Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Jobs crisis: “New U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, further evidence of a weak labor market…. Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 414,000 in the week ending September 3 from an upwardly revised 412,000 the prior week.”

* Trade gap lowers: “The U.S. economy may be stumbling, but it is still standing. That was the message from two economic reports that pointed to a weak labor market but also a better performance on trade that should boost third-quarter gross domestic product.”

* Northeastern flooding: “Torrential rains across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast triggered flood warnings Thursday that forced authorities to order the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people from Maryland to New York and close numerous roads, bridges and schools. With the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee continuing to dump rain on the region, the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for parts of the East Coast from Virginia and Maryland to New York.”

* Murray/Hensarling panel tries to get to work: “Serious differences over how ambitious the debt supercommittee should be in cutting deficits emerged Thursday at the panel’s first meeting.”

* After one meeting, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is already threatening to quit the super committee if members push for more defense budget cuts.

* Glenn Kessler had a good fact-checking piece on last night’s debate. My personal favorite was Rick Santorum claiming that President “only went along with the Libyan mission because the United Nations told him to.” That’s the exact opposite of reality.

* Speaking of the debate, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich raised fears of inflation during the event. That’s pretty crazy under these economic circumstances.

* The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division assigned two gay attorneys to work on a case that deals with the question of whether religious organizations can engage in discrimination without running afoul of sex discrimination law. National Review ran a piece arguing gay attorneys shouldn’t be allowed on the legal team. Wow.

* I’d missed this the other day, but Robert Reich had a terrific piece on the middle class in the New York Times over the weekend. Don’t miss the very cool graphic.

* HBO has picked up Aaron Sorkin’s new show “set in the competitive world of cable-television news.” I’m looking forward to it.

* Daniel Luzer: “The reason low-income students don’t finish college may be that that the maximum Pell Grant is too low; it’s simply too expensive for them to finish college.”

* And President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress will begin in just 90 minutes. I don’t plan to live-blog it, but I’ll post a live feed, so come on back.

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.