Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Expectations are a funny thing: “In the United States, retail sales declined for the first time in nearly a year, but the decline was less than forecast, and so the report helped push stock prices higher and offered some respite to investors overwhelmed by recent weak economic data.”

* Good call: “A federal judge on Tuesday upheld a gay judge’s ruling that struck down California’s same-sex marriage ban, noting that his fellow jurist could not be presumed to have a personal stake in the case just because he was in a long-term relationship with another man.”

* The Senate rejected an effort to end $6 billion in tax breaks for ethanol producers, but it got a lot more votes than it has in the past. A total of 40 senators voted for the measure.

* This should be interesting: “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is warning President Obama that he will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution on Sunday because he has not received congressional authorization for the military mission in Libya. In a letter sent Tuesday, Boehner demanded that Obama provide a legal justification for the operation in Libya by Friday.”

* President Obama stopped in Puerto Rico today, the first official visit from a sitting president to the island since JFK.

* Here’s hoping they help change the conversation: “[T]he House Progressive Caucus is planning to turn the government’s attention back toward eliminating unemployment. Starting Wednesday, caucus members will fan out across the country on a summer tour that will attempt to push the focus away from spending reduction and toward using government resources to create jobs.”

* Giving “Don’t Know Much About History” new meaning: “American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War. Overall, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”

* “Bans” on earmarks never seem to work: “Despite a much-touted Republican plan to forbid earmarks, the recently military funding bill was full of what appear to be essentially earmarks for projects at universities.”

* Remember this one? “Tim Profitt, a former volunteer coordinator for Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) 2010 campaign, has agreed to serve probation and pay medical expenses for assaulting a activist last year. After the incident, he said, ‘I would like for her to apologize to me’ — apparently the judge disagreed.”

* I’ll resist the urge to ask why Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) hates the American flag so much that he would ignore Chapter 1 of the United States Code.

* And Glenn Beck may be leaving Fox News, but before he goes, he’s not done dabbling in some dangerous on-air rhetoric.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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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.