Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Serious incidents interrupt silly season
- Chris Christie changing lanes
- See something, steal something
'Tis the season
“We are in the silly season,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told reporters Monday morning while touring Penn Station, two days after the bomb explosion in Chelsea.
He was talking about the presidential election, which he ventured he’d gotten caught up in when critics pointed to his and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s conflicting descriptions of the explosion: an intentional, criminal and violent act, as de Blasio said at first; or terrorism, as identified by Cuomo.
During this “silly season,” the different phrasings of Cuomo and de Blasio, as well as the presidential candidates, led to Twitter storms of commentary. Cuomo called his and de Blasio’s differences “semantics,” but the general politicization seems unlikely to subside.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, for example, tweeted, “We don’t live in Rainbowland . . . to think some electeds actually ruled out terrorism automatically right out of gate.”
After a suspect was taken into custody, he added, “You are welcome, Colin Kaepernick.”
Opening salvo in Bridgegate
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said as recently as last week that he didn’t know about Bridgegate. In an interview with MSNBC, Christie said the trial of two former associates “will just confirm that.”
The trial of former aide Bridget Anne Kelly and former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni over 2013 traffic snarls at the George Washington Bridge began Monday morning — and took a very different turn.
In opening statements, federal prosecutors said that two officials, Baroni and David Wildstein, who already pleaded guilty, “bragged” to Christie about the lane closings and traffic problems as they were happening.
While plenty of observers have suggested Christie knew about the lane closures, this marks the first time that federal prosecutors have made that assertion and indicated they have evidence to prove it.
Whether we’ll keep seeing Christie on the campaign trail for Donald Trump as the Bridgegate trial continues remains to be seen.
Randi F. Marshall
UN General Assembly is in town
See a Point, Say a Point
Only in the New York City area
The post-9/11 metropolitan-area mantra, “If you see something, say something,” got turned upside down this weekend.
According to media reports, two improvised explosives believed to have been built and left in separate locations by Chelsea explosion suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami were discovered, and one was disabled, by people rifling through the bomb bags for booty.
According to law enforcement sources, two passers-by found a rolling suitcase on West 27th Street, examined the contents, then took a pressure-cooker bomb out and put it on the sidewalk before taking the bag. The move apparently disarmed the bomb, potentially saving lives. It also kept intact the cellphone attached to the bomb, helping investigators. This all happened less than a quarter-mile from the explosion on West 23rd Street that injured 29 people.
In Elizabeth, New Jersey Sunday evening, police say, a backpack resting on top of a trash can near a train station was taken by two people who, upon investigating the contents and finding five bombs, called the cops.
Across the world, New York City and its neighboring environs have the reputation of being tough, street-smart places. But now it looks like evolution. Three hundred years of ever-increasing awareness of their surroundings has left New Yorkers with keen instincts for finding the terrifyingly dangerous, out-of-place element — then disassembling it and stealing the good parts.
Briefly . . .
— Syrian President Bashar Assad says he is the only person who can end the country’s civil war. Yes, Assad, the same dictator whose bloody repression is largely responsible for that civil war.
— The best argument to never bring back New York State’s 421-a tax break program meant to stimulate the building of affordable housing: Donald Trump got the breaks to build Trump Tower, Trump Place, Trump Plaza and Trump Palace.
— One of the world’s greatest oxymoronic institutions is back in action this week: the never-has-been and never-will-be United Nations.
— Seeking soaring oratory for a speech, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari plagiarized Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential victory speech. Think there’ll be any takers for either Donald Trump’s or Hillary Clinton’s speech?
— Mike Pence says running mate Donald Trump wasn’t calling for violence against Hillary Clinton when he said her bodyguards should be disarmed and then “let’s see what happens to her.” That’s right, Trump was just setting the parameters for a fascinating sociology experiment.
— Mike Pence looks to Dick Cheney as a vice presidential role model. Hmmm, so Donald Trump might not actually be running the government if he wins?
— Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday described the bomb blast in Chelsea Saturday night as “intentional.” Which cleared up a lot of confusion, what with so many people thinking it was an accident.
— After Donald Trump publicly stated he was backing away from his previously announced $1 trillion tax cut for small businesses, his aides told a small-business group that he does support the tax cut, then they told the conservative Tax Foundation he would eliminate the cut. The truth-teller strikes again.