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Entries by Arianna Huffington from 01/2006

Happy 2006!

| Posted 01.02.2006 | Huffington Post

The New Year is two days old, and our bloggers spent the waning hours of last year making resolutions (Nora Ephron, Seth Greenland), coming up with predictions (Alec Baldwin, Nina Burleigh), dreaming of impeachment (Martin Garbus, Katrina vanden Heuvel), and continuing to hold the mainstream media's feet to the fire (Marty Kaplan, Bill Jackson).

NSA Wiretaps: Bush's Macho Swagger is Back. But for How Long?

| Posted 01.02.2006 | Huffington Post

George Bush is back in flight suit mode, exuding the macho, Protector-in-Chief swagger that got him re-elected. While passing out Purple Hearts at an Army hospital in Texas, the president strongly defended the NSA spy program as a key tool in fending off another terrorist attack. So far, the public seems to be buying this Colonel Jessep Defense ("You need me on that wall!"), with half of the country saying the warrantless domestic wiretapping had made America safer. But I'm confidently predicting that Bush's bluster will soon give way to a far less full-throated stance. Why? Because we've seen this pattern before. It's the Bush administration's political spin on those five stages of grief, which move from denial to anger, through bargaining and depression to, finally, acceptance.

The Security 'Tradeoff': Is Mitchell Channeling Mehlman?

| Posted 01.02.2006 | Huffington Post

In the ongoing debate about Bush's warrantless wiretaps, can we please put to rest a GOP talking point that has sadly already entered the media mainstream? Its latest carrier was Andrea Mitchell on Hardball last night, in which she speculated over how people will "handle this tradeoff" between civil liberties and security. That's exactly how the GOP would like to frame this, with the implication that what Bush did was necessary for national security.

Congressional Oversight 2006: Not Your Founding Fathers' Checks and Balances

| Posted 01.03.2006 | Huffington Post

When Senator Mitch McConnnell was asked about the effotrts to shift control of the wiretapping hearings away from Specter, who has declared the White House's actions in the matter "inappropriate," he replied that "the president believes very, very strongly that he has the constitutional authority...to do what he did." Go get 'em, tiger. As long as the President feels "very, very strongly" about it, it's probably fine. After all, when has the President ever been wrong about something he's felt "very, very strongly" about?

Debunking Bush's NSA Lies: A Handy Pocket Guide

| Posted 01.04.2006 | Huffington Post

Lie #3: Bush has repeatedly attempted to underplay the reach of the spy operation. "This is a limited program," he claimed recently, "And I repeat, limited." Hogwash. The NSA has eavesdropped on thousands of people. Does that strike you as "limited?" And how does that stat jibe with the president's claim that the warrantless wiretaps were "limited" to "known numbers of al Qaeda members or affiliates?" Are there really thousands of known al Qaeda members or affiliates in the U.S.? I guess it all depends on what your definition of "limited" is. And of "lying through your teeth."

"Why do the People Hate the Media"?

| Posted 01.04.2006 | Huffington Post

The confirmation of the tragedy in West Virginia was also a confirmation of the expiration date on the mainstream media's finger-wagging at the blogosphere. Through my years toiling in the MSM, I've personally sat on at least half a dozen panels on "Why the People Hate the Media." For the next one, I suggest just rolling the news coverage of how, within hours, the West Virginia story went from tragedy to triumph to tragedy.

Take It Back, Jack: the Abramoff Scandal Inspires a Flood of Charitable Giving

| Posted 01.05.2006 | Huffington Post

The widening Abramoff scandal has proven to be a boon for charitable causes everywhere. Politicians from both sides of the aisle are desperately trying to wash his stink off by donating at least some of the money he doled out to them to charity. President Bush has given 6,000 Abramoff-connected dollars to the American Heart Association -- perhaps in anticipation of the epidemic of politicians with chest pains should Abramoff start to sing. In all, some five dozen politicians have suddenly decided that Jack Abramoff's money is no longer acceptable. In Washington, this is what passes for scruples.

Ehud Olmert: a Profile in Leadership

| Posted 01.05.2006 | Huffington Post

I met Ehud Olmert, the newly named acting prime minister of Israel, in New York last June. The conversation centered on the imminent withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. It was clear that Olmert's Nixon-goes-to-China embrace of unilateral disengagement was not born of an attempt to test the political waters for Ariel Sharon -- as some have alleged -- but out of a deep conviction that this was the only way for Israel to achieve security and a lasting peace. He recounted the moment when he decided to go public with his plan for withdrawal...

Abramoff Scandal Turns a Spotlight on the Charitable Foundation Dodge

| Posted 01.06.2006 | Entertainment
Read More: Entertainment News

Bill Frist and Tom DeLay are the Beltway incarnations of John Rigas and Dennis Kozlowski, the Adelphia and Tyco CEOs who used their companies as their personal piggy banks -- and have been sentenced to serious jail time because of it.

Sunday Roundup

| Posted 01.08.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

The first week of the New Year was filled with big stories: Abramoff's guilty plea (and the shakeup in Republican leadership), Sharon's stroke, the heart-wrenching shift from euphoria to despair at the Sago Mine, and an especially bloody run in Iraq. Check out our Sunday Roundup below, where our bloggers weigh in on these and other hot topics. And, in our Politics Aside feature, don't miss the initial installment of Try This, novelist Jane Smiley's new book review blog, and a new installment of Rob Spillman's Buzz Watch, about upcoming books people in the publishing business are buzzing about.

The Next Abramoff Shoe To Drop

Russert Watch: "L'Affaire Reid" and Other Russert Obsessions

The Next Abramoff Shoe To Drop

| Posted 01.08.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

What makes this latest Abramoff scandal particularly tantalizing is that it puts the White House squarely in the middle of a 2002 corruption investigation of a sleazy arrangement between Abramoff and Guam Superior Court officials. And it's gathering momentum just as the White House is desperately trying to distance itself from Abramoff, and Scott McClellan insists that "the President does not know [Abramoff], nor does the President recall ever meeting him." READ MORE

Russert Watch: "L'Affaire Reid" and Other Russert Obsessions Sure enough, Tim opened the show with the Abramoff scandal. So what did he choose to focus on? This: will Harry Reid return the contributions he's received -- not from Jack Abramoff himself, mind you, but from three Indian tribes and from members of Abramoff's former lobbying firm? Go get em, Tim! READ MORE

Russert Watch: "L'Affaire Reid" and Other Russert Obsessions

| Posted 01.08.2006 | Media

I was almost looking forward to Meet the Press this morning. It's been a big week, after all. The party in charge of the White House, the House, and t...

Will A Stable Afghanistan Be Yet Another Casualty of the War in Iraq?

| Posted 01.09.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

For all the disastrous consequences of the Iraq invasion, one of the most devastating has been the way it caused us to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. You do remember Afghanistan, don't you? Four years after we toppled the Taliban, the first front on the global war on terror is facing a very uncertain future, plagued by an aggressive insurgency, widespread corruption, severe electrical shortages, a lack of trained police and army forces, and a sputtering economy still dominated by drug traffickers. Sen. Chuck Hagel blames the invasion of Iraq: "Iraq is sucking the oxygen out of everything." Including our efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Russert Watch: Watching Scooter's Back

| Posted 01.10.2006 | Media

Newly released court documents add fuel to the speculation that Tim Russert didn't want to testify about his conversations with Scooter Libby because he thought it would land Scooter in hot water. Isn't that sweet? So even after Scooter released Russert from any promise of confidentiality, Mr. Meet the Press had his lawyers petition a judge to let their client take a pass on talking with Pat Fitzgerald -- arguing that doing so would, in the words of the Washington Post, "harm Russert's relationships with other sources." Sources? Like he's some kind of investigative reporter, digging into big stories? Please!

Abramoff and Rohrabacher: Brotherhood of the Would-Be Hollywood Players

| Posted 01.10.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

Screenwriting and fervent anti-communism were two major bonds between Rohrabacher and Abramoff. In 1985, Abramoff helped organize a convention of anti-communist rebel leaders in Jamba, Angola, bringing together representatives of the Afghanistan mujahedin, the Contras, Laotian rebels, and Savimbi's forces. Hmmm... Afghan, Nicaraguan, Laotian, and African rebels all gathered together in the jungle for several days of anti-communist fellowship? I smell a gang-comedy blockbuster here! A geo-political Animal House. You cast Adam Sandler as a mujahedin, George Lopez as a Contra, Chris Rock as Savimbi, and Vince Vaughn as Abramoff. It can't miss!

From the GOP Department of Perspective

| Posted 01.11.2006 | Huffington Post

How hard is it going to be for the Republicans to distance themselves from the rash of ethics scandals in the midterm elections? For a clue, check out this quote from a Republican lobbyist on the GOP's strategy for '06: "On the ethics stuff, there's nothing Bush can do. He has no control. But what he can control and needs to work on is the war." Man, you know you're in trouble when controlling a disastrous, increasingly bloody war seems like the more manageable task!

Abramoff and Rohrabacher: Brotherhood of the Would-Be Hollywood Players Along with screenwriting, fervent anti-communism provided a bond between the two friends. READ MORE

Jack is Back: Murtha Takes the Fight to Bush -- and Across America

| Posted 01.11.2006 | Huffington Post

During a campaign-style town hall meeting on Wednesday, President Bush continued his PR offensive on Iraq, offering an upbeat assessment of the situation there. According to the president, "Things are good." He also continued to make the case that Iraq is an essential part of the war on terror. Luckily, Rep. Jack Murtha is still on the case, traveling around the country, speaking out, cutting through the fog of the administration's rosy rhetoric, and making it clear -- again and again -- that, as he puts it, "Iraq is not about terrorism; it's about civil war."

UPDATE: The decision yesterday by Iraq's most influential Shiite leader to renege on his pledge to amend the new Constitution in a manner acceptable to Sunnis is a huge blow to U.S. efforts to avoid civil war -- and confirms Murtha's point. Read the Times editorial here.

Iraq Moves a Step Closer to Civil War; the MSM Yawn

| Posted 01.12.2006 | Huffington Post

This week's in-your face decision by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's most influential Shiite leader, to renege on his pledge to amend the new Constitution in a manner acceptable to Sunnis is the match that could ignite an all-out civil war in Iraq.

State of the Union 2006: Make Your Party Plans Now

| Posted 01.13.2006 | Huffington Post

In a "Dear Republican" e-mail this week (yes, I still get them!), RNC Chair Ken Mehlman suggested I host a State of the Union House Party on January 31, when the president, according to Ken, will be "laying out his bold agenda for the coming year". Sounds fun. The only thing missing are some party games, so here are a few suggestions: Beat the Speaker! This game requires fast reflexes, as you see who amongst your partygoers can best anticipate when Speaker of the House Denny Hastert will spring (sort of) to his feet and start one of the many "spontaneous" standing ovations that'll undoubtedly occur during the president's speech. Every time you beat Denny to his feet, you score a point!

Sunday Roundup

| Posted 01.15.2006 | Huffington Post

Question of the week: who was more truthful -- emotionally and otherwise -- Sam Alito in his confirmation hearings or James Frey in "A Million Little Pieces"? Our HuffPost bloggers weighed in hot and heavy on both those stories. Don't miss Harry Shearer, Bob Cesca, Jeralyn Merritt, Max Blumenthal, and Cenk Uygur on Alito, and Michael Smerconish, Richard Bradley, Toby Barlow, Rob Spillman, and RJ Eskow on Frey. And be sure and check out our Sunday Roundup below for more of this week's best posts.

Russert Watch: Paul Bremer's "A Million Little Pieces"

| Posted 01.15.2006 | Media

We all know the drill: an administration official leaves and writes a book promising some "bombshell" revelations that he or she couldn't reveal while still on the inside, a few of these explosive revelations are leaked before publication to prime the PR pump, and then a book tour follows, with the author making the talk-show rounds. What made Bremer's appearance on Meet the Press today particularly unuseful is that although Russert challenged Bremer on a few points, he refused to acknowledge the big elephant in the room -- that Bremer's "memoir" is a complete sham.

The President Needs to Denounce the Swift-Boating of Murtha... Now!

| Posted 01.16.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

Last week, President Bush said that he would welcome "an honest debate about Iraq" -- as long as "the tone of this debate is respectful". Oh, really? Then he should start by denouncing the despicable smear campaign being launched against Jack Murtha. The vile, noxious attacks are a belly flop into the Beltway sewer that degrades a political culture already so befouled it might seem beyond further degradation. But then we get this effluvium -- and the stench hanging over our democracy becomes unbearable. Bush must make it clear, immediately and in no uncertain terms that, as a country, we need zero tolerance for this kind of contemptible hatchet-job.

A Sneak Peek at "Al vs. Hillary"

| Posted 01.17.2006 | Huffington Post

Have you seen the coming attraction trailer for "Democratic Presidential Nomination '08: Al vs. Hillary" yet? It just opened yesterday, in the dueling speeches by Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. READ MORE

Hillary Plays the... 'Plantation' Card? What Hillary's plantation comments tells us is not about race, but about Hillary's tin ear and her lack of awareness of it. Her "just between you and me tone" was like watching someone who thinks they can sing belting out an off-key song while everyone looks on with clenched smiles. READ MORE

The President Needs to Denounce the Swift-Boating of Murtha... Now! The vile, noxious attacks are a belly flop into the Beltway sewer that degrades a political culture already so befouled it might seem beyond further degradation. But then we get this effluvium -- and the stench hanging over our democracy becomes unbearable. READ MORE

Hillary Plays the... 'Plantation' Card?

| Posted 01.17.2006 | Politics
Read More: Politics News

The Right is spinning Hillary's plantation comment as the most outrageous racial affront since George Wallace stood in that schoolhouse door. Clearly it's not. But just because the GOP is whipping up the POM (Phony Outrage Machine), it doesn't mean her Democrats-as-slaves metaphor deserves defending. What it tells us is not about race but about Hillary's tin ear and her lack of awareness of it. Her "just between you and me tone" was like watching someone who thinks they can sing belting out an off-key song while everyone looks on with clenched smiles. READ MORE

A Sneak Peek at "Al vs. Hillary" Have you seen the coming attraction trailer for "Democratic Presidential Nomination '08: Al vs. Hillary" yet? It just opened yesterday, in the dueling speeches by Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. READ MORE

Iraq: Deconstructing the Reconstruction

| Posted 01.18.2006 | Huffington Post

The Bush administration has decided not to seek any more funds for the reconstruction of Iraq in the new budget -- effectively signaling an end to an effort that was once touted as a Middle East version of the Marshall Plan. So forget the comparisons to rebuilding Germany after WW II, now it's all about the marketplace lifting Iraq out of the rubble -- conveniently shoving aside the fact that much of that rubble was caused by U.S. bombs. When it comes to sending American soldiers into battle, the president insists on "staying the course." But when it comes to fulfilling our moral obligation to rebuild Iraq, he's more than willing to cut-and-run.

Is Denny Hastert Really Comparable to John Gotti?