Wednesday, April 20, 2011


They sat frozen in fear, wondering if they were next. They looked at each other and saw the tears and felt the abandonment and wondered what it all had meant. There were no profiles in courage among the occupants of that upper room. They had run and hid while their friend and teacher had been taken away and executed. What was it He said? What do they do now? No one wanted to venture outside. All expected to be arrested. Worst of all, all of them were haunted by doubts about Him and His message and what would happen to their lives.

Sometime after that "good" Friday, these same friends, once scared of the sound of their own voices, went out to the people in Jerusalem and proclaimed they had some Good News. Their friend wasn't dead. He wasn't gone. He is alive and death has been conquered. They began repeating His message. They were full of such joy. The fear, which had paralyzed them, was gone. He had promised He wouldn't leave them. He guaranteed if they followed His lead, they too wouldn't have to fear dying and would have abundant lives. You couldn't shut them up. They spread out all over the region and beyond. They continuously proclaimed the life, death and resurrection of their friend Jesus and they said His message, His closeness to God, His love and forgiveness were available to us today.

The apostles and disciples weren't just convinced Jesus' memory and message would go on. They were transformed; they were transfigured, by the experience of the risen Jesus. He was dead, but now He is alive. He wasn't a ghost either. They tell stories about him eating and drinking. This wasn't an apparition. It was Jesus. The experience of encountering Jesus caused them to tell anyone they met what had happened. Can you imagine?

There are not a lot of post-resurrection stories in scripture. What there are have one thing in common. Those who encounter the risen Jesus don’t recognize Him. Whatever resurrection is, it is not cosmic mouth to mouth returning you just as you were before. Whatever "it" is, we are different. The essence of who we are, our soul some would say, goes on. Eventually, the apostles in the upper room, the women at the tomb and the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Jesus and their joy is impossible to conceal. They weren't guessing. They weren't repeating hearsay. They weren't claiming to have been visited by a spirit. The experience and contact with the risen Jesus ended their fear, tears, anxiety and doubts. The question on this Easter is whether we will open ourselves to the same contact with the same result?

One of the best homilies I have heard on Easter was based on one sentence. "He is risen." "He" Jesus of Nazareth. Born to Joseph and Mary. A carpenter's son. He had traveled though Judea proclaiming the message of God and living such a radically loving and caring life, He became as close to God as a son to His Mother. This human opened up a new relationship with God. The distance between God and us had been eliminated. "He" was human, and now all of us could get as close to God as He was. We could lead an abundant life. "He is"...Those scared and cowering friends living in the upper room changed when they re-connected to Jesus. Their message is He is risen. It isn't an event in the past. It isn't something to wait for in the future. This Jesus is with us now and 2000 years later he still is. On Easter, we don't celebrate an event, which happened 2000 years ago. Jesus is as present and relevant and available now as he was on Easter morning. Those of us, who claim to be Christian, aren't reminiscing about some event in the past like the 4th of July or the birth of a friend or loved one. The same Jesus, who so energized and transfigured this ragtag group, is as real today, alive today, available today, and inspirational today, as He was in the upper room. "He is risen"...they were convinced He was alive. The same Jesus who they saw laid in the tomb, behind the stone, is the same Jesus who they encountered and reveled in His presence. He definitely was dead. They were devastated. He isn't dead anymore. This wasn't speculation. He had promised and He kept His word.

We are Easter people. Without Easter there is no Christianity. Christmas is the birth of another Jewish boy without Easter. Without Easter, there is no Good gospel. Death no longer defines human existence. How many of you, like me, think about death and can't get beyond its finality? How many of us have lost someone we love and miss so much there is a hole in our hearts? How many of us, aware of our own mortality, struggle to put off the inevitable any way we can? The message of Easter is one of great joy. Death is not the final answer. We go "on...." We can touch the same grace which energized Jesus. We can be as close to God as Mother to son or daughter. We can have an abundance in life, which does not end. That is the good news...that is why we celebrate...that is the message of Easter...we can all participate. In the end, it doesn't matter what you call yourself...Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist...what matters is how you live your life. If you can love your enemies, turn the other cheek, forgive an infinite number of times, treat the least of your brothers and sisters with love and dignity, the grace and promise of Easter is yours.


Saturday, April 16, 2011


One hundred and fifty years ago, millions of Americans were willing to go to war against their cousins, brothers and friends in order to protect the institution of slavery. On April 14, 1861, they fired on Ft. Sumter and the Civil War began. It ended in a courthouse at Appomattox, but it still haunts us to this day because we have never admitted to the dirty little secret about America. It is a nation built and established of white people, for white people and by white people.

In a recent poll, 40% of people in the formerly Confederate South, still believe the South was right to secede and to fight Northern aggression. Why? At Appomattox, Lee laid down his sword, Grant allowed Confederate soldiers to keep their rifles and horses, and Confederate generals still in the field, who could have carried on a guerrilla action and extended the war for years, surrendered and went home. The war was over. They fought the good fight and almost were victorious. Why or what are these people in the South still trying to articulate or preserve? If Lee and Longstreet, Beauregard and Davis accepted the end and went back to life in a "United" States, why cant today's occupants?

Slavery had existed since the dawn of time. It was not an alien institution to our land. It was an accepted part of the human condition. In a remarkable paradigm shift, slavery was outlawed in the Western world by the middle of the 19th century. Yes, the south had fought to preserve it. Yes, they thought ending it would destroy their culture and way of life. However, their views on slavery were no different than those of Washington or Jefferson. Even the Catholic Church in America owned slaves. Defending slavery was not an extraordinary leap of logic. In and of itself, fighting to preserve slavery was an example of Americans defending a deeply entrenched value. If Lincoln could have prevented war by leaving slavery in place, he gladly would have accepted that deal.

The reason the Civil War still haunts this nation is because after the South was defeated, after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after the Constitution was amended to make former slaves US citizens, something new arose which continue to perpetuate most of the rudiments of slavery, just under a different name...Jim Crow. Despite proclamations, amendments and the failed experiment called Reconstruction, America still remained a nation of white supremacists. African Americans were no more welcome in the North than the South. Opponents of slavery often condemned the institution, while opposing attempts to integrate African Americans into society. In the South, this new suit of prejudice and bigotry was put on but with new tailors. Laws were passed to prevent black people from voting, having access to the courts, living wherever they wished, engaging in free market capitalism or taking advantage of the rise of land grant colleges and universities. Separate and unequal became the law of the land. Former slaves, or the descendants of slaves, declared non-persons by the Dred Scott decision, were still non-persons and all of America participated in the process.

Those 40% of Southerners, who identify with the Confederacy, aren't doing so for states rights or because of antipathy towards the Federal government. They were thrilled to allow FDR to bring electricity and power to their rural homes. They loved the economic benefits of the interstate highway system. They took advantage of the G.I. bill, Social Security and Medicare. They applied for FHA mortgages and student loans. What they couldn't abide was a federal government, which attempted to dismantle separate but equal. They resisted a government mandating an integrated military. When the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were passed, along with the Public Accommodations Act, then President Lyndon Johnson is quoted as saying the Democrats just lost the South. Richard Nixon and the Republicans developed a "southern strategy" in which they promised not to enforce civil rights laws in return for political support. The South became solidly Red in no time.

At the same time, in the North, cities like Detroit and Chicago became the most segregated cities in the country. African-Americans, who had migrated north for jobs, didn't find much difference in attitudes. Ghettos were commonplace. Police and fire departments were all white, corporate America was white as the driven snow. Even the great American pastime, baseball, was segregated and separate. Despite a war to end slavery...despite over 600,000 Americans killed...despite almost destroying the nation...the reality remained this country is white and no others need apply. The one big difference was residents of the North were not as wedded to the romantic historic revisionism of the Civil War as those were in the South.

The 40% of Southerners, who romantically long for the glory of the Confederacy, see themselves as victims. With the ascendancy of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians, they feel left out and taken for granted. Even worse, they have no claim to superiority. They blame the federal government for their plight. However, the culture of white supremacy they long for is till singing its siren song in all parts of this nation not just in the South. Yes, we did fight to end slavery, and then we simply turned our heads and pretended not to notice a proxy system, which accomplished the same goals of slavery, under a new name.

It is romantic and acceptable to defend the Confederacy as a champion of individual and states rights. It would also be wrong. Those who display the Confederate flag on t heir license plates and hold tribute to Southern leaders annually, do so because they know they can't openly mourn the end of Jim Crow and segregation and institutional racism. The Confederacy, and its role in the Civil War, becomes a euphemism for the sorrow many whites feel about their loss of prestige and pride in the light of the Civil Rights era.

The historian, John Hope Franklin, told me until America can admit this nation was built on the principle of white supremacy, there can be no meaningful dialogue on race.

Was he right?

Friday, April 15, 2011


ANSWER: We thought it was safe and no one could have anticipated a disaster of this proportion.

QUESTION: What did the spokesperson for P.G.&E. say after the 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant and caused the evacuation of most of the central coast of California? (P.G.&E. is asking for a 20-year extension for the operating license of Diablo Canyon despite its antiquated design, location over and earthquake fault and no plans to upgrade the facility)

ANSWER: Yes, medical care will not be available to all and some care will deteriorate, and over time some might die because of an inability to afford care, but it is unfair to call this just a longer form of death panels.

QUESTION: What did Rep. Paul Ryan say when asked what the consequences will be if Medicare is privatized?

ANSWER: We are fighting against a government that denies us basic rights, is corrupt, taxes us without our consent and refuses to listen to our pleas for help.

QUESTION: What did the mayor of Washington DC say as he was being arrested for blocking the entrance to the Hart Senate Office building after Congress prohibited the district from using any funds to help poor women obtain an abortion?

ANSWER: If we really wanted to have fair trials, that would be one solution.

QUESTION: What did White House Press Secretary Jay Kearney say when asked why President Obama doesn’t just fly a federal judge to Guantanamo and conduct the trials of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others under constitutional guidelines instead of using military tribunals?

ANSWER: There is only so much Metamucil any one show can sell.

QUESTION: Why did Fox cancel Glenn Beck's show after ratings show his audience is older than dirt?

ANSWER: "I’m shocked, shocked, anyone would lie about this, but don’t blame me, Scooter Libby was just so cute and I wanted to help my soul mate.

QUESTION: What did former New York Times reporter, and now Fox analyst, Judith Miller say when she heard her Iraqi intelligence source known as "curveball" now admits everything he said about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were lies intended to give America an excuse to get rid of Saddam? (besides everyone knew I was crazy who thought they'd buy it?)

ANSWER: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

QUESTION: What did Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom say at a recent ribbon cutting for a new Jiffy Lube in Brisbane?

ANSWER: "Taxes are the price Americans pay for not being rich or a corporation."

QUESTION: How did General Electric's CEO Jeffery Immelt react when the news broke his company made $15 billion in profit and received a $3.2 billion rebate from the IRS? (His response came from his new office in the Obama Administration)

ANSWER: "We will not allow a despot in Washington destroy our way of life, take away our guns and ability to resist, and tell us who can be an American citizen.

QUESTION: What did the commander of the attack on Ft. Sumter say when he ordered southern guns to open fire? (or what did Michele Bachman say just last week?)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


A member of my family died last week and this loss will be felt by all of us for some time. This is a strange obituary for me to pen, as "MACDUFF the Thane of Calder" was a 175 pound English Mastiff who died from a heart attack at age 9. I feel awkward writing about the loss of our dog. Some of you may think it is a frivolous exercise, or my time could be better spent commenting on the serious struggles faced by our nation and community. However, "Duffy" was a loving , caring , gentle member of our family who added to our quality of life and taught us a great deal about unconditional love. If a eulogy to a beloved pet is not your cup of tea, now would be a good time to stop reading.

"Duffy" was brought home as a 6 week old puppy. He was a beautiful Fawn color. (almost a golden silver) He was the third Mastiff to grace our family. We have lost all three as Mastiffs generally live about 10 years. They are a huge breed related to St. Bernards and Great Danes. They slobber incessantly and are not the most graceful of creatures, but they are wonderful with children, gentle, funny, loving and loyal. (if I had been more like Duffy, I wouldnt be a guest of the federal government)

Within a year, Duffy weighed over 100 pounds. He was a gorgeous dog who could stop observers in their tracks as they inquired about him and wanted to get close to him when he would be out for a walk. At home, his typical M.O. was to hang out wherever we were. He just wanted to be in the same room as any member of the family. He was energized by our presence. Duffy was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and was the victim of a terror campaign by our two cats on a regular basis. They would tease him and run up to him and bait him and he would always rise to their bait and wonder why it was he could never get close to them to exact some comeuppance. They ran circles around him and he never figured them out.

I won't go into daily details, but suffice it to say, Duffy loved his family, thought laying at your feet was as good as it got, and was a source of great pleasure and a great deal of laughter. At his size, grace and dexterity were in short supply. His tail could be a deadly weapon. On more than one occasion, groceries or other items I was carrying went flying as that wagging tail, signifying his joy at seeing me come through the door, would whack a very sensitive part of the male anatomy causing intense pain and chagrin. I was not his only victim over the years. He would look at you with his head tilted, mouth open, tongue panting, totally oblivious to the damage done. He was just happy you were home.

I hadn't seen Duffy in about three years. My wife and daughter had said he was slowing down and not doing well, but the news of his death still hit hard. If you haven't had a companion, a pet, this may be as interesting to you as golf on the radio, but this creature was a source of joy who challenged us to be as glad to see each other as he was to see us. I grieve his loss.

When my wife was in grammar school, her dog, Baron, died. She was educated by the Ursuline nuns, and a discussion about Heaven ensued. She expressed her belief she would be there with Baron. The nun quickly disabused her of that notion, telling her there are no animals in Heaven. At that moment, she rose up to announce to sister that if Baron wasnt going to be with her in Heaven, then she wouldn't want to go there either. I don't have any better insight today than she may have had all those years ago. I do know Duffy was a loving creation of a loving God. Duffy knew what love was and gave without measure or limit. God chose Duffy to exist and I loved him. A love like this does not cease because of death. It goes on.

We will be celebrating Easter soon. I will write about it more extensively soon, but the message of Easter is death is not the final answer. The essence of who we are, the love we experience and share, goes on. In the Catholic faith, we talk about the "communion of saints", the idea we will be in communion, in league, in touch, in intimacy with those we love and care about and this communion lasts beyond death. Is this the definition of Heaven? I don't know. What I do know is at the essence of all God's creation is a source of love and it transcends the loss of our containers...our bodies.

Duffy was an intimate member of our family. Maybe being separated from my family amplifies his loss, but our lives are less bright without his presence in our home. Unlike me, he didn't hold grudges, or seek revenge. He never disappointed his family or let us down. He didn't get jealous, ok he would forcefully defend a bone he was gnawing on, nor did he treat any of us any less or with less enthusiasm no matter whether we treated him the same way. Unlike me, he would protect those he loved from risk or harm and he seemed to forgive immediately.

Perhaps this large, gentle, creature was sent to be a mirror to us about how we should treat each other. Perhaps, Duffy's purpose was to teach us how to love unconditionally. Perhaps, his time on earth was intended to fill our world with joy and give us a glimpse at his creator and the purpose of our own creation. All I know is his death creates a hole in our family and I will miss him a great deal. Well done Duffy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


The history of the 20th Century is one victory after another for Progressives. From the creation of national parks, the busting of monopolies, rise of trade unions, and child labor laws, to the civil rights movement, women's suffrage movement, rise of the middle class and the creation of Social Security and Medicare, the 20th century represents a people moving forward and spreading the benefits of economic prosperity and freedom. Every one of these advances was opposed by Regressives. Regressives fought to maintain the status quo of the "Gilded Age". It was a time of a weak federal government, no income..corporate...or capital gains taxes, a huge gulf between the rich and poor and no middle class to speak of. They opposed every step forward and protected institutions like Jim Crow, nativism and the concentration or wealth in as few hands as possible. (this is the age Newt Gingrich salivates over when he talks about new federalism and states rights)

in 1940, Franklin Roosevelt tried to ramp up production of war materials for a country unprepared for the war which was to come. Regressive corporate leaders, who opposed Roosevelt's entire New Deal, refused to cooperate until they were paid off with legislation granting them huge profits and a tax structure which allowed them to write off their expenses. Their refusal to cooperate almost gave Hitler his victory in Europe. Had the Soviet Union and England been unable to hold on in 1940, WWII could have resulted in an Axis victory. Regressives cared more about their interests then the country as a whole and the pattern has not changed in over 50 years.

It should be no surprise the war between Regressives and Progressives is still going on. Unfortunately, in the 21st century, they are winning more than they are losing. Labor is severely weakened. The environment under attack as regressives in the House attempt to weaken the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. A Regressive Supreme Court majority overturned years of precedent giving corporations and the rich the ability to contribute as much as they wish to political campaigns drowning out the voices of opposition. Legislation to weaken collective bargaining, cut taxes for the rich, weaken child labor laws, undermine the minimum wage, reduce government oversight and reverse the gains of Social Security and Medicare has been introduced in Congress and state houses across the land. The gap between the rich and poor is growing, the middle class shrinking, and at a time when corporations are paying no taxes on billions of dollars in profit and moving more jobs overseas, they are lobbying to lower corporate taxes even further.

The latest assault comes in the form of a budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan. In it, Medicare as we know it would be eliminated by 2022. In its place would be a block grant program giving subsidies to Americans over 65 to purchase private health insurance. There would be no guarantee the subsidy would be enough to cover costs, no guarantee it would be tied to inflation, no guarantee insurance companies wouldnt raise their rates to eat up the subsidy. It would guarantee health care for the elderly would once again be a scary and iffy proposition. It would be a huge step backwards and as a nation we would regress a step closer to that "Gilded Age" which is the holy grail of everyone from Ryan to Gingrich to Boehner.

The latest Wall Street Journal poll found 54% of Americans willing to tinker with Medicare, but not much more than tinkering. Over 65% of older Americans say leave it alone. Medicare is a success story. Its overhead is the lowest of any health care provider. Its costs rise at a slower rate then health care costs in general. The satisfaction level of Americans on Medicare is over 70%. If Medicare were allowed to use its buying power appropriately, it would force drug companies to reduce the prices they charge for prescription drugs saving billions of dollars. (Congress specifically prohibited Medicare from doing this exact practice when it passed their prescription drug program). Means testing Medicare so those in the highest income brackets pay more, would save billions more. Computerized records save billions, and having other insurance pay first, backed up by Medicare, would save even more.

In 1965, when Lyndon Johnson proposed Medicare, over half the population over 65 lived under the poverty line. They had to choose between medical care and eating or paying rent. Since then the number of people over 65 living below the poverty line has dropped significantly. They dont have to choose between eating and medical care. Their quality of life has been enhanced. Since 1965, Regressives have sought to reverse those gains. In 1996, then Presidential candidate Bob Dole bragged about voting against Medicare and promised to eliminate it if elected. In 2011, Rep. Ryan has picked up the gauntlet and is continuing the war.

Are you a progressive or regressive? It cuts across party lines and is not exclusive to Democrats, Republicans or Independents. Is this nation better off progressing forward or retrenching back to another era? Are we a more secure nation with a large middle class, healthy seniors, universal education and the jobs which come with it, or are we better off with 1% of Americans controlling over 40% of all wealth...the middle class shrinking...educational opportunities going only to those who can afford them...dirtier air and water...corporations making billions and paying no taxes, banks too big to fail and the haves becoming the have mores?

The war on Medicare and Social Security is really a war against progress. If the 20th century was America's century, it's because the promise and benefits of America were spread to as many people as possible despite the kicking and screaming of regressives who fought tooth and nail to hold on to their money, power and privilege. Whose side are you on? As you analyze the upcoming election season, simply ask who represents progress and who doesn't. It will keep the battle lines clear.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


In 1970, 85% of US consumption of goods and services came from labor income. Today that number has dropped to 61%. In 1970, 75% of US personal income came from salaries and benefits. Today they dropped to 64%. The income gap in this country is rising and the middle class is being squeezed into oblivion. It is not a coincidence in 1970 union membership was at its highest levels and today is at its lowest since the early 20th century.

An eroding middle class is a great threat to our national security than terrorism will ever be. A shrinking middle class is a much more serious values and morals issue than gay marriage or gun control or even immigration. Yet, since they took control of the House, Regressive Republicans don’t seem troubled by the widening income gap and shrinking middle class. Do you remember Bush's famous line..."we represent the haves and the have mores."?

Since they stormed back in the Speaker's chair, Regressives have not made a single proposal to increase jobs or income for working Americans. They fought like junkyard dogs to preserve taxcuts for the richest 5% of Americans. (40% of consumer spending is generated by the top 20% of the richest households). They used unemployment benefits to blackmail the President to get their way. After achieving this laudable goal they have proposed a budget, which would cut $60 billion from the federal budget and increase unemployment, derailing an already fragile economic recovery. They have passed laws to exempt the dumping of pesticides, by agricultural corporations, from the Clean Water Act. They are trying to kill a program to help Americans facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. They want to de-fund the health care reform legislation and gut the new Department of Consumer Affairs. Despite opposing every every proposal offered by the President, and despite doing nothing to create a single job, the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.8%. It's still horrible but gradually improving and Obama should get the credit and they should be ashamed.

In Iowa, Regressive candidates for the Republican nomination for president in 2012 lined up to make their case to their base. Mississippi Governor Haley Barber ignored millions of out of work Americans, two wars (maybe 3), and the revolutions in the Middle East and proudly announced his state is the safest state in the country for an unborn child. He failed to also mention, Mississippi is the worst state in the union for a child after he or she is born. Newt Gingrich, unable to offer a single idea about putting Americans to work, told Iowans to be wary of another Obama term. He said Obama could push policies, which would result in his children inheriting a secular, atheistic country dominated by Islamic extremists. He was not asked how an atheistic, secular nation could be dominate by religion, but who noticed?

Republicans want to cut $60 billion from the budget. They won't touch the Pentagon. They won't raise taxes on the rich and they want to cut corporate taxes even more. (G.E. made $15 billion in profits last year and not only didn't pay any taxes; they got a $3.2 billion rebate. Exxon made $19 billion in profit and paid no taxes and got a rebate.) The $60 billion is to come out of Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security. (by the way, Social Security is solvent until at least 2043 and even then will still pay out 90% of all promised benefits. It is neither broken nor bankrupt. The reason the government borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund is to pay for the over $2 Trillion in tax breaks passed by the Bush Administration for the top 5% of the nation.)

While failing to offer one new proposal to put Americans back to work, Regressives have not been idle. Across the nation, they have proposed a series of bills to crush the labor movement once and for all. Bills to gut collective bargaining rights are springing up faster the Gingrich ex-wives. Legislation to weaken child labor laws and reduce the national minimum wage are waiting for action. Attempts to further limit a woman's right to choose are gaining momentum. Donald Trump wants to see Obama's birth certificate.

In 1970, a working American could make enough to own a house, send the children to college and look forward to a world where future generations can surpass their parent's economic achievements and success. All of these hopes and dreams are in jeopardy and the progress made in the 20th century to close the income gap and expand the number of American who can share in the economic promise of this nation, is shrinking. It really is a battle for the future of this experiment in self-government and as Warren Buffet has said..."...there is a class war going on in this country and my class is winning."

What do you think Americans will do about this?


I will turn 60 years old this week. It is impossible to reach such an iconic age without some reflection. As I look into the mirror, I see a man who has been humbled, embarrassed, chastened and separated from family and friends. All of these consequences I have to take responsibility for causing.

60 years old seems ancient to me. I came of age at a time when we were told not to trust anyone over 30. As I turned 50, I went into a depression realizing most of my life was over. Now I turn 60, as a guest of the federal government, missing a wife and children who I haven’t seen in almost 3 years, wondering if there is any future left and knowing this is all my fault and resulted from my failure of character and judgment. To say one couldn't fall much lower would be an understatement. To say this is a complete disaster and crushing defeat would not be entirely true.

In the last few years, I have experienced acts of kindness and generosity, which defy explanation. The friends who help me keep this site going...who take the time out of their crazy, busy schedule to post what I write, maintain the site, write to me and boost my morale and send me information...are two gracious souls I have never met in person. In fact, this is a pattern over the last couple of years. I have received letters, books, cards, articles and financial help from total strangers whose only knowledge of me came thru the nightly ether I occupied Monday thru Friday and on Sunday mornings. The couple who post this blog for me, whom you know as Girl Friday and ED the IT guy wrote to me to express their support and asked if they could help me. This blog is their gift. I have lost count of all the letters and cards. (I have also failed to write back frequently enough and hope to rectify this flaw if you will keep writing)

Inside this system, a place where you would expect charity and generosity to be in short supply, just the opposite is true. I have met some extraordinary people. In Texas, when I was most scared and fearful, in tears and holding on by my finger nails, colleagues gave me clothing to stay to supplant the meager amounts provided by the system...lessons on how to stay safe and hours and hours of time spent listening to me and creating a sense of hope and community where none should exist. Here in California, once again total strangers exhibit kindness and caring in quantities that seem limitless. There is a sense of taking each other where we are. Judging each other is suspended for the most part, and evaluations are based on the quality of your character. Who'd a thunk it? In the "real" world, we judge and are judged constantly, and not with kind intensions, and yet in here it is quite different.

For a short time longer, Fr. Louis Vitale OFM is here with me. He is such a gift and a source of inspiration. He joins me in two scripture groups made up of people seeking answers and succor the same as me. It is quite powerful. I am a grateful person now. I wasn't out amongst you. I thought I had "earned" every success and achievement in my life. I "deserved" all the good luck and I was jealous and petty and resentful there wasn’t more and hated to see others get what I thought was rightfully mine. I am a 60 year old man who has had to admit how badly flawed his views on life were and how disrespectful I was of all the blessings I had been given. This is when it is hardest to look into that mirror. I have to face my failures of character and my failing to care enough about my family and friends to protect them and not disappoint and let them down.

My wife and children have never waivered in their love for me. They were, and probably still are, angry with me for being stupid and irresponsible. My actions turned their lives upside down and created fear and anxiety and terror they didn’t deserve. Nothing is the same. They had every reason to throw me under the bus and walk away. Instead, the first letter I received from my oldest daughter, Cait (while in solitary confinement), quoted a Psalm in which God promises never to forsake us and she added, "...and neither will we dad." Their love is a total gift, which only now I appreciate in all its grandeur.

My siblings, also embarrassed, disappointed, hurt, angry and amazed at my lack of any sense, have also stayed the course with me. They have counseled and helped my children in my absence, supported me, and 4 came to visit me earlier this year. It was the first visit I have had since surrendering two plus years ago and until that day, I didn’t fully grasp the love and power of family and the willingness to overlook even shortcoming of my Olympian level.

My friends, and I had no idea there were so many, have been rocks of support and I now have hundreds of new friends, most of whom I have not met, (I look forward to the day when that is possible) with whom I correspond and whose mail I look forward to and delight in its arrival. These people, you people, have been unwilling to let one mistake define me in your eyes and have been forgiving and caring in reaching out to me. None of you had to do it, and yet you did. Why? How do I explain all of these actions? Where does this reservoir of kindness originate?

I'm a 60-year-old convicted felon and everything of value, according to society, has been taken from me. I am sad a lot and wonder if there will be life beyond these fences some day. I ache. I miss my family so much, and worry about the damage I have done to them. However, as this anniversary of my birth comes and goes, I realize I am also lucky and blessed. I have family and friends who love me, a mind which still works, a spirit seeking my God and hoping to draw closer. I have experienced random, selfless acts of kindness. My health is improved, and I will return to my wife and children a better man than I left. (I hope) I once wrote on this site, I now understand the key to life is not avoiding adversity, but rather the key is whether you can get back up after being knocked down, and continue forward. Thanks to all of you...thanks to my family and friends...thanks to a loving God and thanks to so many prayers, maybe I will be able to get back up and lead the rest of my life in a way you can all be proud of and my family can point to as an example of a husband and father who learned from his mistakes... lost a great deal... but regained a heart and soul open to the grandeur of God.