Daily Kickoff: Oprah-Bloomberg 2020? | Michael Eisner’s new gig | Robert Siegel on retirement | Bibi attending AIPAC PC? | Lynn Blitzer BDay


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FIRST LOOK: “Michael Eisner Sketches a Happy Ending for Portsmouth F.C.” by Rory Smith: “Just like in any sports movie worth its salt, the montage told the story best. In early May 2017, Michael Eisner arrived at the Guildhall in Portsmouth, England, to face 1,500 fans of the city’s soccer team. His task was a delicate one: to persuade at least 75 percent of them to sell their beloved club, Portsmouth F.C., to “an ancient Hollywood executive” and his sons. There would be, he knew, a degree of skepticism. Portsmouth’s previous experience with foreign owners suggested they brought nothing but trouble. First under Russian-Israeli, and then Emirati, Saudi and Nepali ownership, the century-old club had sunk all the way from the Premier League to League Two, English soccer’s fourth tier.”

“Eisner is asked “all the time” why he has, at age 75, chosen to get involved with the ownership of an English soccer team, particularly one so stripped of glamour and so deprived of investment as Portsmouth. Even his wife has ventured the question. “I could ask, why not?” is his stock response… But he also knows that sports is the only “water-cooler friendly” content left. “If it’s a good sports movie, it’s to do with winning,” Eisner said. Sports and movies, to Eisner, are the same thing at heart: They are both — they are all — stories. He has spent his career telling them, and Portsmouth is simply the latest.”[NYTimes]

DRIVING THE DAY — “AP sources: Trump to extend sanctions relief for Iran” by Matt Lee and Josh Lederman: “President Donald Trump is expected this week to extend relief from economic sanctions to Iran as part of the nuclear deal, citing progress in amending U.S. legislation that governs Washington’s participation in the landmark accord… But Trump is likely to pair his decision to renew the concessions to Tehran with new, targeted sanctions on Iranian businesses and people.” [AP

— “Trump will seek to make a final decision on whether to waive the sanctions during a meeting with national security aides on Thursday, a senior administration official told Reuters.” [Reuters

“McMaster Rushes to Save the Iran Deal That Trump Promised to Kill” by Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman: “[H. R.] McMaster is searching for an agreement, even one just in principle, with the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… McMaster considers that an agreement with Sens. Bob Corker and Ben Cardin that took away the congressional deadlines on Iran that Trump hates would be a face-saving way for the White House to accept the deal. “This would be a coup for McMaster and a bailout for Trump,” said a Republican lobbyist familiar with the talks…

“Two other well-wired sources expect the Corker/Cardin deal to include a provision that will kick in six years from now, as aspects of the Iran deal relax and start moving toward expiration. If Iran violates certain terms of its nuclear agreement after that point, then the Corker/Cardin deal would impose a 90-day countdown clock… Sources say a remaining question is whether Congress will need 50 or 60 votes to keep the sanctions from being reimposed, and that they expect it will be a 50-vote threshold… Tom Cotton—perhaps the Senate’s most dogged Iran hawk and potentially Trump’s next CIA director—recently met with McMaster to discuss Iran, and a source familiar with that meeting described it as a “train wreck.” [DailyBeast] • Krishnadev Calamur: The Iran Deal Lives Another Day [TheAtlantic

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Former Senator Joe Lieberman gives the Trump administration an A grade on Iran: “I would give them an A. I disagree with a lot of other things President Trump has done, but on Iran, we went from an administration that was so focused on reaching this nuclear agreement that they tolerated suppression of human rights, turned a deaf ear to the protests in Iran (in 2009)… just let them get away with it. President Trump has now, basically, said ‘we know who our friends are in the Middle East’ – Arab nations and Israel, and we are going to support them; and we know who are enemies are, and that’s Iran and the radical Islamic terrorists. So I give him an A.” [BloombergTV

TALK OF THE REGION: “PM indirectly confirms Israel was sourceof Trump intel leak to Russia” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “Speaking to a conference of NATO ambassadors on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all but spelled it out. “When we talk about ISIS, it’s important to understand that Israel helps Europe in two fundamental ways,” Netanyahu said… “We have, through our intelligence services, provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries. Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind… even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives.” … The prime minister surely would not have risked drawing attention to Israel’s part in providing the laptop-threat warning when it was still trying to keep its head down about Trump’s leak. But now Netanyahu may feel more comfortable that Trump has come through, having recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and having provided several signs that he will adopt much of Israel’s narrative in its dispute with the Palestinians.” [JPost]

REPORT: “Netanyahu Asked Obama to Consider Giving Palestinians Land in Sinai, Former U.S. Officials Say” by Amir Tibon: “The idea which the officials say was raised by Netanyahu in 2014 is somewhat similar to those mentioned in a number of recent news reports about the Trump administration’s peace plan… “We all thought this idea was a waste of time,” one of the officials said. “We knew it would be a complete non-starter for the Palestinians – why would they trade agricultural lands in the West Bank, close to their largest cities, for sand dunes in Sinai?” [Haaretz

Pence says moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem could take ‘several years’ — by Samuel Chamberlain: “The vice president [said] that “planning is underway” to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but did not give a target date as to when the move would be completed. “I think it will probably be several years before we cut the ribbon, but the decision is made,” Pence said. “We’re moving our embassy to the capital of Israel.”” [FoxNews]

“Egypt Opens Criminal Inquiry Over New York Times Article” by Declan Walsh: “Egypt’s prosecutor general has ordered a criminal investigation over a New York Times article that described a covert effort by Egyptian intelligence to sway public opinion in favor of accepting President Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The article “undermines Egypt’s security and public peace, and harms the country’s public interest,” the prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, said in a statement…” [NYTimes] • ‘Make Egypt Great Again’: Israeli experts question neighbor’s military buildup [DefenseNews]

BIBI COMING TO AIPAC? “Trump to meet Israel’s Netanyahu in March after Jerusalem embassy move” by Jack Moore: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he would meet with President Donald Trump in a March pow-wow in Washington, the fourth time since the American leader’s inauguration. Netanyahu said that he could possibly meet him before March but that had not been confirmed.” [Newsweek

Jack Lew says he feared Hillary Clinton was headed to a crushing loss — by Ben White: “I had a bad feeling before the election,” [former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in the latest POLITICO Money podcast.] “I can’t say I expected it, but I can’t say I was completely surprised. I did not treat it as a done deal. The fact that President Obama went to Michigan on a rather urgent basis just a few days before the election was a bit of a canary in the coal mine that things weren’t where they needed to be.” Lew stayed in Washington on election night to monitor potential market reaction to a Trump win. And he tried to boost spirits at the White House — including Obama’s — the day after.” [Politico]

“The Wolff Eats Its Own” by Bret Stephens: “[Michael] Wolff’s book is Exhibit A in how not to damage Trump’s presidency, much less his chances of re-election… If the anti-Trump movement has a crippling defect, it’s smugness, and Wolff’s book reflects and richly feeds it. We’re the moral scolds who struggle to acknowledge the skeletons in our own closet, the smart people whose forecasts keep proving wrong. We said Trump couldn’t win. That the stock market would never recover from his election. That he would blow up NATO. That the Middle East would erupt in violence when Jerusalem was recognized as Israel’s capital. The catastrophes haven’t happened, and maybe that’s just a matter of luck. But by constantly predicting doom and painting the White House in the darkest colors, anti-Trumpers have only helped the president. We have set an almost impossibly high bar for Trumpian failure.”[NYTimes]  

2020 WATCH: Kevin Sheekey, Michael Bloomberg’s political strategist, posted a photo of Oprah Winfrey and Michael Bloomberg on stage. This prompted former NBC News reporter Luke Russert to reply, “The Ticket!” [Instagram

ON THE HILL — “Congressmen introduce bill to sanction Iran for taking hostages” by Eric Cortellessa: “Introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, the [Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act] is designed to give the Trump administration tools to severely punish Tehran for taking hostages…” [ToI]

“Darrell Issa, a California Republican, Will Not Seek Re-election to House” by Nicholas Fandos: “Representative Darrell Issa, whose hard-edge partisan attacks on President Barack Obama began softening as his district trended toward the Democrats, said on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election… In a bizarre turn, facing a difficult re-election last year, Mr. Issa came to embrace Mr. Obama — a development the then-president called “the definition of chutzpah.”” [NYTimes

“Gillibrand Vows to Block Trump’s Likely Choice for U.S. Attorney in Manhattan” by Benjamin Weiser: “Senator Kirsten Gillibrand plans to use a prerogative given to home-state senators to try to block the confirmation of Geoffrey S. Berman if he is nominated by President Trump as the United States attorney in Manhattan… The senator, Democrat of New York, intends to use her “blue-slip prerogative” to lodge her objection over reports that President Trump had personally interviewed Mr. Berman as part of the selection process…” [NYTimes]

“Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admits extramarital affair but denies reports he blackmailed woman with photo” by Fred Barbash: “Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), responding to media reports, acknowledged Wednesday night that he was unfaithful to his wife “a few years ago” before being elected. But his lawyer denied sensational allegations aired by a local TV station that Greitens threatened to distribute naked photos he took of the woman with whom he was having a relationship if she ever said anything about it. The woman, who has not been named publicly, was Greitens’s hair stylist.” [WashPostNYMag

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli CEOs Saying Amazon Poaches Employees, Threatening to Leave Amazon Web Services [Calcalist] • Kushner’s real estate investing startup Cadre partners with Goldman Sachs [Reuters] • With its new newsletter director, Dan Oshinsky, The New Yorker wants to experiment with standalone and international-focused products [NiemanLab] • LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff Predicts “Golden Age” Of Mergers, Acquisitions [Deadline

SCENE AT CES: Layer3 TV’s Eric Kuhn with former NBA commissioner David Stern and Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg. Kuhn’s caption: “The law offices of Stern, Steinberg & Kuhn” [Pic]

“Bob Kraft-funded van will bring addiction services to city streets” by Jon Chesto: “The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital — funded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family’s charitable foundation — on Tuesday rolled out a specially equipped mobile van, dubbed CareZone, to bring health services to Boston residents who are struggling with addiction. The van will rotate between two locations in the city.” [BostonGlobe

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Robert Siegel, who recently retired after serving as NPR’s host of All Things Considered for thirty years, discussed recent developments and his next steps on The Atlantic Interview podcast with Jeffrey Goldberg: Talking about the #MeToo movement and the recent high-profile departures in media, politics and other industries after allegations of inappropriate behavior, Siegel said, “I don’t hope for a complete rebirth of human goodness and kindness, but rather restraints of bad behavior and feeling that there will be some penalty for doing wrong.” He then added, “It’s very Jewish of me to say that, I think.”

Siegel on his next steps: “Right now I am living purposely without purpose or plan… It really has been since when I was about 22 and didn’t know what was going to happen. I remember several months just not working – and living. That’s the only period of my life since I was about 15 that I’ve experienced that, and I want to try this first and see how that feels like, and see what it feels good to do.” [TheAtlantic

“Chris Rock’s Israel Show Included a Candid Message About His Relationship With God” by Jennie Fink: “I guess I am trying to find God before he finds me,” the Times of Israel reported [Rock] told the audience… After joking about being so broke he had to perform in Israel, he informed the crowd that part of ticket sales would go “toward helping little black girls attend private school.” “If anyone asks what you did tonight, you can say, ‘I made a difference,’” he said.” [IJR

“Palestinians in East Jerusalem cherish horses as family” by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh: “Mahmoud Montasir, a Jerusalem teenager who has his own horse, said he had achieved his childhood dream of turning horse-riding into a pastime. “It is a great privilege to work with horses. A horse is a very clever animal and understands its human friend and his feelings. A horse also always shares its own feelings with its human friend but you need to understand it,” Montasir said.” [Reuters

“Rivlin: We must renew our partnership with the Diaspora” by Irit Avissar: “At the “Globes” Israel Business Conference, President Reuven Rivlin… called for the construction of a long-term vision that would ensure the realization of Israel’s potential in the world. “The time is ripe for creating a vision and a general strategy for the next 30 years, as a coordinated process involving the government and the private market. Within that, there is room for looking at joint action with the Jewish Diaspora on this and other matters, and for creating a new axis of partnership. We would like to strive for a reality in which Israel the innovator and Israel with all its capabilities, together with Diaspora Jewry, will be a main partner in dealing with global development problems.”” [Globes]

“Someone Tore Down the Mezuzah of UCLA’s Jewish Student President. Read Her Powerful Response” by Yair Rosenberg: “This past May, Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh was elected student body president of UCLA, one of America’s largest universities… This Monday, when she returned to school following winter break… She arrived at her office to find that her mezuzah… had been torn down. Rather than be cowed by this attempted act of intimidation, Mokhtarzadeh promptly announced this afternoon that she’d be publicly dedicating a new mezuzah and invited the campus to join her.” [Tablet

“German Idea to Fight Anti-Semitism: Make Immigrants Tour Concentration Camps” by Rick Gladstone: “Alarmed by displays of anti-Semitism among new immigrants to Germany, a German politician has offered a novel idea that appears to be gaining traction: required visits to Nazi concentration camp memorials. The idea, proposed by Sawsan Chebli, a Berlin state legislator of Palestinian heritage, received a significant boost on Wednesday when the leaders of Germany’s Central Council of Jews and the far larger World Jewish Congress agreed with her…” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior aide Avi Fink has been promoted to Chief of Staff at the Office of Management and Budget. Fink was previously Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

PIC OF THE DAY — Zak The Baker in Miami: “Proud to be your baker @wholefoods. Shiny new Dadeland store is officially open and looking beautiful.” [Pic

BIRTHDAYS: Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posner turns 79… Film, television and theater director, best known for his TV series “Full House” and “Family Matters” and his films “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Fat Albert,” Joel Zwick turns 76… Las Vegas resident, Stephen Needleman turns 76… Economist and professor of banking at Columbia University, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-2008), Frederic Stanley “Rick” Mishkin turns 67… Personal shopper at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Chevy Chase, noted gardner and florist, she has been married to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer since 1973, Lynn Greenfield Blitzer turns 67…

Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and author of five books, Dr. Jerome E. Groopman turns 66… Founder of VisibleWorld, a developer of viewer-customized television advertising, the company was acquired by Comcast in 2015 and is now known as FreeWheel, Seth Haberman turns 58… Former senior political analyst for MSNBC, Mark Halperin turns 53… Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards,” Amanda Peet turns 46… Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 33… French-American actress, Flora Crossturns 25… Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 17…

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