Roy Exum: Rep. Blackburn Draws Fury

Monday, November 18, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Marsha Blackburn, a Republican member of Congress from Tennessee, became the subject of scathing fury over the weekend after a Huffington Post political columnist vilified the 61-year-old woman in a story entitled, “Why This Congresswoman Opposes Effort To End Horrifying Horse Abuse.” The short answer is that Rep. Blackburn has become deeply entwined with the scurrilous “Big Lick” segment of the horse industry and is believed by some to be using her power on Capitol Hill to benefit those who continue to cruelly abuse and sore horses.

The story, written by national columnist Christina Wilkie, told specifically how the Congresswoman was given a $100-per-person reception by the questionable Performance Horse Show Association in August 2013 and received a $70,000 donation during its National Celebration in Shelbyville three months ago. Since then she has railed against House Bill 1518 and has urged her fellow lawmakers to defeat it.

The HuffPost story also revealed the Performance Horse Show Association president at the time – Terry Dotson – had two horses disqualified at the Celebration after each failed inspections and while he resigned just two days later, “Cruella de Blackburn” – as she was called on Sunday by one of well over 2,500 detractors on the website -- came out this week in public defiance of the sweeping reform in the embattled Walking Horse industry.

Ironically, Blackburn is the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington and this week, when the same committee held hearings on the proposed Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, Blackburn strutted her distain for all to see and has worked all fall to quell HB 1518, which was sponsored this spring by state Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis).

Blackburn’s stance is that “this legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and potentially eliminates the entire industry and thus the breed,” but horsemen and women all over the world know better. Horse shows elsewhere thrive and there is no soring. But in Tennessee there is word that more criminal charges may be forthcoming and the PAST Act would make soring a federal felony instead of a misdemeanor.

As of yesterday, a whopping 233 members of Congress have signed to co-sponsor the popular bill, 160 Democrats and 73 Republicans, but – curiously -- the entire Republican delegation from Tennessee, seven in Congress as well as Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker, are believed to be against the animal protection measures due to their ties with the “Big Lick” organization. (Alexander’s state finance chairman is, in fact, Steven B. Smith, a director of the Walking Horse Breed Registry.)

* * *

The reactions to the HuffPost column were livid. One person wrote, “It is a shame that those horses can't contribute part of their purses to bribing Blackburn. The bill would have a better chance,” while another wrote, “Maybe we should chain and weight Blackburn's hoofs and see how she likes it?” Black Angus Young noted, “What's the point of this and why do they call it an industry or sport? I've never heard of the game before.... you make a horse walk silly and people watch or something? I thought hockey was boring, but even this is enjoyment for some? Why not just watch paint dry?”

Another furious response: “I lived in Tennessee for 3 years. Scary politics and politicians there. They elect people, as obviously indicated above, with little intelligence and even less common sense. Dumbest state politically I have ever witnessed firsthand except for Texas and the Bushes. Somebody put a saddle on her back and "sore" her and I bet she changes her tune, while prancing proudly of course.”

One SuperUser tried to explain, “It is OK to abuse a horse because it makes money. Forget any other motivation. She would oppose the same actions done to a dog, goat, etc. However, horses which have been hurt make money for some of her wealthy contributors. There is a lack of compassion because she is paid to lack compassion and to explain it away. If she agreed with banning soring, she would lose money for her campaigns!”

Another: “I'd bet money that the horses are smarter than the majority of people in Congress.” LMPD added, “This is actually a compromise position for Marsha. Her original position was to require "soring" be done on all food stamp recipients, gay people, atheists, and other commie types. (sarcasm)”

Still another wrote, “Marsha, any of those wonderful and beautiful horses, that you see only as another profit, has more worth to this world in the tip of its tail, then you have in your entire body.” And Eileen Left responded, “Blackburn would support anything that had a lobbyist check attached to it. She is the poster child for ‘get the money out of politics’ and her views cannot be trusted.”

From Tucson: “We are all God's creations and should treat all with dignity and respect. It seems to me that Congresswoman Blackburn is, at best an elitest, in that she looks at these horses not as being worthy of respect, but as tools to profit, and at worst, a hypocrite, as I am sure she would not want to be treated in such a cruel manner.”    

* * *

Accompanying the lengthy article on Rep. Blackburn was a HuffPost slide show of 16 of “The Biggest Political Hypocrites” and included were two politicians from Tennessee as well as Georgia’s former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Tennesseans pictured were former Senator Albert Gore and current Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper).

DesJarlais was pictured hugging his wife and the caption read, “Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) just won a second term despite recent revelations that he had sex with a patient while working as a physician and later urged her to get an abortion. Yet DesJarlais' campaign platform opposed abortion. "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life," his website stated. There’s more. According to transcripts from his 2001 divorce proceedings, released after the election, the congressman and his then-wife made a "mutual" decision for her to have two abortions while they were married.”

It is believed all of Tennessee’s representatives will seek reelection in 2014.

royexum@aol.com

This picture was snapped seconds before this horse's hoof literally came off. Note the red soring markings on the foreleg
This picture was snapped seconds before this horse's hoof literally came off. Note the red soring markings on the foreleg

Education From A Businessman's Point Of View

Our school board should be viewed as a board of directors that works for us, the stockholders of an education system in which the entire community is invested. With a $400 million budget, it is important that we elect individuals with business experience not only to manage how funds are allocated, but also to seriously evaluate human resources to enlist the best management team ... (click for more)

VW Investment Questions

Clearly, our city and county government are going to award an additional $52 million in local tax payer resources to VW assuming a return of 2,000 jobs direct, and indirect return. To weigh the rate of return to the community, someone had to assume how long the 2,000 direct jobs would exist. Does anyone know how long our government assumed 2,000 job would continue or sustain for ... (click for more)

EPB Files With FCC To Expand TV, Phone, Internet Offerings Outside Electric Service Area

 EPB announced Thursday that it has filed a petition to the FCC "in an effort to respond to neighboring communities’ requests for access to the company’s gigabit enabled high-speed Internet service." Officials said, "EPB offers high-speed Internet access, video programming and voice services using a fiber optic communications network that allows the company to deliver these ... (click for more)

Black Creek Developers Say They "Followed The Rules" On $9 Million TIF: To Continue Project

The developers of the Black Creek project at Aetna Mountain said Thursday they "complied precisely by the rules when we applied for and received approval of the TIF district." Doug Stein said the group plans to continue on with the project, which he said earlier would include the creation of a small town on a huge undeveloped tract on the mountain above Black Creek (formerly ... (click for more)

Stone Leaves South Pitt For Coaching Positions At Boyd-Buchanan

The possibility of a career move was definitely in Wes Stone’s future. The one he took wasn’t necessarily on his radar screen just a few weeks ago. Stone, assistant football and head baseball coach at South Pittsburg, has left the Pirates for teaching/coaching positions at Boyd-Buchanan. The 38-year-old Stone, who already is working with the Bucs’ football team as a defensive ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy's Wright Commits To MTSU Baseball

Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University. Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman. “I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright ... (click for more)