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Serial: I think I figured it out.

Leakin Park

I intentionally got Katiebird hooked on Serial. Now, I feel like a pusher. “Go on, try it. Are you afraid? All your friends are doing it.”

But yesterday, it all came together for me. Katiebird is still wending her way through the evidence so I’ll go first on a theory of what’s going on with Serial and then Katiebird can tell me where I’m wrong.

I’m working off of a couple of concepts here. The first is that it is very difficult to construct and be consistent with an elaborate lie. If the events never really happened, the mind has to fill in gaps, explanations, timelines. It’s hard to keep all the details straight because it is a constructed memory, not a real one.

The second concept is that of confirmation bias.  Rabia Chaudry, Adnan’s friend and longtime advocate, touches on confirmation bias in her blog. Basically, that is the tendency to look for evidence that supports your theory and throw out evidence that doesn’t. Fox News encourages confirmation bias but it’s hardly the only offender. In general, if you are a consumer of cable news, you are introduced to confirmation bias to one degree or another on an hourly basis. That’s why I don’t watch cable news.

If you have been a faithful listener of Serial, you will have been exposed to all the information you need at this point to come to a completely new and novel explanation of this crime. I’ve gone back and listened to all of the episodes and multiple clues have been dropped in every single one that helps cut through all of the confusion of the timelines and locations and motives. But recently, like, yesterday, I came across a reference on Reddit to another case that brought all of the information into sharp focus.  The item in question is the case of Ezra Mable.

Ezra was a bit player in the Baltimore drug scene until he spent 10 years in prison for the killing of a major Baltimore drug lord. Eyewitnesses actually pointed to a different guy but the cops built a case for sending Mable to jail. They did this by intimidation of witnesses, threatening to take their children away in one case, and constructing an alternative reality that made Mable look guilty. Mable spent the last 10 years in prison getting to the truth. Don’t ask me how he did this from prison. He’s not an educated man but he was determined to prove his innocence. Last year, his conviction was overturned and a whole slew of detectives and prosecutors were accused of misconduct including detective William Ritz. Detective Ritz was also on the Hae Min Lee case. Ritz has since resigned from the Baltimore Police Department after Mable’s conviction was overturned.

Another piece of information came up in the 1998 murder of another Woodlawn teenager. Jada Denita Lambert was found raped and strangled in a nearby park about six months before Hae Min Lee’s disappearance. The murderer, Roy Sharonnie Davis, was already in prison on another charge when DNA from the crime scene was found to match him in 2002.

Ok, let’s go back to the beginning of this story to see if adding corruption and a serial killer makes more sense to the chronology of events than the nonsensical timeline that Jay gave the cops. In this scenario, Hae Min Lee leaves school about 3:00pm to pick up her cousin at daycare but is kidnapped by an unknown assailant. Maybe this happens in the parking lot of the school or at another stop along the way. Katiebird says Hae stopped for gas. The assailant forces Hae to drive to the I-70 park and ride near Leakin Park. He then takes her into the woods via the Gwynnes Falls Trail (see the Leakin Park map), attempts to rape her and strangles her.

Hae’s body is found almost a month later. The cops ain’t got no clues. It could be a serial killer. But if they tell the Lee’s that, they’ll never hear the end of it. The community will demand a full, lengthy investigation and in all likelihood, the crime will never be solved. It will be just be endless years of the Lees getting on their nerves. Serial killings don’t look good on end of year performance evaluations and when you don’t have a motive or any connections to the victims, they’re a pain in the ass to solve.

Enter the old boyfriend.

Pinning it on either Don or Adnan will solve all their problems. Don has an airtight alibi. Adnan does not. Adnan’s whole future depends on one track team coach taking attendance that day. Track team coach doesn’t.

Now, here’s where I speculate all kinds of corrupt police skullduggery. The cops fake a call to the office tipping off Adnan as the killer. They immediately subpoena Adnan’s cell records and find Jenn Pusateri as a person of interest. They bring her in for questioning and threaten her. She gets a lawyer and tells some elaborate lie that Jay helped bury Hae’s body. Then they bring Jay in. They spend hours with him off tape before they start recording his story. Serial hired an expert in police investigations who says that this is probably where there was a deal made with Jay.  Supposedly, Jay tells them where Hae’s car is parked.

I used to think that knowledge of the location of Hae’s car is what solidified Jay’s involvement but now, I don’t buy it. It certainly makes the possibility of a serial killer fade into the background though, doesn’t it? Hae’s car is a serious piece of misdirection. I’m going to bet that the cops found Hae’s car shortly after they found her body. They weren’t that far apart.

The reason why Jay’s story and timeline make no damn sense is because it was constructed in the interrogation room in order to frame Adnan. Oh sure, they can claim that Adnan was the killer because he doesn’t  have an airtight alibi. But that’s all they’ve got. No alibi and this convoluted story of two teenagers driving around all afternoon getting stoned and looking for a place to bury the body in the trunk.

In the Ezra Mable case, the Baltimore PD is accused of “losing” exculpatory evidence that would have proved Ezra’s innocence as well as failing to investigate the guy who really committed the murder. In Hae’s murder case, Jay and Jenn were never given a polygraph, Jay’s house, car, possessions, phone records were never searched. Now, why would you fail to do that? I’ll tell you why. The investigators had no reason to think there was anything to uncover there- because they never did anything wrong. They were just two people who happened to be caught up in the scheme who were pressured to give evidence against Adnan. And they might have had some good reason to suspect that the cops were going to bust them on drug related activities. (There goes Jay and Jenn’s financial aid packages and her sorority membership.) But, in general, the whole story that Jay gives doesn’t make sense because it never happened.

One vital clue to Jay’s cooperation in this case is that he didn’t serve any jail time. It was probably part of the deal. Give us what we want and we’ll see to it that you don’t go to jail for being an accessory after the fact.

So, there you have it. These are the pieces of the puzzle that made sense to me. It’s a simpler explanation that doesn’t require me to reconcile a lot of conflicting timelines. It doesn’t force me to concentrate on subjective evaluations of character that distract from the lack of physical evidence. It resolves the issue of Hae’s car. It explains why Jenn says she didn’t know anything about a murder the first time she meets with the cops but lawyers up the next day when she starts spinning a tale. It explains why Jay doesn’t want to be interviewed. Maybe they can’t get him on being an accessory to murder but perjury is still a pretty serious crime.

It also explains why Sarah Koenig says that Hae’s murder may never be solved satisfactorily. The serial murderer is dead. The forensic evidence from Hae’s murder site may not be available. We may never know where Adnan was on the day of Hae’s death but I’m betting he was at track. There’s no physical evidence tying him to the crime and plenty of reasonable doubt now. I predict he’ll be home for Christmas. The likelier outcome is that Koenig and Glass will win a slew of awards and podcasts will become the new “thing”, even though some of us have been podcast junkies for years now.

Whether Adnan will track down Jay and beat the s^&* out of him is another question. Koenig reports that Adnan is a perfect gentleman in prison, well liked and has won awards for being a model prisoner. But he’s probably learned a thing or two while he’s been incarcerated for 15 long years. We’ll see.

I’m anxiously awaiting Katiebird’s analysis.

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Monday: Colbert’s brilliant ad

I have a post knocking around in my head about the after effects of the 2008 election season on women but it’s not quite there yet.  In the meantime, add me to the growing list of admirers of Stephan Colbert’s, sorry, JON STEWART’S SuperPAC ad.  For those of you who missed it last week, Colbert gave up his PAC to his business partner, Stewart, when he decided to form an exploratory committee to run for the President of South Carolina.  As the owner of a SuperPAC, legally he can’t coordinate it with his campaign committee or even know what it’s up to but he can transfer ownership of the PAC to his business partner and if they chat now and again about stuff and it looks like the two entities share the same vision, that’s merely coincidental.

Anyway, here’s the ad:

So, let’s talk briefly about the pros of this ad.  What I like the most about this ad was that it expresses in 30 seconds what I have been trying to say less successfully for a couple of years now.  There is a place for corporations in the American business landscape and we don’t need to always be hostile to them.  Those corporations are not people but they are made up of people.  Those people make the widgets or build the cars or design the airbuses or discover the drugs.  To do and build on this scale requires teams of people, working together, and sometimes, this just works more efficiently when they work in a corporate environment.  It’s like a department store where everyone needs what’s in the everyone else’s department.  For example, you can’t do drug discovery very easily outside of a corporation.  Those of us who are out of corporate settings realize that the level of coordination and high start up costs, coupled with the reluctance of banks to lend and vulture capitalists to invest, make new drug discovery companies very risky propositions.

Colbert doesn’t take any shots at those people who work for corporations.  The left could take a lesson from that.  He is not offending anyone who due to the circumstances of where they live or what their talents are, end up working for corporations.  Those people are not evil and they shouldn’t feel any shame for not being able to build a car or develop a drug all by themselves or with a couple of friends in a garage.  The “you ought to be ashamed for working for {{insert nasty corporation here}}” attitude is thick in the left blogosphere.  It is very offensive.  Yes, I think that most of the lefties who have this attitude, especially those who want desperately to fit in, have no idea how incredibly offensive they can be.  And insulting.  Did I mention that?  Failure to discriminate the portions of a corporation that are responsible for all the pain and suffering from the people who are suffering, including some of the corporation’s workers, leads to a lot of resentment towards the left from people who should be its allies.  Over and over again, the left’s insistence on moral purity alienates it from the very people they say they want to help.  It’s not helping, guys.  So, stop doing it.  It’s insulting to condemn people who work for corporations –who are in the rank and file.

It’s quite another thing to be critical of the people who run corporations and seem to be in it only to enrich themselves or gain some kind of social status.  THOSE people really do have a problem.  But the average assembler, engineer, CADD designer or labrat?  No, these people deserve your respect.  Stephan Colbert gives it to them and puts the blame where it belongs- at the top of the corporate ladder.

Now, Colbert is taking well deserved pot shots at Romney.  But I think we can see that down the road, he’s going to have a problem.  Because Barack Obama is indistinguishable from the corporate overlords who yank his junk.  In fact, this is the primary reason why I couldn’t support him.  He is their creature.  He is a schmoozer who rose to the presidency because he embraced the corporate executive culture.  He adopted their values and their tactics.  Do you think Obama is the first dude who rose to the top of an organization who had absolutely no idea what the business does for a living or how it operates?  Heck no, the country’s corporations are stuffed to the gills with guys like that.  Their prestigious Wharton B. School MBAs, Harvard law degrees, personal connections and ability to kiss ass, while cold bloodedly, unscrupulously and ruthlessly stabbing their competition, are their tickets to success.  The fact that they run companies or governments where thousands or millions of people are dependent on good decision making is tangential to their personal goals and aspirations.  Their success story doesn’t involve making a brilliant new product or turning around a struggling enterprise in a changing economy.  It involves their own personal struggle and self actualization.  They write books about the ascent of man told from their own intimate experience.  They are testaments to rugged individualism in the boardroom and fortitude on the back nine.  This is Obama’s reality.  It has nothing to do with YOU.  Why are you making unreasonable demands on him?  Hasn’t he shown you the way to accomplishing your own dream?  That’s what he was born to do: to make his own personal experience something that you can aspire to.  That was the secret to his electoral success in 2008.  He convinced a whole generation of Whole Foods shoppers that they were special people who could be the ambitious, intrepid masters of their own personal universes.  Yes, You Can!  Yes, You Can!  {{rolling eyes}}.

There are other reasons to not want him for four more years as president, like, he’s not a good politician and he’s lousy at making policy.  If you wanted someone who would have come to the White House prepared to make good policy and stick with core Democratic values, Hillary Clinton was your guy.  According to Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, Obama had no idea how to actually do policy.  He has some kind of vision and then says to his minions, “Go do it!”.  He gives them very little guidance beyond that.  And that’s because he either doesn’t believe what his corporate overlords tell him not to believe or because he just doesn’t have the experience or interest to buckle down and concentrate on the task at hand.

Unfortunately, this is the person the Democrats keep saying (at this time) that they want in the White House for four more years.  I am of the opinion that until the Democratic party is willing to sit down and negotiate with its voters, those voters would be well advised to go on strike.  After all, we have zero influence over the Republicans.  There’s nothing we can do or say that will ever have any effect on them.  But we might be able to persuade Democrats that they will be in the political wilderness for a generation if they don’t get their shit together.  And then, we should find a third party candidate to the left of the Democrats, it doesn’t matter who it is, and vote for that person.  If Romney wins in November, I guarantee that you will not know the difference when it comes to who is occupying the White House, ask any of the thousands and thousands of laid off scientists who Obama ignored in the past 3 years while their corporate overlords slashed their way through the payrolls and pension funds to “enhance shareholder value” and their own bottom lines.  Obama was an accomplice to the serial killing of the American scientific infrastructure.  He was golf buddy to those homocidal maniacs.  So, why reward the Democrats by voting for him?  Congress is a different thing.  I’d primary every incumbent congresscritter of either party with few exceptions.

Now, can Citizens for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow craft an ad that takes on the Democrats?  That remains to be seen.  If the PAC is to be successful, it has to motivate Democrats to take action, it can’t simply be content to trash Republicans.  Because when November rolls around, the Republicans will once again rile up its Christian conservative base to go to the polls.  To go to the polls, you need motivation and Republicans seem to be highlighting “religious freedom” this year, as in, anything the Democrats propose will be an infringement on the rights of fundamentalist Christians with Fox induced Acquired Stupidity Syndrome to push their Old Testament tribalism on the rest of us who don’t give a damn.  But right now, what is motivating Democrats to go to the polls?  Having new, more vigorous blood in the party would motivate many of us Democrats in Exile.