Online Opinion Outpost: August 19

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The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

No Maliki, no excuse

Wall Street Journal

Nouri al-Maliki performed a belated service to his country Thursday by resigning as Prime Minister. His decision spares Iraq from a crippling and potentially violent confrontation with his anointed successor, Haider al-Abadi, and offers Baghdad a fresh chance to confront the jihadist insurgency. It also removes President Obama’s main excuse for failing to come to Iraq’s aid.

Since the city of Mosul fell to insurgent fighters in early June, Mr. Obama has insisted that blame for Iraq’s woes belonged squarely to Mr. Maliki, and that there could be no military solution until there was a “political solution.”

The apparent resolution of the political crisis should allow the new government to begin reclaiming the ground it has lost to the jihadists. With Mr. Maliki gone, so too goes Mr. Obama’s alibi for unseriousness.

Police brutality

New York Times

Higher authorities wisely stepped into the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday after a night that startled the nation with images of police overkill: flash grenades, rubber bullets and huge clouds of tear gas fired at demonstrators protesting the police shooting Saturday of an unarmed black teenager.

Gov. Jay Nixon — after keeping a low profile for too long — made an urgent tour of the town and replaced local police officers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He gave the Highway Patrol an order that should have been given over the weekend: Let protesters who are angry about the shooting protest peacefully, without aggressive demands to disperse, as is their constitutional right.

Earlier in the day, President Obama denounced tactics of “excessive force” by the police and the “bullying” and arrest of journalists trying to cover the news.

Local authorities, including the police, have “a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities,” Mr. Obama said, noting the “violent turn” in street confrontations that have been seen on screens around the world.

Selfie overload

Pepper Schwartz, CNN

It hurts me to say this, but I bet when I say “Kim,” you know the last name.

Kim [Kardashian] is putting together a big book of selfies called “Selfish.”

Normal people would find a 352-page compilation of selfies in bad taste. But in truth we recognize the basic instinct: It’s hard to resist walking by a mirror and not having one of two reactions — to look or, at all costs, to avoid looking.

Yes we all are mini-narcissists, but most of us have a sense of our flaws and the limits of how much time we should spend on adoringly looking at our own image. Kim K is a lesson in how extreme it can get when you are a canny self-promoter:

So wouldn’t it be great if Kim K’s selfie book sat moldering in book stores and on Amazon? That would reassure me about the soul of modern girls and young women.

Ebola lab rats

Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times

Two American missionary medical workers stricken by Ebola in Liberia were the first to receive a scarce, experimental treatment drug.

“Why them?” With more than 1,000 dead and hundreds afflicted in Africa, why would two white Americans about to be airlifted back to medical isolation in Atlanta get the first doses?

I don’t think the treatment was made available only for the possible benefit of those who got it. That’s because the medical missionaries are not just patients, they are human lab mice.

This treatment isn’t just about perhaps saving the lives of the two who got it.

Giving the drug to these two patients can’t offer definitive proof. But because they’re now in a kind of medical “chain of custody” isolation in Atlanta, monitored under rigorously controlled conditions, that helps researchers to compile the best possible data to take back to their labs to work on a vaccine.

Moreover, these two patients are medically knowledgeable, so they can — if they are conscious — report their reactions and conditions with clinical detail and clarity.

The decision to start with the two Americans was a difficult choice, and from where it stands now, the right one.

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