From the House of Representatives

December 23, 2011 Every holiday season, countless Arkansans depend upon the kindness of strangers. From the children whose names appear on the Salvation Army Angel Tree to the gentleman at a nursing home who can’t make it home this year. No matter where you live, there is an opportunity to volunteer.

State Capitol Week in Review

December 23, 2011 The highlight of state government news for 2011 came when the Arkansas Legislature lowered state tax rates by $35 million a year.The tax cut package includes tax relief for consumers in Act 755, which lowers the sales tax on groceries by half a cent, cutting state revenue by $20 million a year. 

Why we fight the war on Christmas

December 23, 2011 Is Christmas a Christian holiday? Every year some fight to keep Christ in Christmas, and others fight to keep Christmas off public property. Christmas has become a season to fight the so-called war on Christmas.To the politically correct among us, Christmas is no longer just Christmas. Hanukah is older than Christmas, and I don’t know anyone who’s against celebrating Hanukah. But we also have Kwanza and Festivus and something called a flying spaghetti monster. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who’s against celebrating any of these holidays either.

Finding strength from John 3:16 carolers

December 23, 2011 I am really trying to get into the Christmas spirit, but no luck. Everything has changed since losing Mom. Holidays were always at her house. Dinner was served at noon and if you weren’t there — we started without you. On Thanksgiving and Christmas when we were kids, Mom would starve us until lunch. We were barely allowed in the kitchen. She wanted to make sure us kids ate good at the feast she was preparing. It was torture to have to sit and smell all the good food, knowing we had to wait. We would sneak a bite here and there when she wasn’t looking.

A star is born

December 21, 2011 During this time of year my family is often asked to do Christmas programs for different groups. Sometimes we will be asked to do a program for the nursing home, other times we might be asked to prepare a few numbers for a community dinner. Since I am much more limited in talent than my wife and my children, I am usually the master of ceremonies. I tell the regular jokes that no one laughs at and stories that put people to sleep. The rest of my family enhance the season with music.

Welcome home

December 21, 2011 Surrounded by the protection of barbed wire fences and cement barricades, the United States Forces — Iraq flag was furled for the last time during an unpretentious ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 15, 2011. It has been a long nine years. At the war’s onset in 2003, troops were promised the only way to return home was through Baghdad. Nine years, two administrations, and multiple tours later, with mission finally accomplished, troops are headed home to celebrate Christmas.

Nuns make good teachers

December 21, 2011 Boy, did New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg get himself into a heap of trouble with educators.While speaking to students at MIT, he said that “in his ideal world he would fire half the city’s teachers and pay those remaining twice as much to teach classes double the current size,” reports The New York Times.He also said that when he was a kid, classrooms were packed and he and others in his generation did just fine — the idea being that good, committed teachers can handle larger class sizes.He’s older than I am, but I had the same experience. I was taught by nuns.

Ron Paul, Tim Tebow and the Iowa Caucus

December 20, 2011 The first act of the Republican primary ended last Thursday not with a bang but with a Tim Tebow reference. The most influential pre-primary debates ever concluded in Sioux City to boffo ratings on TV but negative ratings for the candidates, leaving Iowa Republicans with the possibility of a Christmas miracle: These guys might actually let Ron Paul win.

How to enjoy business travel when you’d rather be home

December 20, 2011 Traveling for business sounds glamorous.  Until you have to do it.During the last 4 weeks, I’ve traveled to California twice and made trips to New Jersey, New York, and Bermuda.I wasn’t sunning myself on a beach or taking in Broadway shows.  I was working. I love my job. I do keynotes and consulting projects for sales organizations. The working part is great, but the travel can be challenging.After many years of less than optimal experiences, I came up with 6 Best Practices to make business travel more enjoyable.1. Make decisions in advance

Disparity in fire protection

December 19, 2011 Dear editor:I am writing in response to the letter of Ms. Brenda Sandage in the December 13, 2011 issue of the Batesville Daily Guard. Ms. Sandage is 100% correct  in her view that new taxes should be spent on essential services. There is currently a great disparity in the levels of fire protection provided to property owners within Batesville and those in other areas of our county. However, it costs just as much to put out a house fire in the most remote areas of our county as it does in Batesville.