Fighting fire with fire. “A new bipartisan bill introduced Thursday in the House would strip all federal funds from any U.S. academic institution that decides to boycott Israel, according to a copy of the newly filed legislation. . . . The introduction of the bill marks the first time that Congress has sought to level harsh economic penalties on federally funded universities that seek to boycott the Jewish state. The bill comes just months after the American Studies Association (ASA) agreed to boycott Israeli academics and universities, prompting a fierce backlash from pro-Israel groups and others.”
No fire in the belly to defend Israel or use military force anywhere. “Suppose that, when it came to Iran, in his heart of hearts, the president actually preferred a strategy of containment to a strategy of prevention. Suppose that was actually his policy aim from the outset — but, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t say so. How would he proceed? He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding — trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.”
It shouldn’t be a problem for a network very used to firing blanks. “The Olympics — at least in their televised form — are typically feel-good events, filled with athletic striving, dramatic personal narratives and soaring flyover shots of snow-capped peaks. Ever since ABC perfected the ‘up-close-and-personal’ storytelling style in the 1970s, the Games have effectively been prime-time reality programs, packaged and edited for entertainment value rather than as news events. But the unusually fraught circumstances of the Sochi Games pose something of a challenge for NBC: How to present another upbeat Olympics while balancing the less savory context of this year’s competition.”
The pollster gets a baptism of fire from the anti-sanctions left. Mark Mellman: “Readers know I strongly support President Obama and may recall my tremendous respect, affection and admiration for Secretary of State John Kerry. When I find a public out of sync with their policies, it’s with a heavy heart. So it was with a recent poll we conducted on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran. I would not be writing about it were it not for an inaccurate and misleading attack on the survey by the national security editor at the Center for American Progress (CAP), an organization I also hold in high esteem. CAP highlighted the poll under a headline claiming ‘hawks’ were ‘manipulating polling on Iran.’ CAP’s piece offers no original analysis, relying instead on the selective quotation of a more sober, but in my view, still wrongheaded, assessment by Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Smeltz certainly has some criticisms, but it is worth noting the conclusions she either directly supports or fails to dispute — findings that form the overwhelming bulk of the survey.” No one familiar with CAP’s work on Israel is surprised.
From the frying pan into the fire? We’ve come full circle in Egypt. “[T]he record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following Hosni Mubarak’s removal shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military removed Mubarak in 2011, the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Sisi, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power.”
It’s time someone lit a fire under the EU. “President Obama’s top diplomat to Europe has been caught on tape saying ‘F— the EU.’ . . . In the leaked telephone call, first reported by the Kyiv Post, [she] sharply criticizes the European Union’s handling of the Ukraine crisis and lays out the administration’s desired outcome for the crisis.” A breath of fresh air — send her to the Middle East!
The House speaker sure is on fire these days. “Government Shutdown Best Thing to Happen to Boehner & GOP. . . . House Republicans don’t need to solve all of the GOP’s demographic troubles in 2014. That is going to be the task of the GOP nominee in 2016. However, if they are going to stay viable and relevant, they need to prove that they aren’t paralyzed by intra-party divisions. At the end of the day, the more competent the GOP looks, the harder it will be for Democrats to cast them as part of the problem with Washington.”