Notes and Comment Blog


With omission under false statement liability

May 16th, 2018 11:07 am | By

This could get interesting.

SIREN: by disclosing Cohen debt on his just-released 278, Donald Trump just substantiated our @crewcrew criminal complaint that he should have disclosed it last year as well. Form is here https://oge.app.box.com/v/Trump2018Annual278 … and our criminal complaint is here

BREAKING: @OfficeGovEthics agrees with our @CREWcrew analysis that Trump was required to report Cohen debt & sends last year’s form with omission under false statement liability to DOJ & Rod Rosenstein in case “relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing”! https://oge.app.box.com/v/OGELettertoDOJ …

Well. No doubt Trump will explain it all in a tweet.



Don’t forget the Tupperware

May 16th, 2018 10:56 am | By

Life in the US of A:

[Jessica] Mock was about to check out Sunday at the Publix near Lake Jackson when she realized she’d forgotten to pick up Tupperware. She left her cart in the lane to get some and found another woman trying to check out ahead of her when she returned.

The two argued, and the victim moved to a different lane. They both checked out about the same time and left the store only seconds apart. Before leaving, the victim used an expletive and said, “I’ll meet you outside.” Mock replied, “I’ll see you outside.”

The victim unloaded her groceries and returned her cart, running into Mock again along the way. Mock pulled a small handgun from her waistband.

One minute it’s a quarrel over queue-jumping at the supermarket, the next it’s somebody pulling a gun.

“(Mock) pointed the gun at (the victim),” the report says. “(The victim) stated she blacked out near this time. She stated she was in fear for her life when this occurred.”

The encounter didn’t end there. After the victim drove away from the parking lot with her two children, Mock followed them. The victim called law enforcement, who stopped Mock as she followed behind the victim on Fred George Road.

Mock denied being armed inside Publix, brandishing a gun or intentionally following the victim. However, deputies searched her car and found a holstered, silver revolver in the center console. They also found the victim’s vehicle tag written on a note. Mock was taken to the Leon County Detention Center and released Monday on $1,000 bail.

People are too unstable and anger-prone to be allowed to carry guns.



You’re asking about a private organization’s dealings

May 15th, 2018 4:37 pm | By

Vanity Fair asks: is China straight-up bribing Trump?

So it was a bit odd to see Trump pull a complete 180, suddenly insisting that the company and its 75,000 Chinese jobs must be saved, though to be fair, tweeting “Look, China just pumped $500 million into a Trump Organization project so I had to do them a solid” might not have gone over so well.

Oh, that’s right—according to multiple news outlets, the president’s total about-face on China came just 72 hours after the developer of a theme park outside Jakarta, known as MNC Lido City, with whom the Trump Organization has an agreement to license its name, signed a deal to receive $500 million in Chinese government loans, in addition to another $500 million from government banks. According to Agence France-Presse, the Trump Organization will rake in almost $3.7 million in licensing and consulting payments from Lido, along with another project in Bali. The company will also earn management fees, and be “eligible for additional unspecified incentives.”

That’s all $$$ in Don’s pocket. Little Don and Eric are running the org but Don still gulps down the profits.

The White House, naturally, isn’t commenting on any of this. “You’re asking about a private organization’s dealings that may have to do with a foreign government. It’s not something I can speak to,” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Monday when he was asked about the Lido City deal.

That’s rich, isn’t it – getting all huffy about asking questions about “a private organization’s dealings” when the organization belongs to the fucking president. The press people damn well ought to be able to speak to it, and they ought to be compelled to tell the truth about it, too. All the truth.



Wait – change of plans

May 15th, 2018 4:05 pm | By

North Korea appears to have sprung the trap on Trump.

North Korea is casting doubt on next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump over joint Air Force drills taking place in South Korea, which it says are ruining the diplomatic mood.

North Korea suggested that the drills were putting the proposed summit between Trump and Kim, scheduled for June 12, in jeopardy.

“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” said KCNA, the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

Aw. Donnie was all excited about his Nobel Peace Prize.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States has not received a notice of any change or cancellation. She said the government is continuing to plan for the summit and is confident that Kim understands the need for exercises.

Really? Do Trump’s people really think Kim is just fine with military exercises that are mostly a threat aimed at him?

A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Rob Manning, said Tuesday that the exercises are part of the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s “routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.”

…to attack North Korea should the need arise. They’re not aimed at repelling chicken thieves.

Manning said the purpose of the exercises is to enhance the alliance’s ability to defend South Korea.

From North Korea.

North Korea, as it has in the past, disagreed.

“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” KCNA said.

By mentioning the Panmunjom Declaration, North Korea was referring to the agreement signed last month by Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in following their historic summit.

They agreed to work to turn the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty that would officially bring the war to a close, and also to pursue the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

Which would be great, but let’s not pretend Kim has suddenly turned into a cuddly bunny.

At the same time as threatening to scupper the summit with Trump, North Korea canceled talks with South Korean officials that had been scheduled for Wednesday, less than 24 hours after agreeing to them.

He’s messing with us.



It is obligatory for all women to wear high heels

May 15th, 2018 12:09 pm | By

Back in May 2015 I wrote this post about the Cannes film festival’s banning women from film screenings if they were not wearing high heels.

Annals of Gender Policing. Anna Merlan at Jezebel reports:

The Cannes Film Festival is reportedly not allowing women into screenings if they’re wearing flat shoes.

Into screenings. It would be bad enough if it were the Top Gala Codfish Ball, but it’s screenings. People go to screenings as part of their work, as well as for entertainment and enlightenment. The Cannes Film Festival is a professional event as well as social and festive and so on.

And then there’s the issue of what high heels are, which is a form of temporary and comparatively mild foot-binding. The bones aren’t actually broken as they are in footbinding (although high heels can easily cause broken bones in the feet and anywhere else, because they’re highly unstable – that’s the whole point of them), but they are pinched and bent.

A few days ago I saw a pair of woman-man couples cross the street on their way to a wedding in a local park. The street there is pocked and lumpy, as city streets so often are. Both women looked all but disabled by the task – their posture was hunched and distorted as they picked each step carefully in their towering heels. The men of course were just walking in a normal confident manner. It creeps me out that this is just normal. I think most people consider foot-binding (if they’re aware of it) grotesque and deeply misogynist, yet high heels are a close relative of foot-binding but they’re seen as normal…and in Cannes, actively mandated.

Flatgate erupted on Twitter this week after several women were apparently turned away from a red carpet screening of Cate Blanchett’s new movie Carol because they were in the demon flats. According to Screen Daily, the screening was on a Sunday night and the women weren’t exactly wearing Keds:

Multiple guests, some older with medical conditions, were denied access to the anticipated world-premiere screening for wearing rhinestone flats.

The festival declined to comment on the matter, but did confirm that it is obligatory for all women to wear high-heels to red-carpet screenings.

Obligatory. That’s fucked up.

Today the BBC reports:

The issue of high heels at Cannes has been a spiky one in recent years.

Now it seems Kristen Stewart, a member of this year’s jury at the film festival, has flouted the ban on flat shoes – by instead going barefoot on the red carpet.

The Twilight actress wore black Louboutin heels as she arrived at the BlacKkKlansman premiere.

But before entering the screening of the Spike Lee film, she slipped off her shoes to walk up the stairs.

She was apparently not sanctioned for taking off her heels.

Last year, Stewart – who’s been known to wear trainers with dresses on the red carpet – spoke about the event’s fashion rules.

“There’s definitely a distinct dress code, right?” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “People get very upset if you don’t wear heels or whatever.

“I feel like you can’t ask people that any more – it’s a given. If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, you cannot ask me either.”

Forcing women to wear heels is forcing them to be slowed down, off balance, easy to push over, weakened, hobbled. It’s forcing them to be at a huge physical disadvantage compared to men. Given what we’ve been learning about the ways of the film industry, maybe that’s not such a good idea, huh?



After the scores of deaths

May 15th, 2018 10:46 am | By

Meanwhile at the UN:

The United States blocked a United Nations Security Council statement drafted Monday that called for an independent investigation into Monday’s killing of at least 58 Palestinians along the Israeli-Gaza border. The deaths, alongside some 2,700 people who were injured, made Monday the deadliest day in Gaza since 2014. The protests erupted on the same day as the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem—a move that outraged Palestinians and many in the Muslim world. The statement, vetoed by the U.S., said in an initial draft: “The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest. The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability.” After the scores of deaths on Monday, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah blamed Hamas, refused to criticize Israel, and said: “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Not by shooting unarmed protesters it doesn’t.



Hey, for $500 million it’s worth it

May 15th, 2018 10:15 am | By

Talk about leaving a trail

A mere 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich Donald Trump, the president ordered a bailout for a Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker.

“President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast,” Trump announced on Twitter Sunday morning. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

To think that was only two days ago. I wondered about it at the time but thought it was a brain fart via talking to someone; I didn’t consider the bribery possibility (or I guess that should be likelihood). Probably because he said it on Twitter? I probably assumed, without thinking about it, that he wouldn’t announce an openly corrupt act on Twitter. Silly me.

Trump did not mention in that tweet or its follow-ups that on Thursday, the developer of a theme park resort outside of Jakarta had signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million in Chinese government loans, as well as another $500 million from Chinese banks. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort, which includes a golf course and hotels.

No, he didn’t mention that. I guess he wanted reporters to do the work. He’s such a big tease!

“You do a good deal for him, he does a good deal for you. Quid pro quo,” said Richard Painter, the White House ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush and now a Democratic candidate for Senate in Minnesota.

“This appears to be yet another violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Painter said, referring to the prohibition against the president receiving payments from foreign governments.

The White House did not respond to HuffPost queries asking if there was a connection between the “MNC Lido City” project and Trump’s directive regarding ZTE.

At Monday’s daily briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah referred questions about the Indonesian project to the Trump Organization. “That’s not something that I can speak to,” he said.

Yeah that won’t do. Trump is “the Trump Organization” and vice versa, and he is doing favors for China in exchange for favors for Trump and his organization. They don’t get to refuse to answer questions about it. This is pathetic.

ZTE phones have already been described as a security risk by the U.S. military and intelligence community. Two weeks ago, the military banned their use on bases for fear they could be used to track the locations of service members.

The company, which is owned 33 percent by Chinese-government-owned enterprises, had been fined $1.2 billion last year after it was found to be violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. After it was determined that ZTE officials had lied about their actions, the U.S. government last month banned it from purchasing U.S. components for seven years — a decision that essentially forced the company to shut down.

Violating US sanctions against Iran…Trump just pulled the US out of the Iran deal, yet he’s doing favors for a Chinese company that violated US sanctions against Iran.

Trump followed up late Monday afternoon with a new tweet on the issue: “ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi.”

His personal relationship ffs – as if that’s supposed to determine foreign policy. (Also as if he actually has one, and it’s as cozy as he seems to think. What an imbecile.)

The new statement, however, still did not address the question of the Indonesian resort and the Trump Organization’s coming profit thanks to Chinese investment.

“This is stunning. They perpetually find new things to surprise me,” said Robert Weissman, president of the open government advocacy group Public Citizen. “The idea of the president intervening in a law enforcement matter to satisfy a foreign government is extraordinary. And it’s extraordinary because it doesn’t happen. Opening that door threatens the integrity of all corporate law enforcement.”

Well that wouldn’t bother Trump any.

During his campaign, Trump attacked China almost daily for “stealing” U.S. jobs by manipulating its currency and using unfair trade practices. “No one has ever stolen jobs like other countries have taken from us,” Trump told a Nevada rally on Nov. 5, 2016. “We’ve lost 70,000 factories since China joined the WTO,” Trump told a Pittsburgh-area audience the following day.

Blah blah blah. He was just kidding.

For ethics advocates, the timing of the ZTE tweet on the heels of the Indonesian development announcement is yet another example of the consequences of Trump’s unwillingness to abide by the emoluments clause.

“The Chinese government seems to have figured out a way to manipulate President Trump,” Weissman said. “It’s exactly why this anti-bribery clause of the Constitution is common sense.”

Oh well!



55 dead and 2,271 wounded

May 15th, 2018 9:04 am | By

MSF issued a statement on the bloodbath in Gaza yesterday:

MAY 14, 2018—As teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treat people wounded today in Gaza, Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, provided the following statement:

What happened today is unacceptable and inhuman. The death toll provided this evening by Gaza health authorities—55 dead and 2,271 wounded—including 1,359 wounded with live ammunition, is staggering. It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time.

Our medical teams are working around the clock, as they have done since April 1, providing surgical and postoperative care to men, women, and children, and they will continue to do so tonight, tomorrow, and as long as they are needed. In one of the hospitals where we are working, the chaotic situation is comparable to what we observed after the bombings of the 2014 war, with a colossal influx of injured people in a few hours, completely overwhelming the medical staff. Our teams carried out more than 30 surgical interventions today, sometimes on two or three patients in the same operating theater, and even in the corridors.

This bloodbath is the continuation of the Israeli army’s policy during the last seven weeks: shooting with live ammunition at demonstrators, on the assumption that anyone approaching the separation fence is a legitimate target. Most of the wounded will be condemned to suffer lifelong injuries.

As new demonstrations are announced for tomorrow, the Israeli army must stop its disproportionate use of violence against Palestinian protesters.



A short message on Facebook

May 15th, 2018 9:00 am | By

Not just trolling:

In December 2016 Diep Saeeda, an outspoken human rights activist from the Pakistani city of Lahore, received a short message on Facebook from someone she didn’t know but with whom she had a number of friends in common: “Hy dear.”

She didn’t think much of it and never got round to replying.

But the messages weren’t coming from a fan of Mrs Saeeda’s activism – instead they were the start of a sustained campaign of digital attacks attempting to install malware on her computer and mobile phone to spy on her and steal her data.

She got many more messages from that account, which pretended to be that of a young woman who worked for the UN doing human rights activity.

However, the attackers targeting Mrs Saeeda made crucial mistakes that allowed researchers from human rights group Amnesty International to trace a number of individuals linked either to the operation or to the malware used.

They include a British-Pakistani cyber security expert running a company he claims to be based in Wales, and another who used to work for the Pakistani army’s public relations wing.

Saeeda is quite sure intelligence agencies are behind it.

Amnesty International has spoken to three other Pakistan human rights activists who have been targeted in the same way.

They discovered that the main piece of malware being used had also been used in previously documented attacks on Indian military and diplomatic officials.

Amnesty International say they have no evidence of Pakistani state involvement and are unable to say who is ultimately responsible for conducting the attacks.

Sherif Elsayed-Ali, director of global issues at Amnesty, told the BBC they were calling on the Pakistani authorities to investigate the attacks “as a matter of urgency… and to ensure that human rights defenders are adequately protected both online and offline”.

Which seems rather like urging the fox to investigate attacks on the hen house.

In January 2017, a group of bloggers went missing for a number of weeks before being released. Two subsequently told the BBC that they had been detained by the security services and tortured.

Theocrats don’t like human rights activists.



Irresponsible federal spending

May 14th, 2018 5:59 pm | By

Who cares about Ebola, anyway? Not Trump.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that a new Ebola outbreak has emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — and thanks to the Trump administration, we are woefully under-equipped to deal with it.

Just as news broke about the resurgence of the deadly disease, the Trump administration made a series of moves that could severely hamper America’s capacity to respond to disease outbreaks.

Hours before the announcement from WHO, Trump called on Congress to rescind $252 million that had been set aside specifically for the purpose of dealing with Ebola outbreaks. The money was left over from the funds that Congress appropriated to fight the 2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which was the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

The money, which Trump referred to as “irresponsible federal spending,” was actually set aside intentionally in anticipation of the next outbreak. Having funds available immediately allows the U.S. to quickly deploy health officials to the site of the outbreak so it can be stopped before it spreads further and becomes a deadly — and extremely costly — international crisis.

Yes, it’s “irresponsible” the way having sprinklers in buildings is irresponsible, the way getting vaccinated is irresponsible, the way looking behind you before you back out of a driveway is irresponsible. Responsible people don’t take precautions of any kind, because Jesus saves those who don’t save themselves.



Can we do that?

May 14th, 2018 3:51 pm | By

And there was this today:

Ann Coulter retweeted with the question:

Geddit? She’s asking if we can shoot down people who try to cross the border (the one with Mexico of course – not the one with Canada! God no).



Liberals make good movies

May 14th, 2018 3:42 pm | By

This again. “It’s all the fault of you libbruls for thinking you’re so smart and being such smartybootses and making everyone else feel dumm. It’s nothing to do with money or power or hacking or bribery or lies or celebrity or misogyny or disenfranchisement or gerrymandering or the disproportionate clout of barely-populated states like Montana and Wyoming, NO, it’s all you liberals poncing around thinking you’re so so clever.”

I know many liberals, and two of them really are my best friends. Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

Definitely. It won’t be because of all those laws making it difficult for poor people to vote, it won’t be because of the immoral Republican hacks in Congress, it won’t be because of Fox News, it will be because of a backlash against “liberals” – by which political scientist Gerard Alexander seems to mean intellectuals on the left (but not workers or people of color or teachers or students or nurses).

People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

Take the past few weeks. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, the comedian Michelle Wolf landed some punch lines that were funny and some that weren’t. But people reacted less to her talent and more to the liberal politics that she personified. For every viewer who loved her Trump bashing, there seemed to be at least one other put off by the one-sidedness of her routine.

Wait. Is the subject liberals, or is it people who can’t stand Trump? Maybe Gerard Alexander hasn’t noticed, but the category of people who can’t stand Trump is much larger than the category “liberals.” You really don’t have to be a “liberal” to despise a relentless liar and bully who seems to lack any detectable conscience or empathy or minimal decency at all. It’s actually quite insulting to conservatives to talk as if they all approve of Trump and would defend him against jokes.

To be blunt, this piece is so banal and so flimsy I find it surprising the Times published it.



Ruthless simplification

May 14th, 2018 12:35 pm | By

Paul Waldman in the Post:

Monday marked the moment when the policy of the United States government toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lost all complexity, all ambiguity and all nuance.

On Monday, we were confronted with two sets of pictures. On one side, thousands of Palestinians gathering at the Gaza border to protest are being shot down by Israeli snipers. As I write, at least 43 people have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry; those numbers will undoubtedly rise.

On the other side, representatives of the Trump administration, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, some Republican donors and a couple of evangelical megachurch pastors who have said vile, bigoted things about Islam and Muslims, are celebrating the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

It’s not ideal, is it.

For many years, the behavior of the Israeli government, with regard to the Palestinians, was a source of frustration for both Republican and Democratic presidents. Israel is a staunch ally and we, in turn, are its patron; we give them about $4 billion a year in military aid, and over the years we have provided nearly $135 billion in aid, not adjusted for inflation. But a succession of American presidents has urged the Israeli government — without success — to curtail the building of settlements in the West Bank, knowing that those settlements make it more difficult to arrive at a peace agreement that will allow Palestinians to control their own destiny.

There was some attempt, however minimal, to heed the interests of both parties and not just Israel.

And if you asked any Palestinian, they would have said that previous American governments only pretended to be neutral, while they were really enabling the occupation and seeking only the furtherance of Israeli interests.

Whether you agree or not, under President Trump, the United States is not pretending anything. We have declared unambiguously that we care only about Israel’s interests — or, to be more accurate, Israel’s interests as understood by the conservative Likud party — and that we no longer have any concern for Palestinian rights, Palestinian lives or the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.

Like it or lump it.



The appalling juxtaposition

May 14th, 2018 12:24 pm | By

Another side by side:



What a glorious day

May 14th, 2018 10:40 am | By

While Princess Ivanka blesses the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials say at least 52 people have been killed in protests.

At least 1,700 Palestinian demonstrators were also wounded on Monday along the border fence with Gaza, the Health Ministry reported, as the mass protests that began on March 30 and that had already left dozens dead erupted anew.

The Times juxtaposes the two:

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in the Gaza protests, which spread on Monday to the West Bank, where the focus was on opposition to the embassy move.

By 7 p.m., 52 Palestinians, including several teenagers, were dead and at least 1,700 were injured in Gaza, the Health Ministry said. Israeli soldiers and snipers used barrages of tear gas as well as live gunfire to keep protesters from entering Israeli territory.

But never mind all that. Pretty Princess Ivanka with her golden hair and white shining teeth and garb of purest shiningest white is there to make all white and golden and perfect. Amen.

Prince Jared also spoke at the ceremony to open the embassy. She sells shoes, he sells condos; they are as gods descended among us.

In a recorded video message played to some 800 people gathered at the new embassy, Mr. Trump said the United States “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.”

In a speech at the ceremony, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, also spoke of a resolution to generations of conflict. “When there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and will remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth,” he said.

Then Netanyahu spoke of how glorious it was to see Israel killing all those rebels.

“What a glorious day,” Mr. Netanyahu exulted. “Remember this moment! This is history! President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.”

“We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay,” he said. “We are here in Jerusalem protected by the great soldiers of the army of Israel and our brave soldiers are protecting the border of Israel as we speak today.”

Yes, it’s all going swimmingly.



Relax and lean into the strangling

May 13th, 2018 5:43 pm | By
Relax and lean into the strangling

Gail Dines also wrote, in the Guardian, about strangulation as sexy fun play.

Since the #MeToo movement, we’re learning just how many men seem to see choking women as a legitimate form of “sex play,” as it is often euphemistically referred to in porn.

Eric Schneiderman, New York State’s Attorney General, who announced he was pursuing a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein for what he described as “despicable” behavior, was just forced to resign after four women accused him of choking them, as well as other types of physical assault. Schneiderman disputed the allegations, claiming that he had only consensual sexual relations.

Is there also consensual stabbing, consensual shooting, consensual beating to a pulp?

In mainstream media targeted to women, choking, or “breath play,” as it is often referred to, is rebranded as edgy, hot sex that somehow gives the woman power. Women’s Health Magazine recently promoted the act, suggesting it can “be an exhilarating experience for some people.” While the article does admit it could lead to death, it nonetheless provides some handy tips for those women squeamish at the thought of this “hot” sex. (Learning to relax is one recommendation!) The authors quote a sex therapist who manages to flip the power dynamics by arguing that the “turn on” is that he is prepared to do anything to have you, and the result is that “you feel you have an erotic power over him.”

While he strangles you. That’s an interesting notion of power, even “erotic” power.

Time for a reality check! Data from studies on domestic violence indicate that the women most at risk of being murdered by their partners are those who were choked. Frontline activists who work with battered women say that while the batterer calls it “choking,” it is in many cases actually strangulation. Of these women, “up to 68% will experience near-fatal strangulation by their partner”. Being strangled damages the “woman’s throat and makes breathing, swallowing, coughing and talking difficult.” When the batterer takes it a few step further, “loss of consciousness can occur within 5 to 10 minutes; death within minutes.”

Not all batterers got the idea of choking a woman from porn, but over 40 years of research shows a connection between viewing porn and violence against women. A recent meta-analysis of 22 studies between 1978 and 2014 from seven different countries concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression, regardless of age.

Who is it who has the erotic (and just plain physical) power here? I’m not convinced it’s women.

The Guardian posted Gail’s article on Facebook. The first comment explains all:

Capture

Carl Garnham It’s just to get some peace and quiet when shagging a feminist.

Once the gasping has stopped.



It is tantamount to torture

May 13th, 2018 5:32 pm | By

Kate Manne, author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, in the Times Friday:

It doesn’t take much to cut off someone’s oxygen supply, or to restrict blood flow to and from her brain. Around 10 seconds of pressure on the carotid artery, either constant or intermittent, is usually enough to render the victim unconscious, and it requires less pressure than it takes to open a can of soda.

This act is often labeled “choking,” as it was in an article this week in The New Yorker, by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, in describing the multiple occasions on which Eric Schneiderman, New York’s former attorney general, allegedly assaulted women in this manner.

But experts on domestic violence don’t call it that, they call it strangulation. One chokes on a bit of potato, one is strangled by the hands of a human being squeezing one’s neck.

Nonfatal manual strangulation is a well-known precursor to intimate- partner homicide. Victims of such attacks are some seven times more likely to become the victim of an attempted homicide by the same perpetrator. The New Yorker article noted the irony that Mr. Schneiderman himself had written legislation that established stiffer penalties against those who strangle. “I think this will save a lot of lives,” he predicted.

And yet – strangulation is now seen as part of sex, aka “kink.”

In addition to causing great pain and fear, strangulation sends a powerful message. What strangulation effectively communicates to a victim, more clearly than words could, is that an abuser is willing to exert punitive control by preying on her most fundamental visceral needs — such as the bodily imperative to gasp for air when she cannot breathe, and the desperate urge to end the intense pain that strangulation causes.

Experts compare the sensation of being strangled to waterboarding; it is tantamount to torture. And then there is the terrifying knowledge that someone is deliberately causing your body to thus protest, which in itself may be what breaks you.

But but but, the “sex positive” team cries, that’s what makes it hot, and as long as it’s consensual – knock yourselves out, literally.

“I cannot fathom that someone who drafted the legislation on strangulation is unfamiliar with such concepts,” Jennifer Friedman, an expert on intimate-partner violence, said of Mr. Schneiderman in The New Yorker. How could he be ignorant of what strangulation does to the human body, and what it communicates to the victim?

Many will take this question as a puzzle, not a rhetorical lament. So perhaps this is an apt moment to point out a dark but important truth about intimate-partner violence: Some abusers are perfectly well aware of what they are doing, at least at a certain level. And that is why they keep doing it. They want to maintain dominance and exercise control over their female partners, among others. And that is why an abuser may resort to the cruelest and most covert of methods, such as cutting off her air supply with his bare hands, leaving no bruises.

But at least she can’t talk, right?



Interesting choice

May 13th, 2018 4:02 pm | By

What could go wrong?

An anti-gay, pro-Trump pastor from Dallas will give the opening prayer Monday night at the introduction ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Fox News contributor and supporter of President Donald Trump, will add to the controversy surrounding the diplomatically awkward event.

Jeffress, who serves as an informal faith adviser to Trump, has maligned most world religions and condemned homosexuality, while on Fox he spouts biblical justifications for Trump’s agenda.

Sounds perfect.

Jeffress, who runs the First Baptist Dallas megachurch in Texas, has referred to both Islam and Mormonism as “a heresy from the pit of hell.” He believes Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, and Buddhism are all cults, and that Catholicism represents the “genius of Satan.” Jews, he believes, are going to hell. “You can’t be saved by being a Jew,” he’s said.

Hmm maybe not quite perfect. He does know there are quite a few Jews in Israel, yes?

Jeffress also provides religious cover for Trump’s policies and views. On immigration, where other Christian leaders have called for compassion toward immigrants, particularly undocumented people brought here as children, Jeffress has defended Trump. “The Bible also says that God’s the one who established nations and its borders,” Jeffress said on “Fox & Friends” last September. God “is not necessarily an open borders guy.” When Trump said he didn’t want immigrants from “shithole” countries coming to the United States, Jeffress said he disagreed with the president’s “vocabulary” but that Trump was “right on target in his sentiment.”

Yes that’s definitely the important thing about what Trump said – the naughtiness of the word “shit” as opposed to the racist shittiness of the “sentiment.”

So, ok, I take it back, a lot could go wrong.



Don’t call it a gaffe

May 13th, 2018 12:53 pm | By

Another blatant lie Trump told, on camera:

He told an audience of military spouses at the White House on Wednesday that he was “proud” of the 2.4 percent raise for 2018 which was the “first time in 10 years” troops had received a salary boost.

That’s the lie – there has been a raise every year in those ten years. Is there anything special about the ten years part? Of course: it covers the Obama presidency.

RTS1QO78

Flattering pic.

It was the second gaffe in recent weeks that Trump has made about the military.

It’s not a “gaffe.” It’s a lie.



Too many jobs in China lost

May 13th, 2018 11:14 am | By

Trump is doing what now?

President Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday that he was working with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to prevent the collapse of the Chinese electronics giant ZTE, which shut down major operations after being sanctioned by the United States Department of Commerce last month.

“Too many jobs in China lost,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

Too many jobs in China lost? Is he confused? Has he forgotten his own America First ideology? Has MAGA left the building? Has he forgotten the name of the country he’s the president of which?

The department last month banned shipments of American technology to ZTE for seven years, saying the company had failed to reprimand employees who violated American trade controls on Iran and North Korea. The department said Sunday that it had no comment.

Naturally not; it was asking itself all the above questions and more (plus it was at church).

Mr. Trump’s tweet on Sunday left many scratching their heads. The president has taken a tough stance on what his administration deems unfair trade practices by the Chinese government. And he has trumpeted his efforts to safeguard American jobs even if it means creating economic strain in other countries.

The prospective shutdown of ZTE has been seen as major leverage in continuing trade discussions between China and the United States over Chinese trade practices. If Mr. Trump was announcing a huge concession with his tweet, it was without any indication of what he might have gotten in return.

Also without any indication that it was a massive brain fart that happened while he was watching Sunday morning cartoons on the tv machine.

Scott Kennedy, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that in expressing concerns about Chinese jobs, Mr. Trump was reiterating the case made by Beijing on ZTE’s imminent collapse.

“Jobs is the talking point,” he said, adding that for Mr. Trump to write about Chinese jobs in the tweet, “it must have just been part of the conversation, which would have come from the Chinese side.”

Ah well that explains it then. Someone said it to Trump, and Trump said it to Twitter. You can’t expect him to evaluate what people tell him.