WASHINGTON, Dec. 16
For the next few weeks, The Note is doing one of those off-sites that invariably enhance the productivity of any working group by a factor of ten or more.
The RV is stuffed with bananas and Clif bars, and we are headed en masse to points south and west.
We plan to resume publication on Tuesday, January 3.
We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and boffo fourth-quarter fundraising totals.
For now -- and to those of you who say nothing to us at holiday parties beyond "Why is The Note so long?" -- we say, "so long," and here are today's must-reads:
1. The New York Times' Risen and Lichtblau -- after holding the story for a year due to Administration concerns -- on President Bush's 2002 executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on conversations taking place within the United States without a warrant. LINK
(On morning television, Secretary of State Rice would not discuss intelligence matters, but asserted the President has always acted lawfully.)
2. Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post on a Congressional Research Service report which concludes President Bush had more prewar intelligence than Congress, contrary to the President's claims that Congress saw the same intelligence that he did. LINK
3. Peter Baker of the Washington Post on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) forcing his will on a reluctant President. LINK
4. Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times on why McCain prevailed and on how he accentuated his standing as the frontrunner for the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nomination. LINK
5. Dan Balz of the Washington Post on House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) being at odds with DNC Chair Howard Dean and DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) as to whether the Democrats will coalesce around a single Iraq position before 2006. LINK
6. Carl Hulse of the New York Times on all that is left for Congress to do before its members leave town. LINK
7. The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein's look at the potential for California Republicans to alienate Latino voters with their position on border security: LINK
8. Curt Anderson of the Associated Press on an ex-Abramoff partner pleading guilty to fraud. LINK
9. Scott Lehigh of the Boston Globe on Gov. Mitt Romney's "transparent trumpery." LINK
10. And the folks at JibJab have released their year-in-review cartoon: LINK
As for the day's events, President Bush meets with the Iraqi ambassador to the UN in the Oval Office at 1:15 pm ET. He also conducts his first post-Iraqi election interview today. His "extended conversation" with Jim Lehrer will be shown this evening on the NewsHour.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will be one of more than a dozen Senators who will meet with President Bush about Iraq at the White House on Friday morning.
Back in November, Sen. Clinton said pressure ought to be placed on the Iraqi government after the Dec. 15 elections.
"Then we have to tell this new government we are not going to be there forever, we are going to be withdrawing our young men and women and we expect you to start moving towards stability," Sen. Clinton said in Rye Brook, NY. LINK
The United States Senate holds a vote on motion to invoke cloture on an extension of the Patriot Act at approximately 11:00 am ET.