The madness in Pittsburgh (Update #4)

In case you missed any, there have been three new blog postings recently:


Updates

  1. Originally published, December 19, 2020, at 9:41 pm.

  2. December 20, 2020, 10:26 am:

    • Then there’s Donald Trump’s madness as he seeks to name a conspiracy theorist as special prosecutor investigating alleged election fraud.[19] C’mon now, no one seriously thinks this man is sane, right?

    • The KDKA Television headline implies that the story covers multiple Pittsburgh restaurants defying Governor Tom Wolf’s order forbidding indoor dining but, despite allegedly originating in Washington County, and while it is true that other restaurants are in at least rhetorical defiance,[20] the story is really only about Al’s Cafe in Bethel Park.[21] Bethel Park is in Allegheny County.

      The restaurant’s owner, Rod Ambrogi, has previously figured in organizing restauranteur opposition to Wolf’s COVID-19 restrictions, which Wolf simply blew off.[22] Ambrogi claims he’s doing it to support his employees,[23] and while I don’t know what he pays his employees, Pennsylvania’s tipped minimum wage is a mere $2.83 per hour. In general, workers have absorbed all of the risk of their employers’ defiance while seeing little in the way of tips because there haven’t been many customers,[24] especially when social distancing rules are observed, as Ambrogi claims to be doing,[25] limiting the number of tables.

      Ambrogi’s comparison of his workers to those in other retail establishments[26] is specious. Diners lower their masks to consume food and beverage. Grocery and other store customers are required to keep their masks on at all times.

      I’m having a very hard time swallowing that there have not been more severe consequences for this willful defiance in absolute disregard for health and safety. I think Wolf should be responding to these reports by sending in Pennsylvania State Troopers, jailing the restaurant owners, permanently revoking their licenses, and forbidding them from ever having licenses again.

      Of course, given the likely existence of right-wing militia in the area,[27] Wolf might be deciding that discretion is the better part of valor.

  3. December 20, 12:25 pm:

    • Michael Lind argues that the political divide in the U.S. is not so much urban versus rural, but rather a very few very wealthy zip codes against everyone else.[28] This, of course, dovetails with my understanding of the U.S. as a constitutional oligarchy,[29] but does not address the profound and irreconcilable differences that divide voters in the country.[30]

      Lind then takes up the question of Senate and Electoral College representation and suggests granting statehood to one or more candidate territories.[31] This, of course, still does not address the profound and irreconcilable differences that divide voters in the country.[32]

  4. December 20, 1:05 pm:

    • My mother notes, regarding Donald Trump’s interest in invoking the Insurrection Act to remain in power,[33] that the military, like all people in U.S. government employment, swears an oath to the Constitution, not, as much as our fealty-loving delusional raging narcissist-in-chief might otherwise prefer,[34] to the president. And this is true.

      However, it is also true that force cohesion is a concern for any military leader. The idea here is pretty simple: You want your troops fighting the enemy, not each other, whether literally or figuratively. Given that some of these troops are right-wing militia members or white supremacists,[35] strongly supporting Trump,[36] that cohesion becomes suspect. In addition, Trump has had nearly four years to reshape senior leadership at the Pentagon.

      The best that can safely be said is that how this plays out remains to be seen.


Pittsburgh

Paul Guggenheimer and Joyce Hanz, “Alle-Kiski Valley restaurants continue to defy governor’s order suspending indoor dining,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/alle-kiski-valley-restaurants-continue-to-defy-governors-order-suspending-indoor-dining/

Paul Peirce, “Westmoreland County Sheriff won’t enforce Gov. Wolf’s new covid-19 orders,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 19, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/westmoreland-county-sheriff-wont-enforce-gov-wolfs-new-covid-19-orders/

Royce Jones, “COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Several Restaurants Defy Statewide Restrictions, Stay Open For Indoor Dining,” KDKA Television, December 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/20/restaurants-defy-statewide-restrictions/


Polarization

Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america


  1. [19]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump sought to tap Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud,” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/19/sidney-powell-trump-special-counsel-448694
  2. [20]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/; Paula Reed Ward, “Restaurant owner sues Braddock mayor, claims defamation,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/restaurant-owner-sues-braddock-mayor-claims-defamation/
  3. [21]Royce Jones, “COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Several Restaurants Defy Statewide Restrictions, Stay Open For Indoor Dining,” KDKA Television, December 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/20/restaurants-defy-statewide-restrictions/
  4. [22]Dillon Carr, “Restaurants and bars banding together to give Gov. Wolf an ultimatum,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 4, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/restaurants-and-bars-banding-together-to-give-gov-wolf-an-ultimatum-thursday/; Dillon Carr, “Restaurants back down from ultimatum, request meeting with Gov. Wolf,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 6, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/restaurants-back-down-from-ultimatum-request-meeting-with-gov-wolf/; Dillon Carr, “As deadline approaches, restaurants vary on defying Wolf’s capacity order, other restrictions,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/as-deadline-approaches-restaurants-vary-on-defying-wolfs-capacity-order-other-restrictions/; Dillon Carr, “Some tavern owners make their own pandemic rules, call on governor to adjust state’s,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/some-tavern-owners-make-their-own-pandemic-rules-call-on-governor-to-adjust-states/
  5. [23]Royce Jones, “COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Several Restaurants Defy Statewide Restrictions, Stay Open For Indoor Dining,” KDKA Television, December 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/20/restaurants-defy-statewide-restrictions/
  6. [24]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh’s restaurant workers say they are bearing all the brunt of the region’s coronavirus spike, but are seeing little benefits,” Pittsburgh City Paper, July 29, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburghs-restaurant-workers-say-they-are-bearing-all-the-brunt-of-the-regions-coronavirus-spike-but-are-seeing-little-benefits/Content?oid=17722779
  7. [25]Royce Jones, “COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Several Restaurants Defy Statewide Restrictions, Stay Open For Indoor Dining,” KDKA Television, December 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/20/restaurants-defy-statewide-restrictions/
  8. [26]Royce Jones, “COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Several Restaurants Defy Statewide Restrictions, Stay Open For Indoor Dining,” KDKA Television, December 20, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/12/20/restaurants-defy-statewide-restrictions/
  9. [27]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/; Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html
  10. [28]Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america
  11. [29]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, November 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  12. [30]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/
  13. [31]Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america
  14. [32]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/
  15. [33]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump sought to tap Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud,” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/19/sidney-powell-trump-special-counsel-448694; Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986
  16. [34]Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/were-cleaning-it-out-trump-embarks-on-expansive-search-for-disloyalty-as-administration-wide-purge-escalates/2020/02/21/870e6c56-54c1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Adam Serwer, “The First Days of the Trump Regime,” Atlantic, February 19, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/trump-regime/606682/
  17. [35]Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/; Leo Shane, III, “Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops,” Military Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/02/06/signs-of-white-supremacy-extremism-up-again-in-poll-of-active-duty-troops/
  18. [36]Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/; Megan Guza And Paul Peirce, “Western Pa. police ready for any election-related shenanigans, as report warns of possible militia violence,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/western-pa-police-ready-for-any-election-related-shenanigans-as-report-warns-of-possible-militia-violence/; Danielle Moran, Laura Bliss, and Sarah Holder, “Cities Gird for Election Day Unrest,” CityLab, October 26, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-26/cities-gird-for-election-day-unrest

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