Friday Night Open Thread

The Bureau of Prisons has posted Rod Blagojevich's release date: May, 2024, 12 years from now.

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers issued a press release today:

“Typically, a company would cringe at the news of its brand associated in any way with a convicted criminal. However, this is brand complementary. This is a high profile person headed to 14 years of confinement in federal prison who had the opportunity for one more meal as a free man and he chose to eat at Freddy’s,” commented Freddy’s President Bill Simon. “It’s difficult to imagine a better testimonial than that.”

We certainly appreciate Mr. Blagojevich’s choice of restaurants for his last meal,” said COO Scott Redler. “I just wish he would have turned his cup to have the logo facing out while he posed for pictures.”


Since Freddy's has expressed its willingness to serve convicted felons their last meal before going to prison, I'll oblige and post their logo:

Update: Blago's lawyer says Blago has already phoned home. He told his wife Patty he is doing okay and said FCI Englewood is "a nice place." Also, "sources" told CBS News he did okay in the cafeteria his first night -- even high-fiving the other inmates.

It was 75 degrees again today, too nice to stay indoors. Since I haven't yet seen the news, and I'm about to watch The Descendants, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Now that Blago is out of the way (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:54:15 PM EST
    What are the chances of some real high profile criminals being charged, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced and sent to prison?

    Misdemeanor torture and war crimes maybe? Accidentally defrauding a country or two? Unintentionally (heh) poisoning the planet? A couple or three year suspended sentence maybe? Maybe that's asking a little too much, but might be a little something to set and example and provide deterrence?

    Hedge fund manager, (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by NYShooter on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:31:48 PM EST
     Raj Rajaratnam, was found guilty on ALL 14 counts of insider trading and was said to have profited to the tune of about 50 million dollars by this illegal trading. The judge, being a kind and benevolent dispenser of "justice," gave him "only" 11 years in prison. Of course those other "servants and officers of the court," the prosecutors, were outraged at this sniveling small sentence; they had demanded 19-24 years.

    When asked why much bigger culprits of The Wall Street outrage, players like Blankfien & Dimon, who, among others, profited in the Trillion dollar range and contributed to the worldwide economic collapse, were not even investigated, let alone prosecuted, answered (after a long pause).......who?

    Reached at one of their 27 estates, Blankfein and Dimon were asked the same question by reporters. Blankfein answered that it was simply another case of American Exceptionalism. Dimon, said to be on President Obama's "short list" to replace the irreplaceable Patriot, Treasury Secretary, Timmie Geightner, added that Rajaratnam's being a dark skinned "towel head" had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    The reporters, sensing a whiff of hypocrisy, then asked, "if insider trading was such a heinous crime why did the inhuman members of Congress grant themselves the right of being the only humans on earth to participate in insider trading?" The prosecutors mockingly replied, "Wall Street is a zero sum game. The more others steal from our citizens the less there is for our Congressional Criminals to steal. Duh."



    And it was excellent (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Zorba on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:28:51 AM EST
    snark, Shooter.

    Why thank you, Ms Zorba (none / 0) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:28:06 PM EST
    That was sweet:)

    Unethical and shoddy behavior is ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 02:56:22 AM EST
    ... not necessarily criminal behavior. Sad to say, but a lot of the most outrageous things that happened on Wall Street were also perfectly legal under our laws.

    Further, white-collar crime often involves rather complex transactions and is thus very hard to prove in court to jurors not at all familiar with the ways of high finance. Sometimes, it's easier and more successful to litigate the matter in civil court, rather than prosecute it as a criminal case.


    Oh. Well. Gee. (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:12:00 AM EST
    "Hard"? It's "hard"? I hadn't thought about that. Never mind the whole idea then.

    American banks and credit agencies conspired to create a system in which so-called "liars loans" could receive AAA ratings and zero oversight, amounting to a massive "fraud" at the epicenter of US finance. In the interview with Moyers, William K. Black "equated the entire US financial system to a giant "ponzi scheme" and charged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, like Secretary Henry Paulson before him, of "covering up" the "truth".

    U.S. Banking Collapse Driven By "fraud", Tim Geithner Covering Up Bank Insolvency

    When is Obama's civil suit being launched? And let's keep it "easy". The last thing I want to do is stress the poor guy out. He might be living on the sidewalk come November, so he's got enough tho worry about.


    Isn't that what they said about (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:26:13 PM EST
    Dick Cheney's treasonous "outing" of CIA NOC agent, Valarie Plame? Convicting Cheney would be hard. Ooh boy, it's hard. I mean you'd have to Google where the White House is located, and everything.

    Didn't The Decider himself tell us that Presidenting was hard. Who you gonna believe, "fool me once, uhh, you won't fool me again," Bush, or the Heads of the CIA and FBI Counter Intelligence offices?

    With budget deficits and all, you got to set priorities. How can you justify investigating those who compromised hundreds of covert agents, and our National Security, when you've got medicinal marijuana being handed out by doctors?

    It's a no brainer.


    It's hard to imprison the boss, I guess... (5.00 / 0) (#29)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:04:28 PM EST
    "I know both these guys; they are very savvy businessman. I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system."

    -- Obama on Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein

    The fact that it was (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 11:14:38 AM EST
    Richard Armitage might have a slight bearing on the case.

    Worth mentioning (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by NYShooter on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:32:03 PM EST
    Armitage naming Plame was inadvertent, Rove and Libby were part of the smear job.

    I know, I know, Jim. Nuance is complicated.  


    It wasn't just Armitage (none / 0) (#41)
    by Yman on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:46:44 PM EST
    It was also Rove and Libby.

    Several administration officials, including Libby, former State Department official Richard Armitage and Bush advisor Karl Rove, disclosed Plame's identity to reporters.


    But nice try.


    But fraud is criminal behavior, Donald. (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by Anne on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 04:06:05 PM EST
    And that's what banks and mortgage lenders and servicers engaged in.

    Lying to Congress is a crime, too.

    It isn't that the whole mess is too complex - that didn't stop a full-out investigation into the S & L debacle some years ago, did it?  No, it's that there is no will to do it at the highest levels of government and power - and what does that say?  That those in power have assessed the situation and decided it works better for them if all of this just gets swept under the rug.

    Bank of America, for example, has failed to comply with the terms of settlements in California and Nevada - and someone at DOJ and our dear president decided we'd give them another chance to thumb their noses at yet another settlement?  Sure, that makes sense.

    It would be nice if there had ever been a thorough investigation - and by "thorough" I mean something on a scale commensurate with the magnitude of wrongdoing. so that if, after that thorough investigation, after the findings had been laid out before the people, someone in authority concluded that no crimes were committed, fine.  But, that's not what has happened.  

    Instead, this administration backed a short-cut, straight to a settlement and release of liability - a rather broad release, at that - which did not require that any of the banks involved actually admit to any wrongdoing.  Well over a year was spent not in investigating, but in working on the state AG's to sign onto a deal.

    I'm tired of hearing how hard it is to do the right thing for the American people, Donald, and your rhetorical shoulder shrug over it is emblematic of the stunning indifference our government keeps showing us.

    Good to know, though, that they can count on you to be a good water boy for their lack of effort.


    The, "it's hard" defense (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 06:09:57 PM EST
    Is the kissin cousin of the, "a few rotten apples," whitewash.

    When the S & L scandal went down, there were still a  few descent legislators, district attorneys, and regulators holding office. Thousands of bankers went to jail. And the total net loss to the government was about 125 billion dollars.

    But, what should have resulted in a total house cleaning, and development of Fail-Safe regulations, turned out to be merely a "dry-run" for the monstrous debacle to come. Yes, some people were prosecuted, and some regulations were enacted, but the bankers and politicians also learned a valuable lesson: When it's the 1% that steal from the citizens of our country, it will be the citizens who will have to cough up the money to replace what the 1% stole.

    J. Edgar Hoover knew where the bodies were buried and he played it for all it was worth for decades on end. But that was child's play compared to Nancy Pelosi's, "impeachment is off the table," and Barrack Obama's, "these are good guys" dreck.

    The Presidency, the "justice" Dept, the Congress, the courts, and the media.....................so many bodies.  


    I can't believe (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by sj on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 04:13:32 PM EST
    you just gave the "it's hard" and people just probably won't just understand excuse.  

    But wait a minute, are you saying that jurors in a civil matter can understand better than jurors in a criminal matter?  Did your head hurt trying to twist your mind up that way?


    Well let's see.... (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 11:22:34 PM EST
    The banks settled with the Obama Administration by offering 17 Billion dollars in loan modifications and principal adjustments.

    Wow! That's great news. That's almost as much money as what they set aside for their own bonuses.....20 Billion.

    Of course that's after having foreclosed on 4 million homes with 3 million more waiting in the wings to pull the trigger.

    So, let's do the math. Hmm, 7 million families destroyed, a handful of executives, 20 billion. Certainly any fair minded person (juror) would say that's a fair settlement. After all, 2011 was a poor year in banking, and poor Mr. Blankfein, doing "God's work," will have to suffer with the indignity of having his bonus reduced to a mere 50 million.

    Now THAT'S the kind of change we voted for.


    It's hard to read that today (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:44:18 AM EST
    We have not been able to get ahold of our retired officer friend since the second day of arriving here.  He was in a downward spiral over his financial future again.  We fear the worst may have happened.  We sent someone to his house yesterday.  His vehicle is there but all locked up and no answer.  What to do? Nobody wants to violate his privacy.  It has been agreed that the police will be called on Monday if none of us hear from him.

    Some people will hold themselves singularly responsible though, even when the whole thing was nothing but a rigged financial raping that still continues.  If he has killed himself over all this though, it will be impossible for me to not see the financial gangsters as anything but felons at this point.  Bank of America was supposed to be taking his VA loan house back, but was not returning phone calls or able to not lose his paperwork.  And hey, they'll be happy because now the mortgage insurance will pay and they won't have to write down.


    Frozen custard is . . . amazing (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Towanda on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:44:15 PM EST
    and I have apps for the flavor of the day at quite a variety of frozen custard stands.  And they're year-round even in the worst of winters, you betcha, as when you're frozen already, why not?

    If ever you need more recommendations on frozen custard establishments across a couple of states, winners of contests by culinary experts like me who have taste-tested hundreds of flavors, just ask for my apps!

    (Today's flavors at my favorite stand, in addition to daily vanilla and chocolate creamy goodness, of course, were chocolate chip cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake.  Tomorrow's flavors include my favorite, double butter double pecan -- and, of course, Bailey's Irish Cream Coffee frozen custard in honor of the day.)

    Ted Drewes (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Zorba on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:32:11 AM EST
    Frozen Custard in St. Louis. The best!  Two locations.  We always try to go there when we visit St. Louis.

    Time for another humanitarian intervention (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 07:11:00 AM EST
    to invade Switzerland and relive the immense and widespread suffering and oppression and put an end to the hatred of refugee millionaires driven out by the crazy socialists who've usurped power from the rightful owners of everything.

    GENEVA -- The region of Zurich, the home of Swiss banking, has lost nearly half its foreign millionaires two years after scrapping special tax breaks, according to official figures.

    Of the 201 foreign residents who benefited from the tax breaks which the canton scrapped in early 2009, 97 have decamped to more favourable tax regimes, the region's tax services department said.

    Those departures represent a loss of 12.2 million Swiss francs (10 million euros, $13 million) in tax revenues last year, however that figure is more than recouped by the higher tax bills charged to the high-earners who decided to stay on.

    Every breath you take (5.00 / 6) (#16)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 08:11:07 AM EST
    Every move you make
    Every bond you break
    Every step you take
    I'll be watching you

    Every single day
    Every word you say
    Every game you play
    Every night you stay
    I'll be watching you

    a massive new National Security Agency data center in Utah that represents the resurrection of a program that Congress killed in 2003, known as "Total Information Awareness," targeting literally all electronic communications all over the world -- including those made by American citizens.
    the NSA's new data center in Utah will be the most all-encompassing spy machine ever conceived, capable of breaking almost any encryption, reading any email and recording any phone call anywhere in the world, even if it's NOT made over the Internet.
    Bamford's three covert sources who worked for the NSA reportedly claim that the agency is dumping Americans' communications into the mix, knowingly violating the U.S. Constitution in pursuit of a modern-day Manhattan Project.

    `Total Information Awareness' surveillance program returns, bigger than ever

    Another (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by lentinel on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:50:19 AM EST
    reason not to give this administration another four years.

    I can still say stuff like that, but as the campaign approaches, I'll have to duck for cover and be respectful of those who prefer that a democrat listen to our private conversations, bug us, invade our privacy, hound us, prevent us from smoking what we might wish to smoke, than an awful republican.


    And people thought (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:20:27 AM EST
    Nixon spying on democrats was bad? Can you imaging Obama getting on television and claiming "I am not a crook!" with that great big grin of his?

    More likely (none / 0) (#33)
    by Makarov on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 12:20:48 AM EST
    it will be a financial boondoggle in the hundreds of millions of dollars if we're lucky. If not, it will top $1B and still won't be able to do what they suggest.

    We live in an era of complete incompetence when it comes to creating large, integrated information technology systems.

    While the existence of such a program like TIA is cause for concern, it's more about an agency getting big budget $ and spending them on products and services of large contractors. Whether they succeed or fail, at anything, is immaterial to the parties directly involved.


    So the best case scenario (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by sj on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 01:10:05 AM EST
    is a waste of yet more billions of dollars.

    TIA is a DARPA program (none / 0) (#36)
    by Edger on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:37:11 AM EST
    DARPA is the agency that created the internet.

    Neither I not anyone else on the planet has any problem reading your and my comments here and the replies to them.

    As for your email, your ISP has copies of every email you ever sent or received, and so do the ISP of the recipients of emails you've sent.

    Also, the NSA maintains a database containing hundreds of billions of records of telephone calls made by U.S. citizens from the four largest telephone carriers in the United States: AT&T, SBC, BellSouth (all three now called AT&T), and Verizon.(see here)

    We live in an era of complete incompetence when it comes to creating large, integrated information technology systems?

    I've worked in the field for 40 years. You may hope we live in an era of complete incompetence when it comes to creating large, integrated information technology system.

    We don't, however.

    Also see...

    "a turnkey totalitarian state" (none / 0) (#38)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:57:10 AM EST
    yeah, but abortion will be legal.

    Would it be (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lentinel on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:56:05 AM EST
    even more impressive if a person about to be executed were to ask for some custard and a steakburger from Freddy's before being offed?

    I mean, sure it's a coup that a convicted felon might stop for a meal there before going into the joint... but imagine the wonderful publicity that Freddy's could get if only someone condemned would scarf down a Freddy's custard and give the thumbs up.

    What would jesus do? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:21:22 AM EST
    Life is Priceless State Admits Only Worth $100K (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:25:51 PM EST
    "Leaving Pryde Behind: Virginia Tech Invokes State Cap to reduce [multi million] dollar negligence award to" $100,000 per campus massacred child.

    - Jonathan Turley

    Republican "tort reform" (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Peter G on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 10:28:46 AM EST
    at work.

    Can't think a reason a state (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:39:42 PM EST
    University wouldn't.

    We all like to believe that we're ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:30:52 PM EST
    ... forthright and would assume responsibility, until such time comes when it's actually our fault, and we're held liable. Then we're going to find any which way to wiggle out of it.

    The reduction in award doesn't surprise me, given the present condition of state finances, but it nevertheless has to be a painful blow to families whose lives have already been upended and pulverized by this tragedy. My heart goes out to them.


    I've often wondered (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:41:11 PM EST
    how they put a financial value on a child that wasn't likely creating financial value. I'm sure I'm alone thinking this way, but anything more than covering funeral costs (unless the victim had children) comes across as trying to cash in to me. As a parent, I wouldn't want their money in my pocket serving as a reminder of the emotional cost.

    You bring up a good point. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 02:45:58 AM EST
    If I were the parent, I'd want to sock it to them, take the money and set up a non-profit foundation to do some good works in my child's name -- such as advocacy for sane and sensible gun laws in this country.

    One assumes plaintiffs' counsel (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:57:34 PM EST
    Advised them of the statutory cap early on.

    Uof F Hospital (none / 0) (#9)
    by Amiss on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:36:06 PM EST
    Does put $200,000 for your life, at least.

    Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning (none / 0) (#10)
    by Amiss on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:43:55 PM EST
    Time came here to Jax last week.Hmmm...we DID have a private religious school master slain by a teacher. Thought he might be speaking to them.

    Guess where he has been staying? On the yacht of the Jaguars new owner, and Peyton offered 90 million by the Brpncos.

    I can not properly spell the new owner's name, Shahed Khan, I believe, was asked when he bought the Jags if he would have hired Tebow. Now let's see. Cuz by appearances, he is gone from the Broncos.

    Just funky news on our local channel tonight, along with the Giant's coach being in town as well for our local wine tasting I presume, can think of no other reason.


    While everyone is concerned about Manning (5.00 / 4) (#24)
    by CoralGables on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 11:01:52 AM EST
    and where he'll get the $90 Million contract (including me)...

    Tebow was in Jacksonville Thursday to open his first Timmy's Playroom at Dreams Come True, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit, and to spend the afternoon with 11-year-old leukemia patient Blake Torres.  

    Also over the last ten days he was in Butte, Montana for Habitat for Humanity; in Tampa, Florida as part of the Wounded Warrior Project; and just last night in Montgomery, Alabama for the Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central, Alabama.

    Your local news is more interested in football just like most of us.


    While (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Makarov on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 12:27:25 AM EST
    I'm no fan of Tim Tebow the athlete, it is always encouraging when I read about highly compensated sports figures giving back to their respected communities.

    "This American Life". Rsn a story (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 03:02:53 AM EST
    about working conditions @ foxcom on Cona, where Apple products are mfg/assembled.  Guy who did the piece purportedly interviewed workers. He has a solo off Broadway show re all this.

    But "This American Life" couldn't verify so has retracted the story. See NYT.

    "This American Life" ran the correction (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 12:16:34 PM EST
    for a full hour today.  Many details of the prior story were invented by their reporter (a theatrical story-teller, not a journalist) and some important details that the story-teller "stood by" nevertheless could not be verified upon fact-checking (notably, the number of under-age workers).  However, the big picture story on working condition in those Chinese factories where iPhones and iPads are made, they emphasized and verified, was absolutely true.  Interesting also that it was another NPR reporter (the China correspondent for Marketplace) who blew the whistle on the original TAL story.

    Would be interesting to find out (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 12:22:42 PM EST
    how ticket sales are going for Mr. Deasey's one-man show.  (TAL didn't bill him as their "reporter" in Epidode I.)

    Foxconn's owner is most famous for comparing (none / 0) (#31)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 08:51:54 PM EST
    its employees to animals, and asking for advice on their care from the Director of the Taipei Zoo.

    "Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache," said Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou at a recent year-end party, adding that he wants to learn from Chin Shih-chien, director of Taipei Zoo, regarding how animals should be managed.

    Gou not only invited Chin to take part in his company's annual review meeting but also asked all general managers in the group to listen to Chin's lecture, according to the local Common Wealth magazine.