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

From Our Window

Last night at 1:30 AM (that is, early this morning) a New York City garbage truck pulled up to our building. The last several snow storms have left garbage uncollected and buried not only under a mountain of snow but behind the cars encased in snow.

A 93-year old's Valentine

Roger Angell, long a staple at the New Yorker, appears in the anniversary issue under the title "This Old Man."   Lightly noting the drawbacks of aging, he celebrates his happy existence:

Bad Girls from Russia

have arrived in the U.S. and become wildly popular. They were on Colbert the other night. He was apparently trying to catechize them (didn't seem to be having much luck). U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, wants to join their group, though they haven't been invited to the WH--yet.

Israel gets mad (at Kerry) and others

As Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to present the U.S. framework for two-states in Israel and the Occupied Territories, the rhetoric is heating up. And so is the politics. There is a rich trove of news and opinions this week-end some of it focused on the impact of BDS on Israel and on the Israeli government's reaction; some of it focused on U.S.-Israeli Relations.

Always reasons to hate Iran

In the State of the Union, President Obama said he would veto any effort to increase sanctions on Iran. Previous White House threats seemed a bit oblique, now his direct threat has pulled some Democratics back from the brink of voting for the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" introduced by Senators Mendez (D.) and Kirk (R.). Rand Paul, one of the few Republicans to stand back from supporting the bill, now opposes it. All to the good.

But....

A stirring SOU

even if John Bohener scowled and Biden grinned. Why can't the country come around to what Obama proposed tonight for the country?  Text.

Time to throw in the towel? UPDATE

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?

Dutiful UPDATE

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:

War or Peace? Raise Your Hand

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.

Moral Immunity

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.