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

Adults Meet and Debate—like Adults

I was pleasantly surprised at how well all the Dems came off last night at their first debate.

I was also surprised to read this headline in the NYTimes print edition: Hillary Clinton Turns up Heat on Bernie Sanders in a sharp debate.

Meanwhile Back in the Middle East

President Obama seems a bit put out by the incursion of Russian military into Syria and by the judgement of President Vladmir Putin that the U.S.-led coalition has made a mess of things in Syria. Russia after some days of bombing has made its way from what have been called moderate Syrian rebels to the edges of ISILs occupied Syria. These reports and claims remain hazy at least in the public realm, but the Russians are certainly doing something. But what? We shall see.

Civil Disobedience, Vatican Style

On his way back to Rome, Frank the Great declared civil disobedience a human right, and at least here in the U.S. conscientious objectors to war would certainly agree. When he said this all eyes turned to Kim Davis, Rebel County Clerk, although he never mentioned her name. 

It appears that he met with her (shook hands) while in DC. According to the NYTimes story, the encounter was arranged by Vatican officials and not the U.S. bishops. Hmmmm! Wow!

A Francis Effect? Or Liberty Caucus's Scorched Earth?

Speaker John Boehner: "Last night I started thinking about this, and I woke up. I said my prayers as I always do, and I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this. As simple as that," Boehner said [of stepping down as Speaker of the House and resigning his seat].



Another Brief Respite from the Francis Frenzy

There is nothing like a good obituary; great ones are hard to come by.

Wasn't that Whatsits Name? UPDATE

A few weeks ago, James Blake, a retired tennis star was tackled and hand cuffed by NYPD officers in the course of investigating credit card fraud at a local hotel. The officers claimed he looked like one of the fraudsters they were after. Mr. Blake vigorously objected—rightly so—and the officer who arrested him has been suspended. The police officer is white, Blake biracial. This has been treated by the media—and almost everyone else—as a racist incident.

!0th Video

For those following the CMP videos, number 10 is on YouTube.

Top quote: "Everything we provide is fresh." But there's more.

Will Planned Parenthood give up this source of funding in order to keep operating?

It would seem prudent.



By Plane and Bike to Norway

In a largely painful and dismal story about refugees and asylum seekers, here is an account that shows the importance of geography. Syrians wanting to leave get a Russian visa and a plane ticket to Moscow from Beirut, train to Murmansk, car to Norweigan border and bicycle across the border to Norway. Bicycle required because walking across is not allowed.

Aylan Kurdi, 2012-2015

“The waves were high, the boat started swaying and shaking. We were terrified,” said the father, Abdullah Kurdi, 40, a Syrian Kurd from the town of Kobani near the Turkish border. “I rushed to my kids and wife while the boat was flipping upside down. And in a second we were all drowning in the water.” New York Times


Something to Think About (2015)

Front page NYTimes, right-hand column: "Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities."

Almost every possible theory of "Why," seems to be mentioned here. Guns. Gangs. Police laying off enforcement. Socialmedia. Movies. Music.

Any left out?