Friday’s Mini-Report

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

* Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke offered “his most hopeful assessment in more than a year” today, asserting that “the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good.”

* No results yet from Afghanistan’s presidential race, but incumbent Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah both claimed to be positioned to win. More likely, the two will compete in a run-off election.

* U.S. home sales rose in July, the fourth consecutive rise.

* Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said health care reform has to feature a public option. Today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “I’m for a public option, but I’m also for passing a bill.” The Maryland Democrat added, “We believe the public option is a necessary, useful and very important aspect of this. But, you know, we’ll have to see, because there are many other important aspects of the bill, as well.”

* World Health Organization officials expect the H1N1 virus to generate an “explosion” of cases in the coming months. The WHO’s Western Pacific director said some countries could see the number of cases double every three to four days for months.

* Good news and bad news from a South Dakota judge on the state’s anti-abortion laws.

* As of today, President Obama is on vacation.

* Sen. Ted Kennedy would like to see state lawmakers change the law on Senate replacements. State lawmakers do not appear anxious to act on his request.

* Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who clearly isn’t well, believes the United States is on track to be like Iran. “Why don’t Americans see what we’re doing?” the right-wing senator asked on a talk-radio show yesterday.

* Given last week’s ratings, perhaps “Meet the Press” should have invited Rachel Maddow on sooner.

* James Fallows reflects on last night’s “Daily Show”: “I have been far too soft on Betsy McCaughey. Even when conferring on her the title of ‘most destructive effect on public discourse by a single person’ for the 1990s. She is way less responsible and tethered to the world of ‘normal’ facts and discourse than I had imagined.”

* On a related note, McCaughey resigned today from her position as a director of Cantel Medical Corp.

* When the American Medical Association was skeptical about health care reform, Fox News approved of the group. Now that the AMA supports reform, the Republican network is far less fond of the organization.

* And finally, Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida is one of the chamber’s most conservative Democrats. He was, for example, the only House Dem to support Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security. He was, however, hosting a town-hall event in his district this week, when someone suggested that health care reform would force Americans to give the government access to their bank accounts. “That’s not true,” Boyd responded. “When someone sends you something on the Internet that sounds crazy, how about just checking it a little bit?” Good advice.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.