President and Mrs. Bush will welcome 60,000 guests into the White House this Christmas season, while hosting 25 receptions and seven dinners.
The visitors will stroll past 25 Christmas trees, 780 feet of garland, 232 wreaths and 412 poinsettias, while sipping cups of eggnog. The White House is hoping 700 gallons of the creamy dairy drink will suffice.
Intelligence operatives who have given high marks to CIA Director Michael V. Hayden - not only for the agency's efforts to thwart terrorism, but for restoring stability and boosting morale at the agency - are now waiting to see if President-elect Barack Obama chooses to retain their leader.
At a holiday reception Monday, hundreds of staffers lined the first floor of CIA headquarters to shake hands with Mr. Hayden, a retired Air Force four-star general who previously headed the National Security Agency.
"The line looked like one of those lines you see for a popular ride at Disney World during spring break," according to our source, who noted that Mr. Hayden spent more than two hours greeting clandestine operatives and analysts alike.
"Mike has really stood up for the people who work for him, even though many of the issues and problems he has dealt with occurred long before he took the helm," says the observer, alluding perhaps to prior detention practices that included waterboarding.
PASS THE CIGARS
So how does it feel to own a substantial chunk of Citigroup?
"We find ourselves just days away from the federal government having had to rescue no less an exemplar of a large bank than Citigroup, by providing a guarantee of up to $306 billion for its loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate," Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Christopher Cox said during a speech at the Mayflower Hotel in recent days.
"In addition, the federal government has twice made equity injections into Citigroup totaling $45 billion and received additional preferred stock in connection with the guarantees. Leaving aside the one-third-of-a trillion-dollar guarantee for Citi, the U.S. government's $52 billion in preferred equity makes all of you in this room who are taxpayers 7.8 percent owners of Citigroup."
If anybody is paying close attention to what gets printed in the Wall Street Journal now that it's owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it is Ryan Chittum, a former Journal reporter who now offers business stories - and opinion - for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Consider one of Mr. Chittum's more recent headlines: "Rupert: Get Me That Bush House Story!"
He writes: "In the annals of stories The Wall Street Journal would not have done, much less placed on A3, pre-Rupert Murdoch, here's a prime example: 'Bushes Buy Dallas Home for Residence' - Really? Tell me more! Here's the lede:
"'President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush said Thursday that they have bought a house in a wealthy enclave in Dallas and will return here once the president leaves office.'
"The paper spills 600 words on this story, which might be justifiably placed on A3 of the Dallas Morning News (or maybe its community-zone edition), but not of The Wall Street Journal," Mr. Chittum scolds. "There's a near-catastrophic financial crisis going on, Rupert, and your paper is very often getting its rear end handed to it by folks like Bloomberg and the dreaded New York Times."
Veteran journalist Daniel Schorr, who at age 92 is the last member of Edward R. Murrow's legendary CBS reporting team who is still active in journalism, will join past "conversationists" like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Bush by participating in a National Archives "American Conversation."
Currently senior news analyst for National Public Radio, Mr. Schorr has covered the administrations of 12 presidents and the beginning and the end of the Cold War.
He will be welcomed to the podium at 7 p.m. Thursday by Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building.