- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World, Jan. 21, 2014

Henry Zarrow was big in business, bigger in life

Henry Zarrow was a gentle, generous man - and a giant in his community.

Zarrow made a fortune in the oil-field supply business and spent his life using that money to help others. He died Saturday at the age of 97.

Zarrow was a brilliant businessman. He turned his family’s second-hand pipe business into one of the largest international oil and gas supply companies in the world, Sooner Pipe and Supply Co.

At one point Forbes said that he was one of the 400 richest people in America, but Zarrow dismissed the report as a math error, adding that if he had that much money he’d be working harder to give more money away.

He did give a remarkable amount away.

His major causes included the homeless, the arts, public education, Jewish education, poverty, libraries and medicine.

The landscape of Tulsa is filled with testaments to his giving spirit. He was on the ground floor of practically every worthy project in our community for decades. In a city known for its philanthropists, his record might never be matched.

For all of his big acts of charity, one of the most endearing stories about Zarrow concerned his many small acts of generosity.

Every morning, Anne, his wife of 63 years, would bring him clippings from the morning newspaper concerning people in need of help and these instructions: “Henry, this can’t go on. This is your job today.”

Anne Zarrow preceded him in death in 2000.

Henry Zarrow was a big businessman, but he was even bigger in life. He was a noble man and a model for us all.


The Oklahoman, Jan. 20, 2014

U.S. Senate is losing an honorable, committed member in Tom Coburn

After losing to Tom Coburn in the race for U.S. Senate in November 2004, then-U.S. Rep. Brad Carson predicted facetiously that Coburn would in short order become one of the Senate’s best-known members.

That prediction came true - in a good way. Coburn, who announced Friday that he will resign after this session of Congress, has served with distinction.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, is as conservative as any member of the Senate. At times he has offered blistering criticism of those on the other side of the aisle. But Coburn has also been willing to work with the opposition party - which happens all too infrequently in Washington.

For Coburn, policy usually trumps politics. He and Barack Obama were elected to the Senate in the same year. They’re at opposite sides of the philosophical spectrum, but managed to co-author a few bills and become friends. In an interview while running for president in 2007, Obama named Coburn as one of the few Republicans he might seek help from if he won.

Like many Oklahomans, Coburn has subsequently found plenty not to like about Obama’s policies. But he never made it personal. The same can’t be said for his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reid’s tactics have been so frustrating that Coburn has twice apologized on the Senate floor for making derogatory remarks about him.

Coburn made his mark as a fiscal hawk, critical of spending decisions by both parties. His annual “Wastebook” spells out hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable spending. When some of those projects have been in Oklahoma, he hasn’t flinched. His most recent release said the Pentagon could save $100 billion per year “without any difficulty, without affecting our readiness, our training or supply.” Oklahoma is home to five military installations.

His (ultimately successful) fight against congressional earmarks put him at odds with Oklahoma’s senior senator, Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and other members of his party. The late Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was stunned in 2005 when Coburn, then a freshman, offered an amendment to kill $75 million for two Alaska bridge projects, including the famed “Bridge to Nowhere.” Stevens “became enraged, shouting on the Senate floor that one state shouldn’t be singled out to lose money that Congress had approved,” The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel reported at the time. Stevens said he would resign if the funding were spiked.

On fiscal affairs Coburn has never worried about offending anyone, only about doing what he feels is best for the country. He talked repeatedly about the need to get the national debt under control through such things as entitlement reform. He served on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission impaneled by Obama, which recommended $4 trillion in savings over a decade. Obama ignored the findings. Coburn came back with his own “Back in Black” plan to save $9 trillion over 10 years.

We appreciate Coburn’s work in these areas and also his willingness to find the good in others. He has at times taken up for Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, frequent targets in deep red Oklahoma.

“Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re not a good person,” Coburn said at a town hall meeting in Oklahoma City in 2010. “What we have to have is to make sure we have a debate in this country so you can see what’s going on and make the determination yourself. … The people in Washington are good, they just don’t know what they don’t know.”

We know this: Oklahoma would be fortunate to find a successor as committed and as honorable as Coburn has been.


Tahlequah Daily Press, Jan. 20, 2014

‘Stand your ground’ does not apply to popcorn toss

Whatever else Curtis Reeves might be, he is a coward. How else would you describe an adult who feels threatened by a bag of popcorn?

Reeves is the 71-year-old former Tampa, Fla., cop who got worked up when he saw Chad Oulson texting to the baby sitter of his toddler during previews before the movie. Reeves left the theater to tattle on Oulson, but when the manager was busy, he returned to the auditorium, engaged Oulson, and ultimately blew him away with a .380 semi-automatic.

Predictably, the shyster representing Reeves tried to apply an affirmative defense, and paint his client as the victim. But the definition of “imminent threat” is required by Florida’s controversial “Justifiable Use of Force” statute, and a bag of popcorn doesn’t fit the bill.

The so-called “stand your ground” law was used successfully to get George Zimmerman off the hook for killing teenager Trayvon Martin nearly two years ago. Zimmerman shot Martin and later claimed the 17-year-old Martin was the aggressor. Martin turned out to be unarmed, and he was black, so the issue quickly became racially charged. An eyewitness report that Martin was atop Zimmerman and punching him convinced the jury Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.

The main author of the law didn’t think “Stand Your Ground applied to the Zimmerman case, and also indicated he believed the measure - designed to allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves - was being misused.

Many Americans may have conceded to a “gray area” in the 2012 case, but the latest Florida shooting is etched in black and white. And if Reeves is allowed to paint himself as a victim, it will only raise hue and cry for more restrictive gun laws, force theaters and other public venues to spend money for additional security, and further tarnish the image of gun owners who would never dream of abusing their Second Amendment right in this manner.

The section of the Florida law the lawyer was trying to use is this one: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

It’s true that texting in a theater is considered rude, and so was throwing the popcorn. But does texting, or a mild altercation in a public place, justify the slaying of another human being? Do we, as a country, really want to go there?

Florida prosecutors should throw the book at Reeves, with considerably more force than Oulson threw the popcorn. Otherwise, exercising our First Amendment right to speak our minds will ultimately put us in fear for our lives.

One has to wonder what would have happened if another theater patron had brandished a weapon after the shooting, and drawn down on Reeves. Under Florida law, that would seem to be justified.

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