Friday, June 11, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Working on My Night Moves. Also, on the Night Shift (Hence the Late Post).

Put the Boot In For the second straight year, British voters have given Tony Blair's Labour Party "a kicking" in local elections, with Iraq apparently the decisive factor in the party's unpopularity. For the first time in living memory, the governing party came in third in local elections, behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Labour lost 388 seats, and control of such northern strongholds as Newcastle and Leeds. Ken Livingstone's decisive win in today's London mayoral election doesn't really blunt the damage to Labour, since "Red Ken" has long been a thorn in Blair's side, and Labour kicked him out of the party four years ago and ran some tomato can against him in the last mayoral election (they have since come crawling back). The extremists, who did so well last year, failed to make significant gains, except for the surging popularity of the UK Independence Party, which advocates withdrawal from the European Union. We'll have to watch Sunday's European Parliament elections to see if the anti-Blair mood of the British public continues to make life difficult for George Bush's favorite lap dog.

That Depends on What the Meaning of "Torture" Is In a proud moment for American democracy, George W. Bush today categorically refused to condemn the use of torture by American troops, trying to dodge the question in a Bill Clinton-like fashion. When asked if torture could ever be justified, Bush replied, "Look, I'm going to say it one more time. ... The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you." Jesus, did you ever think you'd live to see the day when the US president can't answer a question about whether torture is bad?

Isolated Incident! Isolated Incident! Goddamn You, Isolated Incident! The administration's line on Abu Ghraib - "It was a handful of hillbillies who had watched too much porno" - continues to evaporate. The Washington Post reported today that the use of dogs to torture prisoners was apparently official policy, as expressed in a memo. Does anyone know how many damaging memos we have that basically say, "Fuck the Geneva Convention - go ahead and torture people"? Isn't it like a million at this point? Note to US administration: Thank you for providing a paper trail when you broke the law. Keep it up, buddies.

Things Are Just Dandy in the New Athens 11 Chinese railroad workers were slaughtered in the heretofore-tranquil Afghan province of Kunduz this week, bringing voter registration efforts there to a halt and giving the lie to US claims that the age of Pericles has descended upon the blighted, war-torn nation. With elections planned for September, only a third of the eligible 10 million voters have registered, and Hamid Karzai is relying on warlords to get the vote out. Now let's all furrow our brows and try to remember what the point of invading was in the first place.

Today's "Thank God It's Friday" Special: Thank God There Will Be No More Reagan Tribute Stories Or, "Farewell to the Gipper, Friday Edition: I Have Come to Bury Caesar." It's been quite a week, both for the United States and for the Monster Limo Weblog. It seems that, while the mainstream press was busy sucking up to the expired tyrant, we here were busy getting our whacks in, desperately hoping to make that last chance to discuss El Mozote count. I think, in the words of after school specials, we had some fun, but we learned something to. True, we didn't post everything we wanted to: Reagan's crimes and foibles were so extensive it would take a separate web log operating for years to do justice to them all. But we hit on some important points, on our trip down memory lane: we remembered that Reagan brought us Osama, that he funded the Khmer Rouge, and that de-institutionalization was a terrible disaster. And so, while Reagan's funeral/day of mourning/grief porn extravaganza costs the taxpayers untold millions, perhaps it's appropriate to give the last word to Jimmy Breslin, the venerable Newsday reporter who once called Reagan so stupid that he "numbed an entire nation": "You are supposed to honor and respect the dead. But you also must respect the truth, and live for the living - and this funeral has gone on for almost a week."

-Consider Arms