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

* Afghanistan: “Four U.S. Marines died Tuesday when they walked into a well-laid ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter for the Marine commander also died in the ambush and the subsequent battle, which lasted some seven hours. Three American service members and 14 Afghan security force members were wounded.”

* Also in Afghanistan: “Incumbent Hamid Karzai has widened his lead in the recent presidential election beyond the margin that would require a runoff vote, Afghan officials said Tuesday, but widespread fraud allegations have prompted an internationally led oversight panel to order a recount.”

* Obama, Pelosi, and Reid met privately this afternoon in the Oval Office to talk about health care reform. Reid told reporters after the discussion that reconciliation remains an option.

* The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities raises some important concerns about the Baucus reform plan.

* Economists expected consumers to curtail their borrowing by $4 billion as the recession drags on. It turned out to be five times that total, the highest since the government started keeping track in 1943.

* Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes her seat for the first time.

* Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) will deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s health care speech tomorrow night. He may not be the ideal choice for the GOP.

* When former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) walked away from her duties unexpectedly in July, her resignation ended up costing Alaskan taxpayer at least $40,000, the AP discovered, “not including a special legislative session partly linked to her departure.”

* Matters get slightly worse for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

* Good ruling in the Abdullah al-Kidd case late last week: “Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is not immune from being sued by a man who claims he was illegally detained under Justice Department policies implemented after the September 11 terror attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.”

* The NYT and WaPo run good editorials on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case.

* Strong piece on “czars” from Dave Weigel: “A debate about the power of the executive branch and the collapsing trust between the president and the Senate — it’s the constant filibusters of presidential nominees that really started this process of end-runs around confirmation hearings — would be healthy. But so far this “czars” debate seems like a witch hunt egged on by sloppy reporting.”

* Zachary Roth summarizes the controversy surrounding Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

* Karl Rove is a ridiculous individual. Seriously, he’s a ridiculous individual.

* Keith Olbermann hopes to put together some research on Glenn Beck.

* Beck thinks liberals might try to hurt him.

* And Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is a man of many talents.

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.