Thanks For All of the Hare-Brained Publicity, But…

Only one week in, I can already say it’s been a good month at!  At the same time, however, I must say things could be much better.  Allow me explain.

Rabbit Kill Cook Eat 2 6-28-13

Click image above to read article.

Since it was published the evening of Friday, June 28 (not the optimum time to share a story), my article about Ozark, Mo.-based magician Marty Hahne has generated a great deal of interest for the site.  After all, who wouldn’t be interested in learning more about a smalltown magician being told by USDA officials that he had to write a disaster plan for the three-pound rabbit he uses in his magic act or face penalties as a lawbreaker.

The wave of publicity began after David Burge of IowaHawk fame wrote on his Facebook page“I swear I am not making this up.  In the annals of government stupidity, this story may very well be the Mount Everest.  H/T Bob McCarty Writes.”  After that, everyone seemed to pick it up.

DavidBurgeFacebookTo date, the list of outlets that have reported Marty The Magician‘s USDA saga has grown to include — but is not limited to — the following:

• Beck (Dave Urbanski);

• Doug Ross (Larwyn’s Linx);

• Fox Nation (via NewsBusters);

• National Review (Mark Steyn);

• NewsBusters (Tom Blumer);

• Say Anything (Rob Port);

• The Rush Limbaugh Show (Mark Steyn);

The Washington Times (Jessica Chasmar); and

• Watts Up With That (Anthony Watts);

While I appreciate the attention this story has received, I would much prefer seeing our nation’s top bloggers, journalists and radio personalities devoting some attention to the topics I cover in the two nonfiction books I wrote during the past four years:  Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO.  Why? Because my books deal with life-and-death issues that impact our men and women in uniform who serve in harm’s way.

Please learn more by visiting the books’ websites, and, and reading the reviews and endorsements.  Then, I hope you’ll take a chance and order a copy of one or both books.  FYI:  They’re available in paperback and ebook versions at Amazon.comThanks in advance!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

A Lot of People Are Interested in USDA Disaster Plans for Rabbits

About 24 hours ago, I shared news about Marty Hahne, an Ozark, Mo.-based magician who’s been told by USDA officials that he has to write a disaster plan for his rabbit.  Yes, the three-pound rabbit he uses in his magic act.  Now, the story has gone viral!

Rabbit Kill Cook Eat 2 6-28-13David Burge of IowaHawk shared the news on his Facebook page, writing, “I swear I am not making this up.  In the annals of government stupidity, this story may very well be the Mount Everest.  H/T Bob McCarty Writes.”

DavidBurgeFacebookMark Steyn — yes, the frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh — ran with it in a piece at National Review.

Mark Steyn National ReviewAnthony Watts at Watts Up With That had fun with it in his Saturday silliness column.

WUWT Saturday SillinessFinally, Dave Urbanski featured it in a piece on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.

TheBlaze Marty Hahne Story

Others helped, too!  Among them, Grumpy Elder, The Camp of the Saints, Right Reactions and You Voted For ItThanks to all for helping spread the news about this insanity!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

USDA Tells Magician to Write Disaster Plan for His Rabbit

An Ozark, Mo.-based magician whose story about being harassed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agents (a.k.a., “Rabbit Police”) was one of three stories highlighted in an article two years ago, Marty Hahne contacted me today with an update.Rabbit Kill Cook Eat 2 6-28-13“You won’t believe what the USDA has come up with now,” Hahne wrote in an email message late Friday afternoon. If this wasn’t so stupid, it would be funny!”

He went on to share details about his continued harassment by the USDA — all for using a three-pound rabbit in his magic act:

My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly.  I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.

In his email message, Hahne also explained the timeline via which he must comply: 1) the new regulation became effective Jan. 30, 2012; 2) the written plan must be completed by July 29, 2013; 3) Hahne and his wife, Brenda, must be trained to implement the plan as written; and 4) the written plan must be available for review by USDA inspectors by Sept. 28, 2013.

In a reply to Hahne, I suggested he put a tag around his rabbit’s neck that spells out the plan (i.e., “kill, cook, eat”) for anyone who finds his rabbit after a disaster.  NOTE:  My high school son, the artist, put my idea of a plan into the graphic above, but I doubt it will satisfy the USDA.

If stories like this one irk you, contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C., and tell them to tell the hare-brained folks at the USDA it’s time for them to stop chasing rabbits!

UPDATE 6/29/2013 at 9:35 p.m. Central:  Here’s a copy of the 13-page letter (PDF) Marty received from the USDA.  Note the salutation on the letter: “Dear Members of Our Regulated Community.”  So personal!  [CORRECTION 6/30/13 6:35 a.m. Central Note: Last night I accidentally uploaded the wrong file a the PDF and someone let me know this morning.  Now, the right file is linked to the PDF above.  And it turned out to be more than 8 pages.  Sorry.]

UPDATE 6/29/2013 at 9:56 p.m. Central:  It’s gone viral!  See:  A Lot of People Are Interested in USDA Disaster Plans for Rabbits.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Missouri Appeals Court Rules Against Floating Horse Teeth

Almost 18 months ago, I shared the news:   Floating Horse Teeth Goes on Trial in Missouri.  Admittedly one of the strangest headlines I’ve ever written, the story had to do with Brooke Gray’s desire to continue practicing her profession of caring for horse teeth (i.e., “floating horse teeth”) in the state of Missouri.  Yesterday, I learned from the folks at the Freedom Center of Missouri that Gray appears to have lost her right to practice her profession in the Show-Me State.

In early January 2012, the Clinton County Circuit Court in Plattsburg, Mo., ruled that it can and will enforce a state law that forbids any non-veterinarian to accept payment for providing basic animal husbandry services.  The judgment allowed Gray, a young woman with eight years’ training and experience at removing sharp enamel points from horses’ teeth, to continue assisting Missouri’s animal owners—but if she gets paid for her efforts, she will be fined and possibly sent to jail.  The Freedom Center of Missouri, which represents Gray, had argued that the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions protect a citizen’s right to earn a living providing basic animal husbandry services.

Now, fast forward to present.  According to the Center‘s Dave Roland, the Missouri’s Western District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the state can make it a criminal offense for non-veterinarians to provide basic animal husbandry services to Missouri’s livestock owners.

Noting that the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board had threatened criminal prosecution against a wide range of animal husbandry workers, including those engaged in such common, basic tasks as castrating or dehorning cattle, Roland explained, the court ruled the government may impose criminal penalties if these non-veterinarian workers are paid for their labor, despite long-recognized constitutional rights to earn a living in a common occupation and to enjoy the gains of one’s industry.

The decision came despite the fact that non-veterinarians have performed this task for hundreds of years in order to improve horses’ comfort and ability to perform for their owners.

“The court’s ruling effectively strips the right to enjoy the gains of your own industry clean out of the Missouri Constitution,” Roland said.  “What good is a constitutional right if the government can simply declare that it no longer applies?”

Gray was baffled by the court’s decision.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” she said.  “I’m helping horses and horse owners, not hurting them.  The court seemed to confirm that literally anyone is lawfully permitted to do this kind of work and that it is the sort of ‘industry’ addressed in the Missouri Constitution.  So why is it a criminal offense if a grateful horse owner pays me for doing that work?  It just doesn’t make sense.”

The appellate opinion also stated that while the work itself might be legal, it would be illegal for Gray to tell anyone else about her skills – despite the fact that this issue was not raised as part of the appeal.  The trial court had concluded that the government was not seeking to prevent Gray from sharing any information about her knowledge and ability, and the trial court expressly declined to include any such prohibition in its injunction.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that the government has no power to prevent citizens from sharing truthful information,” Roland explained.  “Brooke is very good at what she does and she has every right to tell other people about it, especially when the work that she’s talking about is perfectly legal.”

The Freedom Center of Missouri intends to seek further judicial review of Gray’s case.

“Missouri is home to thousands of workers who have for decades safely and affordably helped farmers and ranchers manage their livestock,” Roland said.  “Their services are essential to this state’s animal agriculture industry and both our state and federal constitutions guarantee these folks the right to get paid for their work.  We’re going to keep fighting to make sure that those constitutional guarantees have real meaning.”

Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Chilling Video Provides More Reasons to Vote for Mitt Romney

If you need another reason to vote for Mitt Romney Tuesday, watch “Rampant Injustice,” a chilling video about the dramatic rise of raids against small business owners by out-of-control federal government agencies during the first term of President Barack Obama.

See also:

• President Obama’s ‘Brownshirts’ May Be Closer to Smashing Down Your Front Door Than You Think

Politically-Motivated Raids Punish Gibson Guitar

Wood Prompts Feds to Raid Gibson Factories

Vote wisely, folks.  Your future depends on it!

Bob McCarty is the author of “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice,” a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including His second book, “The CLAPPER MEMO,” is set for release this fall.

Gardening Against the Law in Backwards Missouri City

During World War I and World War II, it was considered one’s patriotic duty to plant a “victory garden” in order to reduce food costs.  Doing such a thing today, however, could result in one man having to pay a hefty fine or worse if officials in the backward city of Ferguson, Mo., get their way.

According to a news release from Dave Roland at the Freedom Center of Missouri, Karl Tricamo never imagined that it would be especially controversial when he decided to plant a garden in his yard in order to secure cheap, nutritious, organic produce for his family.  Just to be sure, however, he looked up all of the relevant ordinances in the city just north of St. Louis and confirmed that he would not be violating any laws.

Tricamo found that nothing in the ordinances prohibit citizens from growing healthy, organic produce on one’s property.  In fact, the city’s zoning ordinances specifically allow residents to cultivate community gardens and urban agricultural uses in residential areas.

Because he planted the garden in front of his house instead of behind it, Ferguson city officials soon began to pester Tricamo, going so far as suggesting that his garden was illegal.  Roland describes the chain of events that followed:

In March, shortly after he had tilled the garden in preparation for planting, the city sent a letter commanding that the yard be covered in straw and planted with grass seed – even though nothing in the city ordinances requires yards to be planted with grass or prohibits the planting of a garden on residential property.

Six weeks later city officials sent another letter demanding the removal of the vegetables from his yard because the property was not zoned for “agricultural” use, but of course the relevant section of Ferguson’s zoning ordinances explicitly allows gardens to be grown in residential areas.  Then the City sent Mr. Tricamo a notice (below) alleging a violation of Ferguson ordinance number 7-133 – but that ordinance addresses the structural elements of residential buildings such as foundations, walls, windows and doors, stairways, chimneys, gutters, roofs, and buildings’ exterior surfaces.  It says nothing about yards.

When Mr. Tricamo confronted the City about this violation notice, they rapidly backtracked and claimed that it had been sent by accident!  The City said he should disregard the notice, but have continued to insist that Tricamo’s garden is illegal.

Coincidentally, Tricamo’s troubles are taking place just down the road from the city of Hazelwood, Mo., where city officials took issue with two Girl Scouts trying to sell cookies in the driveway.  Coincidentally, the same lawyers who represented the city of Hazelwood against Caitlin and Abigail Mills are representing the city of Ferguson.

This situation illustrates a common practice among some city officials, writes Roland in the news release.  When all else fails in their attempt to control citizens’ behavior, they sometimes just make stuff up.

Learn more about the case here.

After reading about this case, be sure to order a copy of my book, “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.” It, too, will make your blood boil!

Labor Department to Smother Press Freedom

This afternoon, I received an email from my friends at the Online News Association about a letter sent by the head of the Sunshine In Government Initiative to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  In short, the letter implores Solis to reconsider the implications of her agency’s new “Press Lock-Ups Policy, which could inhibit the quality, accuracy and independence of news reporting,” before it goes into effect June 15.

Read the text of the letter (below) and see if you think anything remotely worthwhile can come from this soon-to-be-implemented policy of restraining the press:

May 8, 2012

The Honorable Hilda Solis
US Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Solis:

As a coalition of media organizations promoting the free flow of information, we write to express our serious concerns regarding the new “U.S. Department of Labor Press Lock-ups Policy Statement and News Organization Agreement” that was issued on April 10, 2012. The new policy threatens to undermine the accurate, complete and timely dissemination of independently produced news. We urge the Labor Department (DOL) to reconsider and delay implementing this new policy, better explain the problem the Department is attempting to address, and engage affected parties and the public before implementing any changes to current practice.

Specifically, we would like to meet with Department representatives to better understand the Department’s concerns with current practice, discuss our concerns with the Department’s new approach, and explore reasonable alternatives that avoid unnecessarily infringing on journalists’ ability to independently report timely, accurate information to the public.

Formed in 2005, the Sunshine in Government Initiative is a coalition of media groups committed to promoting policies that ensure the government is accessible, accountable and open. Members include the American Society of News Editors, The Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, National Newspaper Association, Newspaper Association of America, Online News Association, Radio-Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Society of Professional Journalists.

For many years, media organizations have supported procedures to facilitate simultaneous release of sensitive government data that affect markets, and pre-embargo access is essential for media to disseminate information in a timely, accurate and independent manner. The public has benefited enormously from the process the Department currently uses. The practice used to this point ensures the simultaneous release of information while also providing time that enables reporters to place the new data in meaningful context. Distribution occurs through redundant, dedicated lines, assuring security and the timely release of information. This combination of simultaneous release, data placed in accurate context, and security is why other agencies of the U.S. Government which manage the release of market moving news use processes very similar to those currently used by DOL.

Under DOL’s new policy, however, participants would be required to remove their software, hardware, and dedicated lines from the DOL by June 15, 2012. Reporters would be required to use only government owned software and hardware. The use of modern news-producing software would be prohibited. All transmission would be via the internet, not via secure, redundant line. The DOL would own and operate the data lines, internet access and internet connections. As the government grows more concerned about cybersecurity, the proposed policy would create a single point of failure.

This new policy also would have the practical impact of inhibiting the quality, accuracy and independence of news reporting. Unpublished newsgathering information is privileged and protected from compelled disclosure under the First Amendment. Requiring news organizations to draft news articles on government-owned and government-operated computers would give the government unfettered access to unpublished draft news stories and will necessarily inhibit journalists from producing thorough, timely and accurate reporting based on market-moving information.

While the Department has alluded to alleged security breaches, the Labor Department has yet to explain its specific concerns this new policy proposes to address. The parties directly affected and the public cannot evaluate whether any change in procedure, including the new approach the Department announced, is appropriate to address the underlying problem.

We are committed to working with you to better understand any concerns about the current practice and explore reasonable, mutually acceptable solutions, and we would welcome a dialogue to better understand this problem and explore less drastic alternatives. Most immediately, we urge you to delay this policy change and meet with interested media representatives to discuss our concerns.

We thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Rick Blum, Coordinator
Sunshine in Government Initiative

Copied: Senator Michael Enzi, Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Congressman John Conyers, Congressman John Kline, Congressman George Miller, Congressman Lamar Smith, Congressman Fred Upton and Congressman Henry Waxman

I suspect this effort by the Obama Administration, via the Labor Department, is a dry run for efforts that will follow if little public outcry is heard.  And if you think the news media is doing a bad enough job already, just wait until the government has its thumb press down even harder.

Check out my new book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.