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Sunday morning round-up

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 4, 2009 07:42 AM

*The latest from Gaza…

Two more senior Hamas terrorists are dead. And this: 35 Palestinians killed by Islamists, 75 shot in legs in the past week “to ensure they don’t help Israel.” Allahpundit’s full coverage is here. The clock is ticking. U.S. tells UN Security Council to stuff it.

*Stuart Smalley is up 225 in the Minnesota Senate race recount.

*Reid + Blago + Cornyn = Juicy Senate fracas!

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report Saturday, Reid called Blagojevich on Dec. 3 and urged him to tap either state Veteran Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth or state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both Democrats, to fill the seat. Blagojevich was arrested less than a week later on corruption charges that included allegations he was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

The paper also reported that Reid advised the Illinois governor against selecting state Senate President Emil Jones, a mentor of President-elect Barack Obama, or Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis —all of whom, Reid reportedly said, would face difficulty holding on to the seat when it is up for election in 2010.

“For the last several weeks, Senator Reid has led the charge to deny the people of Illinois a voice in choosing their next U.S. senator in a special election,” Cornyn said in a Saturday afternoon statement. “Now we learn that Senator Reid also took the extraordinary step to lobby against two sitting U.S. congressmen and the state senate Majority Leader in Illinois, and instead told Governor Blagojevich that he supported an appointment for an individual [Duckworth] who recently lost a U.S. House election.

“The people of Illinois deserve a simple explanation from Senator Reid: Why does he believe these three Illinois officeholders are ‘unelectable’ to the U.S. Senate?” Cornyn added.

This is the second day in a row that Cornyn — still new in his job as NRSC chairman — has come out with strong statements against Senate Democrats. On Friday, Cornyn threatened to filibuster any effort to seat Democrat Al Franken, who holds a tiny lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in the prolonged Senate recount in Minnesota.

Dingy Harry responds here.

*And the latest on how your TARP money is being spent from the DMN:

Thanks to the government, PlainsCapital is getting bigger.

The Dallas-based bank received $87.6 million last month from the U.S. Treasury Department’s $700 billion rescue program, known as TARP. The bank says it intends to put the money to good use – increasing loans for businesses, students and even jumbo mortgages. But it doesn’t rule out using funds for acquisitions.

“As we see this economy shake out, there are going to be some that make it and some that don’t make it,” said Alan B. White, PlainsCapital’s chairman and chief executive. “And there are going to be good opportunities that people are going to be able to take advantage of. I hope I’m one of those.”

Congress and taxpayer groups have objected to using bailout funds for acquisitions and grown impatient with the lack of new lending. But the government didn’t dictate how banks can use TARP funds. And it has no system for monitoring the funds after they are handed over.

While the government can take credit for fulfilling the first part of its mission – stabilizing the financial system – it has failed to stimulate lending. Credit remains tight as banks – even those that received TARP capital – have been wary to take on risk as the economy worsens. And they are free to use the funds for less risky investments.

“Some of the banks that have received the money don’t need it but decided they would go ahead and take it since it was available,” said Robert L. Clarke, a senior partner at Bracewell & Giuliani in Houston who was comptroller of the currency under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. “But it has not changed their view of the risk of making loans.”

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