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32 posts from May 2005

Michigan not friendly to small business

Lansing, Michigan's next mayor will play a key role in deciding what kind of future the city and the region will have.  Historically, the area has been dependent on the auto industry.  A couple of miles northeast of us is where the popular Cadilac CTS is built.  It's right next to the former Oldsmobile headquarters.  Our area is peppered with GM plants and their suppliers.

But, the auto industry is struggling to stay afloat in an economy that's going to some major transitions. 

The question is my mind is how Lansing can be kept from becoming another Flint, MI where GM used to reign supreme and now has less than a token presence.  It's almost a ghost town, compared to its past.

Look at today's Detroit News and a story about Michigan's response to small business which accounts for three-quarters of new jobs.  They are treated pretty shabby, especially in being taxed.

Candidates for Lansing mayor need to have a vision for dealing with this, at least, to get my vote.

Lansing, MI Mayor Tony Benivedes needs U.S. flag

Just down the street and around the corner from me in the southwest side of the city of Lansing, MI is the home of Lansing Mayor Tony Benavedes.  My nine-year-old beagle, Snoopy, and I walk past his house pretty  often and we drive by his comfortable bungalow a couple of time a day.

We noticed something today, a quiet, sunny Memorial Day Weekend. On our way to Holmes Rd. we drove by his home in the morning and in the late afternoon.  He was not flying an American flag.  That really surprises me.  Actually, I'm disappointed.

Our country is at war and we have soldiers from Michigan who are in harms way.  If there ever was a time to fly the flag, it's this weekend.

You'd think he would be leading by example.  Regardless of your politics one should still fly the Stars and Stripes.

Continue reading "Lansing, MI Mayor Tony Benivedes needs U.S. flag" »

Snowflake babies from embryo adoption

I've been trying to follow the debate over stem cell research.  I read this morning's rant on the topic in today's New York Times and its blast at President Bush for sticking to his values.  I read another one in the Lansing State Journal this morning that left you sucking your thumb from the lack of effective argument.

How about all the kids who are born from adopted embryos and become snowflake babies.  Focus on the Family writes about them.

My road that led to prison

Img_0256A lot of people asked me why I've spent so much of my life in prison.

It was because of a friend, Ken Alexander, originally from Ypsilanti, MI.  He had a volatile childhood that led him to a pretty long sentence at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.  A special parole got him out after five years.

Reason; he'd say it was "Victory In Jesus."  He got me to go inside with him when he was asked to give his testimony at a special chapel service where he did his time.

We just kept going back in as in-prison volunteers.  First, it was that prison, then another, then another, another and several more after that.  That's why I was in prison.

Lessons learned while in prison

I was talking to a friend this morning who talked about a struggle with bitterness.  My friend has had some real bumps and grinds along the way, along with more down the road.  Some of the best advice I ever got was from a guy in prison.  He said:

Bitterness is a poison you swallow and you expect the other guy to die.

I'm sure he heard it from somebody else.  But that's pure wisdom.  I was convicted after he said it.  Thinking back, my bitterness has only hurt me.  I've found the answer for dealing with it, but it's a process.  For the most part, I think I've kept my bitter feeling towards some others under wraps which is probably even more destructive.  Prison can be a real learning factory.

One more thing about Billy Graham

The USA Today story about Billy Graham makes an important point and provides a contrast between Mr. Graham and other evangelical Christians:

  • He believes and preaches an inclusive Christianity.  What does this mean?  So many in the Christian Right truly believe that anybody believing different from them in specifics is going to hell.
  • When my furnace man found out that I was Lutheran and that I believe I was saved at my infant baptism, he choked.  He said my salvation was in danger because of that.
  • Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family comes off regularly with the attitude that anybody who doesn't believe just like him is not a real Christian or they don't have as many punches on their God card as he does.

Continue reading "One more thing about Billy Graham" »

Billy Graham, a great man near his end

When I was growing up on Marquette Street in Bay City in an old apartment building, my mom really enjoyed watching Billy Graham crusades.  Because of his preaching and because of the hope in Jesus Christ that was so clearly expressed, her faith was always anchored deeper.

He's a great man.  Billy Graham is one man who I can say I truly stand in awe of.  Maybe its his integrity and his clear values and his passion for Jesus. 

I think USA Today did a great job with this updated profile of him as he gets ready to preach his last crusade in New York City.

Female prison inmates are victimized in Michigan

There are lots of women in Michigan prisons are they are being victimized by the Michigan Department of Corrections.  The Detroit News writes about this in an important series of stories. Everybody should be outraged by this.

Michigan lawmakers need to be held accountabile for this.  By letting this abuse of female prisoners continues, they are not doing their job.

A couple of years ago, they eliminated the legislature's Michigan Office of Corrections Ombudsman.  This office needs to be reinstated and its enabling statute needs to be strengthened.

I'm eating a Boca Burger right now

Right now, I'm sitting on the floor of my living room eating a Boca Burger.  Ever had one?  It's a veggie burger, but it doesn't taste like it.  If you didn't tell somebody, I bet they wouldn't know they were not eating meat.

Why do I eat these?  It's simple.  I'm almost 59 and those are prime heart attack years for a guy, especially one who is a little overweight.  And, I'm working on that.  My chorlesterol is low.  I know the Boca Burgers are helping and I actually like them.  Leave a comment if you've had them or if you're thinking about it.

Gay marriage at Hope College in Holland

This morning's Detroit Free Press has a piece by its religlion writer David Krumm about a book from a Hope College professor emphasizing that conservative Christians need to reverse their opposition to gays and to gay marriage.

Debate on this and associated issues has been very uninspiring in the past and I'm sure that this paradigm will not change as the hornets nest gets in full gear over this book.

Before I retired as a legislative staffer in the Michigan House of Representatives, I witnessed this issue real up close.

Continue reading "Gay marriage at Hope College in Holland" »

Why the Apostles Creed

I was helping to lead a Bible study at Jackson Prison in Jackson, MI with guys from the segregation unit.  There were Christians and Muslims together.  And, it seemed like everything they said had a real edge to it.  One night one of the Muslim guys asked a Christian guy exactly what he believed. 

My first thought was that his response would take awhile.  The Christian inmate recited the Apostles Creed without blinking.  That's what he believed.  A light bulb went on in my head.  I grew up saying that creed every Sunday in church. 

I finally saw, up close and personal, why it is important to have it memorized and stuck in your heart.  Can anybody relate?