Today’s edition of quick hits:

* As promised, President Obama signed the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut this afternoon in the Oval Office, and soon after left for Hawaii to join his family for the holidays.

* Syria: “Twin car bombs ripped through the morning calm of Damascus on Friday, killing at least 40 people and casting doubt on the ability of a newly arrived team of Arab League monitors to stem Syria’s growing violence.”

* Great move: “The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday.”

* Rumors in Pakistan: “Pakistan’s powerful military pledged on Friday to continue supporting democracy, reiterating it was not planning a takeover as tensions grew over a controversial memo alleging an army plot to seize power.”

* To get the two-month extension, Dems took the surtax off the table. For round two, it’s back: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday named four Senate Democrats to negotiate a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday and said a surtax on millionaires is back on the table in the discussions.”

* A lawsuit worth watching in the wake of the strike on Anwar al-Awlaki: “The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice charging that the government failed to release information under the Freedom of Information Act on records surrounding questions of the legality of targeted killing, especially as it relates to American citizens.”

* Remember the health care scandal surrounding South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) that we talked about last week? Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is seeking a federal investigation into the allegations, and has referred the matter to the inspector general in the Health and Human Services Department. It’s a story worth watching.

* A former Bush/Cheney budget aide is trying to make the case that the Obama administration is chiefly responsible for the federal budget deficit. That’s not even close to being true.

* I’m occasionally reminded why I don’t read National Review anymore.

* Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) took his “war on Christmas” paranoia to the House floor this week, arguing that non-existent anti-Christmas warriors “should be forced to pay back their employers for the time they took off during the holiday break.” Oh my.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.