Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Good for Obama: “President Obama warned Congress on Wednesday not to tie approval of the extension of a payroll tax cut to other sensitive measures such as the Keystone Pipeline project, which his administration delayed last month.”

* His vacation plans are on hold, too: “President Obama is not vacationing in Hawaii with his wife and children while the extension of the payroll tax holiday remains in limbo, and has warned GOP congressional leaders to stay in town as well. Obama had planned to fly to Hawaii with his family on Dec. 17 and stay there through New Year’s.”

* So are lawmakers’ plans: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate won’t leave town for the Christmas holiday until Congress approves an extension of the payroll tax cut.”

* Reid to House GOP: don’t even think about jamming us on the payroll tax break.

* Can anyone seriously believe Assad? “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defiantly denied any suggestion that he has ordered a bloody crackdown against protesters who are demanding that he resign, and claims instead that most of the people who died in the unrest were his supporters and troops.”

* Low expectations: “China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has once again emerged as the biggest puzzle at international climate change talks, sending ambiguous signals about the role it intends to play in future negotiations. This week the nation’s top climate envoy said that China would be open to signing a formal treaty limiting emissions after 2020 — but laid down conditions for doing so that are unlikely ever to be met.”

* Bye, Blago: “Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, was sentenced on Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for 18 felony corruption convictions, including trying to sell or trade the Senate seat that President Obama left behind when he moved to the White House.”

* Mumia: “Philadelphia prosecutors have dropped their pursuit of the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of shooting a police officer three decades ago. He will instead serve a life sentence in prison, prosecutors said Wednesday.”

* Did the Fed really hand out $7.77 trillion to the banks during the 2008 crisis? Well, no, not exactly.

* Aasif Mandvi really wants Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to pee in a cup.

* Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) thinks for-profit colleges are more “effective” than real colleges. First, she’s wrong. Second, the fact that she’s the chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education is kind of scary.

* An attempted prank last night notwithstanding, SEIU remains an active supporter of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

* It’s amazing no one was hurt: “One of the zany experiments staged by the ‘Mythbusters’ television show nearly turned into a suburban tragedy Tuesday afternoon in Dublin when the crew fired a homemade cannon toward huge containers of water at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department bomb disposal range.”

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.