h1

Rick Boucher, Bill Carrico, and William Wampler

September 25, 2006

I’ve had discussions with learned Republicans in this area about the Boucher v. Carrico race.  Just about every Republican I’ve talekd to has already conceded this race.  There’s no way–no way–that Bill Carrico can beat Rick Boucher.

The general consensus is that the GOP will either have to wait until Boucher retires (which is probably a very long way off), or until State Senator William Wampler decided to run against him.

You may know that Senator Wampler’s father, Bill Wampler, was the 9th district’s Congressman from 1952-1954 and from 1966-1982, when he was defeated by Boucher.  GOPers think that Wampler may want to “vindicate” his father for the loss.  Others think that simply based on his last name, he could beat Boucher.

I say no way.

First, we’re not even sure if Wampler would want to run for Congress.  I’ve heard from a Republican friend of mine (who ran for Lt. Governor in 2001, if that tells you who it is) that says Wampler won’t run for any higher office until his children are older, and even then, he would probably like to run for a statewide office (Lt. Governor is the most likely choice, apparently).   That’s a way to kill three birds with one stone, right there.  Not only would Wampler’s Senate seat come open (a possible Democrat pickup–Boucher held it before he did), but a losing race would probably eliminate Wampler from running against Boucher, and, since Wampler isn’t exactly what I would call chairismatic, he would probably lose the LG race (maybe even in the primary if it’s 2009).

So, I’m here to say to the Republicans, Bill Carrico is not going to be our congressman.  William Wampler is not going to be our congressman.  Running against Rick Boucher is a lost cause, folks.

-Neal

h1

Jim Webb In Bristol

September 23, 2006

Today I went to an event at the Holiday Inn here in Bristol with Jim Webb.  This was my first time seeing Webb in-person, and I was thoroughly impressed.  As intelligent as he comes across on television, he’s even more impressive in-person.  He covered issues from his Reagan television ad and his time in the Reagan administration to social and economic fairness and the Iraq War.

George Allen had a guy with a camera at the event, who apparently I was sitting directly in front of.  The guy’s name was John.  He apparently didn’t have a last name (or, since he didn’t want anybody to know it, left it off his name tag).  I’ll say this about him (and I don’t like to talk bad about folks too much): If these folks with the cameras are representing the campaign of a sitting U.S. Senator, they shouldn’t wear shorts that are way too short for a guy, or shirts with motor oil (or something) on them.

One thing that was very interesting to me was Webb’s segment on the lead-up to the Iraq War, and calling his friend, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.  He posed a very detailed question to Hagel for him to pass on to the Department of Defense.  He said that in previous times, he would pose even more detailed questions, “Like ethnic breakup of fatalities in any given battle in the Vietnam War, and within 24 hours, boom, there’s a spreadsheet,” (that quote was not verbatim, but close) but, with the particular question posed to Hagel, it took longer.  Much longer.  After 60 days, Hagel received a letter back from an Assistant Secretary for Public Relations that blew the question off totally, without any kind of answer.  That, Jim Webb said, was the standard practice for the Bush administration.

After Webb’s speech, he took questions from the audience.  It amazed me that every question posed to him, he had a thorough and specific answer for.  No dancing around the issue.  The questions ranged from international trade laws, to gaffes from Allen, to closing the gap between the three classes.

I came away from this event even more convinced than ever that Jim Webb is not only the best and brightest for the job, and that he would make a great Senator, but that in January, he will be our Senator.

-Neal

h1

Wal-Mart Comes Up With A Good Idea

September 21, 2006

I was reading around on CNN.com this morning (sitting here in English class–not doing my work, I may add), and I found this.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it is testing a program in Florida to sell about 300 generic prescription drugs for as low as $4 for a 30-day supply.

The world’s largest retailer said the program, to be launched on Friday, will be available to customers and employees of 65 Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart neighborhood market stores and Sam’s Club pharmacies in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, and will be expanded to the entire state in January 2007.

walmart_store_front.03.jpg

The $4 pricing will be available to all pharmacy customers with a doctor’s prescription that can be filled with a covered generic medicine, the retailer said.

This program will be available to the uninsured, although insurance will be accepted. It will cover 291 generic medications from many of the most common therapeutic categories, the company said.

The medicines covered by the new plan include those used to treat and manage conditions including allergies, cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics and prescription vitamins are also included.

“This move is possibly the most forceful supply chain move by Wal-Mart in years, since their final retail pricing for many generics will beat the market prices at other pharmacy counters,” Richard Hastings, senior retail analyst with Bernard Sands, wrote in a note Thursday.

Hastings said the big chain drug companies, Walgreen (Charts), CVS (Charts) and Rite Aid should be able to respond to Wal-Mart’s challenge, but smaller prescription drug buyers, including certain supermarket chains that offer pharmacy services could see some margin erosion if they are forced to compete on price.

“From an earnings perspective, this should be a neutral event for Wal-Mart,” he said. “It could improve customer loyalty and stopper traffic over the long term. The key for Wal-Mart is to get customers in, and keep them shopping in other departments. We’ll wait and see if this works, but it will take up to two years to know if this has helped with cross-departmental traffic and conversion.”

Wal-Mart (Charts), which has been the target of critics who complain that its health insurance is out of reach for many of its 1.3 million U.S. employees, has in the past year introduced several programs to improve its benefits for workers.

In April, the company extended insurance coverage to the children of part-time workers and started a benefit plan with monthly premiums as low as $11.

Wal-Mart said the program will help alleviate a major challenge for seniors who have fallen into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and now find themselves responsible for paying 100 percent of their prescription medicine costs

Bill Simon, executive vice president of the Professional Services Division for Wal-Mart, said in a company statement that purchasing a 30-day supply of the diabetes drug, Metformin, for $4 represents a nearly 50 percent savings from the cost of the brand name version of the drug.

In addition, he estimated that purchasing a 30-day supply of a brand name blood-pressure drug typically costs $12. Getting the generic, Lisinopril, for $4 saves customers nearly $100 annually.

On the surface, I think it’s great that Wal-Mart is taking this kind of step to provide access to medicines that some of the lower income families might not be able to afford otherwise.  This is one time that Wal-Mart has made a great decision (now if we could get them to pay higher wages, we’d be in business).

h1

For Lack of Anything Better to Say…

September 11, 2006

I don’t really have anything to say this morning, but it seemed like I should probably post, so enjoy these links until I have something substantive to say.

YouTube really is the best thing to come along in years…

The Rich Sheik
The Benchwarmers
Tiptoe Thru The Tulips
In The News  This one I highly recommend.  If you’re against the war, against Bush, etc., watch this one IMMEDIATELY

h1

Playoffs 2006

September 8, 2006

Okay, so who’s going to make the playoffs this year?  I think a couple are obvious, but a few, not so much.

Here’s what I think:

NL
East: New York Mets
Central: St. Louis Cardinals
West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card: Florida Marlins

AL
East: New York Yankees
Central: Detriot Tigers
West: Oakland A’s
Wild Card: Minnesota Twins

I further think that the World Series will come down to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Detriot Tigers.  I’m not ready to make any kind of guess on who will win.

-Neal

h1

Is Bob Corker Against Emergency Services?

September 6, 2006

There was supposed to be a story here, but it didn’t do it, for some reason.  I’ll re-write it tonight.

h1

School Prayer

August 31, 2006

Justin and I had an interesting argument (we tend to do that occasionally) yesterday about school prayer.  Apparently, some girl, somewhere in America (I tried to find the story, but I couldn’t) was stopped during her address at her graduation for talking about Jesus.

Justin said he saw nothing wrong with her invoking the name of the Lord.

I beg to differ.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m a Christian, I go to church often as I can, I’m going to Heaven when I die.  And nobody can tell me any different.  I also believe that whether you’re Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Catholic, Jewish, or whatever, you have an equal chance of getting into Heaven.  There won’t be any barbed wire and barking dogs to separate us when we get there.  No need to act like there will be while we’re here.

But bringing religion into high school graduations is a step over the line.  Granted, there’s the likelihood that the great majority of people in the crowd had no problem with it.  But that’s not the issue.  The issue is that some people may have had a problem with it.  America was built not only on majority rule, but on minority rights.  There’s no need to step on the minority’s rights when it comes to religion.  If the people in the audience wanted to hear a sermon, they could have went to church.

Now, at this point in our argument, Justin added that, “Well, they didn’t have to stay in there and listen.  They could have walked out.”  Well, this was a high school graduation, so chances are everybody was there to see one of their children/grandchildren/etc. graduate.  They really were a captive audience.

I posed the following hypothetical to Justin:  Suppose, at our graduation, our valedictorian got up at expressed her love of Allah, her believe in multiple nature gods, declared she had no belief whatsoever in any god, or so on and so forth.  Justin didn’t like the sound of that.  He said he would take it as a chance to minister to them.  But I asked if he didn’t think he would be upset that his graduation, something that happens only once in his life, was turned into a Jesus-bashing meeting.  He didn’t like that, either.

So, basically, when it comes to shows of religion in school, I’m for the moment of silence, I’m for voluntary prayer (to a degree–after some point it becomes basically compulsory), but I’m strongly against any kind of prayer over the p.a. system, prayer to a captive audience who may not want to hear it, or expression of any kind of religious belief to a big group of people if it may offend some of them.

-Neal

UPDATE: Justin’s account of what was said differs with my accounting of it.  He says: 1-He wouldn’t care if someone expressed their love of Allah, etc. 2-He wouldn’t use it as a chance to minister to the person. 3-He says he wouldn’t have any opinion if a graduation was a “Jesus-bashing” meeting.  SO, you have both sides of the story here.