* The war in Gaza is not going to stay confined to Gaza:

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Violence spread across the West Bank on Friday, as Palestinian protests against Israel’s assault the Gaza Strip broke out in several areas, highlighting the increasing restlessness of the occupied territory.

At least five demonstrators were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, according to local news reports. The fresh bloodshed came hours after thousands of Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces late Thursday and well into Friday morning at the Qalandia checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank.

We’re now hearing more and more predictions that this will spiral into a third Intifada, which will mean nothing but more death and destruction.

* Meanwhile, the Israeli defense minister has raised the possibility that Israel will significantly broaden its ground offensive in Gaza soon.

* The U.S. government is now charging that Russia is launching artillery fire into Ukraine and preparing to move heavy weapons across the Ukrainian border.

* Rumors are swirling that David Gregory may soon be replaced as host of Meet the Press. Simon Maloy says the whole miserable genre ought to be junked:

Essentially, the show has become a playground for people whose primary calling in life is to be around people in power. And when you look at the names most often mentioned as replacements for Gregory, you don’t see much hope of this dynamic changing….”Morning Joe” hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who basically already host their own version of David Gregory’s “Meet the Press” – unwatchable, power-worshiping, dripping with elite condescension, and weirdly tolerant of Harold Ford.

But if Meet the Press was canceled, how would we know what Important People are saying?

* House Republicans are somewhat more optimistic that they might be able to pass GOP Rep. Kay Granger’s response to the border crisis, but it’s really up in the air:

The border group’s plan drew a lukewarm response Wednesday when Granger presented the proposal to the conference. Apparently some lawmakers were still concerned that the president or the Senate could negate whatever legislation they pass. But, as Granger said, “there were far fewer problems today than there were yesterday.” […]

Republicans have very few votes they can lose on the measure before it’s in serious trouble of not passing. Democrats are unlikely to bail them out with more than a handful of votes — if any at all — and there are more than a few hard-line Republicans on the border supplemental.

Translation: If House Republicans pass something, it might lead to negotiations with Democrats, so conservatives can’t support anything at all. So, hey, Democrats, help us pass this thing, will you? — gs

* Steve Benen gets it just right on the absurdity of House GOP follies on the border bill, now that John Boehner is discovering he may not be able to pass anything without Dems:

It’s led to a bizarre scenario: Boehner is whining that Obama isn’t doing enough to push House Democrats to support a Republican bill. Indeed, if House Republicans do absolutely nothing, after complaining for months about the need for action, the Speaker will say it’s the president’s fault for not telling Dems to vote the way Republicans want them to.

* For some time now, Rand Paul has been trying to reach out to minority voters, often with ham-handed appeals that end up being more insulting than welcoming. But as Benjy Sarlin reports, Paul seems to be getting better at it, as he showed in a speech to the Urban League:

Paul has come a long way since he began his outreach campaign. When he spoke at Howard University last year, his speech was widely panned for focusing on how he felt Republicans, and especially states’ rights conservatives like himself and his father Ron Paul, were misunderstood by black voters because they didn’t know the party’s history. In this speech, Paul wasted no time explaining how the Urban League had it all wrong about the GOP or how Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Instead, he focused exclusively on what he could do for them in Washington. Whether it translates into votes is another story — Paul will still have to explain, for example, why he wants to eliminate huge swaths of social programs — but it certainly seems to be a more productive approach at this point.

It would be easy to ridicule this “outreach,” but whether it’s sincere or political, we can at least give Paul credit for trying, and learning from past mistakes.

* Max Ehrenfreund explains to Paul Ryan why if he wants a truly conservative approach to fighting poverty, he ought to advocate that the federal government just send every poor person a check.

* Michael Tomasky traces the GOP’s two-decade war on health care reform and explains that if you’re waiting for the GOP “plan” to fix what ails the system, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.

* Jonathan Bernstein with a novel suggestion: The challenges to the Affordable Care Act might have been the same regardless of whether there were any drafting errors.

* A new SurveyUSA poll shows Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback trailing his Democratic challenger Paul Davis by 8 points. The perfect experiment in conservative governance?

* Joan Walsh reports on the quiet but intense battle going on between the AFSCME, the United Negro College Fund, and the Koch brothers.

* At the American Prospect, I note that it’s been a decade since the GOP managed a political or policy victory that grew from their own competence, and asked how they got to be such a bunch of clowns. But Kevin Drum thinks I’m overstating things.

* And finally, in the most awkward Congressional hearing moment of the day (or maybe the year), freshman Rep. Curt Clawson told a pair of witnesses: “I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” then asked if he could get “cooperation and commitment and priority from your government.”

The only problem: Clawson was talking about India, and the two officials were Americans who work for the U.S. government. After a moment of silence one of the witnesses gracefully answered: “Your question is to the Indian government, and we certainly share your sentiments, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”

It’s good to see that Clawson, who won a special election to replace Rep. Trey Radel, is upholding the fine tradition of competent public servants from Florida’s 19th district.