Sunday, January 09, 2011

Anger, Revisionism and Terrorism

People who know me, either in real life or maybe just online, know I have a bad temper.

In response to a particularly egregious court verdict in 1995, I wrote the following:

In response to my anger, I won't go out and get a gun. I won't bomb a building. I won't hack my parents or husband or child to death. I'll just write, talk and keep writing and talking until this passes.

The mass shooting by a domestic terrorist in Arizona on January 8 makes me very angry for a number of reasons. Its chilling effect on societal freedoms. Its sheer waste. Its reason for happening.

I do not believe the Tea Party is completely culpable for this event, but they are partially responsible. Ultimate, the shooter himself is responsible for buying a legal semi-automatic weapon (with help from the NRA and the Republican party for keeping gun laws so loose), taking it to a public event, trying to kill Gabreille Giffords, a moderate Democratic Representative, then spraying the audience with the gun, killing at least six and wounding a total of 19. A Federal judge (ironically, who'd ruled against background checks for gun buyers), a 9-year-old child (ironically, born on 9/11/01) and four others were murdered in cold blood - but seem to have been "collateral damage."

So how is this not a terrorist act? If an Islamic man did this, Americans wouldn't hesitate to call this an act of terrorism. They'd scream for vengence.

But if people point out:

that the Arizona shooter was an anti-government type [[who praised Palin -- the Palin comment may be a rumor; I was wrong to have included an unverified rumor]]

that Sarah Palin had marked 20 Democratic Congressional
representatives for electoral removal - by using the
cross-hairs symbol (this graphic was, of course,
removed from Palin's Website by late in day on 1/8,
but we should never forget that it was up for many
months and was seen by many thousands if not
millions of people) [[her later "surveyor's symbols" comments have been generally denied by surveyors]]

that Jesse Kelly, Gabrielle's opponent in the 2010 election,
held a campaign event that was advertised with
this line: "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office
Shoot a fully automatic F16 with Jesse Kelly." This
archival calendar item was removed on 1/8.

that the atmosphere in Arizon is so poisonous that even the
sheriff of Pima county has said that political vitriol
was partially responsible for the shooter's rampage.

We're accused of politicizing a tragedy.

I don't believe that. The same people who think America should be run by the Tea Partiers also don't hesitate to blame Obama for every problem this country's had over the last two years, seeming to forget that the wars and the economic catastrophe started in the Bush administration.

[[Added later]] And, frankly, I think many Tea Partiers would love to see a revolution in this country - but don't have the legitimate political clout to do anything more than be obstructionists and cause problems locally.

So should we thank them for the reassurance that the attempted murder of Congressional Representative who'd been "targeted" by Palin and the Tea Partiers and shot by an anti-government white guy who then kept shooting is in no way political and is in no way terroristic?

I have a bad temper, and another thing that brings it out is revisionism. Usually, if I've gotten mad or been wrong about the wrong person/thing online/in real life, I've never gone back and re-edited my Website or my life. When real people are involved, I've often had to apologize. Sometimes, I've said, "I was wrong about X." Sometimes, I've changed my behavior about X. But I will always admit to and own my anger - I might have been wrong, but I won't lie about it. But it's amazing how quickly the Tea Partiers have been scrubbing their old publicity to make it seem that they never tried to equate guns with removing people from office.

I don't hear or see the Tea Partiers apologizing for any of the inciting speech they've been engaged in. Because they will never take any responsibility for their part in this act of domestic terrorism. [[Added later]] The one good thing about this horrific event was the way that Sarah Palin has finally demonstrated that she is completely unelectable, and most Republicans may finally realize this. Her attempts to make herself a victim in all this is simply appalling. She's done nothing but demonstrate she has no grasp of history. Eight years of Bush should have proven that it's dangerous to have an ignorant person as president.

A few months ago, I attended the Rally 4 Sanity in Washington. It was a great day for people who want to try to find solutions to our country's problems rather than encourage constant vitriol.

After an event like the Arizona terrorism incident, we do have every right to be angry. But I don't think we should be eterally angry. We should try to channel our anger in rational ways, not in terroristic ways.

[[Added later]] I was relieved to see the rational way many Arizonans welcomed President Obama to Arizona when he attended a service in honor of the shooting victims. I hope many of them become more politically active so Arizona has more balanced leadership.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Allegheny County Follies: Christmas Tree Recycling Centers

The government in Allegheny county often has good ideas - then mars the good ideas with lousy implmementation.

Take Christmas tree recycling. A good idea. Many of us don't want years of dead Christmas trees in our backyard, but thought leaving them out on the curb each January for trash pick-up was a little weird.

So when I saw the announcement of Christmas Tree Recycling Centers, I thought "Great!" I packed up our dying tree, loaded it in the trunk, and headed for the Settlers Park Pool parking lot, to have our Christmas tree mulched.

Of course, when I got there, well before the 3:30pm close time, the gate to the Settlers Park Pool lot was closed. No signs, no nothing.

I drove off in the direction of the park office. Along the way, I saw an area off to the side where about ten discarded Christmas trees lay, along with mulch nearby. As it was snowing and the road was getting iffy, I turned around in the first safe location and dumped my tree along with the others. I may have left my tree in the right place, but would posting a sign have killed somebody?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Beer in Pittsburgh

Back in about 1994 (or maybe it was 1995), my husband Jim started to note where to get decent beer in Pittsburgh in a site called Jim's Beer in Pittsburgh. Believe me, if you didn't like to drink crap national brands in a restaurant, you didn't have many choices in those days, beyond one variety of Sam Adams, or maybe Yuengling. Luckily, friends introduced us to the Sharp Edge and Fat Heads so we felt like we had some selection. Jim and I maintained the site for a long time, but as good beer got easier to find, we didn't update it so much. But, it's been up, and despite its lack of updates, it gets about 700 visitors a month.

To be honest, I hadn't really looked at the site in a couple of years.

So, today, I got a note from a person at a bar I'd been to and liked in the last year. I went back and made some site updates. I'll share them with you here, but I liked to go back to the mostly archival Beer in Pittsburgh site and see a little bit about the way things were.

2011: It's been interesting that the number of good beer bars in the Pittsburgh area continues to grow even after restaurant smoking ban (yay!-remember the people who said that would ruin the industry?), the drink tax (boo, but ditto) and during a major recession (double boo). Kudos to the Sharp Edge for opening the best beer bar in downtown Pittsburgh (on Penn, near the pretty decent August Henry's). We've also made a few trips into the Southside to visit places like the DoubleWide Grill, Piper's Pub, and Fathead's. We have made one trip out to Rivertowne, in Monroeville, but haven't gotten to the ones closer to Pittsburgh yet. We thought the beer selection at Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 was much better than
we would have expected.

When you travel Pennsylvania in search of interesting beer, be sure to bring along Lew Bryson's newly updated Pennsylvania Breweries, an engaging look at the places in Pennsylvania that are brewing their own beer.

East End continues to supply craft beer locally.

Probably the most welcome addition to the beer scene has been the Steel City Big Pour, a huge beer and food festival held in early September to benefit Construction Junction. Absolutely worth trying to get tickets for it, but it sells out very rapidly. They've shown they understand how to put a beer festival together and make money at it at the same time.

The main failure over the last few years has been of the Penn Brewery. It closed for a while, and re-opened with a so-so menu, so-so beer, and the single worst beer festival we've ever been to in 2010. They continue to have problems, which is sad. Penn Brewery is a shell of its former self.

Oh, and while I know this is a religious argument to some, I tried and hated-hated-hated Harris Bar's bacon night. Sorry. Bad bacon, bad atmosphere, what's the point?