Home
Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy or opinion. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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?]

 

 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +1553
  • Print
  • Share

Comments

Sort By:
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.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Let's say a top executive drains several companies of their assets, throws possibly thousands of people out of work and ruins families and communities, and eventually sells the debt-ridden shell to suckers -- causing damage to the entire economy, purely for short-term personal financial gain, and to finance his own pursuit of public office. Firing offense?

Going futher, let's say a CEO betrays the majority of stockholders by making extensive (and conflicting) representations and promises to gain their proxies (and his office), then implements policies that benefit board members and a few major investors at huge expense to the rest of the shareholders. And, incidentally, seriously endanger the profitability and long-term viability of the company itself. Firing offense?

One more: What if said CEO knowingly supports the widespread circulation of libelous and outrageously incendiary falsehoods, personal as well as professional, against the management he hoped to replace? Firing offense?
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I said that both were firing offenses. I'm a libertarian.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Scott - I can't believe you actually replied to my post. I think that's only the second time in all my posting history. I am so honored.

You said that "One DOES get to pick and choose which laws to support." Then, you went on to give examples of how that happens. And then you close with, "And the world is a better place because of it."

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. Sure, the things you say do happen. Policemen may let a pretty woman get off on a speeding ticket that they would hammer a guy for. Judges may legislate from the bench. Juries can nullify the enforcement of a law, but that almost never happens. But can you say that makes us a better society? Ignoring a law that YOU don't agree with makes the world a better place?

What happens when someone doesn't like a law that protects you? What makes you think that you are above the law, and can cherry-pick which laws to obey and which to ignore? Why does a lawless society make the world a better place? Are you advocating anarchy, or do you just want the world to reflect your legal opinion?

We have courts for a reason - to keep the barbarians from the gate. You, no offense, are somewhat arrogant in that you think any law with which you disagree is one that, not only should you not have to follow, but one that no one else should follow either. Why, Scott? Do you think you're advocating for freedom when you say the world is a better place for ignoring law? Without laws to protect society and settle disputes, there is no civilized society.

One solution is to have legislatures not have as their sole purpose to pass more and more restrictive laws. I'd like to see a system where, for each law that goes on the books, one comes off. Or for each tax increase that is added, one tax is removed to balance it.

But that's not going to happen. So as long as we have a less-than-perfect system, saying that the world is a better place when lawlessness occurs is nothing more than sophistry. You're an intelligent man, but you need to think about the ramifications of some of the issues you propose.

In a recent post, you said that you'd like a change to the Constitution that makes people vote and only allows three parties. So what do you do when I say, "I don't like those laws, so I'm going to ignore them?" Do you say, "That's great! I understand, so you don't have to follow my laws!" I doubt it.

If we don't have the law, then we have rule by fiat. He with the most guns gets his way. Is that the kind of world you think is "better?" God, I hope not.

Here's a great misquote for you: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Here's the real quote, from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A FOOLISH [capitals mine] consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Note the difference?

Your conflicting posts lack consistency, but even if they had it, I'd posit that you are being foolishly consistent. I hope you will consider what I've written. Law binds society together. Ignoring the law because you don't like it is counterproductive. If I don't like law A, and you don't like law B, and thus we each ignore those laws, then how do we settle disputes? Dueling pistols at ten paces?

You are at your best when you use your mind. You are at your worst when you let your emotions override your intellect. In this case, I think you have favored the latter over the former. But that just makes you human.

I hope you will take this in the spirit in which it's given - to provide you with a reflection of your ideas with a hope of having a reasonable dialog. I appreciate your position, but I hope you will change your position on how laws allow a civilized society to exist.
 
 
+73 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
I was an Obama supporter (Only Dem I ever supported) but this might make me go with Scott I watched the man in the online forum saying the feds had better things to do and to see the federal bulldozer roll over a dispensary owner it disgusting. Shame on you Obama, give the man a pardon.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I think many of President Obama's supporters would still support him if he had an American killed, by using the "Bush did it" argument. (It doesn't matter whether Bush did or not, they still make the claim).

What bothers me is that President Obama has ordered Americans to be killed, they've just been in other countries. It's a bad thing when the President can order someone killed by executive order. Ok, the guy was a bad guy, a terrorist, he was born in Pakistan, became an American at some point, then returned to Pakistan/Afghanistan to commit terrorist acts. There was more than enough reason to kill him.

But there should be a legal process that is followed. At least for American citizens. ie. have the US Attorney General present a case, to Congress, or to the Supreme Court, get an indictment, etc. Then issue the kill order.

Otherwise, with no restraint whatsoever, it means there's just one very short step before the President can start issuing those kill orders on any American, anywhere he wants.

So President Obama should be fired for that reason. So far, Romney hasn't ordered anyone killed yet.

As for the guy jailed in California. It must be entirely for political reasons. Because California is strongly pro-Obama and pro-Pot, so President Obama has no political reason to show any support for marijuana use. He's going to get all of California's electoral votes anyway. So the only reason to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries is so he can pretend to be a "law-and-order" man for the swing states.

Here's a hypothetical (never-gonna-happen) situation: If Romney (no-coffee, no-alcohol, Mormon) announced he would respect states' rights on marijuana (and other drug) use, do you think he'd get California's electoral votes? He could claim it shows he is in favor of states' rights, as well as showing he will not impose his religious beliefs.
 
 
-54 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
You are assuming that Romney wouldn't do the exact same. Given that the war on (some) drugs originated from Republicans, that's a bet I wouldn't take.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
Oh, and one other point; do you really believe Obama's gaining anything politically by jailing this guy? Because I don't, and you never argue the point.
 
 
Oct 18, 2012
I supported Obama before reading this and still do.

I also supported the CEO keeping his job though. Certainly, the problems with the legal system should be corrected in both the hypothetical cases and the real one, but that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't be able to benefit from the talents of the guy who got away. Arguably, you should take some action, but not allowing the guy to hold a job he's obviously qualified for isn't it.
 
 
-18 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 18, 2012
[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]

Depends on which world you live it. I live in the world that benefits from this system. I watched a debate between teenagers from different sides of the track a few years back. It was fascinating. One teen from my delegation - my world-view - was proposing a new law to outlaw Salvia - because (he argued) it was dangerous, addictive and had led to several deaths. He thought his proposal was a no-brainer and assumed that it would pass easily. I watched in fascination as multiple teens from a much different part of town stood, one after the other, and said essentially, "Why would you give cops one more reason to harass and arrest people?".

I'd like to see marijuana legalized and regulated. I know a mother in California who is deeply disturbed that her 18-year-old son was able to get a medical marijuana prescription (for stress). She'd rather see it legal and restricted to 21 and over - with appropriate impaired driving controls as well.

I'd prefer to see it all above board - no ambiguity between state and federal law because relying on individual discretion is just asking for abuse. I feel the same way about immigration reform. I don't like the executive order approach. I want to see real reform. Leaving the problem festering of college-educated kids unable to find legal employment helps push the issue. "Solving" the problem with a selective non-enforcement order just lets us continue to avoid real reform.

The worst example? Utah's stated policy of not enforcing anti-polygamy laws without evidence of abuse. There is a Utah Supreme court decision on the books in which the state declined to prosecute a leader for forcing a 14-year-old child to marry an adult - against her strong protests. He held total power over her parent's financial security and social status. During testimony it became clear that girls were often pressured to marry against their will. You can debate the merits of the decision of the case itself, but it was crystal clear that Utah does not consider forced marriage (child or otherwise) to be abuse.

In case I have not been clear - I'm not in favor of selective enforcement as a way to "solve" tricky legal issues. Better to man up and take on the issues themselves - otherwise you just expose people who lack status to abuse.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
I think the only thing that would disqualify a candidate is if he did something that was SOLELY for his personal gain. Attacking Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan was very much against both U.S. law and international agreement on the sovereignty of states, not to mention the people that were killed. There is no way that Obama wasn't giving a couple of Dilbertish fist pumps at the idea of being the guy who ordered the operation. He must have known it would reflect very, very well on him despite the doubtful legality of it, and you know he personally vetted those photos of him in the bunker, watching the whole thing unfold. Yet I don't hear anyone complaining about that entire operation (including me, if that wasn't clear).

Similarly, the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, even if done purely in the interest of looking tough on terrorism, served a definite purpose in furthering the safety of America. I frankly don't care why Obama did it, it was the right thing to do.

On the other hand, if Obama had someone murdered or imprisoned because they were going to, say, publish information that would have been highly embarrassing to him and hurt his chance for reelection, that would be a firing offense. Locking up marijuana dealers could plausibly be interpreted as being in the national interest (though I would not say so), so while pointless and despicable, I do not think it qualifies. If he had the Secret Service smother a hooker that was about to publish "My Wild Nights with Barry O. and the Flying Wallenda Triplets", that would be a different story.

This is all academic, though. Obama could walk into Barbra Streisand's house and lay a big ole steamer right in the middle of a bunch of paperwork for delivering food and medicine to orphaned kittens, and the people who are backing him would still back him. He could laugh maniacally while burning the Constitution rolled up and wrapped by the Declaration of Independence, which was in turn wrapped up in a flag, and they would commend his bold stance-taking and willingness to break with the past. He could get caught participating in an underground dog-fighting ring, with video showing him whacking the loser with a tire iron, and all you would hear from his supporters is "Look what a great disciplinarian he is! That's what our country needs!" Or maybe, "Why don't we focus on the 'real' issues?"

These people aren't voting for Obama. They're voting for the Democratic candidate. And to be clear, Republicans do the exact same thing. The warm body that occupies the seat, regardless of his political affiliation, is just that; someone to make the party members feel better about having "one of their own" in charge. The main job of a politician is either campaigning to take a job away from the other guys, or else to extend the reaches of their power. Actually serving the country comes about sixth.

That's not the politicians' fault, by the way, it's ours.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
@Kingfisher "Lets say I was elected as a politician. A bill comes down the pipe that my party endorses, but that I know would not be popular with my own constituents. What is my job?"

Would making the ethically correct decision be one of the factors you would consider? Meaning, independent of who supports or opposes the bill, whether its effect on the nation is positive or negative (in your judgment of course).
 
 
+39 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
I predict that, despite the disclaimer, this blog piece will be quoted online under a heading such as "Drug supporting cartoonist compares president Obama to a murderer"

And the Obama supporters will be on your case like seagulls on a chip.
 
 
+25 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
"I agree pretty much with what Phantom II writes below here, 'One doesn't get to pick and choose which laws will be supported and which ones will be ignored'. If a president starts doing this, the whole system would eventually collapse into dictatorship."

Would this concept of universal statutory support also extend to immigration law? If so, my double-standard-O-meter is in the red...

 
 
-16 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
Well, finally the cat's out of the bag - I've noticed the endorsement of the republicans between the lines of the blog for a couple of months now. And then you decide that THIS is going to be the story heralding you showing your true colors, Scott? A federal court case where the real issue is whether federal or state regulation is "more binding"? And you have an issue with Obama not forcing federal court to not uphold the federal laws? I honestly thought better of you than this.

I agree pretty much with what Phantom II writes below here, "One doesn't get to pick and choose which laws will be supported and which ones will be ignored". If a president starts doing this, the whole system would eventually collapse into dictatorship.

Disclaimer: I'm European, and have no influence on the election. I do however follow it, and get quite a lot of laughs :)
 
 
-37 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
I am shocked and dismayed. A few blogs ago I got the feeling Scott was drifting a bit to the right, but I didn't want to believe it. Now, just days after posting such an interesting blog about the nature of reality, out comes this most disappointing attempt at.........?

My Golden Idol has been permanently tarnished.

Scott, the Matrix has you....
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
And THAT, children, is why you should NEVER engage in a debate over a hypothetical.

As always, when responding to one of Scott's posts, I don't read other comments until after I write mine, if I choose to write one. So if I repeat anything that's already been said, I apologize.

This is one of Scott's most thought-provoking posts. It touches on so many topics - state's rights, the 10th amendment, the 14th amendment, presidential politics, etc. There's too much to cover in just one response, so I'll just weigh in with my ideas here. But there's a LOT of discussion topics here!

Disclaimer: I am a conservative Republican who believes the Constitution should be followed, so now you know from where I'm coming. Although Romney would not be my choice for the Republican candidate, I will vote for him. Just thought I should state that up front.

Scott starts this post with a hypothetical, which is an anathema to me. But it's interesting what issue made him finally turn against Obama: he went from a CEO who murders someone to enhance his career to the case of a California citizen whom the president did not kill, but whom the federal justice system convicted. I'd say that it was a stretch to blame Obama for that. I think a more egregious failing is when he decides NOT to uphold federal law, as he did with DOMA, or refuse to prosecute on the basis of race, as he and Eric Holder did with the Black Panther voter intimidation case.

Do I think it's a miscarriage of justice to convict this guy to ten years to life for running a medical marijuana facility? Yup. But it wasn't Obama who convicted the guy, it was a federal court.

Now, let's mention something that is even more on point to Scott's hypothetical CEO. On September 30, 2011, President Obama ordered a drone strike on Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen. The strike was carried out, and this US citizen was killed. Two more US citizens were killed in the same way by drone strikes in Yemen. One could certainly make a case that this act was a murder done to enhance the president's image as being tough on terrorists in the hopes of improving his approval rating and thus getting re-elected. By the way, the ACLU has sued the Obama administration over this. I am of two minds over what President Obama did to al-Alawki - if a US citizen takes up arms against his country, then he voids his citizenship, in my opinion. But that's not the law, but it could be considered a war situation, so it's a tough call.

One doesn't get to pick and choose which laws will be supported and which ones will be ignored. That takes us from the rule of law into the rule of whoever is in power at the time, and that's no way to ensure equal protection. There are ways to take obsolete laws off the books, so the way is not to ignore the ones you don't like.

One last thing: Scott's endorsement won't help Romney in California. This is the bluest of blue states, with the possible exceptions of Vermont and New York. There's no way Romney, or any Republican, is going to ever win this state.

Plus, what good is the endorsement of someone who doesn't vote? But at least Scott's post didn't end with a plea to elect him. Thank the Lord for small favors, lol.

[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]
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
Something bothers me about this post. Let's see.

First, I don't see why you included your warning, nor why, if this is such an important issue for you, it is labeled "general nonsense." Beyond this, Obama has killed American citizens without authorization, which is murder. You don't seem to care or didn't at the time. Obama's drone attacks have killed innocents, systematically, which is surely murder. You don't seem to care or didn't at the time. Obama has jailed both Americans and human beings that are not Americans without trial before this. You don't seem to care or didn't at the time. In every one of these instances, it could be argued that his decision was motivated by a desire for political gain. Lives were ruined.

I think what bothers me here is that you lack credibility.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
@language

I also have to reply to your comment that it must be difficult for me to know what the right thing to do is.

Not at all, because I am not a politician, nor a corporate board member. If I was a politician I probably would have a hard time.

Lets say I was elected as a politician. A bill comes down the pipe that my party endorses, but that I know would not be popular with my own constituents. What is my job? If I vote with my party I am betraying the interests of the people who elected me. But if I vote against my party, I am betraying the people that helped me get elected in the first place, and who I hope will help me get re-elected. There is no clear definition as to who my duty is to.

Thankfully, my job is as an engineer. In my profession, my duty is very clear that in my work my duty is to:
1. Public safety and the environment
2. My profession
3. My employer/client

It is also made very clear that as a professional engineer, I am to uphold and respect the law in my personal conduct. So if my image is tarnished by some crime - even if I wasn;t jailed for it - I would fully expect to lose my license to practice. Unfortunately, neither CEOs nor Presidents are held to this standard. If they were, this would be a much better place.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
@Hankfu

[Very true Scott. See how the Obama supporters will try everything to deflect the argument using the classic approach:

1) Admit nothing
2) Deny everything
3) Make counter-accusations
the arguments typically follow the pattern of ignoring the basic argument you made, arguing the facts to say you got it wrong to suit their beliefs, and attack your motivations for making such an argument in your voting preference.

I don't know if cpbrown is a Democrat but if he/she is then that is one that doesn't follow that pattern. Of course I'm too lazy to check back to the other pages so I am only speaking to page 1 of responses.]

Perhaps you should have read some of the other pages. I am an Obama supporter and did none of those things (my claim that Scott is acting out of a sense of betrayal might be interpreted as a counter-accusation or an attack on his motivations but it wasn't really intended to be). My own counter-arguments essentially boiled down to A) a Republican president would have been likely to take the same anti-marijuana stance and B) I still feel betrayed by the Republicans failure to act like the fiscally responsible types they claim to be.

Also several other commenters made what I regard to be good points in Obama's favor on this. Some of those points can't be regarded as anything fitting your statement. Some can by some stretch of the imagination, but they're still good arguments.
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog