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

* Retail sales rose for a fifth straight month in November, including the biggest jump in department store sales in two years.

* Regardless of hints of encouraging data, the Fed isn’t changing course: “The Federal Reserve will continue to buy bonds and keep short-term interest rates near zero, the central bank said after a policy meeting Tuesday, reflecting the nation’s weak economy.”

* Senate action on New START ratification could begin as early as tonight, but more likely tomorrow. The leadership is confident it has 67 votes, it’s not a done deal.

* The House will vote on the standalone “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill tomorrow.

* The State Department is clarifying Richard Holbrooke’s final words, adding additional context.

* The individual mandate in Massachusetts’ health care policy is working really well. Of course, Mitt Romney can’t talk about his successful policy, because primary voters will hate him for it.

* The latest report from the Pew Research Center shows broad bipartisan support for the tax deal negotiated by the White House and congressional Republicans, heated debate on the Hill notwithstanding. Oddly enough, the strongest support comes from self-identified liberal Democrats.

* Try not to be surprised: “Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.) may have proven himself a prime pupil for fellow Rep. Michele Bachmann’s forthcoming constitutional classes, when he recently displayed selective reverence for the Tea Party’s most sacred document by calling for American news outlets to be censored for running stories based on the recent WikiLeaks cable dump.”

* They did what? “When the Federal Bureau of Investigation needed a press expert to talk to its media representatives in 1984, the bureau’s top leadership turned to a conservative columnist who once wrote that ‘the Negro race, as a race, is in fact an inferior race.’”

* I’m prepared to start hearing rumors about Jon Bon Jovi’s burgeoning career in politics. Who’s with me?

* If a University of Kentucky astronomer questions the basis for modern biology for religious reasons, can the school pass him over and hire someone else to be the university’s observatory director, or is that religious discrimination?

* And not content to say nonsensical things in the United States, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) spent some time confusing people in Haiti yesterday.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.