I Have No Words

I’ve never shied away from politics on my blog, especially when I feel passionate about something. But… lately, I have no words. I’m just speechless, flabbergasted, stunned, horrified…

I just can’t believe this is the United States anymore. I can barely bring myself to look at the news.

This picture sums up my feelings:

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics |

Everyone Deserves That Bond!

This is awesome, and from a Republican!

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings,Politics |

Evolve Already!

Politics these days has me tired. After hearing what Mike Huckabee said, (as if a wedding ring is a better thing than a MIRACULOUS, HUMAN LIFE) I just didn’t have the energy to be as angry as it would make me if I dwelled on it.

This is one of the reasons I heart Rhonda.

A local theater showed the original West Side Story (1961) on the screen a few weeks back. It was wonderful! I went in, though, expecting to see archaic and outdated racial issues.

Um, no. In the last fifty years, we’ve made like one step of progress, MAYBE. The West Side Story was as applicable to society today as it was fifty years ago. How sad is that?

Anne Rice, on her Facebook page (always a fascinating read and discussion, even if you’re not into her books), refers to the current political climate as the “War on Women.” From Charlie Sheen to all the abortion issues she posted on her Facebook page, it’s sickening.

I’m tired of the hate talk on women, immigrants, religions, sexualities—all of it.

Even though I’m almost always a Democrat, I was ready to respectfully listen to what Mike Huckabee felt he would bring to a presidency. Not anymore. I’m sure he thought a celebrity was an easy target and a quick way to generate some publicity and gain the support of some Tea Partiers, but you know what I’m tired of?

I’m tired of the fact that hate is so effective in uniting people and creating political power.

Could the human race please evolve already?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics |

It’s Time Again…

I confess that I rather enjoyed making fun of Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge during the last election. (Oh god—remember how Putin’s head was going to float into Alaska?!) I have never laughed so hard during an election season in my life. I’m sort of ashamed of that, but at the same time, I was terrified to learn that according to the latest Gallup poll, Sarah Palin could stand a good chance of winning the Republican nomination.

If she were just in her own little world, doing her own little thing, it’d be fine. But I don’t find her appalling lack of intelligence and knowledge acceptable in someone who’s a contender to run the freakin’ country!

So, without further ado, Palin’s latest gaffe:

“This speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policy. But obviously we’ve gotta stand with our North Korean allies.”

Read here for more.

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags:

Know Your Rights or Lose Them

Do you know your five freedoms? The First Amendment Center makes a “State of the First Amendment” survey every year in time for Constitution Day.

Happy Constitution Day!

In 2010, 33% of respondents could not name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment. Here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Thankfully, only 17% believe that the Constitution goes too far in the rights it guarantees. You might be interested that in 2002—a year in which many of our freedoms were limited because of fear—an incredible 49% believed the Constitution goes too far in the rights it guarantees. (It generally hovers between 10% and 19%.)

Freedom of Religion

Every year the First Amendment Center surveys the knowledge of our freedoms, and then explores one freedom in depth. Religion was the hot topic this year, but only 23% of respondents could name this right. 66% of U.S. citizens believe the Constitution clearly separates church and state, but

53% mistakenly believe that the Constitution somehow ‘establishes a Christian nation.’

No. No, no, no. It does not. The establishment of a national and federal religion is specifically prohibited.

28% say that freedom of religion does not apply to extreme or fringe groups. Gene Policinski expressed well-founded concern:

“Americans clearly defend individual expression of religious views, but fewer are willing to extend the First Amendment’s protection to faiths that they see as far removed from their own,” said Gene Policinski, vice president of the First Amendment Center. “I’m troubled that nearly three in 10 people in a nation founded in part by ancestors who fled countries where their faiths at the time were viewed as ‘fringe or extreme’ are not willing to defend religious liberty for other faiths in similar circumstances today.”

Freedom of the Press

18% could name this freedom in 2010, which is more than any year since 2010. The First Amendment Center surveyed this freedom specifically in 2009 in the 2009 State of the First Amendment. (News release here: more easily digested.)

Freedom of Speech

Thankfully, 61% could name this freedom in 2010. It is always the most easily named freedom.

Right to Assembly

Only 14% could name the right to assembly and association. If you remember the Republican National Convention in 2008, you might remember a video of a large group peaceably sitting in a public park all being arrested. Not only did the protestors not know their rights, but it seems the cops didn’t either.

Right to Petition

Every year, the right to petition the government is the least known right granted. This year it was at its highest: 6%. Ironically, it is highly likely that the Revolutionary War would not have happened if this right had been granted to the colonists: they were repeatedly ignored by King George when they petitioned him with their grievances.

So how many could you name without looking? Do you celebrate Constitution Day? Will you take a moment today to be grateful for our First Amendment rights?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags: ,

How Would You Define Honor?

Can the power of vague propaganda be combated with specificity? It seems I was not alone in seeing and hearing the Nazi-reminiscent word choices and themes in the “Restoring Honor” event on Saturday.

Patrick from Palingates raised a very good point:

…events like the one which happened today are crossing a line, and more importantly, many Americans don’t seem to notice it – probably because there is a lack of "sensitivity" to certain keywords, methods and images.

This is different in Europe, especially in Germany. It’s starts already with the title of the event: "Restoring honor."

It would be impossible that one of the main political parties in Germany to choose such a title for an event – because "honor" (in German: "Ehre") was one of the keywords of Nazi-ideology.

The word "honor" was used (and abused) by the Nazis for good reason. It’s very vague, can be interpreted in many ways and somehow appeals to patriotic emotions – but it’s quite difficult to establish what exactly it is, how it can be damaged, and how it can be restored.

However, one thing is clear: Nobody wants to be "without honor."

Perhaps the way to combat such propaganda is to make specific that which is vague. Sarah Palin, according to her speech, would have us define honor as birthing soldiers or being a soldier.

Is the only path to honor through the military?

There is no reason that we need to let the Tea Party or even the Republican Party define honor. The dictionary defines honor as “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.”

Culturally, there does seem to be an element of sacrifice to the word “honor,” doesn’t there?

When I look to my own life and think of honorable people, I think of my father first. Yes, he was a soldier in the Korean war—two or three purple hearts—but if he’d ever been asked what the most honorable deeds of his life were, I’m fairly certain he would not have put war on his list. I do know that he withdrew from school to take care of his dying mother, sacrificing a dream to be a teacher in order to take care of family.

Perhaps I would define honor as “sacrificing in order to be honest, fair, and maintain integrity—even when it’s dangerous or inconvenient.”

I think of respecting the dignity of every human being, of every race, religion, and sexuality. I think of a social responsibility not just to protect our people through the use of military, but also to protect them from ignorance and crime through education, ill heath through accessible health care, and to honor each individual’s choice of religion—even if it may not be my own.

Even so, that definition is still too vague.

How do we know when we’ve achieved honor? I say it’s when every man and woman in the country has health care. When our five freedoms are consistently upheld. When all are free to marry. When our politics are not based upon racism. When the speeches of our politicians do not encourage hatred. When we don’t allow the greed of capitalism to let health institutions and food companies to cause ill health in our populace. When our international policies do not cause poverty in another country.

There is another definition of honor: “high public esteem.”

To that, I would hope that the United States would be once again known as an international PEACEmaker (and not through war), an example of tolerance and diversity, and an example of human freedoms (including freedom of religion).

How would you define honor? And if we are truly to set about “restoring honor,” what specific things would make you think we’ve restored our honor? What did I forget?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics | Tags:

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