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Advertise on the Tentacle

June 23, 2004

Muttering and musing

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

We watched Americans bid farewell to the 40th President of the United States in a very touching and emotional series of funeral services on both coasts.

My personal political view was definitely influenced by Ronald Wilson Reagan. By way of example, I differ from some of my fellow Republican elected officials in that I prefer to work to seek common ground with my political opposites. I don't see much purchase in drawing lines and distinctions if the job is about working for the greater good of the community.

President Reagan was able to move comfortably from battling over major ideological differences to working toward consensus on issues where the space that divided the parties wasn't so great.

Pundits suggest that President Reagan's single most important legacy was the eventual dissolution of the Soviet system and the end of the Cold War. No question this is a major accomplishment, and also no question that Ronald Reagan deserves credit for establishing the national defense priorities that undermined the Russian economy.

My view is that President Reagan did something equally important right here in our country during his tenure. As the Great Communicator (something on which even Democrats grudgingly agree), he realized that he could go to the American public to directly lobby on behalf of his agenda. He was facing a Democrat-controlled Congress, with Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill as his primary antagonist.

President Reagan criss-crossed our country, appearing in what seemed to be weekly public events in front of a flag-festooned backdrop, exhorting Americans to call their congressional representatives on the carpet for failing to act on his vision.

Mr. Reagan and his politics will live far beyond his life on earth. His influence on the federal judiciary will last for decades, as he appointed more federal judges than any other recent President. His use of the mass media to speak directly to the American voter has altered how our national political figures create and move their agenda forward. These legacies will eventually rival the other Reagan accomplishments.

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Stephen Oken was put to death by lethal injection for the brutal murders of three women last Thursday night.

Oken had exhausted the appeals process, using several different arguments to sway public opinion against his execution. My favorite argument used by his most recent legal team was that the state's use of lethal injection could be considered "cruel and unusual" punishment if the mix of drugs didn't cause him to fall asleep before his breathing was stopped.

I suppose it would be cruel and unusual punishment for Oken to writhe under his restraints, gasping for oxygen, unable to draw that precious gas into his lungs. The world would become darker, his vision would blur, and his blood vessels would burst under the intense pressure of his last dying twists and turns.

All I would ask you to consider is what horrors Dawn Marie Garvin faced in her last few hours on earth. Mrs. Garvin, a newlywed, was a prisoner held by Oken for hours, and was tortured, sexually assaulted, and brutally murdered.

To those who suggest a moral code that should guide the State's decision and process to take a life, I would propose some serious reflection on the agony and suffering of Mrs. Garvin. Once you think you've come to terms with that (and I cannot imagine how any sane person could), then you should reflect on the agony and suffering of her loved ones.

I met her brother Fred, who has been lobbying for the sentence duly meted out to Oken to be carried out. He sacrificed his finances, his energy, and his personal interests because he felt he owed it to his beloved sister to fight for justice in her name. Fred now knows that Dawn can rest peacefully, and that justice can still be served in Maryland.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Robert "Bob" Jacobs, a Life Member of the Citizens Truck Company on South Court Street, and a member of the Junior Fire Company on North Market Street, is now the President of the Maryland State Fireman's Association (MSFA). This is an incredible development for Frederick County.

The President of the MSFA leads one of the most powerful organizations in Maryland, with thousands of members who are active in their local communities. Bob is a steady, honest guy who tells you exactly what you need to know, not what he thinks you want to hear. I have never met anyone who had anything bad to say about him.

Bob will lead the MSFA for the next year through an important time in the organization's history. He'll deal with the continuing struggle between career and volunteer firefighters, worker's compensation issues, and how the slots debate will impact the fire service.

Bob will bring great credit to Frederick County, our fire service, and his home company. It will be an honor to work with Bob in Annapolis, as several issues important to the fire service come before my committee in the House of Delegates.

By the end of his tenure next June, Bob will show our state how great the fire service is in Frederick County.

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I studiously avoid criticizing local elected officials, as I know how hard they work to serve their constituents. I have tried to ignore attempts by some to join the fray, especially when my name and reputation get dragged through the mud.

Recent press reports and a forum on water resources once again test my desire to remain resolutely above the mud slingers. All I'll say about any of this stuff is that local elected officials who spend all of their media time blaming previous administrations for their problems are merely demonstrating their inability to deal with whatever problems they face.

Crow about your successes till the cows come home, that's your right! Accept the fact that you got what you wanted, which are the keys to the place and all that goes with them. Constantly blaming the "other guys" is an admission that you lack the wherewithal to build your own legacy.

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