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The Rime of the Ancient House Speaker: “The nightmare Life-in-Death was she, Who thicks men’s blood with cold….”

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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
‘The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
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“Most accomplished potential Democratic candidate in the nation”: Chicago Sun-Times columnist does hilarious troll job “urging” Hillary Clinton to run again in 2020

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Photo: Washington Times
The day after the midterm elections–that would be tomorrow, Nov. 7–is the official opening day of the 2020 presidential race. And in case you’ll be feeling gloomy tomorrow for one reason or other, Chicago Sun-Times writer Laura Washington has a column for you to read that could bring a smile to your face:
Hillary Clinton may be gearing up for a third run for president of the United States.
See? You’re already chuckling. And this will make your grin even broader:
Even as a two-time loser, she could be the Democratic Party’s best chance of ending the Trump presidency.
Getting serious for a moment, Washington points to the competition already on the campaign trail. What an A-list: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren. Wow!
But then it’s back to Washington’s superb trolling skills:

Rumors of a return engagement have been rumbling for weeks, with Clinton’s supporters and former aides stirring the pot.

Then last week in an interview, Clinton was asked:

“Do you want to run again?”

“No, no,” she replied to Kara Swisher, a journalist at Recode, a technology news web site.

Swisher pushed.

“Well, I’d like to be president,” Clinton said.

Being president, she explained, is “work that I feel very well-prepared for having been in the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the State Department.”

Clinton went on to detail her august resume of governmental service.

That must have been a doozy: Benghazi, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russian “reset”….

And didn’t you laugh out loud when Hillary admitted she was thinking of a third run just because she’d “like to be president”?

And then Washington really gets going, at the top of her satirical form:

Clinton remains the best-known and most accomplished potential Democratic candidate in the nation. She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, bring immense star power.

There is a greater determination than ever, across the nation, to elect the first women president, thanks to Donald Trump and the Me-Too movement.

And millions of voters — not just diehard Democrats — believe they were robbed in 2016. They crave payback.

See what I mean? And then there’s this:

On Nov. 18, Bill and Hillary Clinton will launch a nationwide tour of 13 cities, kicking off in Las Vegas.

The show, dubbed “An Evening with President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,” has been organized by Live Nation.

And as with all good jokes, there’s a punchline that catches you by complete surprise:

Ticket prices will range from $750 to $72 per person….

Oh, Laura, you card!

Of course there’s an off-chance that Laura Washington is actually dead-serious and not just having election-season fun–and actually believes that Hillary Clinton is the “most accomplished potential Democratic candidate in the nation.” I kind of hope that’s the case, and that Hillary Clinton really does plan to become the Harold Stassen of the Democratic Party. (Although at her age she might not be able to beat the record set by Stassen, who ran for president 14 times before giving up in 2000.)

Please, Hillary, do it! You might not beat Donald Trump, but I bet you can wipe the floor with Kamala Harris.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for First Things: The movie makes you wonder what exactly the difference is between a legal second-trimester abortion and Kermit Gosnell’s grisly baby-murders

My latest for First Things:

I went to see Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer because I thought I ought to. I hadn’t read any reviews of the movie—there are hardly any—so I thought it was going to be a low-budget documentary, well-intentioned but looking as though the money (crowdfunded) had run out or never existed…. A mainstream media blackout obscured the trial in 2013 (just a “local crime” story, sniffed a Washington Post reporter), and a mainstream media blackout has obscured the release of the movie today—unless you count snark from Slate as mainstream media….

The acting is superlative, right down to the smallest parts played by young actresses in the roles of Gosnell’s untrained staffers (one was only 15 years old), whom he hired out of Philadelphia ghettos to administer anesthetics, cope with nonfunctioning machines and expired medicines in his “delivery” rooms, and—at times—even cut spinal cords. It’s hard to decide who delivers the best acting performance, but near the top is Earl Billings as Gosnell himself. Billings has managed to transform himself into Kermit Gosnell’s spitting image: a bizarre but believable combination of perverse brilliance (he plays Chopin on the piano while police search his home), opaque imperturbability, and a talent for playing the reproductive-rights victim and martyr (he insists he cuts corners only to serve poor women). He is topped only by Searcy himself as Gosnell’s stinging, nimble-witted defense lawyer, called Mike Cohan in the movie and modeled after Kermit Gosnell’s real-life lawyer, Jack McMahon. As Cohan, Searcy embodies what Keats called “negative capability”—why we find ourselves rooting for Satan in Paradise Lost—and I relished every moment in the movie in which Cohan rips a prosecution witness to shreds on cross.

“This case is not about abortion” is the mantra that the Gosnell prosecution team chants over and over—as it must, to a pro-choice jury in a post-Roe vs. Wade legal world. But in fact the movie is about abortion, starting with the peculiarity of personality that would lead someone to choose deliberate destruction of nascent human life as a profession. Kermit Gosnell’s charnel house was just an endpoint in the murky half-world of free-standing abortion clinics, especially late-term abortion clinics, a half-world at which pro-choice liberals would rather not peer closely.

The most chilling scene in Gosnell involves defense-attorney Cohan’s masterly cross-examination of a “good” abortion doctor: the elegantly attired Dr. North (Janine Turner), who runs a squeaky-clean clinic and whom Lexy calls to the stand to demonstrate the high standards of care that presumably prevail in her industry. After Dr. North breezes through her testimony about the 30,000-plus “good” abortions she has performed, Cohan starts grilling her about how, exactly, she carries out those procedures when the fetus is getting up toward the Pennsylvania 24-week legal limit. He unfurls a chart showing how big a fetus is at the late second-trimester stage and what it looks like (hint: it looks like a baby). Dr. North says one of the first steps she performs is to…pierce the spinal cord at the back of the neck. Pretty much like Dr. Gosnell, except the fetus is still technically unborn, so the aim of the procedure—as the increasingly rattled Dr. North explains—is to collapse the skull after draining out its brain contents and pull it out of the uterus along with other fetal body parts via giant saw-toothed forceps (Cohan has a pair of those on hand in the courtroom, too). Occasionally, the fetus slips through the birth canal before it can be dismembered. Then, says Dr. North, her clinic gives it “comfort care” until it “passes.” By the end of all of this, you are wondering what, precisely, the difference is between a perfectly legal standard-issue second-trimester abortion and murder….

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

One way to get that blue wave rolling: CNN feminist commentator tells women to go on a sex strike to get their husbands to vote Democratic

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Ladies, here’s an idea for securing that “blue wave” tomorrow: Don’t have sex with your husband unless he agrees to vote Democratic.

“What If women went on a sex strike before the midterms?” asks feminist cultural critic Wednesday Martin in an opinion piece for CNN.

It’s time for a revolution. At the polls, and in the bedroom. And in our understanding of who women are, sexually and otherwise. Given the tight interweaving of economic and political power with sexual entitlement, female sexual autonomy has never been more urgent, and women’s sexual pleasure has never been more political. Let’s consider what it might mean to go on a sex strike of sorts — to get what we want, rather than give what we think we owe others.

Martin seems particularly incensed by the current GOP president:

Our current administration has amped up the notion that women are mere extensions of male will and pleasure, there to serve at every turn. What is the rollback of reproductive rights but an assertion that not only female reproduction but female sexuality itself belong to what science writer Natalie Angier calls the “Greater Male Coalition”? What are the President’s insults to Stormy Daniels other than assertions that the woman who enjoys sex or profits from it in any way — emotionally, financially, or physically — is unnatural, immoral, and unattractive?

Ah, Stormy Daniels, feminist hero. Although–isn’t taking your clothes off in front of an audience of 100 percent men the very essence of succumbing to “male will and pleasure” and being “there to serve at every turn”?

Of course, you might ask why, if the Trump administration is so dismissive of women, have so many of them played prominent roles in furthering its goals. Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Betsy DeVos, and Nikki Haley don’t seem to have minded being part of the “Greater Male Coalition” one bit.

Martin has an answer to that one, too:

Some women under the current administration may be fine with this paradigm, but they are fundamentally yoked to male desires and agendas, never to exist outside or without them. This basic and deeply personal form of degradation, in which even women’s desires aren’t our own, both reinforces and reflects a hierarchy where men matter more.

Oh, OK.

What really peeves Martin is the fact that some women actually have sex with their husbands because, you know, they’re their husbands. Martin calls that “service sex,” which she seems to associate with the GOP and its female “degradation.” Apparently wives who are Democrats say, “Not tonight; I have a headache,” and then roll over and go to sleep. So she argues:

In the ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes, the character Lysistrata urges women to go on a sex strike to get men on both sides to end the Peloponnesian War. In our case, a sex strike against service sex can be a powerful statement — that female desire, a metric of agency like women’s votes, will be heard.

In other words, if you have enough headaches, you can be a modern-day Lysistrata and get your husband to vote Democratic, too.

This seems like odd logic: Wouldn’t your man be more likely to push the Democratic lever the way you want if you did a Stormy Daniels-style striptease and then jumped into his arms?

But as Martin says:

Women don’t owe men a thing. If anything, the statistics show, we are owed.

So, ladies, time is short–just one night–but if you start working on that headache right now, you might be able to close that 47-42 percent poll gap between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.

Update: Thanks, Instapundit!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

New Democratic get-out-the-vote strategy: Pose a bunch of mostly ugly naked women in front of a camera

Those Democrats! They really know how to galvanize people to the polls to vote the straight blue ticket, don’t they? Just round up ten mostly ugly naked women and have them pose with ballots in front of their private parts!

This genius idea for getting out the vote by persuading women old enough to know better than to strip down to nothing in front of a camera is titled “Grab Them By the Ballot.” What a clever play on words–but those brainy Democrats are really good at that, too.

Here’s the U.K. Daily Mail report:

Dawn Robertson, 48, decided to organize the photo shoot with a cast of diverse women of different sizes, sexual orientations and races after #MeToo allegations against prominent figures continued to rise.

She said the Republican party‘s attack on women’s reproductive rights and transgender people’s rights also played a part….

The Harvard Law graduate found her models, including a transgender woman, a Latina, an abduction survivor and one who is pregnant on social media and the street.

The things you learn how to do at Harvard Law School!

Amazingly, nearly all the women involved in this caper actually allowed Robertson to publicize their names and ages:

Melodi Blackbird, 44, Susan Lipkin, 65, Gina Carerra, 56, Tara Beach, 34, Alexandra Martin, 31, Nyla Smith, 22, Gina Higgins, 37, Courtney Blasius, 31, a transgender woman who goes by the initial Z, 28, and Robertson all posed nude with ballots placed strategically in front of their genitals.

As you might guess, Robertson, despite her Ivy degree, doesn’t seem to practice much law these days (there’s probably not much of a client market for a naked 48-year-year-old lawyer):

Robertson, who writes about sexuality and relationships, said she was inspired by photographer Anja Shutz’s 2016 series of nude photographs – called Grab Him By The Ballot – where women posed naked with strategically positioned ballots.

That series was in response to [President Donald] Trump’s infamous remark that he could ‘grab women by the p****.’

And Shutz’s photos worked out so well in 2016!

Robertson said ‘The difference is we are saying it’s not just Trump, it’s Kavanaugh and all the alleged abusers who have been exposed by the Me Too movement.’

Hmm, adding Brett Kavanaugh to the mix this time ought to do it.

‘I faced a lot of backlash when I tried to recruit a diverse group of women,’ [Robertson] said.

‘I was told I was objectifying women, that nudity equals promiscuity and even that I was playing the part of a white savior. But I don’t think that the pictures oversexualise the women.’

You can say that again.

And Robertson’s collection of naked ladies is nothing if not diverse:

Z, a Jewish transgender woman, said that she took part in the risqué shoot to raise awareness of how the Trump administration is treating the transgender community….

Gina Carerra, 56, a Latina artist, said she had taken part in the photo shoot to raise awareness of the vulnerability of minorities under the Trump presidency.

She said: ‘I identify as Latina although I am blended with Egyptian, indigenous and Italian as well.’

All I can say is: People love looking at mostly ugly naked women so much that if those photos don’t get the polls jammed with Democratic voters on Nov. 6, I don’t know what will.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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Barbra Streisand’s Groundhog Day Syndrome: It’s always eating pancakes, moving to Canada, Trump, Trump, Trump

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I think I know what’s troubling Barbra Streisand: It’s not overeating. It’s Groundhog Day Syndrome.

Here’s Barbra in August 2016:

Actress and iconic singer Barbra Streisand said she will move to Canada or Australia if Donald Trump is elected.

“He has no facts. I don’t know, I can’t believe it. I’m either coming to your country, if you’ll let me in, or Canada,” Streisand said about the GOP nominee in an interview on Australia’s “60 Minutes” this week.

And here’s Barbra just three days ago:

How are you feeling these days?

I want to sleep nights, if we take the House I’ll be able to sleep a little bit better.

And if they don’t?

Don’t know. I’ve been thinking about, do I want to move to Canada? I don’t know.

And we have Barbra in March 2017:

Donald Trump is making me gain weight. I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!

Trump just accused Obama of tapping his phones. Seriously crazy times. Time for more pancakes.

And Barbra three days ago:

I’m just so saddened by this thing happening to our country. It’s making me fat. I hear what he said now, and I have to go eat pancakes now, and pancakes are very fattening. We make them with healthy flour, though — almond flour, coconut flour.

Now some are saying that Donald Trump is raining so hard on Barbra’s parade that she’s become bizarrely obsessed with the current president, to the point of singling him out for ridicule every time she mounts a stage–and even reverse-dedicating an entire new album to him.

But I think it’s something more banal. Here’s a better explanation for Streisand’s troubles from Psychology Today:

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character keeps reliving the same day over and over. Do you ever have that feeling that each day is the same and that you are living in a rut? Repeating the same events over and over is a main reason that time seems to pass more quickly as you get older.

Doing things for the first time typically leaves a lasting impression (remember your first day of school or a new job?), but as we repeat those events over and over they essentially leave little or no vivid memory, and time seems to fly by. Your life seems to be one series of repetition and boredom – you get into the rut.

Pancakes every day? Pondering that move to Canada that never seems to materialize? Repeating Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump inside your head like a stuck vinyl record?

Fortunately Psychology Today has some good ideas about how to cure yourself of Groundhog Day Syndrome. Here’s one of them:

Try new things. Go to a new place for lunch or dinner. Try a new sport or form of entertainment, or take a trip to somewhere you have never been before.

So Barbara, why don’t you actually make that move to Canada? Sure, you been there before on concert tours, but you’ve never really lived there. So just do it! Get yourself out of that Groundhog Day rut.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Keira Knightley as Ashley Judd? U.K. Guardian columnist plugs turning the 2017 Pussyhat March into a gripping feminist docudrama

The Washington Women’s March, 21 January, 2017.
Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters (from the Guardian)

The news hook (from Variety):

Keira Knightley is set to star in Miss World pageant comedy drama “Misbehaviour” for Pathé. Pathé will present the film, which is directed by BAFTA-winner Philippa Lowthorpe, to buyers at the upcoming American Film Market.

“Misbehaviour” is based on the true events of the 1970 Miss World pageant in London, when a global audience witnessed the patriarchy driven from the stage and the Western ideal of beauty turned on its head. The most-watched television show in the world at the time, with more than 100 million viewers, the 1970 Miss World pageant saw the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieve overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast, hosted by Bob Hope, claiming that such beauty competitions demeaned women.

Now, you may be chuckling at the idea of of Keira Knightley, the very embodiment of “the Western ideal of beauty,” starring in a movie about about how beauty contests demean women.

And also wondering how many people actually want to spend 90 minutes watching a bunch of 1970s-era women’s libbers–that was back when you had to show your anti-patriarchal street-cred by not shaving your legs–invading a television broadcast.

But this planned new docu-dramatization of feminist grievances may be the just the beginning of a new trend. Inspired by the pending release of Misbehaviour, U.K. Guardian columnist Poppy Noor has come up with a list of 10 more film ideas–all based on recent landmarks in the history of feminism–that she’d like to see on the screen. Here are some feminist events as described by Noor that she says beg to be turned into gripping film dramas that everyone will want to see:

The 2017 Women’s March

How did something that started as a Facebook event organised by four women end up being the largest march in US history, spurring similar protests the world over? The 2017 Women’s March is thought to have been attended by 7 million demonstrators, enlisting the support of Planned Parenthood and celebbrities [sic] such as Helen Mirren and Madonna. Protesters in pink Pussyhats ridiculed the US president after he was caught boasting on camera about grabbing women’s genitals. The day will go down in history as a moment when a worldwide coalition of women stood together.

Maybe Keira Knightley could play Ashley Judd reciting her iconic “I Am a Nasty Woman” poem at the march.

This Noor suggestion for a feminist docudrama could be marketed as a prequel to the planned Misbehaviour (bonus: it’s set in the U.S.A., so no weird Brit spellings that could turn off American audiences):

Miss America protest

In 1968, hundreds of feminists travelled to trash the objectification of women at the Miss America beauty pageant by throwing beauty and domestic products in the bin. Protesters, organised by the New York Radical Women network, held placards and chucked crockery, false eyelashes, high heels and other items deemed to be symbols of oppression into a huge “Freedom Trashcan” on the Atlantic City boardwalk. There were plans to set fire to it – which is where the term “bra burning” originated from – but protesters were stopped by the police. If anything, this shows how fears around women’s empowerment led to them being ridiculed as “bra burners” and surely the time now for a sensible revisiting of the importance of that protest is needed.

I think audiences would shell out a lot to watch Keira Knightley take off her bra and throw it into a trashcan.

And this feminist-film idea from Noor looks really boffo:

Lesbian protesters storming the BBC

On 23 May 1988, a live BBC News broadcast was interrupted by a group of women protesting against Section 28 [a Thatcher-era law forbidding local governments from promoting homosexuality]. Many protests were happening at the time, but a small group of women wanted to raise awareness in the media. After breaking into the BBC, one activist handcuffed herself to a camera, while Sue Lawley was midway through the Six O’Clock News, and all were eventually arrested. The protest led to wide-scale media coverage and is the perfect example of making yourself the subject of the news even when the media doesn’t want to hear you.

Keira Knightley handcuffing herself to a BBC camera? Who doesn’t want to watch that?

As Poppy Noor asks: “What other great feminist protests should be made into films, and what can we learn from them , and what can we learn from them?

Posted by Charlotte Allen