Friday, April 06, 2007

Must Reads: Al-Qaeda & Saddam, another U.S. Attorney mess & James Dobson falters

By Diane Silver

[updated 1 pm]

Happy Friday to you! Here are some must reads for today.

If you haven't already, trot on over to The Washington Post and read about a newly declassified report showing that there never were pre-war links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. To make matters worse, it shows that the CIA knew this in 2002.

In many ways, this issue shouldn't still matter. We're already in Iraq. We have to figure out what to do now, yet somehow the Bush Administration can't let go of the Big Lie. On the same day the report was released Vice President Dick Cheney once again told Rush Limbaugh's radio audience that al-Qaeda had been working in Iraq before the war.

Meanwhile, four top managers in the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis are despairing. They've resigned from their positions and taken voluntary demotions one month after an inexperienced, 34-year-old was sworn in as U.S. Attorney.

The Pioneer Press via Talking Points Memo reports:
A source said managers had been unhappy with (new U.S. Attorney Rachel) Paulose and decided to collectively resign.

"They did it jointly because they couldn't stand her anymore," the source said, citing what been described as her "dictatorial management style and general lack of management experience."

OK, this is a little old (from March 23), but new for us and still well worth reading and watching. A Minneapolis TV station reports that Paulose's swearing-in ceremony got so elaborate that some folks called it a "coronation." Do read the story, but make certain to click on the video. It's an eye opener.

As a reporter, I never heard of elaborate ceremonies complete with choirs and speeches for U.S. attorneys. Although politically appointed, this is a work-a-day job. As I remember it, U.S. attorneys usually took their oath of office in small ceremonies in a judge's chamber. Honestly, this looks like a church service or campaign rally. Why would anyone need this?

[end up update]

In the world of religion and politics, The Economist declares that fundamentalist leader James Dobson is faltering, along with the entire religious right. I'm not as optomistic as The Economist about the movement's fall, but the piece does make for interesting reading.
The problem is that Mr Dobson is not all that good at politics. He displays all the characteristic weaknesses of evangelical politicos—overreaching hopelessly and then blaming failure on want of political courage. He was the prime force behind both the fight to keep Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube in place and the push for a gay-marriage ban. But a majority of evangelicals disapproved of the first and a large number of his fellow social conservatives warned, rightly, that the second was a waste of effort.

There have been other miscalculations. He wasted political capital supporting Harriet Miers’s doomed nomination to the Supreme Court. He strongly opposed the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative. He accused SpongeBob SquarePants of participating in a “pro-homosexual video”. He argued that “The Da Vinci Code” “has all the evidence of something cooked up in the fires of hell” (wouldn’t it have been better written if it had been?). He compared Bill Frist’s call for increased federal funding for stem-cell research to Nazi experiments.
I have to admit to loving the line about the Da Vinci Code.


Anonymous said...

You are correct--the US Attorneys are all very much everyday working prosecutors. They are appointed upon recommendation of the US Senators of the state and other poobah types. But they lead an experienced staff of prosecutors who spend their lives in public service. In 20 years, I've not seen a US Attorney--from either party--who was obviously incompetent. They make a decent living, but most could make more in private practice. Yes, I'm a bit of an insider.

Diane Silver said...

Thanks for your comments.

When I was a newspaper reporter, I had some experience with US Attorneys. Your assessment certainly matches mine.

Do you know anything about the young woman who was is in Minneapolis? Having you ever heard of a swearing-in ceremony like the one described here? Bizarre!