Margaret O'Brien Steinfels
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.
By this author
even if John Bohener scowled and Biden grinned. Why can't the country come around to what Obama proposed tonight for the country? Text.
East Side Catholic, widely covered on dotCommonweal, made it big today: Front Page treatment by the NYTimes (print edition, January 23, 2013). Top people at the school have bailed. There is concern about future enrollment and current donors (though the story gives no data). The schools contradictory statements and decisions have it in a tangle. The students are in charge. Story here.
Time to close the school down?
Robert Gates memoir, Duty, has gotten a rough reception in the media. But considering his view of the media, and of Congress, and of Obama staff, that should be no surprise. That's why Tom Rick's opening paragraph in his front-page review at the NYT Books is refreshing with just the right splash of vinegar.
"As I was reading “Duty,” probably one of the best Washington memoirs ever, I kept thinking that Robert M. Gates clearly has no desire to work in the federal government again in his life. That evidently is a fertile frame of mind in which to write a book like this one."
Duty seems to be the story of a dutiful guy who has served, it says, eight administrations and went to the Department of Defense in the nadir of the Iraq war. I am a few chapters in and what I find is instructive so far:
The White House and the U.S. Senate are in a game of chicken. Senate Bill S. 1881, "Nuclear Free Iran Act," now has more than 59 co-sponsors. If it came to the floor, it would pass. The President has said he will veto the bill. Supporters reposte: we will override the veto. The White House has said if these Senators want war with Iran, come out and say so. Senate proponents claims it is an insurance policy against Iranian failure to rid itself of its nuclear program.
New York media have been absorbed by two stories this past week: Governor Chris Christie's mea culpa on Thursday, and the departure (also on Thursday) of Indian consular official, Devyani Khobragade, after indictment by the U.S. attorney for violating federal and state laws.
Because I am reading voraciously about WWI, the Vienna Philharmonic's 2014 New Year's Day Concert raised this question: Was the waltzing around that accompanied the Austrian invasion of Serbia in 1914 a sign of a society that had lost touch with reality? Post here.
Comments on the three posts just below are amazing in their variety of snark and disdain. Gene McCarraher is in high gear and that is always bracing.
I knew nothing of the TV interview with Langone, only what I have read here. But the name struck a bell. I looked it up and found that the Langone Medical Center at NYU is named after Kenneth (the wicked) and Elaine Langone who contributed $200 million to the Center (in keeping with Christian humility they probably should have kept their name off...Peter and Paul not knowing, etc.).
Thanks to dotCommonwealer Nicholas Clifford, I am listening to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra annual New Year's Eve concert (presumably being rebroadcast). It is ending with the Blue Danube Waltz to be followed by the Radeztky March (after which the great Joseph Roth novel is titled).
...may be interested in this review by Francine Prose. She analyzes the critics' Dickensenian enthusiasm for Donna Tartt's book. The review is titled, "After Great Expectations." Interesting! True? New York Review..
This will be my final consumer critique of 2013. Graham Crackers! The Christmas pie is Cognac Pie in a graham cracker crust. Amazingly delicious.
What a hassle to find a box of PLAIN graham crackers. Plain they must be, no cinammon, no honey, no tutti fruitti! Made by Nabisco, they come in a red box. They have been available--well, for centuries, at least two. Desperate, I finally found two boxes hidden behind soda crackers at D'Agostinos.
What's the problem? Sold out? Not stocked? Woe!