Tessio and the Film Maker

There’s a neat site out there, Quick Meme, www.quickmeme.com, which allows folks to throw a picture up and have a caption contest. Some of their stuff is truly hilarious. Some of the pictures, however, are of, shall we say? current events.

Like the picture of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies hustling Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a.k.a. Sam Bacile, an American citizen into a squad car, shortly after midnight, for a “voluntary” ride downtown to talk with them about . . . a potential violation of his probation agreement on a bank-fraud case from two years ago. Folks, from some pretty up-close experience I can tell you that bank fraud just doesn’t put that big a blip on prosecutors’ radar screens. Not sexy enough; not enough good ink. And in no event worthy of a media-saturated midnight visit to a probationer’s house. 

For starts, with the possible exception of a fire-bombing down at the local tax collectors’ office, in a bank fraud case you’ve got perhaps the single least attractive victim imaginable (OK, Jeff Dahmer comes close). Secondly bank fraud can be stupendously difficult to prove. The ways are nearly infinite for a determined operator, especially an insider, to fleece a bank, and in the back of a prosecutor’s mind has always to be the question, “How’m I going to get the jury to see this?” Juries understand drug lords putting hits out on people. Juries understand torching one’s house for the insurance money. Juries understand a pervert who can’t keep his hands off the kiddies. But getting the jury to see a bad bank officer, a pliable appraiser, and a third party who feeds “purchasers” into the bank to buy properties at inflated prices, the mark-up to be shared around, and the purchasers assured that they can walk away from it all in bankruptcy . . . well, that’s hard to stay awake for, in the jury box. 

Which is to say that, even assuming your probation officer had office hours at 1:00 a.m., which he doesn’t, and assuming the prosecutor who took the scalp in the first place normally schedules interviews at that hour, which he doesn’t, making a movie is simply not the sort of thing you drag your con downtown to talk over in the dead of night. 

But that’s what we were told by the administration. You see, we’re asked to accept at face value that a citizen just “voluntarily” decides he’d really like to go for a midnight ride to chat about whether a particular exercise of his First Amendment rights – however tastelessly he might have done so – did or did not violate a plea agreement. Because that same administration was peddling, peddled for a week or so, in fact, the story that an attack on our consulate by a thoroughly armed mob, consummated by our ambassador’s murder and that of three other Americans, was nothing more than film criticism gone overboard. Peddled that story in the face of all the facts they had, some of which they had before the attack, peddled it in the face of the locals’ telling them that it was organized. In other words, at the time the administration leaned on the local law enforcement to drag in this citizen to rake him over the coals, it knew that its attempt to tar this man and his collaborators with the murder of a United States Ambassador was a vicious lie. 

Well, as they’d no doubt say – no doubt have said among themselves – it wasn’t really vicious. In fact, it wasn’t even personal. It was just spin. As was perceived by a participant on Quick Meme: 

When I saw that caption I was just naturally reminded of the cultural icon which popularized the expression “just business” in the American language, and I was fairly confident I could find an appropriate clip of it from YouTube. And sure enough, I was right:

I’m sure that Nakoula must be comforted to know it was nothing personal, just business, and that Dear Leader really liked him, all this time. They’re both African Christians, after all. Right?

 

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