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

* The Beige Book disappoints a bit: “The economic expansion has proceeded unevenly this summer, according to a new Federal Reserve report, with new pockets of weakness emerging in parts of the country.”

* On a related note: “The latest report on orders to factory for big-ticket items on Wednesday offered another sign that the United States economy was losing strength in the second half the year.”

* The oil from the disaster in the Gulf “appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected.” This does not, however, “end the many problems and scientific uncertainties associated with the spill.”

* President Obama talks up the Democrats’ small-business-incentives bill in New Jersey: “The provisions of this bill are things that the Republican Party has supported for years,” Obama said. “This is as American as apple pie. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation…. I expect us to get this done.”

* U.S. troops continue to return home from Iraq.

* Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced today she will vote for Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation. She’s the fourth Senate Republican to announce her support for the nominee.

* Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) is starting to lose some of his Democratic friends.

* A worthwhile first for the VA: “The Under Secretary of Health at the Veterans Administration issued a little-noticed directive to VA medical facilities recently, informing facilities that patients who legally use medical marijuana may not be denied access to health services because of their outside prescription.”

* The sooner the Senate acts, the better: “The U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday approved the nomination of three new members to the Federal Reserve’s powerful board, including Janet Yellen for vice chairman, clearing the way for a final vote by the whole Senate.”

* Is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) obsessed with gutting the EPA? Yep.

* Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), still mad as a hatter.

* Not good: “There’s not going to be enough money to fully fund Pell Grants, the government program that provides money to help low-income students to attend college.”

* Jeffrey Lord just can’t bring himself to shut up.

* Bill O’Reilly joins the rest of the sensible universe in opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

* Glenn Beck’s Goldline scheme, illustrated.

* I intended to highlight the pathetic op-ed from Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen in the Wall Street Journal today, but just didn’t have the stomach for it. Thankfully, Alex Pareene was on the case.

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.