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

* Reversing a month-long trend, the initial weekly jobless claims dropped this week, even beating expectations. While a good week is at least somewhat heartening, the numbers are still way too high.

* Monsters who want struggling families to suffer even more: “The Pakistani Taliban called the presence of foreign relief workers in this flood-ravaged country ‘unacceptable’ on Thursday and suggested that militants could carry out attacks against members of aid groups.”

* What a mess: “The aide to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the center of a politically sensitive corruption investigation is being paid by the Central Intelligence Agency…. Mr. Salehi’s relationship with the C.I.A. underscores deep contradictions at the heart of the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan, with American officials simultaneously demanding that Mr. Karzai root out the corruption that pervades his government while sometimes subsidizing the very people suspected of perpetrating it.”

* Michael Enright, who allegedly attacked a New York cab driver on Tuesday in an insane hate crime, “kept a personal diary filled with anti-Islamic rants.”

* Truly nauseating: “In the latest in a spate of anti-Muslim incidents over the last two days, an intoxicated man entered a mosque in Queens on Wednesday evening and proceeded to urinate on prayer rugs, New York police officials said. The man, identified as Omar Rivera, reportedly shouted anti-Muslim epithets and called worshippers who had gathered for evening prayer ‘terrorists.’”

* Last August featured town-hall events that became something of a national embarrassment. This August, not so much.

* I’d feel better about Blue Dogs if they didn’t joke publicly about Speaker Pelosi’s mortality.

* The controversy over how much Sarah Palin was paid by California State University, Stanislaus, earlier this summer continues to simmer, and a state judge wants disclosure on how much the former half-term governor was paid.

* Ed Chen, the former president of the White House Correspondents Association, thinks it was a “travesty of a decision” to award Fox News a seat in the front row of the briefing room.

* Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is now a Fox News personality, believes the U.S. State Department, working with a moderate American imam on Middle East diplomacy, constitutes “bailing out imams.” I’m beginning to think maybe Huckabee isn’t very bright.

* E.J. Dionne Jr. on the party of crazy: “The paradox is that a Republican Party in the grips of ideology needs to shift the campaign in a less ideological direction, hoping that voters simply cast protest ballots against hard economic times. Democrats, who are more doctrinally diverse, have every interest in turning the election into a philosophical contest, arguing that even unhappy voters cannot trust their fate to a party in the grips of a right-wing revolt. Once again on Tuesday, Republican primary participants seemed determined to give Democrats that opportunity.”

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.