Tragic accident makes drivers think twice when there's an animal in the roadway.


    Last week’s tragic death of two people in Sussex County because the driver tried to avoid hitting a deer no doubt made an impression on motorists throughout the state.
    Nearly every driver has had a close encounter with a deer on the road. I had one just a week ago. And you often see skid marks on roadways, which probably indicate that a driver suddenly braked and swerved because of a deer or other animal.
    While of course I don’t want to hit any animal, I have tried to condition myself to think first of the danger to me and anyone else in the car when an animal darts in front of the car. That means making an attempt to miss the animal but stopping short of such an extreme attempt that the car and its passengers are endangered.
    You never know just what will happen when the need comes up for a split-second decision but I am hoping that a little advance thinking can make a difference.
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    The other day, while reading a section of a book on recent Maine history, I came across the fact that in 1954 Ed Muskie, a Democrat who was running for governor that year, spent only $20,000 on his campaign. That $20,000, however, also included the campaign expenses in 1954 for the three Democrats who were running for the three seats Maine then had in the U.S. House of Representatives (the number of House seats later fell to two based on population.)
    Muskie won the gubernatorial seat and went on to become a U.S. senator as well as the U.S. Secretary of State. His victory in 1954 helped break the Republican party’s hold on Maine politics.
    What caught my eye about the $20,000 figure, of course, was its relation to what we are experiencing today in terms of money spent on political campaigns. Political campaign price tags are way beyond what they used to be.
    For example, in 1946 John Williams of Millsboro, a chicken farmer and businessman, announced that he was running for the U.S. Senate. It was his first try at public office. He enjoyed an excellent reputation and traveled around the state explaining his views. And he won the seat, thereby beginning a period of exceptionally fine service to Delaware and the nation.
    Williams spent very little on what might be called campaign expenses. No TV, of course, and virtually no advertising in any medium. Word of mouth carried the day.
    What’s more, as a candidate for re-election he continued his low-cost ways in winning three more six-year terms, including being successful in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson swamped Republican Barry Goldwater in the presidential election.
    In 1966 I was involved in the re-election campaign of Sen. J. Caleb Boggs and he won handily against a strong opponent while spending a total of $36,000.    
    In Delaware and around the nation political campaigning became more money-oriented after that, culminating in the current situation in which Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised $22 million last month – and $287 million in the past 17 months – before announcing he was foregoing the available public campaign funds.
    Republican presidential candidate John McCain, on the other hand, said he would participate in the public financing system, which will limit him to spending no more than $85 million from September until election day in November.
    In Delaware, as has been reported, the two Democrats vying for that party’s nomination for governor, with the nominee to be decided in a September primary, have campaign war chests well over $1 million.
    Candidates for the Delaware General Assembly will spend less than state-wide office-seekers but the price to run for any public office is definitely on the rise.
    What it all comes down to is that running for office has become too much of a money-raising contest.  It’s not a good situation.
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    A new biography is out on William Cullen Bryant, the famous poet and newspaperman of the 19th century.
     A review of the book in the Wall Street Journal mentions that when Bryant died in 1878, the mayor of New York ordered the city’s flags lowered to half mast.
    “But,” reviewer Wes Davis says, “the official gesture of mourning was hardly necessary. Bryant’s death sparked a spontaneous outpouring of affection.”
    I mention this book and its review because there is a newspaperman in Delaware who is a descendant of this famous newspaperman. He is Bryant Richardson, now the founder and publisher of the Seaford Star and Laurel Star in Sussex County.
    And this namesake of the man who died in 1878 is continuing the family tradition of fine journalism.
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    Another person in the national news who has a Delaware connection is world-renowned Dr. Ben Carson, of Baltimore, who last Thursday received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
    Dr. Carson has spoken in Dover at the Governors’ Prayer Breakfast and his program to help deserving students continues to function in this state and elsewhere. Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will play Dr. Carson in an upcoming movie.
*****
    Man: “I hate modern art. What a mess that one is.”
    Woman: “No, that’s a Picasso.”
    Man: “What about this one with all the crazy squiggles?”
    Woman: “That’s a Kandinsky.”
    Man: “Okay, but how about this one where the guy’s got a pencil neck, his nose is upside down, and his eyes are on the same side of his head?”
    Woman: “That’s a mirror!”