RANGER AGAINST WAR: Machiavellian <

Friday, June 06, 2008


It's gonna be a new day for you
A new day for you, new day for you,

new day for you

--New Day for You
, Basra

Oh,when the working day is done,

Oh, girls,

Girls just wanna have fun

--Girls Just Wanna have Fun, Cyndi Lauper


The Washington Post's editorial staff has been cheerleading for democratic candidate Obama from the primary's start. But one WaPo blogger, Chris Cillizza in his appropriately titled blog The Fix, observed the Machiavellian nature of the primary race yesterday and lo, it was Obama's camp who were the Machiavellians (What Went Right for Obama):

The Obama campaign realized that the only metric that mattered in the end was delegates, a strategic assumption that Clinton never made. (As late as Tuesday night she was touting her popular vote victory and her ability to win swing states. Both points are as true as they are meaningless; the nomination is decided on delegates, nothing else.)

How silly of Clinton to think that the votes of the average citizen actually mattered. Especially those of coal-mining, embittered sorts. She ran an old-fashioned campaign in these New Times, where you daren't admit that politics as usual is politics as usual. Had she only re-read her Vance Packard. People don't want real, they want to think themselves new, uplifted, updated.

Had she only noticed that bookstores are packed to the gills with "Self-Help" manuals. Had she only combined the message of any of Oprah's gurus with a little uplifting Sunday sermon rhetoric.

"Be audacious!", "Be Your Best You", "Find The Universe's Purpose for You." It is not about graphs and tables and conciliation and bipartisanship. These are dire times, and people just want to feel a little better. Better than they really are. Unfortunately, Hillary didn't learn the vital skills of packaging herself as a guru capable of shepherding and ferrying the people to some imaginary better shore.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where are you we when we need you?

Hillary needed a little consciousness-raising, to learn that it no longer is what it is, it is what you want it to be. A little Baudrillard might have helped her out. She could have constructed a reality to take her outside of the Old Clinton paradigm, perhaps even accessing some sort of ironically self-mocking Hillary. Surely the boilermakers were a start. She didn't have Obama's "Pooky and Ray-Ray" (he doesn't either,) but surely there was some home girl self she could have accessed.

It really was all about us, but not in any realistic, old school politics sort of way. No, it was in a mushy, touchy-feely sort of way. We wanted to feel cool, hip, young and multi-culti. Down with the white bread way of politics. Step out of the beltway, forgetting for the moment the reality, which is that is where your politics actually occurs.

Cillizza gave an honest assessment of a cool, efficient Chicago party machine, well-oiled with now-inmate Tony Rezko's ill-gotten booty. This was not a populist contest; this was a delegate-grabbing exercise by a more efficient campaign which cultivated the veneer of populism.

Even in defeat Clinton is demonized.
The WaPo's Robert Novak writes on a a conference call between Clinton and NY Rep. Nydia Velazquez, "who suggested that only an Obama-Clinton ticket could secure the Hispanic vote ("Playing for the No. 2 Spot.") 'I am open to it,' Clinton replied, according to several sources."

You would think that would be seen as a conciliatory gesture to party cohesiveness. Instead, opponents said "(t)alking about an unlikely dream ticket further slows the party unification process that Clinton's critics say already comes two months too late because of her."

Even though candidate Clinton played it fair and square, and stayed in the race until the end of the primaries, which was her right, and even though she conceded she would accept second fiddle if it were offered, still she is the wicked witch. I proffer that if she had declined second fiddle, she would also be denounced.

At least if she had lost by an embarrassing margin we could all pity her. Instead, she ran neck and neck, and that is the hell of it. She is truly damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.

This is not a voting process I'm proud of. Why doesn't my vote count? Why are the delegates chosen to represent me having their
votes chopped in half? Am I only worth half of an Iowa voter? Someone please tell Michael Moore: 1/2 is less than 3/5ths. I am worth less than a slave in 1787. Ain't I A Woman? This is 2008 -- what gives?

It's time the U.S. reconsider the delegate - superdelegate process, and the electoral college while we are at it. What is wrong with allowing everyone to vote for their president, and having everyone's vote count equally?


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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i like the athenian method. everybody walks through a gate, with a pebble in their hand. as you pass the candidate's baskets you make your choice and toss your pebble.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 6:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Exactly! Pebbles, ostrakos, torn bits off a grocery bag. . . in a bin, and a panel of three impartial accountants to tally it up, with TI-85's or abacuses, it matters not. Just count them up.

Sure there's a lot more people today, but there'd be more counters, too. I'd donate my time to pull a shift.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 8:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger crookedsmilee said...

I do believe Hiliary was part and parsel of the deal....she was in on it from the beginning....
Hell-I am glad 1/2 of my super delegate was able to count....new & improved system from both the 2000 & 2004 election...
thats real.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 10:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger crookedsmilee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 10:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Lisa -

You and the other folks in Florida were lucky to get one half of a vote. Here in the Washington caucuses, the rank and file got about one twentieth.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 11:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Right-o. Vassals can't be choosy.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 12:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Well said, Lisa. I have my issues with the "cult of personality" that seems to have smitten the Hillaryites. But the calculating Chicago machine politics of the Obamatrians does not make for a proud moment in American history.

There was a time when the proudest boast a person could make was Civis Romanus sum. When the citizens of Rome let some of their peers become their masters the phrase didn't change but the irony of the meaning did.

We have allowed ourselves to become more subjects than citizens. The only question remains what shall we do about that?

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 6:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Any cult of personality frightens me.

Alternate Brain yesterday featured Mark Morford's SF Chron column suggesting Obama might a be a "lightworker"--an enlightened universal being come to rescue us.

Christ--that savior mentality is what got us in this mess in the first place. Imagine the hubris to imagine that you are so special that a "lightworker" has come for your sorry ass, as Ranger might say.

And of course, the implication is that of Jesus: that you too are made of the same fairy dust, and might be a hidden lightworker yourself. Oh God. And you know the book stores are full of such tripe.: Rainbow Children, horse-whisperers, angels (not in the religious section). . .

Civis romanus sum, a proud statement. When 1,200 people respond to Morford's column happily awaiting His coming, I fell less able to utter such a statement. In this case, it is not my foolish leaders, it is my foolish fellow citizens. We are not proud; we are arrogant servants.

What to do? I don't know how you make people wake up, when the Ambien ads bombard them from all sides.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Chief -

"cult of personality" describes the sickness of the Obamaniacs exactly. Funny you should use it on her supporters. What a great way to bring us over to your side. Good snarking!

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


See Alternate Brain yesterday for their feature of Mark Morford's column for some truly frightening Obamamaniac propaganda, which has made it mainstream in Morford's SF Chronicle column.

And, the people eat it up. What arrogant slaves people can be.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 10:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree about Obama. His tactics for self-promotion and promising change are almost exactly copied from MLK and other civil rights pioneers. Were MLK's fervent supporters maniacs, or just inspired? Who's running for president, Obama or his over-the-top fan club?

If I don't vote for McCain, its not because I don't like his militarist supporters, it's because I have listened to what he says and I hear
The Nightingale's Song
that he learned from Reagan and the Bush Dynasty. I'd rather hear "We Shall Overcome", and I don't think that means I've joined a personality cult.

And to me, the kind of things I heard Sen. Clinton say in her campaign struck me as just plain dangerous; she seems to have a problem controlling her temper when opposed. And one thing is sure about the next president: he will face tremendous opposition, domestic and foreign.

Maybe it's a generational thing...sorry if I seem overly defensive on this.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 11:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Cogent dissent is always welcome! We're not a fan club here; unlike Stalin, we don't need just yes-men.

Here's my thinking: Clinton (Edwards, etc.) are politicians, plain and simple. No pretense to being saviors. Who I want for my president is a consummate politician, who can works both sides of the aisle and knows how to grease palms to get things done. Because politics is shady business, and no matter how "good" a candidate may be, he will be an ineffective leader if he can not work Congress.

A president does not work alone, regardless of the criminality you've seen the last 7 years.

MLK was a man of the cloth, and was fronting a platform of civic change. His approach was entirely appropriate, and his entranced following was understandable. You know how it is to go in a church -- a sanctuary -- with all the iconography, and this man in robes standing above you at the dais. Pretty heady stuff.

But I don't dig that coming from a politician. Politicians are slimy weasels, and Obama appropriated the pastor's rhetoric for himself. Disingenuous.

Since I'm a white person who's been to black churchs, Obama's wasn't new or revolutionary to me but it was transparent, and Obama's mentor Rev. Wright was simply unpalatable.

Obama is being presented as this generation's RFK. I was too young to have known about RFK firsthand, but I've read about the country's high hopes for him. Also, they've just released a 40-yr. book of photos shot from his funeral train. Who knows what he would have done; it was never an actuality.

Obama is weak on issues that matter to me: health care, international relations. You can chuck the "change" platform. Give me something real.

I hear you say Hillary's temper frightens you. And as you know, McCain has also been painted as a bull in a china shop. Obama was painted well: COOL. Almost asexual. (It took his wife to declare that he was a man early on the campaign!)

Yep, he's a man for the post-Slacker, post-Clocker times.
He's got sang-froid, and everyone wants it, from Nirvana/Morphine listeners, to the silly 60-somethings in purple Birks ("We started everything in the '60's.")


Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 1:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

I am not sure what the point is. If you add up all the votes (including the votes in Michigan which were for "not Hillary", i.e., for Obama), Obama still (barely) squeaks out a popular vote victory. It seems that some folks want to count some votes and not others, then whine. Given the results of elections, polls, and etc., there does not seem any argument that Obama was the choice of most people who traditionally vote Democratic in Presidential elections -- much of Hillary's late-race strength came from people who traditionally vote Republican in Presidential elections, and since when do we let Republicans choose who the Democratic nominee will be?

That said, the rules allowed Republicans to vote in Democratic races, so that can be viewed as simply Hillary noting a feature of the rules that gave her an advantage, and taking advantage of that feature. Same thing Obama did, in other words. I have no delusions about Obama. He is a politian. He looked at the rules, and figured out how to use them to win. That's what a good politician has to do. Hillary played by 1992 rules, not realizing the implications of the 2008 rules, and lost because she didn't realize until too late in the race exactly what she had to do in order to win (i.e., get the support of Republicans by praising John McCain at the same time she criticized Obama).

But sour grapes seems just sour at this point when we should be focusing on John McInsane and his quest for endless wars in the Middle East. Frankly any of the Democratic candidates is ten million times better, and if it had been Hillary who'd won, I'd be fussing at supporters of Obama right now for not uniting behind the party's candidate. It's time to focus on what we have to do to keep our nation from continuing down the wrong track, rather than continue to regurgitate old hurts and misleading statistics in the service of destroying Democratic chances in the fall.

- Badtux the Practical Penguin

Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 2:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree except for the diagnosis of insanity for McCain. He's perfectly sane. I think the problem is that he's gotten so much adulation for being a "war hero" senator that he's really started to believe he's the only ex-P.O.W. who matters, and that somehow having been imprisoned and tortured makes him uniquely qualified to be commander in chief. The irony would be delicious if McCain got swiftboated by all the other guys who were in the Hanoi Hilton.

Plus, if you read about McCain at Annapolis, he was really just a reprobate who didn't belong there. How MacArthur and Eisenhower would have laughed at him. Typical Navy, they'd say.

This is what American military heroism has been reduced to: victimhood as achievement. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?

Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 2:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Well-said about our times: victimhood as achievement. I would add, membership in a traditionally repressed collective as individual vindication.

It bothers me to hear the bleeding hearts -- older people, usually -- saying how glad they are to have a black man headed for the W.H. What's that about? Didn't they listen to MLK? NOT the color of his skin, the content of his character. Moreover, when running for President, to be judged by far more than the color of his skin.

Fronting a black man doesn't whitewash the sin of prejudice, a sin which resides nicely within both racial communities. Sadly.

Victimhood-as-achievement. Yeah, definitely. Illness, abuse, repression all tickets to a fat book contract and an Oprah appearance.

McCain won't be swiftboated because of his Faustian bargain in 2000

Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 9:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"she didn't realize until too late in the race exactly what she had to do in order to win (i.e., get the support of Republicans by praising John McCain at the same time she criticized Obama)."

Yet--even though she would not stoop to favorably compare herself to Reagan, as Obama had no qualms of doing, she still won the Republicans vote. Curious.

The "misleading stats" weren't mine, but Cillizza's, a WaPo writer firmly in the Obama camp.

Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Rick98c said...

Don't forget that Hillary is conveniently ignoring all votes in Caucus states. Some people just don't know when to quit.

Down with royal families! No more Bush's or Clintons in the WHite House, please!

Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 5:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

No argument on the wierd "Resistance is Futile; You Will Be Assimilated" Borgian collective "change" hypnotism of the Obamatarians. My observation of the strange an-insult-to-Hillary-is-an-insult-to-me thing comes only because Hilary is the one being "insulted". I assume that the Obamaites will perform a similar sort of public rage thing once McCain starts his Slime Engine in earnest.

The entire political process has become a sort of cult-of-personality; Hillary's was just notable because of the rage involved. Makes me want to do one of those movie slap-the-mesmerized-victim deals: "Snap out of it, man! She/He's just a goddam politician! You need to get a hold of yourself!!"

I suspect that the Founders would be revolted by the degree to which we've invested ourselves emotionally in these people. They wanted a democracy for the working day, with humdrum citizens doing their civic duty and going back to their day jobs. The degree to which we have let our personae get wrapped around the axle by the misadventures of some ambitious pol, whether it be for rage against percieved mistreatment of the Senator from New York or uncritical adulation of the Senator from Illinois, is exactly the degree to which we have abandoned the citizen to become the subject.

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 6:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to alarm you or anything, but there are suspiscous things going on with this site when I try to post comments.

Tread carefully.

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 9:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I wouldn't even mind a collective "change" order, if it were possible, but it is not. It is not as simple as abracadabra.

Uh, hadn't he noticed they are far more pressing, far more mundane problems then foisting self-actualization upon the morally and otherwise flabby populace? Obviously, THEY hadn't noticed. I just don't like fairy tales in my politics.

You've hit on the problem exactly: They are all just "G.D. politicians." They are not we.

Unfortunately, everything in today's "news environment" conspires to invite voyeurism and affiliation. "Mariah's my girl;" "How dare they knock Celine;" "The paparazzi are monsters to Lady Di". . . Society has become sick in many ways, and this identity transfer is but one.

I don't take it personally when I see the press being openly partisan. I am just sad and mad that it happens under the guise of impartial journalism.

Yesterday's NYT Magazine ran a contribution piece on what went wrong for Clinton. Several of the commenters (mostly policoes), republican and democrat alike, alluded to the fact she didn't get a fair shake, due to (being too smart, being a woman, taking the wrong tack for 2008...)

"we have abandoned the citizen to become the subject"--like I said, Baudrillard in action.

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 9:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


P.S.: make no mistake-- the Obamaites are every bit as invested in their cult of personality as Clinton, if not moreso, and that is a big objection of ours. One cannot maintain a disinterested viewpoint if one has become the other.

Obama successfully co-opted Gandhi's "become the change" you wish to see in the world, Kennedy's "ask not" speech," and because people are so ignorant of their history, esp. the young, they fancy is all new and ground shattering. They think him so revolutionary, like an RFK, that someone might want to kill him for his obdurate optimism.

To my ears, there is nothing new here, nothing at all. It doesn't matter to me that he's black. That brings nothing new, either. Save for the blacks themselves, who think this will give them some further leg up.

The Obama's campaign entire backfield motion was about attacking every word Clinton used, turning it into a racial attack. That is absurd, paranoic, and racially prejudicial. But no one calls Obama's campaign on racial issues b/c he's, well, part black.

He couldn't be bigoted, could he>

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 9:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Rick98c said...

Well, I guess you could call me an Obamaite since I prefer him to the other choices, but that's just it. I prefer him to the other choices. Seems more like a breath of fresh air than the coming messiah. I don't doubt that there are those who feel that way, but you are painting with a pretty broad brush.

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Generally, I am an optimist, and I do hope that whoever is elected will be less of a screw up than George Bush. It hardly seems that elsewise is possible.

But I am a realist: no politician is going to be my personal trainer. This guru-hunting is all a huge fantasy. I only know what I read and hear from my liberal friends, but it amounts to a lot of coercive insistence that he's the greatest thing since sliced bread because he is a honey-tongued orator.

When his wife says -- co-opting the phrase that a mind stretched can never go back to its puny former self -- Obama will not LET you be complacent, I chuckle. Like he's gonna turn this country out of their couches where they have been safely ensconced for years? Please. That's not in the job description of President, anyway.

My distaste with Obama is the disinegenuousness of the campaign. Come on--what's gonna "change"?
Hopefully, we will form an exit strategy from Iraq which will minimize the damage to both us and them. Look at a crushed budget and hopefully stop gutting social services, and work from there, in a bipartisan way.

This is no Camelot, and Obama is no King Arthur. I would have liked to have heard more unglamorous honesty from this hoped-for great leader. He has a great presentation, but to me, he is all show and no go. But we will see, won't we?

Monday, June 9, 2008 at 1:08:00 PM GMT-5  

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