypt to capture the city of Derna, marking the first time the American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil.

Under assault and weary of the blockade on his port, the ruler of Tripoli signed a peace treaty with the United States, exchanging captives for $60,000 in ransom. The U.S. had proven it could execute a war far from home, could support a navy, and could fight as one country rather than separate states.

When the United States became distracted with the War of 1812 with England, piracy resumed, and the United States had little choice but to start paying ransoms again.

After the war ended, the United States sent ten ships to the Barbary Coast and forced the pirate ruler to capitulate. The resulting treaty ensured no further tributes and granted the United States full shipping rights to this day.

The great irony of this story is the history behind the USS Bainbridge. Launched in 2004, she is the fifth American warship named for Commodore William Bainbridge. In 1800, as captain of the USS George Washington, it was Bainbridge who delivered American tributes to pirate leaders along the African coast. While making a delivery to the ruler in Algiers, he made the mistake of anchoring in the harbor directly under the guns of the fort. The ruler insisted that Bainbridge hoist the Algerian flag and shuttle the Algerian ambassador on an errand to Turkey, or be sunk; Bainbridge complied with the embarrassing demand, much to the delight of the pirates.

In 1803 Bainbridge was the captain of the ill-fated Philadelphia when it became stranded in Tunisia. He was held captive in Tripoli for nineteen months. After he was released as part of Jefferson’s treaty with Tripoli, he served as captain of the USS Constitution during the War of 1812 and later against the Barbary pirates after the war with England ended.

Renegade pirates are no match for Navy Seals, and it’s clear this administration will have little patience for such behavior against United States interests. It’s good to see America’s respect being earned again around the world.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bucket list

Having just turned 52, I've given some thought to some things I'd like to have on my bucket list. Here's a start.

1. Go to Switzerland and Germany for a few weeks, to visit the places my ancestors came from.

2. Take my wife to Ireland, stay in family farms, spend a few hours in a good Irish pub, just soak it all in.

3. Ride in a hot air balloon with my wife on a beautiful fall day.

4. Fly an airplane.
5. Scuba dive, preferably in one of those incredible coral locations with crystal-clear water and schools of tropical fish. No sharks, of course.
6. See Oklahoma vote Democratic again. See Oklahoma have reasons to vote Democratic again.
7. See my TKE chapters in good quality housing like I enjoyed at the University of Washington. No more dumps, no more fire traps, no more Animal Houses.
8. Be able to take light rail to work instead of driving a car.
9. Walk among the redwoods in California.
10. Landscape my backyard. Better yet, move to an acreage and do whatever I want on it.
11. Sail Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands again.

12. Pet a live lion or tiger.
13. Have dinner with any of the following: A. Jimmy Carter, B. Barack Obama, C. Bill Clinton, D. Nelson Mandela, or E. Dan Johnson.
14. Leave a legacy.

How many items should be on a bucket list?

All aboard!

Mountains of dirt, heavy road equipment and detoured roads are evidence of continuing work on the realignment of I-40 through downtown Oklahoma City. But the vacant lots between Shields and Walker are eerily quiet, as a war rages in Washington D. C. about whether there’s room for passenger rail in Oklahoma’s future.

Last summer the Surface Transportation Board – successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission – threw out the proposal to abandon the rail yard behind Union Station because of misrepresentations made to the Board. A new petition was filed, and the STB is contemplating whether it should intervene.

Without the current rail yard, Union Station would be virtually useless as a nexus for passenger rail in central Oklahoma. Recreating the station and the rail bed elsewhere would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That means I-40 would be the main access to central Oklahoma for years to come.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual on the Crosstown Expressway. Heavy truck traffic has not been diverted, and continues to pound away at the old concrete. There’s been no effort to reroute any of the 100,000+ vehicles per day, over 95% of which is high-speed through traffic. Locally, ODOT has raised no red flags that the Crosstown is unsafe.

But ODOT is telling the STB something completely different. In a pleading filed January 30, ODOT Director Gary Ridley begged the Board to hurry up and approve the elimination of the rail yard at Union Station so ODOT can proceed with new construction contracts. The Board’s failure to act “is impacting the Department’s ability to insure the future safety of the people who use the current I-40 bridges.”

In his letter, filed through ODOT’s Philadelphia lawyer, Ridley said ODOT must continuously monitor the condition of the existing highway, and that “new serious issues including cracks in fracture critical members are constantly being discovered and repaired.”

Only two months earlier, however, Ridley assured the Oklahoma Transportation Commission that the existing highway would “absolutely” last until 2012. “If we felt there was anything wrong that would cause us concern, we would close it, and we wouldn’t think twice about it.”

Ridley, former executive director of the Oklahoma Asphalt Paving Association, doesn’t want to alarm Oklahoma taxpayers about I-40’s safety under his watch. The ten-lane realignment, after all, was supposed to be completed this year; that obviously hasn’t happened. Delays and cost overruns unrelated to Union Station have already bumped it back at least three years. ODOT’s stumble with the STB won’t help. It was ODOT and its allies, after all, who misrepresented material facts to the STB in the first place.

The real reason for Ridley’s letter may be the change in leadership in Washington. The Obama administration is decidedly more supportive of passenger rail than the previous administration. On March 13, Chairman Doug Buttrey, a Republican and former lobbyist for Federal Express, resigned from the board. President Obama will be appointing his replacement soon, subject to Senate confirmation. President Obama appointed current Board member Francis Mulvey, a Democrat, to succeeded Buttrey as chairman. The term of Charles Nottingham, another Republican, will end December 31. The new STB will likely be more supportive of passenger rail, which is not good news for ODOT’s current posture. It’s no wonder Mr. Ridley wanted the old board to make that decision before the tide turned.

More recently, Mr. Ridley has said it would cost $2 billion to build high-speed rail between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and therefore it’s unfeasible. But that’s a straw man argument. The state owns over 800 miles of railroad, including a perfectly good track between the stations in downtown Oklahoma City and Tulsa that can support passenger rail with minimal upgrades. There is support for light rail within the metro areas, both locally and in Washington. The key to economic growth is the convenience of transportation. Edmond, Norman, Midwest City, Tinker, Shawnee, Yukon and Oklahoma City would all benefit. What the state lacks is the willpower to make passenger rail a reality.

The test of good government is not how much money you can spend, or how big a highway you can build. The test is how effectively you can provide the common services needed for the economy to run smoothly and the people to prosper. It takes smart, progressive thinking.

ODOT’s club-fisted handling of the I-40 project has at least tripled the projected cost. One wonders if it wouldn’t have been less costly to just run through traffic in a tunnel beneath the new boulevard, saving millions of dollars in land acquisition and construction costs.

ODOT never considered putting I-40 underground, of course, and that’s not a practical alternative today. But it is time for ODOT to leave the Union Station rail yard alone and move ahead with a modified I-40 realignment. Moreover, it’s time for ODOT to start supporting passenger rail transportation in Oklahoma.

The photo shows a Parry Transit light rail car in England, an ideal product for use in urban communities in the United States.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've come to the conclusion there are two kinds of drivers in Oklahoma: courteous drivers and scoundrels.

My drive home from work today took thirty minutes longer than usual because of construction on Broadway Extension. I appreciate that the lanes need to be narrowed so construction can proceed. What irks me are the drivers who either don't know or don't care about merging into traffic.

One school of thought - and I think this is what they teach in driver's education classes - is that a responsible driver should merge into traffic as soon as they see a "Lane Closed Ahead" sign. Sounds like a good idea. But the scoundrels zoom past dozens of cars only to cut in line at the last possible moment, leapfrogging past all the responsible drivers waiting patiently in line.

We've all seen this happen. And there's nothing we can do about it.

Some scoundrels seem to take great pleasure in cutting in line as fast as possible. They probably were the bad kids in grade school who cut in lines. Now there's no teacher to put them back in their place; they can get away with it.

Other scoundrels inch along, five or ten miles an hour faster than the responsible drivers, with their turn signal on. They're still leapfrogging, but they seem apologetic about it. OK, just stop until a nice responsible driver lets you merge. Don't continue taking advantage of the situation.

In my side mirror this evening I saw one such kind person waiting for an opportunity to merge. Behind them was an impatient scoundrel who drove onto the shoulder to get around them so they could jet down the lane in front of them. They just couldn't wait patiently for their turn in line.

Another sore spot is Broadway southbound approaching 63rd Street, where the right lane merges. I've seen scoundrels move over onto the shoulder in order to pass traffic and get as far ahead as possible. Maybe they're late for work, but I always understood you weren't supposed to drive on the shoulder. And certainly not at 60 miles an hour!

Occasionally I've toyed with straddling the stripes, hoping to discourage a scoundrel from leapfrogging me. I know, that's against the rules too, but hopefully I won't get hit in the rear or sideswiped. I've had a few near misses, I must admit. Maybe there's magic in numbers - maybe if all the good drivers straddled the stripes and we worked in unison, we could curb the illicit behavior. But then they wouldn't be good drivers themselves, and it would run against their nature. So much for mob mentality, I suppose.

What really aggravates me is the scoundrel who cuts between me and the car in front of me. I leave a little room so I won't hit the car in front of me if they slam on their brakes. But the scoundrels apparently have amazing parallel parking skills. One car I've seen, on several occasions, cut from the disappearing right hand lane across my center lane to the left lane, all with no signal light! No telling how many hundreds of cars they bypassed.

Everyone wants to get to work as fast as possible, and get home again at the end of the day. With no rapid transit in Oklahoma, we're dependent on the highways. And, while I see an occasional motorcycle cop on Sunday afternoons, they all seem to disappear during rush hour. Maybe if they rode three abreast down Broadway Extension, like pace cars in the Indy 500, they would deter scoundrelous behavior. I'm sure the State or city could use the extra money from fines. Maybe the job is just too much for them, much as Mexico can't control the drug lords.

I consider myself a pretty conservative driver. I haven't had a speeding ticket since 1979, and I'd like to keep that record intact. But unless there's a little more law enforcement presence on the highways, there's nothing to discourage the scoundrels from their nefarious activity. The good guys, waiting patiently in line, don't stand a chance.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring planting

I got my hands dirty today. I worked in my garden.

I brought in six bags of fresh topsoil, because I think my raised beds had too much organic matter in them last year. After working in the topsoil, I planted five rows of onions as well as peas, cucumbers and beans. I won't put out my tomatoes until later in the spring, and I have room for potatoes and carrots as well. I need to refresh my herb garden, because it looks like the chives are the only thing that survived the winter. Looks like I also have a good start of strawberries from last year.

There's something special about the feel of garden soil. After everything that's happened in the past year - losing both my mother and my father, being in the hospital four times myself, and my lingering physical problems - digging in the dirt in the springtime is a nice change of pace. It's a reminder of the circle of life, that after we bury things there's always a rebirth just around the corner for the next generation. Maybe that's the medicine I needed on this day, my birthday.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Sovereign State of Oklahoma

It's been a long time since I've posted, for which I apologize. It's been a busy few months, and I'm behind on the things I like to do besides the ones I need to do. But, I'm back!

The latest curiosity to come out of the Oklahoma legislature is the "attempt" to assert Oklahoma's sovereignty. Hmmm. Most people probably thought that war was fought, oh, about 150 years ago. Can a state secede from the Union? Can they thumb their nose at a federal government that adopts objectionable laws, like the freedom of slaves?

The controversy actually swirls around the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights. It reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Sounds simple enough. Actually it added nothing to the Constitution; it simply stated the obvious, that if the federal government hasn't been given a power, it rests with the states and the people.

But the federal government isn't trying to seize more power, as House Republicans and other right-wing blathering idiots would have you believe. There are two ways the federal government attains comprehensive compliance. First, the federal program carries with it significant matching funds. If you don't comply with minimum federal requirements - say, a 55 mph speed limit, or .08 blood alcohol content, or a 21-year-old minimum drinking age - then the state government will lose federal highway funding. A good primer on that is South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987). Or, if states don't fall in line with a federal education program like IDEA or No Child Left Behind, federal education funds can be at risk.

There's nothing to stop a state like Oklahoma from saying "no" to these federal initiatives. But try telling the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that they're not going to receive $340 million in stimulus money to be used for road and bridge projects. That makes up the largest chunk of the $465 million the state is expected to receive.

State Transportation Director Gary Ridley was quoted this winter as saying, "My boss expects me to secure all federal funds that are available to us, and I'd sure hate to have to go to him and tell him we lost some money."

Industry experts estimate that for every $1 billion in transportation project value, about 32,000 jobs are created.

The second method of encouraging states to implement federal programs is to take over a field at the national level unless the state itself implements its own program of regulation that meets the minimum federal standards. See New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992). In Oklahoma, a good example is consumer credit. Reg Z is regulated by the State of Oklahoma because we adopted the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, and federal law allows us to govern that field of law as long as our regulations meet or exceed federal regulations. Other examples are the Clean Water Act and OSHA. In all those areas, Conress had the power to regulate the subject matter under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The law recognizes that the federal government's power is not absolute. In the case of Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997) the Supreme Court held that the national government could not directly require state law enforcement officers to conduct background checks under the Brady firearms legislation. It held, "(T)his Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations."

Ironically, this concept of cooperative federalism is a good way to minimize the size of the federal government. It's better for us to take care of things on a local level instead of having all decisions made in far-away Foggy Bottom.

For Oklahoma legislators to rattle sabers and refuse to accept federal economic stimulus money only worsens our reputation in the country. While we've been fortunately buffered from the worst effects of this recession, we now have an opportunity to spring forward with economic development while other states struggle to survive.

And, while the amount of borrowing in the stimulus plan is nauseating, something's got to be done to fix the problems created by overzealous corporations in an underregulated economy. Hopefully the economy will grow enough that we'll have enough tax revenue in future generations to pay off the debt. That's the saddest part of all - corporate greed is the real culprit that will be imposing this legacy on our children and grandchildren.