Overregulation follies: Feds want disaster plan for magic-hat bunnies

posted at 9:21 am on July 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Some stories about overregulation suffer from too much technical detail and not enough clarity to connect with readers.  That’s not the case with the US Department of Agriculture’s attempt to regulate — magicians.  Any entertainment act using animals must have an approved disaster plan in place, even if the animals are ferocious, dangerous … bunnies:

Marty Hahne, 54, does magic shows for kids in southern Missouri. For his big finale, he pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Or out of a picnic basket. Or out of a tiny library, if he’s doing his routine about reading being magical.

To do that, Hahne has an official U.S. government license. Not for the magic. For the rabbit.

The Agriculture Department requires it, citing a decades-old law that was intended to regulate zoos and circuses. Today, the USDA also uses it to regulate much smaller “animal exhibitors,” even the humble one-bunny magician.

That was what the letter was about. The government had a new rule. To keep his rabbit license, Hahne needed to write a rabbit disaster plan.

“Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit.

Ironically, the USDA — which is supposed to focus on protecting the food supply — wouldn’t require anything at all if Hahne wanted to eat the rabbit.  Hahne confirmed this with the USDA inspector that licensed the rabbit and demanded his disaster plan for it, as well as his itineraries.  Yes, itineraries.  If Hahne travels with his rabbit, he has to inform the USDA of his itineraries to let them know where the rabbit will go.

By the way, none of this is for the safety of Hahne or his audiences.  The USDA isn’t concerned with human safety in this case, which is rather interesting. When I lived in Phoenix 20 years ago, a strip club opened next to my office (a major headache for a 24/7 operation that I won’t detail at the moment), and one act featured a tiger that was supposedly tame.  Why anyone would bring a tiger into a boozy strip club is beyond me, but it leaped off the stage and mauled a couple of patrons, and made the evening news.

You’d think something like that would trigger a demand for tighter licensing of animal acts, but that wasn’t the catalyst for this law.  No, this regulation came from Hurricane Katrina, in which thousands of animals were abandoned and left to die in the attempt by businesses and residents to flee the destruction.  Apparently, a disaster plan would have prevented that, according to the USDA, even though New Orleans couldn’t even get the humans evacuated properly.

The Post reports that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is recommending that this regulation get suspended for further review, but so far the regulation remains in force.  That means that the rest of us can be entertained by Hahne’s new act, which is to pull a disaster plan and itinerary out of his hat along with the rabbit.  It beats watching Washington pull regulations out of its ass.


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No, this regulation came from Hurricane Katrina, in which thousands of animals were abandoned and left to die in the attempt by businesses and residents to flee the destruction. Apparently, a disaster plan would have prevented that, according to the USDA, even though New Orleans couldn’t even get the humans evacuated properly.

Okay, I’ll be the callous one to say it… who cares? In a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, the last thing the government should be concerned with is the safety of area animals. To hell with the animals. Get the people out.

Shump on July 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

LOL! Beautiful closing line, Ed!

deepdiver on July 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Those Feds are really on top of the important stuff.

Bitter Clinger on July 17, 2013 at 9:29 AM

I’d tell them my disaster plan is a pot of hot water to make rabbit stew.

bluesman on July 17, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Now if Washington just had a disaster plan for its consulate workers in say..Benghazi.

dirtseller on July 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

OT The cartoon visual reminded me to ask about this. Anyone know anything about Wilson and Ditch go to D.C. ?

bluesman, rabbit stew is the correct answer. ; )

Bmore on July 17, 2013 at 9:37 AM

To wit:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

Can just call ‘em all “revenuers”? And treat them appropriately?

GWB on July 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

“But that trick never works!”

“This time, for sure! Presto!”

Fallon on July 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Now if Washington just had a disaster plan for its consulate workers in say..Benghazi.

dirtseller on July 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Comment of the Day™

Seriously, the State Department had a three-letter plan there, and two of those letters are vowels.

Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM

bluesman, rabbit stew is the correct answer. ; )

Bmore on July 17, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Rabbit Seasoning?!?

GWB on July 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Oh the fun I’d have with cartoonish socks if this were AoSHQ ;-)

Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Bullwinkle: Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!

Rocky: A-gain??

Bullwinkle: Sure! The rabbit’s got shots, a contingency shelter, computer chip I.D., medical records, and a lockdown bunker hutch in case of—

Rocky: Here’s a message from our USDA-approved sugary cereals!

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 17, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Oh look..
A squirrel

Electrongod on July 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Rabbit Seasoning?!?

GWB on July 17, 2013 at 9:39 AM

“You keep out of this. He doesn’t have to shoot you now.”

Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

OMIGOD!!! Killer bunnies!!! Run, run…before they cuddle you to death!!! Oh, the humanity!

(BTW…that old lucky rabbits foot thing? Sure as hell didn’t do squat for the original owner…not even having all four of them at the same time. Why would having just one of them bring any kind of luck at all?)

As for my disaster plan for bunnies…marinating them in vinegar and a nice Riesling for a couple of days makes for deliciously tender meat. Add garlic, shallots, chopped celery, rosemary, bay, other assorted herbs….simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Now if Washington just had a disaster plan for its consulate workers in say..Benghazi.

dirtseller on July 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Or some security. Our government is insane. The list of proof grows by the hour.

dogsoldier on July 17, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Silly magician! My disaster plan would always be to make the rabbit disappear!

Shy Guy on July 17, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Read this morning that Hillary was heartbroken over the Zimmerman verdict.

Heartbroken???

Apparently didn’t care squat about the murders in Benghazi, but a gay-bashing hopped up gangsta from some podunk Florida hood tries to kill a “gay rapist” and gets shot by the intended victim…and Hillary is heartbroken????

That there is a campaign advert just waiting to happen…

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:51 AM

That’s no ordinary rabbit. That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad tempered rodent you ever set eyes on! Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide!

dbageotech on July 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM

To do that, Hahne has an official U.S. government license. Not for the magic. For the rabbit.

Does this include illegal rabbits or is this another sneaky Amnesty plan?

Electrongod on July 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

dbageotech on July 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Time for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I dunno. Some of those rabbits are dangerous

HotAirian on July 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Dang. I need to refresh before posting more often.

HotAirian on July 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Electrongod on July 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Always knew there was something strange about that Eddie Rabbit guy…country singer from Brooklyn…yeah, right.

And that Jessica Rabbit…she had “illegal” just written all over her…

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Yes, please tell me more about how the Sequester is damaging the government’s ability to function. Tell me more about how you need MORE tax money to fund this Circus.

I really hope SOMEONE on the conservative side of the fence is bookmarking all these ridiculous examples of unnecessary government meddling and programs and will trot them out EN MASSE when the debt ceiling debate begins again in a couple of months.

TheHitman on July 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

So was Jimmy Carter consulted about the rabbit disaster plan? He’s got experience with those, you know.

Athanasius on July 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Why anyone would bring a tiger into a boozy strip club is beyond me, but it leaped off the stage and mauled a couple of patrons

Buzzkill, man.

Today, the USDA also uses it to regulate much smaller “animal exhibitors,” even the humble one-bunny magician.

Spoiler: I suspect they always have more than one bunny.

forest on July 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Athanasius on July 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM

He was up a creek, without a paddle…that was his plan….for all of us.

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM

So was Jimmy Carter consulted about the rabbit disaster plan? He’s got experience with those, you know.

Athanasius on July 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The Peanut Farmer could have used the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Why anyone would bring a tiger into a boozy strip club is beyond me, but it leaped off the stage and mauled a couple of patrons

Well, I certainly would not have called her “it” if this is the same pole dancer I encountered in Florence, Kentucky last summer…

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

this regulation came from Hurricane Katrina, in which thousands of animals were abandoned and left to die in the attempt by businesses and residents to flee the destruction.

The problem with animals after Katrina was stupid individuals who thought they could throw a couple days food in a bowl and evacuate without taking their pets. They were not abandoned and left to die so much as they were victims of neglect. Followed by overzealous volunteers who looked to save these animals. People would come back from having gone out to get supplies or whatever to find that their pet had been “rescued.” The most remarkable thing was the pack of former pets that was roaming near my home for a while. They still had collars on but it was a motley group of everything from lap dogs to the larger breeds. But in the absence of caregivers, they had gone feral.

Happy Nomad on July 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 17, 2013 at 9:40 AM

As a conservative Republican, Rocky & Bullwinkle producer Jay Ward would have had a lot of fun with this one.

jon1979 on July 17, 2013 at 10:12 AM

The Peanut Farmer could have used the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 10:02 AM

He was going to, but couldn’t remember whether he needed to count to three or five.

Athanasius on July 17, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Disaster Plan:
In case of fire….hosenfefer!
In case of flood….hosenfefer!
In case of hurricane….hosenfefer!
etc…

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on July 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM

I wonder what sort of disaster plan might have to be written when they re-do Fatal Attraction.

TXUS on July 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Okay, I’ll be the callous sensible one to say it… who cares? In a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, the last thing the government should be concerned with is the safety of area animals. To hell with the animals. Get the people out.

Shump on July 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

fify

chasdal on July 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

I would encourage this magician to work up a trick to make Barky and his whole administration disappear….POOF! I would pay dearly to witness that magic.

NOMOBO on July 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Always knew there was something strange about that Eddie Rabbit guy…country singer from Brooklyn…yeah, right.

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Ever notice that his famous long-haul trucker-song “I Love A Rainy Night” has the rhythm of windshield wipers on, yes, a rainy night? Or maybe I only imagine it does…

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 17, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Time for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

coldwarrior on July 17, 2013 at 9:55 AM

My disaster plan would include the following text:

Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals … Now did the Lord say, “First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”

weaselyone on July 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM

After 200+ years our elected official have passed every sensible, necessary piece of legislation that there is to be passed. After they hit that point they should have been disbanned, placed on a ‘Re-Call’ status to be brought back to Washington to address any REAL issues that come up. As this was not done, and every REAL issue had already been addressed, our politicians then began to both make up cr@p and injedting themselves into issues they had no business involving themselves in…such as Pro Baseball/Sports Drug Testing and magicians pulling bunnies out of their hats! From that point on they just began F*ing things up by over-regulation and g8iving themselves more and more power which was never required to do what they are doing! Want to fix this country, ‘Furlough’ our Federal politicians until needed – REALLY needed – and make the Ofiice of the President a position equal to the Royal family in Britain — have Obama attend supermarket and shopping mall openings, play poolo, & basically GO AWAY.

easyt65 on July 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

This is liberalism at its finest. They care more about animals than they do fetuses.
Here is an article today from The Philadelphia Inquirer discussing horses and animal cruelty. They care about the “pain and suffering” of animals, but don’t care about the pain a 20 week old baby feels during an abortion.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20130717_Letters_to_the_Editor.html

djaymick on July 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Maybe Hahne should pull a tiger out of his hat, and call his act “The Life of Pi”. At least he wouldn’t have to tell the USDA whether the tiger is well fed.

Steve Z on July 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals … Now did the Lord say, “First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”
weaselyone on July 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Sounds like something out of Monty Python. Wasn’t that the same movie with the killer rabbit? What would the USDA do if Hahne pulled a killer rabbit out of his hat?

Steve Z on July 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Sounds like something out of Monty Python. Wasn’t that the same movie with the killer rabbit? What would the USDA do if Hahne pulled a killer rabbit out of his hat?

Steve Z on July 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM

It is the speech out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail prior to the death of the rabbit.

weaselyone on July 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Another great Monty Python reference:

Perhaps if the magician were instead to use a giant badger.

weaselyone on July 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Time for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch…

hungrymongo on July 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Proof that this is truly the greatest country ever. We have solved all the real problems and now we are going after the minor annoyances.

TexAz on July 17, 2013 at 11:12 AM

He should just tell them he plans on cooking the rabbit after the show.

Sapience on July 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM

I predict that magicians will now switch to toy bunnies and that the government will offer unemployment insurance to to bunnies put out of work by this regulation.

Keep up the reporting, Ed. This nonsense must end.

flataffect on July 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM

“You keep out of this. He doesn’t have to shoot you now.”
Steve Eggleston on July 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Well I say he DOES have to shoot me now!
SO SHOOT ME NOW!

connertown on July 17, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Disaster Plan:
In case of fire….hosenfefer!
In case of flood….hosenfefer!
In case of hurricane….hosenfefer!

By the way…it is spelled hasenpfeffer. Gotta know your German.

logicman_1998 on July 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM

“Now here’s something you’ll really (NOT) like.”

Paraphrasing Rocky.

listens2glenn on July 17, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Oooooh…KATRINA. So this is Bush’s fault, too?

Kenz on July 17, 2013 at 5:18 PM

By the way…it is spelled hasenpfeffer. Gotta know your German Bugs Bunny cartoons.

logicman_1998 on July 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM

(the YouTuber can’t spell it right either, even with the correct name appearing in the clip he edited.)

AesopFan on July 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM

I pity the poor sucker with an ant-circus.

{O,o}

herself on July 18, 2013 at 1:20 AM