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from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – hello goodbye

She says goodbye and he says hello.

The House Speaker's (HUGE) gavel changed hands today, symbolizing the transfer of power to Republicans. Outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi, attacked by Republicans as a symbol of Democratic excesses, took the high road as she repeatedly congratulated new House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican majority.

Boehner started off with some levity and humility -- "It's still just me." And he didn't disappoint those watching for his now trademark show of emotion when he dabbed his eyes with a white handkerchief while standing behind Pelosi before the handover. Reuters photojournalist Kevin Lamarque captured the moment, you can see it on our politics blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/ OBAMA/STAFF-GIBBS

There were goodbyes emanating from the White House too. President Barack Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs is stepping down from the White House press room podium. "What I'm going to do next is step back a little bit, recharge some ... I will have an opportunity I hope to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this president."

And another unannounced goodbye to come from Paul Volcker. In an exclusive, White House correspondent Caren Bohan reports that Volcker plans to leave as head of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

from Tales from the Trail:

Pelosi says Congress must create jobs, while giving up hers

As she handed over the House Speaker's gavel to the other party, Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the shoe was now on the other foot and the new Republican-led Congress would be judged by whether it creates jobs.

USA-CONGRESS/The California Democrat, now House minority leader, probably would  like her old job back, and setting such a high performance bar for the Republicans now in charge of the House of Representatives might be one way to get it.

from Tales from the Trail:

One less New Year’s resolution for Obama

President Barack Obama can cross at least one New Year's resolution off his list ... quitting smoking.

According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, it's been about 9 months since the president indulged in that habit.

from Tales from the Trail:

This lame duck sure can fly

Congress seems to work better under deadline pressure (like journalists).

Democrats are racing to cram as much through the post-election lame duck session as possible, before their majority turns into a pumpkin when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.

HUNGARYRepublicans are grumbling about all the rush, but President Barack Obama went to their pond with some bread -- tax cut extensions for the wealthy -- so they aren't quacking too loudly.

from Tales from the Trail:

Bo braves rabies shots to share Obama Hawaii holiday

Bo may lead a life of perks and treats at the White House, but the first dog still had to get rabies shots like any other canine visiting Hawaii in order to share the holidays with the president and first family. OBAMA/

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Bo received two rabies vaccinations, an implanted electronic microchip and had to have a blood test to ensure that he was rabies-free.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Whose bipartisanship?

The feeling appeared mutual when President Barack Obama shook hands with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after signing the tax cut bill. It looked like the picture of what Obama called a "bipartisan effort."  OBAMA/TAXES-SIGNS

McConnell tried not to grin too much over the Republicans winning the war in their efforts to extend tax cuts to the wealthy.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama moves to bolster national security staff

USAOn the same day he unveiled a review of his Afghanistan war strategy, President Barack Obama moved to bolster the White House national security team, which has been short-staffed after a series of changes.

Obama tapped Brooke Anderson, currently part of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, as chief of staff and counselor for the National Security Council.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Making nice (or not)

It was President Obama's day for showing the business community he cares. He invited CEOs to Blair House across the street from the White House to discuss ideas for creating jobs and revving up the economy.

USARepublicans tried to turn the olive branch into an inconsequential twig. House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (who wasn't invited) tweeted while the meeting was underway that it amounted to a "nothingburger."

from Tales from the Trail:

Seneca Nation has message for Obama on taxes

Robert Porter, president of the Seneca Nation tribe of Native Americans in western New York state, has a message for President Obama.

"I'd like to see the president not be so timid in his efforts to support and protect Indian country," he says. USA/

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Question of Constitution

Constitutional or unconstitutional? That is the question the U.S. Supreme Court eventually may get to decide on President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law.

(By one definition, constitution can also refer to one's health -- just throwing that in.) 

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