Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama Supporter Carves McCain Volunteer's Face? Reports, Blogs, and Video Tape

Update (October 24, 2008) 1:20 p.m. Central time (18:20 UTC)
The news broke recently:
  • "Report: McCain Campaign Volunteer Confesses to Lying About Political Attack"
    FOXNews (October 24, 2008)
    • "Police sources tell KDKA television in Pittsburgh that 20-year-old John McCain campaign volunteer Ashley Todd has admitted to lying to them about being mugged and attacked by a man who carved a "B" into her cheek after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car. Todd is expected to face charges for the false report, according to KDKA...."
  • "Police: Campaign Volunteer Made Up Attack Story"
    KDKA (October 24, 2008)
    • "A Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Ashley Todd confessed to making up the story & is facing charges
    • "PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Police tell KDKA that a campaign volunteer has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter B in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker...."
That didn't take long. (My reaction to the news: "Obama Supporter Carved Me: McCain Volunteer Comes Clean" (October 24, 2008))
Unless something very strange happens, either Barack Obama or John McCain will be president of the United States next year. Whoever is president will have a great effect on what happens in the War on Terror.

With all that's at stake, emotions are running high. Wild claims have been made: the latest one involves an enraged Obama supporter, a knife, and a mutilated young woman. Or maybe it's several enraged Obama supporters. The story is getting better as it gets re-told

Knife-Wielding Obama Supporter: This Story Seemed Too Good To Be True

From one point of view, at least.

A blogger titled a post "Obama Supporter Maims McCain Volunteer, Will Media Care?"

It's not quite front-page news, but: As of today, the answer is "yes." The story of Ashley Todd, a McCain bumper sticker, and what she said was an enraged Obama supporter, is pretty easy to find in the news.

What's happening to this horrific tale of a young woman brutally attacked and mutilated - just because of a McCain sticker - isn't likely to sit well with conservative bloggers, though.

Ashley Todd and the Pittsburgh Carver

The story, as it grew, is that this young woman was savagely attacked by a robber and Obama supporter. It seems he was enraged when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car.

One blog's headline starts with "Obama supporter attacks...." After what appears to be a screenshot of the Drudge Report, the post's first paragraph begins with "Obama supporters attacked...." Supporters. Plural.

The McCain volunteer's story isn't consistent, either, but it's dramatic:

"...'You are going to be a Barack supporter,' she recalled the robber saying before he sat on her chest, pinning both her hands down with his knees and scratched the letter "B" on the right side of her face using what she believed to be a very dull knife. Then the robber fled, she said in the police report.

"But Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard told on Friday that Todd later added to her tale, saying she was groped by the robber and lost consciousness during the assault. Neither of those details was in the original report.

"Richard said after a second interview, Todd also was not as definitive about the assault or the motives behind it, nor could she say for certain whether the robber took $60 from her as she initially reported but maintains is missing...."
(FOXNews (October 23, 2008)) [emphasis mine]

Even though the story Ashley Todd is giving police got 'better' as she went along, she seems to be sticking to the part about there being just one attacker.

Obama Supporter(s), a McCain Bumper Sticker, a Photo, Security Camera Video, and Facts

Here's what's getting to be a famous photo:

(From College Republicans via FOXNews, used without permission)

That backwards "B" on her face is the one that was "carved" yesterday.

I'm with the Pittsburgh police on this: it's more of a scratch than a carving. Still, it looks like she had a rough time, one way or another.

A fact: "(CNN) -- A Pennsylvania woman told police she was attacked at an ATM in Pittsburgh by a robber who became angry when he saw a John McCain bumper sticker on her car, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Police Department said Thursday...." (CNN (October 24, 2008))

Her name is Ashley Todd, she seems to be from Texas.

The photo didn't come from the Pittsburgh police, but there's no reasonable doubt that she had a scratch on her face when she reported the robbery and, maybe, assault.

The different versions of her story, which were inconsistent enough to have the Pittsburgh police give Ashley Todd a polygraph test, might just come from her being upset.

A recording from a security camera shows the ATM where the alleged robbery and assault took place, but not the incident. It's possible that it happened off-camera. Fact is, though, the video does not show the events that the McCain volunteer says took place. There aren't any witnesses, either.

Ashley Todd may be a victim of robbery and assault - and the unluckiest woman in Pittsburgh. The police seem very interested in solving this case, and probably will ferret out what actually happened.

Maniac Obama Supporter Mutilates Young Woman! Or, Not

Quite a few bloggers particularly the more enthusiastic conservative ones, jumped into this story with both feet.

One post's title started with "Obama supporter attacks and mutilates...." The first paragraph starts with "Obama supporters attacked...." That blogger gets points for enthusiasm, if not internal consistency.

Although innocent victims have been known to change their stories and refuse medical attention, it's 'way too easy to see yesterday's story of the Obama supporter, the knife, and the helpless young woman as a sort of replay of the Duke lacrosse team fiasco. (Crystal Mangum, the woman who made the accusations, came out with a book that says 'did too!' - just in time for the election. (The New York Times (October 24, 2008))

Obama Supporter Knifes McCain Volunteer? Time to Calm Down

Whether or not one robber-turned-performance artist/political activist actually scratched that backwards "B" in Ashley Todd's face won't affect who I vote for in the presidential election. Both campaigns agree that the incident, whatever actually happened, was a bad thing.

And, I hope that Representative Alcee Hastings's wild warnings about Palin, hunters, Jews, and black people won't change anyone's mind.

It's not that I'm neutral. I'd just as soon that McCain be elected president.

I also like to get facts straight: and vote according to facts, not possibly-crazy stories.

There are plenty of reasons to vote for one candidate or the other, based on what they've said, and what their record is (or isn't). To be very briefly political, I see the 2008 American presidential election as a choice between
  1. Obama, a charming young orator and
    • Very junior Senator who
      • Wants to "spread the wealth around"
      • Apparently thinks that taking money from potential employers will help those who don't get hired
  2. McCain,
    • An experienced legislator who
      • Knows how to compromise
      • Has what I regard as a sensible understanding of human nature and the world situation
Both candidates say that they've got the best interests of America at heart, and I tend to believe them. I've been around long enough to realize that people of good will can disagree with each other.
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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.