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from Tales from the Trail:

McConnell: New Obama term offers divided Washington new start

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U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who drew fire in 2010 when he declared that his top goal was to deny President Barack Obama re-election, quickly congratulated the president on Monday as Obama began four more years in office.

Within minutes of Obama's second inaugural address, McConnell issued a written statement expressing a willingness to take a new shot at working together.

Only time will tell if they can put past differences behind them, which included McConnell blocking Obama-backed legislation and rooting for the president to be defeated in last year's election.

But McConnell, in his Inauguration Day statement, made the case for bipartisanship in a sharply divided Washington where Democrats hold the White House and Senate and Republicans control the House.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Tea Party poopers

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A man holds a sign during a March 24 Tea Party Patriots rally in Washington calling for the repeal of the 2010 healthare law. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

All that Tea Party support in 2010 for the 87 House Republican freshmen seems to have come with a price -- and now it's time to collect.

from Tales from the Trail:

Gingrich attacks Romney, a week after promising a positive campaign

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A week ago, Newt Gingrich vowed to follow Ronald Reagan's famed "11th Commandment" and withhold attacks on fellow Republican candidates for president.

But last night his campaign e-mail blasted reporters a lengthy opposition sheet on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, ripping Romney's latest television ad, "Conservative Agenda."

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama fundraising watch: debt, progressives, and women on the Court

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President Barack Obama stayed close to the White House for another round of fundraising on Monday, attending events in Washington where tickets went for $44 to $35,800.

Here are a few highlights from his remarks:

1.    Progressives should care about the debt and deficit. "It's... as critical for progressives as it is for anybody, because if we want to have a strong foundation for us to provide opportunity in the future, we've got to make sure that we've got our deficit and our debt under control."

from Tales from the Trail:

Just the right tavern to celebrate 200 years of U.S.-French military ties

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Not every U.S. ally who visits the Pentagon needs to be treated to a dinner that evokes more than 200 years of peaceful military relations.

France is the rare exception.

So when Defense Minister Alain Juppe traveled to Washington this week for talks with Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary found just the right venue: Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, one of the few establishments in the United States that can boast of "fine dining since 1770."

from Tales from the Trail:

The First Draft: no rest for the weary?

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The Obamas may be on vacation this week, but the news hasn't taken a break. OBAMA/

The Justice Department is expected to release a report Monday disclosing details of prisoner abuse that were gathered in 2004 by the CIA's inspector general but never before made public. According to published reports, the department has recommended re-opening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases.

A review of the cases threatens to weigh down the Obama administration, which is already involved in deeply partisan battles over healthcare and climate change legislation.

from Tales from the Trail:

Governor Sanford’s walk in the woods

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When Governor Mark Sanford walks out of the woods tomorrow, he's sure for a big surprise.

The governor of South Carolina went hiking on the Appalachian Trail last Thursday to clear his head after a tough legislative session, according to his aides. Nothing odd in that - politicians need time off as much as anyone. Trouble is, when Sanford left he didn't tell his aides where he was going. He didn't tell the state's lieutenant governor either. Or his wife.

from Photographers' Blog:

Tim Geithner : What’s In Your Wallet?

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What's in U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's wallet? Not much.

While testifying in front of a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill Thursday Geithner was shown a $50 Billion Zimbabwean bank note (rendered worthless by Zimbabwe's hyperinflation) by U.S. Representative John Culberson (R- TX) and asked if he had ever seen one himself. Geithner immediately pulled a piece of Zimbabwean currency out of his own pocket and showed it off to the committee. At the next break in the hearing I approached Geithner and asked how he happened to have a piece of foreign currency in his pocket. His response was "I often have some foreign currency in my wallet. Want to see?" He pulled a very thin and mostly empty wallet from his pocket.

Amongst many empty slots in the thin weathered leather wallet there could be seen three credit or debit cards with Visa and Mastercard logos (all inserted into the wallet upside down so that the card issuers could not be seen) and an old and yellowed looking identification card of indeterminate origin.

from Tales from the Trail:

Partying times 10 on Inauguration Night

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USA-ELECTION/

Barack Obama will be the host with the most on Inauguration Night. After his expected swearing-in ceremony earlier in the day on January 20, he'll host seven inaugural balls and attend three more for a grand total of 10.

Moving among the various official parties won't necessarily require a motorcade, though: six of them are being held in the vast Walter E. Washington Convention Center. These include Obama's home states ball, hosted by the president-elect for invited guests from Hawaii and Illinois; Vice President-elect Joe Biden's home states ball for guests from Delaware and Pennsylvania; the Mid-Atlantic regional ball, the Midwest regional ball, the Western regional ball and the neighborhood ball, which is for Washington DC residents and other guests.

from Tales from the Trail:

The First Draft, Monday, Jan. 5

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USA-OBAMA

President-elect Barack Obama woke up today in the tony Hay-Adams Hotel, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Soon after sunrise, a black SUV was spotted carrying Obama's younger daughter Sasha to her first day at Sidwell Friends School elementary campus in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. Older daughter Malia will go to Sidwell Friends' middle school campus in Washington DC.
The Obamas arrived in Washington late Sunday, an extra-early move so the girls could start school at the beginning of the semester. Most presidents-elect arrive on January 15. That's when the Obama family will move into Blair House, directly across the street from the White House. The new first family moves into the executive mansion on Inauguration Day, JBOXING/anuary 20.

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