(Columnist’s caution This contains unabashed self-promotion. HB) President Obama might have thought an innocuous back-to-school speech aimed at school children wouldn’t cause a furor among his enemies. Florida Republican Party chairman said "as the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.” 

Obama has moved into the old George W. Bush bubble if he was surprised by this. His experience with virtually everything else he’s done has led to a hue and cry of outrage and insults from those who would attack him for wearing mismatched socks. I’m quite used to this because I have become a lightening rod for vitriolic rude and sometimes crude online attacks in my hometown.

The old saying "even a broken clock is right twice a day" doesn’t apply to Obama and doesn’t apply to me among certain people. There are millions who want to cast Obama as the spawn of the Devil. I don’t know how many feel the same way about me here in Middleboro, MA, because most of them post their opinions anonymously on local blogs. There may be ten, there may be twenty, they want you to believe there are hundreds.

The intensity of their feelings are similar. You can read them on one blog published by Middleboro resident Mark Belanger called Bellicose Bumpkin.

Obama’s been called a communist, socialist, terrorist, Muslim extremist and likened to Adolph Hitler. 

On one thread of Bellicose Bumpkin I’ve been called these names: hypocrite, pathetic, narrow-minded, trivial, superficial, petty, vindictive, angry, hostile, humorless, intolerant, judgmental, friendless, cheap shot artist, ugly, narcissist. 

On the last term, I have no doubt that when they read this column they will use this as proof of me being a pathological narcissist. 

Someone even sent me personal message saying I didn’t have the endowment to wear a skintight Speedo when I swam laps at the Y. 

Another local blog by Rick McNair, " JP The You Know What By Bogofree",  has a pro and con mix of comments about me.

For two years I’ve taken my share of online criticism because I published the primary pro-casino website in a town where opposition to a proposed Mashpee Wampanoag Indian casino is hot and heavy. Much of the intense criticism of me has come because I take photographs of people without their permission. 

I have found myself defending the rights of photographers and the contributions made by street and documentary photographers. 

I publish some of these photographs on my little blog about local politics and controversies, Brownie’s Heckuva Blog.

I also used a selection of them in my photo essay column on Capitol Hill Blue, Washington, District of Contrasts

The latest fusilad against me was triggered when I informed the largest American Indian Newspaper that one of the popular pro-casino bloggers used one of their copyrighted photographs without permission to mock the chairman of the Mashpee tribe. 

This led to an article in Indian Country Today  "Mashpee chairman’s photo sparks pro- and anti-casino blogger battle" and a response from the blogger titled "Hal rats me out".

One of the comments from the Bellcose Bumpkin blogs is apropos to this column:

Hal always finds a way to top himself. Why he’s probably already sending off disks of this little electronic tiff to TIME in hopes of being named "Man of the Year" for defending the constitutional rights of the overly inflated egotists. How to lose friends and influence enemies.

While the Indian Country Today article had a high readership I had no idea it would be published when I first emailed them. Of course by using this example in a column, I have found a way to "top myself" by telling Capitol Hill Blue’s national audience about my misadventures in Middleboro and still relating it to politics.

While I take well meaning criticism seriously, if I was bothered by the rude or crude diatribes against me I’d be rightly labeled a masochist for opening myself to more attacks not only on the local blogs but now on Capitol Hill Blue.

As for having an overinflated ego and being narcissistic, I can live with that critique since that is an individual assessment based on aspects of my personality I readily admit to.

I don’t have any aspirations to being named Time Person of the Year, but I admit I do look for ways to top myself. On that, stay tuned. When that happens you’ll read about it here.

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