#28 - FRENCH COURAGE


They have the weapons. Fuck them. We have the Champagne.
After having endured centuries of invading armies sweeping through their country, after enduring decades of terror attacks arising from their involvement in North Africa and the Middle East, the French might be excused if they said, "Enough is enough. Our borders are closed."

But they haven't said that.

Today, President Hollande reaffirmed France's willingness to accept tens of thousands of refugees over the next two years. France will, he said, reinforce its borders at the same time that it honors its humanitarian commitments. "Our duty is to carry on with our lives," Hollande said.

So the French will continue to eat good food, drink good wine, smoke strong cigarettes, and watch Jerry Lewis movies. Because they ARE French. And that's what French people do.


Bravery? Perhaps. I think it has more to do with a deep understanding of what is important and what is transient. Fear is transient. Being French is timeless.

HANDICAPPING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION - NOVEMBER 2015

DEMOCRATS
That's Martin O'Malley on the left. He had his shot to stand on a stage with Hillary and Bernie and show that he belonged. Didn't happen.

After the first debate, Hillary solidified her lead. Not that Bernie didn't do well. Very well. He just didn't do well enough. After Hillary's performance at the Benghazi hearings and the second debate, it's hard to see her losing Iowa. And if she wins Iowa big, it's hard to see where Bernie goes after New Hampshire. And of course, if Hillary wins New Hampshire, game over.

The wildcard for the past two months, Joe Biden, is history. So that spot reverts to Elizabeth Warren...with a very tiny window to crawl through.

November, 2015
Favorite: Hillary Clinton
Long Shot: Bernie Sanders
Wild Card: Elizabeth Warren
Prediction: Hillary Clinton

July, 2015
Favorite: Hillary Clinton
Long Shot: Bernie Sanders
Wild Card: Elizabeth Warren
Prediction: Hillary Clinton


REPUBLICANS
I admit it. I am completely flummoxed. I still have sufficient faith to believe that neither Trump nor Carson will be the ultimate choice of the Republicans. After that...

Bush? It's been time for him to step up for months. Past time.

Rubio? Really? A kid who skips school?

Cruz? PuhLEEEze...

Fiona? Liar, liar, pants on fire...

Kasich or Graham? Do Washington insiders stand a chance?

Huckabee or Santorum? It looks like the time for Christians has past.

So there you have it. I have no idea...

November, 2015
Favorite: ????
Long Shot: Kasich and Graham
Wild Card: Everybody else...
Prediction: ????

July, 2015
Favorite: Jeb Bush
Long Shot: Rick Santorum / Mike Huckabee
Wild Card: Any Current/Former Republican Governor/Senator Not Named Christie or Perry
Prediction: Jeb

LA GALINIERE, CAPESTANG - RESTAURANT REVIEW

We decided to try out La Galiniere after living in the area for quite a while and somehow passing it by. That was probably a mistake. The softly lit room with well-spaced tables and a casual atmosphere provided a pleasant, leisurely paced afternoon meal that was as easy on the wallet as it was on the taste buds.

We never saw a menu, opting for the 15 euro formula of the day. Cathey started with the seafood tart with small side salad. These little tarts are ubiquitous near the Mediterranean and this one, with mussels and shrimp, was just fine. I had the Serrano ham with salad. And corn. The little niblets of corn in the salad were, to my memory, the first we've ever been served in France. Nice touch (I've since come to learn that corn is considered exotic and is used quite frequently in salads here. Who knew?) We both opted for the roasted chicken with red wine reduction. Cathey passed on the fish because it was done with saffron and Cathey does not prefer that combination. No worries. With frites and tomato Provencal, the chicken leg-with-thigh was tasty and filling. For dessert, Cathey went for the cheese plate - three small pieces with the feature being the bleu with fig compote. I had the chocolate soup. Well, you had to be there. YooHoo French style. With whipped cream.

With wine and a coffee for me at the finish, the total bill came to 31.60 euros. Well worth the price.

Read more of my reviews HERE.

#27 - HILLARY'S TRUTH, RELATIVITY, I AM OLD

Oprah convinced Hillary to answer the one question on everybody's mind:

Why has she stayed married to Bill all of these years?

"Well, the fact is that we were never married," Hillary confessed to Oprah last Friday. "Has anyone ever seen a marriage certificate? Hell, no. It's as fictional as Barack's American birth certificate. No, Bill and I share ambition, not sleeping arrangements"


But why?

"The only bachelors to ever be elected President were James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland. Not exactly first team all-stars. So if we were both going to be elected President, first Bill needed cover for his tom-catting. Then I needed to pretend that I baked cookies every now and then. You know, gender solidarity and all that nonsense. So we cut a deal"

What about Chelsea?

"What about Chelsea? So I got horny. Once. Even a cold cut like me needs a little mustard every now and then."

RELATIVITY 
I just finished an interesting article outlining the limitations of the general theory of relativity when discussing the micro world and the failure of quantum physics when applied to the macro. We continue to await the startling revelations that string theory promised but the math just doesn't seem to work out.

Question...

Why am I exposing my little gray cells to this stuff? I only have so much room in my brain and there's clearly not enough left to make sense of a physics in which space is not continuous but divided into distinct packets in the same way that light is divided into photons.

TMI. Help!

I AM OLD
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Are black cafeteria workers at Mizzou paid less than their white counterparts? Does it take black professors longer to attain tenure than their white colleagues?

In other words, is Mizzou racist? The answer would appear to be that institutional racism was not the problem at Mizzou. Then what was all the shouting about?

A feces-smeared swastika appeared on a wall. A racial epithet was hurled at a black student. Not examples of institutional racism. This is hate speech.

Hate speech? A university's administration resigned because students were upset by hate speech? And now those students want to suspend classes because more vitriolic hate speech has appeared on social media as a result? What did they expect? Acoustic guitars and Kumbaya?


I am old. Young men and women in our armed forces are dying in foreign lands and we've grown tired of marching. Young men and women on our city streets are dying in what begin as benign interactions with police and we've grown tired of marching. And from somewhere, for some reason, we find the energy to bring a university to its knees over hurt feelings. That's right. Hurt feelings. Whatever language these fragile youngsters use to couch the problem, it comes down to an inability to cope with hate speech and the hurt feelings that result.

My liberal friends will castigate me. How could someone who marched for civil rights in the 60s be so insensitive today? I would like to find a safe space. But I live in the real world. There is no such place.

I am old.

POPPY AND EARLY CHRISTMAS FAIR 2015 ORNAISONS

It was a beautiful day for a drive in the country, so off we went to the small village of Ornaisons. LFN (Little Fat Norm) is a nonprofit organization for expats, Brits mostly, living mainly in and around our corner of southwest France who raise money in support of The Royal British Legion and otherwise gallivant and gambol about the landscape. In this case, LFN took over the Salle Polyvalente (community room) in Ornaisons, offered food including full English breakfasts and fish and chips, and made available both rummage items and crafty things for sale. So we bought our poppies - the price of admission, and we bought some stocking stuffers, and we bought curry leaves from the spice people, and we picked up a couple of paperbacks because you just have to feel a book in your hands every once in a while regardless of how convenient your Kindle is.

A good time was had by all.

Just one of those beautiful, blue sky days...

Can you read them? Fajita Mix. Chipotle Rub. Whoda thunk it?

Stocking stuffers hidden from the children...

BEN CARSON EXPLAINS STONEHENGE

"Think about it," Ben Carson said during the 32nd Republican Presidential debate aired last Wednesday night on public access channel 53 in Des Moines, Iowa. "Would ancient savages have hauled all of those stones around just to predict when to plant corn? That's what the Farmer's Almanac is for. No, the stones were erected to protect crops from elephants."

When moderators pointed out that there had never been elephants on the British Isles, Carson only smiled and nodded.




#26 - LION STEW - AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM


 LION STEW
Rupert Murdoch bought National Geographic and laid off 10% of staff the very first day including, and it almost goes without saying, fact checkers. It has been reported that the next issue will feature recipes for slow-cooking lion meat, an article entitled Survey: Amazon Tribes Prefer Ben Carson Over Bernie Sanders Two to One, and a photo-essay featuring the Kardashian family on a naked safari searching for intelligent life in Culver City.





AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM
There are Americans who hate Obama so much that they swore that if he was elected, and then if he was reelected, they would leave the country. But they've decided to stick around, haven't they? And if Hillary is elected, or if Bernie's elected, my guess is that they'll stick around too. Same goes for Progressives if Rubio or one of the other clowns in the Republican car find their way into the White House for any reason other than a public tour.

Why do you think that is?

Those who follow my ramblings - and God bless you, each and every one - know that Cathey and I have moved permanently from the United States to the south of France. We have explained at every opportunity that our decision was not based on any animosity towards the land of our birth. In fact, we point out with pride that it's mainly due our being American that middle-class folks of relatively modest means like us have the kinds of opportunities that have been afforded to us. That's why we cannot abide the current political climate in the United States.

Politicians have become breathtaking in their rejection of all that is good about America.

I'm not Little Mary Sunshine. We have much work to do to maintain the best of us and regain what's slipped back. But hundreds, thousands of people are literally dying every day to get to America and a pitiful few are in a hurry to leave. We'll have to fight the very forces that clamor that we are in decline to continue our national pursuit of excellence, the very forces that have sold their souls for power, that have forgotten that our combined efforts through a government characterized by serious adult leadership took us to those heights that are still within our grasp, a government that the rich and powerful were happy to fund because the common good was good for all, for the rich and the poor alike.

It's not a time to starve the beast. It's time to feed the beast, to embrace it, to embrace what good governance can accomplish. To give ourselves the strength to rebuild the roads and the railroads, to harness the power of the sun and the wind and the tides, to reach out and touch the stars.

It can be done.

It must be done.

It will be done.

#25 - BACON - CALIPHATE

BACON
So now we're told that bacon causes cancer. Remember when apples were going to kill us? Bananas?

Pfui! The only harm that comes from eating bacon is to the pig that produced it...and it was a noble death.

The women who are at the perfume counter looking for a scent that will drive men wild are in the wrong place. The smell of bacon cooking drives men wild. Reduce that aroma to its essence, bottle it, and spray it on your wrists and behind your ears, ladies. Even vegans will secretly want a lick of that.


CALIPHATE
Speaking of bacon, I have been told by friends who claim to know, some who have roots in the region, that the Arab street in the Middle East is not ready for Western democracy. I have been told that strong men, even men like Saddam and Assad, are needed to keep order until enlightenment comes. And that enlightenment, I am told, cannot be imposed from without. It must bubble up from within.

These same people excoriate Western governments for their handling of the refugee crisis that the rise of the Caliphate has caused. Hundreds of thousands, millions, are on the move to escape violence and death. We must be true to our values, we are told. We must be Christian. We must accept the refugees.
Well, there's a saying that bears repeating about American democracy, expressed initially by Jefferson, sometimes attributed to Lincoln, but certainly refined to its current form by Justice Jackson. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." Jefferson tells us that the laws of self-preservation trump strict adherence to written law when the country is in danger. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in response to rebellion without the consent of Congress, saying that he refused to risk the Union through adherence to a single law. And Jackson encapsulated the sentiment into those seven quoted words when writing in regards of incitement to riot.

My point? If those who know and sympathize with Arabs who are on the road in Europe believe that those Arabs are incapable of understanding and instituting democratic rule in their home countries, how welcome should those Arabs be in our countries? Could it be that the Islamophobes, at least when it comes to immigration and assimilation, have a valid point?

It's a new concept for me, one that I would never have considered if some of my Progressive friends hadn't characterized the Arab street as they have. Having done so, though, have they not made the case for preserving the values of the West by denying access to its safety and benefits to those who cannot be trusted to understand and live peacefully under the system that created the relative comfort and largess that they seek?

10 YEARS OF EXPAT LIFE: COST OF LIVING PART 1

 I retired on April 1, 2014. Cathey and I boarded a plane at JFK on April 15th with four suitcases and two cats, determined to become lifet...