Proudly afflicting the comfortable [and collecting shiny things] since March 2003

Send Magpie an email!


RSS Feeds
Click button to subscribe.

Subscribe to Magpie via Feedburner  Magpie's RSS feed via Bloglines
Add to Netvibes

Need a password?
Click the button!


Bypass 'free' registration!


Cost of the Iraq War [US$]
(JavaScript Error)
[Find out more here]

Hooded Liberty


BLOGS WE LIKE
3quarksdaily
Alas, a Blog
alphabitch
Back to Iraq
Baghdad Burning
Bitch Ph.D.
blac (k) ademic
Blog Report
Blogs by Women
BOPNews
Broadsheet
Burnt Orange Report
Confined Space
Cursor
Daily Kos
Dangereuse trilingue
Echidne of the Snakes
Effect Measure
Eschaton (Atrios)
feministe
Feministing
Firedoglake
Follow Me Here
gendergeek
Gordon.Coale
The Housing Bubble New!
I Blame the Patriarchy
Juan Cole/Informed Comment
Kicking Ass
The King's Blog
The Krile Files
Left Coaster
librarian.net
Loaded Orygun
Making Light
Marian's Blog
mediagirl
Muslim Wake Up! Blog
My Left Wing
NathanNewman.org
The NewsHoggers
Null Device
Orcinus
Pacific Views
Pandagon
The Panda's Thumb
Pedantry
Peking Duck
Philobiblon
Pinko Feminist Hellcat
Political Animal
Reality-Based Community
Riba Rambles
The Rittenhouse Review
Road to Surfdom
Romenesko
SCOTUSblog
The Sideshow
The Silence of Our Friends New!
Sisyphus Shrugged
skippy
Suburban Guerrilla
Talk Left
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
This Modern World
The Unapologetic Mexican New!
veiled4allah
Wampum
War and Piece
wood s lot
xymphora

MISSING IN ACTION
Body and Soul
fafblog
General Glut's Globlog
Respectful of Otters
RuminateThis


Image by Propaganda Remix Project. Click to see more.


WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

If you like, you can send Magpie an email!



WHO LINKS TO MAGPIE?
Ask Technorati.
Or ask WhoLinksToMe.


Politics Blog Top Sites

Progressive Women's Blog Ring

Join | List |
Previous | Next | Random |
Previous 5 | Next 5 |
Skip Previous | Skip Next

Powered by RingSurf



Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Check to open links in new windows. Uncheck to see comments.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Where are the mensches when you need them?

Don't look for them in Dubya's administration, says economist Paul Krugman in his latest New York Times column:

"Be a mensch," my parents told me. Literally, a mensch is a person. But by implication, a mensch is an upstanding person who takes responsibility for his actions. The people now running America aren't mensches.

Dick Cheney isn't a mensch. There have been many attempts to turn the shooting of Harry Whittington into a political metaphor, but the most characteristic moment was the final act — the Moscow show-trial moment in which the victim of Mr. Cheney's recklessness apologized for getting shot. Remember, Mr. Cheney, more than anyone else, misled us into the Iraq war. Then, when neither links to Al Qaeda nor W.M.D. materialized, he shifted the blame to the very intelligence agencies he bullied into inflating the threat.

Donald Rumsfeld isn't a mensch. Before the Iraq war Mr. Rumsfeld muzzled commanders who warned that we were going in with too few troops, and sidelined State Department experts who warned that we needed a plan for the invasion's aftermath. But when the war went wrong, he began talking about "unknown unknowns" and going to war with "the army you have," ducking responsibility for the failures of leadership that have turned the war into a stunning victory — for Iran.

Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, isn't a mensch. Remember his excuse for failing to respond to the drowning of New Orleans? "I remember on Tuesday morning," he said on "Meet the Press," "picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' " There were no such headlines, at least in major newspapers, and we now know that he received — and ignored — many warnings about the unfolding disaster.

Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, isn't a mensch. He insists that the prescription drug plan's catastrophic start doesn't reflect poorly on his department, that "no logical person" would have expected "a transition happening that is so large without some problems." In fact, Medicare's 1966 startup went very smoothly. That didn't happen this time because his department ignored outside experts who warned, months in advance, about exactly the disaster that has taken place.

I could go on. Officials in this administration never take responsibility for their actions. When something goes wrong, it's always someone else's fault.

Was it always like this? I don't want to romanticize our political history, but I don't think so. Think of Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote a letter before D-Day accepting the blame if the landings failed. His modern equivalent would probably insist that the landings were a "catastrophic success," then try to lay the blame for their failure on the editorial page of The New York Times.

Where have all the mensches gone? The character of the administration reflects the character of the man at its head. President Bush is definitely not a mensch; his inability to admit mistakes or take responsibility for failure approaches the pathological. He surrounds himself with subordinates who share his aversion to facing unpleasant realities. And as long as his appointees remain personally loyal, he defends their performance, no matter how incompetent. After all, to do otherwise would be to admit that he made a mistake in choosing them. Last week he declared that Mr. Leavitt is doing, yes, "a heck of a job."

But how did such people attain power in the first place? Maybe it's the result of our infantilized media culture, in which politicians, like celebrities, are judged by the way they look, not the reality of their achievements. Mr. Bush isn't an effective leader, but he plays one on TV, and that's all that matters.

Whatever the reason for the woeful content of our leaders' character, it has horrifying consequences. You can't learn from mistakes if you won't admit making any mistakes, an observation that explains a lot about the policy disasters of recent years — the failed occupation of Iraq, the failed response to Katrina, the failed drug plan.

Above all, the anti-mensches now ruling America are destroying our moral standing. A recent National Journal report finds that we're continuing to hold many prisoners at Guantánamo even though the supposed evidence against them has been discredited. We're even holding at least eight prisoners who are no longer designated enemy combatants. Why? Well, releasing people you've imprisoned by mistake means admitting that you made a mistake. And that's something the people now running America never do.

Reprinting a whole column is normally a no-no around here, but this magpie couldn't figure out a way to cut Krugman's colunm without diminishing his argument.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:02 PM | Get permalink




Liar, liar, pants on fire!


NEWS HEADLINES

Mail & Guardian [S. Africa]
NEWS LINKS
BBC News
CBC News
Agence France Presse
Reuters
Associated Press
Aljazeera
Inter Press Service
Watching America
International Herald Tribune
Guardian (UK)
Independent (UK)
USA Today
NY Times (US)
Washington Post (US)
McClatchy Washington Bureau (US)
Boston Globe (US)
LA Times (US)
Globe & Mail (Canada)
Toronto Star (Canada)
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
AllAfrica.com
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Al-Ahram (Egypt)
Daily Star (Lebanon)
Haaretz (Israel)
Hindustan Times (India)
Japan Times (Japan)
Asia Times (Hong Kong)
EurasiaNet
New Scientist News
Paper Chase
OpenCongress

COMMENT & ANALYSIS
Molly Ivins
CJR Daily
Women's eNews
Raw Story
The Gadflyer
Working for Change
Common Dreams
AlterNet
Truthdig
Truthout
Salon
Democracy Now!
American Microphone
rabble
The Revealer
Current
Editor & Publisher
Economic Policy Institute
Center for American Progress
The Memory Hole


Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll

IRISH MUSIC
Céilí House (RTE Radio)
TheSession.org
The Irish Fiddle
Fiddler Magazine
Concertina.net
Concertina Library
A Guide to the Irish Flute
Chiff & Fipple
Irtrad-l Archives
Ceolas
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann
BBC Virtual Session
JC's ABC Tune Finder

SHINY THINGS
alt.portland
Propaganda Remix Project
Ask a Ninja
grow-a-brain
Boiling Point
Bruno
Cat and Girl
Dykes to Watch Out For
Library of Congress
American Heritage Dictionary
Dictonary of Newfoundland English
American's Guide to Canada
Digital History of the San Fernando Valley
MetaFilter
Blithe House Quarterly
Astronomy Pic of the Day
Earth Science Picture of the Day
Asia Grace
Gaelic Curse Engine
Old Dinosaur Books



ARCHIVES