An important public service announcement

Analytic summary of focus group and polling data
Results of focus group and polling data–Executive summary

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

23 thoughts on “An important public service announcement”

  1. Um, you think Hillary hasn't had any serious revelations as yet? I guess it's true what they say: Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

    1. In context, I think it's probably best to read that as "a revelation that knocks her out of the race" rather than "a nothingburger that enrages a bunch of people who already hated her guts anyway."

    2. I know Hillary hasn't had any serious revelations as yet. Neither Benghazi! nor the irregular use of a private email account for non-secret communications are remotely serious.

      The problem Republicans face with an HRC candidacy is that she is a fully known quantity, like Churchill in 1940 in Britain. Her virtues and vices have been on display for 30 years of public life. The American people have already made up their minds that as politicians go, she's okay, even though she's married to the clever chancer Bill. The mud-throwing is already having diminishing returns (see the implosion of Gowdy's circus), and is at risk of increasing her popularity as a victim.

      1. Even though she's married to Bill? Bill Clinton was the most popular U.S. president since JFK, and is even now the most popular political figure in the United States, well ahead of both Hillary and Barack Obama. Yes, that may be puzzling (or not), but it's the fact.

      2. And let me add, what happened to that "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." slogan? Because it's already well established that she damned well did use that private server for secret communications, too.

        And at considerable cost to national security. We know her server exposed national security secrets to hackers, because that's how we found out about the server in the first place. From a hacker.

        In short, don't feel entitled to your own facts.

        1. And we're back to the difference between "something that excites a bunch of people who already hated HRC" and "something bad enough that anyone else gives a rat's hindquarters." That's a big bright line, and so far everything about this farcical email scandal lies on the same side of it as Whitewater and conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster.

          But wait! You've got more facts about Hillary that you find damning! Cheerfully conceded!

          But consider the original context here: A liberal, writing to Joe Biden, urging that he not run unless Clinton suffers a blow that knocks her out of the race. Things that disqualify her for office in the minds of Republicans aren't relevant in that context, though you've surely got many to hand and could rattle them off after the fashion of a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. This is not-conservatives talking to not-conservatives about stuff that's important to not-conservatives. The winger outrage du jour isn't all that interesting to people outside the foxnews fever swamp.

          1. I feel the need to jump in here to defend Mr. Bellmore (there's something I never thought I'd say). I'm not of the right, at all. My political views are closer to Bernie Sanders than anybody else in the race, although I don't really want him to be the nominee because I think he'd McGovern in a general election.

            That said, I think it's sort of irrelevant whether or not the email scandal involved actual crimes (which, to be clear, it might have — it is hard to dispute at this point that some communications were not handled properly). To me, the real problem is that I have heard no convincing explanation of why she wanted or needed the server in the first place. It should have been obvious to ANYONE who understands technology that it was a security risk. And a security risk for what, exactly? Convenience (at best)? Keeping communications out of reach of FOIA rules to which they probably should have been subject (at worst)?

            It was a really poor call, and it really does bother me. It's not a career-ending scandal, and the right's continued beating of the drum has gotten on my nerves, but it's not a non-issue, either. It also plays right into the longstanding narrative that the Clintons are willing to bend the rules to suit their purposes. Biden, for all his faults, does not have that baggage. I also think that the current populist streak that the electorate has been displaying plays better to Biden's strengths than to Clinton's. But whatever, I'll hold my nose and vote for the Democrat whoever it is, because I honestly can't imagine what would happen to the country with a Republican president and a Republican Congress given the state of that party right now.

      3. I'm not sure your "even though" is quite justified. When was the last time you heard the expression "Slick Willie"? Certainly not in this decade, and perhaps rarely in this millennium. Bill is rather fondly remembered, in my completely subjective and rather Democrat-tilting milieu. Among Leftists (in whose company I number myself), he is considered a mild traitor for welfare reform and NAFTA and signing the repeal of Glass-Steagall, but by and large, he is probably remembered more generously than any president since Ike. And I'll be my bottom dollar that more misogynists are comfortable with the notion of him putatively manipulating some puppet-master strings behind her administration that they were with her putatively doing so behind his!

        I count Bill as a plus on her resume, and I'm guessing that the number of voters who would hold him against her enough to not vote for her are vanishingly small, as an electoral force.

  2. Look, it she's the nominee, I will probably vote for her. I think she is highly competent and won't start any unnecessary wars, which is almost all of them. This is the absolute most that can be expected of *any* winning Democrat, given Congress. Nothing, but *nothing,* is going to get done anyway. So for me, it's the "Socialist!" (For the record, I think he should dump that word. It's meaningless and just scares people.) But if it's her, fine too.

    The advantage of Biden is that he's farther left than her, but without the scary S word. Do I pay attention to polls? Currently, no. So I don't know how many votes this might get.

    But that whole "we aren't Denmark" thing? It's not even a Wall Street dog whistle, it's a straight out appeal. Total turnoff here! How sad that our financial overlords think that raising taxes on their extremely well-compensated selves to make college free is some kind of Armageddon, that she has to hold their hand for. What a bunch of babies. (I wanted to put the P word instead, but it's so uptight around here now…) And isn't it funny that they don't really care about the long-term wellbeing of the nation that has given them soooooo very much?

    And she's kissing their assets. It all just reminds me of the triangulation. It's sad that Americans are still this foolish after what we just went through, but it's no surprise I guess.

    Whatever you do… do *not* ask me for any excitement. It's not going to happen. And hey, Biden would raise debate ratings.

  3. Nothing is, on a purely legal level, remotely serious as long as a Democrat controls the Justice Department, I'll grant you that. But that she handled national security secrets on a server that had less security than most home computers is a fairly serious revelation, for all that it's practically guaranteed not to have the same consequences for her that anybody who was actually subject to the law would suffer.

    And plenty of people can figure out that she didn't have any reputable reasons for using that server, and encouraging subordinates to use it, too, even if pretending it was innocent is one of those things committed Democrats just have to do.

    In other words, yes, denial, even if it's kind of mandatory for loyal Democrats to be in denial about this sort of thing. Indeed, that she's in deep doo doo is exactly why there's all this talk about Biden entering the race. Word is the intelligence services are sufficiently pissed that it might not be possible in the end to let her skate on this.

    Really, James, you just make yourself look silly pretending this is a fake scandal.

    1. But Brett, it is a fake scandal. Surely you can see that the Wikipedia article you linked to above does not provide unambiguous support for your eccentric views, and actually does provide considerable ammunition for contrary judgments. This is probably about as real a scandal as Whitewater, or Filegate, or the Vince Foster "murder". If you think it's going to gain any traction as an election issue you are deluding yourself. Which is not to say I'm hoping Hillary Clinton will be president, but I do like her chances against, oh, Trump or Carson or Failurina, or also against any of the other occupants of the Republican Klown Kar.

      1. Hersch, what I see here is a tautological defense of the case against her being disputed merely because people dispute it. This site's slogan is a joke so long as you're committed to claiming we don't know she did anything wrong here.

        She went out of her way to have an unsecured private server set up for her email, and the email of selected subordinates in and out of the government, and used it to communicate classified information in violation of the law. Even though a properly secured email address was her's for the asking.

        I think we all know why she did it: Because doing that put most of her communications beyond the reach of FOIA and normal government archiving, so that she would have total control over who could see her emails, regardless of who might be LEGALLY entitled to see them.

        Anybody who didn't have a very high level of political protection would already be fighting charges in court by now, if not already doing time.

        The definition of "scandal" is not, "Something the most committed Democrats are willing to admit is a scandal." That such a definition would render Democratic scandals all but impossible is not exactly unobvious. It is in fact the whole point of demanding such a definition.

        Hillary's reputation for honesty is tanking in the polls, the majority of voters think she had nefarious motives for her private email server. Which is only to say that the majority of people are not committed to never concluding she's guilty of something regardless of how much evidence piles up.

        That she's got this scandal going on, and that it has serious legs, is basically the whole reason anybody is talking about Biden jumping in: So that you've got a plausible candidate in case she gets indicted. It's hilariously denialist to pretend this isn't what's going on.

        Come on, claw your way back from this pit of irrational, politically motivated denial. Yes, Democrats can have scandals, even if Republicans point them out.

        1. I agree with you this far — the security of information is a serious, though deadly dull, issue.

          I am no computer expert and while it might be nice to be one, there are a bunch of other things higher on the To Do list.

          My reaction to the teeny bit I have bothered to read about the scandal is this — my expectation would have been that her private setup would be *more* rather than less secure than a government one. Is this true or false? I have no way of really knowing and not much interest. The lack of interest comes from the total lack of her having – afaik – actually leaked, or leaving unsecured, anything important. She's not naming names of undercover spies? Great; moving on now.

          So, to some extent, you are correct — we *should* care about how our highest officials safeguard important data. (And we do – although our attention span for it is veeeery, veeeeery short….) Okay.

          But do I assume that the State Dept. bureaucracy's system would be particularly good? No I do not. And would someone planning to run for prezzy leave important stuff lying around? Not unless she were dumb, and she isn't. So I'm afraid you're kind of barking up the wrong tree.

          So, is it true her system was hacked? Now, this I didn't know. (Again, this story isn't grabbing me.) Got a good link for that? Not wiki or some rightwingy thing.

          1. The AP item says that Clinton's email server may have been vulnerable to intrusion. It does not say that it was hacked.

            I add: It does not say Clinton's email server was hacked, which is what you claimed, and what you are still unable to support, which is sort of par for your particular course.

          2. Yes, it is *theoretically* possible that, although she left the door open, and put up a flashing neon sign reading "Secretary of State's email server", and at least one hacker is known to have scanned her ports, and three quarters of the nations with intelligence services are constantly trying to hack our systems, often successfully, that nobody bothered walking in.

            Even if nobody hacked her computer, it was illegal, not just reckless, for her to use an unsecured, unapproved system for transmitting national security secrets.

            Again, you're sticking to the tiresome Democratic definition of a "scandal": Something a committed Democrat is willing to admit is scandalous. Making your own refusal to ever admit a scandal self-validating. But the whole population of the country isn't composed of Democratic hacks, and this is, in fact, a scandal.

            Remember, not entitled to your own facts?

          3. There is another way in which a private setup could be at least as secure as the government system in question: that the State Department for decades has had lax security on its own communications. This, in fact, appears to be the case. Yes, Clinton's server was vulnerable, but its use didn't materially decrease security, since the government servers were also vulnerable.

            It looks very much as if State very much resolved the tensions between work efficiency and electronic security in favor of efficiency, and had done so pretty much forever. Employees were pretty much required to do some work from home, where they did not have access to the secure communications network used to transmit classified information.

            I think that what Clinton is primarily guilty of is adopting the practices and culture of the State Department. We can argue as to whether or not that culture should change, but that is a lot less sexy than attacking her individually. And that conversation should be conducted with awareness that we overclassify information and that this is inimical to aspects of a diplomat's mission.

        2. She went out of her way to have an unsecured private server set up for her email, and the email of selected subordinates in and out of the government, and used it to communicate classified information in violation of the law.

          As far as we have seen, there is no evidence at all for this accusation of crime that you make, so if former Secretary Clinton weren't a public figure she'd probably have a pretty good cause of action for libel against you

          1. Well, it's kind of hard to produce evidence when my comments end up vanishing into moderation limbo.

            I've already provided thte evidence she went out of her way to have an unsecured server set up. "Neener Neener" doesn't make that evidence go away.

            Investigators have identified plenty of classified information on the server. Granted, in emails that didn't have classification headings, but that's legally irrelevant. Again, "Neener, neener" doesn't mean it isn't true.

            I don't really think I'm going to be able to persuade anybody here that you can determine from publicly available information that she broke the law. But that's not because the evidence isn't there, it's because you are flatly determined not to reach that conclusion. Like I've said, the site slogan is a joke.

          2. You might persuade people of what you claim if you actually cited the applicable laws and identified specific actions taken by Clinton that violated them. If you can indeed do that from publicly available information please, have at it. I don't think you can, but if indeed you can then more power to you. But asking for evidence does not equal "neener neener".

          3. Frankly, and I'm not sure it's unintended, it's hardly worth my continuing this when every comment I make gets held up a half day or more.

            If you wanted to know the truth of the matter, you'd almost certainly already know it. But, one last effort before I conclude you're impervious:

            Granted, a notorious right wing site.

          4. Get over yourself, Brett. All posts here get held up until approved. It's not just you. I am, for instance, posting this at 1907 on Sunday night. It probably won't show up until morning.

  4. So, is it true her system was hacked? Now, this I didn't know. (Again, this story isn't grabbing me.) Got a good link for that? Not wiki or some rightwingy thing.

    It appears that Brett doesn't actually bother reading the things he links to. The "RT" article he claims shows that a hacker broke into Hillary Clinton's email server doesn't actually say that at all. It says that RT received copies of email messages allegedly (its word) sent to Clinton by Sid Blumenthal, forwarded by a hacker who claimed to have hacked into Blumenthal's AOL account, not Clinton's server.

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