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On any given week, an estimated 100 million people shop at Walmart, or about a third of the American population. That number is set to tick upward with the advent of Franklin's Walmart Super Center. Like children waiting for Christmas morning, the anticipation continues to rise. For others, the outlook is more of a Walmart Scrooge, with a bah humbug point of view. For some, Walmart is too big/successful to patronize - the evil empire of retail. With annual gross revenue over $400 billion which exceeds many nations GDP, it's understandable why Walmart is despised by some as the Goliath among the David-sized competitors.

There has never been a time when it's been easy for the smalltime operator. The failure rate for new small businesses has always been high, even before Walmart arrived on the scene. The last century saw the emergence of the supermarket and the shopping mall as well as the critics who opposed their existence. These entities created a paradigm shift in the market place.


I don't have a dog in the fight but I agree that Romney was “best of show” in the first debate. It's interesting, that as soon as a presidential debate is over, the pundits huddle and declare a “winner.” It's immaterial what is said, but how it is said. Style trumps substance. If the debate seemed scripted, it was, and in more ways than most realize.

Since 1988, the Commission on Presidential Debates has conducted the presidential and vice presidential debates, having replaced the League of Women Voters as the host of these quadrennial events. While the CPD may sound like a governmental entity, it is non-profit corporation, founded and run by the Democrat and Republican parties. Part of its mission statement is to “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.” In reality, the CPD serves as a firewall to prevent unscripted questions and alternative points of view.


From the Office of Rep. Phil Haire

Interim committees continue to meet at the General Assembly to discuss and study education, health, transportation and other matters vital to our state. The hope is that indepth evaluations of specific programs will lead to better decisions when we return to session in January.

This week, I wanted to share a few pieces of information about ethics, redistricting and the economy.


The legislature’s bipartisan Joint Legislative Ethics Committee has issued new guidelines prohibiting legislative employees who serve at the will of a lawmaker from having dating relationships or sexual relations with registered lobbyists or state agency liaisons unless they disclose the relationships to the employing legislators. The guidelines followed the resignations of two members of the Speaker’s staff who were found to have relationships with registered lobbyists.


It was well into their second set that I realized the two musicians on stage were blind. The super sleuth that I am, I had to be told of that fact. I listened intently, but when I looked at the stage, my eyes were drawn to the fingers dancing with precision on the keys and buttons of the accordion. There was nothing “blind” in that playing. Brent Buswell and his wife, Crista, performed Sunday at Helen, Georgia’s Oktoberfest. From Pennsylvania, Brent is an accomplished accordion player, performing a wide variety of music genres. Crista added keyboard, trumpet and vocals for the show.

I enjoyed the music so much, I looked up Brent Buswell's website. Among the various pieces of info, there is only one small reference to blindness. This really got me thinking. Just what did I expect would or should have been written? What struck me, was he doesn't define himself and his music in terms of what he can't do – but what he can.


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