The Note: Abducted by Aliens

"'We don't have to be out of Iraq by September' to boost Americans' views of the war and help Republicans fare well in November's elections, Norquist says. What we have to do is: Iraq with an elected leadership. Iraq every two months with some announcement that more U.S. troops are coming back -- a steady sense of that.'"

President Bush is planning to spend 2006 making the case for his policies on Iraq and the economy instead of pursuing "lofty new domestic initiatives," the Washington Times' Bill Sammon reports. LINK

The Chicago Tribune Notes that President Bush will focus on "economic successes" when he tours the Chicago Board of Trade and speaks to the Economic Club of Chicago on Friday. LINK

Bloomberg's Richard Keil reports that President Bush will embrace a $10 million proposal by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) to promote energy independence through tax credits and breaks for the purchase of hybrid vehicles or the use of alternative energy sources. LINK

The President will also push job training by religious charities and host a one-day summit in March with corporate leaders and foundations executives to encourage them to give more money to churches and religious charities.


Bloomberg's Forsythe and Salant report that Abramoff's lawyers "may tell a U.S. district judge in Miami as early as today whether they've reached a plea agreement with the government ahead of a scheduled wire-fraud trial, according to a person close to the investigation." LINK

Politics of spying:

On NBC's "Today" show this morning, New York Times scribe Jim Risen told Katie Couric that he hopes he will not have to reveal his sources to a grand jury and declared his story to be the exact opposite of the Plame case. Risen claims his sources revealed information for the best possible reasons and he went on to declare those sources "patriots."

Politics of Iraq:

The US and its key allies may fall short by one-third of their funding pledges to help rebuild Iraq, the Wall Street Journal's Dreazen reports.

Following yesterday's Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal's King and Jaffe look at a "revolutionary" Pentagon directive issued in late November that singles out postwar stability and reconstruction operations as a "core U.S. mission" with a priority "comparable to combat operations" but wonder how much the directive, which is "a bit short on specifics," will change the way the military actually operates.

Reuters picks up Congressman Murtha telling Nightline that he wouldn't join today's military and that the average guy out there who's considering recruitment is justified in saying "I don't want to serve." LINK

Paul Schroeder, the managing director of a trade development firm in Cleveland, pens a Washington Post op-ed arguing that his son's death in Iraq was a "waste." He blames President Bush for not sending enough troops and for misunderstanding what it takes to build a democracy. LINK

Politics of national security:

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times has a must-read that quotes "one Republican aide" saying on background that he looks forward to posting pictures of former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) around the Capitol during the Patriot Act debate as a warning to Democrats that they will face a similar political demise. LINK

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