On Michael Sam, Straight From the Heart of Texas

For more about Sam — and the road he’s run, see here.

But Sam has never had it easy. He grew up about 40 miles southeast of Houston near Galveston Bay in Texas, the seventh of eight children. Three of his siblings have died and two brothers are in prison. He lived briefly in the back seat of his mother’s car, and his relationship with his family remains complicated: When he visits home, he usually stays with friends.




Right Wingers Crazy About Womens’ Libido

Mike Huckabee is only the latest to let his own libido out of his mouth as he opined that women couldn’t control theirs.


Filner : What Might Have Been

As Bob Filner makes his graceless exit from San Diego’s mayoral office, his ex fiancee mourns about what might have been.

Ingram had campaigned with Filner and after his election had begun leading efforts to help the homeless….

“The platform that Bob and I campaigned on with the emphasis on empowering neighborhoods can and should move forward if that is still the will of the voters,” Ingram said. …

“To have a Democratic mayor in a city that’s constantly run by Republicans,” she said, “was very exciting to a lot of us and we had big plans.”

She said she had not witnessed the 70-year-old Filner engaging in the abusive, harassing behavior that was alleged by 18 women in recent weeks. But she added, “I would find it hard to believe that they were all fabricating those stories.”

She was at a loss to explain Filner’s alleged misconduct. “I don’t know if it has anything to do with sex or love. I think it has to do with power and control, so of course, it feels awful, it feels horrible.”

Whitaker asked what she would tell Filner if she could speak to him.

“Why? Why did you do this?” she said. “This was not the plan. This was way off the plan. We could have done a lot. It’s sad.”


The question that comes to my mind about the exit is that apparently the city of San Diego is going to pick up law-suit damages against Filner in return for his speedy exit.  I hope someone has run the numbers against the cost of a re-call and the weeks lost if he is not removed.  Seem like a potential land-mine to promise to pick up what, 16 possible law-suites, and counting….

High Living Buddhist Monk Scandalizes Thailand

Making headlines far outside of Thailand, Luang Pu Nenkham, a fabulously wealthy Buddhist monk, father of a child by a minor child and beguiler of the rich and famous, seems to have outed himself with posts on his own website.  Thai police have filed charges and the now defrocked monk has fled France for the wider reaches of the United States.

Born in the poor northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, he entered the monkhood as a teenager and gained local renown for claims of supernatural powers like the ability to fly, walk on water and talk to deities. He renamed himself, Luang Pu Nen Kham, taking on a self-bestowed title normally reserved for elder monks.

Gradually, he cultivated wealthy followers to help fund expensive projects in the name of Buddhism — building temples, hospitals and what was touted as the world’s largest Emerald Buddha. The 11-meter (36-foot) high Buddha was built at his temple in the northeast, touted as solid jade but made of tinted concrete.

Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office has discovered 41 bank accounts linked to the ex-monk. Several of the accounts kept about 200-million baht ($6.4-million) in constant circulation, raising suspicion of money laundering.

Investigators also suspect that Wirapol killed a man in a hit-and-run accident while driving a Volvo late at night three years ago.

Critics say Wirapol is an extreme example of a wider crisis in Buddhism, which has become marginalized by a shortage of monks and an increasingly secular society. The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to young Buddhists raised on shopping malls, smartphones and the Internet.

…During a shopping spree from 2009 to 2011, Wirapol bought 22 Mercedes worth 95-million baht ($3.1-million), according to the DSI. The fleet of luxury cars were among 70 vehicles he has purchased. Some he gave as gifts to senior monks, others he sold off as part of a suspected black market car business to launder his money, Pong-in said.

Luxury travel for the monk included helicopters and private jets for trips between the northeast and Bangkok.

“I always wondered what kind of monk has this much money,” said one of his regular pilots, Piya Tregalnon. Each domestic roundtrip cost about 300,000 baht ($10,000) and the monk always paid in cash, he said in comments posted on Facebook.

“The most bizarre thing is what was in his bag,” Piya said, referring to the typical monk’s humble cloth shoulder sack. “It was filled with stacks of 100 dollar bills.”

Like many people, Piya only went public with his suspicions after the scandal erupted. Dozens of pictures have been posted in online forums showing Wirapol’s high-flying lifestyle — riding a camel at the pyramids in Egypt, sitting in a cockpit at the Cessna Aircraft factory in Kansas. According to the pilot and investigators, Wirapol was interested in buying his own private jet.

Even more incriminating were accusations of multiple sexual relationships with women — a cardinal sin for monks who are not allowed to touch women. Among them was a 14-year-old girl with whom he allegedly had a son, a decade ago. The mother filed a statutory rape case against him last week.

Here, more here and here. Court accepts case for pedophilia

I am struck, as I usually am,  that the climb to wealth and (abuse of) power is enabled by the gullible all along the way: ability to fly, to walk on water, indeed…

New Zealand Parliament Breaks into Maori Love Song After Passing Gay Marriage Bill

Really, this will choke you up.  Human Beans can come out of their shells and sing to others who only decades ago were despised….

Right after the official tally was announced, the crowd of onlookers, joined by numerous members of Parliament, broke into song, singing “Pokarekare Ana,” a love song in the language of New Zealand’s inidgenous Māori people.


From AmericaBlog

Why David Petraeus’s Gmail Account is a National Security Issue

It may not be the bad judgement of having sex off the post but what that sex leads to, including use of the General’s e-mail account.

From Max Fisher at Washington Post:

The beginning of the end came for CIA Director David Petraeus when Paula Broadwell, a younger married woman with whom he was having an affair, “or someone close to her had sought access to his email,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s description of an FBI probe. Associates of Petraeus had received “anonymous harassing emails” that were then traced to Broadwell, ABC’s Martha Raddatz reported, suggesting she may have found their names or addresses in his e-mail.

The e-mail account was apparently Petraeus’s personal Gmail, not his official CIA e-mail, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s a big deal: Some of the most powerful foreign spy agencies in the world would love to have an opening, however small, into the personal e-mail account of the man who runs the United States’ spy service. The information could have proved of enormous value to foreign hackers, who already maintain a near-constant effort to access sensitive U.S. data.

It was only in mid-August that Mat Honan at Wired magazine wrote how his life had been turned upside down by just what the investigators feared about Petraeus: one slip-up in one account can quickly daisy-chain into multiple accounts.  [Posted and my comments, here.]


As to the sex: birds do it, bees do it….I personally wish that such dalliances were less combustible in the sex-soaked minds of the public.  It will be interesting to watch, however, as Petraeus is pilloried for bad judgement and rampaging hormones while the partner, a married mother of two, will not have similar adjectives attached.

Rape-Pregnancy Blocked or Approved by the Almighty?

The dizziness of the American people who propel to the front ranks characters such as Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Aikin and now Indiana Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock has not yet reached its spin-0ut-of-the-universe velocity but it’s damn close.

Aiken, who has a Master of Divinity degre from Covenant Theological Seminary opined on the air a few weeks ago, that “ If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Yesterday, Mourdock, when asked about abortion in the case of rape had another take.  For him, apparently the female body doesn’t have magical powers but God himself has the trump card: “…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” [And therefore the woman must carry the child to term…]

So here we have two men, convinced they know the mind of God, and willing to exact that interpretation on the lives of those a) whom they do not know, and b) who may have their own interpretations of the mind of God or think that He is mindless.

And worst of all is that, without their backers, the most damage these two could do would be to their wives or daughters, possibly.  By being elevated to positions of secular power the damage spreads like a human whirlwind.  Next thing you know, men such as these will propose incarcerating rape-victims who speak too loudly about not wanting to carry the one week old fetus to term, to prevent self induced abortion and the thwarting of God’s so called will.





Marriage For those Who Wish to Marry

So President Obama has finally done it: “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Overdue for some, challenging for some and greater increase of their visceral disgust in others.

What this means in terms of actual legislation, change of laws, acceptance back into families, additions to story-lines in children’s books, teen novels or TV shows is yet to be seen. Though the commentariat is fully at predicting:

Obama Team:

Jonathan Rauch: Brookings

Three Right Wingers

Wall Street Journal Readers

Forbes: 5 Reasons

Generationally, it’s been clear for some time,that couples hanging out together, whatever their looks, or preferences in privacy, are simply part of everyday life.  If they are best friends at 17 and 19 why shouldn’t they be able to cohabitate, marry and divorce, bring up children, go to PTA meetings, care for each other in old age as they get older? To think otherwise can only be explained by the weirdness of being brain dead.

Of course this tolerance didn’t arrive simply because of youth itself.  The young can be notoriously intolerant, as the recent movie Bully shows, or any middle school teacher can tell you from the epithets thrown around the school yard.

It arrived because of decades of insistence by brave souls who were willing to take on abuse by saying publicly that they were gay; decades of public display of togetherness and numbers in parades and demonstrations; decades of people telling their families and co-workers that they were gay, they loved someone with the same equipment as themselves.  Decades to be able to understand that love and heartache were pretty similar, regardless.  Decades to realize how many important, culture shaping people were gay. Decades of individuals and companies instituting their own changes in perception of what is normal.  A management team realizing ‘We need this programer, or that designer, for her skills, his talent, regardless what is done is places we don’t want to know about.’  Soldiers realizing that reliance on one another in danger did not stop because of the precise person another loved.

In this case, as Biden, Duncan and finally Obama have spoken publicly they are following many other political leaders who themselves have come from constituencies that are changing.  Attorneys General in many states are women; it goes without notice now.  CEOs of major companies are women.  CEOs are gay.  Senators and Representatives are gay.  Beloved teachers and mentors are gay.   It’s a good thing more voices are added to the chorus: the times are a changing..the old road is rapidly aging….


Now, for my part, if only some energies that have advanced both racial and sexual rights, the organizing,  the militancy, the  personal testimony, the incremental and major changes, would be released to work on climate change, on the right to live itself — before it is too late.  Civil Rights will mean little in world wide water wars — too much rain, too little rain, cities sunk beneath rising seas, populations pushing up against each other trying to survive.

A Boy to Be Sacrificed

This short opinion piece by Abdellah Taia in the Sunday NY Times, has got to be one of the most distressing  accounts of a boy’s life I have read in years.

IN the Morocco of the 1980s, where homosexuality did not, of course, exist, I was an effeminate little boy, a boy to be sacrificed, a humiliated body who bore upon himself every hypocrisy, everything left unsaid. By the time I was 10, though no one spoke of it, I knew what happened to boys like me in our impoverished society; they were designated victims, to be used, with everyone’s blessing, as easy sexual objects by frustrated men. And I knew that no one would save me — not even my parents, who surely loved me. For them too, I was shame, filth. A “zamel.”

Read All

His An Arab Melancholia,(2008/2012e) and Salvation Army (2006/2009e), are available in an English translation by Frank Stock.  Le rouge du trabouche, which he mentions, seems not yet to be translated