Election Schadenfreude

It should not be necessary, in this erudite audience, to recall the meaning of the delightful German word Schadenfreude but, just in case, it is happiness at the misery of others.

As a general rule, the person experiencing the happiness does not like those experiencing the misery because most people derive little joy from the misery of those they favor.

Hence it is possible that FBI Director, James Comey, has taken a significant step toward uniting the country in delight at the misery of electionistas, since most of us hate them all.

What did Jim do, what does it mean and how does the dedicated Schadenfreudist react?

Some poor FBI agent has been spending a good deal of time grazing around in Anthony Weiner’s Speedo shots to determine whether the recipients were both willing and old enough to legally express their willingness. He (please tell me they don’t assign female agents to this task) has discovered that some recipients were not. That is an entirely separate Schadenfreude opportunity but, for now, you are going to have to concentrate on this one.

Amid the lumpy images, our beleaguered agent has discovered emails to or from Weiner’s soon-to-be-former wife, Huma Abedin, who just happens to be the top factotum to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee for President.

Alert students of this year’s election will recall that there has been a spot of bother surrounding the email practices of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee for President.

Delight with me as we imagine the phone call from “beleaguered Speedo agent” to “unfortunate email practices” team in which he says, more or less, “guess what I just found?” Hold your hand to your ear and listen to the sound of leather heels hitting marble floors as a phalanx of email team agents descends upon the Speedo guy. Picture the faces huddled around his computer screen trying to separate the yucky images from the classified emails.

Now picture the guy who draws the short straw and has to call FBI Director Comey to say “ahhhh…. Sir, we have a situation.”

Comey, feeling obligated to keep the Senate investigators informed, writes a letter to a bunch of GOP Committee Chairmen telling them the email thing is back on the front burner. Leaked is not the right word for the letter. Shot from a fire hose is far the better image.

Reaction to these developments depends 100% on a single factor. I used the numerical percentage to illustrate a key point: it is 100% not 99.999999% no matter how many 9s you use. That single factor, you wonder: which candidate does the person having the reaction support in the election. There is not one single electionista who is focused on anything other than what it does to his team. Both Ds and Rs have mounted the highest of horses whence to broadcast their dudgeon at the perfidy of the new developments.

This might be a good time for some subtleties about emails.

Most people are pretty stupid about them and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee for President, knows this.

There are two key kinds of email: secret ones and disgraceful political ones. The ones related to Chelsea’s wedding and yoga classes are diversions to distract you from the disgraceful political ones.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee for President, had no intention of violating secrecy laws, but she damn sure had no intention of letting us graze around in the disgraceful political emails she sends and receives on an hourly basis.

It was a simple calculus for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic nominee for President: do I risk having secret things on a private server or disgraceful political things on a government server? The former might get her some jail time while the latter could lose her the election. Easy decision especially for one accustomed to getting away with things. Take the risk and bring in the lawyers.

Now it gets complicated. For all the brouhaha, nobody except the FBI and the dudgeon spouters cares about the secret emails because they are collateral damage. Yet that is what the FBI is charged with finding.

The real player here is Wikileaks, which is far more interested in the disgraceful political stuff that delights schadenfreudists throughout the world than in the arcane details of State Department classification.

Julian Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with his Internet access cut off, remains the key player on whom attention should be focused. He controls the misery.

As to this weekend, the big winners are the TV networks that had feared the election was too far out of hand and nobody would watch during the final two weekends. That would have cost them money and costing them money would have been bad.

Now they are safe because Schadenfreude sells almost as well as sex – well apart from sleazy Speedo shots.


7 Responses to “Election Schadenfreude”

Russell, October 29, 2016 at 2:39 pm said:

What sort of deplorable troglodytes read each other’s mail?


Sellers McKee, October 30, 2016 at 8:35 am said:

Ever hear of a certain Mr. Snowden? Your very own Federal Government, mostly in the NSA manifestation, spends billions every year to examine almost everyone’s emails, including yours if you ever use certain key words or phrases. Where have you been? Add to that hackers and spies, and you come to the conclusion that there a lot of deplorables out there, not all of whom support Trump.


Haven Pell, October 30, 2016 at 10:09 am said:

Sounds like you are invoking Secretary of Sate Henry L. Stimson. Here is a bit more on the Black Chamber.

The Black Chamber, also known as The Cipher Bureau, was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization, and a forerunner of the National Security Agency. The only prior codes and cypher organizations maintained by the US government had been some intermittent, and always abandoned, attempts by Armed Forces branches prior to World War I.[1]


Black Chamber cryptanalytic work sheet for solving Japanese diplomatic cipher, 1919
Headed by Herbert O. Yardley (1889–1958), the Black Chamber was founded in May 1919 following World War I.[2] Yardley had commanded the Army cryptographic section of Military Intelligence (MI-8) during World War I.[3] MI-8 was disbanded after the war.[4] Jointly funded by the Army and the State Department, the Cipher Bureau was disguised as a New York City commercial code company; it actually produced and sold such codes for business use. Its true mission, however, was to break the communications (chiefly diplomatic) of other nations. Its most notable known success was during the Washington Naval Conference during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the Conference delegations, most notably the Japanese.

In 1929, the State Department withdrew its share of the funding, the Army declined to bear the entire load, and the Black Chamber closed down. New Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson made this decision, and years later in his memoirs made the oft-quoted comment: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” Stimson’s ethical reservations about cryptanalysis focused on the targeting of diplomats from America’s close allies, not on spying in general. Once he became Secretary of War during World War II, he and the entire US command structure relied heavily on decrypted enemy communications.

In 1931, and in need of money, Yardley wrote a book about the Cipher Bureau, titled The American Black Chamber.

The term “Black Chamber” predates Yardley’s use of it in the title of his book. Codes and code breakers have been used throughout history, notably by Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabethan England. A so-called cabinet noir was established by King Henry IV of France in 1590 as part of the Poste aux Lettres. Its mission was to open, read and reseal letters, and great expertise was developed in the restoration of broken seals. In the knowledge that mail was being opened, correspondents began to develop systems to encrypt and decrypt their letters. The breaking of these codes gave birth to modern systematic scientific code breaking. The Black Chambers survived through to the Twentieth Century in a variety of guises and inspired similar organisations in other countries, such as the “Secret Office” of the British Post Office and the Admiralty’s Room 40 and it is within this historical framework that Yardley uses the term.


Sellers McKee, October 30, 2016 at 9:46 pm said:

Haven, you are my information hero.


Haven Pell, October 30, 2016 at 9:50 pm said:

Heavily dependent on Wikipedia but thank you.


Jim Schutze, November 01, 2016 at 11:16 pm said:

An even more insidious frame of mind is schutzenfreude, which takes pleasure in other people getting rejection letters from publishers.


Haven Pell, November 02, 2016 at 9:42 am said:

I regret that I have not contributed to this delight for you and will set about to gathering some up for your viewing pleasure.

Is it first necessary to write the book?

That could result in a delay.


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