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Frank Deford

Frank Deford is dead at 78. He was “Sports Writer of the Year” 6 times. This will be bad news for some folks who got sports information from Frank Deford.

It will be worse news, though, for folks who appreciate great writing. I have absolutely no interest in sports coverage or sports writing – unless the writing does what we like to think that sports does – bring out the best in us.

Frank Deford from Wikimedia Commons

No doubt there are folks who love sports and love great waiting too and they will have different favorites from me.

My favorite commentaries, since I am a sports skeptic, were the ones where he took on the persona of the “sports curmudgeon”. Those pieces weren’t angry or mean, just insightful.

On one occasion, Frank Deford suggested that hockey should stay in Canada. This seemed a bit too much anti-sports even to me at the time, but who is to say whether the subsequent descent of American politics into brawling wasn’t inspired by professional hockey?

I hope for you, Frank Deford, that your literary heir is smart enough to gather those beautiful essays into a book and find a publisher.

Goodbye and thank you Sir; You will not be forgotten while I live.


John Buffington

May 29, 2017

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The Trumping of the Republican Party

A guest opinion from John V. Buffington

Insurgent Ignorance

There is new proof of American Exceptionalism. A candidate who has adopted the persona of an egotistical, bombastic, protectionist,  belligerent, immoral, mendacious ignoramus has reached the point of threatening the very existence of the Republican Party. Now that Donald Trump has deluded a large plurality of naive voters who have had a say in the Republican nomination process to date, his agents have assured the Republican National Committee that everything that he has said so far is a joke.

Senator Cruz, on the other hand, represents a well-established segment of the GOP. Nihilists and racists emerged from their holes as soon as it became apparent that a black man might become president. They love the idea that their candidate will never compromise. Not with Democrats, not with Republican party leadership, not with anybody who isn’t dedicated to starving the federal government, shutting down every support for anybody who isn’t rich and beating up on immigrants.

Pennsylvania Republicans who would like to go on putting up possible candidates after the inevitable debacle in November will, of course, vote for governor Kasich in the primary on April 26th. That, however, is not enough.

If you want to vote for the actual nomination of Senator Cruz in the belief that bringing government to a halt is desirable, exactly one candidate on the second congressional district ballot for convention delegate is committed to your choice.

If you think that the vote in our district in the beauty contest will go your way, one candidate for delegate has pledged to vote for whoever gets the most beauty contest votes.

If you like Trump you may want to follow the recommendation from his campaign to vote for the other five candidates, who have refused to commit to a candidate on the first ballot.

If you enjoy assigning your franchise to political bosses you will vote for that same list of political cyphers.

If you favor Governor Kasich, either because someone who has actually done stuff in office other than break furniture might work out a bit better than a crazy person, or because you think that he is the least bad choice, you will want to write in “none of the above” on the portion of the ballot pertaining to convention delegates.

If you would like to wrest your franchise from party buses, writing in “none of the above” is your best option.

Our country has recovered from worse than Trump and senator Cruz can dish out and it will do so again this time. Without Trump in the race, one of the more conventional politicians would be the clear nominee by now and would have a good shot in November. The lingering question now is whether there will be enough of a Republican presence to contest mid-term elections in 2018 or some new coalition will begin to form by then or Democrats will just walk away with nearly all of the marbles. Please make your choices on April 26th carefully.

I consider myself a recovering Republican. We Republicans fairly consistently embraced a libertarian view on social issues until Ronald Reagan, our first divorced president, drew the Evangelical Right into the party during the 1980 campaign.

If Trump and Senator Cruz succeed in destroying the Republican party as we know it, a period of Democratic party dominance will ensue, of course.

If I live long enough to see the emergence of a socially libertarian, fiscally conservative party with a realistic restorative view of international Affairs, I will Jump right In.

Author’s Note
This article is the first in the series that will continue until after the Republican National Convention and or until Trump’s dark brown pile ceases to fester on our National white sofa.
John V. Buffington

All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.  Email







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How To Vote in Favor of the Future

The following is John Buffington’s personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of the Frankford Gazette.  However, we do encourage everyone to vote on May 19th.

I have asked the Gazette to republish Grid Magazine’s endorsement of Judge Nelson Diaz for Mayor because it provides a good basis for decision in a highly competitive race.

This mayoral primary is somewhat unusual by recent standards.  This time there are good reasons to vote for and against all of the leading candidates.  There has been more light than thunder in the campaigns.

The publisher of Grid brings in an issue that hasn’t come up much, if at all: which candidate is most likely to move our city toward a more sustainable future.  All of the campaigns have had a shot at the question and Judge Neslon Diaz (number 10 on the ballot) looks like the candidate who takes that question most seriously.

The endorsement from Grid Magazine is at this link.

John Buffington


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The Wolfes at the Gate

Political Commentary by John Buffington is another installment in a series.  His opinions are entirely his own.

My friend, Matt Wolfe, is running in a special election Tuesday. This is Matt Wolfe the insurgent Republican, not Tom Wolf the Democrat who looks likely to get the nomination to challenge the catastrophic current Governor Corbett.

I decided long ago that I prefer Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz to be the one to go after Corbett.  Any of the current four candidates would be a vast improvement over Corbett, but I have observed Allyson Schwartz for years and she looks like the best choice in that race to me.

Philadelphia city council however is a whole different matter from the governor’s race.  We need some competition in local politics to put a cork in corruption, nepotism and waste.

I can’t imagine trying to take on the thoroughly entrenched machinery of Philadelphia politics so I had some questions for Matt Wolfe:

JB: “What makes you interested in an utterly hopeless run for an at-large city council seat?

MW: “I wouldn’t have done this if I thought it was hopeless. People are starting to recognize just what bad financial shape this city is in. “

JB: “You seem to be taking out after Mayor Nutter as much as the fools on the current city council. Isn’t the mayor the kind of reformer that the city needs?”

MW: “He talks the talk but he doesn’t walk the walk.  The city’s biggest problem right now is the bankruptcy of public education.  There is no greater municipal responsibility than educating our children and no facet of government is currently failing more than public education.

The core responsibilities of city government are public safety, public education, keeping the city clean, and maintaining infrastructure.  The current crowd is neglecting those duties and spending money on secondary stuff.”

JB: “How did your opponent get on the ballot?”

MW: “He used to be the political director of John Dougherty’s local of the electricians union.”

He might turn out to be a little better than the turkeys currently in place. I hope so, since Matt’s candidacy is clearly hopeless at present. The only Republican on the ballot isn’t going to do all that well on a day when it’s mostly Democratic primaries, in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.

Still, if anybody is listening, please think about casting a vote Tuesday for Matt Wolfe and competition in local politics. We need to encourage whatever brave souls step up to challenge the stupidity on the current Council.

Also there is a ballot question Tuesday.  Current city council members want to be allowed to keep collecting their salaries while they run for higher office.  Please vote against that atrocity.

John Buffington
May 2014
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The Savaging of Tina Tartaglione

Political Commentary by John Buffington is the first in a series.  His opinions are entirely his own.

My friend Joe Menkevich and I were planted on adjacent bar stools when Danny Savage strolled up looking for the possible vote.

Joe is always ready with conversation for a politician. This time my ears started to vibrate when Danny said that his opponent, Sen. Tartaglione, voted twice against taxing Marcellus Shale gas production. I got Danny to repeat that one directly to me, and he promised to send me the details.

No follow-up from Danny has ever arrived. Danny’s campaign literature doesn’t include a phone number. The number at Danny’s website is disconnected; it forwards to another number that is also disconnected. Danny is unreachable by telephone.

So I researched Sen. Tartaglione’s record on shale gas taxation without further help from Danny.

What Sen. T voted against was Act 13, which includes a modest “extraction fee”. Republicans who have sworn to avoid new taxes need euphemisms, so the Act 13 tax became an “extraction fee”.

Tina Tartaglione wasn’t alone in voting against Act 13. Every Democrat in the state Senate voted No on final passage.

Act 13 is the Corbett administration’s vehicle for turning Pennsylvania into the Saudi Arabia of Shale gas production. It isn’t especially controversial hereabouts, yet, because there’s a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River basin and the pipelines haven’t been built through here yet. So you can’t smell or taste fracking in Philadelphia. Yet.

Danny Savage’s campaign flyers claim that he will “fight to pass a real tax will on natural gas drilling…”. Maybe so, but it’s not good to start the effort by lying about your opponent’s record.

On March 31, Sen. T. and four other senators started circulating a request for additional sponsors for SB 1333, which would impose a 5% tax on shale gas extraction.

I have been observing politics with horrible fascination for more than 50 years. I have seen plenty of politicians blowing smoke like Danny. It is a pleasure; believe me, when I occasionally stumble on a politician who is doing the right thing for purely virtuous reasons, and doing it quietly.

It isn’t politically correct around here, yet, to do the right thing about shale gas extraction because you can’t smell or taste the poison here, yet. Tina Tartaglione looks to me like a politician who is doing the right thing quietly.

I asked the Brendan Boyle campaign about his position on taxing fracking proceeds and learned that he voted against Act 13.

I asked the Daylin Leach campaign and they referred me to a staff member in Senator Leach’s office. It turns out that Sen. Leach is devoting a lot of resources to this also, despite the lack of promotional potential.

Imagine that. I stumbled on not one but two politicians in the same campaign season who actively care about the public interest.

Senator Leach voted against Act 13 and has signed on as a sponsor of SB 1333. His staff member gave me enough material to write a book on fracking.

I also heard from a third school of thought. The Delaware Riverkeeper takes the position that fracking to produce natural gas is inherently disastrous for both air and water, and taxing it is just a distraction. Their website is a good place to start finding out about the issue.

I plan to do an occasional piece on local politics for the Gazette. If you spot a politician blowing smoke, please let me know.

John Buffington
May 2014