Looking for ‘Character’ in GOP Presidential Candidates


The title of this blog is “Looking for ‘Character’ in GOP Presidential Candidates.” I would add a colon to that– “: Or Lack Thereof.” I don’t want a person who lies to the public about either their record or policy. None of these GOP candidates meet my expectations.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

“One of the benefits of a presidential campaign is the character and capability, judgment and temperament of every single one of us is revealed over time and under pressure.” That was Carly Fiorina’s introduction to the second GOP presidential debate on September 16, illustrating the flaws in all the GOP candidates. Even the conservative Washington Post wrote that Fiorina “couldn’t just admit she made a mistake but instead doubled down and worsened the falsehood [about Planned Parenthood.” She insists on describing a scene in the highly doctored, false videotapes of Planned Parenthood that doesn’t exist and continues to digging her hole deeper while demanding a government shutdown. The last debacle, two years ago, cost $26 billion, but she was “not aware of any hardship to anyone, other than the veterans trying to get to the World War II memorial.”

In an increasingly strident voice, Fiorina delivers graphic details about abortions from these fabricated videos

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picture of Stained glass windows on north side of Saint Paul's AME Church in Bellefonte, PA

The Underground Railroad, the Mills Brothers, and an AME Church in Crisis

picture of Stained glass windows on north side of Saint Paul's AME Church in Bellefonte, PA

Stained glass windows on north side of Saint Paul’s AME Church in Bellefonte, PA

I live in a town in central Pennsylvania with a history of abolitionism and civil rights for people of color and for women. This history goes back to the early 1800’s when the Quakers first settled in what had just become known as Lamb’s Crossing and eventually Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. According to Bellefonte Secrets,

Bellefonte Pennsylvania was the first town in America where human slavery was forbidden. Even though the law of our land was still that people who were slaves, and were identified as such, were to be returned to their owners. This town did not break any laws even though the slaves, or former slaves, in Bellefonte had no fear of being sent back.

As a result of this early anti-slavery movement in Centre County, Bellefonte became a home for former slaves and freemen. And a community grew up and around a Black church community that became known as the Saint Paul AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church. It is a church associated with the Underground Railroad during the Civil War and with the Mills Brothers and their family during the early part of the 20th Century.

According to RootsWeb, Saint Paul’s AME Church was established in 1859 through the merger of two other religious houses. The first house was originally founded in 1836 by Samuel Johnson of Chambersburg, Pa. It was known as Zion’s Wesleyan A.M.E. church. The second one was created in 1844 by the Rev. Willis Nazery and was known as the A.M.E. congregation. In 1859 these two merged; they built a church on land donated by a Quaker named William Thomas.

This church has had several leaders, including William Hutchison Mills, the grandfather of the Mills’ Brothers Barbershop Quartet, the folk, jazz, and gospel singing group famous throughout the mid- and late 20th Century. Here’s a bit of history about the anti-slavery movements, Bellefonte, and the Mills Brothers…

With its Quaker roots, Bellefonte has long been a place where people of different races and backgrounds could live and work side by side.  From about 1818 until the Civil War, Bellefonte was a stop on the Underground Railroad and several homes [as well as St. Paul’s AME Church] in the town have now been identified as being former safe houses for runaway slaves.  In the late 1820’s, the ancestors of the Mills family escaped slavery in the South on the Underground Railroad.  Upon arriving in Bellefonte, they decided to stay rather than continue on to Canada.  Of their four sons, Lewis and Edward Mills, joined the Union Army’s Colored Troops and fought in the Civil War.  Lewis’ son, William Hutchinson Mills (b. 1847, d. 1931) was to become the singing Mills Brothers’ grandfather.

William Hutchinson Mills became a barber in Bellefonte in 1871.  In 19th Century northern cities, the barber trade was historically delegated to African-Americans.  In fact, we’ve read that Bellefonte did not have a white barber until sometime after 1880.  Thus William H. Mills began a barbershop at 215 W. High Street in downtown Bellefonte that continuously did business until 1931.  Due to the location of his barbershop, we can assume that William H. Mills had both white and black customers.  An April 19, 1874 reference in the Centre Democrat newspaper states, “Mr. William Mills, one of Bellefonte’s best barbers, is refitting his shop in the most tasteful manner.”

….In 1872, the great black abolitionist and orator, Frederick Douglass, visited Bellefonte to speak at a fundraiser.  While there, he had his hair cut by Williams H. Mills.  Douglass was, perhaps, the inspiration for William H. Mills and the other officers of St. Paul’s AME Church to persuade the Bellefonte school board to integrate their schools, in 1885. 

This history of concern for civil rights and music continues to the present. The current pastor of Saint Paul’s is Dr. Donna King; she is an Instructor in Black History and Women’s Studies at Penn State University and is a visiting researcher at the Dickinson School of Law who describes herself as an activist.

Saint Paul’s church is now, however, in serious disrepair and needs some help and tender-loving care. Our community – both members of the church and community members at large – are now pulling together to save both the congregation and this historic building. The heating system needs to be replaced. Oil needs to be purchased for the winter. Leaks in the roofing need to be repaired. The stained glass has some broken spots that need to be fixed. And that’s what I could either see or heard about; I assume there is much more.

Interior South Side of St Paul AME 20150919_165530

Band Burrage holds a benefit concert that includes music by the Blues Brothers at Saint Paul’s AME Church in Bellefonte, PA. This shows the south side of the church’s interior.

Interior East Side of St Paul AME 20150919_165546

Members of the Bellefonte, PA community gathering inside Saint Paul’s AME Church for a benefit concert to help restore the church. This shows the east side of the church.

Showing financial community support will help obtain necessary historic grant funding to fully restore this historic gem. So on Saturday, September 26, a fundraising afternoon was held. A silent auction was held along with the serving of a soul-food luncheon. But the big event was a free concert by Band Burrage paying tribute to The Mills Brothers; his group was joined by a gospel group from Penn State University. This concert helped bring in many community members to see the church to see and hear about its history associated with the Civil War civil rights and equality.

I attended the concert and taped it so that you could get both a feel for the church interior as well as the music in our community.

Here are the three videos that I made.  If you are so inclined, please help our community save this historic civil rights and musical heritage landmark. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/stpaulbellefonte.

Band Burrage: Part 1

Band Burrage: Part 2

Help Preserve This Historic Church

Once again, donations to help preserve this piece of history can be made at gofundme.com/stpaulbellefonte. Thank you!

Women’s Equality Day: 95 Years Ago Women Were Granted The Right To Vote, Today Women Of Color Are An Extremely Important Voting Bloc


ERA words button

The ERA: Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution First introduced by Alice Paul in 1923 after women were given the right to vote in the US Constitution in 1920. It needs three more state to ratify it before will be included fully recognized in our Constitution.

Women were granted the right to vote 95 years ago. We are still waiting for passage of the Equal Right  Amendment that was first introduced in 1923. Meanwhile here’s some info on the positive impact of what the 19th Amendment did for women, particularly women of color.

Originally posted on Central Oregon Coast NOW:

Aug 26, 2015 | By CAP Action War Room

Today marks 95 years since the certification of the 19th amendment, which granted women access to vote. In recognition of the historic achievement, President Obama declared today Women’s Equality Day. Women’s Equality Day recognizes all the ways that persisting gender inequality affects women today, from the gender wage gap to equal access to the ballot box.

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress looked at the influential role women—especially women of color—play in our elections. The 19th Amendment paved the way for women to vote, but until the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, many women of color were still prohibited from voting. But in the relatively short amount of time since then, even amidst attacks on voting rights at the national and state level, women of color have become an incredibly influential voting bloc.

Here are…

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the word '"racism" embedded in circle with a slash through it.

Racial Lenses

the word '

End Racism Now

White privilege.  It’s a system that is embedded in our culture “to overempower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s race [white/Caucasian] or sex [male]”.

In looking and thinking about white privilege, I periodically read other civil rights bloggers to see what that have to say on the issue of white privilege, racial inequities, and how people of all races and ethnicities view the world.  One of these bloggers had a link to a new person [to me]; Glenn Robinson is this “new” blogger. He writes about mixed cultures, mixed heritages, and mixed identities in what I believe is an effort to speak the truth about other views of our world in an effort to help break down some of the barriers that white privilege creates.

Glenn maintains several different civil-rights based blogs. Topics range from Amerindian issues [500 Nations], to immigration and multiculturalism [Community Village], to views about mixed cultural heritage [Mixed American Life], to systemic oppression, violence, and disenfranchisement [Oppression Monitor].

The blog that initially caught my eye is called Mixed American Life.  And the article that I first honed in on is called Racial Lenses.  Here are a couple of excerpts from this blog.  If you are interested in more of his work, please check it out. I’m impressed. I hope you are too.

What is a racial lens?

A racial lens is what influences how you view the world by way of your own experience, your own racial and ethnic experience. -Glenn Robinson

Xenophobic Racial Lenses

Some ways cultures describe their own color

  • Africans – Black
  • Asians – Gold
  • Chicanos – Bronze
  • Native Americans – Earth tone, Golden
  • Europeans – White, Pink, Red

Mixed Heritage Racial Lens

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage

Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity…. [and more, this is just a start of the list of rights Glenn presents in his blog]

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Artist Shirin Barghi Captures #LASTWORDS Spoken by Black Victims of Police


Black Lives DO Matter. These last words from the mouths of babes are truly powerful.

Originally posted on The Militant Negro™:

Mr MilitantNegro™ Jueseppi B Mr MilitantNegro™
Jueseppi B

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Eric Garner was arrested in Staten Island on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes and placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, despite a coroner reportedly ruling Garner's death a homicide. Eric Garner was arrested in Staten Island on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes and placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, despite a coroner reportedly ruling Garner’s death a homicide.

Freddie Gray, 25, died after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Freddie Gray, 25, died after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody in Baltimore.

"They said they thought McDade was armed because ... he clutched his waste band as they chased him onto a dimly lit neighborhood street." “They said they thought McDade was armed because … he clutched his waste band as they chased him onto a dimly lit neighborhood street.”

Mehserle testified that he meant to zap Grant with his Taser in an Oakland station - but instead pulled his .40 caliber handgun and blasted the man. Mehserle testified that he meant to zap Grant with his Taser in an Oakland station – but instead pulled his .40 caliber handgun and blasted the man.

"She pushed out a back door and ran into the darkness beneath overarching oaks. He lay on the floor near his kitchen, two bullet holes in his chest, blood pooling thick, dying." “She pushed out a back door and ran into the darkness beneath overarching oaks. He lay on the floor near his kitchen, two bullet holes in his chest, blood pooling thick, dying.”

"Diallo was shot outside his Bronx apartment. The police officers had mistaken him for a serial rapist, who was later apprehended." “Diallo was…

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On a stage with no vaginas, there were a lot of opinions about vaginas


Keep Abortion Legal NOW Round

Keep Abortion Legal NOW Round (http://www.now.org/issues/abortion/)

On Thursday evening, August 6, FOX News aired two sets of GOP presidential debates. From both the questioners and the candidates, there were a lot of opinions about vaginas on both stages by people mostly without vaginas. Also a lot of bullying – of women and of immigrants. Is that the only opinions they have? Sad…

Originally posted on Margaret and Helen:

Margaret, let’s be clear. I am obviously using the term vagina in the narrowest sense of the word as defined by the Republican Party: a noun referring to women. And it was pretty clear at the debate that vaginas have no value unless a baby needs to pass through one on its way to church or its minimum wage job. Of course, if that baby is black or brown, then the intended destination changes to either prison or Mexico respectively.

I don’t pretend to think that any of the presidential candidates will ever read what I write, but if they did I hope they will remember this:

Millions of women have been going to Planned Parenthood for nearly 100 years. We all remember the exceptional care and the quality of the information we received from the staff at those clinics. We remember when Planned Parenthood staff held our hands and…

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Marriage Equality Not for All


Thanks Nel for highlighting this issue. I did not know that “One segment of the U.S. population not covered by the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes marriage equality is Native Americans living on reservations.

Why? Because Congress or the tribes themselves must make that decision since reservations are sovereign lands and apparently are not under the direct purview of the US Supreme Court.

I’m am pleased however to hear that “many tribes have changed their laws to legalize marriage equality or ruled that they will follow the rules of the state where reservations are located, but ten tribes, including the two largest ones of Cherokee Nation and the Navajo, have acts that prohibit same-gender marriage.

I hope my readers read and then support their Native brothers and sisters in their efforts to gain same-sex gender equality within their tribal nations.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Every month in editing a newsletter for our local PFLAG group, I write articles about national and global news. This past month has been filled with the aftermath—and sometimes backlash—to the Supreme Court decision that LGBT people should have equal rights in marriage. The media frenzy began when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-gender couples should have the right to marry in all 50 states. Here are some of the issues that emerged from that decision.

Of course, conservatives were traumatized by the possibility that LGBT people could get married. Judges refused to marry same-gender couples or said that they were too busy. A Texas judge required everyone who he married, LGBT or straight, to sign a document stating that he was opposed to the decision and that no one should even mention marriage equality in his presence. Some clerks decided to quit rather than issue marriage licenses. One of…

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The Federal State-Based Universal Health Care Waiver Act of 2015

banner picture of Universal Healthcare from http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/

One Agenda: Universal Health Care.
Picture courtesy of Healthcare for All Colorado

As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states have been given the ability to innovate or create their own form of health care insurance or coverage starting on January 1, 2017 AS LONG AS “benefits are at least as comprehensive and affordable as those offered by Qualified Health Plans available on the Exchanges,” according to Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA-7).

As a result, at least 14 states—California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, , New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington—have community advocates and state legislators working towards implementing a state-level form of universal health care. They have been working for affordable healthcare access for all residents of their states before and since the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – was passed in 2010.

Now that the US Supreme Court has basically settled the fact that the ACA is constitutional both on June 28, 2012 (Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services) and again on June 25, 2015 (King v. Burwell), we can consider ways to improve our healthcare system at both the state and federal level. As a medical doctor and a member of Congress, McDermott voted for the ACA. He also recognizes that “still more needs  to be done to control costs, improve care, and cover everyone.”

One way to further control these costs and improve health care while covering everyone is to create a universal health care system which I’ve previously blogged about (see here, here, here, here, and here). That means we either have the federal government create a federal single payer plan OR we use the waiver clause in the ACA to help states create their own universal single-payer health care program.

Yet even with the waiver currently allowed within the ACA for innovative state-based health care plans, creating a state-based universal care plan that saves funds for states and individuals while providing health care access to all has a big hurdle to overcome. Rep. McDermott explained this issue in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on July 28:

One of the many achievements of the Affordable Care Act is its provisions that grant states the authority to innovate in their health care systems. Under Section 1332 of the law, a state may apply for a State Innovation Waiver that will provide it with control of federal dollars that otherwise would have been spent on premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for its residents. Through this waiver, a state may design a system to cover its residents, so long as benefits are at least as comprehensive and affordable as those offered by Qualified Health Plans available on the Exchanges.

However, even with this flexibility, numerous barriers limit states’ ability to design true single-payer systems. Existing waivers are narrow in scope, requiring states to seek out imperfect and convoluted solutions to circumvent federal limitations. A sweeping preemption provision in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) denies states authority to regulate employer-sponsored health plans. And, due to the complexities of our existing federal health programs, it is essentially impossible for a state to design a single benefit package that can be administered simply and efficiently on behalf of all of its residents.

This speech was McDermott’s announcement that he was introducing HR 3241, aka the “State-Based Universal Health Care Act of 2015:” If passed, this bill would allow states to apply for a universal health care waiver that would allow them to have access to and authority over federal health care dollars that would otherwise be spent on the residents of that state. More specifically, this additional waiver act goes beyond the ACA to deal with the hurdles mentioned above. The new provisions of this law, according to McDermott, would waive all of the following:

  • The rules governing premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, as provided for in existing waiver authority under Section 1332 of the ACA.

  • Provisions necessary for states to pool funds that otherwise would be spent on behalf of residents enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

  • ERISA’s preemption clause, which cur-rently forbids states from enacting legislation relating to employee health benefit program

After the introduction of HR 3241, the House referred this bill to five committees — the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. I believe that the large number of committee referrals was done because of the need to review all of the different laws that this waiver would impact.

You can read the bill in its entirety here.

I am pleased that this bill has been introduced. It however needs many co-sponsors and advocates to pressure Congress to actually hear, review, and pass this legislation. Please contact your US Representative and ask her/him to co-sponsor Representative Jim McDermott, MD’s bill HR 3241. Here’s the lookup page to find your US. Representative by zip code.

As this is the summer, your Representative should be in the home district. Call, write, set up a meeting and tell her/him why you want to see a universal health care program in your state and why this bill is so necessary. If your Representative agrees to sign on, have him/her contact Mr. McDermott’s aides that are focusing on this issue. They are Jayme Shoun, located in Seattle at (206) 553-7170 and Daniel Foster, Health Counsel in the DC Office at (202) 225-3106.


Jeb for President? Part III


Nel of Nel’s New Day has written several blogs on the 2016 presidential candidates. Most of them have been about the GOP candidates.  I wonder: might this be because the “Grand Old Party” seems to be having a free-for-all?.

Jeb Bush merited three days of her blogging. I reblogged the first two — Number One here and Number Two here — earlier today. Here is the third one.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Jeb cartoon

jeb-bush-logo-hed-2015 with BushJeb (short for John Ellis Bush) Bush is trying to rebrand himself as a new man, a person disconnected from the Bush dynasty, but his logo is old-school, left over from his 1994 unsuccessful run for Florida governor. The lack of last name didn’t go unnoticed. David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote, “The most important thing about the Jeb logo isn’t the exclamation point that is there. It’s the last name that isn’t there.” At least, the logo is producing a lot of fun about Bush’s declaration of his candidacy.

jeb1 logoIn declaring his candidacy—finally!—Jeb Bush said, “I’ll break away from the GOP pack.” He won’t escape the Bush name, but his personal family scandals show that he’s already separated from the other GOP candidates:

1994: Bush’s eldest son, George P., broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, fled the father, and then returned to drive his SUV into their…

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Jeb for President? Part II


Nel of Nel’s New Day has done several blogs on the 2016 presidential candidates. Most of them have been about the GOP candidates (might that be because the “Grand Old Party” seems to be having a free-for-all?).

Jeb Bush merited three days of her blogging. I reblogged the first one earlier today. Here is the second one. e is the And finally, here is the third one.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

king bushJeb Bush’s plan for the half of 2015: raise tens of millions of dollars, separate himself from his brother’s presidency, win conservatives, and become the Republican who will win the GOP nomination. Thus far, he’s raised the money. Asked about his brother, he waffles between supporting him and trying to find a way to please people who disagree with George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Conservatives still don’t like him, and he has appeared incompetent through answers to questions and consistent flip-flopping.

Last week he changed his campaign manager to the more negative and conservative Danny Diaz, meaning that Bush may have reconsidered whether he’ll still campaign “joyfully.” Diaz’s participation in Bush II’s campaign is another connection between Jeb and Dubya. One Bush ally said that Diaz will signal that “the culture of the Bush operation will now be a Pickett’s Charge engagement campaign with his main opponents.” Pickett’s Charge on…

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