In a decision with potentially large ramifications, New York Federal Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall won't dismiss a libel suit against "Shitty Media Men" creator Moira Donegan.
Explaining, the judge says it is possible that Donegan created the entry herself. The judge believes that Elliott should be able to explore whether the entry was fabricated. Accordingly, discovery proceeds, which will now put pressure on Google to respond to broad subpoena demands. The next motion stage could feature a high-stakes one about the reaches of CDA 230.
Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Bolton, Bernie, Paula White, and Mike Pompeo
Harsh Your Mellow Monday has plenty of ground to cover with everything from the delusional to the divine, so let us get right to it.
[HM1] John Bolton, Hated Warmonger Turned Resistance Unicorn Turned Book Salesman
When Johnny beat the devil for the golden fiddle down in Georgia, he didn’t string ol’ Satan along half as well from that tree stump as John Bolton is currently working the news media over what he knows.
Now, you may believe all the leaks from Bolton about how much he wants to testify, and how much he is just dying to tell his story, and how much amazeballs information he has to divulge, and his formula for turning lead to gold, and on and on and on… Oh, and the excerpt from his forthcoming book about the President withholding aid just happened to circulate into certain eager hands the day after the Democratic House Managers completed their opening statements and the Senate hit the pause button after a brief preview from the President’s rebuttal team. You can believe that is all just happening. Or … you can understand book marketing to a current event in real time in the modern age. Because that is what we have here.
There are not going to be witnesses at this impeachment trial. There will be much hand wringing and many furrowed brows of deep concern and very seriously considered objections. And then will come the party-line or close to it votes by the Republican majority to hurry this along. That will be followed by a party line vote plus or minus one or two folks defecting for their own purposes (How you doing, Joe Manchin, good to see you) to acquit.
Feel free to enjoy the plot, staging, special effects, acting, and cinematography between now and then. But that’s how this movie ends.
And John Bolton knows it. The second those two votes to not remove the president go down, so do all his requests for media hits and show appearances along with his new-found status as Savior to the Resistance and the latest in a long line of silver bullet that will finally kill the Trump presidency in one shot. Along with interest in his book. Along with his hoped-for book sales.
John Bolton is masterfully playing folks desperate to buy what he is selling them, knowing full well he won’t deliver, knowing his end will be taken care of in advanced copies and the initial bump up the bestseller list.
Politics come into play with the Senate, but they don’t with Bolton. He hold no office and has no primary to worry about. The Senators who do the voting do have these concerns. Bolton’s incentive is to make noise, appear important, and sell his book. A GOP senator’s is to not get primaried 30 seconds after voting against a president who is going to have a quarter billion dollar war chest to blitz folks he holds a grudge against down ticket.
John Bolton is many things. Unicorn isn’t one of them. Don’t go chasing him looking for impeachment redemption, ’cause it ain’t happening.
[HM2] The Bernfire of Vanities
Since we just watched this very movie four years ago, we really shouldn’t have to go over this again. But here we are. So let us rehash this for the new folks, slow learners, our friends from Logan, and the folks in the back who don’t hear too good:
Bernie Sanders is not going to win the Democratic Nomination for president.
I know, I know. The polls! The Headlines! The Vox-splained!
“Sanders nearly doubles his support in New Hampshire poll,” says Politico.
“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads in New Hampshire, continuing to widen his top position,” reports CNN.
“Bernie Sanders’s path to the 2020 Democratic nomination, explained.” Vox-splains Vox.
And what, you may ask after such non-subtle prompting, would said Vox-splained path be?
With such a close and crowded primary, and many voters still undecided, the final weeks are the most critical. This also means relatively minor changes in turnout can make a huge difference for candidates, especially in the Iowa caucuses.
“If we win Iowa and New Hampshire, I think we stand a great chance to win Nevada, I think we’re strong there,” Sanders told a crowd of supporters this weekend. “I think we’re going to do very well in South Carolina, I think we’re going to win California and many other states on Super Tuesday. And if we do all that, we will have accomplished something never done in the modern history of America, and that is put together an unprecedented political revolution.”
Of course the rest of the piece is about all the ways it will be different this time. “If” does an enormous amount of load-bearing in the piece but here is another “If”: If that sounds familiar, it is because it is, as Vox-splained by Vox in 2016 right around this same time:
The nightmare scenario for Clinton at this point — which is not all that implausible — is that Sanders wins both Iowa and New Hampshire. If that happens, political elites and the press will mercilessly mock and second-guess the Clinton campaign for weeks. Yet insiders also understand that both states are heavily white and not representative of the more diverse Democratic electorate overall. So the big question is whether the positive coverage Sanders gets will help improve his performance among nonwhite Democrats who have seemed uninterested in his candidacy so far — and that will be put to the test in the next contest, South Carolina.
Wanna guess what happened in South Carolina? Go on. If you don’t remember, we’ll wait while you Google it.
Back? Goody, let us continue.
“THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT!” swarm the Bernie fans seeking to find common cause with the folks who need a horse race narrative to feed, because said narrative eats content like, well, a horse. Vox’s piece goes into great depth discussing the Sanders campaign’s efforts at outreach and upstaffing for that very reason. It is different, but not in ways to help the longest serving Independent Senator who runs for president as a Democrat. This isn’t a two person race with him as the coalescing point for all non-Hillary Clinton Democrats. His recent resurgence in the polls has mostly drained support from fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren’s backslide and Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s return to the distant also-runnings. It has not come at the expense of wire-to-wire leader Joe Biden.
So even if Bernie wins Iowa and New Hampshire, which he should, don’t get overly attached to the Bernmentum. He should win both. But being in a tight race in the former and spending much more money and effort than anyone else in the latter is not a sign of strength. Nevada’s caucus looks to be competitive, but after that the hill gets steep. Bernie trails by a bunch in South Carolina. And in the biggest Super Tuesday states, things do not look promising for the Bern. Biden is up +10 in California, +20 in Texas, and +12 in North Carolina. While other states, notably Virginia, don’t have up-to-date polling yet, most of them are friendlier to Biden than they are to Sanders. Massachusetts is Warren’s home turf, Colorado might be Bernie friendly and Maine might be a toss up, but if Biden takes three or four of the top 5 on March 3rd, the hill to climb to unseat Biden from frontrunner becomes a sheer cliff in a hurry.
All that is to say: we’ve seen this movie before. Bernie Sanders might have a better plan and ground game than last time. But he also has a fuller field that isn’t going to bow out just to do him a favor. And the party powers that be are not exactly thrilled to have him as standard bearer. Most of all, he is still Bernie Sanders. Add it all up and smart odds are that we will see a replay of 2016: Bernie in second place as protest vote against the more establishment candidate; and returning to being an Independent Senator from Vermont in due course. Again.
Anything could happen. We will be reminded of that ad nauseum for the next two months. But it won’t.
[HM3] Paula White Puts the “What the Heck” in Heretic
Part-time Spiritual Advisor to the President and full time charlatan Paula White-Cain found herself trending on social media:
“We command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now” — Special Adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative Paula White pic.twitter.com/gtdZyGfkxy
— Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@GuthrieGF) January 25, 2020
White responded on Twitter:
I don’t normally respond but clearly this has been taken out of context. I was praying Eph 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Anything that has been conceived by demonic plans, for it to be cancelled and not prevail in your life… https://t.co/tKEUs4muwZ
— Paula White-Cain (@Paula_White) January 26, 2020
That was like the third or fourth most problematic thing she said in that clip, but anyway…
For the uninitiated, Paula White-Cain is the very controversial minister who now retains an official White House role with the “Faith and Opportunity Initiative.” She has been a friend to the president since 2002, and also a tenant of his.. By controversial, I mean she is a pariah in almost all Christian circles of any reputable note. When such divergent ends of the theological spectrum as Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Dr. Russel Moore agree that you are a charlatan and heretic, you got some problems that go far beyond doctrinal disagreements.
That doesn’t seem to matter to the President, who is well known to value loyalty above all other things in the folks surrounding him. Paula White-Cain fits that bill, and no matter how utterly coo-coo-for-Cocoa-Puffs she might be theologically, she will be not be leaving the President’s inner circle of spiritual Praetorians that include Jerry Falwell, Jr, Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress and others with a clear stake beyond the spiritual in the presidency in Donald J. Trump. Like many other things with the President, it doesn’t matter what kind of Christian you are, just as long as you are the Trump kind.
[HM4] Mike Pompeo’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad NPR Interview (slight return)
Speaking of Bible Verses from folks who need to be not talking at all in public for a while, now cometh Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool” -Proverbs 10:18 #SundayScripture ✝️
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) January 26, 2020
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Secretary of State found himself in a spat with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly who alleged Pompeo called her aside after an interview to rant, curse, and give her a geography quiz. He then responded to the reporting by issuing a rather incredible statement on SecState letterhead that was long on whining and notably absent in denials:
Official response from Pompeo about his NPR interview. Haven’t seen anything like this before with a State Department seal on it: pic.twitter.com/Hi1P18ZS0A
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) January 25, 2020
Which brings us to the Sunday Morning reading of Proverbs by Secretary Pompeo, who should just stop talking about this publicly. But he can’t help himself despite even die-hard supporters of the Trump Administration calling on him to stand down on this one.
Oh, by the way, the verse before the one Pompeo quoted in his tweet: “He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth”.
May the Lord bless the reading of His Word, or at least the Spirit move on the heart and mind of Mike “MapQuest” Pompeo to know when to shut up, stop being a jackass unbecoming of his office, and take the L.
Thus endeth Harsh Your Mellow Monday. And all the people said, “Amen.”