CLAN: Two legal clans have taken the field!


These two clans never meet: In yesterday's time-altered report, we mentioned Pretty Boy Floyd.

The leading authority on his short career thumbnails him as shown:

Pretty Boy Floyd

Charles Arthur Floyd (1904–1934), nicknamed Pretty Boy Floyd, was an American bank robber. He operated in the West and Central states, and his criminal exploits gained widespread press coverage in the 1930s. He was seen positively by the public because it was believed that during robberies he burned mortgage documents, freeing many people from their debts. He was pursued and killed by a group of Bureau of Investigation (BOI, later renamed FBI) agents...

Floyd has continued to be a familiar figure in American popular culture, sometimes seen as notorious, other times portrayed as a tragic figure, even a victim of the hard times of the Great Depression in the United States.

According to Woody Guthrie, "Oklahoma knew him well." We've thought of this lyric from Guthrie's famous song about Floyd as we've watched Donald J. Trump frog-marched into a Gotham courtroom in chains:

Yes, he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

Every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name! Within Red America's legal clans, so it's said about Donald J. Trump with respect to his Gotham trial.

Needless to say, a clan is not "the Klan." That said, two such legal clans are now active in the field, discussing the "hush money" which was paid to a woman who wasn't Trump's wife.

These legal clans are now describing the trial on a daily basis. Below, we'll call a partial roll on the gathering of these armies:

Fox News Channel (Red America)
Gregg Jarrett
Alan Dershowitz
Jonathan Turley
MSNBC (Blue America)
Andrew Weissmann
Neil Katyal
Joyce Vance
Barbara McQuade
Lisa Rubin
Chuck Rosenberg
Glenn Kirschner
Kristy Greenberg

One of these legal armies may be slightly larger, though we're leaving out names on each side.

Disagreement almost never occurs within these rival clans. Also though, the pair of rival clans almost never agree with each other about the current trial. 

The one clan tends to describe the charges against Trump in this particular case as a scam. The other clan does its best to explain the charges, though a great deal of complexity seems to be involved. 

Within the larger realm of Blue America, non-legal personnel may seem to struggle with the content at times. Full disclosure: 

The fact that a criminal charge is complex doesn't necessarily mean that the charge is bogus or wrong.

Can we learn to see ourselves more clearly through the works of the western literary canon? The clan is a long-established part of human history. Back at the dawn of the west, Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, advised Agamemnon in the manner shown, right in Book Two of the Iliad:

But you, my King, be on your guard yourself. Come,
listen well to another man. Here's some advice,
not to be tossed aside, and I will tell it clearly.
Range your men by tribes, even by clans, Agamemnon,
so clan fights by the side of clan,
tribe by tribe.
Fight this way, if the Argives still obey you...

Various clans were laying siege to Troy. Nestor advised Agamemnon to arrange them side by side.

As part of basic human nature, few people want to be "lost to the clan." For ourselves, we always vote in November in the way the Blue clan votes. That doesn't mean that we automatically believe everything our Blue tribe's votaries tell us.

Good grief! Yesterday afternoon, it seemed to us that Nicolle Wallace was having a very hard time explaining the nature of the felony with which Donald J. Trump stands charged. But when she threw to a new legal adept named Tristan Snell, a bit of weirdness occurred.

Snell offered the requisite remarks about Trump allegedly dozing off in court. He described the way Judge Merchan had admonished trump at one point during that day's court session.

So far, it was fairly standard stuff. A slightly awkward moment arose when Snell offered this:

SNELL (4/16/24): If I'm his team, I'm just sitting there being like, "Oh god, like how can we get him through this without him making a mess of everything?" 

But why is he there?  He's there because he wants to show that he's being persecuted. It's a way for him to raise money off his base. That's why he comes to all of these trials in New York. There is no good reason for him to be at most of these.

Say what? On the one hand, the statement seemed to parse. On the other hand, it almost sounded like it didn't.

Apparently speaking about the current trial, Snell seemed to be asking why Trump was showing up. 

"He's there because he wants to show that he's being persecuted," the adept said. "It's a way for him to raise money."

That first part of what Snell said sounded just a bit odd.  Wallace quickly sought clarification, receiving the answer shown:

WALLACE (continuing directly): Doesn't he have to be in this one?

SNELL: He has to be in some of these things, but like he keeps coming, though, He was there for the civil trial. He was there for the trial with E. Jean Carroll. Like, he doesn't need to be here for every single moment of these things, and he keeps coming because he's trying to raise money off of it.

With respect to the current trial, it still sounded weirdly imprecise. After an awkward pause, Susanne Craig stepped in:

CRAIG (continuing directly): He has to be there, and the judge warned him the other day, if he fails to appear, a warrant will be issued for his arrest...He has to be there every day.

In real time, Snell's statements sounded odd to us—but also to Wallace and Craig. On this morning's Morning Joe, this phenomenon became a bit worse.

We can't link you at this point, but Claire McCaskill went on, at some length, about the surprising way Judge Merchan had chastised Trump, right in front of the jurors (plural), about his conduct during yesterday's session.

By that time, we'd seen it reported a million times that Merchan had only chastised Trump after the (one) juror in question had left the room. McCaskill was advancing the clan's preferred line, but it seemed that she possibly hadn't been following the basic facts of this case in a fully assiduous manner.

Yesterday afternoon, Wallace and Craig questioned Snell, then clarified what he said. No one seemed to have the heart to perform that task this morning.

McCaskill's error was obvious and a bit startling; it was also perfectly obvious. That said, few people seek war within the clan, and that's especially true in present day cable news.

Willie and Lemire were conducting the interview with McCaskill. They just let her misstatements go.  

Snell has come on as a legal expert. McCaskill, a former prosecutor and United States senator, is operating more broadly as a political commentator. 

Their apparent errors—conducted as experts—were relatively trivial. That said, the two legal clans we've listed above typically offer vastly different analyses of this "historic" trial. 

They cite different allegedly relevant facts. They cite different allegedly relevant statutes. And because the fighting is being conducted under rules in which these legal clans will never meet, a viewer will hear only one set of alleged facts and only one set of allegedly relevant statutes.

Under prevailing rules of the road, viewers never see the dueling claims of these dueling clans being tested in battle.

Assertions made by the Red legal clan will not be tested by the Blue legal clan. Assertions made by the Blue legal clan won't be tested by the Red.

In all candor, there have been times when we have wondered if relevant information is being withheld as we watch our Blue legal clan in action. We've wondered what would have happened if claims made by Dershowitz or Turley were encountered by Weissmann or Katyal.

In the Iliad, various clans from the Argive world fought side by side. With respect to the current legal war, members of the two legal clans—Red and Blue—only appear among their own, to whom they're inclined to be loyal.

In the process, voters who live in Red America are taught to see this trial one way. Voters who live in Blue America are schooled in a whole different set of views.

Does the felony charge against Donald J. Trump make sense? We can't exactly answer that question at this point in time.

Two legal clans are out in the field. They fight alongside their own flesh and blood, 

They're true to the views of their legal clan. Red voters see the Red legal clan and we Blue voters see our own. The clans are loyal to their ilk, but no interaction occurs.

As for Pretty Boy Floyd, every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name!

Has an ersatz crime been concocted for Trump? One group of voters is handed a yes. Over here in Blue America, we're exposed to a rather complex version of no.

Tomorrow: The $93 million question


  1. Somerby's main complaint today seems to be that those explaining the complexities of Trump's trial have made a few trivial statements resulting in correction in one case but not another. From that he wants to generalize about whether legal experts within a certain clan do or do not contradict each other. That is very flimsy evidence of anything and touches on nothing important to coverage of this trial.

    Here is a more telling complaint about the NYT circulating on blogs. Melania apparently is upset about the trial:

    "The New York Times reports that Melania Trump — who was visibly furious with her husband after the first reports broke that her husband paid a porn star “hush money” — is now supposedly “angry” with the “disgrace” of a criminal trial playing out in Manhattan.

    From the report:

    But Mrs. Trump, the former first lady, shares his view that the trial itself is unfair, according to several people familiar with her thinking.

    In private, she has called the proceedings “a disgrace” tantamount to election interference, according to a person with direct knowledge of her comments who could not speak publicly out of fear of jeopardizing a personal relationship with the Trumps."

    Goddard goes on to say that this reads like a press release written by the Trump legal team. In comments, his readers rightly ask whether Melania would actually use the word "tantamount" in conversation, ever.

    But why is the NYT dutifully typing up such press releases and presenting them as news? And shouldn't they be asking why Melania has not been appearing in support of Trump at any of his trials? Jurors will wonder too.


    2. anon 11:09, I'm still waiting for the day when you post something that isn't clueless. TDH's "main complaint" isn't that those covering the trial made a "few trivial mistakes." It's that each side, the Reds and the Blues, don't get to hear what the lawyers on the opposing channels are saying. They only get one side of the story This prosecution against Trump is breaking new legal ground, there are a lot of things questionable about the prosecution's case. The blues, including apparently you, don't know what the other side of the story is, and in your case, apparently, have no interest in finding out.

    3. Is there a law prohibiting conservatives from switching from Fox News in order to watch MSNBC or CNN? Would anything be gained by a liberal watching Fox for trial news when they are not discussing the trials in any detail at all? Why does Somerby assume that blue tribe members do not know what is being said on the right, when surveys repeatedly show that is untrue? And why does Somerby always aim this complaint at the so-called blue tribe when the right is more isolated and less aware of what WE think than we are of what they think?

      Of course I know the strengths and weaknesses of Bragg's case against Trump. They are discussed to death on the left. But that isn't actually the "other side" for the right. The other side is a paranoid claim that this is a ginned up political prosecution without merit in order to disable Trump's campaign for president. On the left, the other side being discussed involved technicalities of whether the law being applied involved a sufficient crime to make the 34 counts of misdemeanor falsification of business records and FEC reporting violations into felonies. That's why Bragg has centered the case on criminal conspiracy to commit election interference, not hush money. It seems to me that Somerby himself doesn't understand that point (or is deliberately ignoring it). The law itself is not new legal ground, but the fact of a political candidate engaging in the illegal acts in order to swing an election result is novel. That would be true no matter what laws Trump broke, since he is our first con artist criminal president to be tried for his actions.

      But these are matters for the jury to decide, not the public. As a Hillary supporter in 2016, I am not particularly interested in hearing the right argue that Trump is being persecuted after he demonstrably manipulated an election that Clinton won. If I wanted to hear that crap, I know which station to watch. Calling people ignorant for disagreeing, as Somerby is plainly doing, isn't any kind of discussion or argument. It is just name-calling.

    4. anon 1:05, you do seem to understand the concept between advanced by the prosecution. You have a good grasp of the issues. I think you are right that the weaknesses of the case have been brought out, to some extent, on the non-MAGA media, (a least I recall hearing about it from the legal commentator who works at ABC). You do come across as hyper-partisan, not particularly open-minded. You say there are precedents - sure, under the campaign contribution laws there are cases, but you'll have to give me the cite to any precedent where the facts are comparable to this NY prosecution. I don't think its paranoid for the reds to think Trump is being persecuted - seems the feds and the previous NY AG passed on this and the law is being stretched quite a bit, that the payment to Stormy was a "campaign donation.". When you say "Trump demonstrably manipulated an election that Clinton won", you sound like Trump denying that Biden won.

    5. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 4:26 PM

      In private, she has called the proceedings “a disgrace” tantamount to election interference, according to a person with direct knowledge of her comments who could not speak publicly out of fear of jeopardizing a personal relationship with the Trumps."

      Wow. That's some first-rate reporting, that is. "Anonymous source says wife supports her husband in criminal trial."

      What's happening on the dog bite beat today?

    6. See below where someone says there are close to a hundred such cases every year.

      You are welcome to call me hyper-partisan. I consider these to be established facts: (1) Russia contributed funds to third-party campaigns and funded social media bots and trolls on behalf of Trump's campaign and conducted a voter suppression campaign in MI, WI, PA aimed at black and progressive voters, (2) Podesta's email was hacked and posted on Wikileaks to embarrass Clinton, divide Democrats, and benefit Trump's campaign, (3) Don Jr. and Russians met to discuss timing of release of hacked material, (4) Russia was provided with polling data by Manafort to aid in coordination of social media campaign activities, (5) contrary to policy and pressured by Trump-supporting upstate NY FBI members, Comey released a smear letter implying there was classified material on a Clinton staff member's husband's laptop, tanking her poll numbers right before the election (no classified info was found). The combination of these factors but especially Comey's letter resulted in Trump winning in three very close Democratic states by very small margins, sufficient to win him the presidency. The closeness of the election suggests that had voters known about the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal affairs (corroborating the Access Hollywood tape), Trump might not have won. Certainly Trump's campaign was sufficiently worried to pay to suppress this info during the campaign. But this taken together also suggests a concerted and coordinated campaign by Trump in which a variety of largely unprosecuted illegal acts took place that gave Trump an undeserved victory.

      If I had been a prospective juror at the Trump NYC trial, I would have stated that I would not be able to be fair to Trump. I consider it my right to evaluate information and form opinions about Trump and other people in the news, but a juror needs to set that aside in order to think about only the evidence and instruction arising during the trial itself, not outside knowledge.

      My point is that my conviction of Trump's guilt arises from his own actions, based on a great deal of reading, watching hearings, trials, and following current events, including the election itself in 2016. That is not a knee-jerk partisan reaction, as you suggest, but an informed opinion.

      I have, of course, acknowledged that Trump won in 2016, so I am not like Trump denying that Biden won. I do deny that the election was fair -- it was manipulated by Trump in collusion with Russia, as Hillary herself stated. If you want to see what happened to Hillary, look at what Trump and his supporters have tried to do to Hunter Biden in order to undermine Biden's current campaign. This goes far beyond legitimate campaign activity and involves Russia again.


  2. "In real time, Snell's statements sounded odd to us—but also to Wallace and Craig. On this morning's Morning Joe, this phenomenon became a bit worse."

    Do people (other than you, Bob) actually watch these bots making sounds? It seems like the least likely possibility of them all.

  3. Is there something wrong with Wallace and Craig correcting Snell when he says something unclear or confusing?

  4. Making a list of people who have appeared on TV at various times does not turn those people into a "clan" or any kind of coordinated effort. For one thing, there is no evidence that any of the people in either group have been communicating with each other, planning their statements, or working toward some common goal (other than to provide commentary when invited). As the right wingers say, where is the collusion?

    I could make a list of items including fruit, vegetables, Doritos and kittens and puppies. Then I could call them a clan. Would that make them into any sort of cohesive grouping with shared properties other than that I put them on the same list? That is what Somerby has done here.

    Note also that it takes fewer people to decry the trial because they are not going into any technical details when they claim Trump is being persecuted. The so-called left stations may have more legal experts because they are actually trying to explain what the trial is about and how it works. Undoubtedly, they are spending more time discussing the mechanics of the trial and Trump's charges than Fox News is doing. Somerby doesn't seem to corrected for time spent (such as by dividing the hours spent by the number of experts). He previously has demanded such adjustments of total numbers to create rates, but now he puts his thumb on the scales to support his preferred narrative.

    1. Kittens and puppies are young members of the Carnivore clan.

  5. We no longer have a democracy. The party in power is imprisoning's members of the opposition, including its leader based on unique pretexts.

    We are watching the party in power putting the opposing Presidential candidate in jail by looking for an old event and turning it into a felony, even though event was long beyond the statute of limitations.

    I am heartsick at the loss of democracy in my country. I will not debate this issue here because I am too upset.

    1. "We no longer have a democracy."

      With all due respect, what you're describing has nothing to do with "democracy". What you meant, perhaps, is that there's no rule of law.

    2. Aliyah, Dave. Make aliyah before it’s too late.

    3. In Michigan, a Democrat attorney general prosecutes a GOP former speaker of the house:

    4. If David had faith in the rule of law, he would trust the jury to make a fair decision. If applying existing laws were too far a stretch for a panel of fair-minded people, they would vote to acquit Trump. Hardly anyone expects that to happen, because of the strength of evidence against Trump, but it is up to the jury to decide.

      I suspect that David is in despair because he knows Trump is guilty, not because there is any corruption of our jury system -- they haven't had the chance to consider the evidence yet, much less deliberate on it. David is jumping the gun when he writes off our system before there is even a decision made.

      I felt the same way when OJ was acquitted, because it seemed like rich and famous domestic violence wasn't being taken seriously by lawyers or the jury, but I should have trusted that a louse like OJ would commit some other crime that would put him in jail where he clearly belonged. Trump is the same kind of guy. If this trial doesn't convict him, there are three others coming up that will result in justice for the American people. He can't help breaking all sorts of laws, on an ongoing basis. So he will be brought to account under our nation's laws.

    5. “Democracy” isn’t synonymous with politicians being able to commit crimes with impunity, is it David?

      I don’t recall anyone moaning about losing our democracy when Menendez was indicted recently.

    6. D in C - sorry you're so upset. But your partisanship has overtaken your reasoning. I too have problems with the prosecutions of Trump - this one going on now seems questionable and politically motivated, a real stretch legally. Other one's you can argue one way or the other also. But it's individual DA's or prosecutors who are bringing these cases. You seem to blow off Trump's constantly calling his former opponent "Crooked Hillary" and the convention chant of "lock her up." You don't seem to appreciate the deep problems for "democracy" in the rise of Trump. I'd like to hear your response.

    7. Anonymouse 11:59am, I haven’t seen any anonymouse suffering in silence while they await the inevitable justice due Zimmerman and Rittenhouse.

      That bogus on your part , let alone your equating a lawfare pile-on of 34 counts (in order to get at least one thru) with the machinery of justice.

    8. This idea that these trials of Trump are political prosecutions is contradicted by the behavior of the judges assigned to the cases. Some of them are Trump appointees and some are not. Trump has brought repeated motions to dismiss each case, based on different arguments (including the political prosecution claim) but judges have found no merit in them and have ruled against Trump repeatedly. This is even true of Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee who has done everything she can to assist him. Trump's lawyers have had many many chances to argue and present evidence of political prosecution, but the judges have ruled against him every single time. And these are not just liberal judges but also conservative ones, just as there have been conservative Trump supporters on the juries that have ruled against Trump.

      At some point, a person who claims to believe in our system must accept the results of such deliberations. Just as Trump was told many times that he lost the 2020 election, and then took the law into his own hands by trying to overturn a valid election, a person who is confronted repeatedly by evidence of Trump's wrongdoing, his crimes against our nation, must accept the verdicts of our courts and accept that Trump is guilty and not just being persecuted for his politics.

    9. The prosecutions of Trump seem politically motivated only to a portion of right wingers.

      It certainly does not seem that way to Trump's fixer, who has already plead guilty to engaging in the same criminal enterprise, and who's testimony played a role in Trump being found liable in Trump's recent civil case.

      AC/MA is putting his thumb on the scale, much like his hero does, much like when he claims to be a lawyer and a Dem voter.

    10. 1:27 part of why your poorly written comment is nonsensical is because with Zimmerman and Rittenhouse there was strong evidence that indicated both their guilt and bias among the jurors, which is not the case with Trump.

      Those cases more closely resemble the Emmett Till case, not Trump's.

      Indeed, if Trump is found not guilty, it will be a result of partisan bias, as the facts in the case are not in question and have already resulted in successful prosecutions of others involved.

      Part of why your comment is poorly written is due to your hate-filled emotional state, that overpowers any rational capability you may possess.

    11. Zimmerman is innocent.

    12. Anonymouse 1:58pm, Emmett Till was abducted and lynched. That’s exactly my point about your utterly self-serving thinking.

      Of course you don’t question why we can’t see legal eagles of differing opinions hashing it out on the same show. You’re going to be as wounded and traumatized by that as you are by Bob’s blog each morning.

    13. Emmett Till whistled at a white woman. In her own store. In Mississippi.

    14. Cecelia, you do not make a point other than "I'm right and you are wrong, nah!".

      If you make a coherent and credible point, then we can offer a counterpoint and engage in discourse, but as it stands you are just framing insults with nonsense, which makes your comments irrelevant other than insight into your sad emotional condition.

    15. The men who killed Emmett Till were tried and found innocent. That is an example of a racially motivated jury decision. The point is that sometimes such verdicts are politically motivated. The purpose of the voir dire being performed this week in Trump's trial is to prevent such a verdict in Trump's case. It is to ensure fairness in his trial.

      Our legal system recognizes the possibility of bias. That's why it incorporates procedures for eliminating bias, but that depends on the good faith of the people following the system. Trump is trying to convince his supporters that his trial is unfair but I don't see much evidence of that so far, and his attempts to have Democrats excluded from the jury for being Democrats (without any additional animus) are inconsistent with prior rulings about what it means to have a jury of one's peers. Just as Trump declares any election he does not win "rigged," he is trying to portray any trial he does not win as political bias against him. There will never be enough assurances of fairness to satisfy Fox News. Somerby seems to be suggesting we treat Fox and Trump supporters as if they were being rational and fair, but I don't see any reason to do that. It would ignore the reality that these are biased people who are not open to discussion on most topics, which would make such an exercise frustrating and futile.

      In my daily life, I get along much better with right wingers when we do not discuss anything political.

    16. Anonymouse 2:54pm, it’s both reasonable and coherent to counter your comparison of what happened with Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin and to the men who were shot by Rittenhouse.

      Countering that sort of insulting farce is required posting.

    17. The comment about Emmett Till came after the one about Zimmerman and Rittenhouse. You were not countering Till but promoting Zimmerman and Rittenhouse as examples of men who have not had reality catch up to them. In Zimmerman's case, he has been in court repeatedly over charges of domestic violence using guns during the past 10 years. Rittenhouse's legal team is now saying they misled people about his character during the trial. Needless to say, he has not become a nurse. He is making a tour of speaking engagements promoting gun rights.

      Emmett Till was a much better person than Zimmerman or Rittenhouse, but he was killed because he was black. Zimmerman and Rittenhouse were found not guilty because someone on the jury supported gun rights, not because they didn't shoot someone who shouldn't have been shot. Rittenhouse in particular received a politically motivated verdict in which the judge repeatedly showed bias in his statements and rulings. Rittenhouse is too young and stupid to stay out of trouble with guns for the rest of his life. It may take a while, but like George Santos, his choices will catch up with him. Look at Lauren Boebert for proof of that.

    18. I know David, you are right, they shouldn't be pussy footing around with this scumbag insurrectionist and should get the fucking hanging over with already. (Would like an explanation how the State of New York is Biden's DOJ).

    19. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 4:21 PM

      Former presidents and would-be presidents are required to obey the law, just like the rest of us. We have a process for determining whether any person is culpable for violating our laws.

      You don't get a pass because you're Republican.

    20. Unless they are well-meaning elderly men with a poor memory.

    21. Biden was not charged because there was nothing to charge him with. Mike Pence was not charged either.

    22. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 4:32 PM

      "We no longer have a democracy."

      It's a representative republic, Dave. Or so I've been told repeatedly.

    23. "We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory"

    24. Yes, this is the inappropriate statement included in the report exonerating Biden, as an attempt to tarnish Biden after hey couldn't find anything to charge him with.

    25. 11:48 The MI Dem prosecutors are letting the fraudster scumbag slide any his sexytime ickyness with the SIL.

      Nessel's investigation into Chatfield began after his sister-in-law accused him of repeated sexual assaults for roughly a decade, though Chatfield denied those allegations and described it as a consensual affair. Nessel credited her for being the catalyst of the investigation, but said the investigation into those allegations had been closed, saying "we cannot reach the appropriate proofs required as it relates to the allegations of sexual assault." How is it wrong to prosecute fraudster like this POS and the Don?

    26. Biden wasn't "given a pass." Hur (a Republican) didn't think the potential crime could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    27. Hur is not only a Republican but was a Trump appointee.

  6. Ersatz means substitute.

  7. "Willie and Lemire were conducting the interview with McCaskill. They just let her misstatements go. "

    Snell made an error that was central to his point (why was Trump appearing in court). McCaskill made an error that was largely irrelevant to the point that Trump was chided by the judge (whether that chiding occurred in the juror's hearing or after she had left the room). Snell is described as a legal expert but Somerby says McCaskill, although she has some distant legal experience, was on the show as a former office-holder and political commentator. It seems obvious why Snell's error produced correcting on air whereas McCaskill's did not (not that anyone was able to confirm the facts about timing while talking on air). It isn't necessarily because no one wanted to embarrass McCaskill.

    Notice that Somerby did not put Snell's name on the list of MSNBC legal experts. Why not? He knows his list is incomplete because he refers to it as partial. Does Somerby perhaps wish to avoid being perceived as singling out MSNBC experts for criticism? Is he suggesting that maybe Snell is not really an expert (doesn't deserve to be added to the clan)? Or does he want to make it easier to compare (equate) Snell and McCaskill by pretending their are both legal experts (or neither)? No one has made a big fuss about the expertise of the so-called experts commenting on Trump's trial except Somerby.

    In a way, Somerby is illustrating the value of having more people talking about a subject -- it makes it easier for truth to emerge because when someone gets something wrong, others can correct the mistake. So having more experts seems like a good thing. So, what exactly is Somerby complaining about?

    1. Anonymouse 12:18pm, he’s complaining because these panels are all politically aligned to a man. People MAY be corrected by likeminded colleagues on one show and not the next.

      It used to be that news shows featured guests, legal experts, with differing outlooks, bouncing things around.

      Evidently, that was way way way before anonymices’ time.

    2. You don't demonstrate that panelists are "politically aligned to a man" by giving an example of one panel members contradicting another (Snell). It is a contradiction of Somerby's thesis (as quoted by you).

      I see more diversity among the opinions on such shows than you do (or claim Somerby's does), but perhaps that is because I already know the complexities from internet reading and newspapers. Many of us do. If Somerby does not and complains that he hears a single lefty voice when he watches MSNBC, perhaps it is because he himself is incapable of noticing the distinctions, subtleties, in what is being said.

      I don't need to hear people screaming at each other in short snippets of time to recognize controversy.

      I do wonder whether Somerby would cringe if he read your reduction of his views to such clumsy paraphrases. None of what you said here is contained in today's essay.

    3. In reality, Somerby has railed against such oppositional setups, which tends to result in unenlightened shouting matches; he prefers a single gatekeeper like the old days, or so he often says.

      Somerby's inconsistency confounds his fanboys but is a clear indication that his goal is nothing more than to manufacture ignorance, something he has achieved with his handful fanboys, but that is as far as his influence extends - something he is quite bitter about.

    4. Anonymouse 1:24pm:

      “Their apparent errors—conducted as experts—were relatively trivial. That said, the two legal clans we've listed above typically offer vastly different analyses of this "historic" trial.

      They cite different allegedly relevant facts. They cite different allegedly relevant statutes. And because the fighting is being conducted under rules in which these legal clans will never meet ( my bolds) a viewer will hear only one set of alleged facts and only one set of allegedly relevant statutes.”

      And the viewer may hear something corrected on one show, but not on another show, even within the same network.

    5. Cecelia, I align to a man, and you should too.

    6. Cecelia is a man, who curiously pretends to be a woman.

      More power to him!

    7. Dealing with differences of opinion or fact is part of learning to be informed on any topic, not just the specifics of Trump's trials. With the internet, it has become much easier to figure out what is going on and what is true or not with respect to facts. You search and you read and you evaluate sources to resolve disputes or conflicts in evidence. This is an ongoing process. How to do this is taught in most high schools and all colleges. It is necessary to do this today more than ever because of the influx of Russia-funded disinformation everywhere, and because the right has decided to achieve its political goals using propaganda and disinformation instead of by appealing to voters using persuasion or facts.

      This difference in how people decide on issues is reflected in the shifting demographics of our two major parties. Increasingly, those who make an effort to find out about issues are winding up as Democrats and those who believe what they are being told by demagogues are winding up as Republicans or right wing extremists. We are polarized because a person who cares about facts cannot tolerate the way the right operates and those who respond to emotional threats or cult tactics are confused by facts and taught to disbelieve them by their right wing cult leaders.

      Cecelia says the legal clans will never meet. That is false. The differing legal strategies are being played out in the courtroom in Trump's trial this week. As the trial continues, the judge and jury will decide the case and we will have an outcome. Speculation about how that might happen is now being presented by various legal experts, but being an expert does not enable someone to tell the future. Somerby's demand for certainty or unanimity from experts is ridiculous. Of course Fox wants Trump to prevail, but why should they then agree with others who want Trump to be convicted? And if I were to hear a convincing argument on Fox about Trump's trial, it may or may not affect what happens in court. So what?

    8. Anonymices, when it comes to me, whatever alignment is going on, it makes you both tingly.

    9. Now I have no idea what you're talking about. It is less embarrassing to you if you just say nothing when you have nothing to say.

    10. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 4:43 PM

      Long, long ago (and apparently in some other universe than the one we live in now), Our Host cogently observed and discussed the ongoing debate over the management of health care in this country, especially concerning funding for Medicare.

      The media landscape was awash in experts. Two-sided debate was not at all scarce, it was going on everywhere on television, on the internet, and in the newspapers.

      Did all that debate bring us quickly and clearly to the truth? Did a bright sun of diverse opinion cast light on the facts and leave misinformation in the shadows?


      Our Host spent months documenting the many ways in which partisan advocates gamed our information landscape to keep false claims front and center in the debate.

      Our current debates differ in some way. I can't tell you what the difference is.

  8. Back in the mid-60s, I took a class on American Folklore at UCLA. Part of the class involved folk songs and country music. As Somerby notes, Guthrie's song about Pretty Boy Floyd was about a romanticized anti-hero outlaw who had sympathy among the common people but who was blamed for crimes he didn't necessarily commit. There were such songs about Jesse James and other outlaws were folk heroes too. In part this was because rural banks took over farms and evicted people during the depression, so those stealing from the banks were getting revenge for the downtrodden. Sometimes it was claimed that such outlaws did good deeds with the money they took. But Guthrie didn't invent such songs -- they were part of a folk/country tradition in that time period.

    Somerby's attempt to extend that romantic view of outlaws to Trump is misguided because Trump is not preying on banks and giving to the poor but preying on the common folks and using the money to make himself and his cronies richer. Jesse James didn't rape women or try to overthrow an election, as Trump has done. Perceiving Trump as an outlaw folk hero is wrong, no matter how his supporters feel about him (some think he is a messiah or Jesus incarnate).

    But why is Somerby promoting such images of Trump with references to Woody Guthrie (who would have equated Trump with the landlord, not the tenants or union members)? It isn't something an actual Biden supporter would do and it makes actual Gurthie admirers cringe. Somerby so often takes the folk lyrics and performers I have liked since childhood and appropriates them for his own views, which ruins the associations they themselves earned in life. Woody Guthrie would turn over in his grave. So might Pretty Boy Floyd for that matter.

    1. Anonymouse 12:39pm, so now it’s not just you who are aggrieved, as you are every nanosecond of your day, it’s also the dead folksingers and country singers, doubtlessly blue tribe, who are spinning in the ground over this ghastly comparison.

      Goodness, knows Bob’s broader point must be obscured in your daily whiney affronted and victimized pique. How might anyone in the world feel apprehensive or doubtful about the sheer scope of the push against Trump? Especially when poor anonymices are being wounded, discomforted, abused, and disrespected by reading Bob Somerby almost every single miserable day of their week.

    2. The "sheer scope of the push" against Trump mirrors the sheer scope of his criminality. No other president has engaged in so many and such wide corruption with impunity, supported by a cult-like political following that does not care what he does. Those of us who are not Trump devotees, have been apprehensive, doubtful (dismayed, aghast, despairing) because there has been no accountability for his actions.

      You do seem to need to look up who Woody Guthrie was and what he stood for. His guitar had the phrase "This machine kills fascists" written on it. He wrote songs and performed at left-wing union organizing, fundraisers, protests, joined picketers, and supported left-wing causes his whole life.

      His memory means something to us on the left, still fighting for the things Guthrie devoted his life to.

    3. Anonymouse 1:17pm, no you are not still fighting for anything on behalf of the working class. You may want them federally subsidized and quiet, but you care nothing about the deindustrialization of the country.

    4. Woody Guthrie didn't fight for industrialization.

    5. Anonymouse 1:52pm, I didn’t imply that he did. I implied that the world of Guthrie’s time has flipped and you have with it.

    6. Yes, times and issues change, but that doesn't mean the right has become left or vice versa. We are still fighting fascists. Unions have gained strength but civil rights is still important on the left. Please go read what Woody Guthrie stood for before you claim that he would be a right winger now.

    7. Bob's point is not to compare Trump to those legendary robbers. The point is that prosecuting Trump creates a myth around him. The myth that he's being persecuted politically and unfairly.
      I don't' take backseat to anyone when it comes to contempt for Trump. Yet, even to me some of this stuff appears to be an overreach.
      To wit: a legal analyst on NPR was asked yesterday whether criminal prosecution of falsifying business records as a felony was "unusual". The short answer: yes.

    8. Trump lost 170k manufacturing jobs, Biden has gained 790k manufacturing jobs.

      Cecelia, your posts are always nonsense, a manifestation of your wounded and traumatized soul, which we should all pity - so says Somerby. This point is not intended to trigger you, but it will, you will be triggered to respond with more nonsense as you try to attain some sense of dominance over your challengers. It is both mildly amusing and very sad.

    9. Ilya I get your point but it does not hold up well.

      Falsifying business records gets bumped up to a felony when it is in support of another crime, in this case, illegally trying to influence an election and skirting tax and campaign finance laws.

      Cohen has already been successfully prosecuted for essentially the same thing.

      There is nothing "unusual" about the underlying legal reason for prosecuting Trump, the only thing unusual is the circumstance of a presidential candidate being so corrupt.

      In fact, in just a single year, the NY DA prosecutes about 117 felony cases of the exact same charge; it is referred to as the bread and butter of the DA's office.

      The short answer: you have been conned.

    10. Ilya, there have been many felony prosecutions in NYC for the crime of falsifying business records. Back when this first came up, there were lists of citations of similar cases where this has been done, showing that the claim that Bragg is doing something novel legally is not true. There is controversy over whether the interference with the election is sufficient to make the 34 counts into felonies. Back when the charges were first filed, the right wing made a very noisy fuss over the novelty of the charges, Bragg's political overreach by considering these felonies. It was thoroughly discussed. Accepting right wing talking points as certainties instead of controversial themselves, is a mistake. We will find out whether Bragg can make his case that these are felonies when the jury hears the evidence and makes its decision. The court (judge and appeals court) has already decided there is enough basis for the trial to go forward, rejecting Trump's argument that the basis for the case is too novel. If the basis for trying Trump were too flimsy (as Republicans claim), Trump's team would have won one of its numerous motions to dismiss the case.

      As to an analyst saying that criminal prosecution of falsifying business records as a felong being "unusual," that is because it requires the commission of a crime that is furthered by the falsification. Usually, the falsifications are not in furtherance of a crime and are treated as misdemeanors. Unusual doesn't mean the same thing as novel. Novel means new. Usual means frequent, normal.

    11. Anonymouse 2:14pm, your wounded and affronted psyche is on display here daily as you pour out your victimization at the hands of Bob.

      We’ll call it a ‘pixel pounding’

    12. mmmm, good comeback, so convincing

    13. Anonymouse 3:04pm, ok, then, blogboard buggery.

    14. Cecelia, what is your opinion of manufacturing jobs lost during Trump, versus those gained under Biden? Funny how you state a lie, are presented the facts, than go off in another direction.

    15. Just say "uncle."

    16. "illegally trying to influence an election"

      It's so nice that NY DA is so vigilant in prosecuting alleged attempts to influence federal elections.

      Obviously he already prosecuted and imprisoned everyone at the NY Stock Exchange who does that. And everyone attempting to influence NY elections.

    17. As someone who voted for Hillary Clinton, my vote was illegally stolen when Trump engaged in an illegal conspiracy to manipulate the 2016 election. The point of this trial is to show HOW he engaged in illegal actions to keep the voters from knowing about his affairs (as the Access Hollywood tape was circulating) by making payments to Stormy Daniels and the National Enquirer (to pay off the Doorman and Karen McDougal), and then failed to report the payoffs as contributions to his campaign (violation of FEC rules) and recorded the reimbursements to Michael Cohen for the payoffs as legal expenses (falsifying business records).

      Yes, there are events that influence elections one way or the way, including the efforts of the candidates themselves to gain voter support. It is illegal to manipulate an election by suppressing information via hush money and by concealing campaign contributions. It would also be illegal to break into a voting place and steal boxes of ballots. There are any number of illegal acts someone could commit to manipulate an election outcome.

      Michael Cohen committed other illegal acts on behalf of Trump while living in NYC. Cohen was prosecuted for them and served time. Trump is being prosecuted in NYC because TRUMP lived in NYC and engaged in conspiracy with Cohen to engage in illegal acts. Just like Trump's other business fraud was prosecuted in NYC because it took place in NYC.

      @3:44 -- You have suggested no reason why the prosecutors in NYC, having uncovered these various other crimes, should ignore this one.


    18. And not only the NY Stock Exchange, but also K Street, obviously. So much potential illegal election influencing under Mr. Bragg's jurisdiction, so little time.

    19. Trolls gotta troll.


  9. My feeling is, Donald Trump is and will always remain one of those legendary characters, grassroots heroes: Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde. Fighting the powers that be.

    That's a done deal, no matter what happens next.

  10. Somerby fancies himself a Nestor.

    This is odd, because Nestor was only respected as an elder, he was notorious for making bad or inaccurate judgements. Furthermore his primary role was to motivate others into battle, mostly through tales of past battles and praising those on his side - the polar opposite of Somerby, who wants us to acquiesce to our opponents while he speciously trashes the blue tribe.

    Somerby asks:

    "Can we learn to see ourselves more clearly through the works of the western literary canon?"

    No, and obviously so. The Homer epics are not a good source for understanding human nature, and are not even examples of good storytelling, much of the plot revolving around supernatural interference and goofy misunderstandings, like a bad Three's Company episode.

    This is the folly of taking storytelling seriously beyond mere entertainment or distraction; we have a good understanding of human nature through science, relying on storytelling is just a way to get conned and make poor decisions. Storytelling can be emotionally comforting on a personal level, but in a broader context, it rarely provides any meaningful or useful insights.

    1. Anonymouse 1:21pm, right. So there goes folk songs and storytelling.

    2. Nestor was a jerk.

    3. Agamemnon was undone by a wife who refused to submit to him.

    4. Right, they do not serve as useful insights into human nature as Somerby wants to use them, they can entertain, distract, and provide emotional comfort.

      Storytelling is appreciated by right wingers because they have been able to successfully weaponize it to achieve their goals, which is why they react strongly and irrationally when the folly of storytelling is pointed out.

    5. Odysseus went home to a loyal wife.

    6. Only Penelope knows whether she was loyal or not. Homer has no clue.

    7. Penelope was Homer's main source.

    8. Odysseus came home to find his house full of suitors. He chased them out, but who knows what was going on.

    9. They were tailors. They were competing to sell Telemachus his first suit.

  11. "Assertions made by the Red legal clan will not be tested by the Blue legal clan. Assertions made by the Blue legal clan won't be tested by the Red."

    That's because the assertions made by the Blue legal clan are exposed as being legally frivolous when finally presented to a court

    The most current example was the Colorado Supreme Court ruling kicking Trump off the primary ballot. Every member of the Blue clan claimed that the Supreme Court would uphold this ruling. While every member of the Red clan said the ruling would be struck down.

    After the oral argument, when it became obvious to all that the Supreme Court was going to overturn the ruling all of the Blue legal clan were exposed as being nothing more than partisan hacks. So why should anyone pay attention to what they say going forward?

    1. Legal experts are not able to change the partisan politics of the US Supreme Court, especially after Trump was able to appoint 3 more right wing justices, leaving a 6 to 3 conservative-to-liberal balance on the court. Even Dred Scott was ultimately overturned. It seems like the partisan hacks were on the court, not among the blue legal clan.

      Who takes everything said by a legal expert, pundit or political comentator as literal truth, especially when it is a prediction about a future event? These are speculations. Only an idiot doesn't know that. Abusing the legal experts because we don't have enough liberals on the Supreme Court to make the right judgment, hardly seems rational to me.

    2. Although the Dred Scott decision was morally horrific, it was legally correct. At that time, the Constitution did not protect Black people. Roger Taney was calling balls and strikes, not legislating from the bench.

    3. And yet it seems like the supreme court was legislating from the bench when it decided Trump could stay on the ballot, in direct contradiction to the Constitution and the finding that Trump had participated in the 2020 attempted insurrection (there was no dispute about that).

  12. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 4:17 PM

    "Has an ersatz crime been concocted for Trump?"

    I must be missing some important aspect of the question because the answer seems absurdly simple to me.

    The district attorney has made a careful list of the crimes charged to Trump. He has presented evidence and arguments to a grand jury and those citizens have returned an indictment.

    That's how our justice system works. It wasn't made up just to "get" Trump. The process is codified, tested, and revised and the rules are there for anyone to check.

    Now the district attorney has to present his evidence in public and Trump's advocates will have an opportunity to argue that this evidence is insufficient to conclude that Trump violated specific statutes.

    There are no "ersatz" crimes here. There are laws that existed entirely apart from the activities of anyone named Trump. There are charges that someone named Trump violated specific laws. There is a process for presenting and evaluating evidence that underlie these accusations and someone named Trump can avail himself of the same protections available to any citizen.

    Put simply, Trump is accused of breaking one or more laws. This is the process our country uses to determine guilt or innocence. Trump doesn't get a pass because he's Trump.

    1. If only he was a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory. Then he would definitely get a pass.

    2. Trump has dementia. That's why he can't keep his mouth shut in court even when it would benefit him to do so.

  13. Back in the day outlaw bandits were sometimes romanized as Robin Hood Types, that’s what Guthrie did with Pretty Boy Floyd. This had something to do with the punishing straits the depression was putting people in. Was this an overwhelming popular idea? Probably not, and in any event it never stopped them from being prosecuted or, in several cases, shot down in cold blood. That Trump makes Bob think of this
    truly illustrates what a hapless thinker he is.

  14. Bob overreaching point that there is little or none quality debate on the Trump trials (or much else) on our political channels is a fair one. His suggestion that both camps are doing comparable jobs is very, very stupid, much in keeping with his endless, silly defenses of Trump and his defenders.

  15. Bob probably watched Joyce Vance and Barbra McQuade a
    LONG time trying to find some nits to pick But their
    commentaries are always measured and credible.
    so he gave up and turned to Fox. Neil Katyal is
    something of a legal superstar, Bob has never taken
    a shot that I recall, much as I'm sure he'd like to.
    Alan Dershowitz may be a competent teacher,
    but he is a publicly dishonest person (unless you really
    believe he believes OJ was innocent), a gadfly who
    gradually sank to crankhood. He seems to be a
    snowflake too, the criticism he's received for his
    idiocy has driven him deeply into the arms of Trump.
    Anytime Bob wants to advance some of his
    nonsense...I'm all ears!
    Which brings us to Turley, who Bob dismissed
    many moons ago as a hustler, but seems to have won
    new credibility at The Daily Howler as a MAGA
    Booster. There was a horrible moment in Trump's
    Impeachment one where, under oath, Turley claimed
    that the Clinton Impeachment was bipartisan. The
    horrible part was that no one corrected him, including