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

By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined calls Monday for a halt to angry rhetoric in the wake of the weekend slayings of two policemen by a gunman whose actions have threatened to derail progress toward mending relations among police, politicians and activists demanding law enforcement reforms.

“I think it’s time for a societal deep breath,” Cuomo told WNYC radio. He did not specifically urge a halt to activists’ demonstrations alleging police brutality, but his message indicated that protests should be put on hold at least through the end of the week, as should provocative statements from leaders on all sides of the issue.

“Let’s bring a moment of peace and calm,” Cuomo said. “Let’s go to the funerals, let’s join with the families in grieving, let’s go through the holy week.”

Tempers flared among police union leaders after officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot dead by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, as the pair sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday. Authorities said Brinsley killed himself shortly after the attack.

The leaders of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association, two major police unions, accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of failing to provide the kind of leadership necessary to bolster public support for police and said his lenience toward protesters had laid the groundwork for Brinsley’s rampage.

Brinsley had posted anti-cop statements online before the shootings. But he had a long criminal history, had been treated for mental health issues, and had shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend outside Baltimore hours before coming to New York to attack the police.

Officials say his true motivations are unclear, and most leaders in New York have described him as a thug and a madman rather than a killer with a political agenda.

Whatever fueled Brinsley’s rage, his rampage has led to a polarization that Cuomo and other leaders, including Police Commissioner William Bratton, say is tearing at the fabric of the nation’s largest city.

“It’s starting to shape up along partisan lines, which is unfortunate,” Bratton told NBC’s Today on Monday. “This is something that should be bringing us all together.”

He compared the tensions in New York to the 1970s in Boston, when he was a policeman there during that city’s racially tense period of court-ordered busing to desegregate public schools. “Who would’ve ever thought deja vu all over again, that we’d be back where we were 40-some-odd years ago,” Bratton said.

Cuomo said the anger being expressed now was reminiscent of the rage that arose during some of New York City’s most volatile moments, including the race riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 1991 and racially charged unrest that occurred in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens in 1986.

Just as the city overcame those events, Cuomo said it can get through the current crisis if all sides take a “cooling off period.”

“When people stop yelling, then they can start hearing,” he said.

Neither Cuomo nor Bratton would criticize either De Blasio or Patrick Lynch, the leader of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Lynch said after the officers’ murders that De Blasio had blood on his hands. Several officers turned their backs on De Blasio in protest when he arrived at the hospital Saturday night where the officers were taken.

“I think he has lost it with some officers,” Bratton said when asked if the mayor had lost police support. “It’s reflective of the anger of some of them.”

But he also said that he did not support the officers’ turning their backs on the mayor. Bratton said their anger is rooted not just in the slayings, but in pension and labor issues that have been simmering for years.

Photo: Zach Seward via Flickr

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.]