This is now positively ancient (story came out Friday) but worth noting for its quite local connection: Richard Alan Meywes of Buncombe County was arrested in Fairview, N.C., on Thursday and charged by the FBI on Friday with "murder for hire," for an e-mail he sent soliciting someone -- anyone -- to kill Michael Schiavo for $250,000, and he tossed in another $50,000 for the death of the Florida judge in the case. (Russert on "Meet the Press" this a.m. was showing that judge's picture, which almost seemed designed to help any would-be, home-grown assassins out there successfully identify their target.)
The text of Meywes' e-mail was somewhat tortured, as though he had the foresight to attempt to deflect accountability: "It is my understanding that whoever eliminates Michael Schiavo from the planet while inflicting as much pain and suffering that he can bear stands to be paid this reward in cash." As we read that sentence, he was soliciting not just murder but a little freelance torture as well.
The e-mail also noted -- in the interests of scholarship, no doubt -- the recent death of a judge in Atlanta and the death of a judge's family members in Illinois.
We haven't found anything additional on who this Buncombe County cat is, his background, but we think it safe to assume he's the poster child of the fanatic religious right, the bunch that induced the Republican Congress & El Presidente to monkey with the constitution.
While we're on the topic of soliciting murder, the notorious anti-abortion screamer Randall Terry thrust himself into the Schiavo circus as "spokesman" for Terri's family against her husband Michael. Randall Terry is best known as the leader of Operation Rescue, which blockaded scores of abortion clinics back in the day and who arranged for the presentation of a dead fetus to candidate Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Charming guy.
For the subject at hand, it's important to note that one of Randall Terry's ardent followers, a malleable chump named James Kopp, took on the mission of murdering by ambush a Buffalo, N.Y., abortion doctor in 1998. Kopp went to jail. Randall Terry is free to agitate anew.
That agitation almost, ALMOST sparked a brawl between competing law enforcement agencies in Florida last Thursday. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sent agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to Terri Schiavo's hospice on Thursday (I mean, they were on the road!) to forcibly remove her from the premises, take her to a hospital, and oversee the reinstallation of the feeding tube. But the local cops in Pinellas Park, who've been providing security to the hospice against the Randall Terrys and their acolytes, warned they would stand their ground. To avoid what could have been a very ugly scene, not to mention a disaster, the Guv's boys turned around and went home before arriving at their destination.
The place -- as of the onset of this weekend -- had gone completely nuts. And not just Florida, obviously.