Sunday, April 9, 2017

Adventures in Hillaryland

I wrote a critical response to a New York Times column (originally and grotesquely titled Hillary - Free At Last!)  by Nicholas Kristof, who recapped his softball interview with Clinton at last week's Women in the World Conference. 

After my comment about the ignored class war was published, myriad digital tongues emerged from the ethosphere to castigate me for my blasphemy, and for my failure to properly appreciate all the good things that Hillary, her ultra-rich friends and donors, and our great transnational corporations have been selflessly doing behind the scenes for me and for all the other bitter and jealous have-nots of America. One disgusted Times reader actually demanded to know if I am a Russian.

It's getting bad -- oops, I mean divisive -- out there, people. Being affluent and stuck in those stages (denial, depression, anger) of Hillary grief must be such a dreadful thing. I'll write more about the cult of MccCarthyite Mourners later in this post - but first, I'll let Summit Founder Tina Brown explain the purpose of the confab in question on its official website:
The three-day Women in the World Summit, held at New York City’s Lincoln Center, presents powerful new female role models whose personal stories illuminate the most pressing international issues. They range from CEOs and world leaders to artists, activists, peacemakers, and firebrand dissidents. The Summit’s vivid journalistic narratives, high-impact video, and fast-paced staging have made it the premier platform to showcase women of impact. Increasingly, Women in the World also includes the participation, onstage and in the audience, of men who champion women.
Past participants have included Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Angelina Jolie, Diane von Furstenberg, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Tom Hanks, Malala Yousafzai, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and many more amazing and inspiring women from all over the world.
A couple of truly memorable quotes from this year's "celebs and luminaries" page really stood out for me.

"None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something." -- Meryl Streep.

"There's a lot of estrogen in this room!" -- Katie Couric. 

Even though it's billed as a conference by, for and of females, the hosts always invite a few A-List men to the proceedings in order to prove that one can be male, hunky, powerful and feminist all in one package. This year's hotties were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Kristof's fellow Times columnist and liberal interventionist Thomas Friedman.

Why not? The Times helped foot the bill for the show, after all, with other costs defrayed by the $350 price of admission along with generous donations from Toyota and a whole host of corporate sponsors. The luministas all dutifully posed on the red carpet in front of the car manufacturer's corporate logo: Let's Go Places!

So it was only natural that Kristof would be granted the first one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton since the election, right? He begins his column with the requisite bathos:
 In the most wrenching, humiliating way possible, Hillary Clinton has been liberated. She is now out of the woods again, and speaking her mind.
As I noted, the original title of his piece was borrowed from the gospel song of enslaved people called Free At Last, which Martin Luther King also made the centerpiece of his iconic I Have a Dream speech. So in retrospect, it appears that wiser heads at the Gray Lady prevailed, and reslugged the Kristof column a more seemly Free to Speak Her Mind.

This was an apt choice, because there were relatively few women of color either on stage or in the audience of the Women in the World summit. As Antoinette Isama, a journalist who attended the event, writes:
As I walked in to receive my press pass, the production of event amplified the posh David H. Koch Theater with bright lights, a Women In The World Boutique, a lounge courtesy of Toyota and free refreshments and munchies courtesy of Pepsi (lol). It was a corporate company’s dream to rub elbows with an occasion such as this—because women rule the world, right?
Before the conversation between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, with Katie Couric called “How To Raise A Feminist” began, there was an a cappella rendition of the unofficial theme song of the Women’s March accompanied by a montage of pink pussy hats. From the welcome speech by the Summit’s Founder and CEO, Tina Brown, it seems like the march, where millions of women gathered in D.C. and around the world in solidarity to stick the middle finger to patriarchy and Trump was the main theme to reflect on throughout the Summit.
Isama says that when she looked around the press section, she noticed that she was the only black reporter among a sea of white faces. Ditto for the wealthy attendees in the audience.
My experience at the Women In The World Summit pretty much confirmed why I don’t go out of my way to attend events like this. I don’t understand the point of having these grand and fancy events for [white] women to pat themselves on the back, singing several renditions of kumbaya through the tired tropes of heart wrenching and dramatic stories that come from women of color who participated. I would think, especially in our intense climate around the world, that it would be imperative to utilize this moment to drive folks to keep taking action and actually doing something instead of being reactionary.
Access was another huge issue for me. If I didn’t have the privilege of obtaining a press pass, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to attend. The first time I even heard this event was a thing was last year—and this has been a yearly event for 8 years now. There was a price range for tickets, where the highest priced at $350. So I had to ask myself—with the lack of people of color in the actual audience that I managed to see, who’s the intended audience for this? It may not be for people like me.
Oh, but despite all her own hardships and devastation, Hillary Clinton is finally free, people! Kristof quotes her as saying:
 "I just had to make up my mind that, yes, I was going to get out of bed, and, yes, I was going to go for a lot of long walks in the woods. And I was going to see my grandchildren a lot and spend time with my family and my friends. They have rallied around me in an amazing way.”
What - she thought Chelsea and the grandkids were going to snub her because she lost the election?

So now that she's finally out of her shell and free to speak "bluntly," Hillary Clinton's version of honesty is to continue blaming her loss on misogyny. The more successful a woman is, the more likely she is to be a victim of those who "unconsciously" resent people like her, she told Kristof. And she stayed stalwartly honest and true to the other official reasons that she lost: the Russian "plunder" of her campaign emails and the FBI investigation into her use of a private internet server.
Russia’s hacking of campaign emails “was a more effective theft even than Watergate,” she said, adding: “We aren’t going to let somebody sitting in the Kremlin, with 1,000 agents, with bots and trolls and everybody else, try to mix up in our election. We’ve got to end that, and we need to make sure that’s a bipartisan, American commitment.”
The most telling symbol of Hillary Clinton's freedom, according to Kristof, is that she is once again using "Rodham" as her middle name. Free at last, free at least, Great God almighty she's free at last.

Now, realizing that the New York Times reader commentariat is chock-full of Clinton supporters, I was as politely sarcastic, or sarcastically polite, as possible in my own published comment. which I think dovetails the classist aspect of the summit with Antoinette Isama's critique of its "colorblind" racist undertones. The current debate of classism v. racism is a false one, in my opinion, because neoliberalism relies on both for its continued survival. Plutocrats and philoanthrocapitalists love to showcase a certain select few black and brown people on the public stage, because it allows them to deny there is even such a thing as the class war. It shows citizen-consumers how liberal and magnanimous and socially responsible they are as they suck up even more of the globe's wealth for themselves.

The Women in the World summit series is nothing if not virtue-signalling writ large.

So here is my "controversial" comment (for once, mine was the first one submitted yesterday, so anyone interested in reading all the responses to it can easily find them lby selecting the "oldest" option.)
"Clinton acknowledged that Democrats need to do a better job reaching working-class Americans, but she added that part of her problem was that many voters were already struggling with tumult in their lives, 'and you layer on the first woman president over that, and I think some people, women included, had real problems.'”

Too bad that hardly any working class women were actually there to hear Mrs. Clinton's wise and heartfelt words. That's because  six out of every 10 American voters don't even have $500 in savings and thus couldn't afford the $350 cost of admission to the event, held in a glitzy venue which billionaire arch-conservative David H. Koch so humbly named after himself.

The millions of women working two or three part-time service sector jobs couldn't even get time off to be inspired long distance, via live-streaming, by Clinton and other media, Hollywood and Silicon Valley personalities.True, corporate sponsors including PepsiCo, P&G and AT&T did subsidize some tickets to the live event. But. like everything else in this Land of the Free, it was a high-odds lottery.

Yes, many Trump voters are misogynistic. Yes, Comey did Hillary wrong.

Still, to listen to her explain to a theater full of plutocrats that she lost struggling voters because of her "success" and gender feels only slightly less insulting than once again lumping them into her Basket of Deplorables.

But anyway, let us rejoice that she's out of her shell and free to finally be herself.
Several dozen readers reacted, some supportive and some critical. I'll only include the real doozies, just to show that liberalism does indeed seem to be inexorably moving to the right. And since comments were shut off before I could respond, I will include my reactions to these utterly enjoyable responses as well.
Ed Chang, NYC:  Wow, totally unfair. Just because you are unable to make it to the party doesn't mean that the guests are uncaring about your needs. I mean do you want Hillary to start touring Walmarts around the country? Is that really the best use of her time? Or, alternatively, speak to a high profile group of people who may be able to donate to her causes and at the same time get a high profile write-up in the Times, as well as a video archive of the entire event on YouTube? It's simply more efficient to do the latter.

Sadly this is more proof of the jealousy some women feel towards more successful women, hence the election loss.
(No, Ed, we wouldn't want Hillary to catch cooties from a Walmart greeter. Plus, I must compliment you on the nice use of one of my favorite neoliberal buzzwords: efficiency.)

Mary Ann Donahue, NYS:  To Karen Garcia ~ I am disappointed that you, you who are well informed and well spoken would reduce Hillary Clinton's basket of deplorables comment to the oft repeated damning sound bite. Taken out of context, it distorts the understanding and compassion that Clinton conveyed in the full text of her remarks.
Here is the last paragraph just to remind people who are so eager and willing to diminish her that she is a woman of rare intellect, insight and work ethic. We would be a better nation if she had been elected.
""But the other basket -- and I know this because I see friends from all over America here -- I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas -- as well as, you know, New York and California -- but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end.Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.""
Thank you Hillary.
(I know, I know, there's a special place in hell for me and all women who didn't support Hillary. It's sad but true that the "deplorables" part of her full remarks is the one that will go down as one of the of the more tone-deaf recorded remarks in all of political history. Just as Clinton professed concern for the downtrodden at the Koch Theater event, she  made her previous infamous remarks at another venue catering the extremely wealthy donor class. Additionally, she showed her true neoliberal hand when she asserted that struggling people only "feel" that they have been let down. They have been shafted, screwed and cheated in actual fact. They do not suffer from an emotional problem, they suffer from a poverty problem and hunger problem and a jobless problem.)
Stephanie Sommer, St. Paul: Ah, the politics of resentment roars its ugly head once again. Her success isn't the cause of others suffering. Its not a zero sum game. Moreover, her policies would have addressed so much of the suffering you mention, and that is exactly why conservatives hate her.
(Her policies did not include Medicare for All or a $15 minimum wage or world peace or restoration of Glass-Steagall. The suffering would have gone on, the neoliberal dream would be alive and kicking, whether she was president or not.)
arbitrot, Paris:  Methinks Ms. Garcia is projecting her own guilt from the campaign, when she regularly expressed her displeasure with Sec. Clinton as opposed to another authentic hero, Sen Bernie Sanders.

Not that Ms. Garcia voted for Donald Trump, or even Jill Stein. I assume she pulled the lever for Clinton if only faute de mieux.

But I'll bet even Maureen Dowd did that.

Clinton didn't lose the 2016 election. Just a few too many self-righteous, woolly-headed, and downright politically naive Democrats did by trying too hard to cut Clinton down to their size.
("arbitrot" must possess magical thinking skills way across the ocean, purporting to know how I voted. And this is not the first time that my critiques of Democrats automatically turn me into Maureen Dowd. I always have to chuckle when this happens, because it is so sexist. Ever notice how women who write opinion pieces are often characterized as shrill, catty and bitchy?  And what's with the woolly-headed insult? I assume and hope that"arbitrot" implies that I'm stupid, and not that other meaning of the pejorative.)
David L. Jr, Mississippi:  Until your ardent desire to help the poor is trumped by your understanding of how they benefit from a growing private sector, your analytical absurdities will persist. Also, because you and Bernie Sanders often talk up Scandinavia: Scandinavians had greater levels of equality BEFORE their social democracies were built. Doesn't this tell you that it likely has more to do with culture than economics? Indeed, Nordics living in America outperform Nordic citizens themselves!

And David Koch is hardly conservative, whatever the media claims. There's nothing conservative about the man at all. He supports conservative candidates and then funds groups that pressure them into taking extreme anti-government economic positions, which aren't really "conservative" so much as revolutionary. He loathes their social views. While I disagree with him, I refuse to permit your implication that socialists care more about paupers than libertarians, which is false.

You really despise incorporation, don't you? Corporations built the modern world. Without them, it wouldn't exist. They didn't develop in the Islamic world; or in China, where hereditary bureaucrats oversaw state monopolies -- the one place where private companies did take hold in Asia, Japan, was a smashing success. Stratification is a product of the difference in ability as well as circumstances. Trying to level society in the name of an abstract idea is a recipe for disaster. You'll derogate anyone who succeeds in life.
(I can't even.)
 Lisa, Charlotte: And when all is said and done, Karen, you and the rest of Bernie's crowd own Trump. I won't insult you by pointing out he silliness of arguing that she should not have been speaking in a venue founded by David Koch. Lots of people did not like Hillary for lots of reasons. But surely you can't argue that her candidacy was in any way equivalent to Trump's because reality does not agree with you. I'd argue that this should have been blindingly clear to a person of your knowledge and intellect.
(I was wondering when somebody would finally blame me and the Berniebros for Trump. It's one of their favorite tropes. Who knew we had so much power?)
JS: I've seen her speak, free, to huge audiences in the poorest venues. Here she speaks and is heard around the world. A leader needs to do both, and she has, but only a woman is criticized in this manner, and that has to stop.
(Several readers accused me of picking on Hillary's greed just because she's a woman, and neglecting to ever criticize other politicians, such as Barack Obama, for doing the exact same money-grubbing. They obviously have never read my blog or previous Times commentary. And I have to ask, would Lucrezia Borgia be getting this kind of defense from modern liberals, with her XX chromosomes also becoming a protective shield from accountability?)
Michael Joseph, NYC:  Karen, you seem almost to take it as a personal insult that there are different classes in America, that corporations target certain populations, and that affluent people also have certain rights. I find it insulting that you would castigate all middle-class supporters of Hillary as plutocrats, that you assume a single-minded fixation on class constitutes some kind of "vision" or gives you moral superiority, and that you dismiss with a condescending sniff any injustice or tyranny "Yes, many Trump voters are misogynistic" that isn't Marxist-based. You exhibit the same limiting "foundational certainties" about class that the Trump people do, only from the opposing perspective. Both belief sets seem mired in the same 19th century ideologies that proved so disastrous for the 20h century.
(OK, I'll try to stay in my assigned place from now on.)
njlea, Seattle:  How much do The Con Don and Robber Barons - and their arm candy - spend on clothes, McCarthy?

What an out-of-touch comment. She is the most admired woman in the United States and one of the most admired women in the world. Women like other women to dress well. She is actually very conservative.

Are you Russian?
(No, but my paternal ancestors were. Catherine the Great gave them political asylum after they were persecuted in their native Germany on the basis of their religion. The clan, mostly independent farmers, later went back to Germany after one of the later czars, I think it was Alexander, tried to draft them into the armed services. So I guess you'd better squeal me out to PropOrNot, or if that fails, maybe alert the ICE goon squad.)


Jay–Ottawa said...

Komradina Karenina,

Orders from Leader Putin. Skip class war discussion; iz butiful but never fly in US. Ve vill haf to post you to new assignment job. Vladivostok is maybe better than New Paltz, no? You dezerf big break from good verk in New York Department of States. NSA soon catsup about you by spying on Times. Iz pity you be busted an' unmas-ked in Times commentariat. Neverless, in Rossiya you always be 'woman of impact.' Like Komrad Trumpski Mole zay: iz Zad.

Dmitry M.

Zee said...

Sadly--or maybe happily, depending on one's perspective--the smoldering remains of the Democratic party are filled with fanciful apologists for Hillary Clinton, despite clarion calls that she be forgotten, as in this book review of The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, in The New Republic:

"... Bordo’s book is useful in one sense. It crystallizes an emerging tendency in liberal discourse: the notion that critics of Hillary Clinton are either trolls or naive children. Bordo makes much of “Bernie Bros”—loud, male Sanders supporters who, she says, harassed Clinton supporters at rallies and abused female reporters on Twitter. The examples she cites are certainly rude (one allegedly called a Clinton supporter a “lying shitbag”) but this is a thin argument weakened further by her revisionism. She slams Sanders himself for his “uncharacteristically mild” response to the tweets. “He never criticized the misogyny in their attacks on Clinton,” she writes. This is flatly inaccurate: Sanders called them “disgusting” and told the press, “Look, anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things is—we don’t want them. I don’t want them.”

To Bordo, rude Twitter users prove Sanders’s inadequate commitment to the left. Bordo never asks if her one-sided framing is evidence that she lives in a bubble, and what a telling oversight. Female Sanders supporters would have told her that Clinton backers are also guilty of online harassment—and that the label “Bernie Bro” has been deployed to erase the very existence of left-wing women, drowning out valid critiques of Clinton’s platform. It’s red-baiting by another name."

Karen, you can bet that the writer of this book review will be subjected to the same contumely that you have experienced in the above post.

In a different vein, yes, I know some men in whom HillBillary aroused misogynistic sentiments. But I also know even more women--many of a liberal or progressive persuasion--who "wrote Hillary off" some decades ago when she lacked sufficient self-respect to leave the White House and file for divorce following her very public humiliation in the "Lewinsky affair."

There were plenty of fact-based reasons--many of them related to her ever-shifting, blowin'-in-the-wind policies--to reject HillBillary as a presidential candidate without appealing to misogyny on some epic scale. And the crap about the Rooshians "hacking the election" or James Comey plotting against her is just that: crap.

Karen, I admire your ability to stand up to the HillBillary trolls on a daily basis. I would have thrown in the towel long ago.

Zee said...

@Dmitry M.--


Anonymous said...

Hey Karen,
I wrote in defense of you after Ed's comment, but my comment was only up for a nanosecond. Ditto my support of Vesuvio's comment.
I apparently got emails from the NYT at 3:15 am (my reply to Vesuvio's?) and 3:26 am (my reply to yours?) stating that my comments (which I wrote the previous evening) were published, but by the time I woke up they were no longer there.
I was shocked when I selected "reader's picks" to find your comment further down tge list than it should have ranked. I am skeptical... are the people cheering on hrc bots?
Anyway, I disagree with you on so many things, but for Christ's sake, Ed is delusional if he thinks you're jealous of hrc.

Pearl said...

Karen: At least you were trounced for being in the same vicinity with Bernie Sanders which is the only mistaken credit given for your existence. Forgive me for not being able to finish all the critiques of your poisonous pen, it was too much to swallow just before dinner.

If I had any regrets of allowing Trump to become President by not voting for Hillary, they disappeared with her strong statement of supporting the U.S.missiles flying into Syria. I suddenly had a flash of her in the Oval Office with her itching fingers on the nuclear buttons to end the world.
And the reasons she believed she lost the election??? Reminds me of a time when my small son had stolen cookies from the cookie jar, and strongly denied it although there was a clear trail of cookie crumbs leading right to his room.

Courage Karen, and keep your computer humming before NASA cuts your power line and forces you to train some pigeons to send us your columns.

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks. In future please select name/url option rather than "anonymous". You don't have to use your real name, any handle will suffice. Please refer to my note at the top of the blog's comments section. I am letting your current comment stand, seeing as how you were already "censored" by the Times.

Pearl said...

From Counterpunch

It’s Freedom White Phosphorus, Damn Commies

annenigma said...

Is Hillary still leading the Resistance movement? I haven't seen or heard about Resistance to Trump's illegal missile attack in Syria.

Carol S. said...

Karen, I've been fed up with the Times and its reporters...and then its commenters, since their maligning of Bernie Sanders began. I call to say I want to cancel my subscription, routinely because of it. It's a game we both play, because I always manage to get my payment reduced. The last time was after someone told me he's been paying the student price of $10.00 a month for more than 25 years, which I consider elitist and discriminatory. Of course I didn't name the person and in fact, wasn't asked, but I told them so, and argued, "How can someone go to school for that long?

I read your excellent comment, and those of your supporters and detractors, and remember when your comments were number one on the list. Am I wrong that the logic of readers has dwindled since the election started?

If I did cancel The NY Times, where would I learn what's happening?

I don't have the thick skin it takes not to be upset over criticism, even from the worst of the lot, but don't you. Just remember all the stupid remarks that receive rave reviews.

Carol S. said...


You're funny.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to comment but many of the things you've written are fantastic. And I didn't vote for ANY of 'em! I didn't vote for her, I didn't vote for Sanders, I didn't vote for Jill Stein, and I certainly didn't vote for the man with the largest echo chamber in the world. I wrote in! And I was told by a fem who lives there in NY that a vote for anyone other than HRC was a vote against her. Yeah, sure. Just like it was ok for the "woman" (loose terminology) who lives next door to paint her door pink to advertise her gender. No class or taste. She sits on those things all day.

Zee said...

Off topic, but this thread seems to have run its course.

For those of you who care to examine in some detail how the "mainstream" or "legacy" media care to protect those with whom they share a political agenda--think "acolytes of the Obama administration" and the pathetic, erstwhile "candidacy" of HillBillary--please have a look at Jonathan Turley's recent blog,

I could quote from it at some length, but found that in order to do so and make any real sense, I quickly had to run over my "character limit." Easier for you all to read it, if you haven't done so already.

If you can't read it, however, I can sum up Mr. Turley's blog in two sentences: "It's not the truth that matters. It's about maintaining control of the narrative by any means necessary."

Zee said...


It appears that you and I have something in common.

It is rumored that one of my Germanic ancestors fled to this country to avoid the draft for the Franco-Prussian war.

Meredith NYC said...

I thought most of the pro Hillary defenders in Kristof’s comments were of course naturally attracted to this column and Kristof's Big Interview as she emerges. There were some good comments also who were anti Hillary.

I replied to your comment and I intend to email Kristof---

Anti woman bias is an excuse and distraction from the many other reasons HRC lost.

If anti woman bias is so much to blame, why is that stronger here in America than in other democracies, where so many women have been past or current leaders? Golda Meier, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon. and many more.


And there are many countries with a higher percentage of women in their legislatures than the US has. We need to analyze the reasons for this.

Also, seems in advanced countries, govt support for women and families doesn’t ‘antagonize men’. They support it—it lifts up the whole society. But let’s keep that dark? Even in NYT, our international paper, its world traveling columnists leaves this out of the discussion.

Since it's such a monumental task for the US to elect a woman pres, we do see tendencies for cult like admiration of HRC, a woman who has achieved much in her life, and almost made the top job. But much evaluation of her is unbalanced and emotion led.

I'm waiting for the next woman nominee---hopefully after we enact some kind of campaign finance reform similar to other nations. So it won't be someone who arrogantly makes the rounds of big banks for 250,000 each, knowing she would be asking for the votes of millions of ordinary people.


Prestige for Kristof to interview the woman whose humiliating, shocking defeat is one of the worst upsets ever. Who couldn’t beat the worst candidate ever.

Kristof paints her sympathetically, a victim of the Gop rw, beaten by one of the greatest liars ever. As ever, Clinton as martyr. This column needs violins in the background.

He admits she ‘came across as calculating’ But why did she have to be so ‘monumentally careful’? We were crying out for a leader for We the People. Is it because she serves other masters? The gazillionaire donors, the term of Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money?

It is poignant that HRC seemed relaxed and comfortable. Why not. She’s got the sympathy of millions who feel she’s a wronged woman---victim of Comey, of the Russians, of misogynists, etc.

Clinton severed ties to the Children’s Defense Fund. She disagreed with its founders.
And her husband did harm---repealing bank regulations, expanding prisons/sentencing, ending welfare as we know it, and sending jobs to Mexico, thus lowering pay for US jobs. His repeal of anti monopoly laws led to the Fox News empire expansion, thus redefining what left and right mean.

Kristof, who comments on the world for the Times, let’s hear from you why women lead other nations, but not the US.