GOP bluff

July 26, 2011 GOP leaders in Congress don’t want a balanced-budget amendment. The party, which rails against government bureaucracy, is counting on government bureaucracy to prevent them from successfully changing our founding documents. It’s perfect because they don’t actually want to amend the Constitution — well, not in a serious way. Maybe in a drunken, overly-clever, 1:30 a.m. in a Hill-adjacent dive bar kind of way: “The 28th Amendment should outlaw blue food on Wednesdays...that’d be hilarious!!”

Dog days for PETA

July 26, 2011 Ah, heck. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C., a week ago and missed the Lettuce Ladies.You see, July, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, is National Hot Dog Month. It’s when we pay homage to the 7 billion delicious dogs we’ll eat between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is none too happy about that. Every July, PETA sends babes clad in bikinis made from lettuce leaves to Capitol Hill, where they promote vegetarian dogs.

Ledge update

July 25, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — Tourism’s contribution to the Arkansas economy increased about 1.4 percent last year, from $5.38 billion to $5.45 billion.The number of visitors to the state actually went down slightly, but their spending was up.Industries that cater to travelers employed more than 58,000 Arkansans and paid $1 billion in salaries.Based on surveys and information collected at welcome centers on the state’s borders, Texas ranked highest as a state of origin for visitors.

Riding The Incline

July 25, 2011 One break of the cables and we would have been a scene for every news station across the country.I could see the helicopters hovering above the trees and CNN’s Anderson Cooper reporting live.That was all I could think about, stepping inside the cable car at the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn., and I know it had to cross the minds of everyone else who paid the $14 to ride what is considered the steepest passenger incline in the world with a 72.7 percent grade at its highest point.

Closing the book

July 25, 2011 I used to have an aversion to big-box stores, especially those that destroy well-run, friendly neighborhood businesses, which is a fundamental part of the big-box strategy.Over time my stance softened. My family and I do more of our shopping in places like Target, Best Buy, Costco and Home Depot, because of the large selection and reasonable prices. Yes, the personal touch is missing — but that’s a tradeoff, because sometimes you want to spend an hour examining dozens of socket wrenches without a salesperson hovering.

Call your mom

July 22, 2011 I have two daughters. One is 11 and the other is 23 and goes to college in Daytona Beach, Fla. Like any mother, I worry about my child living alone so far away. She doesn’t know anyone there and doesn’t have anyone to help her. Her car has been giving her some problems and has left her walking a few times. She has never complained about the apartment building she lives in other than the upstairs neighbor being too loud at times.

Nothing in Murdoch meltdown justifies hacking into the 1st Amendment

July 22, 2011 For me, as an advocate for a free press, watching the ongoing phone-hacking flap in Great Britain involving News Corp. and media mogul Rupert Murdoch is part fascination, part revulsion and, at least for the moment, just a touch of First Amendment concern.

Summer of ’80 was scorcher

July 21, 2011 Thirty-one years ago on July 13, Batesville was the hottest spot in the nation, reaching an official 111 degrees.Thanks to Jim Barnett of Batesville for calling that to our attention (as if we could ever forget). Well, actually, we did forget the exact date. But we didn’t forget that summer.The information Barnett brought in — clippings from old Batesville Daily Guards — brought back memories of the rolling blackouts, which allowed the insides of homes to sizzle just like the outside heat was sizzling.

Patriotic purchasing

July 21, 2011 Is it unpatriotic for Americans to buy foreign-made products?Last summer, President Obama said: “I’m convinced we’re going to rebuild [the economy] better and stronger than before. And at its heart is going to be three powerful words: Made in America.”You’d think that would be a call to action — for government to encourage domestic manufacturing, and for consumers to aggressively support it.