Some people on the right use the term “snowflake” to describe liberals. I started down this path of looking for who came up with the term. I had no idea it had such a long history of being considered a derogatory term. As an example it was used to describe those opposed to the abolition of slavery. But that is not really what this post is about.

I was reading through hundreds of proposed bills for this session of the Oklahoma Legislature and got to thinking that there should be a term kind of like “snowflake” but to describe a few dozen GOP members of the Oklahoma State House and Senate.

I mentioned this to Kelly and said that at least snowflakes are each unique, they are beautiful to look at and they are good for crops and yards. She said, “hailstones.”

And that term is perfect to describe those legislators I have in mind. They really do no good.

Hailstones only do damage. They destroy crops, like fields of wheat or cotton. They can kill livestock. They damage vehicle bodies and windshields. They tear up roofs on homes. They break windows. They’ve even killed people. When they melt they may add moisture to the ground but only after they have damaged the plant life growing in the soil.

In the coming weeks I plan to highlight some of the hailstones in the Oklahoma Legislature and some of the bills they are proposing be passed into law.

Tuesday morning drives: Willie, music and death

Every Tuesday morning I leave the house in Yukon at 7:30 a.m. and drive to the office in Minco. I wait there until I receive a phone call saying the newspapers are printed and leaving the print shop in Lindsey. Sometimes they call before I actually get to Minco so I don’t even stop at the office. We then meet up in Chickasha which is almost the halfway point between Minco and Lindsey. They transfer the papers to me and then I drive back to the office in Minco. My drive from Yukon to Minco to Chickasha and back to Minco usually takes up about two hours.

I love those two hours of time. It’s just me in my pickup listening to my music. And I never know where my mind will drift. I have had some of the most productive brain storms on those Tuesday morning drives. Sometimes the music makes my mind flow to thoughts about music. Sometimes it rolls with ideas about making money or directs me to think about plans for the future. I’ve come up with answers about projects I was tasked with on many Tuesday mornings.

This past Tuesday, December 28, 2021, my drive was different.

One of my Christmas gifts was a gift card for iTunes (which I love because there is always more music I want than I can afford to buy). I downloaded the new Willie Nelson Family album. I listened to it nonstop on my two-hour drive.

About halfway between Minco and Chickasha I just started boohooing. The Nelson Family album, released on November 19, 2021, includes Willie, his sister Bobbie, his daughters Paula and Amy, and his sons Lukas and Micah. It is a very spiritual collection of 12 songs that last 32 minutes.

When the frog entered my throat and the tears started to flow I was on my second play through of the complete album and I thought it sounded like a “Goodbye” from Willie. I thought, “Is Willie dying and this is his way to say goodbye?”

When I got back to the office I looked up Willie’s tour schedule and he is booked through April 30, 2022. So I don’t want people to start spreading a rumor that he’s dying. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen his children post on Facebook and Twitter that their father is alive and well and not on his deathbed, despite the clickbait or rumors being shared by others.

But after hearing Willie sing “Too Sick to Pray” and Lukas sing “All Things Must Pass” and the whole family sing “Family Bible” my brain just went there. But I think my reaction probably had more to do with the death of others.

From December 14th to Tuesday morning (two weeks) I personally knew five different people who had died, two of which were cousins, husband and wife that died eight days apart. In Tuesday’s newspaper we had four obituaries, which is a lot for our little newspaper. One was for a two year old and one was for a friend’s brother who was only 47.

I had also just read a news story about all the deaths due to Covid-19. Oklahoma had more Covid-related deaths per capita in 2021 than any other state. So far more than 12,400 Oklahomans have died from Covid, more than 823,000 Americans have died from Covid and worldwide more than 5.42 million people have died from Covid.

I think my reaction on this Tuesday morning drive was healthy. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from buying and listening to the Willie Nelson Family album. I love the album and have listened to it dozens of time since Tuesday and not had that reaction. It is not a depressing album.

In addition to the three songs mentioned above it also includes one of my mother’s favorite hymns “In the Garden,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” and the uplifting Carter Family tune “Keep it on the Sunnyside.”

My favorite however is one Willie wrote. He recorded it in 1996 on his “Spirit” album. His youngest son Micah sings it on the Family album.

I haven’t been able to play and sing much since before Thanksgiving because of congestion and a cough. Finally antibiotics and steroids seem to have taken care of that problem. So here, on this last day of 2021, is my attempt at “I Thought About You Lord.” I’m strumming a 1950s Kay guitar that is still for sell at my antique shop.

Progress is coming, but not because of Oklahomans elected to Congress

In bipartisan votes in both the US Senate (69-30) and the US House (228-206), finally the USA truly had “Infrastructure Week” with pressure applied and leadership from President Biden.

But not a single Representative or Senator from Oklahoma voted for the historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation. Not one.

The US House voted late Friday, November 5th and the Senate voted back in August. In the Senate, all 50 Democrats voted in favor of the bill as did 19 Republicans. In the House all but 6 Democrats voted Yes, while all but 13 Republicans voted No. President Biden will have a signing ceremony soon.

There is so much needed help in this legislation. Oklahoma cities, towns and counties have needed this type of help for decades. And that may be one reason that Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt was a leading spokesman in favor of passage of this bill. Mayor Holt is a Republican.

Late on Friday after the bill passed in the House, Mayor Holt tweeted (in a five part thread):

“For a decade, across three presidents of both parties, our nation’s mayors advocated for a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure. This year Republican & Democratic Senators came together, supported by the White House, and finally introduced a bipartisan plan. This plan brings historic funding to core infrastructure needs, including roads and bridges, public transit, passenger rail, water infrastructure and broadband. It passed the Senate with 69 votes, including the vote of Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Tonight it passed the House as well and now goes to the President’s desk. Over the next few years, this legislation will finally provide cities the major national infrastructure investment we have needed for so long. Also, the bipartisan nature of this legislations’ development and passage demonstrates that our nation can still work together to do important things. I was proud to co-chair our national @usmayors effort to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill with Mayor @nanwhaley. Congrats to all involved and thank you to all who made it possible! Onward!”

Not involved and not thanked are Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, and US Representatives Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern. They all voted against infrastructure for Oklahoma.

This is a breakdown of what is in the bill that every member of Congress from Oklahoma voted against:

$1.2 Trillion over 5 years ($550 billion is entirely new investment)


• $110 billion – Roads & Bridges

• $66 billion – Railroads

• $39 billion – Public Transit

• $25 billion – Airports

• $17 billion – Ports

• $15 billion – Electric Vehicles ($7.5 billion for charge stations and $7.5 billion for zero-emission school buses)

• $11 billion – Safety (roads and pipelines)

• $1 billion – Reconnecting Communities


• $65 billion – Power Infrastructure (The Grid)

• $65 billion – Broadband (expand in rural & low-income areas)

• $55 billion – Water Infrastructure

• $47 billion – Resilience (Cyber security and climate change mitigation, addressing droughts, flooding, wildfires, coastal erosion, etc)

• $21 billion – Pollution Remediation (Clean up abandoned mines, old oil wells, etc.)

• $8 billion – Western Water Infrastructure

That all is new spending which adds up to $545 Billion. There is some other small investments, but the majority of the $1.2 Trillion is money that is spent normally on infrastructure. Yet, every elected official Oklahoma sent to Washington, DC to represent our state voted against all of that, every penny.

They also voted against new jobs.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that the passage of Biden’s Infrastructure Deal will create 660,000 new jobs. The bill does include some provisions and funding for more job training.

On Saturday after the legislation was passed, President Biden tweeted, “The vast majority of the jobs created by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal don’t require a college degree. This is a blue-collar blueprint for our Country.”

But Senator Inhofe, Senator Lankford, Rep. Hern, Rep. Mullin, Rep. Lucas, Rep. Cole, and Rep. Bice all voted against those jobs.

On Saturday when President Biden spoke about the passage of this deal he said, “I know we’re divided, I know how mean it can get, and I know there are extremes on both ends that make it more difficult than it’s been in a long time. But I’m convinced if we let the American people know that we’re committed to enhancing their ability to make their way, we’ll all do better.”

We are deeply divided but we can become more United. But not with the current crop of elected officials we’ve sent to DC. Oklahoma needs to elect Republicans like David Holt and Democrats like Joe Biden.

Unless or until we in Oklahoma have a massive awakening of the 50% of Oklahomans who are eligible to vote but don’t vote, nothing will change. All seven of the elected officials we sent to DC voted against the interests of our state, our counties, our cities and our towns because they thought it was more important to deny a “win” for President Biden. They have proven over and over they are more partisan hacks than they are representatives of our state and our people. Just be sure to remember this over the next few years as they show up for celebrations and ribbon-cuttings as infrastructure deals begin and are completed. The coming progress will happen in spite of their votes.

On being a pragmatic progressive joyful for Joy

I’ve written something like this so many times over the last two decades. But usually I don’t share it.

I know it will piss off a lot of my progressive friends. And I am a progressive, or liberal if you prefer, on most issues. When I’ve taken those quizzes every four years to see which Presidential candidate is my best fit, it’s been the Ralph Naders, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warrens that are my closest matches.

But I truly believe in the big tent. And I think that is the only way Democrats can ever win again in Oklahoma. At least until there are truly seismic changes in beliefs and attitudes and education of those who vote. We have to welcome liberal Democrats, and moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. And we have to work together to win.

Let me tell you a little story. Well it may be a bit longer than a little.

From February 1996 to July 1999 I worked for the Oklahoma Democratic Party. As an intern for a few months until I was promoted to political director. I came back later and helped out for a bit at the ODP in 2002 and again in 2006.

In 1996 Democrats had control of both the State House and the State Senate. We had the Attorney General, State Superintendent, State Treasurer and State Auditor. And we had the 3rd Congressional District.

That year, according to the professional predictors, we were supposed to lose control of the State House. We at the ODP were criticized by many in the party for focusing too much on the legislative seats and not enough on the Presidential race and congress. But we only lost one Democratic-held seat that year in the state house and two seats in the state senate. We retained control with 59 Democrats to 42 Republicans in the House and 29 Democrats to 19 Republicans in the Senate. We lost the 3rd Congressional District to former-Democrat-turned-Republican Wes Watkins.

1998 was a repeat of 1996. We were again supposed to lose control of the State House. Some of the seats shifted, but our numbers in the legislature were exactly the same. We kept the four statewide positions and picked up State Insurance Commissioner.

But at that time in the late 1990s and early 2000s many Oklahoma liberals and progressives were complaining loudly. And many decided they’d rather have Republicans elected than conservative Democrats. “At least then we would know what we’re getting,” I heard so many times from friends. They refused to vote for conservative and moderate Democrats.

I understood their frustration many times with some conservative to moderate Democrats on specific issues in the legislature. But I never agreed it would be better for Republicans to win instead of conservative Democrats.

When we had the majority in the state legislature, which was made up of liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats, we had the Speaker of the House and we had the President Pro Tem of the Senate. That is who sets the agenda. And the agenda back then was so much better than what it has been since Republicans took control of the legislature.

So I say again to my progressive friends, working to elect only Democratic candidates that you agree with on everything, only liberals or progressives, is not good for you, for me, for our schools, for our healthcare, for our state. It is not going to happen. Not in this decade. Not in Oklahoma. You may feel good about it, but you’re just going to keep having an Oklahoma controlled totally by the GOP.

I’ve already seen some activists in the Democratic Party saying it is because of racism that so many Democrats are jumping with joy about Joy Hofmeister switching from GOP to Democratic and running for Governor because there is an already announced Democrat running for Governor.

Former state Senator Connie Johnson announced several months ago she was running. Johnson is an African-American.

And I hate to admit that there could be and probably is some racism in it. I’ve seen racism first hand in some past Democratic campaigns. But by and large, most racist left the Democratic Party some time ago.

Johnson has run for statewide elections before. She was the Democratic nominee for US Senate in James Lankford’s first senate race in 2014. She received 29% of the vote. She ran for Governor in 2018. She received almost 39% in the Democratic primary against Drew Edmondson who won the primary with 61.4%. Of course we know when the general election arrived in November, Kevin Stitt won with 54.3% of the votes.

But when one looks at 2018 numbers Joy offers us some hope.

Stitt received 644,579 votes for Governor. Hofmeister received 687,468 for State Superintendent. She received 42,889 more votes than did Stitt. That’s a positive thing.

I do want to say here that for most of my life I have been more of a vote-for-the-person rather than a Yellow Dog Democrat. I just usually have believed that the Democrat is better than the Republican. There have been a few times where I left a race blank because I’ve known both candidates and I didn’t like either one. But I have voted for Republicans at every level previously at some point in my life (I’ll be 56 this coming Sunday). But since Trump (and Trumpism) took over the GOP I doubt I will ever vote for another Republican again.

I for one am joyful for Joy! It is a good thing she has left the GOP. More should follow her lead. I welcome her to the Democratic Party and look forward to kicking Stitt out of the Governor’s Mansion next year and ending his dreams of running for President of these United States.

Just a couple more points I would like to make. Some of the best Democrats today are former Republicans.

I feel honored and privileged to have been able to work on all of Jim Roth’s campaigns, both his 2002 and 2006 campaigns for Oklahoma County Commissioner and his statewide campaign in 2008 for Corporation Commissioner. He has been a favorite of progressive Oklahomans. Jim is a former Republican.

My good friend Calvin Rees is President of the Oklahoma Democratic Party Veterans Committee. He helped start that important organization. He’s served as a district and county officer in the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He is a far better Democrat than I. Calvin is a former Republican.

I made this point in a tweet but want to point it out here as well. Oklahoma had always been a Democratic-registered majority state. Until 2014. When Joy Hofmeister announced in 2014 that she was running for State Superintendent, thousands of educators switched parties so they could vote for her over the terrible, horrible incumbent Janet Baressi in the GOP primary.

After Joy’s entry into that race Oklahoma Republicans gained 30,463 registered voters. They surpassed registered Democrats for the first time in state history. On November 1, 2014 there were 963 more Republicans registered in the state than there were Democrats.

I’m hopeful many of those former Democrats-turned-Republicans will return home over the next few months and help to end the terrible reign of Kevin Stitt.

2020 Election is Over … Welcome 2022

Now that the 2020 Election is over (yes, it is over, the shenanigans may continue for a few more weeks, but it is done) we can finally move on to normal life!

Well, not really.

Covid-19 is more out of hand now than ever and here in Oklahoma our Governor just keeps doing what he’s done since the beginning, practically nothing. Oh he has done some things: ignored doctors and science, repeated phrases about freedom and personal responsibility, continued to go out in public and refuse to set a good example by wearing a mask.

But maybe that will soon change. Former State Senator Ervin Yen announced that he is running for Governor. Yen is Dr. Yen, an MD, as in medical doctor.

Disclosure here: Dr. Yen is a friend of mine. But, he is a Republican and I am not. Because in Oklahoma we have closed primaries* I can’t vote for him in the Republican Primary.

Covid-19 and Stitt’s lack of leadership is what made Dr. Yen jump into the race.

From his announcement: “As a physician, my entire career has been trying to make Oklahomans healthier. The Governor of Oklahoma’s top job should be to protect our state and our people. Oklahoma is sorely lacking with that type of leadership.  I cannot and will not stand back and just watch this happen.  Every day I see the new deaths and my anger just increases.  If this is allowed to continue, we could still be in this pandemic on election day 2022,” said Dr. Yen.

YES! Thank you Dr. Yen. If only more Oklahoma Republicans would get mad about the lack of leadership, the number of Oklahomans dying, the overworked healthcare professionals, the disappearing available hospital beds.

As of this writing, there were 11 more Covid-19 deaths in Oklahoma reported today (11/12/20) bringing the total so far to 1,481 dead Oklahomans. That is the equivalent of almost 9 (NINE) April 19, 1995 OKC Bombing deaths. (9 x 168 = 1,512) We will reach that number of dead Oklahomans within days. I wasn’t a fan of Governor Frank Keating but I am so glad he was governor back then rather than our current governor.

Governor Stitt had another press conference this week and again refused to issue a mask mandate.

More from Dr. Yen: “Oklahoma desperately needs a mask mandate covering all 77 counties. When I first read about this virus, I knew it would come to the U.S.  I knew it would hit cities like NYC hard.  I thought perhaps Oklahoma would be spared being a hot spot, since we have always socially distanced, compared to places like NYC.  I was wrong.  This virus is so contagious, it will go everywhere.  It just goes to rural areas later than urban areas.  Mandating masks in a county after an outbreak is way too late,” said Dr. Yen.

As I stated above, I can’t vote for Dr. Yen in a Republican Primary in 2022. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to help him. And right now in Oklahoma, it is almost a guarantee that whoever wins the Republican Primary is who will win the General Election for Governor. This year, of the 1,560,699 Oklahomans who voted, 710,000 used the “straight-party” option of voting. 71% voted Republican, 28% voted Democrat and 1% voted Libertarian.

I am proud Dr. Yen has stepped up and is speaking out. The health of our people and our state are the most important thing we face right now, even if Governor Kevin Stitt doesn’t think so.

P.S. I really like Dr. Yen’s logo with the mask!

Wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance from others in public. Be responsible adults.

(*It is left up to the political parties here to decide who can vote in their primaries. Republicans only allow Republicans to vote in their primary. Democrats and Libertarians allow Independents to vote in their primaries.)