Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Good economic news on construction spending and manufacturing activity.

* Warnings from Iran: “Iran’s army chief on Tuesday warned a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf, as Iran’s navy ended 10 days of tense war games in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Defense Department promptly rejected the warning.”

* Afghanistan: “The Taliban announced Tuesday that it has agreed to open a ‘political office’ in Qatar to hold talks with the United States, the first time the militant group has confirmed it has an interest in negotiating with Washington. The Taliban said in a statement that it and the United States are the ‘two main sides’ that have a vested interest in finding a solution to Afghanistan’s problems.”

* Seems like a good move from the Fed: “The Federal Reserve will begin later this month to publish a forecast of its own actions, inaugurating a policy that is intended to magnify the power of those actions by shaping the expectations of investors.”

* It’s one of the reasons Panetta got the gig: “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is set this week to reveal his strategy that will guide the Pentagon in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from its budget, and with it the Obama administration’s vision of the military that the United States needs to meet 21st-century threats, according to senior officials.”

* A recess-appointment window closes: “Today was the day that legal experts and many aides in both parties thought President Obama would provide a recess appointment to Richard Cordray, his nominee to administer the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rationale is quite technical, but here’s the bottom line: one reading of the Constitution and of executive branch administrative law suggest that today is Obama’s last day to recess appoint any of his languishing nominees, at least until the next time the Senate leaves town several weeks from now.”

* We can probably expect a major labor standoff in Indiana, where Republicans are poised for a big push on a so-called “right-to-work” initiative.

* Chris Mooney offers the latest evidence that suggests “Republicans really are anti-science.”

* Daniel Luzer: “Columbia University will apparently next semester offer a course in Occupy Wall Street.”

* Apparently, there are on the left who see Ron Paul as worthy of some political support. Kevin Drum helps set these folks straight.

* I get the sense we had “American history” to the list of subjects Rick Perry doesn’t understand especially well: “Rick Perry compared his campaign’s final push to American efforts during the Revolutionary War and on D-Day during a campaign stop Tuesday in Iowa.”

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.