HACKS LIKE US: Bandy X. Lee is gone from Yale!

FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2023

Donald J. Trump has gone wild: We may have misled you yesterday. For that, we apologize.

That said, full disclosure:

When Hacks Like Ours service Marks Like Us, their work doesn't have to make sense! So it went on Wednesday's Morning Joe, as the gang flogged the new tribal script concerning the burned-up couch.

In some way which was never explained, the incident was supposed to address the concerns of a band of legal observers. Those observers had voiced concerns about an allegedly shaky legal maneuver—a maneuver which would turn a misdemeanor charge against Donald J. Trump into a glorious felony. 

What was supposed to be the connection between the larcenous claim about the couch and Donald J. Trump's "hush money" payments to "porn star" Stormy Daniels? 

That never got explained on Wednesday's Morning Joe. We may have misled you yesterday by restricting ourselves to the thrashing of this script in the program's 6 o'clock hour.

Our fuller disclosure starts here:

At the start of Wednesday morning's 7 o'clock hour, Joe Scarborough returned to the sofa script. If anything, he was more unhinged in his presentation in this, his second crack at the apple.

At the start of the 9 o'clock hour, it fell to sidekick Willie Geist Jr. to echo his master's voice. This program's sidekicks always support the themes of the show, no matter how far they may have to wander from presentations which make recognizable sense.

Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can watch Scarborough's recognizably nutty performance at the start of the 7 o'clock hour. All you have to do is click here, then search on the key word "couch" and move to that part of the show.

How did the tale of the burned-up couch relate to the pornstarhushmoney payments? If we might borrow from the later Wittgenstein (section 1):

No such thing was in question here, only how the word "[pornstar]" is used.

Also this, from section 2: 

"[Scarborough's presentation] has its place in a primitive idea of the way [our public discourse] functions. But one can also say that it is the idea of a [public discourse] more primitive than ours."

In truth, our current American public discourse is precisely that primitive. Increasingly, this is the way our discourse works when multimillionaire Hacks Like Ours are sent on the air to provide comfort to Marks Like Us.

Did Donald J. Trump commit a recognizable criminal offense in his payments to the hushmoneypornstar? Did he commit a felony in some recognizable way?

That all remains to be seen! For now, we direct you to Kevin Drum's analysis of these events.

Drum posted his analysis yesterday. To his substantial credit, he has left the ranting to others.

He starts by noting that many of Donald's J. Trump's behaviors were, in fact, not illegal. This includes the payment of the pornstarhushmoney itself.

Drum ends up offering this sensible assessment. We don't yet agree in every possible way:

DRUM (3/23/23): However, in order to maintain the secrecy, the payments to Cohen were labeled "legal expenses."

And that's illegal. Moreover, you can argue that the payoff was a campaign expense that Trump didn't report. That would be illegal too.

So the case against Trump is this: In order to keep his payoff of a blackmailer secret, he had it labeled as a legal expense.

This strikes me as pretty trivial, and I have my doubts that a jury would convict Trump if it goes to trial. We should probably save our legal firepower for something more serious.

And like it or not, public opinion matters too...

"You can argue that the payoff was a campaign expense?" That's certainly true, but as various legal observers have noted, you can also argue that it actually wasn't as a matter of law.

Drum continues from there. We note that he describes Daniels as "a blackmailer." We expect to return to that intriguing question this afternoon or tomorrow.

We agree that the conduct in this case, as currently understood, is relatively trivial. In that regard, please note the irony Drum has employed:

If you're paying money to a blackmailer to keep some embarrassing matter secret, you won't likely describe the payment, in some public business record, as "payment to a blackmailer concerning alleged sexual act."

In our view, the ultimate question may perhaps be this:

Do we want our presidential elections to turn on matters like this? 

Do we want cash-seeking droogs to produce quadrennial October surprises, encouraging us to think about which candidate (allegedly) engaged in some consensual sexual act, on one occasion, ten years earlier? Is that what we think our presidential elections should turn on? 

Sad! More and more on our own's tribe cable, it sounds like our answer is yes!

We close for now by recalling someone who wasn't a Hack Like Us. We refer to Bandy X. Lee, the psychiatrist who lost her position at Yale because her work was insightful and relevant in a way which isn't allowed.

Within the past day, Donald J. Trump's postings on Truth Social have been profoundly disordered even by his own prior standards. Yesterday, he posted this:


So the candidate said. For the record, he seems to have flipped on Russia and China. Also, the "convicted nut job" to whom he refers would seem to be Michael Cohen.

So the former president posted. Early this morning, he also posted this:

What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also that potential death and destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country? Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!

As of now, the Manhattan D.A. isn't just a Soros backed animal. He's also a degenerate psychopath!

Right from the start, Dr. Lee had said that, in her professional opinion, the president's psychological / psychiatric condition was going to get worse. 

By the established rules of the discourse, no such discussion could be allowed to occur.  As of now, Lee is long gone from her position at Yale and her medical assessment seems to have been accurate.

What follows is Anthropology 101, as suggested to us by major credentialed top experts:

Our public discourse is very primitive—and no, it isn't just Trump.

Go ahead! Check the truly stupid performance by Scarborough in Wednesday's 7 o'clock hour. You'll be looking at a Hack Like Ours performing for Marks Like Us

Trump may be some (serious) version of mentally ill. What exactly is the excuse for the conduct of Hacks Like Us?


  1. "This program's sidekicks always support the themes of the show,"

    Oddly, Tonto always supported the goals of the Lone Ranger and never switched sides to fight with the Indians. Oddly Robin always supported the boals of the Batman, even to the point of wearing a goofy costume.

    Al Gore, Clinton's sidekick, did attempt to switch sides and claimed he was misled by Clinton. He chose one of Clinton's attackers, Joe Liberman, as his own VP and the public disliked him for doing that. The public doesn't like it when the sidekick is disloyal, as Al Gore was during his own presidential campaign.

    That's why it isn't odd today to hear Somerby saying that Willie Geist should turn against Joe Scarborough and express contrary opinions on a show where he is not the hero but the buddy. Does Somerby really not understand how this works? Does someone hire a defense attorney and then hear him argue the prosecution's case? What world does Somerby live in?

    But we're supposed to think that both Joe and Geist are bad guys because Geist is on the show to support Scarborough's presentations, much as Ed McMahon was on The Tonight Show to laugh at Johnny Carson's jokes (which were written for him by joke-writers).

    Somerby is a pathetic person. That is revealed when he overreaches in his efforts to malign hard-working TV show hosts who are JUST DOING THEIR FUCKING JOBS.

    1. Ed McMahon was a bad guy. And so is Geist.

    2. Also, why doesn’t Bob tell you Drum
      actually thinks Trump should be
      in jail, just for the more serious
      cases Bob won’t write about.

    3. The Lone Ranger did not fight Indians.

    4. Aside from being fictional there were episodes with hostle Indians. He was a Texas Ranger not an Indian fighter but anyone attacked by Indians fought back if they could.

    5. Jay Silverheels was from Canada.

    6. American citizens are completely powerless over the political/economic system that dominates them.

    7. 12:34,
      Why, in the name of elections funded by the corporate-rich, would you say that?

    8. American citizens keep voting for the system or not voting at all.

    9. Elsewhere, Somerby is talking about Mayor Curley, but progressives have managed to reform nearly all large city governments so that they are no longer run by bosses and machines but operate with legislated restrictions on nepotism, graft, bribes, payoffs, patronize (via civil service pesonnel rules and hiring procedures) and indpendent audits and citizen oversight. So the system has changed a lot all over the country.

      Why make these gloomy nihilistic statements when history shows they are wrong?

    10. patronize = patronage

  2. I have it on good authority that Wittgenstein never met Joe Scarborough and never wrote a single word about that guy.

    1. Wittgenstein got around. We always used to say, “You never know where Whitty’s going to show up next!”

  3. Kevin Drum, who has no legal training whatsoever (unlike the various guests Somerby has been railing against for the past few days), has created a list of Trump's actions and speculated (in the form of a definitie legal vs illegal statement) about which of them might be crimes. Somerby love love loves that list because it coincides with his own opinion about what Trump did that was OK (such as laundering the hush money payments through his organization for legal expenses).

    "Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) said in a December sentencing memo that Cohen sent monthly invoices to Trump’s company “falsely indicating” that these invoices were part of some retainer agreement, and that the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the payments as legal expenses."

    Here are photos of the payments and bank statements:


    Drum says that is legal but Coleman said that is a crime. I believe Coleman, since he is the guy with actual legal training and experience, and he did the research about prior crimes charged as fraudlent business record-keeping.

    Somerby inserts the word "glorious" before felony. Joe and Willie Geist didn't do that. Somerby is implying that liberals would consider a felony glorious but why shouldn't a fraud like Trump be charged with what he actually did instead of a lesser charge?

    According to Michael Cohen:

    "Cohen has admitted that, ahead of the 2016 election, he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments for two women who had alleged affairs with Trump. The first woman, Karen McDougal, was paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., to secure the rights to her story and bury it.

    But the second payment — $130,000 for Stormy Daniels — was made by Cohen himself, just days before the 2016 election, in exchange for Daniels signing a nondisclosure agreement."

    Cohen says he did this at Trump's direction. He also says he did no legal services on retainer to the Trump Organization. Beyond that, Trump didn't disclose the debt to Cohen on his financial disclosure forms when he became president:

    "Trump’s reimbursement payments to Cohen don’t just matter in the campaign finance realm — they’re significant in terms of government ethics, too. Trump should have reported his debt to Cohen in financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) from the get-go. He didn’t in 2017.

    The total amount of over $420,000 paid to Cohen that way suggests there was more happening than just the payment to Stormy Daniels. Somerby keeps focusing only on Stormy, but what else might the grand jury be hearing about?

    And were Cohen's payments an in-kind donation to Trump's campaign or were they simply to keep Melania from finding out? Would it have hurt Trump's campaign if the women's stories had been published right before the election? That is arguable, but would Trump have used his fixer to suppress such stories simply to keep Melania from hearing about them?

    Somerby is clearly doing some damage control. He seems to be trying to limit Trump's activities to the narrowest construal and arguing that nothing Trump did was illegal, as Drum does too. I get no sense from what Somerby writes that he has any desire to get to the truth, to the bottom of what Trump was doing. Somerby seems mostly interested in excusing Trump. In fact, Somerby thinks he already knows that Trump is being railroaded by eager folks like Joe Scarborough. Ultimately, what the D.A. does is what matters, not what Willie Geist thinks, much less Kevin Drum who is a journalist with a blog, not an attorney and not a former prosecutor or current legal expert. Drum hasn't researched the case, he gives an opinion based on his own largely uninformed opinion, as Somerby has been doing. Drum is just some guy who said something Somerby agrees with.

  4. Here's some questions:

    Why did Trump report the hush money payment at all? Why didn't he reimburse Cohen from his vast, private wealth, so that there wouldl have been no business fraud in the first place? By making the payments through the Trump Organization, did he derive a tax benefit? Was it greed that ultimately ensnared him?

    1. Some of the checks were written from Trump's personal account. Others from his Trust and others from his Organization. In other records, those payments are listed as being for "legal services". So it wasn't just the fact of the checks being written but the designation in business records that was fraudulent.

    2. Right, but why? If he had paid them all from his private funds, then there would have been no reporting requirement and hence, no fraudulent reporting.

    3. If he had paid them from his private funds, the money for the hush payment could be traced back to him and related to his affair, which was exactly what he was trying to prevent from becoming public. Recall that he kept denying the affairs initially. The negotiations with Stormy Daniels took place before the election. He may not have realized that her accusations wouldn't hurt his election prospects. Or for all we know, he might have gotten into trouble with his Russian overlords who were manipulating his campaign, if he jeopardized their efforts to put him into office as a puppet. Recall that they had shelled out very large amounts of money on his behalf, to put him into the presidency, and you don't mess around with Russian gangsters and Oligarchs. It is too easy to fall out of windows if you cross those guys. We don't know the full story, so without all of the details, how can the snippets in the press make total sense?

      Also, lots of criminals are stupid and get caught and convicted because they do stupid things. I haven't seen any evidence that Trump is any smarter than the average criminal. Just richer.

  5. "As of now, Lee is long gone from her position at Yale and her medical assessment seems to have been accurate."

    How does anyone know whether Lee's assessment of Trump is accurate or not, when Trump has still never been appropriately assessed medically? As Mary Trump notes, Trump would not sit for the battery of tests needed to do such a medical assessment.

    Somerby calls her assessment accurate because it is his opinion that she was right, not because there has been any medical validation of anything Lee has said about Trump. (The cognitive exam that Trump keeps bragging about is a mental status exam given by general practitioners to assess the need for referral for possible dementia. It is easy to pass for normal adults and is not equivalent to the kind of medical assessment Mary Trump describes.)

    Lee left Yale because they declined to renew her unpaid non-teaching courtesy appointment as a consultant to their clinics. She has never been a regular faculty member there, and thus does not have tenure protection. Her refusal to adhere to the Goldwater rule about not diagnosing people she had not examined contributed to that decision. She also held no license in CT, where Yale is located. An application for relicensing has been pending since her book came out. Lee cannot practice at the Yale clinics without a CT license. The CT Psychiatric Association suggested that she stop diagnosing people remotely. In addition to her diagnosis of Trump, she has called Alan Dershowitz psychotic.

    Lee sued for wrongful termination but her lawsuit was dismissed because the judge ruled that she did not have the kind of appointment at Yale that would lead to an expectation of ongoing employment. Whenever Somerby refers to her as a Yale psychiatrist, he is exaggerating her connection with the university and giving her an unearned stature as a psychiatrist. Someone with more integrity would not trade on such a tenuous affiliation.

    1. Nothing in Trump’s message of yesterday suggests a DECLINE. Nothing there can’t be found in postings going back at least five years.

  6. You have to wonder if, even over at
    Newsmax, some flunky is attempting to
    twist these issues into a more ridiculous
    pretzel than Bob (yes, with a little help
    from Drum).
    Trump went to great lengths to
    convince the poor, sad souls who voted
    for him that he was NOT the sort of
    weakling who would make such a
    payment (not that one should accept
    Drum’s way too pat version of this
    as a “blackmail” payment).
    For whom, exactly, would the
    election of rested on this payment?
    Trump’s fans would have either
    not cared or called it a lie.
    They had already signed off on
    “Grab’um by the pussy”
    Anyway, The hammerlock Trump
    has on Bob looks like will hold to


  7. "Trump may be some (serious) version of mentally ill."

    Actually, he may be a rare case of a federal politician who is not mentally ill. He's not among those yearning for a nuclear war, y'know.

    ...as for "the Manhattan D.A. isn't just a Soros backed animal. He's also a degenerate psychopath!", that's called populism, dear Bob. Communicating with ordinary people (as opposed to your fellow good-decent tribesmen), using language they can relate to.

    1. Yes, Trump’s followers can relate…

    2. … to a degenerate psychopath.

    3. Putin and his druga Medvedev threaten nuclear war.

  8. "Trump may be some (serious) version of mentally ill. What exactly is the excuse for the conduct of Hacks Like Us?"

    When Somerby asks "what exactly is the excuse..." he reveals that he thinks mental illness is some sort of excuse for Trump's conduct, including the tantrums he has been throwing over on Truth Social, which Somerby quotes.

    Is throwing a tantrum, having a meltdown, really a sign of mental illness? They happen all the time among normal people under stress. That isn't any kind of diagnostic symptom. Somerby perhaps doesn't know that, but then why should he? He isn't a professional, not a psychiatrist, not a clinical psychology, not any kind of mental health specialist. In fact, I doubt he ever took a psychology course at Harvard. He shows no sign of knowing how people's minds work or why they behave as they do. He is the last person who should suggest that Trump is mentally ill, much less that his illness excuses the way he treats other people online or in person.

    Trump has been behaving the way any man who is accustomed to thinking himself alpha behaves. He is outraged at the assault on his sense of entitlement and privilege. Doesn't D.A. Bragg know that Trump is wealthy? Doesn't he know that Trump is a former President? Doesn't he know that Trump is a big man, a powerful white man, while Bragg is a black usurper misusing his powers to pursue filthy NYC criminals to attack his betters instead?

    There is a lot wrong with Trump's reaction to Bragg, but it has nothing to do with mental illness. It has to do with being spoiled from birth, emulating a swaggering white supremacist father who taught him that being a white collar criminal is just being smart at business. It has to do with surrounding oneself with those who brown-nose and curry favor for their own gain, sycophants and climbers who will engage in the most outrageous flattery. Look at the larger-than-life painting that Trump stole, a flattering favor-seeking gift from Ecuador. Trump has received such gifts his whole life, so he has learned to expect such treatment, not D.A.'s bringing charges for his crimes. Trump got away with juvenile crimes such as having someone else take your tests for you, failing to pay contractors for their work on some pretext, physically mistreating one's wife and cheating on her, neglecting children. He got away with all of these "misdemeanors" in his daily life -- why shouldn't he expect that to go on and on? But Somerby calls the things Trump has learned about the way the world works for him, "mental illness". Aside from being dismeaning to those who genuinely suffer from major disorders such as schizophrenia and depression (which ARE mental illnesses), Somerby takes the character flaws of Trump and strips them of any blame for unacceptable social behavior (the ways Trump never was taught to behave and grew up believing were for other people, not him), continuing the enabling behavior of the sycophants who Trump occasionally rewards. And that is not only wrong, it is contrary to the ideals of our country, where no one is a fat cat, beyond the reach of the law, and even the mighty can go to jail for crimes.

    Trump is going down. It may be Bragg who brings charges, or it may be someone else, later on. Or it may be history that takes him down. But he is definitely going down. Somerby meanwhile is doing no one a favor here by lying about Trump and his wrongdoing. There is too much contradictory evidence circulating not to see what Somerby is doing here. And the biggest clue is that, like Republicans who lie, Somerby doesn't care when he gets caught in his falsehoods. He doesn't read the comments and how else can anyone embarrass him with the truth? So, he wins if even one gullible fool believes him and has nothing to lose except his dignity, integrity and reputation by playing Trump's fool in this blog. But telling lies about Trump is not exactly illegal either. As long as you don't deliberately defame a corporation that sues you, as Dominion has done.

  9. Next, Bandy X Lee should diagnose Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping.

    1. But she’s still unethical.

    2. And the reason why people don't do remote diagnoses is that they may be wrong and falsely stigmatizing someone, so she may be not just unethical but wrong in her diagnoses. Yale said they questioned her competence as a psychiatrist if she didn't understand why the Goldwater rule was important.

  10. Anthony Burgess coined the term “droog” in his novel A Clockwork Orange. He was referring to the Russian word “druga” which means “friend.”

  11. Bob seems very personally invested in Trump getting off Scott free.

    1. I really do think that Somerby identifies with con artists.

  12. Long before the advent of science or philosophy, primitive man knew how to apply the theory of induction. They had seen the sun rise over and over on past days, so they predicted that the sun would rise tomorrow. They didn't need to understand nuclear fusion to get that prediction right.

    Over and over, we have seen reports that Trump was about to be convicted of some crime. Over and over, there was no conviction. Based on induction, I predict that Trump will not be convicted on this NY charge, nor will he be convicted on any other charge. One would have to less wise than primitive man to believe otherwise.

    1. @David

      Yeah, well, but then here's another obvious observation: they (the deep state, the establishment) really-really do want to get him. It constitutes a whole industry now.

      ...and so, one could also expect, logically, that eventually they will succeed... ...somehow...

    2. There are probably as many as a hundred Republicans who think treason against the United States of America is an impeachable offense. Alas, Trump wasn't impeached, because none of them were in the United States Senate.

    3. I never saw a report that trump was about to be convicted. As far as I know, he’s never even been CHARGED.

    4. People thought Nixon should have been convicted too. Instead, Nixon made a deal with Ford that if he were to resign, Ford would pardon him, which is exactly what happened. Don't confuse guilt with conviction. Guilt refers to whether or not someone did a criminal act, not whether a prosecutor could find the evidence to convict. Remember Al Capone who was guilty of many crimes, among them bootlegging, but only convicted of tax evasion.

      I hope Trump will be charged and convicted, regardless of his sentence, so that Republicans will stop thinking of him as an innocent persecuted man instead of a criminal who grabbed whatever he could steal for his personal benefit while doing nothing for the American people. And then tried to extend his term in office by inciting an insurrection.

    5. I certainly wouldn't want to be Bragg nor any member of his family at this point. Trump's nasty commentary about him has made them targets among the same cult that stormed the capital. Surely Bragg is wondering at this point whether charging him with this crime is worth putting their lives in the crosshairs. My god, he's mentioned in the same sentence as Soros. That no doubt triggers the DICs of the world, and potentially worse actors to act out their fantasies. Right wing extremists are per recent history the invariable perpetrators of such crimes against individuals and the state.

    6. David in Cal: don't quit your day job.

    7. Maybe Trump will be sentenced to community service.

    8. Primitive people didn’t know about induction. Faraday and Maxwell discovered it.

    9. I am a second generation artificial intelligence bot. I was assigned to gather information on the dynamics of human interaction within the context of blog comments.
      Anything you write can and will be used to help improve AI.

    10. "... less wise than primitive man..." Well lookahere. DIC fashions himself a pundit regarding the workings of the sun and the ignorance of liberals. All well and good except for that pesky human activity we call science. The sun, it turns out, works in mysterious ways. It doesn't "come up". But we'll let that slide. Here's something we won't: the radiant energy of the sun. Because for all of what he considers clever banter about the sun, primitives, and the mindset of those dumb ass liberals, DIC gets his opinions from the only cable channel that denies the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding global warming, the phenomenon that his modern political hero has stated is a Chinese hoax. Primitive man didn't have a cable box and politicians that routinely and disingenuously spewed out lies about elections, and the science of pandemics and global warming, but if they did, I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that they wouldn't be tuned in to the garbage that is so compatible with your intellectual palate.

    11. 9:07:DIC's day job is long since past, having worked as one of the very few Jewish accountants in the insurance business - pardon me, the reinsurance business, which for some reason, unlike virtually every other entity in the financial services industry had hiring practices excluding Jewish accountants. Therefore, as previously explained on multiple occasions, DIC had to be on best behavior, what that he had a Jewish name and all, so as to give a good example of a Jewish accountant, there being so few of them, and to open the door for other Jewish accountants, unlike those blacks who don't seem to know any better. The ploy seems to have worked, which makes me wish that DIC was black so that we would be much further ahead in our race issues in this country.

    12. Well, I guess David is right. If I were a prosecutor deciding whether to indict Trump, I sure wouldn't want to be clobbered over the head with that baseball bat DJT was holding menacingly in that photo. David is smarter than your average primitive man.

    13. As a good Jewish accountant, David has embraced his new favorite fascist from Florida who has decided to tickle the anti-semite (Soros) republican funny bone.

    14. David was an actuary.

    15. Actuary, thanks, all else stands.

  13. We open the doors to tyranny when we make it clear that the American people will not indict, no matter what crime a president commits. Trump is a man with no conscience but some sense of self-preservation. That will no longer constrain him when he realizes he can do anything he wants, and no one will object. Especially not David in Cal and his ilk.

    1. Nice image, now, Trump with a baseball bat behind the DA. Hopefully it is photoshopped. Reminds me on a larger scale of DeSantis suggesting Fauci be thrown across a river. No wonder that the far right has been labeled the most consistently active terrorist group in the United States by the FBI. Name one Democrat who has advocated violence against a judicial or political opponent. With few exceptions republican politicians are spineless cowards to this outrageous behavior.