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

* The first step is admitting you have a problem: “Irish officials acknowledged for the first time Thursday that Ireland was seeking aid from international lenders to try to end the debt crisis stemming from the country’s failed banks that has hurt confidence in its long-term finances and renewed doubts about the stability of the euro.”

* A slight uptick, but in line with expectations: “New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week as expected, a government report showed on Thursday, but the underlying trend remained tilted toward a gradual improvement in the labor market.”

* Congressional Republicans just don’t like the unemployed: “An extension of jobless benefits enacted this summer expires Dec. 1, and on Thursday, a bill to extend them for three months failed in the House. Democrats brought the bill to the floor under fast-track rules that required a two-thirds vote to pass. Republicans opposed the legislation because they were denied a chance to attach spending cuts, so the measure fell despite winning a 258-154 majority.”

* The House Ethics Committee has recommended censure for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

* The first post-election Republican measure in the House was a proposal to de-fund NPR. It failed.

* Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), to his enormous credit, is showing some passion in urging the Senate to ratify New START. He’s talking, of course, to members of his own caucus. The White House, meanwhile, is getting more involved with each passing day.

* Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf wants a second term. He deserves one, but House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) may block Elmendorf because he’s published budget reports that Republicans didn’t find helpful. Remember, GOP officials only want to hear evidence they already agree with.

* Remember that Rand Paul supporter who stomped on a defenseless woman’s head? He’s pleading not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.

* Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) suggests a message for Democrats: “Americans do not negotiate with hostage-takers.” That seems like a reasonable maxim. (Republicans, I think he’s talking about you.) [Update: Link fixed.)

* The Heritage Foundation’s opposition to funding the Pell Grant program really doesn’t make any sense.

* The things Fox News pundits say about Sarah Palin are a lot more interesting during commercial breaks, when they think no one’s listening.

* And in Arkansas, a new Republican state lawmaker and champion of the Confederate Battle Flag, was asked this week what that flag means to him. “It’s a symbol of Jesus Christ above all else,” Loy Mauch said. “It’s a symbol of Biblical government.” I think he was serious.

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.