Mark Bittman in The New York Times on the sweet potato It's unlikely that The New York Times' resident foodie Mark Bittman will be carving himself any turkey this Thanksgiving. "It’s just about the worst piece of meat you can roast," he opines. But he will be scooping up another helping of sweet potato, a seasonal side that he thinks doesn't get enough respect. "I am not suggesting that you substitute the sweet potato for the turkey as the centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table, though you could do worse. I am merely saying that the sweet potato deserves more attention and even a bit of praise."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Israel and Hamas When taking in news about the latest wave of violence in Gaza, it sometimes gets difficult to maintain perspective. Jeffrey Goldberg dedicates this whole column to discussing seven things he knows for sure about Israel, Hamas, and the conflict. He traces the violence back to the 1987 intifada, cites a majority of Israelis who remain committed to the Jewish state, and notes that Israel still lacks a clear strategy in Gaza. "The trends on both sides are almost entirely negative," Goldberg believes. "The most likely outcome of this round: A cease-fire, a period of quiet and then a gradual return to shooting."
Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on filibuster reform Senators have a lot of work cut out for themselves going into Obama's second term, including some bitter battles ahead on judicial confirmations. But they won't be able to accomplish much without first addressing the pesky filibuster, argues Jeffrey Toobin. "The Senate has a constitutional obligation to take up Obama’s judicial nominees—and the fights over them are likely to be fierce," Toobin writes. "If Reid and his fellow Democrats give up on filibuster reform, they will likely doom the President’s second-term legacy before he even has a chance to write it."
Ian Bremmer in Reuters on China's Syria connection China makes for an unlikely peace broker in the Middle East. Yet there it is, trying to negotiate a cease-fire between Assad and the rebels. "China has taken another step into the spotlight of the world stage," writes Ian Bremmer. "This is what happens in a G-Zero world—a world without any specific country or bloc of countries in charge ... That China is wading into diplomacy here does not mean it will replace the United States in negotiations. But it does mean that the world is in transition—what was once America’s domain is now no one’s."
John Podhoretz in Commentary on how Obama won Many post-election columns have focussed on changes Republicans will have to make if they want to appeal to a majority of modern voters, but John Podhoretz instead wants to focus on what really drove Obama's victory home. He argues that the President won reelection not based on the strength of his record, but on the fine-tuning of his turnout machine. "This fact heightens the primary reality of Election 2012: Obama’s victory was an astonishing technical accomplishment but in no way whatsoever a substantive one," Podhoretz writes. "He did not tack to the center, as Bill Clinton did. But he didn’t celebrate his own successes either. He went small, targeted, and contentless."