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

* With impressive speed, the U.S. House this afternoon approved the standalone bill repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The final vote wasn’t close: 250 to 175.

* If the Senate can bring the bill to the floor, clearing the 60-vote hurdle should be pretty easy: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) endorsed repeal today.

* Iraq has until Dec. 25 to form a new government. Today, with Ayad Allawi’s announcement, it appears that the obstacles have been removed for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Caveats, however, abound: “Mr. Allawi did so grudgingly and with conditions, warning that an agreement brokered by the United States to form a broad power-sharing coalition government under Mr. Maliki’s leadership could still unravel.”

* No end in sight: “As President Obama prepares to release a review of American strategy in Afghanistan that will claim progress in the nine-year-old war there, two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border.”

* Blue Girl has more on the latest out of Afghanistan: “Reality comes knocking.”

* Heartbreaking: “Santa Claus and his elves are seeing more heartbreaking letters this year as children cite their parents’ economic troubles in their wish lists. U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole say more letters ask for basics — coats, socks and shoes — rather than Barbie dolls, video games and computers.”

* Suing BP: “The Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit in New Orleans against the oil giant BP and eight other companies over the enormous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the complaint does not specify the damages that the administration is seeking, the fines and penalties under the laws that are cited in the complaint could reach into the tens of billions of dollars.”

* POTUS chats with CEOs: “President Barack Obama and 20 business leaders worked through lunch Wednesday on ways to boost anemic U.S. job creation and improve their own testy relations amid rising anxiety over the slow economic recovery. The president said he wants ideas from business leaders on how to ‘seize the promise of this moment.’”

* Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos thinks gay soldiers could lead to additional battlefield casualties. He’s wrong.

* Here’s hoping this is true: “Doctors in Berlin, working with an American patient with both HIV and leukemia, have declared in a peer-reviewed journal that they believe they have cured both illnesses. It would be the first time an HIV patient has been cured.”

* Dana Milbank has a message for Tea Party voters: “You’ve been had.”

* I’ll at least give Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) credit for consistency. In a caucus filled with hypocrites, at least he’s sticking to his principles when it comes to earmarks.

* Why the Supreme Court will make it harder for college students to buy cheaper textbooks.

* Alas, Fox News has apparently sided with godless heathens in the War on Christmas.

* And Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia really will appear at Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) first “class” for House lawmakers. A spokesperson for the high court told Greg Sargent that Scalia “accepted an invitation to be a guest speaker,” and will reportedly speak on the separation of powers.

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.