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Don't Tread on Six-Toed Cats
Townhall.com ^ | December 28, 2012 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 12/28/2012 4:44:11 AM PST by Kaslin

One of my New Year's resolutions is to work harder to persuade ideological friends and foes alike that the way to reduce partisanship and maximize happiness in America is to embrace federalism -- the view that we should push as many decisions as possible to the lowest local level feasible.

Federalism reduces partisanship by shrinking the importance of the federal government. It increases happiness by maximizing the number of people who get to live the way they want to live.

Unfortunately, proponents of federalism tend to start the conversation with the really big issues: gay marriage, drugs, guns, abortion, etc.

I'm for making all of those things local issues wherever possible, too. But, admittedly, those questions are complicated or emotionally freighted. Some questions do cut to the heart of what it means to be an American.

But many don't. So let's start there.

For instance, consider the case of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed cats. According to legend, the writer was given a polydactyl (six-toed) feline named Snowball. Under a deadline, I could not determine whether Snowball was in fact male or female, but assuming he was a he, Snowball managed to overcome the limitations of his emasculating name to leave behind generations of progeny.

Snowball's six-toed descendants live on at the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit every year to see where Hemingway lived when he wrote "To Have and Have Not" and to see 50 or so cats of Snowballian lineage lounge about the grounds of the Spanish colonial.

The cats get weekly veterinary visits and regular belly-scratchings from tourists. The Hemingway Home website says that the cats even have a corporate sponsor, Pfizer, which provides free medicine for them. Most are spayed or neutered to keep the number of Snowball's descendants from snowballing.

The property has a high wall, but as cats are wont to do, they occasionally get out and wantonly rub up against the legs of passersby.

In short, the whole scene is one of sickening cuteness and laid-back charm, consecrated by time and local tradition.

And the federal government cannot abide that.

The Department of Agriculture insists that the cats, with their flagrant sidewalk-napping and unauthorized public self-grooming, must be regulated like lions or elephants or any other "animal exhibit." As a result, the owners of the museum must:

"obtain an exhibitor's license; contain and cage the cats in individual shelters at night, or alternatively, construct a higher fence or an electric wire atop the existing brick wall, or alternatively, hire a night watchman to monitor the cats; tag each cat for identification purposes; construct additional elevated resting surfaces for the cats within their existing enclosures; and pay fines for the museum's non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act."

I don't have the space here to get into all of the details of this 10-year-old legal dispute. But, in short, it's all incredibly stupid.

The fracas began when a neighbor felt that one of the Hemingway cats -- Ivan -- was getting, in her words, too "macho" with the street cats she fed a couple doors down. So, obviously, she complained to the government in Washington about Ivan the Terrible, and Uncle Sam sprang into action.

After a decade of squabbling, a federal appeals court recently sided with the Obama administration, ruling the museum must comply with the federal diktat or get rid of the cats.

To be fair, maybe the cats are a problem. But you know what? If they are, they're not my problem. I don't live in Key West.

In other words, what on earth is Washington doing setting cat policy -- polydactyl or otherwise -- for Key West, Fla.?

I'm always amazed by people who love visiting exotic locales abroad -- and are often sanctimonious about keeping them exotic -- but simultaneously support a government at war with exoticism here at home.

The federal government has plenty on its plate already. It should not be the cavalry of busybody neighbors or aggrieved cat ladies who can't win an argument at the local level.

Key West is not Mogadishu. It has a functioning government, as does the state of Florida. Residents there -- and across America -- are capable of self-rule, which includes the right to live in ways other Americans might think is crazy or wrong. If the six-toed cats launch an insurrection, complete with an updated feline "Don't tread on me" feline flag, by all means send in the feds.

Otherwise, the locals can work it out for themselves. They'll be happier, and Key West will be a more interesting place to visit.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: ernesthemingway; federalgovernment; federalism; florida; kittyping

1 posted on 12/28/2012 4:44:21 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

We now have a post of national cat-catcher. Isn’t that so patriotic as to swoon? (Not)


2 posted on 12/28/2012 4:49:24 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

?


3 posted on 12/28/2012 4:51:33 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them.)
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To: Kaslin

(@)!


4 posted on 12/28/2012 4:53:57 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Kaslin
There is literally no end to what a busybody government will do to control its subjects and spend more money. There is also no end to the destruction that a government can cause in the name of some purported good.
5 posted on 12/28/2012 5:05:24 AM PST by Truth29
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To: Truth29

Ya think the Dept. of Agriculture would ever be modest and bow out?


6 posted on 12/28/2012 5:08:18 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Kaslin

Is the Museum federally funded? If so, that’s the problem starting. Do they have an organization to get funding from:1 the public, 2 the state, 3 United Way (they give to feral humans) 4. PETA, 5. ASPCA, 6. business? Doubt they would need Federal funding.


7 posted on 12/28/2012 5:12:34 AM PST by Safetgiver ( Islam makes barbarism look genteel.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
"Ya think the Dept. of Agriculture would ever be modest and bow out?"

In the fable of the frog and the scorpion, the USDA is the scorpion. Fish gotta swim. Regulators gotta regulate.

8 posted on 12/28/2012 5:12:57 AM PST by Truth29
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To: Kaslin

I started with a barn cat a couple of years ago.  He (Tiger) showed up; just a little fellow, and we took him in.

Did a good job keeping the chipmunks at bay, and was no problem to keep around.

This spring, a couple more cats showed up - his girlfriends no doubt - from his extended days away from home.  Now, at last count; there are 17 of the varmits freeloading off of me!  No doubt Obama voters all!!

 

They hang around the porch; fussing and feuding with each other; constantly looking in the window to see when more food will be forth coming.

My wife says I've spoiled them, with the heated floor in the doghouse, and warming their milk to keep it from freezing.

 

Of course, I did it all out of sake for the chilrun kitties and NOW look what's happened.  If they EVER find out about free medical care; my economy is DOOMED!


9 posted on 12/28/2012 5:15:32 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Kaslin

Imagine the Key West liberals getting fed up with the Washington leftists and shooting them. Now wouldn’t that be a twist on all the scenarios we imagine that would ignite CW II?


10 posted on 12/28/2012 5:19:13 AM PST by sergeantdave (The FBI has declared war on the Marine Corps)
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To: Safetgiver
It could very well be. According to Wikipedia because on November 24, 1968, it was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Source
11 posted on 12/28/2012 5:22:41 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them.)
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To: sergeantdave
"Imagine the Key West liberals getting fed up with the Washington leftists and shooting them. Now wouldn’t that be a twist on all the scenarios we imagine that would ignite CW II?"

Or, according to the article, another option is to get rid of the cats. Who knows what a museum with limited funds might do given unappetizing options might do - sort of a destroy a village to save it option.

12 posted on 12/28/2012 5:34:45 AM PST by Truth29
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To: Kaslin

It is almost impossible to get the average lib to understand the difference between allowing the fed government, or any government, to do its constitutionally uauthorized duties and allowing it to do anything it wants. Of course most libs are people who seek greater power over other people just because they can. To ask them to back off from overreaching governmental incursions into private territory is like asking a wild animal not to trespass into your yard. It won’t understand anything except force.


13 posted on 12/28/2012 5:37:07 AM PST by driftless2
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To: Kaslin; Slings and Arrows

kitty ping


14 posted on 12/28/2012 5:42:50 AM PST by Mercat (Adventures make you late for dinner. Bilbo Baggins)
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To: Kaslin
The Department of Agriculture insists that the cats, with their flagrant sidewalk-napping and unauthorized public self-grooming, must be regulated like lions or elephants or any other "animal exhibit."

Somewhere in a cubicle in D.C., some bureaucrat with an $80k job, with 2 or 5 supervisors up the chain each with $100k jobs, are churning out diktats on cats. Our tax dollars at waste... and of course these aren't the ones who'll get the axe in any 'cuts'. The axe will fall where it is the most visible and punishing to the public as a means to punish the public and convince them that more tax monies are needed.

15 posted on 12/28/2012 6:08:22 AM PST by Flick Lives (We're going to be just like the old Soviet Union, but with free cell phones!)
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To: Kaslin

Unfortunately, if you try to advance federalism in a piecemeal fashion, attacking just one onerous regulation at a time, you will quickly find that it is just a single pebble in a Mount Everest of overregulation. And for each pebble you remove, several hundred are put in its place, on a monthly basis.

So here is a better approach: give the regulatory ability of the federal government to the states.

For example, a regulatory agency like the EPA should constitutionally create regulation only when pollution transcends state borders, or when there is an ecological disaster too great for a state to clean up (of which there are many). This would fit the original intent of the constitution.

But beyond these things, the EPA should only be an *advisory* agency, to give out information that others may *choose* to use to regulate.

Next, the problem of largess should be handled in a simple way, by giving the states block grants and *advice* on how those grants should be spent.

So, for example, if congress votes a new health program for poor children, the money would be given as a block to each state, based on how many poor children that state had. And if a state agreed to take the money on condition that they use it only for that poor children program, they could either choose to take it, or refuse it outright.

Doing this would slash a vast amount of federal government, cost a whole lot less, and make the federal budget much simpler.

It would be “federalism with a vengeance”.


16 posted on 12/28/2012 6:29:14 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Pennies and Nickels will NO LONGER be Minted as of 1/1/13 - Tim Geithner, US Treasury Sect)
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To: Truth29
Or, according to the article, another option is to get rid of the cats. Who knows what a museum with limited funds might do given unappetizing options might do - sort of a destroy a village to save it option.

There is a rumor now going around the Web that WACO had cats there!

17 posted on 12/28/2012 10:14:47 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

Striker got it first at Ruby Ridge...


18 posted on 12/28/2012 10:16:14 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Mercat; Gefn; Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; etabeta; ...


19 posted on 12/28/2012 10:22:28 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Elsie

Get a live trap and start catching and neutering them. Worked for me...


22 posted on 12/28/2012 10:46:41 AM PST by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (Some cultures are destined to remain stupid and we need to quit trying to uplift them.)
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To: Elsie

It’s the chipmunk exterminators union. Get with the program!


23 posted on 12/28/2012 11:07:34 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers

A couple of big mean dogs.

But then ya gotta feed the dogs!


24 posted on 12/28/2012 11:10:16 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers
Get a live trap and start catching and neutering them.

May we propose a national campaign to do that with liberals?

25 posted on 12/28/2012 11:21:46 AM PST by doorgunner69
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To: Slings and Arrows

26 posted on 12/28/2012 11:35:09 AM PST by Daffynition (Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. ~ HLM)
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To: Daffynition

I’ve never seen the paw pads of a six toed paw before.
Incredible.


27 posted on 12/28/2012 11:56:42 AM PST by Gefn
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To: doorgunner69

“May we propose a national campaign to do that with liberals?”

Splendid idea! Or at least it would be if liberalism were genetic...


28 posted on 12/28/2012 12:02:04 PM PST by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (Some cultures are destined to remain stupid and we need to quit trying to uplift them.)
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To: Daffynition

“The name’s Dactyl. Polly Dactyl.”


29 posted on 12/28/2012 12:07:04 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Safetgiver

Unfortunately it’s not as easy as federal funding - they used the interstate commerce clause on this one. Somehow they decided that these cats have a substantial affect on interstate commerce.


30 posted on 12/28/2012 1:13:19 PM PST by andyk (I have sworn...eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.)
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To: Daffynition

Laura Bush had one of those 6 toed cats. I think they called him Ernest. They sent him to live in CA when they moved to the White House because they said that he was too incorrigible for White House living.


31 posted on 12/28/2012 2:07:00 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Daffynition

OMG....one more little tiny toe to kiss. Of course, not without payback, but well worth it!


32 posted on 12/28/2012 5:15:50 PM PST by NoGrayZone (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.)
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers
I had a couple of polydactal chickens.

Here is a composite shot of their feet:




33 posted on 12/28/2012 7:15:03 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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