Monday’s Mini-Report

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

* The devastating floods in Pakistan will likely have a painful, lasting impact.

* Defense Secretary Robert Gates mused over retirement while chatting with Fred Kaplan, but despite some news accounts, he didn’t exactly announce when he’d step down.

* Over the weekend, President Obama made yet another trip to the Gulf Coast. He heralded the spill-related progress, but assuring locals, “I’m here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is.”

* And yes, he swam in the water.

* Likely to get NATO’s attention: “President Hamid Karzai intends to disband all private security companies in Afghanistan within four months, his spokesman said Monday, a timeline that likely will meet with strong resistance from NATO forces who rely heavily on the companies to provide security to convoys and installations across the country.”

* On a related note, while Afghan and NATO troops tend to focus on the Taliban threat in the south and east, insurgents are making new inroads in northern Afghanistan.

* An exceedingly rare occurrence on health care costs: “For the first time in 35 years, the one sector of the economy always guaranteed to get more expensive suddenly became a bit cheaper in July.”

* The six-year Justice Department investigation into disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has ended, though state criminal charges are still pending.

* Ella: “The Food and Drug Administration approved a controversial new form of emergency contraception Friday that can prevent a pregnancy as many as five days after sex.”

* China is poised to overtake Japan as the world’s second largest economy.

* What for-profit schools do well.

* On a related note, if Republicans took seriously the notion of getting health care costs under control, they’d love the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Unfortunately, Republicans don’t take seriously the notion of getting health care costs under control.

* Great Maddow segment on Social Security (and not just because I’m quoted towards the end).

* Veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins was asked yesterday whether Republicans should “do something” about their ridiculous party chairman, Michael Steele. While Rollins said there’s no time for a change, he conceded, “Obviously, he’s been a disaster.” I have a hunch Democrats would disagree.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Steve Benen

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.