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



Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

The Grim Path Of Progressivism

Mandates Are A Bluff - And Response (15)


The old Chicago ‘Transit Authority’ song from 1969, “Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?” - how true those words are today in our society, especially the “does ... (click for more)

Progressivism claims to represent the interests of ordinary people through mandated government programs and regulations. But facts tell a different story. Where progressives govern they rarely ... (click for more)

Via something called an "Executive Order," the facemask mandate will go into effect in Hamilton County on Friday until Sept. 8. This is an illegal executive order and carries no legal weight. ... (click for more)



Opinion

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

The old Chicago ‘Transit Authority’ song from 1969, “Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?” - how true those words are today in our society, especially the “does anybody really care” words. The answer to that question is a big “NO.” Bob Tamasy, a Chattanooga Christian columnist, whom I regularly read, but do not personally know, had an interesting ... (click for more)

The Grim Path Of Progressivism

Progressivism claims to represent the interests of ordinary people through mandated government programs and regulations. But facts tell a different story. Where progressives govern they rarely represent the interests of ordinary people, and it’s not progress. USA Today in 2019 listed America’s 25 most dangerous cities. Twenty-three have progressive mayors. Many are the cities ... (click for more)

Breaking News

County School Board Members Say Unexpected Higher Price To Put CSLA At Northgate Mall Puts Damper On Project

County School Board members said an unexpected price jump from developers for the Sears portion of Northgate Mall as a school site put a damper on the "out of the box" idea. At a facilities committee meeting on Saturday, board members were told developers Bassam Issa and John Woods said they had paid $3.5 million for the Sears section, but that other expenses had moved the overall ... (click for more)

Robert Franklin Charged With Arson In July 4 Hixson Pike Business Fires

Robert Franklin, 36, of Crossville, was arrested Saturday and charged with arson following two recent fires at different Hixson businesses. Franklin is accused of setting fire to two buildings on Hixson Pike on July 4. Fire officials said, " A motive is unclear. The suspect was uncooperative with investigators. He does not have any connection to the businesses where he allegedly ... (click for more)

Sports

Tee Times Announced For 2020 CWGA City Women's Amateur Golf Championship

The 2020 City Women's Amateur Golf Championship will be held on Tuesday at Black Creek Country Club. Listed below are the first round tee times. Hole 1 Name H.I. C.H. TEE 8:00 AM Ryon, Carlene 7.4 6 White-CWGA ... (click for more)

Top Announcer John Freeman To Make The Call When CFC Once Again Takes The Field On Saturday

For John Freeman, working CFC’s Saturday match against the Georgia Revolution is something of a thank you letter to the Chattanooga Football Club. As a TV broadcaster for Nashville SC, he believes his job would not have existed without CFC's success. “What excites me most about being part of a CFC broadcast and why I was so excited to say yes, was that Chattanooga was one ... (click for more)