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In the latest sign of rancor in Tea Party circles, a convention billed as an effort to bring together conservative activists from across the country is being attacked by some leading Tea Partiers as inauthentic, too tied to the GOP, and -- at $549 per head -- too expensive for the working Americans the movement aspires to represent.

The National Tea Party Convention, scheduled for early February in Nashville, grabbed headlines after announcing that Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann would appear as speakers, Palin as the keynote. According to a message on the convention's website, the event "is aimed at bringing the Tea Party Movement leaders together from around the nation." But organizers are a long way from unifying the notoriously fractious movement.

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In a new interview with Esquire, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- who's under indictment for federal corruption charges -- takes issue with President Obama's image.

It's such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of shit and phonies, but I was real, man -- and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the fuck? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.


Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat for anything he could get, including a cushy job for himself or his wife, but maintains his innocence.

Late update: Blagojevich apologized today in an interview with a local radio station.

Obama: 'No Intention' To Send Troops To Yemen In an interview with People, President Obama said that he is focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaida, and has no plans to send U.S. troops to Yemen. "I never rule out any possibility in a world that is this complex," said Obama, also adding: "in countries like Yemen, in countries like Somalia, I think working with international partners is most effective at this point."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. He will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with labor leaders. He will at 5:30 p.m. ET with U.S. Combatant Commanders. At 7 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will host a dinner with the Combatant Commanders and their spouses.

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In a remarkable example of how bad information can travel far and wide, dozens of media outlets around the world have said Umar Abdulmutallab was traveling on a one-way ticket to Detroit when he allegedly tried to blow up Flight 253, even though that has never been substantiated and appears to be flat wrong.

Abdulmutallab's "one-way ticket" has been cited in recent days by the AP, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, even though the Nigerian government said Dec. 28 that Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket, and provided details to back it up.

The "one-way ticket" meme was originally sourced to anonymous U.S. officials and has since been recited as an undisputed fact.

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Steele: Reid Should Resign As Leader Over Obama Comments Appearing on Fox News Sunday, RNC chairman Michael Steele said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) should have to resign as leader because of his private comments about Barack Obama and race during the 2008 presidential race. "There is this standard where Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it is racism," said Steele, also adding: "If (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell had said those very words that this chairman and this president would be calling for his head, and they would be labeling every Republican in the country as a racist for saying exactly what this chairman has just said."

Kaine: 'No Comparison' Between Reid And Trent Lott Appearing on Meet The Press, DNC chairman Time Kaine rejected any comparison between the Reid controversy and Trent Lott's fall from the Republican leadership in 2002: "But I will say, anybody looking at Trent Lott's statements praising somebody who had been a pro-segregation candidate for president will see that there is no comparison between those comments and those of Senator Reid's. Now, the senator did make comments that were wrong and insensitive, and he's apologized. But he made them in the context of promoting the candidacy, the historic candidacy of Senator Obama."

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Th new University of New Hampshire poll, commissioned by the Boston Globe, gives Democratic candidate Martha Coakley a big lead in the January 19 spacial election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

The numbers: Coakley 50%, Brown 35%, and independent libertarian Joe Kennedy at 5%, with a ±4.2% margin of error. When undecideds were pushed, Coakley's lead became 53%-36%, with Kennedy's numbers staying the same. This poll contradicts yesterday's survey by Public Policy Polling (D), which gave Republican Scott Brown a one-point edge because of a lack of Democratic enthusiasm.

As the Globe notes: "Although the Senate race electorate is fairly firm in its choices - 61 percent say they have definitely decided whom they will support, and 15 percent are leaning toward a candidate - special elections can remain volatile until the last minute. Turnout is also highly unpredictable in an election that follows a holiday and could be affected by winter weather."

The new survey of Massachusetts by Public Policy Polling (D) sends a very alarming message to Democrats: Due to a fall in interest by Democratic voters, the race for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat is a toss-up, and Republican Scott Brown even has a one-point edge over Democrat Martha Coakley.

The numbers: Brown 48%, Coakley 47%, with a ±3.6% margin of error. The election will be held on January 19. Independent candidate Joe Kennedy, a libertarian who is not related to the famous Kennedy family, was not included in the poll. If Brown were to pick up this seat in Democratic Massachusetts, it would surely spell the end of the health care bill -- Brown has made it very clear that he would use his power as the 41st Republican Senator to stop the bill.

The pollster's analysis notes that Republicans are far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats are. "The Massachusetts Senate race is shaping up as a potential disaster for Democrats," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "Martha Coakley's complacent campaign has put Scott Brown in a surprisingly strong position and she will need to step it up in the final week to win a victory once thought inevitable."

Obama: Strong Health Care Reforms Will Take Effect Quickly In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama said that multiple reforms to the health care system will take effect immediately or within the first year of his signing the final bill -- a rebuttal to attacks from Republicans who say that the bill's benefits wouldn't kick in for several years:



"In short, once I sign health insurance reform into law, doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less," said Obama. "All told, these changes represent the most sweeping reforms and toughest restrictions on insurance companies that this country has ever known. That's how we'll make 2010 a healthier and more secure year for every American - for those who have health insurance, and those who don't."

Pete King: 'We AreA Nation At War, And We Should Act Like It' In this weekend's Republican YouTube, Rep. Pete King (R-NY) attacked the Obama administration's handling of the Flight 253 attempted bombing:



"We can't gather the intelligence we need to foil future attacks if we are blindly granting terrorists the right to remain silent. But for some reason, we've already done that with the terrorist who tried to bring down Flight 253," said King. "We're a nation at war, and we should act like it. We need to pull together, remain vigilant, and send a clear signal - both to our friends and our enemies - that this government will stop at nothing to protect our homeland. That's how America sets an example for the world."

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