TPM News

Yesterday, The Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill said that a third Blackwater operative was injured in the blast that killed eight on a CIA base in Afghanistan. He also pointed out that to have three Blackwater operatives there when such a "golden goose" of an asset was there, "shows just how close Blackwater remains to the epicenter of some of the most sensitive intelligence operations."

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Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) said his state will be suing the federal government if the health care bill he says is "illegal" becomes law.

"His health care bill is not only ill-conceived, but I believe it is illegal," Gibbons said in a release written up by the Las Vegas Sun.

Gibbons took aim at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is facing a tough reelection this year, saying "Reid's" health care plan is unhealthy and would "kill Nevada's economy."

At the heart of his complaint is the Medicaid formula and the deal that Senate leadership made with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to win his vote for the overall health care plan.

The full release after the jump.

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U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican from Georgia, has reportedly sent a letter to President Obama requesting his birth certificate.

The conservative, pro-birther site The Post & E-mail confirmed with Deal's chief of staff that Deal -- who is also running for governor -- sent the letter Dec. 1.

Deal office did not return repeated calls from TPM, so we cannot independently verify that the letter was sent.

If it was, Deal was keeping a promise he made in November, when he said he would send "a letter to the President asking that he release a copy of his birth certificate so we can have an answer to this question."

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President Obama and his top terrorism advisers warned young Muslims against interest in Al Qaeda yesterday in little-noticed comments detailing the aftermath of Flight 253.

Tucked into Obama's readout of the review into how a man was allowed to board the Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day with explosives in his underwear was a message to the Islamic world that the president has been offering since he took office.

"We know that the vast majority of Muslims reject Al Qaeda," Obama said.

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The open-seat race in the California 19th Congressional District, a Republican-leaning seat where incumbent GOP Rep. George Radanovich is retiring, has produced a very interesting scenario: Several candidates are running in the Republican primary to represent the district's voters -- but hardly any of them actually live there.

Three candidates are currently in the race: State Sen. Jeff Denham, who was recruited into the race by Radanovich; former Rep. Richard Pombo, who lost re-election in the neighboring 11th District in 2006; and former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson. Another possible entrant is Fresno councilman Larry Westerlund, who is considering a campaign. Pombo, Denham and Westerlund don't live in the district -- only Patterson does. Denham's state Senate district overlaps with part of the Congressional district, as does Westerlund's council seat, but they do not live in the Congressional district itself.

The U.S. Constitution does not actually require that a Representative live in their district -- instead, it gives a very permissive standard that they must only be a resident of the state at the time of their election. There are in fact members of Congress from both parties who were not district residents at the time of their elections -- recent examples from California alone include Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat John Garamendi.

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U.S. prosecutors have convened a grand jury as part of their investigation into abuses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, two county officials say -- a sign that the probe may be kicking into a higher gear.

Maricopa County Manager David Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson said last night they had been subpoenaed to testify next week before the panel. Both have clashed with Arpaio.

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Gates Staying On At Least Through End Of 2010 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was originally appointed by then-President George W. Bush but has been kept on by President Obama, has agreed to stay on at least through the end of 2010. "They agreed to revisit this issue again later this year," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, who also said that the commitment remains open-ended.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, meet with senior advisers at 10 a.m. ET, and receive the economic daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will meet at 11 a.m. ET with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and at 11:45 a.m. ET with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He will make a statement to the press at 2:40 p.m. ET.

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Rudy Giuliani, the man who was mayor of New York City during the 9/11 attacks, appeared on Good Morning America today to say President Obama should take lessons from former President George W. Bush on how to prevent a terrorist attack.

"What [Obama] should be doing is following the right things Bush did. One of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama," Giuliani said.

Giuliani made the 9/11 attacks (which did happen under Bush) the central point of his campaign, using his leadership of the city to support his political viability. Now-Vice President Biden even called him on it during a 2007 presidential debate: "Rudy Giuliani. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence -- a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There's nothing else!"

Watch:

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A White House official tells TPMDC that President Obama today will speak about some new stimulus funds today when he addresses the latest jobs figures.

Obama will announce some new funding from the $787 billion economic stimulus plan will go to clean technology manufacturing jobs, the official said.

The funds will be awarded to deserving projects that will support tens of thousands of high quality clean energy jobs and the domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies including solar, wind and efficiency and energy management technologies," the official said.

House Republicans may have gotten some good news today, with Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach dropping out of the gubernatorial race -- and possibly saving the party from dealing with a highly vulnerable open seat.

Gerlach had been badly trailing state Attorney General Tom Corbett in all the polls for the Republican nomination. Gerlach's district is a blue district that voted 58%-41% for Barack Obama in 2008, and 51%-48% for John Kerry in 2004. Gerlach himself has had close races throughout his time in Congress -- his best result was winning 52.1% of the vote in 2008 -- but if Gerlach runs again it would intuitively seem to be better for Republicans than dealing with an open blue seat.

It is not immediately clear whether Gerlach will actually run for another term, which would shut down the campaigns of the four local Republicans who had already been running. But a GOP source expressed some optimism to us: "If Jim Gerlach gets in, he'll hold the seat."

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