Friday, November 18, 2005

Can We Just Get Rid Of Congress?

Seriously, who has the stomach for this stuff anymore. What would Washington, Jefferson and all the rest of our forefathers say if they could see the sorry state of our leadership today.

Our elected congressmen and senators, republican and democrat alike, have made a mockery of our political system. And we shouldn't stand for it. Come 2006, every single congressman and senator up for election should be voted out of office.

Because of things like this:

A Vietnam Veteran who visits soldiers EVERY DAY in the hospital calls for a non-binding resolution, that Bush seek to withdraw troops from Iraq as soon as it's logistically possible. Instead, they would maintain a presence around the middle east, and work through diplomacy to solve Iraq's problems.

The Republicans, in response, trash the Vietnam Veteran, calling him a fat documentary maker (Michael Moore) and a coward. Then, they write an absolutely stupid resolution, calling for withdrawal of troops tomorrow, the poisoning of kittens, and the slaughter of every person with a name starting in X. Hoping of course, that the resolution they propose will be soundly defeated, and settle once and for all the question of whether or not our troops should still be in Iraq.

To support our troops, Republicans insist, we must continue to undersupply them, cut veteran's benefits, provide poor leadership, and incite terrorists with violent rhetoric. To support our troops they say, we must continue this war as long as possible, and if we need to do things that make it longer, then so be it.

The thing is, a pull out of troops from Iraq would be the best thing possible for the Republican party. You would think they'd be all for it. To pull out and wash themselves clean from the mess they created, you'd think they'd be happy. Suddenly, the democrats wouldn't be so vocal anymore. Bush's poll numbers would go up. Maybe they could actually focus again on ripping apart social security and banning gay marriage.

When Congress starts to act like a bunch of schoolchildren, using dirty tricks to rouse the support of sheep-like followers, this country is seriously in trouble.

Oh, by the way... The Congressmen followed up their very productive day by voting for their own pay raise.

I love America, and don't want to see its institutions degraded like this.

Man I wish we had elected Gore. (Oh wait, we did!) I'd prefer boredom to this soap opera any day of the week.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

They're All Corrupt

33 Senators Get Paid By Lobbyist, Then Coincidentally Vote How He Wants

Does anyone even believe their denials anymore?
It's Called a PeePee

I know we're supposed to be so progressive and all... but this really disturbs me:

Sex-Ed For Toddlers

I mean, yikes. I don't want a three year old knowing more about sex than I do. What's next, Kindergarden Kama Sutra?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From Hero To Chump

Bob Woodward

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Once upon a time, long ago, Bob Woodward was a reporter. He was a reporter who happened to stumble into the greatest moment in modern journalism: the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat came to him, and next thing he knew, he had become the stuff of legend. He was portrayed on screen by Robert Redford.

I would argue that his articles on Watergate were the primary reason Woodward rode up the ranks at the Washington Post, and became one of the most respected journalists in the nation. Nothing he has done since has come close. But that's ok. Plenty of people coast on the glory from a single accomplishment. Woodward had earned the right.

So it's sad to see him become the next Judy Miller.

Judy, for those of you living in caves (Osama), hid the idenity of the man responsible for outing an undercover CIA agent, Valerie Plame. She inexplicably went to jail, even though that man had released her from promises of confidentiality. Then, she inexplicably reversed her stance, obstensibly because she had finally signed a hefty enough book deal.

Though a notebook with interview notes from her talk with Cheney crony Scooter Libby mentions Valerie "Flame," Judy claims she doesn't remember Scooter saying the name to her, and insists she doesn't know how it got there. Possible theories include:

1) Aliens Wrote It

2) It appeared "by magic"

3) Michael Moore altered the notebook when she wasn't looking.

Libby was indicted anyway. Not content to be the sacrificial lamb, he denied revealing Plame's name. And that was that. He prepared for trial, Judy and fellow Times reporter Maureen Dowd worked out the financial details of their pay per view jello wrestling match.

Then Bob Woodward decided it wasn't fair for Judy to be the only disgraced reporter around.

This morning's Washington Post admitted that Bob Woodward learned Valerie Plame's name from a high-ranking government official waaaayyyy before Judy did. Then Woodward dropped the bombshell... IT WASN'T LIBBY!!!!!

Who was it?

Well, Bob Woodward is just a reporter. It's just his job to tell the news. So he's not going to say who told him. "My source requested he or she be called 'Harriet Fagina,' after the character in the 80's porn flick 'Josie and the Pussies.'"

He seemed to suffer the same memory problems that afflicted Judy Miller (strange, dontcha think?):

Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place.

[Woodward testified,] "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."

Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.

"Are you kidding?" Pincus said. "I certainly would have remembered that."

Woodward also told Fitzgerald [the Republican special prosecutor assigned to the case by Republicans] that it is possible he asked Libby about Plame or her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. He based that testimony on an 18-page list of questions he planned to ask Libby in an interview that included the phrases "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife." Woodward said in his statement, however, that "I had no recollection" of mentioning the pair to Libby. He also said that his original government source did not mention Plame by name, referring to her only as "Wilson's wife."

According to his statement, Woodward also testified about a third unnamed source. He told Fitzgerald that he does not recall discussing Plame with this person when they spoke on June 20, 2003.
Earlier this year, Woodward went on Larry King and said he didn't think outing an undercover CIA officer in order to discredit a critic of the administration was a big deal.

"If putting a CIA officer at risk is what it takes to force this country into an ill-advised war, I'm all for it," he said... in not so many words.

So Woodward has gone from someone revealing a massive government coverup to someone who, well... is participating in a massive government coverup.

Robert Redford would be ashamed.


Food For Thought:

Poor Getting Poorer, Rich Getting Richer, The Middle Getting Poorer

Oil Execs Deny Getting Cozy With Cheney

CPB Chair Tried To Make Elmo Republican

Congressional Indian Givers Stiff 9/11 Victims $125 Million, No Word On Bridge To Nowhere (Somehow, I don't think this is what Glenn Reynolds meant when he pushed congress to cut pork spending)

New Jersey: We'll Win You Over???? That's The Best They Came Up With? I personally like "New Jersey: You Gotta Problem With That?"


Monday, November 14, 2005

From MySpace To Murder

When The News And Social Networks Collide

Kara @ MySpace David @ MySpace

Early in the morning of November 13th, 2005, Kara Borden, a 14-year-old from Lititz, Pennsylvania, logged onto MySpace. The young, bubbly, blonde-haired, brown-eyed homeschooled high school freshman had a profile on the popular networking site, brightly colored with pink-lined black boxes listing her friends and hobbies, a rainbow striped white background and a picture of her in a pink top, smiling with lips closed to hide her braces. She listed her interests as soccer, talking on the phone, the beach and partying. "Books are gay," she wrote. She lied about her age, listing it as 17.

A few hours later she stood by as her boyfriend, David Ludwig, 18, shot and killed her parents.

David was on MySpace too.

Just after noon the next day, Police were able to track the two teens down in Indiana, capturing them after a high speed chase. But before that, as the story of the double murder and the two missing teens hit the news, hundreds of curious, saavy web-surfers soon found Kara and David's MySpace profiles and Xanga blogs. It didn't take long for reporters to begin doing the same thing. A photo used by numerous news web sites was also from the MySpace profile of Kara's best friend. MSNBC was first to report the teens' interests found listed online.

Next to Kara's profile picture is a quote. "...Cause I need you and I miss you," obstensibly from Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles." A reference to David? Or just a favorite song? Strangers commenting on Kara's MySpace blog perused every little detail.

David's MySpace profile, last visited by him on November 12th, provides little to suggest a day later he'd murder two people. Like many other users, he lists his religion, Christian, and his job, Product Specialist at Circuit City. He says he doesn't smoke but does drink. Messages left by his friends include one asking if he's "going to help the smiths move on the 12th." Kara leaves a message, happy that he's signed up for MySpace, and asks him to leave a comment on her page. "<3Kara<3", she signs off.

In a October 24th blog entry, David writes about going to see the new Wallace and Gromit movie, and about visiting a college with his parents. "I did get to go and see Were-Rabbit (the new Wallace and Gromit movie) with a bunch of friends...I enjoyed the movie even if a bunch of ppl didn' it did have some crude humor...but some of it was reeeally funny! lol *wicked grin*"

"So yes and now today I shall be doing school and tomorrow I'm going to visit stupid York Tech school complemints [sic] of my loverly parents lol But yes now I must run and do school so ya'll have a good day. God bless!!"

David's Xanga site states that he enjoys "soft air gun wars" and "getting into trouble." He provides a link to his pictures. An album full of pictures of only him, and an album of hunting photos. Several show the teen gutting a deer.

Kara's messages to David on MySpace are brief, harmless, seemingly frivolous. She disagrees with his statement that he's a bit overweight. "Very skinny babe..get that through your little head!! heh otay ttyl."

"How is school and crap?" She asks a mutual friend of her and David's. "Mine is really boring..sigh...oh well ttyl."

Her blog talks about soccer, bands she likes, and getting baptized. She posted several pictures that have since been taken down due to the high amount of web traffic the site was receiving.

But perhaps far more disturbing are the messages left by voyeuristic web browsers, who wasted no time offering their take on events.

Under David's blog entry, one user jokes, "I have a bad feeling about this guy, i'd stay away if i were you." Another adds, "You know what inmates do to guys like you?" One girl writes, "U HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS U SICK FREAK!!! ON THE NEWS IT SAID U WERE A CHRISTIAN MY ASS U WOULDNT HAVE KILLED HER PARENTS IF U WERE!!!!" A debate on the godliness of Christians follows. The comments grow progressively angrier and more vulgar than can be printed here.

Recent posts included a "Free David" graphic and an invitation to the "David Double Homicide Fan Club."

The comments on Kara's profile arent much better. Many express sympathy and belief in her innocence, but others accuse her of being David's partner in crime, and helping him plan the murder.

Some MySpace users even travelled to the pages of Kara and David's friends, glutting their comment space with hate-filled invective. One friend of Kara's cancelled her account.

"I know you are ALL worried about my best friend Kara and even David," Kara's friend writes on her profile page, "Yes it true what happened, the muder [sic] and abduction - as far as anything else..I am not sure at the moment. I would greatly appriciate it if you ALL stopped messaging me and Kara and even David. Thanks for your prayers -its greatly appriciated! But - the constant overflow of messages is too much on top of all this! Thanks though for caring!"

Another friend reveals far more aggrivation with the flock of rubberneckers visiting her page. "I do NOT know where she is and i have NOTHING to do with her being missing," she writes. "ALL IN ALL, STOP SENDING ME MESSAGES JUST TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT KARA. I GOT OVER 65 MESSAGES WITHIN AN HOUR LAST NIGHT AND I ONLY RESPONDED TO THE FIRST 3. SO MORE THAN LIKELY, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME SENDING ME ONE."

Shortly after Kara's page began to attract attention her profile was set to private (meaning only her friends can access it) and most of its content was taken offline. But not before someone corrected her age to 14.

It's unclear whether authorities are aware of Kara and David's online presence, but it was reported in a local Lancaster, Pennsylvania paper, and investigators have confiscated both teens' computers.

It's not the first time MySpace has had a surreal role in popular news stories. At times it's been a colorful sounding board, other times space for a grim eulogy.

Earlier this summer, Zach Stark, a gay 16-year-old from Bartlett, Tennessee made headlines when he wrote in his MySpace blog about his parents' decision to send him to Camp Refuge, a camp aimed at setting homosexuals straight. Gay rights activists picked up on Zach's blog and rallied to his side, protesting the group running the camp, Love In Action. Earlier this month, a federal judge upheld the State of Tennessee's prosecution of Love In Action for running a mental health facility without a license.

And in September, Mellie Carballo and Maria Pesantez, two teenage New York City college students, died in a well-reported wave of heroin overdoses. Both had MySpace profiles. Friends and strangers visited to leave notes of condolence, as well as a few scathing diatribes against the way heroin use had wasted two young lives. Both girls profiles' contained numerous drug references.

On the MySpace profile of Taylor Behl, 19, a college student allegedly murdered by a web pornographer she had become friendly with, friends and strangers posted pleas for her safe return before police made the gruesome discovery of her body.

While the news may not have a long shelf life, these online profiles do. New messages from friends still appear on Maria's MySpace page every so often. So do spam ads from the clubs she used to frequent. On Taylor's profile, friends relayed condolence letters strangers had sent them. Several MySpace tributes to Taylor's memory have been created. Since returning from Camp refuge, Zach erased his old blog and strangers' comments, but updates readers of his situation. "I miss my old life," he wrote in a recent entry.

Sometimes a MySpace profile is created after a news story takes place. Hoax profiles often appear for celebrities when they arise to the top of the News. The Olsen Twins, for example, have numerous entries pretending to be them on several different networking sites. Kara and David's profiles were not, however, hoaxes.

What does a MySpace profile reveal? And what, if anything, could parents do if they knew about them earlier? If the parents had been aware of the numerous drug references present in Mellie and Maria's profiles, could they have provided them counselling before it was too late? Would Kara's parents have talked to their child earlier, once finding out she was representing herself as a 17 year old who likes to party? Would they have been more aware of David's capacity for violence if they had seen his xanga site?

Hindsight is 20/20. What might look obvious to someone looking back on a profile now, may have seemed innocuous before. But clearly, what MySpace and others like it do provide are windows into the private and complex mind of a teenager. The pages are not always frivolous fun... they may also be a cry for help.

On MySpace, users write headlines above their photo to attract people to their profiles, to show off who they are and sum up how they feel. Kara's headline is eerily ironic and utterly familiar, to anyone who knows the frustrations of being an overprotected teenager.

Kara Borden's headline was "meant X to X live."
Outrage, Blobs, and Torture

If its one thing I've learned as I've grown up, its that there is no absolute truth. There's "takes." Some people see blue and call it blue. Others see blue and call it perriwinkle (They are not cool).

So it shouldn't surprise me when the Washington Post reveals we torture people in secret Eastern European prisons, and those on the right and left have wildly different reactions.

Lefty: Our government is torturing people is secret prisons?? I'm OUTRAGED!!!

Righty: The Washington Post revealed that our government tortures people in secret prisons?? I'm OUTRAGED!!!

Reading the blobs, (typo?) you'd think that the fact people are being tortured by us is no big deal. Rather, the fact that the Washington Post did not reveal which countries the prisons were located in was more important. Or, the real story was the fact that unnamed government officials "leaked" this info to the Post.

Democrats called for an investigation into the secret torture prisons. Republicans called for an investigation to find out who the whistleblowers are.

Its been a while since we've seen those pictures of naked prisoners with bags over their heads (which, according to some, are not even the worst pictures that exist). But does that mean we should just let it slide? Forget about the fact our leaders are torturing people? It used to be that when the terrorists claimed we were the great satan, we could be like "Great Satan? What did we ever do to you? We've just been playing Madden 2005." But now, thanks to Bush and his cadre, its like... "well.. we did torture some of you guys. We did bomb your village. We did make you lose your job and forced your family into abject poverty. But please, don't take your revenge."

It's not that I, or any liberal, feels sorry for terrorists. Who we do feel sorry for are those innocent people who inevitably get swept up, shipped to Eastern Europe, and are tortured until they forget they're human beings anymore. There is never a guarentee that every suspect is guilty. Our legal system is based on the fact that the innocent are sometimes the accused. Do we trash that belief just because the accused has a different color skin and eats shwarma?

I don't think we should. I don't think its right that this government runs any "secret prison." The government should have its secrets, sure. But for those secrets to involve things that slaughter the ideals of our constitution, things that are paid for by our tax dollars, is a crime. And the men responsible for committing that crime should be investigated. Not the ones that reveal it.

I hope that everyone, right and left and all those inbetween, know that torture is never acceptable.

That is a truth. Not a take.

I should hope so. For all our sakes.

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