Friday, October 2, 2009

VIDEO: Judge James Garrison explains the economic plight of Eastern Kentucky

You meet the finest people in the world at the Huddle House in Manchester, Ky. When my readers learned I was en route to Clay County, one commenter told me to talk to former county judge/executive James Garrison. What a coincidence that he walked into the Huddle House where I was meeting Tuesday evening with Manchester Enterprise news director Morgan Bowling, who is the judge's cousin (of course, practically everybody is cousins in Clay County).

Before I left Wednesday, I made sure to interview Judge Garrison, who gave me a tour of his 600-acre property, where I watched him feed the catfish at his commercial fish-farming operation and recorded this brief video:

As my commenter told me, if you close your eyes, it's like listening to the legendary Southern comedian Jerry Clower. Judge Garrison is extremely knowledgeable of regional history and, in his down-home vernacular, expresses a very well-informed -- and essentially libertarian -- understanding of how federal regulation has hindered the economic development of the community he loves.

If there is an "anti-government" sentiment in Clay County, it's not as if they've got no legitimate grievance. Thomas Sowell or Friedrich Hayek would understand. So would Rand Paul, whom Judge Garrison is supporting in the 2010 Republican Senate primary.


  1. Another good interview! You're really smoking the past tense media.

    I guess by Mad King Chuckie's criteria I am now a white supremacist or something.

  2. Stacy, I'm the commenter who gave you the heads-up on James. Did you get to ask him about his 60 Minutes segment a few years back? If not, it had to do with his family's coal company, The Hardly Able Coal Company, and their run in with the Bureau of Surface Mining. It's a great story. If you ever get to talk to James again, you ought to ask him about it.

    Also, if you do happen to go back to Clay County, call James before you go and ask him if he can have one of his Garrison family fish fries while you're there. There won't be any beer, but the fish will be remarkable.

  3. One other question. In your many interviews, did anyone suggest that Sparkman may have been an informant for Operation UNITE, a federally-funded drug task force?

    (I don't know why my name comes up as "No" when I post from my other computer).