Why Harold Ford. Jr. lost

November 9, 2006

I try to stay out of politics in this blog, but since I write about Tennessee culture and heritage, it is impossible to ignore the senate race in Tennessee in which Bob Corker defeated Harold Ford., Jr. 

Friends of mine in Colorado and from coast to coast asked me during the campaign what I thought of Ford’s chances, and more than one person intimated that they thought Tennessee was too racist to elect a black senator.  I would explain that, while there are bigots in Tennessee (and Colorado and Massachusetts) Ford’s family was his biggest obstacle to overcome–a point that usually got covered in just one paragraph in accounts written by outsiders. 

Writing in the Nashville Scene, Liz Garrigan and Jackson Baker give a very clear look at why Ford lost. 

Nashville Scene – Corker Crashes Ford


"Soring” Walking Horses–the abuse continues

November 9, 2006

This week’s Metro Pulse has a sickening cover story on the practice of abusing Tennessee Walking Horses in order to achieve the crowd-pleasing “big lick” gait. 

Writer Leslie Wylie gives the best explanation I have seen so far on how and why trainers abuse these horses.  She quotes a marketing consultant as saying that the National Walking Horse Celebration, which takes place every August in Shelbyville, has $38 million annual economic impact on the region.  That sounds high to me, but there is no question that the Celebration pulls in large numbers of people and dollars.

The repeated accounts of soring, reported this year in The New York Times and other publications, make Tennessee look terrible.  What other state hosts such a large event centered on abusing animals?  The Walking Horse industry, controlled by the very people who benefit from soring, will never, so to speak, take the right steps. 

It is time for Tennessee state government, working with the feds, to bring soring to an end.  Increase the fines, put some people in jail–whatever it takes.  This practice has to stop. 

:: Metro Pulse Online ::


The quiet–and still dry–side of the Smokies

November 9, 2006

Townsend has always billed itself quite rightly as “the quiet side of the Smokies,” and for many travelers this village is a welcome contrast to the hokum of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  The 250 residents had a chance to make a tourism-related change in their community in the last election, however, and they turned it down.

By a vote of 96-87, residents rejected a proposal that would have enabled restaurants to serve liquor by the drink.  Was this a good move?  Restaurants make a lot of money from alcohol, and being able to sell it usually means that more upscale places are likely to move in, a welcome relief from the “country cooking” cuisine all so present in these parts.  Higher restaurant tabs would have brought more tax dollars to Townsend as well. 

Being able to sell alcohol might have brought more people to Townsend, however, and the quiet side might become less quiet.  Having seen in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge how bad things can get with no planning and unbridled development, I think it’s important for the good people Townsend to do whatever it takes to control growth. 

And if they think having no liquor by the drink helps, I’m all for it.  Cheers!

KnoxNews: Election