Roy Exum: Lamar Alexander’s Joke

Friday, May 16, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Lamar Alexander, the terribly-misguided senator from Tennessee who is coming across like a comical curmudgeon in his defense of the seedy side of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, must be proud. A fellow colleague, 80-year-old Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has just endorsed Alexander’s alternate bill to the popular PAST Act and that gives Alexander a total of four co-sponsors of his bill.

Ain’t that swell? What you really need to know is that the PAST Act, which means “Prevent All Soring Tactics,” has already been endorsed by 51 Senators – a majority – and an accompanying bill in the House, HR1508, has 272 of 435 members of Congress now as co-sponsors, which makes Alexander’s efforts on behalf of the Shelbyville “Big Lick” almost as embarrassing as the fact the Volunteer State has now become the epicenter for horse abuse in the world.

For a half-century most trainers in the Walking Horse business – most particularly in this state -- have sadistically sored and tortured show horses by applying caustic substances to the animal’s legs so they will perform the sickening high-stepping gait that is both unnatural and is believed to cause premature death in the animals. This has been done in open defiance of the federal Horse Protection Act, written in 1970, and heretofore only punished with meaningless citations, or “tickets,” doled out by the critically short-staffed U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ironically, Alexander is a native of Maryville in Blount County where, next week, trainer Larry Joe Wheelon – who headed the Ethics Committee for the Trainer’s Association – will go to trial with four other men for animal abuse. Wheelon was indicted on 18 counts of horse abuse and eyewitnesses said some horses were in such pain they could barely walk.

Alexander’s awkward stance, which has enraged sound horse advocates across the nation, is believed to be because his state campaign chairman in this year’s re-election bid is Steven B. Smith, who is president of the breed registry for the Walking Horse group tightly controlled by the Big Lickers. Smith, who has personally violated the federal Horse Protection Act in the past, has obviously funneled many thousands into Alexander’s campaign.

Smith was also instrumental in an alleged $70,000 donation to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin) at the walking horse Celebration this August. Blackburn has sponsored a rival bill in Congress against the PAST Act legislation, which was immediately endorsed by Chuck Fleishmann (R-Chattanooga) and Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) among others. Blackburn’s bill now has a total of 11 cosponsors.

The other three members of the Senate who have cosponsored Alexander’s bill are minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Rand Paul (R-KY). McConnell has been an ardent supporter of the Big Lick for years and once wrote a letter to the USDA, stating that if they did not quit harassing the horse industry he would see funds were withheld. The letter was signed by more than 10 other senators, which included former Tennessee Senator Bill Frist at the time, who is a physician.

The PAST Act has been enthusiastically endorsed by the top equine groups, veterinary organizations, and leading animal advocacy groups in the country. Each group knows that tight-fisted legislation will not harm the Walking Horse industry but, instead, will clean up the scandal-ridden industry centered in tiny Shelbyville, Tenn.

Alexander, who calls the PAST Act legislation “the Humane Society bill” in an effort to slander the HSUS after it has worked tirelessly against the Big Lick cheaters for years, claims he wants a “common sense approach” to stop the flagrant cheating and wants to “preserve the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.” Such a view lends to a far-fetched theory the former college president and state governor may be becoming delusional. He is nearly 73.

His pandering bill, which is as lukewarm as fresh spit, is viewed by sound horse enthusiasts as a joke since veterinarians and “clean” trainers alike agree the action devices make it easy to hide painful devices. And its little secret is that Alexander’s alliances with the Shelbyville crowd are shamefully in play. The fear is Alexander and McConnell could indeed block the PAST Act, using sad yet legal methods, but there is no hiding the fact the Big Lick is dying.

The sickening shenanigans spawned in Shelbyville, from Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell becoming an internationally-known monster after his “world premier” was shown on Nightline to Wheelon’s impending trial, has caused an angry public to turn its back on shows and owners to avoid showing for fear they’ll be caught in a state where horse abuse in now a felony, and has greatly damaged the reputations of one of Tennessee’s greatest natural treasures.

Why Lamar Alexander would defy the wishes of thousands of Tennesseans who are fed up with horse abuse is something voters should remember in the fall elections. And, don’t worry, 80-year-old Orrin Hatch doesn’t have a vote.

royexum@aol.com



Positional Asphyxiation - The Danger Of Babies Sleeping In Car Seats - And Response

Roy Exum: The 1:59.40 Marathon!

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies


This is an important article many new parents may not be aware of. This is only the second time I've heard of danger, positional asphyxiation, of placing young babies, mainly less than one year ... (click for more)

First, we must tell the children, every little boy and girl must come. Anyone who has already started our next generation yet are less than only a few steps in their life’s race, must come. They ... (click for more)

This guy marveled when he read to his wife from the morning newspaper: “It says here that researchers have found women speak twice as much as men do.” His wife calmly replied, “That's because ... (click for more)


Opinion

Positional Asphyxiation - The Danger Of Babies Sleeping In Car Seats - And Response

This is an important article many new parents may not be aware of. This is only the second time I've heard of danger, positional asphyxiation, of placing young babies, mainly less than one year old, leaving them to sleep in their car seats. I shared this story with a young couple out west who are relatives the first time I heard of this danger. They recently had a new addition ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The 1:59.40 Marathon!

First, we must tell the children, every little boy and girl must come. Anyone who has already started our next generation yet are less than only a few steps in their life’s race, must come. They must see. Yes, we who have nearly finished our distance or the promising millennials who are still in their climb, you too! We must call them and point to the picture of a 34-year-old they ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Mac Taggart Shot In Shoulder By Officer After Pointing Gun At Deputies At Charleston, Tn.

A man was shot in the shoulder by a police officer at Charleston, Tn., early Sunday after a domestic disturbance call. At approximately 2 a.m., Bradley County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call near Laguna Drive in Charleston. Lance Leroy MacTaggart has been taken into custody on four counts of aggravated assault. While the victim sought medical treatment, deputies ... (click for more)

Woman Injured In Red Bank House Fire Saturday Evening

A woman was injured in a house fire Saturday evening in Red Bank. A 911 call was made reporting a house fire at 133 Flora Circle. At 6:30 p.m., Red Bank Fire Department responded to the scene and arrived reporting heavy smoke and fire on the back of the residence. The Red Bank Fire Department immediately requested a mutual aid response for additional manpower. The Signal ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Records Another Shutout At Citadel

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team earned a record-tying eighth shutout with a 2-0 win over The Citadel Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference action at the Washington Light Infantry Field. The Mocs improve to 8-4-3 on the year and 3-2-1 in league action. The Citadel falls to 5-6-2 overall and 1-4 against the conference. The Mocs matched a school record eight shutouts set ... (click for more)

Covenant Scores Big USA South Win Over Maryville On Riggs PK

Jesse Riggs' penalty kick in the 77th minute and a stout defensive effort from the Covenant men's soccer team lifted the Scots to a pivotal, 1-0, victory over Maryville in USA South action on Saturday night at Scotland Yard. Covenant (11-2-1, 8-0 USA South) gains sole possession of first place in the USA South West Division with the win. The Scots finish the regular season ... (click for more)