The Great Debate

from Jack Shafer:

Ben Bradlee, the last giant standing

By Jack Shafer
October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee, a former Washington Post executive editor discusses about the Watergate Hotel burglary and stories for the Post at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda

One of the great payoffs of having lived a long life arrives on the day the newspapers publish your obituary. By out-lasting your competitors and foes, the storyline naturally bends your way. Time blurs precise recollection in favor of generous feelings, which we tend to bestow upon most famous survivors, no matter what sort of lives they lived.

Why the world shouldn’t write off the Iraqi Army just yet

October 22, 2014

Shi'ite volunteers, from Abbas Unit who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, parade down a street in Kerbala

On Sept. 10, President Barack Obama outlined an overall strategy for countering the al Qaeda’ist movement that grandiosely calls itself the Islamic State. The president vowed to defeat and ultimately destroy it.

Obama learns LBJ’s tough lesson: You can have guns or butter, not both

By Robert Dallek
October 22, 2014

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President Barack Obama has lost his hold on a majority of Americans, according to recent polls. Though more than two years remain in his term, the popular appeal that propelled him to win the 2008 and 2012 elections may be beyond recovery.

from Breakingviews:

Rob Cox: Fragility bigger worry than volatility

October 21, 2014

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Islamic State’s rules of attraction, and why U.S. countermoves are doomed

By Peter Van Buren
October 21, 2014

Demonstrators hold placards outside the U.S. embassy near to where a 9/11 anniversary memorial was being held in central London

The U.S. State Department is producing anti-Islamic State propaganda to persuade American and other would-be jihadis not to join the extremist group. It’s ham-handed, and often sarcastic, and unlikely to have the intended effect.

Here’s why Israel loses no sleep over Islamic State

By Dimi Reider
October 21, 2014

A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State militants released in September 2014 is pictured in this still frame from video

At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else. Israeli media report diligently on the extremist group’s assault on the Kurdish town of Kobani and run at least a story every few days on its atrocities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu references Islamic State frequently, as do other Israeli ministers. And the stories of two Palestinian citizens of Israel who died fighting for the group have been recently featured in the press.

Being the ‘indispensable nation’ is killing American democracy

By Robert L. Borosage
October 20, 2014

U.S. military personnel take pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks during visit to Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory in Baghdad

America — proudly dubbed the “indispensable nation” by its national-security managers — is now the entangled nation enmeshed in conflicts across the globe.

from Jim Gaines:

Clear-eyed dissent from Supreme Court’s ruling to allow Texas voter ID law

October 18, 2014

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Before dawn on Saturday morning, the Supreme Court issued a terse, unsigned ruling that, in effect, endorsed Texas’s voter-ID law, the most restrictive such law in the nation.

from Jack Shafer:

GamerGate: We now know what evil lurks in the heart of man – or trolls

By Jack Shafer
October 17, 2014

A girl dressed in costume plays a video game at the PAX East gaming conference in Boston

For the purposes of this column, all you need to know about "GamerGate" is that it has earned writer Anita Sarkeesian, game entrepreneur Brianna Wu, and developer Zoe Quinn violent threats from anonymous Internet sources (here's coverage in the New York TimesReason, the Washington PostVoxHuffington Post, the Guardian, and Gawker, if you want to know more).

from Stories I’d like to see:

Hospital turns to PR to fight Ebola

By Steven Brill
October 16, 2014

A general view of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas

This New York Times story on Thursday outlines the damage done to the  reputation of  Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas as a result of its mistakes in dealing with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. The hospital, the Times reports, has now “hired Burson-Marsteller, the global public-relations firm, to help tell its side.”