It has just been announced that Lynette A. Fromme a would-be assassin will be released from federal prison on August 16. Also known as Squeaky, she was part of a group known as the Manson family some of whose members killed the actress Sharon Tate and six other people in California in 1975. On September 5, 1975 in a Sacramento, California she pointed a 45 caliber semiautomatic pistol at President Gerald Ford from about 2 feet away. A Secret Service agent grabbed the gun and no shots were fired. She was sentenced to life in prison. She escaped from Anderson prison in 1987 was recaptured and 15 months in were added to her sentence.

Soon after her arrest I received a call from an FBI agent who asked for an appointment. He asked me many questions about Squeaky. I told them all I knew about her is what I had read in the newspapers. He then told me that in searching her belongings they found what appeared to be a hit list. My name was among several. He asked me if I had any ideas of why I made the last. I could think of none then or now. I told him I was editor of a national magazine and it was possible that she took offense at something I had written.

I asked the agent if he had any advice for me. He said yes. “Be Careful”.

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My good friend and neighbor Allan Kiron is both a survivor of Auschwitz but a poet as well. More than this he is an inspiration on how to make life meaningful. He is full of compassion but is also full of fight. He is guided by high ideals but keenly aware of “man’s inhumanity to man”. To me his latest poem calls for both compassion for those in need and fierce battle against the unimaginable greed of those who have brought such terrible consequence for our country and the world.


I can see the beast in humans
Not their cruelty or lies
Or their greed, hate and malice
In their double faced eyes

I can see the missing link
The kind we could have been
To help and love each other
In times of thick and thin

How do you teach a beast to love
How do you correct God’s errors
How do we stop the hiding beasts
From committing other terrors?

How can we survive this world
With such beastly gifts from God?
Sweetened with soothing empty words
Making the truth strangely odd?

The road to a perfect world
Is paved with a sad delusion
With beastly potholes and bumps
The missing link is the solution

Selfless deeds for those with needs
Can change the pages of history
If we ignore the missing link
What follows will be no mystery

To survive and beat this beastly trap
Be the best angel when you with angels dwell
But when you have to deal with beasts
Be the meanest beast and give them Hell

Your cup will seem less empty
Even more than half full
Because the true meaning of life
Is to make life meaningful.

Allan Kiron

Auschwitz survivor

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I served as Associate Pastor of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. It is a magnificent building on Washington’s Massachusetts Ave. a few blocks from the White House. It stands out with its gigantic Greek columns. As the cornice indicates it is the
Methodist Episcopal Church South. This was a group that favored slavery and broke away from John Wesley’s Methodist Church.

One of the most delightful persons in my parish was Mabel Wright. This still beautiful southern woman has just turned 100 years. Here is the message from her Christmas card.

“What a grand world it is. Yes, I know that this has been a troubling year economically and I know that there is evil in the world to be sure, but I have seen good times and bad times, and I am optimistic about our future. Most of you know that I am a lifelong Democrat, and so I am particularly thrilled by the election of the Barack Obama -- the first African/American President. Now, truly all of God's children in America can dream big dreams and know that they can come true. I am unspeakably happy to see this day arrive.”

And so say seventy per cent of Americans.

Mable Wright at 100 years
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As we approach the historic moment of inaugurating our first African-American president I think back to the famous inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. It was enormously important for me personally because the event killed forever the idea that we could never have a Roman Catholic president.. I of course my whole family were Roman Catholic.

I was then Executive Director of the National Association of Counties. Mayor Beverly Briley of Nashville, Tennessee and Commissioner Dan W. Gray of Anniston Alabama two of my officers were in town for the great event. Our offices were off Connecticut Avenue on De Sale St. adjacent to the Mayflower Hotel. On the evening before the inaugural at dusk we got into my car to drive them to their Hotel just across the Potomac in Arlington , Virginia . A great snow storm was in progress. Dan Gray noted that he had no bourbon in his room and asked to stop the car at the liquor store across the street. He quickly returned with a whole bag of liquor.

We passed onto Pennsylvania Ave at the White House and started towards the Key Bridge. In two hours we reached Washington Square a few blocks for the White House and were completely stopped.. A long convoy of Army trucks was stalled on its way to the White House. We did the logical thing. We decided to share our refreshments and party with our soldiers. .We passed the bottle of bourbon around to the whole group. It was another first. Most of the soldiers were black and they joined two devout Southerners to drink to our new Commander in Chief. .

It took hours but we finally got down to Georgetown at the bottom of the steep hill Pennsylvania Avenue. No one was able to make the grade in the now deep snow. I got the idea of all of all of us pulling together and pushing the cars one at a time to the top. By the time it was our chance the group lost interest. I abandoned the car underneath the overpass at a Boat House.

We made our way very slowly up the hill to the end of the Key Bridge. There was an old man in a beat up truck filled with trash. We gave him $20 to drive us to the hotel across the bridge. The three of us jumped in on top of all the junk finally after about an hour in the wind got to the hotel. We discover that all of the telephone lines were so jammed with traffic that I couldn't get through to home and I would have to spend the night ..

The next morning we got to the inaugural site somehow in deep snow and our seats were literally within the baseball throwing distance of the podium. These choice seats were courtesy of Dan Gray's close friend former Vice Presidential candidate Senator John Sparkman (D-Ala. The he podium stand caught fire as Robert Frost delivered his poem. The inspiriting moment however came when the handsome young Irish Catholic President said” Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your count

A small group at Oliver St. celebrating the Inauguation of President Obama
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The Gospels record several instances of this miracle, with small differences in details. In the best known, Jesus was preaching to a crowd of thousands who grew hungry and needed to be fed. Only five loaves and two fishes could be found. He blessed the food and then commanded his disciples to distribute it among the people. After everyone had eaten and were satisfied, twelve baskets of food remained.

The usual interpretation is that this was a miracle of creating bread and fishes from thin air. I have heard another interpretation. It was from a minister in Toms River, New Jersey. He identified this story as a miracle of a different nature. He attributed the miracle as the inspirational power of Jesus. Some 5,000 were inspired and had followed him into a desolate place. Christ taught love. He proclaimed that we are our brother's keeper. The minister reasoned that the miracle was not the creation of bread and fishes. The miracle came when Christ inspired the group to share their food.

If the conventional wisdom here and abroad is correct we are headed for very desperate financial crisis. Obama is not going to be able to create material wealth from nothingness. You can however with his towering integrity and ability to inspire us as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to meet the crisis as united Americans. He can perhaps create the same kind of a miracle we witnessed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inaugural. Those who did not live through it cannot understand the enormous power to give hope in the President's words… “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.


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