Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. The news cycle of the last 24 hours includes a guilty plea by the shooter in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the apparent discovery of murder suspect Brian Laundrie’s remains in a state park, and Donald Trump’s plans for a new social media app designed to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.” And that’s just from Florida.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending expanded approval of coronavirus booster shots, city officials in Chicago and San Francisco are battling their own employees and businesses over vaccine mandates, and COVID deaths in the United States have surpassed 731,500 souls.
In the world of popular culture, comedians Garrison Keillor and Dave Chappelle are enmeshed in roiling controversies, although for different alleged transgressions. Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow has joined the party, displaying a heretofore unknown talent for hilarity.
“Gwyneth Paltrow tackles bedroom taboos in Netflix series,” one headline promises. The humorous possibilities practically announce themselves: Loudly breaking wind just as your bedmate makes a move on you; telling your significant other to keep her hands to herself until after Cody Bellinger hits; looking at porn on your iPhone while your naked partner strikes an erotic pose on the floor.
Now those are “bedroom taboos” a comedienne could run with. But Paltrow’s wit may be too dry for the average viewer. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman that feels completely great about her body — and that’s a real shame,” one of the world’s most beautiful women told the Associated Press.
In the same interview, the famed actress made this assertion: “Female pleasure is still considered a taboo and I think that if you look back throughout history and you understand how controlling women’s pleasure or lack thereof or, you know… separating pleasure from morality, it’s a way to make women not feel fully themselves.” Wait a minute. Are we back in the ’50s?
Gwyneth Paltrow is literally (and I mean that word literally) not old enough to remember when “controlling women’s pleasure” was a thing. She’s 49 years old, meaning she was born in 1972. This means that when she was a toddler, feminist writer Erica Jong wrote “Fear of Flying,” the runaway bestseller — it sold 20 million copies — that dispensed with such absurd notions once and for all. (If you’re a millennial, Google the author’s name and the word “zipless.”)
So the thought occurs: If Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t really doing stand-up comedy, perhaps she’s selling something? Bingo! The product’s name is “Goop.” Apparently, it’s not just goop, it’s an entire product line. To riff off James Thurber and E.B. White, goop may not be funny, but perhaps it’s necessary.
With that, I’ll refer you to our front page, which aggregates an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum, and to our complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors. But not before leaving you with the irreverent words of Mae West, an actress and comic from a less constrained era. “Between two evils,” she says as Klondike Annie in a 1936 Paramount Pictures western, “I always pick the one I never tried before.”
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MAGA Radio Star Explains “Jan. 6 Flag” Controversy at VA Rally. Myra Adams interviews John Fredericks, organizer of the event last week that drew national media attention.
Why Governments Hate Cryptocurrency. Gregory Zerzan shares a lesson in the new realities of monetary policy.
The Framers Likely Would’ve Flunked the Filibuster. Robert Alexander provides a historical view of the parliamentary maneuver, used yesterday by Republicans to block progress on the Freedom to Vote Act.
Reclaiming Civil Society: From Voluntary Servitude to “Parallel Polis.” Daniel J. Mahoney offers a response to the “soft totalitarianism” of woke culture.
Biden’s New War on Drugs. At RealClearHealth, James Davis argues that the push for price controls on prescription drugs will have harmful unintended consequences
Louisville: New Ground Zero for U.S. Homicide Crisis. At RealClearPolicy, Joshua Crawford and Abigail Hall examine the violent crime spike in America’s heartland cities, notably the river town in Kentucky.
Back to the 1970s. At RealClearWorld, Daniel Chang Contreras likens U.S. domestic and foreign policy missteps to those taken more than four decades ago.
Free Speech and Elite Colleges. At RealClearEducation, Samuel Abrams cites survey findings showing that three-quarters of students at top-flight schools believe it is acceptable to shout down certain speakers.
Students Deserve a History and Civics Education Free of Political Agendas. At RealClear’s American Civics portal, Jordan Adams makes the argument.
Equality in Servitude: From Citizen Competence to Therapeutic Despotism. Also at the Civics portal, Joshua Mitchell challenges the new orthodoxy of innocence and victimization.
Ronald Brownstein’s “Rock Me on the Water.” RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny reviews Brownstein’s look back at the seminal moviemaking year of 1974 in Los Angeles.
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Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics