Monday, January 17, 2005

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: First News Magazine to Use the Headline "Social INsecurity" in a Cover Story Gets a Bottle in the Face.

Iran Invasion Watch, Day 478 Things have been sleepy on the let's-invade-Iran front...or maybe they only appear sleepy. Ace reporter Seymour Hersh has dug up some interesting info: the U.S. military has been conducting recon missions inside Iran since last summer, undertaken with an eye toward identifying targets in the event of an invasion or "tactical strike." One former high-level intelligence official told Hersh, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."

Let's Do the Dollar Limbo: How Low Can It Go? Already being battered by the euro, the dollar is now rapidly losing value against a currency it had been trouncing for years: the yen. The yen has now hit a five-year high against the dollar and looks likely to climb even higher after the upcoming G7 meeting, when China will likely allow greater currency flexibility. What this means in the short term is that the U.S. trade deficit shows no signs of closing, meaning that American bond ratings are still in peril. In layman's terms: We're still fucked.

Ex Post Facto Reasoning at Its Finest In an interview with the Washington Post published yesterday (an interview bought for the low, low price of $100,000 - see Friday's top five), Bush claimed that it doesn't matter that Saddam had no WMD, that the Iraqi people did not greet the US as liberators, and that the US is now mired in that country's affairs without hope of extrication. Why? Because he won the election. "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," he said, introducing yet another neologism into the national lexicon. As for Osama Bin Laden's "accountability moment," scheduled since September 2001, Bush has this explanation for why it's been so hard to find the man: "Because he's hiding." Shit! You're right. I bet he has an unlisted phone number, too. Why didn't Saddam think of that?

The Sky Is Falling!...Or Is It? It looks like the rest of the big media is finally catching up to Paul Krugman and Kevin Drumm, as this excellent (and lengthy) NY Times Magazine article shows. To wit: There is no Social Security crisis, the only "crisis" for Republicans is that there's a government program that works the way it's supposed to and that stands in the way of turning America into a Latin American-style oligarchy. Speaking of Social Security, by the way, check out this unsettling story of how the Bush administration is using Social Security money to promote its plan to dismantle Social Security. Cue: vomiting in terror.

The Way Way Back Machine Presents: Scott Ritter Scott Ritter is the decorated former Marine who was one of the most gung-ho members of U.N. weapons inspections teams assigned to Iraq in the 1990s, in part because Ritter had fought Saddam's army in the first Gulf War. After those inspections, though, Ritter turned against the U.N.'s disastrous embargo of Iraq, arguing that the sanctions did more harm than good. During the run-up to war with Iraq in 2002, Ritter was a vocal opponent of the invasion, telling anyone who'd listen that Saddam no longer had any WMD. At the time, even I thought he was overstating the case: Surely Saddam had something, if only to act as a deterrent to Iran. Now, with the quiet news this month that the U.S. has officially abandoned the search for WMD, we all know that Ritter was 100 percent correct. Naturally, this modern-day Cassandra is being lavishly feted by the mainstream media, who are also apologizing for the scurrilous attacks on his character and patriotism they publicized in 2002 and 2003. Oh, you mean that's not the case? Ritter is the subject of a virtual press blackout while he works on his latest campaign, which is criticizing the proposed Star Wars missile shield? I guess the liberal media has one thing in common with the Lord: they both work in mysterious ways.

-Consider Arms