Wednesday’s Mini-Report

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

* Just a reminder, the Monthly‘s annual pledge drive is underway. We sincerely appreciate those of you who’ve already shown generous support, and hope other readers will take a moment to help out.

* With Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase, House Dems tried to pass $250 checks to these seniors. House Republicans killed the effort this afternoon.

* A week after a national election “marred by disorganization, voter intimidation and fraud,” Haiti erupts in violence.

* Gates remains optimistic about Afghanistan: “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that progress in the war in Afghanistan has ‘exceeded my expectations,’ giving a strong endorsement of the U.S. approach days before the White House is scheduled to complete a major review of its strategy.”

* A rare judicial impeachment: “The Senate on Wednesday found Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of Federal District Court in Louisiana guilty on four articles of impeachment, the first time the Senate has removed a federal judge from the bench in more than two decades.” This is only the eighth time a federal judge has been removed from the bench through impeachment in the history of the Senate.

* For crying out loud: “As Don Blankenship prepares to give up control of Massey Energy after the nation’s worst mining disaster in four decades … corporate filings are revealing the staggering cost of his departure — a golden parachute that will provide Blankenship with $2.7 million upon retirement, a free house for life, millions more in deferred compensation, and a ‘salary continuation retirement benefit’ of $18,241-a-month that will continue for 10 years after his Dec. 31 departure.”

* In 2011, expect the House to do a lot less work — not because of partisan gridlock, but because lawmakers simply won’t be in D.C. nearly as often. (thanks to R.P. for the tip)

* In a setback for the Tea Party crowd, House Republican leaders threw their support to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to serve as the next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

* In an even bigger setback for the Tea Party crowd, those same GOP leaders are backing Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) as the next chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Rogers is known for his love of earmarks.

* The food safety bill is in trouble on Capitol Hill, but Dems haven’t given up on it.

* Congressional action on the DREAM Act is still scheduled for today, but it won’t enjoy the backing of “moderates” like Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who apparently is more worried about a 2012 primary than doing the right thing.

* Here’s hoping this was hyperbole: “At an off-camera briefing this afternoon, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that a failure to pass the tax cut compromise President Obama negotiated ‘would significantly increase the risk’ of a double-dip recession.”

* It’s great to consider this time “our generation’s Sputnik moment.” But to create that kind of foundation, “how about some Sputnik-level money?”

* And in her latest classic Fox News appearance, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) insisted today that tax cuts for the middle class cost money, but breaks for the rich do not. It’s the kind of argument that only Bachmann could make with such enthusiasm.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.