Archive for France

Overnight: Living LIke God in France: St. Paul de Vence



Germans have an expression for living very well.  It's 'living like God in France'.  When you see small French medieval towns like Saint-Paul-de-Vence which, except for the tourist shops, look very much as they must have when they were founded in the Middle Ages (in this case, the 9th century), it's easy to understand why.

Not far from Nice, it's home to the Fondation Maeght Museum of Modern Art, alone worth a visit to the French Riviera and this small town.  Learn more about Fondation Maeght here.


Overnight: Renoir - Private life of a Masterpiece (BBC Documentary)



From the 'About' section on YouTube:

Bal du moulin de la Galette (commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) is an 1876 painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time there dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening.
Like other works of Renoir's early maturity, Bal du moulin de la Galette is a typically Impressionist snapshot of real life. It shows a richness of form, a fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering light.

More on this BBC documentary here.

Incidentally, 'moulin' = "mill"/ A "galette" is (from the Wiki) " a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes similar in concept to a Chinese bing. "


How Dare First Lady Michelle Obama Dazzle?

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

One might think it takes a particularly ignorant individual, or individuals, to criticize the First Lady of the United States for wearing a ball gown to a state dinner. Yet, that is exactly what happened following last week’s official dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande.

On Tuesday, February 11th, First Lady Michelle Obama dazzled dinner guests wearing a GORGEOUS blue and black-laced gown designed by Venezuelan-America designer, Carolina Herrera. The next day, as if on cue, right wing darling Michelle Malkin, and her Twitter #BowDownWednesday crowd, were appalled – JUST appalled, I guess unhappy that Mrs. Obama did not “Bow Down” to their tacky level.

Amanda Marcotte states it best in the title for her piece on, How Dare Michelle Obama Wear a Ballgown to a State Dinner.”

The loonier edge of the right-wing media has been up in arms all week at the temerity of the Obamas to think they get to host state dinners for foreign leaders just because the country elected Barack Obama to be our president. The outrage (hopefully) reached maximum capacity when Michelle Malkin and her outrage crew at Twitchy discovered that the first lady wore ... wait for it ... a ballgown to Tuesday's state dinner for French President Francois Hollande. Not just any ballgown, but an expensive one, as tends to be the case when it comes to ballgowns worn to state dinners. Blood pressures at Twitchy rose to worrying heights when it was discovered that some journalists thought Michelle Obama looked lovely in her ballgown. In retaliation for the travesty of the first lady donning formal wear to a formal dining event, Malkin started retweeting her followers taking selfies of themselves in cheap clothes meant for casual events. We all know Michelle Malkin is not ignorant, no; she is just mean, mean and very good at frothing the ignorant masses.

Here are a few other First Ladies who missed the Malkinite message:

October 13, 2008 President and Mrs. Bush with the Prime Minister of Italy photo by Charles Dharapak/AP

February 8, 1995 President and Mrs. Clinton and Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of Germany photo by Tim Brakemeier/ AFP/Getty Images


March 31, 1987 President and Mrs. Reagan host French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and his wife, Bernadette. photo by Ron Edmonds/AP

See More Historic State Dinner Fashion:


Video Mid Day Distraction- Daredevil filmed defying death


Seriously scary. Via.


The GOP Wages War On Peace


shiny object syndrome

Republicans are just like pet cats. "Oh, look, another shiny object."

Recently rounds of their Scandalgates include: Solyndra, the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare, court packing, and now Iran. Those frisky felines just can't find enough distractions from doing their job, legislating. How about financial reform? Immigration? A crumbling infrastructure? Job creation? Illegal voter restrictions? Education funding

Why can't the Republicans accept peaceful means as an answer for settling conflicts? Why must bullets fly? Are they really that heavily into the back pockets of the current day military-industrial complex?

This past Saturday night, a long in the works agreement was finally reached on a first step agreement toward resolving a growing nuclear threat with Iran. Happy, happy, joy, joy! Not to the war-torn tribes of the Republican party.

This agreement is but a first step. Not a treaty. An agreement to outline procedures that could ultimately lead to a resolve of tensions, sanctions and normalization with a huge population in the tension packed Middle East.

Though Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu isn't happy, the rest of the world should be. If we go to war with Iran, all of the middle east will be pulled in and every power around the world (Russia, China, Japan, England) will be drawn into the conflict. This area is the hotbed, the potential flash point of a possible nuclear annihilation of the world. Any chance at peace in that region must be seriously exploited.

So this accord should be looked at in a positive light -- unless you're a Republican. When you're the party of war and conflict, peace becomes your enemy. And if the people of the US have tired of war, you have to keep up the ruse of a threat so you can still hold onto your popularity. That's the talking points now for the Republicans. But what they're really saying is they're against possible peaceful solutions when they can profit so much more by seeing US troops killed and so much blood and money pumped into their war machine.

This agreement is a baby step, the beginning of a long and most arduous journey. But we have to start somewhere, and firing the shot heard round the world isn't the best option. Not when talking, peacefully negotiating and bringing the world together focusing on facts, not rumors, is the result.

The Israeli's who are generally very reliable say Iran is but moments (figuratively) away from nuclear capabilities. But the English and French who gave GW Bush the intelligence that Saddam Hussein had WMD's are just as reliable. And their claims proved false. Do we need a war when we can peacefully approach and confirm the situation?

There are risks here, make no mistake. But when the argument against the first steps are "this is just a smoke screen or diversion from the failed rollout of Obamacare" you have to wonder what planet these critics are from. A diversion? I can't wait until Obama faces responsibility for the next blizzard, earthquake or hurricane that happens upon our shores.

Let's get real here. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Senators John Cornyn and Bob Corker are leading the charge of talking points that claim this agreement is merely a distraction for Obamacare. This pablum is coming from leaders of the fallen GOP party. This kind of thinking indicates they are all in need a LifeAlert bracelet -- "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

help I've fallen

If these morons can utilize their talking points, maybe it's time the Democrats start pushing theirs-- play the racial bigotry card against the GOP. Republicans don't want peace because they don't want a Black president to get credit for eliminating chemical weapons in Syria, ending a war in Iraq and shutting down nuclear threats in Iran.

In the '70s, during the Viet Nam era, the popular chant of John Lennon's song became a peace mantra, 'All we are saying, is give peace a chance." Never truer than today. Let's give peace a chance.


Did French King Henri IV Have Obamacare?



The French say, "Qu'on lui coupe la tête" (Translated: "Off with his head".)  And it seems they're saying it once again.

This time to French monarch, King Henri IV who's mummified skull was being kept in a Parisian bank vault -- yup, you heard that right, (talk about a heady deposit). The late king who died in 1610 just got his eviction notice. Must have been sent by very slow pony express, Non? It looks like the royal is the latest victim of a case of mistaken identity. That's what happens when you have socialized medicine.

This tragic news got me thinking about the Republicans talking points for abolishing the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare, Death panels, denial of service, long lines, no doctors or if you're lucky enough to get into see one, they run unnecessary tests just to build up your bill.

So putting some facts with some Republican talking points, let me take you on a tiny French/English adventure which starts out with this little known story -- which the Republican's see as a cautionary tale.

Obamacare is bad

Maybe you missed this, but not HuffPo

LONDON (AP) — Three years ago, French researchers declared that a centuries-old mummified head was that of the beloved King Henri IV. But now a new study says, "Non!"

The original conclusion was based largely on facial reconstruction techniques and signs the skull had injuries similar to those suffered by the monarch. The new study looked at DNA instead.

Kind of a good news/bad news story. Good news-- we found the remains of the late, great king Henry IV (who left us in 1610 in case you didn't get the news). Yeah! Not yeah, he's dead, but yeah they found him wherever he was busy moldering. Oops. Now the bad news-- It's not him. Testing shows the French made a mistake. Oh, mon Dieu. Well, at least they didn't surrender.

Jean-Jacques Cassiman, an emeritus professor at the University of Leuven, said he wasn't sure who the head or the blood sample belonged to. The DNA from both failed to match samples from other royal families on record.

Amid the frenzy of the French revolution, the royal tombs at Saint Denis near Paris were dug up and some accounts claim Henri IV's head got chopped off and stolen.

Oh, those pesky souvenir hunters. Gold and jewels weren't enough. Someone had to grab the ol' king's head.

Anyway, the popular (at least in his day) king's head was sent to London for some tests. Government-run medical tests. Are you starting to see where Obamacare and this story intersect?

Wisdom says it's a bit late for a cure, but with Obamacare, certainly not tests. After all, those crazy Republicans have been warning us of the reach and control the government will take under the ACA. France has socialized medicine similar to what the GOP has described as our new system. Ted Cruz points out that by running these tests, maybe socialized medicine doesn't know when to stop intruding into our lives. Perhaps 403 years after death (Mike Lee indicates he has proof that Henri's death was the result of a Bachmann-descendant's death panel).

Anyway, skip with me now in time to the skull as it was ultimately retrieved and sent from Paris to London where DNA tests were run.

It found a genetic mismatch between the head and three living male relatives of the 17th-century French king.

That got me thinking -- How old do you think that makes these living relatives? The 17th century is a long time ago. Well, it must be something in the French water. Gotta get me some Perrier.


Frank Ruehli, of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Mummy project, said it was very difficult to get good data from a sample several centuries old.

No Dah.

"The best would be to look at (Henri IV's) heart as well," he said. "If you have multiple tissues from the same body showing the same results, that would be a positive identification," he said. Ruehli said given the lack of complete data, it was impossible to know for sure whom the head belonged to.

Here's the kicker -- under Obamacare, the government has a statute of limitations which wouldn't allow them to go back and harvest the heart. Fortunately, skulls are exempt from that technicality and thus they could do the testing.

The mummified head is currently awaiting reburial but there are no exact plans yet.

Let's hope there's no French government shutdown like we have here or there may be no Francs to pay the survivors benefits allowing for internment. King Henri, or whoever's head that might be, may have to forgo a service over lack of government funding.


This Historical Moment Brought To You By President Madison


James Madison

We have three branches of our government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. But according to history and an article in BUSINESS INSIDER, we almost had a fourth. Oh, and this one's a pip. Today the Republicans would be jumping all over it regarding Obamacare. But I get ahead of myself.

First the background. This story comes from Business Insider and is part of the commemoration of the upcoming  226th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution (Sept. 17th if you're curious). According to the article, Virginian, James Madison felt there was still a problem with the balance of power. He feared that the will of a majority-directed legislature would swamp the decision-making and oversight powers of the executive and judiciary.

Madison's solution? The Council of Revision.

The Council would comprise elements of the executive and judiciary, and would have the authority to, "examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate, & every act of a particular Legislature before a Negative thereon shall be final."

The dissenters to this proposed fourth arm felt that it would turn judges into lawmakers. Hmm. How interesting. 226 years later, some would say that's exactly what did happen.

A vote was taken to create this new branch but it was narrowly defeated, 4-3.

So, a council of revision. Boy, a chance for a do-over. Wouldn't that be grand. I bet today,with the current political climate, it would be used as often as the Republican filibuster. Nothing would get done.

Come to think of it, even without that forth branch, nothing seems to get done. And if you were thinking it could be a good idea, consider this. A council of revision was added to the French government in 1958.


France?! That alone should tell you it was not a good idea. If history tells us anything, the French could use another branch of their government but it would be called, nous nous rendons "We Surrender." For that and Bouillabaisse, the French are best known.