#1142 – Dick Bernard: The State Department E-mails, and a Personal Reflection Back

I write after FBI Director Comey has made his report on the Hillary Clinton e-mails a few hours ago. The assorted “spheres” will make of the report as they will, over, and over, and over, and over….
Permit me a moment to share a bit of historical perspective.
It happens that in the last few weeks I was tasked with writing an introduction to a near-1000 page publication entitled Chez Nous, whose contents will be 155 actual newsletters published by volunteers in a small organization in which I was long active, which existed between 1980 and 2002.
I had been volunteer editor of two thirds of these newsletters, and beginning about seven years ago I decided to make them potentially useful by creating an index of their contents. This required me to read every newsletter once again.
A few months ago a decision was made to publish the newsletters as part of the legitimate historical record of a time past, and here we are.
And so, an introduction (which quotes a few e-mails, by the way), was in order.
(For the curious, you can see and read everything here (click on the tab “library”, then on “Chez Nous”, then on the link to the newsletters.)
There are two sentences in the introduction to those newsletters which I wish to emphasize, and they are on page VI, as follows: “It wasn’t until Jan-Feb 1999 that an e-mail address appeared in the newsletter (p. 760)…We tend to forget how recently e-mail came to us common folks.”
It was 2009 when Hillary Clinton came to head the massive U.S. State Department with tens of thousands of employees world-wide. Some of these persons were originators of these now famous “e-mail chains” in which a few apparently “secrets” were referenced or revealed. Most, in a technology sense, were “common folks”, trying to figure out how to use this new way of communicating. My bet is that we can all tell our stories.
Of course, we commentators – all of us – will not know what these “secrets” were…they were, after all, secrets.
There is no need to invest more words. If you’ve read this far, you probably have already come to some conclusion about guilt or innocence of Secretary Clinton, or even if this whole business amounts to nothing at all.
It is part of history.
Six lines down from the statement I quote above, I say this: “Ten years in technology today is like 100 or more years in the older days. It can get confusing”.
Reflect on your own past with this technology thing, and remind others to do the same.
from Norm (himself a longtime and excellent volunteer newsletter editor):
Gees, Dick, and to keep things consistent with the predictable reactions to the FBI report on Hillary’s use of emails, are you sure that there wasn’t some sort of cover-up or whitewash in all of those emails that you have decided to index and categorize? Isn’t there a severe risk that upon reading and reviewing your compilations that someone will come forward with the claim that your purposely omitted some of them or “lost” some of them or put them into the wrong category?
I mean isn’t there a significant risk, Dick, that someone might claim…or perhaps a group could complain…that your indexing and compiling “clearly shows an obvious” North Dakota bias or something like that?
Gees, Dick, one or more of those disgruntled non-North Dakotans might even insist on a public investigation of your work to determine if such a bias exists as they, of course, are absolutely sure that it exists.
I mean, goodness, a feeling could develop or being suggested that there is always something with Bernard’s always good work that reflects that doggone North Dakota bias?
There isn’t a little Kenny Starr among those potential critics is there who would want to take such an investigation to the end no matter how much the cost, is there?
Just in an all out effort to trump your work, as it were?
Response to Norm: Egads! I’ll have to delete that blog before it causes me problems!
One of my worries, with the newsletter “book”, is inadvertently misstating a page number in the index, or missing a cross reference I should have caught. It does happen, of course, And finding it after it’s printed is too late.
I did the initial indexing, and some years later essentially re-indexed to fill in the blanks missed the first time (there were many such blanks). Even now, when I’m pretty sure I’ve caught most of them, I’m sure I’ll still find mistakes. But those 155 newsletters are more thoroughly indexed that, I bet, you’ll find anywhere!
As you know, as a newsletter editor yourself, mostly you’re so starved for news, that you take almost whatever comes in, fact-checking be damned. If you read my piece, when I was doing that newsletter for an ethnic group (French-Canadian) I gave priority to whatever came into my mailbox (and that was the U.S. mail, by the way), and, of course, like you, because I was editing something, I was always on the lookout for items which might be of interest to the readership.
One of my many “weaknesses”, I suppose, in these ideological purity days, is that I like to hear and share opposing points of view…so long as the writer identifies him or her self. This factors out those ridiculous “forward” that are anonymous and passed from e-box to e-box forever…and there will be a lot of those I can bet.
Thanks for the comment: I’ll add to the post.

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