Friday’s Mini-Report

FRIDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Election results in Iraq: “The former interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite once derided as an American puppet, galvanized the votes of Sunnis who sat out Iraq’s first national elections and clawed his way back from political obscurity. But his wafer-thin edge of 91 to 89 over his nearest rival, the incumbent prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, falls far short of the majority of 163 of the 325 seats in parliament that he needs to form a government.”

* Uh oh: “A South Korean naval ship sank early Saturday after an explosion tore a hole in its bottom near a disputed sea border with North Korea. The cause of the explosion was not clear, and the Seoul government did not blame North Korea for the incident.”

* Campaign-finance ruling: “A federal appeals court on Friday handed another victory to conservative opponents of campaign-finance restrictions, striking down limits on individual contributions to independent groups who want to use the money for or against candidates in federal elections.”

* Welcome changes to the Home Affordable Modification Program and the Federal Housing Administration program: “The Obama administration announced new ways Friday to tackle the foreclosure crisis, in part by requiring lenders to temporarily slash or eliminate monthly mortgage payments for many borrowers who are unemployed.”

* Senate Republicans did what they do best: they blocked an extension of unemployment benefits.

* House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) spokesperson tries to explain why the GOP leader got the story of the magic bullet so very, very wrong this week.

* The closer one looks at the right’s health care claims, the more one realizes conservatives are practically allergic to honest debate.

* In Tennessee, a man named Harry Weisiger apparently saw a stranger with an Obama-Biden bumper sticker, and proceeded to lose his mind.

* Fact-checking Joe Scarborough’s claim that the Affordable Care Act represents “largest tax increase in history.” (Hint: he’s lying.)

* Despite foolish rumors to the contrary, members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in the new insurance exchanges created by the ACA. They did not “exempt” themselves, no matter what your emails from your crazy uncle say.

* On a related note, no, the IRS will not be auditing people to see if they have health insurance.

* Ever get the feeling that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) just isn’t well?

* Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is coming on strong as one of Congress’ nuttier members.

* How much student debt is too much?

* When we reported about the need for a beefed up rail corridor to ease truck traffic on 1-81, we were ahead of the curve.

* And on his Fox News show, Glenn Beck decried “using the politics of fear.” Seriously.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.