Saturday, February 8, 2014

Occupy Wall Street: The Final Implosion and the Impact on My Politics

It seems Occupy Wall Street has finally imploded and died. I say good riddance to bad rubbish. Yes, I supported Occupy for a period of weeks, much to my shame. Once Occupy got away from a populist economic message and went off into far left nonsense it was doomed. Huge clue: Marxist teach ins don't fly in America. Neither does the over the top anti-Semitism that came to pervade the so-called movement.

The fact is that Occupy has been dead for a couple of years now. Those in the hard core left-wing social media bubble don't realize it because they've supported one another and somehow think lots of other people agree with them. These, of course, are the folks who think President Obama is a corporate sell out and who either stayed home during the 2012 elections or supported Jill Stein for President. How many votes did she get? Getting 0.36 percent of the vote is not making an impact. You see my point. Occupy had become another piece of the extreme left wing, and hard left politics are terribly unpopular in the U.S.

Occupy did have an impact. It made income inequality an issue Democrats and even some Republicans are still talking about. It deserves some credit for that. However, a "leaderless" organization (or rather disorganization) which tried to make decisions by "consensus" was doomed to failure from the start. An organization like this needs leadership, real leadership, that can keep it on message and keep that message narrowly defined. That's how things can get accomplished and how progress towards the worthwhile goals that Occupy started out with can be made. Right now the name Occupy is poison to anyone not on the far left. If you really want a populist, non-partisan movement with broad based support you need focus, first and foremost.

I had been drifting from right to left politically for a very long time when I joined Occupy, willing to devote time and resources to what I saw as a worthwhile movement against corruption, undue corporate influence and for needed economic reform. Since that brief period, since I became more tuned into left wing media and what the left stands for, I've been moving in the opposite direction. I fully expect to vote Republican for the first time in a quarter of a century in the 2014 elections. That's the one positive change Occupy did make in my life. Congratulations! I don't think that was the intent of the movement but it sure convinced me that was the correct and moral direction for me to move in.

[Drawn from a debate on Facebook,]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why I'm Not Boycotting the Olympics

A lot of my friends are boycotting watching the Olympics. Some are opposed to the anti-gay law passed in Putin's Russia and the oppression of the LGBT community. Some are opposed to the desecration of the site where Circassian people (who are native to the Sochi area) were massacred in order to build ski slopes. Some are opposed to the senseless killing of dogs, mostly strays, so that they don't bother those attending the Olympics. Some are opposed to Russia's hideous human rights record in general. I am opposed to all of those things. They are all horrible and the Olympics should never have been held in Russia. I blame the IOC for choosing sites in countries that have no respect for human rights and that is where protests should be focused.

I am not boycotting. I watched last night. It was on broadcast TV (I have neither cable nor satellite) so there is nobody anyone can count or any way bean counters can tell that I watched for ratings purposes. Nobody in Russia benefits from my watching. Advertisers can only make a negative impression on me by cashing in on the Olympics so they won't benefit either. I love figure skating and I support Team Israel and Team USA.

I enjoyed watching the first part of the first ever figure skating team competition. The Canadian couple of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford is awesome and had an amazing performance, as did Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Scott Hamilton called his performance "sick".

I also think NBC and Bob Costas deserve huge kudos for their coverage of the anti-gay law. First, they spent a lot of time on the subject and called a lot of attention to it. Their two Russian analysts were amazingly good. One, Vladimir Posner, the former Soviet spokesperson, said it best: "Russia is a homophobic country." The law has the support of 85% of the population. He also made clear that Putin doesn't give a damn what anyone in the West thinks. Posner also pointed out that Putin is "an autocrat, not a democrat" and that the protests against the law are by "urban, liberal intelligentsia" and not the masses, who are, as he said, homophobic.

That kind of coverage does Putin and Russia no favors, and it was smack in the middle of prime time between figure skating and skiing segments. I'm glad I watched it. The anti-gay law was presented in an entirely unfavorable way. I'm sure the bigots in the audience hated that coverage.

What I am doing is using a rainbow flag with the Olympic rings as my Facebook profile picture to show solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia, and I urge everyone who cares about human rights to do the same.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Note About Dinner and Kosher Foods in America

I made a big pot of bean and leek soup (with carrots, garlic, a little bit of onion, a finely minced habanero pepper to add a little kick, plus spices) in a Crock Pot. I had some as part of dinner tonight topped with some shaved Parmesan cheese, with a piece of baked Alaskan cod and a piece of very fresh rye bread. It's wonderful, but since it's just me that eats it I'll be having it for a week or more. That's why I do things like this (big pots of soup, chili or cholent) so infrequently.

I used half of a bag of a 15 bean mix intended for soup. It had the appropriate kosher certification on it. On the back cover it had a soup recipe which started by telling me I'd need 1 lb. of ham hocks. Really? Tell me this: why would a company go through the expense of kosher certification and then only put a blatantly treyfe recipe on the back of the package? Wouldn't it be better to have two recipes, one of which appeals to the people who looked for that symbol of kashrut and perhaps vegetarians as well? Wouldn't that make more sense? Trust me on this: you can make a delicious soup from those beans without any pork.

[Note: This started out as a Facebook post. I've also published it in my Zionist/Jewish blog since it does touch on Jewish dietary laws.]