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I am writing an educational post today which will attempt to describe, in the simplest terms possible, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its place in the current national conversation.  I fully accept that rational thought will play absolutely no part in whatever agreement is ultimately reached in Washington, DC so that is not really at issue. This post will be neither political nor funny. I also feel obligated to provide this disclaimer. I am a member of the one percent. As a rabbit American of means, I live an exceedingly comfortable lifestyle which is seen to by my large staff. I have significant investments, including substantial holdings in carrot, kale and blueberry futures. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the fiscal cliff because my every whim will be met regardless. I sense however, that not all of you are in a similar position. I know my staff thinks they have cause for concern. In terms of what lawmakers may decide to do, my staff is right. In terms of economics, they really are wrong. Allow me to explain.

In making my most critical, essential and earth-shattering point, I will try to be as subtle as I can.

The Federal deficit is not big ENOUGH.

There. I said it. Go back and read it again just in case you missed the emphatic nature of this statement. Got it? Oh, I see, not really. I suspected as much. Allow me to explain and to provide links to more experts on this subject than you will ever have time to read but really, really should because it is fascinating stuff. It is also important that I note here that MMT is politically neutral. It is not a proposal for fiscal policy. MMT is a description of the current monetary structure as it has been ever since the US went off the gold standard. That it is not widely understood is an understatement.

I attended the University at All-Bunny (SBUNY) and when I took macroeconomics the words “modern monetary theory” never crossed the lips of any of my professors. Later, as a grad bunny, I attended some evening lectures during which MMT was introduced but the theory was young and had not fully coalesced. I say this not because I think you care about where I first heard about MMT but because there is a reason you probably don’t know anything about it either. Either you, like me, matriculated prior to the advent of MMT or your professors, like virtually all those in the country, were not exposed to MMT during their training so they did not pass it on to you. Either way, MMT is only beginning to enter the general knowledge-base because it simply takes a while for new information to gain a footing especially in an area as staid as economics. Still, given the potentially society-changing negotiations going on in Washington right now, this seems a reasonable time to point out that no matter what they decide, they are likely to be wrong because, as anyone who has paid informed attention to the monetary crisis in Europe knows, austerity measures are a death knell for already stressed economies. Nation states that are locked into a fixed currency, like all those who participate in the Euro, have turned over the control of their economies to forces which have no interest in acting in the best interest of each individual country. But, and this is important, the United States is NOT in this position.

Fiat Currency

Once upon a time the US was the prime signatory to the Bretton Woods Monetary System wherein forty-four allied nations agreed to tie their currencies to the US dollar at a fixed rate. The US dollar was tied to gold. This acted, for a time, to stabilize world currency markets and pushed then much needed security throughout the system. Eventually though, because gold is a limited commodity, being tied to the gold standard began to seriously impinge upon the US economy so, in 1971 President Nixon, with the so-called “Nixon Shock”, took the US out of Bretton Woods and off the gold standard. This was a huge deal, bigger even than I can describe. The United States now had a pure, fiat currency (meaning that the currency does not, in itself, have intrinsic value) and that the US, as the issuer of said currency, had new and significantly increased power to make much broader discretionary decisions in terms of economic policy. But a funny thing happened. US monetary policy makers didn’t really do much with their new found freedom.

To begin to explain this I must first make something very, Very, VERY clear – a US federal budget is nothing what-so-ever like your personal household or business budget in any way, shape or form. It’s not. See – you aren’t getting this.

It…is…not…like…your…family…budget.

Period. Do you see why? You don’t do you. *sad face* Well, you are in good company. Most of the country and, to the best of my knowledge, every single member of the House of Representatives, is right there with you. Here’s a hint. You have to work for your money. A business has to produce goods, or services, or, if it is Bain Capital a vulture capital firm, steal money in order to have any. The US government is an issuer of currency. They don’t have to earn it. They print it. (Do NOT go to the “inflation” place yet. I’ll get there later.) Let’s just stay focused on the simple fact that the big difference between the US government and you or me is that they will never run out of the currency needed to cover their debts. (I KNOW. I’ll get to the inflation thing later. Stay focused.)

One of the most interesting things about fiat currency is that taxes are not actually a requirement. Neither is there a need to sell bonds or borrow currency. Do you know what happens when you pay your bill to the IRS in cash? They shred it. No joke. They make a note in their computers next to your account and then that cash is gone. Poof. The only real purpose of taxes is to drive value into the economy (see Sectors, below). Taxes are a way to move value back from the private sector into the public sector. Deficits are the opposite. Deficits are a way to leave value in the private sector. For example:

 if the Department of Defense spends $100 buying a wrench than the private company that sold it to them, let’s call this company Schmoing, gets that $100. The value has transferred from the public into the private sector. If Schmoing than turns around and pays their wrench supplier, ACE Hardware, $15 for the wrench, $15 of the value transferrs to ACE and $85 stays with Schmoing. If ACE than turns around and pays the actual maker of the wrench, a firm in China called Wrenches!, $5 for the wrench than $5 of the original $100 has now moved outside of the US economy. When tax time rolls around, Schmoing and ACE both pay taxes against the profit they made on the sale of the wrench. ACE pays $1 and …now here you know this is just imaginary because in the real world Schmoing would pay nothing…but back to the story, Schmoing pays $9. So, of the original $100, the government received $10 back in taxes and $5 went out internationally (to China) leaving an $85 federal deficit but that money didn’t evaporate. It is still here, in our economy, in the private sector, which is where we all agree we want to keep the majority of the assets of the country.

Sectors

Just as math is math, accounting is accounting. There must be balance in the balance sheet. Understanding that the balance is more macro than we commonly think is why it is so difficult for us to accept that a federal deficit is a good thing. The federal government isn’t balancing a federal budget – they are balancing an economy. These are very different things. If they were balancing a budget, like certain legislators keep insisting is a necessity, than the worry would be that income (taxes) and outgo (government spending) are balanced. This is way,WAY TOO SMALL A VIEW and it’s wrong.

Our economy is divided into three sectors and it is these sectors which need to be in balance. The three sectors are the private sector (individuals and business), the public sector (local, state and federal governments) and the non-domestic sector (foreign individuals and businesses, domestic monies which get moved into foreign tax shelters, and foreign governments). As always in accounting, one sector’s asset is another sector’s liability. This is seen in the example given above when the $90 liability of the public sector becomes the $85 asset of the private sector and the $5 asset of the non-domestic sector. MMT has, therefore, two rules: all sectors cannot be in surplus at the same time and all sectors cannot be in deficit at the same time. Accounting has these same rules. This is nothing new.

As we all know all too well, the private sector cannot last for long in deficit without the economic consequence of recession becoming apparent. Likewise, at least in the US economy, we are not going to be without a trade deficit any time soon. I’m pausing here so you can all stop on the tracks and pay attention to the gigantic epiphany train that is about to mow you down. Yes, people, if we don’t want the private sector to be in deficit and we can’t have the non-domestic sector in deficit than the only option is to have the public sector run a deficit. It’s a basic principle of accounting. It isn’t complicated.

It just isn’t what we have been taught. We have been taught to view the US budget as if it were separate of you and I, an independent entity which required internal balance. Instead, MMT proves that the public and private sectors are two of the three legs upon which this meta entity, the US economy, stands. So when you hear legislators scream about a deficit or you see a Tea Party protestor carrying a sign that says “Say NO to Socilism” on one side and “Don’t Mortage  My Daugters’ Future” on the other side (after you get done laughing at the spelling) the response to this is simple – better you than me because you, meaning the US Treasury, can issue currency as you need it and I can’t.

So why are Italy and Greece in so much trouble with their deficits? That’s obvious. Neither country has control over its currency. Currency itself is, indeed, limited and has become, essentially, a commodity. In the overall European Union ecosystem, essentially, Germany has boomed at the cost of Greece and Italy. It’s that balancing thing again. Still, it’s easy to think of it this way. In the mid 1990′s, Italy had approximately X debt. They were not in crisis. They were a fully functioning economy and they paid their debts in Lira. Today, Italy also has X debt. Notice that this is the same amount. they are not any further in debt than they were but suddenly it is a debt crisis. Why? Well, it’s the Euro, of course. Italy is at the mercy of the Euro and there is no advantage to the Euro in favoring Italy so Italy is drowning under a bad debt they cannot pay with limited Euros.

What we want here in the US is what MMT theorists refer to as a good deficit. A good deficit is one which operates in an unconstrained way in terms of time and arbitrary limits. By contrast, fiscal austerity is deficit by design. Fiscal austerity directly impedes the growth of the private sector. New wealth is only created by the issuing monetary authority. Here, stand on this other train track while I explain this part. (Pay no attention to the giant locomotive that is moving in your direction.) I’ll return to the previous example.

Let’s say Schmoing sells that $85 wrench to Borthrop-Humman instead of the federal government. The value has passed from Borthrop-Humman to Schmoing but it remains in the private sector. It is not new wealth it’s just recycled. Even if Schmoing built the wrench from scratch, all the components were purchased from within the private sector and on the balance sheet the value still remains there. None of it is new.

BAM! *splat* *train wooshes by* Yeah, I know. I felt that way too. I always thought that because we built the thingie we were creating the wealth. My bad. I forgot that we may be building the thingie, the wrench in this case, but it has no monetary value. There is no money to pay for the wrench unless the issuing authority has issued said currency into the system and that can only be done by taking less out in taxes and/or pushing more in with government spending.

Professor Stephanie Kelton, Research Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute and one of the leading authorities on MMT has this to say,

So, let’s focus in on a specific period of time.  The period in the late 1990s and early 2000s when for the first time in decades the US government ran budget surpluses….  Many people would inherently think that would be a good thing.  It shows fiscal responsibility.  Not only did they balance the budget, but they put it in surplus.  Meanwhile, our current account deficits were huge.  The rest of the world was running large positive balances against the US.  That reduced US private-sector savings.  Surpluses fell.  It pushed the private sector into deficit on an unprecedented scale.  The private sector went from surviving above the zero line to being pushed below zero.  And the private sector remained there for a period of years, spending more than its income, borrowing to do it.  And it was all fueled by a massive bubble economy that ended in recession, which drove the public sector’s balance back into deficit where it belongs.

When an economy is already in recession what it needs most desperately is new wealth and, with a fiat currency, that can only come from the issuing authority.

Inflation, Currency Exchange Rates and Unemployment

When was the last time your foot hat the flu? That’s because the flu is systemic. When one part of your body has it, your whole body has it. When an economy is in recession, it is systemic. Everything is effected. It is a meta problem. The odd thing about the US is that we have made choices to try to resolve our crisis without using the single most powerful weapon we have at our disposal. With any fiat currency there are only three things to watch for and none of them are deficit spending. The three economic delimiters are inflation, exchange rates and unemployment. As you can see, these things relate, directly, to each of the sectors.

In the past, deficit hawks and doves alike have tried to assail MMT theorists with the inflation argument. Just within the last three years some of the biggest names in economics, including some of the leading economic advisors to the US Department of Treasury and the Fed, have come to realize what MMT theorists have long known. If you are the issuer of the currency, you do not have to be at the mercy of bond vigilantes. As I said many paragraphs back, the US does not need to sell bonds or borrow currency in order to spend. These are habits and levers we employ as part of fiscal policy but they are not a necessity in terms of financing expenditures. It is interesting to know that the Secretary of the Treasury can order to be struck the currency of his choosing and deposit it in the federal accounts. Just like that. Congress would melt down in a fit of apoplexy, but it would be legal. The money gets injected into the economy and people go back to work. In fact, it would be easy and fast to open up the spigot and return the economy to “full” employment (approximately 3.7% unemployment) within the next two or three years at the most. An economy only gets inflationary, too hot, if new wealth continues to be pumped into the economy after the employment goal is achieved. Up until that time, provided there are no exigent commodity constraints, the supply remains in excess of the demand so inflation does not become a factor.

Again, from Professor Kelton,

Cash registers don’t discriminate. When you spend money in the economy there isn’t someone on the other end saying, ‘will that be public or private today?’ A dollar spent is a dollar spent. The federal government could SAFELY lower taxes, increase government spending, allow aggregate demand to increase.

Inflation is when demand outstrips supply. In the 1970′s this was because there was a sudden commodity shortage. The supply of oil was choked down to a trickle by the newly formed OPEC. Every product that used petrochemicals was effected. Trucks used to transport food needed expensive gas to get cheap lettuce transported across the country. The price of carrots went through the roof. Americans, with their huge gas-guzzling cars, waited in lines for gasoline. The economy could not take the shock. Unemployment rose at the same time prices spiked. Stag-flation was the new buzzword. This period is a classic example of what is called “demand-pull inflation.”

Money is not a commodity. It is not intrinsically limited. It is in no way comparable to oil (or gold). There is no reason that the US government should not be spending money to drive employment. The US dollar is not at risk of major devaluation and both short and long-term bond rates are at or just barely above zero. In other words, no one anywhere thinks the US economy is at risk of not being able to make its loan or bond payments. This is because all the investors, foreign and domestic, know that we are in full control of our currency. They are not at risk.

Final Thoughts

We have all become comfortable with viewing the federal budget just as we would view one small part of a much larger elephant. We each imagine that the “wall” or the “rope” that is in front of us is the whole thing. We each think it looks much like our personal budget only on a bigger scale. In fact, the meta whole is orders of magnitude larger and that entire pachyderm is sitting on a train that is, once again, headed right for you.

Over the next few weeks and months, the President and legislators from both Houses are going to be fighting over an imaginary “crisis” they have dubbed the fiscal cliff.  This battle is entirely unnecessary. Our leadership is so used to thinking in terms of the gold standard that they still don’t know that a whole new age has dawned. The emphasis of MMT is in the power of the State to move within a substantially increased policy space which is largely unconstrained by monetary limitations.

For my part, I’ve told you about it. For your part, please pass this information on to your legislators and to anyone else you know. Post it on your Facebook page. Design a bumpersticker. Just don’t stay quiet.

I’ve digested quite a bit on MMT in recent weeks. I even read some of it before I ate it. A lot of what  read really gets down into the weeds but some was quite accessible and can be found in the following places:

Professor Stephanie Kelton manages the New Economics Perspectives website and is on Twitter as deficitowl . The quotes above were from her excellent interview for Meidaroots. You can also download the truly fabulous podcast she did last week on The Majority Report with Sam Seder.

The Modern Monetary Theory Primer by Dr. L. Randall Wray is a bit weedy but essential for all those interested in MMT. This is the beginnings of what appears to be on its way to being a textbook.

Joseph Firestone who blogs on DailyKos as LetsGetItDone and at Corrente.com in their MMT blog does a commendable job of drawing all the big concepts together.

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You should chisel this moment into stone. In fact you should probably sit down because the shock of my admission may just be too much for some of you.

I was wrong.

Oh, I was not wrong about what I said about Mitt Romney, who will now be consigned to the litterbox of history for failing in a manner so cataclysmic that the entire GOP will be forced to take time away from blaming the black guy to blaming each other for not being able to do arithmetic. I was not wrong about what I said, more than two years ago, about John Bohener having an irreconcilable (and hilarious) problem with the ever-widening solar system of a gap between the Tea Party and reality. I was also not wrong about what I said about about the last fiscal cliff as it applies to the coming so-called “fiscal cliff.” (Personally, I agree with David Waldman, KagroX, that the term “fiscal curb” is more correct.) What I was wrong about was thinking that the GOP would wake the hell up once they had gone splat on the windshield of the Democratic party express.

Republican FAIL

Sure, there are a smattering of GOP pundits talking about substantive changes in message but they are being drowned out both by those who have been unable to get past loudly blaming Mitt Romney for being a candidate who daily demonstrated all the backbone of a windsock and the rest who are madly zeroing in on a few surface issues. Have faith, none of them will get to the core of their problem for three BIG and PAINFULLY OBVIOUS reasons which, of course, the entire bubble-based GOP will overlook and into which Dick Morris will likely do another faceplant.

I will summarize here:

1. If you don’t respect differences and people in general, your policy will reflect that and those people will (eventually) notice.

2. They built it, a base of angry, terrified, white, bigoted, evangelicals who aren’t going to change…ever. It’s going to be impossible to work these folks into a “big tent” platform and waiting for them to die will take a while.

3. Citizens United isn’t really a friend of the GOP. Corporations are their own friend, first, last and always. Corporations will spend accordingly. The demo has now made a huge swing in the direction of the Democrats. Corporations have made a note. They won’t be betting exclusively on the GOP to win from here on out.

The GOP did build a “nuclear option” but they aimed it at themselves because these guys really weren’t kidding, they believed their own spin. Karl Rove’s melt down on FOX News, which will live on in infamy, or, my personal favorite, Mary Matalin’s epic FAIL on CNN, wherein she spends the entire time looking like she just swallowed a fly, are both perfect examples of a simple truth. The GOP had no idea that their message was not landing. They have been locked in their own echo chamber for too long (too long, too long, too long…). As it turns out, only eternally pissed-off white men and a narrow majority of married white women think that a platform of “I’m entitled and the rest of you can go screw yourselves,” is an appropriate way to run a country. The rest of the electorate thinks that things like having a strong and well-coordinated FEMA during a major national crisis, as opposed to a few people handing out canned goods here and there, is essential to maintaining a strong and vibrant nation.

Dems Fail

Still, there are things the Dems should be learning from all of this. (Though, given the fact that we have had Karl Rove, the Dark Lord and Master of the first two items noted below, on our ass for multiple elections and still have not managed to learn these lessons, I am somewhat lacking in hope.)

1. Narrative matters. Yes, our kith and ken all worship at the alter of reality-based information but we tell our story terribly – really, really terribly. President Obama had a strong first term and even now almost no one knows that. Hello! Short, simple, glossy, heartwarming narrative. I mean seriously, people, the very best narratives of this election were provided by the other guy including Big Bird, the pre-1917 Navy and, the corker of them all, the 47% video. Y’all have a year and a half to figure this thing out. If you do, we have a shot at taking back the House and then running the tables for two years.

2. Naming Shit Stuff. WOW. We are so very, very bad at this. The “Affordable Care Act”  – really! Who thought of that? The GOP is a superstar at naming stuff. “Pro-life,” “Obamacare” and “Defense of Marriage Act” these are works of art. Can we please hire one damn Mad Man from Madison Avenue to handle this for us? Where is Don Draper when you need him?!?!?!

3. Self Doubt. During the weeks leading up to the election Republicans were sure they were going to win and Democrats were sure they were going to lose. Dems are genuinely bad at knowing when they have the upper paw and then taking advantage of that fact. Dems are also bad at being who they really are. For years the party has been moving to the right while the country, the electorate, has been moving left on issues while still voting right because *facepalm.* Democrats need to be Democrats.

Democrats have allowed the GOP to run away with the individual freedoms narrative but the fact is that individual freedom is exactly what Democrats support and Republicans oppose on almost every level. Democrats also support the strength of community. These things are not mutually exclusive. Republicans want the world to be either this or that. Democrats understand that there can be a balance where both exist together. (Though, I have to say, in a tip of the hat to BlueGal and DriftGlass, there are not two sides to facts and presenting so-called “balance” on matters of fact is when the media needs to be taken out to the Internet Kitty litterbox and firmly rolled in the material therein.)

On election night all the networks showed coverage of the crowds at the Obama and Romney headquarters. The Obama crowd was all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. It was all of us. The Romney crowd was white and, based upon the outfits seen on the women, sorely in need of fashion advice. I also think that removing the sticks from up their posteriors would be helpful but that’s really a personal decision.

The Last Word(s)

And finally, that moment for which you have all been waiting, the gloating. These are my favorite thoughts on the subject.

• If you are one of those thinking is that God is involved in each and every little thing that happens to us than His choice is pretty obvious – the black, Kenyan, anti-colonialist, Muslim, socialist, communist, WON. Hahahahahahahaha!

• I’m sending a special “thank you” out to those on the Team Romney who designed Orca, their beached-whale-fail of a get out the vote app . I’m glad those bottles of tequila I sent over while you were in the programming stages proved to be effective. You are welcome.

• Speaking of voting, Florida doesn’t get to vote anymore. They must now turn in their electoral college votes and move to the back of the line, behind Wyoming.

• And this compliments of Second City…

 Through election night God himself was hitting refresh on FiveThirtyEight. He just made the universe, (Nate Silver) turned it into a graph. 

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I just sent $538 to the American Red Cross and I’d like to tell you why. This past week has been filled with right-wing nutbar attacks against a man named Nate Silver. For the three people left who have not yet heard of Nate, go here or here. In simple terms, Nate is a rock star at, among other things, something called “polling aggregation” wherein he has created a method, using statistical modeling, which has proven to be so astonishingly accurate that Time Magazine named Nate one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People. Oh, and as I understand it from people who have met him, he is also just a really “nice guy” by which I take to mean he likes rabbits. This is, of course, beside the point but I thought I would mention it.

Lately, Nate has been under fire because the same people who brought you creationism in textbooks (finally defeated, in Texas, in July of 2011) and a complete denial of climate change* are now taking aim at math.

Where have I heard this story before? Let me think…. Perhaps a blueberry on the half shell well help me to recall? (hint.) Thump! (blueberry arrives) That’s better. Oh, Yes!

During the late eighth to the thirteenth centuries the nations of Islam lead the world in scientific development. For every sixteenth or seventeenth century European scientific great, there was an earlier Arabic polymath who contributed in extraordinary ways to science as a whole. The fields of algebra, geometry and trigonometry either began or were greatly expanded by Arabic genius. Quadratic equations became a part of the mathematical language. Advances in human biology, medicine and pharmacology were so long lasting that books written during this time were still in use in Europe hundreds of years later, as were the designs of astonishingly accurate astrolabes and water clocks. Cartography and sociology grew closer as Arab scientists began to understand the earth in terms of the people who populated it. Modern astronomy still owes the Arabs a great debt. Perhaps most important of all, the baseline for the scientific method was drawn featuring empirical and quantitative approaches to scientific inquiry. The Arabs were at their zenith as a society.

And then they weren’t. The loss of leadership in scientific innovation is described well by Arabs themselves. Senator Adnan Badran, who holds a PhD in molecular biology from an American university and has been both the Prime Minister of Jordan and a longtime Senator said, “Science needs stability, democracy, freedom of expression. You must have an environment that’s conducive to free thinking, to inquiry. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to release the mind’s potential. It’s a very bleak story, a very disappointing story, about the state of science and technology in the Arab region.” Speaking of the past richness of Arabic scientific discoveries he goes on,

We were open. Islam was open, a strong belief with dialogue. It was tolerant, mixing with other civilizations. Then we shifted to being dogmatic. Once you’re dogmatic, you are boxed in.

Gamal Soltan, a political scientist in Egypt says of many modern Islamist scientists,

They’re sure about everything, about how the universe was created, who created it, and they just need to control nature rather than interpret it, but the driving force behind any scientific pursuit is that the truth is still out there.

Remind you of anything?

Science is under assault in this country. From Congressional de-funding of basic research, to the shuttering of Fermilab’s Tevatron Particle Accelerator, to the, now lifted, ban on the use of embryos in stem-cell testing, to the cult of global warming denialism, we are turning our backs on science. We are allowing what happened to the Arab world to happen to us and we are doing it with our eyes wide open. If you want to know how it is that Europe, China and India may well be eating our lunch in just a few years, it starts with all of them being clear that the world is more than 6000 years old and that math is not evil-on-a-stick. Right now, the US is still in contention when young scientists are deciding where to work but it is already an ongoing subject of discussion, in scientific circles, that due to the dogmatic influence of the political right on scientific education, funding, legal support and, most importantly, thought, the United States is on the verge of a scientific brain-drain, something which we will share with Arab nations.

Ankle Biters

I’ll admit it, there was a time when I, myself, was an ankle biter. I grew out of that. Now I box ankles which is, of course, much classier. Still, I think I continue to have some insight into ankle biting in general but for why this matters let’s get back to Nate.

When FiveThirtyEight, Nate’s blog, makes a prediction about the election and says that President Obama has more than an eighty percent chance of winning the election, he is not saying that the President will win. He’s saying, sure, go to that family picnic but you might want to consider taking an umbrella because there is a chance of rain. More importantly, FiveThirtyEight is making no comment what-so-ever on the qualitative value of this outcome. For all we know, Nate is voting for Governor Romney. Nate is doing what it is that scientists do. He is following the data and applying a model he designed which has a past record of success. After the election, he will have a LOT more data because he will be able to verify the accuracy of his predictions and that verification data then becomes part of the larger data set.

Meanwhile, Nate’s ankles are in danger because hedgehogs are out to get him. (If you don’t understand the reference, it’s a thing. It’s called, “reading.” The book is The Signal and the Noise. Read it. Learn something new.) Personally, I wouldn’t put it past one of Nate’s hedgehogs. I mean, some of my best friends are hedgehogs but have you ever really spent an afternoon with one? As Nate describes them, hedgehogs go on and on, for hours, on one subject and they take that same prism and apply it to the whole rest of the world. They are a declarative lot and, despite their name, they rarely hedge. Hedgehogs are all about having everything tied up in one little orderly theory. Just like the over-worn cadre of talking heads brought in both by cable and network television to pontificate on anything and everything, hedgehogs don’t like a mess. They want it all to be black and white simple** and they have to be right. If you knew hedgehogs like I know hedgehogs, you would know Nate is right about this. Clearly, he has spent a lot of time with the prickly little guys.

Like most of those who work in empirical fields, Nate would probably say that scientists are, what he calls, “foxes.” Personally, I find the term a bit off-putting but there it is. Certainly, Nate is himself a fox. According to Nate, foxes understand that when they look out their window and there are no clouds, it still might be good to have an umbrella in the car if the chance of rain is around twenty percent. Foxes see that messy isn’t wrong. In fact, they know that attributing qualitative values to quantitative results is an entirely separate process. Foxes are tolerant of uncertainty and complexity. Foxes aren’t afraid of math as the language of probability.

The science of prediction is fickle and those who are successful in the field require a certain degree of humility just as does all science. Science cannot progress without both the acknowledgement of success and the recognition of failure. The comments made about Nate lately have varied from quite vicious to so outlandish as to be funny (Please, someone tell me that Nate had the good humor to dress up for Halloween as Harry Potter or Gandalf.) But listen up folks, if Mitt Romney wins, Nate Silver said that possibility was among the outcomes. THAT is how probability works.

The value in reading the polling aggregation and blog at FiveThirtyEight is in preparedness. If you are a member of the Romney campaign machine, Nate’s giving you data that is not skewed in the same way as your internal polls and has a better track record for accuracy. Use it as you will. Your choice. Attacking Nate only makes you look small and mean. Shooting the messenger doesn’t change the message. If you really do feel the need to give NRA members someone to shoot, give them Donald Trump and Jack Welch ‘cuz those guys sure haven’t been doing you any favors.

Smack Down

Still, the larger topic is the ongoing attack on science. One need look no farther than Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Egypt to recognize that relegating science to the mercy of dogma is a bad idea. For too long scientists have hidden under their own rocks while other scientific fields were being blasted and de-funded. Science, and everyone who believes in the value of empirical knowledge can and must start to speak out together – loudly. Nate Silver is the whipping boy of the moment and maybe he likes that sort of thing (wink) but he is only representative of a much larger problem.

As the so-called Fiscal Cliff approaches, you can bet that the neck of science is already on the GOP chopping block. Hurricane Sandy was predicted by scientists at the National Hurricane Center doing work that could not be more efficiently done at the State level or by the private sector. The job they did allowed millions of people to prepare for disaster. That’s what funding science buys you.

In Nate’s case, FiveThirtyEight is predicting that there is a less than 20% chance that It will rain next Tuesday. Governor Romney will, most likely lose the election dramatically, especially in the Electoral College. Personally, I’m planning a picnic. I also donated $538 to the American Red Cross.

* Dear Governor Christie, How do you like me now? Signed – Global Warming
** Actually, the hedgehogs of which I speak specifically want it to be white, male simple but that’s for another blog post.

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Now that retired General Colin Powell endorsed President Barak Obama the pressure on me has increased to issue my formal endorsement so here it is: I, Arliss Bunny, am endorsing President Barack Obama for a second term and I ask all those of you who were participating in the #ArlissForPresident meme to join me in supporting the President. In studying both the President’s past success in saving the economy and in evaluating his plan for the future, I believe his is the only logic-based, real world approach available to voters at this time. I am also a big supporter of ObamaCare as I feel that health care for my staff is essential to seeing to it that my needs can be amply met on a daily basis. Though there are many other reasons, several of which have been detailed in my previous blog posts, I have to admit that one of the biggest reasons I am supporting the President is because, unlike Governor Romney, he never said this:

I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.•

VARMINT!!!  RODENT AND RABBIT HUNTER!!!!!

There simply are not enough thumps in the world to describe how insulted I, and I feel I can safely say, every Rabbit American remain about this remark. There was never a hint of an apology. Of course, all this comes from a man who tied his dog to the roof (in a carrier, but still…) for a long family trip so one must consider the source.

On the other paw, the spokesman for the Obama campaign, Ben LaBolt, clarified the President’s position and contributed to this episode by adding,

The president’s record makes clear the he supports and respects the Second Amendment. Mitt Romney is going to have difficulty explaining why he quadrupled fees on gun owners in Massachusetts, then lied about being a lifelong hunter in an act of shameless pandering. That varmint won’t hunt.

Okay, no one really thought that I would be endorsing the Governor. Rabbits really are liberals. We are vegans and when was the last time you met a vegan conservative? Ohhhh, that’s right,  he was that guy sitting next to the lesbian, black, Republican at the last $50,000 per plate fundraiser you attended. It’s simple folks. The Republican Party gets the gun crazies and the Democrats get the vegans. That’s how it is here in the real world.

The problem is, liberals have been pissed, really pissed, for a while now and as a liberal Rabbit American I think there was some question about my being motivated enough to vote in a way that makes my vote count – and by that I mean not for the Green Party. I want you to know that I am voting for the President not just because he is the lesser of two evils, which he most certainly is despite the great rhetoric to the contrary, I’m voting for him because in almost all areas which matter to me he has moved the country in a positive direction. Yes, that doesn’t mean I’m not pissed about the southern leg of the KeystoneXL pipeline or the re-letting of leases on federal lands and it really doesn’t mean I think he has gone far enough on LGBTQ issues but I do know that he stopped the northern leg of Keystone at the border, funding for green tech is way up, DADT is a thing of the past and DOMA is on its way out. Banking regulation is making a comeback and consumer protection already has. Holding fast to end the War on Women, the War on Workers and the War on Voting has occupied departments of his administration on an almost daily basis. For all that, he deserves your vote and another four years. I am proud that, as liberals, we feel unconstrained by our Party and free to call the President out on his litterbox habits but when the election is this close remember that Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have already cost our country enough and we must consider that a lesson learned. Governor Romney is a var-Mitt (and you can quote me on that.)

Congressman Joe Donnelly IS a varmint but I’m endorsing him too. It’s killing me to say this. Voting Donnelly is definitely a “hold your nose and vote” situation for Indiana liberals. While Donnelly does support abortion exceptions, he still believes that he, and a whole lot of other men in Washington, DC, whom you have never met either, should get to control the bodies of women. He also thinks that the parts of the Bible condoning slavery don’t count but the parts he thinks allow for legalized bigotry against the LGBT community are just fine.

Blue Dog

He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition but ObamaCare and the massive fiscal savings it affords are a touchy subject because freedom. He does, however, support Obamacare/ADA as long as you don’t really call it that. Fortunately, Donnelly does accept that climate change is real and, additionally, he is pushing for a massive overhaul of the Mineral Management Service (which dropped the ball so badly in oversight of off-shore drilling rigs in the gulf). Unfortunately, along with that Joe supports drilling off the continental shelf. He is a significant supporter for renewable technologies, however, and understands that we can’t drill our way to the future. Sadly, he opposes all forms of immigration amnesty and I assume this includes the Dream Act though that is not specified on his website. Unions support Joe because he supports them and Joe is backing the President’s plan to bring the troops in Afghanistan home by 2014.

Here’s the thing – anyone who thinks oppressing others is fine is not fine with me. Rabbits have had enough of that and it continues to be a daily struggle for so many of my kind. (Unlike some religious communities of color, I don’t forget that we are not any of us free until all of us are free.) Still, the world is an imperfect place and Richard Mourdock is at the “Gift from God” Rape level of evil. Joe is the best that is available to us now and the race is VERY close. Additionally, picking up the Indiana seat in the Senate would be a huge win for the Democratic Party and, in most cases, work in our best interests.

Which brings me to my final point, liberals are stupid. The Tea Party mapped out a way to take over the country and we sat by and snickered. What were we thinking!?! The way they mobilized was smart. The way they spelled their signs was not. Still, the jokes on us. We know how to mobilize. We’ve done it before. In spite of the 2010 wave, Indiana remains a purple state under its film of GOP induced fear and bigotry. In all less-than-blue states we would not win immediately but running a few genuinely strong candidates in key districts around the state begins a process of education. Sitting quietly by and letting the Blue Dogs run the show gets us where we are now.

Take it from me, rabbits know a lot about fear. We are prey animals, after all. Our motto is, “Everyone eats rabbits. Rabbits don’t eat anyone.” So you know how we have survived? You know what has made us strong? We breed. We make sure there are always a lot more of us than there are of them. Sadly, liberals aren’t really big breeders but we can be big educators and information can be powerful. We can learn to shape and craft a message that appeals on an emotional level instead of just an intellectual one. We can learn that the next election started yesterday. We can learn that even running and losing is important if it serves the greater goal. And we can fight.

My name is Arliss Bunny. I am a liberal Rabbit American and I approved this message.

•Governor Romney said this on April 7 2007. Don’t think the other Republican Presidential candidates didn’t merrily roast him for it, just, apparently, not enough.

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Oh, Great Bunny, I come to you tonight, in prayer, my head bowed and my paws together, beseeching you to ease the immense pain and suffering of others and by “others” I mean the bunnies of Mexico, who have been shaken to the core in this massive earthquake, and, of course, the Republican party….

OH! *cough* I didn’t see you there! As I bask in the glorious sunspot on the floor in my room I find myself truly appreciating the joy that is Spring along with all the entertainment it brings. I mean, what could possibly be better than tuning in each night to _________________________ (pick ANY news/politics show) and reveling in the clown car that has become the Republican Party. Truly, I haven’t laughed this much in years. Also, I am already looking forward to seeing the dresses Michelle wears to the Inauguration and the balls that night. After all, this time she isn’t limited to just an American designer. She will be done, done, done with campaigns and elections. I’m expecting to hear that she spent the night in epic Katy Perry form.

http://www.buzzsugar.com/Katy-Perry-Music-Video-Last-Friday-Night-TGIF-17859109

It didn’t have to be this way, of course. The Republicans could have chosen to run someone who might actually get elected but, much to the off-the-hook, unending gratitude of comedians everywhere, they LITERALLY elected otherwise. Even at this late battling-all-the-way-to-the-Convention date, they could feign something that actually resembles strategy – but they won’t and I could not possibly be more geeked about it and trust me when I tell you, I’m not the “geeked” sort. Ever. Still, this is such a ridiculous confluence of Republican mis-steps that I am making an exception.

What They WILL Do

Republicans will nominate Mitt Romney and Democrats will ride Romney-isms like:

Corporations are people, my friend.

and

“It’s because of the banks…. Well, banks aren’t bad people. They’re just overwhelmed right now.”

and

“The banks are scared to death, of course. They’re feeling the same thing you’re feeling.”

and

I’m not concerned with the very poor.

and, my personal favorite

The economy is coming back….It always comes back after a recession.

[Really, Mitt, who told you that economies naturally recover and was it inscribed on golden tablets -  because that is not an economic fact so it must have to do with your religious beliefs.]

…all the way to the White House. Well, that and the fact that Democrats actually have policies that are more closely aligned with what the greater percentage of the electorate really wants – like banking reform, building and protecting American jobs, a safety net when things don’t work out, health care and getting the hell up out of the personal lives of everyone in America including, and especially, women and homosexuals.

Image

Bo advises the President.

All this AND Obama never strapped the family dog to the roof of his car which I can tell you, as someone who has spent more than my fair share of time in the evil box with holes, is reason enough to vote Obama. Two thirds of voters, which includes a whole lot of Republican dog owners, call Romney’s actions “inhumane.” I’m not nearly as polite. More to the election winning point, 42% of women polled say that it makes them less likely to vote Romney. I think we can anticipate LOTS of Obama posters featuring him playing with first dog Bo. Rallys will inevitably include “Dogs for Obama” posters and even cat owners will cough it up because this is just too hideous a fur ball to ignore.

What They SHOULD Do

They should nominate Rick Santorum. I’ll wait until you finish gasping with horror… … … … … … … …. Alright, no one ever said I was patient, finish gasping on your own time.

Republicans should nominate Santorum not because he can win, which he most certainly can not, and not because Lorne Michaels would be forever grateful but because it is the one and only chance the non-right wing part of the Republican Party, read as “the electable Republicans,” may EVER have to send the right-wing, Tea Party nut bars back to the kiddie table…for good.

The core Republican leadership already knows that this election is a lost cause and if they were savvy they would put this loss to work for them by proving, for once and for all, that the far greater majority of Americans are not bigoted, fascists and thereby reducing the Tea Party to their rightful place as the whining, minority voice which is the true reflection of their place in this country.

Take a note, people, be they ultra-liberals or Tea Partiers, extremists are the fringe and we have been allowing them to run the show for too long. Once upon a time it was possible to engage in civil debate in this country. In fact, that was the case right up to “The Contract With On America.” Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove changed everything because they created a political poison-well whereby winning by whatever means necessary was the ONLY course allowed and Democrats were to be opposed on all fronts, even those upon which both parties agreed. They created the concept that Democrats were wrong ONLY because they were Democrats.

This brings us up to today where the Tea Party will shut down government and ruin lives rather than enter into goodwill negotiations  and, in case you missed it, this has brought disaster down not just upon the country* but upon the Republican Party itself. Don’t mistake me, I believe in the right to disapprove. In fact, I am the Queen of that parade, but I believe in a loyal opposition. I think most of us do. I think it is the cornerstone of Democracy and that it is worth fighting for.

[*You will recall that the credit rating of the US was lowered not because of the financial crisis but because our Congress was deadlocked in debate and could not take the actions the world financial community deemed necessary.]

The Republican Party has a chance, a perfect chance, to fight that fight on behalf of all of us…but they won’t because that would take more courage than just creating a misleading name for something or someone and repeating it over and over and over and, as we all know, they are the kings of that parade.

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Image

STRONG…or Not

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a rabbit but you don’t need to sit in a litterbox everyday to know that something is wrong with our country when bigots can serve openly in political office but our kids can’t openly be taught science and history without exaggerated myth impinging upon their curriculum. As President I’ll end the blasphemous war to distort religion and I’ll fight fear-based attacks by “religious” fanatics against the religious diversity and freedom of thought guaranteed by our Constitution. FREEDOM of religion and, in fact, just plain freedom, made America strong. It can make her strong again. I’m a rabbit and I approved this message.

And Another Thing…

Faith isn’t like “Twilight.” It isn’t Team Jesus vs. Team Muhammud vs. Team It’s None of Your Business. Faith isn’t about being seen sitting in church and it isn’t about slapping a fish on the back of your car. The back of your car is where you should be slapping truly excellent bumper stickers like these from Bunny Whipped but I digress.

faith |fāθ| noun

1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something

2 strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

• a system of religious belief

• a strongly held belief or theory

Faith is…well…FAITH. It’s the faith to believe there is room for other beliefs, that a God big enough to create what YOU already think he created is big enough to have created much, much more – like the laws of nature, science and other ways of thinking and believing. Faith is the security to know that God is big and that is alright. Faith is even the security to believe that if the person next to you doesn’t believe in God she is either right or wrong but it does not have any bearing what-so-ever on your faith.

Faith is also the ability to understand that faith is not diminished, or under siege, or in any way weakened by the beliefs of others. This is why the founding fathers of the United States made, as a cornerstone of our nation, freedom of religion. Yes, Christianity was the faith of some of the founders but they very purposefully left Christianity out of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Both they and the Supreme Court have been pretty specific on this point so I won’t be droll. Had the founders specified Christianity as the state religion than we would be in the very same boat as Saudi Arabia or, frankly, any communist country. Specifying what religion people will or will not worship is the exact opposite of the intentons of ALL of our founding fathers. It is one of the very few things they all agreed upon. What they gave us was FREEDOM of religion and if you can’t understand why it’s the “freedom” part and not the “religion” part of that which sets this nation apart, than I have this lovely hutch for you right out back.

Another thing about faith is that faith is often, very often, confused with force. Instead of feeling secure enough in their faith to practice it in their hearts and homes, some people, using  _____________ as their excuse, (and here you can fill in the blank with the name of almost any major religion) believe that forcing others to openly bow, with their hands over their hearts and “under God,” to the professed religion of the majority makes faith stronger. NEWS FLASH:  God doesn’t need your vote. God is God (or not – for all you atheist bunnies out there) no matter what and forcing others to bow and recite words they do not believe or backing children of different faiths into a corner so that they feel less-than for not agreeing with the dominant religion, evidences not faith in God but the exact opposite. If you think you need to force someone, anyone, then you are testifying that your beliefs are not strong enough without that other person and that your God needs both you and them in order to be God. You need to know that the Great Bunny is there no matter what any of the rest of you believe. I am at peace with that. I have faith.

And One Last Thing…

On this, the eve of Christmas Eve, I’ve been thinking about innkeepers. As the story goes, Mary and Joseph returned to Bethlehem, for the census of Joseph’s family, having, foolishly, not made prior reservations. Since the rest of the line of David was there as well, there was, as they say, “no room at the inn.” Increasingly worried about the impending birth, Joseph and Mary went from inn to inn and every single time they were turned away. Even two thousand years later we think about those innkeepers and we shake our heads but here is what we forget. One man, and I guarantee you it was a man given the place of women at that time in history, said “yes.” He wasn’t an innkeeper and all he had available was a stable, but one man said, “yes.”

Who was that guy? History has denied him his rightful place but one has to wonder, given the general population of Bethlehem at the time, was he a Palestinian? He wasn’t a Muslim, because Islam was still hundreds of years into the future, and he could have been a Jew, but Bethlehem was a diverse place and he easily could have been any of several other faiths which were popular at the time. Was the man who put a roof over the Lord of all Christians on the night of the birth of our faith, was he a Palestinian? We don’t know. No one does. Still, he was a man of goodness, a man of kindness, a man who did all he could at a time when no one else stepped up. So, does it matter? Does who or what he worshipped matter? This was a man who changed history with his heart and, no matter his faith, he deserves the thanks of all Christians. He even deserves the thanks of doves and sheep and fatted calves and, this is just conjecture, but quite possibly more than a few rabbits, because Christianity put an end to so much of that sacrificing of members of the animal kingdom on alters (see “Leviticus” for more detail on this). Christianity changed a lot of things – including adherence to the many laws and rituals imposed in “Leviticus”. (Make a note, Rick Perry.)

It is my hope on this eve of the Eve that Christians find a way for faith to open their hearts in the same way that man, of unknown faith, opened his stable. It is my hope that on the Holy Night and on every night we are each secure in the faith that we are each secure in the hands of God and that no human force, or law, or religion can change that.

Merry Christmas.

Yours in the Great Bunny - Arliss

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So, during the late summer of 2010 a group of kids were sitting around and one of them said, “Let’s put on a show!” Everyone thought is was a great idea so they cleared out the garage, set up some chairs and off they went…except not…. What really happened is that given the vicious political climate in the late summer of 2010, a group of funny people decided to work together to encourage Stephen Colbert, of “The Colbert Report,” to hold a rally called “Restoring Truthiness.” After about 30,000 other people joined in the effort, they put out a call for correspondents to interview “people and rodents” from across the country about their thoughts on truthiness. Well, as we all know, bunnies are NOT rodents

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are seven different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), cottontail rabbits (genus Sylvilagus; 13 species), and the Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, an endangered species on Amami Ōshima, Japan). There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. – Wikipedia

but Arliss, being an intrepid sort of bunny, responded to the call with the courage and gusto befitting a Disapproving Rabbit and was selected as the National Rabbit Truthiness Correspondent. For more on “Restoring Truthiness” visit their website. For more on Arliss read other blog posts further down this page.

Arliss is a bun of VERY strong opinions but she doesn’t mind if your bun has equally strong opinions. Arliss is pro-strong-willed buns. In her role as a correspondent, Arliss has been asked to make a YouTube video in which she interviews other rabbits on their views on truthiness. This is how it will work. Arliss will have her film crew film her as a series of cartoon-style talk bubbles are held up behind her which translate her questions into English so that humans can understand them. The questions are listed farther below. Participating buns will have their staff film them with answers to one or all of the questions held up in clearly written talk bubbles. Like so:

Bunny with Talk Bubble

Bunny with talk bubble.

Arliss will select bunny respondents for the final video based upon how much they bring the funny. Views of all kinds are hoppily accepted. Arliss will then have her production staff edit together various responses into a single video and submit the whole thing to “Restoring Truthiness.”

Arliss’ Questions:

1. What does truthiness mean to you, the Average American Rabbit?

2. Of the multitude of ways in which restoring truthiness will improve each and every moment of your life, which is the most important?

3. Is the direct connection between carrots and truthiness as obvious to you as it is to me?

4. Is the grass always truthier on the other side of the fence?

5. Do you view truthiness as THE umbrella under which the lop-eared and the uppie-eared can live together in perfect harmony?

6. Agree or Disagree:  the vicious, rabbit-eating eagle is an excellent symbol of truthiness.

7. Final Question, Agree or Disagree:  the best way for any future Presidential candidate to prove his or her commitment to truthiness would be to select a rabbit as a running mate.

When submitting video, please include the name of the human transcriber, an email address where this human can be reached and the city where the bunny lives. Obviously, we don’t really care where the human staff lives, Arliss is ALL about the bun.  ;-)   If anything typical of the city where the bunny lives can be included in the video, that would be especially great. Funny answers are what it is all about and Arliss brooks no fools. If your bun would like to participate or you have any questions, please feel free to contact Arliss at arlissbunny@earthlink.net. You can also follow her on Twitter at ArlissBunny or subscribe to her blog, right here at WordPress.

All for Truthiness and Truthiness for All!

Arliss out.

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Before the revolution, meaning before it became more common for bunnies to live indoors and receive the level of health care rightfully accorded to most house rabbits, we lived short and very often miserable lives at the hands of careless, or at the very least uneducated, humans. However, in the last twenty years or so, great inroads have been made. More and more buns are living to be happy, healthy elder buns – including me. I’m nearly eleven. (Mia, next door, is almost twelve and her bonded partner, Moesha, who passed earlier this year, was fourteen.) Of course, the virtues of this are immediately apparent:

1. we have a longer time to hatch and execute our plots to take over the world (or is that just me?);

2. we have the proximity necessary to wrap humans around our little paws and make them dance like marionettes (or, again, is that just me?); and

3. instead of working every day on just staying alive, we have the time to become technically savvy so that we can…. (opps! I may have said too much…. Bwhahaha!).

Anyway, at the heart of all of this is the improved diet and health care afforded the modern house bun. That being said, I have some thoughts on the American health care system. I know, it has been a big subject in the media this year and I am late to the debate but I have been busy with other projects (see list above) and it was not until I was reminded, just this week, of how much I disapprove of  the current health care system that I felt compelled to comment.

Let’s start with the location. How is it that in order to, supposedly, feel better, I must first be packed, unwillingly, into a carrier and transported nearly half way across the known universe in order to receive an appropriate level of care? What’s the deal?!?! The dog who lives here can literally WALK three blocks to get to a veterinarian. Obviously, the education for most veterinarians is grossly lacking and must be completely overhauled. I am clear on the fact that I am both exceptional and notable enough to rate a specialist but that doesn’t excuse the local vet from being absolutely useless (and a known bunny killer, having used the wrong antibiotic on an unfortunate local bun.) Human universities need to get it together and prepare ALL of their veterinary graduates with at the very least the BASICS of bunny care. What could POSSIBLY be more important? Thump!

Now let’s move on to the facilities. What’s the deal with bunnies having to share with predators? This past week I was placed on a scale wich very clearly smelled of both dog and cat. There were no members of those species immediately apparent in the room but they can be shifty, especially cats, and one can never be too careful. (Mia tells me that Moesha’s personal mantra was “everyone eats bunnies, bunnies don’t eat anyone.” This strikes me as defeatist but not unwise.) My response, since the scale was on the floor, was to make a run for it. I got about six hops away before my efforts were mitigated by my being snatched up into the air. Hurrumph! My point being, humans clearly insist upon human-only medical facilities and I think bunnies and other non-predatory species should band together and do the same. Also, would it be so hard to have a scale made of some non-slippy material? Seriously, people, you try to stand there with fur covering 100% of the bottom of your paws! Thump! Thump!

I do find that the doctors and staff at the specialists which have attended to me to be, in the norm, as respectful as possible given the abhorrent circumstances. My most recent visit involved meeting Dr. Rebecca Naas, of Cincinnati’s Glenway Animal Hospital, for the first time. Dr. Naas was kind enough to sit on the floor to examine me and I have to tell you, this is very much appreciated since those examination tables really give me the creeps, not to mention flashbacks to earlier, unspeakably horrible experiences. Dr. Naas gave me a thorough exam and carefully checked my eyes all without having to have me more than one hop up off the ground. She also spoke directly with me. (I absolutely HATE it when doctors talk about me and not to me – it’s SO insulting.) She and I agreed that while my cataracts are much worse, my eyes are both “quiet” with zero indications of infection either there or anywhere else. We discussed the inevitability of aging and I have accepted this as one unfortunate part of the process. She even offered to refer me to a veterinary ophthalmologist should I have any further concerns. I elected to attempt a second escape at that moment so I think I made it plain that I am just fine, thank you, and not in need of another ride in the crate or another doctor poking at me. In general, as far as doctors go, I liked her and would recommend her to other buns. (Mia, btw, tells me that she sees another doctor in that same practice, a Dr. Diana Dornbusch Cron, and absolutely raves about her – as if a veterinarian COULD actually “walk on water.”)

As for the cost of health care, frankly, not my problem directly it still is a matter worthy of disapproval.  I endured several procedures in an attempt to address awful recurring infections prior to having my front teeth extracted (I still have PTSD about that and don’t really wish to discuss it here), have had numerous well-checks and this most recent trip to have my eyes evaluated. My medical expenses, therefore, have been substantial. This, of course, is nothing in comparison to my personal value. It does, however,  speak to the level of commitment necessary from my humans. I have no problem with the jobs they need to work in order to support me in the manner which I so richly deserve and to which I have become accustomed but it is worth saying that the cost of health care is one of the reasons bunny servitude (formerly known as bunny ownership) must not, at present, be undertaken lightly. More importantly, it serves to highlight the urgent need for national health care insurance for all members of the fur-covered community. While it is true that Bo, President Obama’s dog, and I will never be close friends, I do think we share this as a core value. I am expecting Bo to work toward this as a personal goal for the balance of the Obama presidency. I will vote accordingly.

Well, I must hop. An episode of Pinky & the Brain is coming on. It’s my favorite show. I even take notes sometimes. I’m thinking it will save me from making some of the same mistakes as my plans progress for… … …nevermind….

Pinky & the Brain

Pinky & the Brain

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As you, my followers, will recall, my last blog contained a poll and from this poll I learned two important things:  first, the blame rests squarely on the blueberries and second, I am taking over the world. In regard to the former, I should have suspected the evil berries at the outset but they wooed me with their yummieness and, disguised in those little blue jackets, they didn’t seem like they could possibly be at fault. Upon taking a second look (and after drying off *grumble*) it is clear to me that they were of ill intent from the outset. Lesson learned.

You may be wondering, as followers are wont to do, what I mean when I say I am taking over the world. Two words, “social media.” My insistence that my staff provide the resources necessary to connect me to the social masses means that there is now a practically infinite number of bunnies and humans who can readily be exposed to my every thought and comment on all the many things of which I disapprove.

Arliss' Bunspace Badge

Arliss' Bunspace Badge

Just this past weekend, I committed myself to sharing my wisdom on Twitter (ArlissBunny) and I am experimenting with Bunsapce. I am entertained by the fact that my secretary has been tweeting for something like a year and has only thirty-five followers while I have been actively tweeting for three days and already have thirty. I anticipate crushing her in the coming days. Bunsapce seems a bit froofy for me but a number of interesting resources are available there and I do like seeing pictures of all the bunnies and reading their stories.

On social media, a few general remarks are in order:

Twitter: I positively and without reservation HATE the World Cup for screwing up Twitter beyond all recognition. Equally to blame is Twitter for not knowing that little tiny birds can’t carry whales. If that’s your plan folks, try again. You and BP apparently went to the same school for contingency planning.

Additionally, while looking around on Twitter, I learned that I am definitely a liberal. This determination was made based upon the fact that I am a vegan, against human overpopulation of the planet, blame all environmental woes on humans and am pro gun control, though I still stick with the stance I espoused in my earlier blog, “Approval, Grapes and Guns.” The humans who provide my staff services do not necessarily support all of my opinions but that is to be expected. They aren’t really all that bright, after all.

The other thing I find about Twitter is that it creates in me an urge to pontificate on all manner of things about which I, basically, know nothing, like today’s SCOTUS decision on patent law. I’m my own best creation and I can’t be replicated, so why would I give a flying flip kick about patent law? Twitter is subversive that way.

Bunspace: Bunspace is a whole different warren of bunnies. Instead of being filled with all the sports and political crazies, Bunspace is chockfull of bunny crazies. Ok, I consider this an improvement but still, virtual carrots? I don’t get it.

And here’s the last take away on what I have derived from my experience thus far with social media:  nearly seventy humans took my poll. Seriously, people, nearly seventy of you cared enough to take a poll on what or who was to blame for poopy butt. Doesn’t this cause you worry for your species? I know it does me. Never-the-less, I’m planning to ride my fame to its zenieth, utilize my following to subvert the ruling class and then take over the world. Arliss, out.

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It is incumbent upon me, as a prime representative of my species, to continue to drive us forward, to seek new horizons, to conquer new lands and then to rule over them with an iron paw. This I have done. Here, in Just to the Right of Nowhere, I have expanded the borders of my lands to include the ENTIRE first floor of the house (well, except for that one un-renovated room which doesn’t have air conditioning and is uncomfortably warm this time of year.) I have navigated the furthest reaches of the parlor, front room, laundry porch, master bath, kitchen and the dining room. I own them. Those that live there do so by my leave. I am considering raising taxes.

The most difficult challenge was facing down the large, vicious predator who roams these lands. They call her “Eleanor” and you can tell just by looking at her that she is a killer. You laugh, but her tail can really knock you upside the head. I, of course, am clever enough to duck and keep my ears down. Also, she licked me a once, just a little, and that took HOURS to groom off. Ewwwwwwwwwww!

Eleanor

Eleanor the Goldendoodle

My favorite thing to do during my perambulations around my estates is to hide behind the couches or under chairs. This drives the staff crazy and has resulted in several lengthy searches all of which I consider terribly entertaining and the cherry on top of my day.

Arliss Dines

Dinner is served.

Speaking of cherries, I have found that I approve of both cherries and raspberries though I should say that in the singular because if I have more than one it leads to an unfortunate situation involving my tail which I prefer to avoid. Just last night I was offered some beet leaf and I am taking it under advisement. My usual dinner salad includes cilantro, parsley, kale, endive, Brussels sprout, escarole, green leaf lettuce and Boston lettuce with a mini-carrot appetizer and Bunny Basics-T for dessert. All three courses are paired with a lovely soft water which I very much enjoy. I’m looking forward to the dandelion and other treats that come along with summer salads. The staff here prepares all my salads especially for me by chopping everything up into small pieces so that I can pick them up with my lips and chew them with my back teeth. Not having any front teeth is something of which I very much disapprove as I would be using them not only to eat but to express my disapproval at critical times.

Arliss explores.

Arliss conquers new lands.

(more…)

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