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

* For all the talk about encouraging economic indicators, retail sales took an unexpected downturn in March.

* U.S. and European leaders are prepared to engage Iran without the precondition “Tehran rapidly shut down nuclear facilities during the early phases of negotiations over its atomic program.”

* North Korea promised to throw a fit if anyone criticized its recent missile launch. And now that the Security Council has registered disapproval, North Korea is “restarting its rogue nuclear program, booting U.N. inspectors and pulling out of disarmament talks in an angry reaction to U.N. Security Council condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch.”

* The Republican National Committee has officially endorsed the “Tea Party” rallies.

* Pakistani insurgents with ties to al Qaeda are expanding their operations in Punjab.

* Ken Starr has joined Ted Olson in supporting Harold Koh’s nomination to the State Department. That’s bound to help against Glenn Beck and right-wing bloggers, right?

* Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty today to federal corruption charges.

* Will New York join the marriage equality club (four states and counting)?

* Lies, damn lies and Ari Fleischer.

* I wonder why a “journalist” at Fox News would tell a national television audience, “It’s now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go!”

* I also wonder why Mark Penn would hire Dana Perino.

* Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) says he knows of 17 “socialists” in Congress. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont wants to know who the other 16 are.

* At various points during the controversy Blagojevich, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has appeared to be in hot political water. The latest revelations aren’t encouraging for the Illinois Democrat.

* What do you suppose Chris Wallace thinks of his network’s recent antics?

* Ordinarily, “under budget” is a good thing. Right now, in the context of the stimulus package, perhaps not.

* I’m sure he’s still embarrassed, but Jim Cramer really should stop complaining about his recent appearance on “The Daily Show.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.