Friday, February 17, 2006

Spreading Democracy

Kenneth Starr is accused of sending fake letters on behalf of a client, Michael Morales, to governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Morales is scheduled to be executed for the rape and murder of a teen-age girl 25 years ago. The letters, ostensibly from five jurors in the case, requested clemency for Morales. According to a spokesman for the California Attorney General, the jurors all denied writing the letters or talking to the defense investigator who supposedly secured their signatures. Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, is the dean of the Pepperdine School of Law.

Tony Blair has promised an investigation of British soldiers who were caught on video beating four Iraqi youths. (Three are shown in the sequence above. The fourth was brought in moments later, and several more soldiers joined in the fun.) It is impossible to determine with any precision the ages of the victims; but they are clearly much shorter than their captors, suggesting that they are fairly young. One soldier wearing a helmet butted heads with a victim; another soldier apparently kneed the boy in the face. Four or five soldiers set upon him in earnest. All the boys were beaten with clubs. One of them was kicked in the groin while he was held face down on the ground by two men who were punching him.

The video apparently was made by a corporal who was cheering the soldiers on. “Oh, yes! Oh, yes! You’re gonna get it! Yes, naughty little boys! (Laughter)” The boys can be heard crying, “No, no, please.” The cameraman mocks them, saying “Oh, please, don’t hurt me.”

The video is available at for February 12, 2006. It is not a beautiful thing to see.

In a related story, 60 new photos have been released documenting the abuse of prisoners at abu Ghraib. Although similar to pictures already available, the new photos reveal graphic images of sexual humiliation and torture along with new incidents of murder. The pictures are available through World News Australia, but they have not yet been shown by American media outlets. Link Link

The final lesson in democracy comes from Palm Beach, Florida. In recent county elections, right-wing media mouth Ann Coulter voted in the wrong precinct — and not by accident. In fact, she gave a false address when she registered to vote in 2005 and signed the registration form certifying that the information she provided was true.

It is a felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. Falsifying a voter registration form can result in a fine of up to $5000 and a maximum jail sentence of five years.

It’s going to be hard for her to blame this on President Clinton, but I’m confident she’ll find a way.


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