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Let's say a CEO does a great job for stockholders; he increases profits five-fold, treats the employees well, and causes the stock price to skyrocket. He's a superstar. One day the public learns that the CEO killed a guy to get ahead in his career, but the CEO doesn't get convicted because his clever attorney gets him off on a technicality. Assume in this hypothetical situation that the public correctly believes the CEO killed a guy to advance his career. Should the board of directors allow the superstar CEO to keep his job? Or is killing a guy to advance your career always a firing offense?

Okay, keep your answer in mind.

The next question is for supporters of President Obama. Let's say your political views map closely to the President's positions. He's your guy. But suppose you found out he once killed an American citizen in the United States to help his reelection. And assume, as with the CEO example, that the facts of the killing are undisputed and the President found a legal means to avoid prosecution. In that hypothetical case, would you still vote for President Obama? Or would you say it is a firing offense for a President to kill a citizen to advance his career?

I predict that every one of you favored firing the hypothetical CEO for killing a guy to get ahead. My second prediction is that every Republican reader of this blog favored firing President Obama in the hypothetical and imaginary case of him murdering a citizen to get elected. My third prediction is that supporters of President Obama will quibble with the hypothetical example, or my comparison to the CEO, or say President Obama is still a better option than Romney. In other words, for most supporters of President Obama, I don't think there is such a thing as a "firing offense."

For the record, President Obama did not technically kill anyone to get elected. That was just a hypothetical example. But he is putting an American citizen in jail for 10 years to life for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in California where it is legal under state law. And I assume the President - who has a well-documented history of extensive marijuana use in his youth - is clamping down on California dispensaries for political reasons, i.e. to get reelected. What other reason could there be?

One could argue that the President is just doing his job and enforcing existing Federal laws. That's the opposite of what he said he would do before he was elected, but lying is obviously not a firing offense for politicians.

Personally, I'd prefer death to spending the final decades of my life in prison. So while President Obama didn't technically kill a citizen, he is certainly ruining this fellow's life, and his family's lives, and the lives of countless other minor drug offenders. And he is doing it to advance his career. If that's not a firing offense, what the hell is?

Romney is likely to continue the same drug policies as the Obama administration. But he's enough of a chameleon and a pragmatist that one can't be sure. And I'm fairly certain he'd want a second term. He might find it "economical" to use federal resources in other ways than attacking California voters. And he is vocal about promoting states' rights, so he's got political cover for ignoring dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal.

So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.

[Update: Congratulations to Politico for being the first to take this post out of context. I'm a little disappointed in Jezebel, Gawker and Salon for being slow to the party. Are all of their context-removers on vacation or something?]

[Update 2: Nipping on the heels of Politico, Mediaite.com weighs in with their own out-of-context outrage. They managed to throw in some charges of racism and something about rape. Well done.]

[Update 3: Kudos to Reason.com for doing a good job preserving the context of this post while still quoting from it. Notice their story headline shows they understand the central point of my post. And since their readership probably overlaps a lot with mine, my writing makes sense in their environment too. That rarely happens. -- Scott]

[Update 4: Meanwhile, at Huffington Post, where context goes to die, a key point in my blog post has been summarized as: ". . . cartoonist Scott Adams said he's under the impression Romney would be softer on marijuana than President Barack Obama." Is that how you would interpret my sentence "Romney is likely to continue the same drug policies as the Obama administration"? If not, you can't write for Huffington Post.

[Update 5: Daily Kos takes the context destruction trophy by proudly quoting from the Politico article's out-of-context treatment. Daily Kos scored a rare "double" by taking out of context a piece that was already out of context. Their under-informed readers chimed in to point out that they are sure I don't believe in evolution, which I've often publicly said meets the tests to be called a scientific fact. Another commenter points out that I must hate women because the Alice character is getting less time in Dilbert. You can't get that kind of insight anywhere but Daily Kos."

[Update 6: Newser.com gets an "A" for reporting the story objectively and even mentioning that context is an issue and readers can come here to see it in its native context. Nicely done.]

[Update 7: A little late to the party, but Gawker finally weighed in with a snarky dismissal of their misinterpretation of what I wrote. It's not a party until you guys show up. Can Jezebel be far behind?]

 

 
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+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
Scott... you really should read more.

Obama already HAS killed an American citizen, and it is undisputed.

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/aclu-lens-american-citizen-anwar-al-aulaqi-killed-without-judicial-process

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Aulaqi

Never before has an American citizen been summarily and openly executed without charges or trial. Here you are worried about some dope dealer getting a decade in prison, and meanwhile, the President has decided that any citizen he deems to be a threat to national security can be murdered without so much as a legal charge being brought against them. I think one of those is a little more troubling than the other. :Op

WATYF

[I'm okay with the President making hard choices to defend the country. That's what we pay him to do. That seems a lot different than jailing a retailer who hasn't broken the laws of his home state. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
[Update 2: Nipping on the heels of Politico, Mediate.com weighs in with their own out-of-context outrage. They managed to throw in some charges of racism and something about rape. Well done.]

Ha ha! Thanks for the laugh.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Imagine you have an employee. He's not too bad, but he isn't doing the job you'd hoped for. You remember he interviewed very well, but once he got the job he seemed less enthusiastic, and takes a lot of time off to play golf. He's also done a lot of things that you disagree with, and he doesn't get along with other employees.

So you're considering firing him and hiring someone else. Before you fire him, you talk to him to let him make his case. When you tell him his job is on the line, his main response is: I've been doing the best I can, the other employees won't co-operate with my new ideas, and anyone else you'd consider hiring is probably worse.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Actually Politico took nothing out of context. They added zero editorial commentary and basically just restated the key points of your post verbatim. I've been an ardent defender and reader but I do feel like you are taking this too far, and maybe getting a little paranoid to boot.

[If I thought there were large chunks of my post that didn't matter in terms of context I would have left them out too. In addition, on this blog, regular readers generally understand what I'm up to. Plus you have the comment section where the context is flushed out, as in this comment. -- Scott]
 
 
-14 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
Headline - Cartoonist writes irrational Romney endorsement because he has to drive further for his weed.

Apparently the lack of pot makes the cartoonist loose rational thought and ...
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I wonder how many votes and comments here took it out of context too...
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Hello Scott - I applaud your decision. While Obama choosing to go after marijuana growers after promising he wouldn't is troubling, it's not even close to the worst thing he's done as president. If you have not read the following article, I highly suggest it - it lays out a fervent Democrat's own reasons for refusing to vote for Obama because he can't do so and remain true to his liberal beliefs:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/why-i-refuse-to-vote-for-barack-obama/262861/

 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I believe both the hypothetical CEO and hypothetical Obama-president should both be fired. First, murder is wrong. Setting that aside, the CEO's actions would make his company a pariah and, in the end, people wouldn't patronize his company. Ditto for Obama. Had he actually murdered someone, his candidacy would be untenable. His party would abandon him (even Republicans have troubles backing Romney based on pure ideology and he's done nothing that approaches the magnitude of murder).

So, we fire Obama based on his mindless adherence to a stupid policy on weed. Would Romney be any better? No. By the time any of these stiffs make it to nomination, they have been so deflavored of being "rogue" that they can't tie their shoes without a focus group. I personally can't stand either of them. And I'm for the legalization of weed (it's less harmful than tobacco, what with all the junk they add into it). This election is, like all of them, a choice between the lesser of two evils (or deciding which candidate makes you projectile vomit less).

Do you REALLY think Romney would do any differently than Obama? For that matter, with the exception of Rand Paul and Dennis Kucinich, do you really think anyone who's made it through the "vetting process" known as the "primaries" (a monstrous deflavoring machine) would do any differently? Our system is broken. Or, rather, it is set up to ensure propagation of the status quo. "Stay the course" isn't just a hackneyed expression Reagan coined.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
For at least 30 years now, our dysfunctional party system has made it impossible for any single politician to do anything about the drug situation in this country - even the President. Probably especially the President. Any effort by a politician to move to a more rational drug treatment rather than drug punishment policy for users is seized by the opposing party (and yes, both parties do this) as a club to beat the offending politician as a "soft on crime" and "enemy of our children" - etc - evil-doer who should be impeached immediately. No one in the offender's party will come to their aid for fear of the same treatment. It's political suicide.

Come to think of it, it's a sad truth that in this country's political climate rationality itself is career suicide.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Phantom II, I understand where you are coming from, but I do find it weird that you would say:

"One doesn't get to pick and choose which laws will be supported and which ones will be ignored."

And then later say:

"You are at your best when you use your mind."

Applying the law across the board the same way is the exact opposite of using your mind, IMHO. The problem with your stance is that no law could ever be written to consider every single !$%*!$%*!$%* that could possibly arise, even if the legislators, fallible human beings all, could have thought of them. The police, D.A.s, and judges of the world HAVE to take context into consideration. The laws themselves are written toward this end, which is why punishments are typically given in terms of ranges, not specific values.

You say unequal application of the laws is tyranny, but I think tyranny is more likely to arise from blindly applying rules in every situation regardless of context. Granted, it is a different kind of tyranny, the tyranny of small minds that makes people exasperated with the logjam of bureaucracy, whether they are trying to navigate the complex (and often contradictory) maze of government regulations, or are just frustrated because the Facilities department at their company insists upon using the standard 40-inch hanging whiteboards when a 60-inch version is available, even though the rails in my office are only 70 inches long instead of the normal 85 because of the supporting column that eats up one corner it, so I end up with half the whiteboard space of everyone else, not to mention a long, empty stretch of rail, because the *other* Facilities guy has a rule that says that the rails must BOTH stretch the length of the wall AND leave a six-inch gap at each end, meaning there is actually room for the 81 inches of railing needed to support two 40-inch whiteboards, but they won't install it that way because the G--D--- rule says they can't.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes. The point is that rules are just as often used as a sword as a shield. I'm sure many people in government are good-minded, helpful people. I'm equally sure that just as many are petty tyrants who will find any excuse to not do their jobs.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Hockeybrad raises a good point. In past blogs, Scott, you have praised Romney for being a pragmatist. Well, someone who is a pragmatist in things we like, like passing well balanced laws, will also be a pragmatist on issues closer to him, like his political career. And his ethics.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
The President doesn't pick out individuals to go to jail. Local cops, local attorneys, and local judges make those decisions. Unless he's held in Guantanamo Bay, your facts are wrong.

Also, what do you think Romney would do to get elected? If he were put in a similar situation (geez, just go pick an example) what would this person, who is not yet president, do to get re-elected? Based off of his personality profile and campaign swaying, I bet more.

[Pol Pot didn't pick out individuals to kill either. Did he get a bad rap? -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
@PhantomII

[Actually, one DOES get to pick and choose which laws to support. Cops do it daily. Judges do it. Even juries can nullify a verdict. And the world is a better place because of it. -- Scott]

[I disagree. The law is a contract between the people and its government. A contract is binding. Unequal application of the law is, quite simply, tyranny.]

Even though I agree with many of the defenses for Obama's actions that have been put forth in this blog Im going to have to agree with Scott on this point. Politicians are nowhere near perfect. The lawmaking process is nowhere near perfect. The laws they create are nowhere near perfect and, if followed to the letter, can lead to some pretty outrageous results. You can say the solution is to improve the lawmaking process but, realistically, the best you can hope for is to reduce the problem, not get rid of it. So what IS the solution? More or less what Scott said. Rely on the people enforcing the law to improve it in the way they enforce it.
 
 
-53 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
And the blog is highjacked again, this time by Romney-supporters.

Scott, I sincerely do not believe that Obama had anything to with this case, but I can not know it for sure, and neither do you. What I do know for sure is that ALL presidents have been doing far worse things for political gain. I shall give no examples, because it is so obvious.
 
 
+65 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
As a libertarian I don't expect Mitt to be much better on the WOD or civil liberties generally, but... THE ECONOMY.

So I'm pretty much forced to vote for Romney.

Obama hasn't been awful for a Democrat, though he's lied more than most Presidents, especially about "the policies that got us into this mess" which he either hasn't fixed (TBTF systemic risk) or has always supported (massive gov't intervention in the housing markets creating an unsustainable housing bubble built that collapsed when we finally had a moderate recession after 17 years of growth which exposed the risks in mortgage-backed securities that were supposed to make housing more available, creating a credit crisis). But OTOH his policies are anti-growth -- the Bakken lawsuits and the federal land restrictions Romney nailed him on are the tip of the iceberg.

The biggest reason to vote Romney is that we might finally get some school choice. Our public school system is frankly insane, we pay unaccountable workers to stay in jobs they don't like at the expense of students, and one educrat nearby me is retiring at 55 with a $27M pension -- my state will actually be spending more money on pensions than on education by 2014.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
Speaking as a neutral (not a US citizen), I find it bizarre to suggest that Obama personally had Sandusky prosecuted 'to get re-elected', while simultaneously describing it as 'attacking California's voters'.

This is not an action that would strike me as one likely to win votes, particularly with Obama's key demographics - the opposite if anything. So an assumption that the action is a deliberate one by Obama to get re-elected seems wild, to say the least.
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
@Phantom II

"One doesn't get to pick and choose which laws will be supported and which ones will be ignored."

I understand this kind of thinking but it does not sit well with free people to subordinate to excessive authoritarianism. There were certain laws in Germany between 1932 and 1944 that I think you would have been acting from a very principled position not to have followed.

Juries (in any civilised country) can refuse to convict due to the perceived injustice of a law in general, or the perceived injustices in the way the law is applied in particular cases. There have also been cases where the juries have refused to convict due to their own prejudices such as the race of one of the parties in the case. This is one of the most essential parts of any legal system.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
For the record, I completely agree about "firing offenses", but I think it can and should be applied to both presidential candidates and almost every politician in office. Why give any support at all to any of them? We KNOW what they have all done, it's a well documented public record.
 
 
-19 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
I realize these points have been brought up a couple of times, but I have a serious question.

Why *not* support Gary Johnson? I don't get supporting Romney if he and his campaign have repeatedly and clearly stated their anti-marijuana stance - in all I don't think either candidate has anything going for them or is really admirable in any way.

Even in the worst case, I cannot understand why so many public figures can't at least say they support Johnson, but because of the broken system they will have to vote for the lesser of two evil candidates. In particular I have been meaning to ask you (Scott) for quite some time what, if anything about the Libertarians you disagree with? Reading you for years I can't really imagine what.

However I am very concerned with the lack of discussion that neither candidate has any chance of fixing anything that's wrong with our system or country, and we're completely screwed in the long term until the bad politicians are evicted and MAJOR change happens. This is only possible if people start voting for that change, even if it doesn't happen immediately. It can only come from the Libertarians or Green Party. I realize that with societal denial of the world collapsing the Green Party is too much to ask for, but I can't think of any reasonable person denying that Johnson/Libertarian is without question the best choice we have, that massive change needs to happen, and it has to start somewhere. Why is it so hard to commit to that change when we all know the two major parties aren't going to anything for most people?
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I was a little bothered at first, but reading the article, it wasn't actually a surprise raid. The man got a clear warning from the Attorney General that what he was doing was considered illegal under federal law. Obama may have changed his position on choosing to pursue marijuana offenders, but the guy was absolutely not blindsided in his own case. In fact, he *did* close two of his locations, demonstrating that he not only had a warning but sufficient time to do something about it.

The point is that a federal law was not just applied, but was even applied fairly and with courtesy. I'd be much more concerned if Obama had said he wouldn't pursue these cases and then surprise-raided this man's shops, but that's not what happened. Choosing a different enforcement position is much less problematic in my mind when the law is not new and those involved have sufficient time to adjust to the new position.
 
 
 
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