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March 20, 2008

Comments

This is disgusting and yet depressingly unsurprising. What information is contained in one's "passport files" anyway? I can't imagine Obama's travels aren't already well documented. Are the wingers going to suggest that Obama made a secret trip to Pakistan the day Bhutto was assassinated?

Or maybe he was present at the imaginary tea party between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?

Meh. Not that the employees shouldn't be fired, but are people going to be scandalized because of Obama's international travel?

I plead ignorance on the impact of Bill Clinton's records on the 1992 campaign, if it was a big deal, I'll change mind.

KRK,

It's not where he went or when, it's the fact that Obama reported his passport mysteriously 'lost' on the day of Vince Foster's death. I leave it to you to fill out the implications. I am also researching solid leads pointing to Obama personally handing the Travel Office employees their pink slips, changed the sheets in the Lincoln bedroom during the entire month of May, 1994, and was the one who cleverly hid Hillary's Rose law firm records right under her very nose.

Black helicopters you say? Ha! Blacker than most.

Rumor is he's Al Qaeda's new number three man.

Mommy(UN) and bro(Kenya) are CIA spies. Okay, maybe just contract, but they still get tax money.

for me, a lot depends on what types of info are contained in a passport file. Does anyone know?

Ugh, I think it was a somewhat big story in 1992, but there are a number of factors in that. I'm going by recollection here, but I think it was fairly close to the general election; the institutional response (figuring out who did what and when, and disclosing same, and punishing) seemed to be slow; and, especially, the event tied into George HW Bush's rather insane allegations that Bill Clinton might have been recruited by the KGB during a trip to Moscow as a student, and suggestions by Limbaugh et al. (maybe by actual R officeholders?) that Clinton might have tried to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

So, yes, 1992 passport file was no small deal; but the 1992 passport file was a rather different kettle of fish.

for me, a lot depends on what types of info are contained in a passport file. Does anyone know?

Well Publius, obviously first of all just about any identification possible. Not really relevant since we know who Obama is.

So the only other data would be exit and entry information from the US as well as the same data from every country he's ever visited that required a passport.

Additionally it's likely that information on any Visa application, whether granted or used or not, could be included.

"In some administrations (Gerald Ford's, maybe), I would assume the more benign explanation."

Sure, who wouldn't trust Alexander Haig, Don Rumseld, and Dick Cheney?

Calvin Coolidge would work, though.

"I plead ignorance on the impact of Bill Clinton's records on the 1992 campaign, if it was a big deal, I'll change mind"

How quickly we forget Bill Clinton's record as a Soviet agent, as proven by his Moscow trip as a student.

"for me, a lot depends on what types of info are contained in a passport file. Does anyone know?"

Travel details are what's relevant. (One's height and weight, not so much.)

Obama’s off of his game. His campaign should have kept its mouth shut.

Raising a stink and calling for complete investigations into the paperwork for his foreign travels, the details of which he will probably try to keep confidential, isn’t doing his damage control team any favors.

Which time is comedy?

"Additionally it's likely that information on any Visa application, whether granted or used or not, could be included."

That is, a "visa application." Not an application for a Visa credit card.

"Raising a stink and calling for complete investigations into the paperwork for his foreign travels, the details of which he will probably try to keep confidential, isn’t doing his damage control team any favors."

Indeed. What could be more suspicious than traveling outside the U.S.?

Patriotic candidates would never be caught doing this, unless there's a war to support, and confuse which side is which, over.

That is, a "visa application." Not an application for a Visa credit card.

Although that too, most likely.

Aha:

"Passport application data includes such details as date and place of birth, e-mail address, mailing address, Social Security number, former names and travel plans. "

Each time you re-enter the country, I believe your passport is electronically recorded at the port of entry. If I remember correctly, they swipe the bar code on the back cover and something goes ‘beep’.

Next press exposure:

“So Senator Obama, your campaign has expressed outrage over potential privacy issues with your passport. Would you care to put this all behind you and volunteer to release your international travel records for the past ten years?”

“We’ll look into releasing that information Chris.”

Obama is off of his game.

Given Michelle, Reverend Wright, Rezko, Auchi, and the flag pin; he is vulnerable. Kind of like those Japanese carriers caught by McClusky with bombs on the hangar deck.

Just my ‘typical white guy’ observation. Another gem from today.

"Another gem from today."

What would you give as a cite as any reason at all Obama would want to hide his travel records?

Given Michelle, Reverend Wright, Rezko, Auchi, and the flag pin; he is vulnerable.

So unfair out-of-context quote, association with person not involved with political campaign who occasionally says rude things, guy who is not nice but has done literally nothing worth mentioning for Obama, another guy who is not nice and who has done definitively nothing for Obama but knows the previous not nice guy, and stupid bullshit.

It's almost like people are looking for excuses not to vote for a black guy!

Just my ‘typical white guy’ observation. Another gem from today.

In my experience, typical white guys are not quite as clueless...

Although I would see the reason why any potential presidential candidate would wan to disavow any knowledge of you...

Certny looks like a fishing expedition á lá Watergate.Dirty tricks, just like the old days. Pathetic.

I don’t know of any reason why Obama would want to hide his travel records other than his campaign’s reaction to the story. And my PC Disclaimer: Yes I did support and vote for a black conservative candidate in my local state district. We had lunch together. He won. The federal candidates were all white guys so call me names.

There is no ‘beep’ when you are admitted to third-world countries, but they do stamp and date the passport. Unless the passport was reported as stolen, those entry records would be in Obama’s possession.

I don’t know Obama and he seems outwardly to be a decent guy on a personal level.

But if he declares his passport to be lost or stolen in the wake of this story, you can put a fork in him.

And place a bet that the insurance companies doing business in Denver find some way to move the Democratic Convention to another city (South Park?).

Bill: I don't know about Obama, but what bugs me about this isn't the possibility that they might actually find something bad; it's the idea of government contractors going through allegedly private information on a candidate in the middle of an election.

I mean, I feel about this sort of the way I would feel if I found out that John Ashcroft had been reading my mail. My mail is, in fact, pretty innocuous. I live a pretty dull life. But that's beside the point: he shouldn't be reading my mail, however unexciting.

mightygodking,

that is quite possible.

It would seem Obama is not nearly as able to resist the attack machine as some insisted on here a month or two ago.

I don’t know of any reason why Obama would want to hide his travel records other than his campaign’s reaction to the story.

Um, Social Security Number?

Hello?

i really want to get outraged, but the whole "clueless minions" + "middle manager trying to save his own ass" seems like a very plausible explanation at this point.

sure, i don't like government officials digging around, but these were contract employees, presumably doing the lowest-level administrative tasks who got server happy.

the more interesting part (as some friends and i have discussed tonight) is that it didn't get reported up the chain. some middle manager blocked it and didn't report it to superiors. that's what i want to hear more about.

that could be two things (1) conscious action to help clinton/republicans; (2) self-interested ass-covering without any larger political motive.

Do we care which one it is? (i.e., is this a distinction without a difference). I'm not sure #2 would justify outrage, but i could be convinced otherwise

At this point in our history, privacy rights need to be closely guarded. Obama forfeited his when he submitted his name to be Commander in Chief though.

The scary thing is that, if they can look in on Obama, they can look in on you and me. Obama has been granted special protections that neither you (as far as I know) or I enjoy. Obama’s protections kicked in after three months. Ours would never have.

Above comment intended for Hilzoy with respect;

Obama forfeited his when he submitted his name to be Commander in Chief though.

Um, no.

Social Security Number.

Hello? Anyone home inside?

Bill: yeah, I know. Our phones were tapped during Watergate. (Dad was on the Enemies List. Why? He testified against one of Nixon's nominees to the Supreme Court in the Senate. Dad is one of the most fair-minded, play-by-the-rules people I've ever had the honor to know. Moreover, he never did anything political that wasn't strictly within his sphere of professional competence.)

That meant that all my adolescent phone calls were available to the FBI. All those crushes, described at interminable length, etc., etc., etc. Incriminating, no; mortifying, yes. Unimaginably.

I hope I'd feel the same even if it weren't personal.

i really want to get outraged, but the whole "clueless minions" + "middle manager trying to save his own ass" seems like a very plausible explanation at this point.

Given the problem that employees sometimes have with privacy (see hospital employees and their curiosity with Brittney), that wouldn't be surprising.

However...

that could be two things (1) conscious action to help clinton/republicans;

...given that the current administration has used civil servants quite freely to run political campaigns for Republicans, it isn't out of bounds to investigate if this is part of a larger operation, against either Obama personally or against Democrats in general.

Barring the Illuminati/Trilateral Commission doing their usual damnedest to upend the civilized order (no, wait; that would be the White House) it would be as you say, minions looking for something, anything, that could be twisted to create suspicion. The fact of it being minions would imply the Clinton campaign rather than the Rove Boys.
Assuming malice. Half-assed minions at that.
Uncomprehending darkness failing to enfold light.

If McCain declares himself to be a Satanist, you can put a fork in him.

If Clinton confesses to the murder of Vince Foster, you can put a fork in her.

If Bill makes deranged incendiary statements, you can put a fork in him, but that won't kill the zombie troll.

My dad signed a petition for the Rosenbergs in college and had problems throughout his time in the military. On the flipside; I was warned by a guy in uniform against taking a public position against Donna Shalala’s speech ban. I didn’t have the same problems and ended up with a very high clearance.

These freedoms we take for granted are transient, I’m afraid.

Does anyone know which reporter or what news service tipped off the State Department to the breach? One of the curious aspects of this story is that senior officials at the State Department say they only learned of this story from a reporter yesterday. I'm a bit mystified at how these officials can claim on the one hand that the snoopers didn't pass on any information in Obama's passport file to a third pary and, on the other, that they were left in the dark about this whole episode until a reporter contacted them. Sounds fishy to me.

"On the flipside; I was warned by a guy in uniform against taking a public position against Donna Shalala’s speech ban. I didn’t have the same problems and ended up with a very high clearance."

Indeed, the awesome power of Donna Shalala over security clearances is both legendary and unparalleled in history by anyone save J. Edgar Hoover.

And the only possible reason anyone could object to random government employees feeling free to run through their records is: oh noes my wrongdoing treacheriness will be uncovered!

It all makes equal sense.

After all: the Koran.

I agree with mightygodking, 1:01am.

Bill, get over yourself -- and your prejudices.

tobie: I'm a bit mystified at how these officials can claim on the one hand that the snoopers didn't pass on any information in Obama's passport file to a third pary and, on the other, that they were left in the dark about this whole episode until a reporter contacted them.

They're not making the claim that information was not passed on. The fact that they were asked about this by a reporter certainly hints at information having been passed on. Here's what they've said tonight:

[Undersecretary of State] Kennedy said that he did not know yet whether any laws were broken or whether the employees shared the information with others.

More should be forthcoming soon, I'd think.

Rumor is he's Al Qaeda's new number three man.

See, he should've applied to be al Qaeda's number four man. That's a position with real advancement opportunities.

On further reading, I see that they're not making the claim that no information from Obama's passport files was passed on on the record:

"A senior official" told NBC News that he does not believe any of the information was sent anywhere.

Presumably this is someone other than State Dept. spokesman Sean McCormack or Undersec. Kennedy, who both spoke on the record. Though both of them sought to minimize any political angle, neither claimed that no information got out.

McCormack did say that it doesn't appear that records were copied or altered, but that clearly allows for the possibility that one or more of the snoopers communicated what they'd seen.

apparently the supervisor for the first 2 breaches was Ambassador to Paraguay for President Clinton (almost said "under" but that was an unfortunate visual)

Good try Phil. I think it works better if you say "See, he should've applied to be al Qaeda's number four man. That's a position with a future."

These freedoms we take for granted are transient, I’m afraid.

Yep: I once said some nice things about Barack Obama, and my clearance was revoked.

True story.

Ok, not really. This whole business about being careful about who you're supporting, politically, is utter bunk, except possibly (ok, I'll grant it near-certainty) at the level of political appointee. I don't have data, but I work for an avowed an unabashed Democrat (with high clearance), and I have one working for me. It's not as if we're awash in Democrats in the defense industry, but I haven't ever, ever (in a quarter-century of holding a clearance) seen one instance where someone's political orientation cost them clearance or opportunity to advance. If someone was advocating overthrow of the government, that would probably do it, but who you voted for doesn't.

i really want to get outraged, but the whole "clueless minions" + "middle manager trying to save his own ass" seems like a very plausible explanation at this point

Yeah, that could be. I can well imagine how tempted I would be to look at certain things, if I had access, if only just to know. That sort of tendency also may explain why Elliot Spitzer got so much attention; not necessarily because someone was keeping an overly close watch on him, but because once his name came up, someone got interested. I could see this happening a lot; decision to dig deeper into something is frequently a function of interest, and the private lives of people who have stepped on the toes of other people could be very, very interesting.

I also don't see something more insidious as being out of the question.

but I haven't ever, ever (in a quarter-century of holding a clearance) seen one instance where someone's political orientation cost them clearance or opportunity to advance

i seem to recall some recent mention of the practice at the DOJ, however.

also, the name "Alphonso Jackson" keeps popping into my head.

See Greenwald on the Obama incident, the surveillance state, and his own experience ni people misusing gov't databases to dig up info.

i seem to recall some recent mention of the practice at the DOJ

Hence my reference to political appointees as being possibly, even probably, an exception.

Well, at least it wasn't done by a former bar bouncer working out of a White house office. Then you'd be hard put to explain why you didn't think it was an innocent mistake. ;)

Honestly, though, I'm hard put to figure out what kind of dirt you could find in those files. Sounds to me like a bit of low level curiosity.

Does anyone know which reporter or what news service tipped off the State Department to the breach? One of the curious aspects of this story is that senior officials at the State Department say they only learned of this story from a reporter yesterday. I'm a bit mystified at how these officials can claim on the one hand that the snoopers didn't pass on any information in Obama's passport file to a third pary and, on the other, that they were left in the dark about this whole episode until a reporter contacted them. Sounds fishy to me.

Especially since I'm guessing the reporter was from the Washington Times, which broke the story Thursday night.

Maybe the dirt is that this story gives an excuse for lots of baseless speculation in the media about what sort of damaging things people can imagine being in Obama's file and how he could be a Muslim Manchurian candidate, just as the 1992 story allowed people to talk about whether Bill Clinton could be a KGB mole.

Come, now. Not even I would fall for something like that.

But then again, I actually have a passport.

I ask myself: suppose I were running for President; what in my passport files might prove useful to someone, especially someone interested in finding some tiny glimmer of fact on which a conspiracy theory might be based? The first thing that leaps to mind is: trips to the Middle East.

OT: FYI, the BBC World Service featured Andrew Olmstead's blog early this morning, with an actor-voiced reading of parts of his last message. They also talked to his father. It was a good piece.

...Olmsted...

This is puzzling.

The Executive branch acknowledges, publicly, that unauthorized survellience of Obama's and CLinton's state department files occured on numerous occasions.

Why did the government bother to make the announcement?

Why would the government treat the survellience of political candidates differently than it treats the illegal survellience of the entire rest of the citizenry?

I mean, wouldn't it have been easier, and certainly more expedient just to say nothing, and if the subject came up, refuse to comment? This approach has served the Administration quite well. Why change it?

This approach has served the Administration quite well. Why change it?

Please see KC's 10:29.

Thanks -

Just to suitably confusulate things, McCain's file was also accessed.

Just to suitably confusulate things, McCain's file was also accessed.

What better way to neutralize the snooping in Obama's files news than to claim everyone's file was snooped, so it can't be the bad old Bush administration digging up dirt on Democrats?

I have absolutely no basis for saying that, of course.

I wonder when McCain's file was accessed. Was it back when he was the enemy of all true conservatives, or was it after he'd wrapped up the nomination and become the standardbearer for continuing Bushism?

Of course; that would completely take the fun out of it.

It could be, too, that Bush is seeking to poison the entire well, and make his first bid at world domination by, you know, crowning himself president for life. That way he gets to keep the football.

That last was in response to Ugh, although it makes just as much sense as a response to KCinDC.

Slart wrote: "This whole business about being careful about who you're supporting, politically, is utter bunk, except possibly (ok, I'll grant it near-certainty) at the level of political appointee."

Cleek responds: "i seem to recall some recent mention of the practice at the DOJ, however."

Italics mine. Political level appointees at DOJ, like all other political appointees above civil service grade, are not civil service employees, the subjects of bill's Dire Warnings.

It is not a revelation that political appointees are -- get ready for the shock -- political appointments.

What that has to do with the civil service, and alleged political punishment for your political views as a member of the civil service, I'm more than a little unclear.

"also, the name 'Alphonso Jackson' keeps popping into my head."

Again, I am unaware that we've made Cabinet appointments GS positions. I could be wrong, but I don't believe that bill was under the impression that most people who work for the government are members of the Cabinet. Could you perhaps expand what point you're going for here, cleek? I'm a bit stumped. Are you trying to back bill's claims that civil service employees are being punished for political expression? Cite?

Gary: I can't speak for anyone else, but I would have thought Jackson's threat to block contracts for opponents of Bush would be one possible relevant point.

"It could be, too, that Bush is seeking to poison the entire well, and make his first bid at world domination by, you know, crowning himself president for life. That way he gets to keep the football."

You may or may not have ever heard of Frank Gaffney, but I'm sure you don't know his associates.

Not that I'm losing sleep over the President-for-life thing. But just to note that what seems like an insane idea to thee and me doesn't seem so insane to everyone in the rightwing policy establishment.

"Gary: I can't speak for anyone else, but I would have thought Jackson's threat to block contracts for opponents of Bush would be one possible relevant point."

Contractors are civil service or are in the military?

Ok, if we're discussing getting a government contract or not, yes, under this administration, politics and who you support or speak about might be relevant in affecting obtaining or not the contract, true, fair point.

I actually read about that guy, Gary, but I thought for sure it was a hoax. Apparently not.

Gary, I can't see where cleek said anything about political appointees. Not everyone at DOJ is a political appointee, and there have been stories about politicization at lower levels in various departments, so it seems it might be more appropriate to ask for details of what cleek was recalling rather than to launch immediately into lecturing about the ordinariness of politically appointed political appointees.

It is not a revelation that political appointees are -- get ready for the shock -- political appointments.

err, what the fnck ? you take my words, put them next to text i wasn't actually responding to, then get sarcastic about how my words work in a conversation that never happened ?

how strange that you, of all people, would pull such a cheap trick.

Could you perhaps expand what point you're going for here, cleek? I'm a bit stumped. Are you trying to back bill's claims that civil service employees are being punished for political expression? Cite?

bill's claims are fine with me, since he only talks about the glories of pie, and i can't argue with that - pie rocks.

my response was to Slarti's statement, which i quoted. people (not necessarily C.S. employees, but certainly those who seek to do business with the govt) have been punished by govt. officials, because of the party they support.

"Aha"

Hilzoy, these are the precise forms that could be in a passport application file, if you're interested in that level of detail.

Passport -- DS-0010 Birth Affidavit [ 205 Kb]
-- DS-0011 Application for U.S. Passport or Registrations (Fillable) [ 1001 Kb]
-- DS-0011 Application for U.S. Passport or Registrations (Non-Fillable) [ 743 Kb]
-- DS-0060 Affidavit Regarding Change of Name [ 222 Kb]
-- DS-0064 Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport [ 231 Kb]
-- DS-0071 Affidavit of Identifying Witness [ 215 Kb]
-- DS-0082 Application for U.S. Passport by Mail (Fillable) [ 717 Kb]
-- DS-0082 Application for U.S. Passport by Mail (Non-Fillable) [ 787 Kb]
-- DS-0086 Statement of Nonreceipt of Passport [ 236 Kb]
-- DS-1173 Passport File Request Form [ 224 Kb]
-- DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16 (Fillable) [ 157 Kb]
-- DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16 (Non-Fillable) [ 143 Kb]
-- DS-3077 Request for Entry into Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program [ 207 Kb]
-- DS-4085 Application for Additional Visa Pages (Fillable) [ 729 Kb]
-- DS-4085 Application for Additional Visa Pages (Non-Fillable) [ 614 Kb]
-- DS-5504 U.S. Passport Re-Application (Fillable) [ 955 Kb]
-- DS-5504 U.S. Passport Re-Application (Non-Fillable) [ 881 Kb]

"you take my words, put them next to text i wasn't actually responding to, then get sarcastic about how my words work in a conversation that never happened ?"

I apologize for any offense. I certainly intended no offense. I didn't intend any offensive sarcasm. I merely thought I was making a perfectly friendly comment. I apologize that my perceptions were clearly off.

"how strange that you, of all people, would pull such a cheap trick."

? I simply didn't understand what point you were making, and thought I was asking. Again, apologies, but no "trick" involved.

"Could you perhaps expand what point you're going for here, cleek?" was not some sort of hidden attack. Honest.

I'm kinda baffled why you've repeatedly reacted this way to me at times, I have to say. I have nothing but positive views of you, cleek, myself, and I don't recall ever saying anything to suggest otherwise. Ever.

I'm really pretty clear as to what I think of various regulars, and how much or little respect I have for those who have posted long enough for me to have a clear impression of, and I don't recall ever thinking "gee, that cleek sure is dumb," or anything remotely like that.

Just: gee, I wonder why he's so mad again?

I'm sorry and I regret whatever I've done in the past to engender such a reaction, and such a prism by which to interpret my words.

"Gary, I can't see where cleek said anything about political appointees."

?

cleek: "also, the name 'Alphonso Jackson' keeps popping into my head."

"you take my words, put them next to text i wasn't actually responding to,"

I apologize, but I'm completely confused: what text that you weren't responding to did I put your words "next to"?

Gary, I don't understand your 02:23. Your sarcastic comment about political appointees was after you quoted cleek's "i seem to recall some recent mention of the practice at the DOJ, however." Nothing to do with Alphonso Jackson.

The fact that Jackson, as a cabinet member, is a political appointee is irrelevant anyway, since cleek wasn't talking about Jackson getting where he is because of political considerations but about statements and actions by Jackson indicating politicization of his department.

I'm sorry and I regret whatever I've done in the past to engender such a reaction, and such a prism by which to interpret my words.

if we're misreading each other (repeatedly?), then i apologize for my side of it.

but i think i'm going to walk away from this one now - for both our sakes.

There is one thing to which this may pertain. Anyone here heard of identity theft? Right. A means toward engineering a frame-up.
Still leaves a question, if that’s an accurate assessment, about the disclosing and thus neutralizing of intended dirty tricks.
Hey, maybe it’s a shell game; a distraction from something else more deeply malicious.
Or maybe someone just loves the smell of paranoia in the morning.

Cleek, although I've said it innumerable times in the past, there's no reason for me to assume you've been around at any such time, and I can't repeat enough times that I grew up in a household where ultra-sarcasm was the norm of practically every comment, and as a result, or also as a result of whatever other oddities and inabilities I bring to my perceptive abilities, my sarcasm-default, and ability to tell what other people find offensive as regards snark and sarcasm, is completely askew from the cultural norm, and I constantly and with considerable and regrettable consistency, think I'm saying something that to me is neutralish-teasing-amusing, and to those who don't know me really well and forgive me my flaws and quirks, I'm perceived as intending to be hurtful, cutting, crushing, and a put-down.

Whereas in my head, I have to be a lot more cutting to consider myself to be getting anywhere near that threshold.

What other people understandably hear as an intentional harsh cut, I more typically mean as a friendly, if arch, tease between people who respect each other.

So I entirely accept the responsibility for making that kind of error in interactions with people, both in person and in writing, with great constancy. I apologize. It's my fault, and I'm not trying to make excuses for it.

As well, my self-awareness of that sort of thing is very mood and environment dependent, so I'm also inconsistent in that regard, among others.

All I can say -- and this goes for most folks -- is to feel free to tell me when I've pissed you off, or gone over any kind of line, or offended or angered you -- please, I'd like to know, so I can clear up any misunderstandings -- but if you might have any doubt as to whether I'm actually trying to imply I think you're an idiot, or something along those lines, there may be reason to consider that I, in my clumsy and erratic way, might mean otherwise, might think otherwise, and a more generous interpretation might be available, and confirmable, if you double-check with me before assuming the worst.

But, as I said, it's my problem that I'm over-sarcastic without realizing it, so my bad on that. Apologies to all.

Again.

Gary- I know you've said that before, but it really sank in for me this time. Now I know you've no reason to listen to me. please give it a shot any way. A lot of the time your comments are especially helpfull, intelligent, and insightfull. I can see that that is a result of the way you look at the world.

Much of the time your comments are percieved to be hostile, cutting, and cruel. You don't mean to be the above. You were trying for wry, witty, and amusing. One possibility is that everyone else has overly thin skin. Another possibility is that you could stand to learn to be more gentle.

Its easy to make excuses for yourself. I know I do it all the time. I think that if you stoped trying to be clever and amusing, and started trying to be direct and sympathic, peoples perception of you would change a good deal for the better.

I can relate. I often try for witty and incisive, but wind up having to do all manner of cleanup-on-aisle-five.

Maybe I just did it again. In any case, I think that Gary's constant struggle with his basic nature is not all that unique to him, even if his basic nature is.

Still, good to know where it's all coming from. Gary comes off occasionally scornful for me, sometimes to the point where meaningful discussion is nearly impossible for me. At that point, I usually just drop it. I might choose to do otherwise, from now on.

"Another possibility is that you could stand to learn to be more gentle."

I was trying to explain that I've been working on it for about thirty-five years, since I first became aware of my problem, and I continue to work on it, to the best of my clearly limited and flawed ability.

There are plenty of times I'd do better to wait longer before posting, and resist temptation.

But I like to think that I err in tone only a distinct minority of the time, and would hope that people will judge me by my writing overall, not my worst or least moments, as I like to think I always try to do to others.

"I think that if you stoped trying to be clever and amusing,"

But I don't have to try, Frank. I just am so damn clever and amusing.

And devilishly handsome.

"I might choose to do otherwise, from now on."

Please do.

would hope that people will judge me by my writing overall, not my worst or least moments

I think the established method is to take the worst 0.1% of what you've said and put in on a continuous tape loop on the network "news" shows.

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