The Note: Astriding Europe Like a Reformer Seeking Results

Howard Dean heads to upstate New York to talk about grassroots organizing and the Democratic Party at Alfred University tonight and Cornell tomorrow. LINK

By the time you read this, Dean plans to have "secretly" met this morning at party headquarters with a group of top Democratic strategists, sources say. Invitees include Donna Brazile, Ann Lewis, Steve Rosenthal, Kiki Moore, John Podesta, and Mary Beth Cahill favorite Paul Begala (invited but perhaps not attending).

Dean will be in Kansas and Mississippi mid-week.

Wednesday, President Bush spends the day in Mainz, Germany, meeting with Chancellor Schroeder there. He also visits the Gutenberg museum and addresses U.S. troops at Wiesbaden. He RONS in Bratislava, in the Slovak Republic.

Thursday, Bush meets with the President and Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, speaks to Slovak citizens, then meets with President Putin of Russia. The two hold what should be a very interesting joint press avail.

The American entourage returns to the White House, and the President takes a day to rest on Friday. Sen. Bill Frist will be in Cleveland, OH for a meet and greet.

On Friday, we wonder whether any consultants for 2008 hopefuls will be at the Iowa Sportsmen Federation's annual banquet in West Des Moines. Sen. Frist continues his recess travels with a speech in Chicago, IL.

On Saturday, former Sen. John Edwards addresses the Broward County, FL Democrats at their Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

The National Governors Association winter meeting begins Saturday in Washington with two days of forums on education. The other meaty topics will be discussed next Monday and Tuesday.

Sure to get attention from insiders:

Nicole Harburger, the communications director of the Democratic Governors Association, sends us this late-breaking announcement:

"When Governors gather next week for the annual NGA Washington meetings, DGA's highly respected Executive Director, BJ Thornberry, and 2005 DGA Chairman Governor Bill Richardson, are going to announce that, after six years, Thornberry will be stepping down from her position as DGA's Director "

"Thornberry is widely admired by Governors around the country, and by Democratic political operatives around town, for her stewardship of one of the Party's most welcoming, successful, and lean political committees. Over the past six years, while Democrats have suffered Presidential and Congressional set-backs, the DGA has not only held its own, but has regularly won campaigns in Red -- even bright Red -- states. Every member of the current DGA caucus was either elected or reelected under Thornberry's watch, including all 6 of the women Democratic Governors. Thornberry is credited with transforming what was a fundraising entity into a full strategic services campaign committee. During next week's meetings, an interim Director may be named. Thornberry is expected to take some time off and then pick her next project."

She will be missed but not forgotten.

Social Security:

The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon Notes a subtle sign of openness among many Republicans to the possibility of increasing taxes to shore up Social Security. Newt Gingrich tells the Journal that "at the end of the fight, there will be a tax increase on the core Republican base." And McKinnon Notes that the Bush budget already calls for revenue increases in the name of user fees for airlines and a few other things.

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