Your Vote Counts - but Only if You Vote for Me.
Published on 10/24/2012
As mentioned in the previous article about the Electoral College, it's very easy to feel discouraged about your vote counting when the race boils down to just a few specific states and districts, especially if you don't live in these places. There is, however, one way to make sure your voice is heard on election day, and that is by voting third party.
I have heard from a number of close friends that they are afraid to vote for me, because 'the race is too close', or because 'they don't want (x) to win'. In the political science world, this is known as the first part of Duverger's law, which states that 'a plurality-rule election system tends to favor a two-party system'. In english, it means that each voter has one vote, which they can cast for just one candidate, and the final result is one person representing the entire district. A perfect example of this is Ross Perot, who received 19% of the popular vote, but because of our electoral system and plurality, he won exactly 0% of the actual race, and had 0% control over the government. Duverger (a 20th century French sociologist, still alive today) also mentions that a third party can only really enter the race based on the mistakes of a pre-existing major party (or both, in my case). Despite our two parties radically swapping beliefs over the past 162 years (the Republicans used to be the party of the north, and the Democrats didn't want to free the slaves for fear of economic destruction), our country has been dominated by these two parties longer than nearly every other democracy out there. The real majority of our country hold beliefs that don't completely align with each party, but they are afraid that if they don't vote for the party closest to their beliefs, the party they *really* disagree with will win and wreak untold havoc. Durverger's law thrives with negative campaigning, telling us that we are constantly on the edge of a cliff and only have one chance/choice to not go falling off it. With this design, party candidates have no concern about third party candidates, ideas, advertisements, etc., because even if a single third-party candidate is elected to the House or Senate, they will be forced to work with one or both parties if they want to have any chance at being productive. Once in the legislature, it is imperative for a senator or congressperson to become appointed to a committee to offer real, substantive change - and those are regularly doled out as favors among friends, which means playing ball.
That being said, there is a silver lining. When we have close races - like the one here in Virginia - and each candidate sees the ever-growing support for a third party candidate such as myself, they are forced to consider these people's ideas and desires. The bigger our numbers come election day, the harder each candidate will look at our group - and especially the harder they'll have to listen if they lose the contest by a number smaller than our totals. This is where true democracy thrives in our country today, but it is our one chance to have our voices heard over the ever increasing negative static coming from both "majority" parties. A vote for me is not a waste, it is in fact, the only way to be heard.
The Electoral College Must Go
Published on 10/23/2012
Here in Virginia, I can't turn on the TV, radio, or even Pandora without hearing an ad for or (much more likely) against every candidate running in Maryland, DC, or Virginia. The worst, by far though, are the ads for the Presidential race.
As many of my fans do not reside in Virginia, you might not understand what I'm talking about. "But Hank," you ask politely, and with kindness in your voice, "I haven't seen a single commercial about either candidate - what do you mean?" My answer to you, my dear friend and supporter, is that both campaigns don't think those states are worth the advertising dollars. Five states - Virginia, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Colorado - make up the bulk of where most of the ad money goes during this election. Nevada pulls in a good amount as well, as do a few others; the rest though, might as well be uninhabited territories as far as either campaign is concerned. The reason for this is simple - the Electoral College. And, this is absolute proof on why I believe it must be removed from our elections.
Let's start with a history lesson (special thanks to Eric Black for much of this information)- the Framers of the Constitution had a number of issues when they created the Executive Branch (the President). First, the Framers were cautious of democracy and letting the public have full control (many are quoted about 'providing sufficient checks against democracy' and 'evils...from the excess of democracy'). Second, the thought of any form of a 'national' election was not even possible during this period - even with just 13 states - to select our President. There was no national media, and certainly no way for even the aristocrats (and aristocats) in Georgia to have any idea of the qualifications of a Maine citizen. Third, with large populations in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, the Framers were concerned that with a population based voting system, the large states would regularly be able to pull in enough votes for a 'favored son' of their state. What the Framers really wanted though, was a system designed to promote and select natural leaders, bigger than partisan politics. The system, our Electoral College, was designed to choose 'men of good reputation' whose judgement would be more attuned than an average voter - who could sniff out a new George Washington. The College didn't determine how the electors were selected - that was left up to the states, but they couldn't be a member of Congress or a federal official. Eventually most states held a popular election to choose electors (taking place over a number of months). Then, each elector had to select two men as President - at least one had to be from a different state than their own. If there was no majority after that vote, the top five candidates would be decided by the House of Representatives, based on a one-vote-per-state system until someone gets a majority. The biggest catch to all of this - the Framers never intended or expected a national political party system that would allow for platforms, mass media (even before radio and television), slogans, and a succinct method of offering candidates to the nation (albeit often a distorted offering). (I could go on for hours, as a fan of political history, but if you're not asleep yet, I don't want to keep you up much longer to finish this discussion! If you *are* interested in more juicy tales on the system, you can read Eric Black's full multi-article story on the Electoral College here:http://www.minnpost.com/category/keywords/imperfect-union-constitutional-roots-mess-we-re)
So, that is how the Electoral College came to be. Since then though, we brought forth to our process many advancements, all making our country (and indeed, our world) a smaller and more educated nation. Today, when a politician campaigns in the morning, people living in space will know what they said before lunch, and comedy writers will have wrung dry the jokes on their gaffes by midnight. With our largely interconnected country we still rely on this system, partially because of an ill-conceived idea of tradition and honoring the Founding Fathers (despite the fact that our modern-day Electoral College system is almost nothing like the one they originally put forth). While arguments can be made for and against making changes with our Constitution, we should have no desire to hang on to a system that now promotes a handful of voters in a few states over the direction of 300 million. The five states I mentioned before - Virginia, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Colorado - make up 48% (or 64.9 million) of Mr. Romney's advertising budget through September 1st, and a whopping 79.9% (or 165 million) of Mr. Obama's advertising budget. All of this, going to just 17% of the entire population of the United States, because of the Electoral College system. This, I feel, is an unfortunate symptom that we will continue to see for the foreseeable future - the southern and western states will be viewed as Republican strongholds, while the East Coast and California will be ignored as Democratic anchors. If you happen to live in one of the 40 or 45 other states, depending on how close the race is, how can you possibly feel like your vote counts at all?
I feel that we should take the step to a popular vote for the Presidency. While this solution also has its own problems, it would be a good way to step away from our current system that only favors certain states. With a popular voting system, you would most likely see the candidates ignore largely urban (blue) centers and largely rural (red) areas, and focus instead on the suburban middle-ground - but at least then, the state you live in wouldn't necessarily determine the likelihood of your vote actually meaning something. However problematic a new system would be, it's time we step away from the Electoral College, for it has outlived its usefulness.
"That's a great question, let me answer a different one."
Published on 10/22/2012
Throughout my campaign I've commented about some of the tricks and tactics that politicians and political pundits use to court voters. With tonight being the last presidential debate, I wanted to take a moment to share with you another trick that you may see this evening and have probably seen in the past. I like to call this one "That's a very good question. Let me answer a different question."
How it works is simple: An interviewer asks a candidate a direct question. The candidate instead answers a question that may or may not even be on the same subject as the original question. For bonus points, the candidate may use the opportunity to attack his or her opponent (again, while not answering the question).
This is because of media coaching in which candidates are drilled on which talking points to cover, and which to avoid. They're given a specific script and are trained by the coach through practice runs to memorize it and to respond to questions with a specific part of the script. They're told that even if they're asked "what color is the sky?", they're to respond with a specific part of the script. The upshot of this is that it allows the candidate to stay on message and focus on the issues that are important - while staying away from subjects that the candidate may be weak on. The downside, of course, is that asking a direct question of a candidate that employs media coaching can be almost pointless as the question won't actually be answered. This also allows the candidate to be able to maintain 'honesty' by never directly responding on specific issues that are important to many.
While this is frustrating to voters, it's easy to see why it's done. First, all of our candidates (human or otherwise) are imperfect creatures, yet are trying to project a brand image of perfection. Secondly, unlike in the past, candidates are now under constant scrutiny and any gaffe will quickly circulate throughout the entire media sphere (and the Internet) and can be used against them. And as we've seen in recent history, an "oops" moment can sink a campaign or turn a clear win into a statistical dead-heat.
So, as you watch the candidates answer questions in the final run up to the election, you can be sure that they're going to give a good answer. It just might not be an answer to the question they were asked. I, however, will honestly answer any question that comes to me, even if the answer is "I don't know". As mentioned earlier, we are all imperfect creatures, and we politicians must be willing to show our desire for more knowledge as fearlessly as we display our tried and true answers to the softball questions. And as voters, we must accept that our leaders will sometimes make mistakes and not hold them to impossible standards. I believe that with honesty on both sides of the television and on both sides of the debate, our great nation will truly thrive.
Voter ID Laws
Published on 10/12/2012
Today I'd like to talk to you all about the new restrictive voting laws. As of yesterday, there are now 19 states which have new voting restrictions - be it on voter ID laws, new requirements in voter registration, or preventive measures in restoring voting rights. Of these 19 states, 11 have new voter ID laws. These states are: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and my home state (and the state I am running in) of Virginia.
While I certainly have my own opinion on these laws, now that they're passed and will be in effect during the upcoming election I wanted to alert you all so that you can educate yourselves and make sure you're not turned away at the polls and prevented from exercising your citizen rights of voting.
Unfortunately I don't have the space to go into all the new voting requirements, but I wanted to at least address the new requirements here in Virginia. Voters must now show an acceptable piece of identification in order to receive an official ballot (voters not presenting a valid ID will still be able to vote using a provisional ballot and allowed to submit identification later for the ballot to be counted).
Acceptable identification to vote in Virginia are:
Virginia voter registration card (this should have been sent to you in the mail recently. If you didn't receive it, make sure to contact the State Board of Elections at 804-864-8901 or 800-552-9745)
Valid Virginia driver's license
Federal, Virginia, or local government issued ID (such as passport or ID card)
Employer issued photo ID card
Concealed handgun permit
Valid student ID
Current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck stub (with address)
Social Security Card (note, this is ONLY valid as an ID if you have voted in a previous Federal election)
For those who have not voted in a previous Federal election, ONLY certain identification will be allowed:
Valid photo ID (such as driver's license or state-issued photo identification card)
Current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck stub (with address)
Virginia voter registration card
Haven't registered to vote yet? There's still time, but you must do so before next Monday October 15th. You may do so in person or by mail. In person must be done before 4:30pm, and mail must be post marked by Monday. You may download your registration form at: http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/Files/Forms/VoterForms/VoterRegistrationApplication.pdf and if you're registering to vote, remember that your voter identification requirements are more restrictive.
Also, make sure to check out http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/ElectionAdministration.html for information on where to vote, polling hours, etc.
In conclusion, make sure that you come prepared with your ID and knowledge on Tuesday November 6th. I hope when you cast your ballots you'll choose me to be [one of] your Senators in the US Senate – but whomever you vote for, make sure to participate in this wonderful part of United States citizenship.
Animal Rescue Pledge
Published on 10/09/2012
Today I have contacted both Governor Allen and Governor Kaine via phone to let them know about my Animal Rescue Pledge, which I have also mailed to them both. While both campaigns have yet to take up my suggestion to repudiate negative ads and instead donate to non-profit groups that support their platform, I am extremely hopeful with this new pledge. I am simply asking for them to match my donations thus far - $15,000 - to a non-profit, animal rights group in Virginia. Se
condly, I ask that they pledge to support animal welfare legislation, whether as a citizen or our next Senator.
This amount equates to 0.13% of Allen's campaign funds, and just 0.10% of Kaine's funds. And yet, it would make an immense difference to countless animals across the Commonwealth, not to mention the many human families who would have their lives changed forever by taking in a loving pet. I have also brought my pledge to the media in the hopes for extra pressure on the campaigns to show the world that we can make a difference.
SuperPAC Spending in Virginia
Published on 10/08/2012
This is what SuperPAC spending looks like in Virginia. The red here represents money spent on negative ads and promotion in the US Senate race, while the green represents money used in support of one of the candidates. All told, SuperPACs have spent over $16.5 MILLION in Virginia alone, with 99.89% going to negative promotion (which means a whole $20,000 has gone to supporting candidates). Once in office, I will do everything in my power to remove SuperPACs completely once and for all from elections, as this is destructive to our country. Let me say it again - I promise you, once elected, to do everything in my power to get rid of the SuperPACs and get Citizens United overturned.
Small Business Ad Decline During Campaigning
Published on 09/27/2012
With the hundreds of political commercials airing every day now, I want to discuss something many campaigns claim to be a champion of, and yet end up actually severely hurting: small businesses. During the ever-growing campaign season, politicians on both sides spend millions on television advertisements (along with radio, print, etc.). The companies who run these stations and charge for the adsare aware that the closer we get to the election, the more each party will be willing to pay for coveted airplay - and of course there's only so much time in each day to run these ads, so the space is limited. Many small businesses who rely on relatively cheap commercials on TV (perhaps $200-500 regularly) find themselves being told that to play their same commercial now will cost $7000 or more - simply because the candidates are willing to pay that price to air their own commercial praising their small business support 20 times during a single day. You might think this is typical every election year, but it has increased at an alarming rate - in Richmond, Virginia, campaigns have already spent more than 10 times as much as they did in all of 2008 on advertising. Perhaps if these candidates would instead follow my suggestion to donate 50% of their campaign funds to charity, they could save the ad space for the used car lots and rug cleaners trying to survive in a tough economy, and instead be mentioned regularly on the news broadcasts for their selfless act of helping those in need.
Published on 09/26/2012
The latest Congress has adjourned until after the election now, passing just the bare minimum budget to make sure the government continues to "work" for another six months. What was left behind includes the fate of the United States Postal Service, Bush era tax cuts, over $100 billion in spending cuts, budget adjustments, farm subsidies, and many other decisions ignored simply because of the potential effect it would have on the re-election campaigns of many politicians.
On the same note, the current approval rating of this past Congress is a whopping 13% - the lowest ever in an election year. I have very few doubts that my current approval rating among my supporters will ever dip below 14%, so it seems like we have this election in the bag. Of course, this does not mean it's time to rest on my fluffy, warm cat bed - more than ever, I am working diligently on the campaign during these final weeks. I am certain, though, that once elected, I can continue to rely on my standard 16 hours of sleep each day, and still be able to achieve much more than our current leaders do.
Hank for President?
Published on 09/25/2012
Throughout my campaign I've had the opportunity to meet with wonderful people all across Virginia, the United States, and even the world. One question that's often been asked of me is why I'm running for Senate instead of for President. I wanted to take a moment to share with you my response to this question.
Simply put, now is not the time for me to run for the Presidency. With Congress so deadlocked by petty political games, I feel that I could do the most good by being an independent voice to break up the impasse. Partisan politics are running rampant, and I believe that only through a combination of citizens voting out their least effective representatives and by getting in new legislators can we improve the situation.
Also, I believe that the office of the President has been seriously damaged over the past decade and beyond. Not only has the public gotten more polarized, but there now exists a dedicated 24 hour media machine ran by self-described party disciples which exist to both praise and demean the president, depending on which party is in control. While the President has always been a lightning rod of their branch of government, of their political party, and even of the entire United States as a whole - never before has there been such a combination of newspapers, 24 hour news channels, websites, blogs, radio hosts, talk show personalities, and journalists whose sole purpose is to promote their party and party representatives while simultaneously attacking the opposite party and their representatives. This hyper-partisanship not only means that politicians must be more careful in their actions and limit the potential legislative actions they could perform, but I believe that it also harms us all as it lowers the expectation of the media from an organization to inform the public to simply an attack and propaganda machine.
And, lastly, Article II Section 1 of the Constitution states that a person must be 35 years of age and have lived in the United States for the last 14 years. While there exists precedent I could argue for in regards to age adjustment for cat years, one doesn't exist for the 14 year residency requirement - which I believe would be an inevitable distraction for my campaign and would detract from the issues at hand.
Someday - perhaps in 2016, which just so happens to also be my 14th year of residency - I may run for the office of the President, but right now I feel my place is in the Senate. And I can only hope that on November 6th, voters will agree.
The Self Quote Quote
Published on 09/24/2012
Hi, friends. With six weeks to go to the election, political candidates all across the United States are making their final arguments to win voters. With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about some of the tricks that less-scrupulous candidates may use in the coming days that you might want to watch out for. After all, as Thomas Jefferson famously said: "The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate".
Today's topic is a little trick I call "the self-quote quote". I'll paint you the scenario: Candidate A (we'll call him Jim Smith) is running against Candidate B (we'll call her Sally Doe). Jim Smith accuses Sally Doe of spreading lies about him. His campaign puts out a press release in which he states that Sally Doe's talking points are blatantly false. A newspaper (we'll call it the Daily Times) runs an article on the candidates, and quotes Jim Smith's campaign press release. Now that it's appeared in the newspaper, Jim Smith now says "even the 'Daily Times' has called Sally Doe's talking points blatantly false!" Of course, Jim Smith is actually quoting his own campaign - and he's able to do this, since these words about John Doe did technically appear in the newspaper. However, the obvious point is to mislead the public and make them believe that the Daily Times investigated Sally Doe's claims and determined they were false. And they often get by with this, since most people are simply too busy to investigate every claim from every politician.
This tactic is used for everything from local elections, to presidential campaigns, voter referendums, casino legislation, and everything in between. So, the next time you see a campaign commercial which cites a news publication, make sure to do a little research - or at least, have a few grains of salt on standby.
Published on 09/11/2012
Today marks the 11th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on our nation. As we take time to reflect on the lives lost, on the many heroes who prior to that day were just ordinary citizens, and remembering our own personal experiences from that awful day, I would like to discuss something different - the war that came about in response to the terrorist attacks, the war in Afghanistan. As you read this post, there are a few key points that you must keep in mind throughout - points that while obvious to many, still need to be remembered and recalled:
- al-Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11th, a terrorist organization based in Afghanistan. At the time, Afghanistan was under the control of the Taliban, who were allowing al-Qaeda to run their organization within the safety of their borders.
- Citizens who serve in our military do so with courage and selflessness that is to be admired - these men and women are willing to risk their lives to protect and make their country a better place to live, and indeed, many have given their lives. For those people who serve & the ones who gave all in their service, we are extremely grateful for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their loved ones.
- As we were attacked, we had the full rights and backing of nearly every nation on this planet to respond and bring to justice (or eliminate) those who attacked us.
- Thanks to the sacrifice of our troops, al-Qaeda is today a shell of its former self, and many of the leaders and masterminds of the organization and of the September 11th attacks are now dead.
- While we can debate for hours the past choices made with regards to the past 11 years (and I look forward to a civil debate regarding this), we cannot change what has already happened - all we can do is focus on making sure any mistakes made are not repeated in years to come.
As we all know, we are at war with Afghanistan. In fact, we have been at war with them my entire life - I have grown from a kitten to middle age living only in a country at war. This war is, in fact, the longest war in American history. However, this war we are in continues to be ignored by the media, and most of our country, as it has become something that has 'always been there', in the general sense. No choice to go to war has been easy on any of our leaders, but I think we can all agree that both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 brought forth the requirement to act. However, this country has seen, especially since Korea and Vietnam, that conventional warfare - mass ground troops, shelling/bombing, pushing back and defeating the other army - rarely exists as a successful tool in our modern world. Conventional war has been shown to only be viable when fighting a conventional enemy (large troops, significant infrastructure, etc.). When we face an enemy that is simply a small group - or one that is indistinguishable from the population at large - it simply doesn't work. Regardless of this, we continue to fight a conventional war with Afghanistan, a country that has been in political turmoil for many decades - and experts agree will remain in turmoil thanks in part to poverty, a massive opium drug trade, and generations of war. We have been successful in splintering and severely crippling al-Qaeda, and of course, killing Osama bin-Laden last year, the mastermind / main funding source of the terrorist attacks, thanks to targeted, focused strikes. Despite our general success, we are still increasing our debt daily by continuing to stay in Afghanistan with the intention of 'removing most forces by 2014', and keeping a permanent base of operations there as we have done with every single country we've been at war with over the past 70 years.
To date, the cost of the war in Afghanistan has reached over $564 billion dollars, with the war in Iraq also adding to a grand total of $1.371 trillion spent over the past 10 years on war(1). Other sources peg the total spent on war in the past 10 years to be much higher at $3.7 trillion(2). Much more valuable than any dollar amount, we have lost 2,084 of our men and women in Afghanistan (along with thousands of unintended civilian deaths, almost always unavoidable in conventional war). On top of this, we also have 45% of the 1.6 million war vets from both Afghanistan and Iraq returning home in need of disability and long-term care(3). This number is over double what we faced with the Gulf war in the 90s, and there is no funding set aside by the government to care for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who absolutely, positively need the full support of the government and the people they fought for - this cost will be high, and it is imperative that we pay it for these brave men and women.
There are many more reasons to argue against conventional war, but I hope this has given you pause to consider that today, as we remember those who lost their lives in a tragic attack, we need to also vigilantly remember those who are in Afghanistan today, the majority of them between the ages of 7-19 when we were attacked 11 years ago. We must also remember those who will never return home from Afghanistan, and reflect on the potential for many more casualties in the coming days and years as the war continues.
Unfortunately, war will always remain a possibility so long as evil in the world wields power, but we must learn from lessons of history and ask our government when we can expect to stop wasting American lives in a war that must reach its inevitable conclusion. Today, most campaigns aren't even discussing Afghanistan, despite the weight it puts on our economy, our military, and our people - we need leadership that will tackle the difficult problems, regardless of popularity, and it's just one of the reasons I look forward to serving you as Senator.
Hank's Review of Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
Published on 08/31/2012
Good Friday Morning! Today I am going to share my review of Homer's Odyssey, which is also up on Amazon's site as well.
As a cat, I often find myself considering books on or about cats with trepidation. Regularly, you will come across an author who claims to be an expert on cats - claiming to understand our behaviors, and giving us a voice we didn't ask for. On the occasion that you do find a decent writer who does seem to understand our complex and varied nature, the book will inevitably end with a painful reminder of our own mortality - while this is of course a very useful exercise for all species to become introspective and meditate on the value of our lives - it is simply too much to ask a cat to face this hovering specter of death each and every time we open a book on our species.
Fortunately for everyone, we have Gwen Cooper. Gwen has written a nonfiction book entitled "Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat".
Homer is a true cat's cat. Despite losing his eyesight at a young age, Homer turns this disability into a superpower, never once worrying about what he is missing out on, or fearful of the unknown. Instead, Homer regularly vanquishes resolute foes (such as the common house-fly) by leaping from a standstill and capturing them five feet in mid-air. When placed into a new and unfamiliar territory, Homer will simply proceed along the boundaries of the walls to map out his environment.
While Homer's daily achievements and successes are wonderful, the truly amazing feats come later, such as chasing off a man who breaks into Gwen's apartment in the middle of the night. Homer also faces the terrible tragedy of September 11th, just a few blocks from Ground Zero - Gwen is at work at the time, and has to literally spend days fighting her way through bureaucracy and officials trying to keep people out of the danger zone, while Homer faces the worst day in our Nation's history alone and in the dark.
Throughout the book, we become attuned to Homer's world - we get used to seeing without sight, and we become enveloped in the pure wonder and joy of everything around us. To feel as though we are once again kittens frolicking along the floor, discovering everything with a sense of awe and wonder, playing and pouncing on anything, even simple little dustballs - the journey of awakening these feelings once more is simply priceless.
Homer is an inspiration to cats everywhere. And, for a human, Gwen is pretty okay, too.
-Hank the Cat, 2012
Vote the Humans Out Bumper Sticker Redux
Published on 08/17/2012
Friends, I greatly appreciate all of the feedback regarding the new bumper sticker idea. This is exactly why I am regularly so impressed with and humbled by my supporters - giving honest opinions and amazing, well thought-out suggestions and concerns without vitriol or negativity.
This is ultimately why I brought this design here first - I had a very lengthy discussion with my campaign staff regarding this design and discussed in-depth many of the extremely astute and legitimate concerns some of my supporters have voiced. We all wanted to make it very clear that it is in no way meant to be seen as a slight or attack on the entire human species. I know as a rescued animal that there were literally dozens of people who had to come together just to make sure I was spared death as a very young kitten, and working close with the many rescue organizations I see literally hundreds of similar people, putting in so much effort to help the helpless and save the unwanted.
Just the same, I am also very aware of the good politicians in local, state, and even federal offices. They are often not seen & heard, because they're busy working instead of clamoring for the headlines, and because political fighting seems to make for better headlines instead of individuals making a real difference and helping their community (at least, this is what the media executives claim - I feel if they were to cover those fighting the good fight, they would be shocked to see the viewership rise).
That being said, the majority of our congressional representatives have failed us, repeatedly, for many years. Despite fresh faces, bold new promises, regular claims of bipartisanship, decreased spending, increased responsibility, and helping our fellow man - we have the most divided and unproductive Congress since the Civil War. A Congress, I should add, that has already departed until after the elections are over while we continue to face daily problems that simply won't even be considered for months. While humans have had almost 250 years of political monopoly in this country, it is clear that we are due for a change, and this is the message I am conveying with this new sticker: we simply will no longer tolerate our representatives ignoring their duties while representing their own partisan agendas!
As a politician who is willing to show true compromise, and real, honest solutions, I have decided to do the following with this sticker: We will make it, but only offer a limited amount of them. This way, those who want it can pick it up, and the others will know that within a short amount of time, it will no longer be available or displayed on our site. We will have 240 available for order, with a limit of 5 per person, and the price will be the same as the "Smarter" bumper sticker - $3 with the proceeds going to Four Paws. Again, once they are gone, they will be gone for good. We've made the suggested changes to the image you see here as well, and we should have them ready to go on the website sometime next week. Also, please note that we understand the concern about negativity, and can promise that our upcoming media push will very much reflect the positive focus our campaign has had since the beginning. As unfortunate as it is, we are living in highly divisive times, and sometimes it takes a bold statement to get people to notice you, and that is our goal with this sticker. As always, I greatly appreciate your feedback, every one of you!
Freedom of Fast-Food Options?
Published on 08/08/2012
Under the Constitution, the document used to create this wonderful country of ours, the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights explains that Congress has no right to make laws forcing a religion upon us, nor prevent us from practicing a religion, nor curtailing our freedom of speech, or of the press, nor peaceful assembly, nor prevent us from petitioning the government with grievances. There's a lot there for one sentence, but today we're going to look at the 'free speech' part. A holdover of Roman times and most likely invented by the Greeks, freedom of speech allows for the protection of an individual to share/seek any ideas, in the form of actual speech, written, or through artwork. This law was of course not created to protect anyone saying 'I love my country!', because there is no real offense to be taken there - free speech is really created and used for the much more divisive and offensive words. There are of course certain limits - as we often see during Presidential campaigns, inevitably a (usually) young American tests the government with a threat on the life of the current or potential President. Another form that's not protected is inciting a revolt of the government, but this area is far murkier. One is allowed, presumably, according to Supreme Court decisions, to draw out how we would go about overthrowing the government, as long as we weren't specifically calling for action against them.
Free speech can cover many various areas that are uncomfortable, especially for politicians to discuss. No politician anywhere likes to admit that an individual is in their right to protest a funeral because they disagree with our country's policies (and, ironically, disagree with the very amendment that protects their right to voice their opinion). While we may not like the idea of a hate-filled church, or supremacist group, or any other hate-based organization spreading ignorance, fear, and general occlusion of someone different from ourselves - they do have the right (with limits) to do so, just as we have the right to claim their ignorance and hatred are vile and hurtful to our nation. (It should also be noted that, while individuals have the right to voice their opinions - other individuals are completely in their rights to not have to hear them if they don't want to - such as a funeral procession avoiding the despicable acts of the funeral protesters.)
With this extremely long preamble, I now get to the main discussion. Recently the head of a fast food chain expressed his religious views and beliefs with regards to marriage. As much as I might personally disagree with him, he is in his complete right to share his views - just as others who feel the same can do so as well. As a business owner, he does not relinquish any free speech right - he is by law, however, expected to not discriminate against his clientele (at least in regards to federal and state protections on religion, race, creed, etc. - he can say 'no shoes no service', but he cannot say 'Zoroastrians not welcome'). With this regard, the government has no right - city, state, or federal - to deny him anything that isn't accessible to a similar businessman with different beliefs. Unfortunately, political leaders in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles have attempted to punish this company by refusing them permits to open or expand in their respective areas.
As a capitalistic society, we have every right to vote with our wallets when it comes to purchasing goods or services - if we aren't simply shopping for the cheapest deal (and most of the times, we understand quickly why the product or service was so cheap!), we can and should support products and companies that we have confidence in. Just the same, if a company spokesperson offends us with negative or derogatory speech, we can make a decision to no longer support that company. Or, we can write a letter of complaint regarding the issue to the company. Or, we can protest them publicly, or give money to organizations who will post ads calling out their actions or words - all of this, is granted to us because of the freedom of speech. The right to speak out, and share with others our experiences in the hopes that we all together will become more enlightened regarding our shrinking world.
As long as a company, organization, or group does not violate the law - such as denying service or threatening violence, it is absolutely out of the realm of our elected officials to use their power to deny them their legal operation. While we may not like the said group - and may even have a bit of schadenfreude at their misfortune - we cannot allow our nation's most basic principles to be compromised just because we find them inconvenient. As a legislator I will be sworn to protect and uphold the Constitution - and as a citizen we must make sure we do the same. Otherwise we may find one day that our own civil liberties have been curtailed by a politician who found them personally distasteful.
Hank's "Bobby Kennedy" Poster
Published on 08/04/2012
Tomorrow is our event at Felix & Oscar - be sure to be there between 11am-1pm to catch us, and your chance to win this new poster, based on Bobby Kennedy's Presidential Campaign in 1968!
Robert Kennedy was very much a person who believed in black and white - that is, truly right, and truly wrong. In serving as the US Attorney General under his brother, John Kennedy, Robert (or Bobby) was known for taking on the mafia, civil rights, and of course, Cuba and the Russians. If Robert was against something, like the mafia's involvement with labor unions, he would use all of his being to remove what he considered a threat to the United States Justice Department. Bobby was a middle-to-low end student in college, and never quite got the attention from his father that he saw given to Jack and some others. He spent his younger years fighting to be recognized and appreciated, and many in power saw him as nothing but a rich kid without a clue or direction.
Once in power as the Attorney General though, things changed. Robert Kennedy is, according to all eyewitness reports, the man who saved us from nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the discovery of Russian nuclear missiles being placed in Cuba, everyone - including JFK - was set on retaliating with a limited strike. Bobby told his brother, and then the others in the meeting, 'Now I know how Togo felt [planning Pearl Harbor].' He expanded, pointing out that our surprise attack on Cuba would be the first time in the nation's history that we would attack another country without warning or direct threat, and that would take our country down a dark path. As the days continued, Robert was the contact to the Russian ambassador in DC, having to give oral agreements that couldn't be written simply because of the outcry and destruction that would occur to the administration should anyone find out. Simply put, Robert assured the Russian ambassador that in exchange for Russia removing their offensive weapons 90 miles from our shore (that they put there without warning and under secrecy), we would at a later date remove our nuclear missiles from Turkey - technically something the US was already planning on doing. Regardless, this would look to the world as a way to show the United States as a nation willing to sell out its allies if threatened. Bobby carried out this mission with success though, and no one knew the gritty details until many years later. Known today as the "Thirteen Days", the details of what occurred during this time at the top of our government is simply fascinating reading material that I suggest to everyone.
Bobby later went on to run for President, and regardless of political leanings or beliefs, I can say without a doubt that his actions in this moment of crisis show he would've made a capable President. Unfortunately, Robert was murdered prior to the election. In his eulogy, his brother Ted said, "My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." His desire to fix the broken things in America, and know there's a truly great country, is why we honor him with this newest poster.
Hank's Taft Poster
Published on 08/01/2012
As I'm sure you are all aware, we are having an event this Saturday, August 4th, from 11a-1p at Felix & Oscar. In honor of this event, we have a few new posters we'll be raffling off - this is the first one.
Based on William Howard Taft's 1908 successful Presidential Campaign (see the original poster here: http://stewf.tumblr.com/post/24407533100/best-presidential-campaign-poster-ever-from), Taft is the only man to serve both as a President, and on the Supreme Court. While certainly not one of our greatest presidents, Taft was known for always holding to the law, regardless of political fallout or reaction from both parties. Despite the fact that Taft was not really interested in running for President after Theodore Roosevelt declared he would not seek a second full term (after already serving for 3 years after an assassination and being elected once), Taft decided that if he had the support, he would go for it. Taft did not know how to play the political game - that is, he couldn't do what is now almost the primary role of one - selling the laws and decisions to the people and fellow representatives. Taft created the Presidential Budget that is still used today - prior to this each branch would submit to Treasury, who would submit to Congress. Despite claims from his opponent in the election that he would be in bed with big business, Taft filed 90 antitrust lawsuits against large corporations, including US Steel, for becoming too big. Taft also brought forth a corporate income tax and the Sixteenth Amendment ("The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." - if you really want to learn the intricacies of taxes, feel free to read more on it!).
Without the ability to charm or even stay friendly with the other powerful men of the time, Taft nearly lost the primary to Theodore Roosevelt, who was so upset with Taft and his direction he decided to go back on his vow to not seek the Presidency again. Roosevelt split the Republican Party and indeed won more votes in the Presidential election than Taft - who holds the record for the lowest electoral votes for a sitting President (just 8). In the end, Taft was elected for just one term and lost to Woodrow Wilson. Despite this, he kept to his dream to an appointment as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court, which he received in 1921. Taft is the only former President to swear in new Presidents, which he was able to do twice.
Because of his focus on law, regardless of party lines, his unwavering desire to achieve greatness (even if he was a better SC Justice than President) and to make this country a better place, my campaign honors Taft with this new poster.
No More Negativity, America!
Published on 07/09/2012
Together, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raised $177 million in June for their campaigns. I am, of course, not running for President - someday that might change - but I understand that nation-wide campaigns are expensive endeavors. However, 68% of the ads aired were negative attack ads in June, with over $60 million spent on ads alone. How can either candidate claim to have the country's best interests at heart when both campaigns are fueled with such typical rhetoric, vile attacks, baseless claims, and general negativity?
While both men wasted $42 million dollars on attacking each other, we the people must object to the inherent waste of our hard-earned money. My solution is simple - each candidate could donate towards a non-profit that support their platform, as I do with 100% of my campaign funds. As per FEC regulations, this is completely allowed and legal (as long as the candidate isn't part of the organization they are donating to). Instead, they act like bully children, trying to scream over each other as they think the loudest one wins. We must both demand more of the people we choose to lead, and find true leaders. No more negativity, America!
The 4th of July
Published on 07/03/2012
Over the course of the next few days, as America celebrates her Independence, you will see many politicians wax poetically about what it means to fight for freedom, how patriotic they are, and so on.
The real truth is that freedom, independence, and patriotism are usually bloody, violent, and require real sacrifice for the greater good of your fellow Americans. Our founding fathers declared independence because they refused to allow the current government to continue as the status quo. They are considered patriotic, but we must remember at the time they were called traitors and anarchists by many who felt they were going too far.
Even today, our freedoms are continually tested - the Fourth Amendment, protecting us from unreasonable search and seizure, for example, is nearly non-existent today with the constant encroachment of Homeland Security, TSA, the National Security Agency, and police departments. It's easy to rationalize for security purposes, but freedom is by definition transparent and open. One of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" Accepting the reduction of our liberties makes one complicit in the erosion of our freedoms.
Patriotism is another value that is lauded about regularly - everyone is patriotic, and in a way has become similar to the Communism hunt in the 1950s with McCarthy. Theodore Roosevelt said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Patriotism does not mean only questioning the wrongdoings of just one political party - it means calling to question all illegal, immoral, and unjust laws and procedures. It means calling into question and examining the political process itself, how it is created to make it very difficult for anyone who isn't a member of the 'ruling class' to become involved in politics. It means calling into question the reasons for war and conflict, even as a soldier who is required to follow orders. Famous author Robert Heinlein stated quite succinctly: "Love your country, but never trust its government."
The price of our freedom is constant diligence to protect it from those who would erode and destroy it - whether foreign or domestic, whether by animosity or by the best of intentions. It's a responsibility we all must bear. That being said, this Independence Day, as we celebrate our independence and freedom I have a challenge for you all: take a moment to examine and scrutinize the actions and attitude of the party and political leaders you personally identify with. Examine them and what they've done. Yes, even the cats such as myself.
It's very easy for us to scorn and shake our heads at our opponents while turning a blind eye to those on our "side" - and it can be uncomfortable to re-examine our convictions. But by doing so we can let injustice and corruption slip by unnoticed. So let's all take a moment to examine our position and the positions of our representatives and offer praise and condemnation where due. Only by keeping an eye on our government can we ensure that we continue to enjoy our freedoms - and that we still have those freedoms to pass on to our successor generations. Finally, please also take care to be safe this holiday when watching or launching fireworks, and make sure to take proper precautions with children and pets during the displays.
First Day of Summer - Pets in Cars
Published on 06/20/2012
Happy first day of Summer! Today, much of the US is facing a heat wave, and I want to take the official start of summer to remind people to be vigilant regarding children (humans and pets) in parked cars. Every mention of kids in this post refers to both our human and pet children, as both can quickly overheat in vehicles left unattended.
I know that it's very easy, especially during this time of year when we're planning trips to the beach, vacations, and enjoying the weather, to become distracted and rushed. Doubly so with kids, and it's very easy to think you'll be gone for just a minute - but there are always distractions, long lines, pushing all the buttons to use the credit / debit machine (seriously, we need to fix this issue as well!), and much more. The minute you planned quickly becomes five or ten minutes, which is all it takes for a car in 85° F to reach 102° F (even with the windows cracked!). Signs of heat stroke, or hyperthermia, for pets include rapid breathing, excessive drooling, dark red gums, anxiety or agitation, confusion, lack of coordination, trouble standing or walking, shaking, weakness, fainting, and vomiting.
If you come upon a vehicle with a child (again, human or pet!) inside with no adult supervision, it is important to act quickly and rationally. Each case is different, and using your best judgement is necessary, whether this is looking quickly for the parent, contacting authorities, or taking more immediate, direct action. For pets, it's good to get cool water on the paw pads, belly, and under the legs (don't use cold or iced water!), or make sure to place them in the shade with preferably a dirt or cool ground underneath (A/C environment is preferred though). It is my goal once elected as Senator to make sure that we bring forth new laws regarding this situation, including keeping those who help the child safe from litigation, and charging the act as a felony crime for pets and humans. [Special thanks to the folks at Wag'N Enterprises for the info!]
Published on 06/17/2012
Today is Father's Day in much of the world, a day we set aside to honor the men who gave love and sacrifice to their children - both humans and other species. And we should note that one doesn't have to share our DNA in order to be a father.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have two dads in my life who've been there as long as I can remember. They've helped make me who I am today - and they're always there whether I succeed or fail. (This makes taking my knocks a little less painful, knowing that even if things don't work out the way they planned I have unconditional love behind me all the way.)
As we all know, most males can create a child, but it takes someone truly special to be a father. Not everyone was lucky enough to have a father in their lives. Some may have been lost too early - others may never have been there at all. We should keep this in mind as we remember the individuals who earned the right to be called a father, and make sure we never take them for granted.
So to my dads - and every dad out there - Happy Father's Day!
Published on 06/14/2012
As many of you may know, today in the United States (June 14th) is Flag Day. This day marks the adoption of a national flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14th, 1777. Although our national flag (or at least, the order of such) is 235 years old today - the holiday itself is only 63 years old. And of course, our current flag is only 52 years old - having been adopted after Hawaii was made a state in 1959. (A bit of trivia about the flag - each new flag is first flown officially over Fort McHenry on the 4th of July of the year it's adopted. The flag flown during the battle of Fort McHenry, of course, being the inspiration for the "Star Spangled Banner").
The flag is an important symbol for America - but I believe that it can also be too easily worshiped as an icon while forgetting the true nature behind it. Our nation's history is both rich and amazing - and on more than one occasion we've teetered on the brink of anarchy and dissolution but managed to pull ourselves back, stronger than ever. And of course no small part of our unique and powerful legacy is our constitution - a living document designed to govern and protect our nation and ourselves, with built-in methods to continually update and revise it as our society grows and evolves. And of course our nation exists because of our heroes - both domestic and military, both known and unknown - who dedicated their lives (and unfortunately, sometimes gave their lives) - in service of the nation that they loved.
While we remember our flag today, let's take a moment to reflect on the wondrous and sometimes unlikely participants in our great nation's history that allows us to live and thrive in the America we know today.
All Politics is International
Published on 06/05/2012
I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all of my new followers from Indonesia who saw me on TV! There is a saying in the US, from Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local" - meaning all political leaders must be responsible for the regular needs of their home turf. I want to suggest the corollary to that: All politics is international. Meaning, those of us who elect our representatives will be judged across the globe based on their performance, and we must therefore elect those who best represent us, and those who can best demonstrate our country as an example to emulate across the world, instead of a warning of what not to do.
Zarathustra and the Declaration of Independence (With Cats)
Published on 05/31/2012
Today's new artwork comes from an amazing individual from Russia - Svetlana Petrova. The word 'artist' doesn't completely define Sveta: she has founded, directed, and designed a theater company that traveled the world; she founded The Laboratory of Sound, a company that brings live concerts to St. Petersburg; she founded and presides over Multivision (www.multivision.ru), an international festival of animated arts; she also helped create graFFFest, a celebration of street art, and has created such works as St. Petersburg King's Dragon. And, the list goes on! Most importantly though, many of you are already familiar with Sveta's passion - her amazingly artistic, whimsical, and always professional cat, Zarathustra, and their collaboration art pieces at fatcatart.ru.
With a little pleading (and bribes in the form of cute pictures of myself), I was able to convince Sveta & Zara to create a piece for my campaign. I even knew which image I wanted to use - John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence. After several photo shoots with my campaign staff, and many hours of hard work on Sveta's end, we have this wonderful piece.
As with all art, there is much symbolism to be found - Zarathustra is holding John Adams hand, who wrote in regards of the Trumbull painting: "Do not let our posterity be deluded with fictions under the guise of poetical or graphical license." Adams was concerned that this fictitious portrayal of history would lead Americans to believe this is how history happened - and of course, one of his concerns was the lack of cats in the painting. Thomas Jefferson gently strokes Hank's ear - both are Virginian, and both believe deeply in their country during times of fear and mistrust of the government, that those in power can right our wrongs. Charles Thomson is seen tugging gently at Hank's leg, trying to pull Hank into the fighting political arena (as Sec. of the Continental Congress, Thomson would often be involved in fights over what was said versus what was written). Benjamin Franklin is seen behind Hank, with a similar pose to Zarathustra - this represents how in the post-Perestroika Russia, many people would hold onto their 'benjamins' ($100 US) to have a stable currency to purchase goods. Finally, Hank is seen laying on the Declaration papers - as all cats know, the more important the papers, the better to lay on.
The image here is zoomed in, the full image contains the entire original painting, and Sveta has worked diligently to allow the prints to come out almost as large as the original (which measures 12 feet x 18 feet!). Of course, most of our prints will be much smaller, but we hope to offer an extreme version of this painting in the future. The first piece will be available for raffle this weekend at Springfield Days, and will shortly thereafter be available online to everyone!
Kyle Mosher's "Hank"
Published on 05/30/2012
Kyle Mosher was born in another country, but this does not preclude him (or anyone, for that matter) from the American Dream: "even if you come from nothing you can make yourself into something with hard work and dedication."
Truly, Kyle has made something of himself with his amazing, unique artwork which can be viewed on his site, atwww.kylemosher.com. To follow your dream, be it art or politics, and to let nothing stand in your way, is inspiring, and encourages us all to achieve greater goals in our lives.
I mention Kyle because he is an artist who was kind enough to use my campaign as inspiration for an art piece, something that we will be offering first at Springfield Days, and very soon after to everyone else! Thank you Kyle, for inspiring me to continue to reach higher than even I imagine possible - it is how a person or cat can change the world.
Published on 05/28/2012
As many of you know, today in the United States it's Memorial Day - a time for reflection on those we've personally and we as a nation have lost. I just wanted to take a moment to take it all in and share with you, my friends, some of my thoughts on what this day means. We tend to go about our lives with the unsaid assumption that we live in an eternal static envelope - but sadly the truth of the matter is that our time, and the time of those we love, is truly brief here in this world. And unfortunately most of us have been touched by the loss of someone we truly cared about, whose time we had together was far too brief.
The other side of Memorial Day is a reflection on those who served their country and gave their lives in that service. Let's never become complacent or feel entitled to their sacrifice, and remember that we are all recipients - and bequesters - of our great nation. We must never back down in the face of those who would destroy us, but we must also never be flippant with the awesome responsibility and tragedy of war. Each lost life on the battlefield creates a wave of grief which resonates with those that knew them and ripples outwards to a grateful nation.
Today, as you spend time with your friends and family I hope you'll take a moment with me to reflect on those who aren't with us today, but for whom without we would be nothing.
Published on 05/22/2012
It's very discouraging to see the level of discourse online these days. It seems you can't read an article about fluffy clouds on a news site without the comments quickly devolving into an ugly left vs. right political mudsling fest. Being exposed only to this it would be very tempting to believe that's how society really is - but fortunately I've been able to travel across this state and even to other countries and have a good honest discussion with individuals who are concerned about their daily lives and the lives of their loved ones. When we only identify with one side - a religion, a political party, an ethnicity - and discount the rest, we damage our nation and ultimately ourselves and sabotage any efforts to create real change and improvement in our political system. Let's remember that we're all in this together, and not stoop to the hyperbole spouted by Internet trolls and those who are so deeply frustrated and entrenched in their mindsets that they discount anyone with a differing opinion. We're changing America - and we're doing it by becoming the change we want to see.
Published on 05/13/2012
Just a special note to all of the mothers out there who support Hank - I don't remember my Mother since we were split up when I was young, but I know without a doubt that I wouldn't be here today without the love and nurturing she gave me during the first few weeks of my life. Thank you to all of the moms out there who do the same for your children, be they humans, dogs, kitties, or any other creature. While you provide love, support, kindness, compassion, and nurturing every day of the year, let us take this one special day to thank you and acknowledge how much you mean to us. Have a wonderful Mother's Day!!
Negative Ads Increase - Who Do We Really Want for President?
Published on 05/10/2012
I've said in public appearances and in interviews that over half of the ads put out for the recent race to the White House have been attack ads. According to a study done by the Wesleyan Media Project, my estimates are wrong - the number is actually around 70%. This is truly dismaying and reflects directly on the state of politics in this great nation. Imagine, if you will, a person interviewing for a job not by touting their skills and experience, but by trashing the other applicants. A hiring manager would thank them for their time, file away their resume, and move on to someone with real qualifications. We are the hiring managers for our political offices, and we as voters should make it clear that you are not going to get hired by dodging your own record and trashing those of your opponents. We want the best person for the job - not someone who thinks they're on a reality show.
Hank's Fillmore Poster Design
Published on 05/03/2012
This design comes from the 1856 Presidential election, a "large woodcut proof" used by Millard Fillmore. President Fillmore was seeking a second non-consecutive term after serving as President following Zachary Taylor's death in 1850. Millard was running under what was called the "Native American" or "American" party after the Whig party had collapsed due to divisiveness on how to handle slavery. The American party wanted to focus on anti-immigration laws, while they newly formed Republican party was concerned about the propagation of "free labor" or slave labor and wanted to stop it. The Democrats of the time, however, were concerned that slavery action would cause civil war. Millard received over 21% of the popular vote, one of the highest returns for a third party candidate.
Interestingly enough, in the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln used the same image (except with his face in the middle) and was successful in winning his campaign. It goes to show you that while pretty campaign posters are helpful, people also have to believe in their candidate!
Once again, this poster will be up for raffle at Felix & Oscar this Saturday, May 5th, from 11a-2p with many other goodies!
Hank's Truman Poster Design
Published on 05/03/2012
Today I'm going to show off two of my newest designs for this campaign. My first is based off of the 1948 campaign of Harry Truman, who helped revive a song from the 1920s titled "I'm Just Wild About Harry." Truman used this song as his theme, and similar campaign posters appeared shortly after. This limited edition print will be part of our raffle on Saturday, May 5th at Felix & Oscar from 11a-2p. Stay tuned later for what is my favorite poster design yet!
The Benefits of Fish Oil
Published on 04/26/2012
Today my friends, I am going to discuss with you a very important topic. Many have commented on my good looks, and I greatly appreciate it! One item that I find that helps me immensely is that every day, I get about a teaspoon of fish oil added to one of my meals.
As you all know, fish oil has been found over the past few years to be extremely healthy for humans. The same applies to both cats and dogs - as is the case with many human foods out there, a lot of our available food options are over-processed for extended shelf life and portability. Many food makers are aware of this, and have been adding Omega 3s as an additive to their food to help, but unfortunately - unlike humans, if the fatty acids come from a vegetable source (like flax or soy), our bodies are unable to break it down into the biologically active forms (specifically, we cats cannot break down the ALA form into EPA & DHA).
After just a few days of fish oil added to my diet, my coat became naturally silky and softer. Of course, this is a small benefit, but more important benefits of the fish oil include - joint lubrication and protection against arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, some allergies, and even a way to get rid of cat dandruff!
The best part? If you have doggies, they can take your fish oil pills (1500mg for dogs over 20lbs, less for smaller pups), and if you have kitties, we love the fish taste, so you can just spray a little on our food! Make sure to not make the mistake my owners made though, and get the 'Lemon' flavored oil - why hide that wonderful taste with Lemon? Yuck! Also, don't forget to get oils that have no preservatives - always check the label - and keep the bottle refrigerated. Our companions (be they cat, dog, or human) do their best to keep us healthy, so we need to keep them healthy too!
The Straw Man Argument
Published on 04/26/2012
With today's announcement by Newt Gingrich that he will be suspending his campaign, the presidential election is almost certain to come down to two candidates: incumbent president Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney. As the two campaigns align their targets and prepare their attacks, I wanted to take a moment to describe another dirty trick politicians use to win votes. This one is called "the straw man argument", and is used to deflect an argument while simultaneously demonize the opponent. It works by responding to a statement or question by pretending the speaker said something else entirely, then attacking them for this made up position.
For example: Person 1 says that they favor school breakfast programs. Person 2 (their opponent) responds by saying Person 1 believes that the government knows better than the parents and wants to tell them how to raise their own children.
Another example: Person 2 says that they are not in favor of school breakfast programs. Person 1 responds by saying Person 2 is anti-family and anti-schools and wants to prevent children from succeeding.
Unfortunately, this tactic is often effective as it speaks to our emotions and our subconscious and distracts us from the real issues. As such, it prevents a real honest open dialogue to solve our problems and only furthers the career of the person using it at the cost of our community and nation. However, by learning to spot these tactics we can disarm their effect on us and expose the person using them.
Let's call out politicians and pundits who would use such tricks and demand an honest debate in good-faith between our leaders and their opponents - by doing so we not only raise the bar of politics in this nation, we create a forum of true debate that allows for more intelligent decisions and action.
Campaign Debt (or, Suspend Your Campaign and Never Pay Your Bills!)
Published on 04/23/2012
Today I am going to discuss campaign debt. As I've mentioned before, I am refusing every single dime that comes in to this campaign, and instead choose to raise money for charities in need that happen to support my political platform, as allowed by FEC regulations.
So many politicians who run for office are more interested in attacking their opponent, and during the race, they run up a large debt. If they officially end their campaign, the Federal Election Commission expects all debts to be settled. So, instead, they "suspend" their campaign. By going this route, they are able to indefinitely hold off their debts in attempts to pay the bills - I won't name names, as I am above attacking any candidate, but there are 38 politicians from both parties who are still running for President as far back as 16 years ago who still have suspended campaigns and debts to pay. Despite the problems many of us face daily with credit card debt, this is no way for our potential leaders - including past Presidents! - to demonstrate leadership, or to offer potential solutions to their community. This is one reason why so many people are interested in my campaign - a politician who offers solutions without running up hundreds of thousands (or millions) in debt. I have shown, without a doubt in my mind, that any politician out there can follow in my footsteps, and be just as successful as I have been in these past few months. We don't need to be elected to fix our broken system, we can fix it now, by becoming the change we want to see.
Earth Day and What You Can Do!
Published on 04/22/2012
Happy Earth Day, for all of you visiting my page from Earth!
In all seriousness though, Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd to increase the awareness and appreciation of our planet's natural environment. I am very glad to inform you that my campaign headquarters is 100% powered by renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass, and others. In fact, if you use Dominion Power in Virginia you can do the same yourself! Simply visit the link below, and you can have the power company purchase Renewable Energy Certificates equal to your 100% of your power consumption each month (this does cost an extra 1.3 cents per kWh), or you can purchase "blocks" in increments of $2/month to have Dominion purchase the RECs. Both of these options *will* increase your bill, but as your next Senator I will bring forth legislation stating that all power companies must offer these credits at cost, which would mean cheaper, cleaner energy across the Commonwealth.
This of course is just one suggestion for Earth Day - however you celebrate, we are all here to share this one world together, so let's make it as clean and as beautiful as we can for future generations to enjoy!
Published on 04/15/2012
While many of my Christian followers already celebrated Easter, I would still like to wish my Orthodox friends a very wonderful and joyous Easter (also known as Pascha).
For those not aware, the reason there is a different holiday date for different denominations of Christianity stems from which calendar the church follows. While most Christian churches today follow the Gregorian calendar (which allows for a better approximation of the equinox, the astronomical event on which the date for Easter is based), versus the Orthodox using the Julian calendar (the differences between these calendars is minute, but over time they add up). While the World Council of Churches has attempted to resolve the Easter date for all Christians, it is a difficult thing to ask one of the denominations to suddenly revise a system they've been using for hundreds of years.
If you celebrate Easter this weekend, I hope you have a joyous one, and let us rap our eggs together and see who will be lucky!
Published on 04/13/2012
On May 23rd Egypt will elect a new president after their successful revolution last year. Watching and reading about this has reminded me of just how lucky we are to live in this country and to have had the founding fathers we did. Because of our success, the word "revolution" often carries a positive connotation - but we mustn't forget that the regimes of Iran, Cuba, Iraq, and the Soviet Union were born out of revolution. It's a violent and dangerous time in a people's history, and the immediate actions by the provisional authority afterwards sets the tone for the future. We were so incredibly lucky to have had the founders that we did; men who were educated in the successes and failures of the Roman government - from the representative-based government of the senate to the unchallenged dictatorship of the emperor. They had the perfect opportunity for corruption and life-long rule, yet established a government of checks and balances and open elections, and warned future generations of the danger of devolving into a monarchist or theocratic rule.
The position I seek in our nation's Senate belongs to no one person, but to all of us. It was established centuries ago by wise and selfless people, and each person who occupies it does so knowing they must protect this very special and unique land - a land that could easily have become a nightmare dictatorship instead of the country we love today.
Happy Passover Seder!
Published on 04/08/2012
Just had a wonderful Passover Seder with my friends David and Rebecca Silversmith in Fairfax. They were even kind enough to substitute the wine with cranberry juice, since grapes are toxic to kitties. Especially loved the gefilte fish and brisket! Most people don't know this, but we cats don't have quite the same sense of taste as most humans. We can't detect sweets as well, but we make up for it by tasting complex amino acids - so savory meat dishes are especially savory to us. At any rate, I hope all my followers had a wonderful Passover, a Happy Easter, or just a wonderful weekend if you don't celebrate!
George Allen's Non-Profit Opportunities
Published on 04/04/2012
George Allen is reporting $1.4 million in donations for the first three months of 2012. Just as I did with Tim Kaine, I now offer my help to Allen. If you visit Allen's site, one of his platform goals is to help the military vets. Imagine tomorrow that instead of seeing an attack ad against Kaine when you first open Allen's site, that instead you see a clip of George Allen offering a check of $700,000 to the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Virginia Chapter. The PVA fights for better health care for disabled vets, helps with job placement, and helps keep paralyzed vets active through sports. Imagine again, the goodwill Allen would receive across the entire globe for doing this, and imagine how many more would be willing to contribute to his campaign after seeing that a politician is so interested in changing their community for the better, that they start doing so even before being elected. (original story of Allen's fundraising efforts: http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-wire-va--allen-senate-fundraising-20120403,0,6907680.story)
Tim Kaine's Non-Profit Opportunitiess
Published on 04/03/2012
Tim Kaine is reporting $2.2 million raised for his campaign in the 1st quarter of this election cycle. Imagine, if you will, if he were to follow my suggestion and donate half of this money towards charities that encourage or support his platform. For example, Kaine is a fighter for Civil Rights - could you imagine what Virginia Organizing could do with $1.1 million to help "encourage those who traditionally had little or no voice in our society"? If not them, what about groups focused on getting the unemployed back to work to promote job creation? I am not attacking Kaine, I will be posting options for Allen as well when his financials are released. Imagine the positive press they would receive world-wide for doing this. Imagine the good-will. Imagine a promise to no more attack ads, and promotion of our own platforms instead. Now, ask yourself - why isn't this the case with every politician out there, instead of just me? If you know why, please let me know, I know I would like an answer for this. (Kaine's original article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/kaine-will-report-22-million-raised-44-million-on-hand-in-april-fec-1st-quarter-filings/2012/04/03/gIQAnA4asS_story.html)