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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.
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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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Oct 17, 2012
The argument that Scott should still vote Obama because Romney would do the same thing if her were in office is rubbish. I saw the same argument touted in the UK - I hated Blair because he lied to the country and parliament to go to war in Iraq. Just because the Tories would most likely have gone to war as well, is irrelevant - it was Blair who DID go to war.

In this case - Scott says it is Obama who IS jailing this guy for political gain - what Romney may or may not do is irrelevant.

Where I have an issue is how Scott is deciding that this guy is getting jailed on Obama's say-so for political gain? It strikes me that there is clearly a problem when State and Federal laws contradict each other. Am I right in assuming that Federal law trumps state law? If so, then if the guy violated Federal Law, then he is rightfully being jailed (I think it's wrong because I think this law is wrong - but prosecuters have to carry out the law as it is, not what we'd like it to be).

Maybe the law is a mess, but I don't see how Obama is personally jailing a guy for political gain?

By all means, ditch Obama if you think he's failed to rationlise these laws (and if that's a big enough tipping point for you - let's face it, everyone in office fails to fulfill all of their promises) - but exactly why does Scott insist that Obama is jailing a guy for political gain?

[Society understands and expects that authorities can and should exercise judgment on which laws they pursue aggressively and which ones they ignore. There are lots of examples of ignored laws on the books, usually for the same reason, that society outgrew them. President Obama publicly said he would ignore dispensaries when he ran the first time. I don't remember anyone arguing that doing so would be a dereliction of duty. -- Scott]
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
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

So 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.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
@language

It was a very cynical reasoning I put forward - as a hypothetical, but I stand by it. I suppose I could have summed it up by the parliance "hate the game, not the player". It is not the politicians themselves that define their role as 'to get elected', but rather the system that makes this the de facto job description. This is an insane system that should be done away with at all possible speed, but it describes the current situation.

You mention the drug dealer attitude towards business. Drug dealers have that attitude because it is the only way to do business outside the law. A crime lord who is unwilling to murder to advance his career is a better human being, but a poor crime lord. A lawyer who is unwilling to abuse the spitit of the law to defend a guilty client is a good person, but a poor defense lawyer.

However I will make one concession. This is from Machiavelli's 'On Prinipalities', which describes pretty well the corporate culture of today's America. He says that a dictator must always be willing to commit ruthless acts, but must at all times appear virtuous. The CEO should be fired if the exposure of the murder has damaged his image, not because he has proven himself immoral, but because he showed ill execution in being exposed for the crime.

Again, not to excuse murder in any form. Those who commit murder should and will pay for their evil deeds. But this has nothing to do with their effectiveness in any job.

 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
How can you justify voting for Romney if he will do the same thing if elected (that is, enact laws based solely on political gain). Two examples come to mind:

Repealing Obamacare (it was Romney's plan, for crying out loud. I believe his states-right argument is BS since he doesn't believe in states-rights across the board, or even in terms of other health care issues such as visitation rights; he's only promised to repeal it because it is massively unpopular amongst his base), and

Reducing welfare benefits (the idea that this will save the budget is a joke, but tackling the actual drivers of the budget is too politically unpopular to touch).

I would think a 2nd term president would be more likely to NOT act by what is politically beneficial as opposed to a 1st term president who won by a very narrow margin (presumably). However, if your litmus test is that you won't vote for any candidate who will not ruin a single life for personal gain, then you should respectfully abstain from voting.

[I give the benefit of doubt to any politician who offers an argument for his policies even if I disagree with the argument and even if they seem self-serving. President Obama has been silent on his decision to prosecute dispensaries. -- Scott]
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
>>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."

Not in my case. Based on the terms of the example you laid out, I went with "firing offense" and I am an Obama supporter. This pot case doesn't change my mind because I'm not willing to assume political motives (at least without more data). Washington State is voting on whether or not to legalize marijuana - not just decriminalize it and one key argument against it is that it will put state law in conflict with federal law, potentially exposing citizens to the problems that are clearly occurring in California.

In the article Scott sites, the victim in question says this: "In an August interview with ReasonTV (video above), Sandusky had called the conflict between California medical marijuana laws and federal drug laws a "constitutional battle" and vowed to defend the 10th Amendment right for states to pass their own laws. "If I have to go to jail for 20 years defending it, then so be it," said Sandusky. "If a jury finds me guilty of violating federal law, then I'll go do the time."

That suggests he may have done something to provoke the arrest in order to raise the constitutional issue - or to challenge the federal law. That would a valid strategy - and it's effectiveness does not imply evil intent on the part of the president. It's not like California was on the verge of swinging against Obama if he didn't act - and the handful of undecided voters who will decide the election do not appear to be closely following current events. It appears you can just go on TV and say you did or did not do whatever they want to hear - and they will believe you. Easy availability of evidence to the contrary is not material.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
I see a few issues with this comment and some ideas I believe need more wrestling.

First, your disclaimer seems off:
"It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions."
vs the content:
"I'm endorsing him for president starting today."

What is an endorsement if it is not meant to change anyone's beliefs or actions?


Time for more wrestling:
It's clear we all agree that the CEO murdering somebody is a firing offense. But where is that line drawn? What if he hired an assassin? What if it was Arson or intimidation? What if it was nothing illegal, but something like Character Assassination, perhaps ruining his opponents life via some internet scheme, or what if they just exposed their opponent for what they truly are? (Maybe the rival had exactly all the same qualities as our theoretical CEO, but one is bound to get the other first)

To further blur the line, Presidents always have blood on their hands. Truman dropped the bomb. They issue assassinations, lately on Al Qaeda higher ups. They drop bombs in Eastern European nations. They imprison people seemingly indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay. They start "wars" and combat actions without congressional approval.
Turning attention to voters, we have the Patriot Act and Homeland Security now that runs domestic spying programs. Cults and other fringes of society might be voters too. Waco, Texas is a dark spot from a Federal Administration.
So, to complete the wrestle from the CEO example, what must the target have done, such that their life/lives are ruined, and it would be acceptable?
Also, how blurry is that line? I suspect different people would draw those lines at different points.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
[Yes, Jobs should have been fired if he knew he was killing people in other countries to increase profits. -- Scott]

Perhaps your blog for tomorrow can be on this topic. Companies and governments make decisions all the time that they know will kill someone somewhere in the name of X amount of profit, Y amount of money saved or Z amount of monetary benefit for society as a whole. I would like to know what everyone's thinking on this is, including yours Scott.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
It seems hypocritical of you to be such a big Steve Jobs fan if this is what it takes to turn you off to Obama (I recall from previous posts you seem to have had a man-crush on the guy). Apple works with companies who treat their employees like dogs (actually, you'd be prosecuted for animal cruelty in the US if you showed dogs similar treatment). Some factories even had to install nets to prevent worker suicides. Knowing that, shouldn't Jobs have been fired? And don't even get me started if you drive a car that uses gasoline. Big oil corporations have committed some of the most depraved act in history.

My question to you is: Do you feel at all responsible for the mistreatment of workers abroad, when your money supports the products they are exploited for?

[Yes, Jobs should have been fired if he knew he was killing people in other countries to increase profits. -- Scott]
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
I am sure Obama has done much worse than this that we'll never know about - assassinations, prolonged detentions, etc., for some kind of personal or political gain. As I am sure every president ever elected also has, and as I am sure Romney will if he's elected. How much suffering will be caused by his position on insurance for preexisting conditions, to pick just one of millions of examples of what his impact will be? He's literally promised you he will ruin lives, and all just to get elected. And frankly, who has ruined more lives already for personal gain than LBO king Mitt Romney? I am sorry Scott, this sounds like a thin, cherry-picked rationalization.

[Motive matters. I don't think President Obama is assassinating anyone overseas for purely political gain that isn't linked to making the country safer. -- Scott]
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
"he is vocal about promoting states' rights"

Unless the states are allowing same gender citizens to marry each other - in which case it is suddenly important that the federal government step in.

[Right. Both candidates fail on that test. -- Scott]
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
Scott,

I have a question ...and not an opinion in the guise of a question (I promise).

Suppose Romney as president also jailed someone for selling medical marijuana but was motivated by a genuine belief that drugs are evil (he is a Mormon after all). Would that be a firing offense?

[That would seem less like a firing offense and more like a policy one could agree with or disagree with. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
This sounds to me like it's written by somebody with an axe to grind and who is afraid that his dealer might be the next person to go to jail, and wouldn't that be inconvenient? You're pretty quick to assume midway through the post that republicans would agree with you and Obama supporters would disagree, but I think you'll find that by the time the post is read to the end, the dividing line is more likely around those who agree with your view of legalization and those who don't favor any kind of decriminalization. The overall train of thought in this post is what is most disappointing to me. In a blog purportedly targeted to a "rational audience", this kind of ludicrous irrationality is most certainly a "firing offense" for the author.

[Marijuana is already decriminalized in California and universally available. The fellow in question was trying to run a business that the state allows. I see it more as a states' rights issue, freedom issue, government interference issue, and abuse of power issue. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
You regard Romney as a chamelon or pragmatist, which I think you see as a good attribute. But in reality you are just beautifuly re-wording hypocricy. But let's be honest, which good politician isn't one -chameleon or hypocrite-? Which politician is not as hypocritical and dirty as needed to achieve their goals? The only difference is the style o hypocricy, and you like Romney's one better than Obama's.

My prediction is people (and devious simulations ;)) will rationalize their vote decisions the way they see it fit, and most likely there is no valid argument or reasoning that will change them.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
Having now read all of the comments, I definitely agree that 'Jail American citizens for political gain.' is wrong. (& a firing offense) And I am thankful to live in a country where the President has no constitutional power to do so.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
First, even though you said the CEO's guilt was undisputed, you also said he was not convicted at trial. What part of "innocent until proven guilty" do you not understand? I would be in favor of letting him keep his job.

That said, I think you may be right about there being no "Firing Offense" for supporters of President Obama. The problem is, if we decide to fire him at this point, Governor Romney takes over. As an Obama supporter, I think your hypothetical example is not applicable, because a CEO will be replaced by whoever the board of directors deems most qualified. The example would work only if you said they were somehow obliged to replace him with a man having a track record for doing the opposite of everything the murderous CEO had done, and walking away with everyone's pensions in his offshore bank accounts.

[That's why my hypothetical CEO got off on a technicality, so it was obvious to everyone that he did in fact do the crime. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
Wouldn't endorsing Gary Johnson be more in line with your reasoning? As you said, you can't be sure Romney wouldn't do the same thing, but the position of the Libertarian party on this issue is crystal clear.

Disclaimer: I haven't decided who gets my vote yet.

[It's only half as effective to take a vote away from the incumbent and flush it down the toilet with a Libertarian candidate versus taking one vote from the incumbent and adding one vote to the only person who might beat him. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
I am an Obama supporter, and no, I would not vote for him were he a murderer. Yes, it is a firing offense for a President to murder a citizen to advance his career. Your 3rd prediction is completely wrong.

You are also wrong to think that a President can 'Put an American citizen in jail'. They are not dictators. American citizens are convicted by juries and jailed by the US justice system, as the article clearly states.

How about some evidence that 'Enforcing existing Federal laws is the opposite of what Obama said he would do before he was elected'?
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
@Scott

[Yes, I would have the same conclusion with McCain. It was a fair question though. -- Scott]

...Why? I can understand how you might think Obama had him imprisoned for political reasons but what makes you think that, had McCain done it, it would have been for political reasons and not because he believes Marijuana is bad period? Or because he believes in doing the job his supporters put him in office to do?
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 17, 2012
[What would be a firing offense to you if not jailing American citizens for political gain? Seriously, what the !$%* does it take? -- Scott]

My point is not to label this as ok, but to point out that so many fire-able offenses are done for the purpose of political gain that to zero in on this one smells like post-decision rationalization.

But to answer your question loosely: I *do* think that breaking a campaign promise should result in not being re-elected.

And to answer your question more precisely: Two recent examples come to mind as 'firing' offenses:
- Lying under oath about getting a b.j. in the oval office
- Starting a major war in Iraq under false pretenses

Full dislosure: I live in the northeast, am registered Libertarian and plan to vote for Romney if it doesn't rain on election day.
 
 
Oct 17, 2012
First, someone being a murderer is always a deal breaker for me. So ixnay on the CEO.

And, BTW, Obama did kill a US citizen (in Yemen) without any sort of due process. Under the !$%*!$%*!$%*!$ not necessarily a fireable offense, but certainly should give anyone pause.
 
 
 
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