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

* Afghanistan: “A car packed with explosives blew up beside the Indian Embassy on Thursday, leaving more than a dozen dead in what India’s foreign secretary said was a direct attack on the embassy compound, the second in two years. The blast killed 17 people and wounded 63.”

* Retail sales saw their first gains in 14 months in September.

* The Making Home Affordable program met its target: “The Obama administration reached its goal of signing up 500,000 borrowers for its foreclosure prevention program three weeks early, government officials said Thursday morning.”

* Defense Secretary Robert Gates does not want congressional Republicans to make U.S. policy in Afghanistan a partisan issue.

* The Senate Finance Committee will finally vote on health care reform on Tuesday morning.

* Speaker Pelosi is playing it smart with CBO scores on various reform alternatives.

* Ben Nelson sounds amenable to the opt-out compromise. So does Max Baucus.

* According to Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, there are 208 votes for a “robust” public option. Reformers will need 218 for passage.

* In the Senate, 30 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus are also on board with an ambitious public option.

* If you missed it, Keith Olbermann’s hour-long “Special Comment” on health care is online.

* Expanded hate-crimes measure passes the House.

* Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) troubles with the House Ethics Committee seem to be getting worse.

* The president is poised to name the first openly gay ambassador in the Obama administration.

* Marriage equality in D.C. is looking pretty likely.

* Maybe it’s time to “rethink the whole four year college experience.”

* There are enough votes to confirm President Obama’s nominee to be the Labor Department’s top enforcement official, but Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) put a hold on the nomination.

* MSNBC host Contessa Brewer isn’t happy about the NRCC’s sexism, either.

* The Fox News smear campaign against Kevin Jennings is getting worse.

* The abortion registry in Oklahoma is ridiculous.

* Limbaugh is lashing out at Scarborough. That ought to be an interesting feud.

* The co-founder and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots owe the IRS over half a million dollars.

* And it was only a matter of time before right-wing loons put impeachment on the table.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen

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.