Friday’s Mini-Report

Today’s slightly-later-than-usual edition of quick hits:

* Europe: “European leaders, meeting until the early hours of Friday, agreed to sign an intergovernmental treaty that would require them to enforce stricter fiscal and financial discipline in their future budgets. But efforts to get unanimity among the 27 members of the European Union, as desired by Germany, failed as Britain refused to go along.”

* Robert Levinson in Iran: “Long after he vanished in Iran, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson reappeared in a video and a series of photographs sent to his family over the past year, transforming a mysterious disappearance into a hostage standoff with an unknown kidnapper, The Associated Press has learned.”

* Remember, this is pointless: “House Republican leaders on Friday formally unveiled legislation that would couple an extension of several high-priority items, including the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, with provisions aimed at rounding up conservative support, such as a measure to speed up work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.”

* When the realization kicks in that you’ve made a mistake: “Alabama’s governor said Friday that he’s looking to rewrite some of the state’s illegal immigration law next year.”

* Will Herman Cain end up on Fox News? Try not to be too surprised.

* For the White House, “Plan B stands for ‘backlash’” this week.

* Something has gone very wrong with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) when she says nonsense like this, and seems to mean it: “Fiscal shenanigans such as permanent tax increases to pay for one-year temporary measures are precisely the problem that drove our nation into a $15 trillion debt crisis.”

* I can only imagine what a modern Congress would do if a president made recess appointments like Teddy Roosevelt did.

* Matt Ortega had a great tweet in which he noted that Rep. Paul Ryan “lies about a lie that a true statement is somehow a lie.” That actually made sense to me.

* Can Washington fix what ails American higher ed? Well, maybe.

* Good news: Smokey Bear “lives to die another day.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Steve Benen

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.