Archive

June 16th, 2016

Orlando tragedy proves Trump wrong, not right

    According to Donald Trump, he has been congratulated "for being right on radical Islamic terrorism" after 50 people died by a lone gunman's hand in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. The shooting, however, proves him wrong on several major points that unite his supporters. Even though they will ignore the proof, it's worth laying out.

    During the primary campaign, Trump kept using the November terror attacks in Paris to make the point that strict gun regulations increase the casualty count. France, he said over and over, had "the toughest gun laws in the world." Because of them, only the bad guys had guns. Had it been otherwise, fewer people would have died, Trump told applauding audiences.

    At the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, 1,500 people were in the audience and, as Trump said, nobody had guns. Three gunmen killed 89 of the concert-goers.

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Microsoft needs LinkedIn for office dominance

    Microsoft's acquisition of the social network LinkedIn is not easy to understand. Both companies' chief executives, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Weiner, have described the $26.2 billion all-cash deal -- one of the largest in tech history -- in the blandest corporate-speak, with memos that sounded as if they were part of LinkedIn's megaboring attempt to create a commentary platform for business celebrities.

    Yet this deal is a major play for a market no company has yet captured -- intracorporate communication. Evidently, Microsoft felt it had to move after Facebook made its own grab with Facebook at Work. Ceding the opportunity to a competitor with equally deep pockets, a powerful brand and nimble developers might spell the end of Microsoft's ambitions in the corporate world, which it used to own thanks to Windows and Office, but where its grip has been slipping lately. So Nadella paid an incongruously high price for a company that, on its own, doesn't seem like much of a treat.

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LGBT Muslims do exist, and they are grieving. It's time for acceptance.

    Muslim Americans. LGBT Americans. One would imagine that the marginalized would unite.

    From the straight Muslim man who is profiled at the airport for his bushy, long beard to the transgender Muslim who fears being shunned from the mosque held so dear to heart and faith - is there so much distance?

    Yet those who are marginalized are not immune to their own prejudices and phobias. Omar Mateen, who killed at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday morning, offers a chilling example.

    I've spent more than a decade researching Islamic masculinities, including five years living and teaching in Florida before I moved last year. I have heard some Western Muslim leaders step haltingly toward acceptance. But most of what I have heard, when Muslim leaders speak to the LGBT believers in their midst, is callous disregard or deafening silence.

    We can no longer go on without accepting every Muslim of every sexuality. Sunday's violence in Orlando proves that all too painfully.

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Why I walked out of the House's moment of silence for Orlando

    On Sunday evening, shortly after I learned of yet another massacre of innocent Americans by a madman with a gun, I attended the Connecticut premiere of "Newtown," a documentary chronicling the emotional aftermath for several parents whose children were obliterated by Adam Lanza and his AR-15 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After the film, I talked with Mark Barden, the father of Daniel Barden, who was murdered at age 7.

    I marveled at the strength Mark showed in the face of inconceivable loss, and again in recounting his tortured journey to the filmmakers.

    Then I thought about how Congress would respond to the latest atrocity. There would be, for the umpteenth time, a moment of silence. To "honor" the victims. We did it five times just last year: Stop talking about sports and dinner and Donald Trump for about 10 seconds, put on our most serious faces, wonder if we'd turned off our phones. For 10 seconds.

    Done. Over. On to the next thing.

    Not me. Not anymore.

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June 15th

A Party Agrift

    This is not a column about Donald Trump.

    It’s not about the fraudulent scheme that was Trump University. It’s not about his history of failing to pay contractors, leading to hundreds of legal actions. It’s not about how he personally profited while running his casinos into the ground. It’s not even concerned with persistent questions about whether he is nearly as rich as he claims to be, and whether he’s ever done more than live off capital gains on his inheritance.

    No, my question, as Democrats gleefully tear into the Trump business record, is why rival Republicans never did the same. How did someone who looks so much like a cheap con man bulldoze right through the GOP nomination process?

    I mean, it’s not as if any of this dirt was deeply hidden. The Trump U story was out there long before it became the big deal it is today. It took some real reporting to flesh out the details of Trump’s other business practices, but we’re talking about ordinary if skillful journalistic legwork, not revelations from Deep Throat.

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How unfair funding makes it harder to desegregate schools

    While Brown v. Board of Education eliminated de jure segregation in schools in 1954, in 1973 the San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez decision all but guaranteed that de facto segregation would continue.

    That decision was about school funding. In Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that a system of relying on local property taxes for supplemental educational revenue was nondiscriminatory, even though it meant that schools in poorer districts without a high property tax base would inevitably receive less funding.

    By limiting any federal oversight of states' school funding systems, the Rodriguez decision maintained a status quo in which states, not the federal government, were responsible for making sure school funding systems meet constitutional standards. This has not been a success: Despite dozens of state-level legal challenges about equitable school funding since the 1973 case, the condition of state school finance in most states remains unfair and inequitable, depriving millions of poor and minority students of the opportunity for school success.

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How Did the FBI Miss Omar Mateen?

    If you follow social media on the topic of the FBI and terrorism, you will find two themes predominate whenever a terrorist incident occurs in the United States. The first is promulgated by conspiracy theorists, anti-law enforcement social activists, and progressive-minded publications that assert that the FBI manufactures terrorism-related crimes to entrap innocent individuals - primarily young Muslims. These are crimes that would-be terrorists are incapable of committing on their own, they say, without the help of an FBI informant or undercover agent. In these scenarios, the FBI leads the poor, unsuspecting proto-terrorist by the hand through the various stages of planning, commitment, obtaining a weapon of mass destruction, and ultimately pulling the fake trigger. When the proto-terrorist is finally arrested, certain segments of the public, press, and pundits howl about how the FBI abused its power and authority to railroad an innocent person.

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Gawker gives itself a near-fatal shock

    Gawker was never going to make it. This is the site, remember, that once thought it a swell idea to help its followers find the personal telephone numbers of members of Sarah Palin's family. Or that a decade ago introduced the creepy Gawker Stalker map, to "visually pinpoint the location of every stalkworthy celebrity as soon as they're spotted." Or that seems to think that outing as gay an unknown and heterosexually married magazine editor would be great fun. No wonder Gawker's then-editor confessed nine years ago, "Not a week goes by I don't want to quit this job, because staring at New York this way makes me sick."

    This past week the site's proprietor, Gawker Media, filed for bankruptcy and put itself up for sale. The proximate cause was the refusal of a Florida judge to stay enforcement of a jury's $140 million verdict in the invasion of privacy lawsuit by the professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. But what really brought the site down was its desperate need to stay ahead of the manic forces that had created it.

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Being gay in America is still a radical act

    Forty-nine people were slaughtered over the weekend after a gunman opened fire inside an Orlando club filled with Pride Month revelers. We're learning more about the killer, who apparently has a history of violence and bigotry, often aimed at the LGBT community. According to reports, the killer's father said that his son had become "very angry" after seeing two men kissing in public several months ago.

    This is how we live our lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States. Even in 2016, our mere existence can still be considered a threat.

    Our movement has made incredible strides in the battle for equality in recent years. A sitting president endorsed marriage equality. The Supreme Court made it legal for us to marry. At least 225 cities and counties across the United States prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We are becoming more visible on television and in movies. It would be easy to think that the fight for equality is over.

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Will Orlando drive us from our corners?

     It only compounded the horror that the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history called forth talking points that had been composed long before 50 innocents were murdered early Sunday.

    The immediate reactions on social media to the killings at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club, etched a portrait of our national divisions, our mutual mistrust and our inclination to know what we think even when we lack all the facts.

    Even before President Obama spoke Sunday afternoon, there were declarations of great certainty that he would attribute the massacre to guns and not "Islamism" -- and would therefore feed support for Donald Trump.

    Trump did not disappoint. At 12:43 p.m., he turned to his communications medium of choice and tweeted: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

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