Roy Exum: Fleischmann In A Pinch

Friday, March 21, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Chuck Fleischmann, who is precariously running for a third term as one of Tennessee's nine representatives in Congress, appears to have gotten himself in a not-so-delicate pinch with horse lovers and animal rights advocates in the state’s Third District.

In a recent letter to a constituent concerned about the sadistic torture and abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses, the incumbent from Ooltewah wrote over his signature that the “safety and proper treatment of animals is an issue that is quite close to my heart” and pledged he would “keep your views in mind should (bill HR1518) arrive on the House floor for a vote.”

But it is widely known Fleischmann is one of nine co-sponsors of a competing bill that was introduced in Congress by his colleague, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin), and the difference between the two bills is so distinct that an editorial in the Nashville Tennessee carried the headline, “Rep. Ed Whitfield's walking horse legislation would end soring; Rep. Marsha Blackburn's would enable it.”

According to the Tennessean editorial, the editors wrote, “We can see there is a special brand of inhumanity that thrives among us in Tennessee. By pitting its own alternative legislation, courtesy of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, against the popular “Prevent All Soring Tactics” (PAST) bill, this group demonstrates how determined it is to continue secretly torturing animals. Stronger than a desire for mere show-ring glory, this appears to be about deriving pleasure from causing pain. That it is defenseless animals, and not people, only increases their ability to get away with it.”

Rep. Blackburn, it has been widely reported, was feted by the embattled “Big Lick” crowd in August of 2013 at the National Celebration and allegedly $70,000 was contributed to her campaign. In contrast, 267 members of Congress (a majority) have now endorsed the popular HR1518 bill, sponsored by Kentucky’s Ed Whitfield, and called the PAST Act, while 50 senators have co-sponsored a companion bill.

Blackburn’s bill has nine co-sponsors, including six other Republican members of Congress from Tennessee. It is hardly lost on such groups as the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Humane Society of America that in the one state that is considered the epicenter for horse abuse in the nation, the Republican delegation has mounted a cartel-like effort to stave off reform efforts.

The PAST Act hopes to eliminate the stacks under the front hooves, the chains and the gruesome torture devices that have plagued the walking horse industry for half of a century while Blackburn’s bill, endorsed by the Big Lick faction, would allow the devices that are believed to contribute to the high-stepping, unnatural gait. The PAST Act would heighten inspections by the USDA while Blackburn’s bill would, in essence, allow the Big Lick to police itself.

Fleischmann, currently rated as the lowest-performing Congressional representative from Tennessee by the website govtrack.us, is facing opposition from both Republican and Democratic challengers in the 2014 election. Another Congressman who co-sponsored Blackburn’s bill, Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper), was named among the “most corrupt” members on Congress by CREW.com after receiving a reception in 2012 similar to Blackburn’s fundraiser. DesJarlais is also facing strong opposition this summer.

Senator Lamar Alexander, up for re-election this year, and Bob Corker are not among those who have co-sponsored the Senate bill (S1408) of the PAST Act. Alexander’s state campaign chairman is Steven B. Smith, who heads the Big Lick’s breed registry, while Corker insists he has not had sufficient time to study the merits of either of the Congressional bills.

A Gallup Poll in December gave the 113th Congress the lowest rating ever for honesty and ethics, a single digit of eight percent, the lowest in the 39 years the pollsters have been conducting measures of public satisfaction.

royexum@aol.com



Roy Exum: He Can Never Go Home

When Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sparked top-ranked Florida State to a 56-41 comeback over N.C. State last Saturday, you would have thought the world had forgotten and virtually excused his vulgar rant from the week before. His inexcusable mid-week antics kept him sidelined during the Clemson game and brought down the nation’s scorn but less than a week later he was ... (click for more)

EPA Overreach Jeopardizes Jobs And Increases Energy Prices

The latest round of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency are difficult to rationalize. The EPA’s planned greenhouse gas rules will jeopardize low-cost electricity relied upon by local governments, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers – a regulation whose impact will be felt by much more than just energy producers and utility companies – but throughout the ... (click for more)

Linear Park Planned As Extension Of Walnut Street Bridge In Front Of Planned Boutique Hotel

A linear park that will be an extension of the Walnut Street Bridge public space is planned in front of a new boutique hotel at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way (Second Street). Mitch Patel of Vision Hospitality on Tuesday night told nearby residents that "the city pushed this idea of a linear park, and we agree that it is a great idea." He said the current situation in which ... (click for more)

Sharply-Divided City Council Approves Office Reorganization; Councilman Freeman Calls Move "Evil, Hellish"

A sharply-divided City Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to completely reorganize the council office, leaving current staffers without a job down the road but with the option to reapply. Councilman Moses Freeman called the move "evil" and "hellish." He said, "We are punishing somebody on a personal level," though he said the office has been running smoothly. Saying the majority ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Earns Senior-Night Soccer Victory

Honoring the team’s nine seniors was a focus of Tuesday night’s girls’ soccer match at Notre Dame, but it wasn’t the top priority for the Lady Irish. They knew that a win over visiting Signal Mountain would secure a first-place finish in District 7-AA, and their mission was to earn it. Notre Dame did just that, making Emma Higgins’ early goal stand for a ... (click for more)

UTC Men's Hoops: Brooks Savage, Alex Wharton Promoted

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.---The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball program is promoting two staffers, pending University approval, coach Will Wade announced Tuesday. Brooks Savage and Alex Wharton are moving into new roles in the wake of assistant coach Turner Battle leaving to take a similar position at UAB. Savage takes Battle’s place as a full-time assistant after ... (click for more)