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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

New York (AFP) – New York’s new Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in Wednesday promising to restore progressive ideals and end growing economic inequality in America’s biggest city.

De Blasio, 52, who in November won a landslide election to become New York’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years, took the oath of office one minute after midnight during a ceremony in front of his Brooklyn home, flanked by his wife Chirlane and their two teenaged children.

“This is the beginning of a road we will travel together,” he told a few dozen supporters gathered outside his home, during a short speech ahead of a formal swearing in ceremony later Wednesday.

The modest oath swearing ceremony was in stark contrast with the inauguration for his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who in 2002 was sworn in in Times Square just after midnight amid confetti and a massive swarm of revelers.

More than a decade later, the brash billionaire concluded his 12-year reign Tuesday, ending an era that heralded major changes for America’s largest city, but that also deepened the schism between rich and poor.

The New York mayor’s night-time oath traditionally is followed by a mid-day affair on the steps of City Hall.

De Blasio’s second oath took place at midday Wednesday, with former president Bill Clinton presiding.

De Blasio worked for the Clinton administration during his days in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Also attending was the former president’s wife, Hillary Clinton, tipped by politicos as a 2016 presidential favorite.

De Blasio helped manage Hillary Clinton’s successful 2000 Senate campaign.

The new mayor, a towering 6’5″ (1.95 meters), formerly served on the New York City Council representing a Brooklyn district.

He was sworn in using a Bible that once belonged to former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the architect of America’s New Deal reforms that provided a safety net Americans suffering during the Depression.

A staunch liberal, de Blasio has emphasized his desire to establish a progressive administration.

“It is exciting and it is humbling, I served this city in a variety of ways for a long time,” de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference.

“I feel the enormity of the task but I also feel a real sense of familiarity with that that lies ahead,” he said.

De Blasio put his multiracial family center stage during his campaign.

The visibility of his African American wife and biracial children helped the public advocate connected to middle-class families and the city’s diverse electorate.

The new mayor was swept into office on November 5 with an impressive 73 percent vote, a testament to New Yorkers’ desire for change after 12 years of Bloomberg.

During Bloomberg’s three terms, the city became safer, greener and healthier, but critics were quick to peg the finance-sector billionaire as a politician for the wealthy in a city with the country’s largest inequality gap.

New York counts nearly 400,000 millionaires and 3,000 multi-millionaires among its ranks, while 21.2 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

De Blasio denounced Tuesday what he said had become two cities, and supported a $10 minimum hourly wage, even as New York state saw its minimum wage rise to $8 Wednesday.

He also promised to implement a higher tax on New Yorkers earning more than $500,000 a year, in an attempt to expand preschool programs.

De Blasio has created high hopes among the city’s Hispanic and black populations, which respectively account for 28.6 percent and 25.5 percent of the city’s 8.3 million inhabitants.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]