Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buy American -- By Choosing What You Eat

Snack machine at work
Know what you're eating
As Americans, we are often assaulted by messages of all kinds about our dietary choices.  Whether it is some corporation trying to sell us food on the television or a local food activist distributing pamphlets at the farmer's market, these messages can often be frustrating and annoying.  If you're trying to support the economy of the United States by purchasing "Made in America" merchandise, you might assume that food sold or made in America is entirely "American."  If you're talking about locally-grown food, you'd be correct.  However, foods sold in discount supermarkets and processed foods made domestically may be or may contain ingredients manufactured outside the United States of America.

In this day and age, it is crucial consumers educate themselves and read the labels on the foods they purchase.  By doing so, they'd easily learn that stores like Wal-mart and discount groceries like Save-A-Lot sell foods grown or manufactured outside the United States.  I'm not talking about bananas or citrus fruit either.  For example, a recent trip to a Save-A-Lot revealed a startling number of canned fruits and vegetables from China!  There is no reason we should be importing food from China that can and is grown in America.  One specific example which comes to mind are canned peaches.  While American canned peaches were stocked, Save-A-Lot had surrounded them with discount "gourmet" peaches and "snack packs" from China.  Other Chinese imported foods observed were holiday cookies and candies.  Corporations like Save-A-Lot are trying to adapt the Wal-mart model of selling cheap merchandise made in China to retail food.  Isn't it bad enough we've handed over our manufacturing to Chinese wage-slave factories?  By buying these food products, you are endorsing the destruction of our agriculture by an economy predicated upon captive and forced labor -- not to mention their questionable safety record.  Remember all those babies who died after they were poisoned by contaminated baby formula?

Read the label!

While seeing "Made in China" on your can of peaches or maraschino cherries is easy enough -- if you take the time to look -- many processed foods made in America contain ingredients sourced outside the United States.  Even such "all American" snacks like Twinkies and Little Debbie cakes use these foreign ingredients and, if you're serious about buying American, you may want to keep what follows in mind.  Sorbic acid is a very common ingredient.  Flip over your snack and see if it's listed.  Sorbic acid is imported from Germany, Japan, and China.  Vanillin is an artificial vanilla flavoring.  It's made in one of two plants -- one in China and one in Baton Rouge, LA.  Neither of the plants is American owned.  At least one of them is in the States.  Palm oil is used a lot because of its excellent shelf life.  The palm oil tree can not grow in the United States and the vast majority is produced in Malaysia.  Stearic acid and sodium steryl lactylate are made from palm oil so, you guessed it, they're from Malaysia too.  Glycerin is added to foods to keep them moist or creamy.  Most of it comes from Mexico or Malaysia.  Same goes for mono and diglycerides.  Sodium and calcium casinate are common ingredients in many convenience foods.  Almost all of both of these ingredients originate in Ireland or New Zealand.

Flip over the package of your favorite snack cake or junk food and there is a very good chance you'll encounter more than one of these pro-globalization anti-American labor ingredients.  I'm of the opinion that processed foods made in the United States with ingredients from halfway around the world by a multinational corporation are not only of questionable nutritional value for your body but also that of the country as a whole.  Be informed when you make your purchases.  Junk food isn't necessarily bad -- if you don't eat too much of it -- but why are we clogging our national arteries or developing "all American" obesity and diabetes with foreign ingredients?  Just for the record, the following "food" ingredients are made from crude oil or national gas:  sorbic acid (a two-fer), polysorbate 60, 80, & 20, many artificial sweeteners, red #40 and yellow $5.  OPEC, Russia, China, and Norway profit when you dig into those.  Enjoy.

What's the solution?  The easiest I think is self apparent.  Buy locally produced foods -- preferably non-processed foods -- and cook for yourself.  Unfortunately, not everyone can do that.  What is most important is to educate yourself and learn where your food is coming from and then make informed pro-American labor choices.  Not only can you improve your health but also that of the country.  Buy American food made from American ingredients by American workers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michigan's Governor and Republicans in the Legislature are Contemptable Greedy Bastards

If something is wrong...The branch of the Republican party typified by the Koch brother and the high rollers who funded the oligarch, Mitt Romney's, failed run for President of the United States of America see the writing on the wall.  They are on their way out and their true-believer free market religion is sick and may die as it's recognized for what it truly is -- a plan for serfdom of the common citizen wrapped in the framed myth of "individual liberties" and "freedom" (without having much to do with either.  Why do I think this?  Because the Republicans in Michigan are behaving like angry feral cats that are trapped and about to be neutered.  They are striking out and clawing as hard as possible at the source, as they see it, of resistance -- the Unions.

The paradigm is changing.  We've heard about it since the re-election of President Barack Obama.  The make up of the population is changing.  Unfortunately for conservatives and other plutocrats, the shift in the population is favoring Progressive issues such as marriage equality, abortion rights, pot legalization, the election of non-white Presidents, and Labor rights.  In the case of the Michigan Republicans, the last election didn't work out all that well for them and Democrats, who are generally more pro-Union, picked up seats while Republicans lost.  While the Republicans currently have a super-majority in the Michigan State Legislature, they will loose that single party dictatorship in January.  Their back is against the wall and they have chosen to do as much damage as possible to their largest progressive opponents.  Not only have Unions stood for the Middle Class (having had a significant hand in creating it) and all workers, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is by funding politicians who support Labor.  As many Republicans have been bankrolled by corporations or have bought the party line meant to benefit management, most Union money goes to Democrats who do support workers' issues.  So, in Michigan, they moved to eliminate one of the greatest accomplishments of American Society and that of the world as a whole.  The so called "right to work" law is not about economics.  It is not about giving workers choice.  It's about politics and nothing more.  The Republicans see their position is eroding and they are trying to do as much damage as possible before they loose control by starving or bankrupting the Unions.

What about Rick Snyder, Michigan's Governor?  Either he's a coward or he's been lying to the citizens of Michigan.  His past statements are more than adequate to demonstrate his hypocrisy on this issue -- having both said he wanted nothing to do with it and that his signing of the "right to work" law would be too divisive for Michigan.  Within the last week, he has entirely reversed the positions he supposedly previously held and signed the anti-Union bill the moment it was rammed through the legislature without public comment and under extremely questionable circumstances.  He is nothing but an enemy of the Middle Class.  He has chosen to side with his plutocrat and oligarch masters.  No matter how hard he tries, he can't polish this turd and must be held accountable.  Perhaps a recall is in his future.  I hope one is.

Expect more of this kind of behavior in the future.  We've already seen how disruptive the do-nothing House of Representatives has been in Washington, DC.  Likewise, the abuse of the filibuster and anonymous member holds in the Senate has further illustrated the plutocrats unwillingness to accept reality and work to help ove this country forward and towards the benefit of all citizens.  As the old boys club Republicans and their oligarch masters start realizeing their backs are against the wall, they will start doing more and more actions like those in Michigan.  They want to keep their power over the rest of us.  Money will flow.  Politicians will be bought and more and more anti-Labor, anti-Choice, anti-Marriage Equality laws will be past in legislatures controlled by conservatives while they still have power.

If these conservative plutocrats are allowed their agendas, we will be further on the path towards corporate and oligarch domination of the common person.  We will continue to work more for less while our corporate overlords continue to try and distract us with phrases like "freedom" and materialistic bangles like iPads and designer jeans.  The United States has been a leader in the fight for Workers' Rights and we must fight to continue our progress toward equal rights for all people.  We must stand in Solidarity!  By allowing Republican plutocrats to behave like they are in Michigan, we will harm the Middle Class and we will further prevent those living in poverty from improving their lives.  Michigan is a call to action!  The game is changing and the push towards laws meant to protect the 1% and their obscene profits off of the backs of workers will increase and we can not afford to sit on the sidelines.  It is up to all of us to write our representatives and let them know behavior like this is unacceptable.  We must boycott.  We need to be ready to prtest.  If forced into the situation by management, we need to be ready to strike.  Remember these insults upon the working poulace of Michigan and the
Country when you go to the voting booth.  Vote these greedy bastards out of office!  We must elect people who are willing to represent all of us regardless of our financial situation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

PEF 2012 Convention: In Conclusion

don't hate :: debateI'm back home and back at my rustic wooden desk.  The juxtaposition of sturdiness and technology suits me just fine.  It's a much better space than the contrived professionalism, greasy back stabbing, and hairy indiscretions of the PEF convention.

As my last post was on the negative side of things, I thought I needed to follow up with this post and report that the PEF Delegation did get to the people's work!  While I wish we had been able to do more and actually address all of the resolutions which were before the body, we did manage to complete all resolution "sections" before the body with the sole exception of the World and National issues.

Having said that, I feel it is important to mention a few practices I feel abuse the Parliamentarian process and allowed the Administration to run roughshod over the Delegation and reduce its power as a deliberative body.  First, on a couple of occasions, a Delegate known to be associated with the Administration would rise for a Point of Information (which is used to ask a specific question).  In doing so, they would ask the administration a somewhat open-ended question about the resolution being debated.  What resulted was, effectively, debate from the dais -- which is strictly forbidden!  Hopefully, the Delegation will be wise to this trick next year -- as a few of us already are.

Next, there were several resolutions which were intended to force openness in information regarding compensation the Administration is being provided or given when traveling or participating in activities related to the parent unions as well as the Member Benefits Plus program.  There can be a lot of really sweet perks for someone in the Administration!  Perhaps you can go on an all expense paid trip to Florida or Hawaii for, supposedly, a labor-related meeting!  Perhaps someone needs to "try out" Tahiti before we offer travel through the PEF travel office (the made in China, union bug labeled coin purse people).  Maybe you can travel to Switzerland to do some PEF-related (?!) activity.  Maybe some insurance company wants to reward you for your fine support of their products.  Travel is great.  It's even better when it's for free and you can claim it is business related!  Regardless, many Members and Delegates feel that the Administration needs to be open about their associations and "kick backs" they receive from various interested parties.  The Kent administration did not want those resolutions addressed!

If you're a NY Union Proud member or supporter, I would strongly recommend you inquire into why the Kent Administration was saying they are all for openness while they were trying to rig the system so that the resolutions which addressed openness would not be before the Delegation!  Is it openness but only when they want to be open?

Four legs good.  Two legs better.

These resolutions were placed last in the administrative issues agenda and just about everything was done so that they wouldn't be debated.  First, the convention wasn't running on time and had all the speeches as I described in the previous post.  Despite this, the items did come to the floor except someone "forgot" to order the items for consideration.  This required a floor vote to reorder the items as the referring committee had originally intended.  Then, the first resolution had some very strange typo that did not match with what the committee had proposed as an amendment and, as a result a new amendment had to be made.  Confusing...isn't it?

Well, that resolution was shot down using some questionable logic and the confusing mess of the faulty "transcription".

It was at this point Administration supporters started using Points of Privilege (where you, basically, can get up and say whatever you want for as long as you want) to stall.  We were treated to people thanking their wives for cooking a nice dinner as well as exaltations about how awesome it was for some group or division to have Kent come to their meeting.  I'm surprised no one got up to read Edger Allen Poe's "The Raven" -- after all, it is almost Halloween!  All the same, the next resolution -- which addressed the openness issue as well -- finally made it to the floor.  I guess they were running out of creative and not-too-obvious ways to stall.  This particular resolution did pass -- despite an instance of a Point of Information being used to set up Kent to debate from the dais.

The next resolution, though, the Administration didn't want making it to the floor and it had to be stopped at all costs!  You see, it directly addressed their compensation and the in-kind kick backs they can receive as a result of their position.  The intent of the resolution was that if they were to receive some big payoff, they would have their PEF pay accordingly reduced.  I suspect the intent is to ensure the Administration is less likely to be bought by the highest bidder or gets too fat off the slop.  There was about 30 minutes left in the Convention so they had to do something to protect the gravy train!

More Points of Privilege!

Fortunately for the Administration, they were granted an opportunity to fuck around like fools when an amendment was brought to the floor.  This required someone type in the amendment (which wasn't significant) into a computer so that it would be seen by all the Delegates before they voted.  Well, they fumbled around, pretended they didn't know what they were doing, and did their level best to look like incompetent and illiterate fools.  Then, they stacked the microphones with their supporters so that, if the resolution did make it to the floor, they could filibuster.  Finally, Wayne Spence (Vice President and who hadn't said anything to the body for the entire convention) got up and, through a Point of Order (where you ask about the functioning of the Convention), asked whether the resolution could be considered because they were running out of time.

Wouldn't you know it, they ran the clock and the resolution wasn't addressed and died.  Big.  Fucking.  Surprise.

Like I said, I'm glad the Delegation was able to address a number of resolutions and I was pleased we made what progress we did.  However, I am concerned about how committed the Kent administration really is to openness and the availability of information to the membership.  They claim to be for openness but their actions indicate something entirely different.  They work for the membership and the membership has every right to know who they are associating with and whether there are rewards for those associations.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant and PEF deserves a clean union.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

PEF 2012 Convention: Much Sound and Fury Signifying....?

Why is PEF putting a union label on this coin purse made in China?
Back from hiatus. Got a wee bit burned out but, hey, we all need to take a break every now and then.  I'll be writing here from time to time again as my inclinations lead me.

Cue the Blues Brothers' cover “Somebody to Love”.

I'd first like to say hello to the members of Andrew Cuomo's Thought Crime Division of the New York State Police, Troop G. Your ignorant, ham-fisted and morally corrupt attempt at intimidation has failed. All the same, I'd like to extend some advice I think you'd be wise to take. I'd recommend you read more Philosophy – specifically Voltaire, John Locke, and Thomas Paine. You may reconsider your career choice and choose to rejoin Humanity.

Enough with the shout out to New York's finest. Let's get to the meat of the matter: PEF's annual convention currently being held in Syracuse, NY!

First things first. I believe it is in the best interest of any union to support Labor by preferentially doing business with unionized shops. Having said that, why did PEF book and hold it's convention at a location that is non-unionized and put up its Delegates in hotels which, likewise, do not have a unionized workforce? There is an opportunity being wasted to promote Labor and Workers Rights in an industry not terribly well known for treating its workers fairly. While I am pleased PEF is holding this and the next convention within New York State (where all its conventions should be held), it should be doing more to select locations where there is a unionized workforce. Albany, for example, has a number of unionized hotels and a unionized convention center – the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

While on the topic of missed opportunities, let me share this little tidbit with you: As you are probably aware, conventions and conferences usually have a vendors room where all manner of schwag and chotchkis are handed out with wild abandon. People line up to get their free pen, refrigerator magnet and other crap that ends up being ground into a fine powder of advertising flotsam at the bottom of travel bags. I go into these things with the understanding that most of this future landfill material being distributed is manufactured in China – currently the leading purveyor of plastic flotsam. Sometimes, this isn't the case. Sometimes, the handouts are made in the United States and, thankfully, the handouts may even be made by a unionized shop. Usually, these products are clearly labeled by “the bug” -- a graphic symbol that assures someone that what they have was made by unionized labor.

Imagine my surprise when I was handed a coin purse by PEF Travel Services that was labeled with the bug. When I opened the purse itself, there was a tag that read “Made in China”! Alright PEF, either you're buying material made by a Chinese union (which are actually Government fronts and not actual unions) and disregarding the American unionized labor that could have manufactured that product or you or your vendors (using your name and logo) are just buying things made in China and then slapping the bug on them to cover your anti-union behavior. Shame! I would expect a union to do better.

This is not new behavior for PEF. Within the last year, they were caught cutting the tags off of hand-towels they were distributing at a rally against Cuomo's bully tactics to force his contract on PEF's membership. Those towels, emblazoned with PEF's logo were, likewise, made in China. It is my opinion a thorough accounting of PEF's purchasing and inventory needs to be made to see just how far their love of the anti-union, anti-worker industry of China extends. As has been clearly demonstrated, they are not beyond misrepresenting (by way of slapping a bug on a product made in China) about what is actually made by union hands.

What about the convention itself? Unfortunately, little of the people's business is being done. First and probably due to the fact this is the first convention for the new administration, things are simply not being run efficiently. For example, it has come to my attention that the Convention's parliamentarian is not an actual parliamentarian. Rather, he is an appointee of President Kent whose only prior experience, I was informed, was being a supporter on the PEF Executive Board. Consequently, the Delegates were treated to a number of violations of Parliamentary rule and Robers Rules of Order (by which the Convention is ostensibly being run). Today, there was a fundamental and basic Parliamentary ruling that was ultimately challenged and then overturned – resulting in at least the waste of 30 minutes of Convention time. “So what? What's 30 minutes when you've got 3 days?” you might ask, to which I tell you, it is but one example of many occurrences of a similar nature. Also, the Kent administration has consistently failed to start the convention on time – further reducing the efficiency of the Convention. Whether this is a result of their being unprepared or poor time management skills remains to be seen. Having said that, they did appear to be on time to the President's reception and their caucus' party on Sunday evening.

Yes, as stated in the prior paragraph, the Convention is 3 days long and, one would rightly think, that is enough time to get work done. After all, the Delegation is the highest deliberative body of the Union. If the convention wasn't being so rigged and front loaded with the Kent administration's immediate agenda, that would be the case.

The current PEF administration is pushing very hard to get the membership more politically involved. By doing so, the Union's political clout will be increased as well as that of the individuals in the Kent administration. I see absolutely nothing wrong with being politically active and participating in the Democratic process and I hold that all members of every union need to become more involved, Part of the reason we have a self-serving multimillionaire former CEO by way of Mitt Romney running for President of the United States can be traced back to voter apathy and inaction on the part of the working class of the United States. This state of affairs has to be ended.

However, the Kent administration has seen it fit to stuff as many political stump speeches as possible into the convention. So many speeches were scheduled that, when combined with the inefficient management, only the State Legislative agenda was voted on by end of business yesterday, the Federal was voted on today, and only 3 convention resolutions have been thus considered and voted upon as of end of business today! The Convention was supposed to begin addressing resolutions yesterday. It is my understanding that the duty of the Delegates is to represent their constituencies, not listening to campaign speeches. Ultimately, I'm left wondering whose trying to curry favor from who. Are the candidates trying to get PEF votes or is the Kent administration trying to accumulate political power?

The truth of the matter is this: the Convention Delegation is, short of the entire membership of PEF, the highest deliberative body of the Union. By preventing the Delegation from addressing and voting on issues, the power of that body is diminished. The end result is more authority being handed over to the administration and the Executive Board. As I am now aware that the Kent administration and Executive Board's working relationship is, at best, dysfunctional, it concerns me greatly that the Delegation is not being allowed to vote on the resolutions we were sent here to address. This situation must be remedied and, unfortunately, it is too late for this convention. Tomorrow is a half day so as to accommodate Delegate travel. Hopefully, next year's convention will be run better but, judging from the demeanor of President Kent when addressing the Convention Body today, it is my impression she does not want anyone questioning her decisions. To that end I would expect she would find it in her interest to front load the convention with items to prevent votes from being taken and, thereby minimize the Delegation's power and increase her own. Whether or not that is an actual agenda, such actions must be prevented and next year's Delegates need to be prepared to force their issues.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Down with Governor 1%

We know where Prince Cuomo stands -- with Big Business and Wallstreet.

 

Where do you stand?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Albany Wants More Attention

Occupy Albany, 11.11.2011Just a week ago I wrote about my concerns that Occupy Albany was going to jump the shark.  My observations had lead me to believe that a faction of Occupy Albany was trying to radicalize the movement and, thereby, alienate Occupy Albany from the 99% they claim to represent.

Last night, Occupy Albany did its level best to jump the shark.  Mark your calendars because I believe it's all down hill for here for the campers in Academy Park -- if they continue to waste their energy on unproductive actions.  Instead of enjoying a relationship with the city of Albany which has become a model for other Occupations, Occupy Albany gave its approval and then participated in a truly pointless venture -- evidentally only intended to garner attention.  Like a spoiled child, Occupy Albany wanted more attention and when they couldn't get it, pulled a media stunt.

Here's the situation:  Occupy Albany has peaceably set up tents in the city-owned Academy Park.  Governor 1% (Andrew Cuomo) has stated that if the protesters crossed over the boundary separating Academy Park from the State-owned Lafayette Park he would enforce a 11pm curfew and have them arrested.  Last night, inspired by a member who felt offended about the curfew that he would build a "freedom fort" out of foam board, 24 other Occupy Albany members decided to violate the 11pm curfew and get themselves arrested.  Is Occupy Albany running out of space in the city park?  No.  Have they been told they can't stay in Academy Park?  No.  So why did 24 or 25 people decide to violate curfew and get arrested?

I think they want attention and nothing gets attention like some people getting arrested.

Essentially, Occupy Albany's position is they don't like Cuomo.  They aren't the only ones.  I suspect they believe that the arrests will some how make Cuomo look bad.  I don't think it will do anything to Cuomo.  Let's not forget he's also got the original protest under his watch as well.  Occupy Wall Street, in case you haven't noticed, is in New York.  Oh, there's also Occupy Rochester, Occupy Buffalo, Occupy Troy....  Cuomo's got Occupiers up his ass.  Occupy Albany arrests aren't really going to effect Governor 1% like they think they will.  Oh, Cuomo may have not even been in the state.  He's was Puerto Rico for a meeting during the day.

Now, here's the million dollar question:  how the hell does getting arrested in Lafayette Park have anything to do with economic inequality or making the wealthiest 1% pay their share?  The trespassing arrests may have something to say about the intersection of First Amendment Rights and curfew laws but how is that going to benefit the supposed goals of the Occupy movement or Occupy Albany?  Is the instigator of all this, Brad Russell really going to make legally challenge the curfew law or his he just going to pay the fine?  Regardless, it will be years before any possible Constitutional case could be brought to trial.  Occupy Albany has been allowed to stay where they are and with no real trouble at all!  They aren't being attacked by a militaristic police force like Occupy Oakland so why make artificial martyrs of themselves?  Jealous of the attention Occupy Oakland's been getting?  The State Troopers didn't come storming in and kick people out.  Occupy Albany picked this fight and the State Troopers did their job.  People were arrested for trespassing.  Yay.  You got arrested.  How does that help anything?  Now, Occupy Albany has gone and shown itself unwilling to cooperate when cooperation is called for.

Wasted energy.  Occupy Albany has, seemingly, grown so insular that they now fail to recognize that the people they claim to represent view their actions as ridiculous and unnecessary.  Getting arrested for trespassing occurs every hunting season across the state.  It's a common misdemeanor.  It happens when feuding neighbors start acting stupid which, unfortunately, I believe Occupy Albany has started doing.  I've said this before and I'll say it again.  If Occupy Albany really wants to represent the 99%, they need to stop listening to radical left agitators.  Like the wealthiest 1%, the radical left doesn't represent the 99%.  I hope the Occupy movement is successful in bringing about economic equality in the United States but I hope the movement does not follow Occupy Albany's pattern.  Establishing a good relationship and then artificially creating drama isn't going to prove beneficial to the movement.  It only works to alienate the movement from the community that has, to date, tolerated its presence.

Hear that Occupy Philadelphia?  You're heading down the same path.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is Occupy Albany Going to Jump the Shark?

SharkHappy Days.  Some of us are old enough to remember it running on television as a sitcom.  Some of us are old enough to remember watching it run as syndicated reruns on the weekends and some of us know where to find it on classic television channels today.  Almost to a person, everyone in the above categories agree that Happy Days was a very popular show with popular episodes up to a point.  The fulcrum where Happy Days went from being a popular show to a sad reflection of it's former glory is the episode "Hollywood: Part 3" where Fonzie water-skis and then jumps over a shark.  After this particular episode, Happy Days slowly spiraled into a morass character changes and gimmicks in an attempt to maintain viewership -- all the while become a worse and worse show.  

In the time after the airing of this Happy Days episode, the term "jumping the shark" has come to mean many things -- not the least of which is the point where something that was on the ascendant makes an error and then finds itself in the descendant.  Think of the X-Files when they let David Duchovny write scripts and direct.  Think of the now infamous Howard Dean scream and Metallica's ...And Justice for All.  After those events occurred, it was all down hill for all parties involved.  A shame really.  I really liked the X-Files and Metallica.

I'm concerned Occupy Albany may be heading towards jumping the shark.  Specifically, my concern is the apparent attempts at co-optation of this Occupy Wallstreet branch by self identified "radicals".  Now, I would never say that people are not entitled to their particular political beliefs.  However, I have noticed a subset of individuals who seem more than willing to force their beliefs on others or, more interestingly, imply acceptance of their beliefs by a group and/or that a group condones their beliefs.  Let me break that down for you.

The first example that I raise really is a minor one but I use it as an example.  If you are interested in reading the Occupy Albany Forum about this issue, you can.  The forum requires a free account to participate -- which I recommend all interested people do as increased dialog and idea exchange are good things.  Regardless, after a violent confrontation with a drunk person, Occupy Albany realized they needed people to act as informal security to insure everyone's safety.  Taking exception to the use of the word "security" (which I, honestly, find laughable but it's their campsite), a member with connections to Buddhism and Paganism got the group to call itself an obscure religious term.  As George Orwell demonstrated in his book 1984, words have power and can be used to manipulate people.  Several saw this action as an attempt to promote a particular religious outlook.  When confronted by the use of the religious language, the group's name was changed to a secular one.

Like I said, this really wasn't a terribly serious issue when you boil it down BUT it is alienating to many people.  It is unlikely the majority of Christians, Muslims, Atheists and the like would find a group apparently guided by Eastern Mysticism or Paganism as representative of their views.  Occupy Albany really needs to remember who the members of their movement are.

Now for the other part of my observations.  It would appear as though there is a distinct portion of Occupy Albany which has been waiting for the "people's revolution" and now they see Occupy Wallstreet as their moment in the sun and are taking actions to try to shape Occupy Albany into their image.  Some of these folks are declared Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, and everything in between.  Again, there is nothing wrong with these political outlooks per se and I'm certain those agendas can bring positive and constructive ideas to the Occupy Wallstreet table.  However, the moment you start trying to push your "radical" agenda, you will begin to isolate the movement from the 99% it claims to represent.

Much to the chagrin of these self-identified revolutionaries, the 99% probably doesn't share their world view.  The vast majority of people would agree that things are broken and that they are shouldering the economic burden that was created by income redistribution to the wealthiest 1% and the criminal actions of the "too big to fail" banks.  The 99% wants to see the end of undue favor being granted to today's oligarchs and the end of the plutarcracy that currently controls our government.  However, I find it highly unlikely that the 99% wants a revolution and my discussions with people (both Unionized and non-Unionized) bare this observation out.  Rather, they would like to fix and thereby, improve, the system we have.  Implying that you're on the cusp of a revolution doesn't say anything about trying to fix a system that people want to keep in an improved form.  Some of these people would even participate in Occupy Albany -- if they didn't feel it was filled with people who DO NOT share their ideals.  Occupy Albany is already failing these people.

There do seem to be some vocal "utopians" in Occupy Albany who somehow believe their ideas will be favorably received this time.  Maybe some of them will and, I believe that is appropriate.  However, history has shown that Marxism and similar ideologies have not been favorably received by the United States (need I remind people of the travesty of McCarthyism?).  While historical evidence isn't evidence of future precident, it does indicate the body politics ideological inertia.  It is also held by many revolutionaries of this particular bent that revolution would only happen should a massive, grassroots revolution occur where everyone is on board with their particular ideology.  Hypothetically, that is true.  If everyone wanted a particular thing, a revolution of that nature would occur.  Everyone is not on board with a revolution -- Marxist or otherwise.

Occupy Wallstreet and Occupy Albany are not that revolution.

What are the people concerned about?  Economic inequality, the lack of jobs, and the failure of the Government to hold those responsible for the Great Recession accountable.  While this is a profound and historic protest movement, it is not the great revolution many want to make it.  Many of these issues are Labor issues and Unions have been fighting this fight for many, many years.  Have Unions been accused of being Communists or Socialists?  Yes.  Are they Communists or Socialists?  Some individuals certainly are but Labor, itself, is not.  Take a message from the Labor movement.  Respect everyone's ideas and do not try to force your political agenda on to everyone.

Being close to Occupy Albany, I've seen some attempts at a "radicalization" of the movement.  If Occupy Albany want to maintain its validity, it needs to remain focused on the actual issues at hand -- not the overthrow of the "establishment".  Most of the "establishment" is composed of the 99% and the 99% wants to make things fair for everyone but not destroy everything in the process.  Labor has been fighting this fight for a very long time and has a lot to offer.  Thankfully, Occupy Wallstreet has been very receptive to the Unions and the feelings have been reciprocated.  Want to alienate the Unions?  Start talking about things their members don't believe in -- like Marxist revolutions.

When people start talking about and endorsing revolution, they effectively make themselves into a new 1% as most people in the United States do not want a revolution -- they want to fix the system we have.  Should Occupy Albany, instead of remaining focused on the problems that led to its creation, becomes a revolutionary platform, it will have alienated itself from the society that, to this point, has supported it.  Should that happen, mark your calendar, it will be where Occupy Albany jumped the shark.