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Frank Borman American Patriot

Frank Borman commanded Apollo 8, the first spacecraft to leave earth orbit for a moon orbit on December 21, 1968. Commander Borman had a pretty good idea of his risks on this flight. The Apollo 1 command module had been destroyed when a flash fire swept through it during a launch rehearsal test only eleven months earlier. The three men inside perished.

To hear him tell it, Frank Borman was as unimaginative as it gets. He had trained as a pilot and was active duty military, but he had little interest in “Going where no man had gone before”. He was an American Patriot. He wanted his country to win the space race in the contest with the obviously dangerous, expansionist, militaristic, Soviet Union.

And it turns out, he, the other 2 members of the Apollo 8 crew, and the rest of the astronauts, before and after, did exactly what Commander Borman wanted. We won the space race, and eventually we won the Cold War. President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, bet a substantial portion of the American economy on winning that race to the moon. You can see a portion of the speech here at this link

Patriotic scientists, technicians, and astronauts saluted and made it work. And they won the Space Race for us. Then, in no small part due to that victory, in 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and in 1991 the Soviet Union Collapsed.

Frank Borman’s orders for the Apollo 8 flight included taking a number of photographs, not including any of Earth from Moon orbit. But:

Even if he was as unimaginative as he claims, Frank Borman knew a great picture when he saw it, so he took the shot. It is here:

The picture, often called “Blue Earth”, taken by Borman in 1968, became a powerful symbol for idealists like me, inspired by JFK and the progress of the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam movements. Two years after it was taken, that photograph was central to the organizing of the first Earth Day, in April of 1970.

Happily, Frank Borman, America’s modest hero, yet lives – in retirement in Montana at 90.

It is impossible to measure exactly, but it is perfectly clear that Frank Borman and his NASA colleagues made life better for me, everybody I love, everybody else that I have loved since 1968, and everyone living in freedom right now.

I am not going to put this into a file to be an obituary when the time comes because I want to say this to the live hero while there is time:

Thank you Commander Borman.

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A Moment for Change

My friend, Neal Gale, is a Green Party candidate this year for the U. S. Senate. Neal is well known hereabouts as a long time Frankford resident, and there is already some local interest in supporting him.

Neal Gale

If the patience of the management of the Frankford Gazette holds out, I will write at some length for its readers about why this is a really good moment for a third choice. For now, though, my plea is;

If you want to help Neal’s campaign, let me know at

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Another Opinion from John Buffington

All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.  Guest opinions are not those of the Frankford Gazette.  Email

The skunk in our garage

Primaries and general elections often turn nasty at the last minute, because desperate, unethical candidates tend to save their nastiest, least legitimate slurs for the end. This just happened in the Democratic primary for State Representative from the 177th District.

Four “Democrats” qualified for the May 15th ballot. One has been invisible outside his neighborhood. Two have spoken to the two issues that currently most distinguish Progressive Democrats from the Republicans that dominate our state legislature: gerrymandering and the Republican assault on women’s choice on abortion.

Then there’s this fourth guy. He is running his whole campaign as a Political Action Committee (PAC). Why would that be? There is only one conceivable reason:  he doesn’t want Democratic voters to know who is paying for the campaign. The Republican majority of the US Supreme Court handed this desperado a huge gift by ruling that rich corporate interests can make unlimited contributions to PACs and never have to disclose the donation. So, what we have here is in a Democratic primary, of all things, is two viable Democrats running against a PAC.

The PAC’s latest ploy is to denounce the two, real Democrats for actually having some experience – because the name that the PAC is promoting means nothing; he is a guy with nothing much to say for himself.

The mailer that the PAC put out most recently accuses one of the actual living, breathing Democrats in the primary of being a lobbyist. She is accused of three specific things:  she is “employed by a lobbying firm that defended polluters”, she registered a lobbying firm using her home address, and she is “funded by banks and lobbyists.”

The anonymous sources campaigning as a PAC also attack Joe Hohenstein because he’s a lawyer. He defended clients who were accused of crimes.

This mudslinging sounds just like Trump, or Joe McCarthy, the Republican zealot who persecuted people for their associations in the 1950s. It has no place in a Democratic primary.

It is important for Democrats in the 177th to reject this Trumpist abuse of the political process. Please come out on May 15th and vote for Joe Hohenstein, who is truly the candidate who knows how to do what is needed in Harrisburg. Or if you have something against Joe, vote for the lobbyist. Don’t let anonymous interests put an empty set of coveralls in our legislative seat.

Are we suckers in the 177th District?  I think not.  Every Democrat that I know hereabouts is furious about Trumpery: lies, slander, misogyny, national anti-intellectualism, anti-science ignorance, global warming denial, sympathy with foreign tyrants. Not one of these perils is just a national issue.  Nominate this PAC’s stand in and we are likely to have a weak reed to resist all of that – because we don’t know who is paying the bills.


John V. Buffington

Angry Democratic Voter



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Op-ed from John Buffington

Let’s Reverse Trumpery

Representative John Taylor has decided to retire, so this year’s election for the 177th Pennsylvania House District Seat is the one and only time that Democrats have a good opportunity to rise up in their righteous anger and deliver a stinging blow to Trumpery, gerrymandering, global warming, fracking, gun violence, misogyny, and compulsory pregnancy.

We all need to get to the polls on May 15th to vote in the Democratic primary, and again on November 6th for the general election.


The good news is, that with John Taylor leaving, four Democrats have stepped up to contend for a legislative seat from a district that was carved out of our overwhelmingly Democratic City for the purpose of guaranteeing that Philadelphia would have one Republican State Representative.

Take a look at our ridiculous legislative district below:

Map courtesy of the Committee of Seventy

This obscene structure isn’t just a Republican product; it’s the result of a corrupt bargain involving incumbents of both parties. Democrats in the State Legislature colluded with the Republican majority and the then incumbent Republican Governor to commit this fraud on voters in Northeast Philadelphia. And Democratic Ward leaders in Philadelphia have colluded with those despicable legislators to maintain them in office. And labor union leaders have gone right along with the scam.

So, what to do on May 15th? I recommend voting against gerrymandering, as a top priority. And the obvious choice is Joe Hohenstein. Joe is firmly committed to the creation of a non-partisan commission for redistributing Congressional and State Legislative seats. He doesn’t have a famous last name to run on and the establishment won’t be able to buy him off. Instead, he is backed by a consortium of independent, progressive minded labor unions who have a history of working to elect independent minded politicians who advocate for policies beneficial to ALL working people.

Then there’s all of those other issues. All four candidates say that they mean to do the right thing. All four talk about their deep roots in the community and their local activities. How do we choose the most effective spokesman?

My thought is, when you have multiple options who all talk the right talk, you should check their educational credentials and philosophies. Joe Hohenstein’s college and law degrees and 25 years of law practice seem like the most promising credentials for what we need:  a skeptical independent thinker who will confront right-wing extremism effectively.

Ultimately, the issue isn’t who talks the right talk but who has walked the right walk. Joe Hohenstein is the candidate who has an actual record of confronting right-wing extremism. His law practice has been specialized in immigration issues, and he mixed it up in court with the jingoes, and won. I don’t see anything like that with the others.

Joe Hohenstein’s roots and engagement in the community are at least as deep as the others. His grandparents’ wedding at St. Joachim’s occurred 60 years prior to his own. His grandfather had a saddle shop on Frankford Avenue. Joe learned to swim and worked as a lifeguard at Simpson playground. He played soccer at Frankford High School and was on the second team, all public, his senior year. And today Joe is Clerk of Frankford Friends Meeting. In that role he has actual experience in managing a school, as opposed to talking about educational issues.

Democrats in the 177th District aren’t likely to go wrong on May 15th with the available candidates. But, we really need to do the best we can to put up a candidate who will put up the best possible fight against Trumpery. That choice, I submit, is Joe Hohenstein.


John V. Buffington
April 13, 2018 (The 275th birthday of Thomas Jefferson)

John Buffington is a retired lawyer living in Frankford.  He sometimes has opinions.

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A guest Opinion from John V. Buffington

Please Stop Abusing Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a place, not a murderer. It isn’t a headquarters for bigots. It isn’t the breeding ground for psychopaths. It didn’t volunteer to serve as a location for stormtrooper training.

University of Virginia at Charlottesville, from Wikimededia Commons

It didn’t occur to me to be offended when Columbine became a synonym for murder. I have never been to Columbine. Charlottesville is an entirely different matter for me: I love Charlottesville.

Citizens of Columbine, please accept my apology. I failed to come to your defense. You are not a crime, you are secondary victims and it took me a awhile to get it. It took me until the legitimate American press started using the name of a place that I love as shorthand for murder.

Charlottesville has had murders before, of course – like every other place of any consequence. But it has never cultivated murder, the way, say Las Vegas has cultivated vice. Or the way that West Virginia has sponsored pollution.

It is common in college towns for there to be a sort of constant murmur of town-gown conflict; I don’t remember noticing that in Charlottesville during my 7 years at the University there.  I remember a youth minister at the Presbyterian Church near the Grounds who grilled hotdogs and explained to students of the ’60’s generation that Jesus was a revolutionary.  I remember that when the Mayor and Governor saw Anti-Vietnam demonstrations coming they kept their police back and trusted the brilliant University President Edgar Shannon to keep things cool.  I remember the dedicated lady who ran the office of the Mental Health Association where I volunteered as a student, and a lot of self-less adult volunteers who supported that operation.  I did some substitute teaching in the local high school, and I remember a lot of seniors of Mr. Golladay’s Government classes who actually seemed to enjoy talking about real issues with a stranger.  I remember that the people of Charlottesville then were Virginia taxpayers like my parents, and they subsidized my fabulous education.

Charlottesville’s history goes way back before this murder. It is the place where Thomas Jefferson chose to build his home and then his university. It is the town where the Virginia General Assembly was meeting during the American Revolution, when Banistre Tarleton’s Cavalry tried to catch them but Jack Jovett rode into town with the alarm, so the legislature and Governor Jefferson too scampered across Afton Mountain to reconvene in Staunton.

Because Mr. Jefferson chose Charlottesville for his university, it was a potential location for conflict in September 1965, when the University was beginning to desegregate and I arrived to start college. Bad things happened in a lot of towns where colleges and universities were desegregating, but I don’t remember anything bad happening in Charlottesville.

What happened with me was, I got a better education and part of that was the discovery that I had black classmates who had to meet the same rigorous standards that I did, plus live with the pressure of being the test cases. They had to be extra tough, and they made it.

So, 7 years after I arrived in Charlottesville, I left, a better educated, more tolerant person than the one that arrived.

I appreciate the voters of Charlottesville in the early 1970s for electing Tom Michie to the Lower House of their General Assembly – which Virginians call by the beautifully evocative “The House of Delegates” – because Del. Michie turned out to be my invaluable ally when I launched my effort as a novice lobbyist for Virginia’s environmental movement and the state Association of Social Workers.  (He was also one of the sponsors of my Va. State Bar Admission.)

Charlottesville is not a murderer or a gathering for bigots. Charlottesville is a great town that hosts a great University. It is a beautiful, welcoming, Virginia Place. If you don’t know why “Virginia” is a positive adjective, please go there and find out. You won’t be sorry.

At the advanced age of 70 I have just discovered a new verity: sometimes you don’t realize what you love until you see it being abused.  I have been well aware for 52 years of how deeply I love the University of Virginia but it never occurred to me before to consider it’s context: Charlottesville.  Thank you, U.VA.

And thank you Charlottesville.

John Buffiington is a double graduate of UVA: B.A. in Government, 1969, J.D., 1972.  He can be contacted at



All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.  Guest opinions are not those of the Frankford Gazette.  Email