The delusional melodrama of Jill Stein

There ought to be a law preventing people like Jill Stein from making a mockery of the democratic process:

Most people couldn’t wait for the grueling, nasty, seemingly interminable 2016 election to end. Jill Stein wants to keep it going. And she’s willing to waste a lot of money, time, and attention to do so. Like a bad actor that insists on one last curtain call after the audience has headed for the exits, the Green Party nominee seems to stubbornly believe in her relevance even after the election demonstrated its non-existence beyond any doubt.

Stein’s demand for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania demonstrates arrogance bordering on parody. Stein didn’t lose the election so much as she disappeared in it. More than 134 million ballots have been counted so far. Stein received fewer than 1.5 million of them. That’s barely a percentage point of the overall popular vote. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson garnered more than 4 million votes, while the two major-party nominees scored between 62 and 65 million votes each.

The fact that the recounts don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of changing the result of the presidential election is beside the point. It’s glaringly obvious Jill Stein has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with ballot integrity:

Small wonder that even Democrats like Joe Trippi have openly scorned Stein’s effort. “It’s a waste of time and effort,” the Democratic strategist said. “I think it probably was the Stein people looking for a way to stay relevant, raise some money, and take the stink off of them” — a reference to accusations that Stein played a spoiler role in diverting enough Clinton votes in these states to give Trump the victory. Bob Shrum, another Democratic eminence grise, put it more bluntly — that there was “no chance” for these recounts to succeed.

Ballot integrity and voting infrastructure aren’t the reason for Stein’s stunts. Neither is the election outcome. Stein just wants to keep imposing herself on the national stage, eating up time and resources from state governments in order to raise money from suckers unhappy with Trump’s victory and feed her own delusions of relevance. Shame on her, and shame on those egging her on.

Jill Stein — Fighting election fraud or lining her own pockets?

First she asked for $2 million, and the money arrived in double-quick time. Then she wanted $5 million to be safe, and again the money was there in no time at all. Now she’s shooting for $7 million.

What’s really going down here?:

President-elect Donald Trump isn’t mincing words. He believes the recount effort — and multimillion-dollar fundraising goal — led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein is nothing more than a scam.

Stein and her party are raising money for presidential recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has offered help, but Clinton’s own lead counsel admitted that the recount won’t likely lead to any changes in the outcome of the presidential election.

Stein started the push for a recount last week. Since then, she has raised more than $6 million toward an effort neither she nor her party can guarantee will actually happen. A closer look at the fine print on her website says “we can only pledge we will demand recounts in WI and MI and support the voter-initiated effort in PA.”

She adds, “If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform. This is what we did with our surplus in 2004.”

She does not go into specifics about what those “election integrity efforts” might be.

Figure it out for yourself.

Hillary’s decision to join the vote recount was unwise to say the least

It seems patently obvious that financial gain was the main reason Jill Stein initiated the push for the vote recount:

Larry Sabato, director of the Institute for Politics at the University of Virginia, said “the chances of this election being overturned are near zero, if not zero.”

“The Greens have obvious motives,” Sabato said. “They are raising big money and getting a golden mail list of donors, too.”

So with almost certainly nothing to gain and everything to lose — like forfeiting her get-out-of-jail-free card — what on earth induced Hillary Clinton to jump on the Jill Stein bandwagon? Has she taken leave of her senses?

Already, an ominous tone is starting to emanate from the Trump camp:

“I would say (Trump) has been incredibly gracious and magnanimous to Secretary Clinton at a time when for whatever reason her folks are saying they will join in a recount,” senior Trump transition team adviser Kellyanne Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“She congratulated him and conceded to him on election night. … The idea that we are going to drag this out now where the president-elect has been incredibly magnanimous to the Clintons and to the Obamas is incredible.”

Meanwhile, Conway refused to rule out the possibility of further investigating Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.

Conway made clear that Trump said only that he wouldn’t rule out another possible email probe because new evidence could emerge and he wouldn’t want to undercut the authority of federal and congressional investigators.

Jill Stein officially files vote recount request in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s election commission is preparing to start the process of recounting the votes in the presidential election.

Presumably, Michigan and Pennsylvania will soon follow suit.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein maintains “that her push for election recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was aimed at assessing the integrity of the U.S. voting system, not at undermining Republican Donald Trump’s White House victory.”

The Green Party nominee, however, has come “under fire after asking for additional money after her first goal of $2 million was surpassed earlier this week, claiming she now needed as much as $7 million to successfully push for a recount.”

Donald Trump has now weighed in, accusing Jill Stein of being, basically, an opportunistic scam artist:

“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than 1% of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount,” he said. “All three states were won by large numbers of voters, especially Pennsylvania, which was won by more than 70,000 votes.”

“This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” he continued.

It does raise questions, considering that the chances of “such recounts overturning the overall result from the Nov. 8 election are extremely slim, given Trump’s margins of victory in the three states.”

And given that “speculation that electronic voting machines could be hacked has largely been debunked, primarily because the machines are not connected to the internet.”

Surely a very costly exercise in futility, if you reject Trump’s contention that there’s an ulterior motive behind the push for recounts:

The Green Party has said that despite the millions it has raised to fund the recounts, it could not guarantee any would occur and that if its requests were denied or there were surplus funds, it would use the money to push for voting system reforms.

In other words, the Green Party will be laughing all the way to the bank regardless of the results of the recounts, or even whether or not the recounts actually take place.

C’mon, for Pete’s sake. It’s the money, stupid.

Trump steers clear of intelligence briefings

President-elect Donald Trump’s attendance record at intelligence briefings isn’t off to a great start. In fact, so far, he has only received two such.

That’s a frequency well below “that of his predecessors, current and former U.S. officials said.”

A team of intelligence analysts has been prepared to deliver daily briefings on global developments and security threats to Trump in the two weeks since he won. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, by contrast, has set aside time for intelligence briefings almost every day since the election, officials said.

Officials involved in the Trump transition team cautioned against assigning any significance to the briefing schedule that the president-elect has set so far, noting that he has been immersed in the work of forming his administration, and has made filling key national security posts his top priority.

But others have interpreted Trump’s limited engagement with his briefing team as an additional sign of indifference from a president-elect who has no meaningful experience on national security issues and was dismissive of U.S. intelligence agencies’ capabilities and findings during the campaign.

A senior U.S. official who receives the same briefing delivered to President Obama each day said that devoting time to such sessions would help Trump get up to speed on world events.

“Trump has a lot of catching up to do,” the official said.

Well at least Vice President-elect Mike Pence is holding up his end in that regard.

Donald Trump has lunch at The New York Times, and gives critics hope

The people at the Times felt at least a glimmer of hope when Trump walked back — kind of — some parts of his election manifesto.

Not that those present will absolutely take for granted what he said over lunch, anyway. They know full well he’s likely to do another one-eighty tomorrow or the next day and double down on all the election promises he made to his supporters at rally after rally during the run-up to the election.

You can never really pin down the The Donald on anything. But for what it’s worth, here are some of the impressions he made on one of his lunch hosts.

Thomas L. Friedman, columnist for The New York Times writes:

The most important was that on several key issues — like climate change and torture — where he adopted extreme positions during his campaign to galvanize his base, he went out of his way to make clear he was rethinking them. How far? I don’t know. But stay tuned, especially on climate.

There are many decisions that President-elect Trump can and will make during the next four years. Many of them could be reversible by his successor. But there is one decision he can make that could have truly irreversible implications, and that is to abandon America’s commitment to phasing out coal, phasing in more clean energy systems and leading the world to curb CO2 emissions before they reach a level that produces a cycle of wildly unpredictable climate disruptions.

When asked where he stood on that climate change issue — which in the past he dismissed as a hoax — and last December’s U.S.-led Paris emissions-reduction accord, the president-elect did not hesitate for a second: “I’m looking at it very closely. … I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. … You can make lots of cases for different views. … I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal-clean water is vitally important.”

Do you think climate change is caused by human activity?

“I think there is some connectivity,” Trump answered. It is not clear “how much,” and what he will do about it “depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.” Trump said he would study the issue “very hard” and hinted that if, after study, he was to moderate his views, his voice would be influential with climate skeptics.

On the question of whether the U.S. military should use waterboarding and other forms of torture to break suspected terrorists — a position he advocated frequently during the campaign to great applause — Trump bluntly stated that he had changed his mind after talking with James N. Mattis, the retired Marine Corps general, who headed the United States Central Command.

Friedman concludes with:

For those of us who opposed Trump’s election, it is not time to let down our guard and stop drawing redlines where necessary. But for moderate Republicans and Democratic business leaders, like a Bill Gates, who can gain his ear and respect, and who have made big investments in clean energy, Trump may be — may be — persuadable on some key issues. They need to dive in now and try to pull him toward the center.

For a meeting between the newsmaker and this news organization that has covered him without fear or favor, the lunch was fairly relaxed, but not without some jousting. Asked if he read The New York Times, Trump said: “I do read it. Unfortunately. I would live about 20 years longer if I didn’t.”

Consumer confidence is soaring after Trump’s election victory

From Bloomberg:

Consumer confidence rose more than previously reported to a six-month high in November, showing Americans became more optimistic about their finances and the economy after Donald Trump won the presidential election.

The University of Michigan’s final index of sentiment shows a “stark split” between pre-election and post-election views “with sentiment rising 8.2 points in the post-election group from the pre-election cohort.”

The lift suggests that Americans were heartened on the whole by Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, with broad gains in confidence across incomes, ages and regions, according to the report. At the same time, the increase may reflect a “honeymoon” period that could fade unless actual economic conditions improve, said Richard Curtin, director of the Michigan survey.

Trump is off to a flying start. Now it’s up to him to keep the momentum going.