I’M WITH BEN: The conundrum for #NeverTrump supporters:

Though others didn’t suggest they’d ever vote Clinton, they did make it clear they would remain steadfast against Trump. Conservative columnist and Daily Wire Editor-In-Chief Ben Shapiro told TheBlaze he will either vote third party or not vote at all.

“I have certain lines I will not cross as a voter,” he told TheBlaze. “Trump is beyond those lines, and so is Hillary.”

Snakes need loving, too

Whenever I suggest to someone that snakes should be left alone and allowed to slither on their merry way, they generally look at me like I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead.
It’s not unlike the look I get when I tell folks that it’s actually against the law to kill snakes in Tennessee.
As a child of the rural South, where slamming on the brakes and sliding one’s truck tires over a snake that is sunning itself on a gravel road is almost a sanctioned sporting event, my kindness towards snakes has been a lifelong evolution.
And as an adult who has had more than his fair share of close encounters with copperheads, it isn’t that I’m fearless of snakes. In fact, given my penchant for stomping through briar patches and rhododendron thickets to explore the backwoods, I will not be surprised when my luck finally runs out. I guess you could say that when it comes to me and snakes, there’s a healthy dose of respect involved.
The fact is, the practice of “the only good snake is a dead one” approach does more harm than good. More than 90 percent of snakes encountered by the average person are non-venomous. And all snakes — even the kind that can send you to the emergency room — serve a purpose, which makes them perhaps the most misunderstood critter that walks, hops, flops or slithers among us. And they are illegal to kill — which doesn’t matter to many folks, but it does make it hard to complain if the game warden writes you a ticket when he catches you cutting the rattles off a freshly-deceased snake in the middle of the roadway.

 

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DOLLYWOOD TURNS 30: Dolly Parton’s Sevier County theme park turns 30 today. And I remember — though vaguely — when it was Silver Dollar City. What does that say about me?

A DESPICABLE HUMAN BEING: Republicans reluctant to appear anti-Trump have consoled themselves the past couple of weeks with the notion that Trump has adopted a toned-down approach as the GOP primary nears its end. So much for that idea. Trump’s efforts to link Ted Cruz’s father to the Kennedy assassination — with absolutely no proof to back up his claim — is one of his most despicable moves in an election that has been full of outlandishness from the New York real estate mogul. Trump may have become the Republicans’ presumptive nominee with his win in Indiana tonight, but now the question becomes how many Republicans will refuse to vote for him. I know one conservative voter who wouldn’t vote for Trump regardless of who the candidate is on the other side of the ballot.

Yep: The Donald Trump candidacy, summed up in a single paragraph from the New York Times:

Mr. Trump, a real estate tycoon turned reality television celebrity, was not a registered Republican until April 2012. He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including his likely general election opponent, Mrs. Clinton. And, at various points in his life, he has held positions antithetical to Republican orthodoxy on almost every major issue in the conservative canon, including abortion, taxes and gun control.

OOPS: Oneida woman reports car stolen from Walmart, complains on Facebook that cops aren’t doing enough to recover the vehicle, and winds up in jail.

HIGHEST RANKING YET: It’s safe to say that the expectations are lofty for Tennessee heading into the 2016 season. But College Football News just ranked the Vols higher than anyone…No. 3 in the nation in their post-spring practice rankings. That’s two spots behind SEC foe LSU (No. 1) and just ahead of Alabama (No. 4).

WELL, THAT’S KINDA EMBARRASSING: After going 50 years with having players drafted every single year, the University of Tennessee has now been blanked two years in a row in the NFL Draft. In fact, NFL Network pointed out Saturday that Germany has had more players drafted into the NFL the past two years than have the Vols. The full impact of the disastrous Derek Dooley experiment continues to be felt.

Tennessee Congressman Jimmy Duncan, R-Knoxville, has endorsed Donald Trump for president.

For Duncan — a moderate Howard Baker Republican who has made a name for himself as a sensible member of the GOP (he was one of the few Republicans to vote against the Iraq war) — an endorsement of Trump is a true head-scratcher. It might serve him well to heed what David Brooks had to say in today’s New York Times:

People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter.

Kenny Chesney – Save It for a Rainy Day

I fell off the Kenny Chesney bandwagon when he turned away from his country roots and became a beach bum. Not that I have a thing against beach bums; I just have a thing against singers who try to reinvent what Jimmy Buffett has already perfected. Kenny Chesney may be an East Tennessee guy (the pride of Corryton) but I became so anti-Kenny Chesney that I didn’t even give his 2014 album, “The Big Revival,” the time of day…until recently. Now, though, Chesney is starting to win me back.

Atop the rock

You never know what you’re going to find atop those house-sized boulders that litter the Big South Fork River Gorge. While hiking a few weeks ago, this scene caught my eyes through the gathering shadows of late evening — blue and purple flowers peeking over the edge of a boulder roughly the size of my home:

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So I scrambled up to the top of the rock, and this is what I found — a literal meadow of wildflowers growing in the naturally composting leaf matter that has collected on top of the rock over the years. Thousands of blooms that could not be done justice through the lens of a camera:

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