With just days to go until the real election of 2016 -- the Electoral College -- the rogue faction known as the Hamilton Electors is making one last-ditch effort to save America from Donald Trump by denying him the 270 votes he'll need to be officially named president. [...]
"This isn't about getting a Democrat in. This isn't even about getting a Republican in. This is about stopping Donald Trump," Chiafalo said. "This is about stopping the most unfit president we would have ever had by far."
On December 7, 2016, I volunteered as an observer with Recount Michigan 2016. I showed up at 9:00am sharp in the heart of Detroit, in heavily democratic Wayne County, Michigan.
It was a bloodbath.
I did not count a single vote during my entire first four-hour shift.
Trump's legal team was there in force, circling the room like sharks. They were challenging everything, gumming up the works and disqualifying whole precincts. I was only aware of a single Green Party attorney plus one law student in my (large) room. Many challenges had one or more Trump lawyers speaking with election officials, and no legal advocate present for the other side; they were simply outnumbered and outgunned.
Every recount table had 1 -- 2 Trump observers present, each one holding written scripts to challenge every single precinct, regardless of the facts.
As as the Michigan recount is being stalled in courts, it has become clear that 75,000 votes in the counties with highly Democratic populations came back with no vote for President -- but with votes for candidates lower down the ballot. This is what is referred to as an "undervote" and is largely attributed to malfunctioning ballot reader machines. In a state that Trump won by 11,000 votes, this large number of undervotes could easily change the outcome of who won here.
Incredibly, Michigan laws prohibit a recount if there are discrepancies in reconciling the numbers of votes against the poll books. Which is insane, of course. In a Catch 22 move, these wonky recount laws disallow a recount for the very reasons that a recount would be justified: "a precinct is ineligible to be recounted if the 'number of ballots to be recounted and the number of ballots issued on election day as shown on the poll list or the computer printout do not match and the difference is not explained to the satisfaction of the board of canvassers.'" If someone wanted to skew an election, all they would have to do is add or remove a few ballots so the poll books don't match the number of votes, and there can be no recount.
Most of the mismatched poll books are in Wayne County, a heavily Democratic area with a population of over 1.7 million people. According to Detroit's election director, eighty-seven of Wayne County's decade-old voting machines broke on election day.
The Republican is currently trailing Democrat rival Hillary Clinton by 2.8 million votes as the last remaining postal ballots are counted -- despite him winning the November 8 election because of the Electoral College system.
That deficit is more than five times bigger than the 544,000 by which George W. Bush lost to Al Gore in 2000 - the second biggest popular vote deficit in history for a candidate who has still gone on to become President. [...]
In 2012 Mr Trump called the Electoral College "a disaster for democracy" after mistakenly thinking it would lead to President Obama losing the popular vote but retaining the White House.
Following his election victory, however, the billionaire businessman praised the "genius" of the system.
"It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected," said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. "That's the consensus view." [...]
The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton's campaign.
The Post told of an extraordinary meeting on Capitol Hill in mid-September, when FBI Director James Comey, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and other officials met with the leadership of both parties. They made the case for a bipartisan statement sending a warning to Russia that such actions would not be tolerated.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the kibosh on it.
So the White House backed down, apparently to avoid being seen as trying to aid Clinton's campaign. [...]
Confronted with an attack by a hostile foreign power on our most critical institutions, Republicans decided that Russian hacking was OK, as long as it was against Democrats -- indeed, as Wikileaks strategically released the hacked emails over a period of weeks for maximum political impact, Republicans celebrated. [...]
And Democrats, including Barack Obama, didn't have the courage to stand up to them.
We think of American democracy as the most stable and secure in the world. But that stability and security comes not from the design of the system, but from the integrity and fortitude of the people within it. These new details, coming so late, are showing us that integrity and fortitude were both in short supply.
"I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years. Could be eight years."
Trump's disinterest in keeping up-to-date on important security information is the most profound abrogation of responsibility ever exhibited by a person about to take command of our nuclear codes and the combined might of our military.
Pence being given the PDB is not a sufficient replacement. No President has ever turned over their Commander-in-Chief responsibilities to their Vice President -- not without being dead or completely incapacitated.
Friends and associates said few U.S. citizens are closer to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin than Mr. Tillerson, who has known Mr. Putin since he represented Exxon's interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.
"He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger," said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration and president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank where Mr. Tillerson is a board member.
In 2011, Mr. Tillerson struck a deal giving Exxon access to prized Arctic resources in Russia as well as allowing Russia's state oil company, OAO Rosneft, to invest in Exxon concessions all over the world. The following year, the Kremlin bestowed the country's Order of Friendship decoration on Mr. Tillerson. [...]
In short, the only person who would like this nomination would be -- you guessed it -- Putin.
The nomination of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is like something out of a Marxist comic book: Who better to be the chief diplomat of a neocolonial power, plundering the world's oil riches, than the chairman and CEO of the world's largest oil company! [...]
Exxon Mobil, on the other hand, doesn't see itself as bound up with the country at all. Rather, as Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, recently wrote in the New Yorker, Exxon Mobil sees itself as "a parallel quasi-state," a "power independent of the American government, one devoted firmly to shareholder interests and possessed of its own foreign policy," the goal of which is "to promote a world that is good for oil and gas production."