Silly socialism

AS ART LINKLETTER used to say: People are funny.

ArtIn the 132 years since Karl Marx died, plenty of folks still swoon for Marx’s notion of fairness and equality. Let’s look at how Marx’s ideas have played out in real life.

There are varying degrees of Marx’s nutty notions. You’ve got Communism. A little further down the scale you’ll find, with somewhat less impracticality and brutality, socialism and, of course, “social democracy.”

1. Communism. The Soviet Union collapsed after murdering millions of its citizens. Red China, also with rivers of blood on its hands, saw the writing on the wall and is shifting to capitalism while officially saying it’s still communist. Cuba, of course, is a Caribbean basket case.

2. Socialism and Social Democracy. I’ll lump these together because there’s really little difference. In this category, you’ve got much of Europe and its poster boy of Greece where able-bodied youths are running wild in the streets demanding their welfare while the economy collapses.

Another bright ray shining from the Socialist Sun is the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico where just over half of the population is on the dole and another third of the folks hold unionized government jobs.

That big, beautiful island is on the verge of sinking into the Red Sea it has excavated for itself. Blame government unions to a great degree.

Indeed public-sector unions, a terroristic arm of the socialist philosophy, are sending governments into bankruptcy all over the West. A government union job is a great gig if you can score one. Retire at 50 with 99 percent of your salary, full health benefits, etc., all underwritten by taxpayers.

Taxes are highest where social democracy is embraced, but they still fall short of the delicious benefits paid.

Today’s Democratic Party in America, more than ever under President Barry, embraces social democracy as the nation sinks into its own Red Sea. And cities run by Democrats are even worse off financially as their municipal populations also collapse into social pathologies. Related?

And the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders is looking real sweet these days to Democrats as a presidential contender. Stunning.

You have no problem finding millions of people who vote for this egregious nonsense and who call themselves socialist and “Democrats.” Yes, people are funny. Art Linkletter sure did know us.

Moral: Limited, conservative, proudly capitalist governments do not deliver this grief. They deliver prosperity and opportunities.

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw

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(Shameless self-promotion: Sick of the occasional political polemic? Head over to the new and improved Satellite Moon where you’ll find sweeter seas, photos of your Hacienda hosts, tales of gentle birdies, sometimes lovely music, nothing to offend your socialist sensibilities.

Ice cream stand

helado

WHAT’S BETTER than cool air and ice cream? Hot air and ice cream, of course. But we don’t have that hereabouts, and in 98 percent of circumstances, the cool air is preferable.

Most afternoons, after we’ve done lunch at 2 p.m. at the Hacienda, I head downtown just to get out of the house, sit at a sidewalk table, enjoy a nice espresso and watch the girls go by.

After the espresso and ogling, I sometimes stand up to walk to another side of our broad and beautiful plaza — to purchase ice cream, for which we are famous. There are a number of ice cream stands over there outside City Hall, and they’ve been in business for decades or more.

There, in the photo, is my favorite stand, La Pacanda. Like all the ice cream stands, it sells two styles: milk and water. The milk version, which is closer to standard ice cream, I find a bit unpleasant. It has, to my tongue, an oily consistency. So I always order the water style.

Sometimes I vary, but being a fellow set quite firmly in his ways, I normally order limón, which is a dead ringer for the lemon ices I used to buy many years ago at Angelo Brocato’s in New Orleans.

I get the small cup, 12 pesos, and then I cross the street and do one of two things, sometimes both. I slowly circle the plaza, or I sit on a stone bench, listening to the music softly playing through outdoor speakers.

Then I go home.

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Unrelated material: A few days back, after getting irked at WordPress, I started a blog on Tumblr, thinking perhaps I would abandon this WP Land, high-tail it. I linked to the Tumblr then, even though it was mostly a casual endeavor. I have since decided to stay put here, but I like it over there too. I have gussied it up considerably, and will run with it.

It will be lighter in tone, and it will have no political polemics. It has a new name, Satellite Moon. Tumblr surprised me. It’s well organized. There are lots of free blog templates and even the ones with price tags are reasonable. I bought one for $19. It absolutely beats the pants off Blogger.

Barry’s raspberry

barry

FOR A DAY or two after the Supreme Court’s rewriting of the U.S. Constitution so gay folks can get married, I saw this photo in passing as I scanned news stories. I naively assumed it was Photoshopped.

When I learned that Barry had actually done this, my head exploded. To call this outrageous is a massive understatement.

Gay marriage is extremely controversial. A large chunk of the U.S. population opposes it far more than I do, and most of that opposition is felt by Christians who consider it a slap in the face of God.

chuckleheadThe president is the president of all the people. The White House is the house of all the people. The hyper-partisan Barry, the antithesis of a president “of all the people,” does not get that.

For the millions of Americans who oppose gay marriage, you have received a raspberry from your president. He has stuck his finger in your eye on purpose. He is doing a victory jig around the White House, and he’s doing all these things intentionally. It’s the upraised middle finger.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Barry, for more reasons than just this, is the worse occupant of the White House in history.

A declining day

streetTHIS IS WHAT late Monday in my hardscrabble neighborhood looked like. It’s the first corner down from the Hacienda.

It’s not Beverly Hills.

Recently, when I got irritated by WordPress, I started looking for some blog alternatives only to discover there’s a reason that WP is the big cheese. The competition isn’t even in the running, at least the free options.

First, I considered returning to Blogger where I opined for years, but on checking that option out, I thought: Yuck! It hasn’t improved a lick.

I really don’t understand why people use it when it’s easy to jump to WordPress. Well, that’s not quite true. I do understand. It’s inertia.

So I will be staying here at WordPress. But during my investigation, I discovered that Tumblr, where I  opened an account years ago and saw nothing of interest, has developed some interesting options.

I have updated my account there, opened a blog with the name of Satellite Moon, and will be posting things there now and then, even though this will remain my main website, Moon No. 1.

At present, I have dropped a few of my favorites from the Pearls of Zapata there, and I’ve added a video and photo, which is what I likely will do more than anything, videos and photos, and Lord knows what else.

The internet is fun. It keeps me off the street and clear of a life of crime. I’m thinking of buying an iPad, for Pete’s sake.

Censored and banned

WITH THE overreaching Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage is constitutional (the Constitution mentions anything related to gay marriage?) WordPress, like a number of other online outfits — Tumblr, Facebook, etc. — decided to fly the Gay Pride flag in riotous multicultural celebration.

The blowback was immediate and extreme on their forum, which I imagine caught the zealous, politically trendy, high-tech boys and girls who run WordPress completely by surprise.

flagPeople oppose gay marriage?! How is it possible?

They were flummoxed.

Did they realize their faux pas and zap the flag? Did they apologize and state that the flag’s appearance was temporary, which appears to be the case? Did they open their diversity-loving hearts to contrary opinions?

Answer: Not on your life, Bub.

They began closing the forum threads that complained and banning posters who wrote or supported them. This is akin to the outrage that a commencement-speaking invitation to Bill O’Reilly or any conservative would confront at New York University or Columbia.

Following is the forum post that got me — yes, me — banned:

I’m picturing a WP staff meeting of the top honchos. I see a group of gals and guys, most if not all Millennials, all tech-savvy, natch, and the door is shut, creating an echo chamber which, of course, means their own, identical ideas are always heard over and over again. Other ideas — contrary notions — do not intrude. If one does bust in somehow, everybody screams in unison to drown it out.

This means they assume their concepts, beliefs and ideals are universal.

One of these ideas is that gay marriage is a great thing. It never occurs to any of them that a contrary idea exists. Oh, they know that evil people out there, mostly in fly-over country, folks who chew tobacco and cud and intermarry with cousins, do not believe in gay marriage, but they dismiss these people out of hand as of no importance whatsoever. Surely, none of those hayseeds are WP customers.

Another idea that bounces eternally off the wall of the echo chamber is that Capitalism is a curse. They believe this in spite of getting a weekly paycheck from a corporation. Nobody ever said the echo chamber had to make perfect sense or even any sense at all.

Believing Capitalism and corporations to be a curse, they feel free to ignore basic corporate rules such as not angering your customers, and its flip side of doing all possible to have happy customers.

There is also the long-known concept of staying out of religion and politics if you don’t want to have a bonfire in your living room, a bonfire that — if not brought under control — can burn your house down.

I imagine this WP staff meeting of Millennials in their echo chamber, and I know that apart from computer code they are clueless about running a business. How else to explain this inexplicable, and almost impossible to remove, rainbow flag on the editor?

Even your yokel plowing a peanut patch in fly-over country to sell at the market knows the basic premise of not angering any more of your customers than necessary. He wants to sell dem peanuts, after all.

He restricts his religious beliefs to church service on Sunday morning and his political beliefs to the voting booth. He knows better than to wave them in the faces of customers who just might think otherwise.

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FYI: I ‘m okay with legal unions for gays, but the marriage word should be kept out of it. Only men and women should “get married.” Call me old-fashioned. I do not mind. You may feel otherwise, and that’s okay.

I will not ban you for it.

Slandering of America

BEEN FOLLOWING the news lately?

If you have, you’ve no doubt heard, time after sickening time, that America is a nation steeped in “white supremacy.” That accusation is being tossed about liberally, pardon the expression, by people who desperately want to denigrate the U.S. and our history.

To them, Dylann Roof is far more than an evil psycho who slaughtered innocents in a Charleston church. He is, to America-bashers, a natural consequence of our “white supremacist” culture — driven to kill by his hatred of blacks and his love of the Confederate flag.

The misguided people using Charleston to denounce America should answer a simple question: Why are so many “people of color,” to use that trendy phrase, clamoring to move to the U.S.? Are they ignorant, masochistic or blind? Perhaps all of the above?

flagNever mind the tens of millions of Mexicans who have found their way north. What about the immigrants from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and other black nations in sub-Saharan Africa?

According to a report put out by the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute, “Black Africans are among the fastest-growing groups of U.S. immigrants.” In fact, the number of blacks moving from Africa to the U.S. doubled over the past decade.

Again, why are they so eager to come to a country where “white supremacy” rules? It would be akin to black Africans migrating to South Africa in the heyday of Apartheid.

These black immigrants are living proof that many on the left are flat-out lying about America. Lying on a nightly basis, lying with impunity, lying without any fear of being challenged by our sniveling, cowardly media.

Our opinion-shapers deserve credit for accomplishing something truly astounding. Thanks to them, it is now considered racially insensitive to describe America as a “land of opportunity.” If you want respect and tenure at a prestigious university, forget that “opportunity” stuff and start talking about “white supremacy.” Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Consider a few of the ridiculous statements put out by academic types on national TV over the past week. “We are a society that values white people over people of color.” … “We are mired in prejudice and racism.” … “The source of the problem is white supremacy.”

The hosts and the anchors tend to nod in passive agreement, terrified of challenging the slander and thus being accused of racism themselves. Yes, we have reached a very strange point where running down your own country is considered a badge of honor, a sign of intelligence and sophistication.

This shameful episode is more proof of the adage put forth by ol’ Mark Twain: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Well, right now the truth is standing in its bare feet while a bare-faced lie is being spread around the globe.

The truth is evident to most clear-thinking Americans. Our nation, like all others, is flawed. Many of our forefathers condoned slavery, brutalized American Indians, and looked the other way when racial discrimination was codified by law.

More truth: There are still anti-black bigots in the U.S., but it is a grotesque lie to claim the country is defined by them. They wield little influence and power; they are generally dismissed as solitary losers. Even when one of them, namely Dylann Roof, takes out his gun and becomes a terrorist.

Roof’s carnage inspired the very best in many precincts. There was the immediate and incredible willingness of many Christians, particularly black Christians, to offer forgiveness. The act of terror also brought out America’s worst — the politicians and pundits who seem almost gleeful now that they have another opportunity to diminish this country.

When it comes to race and America, not only do many on the left see the glass as half-empty, they’re certain it’s about to fall and small into thousands of shards that will injure people. And most of the victims will, of course, be minorities.

Sadly, the race hustlers and liars are winning the war of words right now. They will continue to win unless and until truth-tellers fight back. Yes, we may get labeled bigots or worse, but the truth is on our side: This is the greatest, most welcoming and most diverse country in the history of the planet Earth.

The U.S. remains a land of opportunity. But don’t ask an Ivy League humanities professor about that. Ask a Nigerian cab driver or a Kenyan scientist. They know the real truth about the United States of America.

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The above is The Unseen Moon’s first-ever guest column. It was authored by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.

Granny’s farm

AS MENTIONED a time or three, I spent much of my youth at Granny’s house, actually living there full-time my first six years.

It was my grandfather’s house too, but he died when I was 12, so I associate the house primarily with my grandmother, my mother’s mother.

The whole lot of us — me, my older sister, my mother and father — lived on the farm right after World War II. I wonder what my grandparents thought of that, having daughter come home with a family in tow.

Fortunately, there were three bedrooms in the big, clapboard house, which was built around 1890 by Granny’s father, a fabulously wealthy farmer who was named Dard Moree.

After moving to Jacksonville, Florida, just before I started the Second Grade, we returned often to visit. My mother was an only child, you see, and you know how that goes. Powerful parental connections.

I often think of this place and those days that were so different.

One of my favorite pastimes was to take walks. This was a 500-acre farm, mind you, and the house was set more or less in the northeast quadrant. Usually, I would take these walks alone, and there were two ways to go. Forward from the house was one, and behind the house was the other.

* * * *

SETTING OUT

pumpLet’s go forward first. The house faced a dirt road that went from the Five Points General Store a few miles to the right to the bustling metropolis of Sylvester, Georgia, to the left, passing first through a few inconsequential settlements and one gas station.

Walking off the front porch, crossing that road (which today is a paved highway) you were facing a field that sloped downward to a narrow creek about a quarter mile away. I don’t remember much ever being in that field, sometimes a horse, but we didn’t do horses. We did cows.

The creek ran, more or less, parallel to the dirt road above and, as is often the case, the creek had trees lining its edges. It was a very small creek that you could leap across or step over using stones or confused tree roots.

Greenery of all sorts loves a good creek.

So I would walk down to the creek just because it was cool in the summer, which is the season I spent most time there after moving to Florida, and there were minnows to watch. Turtles too at times.

And the sound of the water, which was incredibly clear, passing over and around those confused tree roots and stones.

It was simply a fine place to be.

That was the forward walk, a pretty simple proposition, but it sits well in my memory, and I wish I could do it again, but I cannot.

Then there’s the backward walk.

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GOING THE OTHER WAY

At a right angle to the dirt road, there was a set of two parallel ruts formed by tires of pickups and tractors (We had Ford tractors.) that formed an even simpler road that ran along the house’s left side, going behind, and continued to the pond and beyond to plenty of corn.

cowAs you walked along these tire ruts, there was a large grove of pecan trees to the right, plus the really humongous chicken house (abandoned when we left), plus a storage/tractor shed.

On the left was a field that usually contained Hereford cows. They grazed there, but they also hung out under the pecans because there was no fence. I say cows, but there always was one bull because, well, you know.

Like Route 1, this consisted of about a quarter mile too. Then, if you continued ahead, you’d come to a broad expanse of corn rows that went on and on. You can get lost in a corn field, you know, but not forever.

But just before the corn started and the pecan grove ended, you could angle down to the left, heading northwest on your walk, down what was usually a broad gully that ended at the pond, which was named Wavering.

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BABY IN A TREE

This pond, it seems, has been there for centuries. Local lore has it — and maybe it’s true — that a last battle between nasty “old” white men and noble “Native Americans” took place on the shores of Waving Pond.

babyNot so much a battle as a rout, it is said — the “Native Americans” fared badly — and that those Indians hightailed it out of there so fast that a baby was left behind hanging from a tree limb.

According to the story, the baby was adopted and raised by a loving, white family to be a good Christian who ate at a pine table with forks and knives and napkins and good manners.

And that is the story.

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WATER AND CYPRESS

The pond is about two acres, which is to say very large, a lake, actually. You cannot see from one end to the other, but that’s due more to the proliferation of towering cypress trees than it is to sheer distance.

There was always a rowboat waiting there, pulled out of the water and tied with a rope, and two oars. I traveled many a day in that boat, looking over the rail into the murky water where lurked snakes, turtles and fish.

My mother swam there in the 1920s and 1930s, diving from a board nailed high on a cypress tree. But I never jumped into those dark waters.

You never knew what you could encounter.

I’m not sure anyone knew the pond’s source, the overgrowth and trees made it difficult to pinpoint one, but I did my best to find it. There were arms of water that would veer off at certain points, but you could only go so far in that rowboat before you were blocked by fallen limbs.

There were other places to walk on Granny’s farm, of course. Just going out into the pecan grove to scoop fallen nuts was good eating, and there was a third walk, also across the dirt road — but farther to the right — that would take you to huge fields of peanuts and cotton that had truck ruts through the middle that made for fine walking in summer’s sun.

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CAP BAITING A HOOK

But before leaving Wavering Pond, here’s the only photo I can find of it. I tossed so much when I left Houston, too much. This is Cap, who was Granny’s handyman for decades and all through my childhood.

He and his wife, Willie, our maid, lived in a mighty humble house provided by my grandparents just across the road and down a bit. He’s baiting a fishhook on the edge of Wavering Pond.

Cap loved whisky and never uttered a word more than necessary. He died when I was in my mid-20s. My father found him on the floor. I have no clue how old Cap was. Regrettably, we took him for granted.

Cap was the in-between generation, between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, between President Grant and President Johnson.

And he liked to fish in Wavering Pond.

cap

Papacito Day

jetSUNDAY WAS Father’s Day, of course. Unlike Mother’s Day, which falls on different days in Mexico and the United States, Father’s Day is on the same day. One wonders why.

I am a father, but my daughter has gone entirely, it seems, to her mother’s side (my first of three wives), and her mother long ago remarried, providing my daughter with a substitute, and he is a very good guy.

That leaves me, apparently, not a father anymore. I have been deleted.

That means, for me at least, yesterday was not Papa Day. It was Papacito Day, which is another matter altogether. Being a Mexican woman’s Papacito is a romantic thing. And being a Mexican man’s Mamacita is too. I am married to my Mamacita, and she is married to her Papacito.

It is not always that way. You can have a Mamacita or Papacito on the side. Even though you can get into trouble doing that, it is fairly common.

We celebrated Papacito Day by dining in a nice restaurant just outside a village near here. The restaurant has an unpronounceable name that comes from our local indigenous people. I think it’s sort of silly to put an unpronounceable name to a business, but it seems to be doing well.

eat2And here is the restaurant. It’s a humble place. The ceiling and the roof are one and the same. Beams and artificial clay tiles. A major storm erupted while we were both digging into plates of breaded fish and guacamole, and a few raindrops fell on my gray-haired head.

* * * *

So you may be asking, What’s with the airliner?

I snapped that shot on Sunday too, as we were driving to the restaurant. Our hardscrabble neighborhood on the upside of town is where you’ll find our airport. It’s a dirt strip, and walking distance from the Hacienda.

A few years back, someone started an ultralight business there for tourists to see the area from on high. In the early days, we often had two-seater ultralights over the Hacienda. But that’s kind of petered out. And we’ve had hot-air balloon festivals at that airport too. But not recently.

A couple of years ago, someone decided to buy an old Aeromexico DC-9 airliner and install it at our dirt strip, you know, just for show. Getting the airliner here was fun. Here’s what happened:

It was trucked here. The wings were removed and the tail too, leaving just the cylindrical body, which was lowered onto some monster trailer and pulled by a semi. It came from the direction of the state capital, and everything was going fine until it arrived at the turn here in our neighborhood. A DC-9 corners poorly.

At the right turn from the main highway onto the secondary road, there is a gentle incline downward, and there is a carnitas stand right on that corner, directly by the highway, and it was the eating hour.

As the airliner entered the turn, it began to roll off its trailer. It landed on the highway with a considerable thump, one imagines, I was not there, wish I had been, and began to roll toward the carnitas stand.

You can imagine the eyeballs of the fellow slicing carnitas as the DC-9 rolled toward him. It stopped just a few feet away. I happened to drive by minutes later and saw the airliner resting on the highway, which is not something you see very often, especially without blood, body parts, mangled luggage and flame-retarding foam.

To make a long story shorter, they got it off the highway somehow, and later installed it on a concrete stand at the nearby airport, and put the wings back on, plus the jet housings.

Months later, I drove to the airport, and the owner was there, the same guy with the ultralight business, and he gave me a tour inside the jet. The seats were missing, but it’s fun to stand inside a bit of aviation history.

I took this shot Sunday, and we continued on to the restaurant with the unpronounceable name, breaded fish and terrific rainstorm.

All told, it was a good Papacito Day.

And I hope I have lots more.

Leaving Mexico

NO, NOT ME. Gadzooks! I’ll be here till I die.

But sometimes people from above the Rio Bravo move to Mexico, stay a spell, and then pack up and go back, after all the bother of coming here in the first place, and it is a bother. Culture shock too.

What inspires this post today is a recent blog entry from Debi Kuhn who lives with her husband, Tom, in Mérida. They’ve been in that sweltering city for 10 years, but are planning to pack up and return to the United States, an incomprehensible step, to my way of thinking.

Debi is a little vague on the cause of the return, pointing mostly at the difficulty of learning Spanish. And that can truly be a major problem. But it can be solved by moving to San Miguel de Allende where all Mexicans within the city limits are obligated to learn English for your convenience.

And the weather is way nicer than Mérida too.

The first two or three years, I would have returned to the United States had it been financially feasible. It would have required returning to the workforce — a horrible thought — due to the far higher U.S. cost of living. Living in Mexico is cheap. Don’t believe it when people say otherwise.

I moved south alone seven years before I was eligible for Social Security. I lived on a measly corporate pension of $540 a month, and I took up the slack with savings. And I lived just fine. When I got married at age 58, the two of us lived well on the same money for the next four years.

Time has passed, and I’ve grown used to Mexico. Culture shock is long gone. I feel utterly at home. Culture shock would likely hit me if I returned to America where I have not set foot since early 2009.

I like it here very much.

The language thing Debi mentions can be a bear. If you come here as a couple, which means you speak English daily, learning Spanish well enough to have conversations is almost impossible except for the very young.

Virtually everyone I know of who can converse in Spanish has either moved here solo or is married to a Latina.

flagIt takes time to acclimate to this very different world. But go back now? No way, José.

I love hearing burros braying in the distance at dawn, and roosters and dogs. I love sunrises over mountains that I watch every morning above this computer screen where I read the news from America and its ethnic conflicts, race riots, deficit spending and “social democracy.”

In an odd way, I even love the passing trains that gently rattle window panes in the middle of the night. I love the weekday morning exercise walks around the nearby plaza where sits a 16th century church.

I love that I can get a plumber or electrician or bricklayer or any talented workman to come to the Hacienda on a moment’s notice and do whatever needs to be done for a pittance of what it would cost up north.

I love that I can pay cheaply for traffic infractions on the spot without having all the bother of waiting in courthouses, even though that’s only happened once in 15 years. I still favor the system.

I love that our infrastructure improves daily, highways, shopping malls, and first-class, snazzy, inexpensive bus transportation nationwide. I love that you can fly an airliner anywhere — except to the United States — without being strip-searched and otherwise abused and humiliated.

I love that you can easily get a doctor appointment for tomorrow or even today in a modern facility, and when you leave you pay in cash and still have change left for Sears or Walmart or a café latte at Starbucks.

And I love that you can voice unpopular opinions without being fired from your job or socially ostracized or have your children turned over to the state. You may get punched in the nose, but that’s only fair.

I love perfect avocados in the outdoor market and high-quality, name-brand shirts with an invisible flaw that you can buy for eight bucks not far from where you just purchased those perfect avocados.

And I love that you never hear the words racist, sexist or transgender, and that television shows that regularly feature men passionately kissing other men are invariably beamed down from America, and that shows produced in Mexico feature manly men with mustaches, often clutching tequila bottles, sporting sidearms and punching other men, not kissing them.

MariawhoopiAnd women on Mexican television, from actresses to commentators to weather girls, always look like Penelope Cruz or Maria Grazia Cucinotta, not Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg or Rosie O’Donnell.

I love living in a PC-free world, and I love paying just $80 in property taxes on two homes and an apartment in Mexico City. Total.

I love that a beautiful, bright babe not much older than my daughter said yes when I asked her to marry me. I love it that when I pull back the bedroom drapes on summer mornings, I see a sea of golden datura.

And there’s the elegant, artsy Hacienda, which I could never have built or maintained in the United States. I do love that.

* * * *

I hope Debi and her husband, Tom, do not regret returning to the United States, but we will always welcome them back if they decide it was a mistake. For me, I cannot fathom such a move.