Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ignominious Ends

There are stories in literature, and in scriptures, of people who make the Faustian deal[i], some bargain with the devil that will allow them to have power, or success, or whatever their evil heart desires. It’s never a good deal. The person’s soul is in the devil’s control. They’re no longer free. But that everlasting end isn’t always obvious in the short length of the story. 
Faust, painting by Jean Paul Laurens

These stories tend to end in a couple of different ways. One looks successful in the world view. The person gets power, control over others. Often they die at the hand of a would-be successor, or in battle. But they appear to get what they want for this lifetime, so they don’t face the bad rot-in-Hell stuff until after death.

The other we might call the ignominious end. The great fall. You know, “pride cometh before the fall,” or “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” These tend to make for better literature. Shakespeare used them to good effect. Macbeth could be one. Maybe King Lear. The wicked king in Hamlet.

In the Book of Mormon there are stories recounting a number of such bad guys. Sherem (Jacob 7:2-4), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), Korihor (Alma 30:6-60). Each of them “preached many things which were flattering unto the people” for power and personal gain. Each of them died shamefully, and ignominiously.

And then we’re told, “And thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell” (Alma 30:60).

So I’m looking at the current news. And I’m wondering what version of the story Hillary Clinton is going to experience. So far, her staying power through scandal is unmatched in American history. Maybe in world history. She’s not accomplished. She’s had opportunities mainly linked to her personable-but-corrupt husband, rather than her own accomplishments. Unresolved scandals have followed them both since their Arkansas days.

Her election to the Senate from New York, a state she hadn’t lived in, seems unlikely without a Faustian bargain. Granted, she didn’t get the nomination in 2008 when she ran for president—but, then, she was up against another person who was playing out his own Faustian bargain. So she bided her time, nominally as Secretary of State, for which she was magnificently underqualified, and continued right up through the revelation of international donations to their foundation in exchange for government favors, still without rotting in jail. And now she runs for president again, and seems to be having the nomination handed to her, with minimal events, minimal speaking engagements, and an absolute minimum of press conferences with questions.

Sometimes the Faustian deal allows the lost soul to be given eloquence of speech, or charisma—something that attracts the followers. She seems utterly lacking in normal attractive qualities. And yet she gets the power she wants, along with the blissful ignorance a dictator would want from a propagandistic press (which she nevertheless complains about as a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Yet this latest scandal, about her cavalier approach to state top secret communications may be the final one. It brings up other scandals—namely, the Benghazi attack: what she was doing that night, why she refused to provide further security when it was requested months earlier, why she failed to send rescue during the attack, and why she blamed an obscure video as the cause. And then she refused to reveal her communications during that period of time.

That’s where the email problem comes in.

She set it up to have control over her communications, to keep any possible (and inevitable) Congressional subpoena from being able to see what she was doing. She thinks she has a right to do whatever she wants, without having her reasons or actions questioned. And the best way to accomplish that was to break the law, risking national security by allowing classified documents on a personal server, rather than kept safe on the Department of State facilities. Risking the certainty that such a server would be found and hacked by enemies, and even friends, around the world. All because she didn’t want to answer to the laws or the American people.

What she did is a crime. Various others have been punished for much smaller versions of what she’s done. General Petraeus was prosecuted (and persecuted) for showing his notebook to his biographer—who had top secret military clearance. Because it wasn’t kept in a locked up environment.
There are some obvious things to think through about Hillary’s email server.

1.      She knew what laws she was breaking, because she sent memos to all State Department personnel concerning their communications and the safeguarding and retaining of information.

2.      She hired someone to create the server; it was on purpose, with forethought and purpose, and direction not to tell anyone.

3.      She used that server for correspondence with the president and his staff, with her staff, and with the DOJ and staff. They knew about the illegal server.

4.      She hired someone to wipe the server, to professionally erase any traces of communications (and State Department documentation for history) that she wanted to hide.

5.      Apparently the hirelings who built and supported the server, a mom-and-pop organization out of Colorado called Platte River Networks (which must have taken some connections to find because of their obscurity and distance) and the hirelings who wiped the server must not have been the same, because the back-up server provided by the Colorado people fortunately contains a duplicate of all Hillary’s yoga schedules, wedding plans, and top secret stuff (yet another place top-secret documents shouldn’t have been).

6.      The limited number of emails she provided, claiming there were absolutely zero classified documents among them, showed two in the first random sample of forty or so, and many more as the search through them continued. These included various ultra-classified highest level secret documents.

So it’s unbelievable that she could come out with the claims she made Tuesday. This happened when Fox News senior White House correspondent Ed Henry asked her, “Did you try to wipe—so there would be no email, no personal no official—wipe the whole thing?”

Clinton: Well, my personal emails are my personal business. Right? So I, so we went through a painstaking process and turned over 55,000 pages of anything we thought could be work related. Under the law, that decision is made by the official. I was the official. I made those decisions. And as I just said, over 1200 of the emails have already been deemed not work related. Now, all I can tell you is, in retrospect, if I’d used a government account, and I had said, you know, “Let’s release everything. Let’s let everybody in America see what I did for four years,” we would have the same arguments. So, that’s all I could say.
Henry: But did you try to wipe the whole server?”
Clinton: I, I uh, I don’t…you know, I have no idea. That’s why we turned it over.”
Henry: You were the official in charge. Did you wipe the server?
Clinton: What, with like a cloth or something?
Henry: No. You know how it works digitally. Did you try to wipe the whole server?
Clinton: I don’t know how it works digitally at all. I do not have any…
Henry: Did you not try? Did you not try to wipe it?
Clinton: Ed, I know you want to make a point, and I can just repeat what I have said. In order to…in order to be as cooperative as possible, we have turned over the server. They can do whatever they want to with the server to figure out what’s there or what’s not there. That’s for the, you know, the people investigating it to try to figure out. But we turned over everything that was work related. Every single thing. Personal stuff we did not. I had no obligation to do so and did not.
First of all, if she had obeyed the law and used a government server, we would not be dealing with her personal emails for her to sort through post-subpoena while Congress is waiting. Those would have already been separate, instead of mixed with official business. If she had used the government server, she could have collected the emails for the pertinent time period (during Benghazi, for one round of questioning) with a few clicks.

Second, if she had not obfuscated, stonewalled, and been contemptuous toward Congress for these years since being asked (that Benghazi quote, when she said, “What difference now, does it make…” was in January 2013), then maybe there would have been some trust about her separating out some personal emails. But we absolutely DO NOT trust her to turn over the important stuff. We assume that’s because the emails are incriminating. That’s why it will be valuable to have the backup duplicate server—which she must have known had been located by the time she answered these questions. 

And third, she is beyond ridiculous claiming she wonders if wiping a server with a cloth is the way to remove data. She’s the official; she made the decision; she hired the special team to come and triple-wipe the server to remove any possibility of anything being read on it, before she “cooperated” by turning it over to investigators.

So, except for those willing to lie for her in the face of glaring facts, it is obvious what she has done.
The next question is, will she skate, like she has with every other scandal? Or is there an alternate, ignominious ending in store?

I’m wondering about the ignominy of it, because of that backup server, in Colorado. Kept in a bathroom closet.

Found at

As Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday, the jokes just keep writing themselves. Here are a few of the least scatalogical:

“Now, we already knew, ladies and gentlemen, that Hillary had flushed most of her emails”  
“Code name for her server wipe: Tidy Bowl.”
“Now that her server’s been found in a bathroom, when Hillary says she’s getting to the bottom of this, it takes on a whole new meaning.”
“The American people won’t take this standing up or sitting down.”
“Her campaign’s now officially circling the drain.”
Our little think tank added this rewording of her press conference: when asked whether she had tried to wipe her server, she answers, “What, like with toilet paper or something?”

This may very well be the beginning of the end in which “the devil does not support [her], but doth speedily drag [her] down to hell” for a special, ignominious end to her story.

[i] Faust is the main character in a German tale by Goethe, in which he makes a deal with the devil, giving his soul in exchange for worldly success. See Wikipedia for summary. 

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