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Shattered security

An intruder makes his way deep inside the heavily guarded White House. In an earlier incident, shots from a high-powered rifle strike the president’s residence but are overlooked until a cleaning lady discovers the bullets days later. That such seemingly far-fetched scenarios weren’t lifted from a Hollywood script raises unsettling questions about the protection of the president and his family. These concerns urgently need to be addressed — but in a way that deals with real issues rather than just creating unsightly new barriers, further isolating 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. or pushing the public away.

Dangerous grandstanding

The good news from the Middle East is that the truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has held for a month, and Hamas appears ready to make concessions to avoid a resumption of fighting. Last week the Islamist movement renewed its agreement with the secular Fatah party to turn over Gaza’s government and security control of its borders to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Though it’s not clear that the accord will last, Hamas is emerging as the loser of the summer war. According to Israel, as much as 80 percent of Hamas’ military arsenal has been destroyed, and its poll ratings among Palestinians are sinking as it fails to deliver the gains it promised from the conflict.

Who had it easier, Reagan or Obama?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Ken Adelman’s fascinating history “Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War.” Adelman, who led President Ronald Reagan’s arms control agency, was an adviser at Reagan’s 1986 Iceland summit meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Using some newly declassified documents, Adelman fills out the extraordinary dialogue between the two leaders that set in motion a dramatic cut in nuclear arms.

The United States’ invisible rich

Half a century ago, a classic essay in The New Yorker titled “Our Invisible Poor” took on the then-prevalent myth that America was an affluent society with only a few “pockets of poverty.” For many, the facts about poverty came as a revelation, and Dwight Macdonald’s article arguably did more than any other piece of advocacy to prepare the ground for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Dancing with China

For the United States and other democratic capitalist nations, trade with and investment in the People’s Republic of China always posed a dilemma: how to ensure that economic engagement benefits the people of that nation without fortifying the repressive political regime under which they live.

Obamacare costs will hurt Senate Dems

As we start the final stretch before the midterm elections, many analysts are convinced that Obamacare isn’t the hot political issue it once was. While the flood of negative publicity about the law has subsided of late, a majority of people still oppose it, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls taken from Sept. 2-15. And I’ve always believed the voters’ negative impressions of the law were “baked” into their assessments of Democratic incumbents.