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Guilt By Association?

I'm no fan of the "guilt by association" game. Just because someone knows someone who believes some bad things, that doesn't mean that you agree with them across the board. Even if they've done bad things, associating with them doesn't necessarily mean that you support what they did. It's a foolish game, and often leads to madness.

On the other hand, there is a certain amount of truth to the old aphorism "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas." Hanging around with people with bad habits or ideas or backgrounds is a warning sign -- but choosing to associate with them over areas where they are so wrong, that's just bad.

That's why I read this American Thinker article (after prompting by my colleague Rick) with such interest. It's clear that throughout his history, whenever Barack Obama was given a chance to take a stand against bad people, he instead turned a blind eye and used them for his own advantage. He only turned his back on them when they became more of a liability than an asset. William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones -- the list is seemingly endless.

Then, as I'm bouncing that piece off the back of my mind, President Obama goes and does something that almost comes across as him saying "yeah, I read that article, too -- it's right, and I'm going to prove it once again."

He gives a recess appointment to James Cole, naming him the #2 man in the Justice Department. Mr. Cole -- a defense attorney specializing in white-collar crime -- has long been a staunch advocate of the "law enforcement" model of fighting terrorists. In an op-ed piece published in Legal Times just two days short of the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he said this about Attorney General John Ashcroft's involvement in the War On Terror:

For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.
 
Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime, including the scourge of the drug trade, the reign of organized crime, and countless acts of rape, child abuse, and murder. The acts of Sept. 11 were horrible, but so are these other things.

Treat 9/11 as any other crime -- but bigger. Perhaps it might have escaped his notice, but the people who carried out the attacks were not that concerned about indictments or convictions or sentencing -- they were dead. And those who coordinated and ordered the attacks were outside of our jurisdiction, in a country governed by a body we did not recognize and committed to protecting them. Indeed, the Taliban in Afghanistan embraced Cole's approach -- demanding that we submit requests for extradition, complete with irrefutable evidence of their guilt ("irrefutable" in their eyes -- an impossible standard) before they'd consider cooperating with us.

I've said it before, but it obviously bears repeating: terrorists are not criminals. They commit crimes, but they do so incidentally towards their real goals. They don't think like criminals, they don't act like criminals, and the measures used to fight crime simply don't work anywhere near as well.

Likewise, despite their use of weapons and tactics, terrorists are not soldiers. Terrorists combine elements of criminals and soldiers, taking the worst aspects of both, to achieve their ends.

To treat them as solely criminals or solely soldiers is doomed to failure. It takes both -- military and judicial -- to properly fight them.

There is a role for the Justice Department in the War on Terror. It has already done great things in uncovering plots and prosecuting Americans who've taken arms (or plotted to take arms) against the US. But they are not and can not be our only -- or even main -- line of defense.

That is the position Cole put forward on September 9, 2002. This is the position he has said or done nothing to repudiate. And this is the man President Obama just put in as the second-in-command at the Justice Department, where he will have tremendous power to make that philosophy into policy.

It's also worth noting that Cole was put in as a recess appointment, bypassing the Senate's power to "advise and consent" to such prominent nominations. That in and of itself is not damning, but it does speak volumes that Obama couldn't wrangle 60 votes of support for Cole from a Senate that contained 57 Democrats and essentially Democratic independents (Sanders and Lieberman). All Obama had to do was find one or two Republicans he could sway that Cole wasn't that bad, that he would actually do more good than harm in office, and he could have gotten him confirmed.

But that would only have been after Cole would have been called upon to explain just what he meant in that opinion piece, how much of it he still believes in, and what his current position is -- all in direct relation to the job to which he had been nominated.

That Obama went to such lengths to put Cole in office leaves us with a very simple conclusion: Obama agrees with Cole, and wanted to put Cole in a position to make that our policy.

If it's true that you can judge a man by the company he keeps, then it's even more true that you can judge a man by those whom he chooses to place in positions of authority, and those whom he chooses to hold authority over him or who he chooses to follow. And in that light, President Obama has chosen very, very poorly indeed.

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Comments (25)

I couldn't agree more. This... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I couldn't agree more. This stinks to high heaven. Obama has such an arrogance attitude it boggles the mind. ww

There are several r... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


There are several readily available solutions to the terrorist problem--they come in various calibers. ALL of them completely resolve the problem, with NO chance of recividsm.

Check out his career with c... (Below threshold)
J:

Check out his career with corporate crime and political crime. He is being placed in a strategic position to fulfill some goal of obama. Whether it is the treatment of terrorists or corporate/political criminals will be exposed in time.

there is guilt by associati... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

there is guilt by association ...

and there is associating with the guilty ...

In almost every case Obama has associated himself with people that were already considered unsavory ... Wright, Ayers, Jones, Rezko ...

Here is a game, try to name a close associate of Obama who is not a scumb*g, slumlord or a socialist ?

To treat them as solely ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

To treat them as solely criminals or solely soldiers is doomed to failure. It takes both -- military and judicial -- to properly fight them.

I agree. It's a good thing no one has suggested that's what we do.

Islam vs The West is the fi... (Below threshold)
BlueNight:

Islam vs The West is the first postmodern war. Watch "The Event," "FlashForward," or "Lost" to see other postmodern tactics, such as keeping everyone unaware of what's really going on until it's too late (population replacement in Europe).

It's a good thing the masters of Stuxnet are playing a postmodern game too, or we'd all be in more trouble.

But that would only have... (Below threshold)
john:

But that would only have been after Cole would have been called upon to explain just what he meant in that opinion piece

If Republicans wanted to "advise and consent" on Cole, and call upon him to "explain", then they should have done so.

"Despite repeated requests, for more than five months, Senate Republicans refused to debate the nomination of Jim Cole to be the Deputy Attorney General."

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101020003

As for the horror of using a recess appointment for high ranking positions:

* Gordon England who was given a recess appointment to be deputy secretary of defense;
* Eugene Hickok, recess appointed to be deputy secretary of the department of education;
* Romolo Bernardi, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
* Kirk Van Tine, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Transportation;
* Theodore Kassinger, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Commerce; and
* Stephen Johnson, recess appointed to be deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
* John Bolton, recess appointed to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

Why would Bush go to "such lengths" to put these people in office? How dare a president exercise his valid authority to put policymakers in a position to make policy!

john, a few questions:... (Below threshold)

john, a few questions:

1) Did I say that the recess appointment process was inherently wrong? Or simply questionable?

B) The 41 Republicans kept the 59 Democrats from even scheduling a hearing?

III) I don't recall most of those appointments of Bush, but Bolton's appointment was quite rigorously debated (I think he was just what the UN needed) first. EVERYONE had an opinion of the guy. Cole... nope. Did I miss the debate about how wonderful Cole was?

J.

The One can do no wrong. C... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The One can do no wrong. Can commit no error. Guess those expecting Barry to 'jog to the center' don't know him very well.

I'm not surprised that repu... (Below threshold)
Hank:

I'm not surprised that repubs wouldn't debate the so-called merits of Coles Nomination.
There aren't any.

Look at his background.

"Cole represented Saudi Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud when insurance carriers and September 11 survivors sued him and others for financing terrorists. Treasury Department documents provided evidence of extensive financial support for Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family and Prince Naif ran the Al Haramain Foundation, a Saudi charity that diverted funds to Al-Qaeda before and after September 11, 2001."

Then we have:

"Cole also made a killing when his buddies at the Justice Department hired him to work as an “independent monitor” reviewing the activities of insurance giant AIG. He got $20 million for his effort, even though the company collapsed and got a monstrous $182.3 billion government bailout."

We really do not need another Jamie Gorelick.
The Repubs are correct in opposing this nomination.

You have to wonder, though, why Obama would nominate a man with this background to be no 2 at Justice.

Barry is not guilty by asso... (Below threshold)
914:

Barry is not guilty by association. Barry is the Godfather of white guilt.

1) Did I say that the re... (Below threshold)
john:

1) Did I say that the recess appointment process was inherently wrong? Or simply questionable?

When Bush did it, you said neither.

B) The 41 Republicans kept the 59 Democrats from even scheduling a hearing?

He had a hearing. And a Republican supporter.

By hearing's end, even Republicans were acknowledging that Cole's confirmation by the full Senate was likely, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he is "very confident" that Cole "understands that military commissions have a role in the war on terror.''

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/15/AR2010061505442.html

III) I don't recall most of those appointments of Bush

What a surprise.

Bolton's appointment was quite rigorously debated

After which Bush overruled the Senate's advice and consent. Was that inherently wrong? Or simply questionable?

John, I know you are trying... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

John, I know you are trying to make sense but are failing miserable. I would say the assistant secretary of Justice, now that the justice department is making a lot of blunders, this is an important issue. It is very current. But the left, (JOHN) sees no problem with this because he is your guy.

Also, quoting mediamatters? Are you serious? ww

John, I know you are try... (Below threshold)
john:

John, I know you are trying to make sense but are failing miserable.

Ow, that really hurts.

But the left, (JOHN) sees no problem with this because he is your guy.

Of course. It can't be that people have differences of opinion. On the right, it's all about "your guy" vs. "the other guy's guy". More projection.

Also, quoting mediamatters? Are you serious?

Are you disputing any of the facts I cited? Go on; we're listening.

Earth to john.. Barry has l... (Below threshold)
914:

Earth to john.. Barry has lost. Abandon the ship of fools while there is still time.

John,they did deba... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

John,

they did debate about Bolton ... and then the Dems refused to allow a vote ...

no debate on Cole was scheduled ... none, nada, zip ... that was never something the GOP controlled ...

going thru committee hearings is not debate ...

are you just ignorant of the facts ... or just a Media Matters troll ? (or both)

Gordon England was twice co... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Gordon England was twice confirmed as the Secretary of Defense prior to his recess appointment ...

President George W. Bush nominated Hickok as his Deputy Secretary of Education on March 30, 2001 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 10, 2001 ...

Kirk Van Tine was previously confirmed by the senate in 2001 as General Counsel of the Department of Transportation ...

Stephen Johnson was later confirmed in 2005 to be the Administrator of the EPA ...

John Boltons Senate vote was filibustered by democrats ...

so what was your point again about Cole ?

It only takes one Senator t... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

It only takes one Senator to put a "secret" or "anonymous" hold on a nomination to hold it up practically indefinitely. This has led to many important positions going unfilled for months or years. In exasperation, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have increasingly resorted to recess appointments to get their administrations fully staffed. I could be wrong, but I'm thinking that's what has held up this nomination.

By the way, I read the article at the hilariously named "American Thinker." I see the Nutjob Right is still trying to convince the world that Obama's a communist. A communist who wouldn't even fight for a Public Option in his healthcare reform bill!

If he's a communist, he's doing a piss-poor job of it.

I love where the writer talks about how we should be careful a Manchurian Candidate doesn't gain power - it CAN happen here!!! says the author. Just like in all the other countries where it's happened, you know, like...umm, I mean...that place in Af...well, it COULD happen!

Also, maybe it's just me, but your article seems a little scattershot. Is your point that recess appointments are bad, that THIS recess appointment is bad, or that Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and Barack Obama are bad?

Agree re guilt by associati... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Agree re guilt by association, but association is simply knowing someone unsavory. Appointing someone of unsavory views to a position to which those views are relevant is an endorsement of those views.

Whole different kettle of fish.

I love where the writer ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I love where the writer talks about how we should be careful a Manchurian Candidate doesn't gain power - it CAN happen here!!!

Time to move into the past tense, Bucky.

"A communist who wouldn'... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"A communist who wouldn't even fight for a Public Option in his healthcare reform bill!"

Obama's never 'fought' for anything in his life. When faced with opposition his handlers couldn't coerce, blackmail, or remove as an obstacle - he didn't know how to act.

"If he's a communist, he's doing a piss-poor job of it."

Yeah - well, just what HAS he done a good job at, aside from getting elected? His record prior to running for the Presidency is notably void of anything useful or successful. As the new senator from Illinois, he didn't author any bills, didn't do much of anything except vote as the Party told him to do.

Frankly, I'd rather him do a piss poor job as a Communist than a good one.

And all snark aside, Bruce, honestly - do you have any really coherent image of what Obama's vision for the country is, that you could actually spell out? 'Cause I sure can't come up with one that makes sense, and from what I can see I think he's actually kind of flailing around without any real strategy as to what to do next. He's in a reactive mode, not proactive, and I believe he's found that it's a lot easier to tell people what he's going to do than actually doing it. And micromanaging the country isn't exactly an easy thing to do...

Well, in your last paragrap... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Well, in your last paragraph, you have a point Mr Lawson. I'm not going to deny, on Wizbang or anywhere else, my disappointment with the Obama presidency. Perhaps, in hindsight, I should have sent my measly $10, $25, and $30 contributions to Hillary Clinton instead of Obama.

But am I glad that John "I Never Met a Principle I Wouldn't Abandon" McCain is NOT the president right now? John "I'm Suspending My Campaign No I'm Not!" McCain? John "Sarah Palin Is The Best Choice to Lead The Country Should Anything Happen To My 72 Year Old Ass" McCain?

Hell, yes!

I don't necessarily defend any and all of Obama's actions or positions. I just comment on Wizbang to point out conservative hilarity. Like the article in "American Thinker" (snicker).

Let's try again, Bruce.... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Let's try again, Bruce.

"And all snark aside, Bruce, honestly - do you have any really coherent image of what Obama's vision for the country is, that you could actually spell out?"

Do you?

Damn, Lawson, I SAID you ha... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Damn, Lawson, I SAID you had a point!

I think Obama still has the same vision he had on Election Night, as it's been modified by political reality. Some of that political reality is his own fault.

I don't think he's gone about getting it implemented particularly well.

And, again, elections are about choices between two candidates. What was Gramps's "vision for the country" besides making it a country led by himself? Or four more years just like the previous eight?

In comment # 18, I asked Mr Tea what his point was, but I needn't have. His point, as ALWAYS, is "Obama sux." He can't acknowledge the caliber of the bullet we dodged when we DIDN'T elect John McCain.

Bruce - I'm asking what ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Bruce - I'm asking what YOU see as Obama's vision, not whether you think Obama's still got the same vision or what McCain's vision is, was, will be, or might have been if his shoes were two sizes larger and he forgot his prunes for breakfast on New Year's Day 2007.

What do YOU think Obama's vision is?

Good god, could I make it any more direct? What do I need - a 5-foot prybar to get it out of you?

I'm asking what you believe OBAMA'S vision IS. Not whether you're disappointed in his implementations. As far as I'm concerned (and your mileage may vary) all I've heard from him are feel-good platitudes and lots of handwaving misdirection. And I'll agree on his implementations, seems like the guy's never heard of the law of unanticipated consequences.

So if you could interpret that 'vision' into a straight English description, I'd be quite grateful.




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