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Maker of Anti-Clinton Video Outed, Loses Job 401

Posted by kdawson
from the on-his-own-time dept.
Raul654 writes "Philip de Vellis, the author of the anti-Hilary Clinton viral video was outed yesterday on the Huffington Post. The company he worked for, Blue State Digital — a Democratic Internet strategy company that does work for Barack Obama — has now fired him as a result. Said Vellis: 'I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process.'"
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Maker of Anti-Clinton Video Outed, Loses Job

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  • Was good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:41PM (#18445017) Homepage Journal
    Well..I'm sure someone else out there will hire him...it was a pretty decent job...showed imagination.
    • Re:Was good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stanistani (808333) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:45PM (#18445079) Homepage Journal
      de Vellis: "I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process."

      That he did. He also demonstrated that if you stand up for something, be prepared to be slapped down.

      Here's hoping he can get back up.
      • Re:Was good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:03PM (#18445473) Journal
        I think that was more a demonstration of the "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" principle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by truthsearch (249536)
          He's fed by his skill (and now 15 minutes of fame), not by his employer. He'll find another job.

          I think Arianna should hire him to make more viral videos. It would be great promotion for the Huffington Post.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by denmarkw00t (892627)
          But he didn't bite the hand that fed him - in fact, he made an ad that will bring more publicity to Obama now than ever intended. Firing him was probably one of the best things his employer could have done to bring in more traffic for Barack. I mean, its on the Slashdot front-page, for one.

      • Yes, stand up for something...

        The tallest blade of grass is the first to get cut.
      • Re:Was good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Yonder Way (603108) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @03:07PM (#18447909)
        The Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech.

        It does not guarantee us freedom from the consequences of our speech.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by suggsjc (726146)
          Hold on, is this one of those philosophical political type of statements?

          Don't you know this is /.?
          Unless you have a completely biased, un-supported claim that somehow reverts back to Bill Gates being the anti-christ, then your on the wrong site.

          Take your insightful intellectual conversation elsewhere.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mex (191941)
            I have seen more and more of these types of comments lately. They add nothing to the discussion, and your sarcasm only hurts the community here.

            Sure, we have lots of anti MS people, but that does not mean we are all mindless drones who cannot discuss any other current affairs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tanktalus (794810)

          Actually, your constitution does not guarantee you freedom of all speech, but that which it does guarantee, it further guarantees no consequences.

          That speech that is free is only speech that talks negative of the government (positive speech having never been threatened). And the normal consequences of that speech, being jailed, fined, or killed, are guaranteed not to occur (or, as much of a guarantee that the government can normally give - anyone attempting to confine you, take your money, or kill you, ju

    • Re:Was good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dctoastman (995251) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445125) Homepage
      Showed imagination?
      A rip-off of a Mac ad shows imagination?

      Must be some definition of imagination that I'm not familiar with.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Showed imagination?

        A rip-off of a Mac ad shows imagination?"

        Well, he used a fairly iconic commercial as a platform for parody to make a political point.

        Not only that...the job he did appeared fairly good to my eyes...quality-wise.

        I'd say he did a good job...made an effective point, and with little investment but personal time editing the video, he reached a worldwide audience both on the internet and television.

        You don't see that very often...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
          Well, he used a fairly iconic commercial as a platform for parody to make a political point.

          That doesn't require imagination.

          Not only that...the job he did appeared fairly good to my eyes...quality-wise.

          That requires technical skill, not imagination.

          I'd say he did a good job...made an effective point, and with little investment but personal time editing the video, he reached a worldwide audience both on the internet and television.

          Maybe I'm clueless, but I just don't see what the "effective point" of that a
          • Re:Was good (Score:4, Interesting)

            by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:42PM (#18446209) Homepage Journal
            That doesn't require imagination.

            Coming up with the idea in the first place required imagination.

            Maybe I'm clueless, but I just don't see what the "effective point" of that ad was.

            The original Apple ad carried no additional information either, but made a very effective point. Anyone familiar with the concept of Big Brother can see the point. Therefore it's effective in its simplicity. If instead it just displayed negative information about Hillary it would be very boring and not get people talking about the actual point.
          • Subtly effective (Score:3, Insightful)

            by alienmole (15522)

            Maybe I'm clueless, but I just don't see what the "effective point" of that ad was. It looks like just a cheap attempt to say, "Hillary bad". And indeed she is. But you could replace the video of her in the ad with Bush, or Cheney, or Obama, or the challenger in the dog-catcher primary for Hicksville County, Alabama. What actual negative information does it convey about Hillary Clinton other than "She, like the rest of the human race, kinda looks scary (but actually mostly boring) when edited into that cool

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Compare Apple's original 1984 video vs. the Parody video.

          Apple Original 1984 video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo [youtube.com]
          Parody: http://youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo [youtube.com]

          Would you call this "Where's the Beef" parody imaginative? Probably not---

          http://youtube.com/watch?v=-Sc0Wdi0Vi4 [youtube.com]

          How much difference is there between the two videos? The parody borrows the vast majority of it's content from the original-- the faces, the cadence, the audio (except for Clinton's voice), the facial expressions are all exactly the
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        Wish I still had mod points... someone mod this up. "Imagination" is sorely lacking in this day-and-age of the audio/video mash-up and the crap that Hollywood churns out. I'm constantly amazed at how my kids are "bored" when we won't them watch TV or play video games. They seem totally unable to come up with new, original games to play or things to do that aren't related to some TV show they watch or game they play.

        • I'm constantly amazed at how my kids are "bored" when we won't them watch TV or play video games. They seem totally unable to come up with new, original games to play or things to do that aren't related to some TV show they watch or game they play.

          The problem is that A) they are not bored enough, and/or B) they watch too much TV

          Back when I was their age, we only had like 3 channels on TV (I know, luxury), so we had to come up with plenty of ways to have fun with just a bag of rocks and some sticks.
      • Re:Was good (Score:5, Funny)

        by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:54PM (#18445283)
        He should have used the word "innovation." Microsoft has been ripping off people for years and calling it that.
    • Old Strategy (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445129)
      This is a very old, and very nasty strategy:

      1. Get somebody to make an offensive attack ad
      2. Get it noticed by the press
      3. Enjoy seeing your attack ad on the air FOR FREE for a dozen news cycles or more.
      4. Offset the blame, since you never "approved" the ad. ...
      5. Profit!
      • Re:Old Strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MindStalker (22827) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reklatsdnim'> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:53PM (#18445255) Journal
        Dude,
        1. The guy worked at a tech company that assisted in Obamas campaign we well as other campaigns. You'd be surprised by the number of subcontractors in a campaign who don't give a hoot about it, they just have a job of keeping the web server running, or whatever.

        2. Did you watch the video? Its not even an attack ad really. It just says that 2008 won't be like 1984. It seems that the choice to use Hillary was fairly inconsequential to the message.
        • Did you watch the video? Its not even an attack ad really. It just says that 2008 won't be like 1984. It seems that the choice to use Hillary was fairly inconsequential to the message.

          Dude? The fact Hillary was used is the POINT of the message. If W. was used instead of Hillary, that would have been a very different political message. If Homer Simpson were used, that would just be silly and no one would have cared.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It seems that the choice to use Hillary was fairly inconsequential to the message.

          Exactly, just like the choice to target IBM in the original ad was inconsequential.

          Oh, wait.
        • by Loundry (4143) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:47PM (#18446343) Journal
          "I support Hillary Clinton."
              -- TheMeuge (645043)

          "I support Barack Obama."
              -- MindStalker (22827)
    • Was bad (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jeff Fohl (597433)
      Actually, Ridley Scott showed imagination when he made the ad in the first place. This guy just copied and pasted. This was an extremely weak effort, and had nothing of substance to say about Clinton. It was trite, cheap, and weak.


      • I don't think the point of the video / ad / statement was to say anything about Clinton. I think it was more about the need to move forward, away from the same old cookie cutter political process. Hillary just happens to represent that process.

    • by Romancer (19668)
      But it was a type of lie. By assigning credit to a group that did not produce the ad, he is committing a type of slander. Making it seem that that group has a specific oppinion or approves of an ad that they had no knowledge of, and didn't approve.

      Same as saying, "John says Jill is a bad person" to people. When John has no idea what you're doing and said no such thing. That not only hurts one person but both. It's like trying to start a fight between two people. Not a thing to be proud of, and an underhande
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:43PM (#18445055)
    It was just before he was fired, he finally realized the horrible truth - he loved Big Sister.

    And a boot descended over mankind's face, forever.

    Ryan Fenton
  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:44PM (#18445059)
    From a reply to the Huffington Post article by the creator:

    I've resigned from my employer, Blue State Digital, an internet company that provides technology to several presidential campaigns, including Richardson's, Vilsack's, and -- full disclosure -- Obama's. The company had no idea that I'd created the ad, and neither did any of our clients. But I've decided to resign anyway so as not to harm them, even by implication.
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      He said, they said. He's probably chanting the "I quit" mantra to avoid the uncomfortable silence during his next job interview when asked "Just why were you fired from your last job?".

      • by NitsujTPU (19263)
        This is also kind of standard PR fluff. Heck, I knew a programmer who got canned who "moved on to brighter horizons," according to both he and his company.
        • by RingDev (879105)
          Hah, at my last job my boss called me in to talk about what would be the best option for the company and I.

          The option was my departure from the company.

          That option lead me to a new job, new office with a view, 3x as much vacation, a professional work atmosphere, and challenging and fun projects in a field that actually helps society.

          That option lead them to an employee shortage, lower moral, 2 dropped projects, 6 months added to the time-line of most live projects, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Timesprout (579035)
        He is such a knob. If he did not want to harm his employer 'even by implication' then why didn't he quit and do the ad as a freelancer? Why did he not come forward himself sooner? If he felt the ad was making such an important statment why was it not pitched first to Obama? Only a complete moron could not have seen the implications of what he was doing while in a position with Blue State Digital given their portfolio.

        And his blog about it is just a stream of self indulgent garbage. Newsflash buddy, the
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          And his blog about it is just a stream of self indulgent garbage. Newsflash buddy, the future of American politics always rests in the hands of ordinary citizens, they are what grown ups like to call voters.

          Given that we are currently living under a president who was never elected by the people, I think that's a pretty specious argument.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Timesprout (579035)
            Actually what ever the circumstances of the first election, his second term proves my point completely. The Republicans turned out way more voters than the Democrats expected and won fairly. Personally I felt it was a mistake to reelect Bush but again the voters had their say when they realised their mistake and the Republicans got creamed in the Congressional and Senatorial elections, so the voters are the final arbiters.

            That aside the bipartisan nature of US politics is too divisive. Yes Bush won but
        • Sometimes you do something small and watch it snow ball. The ad itself was fluffy and very mild for an attack ad. his company acted within their own policy and terminated him. He seems to be taking it in stride. He reecognized his mistake and is moving on. The publicity will likely net him a job somewhere with as good or better pay. So even if he is a knob, he's porblably a knob with prospects.
    • Re:Clarification (Score:4, Informative)

      by l4m3z0r (799504) <kevin@nOsPaM.uberstyle.net> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:00PM (#18445399)

      De Vellis was an employee with Blue State Digital, an Internet company that provides technology to presidential campaigns, including Obama's. De Vellis said he resigned from the company "so as not to harm them, even by implication." The company issued a statement Wednesday, saying he was terminated.

      "Pursuant to company policy regarding outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise, Mr. de Vellis has been terminated from Blue State Digital effective immediately."

      From: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/21/clinton.you .tube/index.html [cnn.com]

      The CNN version has quotes from Blue State Digital's spokesperson saying that he was in fact terminated.

    • Yes, he says he resigned.
      His employer says says he was fired [msn.com].

      Does it really matter? He was shown the door, one way or another.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        Yeah, it does matter. His quitting was a smart choice, showing he's sorry for pain he caused the company he worked for.

        His being fired shows a hard choice made by his employer, possibly unethical. (Off-the-clock, not associated with the company, etc, etc.)

        Unless you meant 'does it matter' in the 'long run', and then nothing we do matters. We'll all be dead and gone in less than 100 years, and after a few millennia, the human race may not even exist any more. (Cute, Firefox thinks I spelled 'millennia' w
        • by zCyl (14362) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:14PM (#18446857)

          His being fired shows a hard choice made by his employer, possibly unethical. (Off-the-clock, not associated with the company, etc, etc.)

          It was not a hard choice for his employer at all. According to the news, all employee contracts for that company specifically prohibit off-the-clock political productions of this sort by its employees, precisely because perception is more important than reality in their business. They cannot afford to have the perception that a contractor of one political candidate made X advertisement through under the table money, so they have to prohibit all such connections in the terms of their employee contracts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Quoting Blue State Digital website [bluestatedigital.com]:

      Our Statement On The 1984 Video

      Statement from Thomas Gensemer, Managing Director, Blue State Digital

      On Wednesday afternoon, March the 21st, an employee at our firm, Phillip de Vellis, received a call from Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington Post" regarding the "1984" video currently circulating online. Initially, de Vellis refused to respond to her requests. He has since acknowledged to Blue State Digital that he was the creator of the video.

      Pur

    • by Castar (67188)
      There are differing accounts as to whether he was fired or resigned... Here's a quote from another story (this is the statement from his employer):

      "Pursuant to company policy regarding outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise, Mr. de Vellis has been terminated from Blue State Digital effectively immediately," the statement said.

      So here's my question: assuming that this is true, and he was fired... Is that legal? Especially the "company policy regarding outside political ...
  • Fired? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:44PM (#18445063)
    I see nothing in that article that says he was fired. I see user comments to that effect, but those aren't cited, either.

    I heard on the radio this morning that he quit when he realized he was going to be unmasked. That's quite a bit different than being fired.
  • Primary Season (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viper Daimao (911947) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445131) Journal
    Primaries are always fun, if only because you get to watch each party attack itself for awhile before making their pick and pretending all that never happened.
  • by netbuzz (955038) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445135) Homepage
    Here's what I make of this whole flap -- not much: Clinton, Obama, the ad's maker (now out of a job), his employer and the press are all just playing their roles ... and the play is a farce. No one's really outraged by that video clip (especially Clinton). And no one really believes it's out of bounds. They're all just reading from the script. ... Of course, that's what high-stakes presidential politics is all about these days. More on this theme on my blog if anyone cares:

    http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/1275 7 [networkworld.com]
    • Here's what I make of this whole flap [... they] are all just playing their roles ... and the play is a farce.
      [...]
      More on this theme on my blog if anyone cares
      I suppose you're just playing your role as well (emphasis added above).
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#18445137)
    ...About this video (and ones like it) are in an article in yesterday's Globe and Mail:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20070321.gtpoltube0320/BNStory/Technology/ [theglobeandmail.com]

    Three key points from the article:

            * How will Web content outside the control of campaigns affect voters?
            * How should campaigns react to anonymous but highly viewed attacks?
            * When is Web content, no matter how provocative, newsworthy?

    Also worth noting. Apple has decided NOT to sue the creator as it would be unlikely that they'd win:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20070322.w19840322/BNStory/Technology/ [theglobeandmail.com]

    Apple not suing somebody? I'll believe it when I see it.
  • by ras_b (193300) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:49PM (#18445181)
    From his blog: [huffingtonpost.com]

    The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs.
  • It shows his concern for the political system. OTOH, it shows his political naïveté -- you're not going to get away with smacking Hilary Clinton. This combination of chutzpah and bad judgment is rare in Washington... for good reason.

  • Humor is what sets up many good points in print or video.

    Pointing out the laborious droning on of political speech by a particularly notworthy practitioner in a quirky way has made it memorable.

    That is what advertising is ALL about.
  • He's right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jafac (1449) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:07PM (#18445535) Homepage
    There is a lot of frustration among Democratic voters right now, about the crappy selection of presidential candidates. We felt like we got railroaded with Dukkakis in '88, and while Clinton was a pleasant surprise in '92, there was a lot of consternation about Lieberman in 2000 (and it should be clear by now, that Lieberman did more harm to Gore's campaign than Nader could ever dream to) - and Kerry in '04.

    Democratic voters feel their principles have been betrayed. That their party is beholden to monied special interests (especially the mafIAA). Is it any wonder that a stooge like Bush can win?

    I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with Obama as a candidate (his views on Gun Control are pretty wacky - the NRA will slaughter him, even with the weak field of Republican candidates). I'd rather see the Democratic Party take someone like Bill Richardson a lot more seriously. He has a lot more experience, and his views are a lot closer to the mainstream of America. Plus, he *is* a minority; but he doesn't use that status as a political tool, like Clinton and Obama do.

    This Obama staffer made a bad move. It was a clear, ethical, conflict of interest, and possibly a violation of campaign finance law. But he made a damn important point. Is anyone at the DNC (and especially, the DLC) listening?
    • Re:He's right. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mtgarden (744770) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:25PM (#18445857)
      I'm a republican, but you make a good point. We get stuck on the same script as well. If I could have predicted the future, I wouldn't have voted for Bush, but alas I did. Mostly, I dislike the DHS and the Patriot act (I WANT MY FREEDOM AND PRIVACY). All that said, I am interested in the Democratic campaign for one simple reason: Obama's use of the internet and related technologies. He has showed some intelligence in his approach to the internet and that will earn him points against the Clinton war machine. (And yes, I shudder at the thought of Clinton in the White House. At this point, Obama seems to be the best candidate for the White House for the Democrats. He appears to be the most middle of the road.) My two cents.
    • Re:He's right. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:37PM (#18446137)

      There is a lot of frustration among Democratic voters right now, about the crappy selection of presidential candidates. We felt like we got railroaded with Dukkakis in '88, and while Clinton was a pleasant surprise in '92, there was a lot of consternation about Lieberman in 2000 (and it should be clear by now, that Lieberman did more harm to Gore's campaign than Nader could ever dream to) - and Kerry in '04. Democratic voters feel their principles have been betrayed. That their party is beholden to monied special interests (especially the mafIAA). Is it any wonder that a stooge like Bush can win?

      Never understood it myself. I'm independent, no party affiliation. I've watched with dismay in the last 10-15 years as the Republicans have crawled into bed with religious nutjobs. In response, the post-Clinton Democrats, rather than seizing the opportunity and crushing the Reps with a centrist candidate who could establish long-term dominance, have responded by throwing out a series of candidates who are more and more hard-line, shrill, and utterly unappealing to independent voters. They haven't put forth a coherent plan aside from their (rightful) disdain of Bush. They've tossed their support of the first amendment in their push to cozy up to the media companies (MAFIAA) and to be seen as more family values oriented (Gore/Lieberman/Hilary with their anti-violent music/games push). I think the growing tendency of the Democrat leadership toward condescending wanna-be intellectualism and truly venomous campaigning is really turning off a lot of the country, never mind the selling out.

      Put another way, in the run-up to the 2004 election Bush was saddled by a 9/11 economy that had not fully recovered, a war we were by that point not winning, and no idea where Osama was. Even a remotely appealing candidate would have destroyed him. Who gets nominated? A condescending stereotypical Massachussets Democrat with a lot of baggage. Of course, he is destroyed in the red states by 20+ point margins and loses enough of the peripheral states (Ohio, Fla) that he loses. This, while Lieberman or Edwards probably would have beaten Bush. Lieberman probably takes Fla, Edwards probably a mix of SC, VA, NC, or OH, possibly others.

      To more properly address your points, I'm not comfortable with Obama because he's an inexperienced ideologue, and I find that incredibly scary (I don't even want to ponder the fate of Universal Health Care in this country). Hilary has experience, but I have no idea what she'll do when president because the only thing she seems to stand for is her own self-aggrandizement. I assume it's a two-dog race now, so no point discussing the also rans.

      As an independent, *I* feel betrayed, because I'd like one party to have the sense to go more centrist. Don't much care which party.

      Regarding Dem presidential candidates, I completely agree with you - the Dems haven't come up with a truly appealing candidate that they actually planned to run since, what, Kennedy? LBJ was an accident, Carter won because he wasn't Nixon/Ford, and the frontrunners like Cuomo bailed in early '92 when Bush I had a 90% approval rating, leaving the surprising win to Bill.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:02PM (#18446629) Homepage Journal
    De Vellis was fired because he made a video attacking Clinton, fraudulently crediting it to the Obama campaign, while the Obama campaign was an actual (if tangential) customer where he actually works.

    If he had not signed it "Obama", he might not have been fired. If his boss hadn't had Obama as a client, he might not have gotten fired.

    This guy is a jerk. He's got the right to publish whatever video he comes up with, except when he lies in it. He has no right to frame Obama with that attack ad. And his boss has the right to fire a guy who pisses off the clients.
  • 1st shots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:49PM (#18447593) Journal
    This is just one of the first shots in what will be the dirtiest campaign in history. This is going to make all the comments on /. about Bush seem like hugs and kisses, and that's just the Democrats beating each other up! The Republicans will probably end up eating their own too. When we get to the final 2 standing the public will be so sick of the whole thing that I expect the lowest voter turnout in history. It would be great if a couple of truly knowlegeable and likeable candidates showed up but I won't hold my breath.

    I remember the questions about when a Vice President moves up due to the senility/mental competence of the President during Reagans second term. After seeing how the press and other candidates treat everyone running, I question the sanity of anyone who want's the damn job! Colin Powell might be the smartest man of our times. He refused to put himself or his family through this asinine process, that's character!

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