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J.P. Doodles

THE BOOKEND: East Tennessee joys


Dearest readers, How are y’all? I am having a lovely evening listening to Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble while I write this week’s column.

Dinner cooks in the oven while I enjoy the time change and early nightfall outside of my antique windows in the historic district. I have a very romantic imagination, but the streetlamps look like the ones in merry Old London. Divine evening.

I hope you had a great weekend. Fall is made for mystery, exploration, and candy corn of course. So, I explored the Paint Creek corridor here in Greene County. Talk about exploring, talk about mystery, the Paint Creek corridor has it all.

This corridor is deep in the Cherokee National forest. Come along for the ride with me. The way I like to go is South on the Andrew Johnson Highway through Greeneville. Because … one must stop at Pal’s Sudden Service for a sweet tea and Frenchie fries!

Then I take a right down Hwy. 107, or what we refer here to ‘the 107.” You drive that a little piece, (hey, if you want exact directions, check GPS, I am a turn right at the cow sort of girl) and turn right on to what we locals call the 107 cutoff. It is also marked as Hwy. 321. You drive that a good spell. You will get to a four-way stop with a gas station if you need some more sweet tea. Then you get back on to 321 going the direction you came in. Soon you will reach the Asheville Highway, you will turn left on to the Asheville highway.

Not too far down the road, probably 3-4 miles there will be a road to the right that makes a sharp left called Houston Valley Road. You take it and drive for around 10 minutes and you will see a sign to turn left into the Cherokee National Forest. Until this point you will have been traveling through Greene County rolling farmland. Absolutely gorgeous countryside. But as you drive deeper into the Park the terrain will dramatically change. You are now in the deep, dark, and to me-alluring forest. There are towering, massive evergreens with many variations of trees.

You will descend a big hill, and down and down you will go into the corridor. Go slow, as the road has one lane in parts of it with a big drop off. As you reach the bottom of the hill to your left will be the camping area, you will want to go to the right, over a rock bridge. From this point on, as you go through the corridor the river will run beside you.

The speed limit is 20 mph, which you should follow because in many places there is just one lane. Now … just meander through and think of the history of this mystical place. The Cherokees made this their home. President Andrew Johnson when leaving North Carolina came through here. You will see a cluster of log cabins. There will be several waterfalls as you drive. Suddenly the road will make a turn to the left and you will see the French Broad River. Look up to your left as you pass the cliffs there, there are original Indian hieroglyphics on the top of them.

If you are feeling very adventurous you can follow this road all the way to Hot Springs, North Carolina. It’s only about 20 miles from that point.

Hot Springs has the historic mineral waters there that you can pay to go soak your troubles away in. My Uncle Lowell and two of my aunts like to go soak for their arthritis. The Appalachian Trail runs smack down the middle of town. I would recommend the Iron Horse for dining. I have never had a bad meal there.

Goodness, I think I need a soak and something good to eat from the Iron Horse. I never get tired of traveling through there.

Who wants to go with me and ride in my little red car?

Until next time y’all, have a Paint Creek week, and have a literary week!

NEWS & NOTES: Is this the best we have to offer?

Is it possible? The 2020 presidential election is just a year away. You may not have noticed the relative peace and quiet this year, because it is never really quiet and peaceful these days.

Even though this has been a non-election year for most, politics is all up in our face. Impeachment, quid pro quo, fake news, investigations, subpoenas, witnesses, Russians, debates, charges, counter-charges, indictments, whistleblowers, witch hunts, and more.

Now, it’s about to become very loud. 2020 will be filled with attack ads on every medium possible. You won’t be able to escape them on TV, radio, Facebook, and any other space that catches your eyes and ears. Unlike the old days, these ads will not tell you anything positive about Candidate A. Instead, they will be filled with slurs about Candidate B.


I once suggested that voters should refuse to support any candidate that runs negative commercials. Soon, someone rightly pointed out that such a strategy would eliminate almost all candidates. What has happened to us?

According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2016 election, about half of us did not vote “for” either candidate. Forty-six percent of Democratic voters checked the box next to their candidate’s name only because they wanted to vote against the Republican nominee. Similarly, 53% of Republican voters say they went with their party’s candidate, only because they were voting against the Democrat.

This was not the case in previous elections. In both 2000 and 2008, the two other recent elections in which no incumbent was on the ballot, most people said they went to vote “for” the candidate whom they selected, not “against” the opponent.

It is not unlike when I follow my wife’s orders, and head to the supermarket with a list of produce. She married me, so obviously she’s choosy. (Pause for laughter). She likes her bananas a little bit green, but not too green. She loves avocados, but not too squishy. Sometimes, I have to settle for whatever is in the bin. I bring home too-ripe bananas, or too-soft avocados, and I get “the look.” Husbands know what I’m talking about.

I try to explain, “But sweetheart, this is the best they had, among the selection from which I had to choose!” That never goes well. “Then, you shouldn’t have gotten any at all,” she will reply, with the firmness of the avocados I was supposed to buy. For some voters, this must be the case.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, voter turnout was in the 60-65% range. This was when fewer people had transportation to the polls, and younger people were not allowed to even register to vote. In 2016, with two candidates on the ballot who were polar opposites, only 55% bothered to go to the polls. We can offer up all sorts of excuses, but somewhere near the top would be this: many voters disliked both major party candidates, and simply stayed home.

What else has changed? Without question, the echo chamber cable news channels, on both sides of the political aisle weren’t around fifty years ago. One would think they would get the electorate fired up, but maybe they’re burning us out.

Then there is social media. The founders of those sites keep telling us their purpose was to bring us closer together, but we know how that turned out. It was fun for a while to interact with Aunt Zelda, until she started posting memes slamming our favorite politicians. We liked her better when she was bragging about her cats and her grandchildren.

It is quite likely that in 2020, many folks will repeat what they said in 2016. “Seriously? Out of 330 million Americans, these two are the best we have to offer?”

It’s enough to make you wonder. Has the White House become an undesirable place to live? Are the floors creaky? Are there plumbing issues we need to address?

We all want a knight in shining armor, a candidate we can rally behind. Does that person even exist? Are our divisions so deep that no candidate can win a solid mandate, carrying the big cities, the flyover states, the rural areas, and the growing minority communities?

To win the presidency, a candidate must win at least 270 of the 538 electoral college votes. Not that many years ago, the winners captured 525 (Reagan, 1984), 520 (Nixon, 1972), 489 (Reagan, 1980), and 486 (Johnson, 1964). Certainly, there was grumbling after those elections (and in Nixon’s case, impeachment hearings and an eventual resignation), but generally we accepted the results, and didn’t argue at the holiday dinner table for at least three years.

Finally, you may not have noticed, but I think I just made history. I wrote an entire political column without mentioning any of the 2020 presidential candidates. I figure you’ll hear their names enough during the next year.

(David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg”, available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. Readers may contact him at radiotv2020@yahoo.com, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405)

MY VIEW: Trump is right, its time to wipe drug thugs off the face of the planet

One of the most cold-blooded massacres in modern times happened Monday in Mexico.

In a cowardly ambush, members of a Mexican drug cartel gunned down in cold blood nine innocent Americans, including six children, and set their vehicle on fire, burning alive many of the wounded inside.

By all accounts, the families were “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

President Trump was among the first to condemn the evil act and called on Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to allow the U.S. to cooperate with that country in declaring “war” on the drug thugs who routinely terrorize and commit such atrocities in Mexican states that border the U.S.

Obrador, however, has apparently been taking lessons from the spineless, liberal, left-wingers of his own country. who think that “hugs are better than bullets” and that it is OK for murdering cowards to get slaps on the wrist and early release from prison cells.


Do you think for one second that any of that gang of low-life, amoebic pond scum, dope-dealing excuses for humanity give a rat’s toenail about a HUG, or that – based on what happened this week – that they have any semblance of compassion hidden anywhere in their stone-cold souls?

“It was lamentable, painful because children died, but do we want to resolve the problem the same way (as previous administrations)? By declaring war?” the Mexican leader asked. “That, in the case of our country, showed that it does not work. That was a failure. It caused more violence.”

Sorry, dude, but you are either one of the most uninformed people on the face of the planet or one of the stupidest.

Passivity doesn’t work in the face of such evil.

It isn’t that bullets don’t work, its that the Mexican government is quite obviously scared to its toenails to go head-to-head with these satanic demons. Either that, or someone in the government there – maybe lots of someones – are profiting, big time, from the multi-billion dollar drug smuggling business between the two countries.

Eight children – including an eight-month-old baby – survived the attack by hiding in nearby brush and, even though they were seriously wounded, some walked miles to get help.

Among those riddled with bullets and burned to death were two eight-week old twins.

If that doesn’t make you sick to your stomach nothing will.

Mexican officials said late Tuesday that a suspect had been arrested near the Arizona-Mexican border in connection with the attack, but does anyone seriously think that – if convicted – this animal will receive the punishment that he deserves?

The Mexican president uses the phrase “hugs not bullets” in his promise to clean up the violent drug cartels, but his track record on curbing drug-related cartel violence in that country is pathetic … since taking office last December there have been more than 32,000 murders there, the vast majority of those directly related to the illicit drug trade.

Passivity doesn’t work in the face of such demonic evil.

Hugs may be great when you are dealing with rational, warm-blooded people with hearts and compassionate souls.

Not so with gutless monsters who use automatic weapons to slaughter and burn alive infant babies in their car seats.

In such cases, force – and lots of it – is the only answer.

President Trump on Monday Tweeted:

“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

What I am about to say may not sit well with some, but so be it … its the truth and the truth sometimes stings.

When we step back and look at this tragedy, remember two things:

1) The thugs who commit these murders in the furtherance of their illicit drug trafficking fear no authority – the only authority they understand is violence, so let the Mexican and U.S. military cooperate and give them exactly what they understand. The lairs of these drug rats are no big secret to many in Mexico or the U.S., and a few well-placed Patriot missiles smack-dab in the middle of those nests of scum would be doing humanity in general a great service; and,

2) Were it not for the millions of people in the U.S. who abuse and traffick in illegal drugs, these cartels would have no need to exist, therefore, all of those who buy and abuse these substances, and the low-lifes who peddle them, all share a portion of the blame for what happened on Monday.

So the next time you pop that illegal pill, or shoot up, remember the faces of those sweet, precious children we have been seeing on the news who were murdered so that some drug thug could continue on his way to smuggle into the United States that same meth, heroin, fentanyl or other dope you are getting high on; take a good look in the mirror and see who is partly to blame and then do the right thing and turn your back on that lifestyle forever.

Think about it this way – how would you feel if that had been YOUR child who was so viciously and brutally slaughtered so that someone’s drug habit could continue?

Kinda puts things in a whole different perspective, doesn’t it?

That’s my view.

What say you?