Thursday’s Mini-Report

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

* The Senate confirmed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term today, following a 70 to 30. The margin may seem lopsided, but it was the closest-ever vote for a Fed chairman’s confirmation.

* Iraq: “A key al-Qaida in Iraq figure involved in smuggling hundreds of suicide bombers across the border from Syria has been killed in a raid in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said Thursday.”

* Ford: “Ford Motor Co posted its first full-year profit since 2005 on Thursday and said it expects to stay profitable in 2010 despite a still fragile economy and a debt heavy balance sheet.”

* Still awful: “New claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 470,000 for the week ended Jan. 23, from 478,000 the previous week. The four-week moving average, which aims to smooth volatility in the data, rose by 9,500 to 456,250.”

* Tehran: “Iran hanged two men convicted in the wake of the unrest that erupted after last year’s disputed election, as a top opposition figure predicted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be ousted before the end of his term.”

* Federal debt limit: “The Senate agreed Thursday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing to a record $14.3 trillion, a total that would permit the Treasury Department to cover the nation’s bills through the end of this year.”

* 48 million Americans tuned in to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address. That’s the most-watched SOTU since 2003, and it’s good news for the White House.

* There’s apparently some real tensions right now between the White House and the Supreme Court.

* I’m still having trouble figuring out exactly what right-wing activist James O’Keefe hoped to accomplish with regard to Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) phones.

* Right-wing Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) believes O’Keefe getting caught committing alleged crimes may be part of a liberal conspiracy. Or something. King is disturbed and it’s hard to know what he’s trying to say.

* In the meantime, O’Keefe has been ordered to move in with his parents. The future of conservative media, indeed.

* Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) wants to cut federal spending. But if you ask for details, he throws a bit of a tantrum.

* Fred Kaplan makes a very compelling argument that if we’re looking to cut the budget, the Pentagon shouldn’t be excluded.

* Weapons for professors?

* Bill O’Reilly likes the idea of the CIA kidnapping Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, and possibly torturing the House Speaker.

* Saying goodbye to two legends, J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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