Having visited the Floriday Keys earlier this year, a recent story in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel got my attention. The story, written by Lizette Alverez of the New York Times, was called: "Hemingway house in legal cat fight - Museum's 45 six-toed felines are subject to federal regulations." For those who may not know, famed author Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West for several years. He penned "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" while living at his estate. Hemingway committed suicide in 1961. The beautiful house and lush tropical grounds were purchased after Hemingways death by Bernice Dixon, who later turned the property into a museum. The house, the biggest toursit attraction in Key West, averages 250,000 visitors per year. Michael Marowski, the great-nephew of Bernice Dixon, is currently the chief executive of the Hemingway home and museum.
Aside from being designated a National Landmark, the Hemingway property is home to many cats (approximately 40 to 45 at last count). Most of them are the "polydactal" variety, meaning they have an extra toe (or claw) on their paws. (Our family became familiar with the term when we adopted a kitten 8 years ago. He, too, is a polydactal. He has big feet that look similar to oven mitts, and the extra toe on each of his front paws is very noticeable - and part of his charm.) The cats are rumored to be descendants of Hemingway's cat, Snowball, and are said to provide a true "link to the past."
Anyhow, while in the Keys we toured the Hemingway site. We were treated to seeing many of the cats. They are, to be blunt, very well-fed, lazy, and have the run of the household. Visitors are told to refrain from petting them and instructed not to pick them up, and for the most part they are left alone, only to be featured in many pictures taken by the tourists. The cats are well-taken care of, with weekly vet visits and most are spayed or neutered. They really live the good life!
The cats have their own apartment complex, aside from having the run of the main house and grounds.
Note the polydactyl cat on the left - his big paws are similar to those of our family feline.
Cats do have the run of the place! Here is one getting a drink out of the swimming pool...
Cats can be seen everywhere!
And when cats finally use up all of their nine lives, they are buried in the Cat Cemetery.
To sum it all up, the Hemingway property is well-maintained, the resident cats live the good life, and all is well.
Or is it...
Nope. The United States government just had to insert itself where it doesn't belong and is clearly not needed. For ten years, Michael Morawski has had an on-going legal battle with the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA contended that it had the authority to regulate the Hemingway home cats. They believed that Congress gave them the right under the "Commerce Clause" and Animal Welfare Act of 1966. Sadly, the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit Court agreed with the feds.
What was truly ironic in the proceedings was this little blurb that came from an American Thinker article ("In Key West, the "Hemingway Home" battles the Feds over cats."):
--- One issue still puzzles Morawski: How come his cats can be regulated under the Commerce Clause which, after all, is only supposed to regulate interstate commerce? (Where have we heard this one before? Obamacare???) Morawski stated: "We're a local business...our goods don't go outside of Key West. So how can we be involved in interstate commerce?"
(By the way, the judge who made the ruling explained that tourists visit the home, see the cats, and in that regard the "exhibition is integral to the Museum's commercial purposes." A stretch? Sure! But we've seen such ridiculousness before in court decisions. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts' pathetic ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare comes to mind...)
Mr. Morawski, who spent an estimated $500,000.00 to $600,000.00 fighting the feds in court was dismayed. He had this to say: "I'm still dumbfounded. This is overreach by the federal government." Morawski's lawyer, Cara Higgins, summed up the ruling: "It's silliness. It just got insane. This is what your tax dollars are paying for. The agents are coming down here on vacation, going to the bars, and taking pictures of the cats."
Exactly. What we have here is yet another in a long list of government "over-reaches." Government butting in where they do not belong. This story is just one of many out there. Wasted taxpayer dollars, regulatory nonsense, and silly court rulings. Imagine the money that could be saved by simply using common sense. Sadly, common sense seems to be MIA in government these days. And now the Hemingway cats are subject to oversight by the USDA. Ms. Higgins added: "we are now at the whim of the agency."
At least Mr. Morawski is not taking the ruling sitting down. He has vowed to enlist the help of politicians in Congress to work on legislation that would "rein in the scope of the federal government." This stance, of course, flies in the face of what Americans are currently facing - Obama purposely focused on growing and expanding the role of government in everyone's lives. Morawksi could have quite a battle ahead.
Maybe those USDA agents sent to police the Hemingway cats will suffer from cat allergies...