Flynn Takes the 5th

Once Upon a Time there was a very self-righteous man:

In a surprising reversal, the self-righteous man then sought out immunity: 1

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday backed a decision by his former national security adviser to seek immunity in congressional investigations of possible ties between his election campaign and Russia, but there was no immediate sign a request would be granted.

Retired General Michael Flynn, who resigned only 24 days after becoming national security adviser, wants protection against “unfair prosecution” if he testifies before the intelligence committees of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, his lawyer, Robert Kelner, said on Thursday.

Testimony from Flynn could help shed light on the conversations he had last year with Sergei Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States, while national security adviser for Trump’s presidential campaign.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said it was too soon to consider immunity requests.

And, finally, that same self-righteous man has refused to testify before Congress 2, staking out his claim to the 5th Admendment:

Hmmm – puts me in mind of something.

“What a piece of work is a Flynn! … And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of trash?” 3

Flynn Takes the 5th

Show 3 footnotes

  1. ’cause, ya know…he’s guilty as sin.
  2. While simultaneously demanding immunity.
  3. Apologies to The Bard.

Iceland

It’s worth noting that while America was bailing out banks & Wall St. houses deemed ‘too big to fail’ après 2008 fusion financière, Iceland just went ahead and jailed their fucking bankers. 1

Woo-hoo: go Iceland!

I don’t remember this all that well because, after all, it was seven years ago.

But my slowly disapparating memory thinks that Iceland’s policy was somewhat shocking to the rest of the world. Or maybe it was only shocking to the rest of the world’s bankers. I don’t rightly recall, but I do recall that no other country followed suit: they all played off.

Well, guess what? Iceland made the right call. The IMF recently announced that not only did Iceland’s economy recovery 2 but has become the first European nation that suffered heavy losses in the meltdown to “surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output.”

In other words? Holding the jackasses accountable for such outright appalling fraud is both profitable and conscionable.

You paying attention, DoJ? …both profitable and conscionable.

Just a thought.

Iceland

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Not that any of you actually pressured your Senators/Representatives to push for similar action; instead you seemed to focus all your rage against the propping up of the auto industry…not that that was wrong, mind you; just a bit shortsighted.
  2. While also managing to maintain universal healthcare and education.

Jonathan Gruber

The only other  time I remember Jonathan Gruber popping up from behind my political blind spot was back when he called Romney a liar.

However so many people have called Romney a liar (and president Obama, for that matter) that using Gruber’s utterance as a time marker is insufficient to pin down the exact date of the non-news event; I’ll go out on a limb and say it was around the time SCOTUS granted certiorari to the original ACA challenges.

What Romney had said that irritated Gruber was that Obamacare was nothing like the Massachusetts health care bill Cash Money enacted while governor. Gruber responded –in essence– that Romney was a lying liar.

So when American Commitment posted a video clip of a 2013 conference at the University of Pennsylvania with Gruber saying “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that “the stupidity of the American voter . . . was really critical for the [ACA] to pass”, it wasn’t a total surprise – the man obviously speaks his mind.

It was, however, yet another needless example of incredibly stupid partisanship, the sort of eye candy Faux News loves to endlessly loop. Major faux pas, Jonathan.

But I can’t get too worked up about it.

While the GOP and the religious right scream and holler about the White House’s disingenuousness in said strategy, the lack of respect the Dems apparently showed the American public in willfully pulling the wool over their eyes, the fact that Obamacare was also going to destroy America…I just look at it and shrug my shoulders.

To my mind it’s the exact same thing Shrub and The Dark Lord did with Iraq.

Except instead of killing over a million people and wasting over a trillion dollars, Obama and the Dems gave us health care.

Enigma Machine

Swiss Dolt

Because we have a new wrinkle on this old adage that senior executives of large banks have no idea what actually goes on inside the bowels of the companies they get paid stunning amounts of money to run. Yesterday Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan said his bank’s top bosses didn’t know the employees there were helping clients hide billions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service. And his statements obviously deserve to be taken seriously, given that he was testifying under oath.

“Some Swiss-based private bankers went to great lengths to disguise their bad conduct from Credit Suisse executive management,” Dougan told the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations at a hearing on the bank’s tax-evasion services. “While that employee misconduct violated our policies, and was unknown to our executive management, we accept responsibility for and deeply regret these employees’ actions.”

According to the Senate panel’s report on Credit Suisse, “in 2008, over 1,800 Credit Suisse bankers in eight different areas of the bank opened and serviced Swiss accounts for U.S. clients.” At one point there were 22,000 such accounts holding 12.4 billion Swiss francs ($14 billion). Yet the misconduct, as Dougan called it, was unknown to Credit Suisse’s most senior executives. Imagine that.

Perhaps they also weren’t aware back then that Swiss banks had a reputation for helping wealthy foreigners evade taxes in their home countries. If you were to ask the average guy on the street what Swiss banks do, there’s a good chance he would say something like: Hide money for rich people with secret bank accounts. But maybe that’s something Credit Suisse’s CEO wouldn’t know his bank was doing in real life.

From Russia With Love was released a handful of summers before my required attendance at America’s southeast Asian garden party. One lovely June afternoon mater’s mater gathered up myself, my two brothers and sister and chauffeured us the few blocks north to the Midtown, where we sat in the dark and watched the best James Bond movie yet. 1

Integral to the plot was Bond’s briefcase: among other things it secreted a dagger and 50 gold sovereigns. After Q had shown Bond these things my sister, ten at the time, leaned close and whispered in the dark, “That’s because he can’t go to banks. Everyone knows the only thing Swiss banks do is hide money.”

Let me repeat that: in 1964 a ten-year old girl knew that Swiss banks hid money for their customers.

On the safe assumption that Credit Suisse is not in the habit of promoting dolts as their CEO, Brady Dougan’s disingenuous testimony ranks right up there with Captain Renault’s famous exclamation:

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Indeed.

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Show 1 footnote

  1. Which remained true up to the point that Daniel Craig joined the franchise.

Captain Justice

The jury trials of my teen years, as depicted on such fine broadcast fare as I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show, invariably involved entertaining scenarios revolving around the most extreme –not to say cartoonish– good and bad representatives of humanity. These moot courts were always ably and loquaciously mediated by at least one esquire of renown, said worthy delving into the black heart of the matter and eventually wresting forth a satisfying (if bloody 1) dénouement.

Moreover it was not unusual to find the denizens of Mayberry or Manhattan hanging out in the courtroom on a daily basis, adding their two cents worth whenever they deemed something one of the major players said or did out of line with their jaundiced view of reality. Hell, spending time watching trials sounded like a hoot.

Unfortunately life got in the way; I’ve never had time to just sit around and take in a a trial or two. 2 And my friends who have sat on juries all uniformly express their dismay in the lack of excitement or even intelligence among all the official participants.

It seems life doesn’t always slice and dice, much less make julienne fries (even if you call now and buy 2 for the low low price of $9.99.)

However…now comes Tennessee v. Powell, where the prosecution has moved, in limine, that the defense should not be permitted to refer to the prosecutor, an Assistant District Attorney General, as “the Government.”

I know – what the fuck, right? Dude has issues…

In any event the lawyer for the individual being tried responded (unfortunately –by definition — out of the jury’s earshot) thusly:

First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art, obviously has a fairly negative connotation. It unfairly demeans, and dehumanizes Mr. Donald Powell. The word “defendant” should be banned. At trial, Mr. Powell hereby demands be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title “Mister.” Alternatively, he may be called simply “the Citizen Accused.” This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal “Defendant.” The designation “That innocent man” would also be acceptable.

Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a “lawyer,” or a “defense attorney.” Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent.” This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation “Guardian of the Realm.” Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name “Captain Justice” will be appropriate. While less impressive than “General,” still, the more humble term seems suitable. After all, the Captain represents only a Citizen Accused, whereas the General represents an entire State.

WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate.

I would have paid good money to watch Captain Justice deliver that scathing rebuke live.

It is certainly worthy of a two-part episode of I Love Lucy.

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. These more often occurred on Perry Mason than any trial Mayberry might have hosted.
  2. Well, save for the last few weeks, courtesy of the latest fuckup by the Scrotum of Tea Baggers. And then, frankly, it just didn’t occur to me. Maybe this coming January…