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Spouse Mouse and I watch two television channels when we travel to the US: Fox News and the Food Network.  Now one of them is on the UK’s Freeview (free digital channels) — the Food Network (Freeview 49: 6 – 10 p.m.).

On these US trips, after Neil Cavuto and, until recently, Glenn Beck signed off, Spouse Mouse would call out, ‘Food Network!’

For a couple of years, we were able to watch Alton Brown make his own sweets, including  marshmallow, which is quite messy and difficult, although it looked a treat.  When we went to the US last year, the network was no longer showing those reruns, and we settled for his hosting Iron Chef, which had a brief run on Britain’s Channel 4 last year, presented by our own enthusiastic oenophile-journalist, Ollie Smith.  Alton Brown was better left to his own devices in the kitchen.  And Iron Chef — here or in the US — is pretty pointless, really: it’s the Gladiators of cooking.  If you want ideas for supper, this isn’t the show.

We also watched a few episodes of Duff Goldman’s Ace of Cakes, which also seemed a bit silly to me, but, hey, it’s food, so we took it in.  However, unless you’re a pâtissier with talent for recreating customers’ requests (building — and it is that — cakes which are replicas of biplanes, hospitals, islands, animals and so forth), forget it.  Fantasy television.

Then there is Rachel ‘E-V-O-O’ [‘extra virgin olive oil’] Ray who recreates her mum’s recipes using a noticeable amount of tinned food.  Seriously?

And let’s not forget Paula Deen, the Southern lady, who also takes shortcuts à la Rachel Ray.  Hmm.

For those living further North along the East Coast, Ina GartenThe Barefoot Contessa — also cooks dishes that we probably wouldn’t eat at home. Too elaborate? No, quite the opposite. Yes, like the other ladies on the Food Channel, she is wildly successful, but doesn’t show us much classic cooking, although we did like her 40th wedding anniversary show which aired here several days ago.

A few other Food Network shows I can happily live without are The Best Thing I Ever Ate (who cares?) and Kid in a Candy Store (way too much sugar).

However, along with Alton Brown, there is another Food Network presenter whom we quite like, Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Big Bites.  Guy reminds me of the blokes I knew in high school — friendly and larger than life with a great appetite for food.  He owns (or co-owns) two restaurants in California.  Guy has demystified brine for me and has shown a number of great cooking tips on Big Bites.  And Triple D — as he calls it — also reveals some chef’s secrets for spice mixes, batters, sauces and food combinations.

However, what is the Food Network’s objective? Is it for the home cook or is it for the diner?

I ask because, in our household, we watch reruns of Antony Worrall Thompson’s Daily Cooks’ Challenge on ITV3 every afternoon.  Long may they continue.  Two well-known chefs are on each week — yes, there is a rota — who prepare various dishes for celebrities, most of whom do not cook very much.  From those shows, my better half (who also cooks) and I continually refresh our taste combinations and techniques.  For the home cook in Britain, I cannot recommend a finer show. (Disclaimer: I have no financial or promotional interest in either ITV or Antony Worrall Thompson’s productions.)  We’re dealing with British ingredients here, although combinations and cooking techniques vary.

I grew up with Graham ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ Kerr’s and Julia Child’s shows on PBS (as they were broadcast in the US — Kerr’s was originally on CBC in Canada).  I started watching Kerr before Child, only because he was a new ‘sensation’, and Child was still too East Coast for women who lived elsewhere in the US.  Try to find a duck in Flyover Country even today and you’ll be lucky.

Renowned food writer Michael Pollan wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine, ‘Out of the Kitchen, onto the Couch’, wherein he analysed televised food shows in America over the past 40 years.  What you read — particularly for those living outside of North America — might shock. Highlights mine throughout:

I spent an enlightening if somewhat depressing hour on the phone with a veteran food-marketing researcher, Harry Balzer, who explained that “people call things ‘cooking’ today that would roll their grandmother in her grave — heating up a can of soup or microwaving a frozen pizza.” Balzer has been studying American eating habits since 1978; the NPD Group, the firm he works for, collects data from a pool of 2,000 food diaries to track American eating habits. Years ago Balzer noticed that the definition of cooking held by his respondents had grown so broad as to be meaningless, so the firm tightened up the meaning of “to cook” at least slightly to capture what was really going on in American kitchens. To cook from scratch, they decreed, means to prepare a main dish that requires some degree of “assembly of elements.” So microwaving a pizza doesn’t count as cooking, though washing a head of lettuce and pouring bottled dressing over it does. Under this dispensation, you’re also cooking when you spread mayonnaise on a slice of bread and pile on some cold cuts or a hamburger patty. (Currently the most popular meal in America, at both lunch and dinner, is a sandwich; the No. 1 accompanying beverage is a soda.) At least by Balzer’s none-too-exacting standard, Americans are still cooking up a storm — 58 percent of our evening meals qualify, though even that figure has been falling steadily since the 1980s.

But, there’s worse to come:

Erica Gruen, the cable executive often credited with putting the Food Network on the map in the late ’90s, recognized early on that, as she told a journalist, “people don’t watch television to learn things.” So she shifted the network’s target audience from people who love to cook to people who love to eat, a considerably larger universe and one that — important for a cable network — happens to contain a great many more men.

It’s all about ratings and advertising.

As Pollan explains, yes, the Food Network presenters and cooks do use classic cooking terms and sometimes even the techniques.  However:

for anyone hoping to pick up a few dinnertime tips, the implicit message of today’s prime-time cooking shows is, Don’t try this at home. If you really want to eat this way, go to a restaurant. Or as a chef friend put it when I asked him if he thought I could learn anything about cooking by watching the Food Network, “How much do you learn about playing basketball by watching the N.B.A.?”

What we mainly learn about on the Food Network in prime time is culinary fashion, which is no small thing: if Julia took the fear out of cooking, these shows take the fear — the social anxiety — out of ordering in restaurants.

With Antony Worrall Thompson (AWT) and his chef duos, you are likely to impress your family or friends with what you have learned on the first try. Such is not necessarily the case with the Food Network.  Yes, of course, a website exists, as it does for Daily Cooks’ Challenge, but the Food Network’s not a step-by-step televisual tutorial for an aspiring home cook who wants to create simple yet classic meals cooked from scratch.  And there, the AWT team has it beat.

As Pollan explains:

Traditionally, the recipe for the typical dump-and-stir program comprises about 80 percent cooking followed by 20 percent eating, but in prime time you now find a raft of shows that flip that ratio on its head, like “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” which are about nothing but eating. Sure, Guy Fieri, the tattooed and spiky-coiffed chowhound who hosts “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” ducks into the kitchen whenever he visits one of these roadside joints to do a little speed-bonding with the startled short-order cooks in back, but most of the time he’s wrapping his mouth around their supersize creations …

At least Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives will show you the dish from start to finishThe Best Thing I Ever Ate often skips over a raft of details.  I don’t care how good a dish tastes; I assume it is great, otherwise, it wouldn’t feature on the show.  What I want to know is how to recreate it at home.

There’s a lesson here, as Pollan observes:

It’s no accident that Julia Child appeared on public television — or educational television, as it used to be called. On a commercial network, a program that actually inspired viewers to get off the couch and spend an hour cooking a meal would be a commercial disaster, for it would mean they were turning off the television to do something else. The ads on the Food Network, at least in prime time, strongly suggest its viewers do no such thing: the food-related ads hardly ever hawk kitchen appliances or ingredients (unless you count A.1. steak sauce) but rather push the usual supermarket cart of edible foodlike substances, including Manwich sloppy joe in a can, Special K protein shakes and Ore-Ida frozen French fries, along with fast-casual eateries like Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

Having watched the adverts in the UK, that’s also true here.

And it gets more banal:

The Food Network has figured out that we care much less about what’s cooking than who’s cooking. A few years ago, Mario Batali neatly summed up the network’s formula to a reporter: “Look, it’s TV! Everyone has to fall into a niche. I’m the Italian guy. Emeril’s the exuberant New Orleans guy with the big eyebrows who yells a lot. Bobby [Flay]’s the grilling guy. Rachael Ray is the cheerleader-type girl who makes things at home the way a regular person would. Giada’s the beautiful girl with the nice rack who does simple Italian food. As silly as the whole Food Network is, it gives us all a soapbox to talk about the things we care about.” Not to mention a platform from which to sell all their stuff.

Pollan makes an important observation about cooking in the home.  Many of us, even men and boys, have watched our mothers and grandmothers prepare meals:

Even when “everyone” still cooked, there were plenty of us who mainly watched: men, for the most part, and children. Most of us have happy memories of watching our mothers in the kitchen, performing feats that sometimes looked very much like sorcery and typically resulted in something tasty to eat. Watching my mother transform the raw materials of nature — a handful of plants, an animal’s flesh — into a favorite dinner was always a pretty good show, but on the afternoons when she tackled a complex marvel like chicken Kiev, I happily stopped whatever I was doing to watch.

Yes, I, too, recall when every dinner the ladies in our family made was a minor miracle of goodness on a plate.  Others around the table would marvel, ‘How does she do that?’ ‘That’ could be some learned genius with fried chicken, pie crust or homemade bread.

Yet, Pollan explains why — and it’s not just because of feminism, although that plays a part — we are less likely to cook from scratch:

For many years now, Americans have been putting in longer hours at work and enjoying less time at home. Since 1967, we’ve added 167 hours — the equivalent of a month’s full-time labor — to the total amount of time we spend at work each year, and in households where both parents work, the figure is more like 400 hours. Americans today spend more time working than people in any other industrialized nation — an extra two weeks or more a year. Not surprisingly, in those countries where people still take cooking seriously, they also have more time to devote to it.

The sad reality is that:

all American women now allow corporations to cook for them when they can …

After World War II, the food industry labored mightily to sell American women on all the processed-food wonders it had invented to feed the troops: canned meals, freeze-dried foods, dehydrated potatoes, powdered orange juice and coffee, instant everything. As Laura Shapiro recounts in “Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America,” the food industry strived to “persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations.” The same process of peacetime conversion that industrialized our farming, giving us synthetic fertilizers made from munitions and new pesticides developed from nerve gas, also industrialized our eating.

Let’s pay attention to what’s happening here! Food isn’t entertainment: it’s our means of survival.

This I did not know:

People think nothing of buying frozen peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches for their children’s lunchboxes. (Now how much of a timesaver can that be?) “We’ve had a hundred years of packaged foods,” Balzer told me, “and now we’re going to have a hundred years of packaged meals.” Already today, 80 percent of the cost of food eaten in the home goes to someone other than a farmer, which is to say to industrial cooking and packaging and marketing. Balzer is unsentimental about this development: “Do you miss sewing or darning socks? I don’t think so.”

A shameful analogy.

Another insidious side to ‘cooking’ shows is the relationship the presenter-cooks purport to create with the viewer — something, I might add, that AWT and his crew do not do.

Glenda Shaw-Garlock has written an analysis of cooking shows to appear in a future publication, Simulation in Media and Culture.  In ‘Simulating Supper: Serving Up TV Dinners’, she writes:

… the illusion of a face-to-face relationship between spectator and performer (also called a ‘persona’) is constructed.  It is illusory because the relationship is inevitably ‘one-sided, nondialectical and [controlled] by the performer’.

She discusses television chefs past and present; the home-like atmosphere of the studio kitchens; the resemblance to pornography.  There’s much more at the link, which is well worth reading.

I know a number of women who think because they rustle something up — throw some frozen hors d’oeuvres onto a baking tray or punch a few holes in a plastic microwave-suitable film — that they’ve ‘cooked’ a meal.  They couldn’t be more mistaken.

God has given us the gift of food.  Let us prepare and eat it with respect and thanks.  A meal is much more than a 2,000-calorie dynamo meal served off a truck which works only through social networking sites.

Properly-cooked meals are our sustenance — our daily bread.

Yes, by all means, enjoy the Food Network.  Take it in, but don’t be (too) taken in by it.

More about the Food Network coming soon

Recently, England Calling published a post on the danger for England’s future if her countrymen are ignorant of her history.

I have often said here that teaching one’s children history in depth — and without revisionism — is one of the most important things that a parent can do.

Below are a few brief and eloquent excerpts from Robert Henderson’s post from August 25, 2011, ‘The English must not take their future for granted’.  Emphases mine.

He introduces it with facts of which many young people here are ignorant:

England has a truly remarkable history. It was here that Parliamentary government evolved; here that the Industrial Revolution began, here that the only world empire ever worthy of the name was acquired and ruled.  In the arts and sciences  the English can point to the likes of Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin; in martial matters Cromwell, Marlborough, Wellington and Nelson; in goverment the Pitts, Disraeli, Glasdstone and Churchill.  The country has remained unconquered for the better part of a thousand years  and her domestic history is one of remarkable peacefulness when put in the context of  the wider world

As most of us know, and something we have in common with other Western nations, is that over the past few decades — so, more than a generation — leftist thought has brought about revisionism in schools, state and private.  What middle-aged people learned in the classroom is not what today’s 20-somethings learned. Unfortunately, this revisionism in textbooks accompanied by constant hand-wringing from Guardian-reading teachers not only gives English children cause to doubt their country but our many new arrivals from countries around the world also learn that their adopted land was nearly always in the wrong.

A nation may be likened to a man. If a man continually accepts insult or engages in  repeated self-denigration, we think him a poor fellow. At first such behaviour is embarrassing. Soon it becomes  irritating. Eventually it breeds a profound contempt and contempt is mother to all enormities. So it is with peoples.  On the simple ground of self-preservation, the English cannot afford to continue to permit the present gratuitous and  incontinent abuse offered by both foreigners and her own ruling elite nor tolerate the suppression of the English  voice …

The Left intelligentsia…have so long worshipped foreign gods that they seem to have become almost incapable of seeing any good in the characteristic English institutions and traditions. That the moral values on which most of them pride themselves are largely the products of the institutions they are out to destroy, these socialists cannot, of course, admit. Sadly, this attitude is unfortunately not confined to avowed socialists …

What the left internationalists did not have fifty odd years ago was control of education or a supremacy in politics and the media. They now possess this utterly. The concentration on trivia is of more recent birth and had its roots in the late fifties and early sixties. Prior to then, complaints about an over concentration on “Kings and Queens” history existed, but no one in the academic world seriously suggested that such history was unimportant. That has now gone. Even pupils who have taken A-Level history know next to nothing. Facts and chronology have been replaced by “historical empathy” and investigative skills. Where once pupils would have learnt of Henry V, Wellington and the Great Reform Bill, they are now asked to imagine that they are a peasant in 14th Century England or an African slave on a slaver. The results of such “empathy” are not judged in relation to the historical record, but as exercises in their  own right. Whatever this is, it is not historical understanding. Because history teaching has been removed from historical facts, the assessment of the work of those taught becomes nothing more than the opinion of the teacher. This  inevitably results in the prejudices of the teacher being reflected in their presentation and marking. In the present  climate of opinion within British education this means liberal political correctness wins the day. Thus history  teaching, and the teaching of other subjects such as geography which can be given a PC colouring, has become no  better than propaganda. This would be unfortunate if the propaganda promoted English history and culture uncritically. But to have anti-English propaganda in English schools and universities is positively suicidal. That it is state policy is barely credible.

There is no other logical outcome other than that many a young child learns to hate England and all she represents.  So-called conservative journalists like Charles Moore make the situation worse: perhaps it’s fine and dandy if England disappears in 50 years’ time.  Perhaps his children have told him they were born in a useless country, one with an expiry date on it.  How very sad.  So, an adult immigrant reads such an article and thinks, ‘Hmm, the English can’t even defend their own people and heritage.  They seem to consider themselves worthless.  So do I.’

If England is to survive as more than a geographical entity, it is essential that the young be imprinted with a knowledge  of the immense achievements of Britain in general and England in particular. This need not mean the creation of a  vulgar, contrived chauvinism for there is so much of  undeniable value in Britain’s past that a fictionalised and bombastic history is unnecessary. For example, why not base GCSE history teaching on a core of the development of the English language, the history of science and technology (with special emphasis on the industrial revolution), the  development of the British constitution and the growth and administration of Empire? Multiculturalism should be  abolished in the schools as a matter of policy.

No nation can maintain itself if it does not have a profound sense of its worth. In a healthy society this sense of worth  simply exists and children imbibe it unconsciously. Our society has been so corrupted by the liberal’s hatred of his own culture that a conscious programme of cultural imprinting is necessary. If it is not done, how long will it be before English children express surprise when told they are speaking English and not American? The corrosion of English society can only be halted if pride of England and her achievements is instilled in the young.

The words of the younger Pitt in 1783 (following the disaster of the American War of Independence) seem peculiarly apt for our time:

We must recollect … what is we have at stake, what it is we have to contend for. It is for our  property, it is for our liberty, it is for our independence, nay, for our existence as a nation; it is for our character, it is for our very name as Englishmen, it is for everything dear and valuable to man on this side of the grave.

Mr Henderson recommends that we work for an English Parliament, a solution with which I agree.

Until then, instead of spending countless hours on vain pursuits (e.g. shopping, television, video games), let us devote time to discussing English history and legends in a constructive and honest way.  A good book for primary school children is the beautifully illustrated Our Island Story, which even adults will appreciate.  Each chapter profiles a different iconic Englishman or Englishwoman throughout our great history up through Victorian times. The book first appeared in 1905, so, fairly soon after Queen Victoria’s death.  (Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest here; it’s simply a good book filled with historical episodes, concisely and engagingly written.)

I would bet they learn very little of the content in school, which makes it such an outstanding book for the home.  Also, as the stories are in chronological order, children will have the advantage of grasping a timeline of events instead of the jumbled-up mess that many secondary school students have today.

(Photo credit: rays.floristblog.co.uk)

As an antidote to online miscreants who say that Britain was always secular and corrupt, may I offer this observation from an Englishwoman who left this comment on one of Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch posts on the recent riots in England.  Patricia Halligan writes (I have added the paragraph spacing below):

I was born at the end of the Great Depression in England. My father only worked three days a week and my mother went to work outside the home for the first time when war broke out. We had a rented roof over our heads, a few clothes and we didn’t starve but there were no luxuries. We had a good education which was designed to help us live a useful, working class life. We went to Sunday school and learned about the love of Jesus, the parables and the Ten Commandments and the Christian message was reinforced at school with assembly every morning and scripture classes. There were also youth clubs like the boys and girls Life Brigade and the St John’s Ambulance Brigade which also reinforced the message.

We lived in a safe Labour constituency but that was when Labour had an arm which was based on Christian Social Justice and social welfare was wisely ministered. Modern Labour parties have no such wisdom. Tony Blair’s New Labour destroyed Britain.

England has changed beyond my recognition! My parish priest in my village who used to write to me every Christmas after I emigrated in 1968 once wrote of his observation that England was returning to paganism. How right he was! Many have never heard of the Ten Commandments let alone live by them and … have been lethargic in their support of their Judeo-Christian heritage. Even those who were brought up with it like I was rarely enter a church or chapel and many beautiful old churches are crumbling through lack of maintainance. The dwindling congregations have done their best but it has not been enough.

England will be lucky if it doesn’t end up a police state. By the look of the early morning raids that is already happening. It is very sad but at least some journalists are waking up to reality and beginning to see what is the cause even if they are calling it by a fancy name [a lack of moral compass].

I would be more direct and say it is a simple lack of religion. A failure to recognise and worship God and obey His very reasonable laws which were laid down for our happiness and well being.

God’s laws are ‘very reasonable’ and, if one prays and reads the Holy Bible, they are straightforward to follow and do bring about well being. If we return to His grace and protection, we can surely turn our beautiful nation around. (Yes, as far as I am concerned, England was and is a country; it will never be an EU region in my book.)

No doubt all of us can think of aspects of society which we would like to change. I have a short list which I sometimes need to get off my chest whilst trying to remind myself that it concerns personal behaviour of adults, people of and over majority age.

That said, a whole industry has popped up in the West and is spreading rapidly to Asia and South America thanks to the World Health Organisation and health-related charities.  All of these people are secular pietists: anything more than an ice cream social can harm one’s health. Wait, make that a skimmed-milk, transfat-free ice cream social.

Some people don’t like smoking or drinking, regardless of the fact that many of their mothers and grandmothers did both, even whilst pregnant.  But smokers and drinkers generally mind their own business.  Yes, a few drinkers get out of hand.  They’re the ones who come to the attention of police and mainstream media.  However, by and large, people do what they enjoy in a quiet, law-abiding way.

When my generation was growing up, we were told, ‘You’ll have plenty of time for that once you’re of legal age’.  We accepted that drinking (and, for some, smoking) would have to wait.  Then we grew up only to find that we were suddenly obliged by law to wear seatbelts (US, 1980s) — where the rot started.  Then smokers couldn’t have a quiet puff on flights under two hours (1980s): ‘That’s all were asking’, said the secular pietists.  After that, things got a bit slippery. Not only were there laws, there was also an element of social conditioning which has now become, sadly, part and parcel of modern thought.  In the 1990s, we were told that pregnant women couldn’t drink.  Barmen refused to serve them even a glass of wine.  Bottles of beer, wine and spirits began sporting warnings and health advice.  Tobacco Control (numerous organisations) advanced their own agenda, gaining a bit on drink.  Various bans on tobacco — even snus — have been brought in worldwide. (If you would like to see this reviewed in the UK, sign the petition.)  Smokers need special websites now in order to find hotel rooms where smoking is allowed — a ‘home away from home’, which is what a hotel is supposed to be.

Secular pietists all say the same thing: ‘There is no safe amount.  Think of the children.  You are an irresponsible adult.’

As far as secular pietists are concerned, there are no adults, only wayward children of varying ages.  Children who work for a living, own homes, drive cars, pay tax, plan for their retirement and have families of their own.  Some of these children are grandparents.  Other grown-up children give generously of their time to community or church organisations. But secular pietists say that these children cannot be trusted to smoke or drink responsibly.  And secular pietists don’t necessarily need to be members of an organisation in order to stick their noses in where they shouldn’t be.

On August 21, 2011, Dick Puddlecote highlighted an article from the Telegraph involving two mothers on a day out in London with their children.  David Barrett writes:

It was meant to be a refreshing pit-stop during a hectic family outing.

But when friends Ali Ineson and Emma Rutherford popped into a central London pub to buy their children soft drinks and themselves an alcoholic drink, they were shocked to find their order refused.

Although happy to sell the soft drinks, the barman would not allow them to have a white wine spritzer and a vodka and Coke because it would be “inappropriate” for them to drink in front of their children.

The mothers left after their children finished their soft drinks.

The Britannia is run by Stonegate Pub Company, which operates 560 pubs and bars across the country, including the Yates’s and Slug and Lettuce chains.

A company spokesman said: … “We are therefore now going to investigate this complaint and we would request that the responsible adults concerned contact us directly in order that we can ascertain the facts of the situation.”

The Pub Curmudgeon says:

It’s a more extreme version of the refusal to serve a pregnant woman even a single drink. The view is becoming increasingly common than any quantity of alcohol is incompatible with any responsible activity (see my recent poll about lunchtime drinking at work) and we are heading towards a situation where drinking becomes an activity that has to be ringfenced from the rest of society.

Meanwhile, in non-believing Wales — prone to secular pietism because of its roots in the Wesleyan holiness doctrine — alcohol is creating a ‘health time-bomb’.  In ‘The alcohol Jihad’ at Orphans of Liberty, Quiet Man notes:

We have laws to deal with drunk and disorderly behaviour, if they were properly enforced then the situation of public drunkenness  that gets the righteous so up in arms wouldn’t be an issue. As it is, the police are either doing paperwork to justify their existence or chasing motorists, a far easier target.

He refers to an article from This is South Wales, ‘Calls made for booze rationing in Carmarthen’ (emphases mine):

Latest figures show there are 105 licenses across the town and 90 of those are in the south ward of the town.

Town and county councillor Arwel Lloyd who represents the ward said the licenses are made up of pubs, restaurants and off licenses and takeaways.

He added: “We are looking to stop the number of problems stemming from the sale of alcohol,” he said. “We have allowed 105 licences to sell alcohol. To me that doesn’t make too much sense.

“In a town this size, when we are trying to sort out issues of antisocial behaviour, we have all these alcohol licenses making the situation worse …”

There has also been a call for alcohol rationing on a county wide level to tackle the problem …

A few days before a full meeting of the county council, Councillor Huw Lewis had suggested rationing alcohol should be seriously considered, saying: “By rationing no one would be able to have more than what is considered suitable by medical officials.”

And, at full council, he said: “We will have to regard alcohol as we do any other drug to ensure that no one is able to provide more than is permitted by the experts …

Alun Lenny, secretary of the Association of Independent Chapels for Carmarthen said …

The amount of shops, not just in Carmarthen but across the county, selling alcohol is a concern, often at cheap prices due to the competition between outlets.”

Is there a problem?  It’s hard to say, because no one has commented on the article.  Secular pietists are just upset about alcohol in general.  They don’t like it, so no one else should, either.  You’re never an adult when secular pietists are around.  A reader from elsewhere in Europe observes the UK from afar and has this to say in response to Quiet Man’s post:

Your whole country appears to have become a nursery school in the hands of some besandled weirdo, crochet knicker wearing, poetry reading, lentil eating renegade … hippy from the teacher training school of the class of 1968, as the headmaster.

 … one word comes to mind to describe Britain of today.

JUVENILE.

Juvenile in word, thought, deed, attitude, ideas, emotion, and leadership.

Yep, and that’s, sadly, how not only the secular pietists — but also a growing number of overage children (AKA ‘adults’) in Britain like it.

And it gets worse. In Scotland, a new American device might be brought in as part of drink-related crime sentencing.  Subrosa tells us:

The ‘booze bracelet’ is the latest import which Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit hopes will cut drink-related violet crime.  An asbo with a difference, because it monitors an offender’s alcohol consumption.  Data from the tag is sent remotely to a computer and if alcohol is detected the system alerts the authorities.

The tags, costing £850 each, are currently used in the US for drunk drivers who are repeat offenders and shortly US representatives will bring the first batch of bracelets to Glasgow for testing.  The bracelet already has the approval of the Scottish government, the courts, the Crown Office and even defence and human rights lawyers.

Those who say, ‘What’s the problem?’ haven’t seen the propensity for potential scope creep:

While I would welcome a reduction in alcohol-fueled violent crime, how long will it be before this technology is used to monitor smokers and those who eat themselves into obesity?

On smoking — here is what Philippe Even, a retired French civil servant and dean of the Necker Research Institute, France’s largest medical faculty told Le Parisien in 2010. First, he reveals why he didn’t speak up before now about the spurious science behind tobacco bans:

I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

Dr Even spent his career in public health research.  On the purported — and often reported — 3000 – 6000 deaths in France from passive smoking:

I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.

On passive smoking being responsible for cardiovascular disease and asthma:

Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor … but not greater than pollen!

On public smoking bans based on nothing:

The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO [World Health Organisation]. The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It’s everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.

For those reading this who disapprove of tobacco and alcohol: they are legal products for adult consumption.  We have also seen that prohibition and high taxation on these ‘sins’ — past and present — drive the market underground.

Ultimately, the danger — and perhaps this is what secular pietists want — is that adults become infantilised.  And those who drink or smoke are also stigmatised as well as infantalised.  It’s a sad, mad and bad situation for anyone of majority age.

Think you’re an adult?  Not in the eyes of the State or health movements.  Back to the mothers at the London pub, where I shall leave the final word here to Angry Exile of Orphans for Liberty, who writes:

Seriously, what … was the barman thinking? That one thing would lead to another and they’d start feeding the kids grog under the table? Because there’s a solution if that happens – you tell them to drink up and leave …

Or was he thinking that they were his kids? Not literally his kids, but kind of his in that he shared some kind of collective responsibility for them and their upbringing. Worryingly, not to mention creepily, it sounds like it

Back in those not far off days I mentioned earlier it would not be ‘appropriate’ for a barman or landlord to concern himself with what’s appropriate for other people’s children if the parents are clearly perfectly sober and the kids seem healthy and normal. Certainly nobody thought to tell my parents not to drink in front of their kids, and for the record my brother is probably a low to average drinker, my sister drinks quite sparingly and I’m teetotal by choice. Getting all concerned for the kids is a bit premature when the adults haven’t actually had a … drink yet, and since I’ve never heard of anyone ever being refused alcohol or being told by a publican not to drink it in front of their children, coupled with the fact that alcohol consumption in the UK has been falling for some years, I’d say that it is not and never has been a problem anyway. However, what is a problem is the ever increasing influence of the nanny state, its propaganda department, and their constant drip-drip-drip messages that any vice, no matter how socially acceptable and how harmless in moderation, is a dangerous and corrupting influence on impressionable minds.

The irony is that that line of thinking is a dangerous, corrupting influence, and sadly the impressionable minds are those of people who should be old enough to know better. The state is mother. The state is father. And if it’s not possible to parent your kids directly it’s as happy to have its brainwashed drones – supermarket staff who refuse to sell alcohol to adults, and now it seems bar staff as well – do it by proxy

And people wonder why the pub trade is dying. It was always about being somewhere to go where you could enjoy yourself, and the enjoyment is being sucked out of it. You can’t smoke in the pub, you can’t buy booze as cheaply as you can for home consumption, and now it seems that if you have a child with you it might not be possible to buy booze at all. So what’s the point in going in at all?

The pub trade is dying, and if it’s about to switch sides to become the pawns of the Strength Through Joy neo-puritans I’d say it’s better off dead.

None of us has a problem with people who subscribe to secular pietism or the holiness doctrine … as long as they keep it to themselves.  Secular pietists shouldn’t be working in pubs or anywhere near alcohol or tobacco — being 21st century Carrie Nations.  I haven’t mentioned those subscribing to the holiness doctrine in the same vein, because they have better sense in most cases, although ‘dry counties’ in the United States are an exception.

Today’s post continues an examination of John 7, only three verses of which (37-39a) are included in the Lectionary.

This omission qualifies most of John 7 for my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, essential for understanding Scripture.

Today’s reading is taken from the English Standard Version, with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

John 7:14-24

14About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16So Jesus answered them,  “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

————————————————————————————-

In last week’s post, we read that Jesus rebuffed members of His family who wanted Him to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) and show the people there His powerful works.  However, as we saw, these relatives did not really believe in Him and their motives were questionable.  Jesus instructed them to go on ahead.

He went to Jerusalem in the middle of the feast (verse 14). Why did he wait until then to go?  And how was it that He was able to teach in the temple, when He was such a target of the Jewish authorities?  Matthew Henry says, although we are not told why, it could be that, by then, people were settled in their respective tents and had more time for prayer and instruction.  He also might have gone when the high priests would have given up actively seeking His whereabouts.  He adds:

Surely it was to shame his persecutors, the chief priests and elders. (1.) By showing that, though they were very bitter against him, yet he did not fear them, nor their power. See Isa. 50:7, 8. (2.) By taking their work out of their hands. Their office was to teach the people in the temple, and particularly at the feast of tabernacles, Neh. 8:17, 18. But they either did not teach them at all or taught for doctrines the commandments of men, and therefore he goes up to the temple and teaches the people.

Jesus went to the temple to teach because it was part of His ministry.  John MacArthur says that He was allowed to do so because it was rabbinical custom to welcome noted scriptural teachers into the temple to preach. Yes, the high priests would have been part of the assembled crowd.

In verse 15, we find out that the crowd marvelled at Jesus’s ability to teach, although He had never formally studied Scripture.  This could work either in His favour — in making new disciples — or bringing out the elitists who could disparage his lack of theological qualifications.

Jesus responds to them — targetting the high priests — by saying that His teachings are not His own, but those of God the Father (verse 16).  He adds (verse 17) that those who truly believe in God will know that what Jesus says comes indeed from God and not His ‘own authority’.  A number of the Jewish leaders were twisting Scripture and adding ‘tradition’ to bend God’s law, as we saw in Mark 7.

This becomes clearer in verses 18 and 19, where Jesus indirectly accuses them of seeking their own prestige and speaking falsehood. He says that they have disregarded the law of Moses — which came from God — to the extent that they want to kill Him. The hierarchy were about status and power over the Jewish people, not about making them a truly godly people. Indeed, a number of Christian clergy have fallen into the same trap.  So, whilst some would read these verses as purely historical, I would add that we must watch for similar types in our own denominations and churches.  Included in that group are those who claim to receive divine revelations and messages.

To be able to discern these frauds, we must be like the Bereans in studying the Bible and evaluating what we hear to ensure that we listen only to what is of God and not of Man. We also need to pray and obey God’s commandments. Henry reminds Christians (emphases mine):

Those who improve the light they have, and carefully live up to it, shall be secured by divine grace from destructive mistakes … They are disposed and prepared to receive that knowledge. He that is inclined to submit to the rules of the divine law is disposed to admit the rays of divine light. To him that has shall be given; those have a good understanding that do his commandments, Ps. 111:10. Those who resemble God are most likely to understand him.

The reaction of the crowd (verse 20) is both curious and unsettling. They accuse Jesus of being paranoid: only someone with a ‘demon’ would accuse others of wanting to taking his life.  To put it bluntly, they are accusing Him of crazy talk.  Yet, Jesus was telling the truth and the high priests knew it.  Henry explains how this reaction might have come about:

This intimates, [1.] The good opinion they had of their rulers, who, they think, would never attempt so atrocious a thing as to kill him; no, such a veneration they had for their elders and chief priests that they would swear for them they would do no harm to an innocent man. Probably the rulers had their little emissaries among the people who suggested this to them; many deny that wickedness which at the same time they are contriving. [2.] The ill opinion they had of our Lord Jesus: “Thou hast a devil, thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and art a bad man for saying so;” so some: or rather, “Thou art melancholy, and art a weak man; thou frightenest thyself with causeless fears, as hypochondriacal people are apt to do.” Not only open frenzies, but silent melancholies, were then commonly imputed to the power of Satan. “Thou art crazed, has a distempered brain.” Let us not think it strange if the best of men are put under the worst of characters. To this vile calumny our Saviour returns no direct answer, but seems as if he took no notice of it.

Henry adds wise advice for Christians today:

Note, Those who would be like Christ must put up with affronts, and pass by the indignities and injuries done them; must not regard them, much less resent them, and least of all revenge them. I, as a deaf man, heard not. When Christ was reviled, he reviled not again …

In verse 21, Jesus moves on to the reason for their hate: the healing of the man at Bethesda in John 5. Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath, a man who had never able to walk until then — not only physically but spiritually.  The outrage was palpable.

Jesus compares obligatory circumcision on the Sabbath to His healing at the pools of Bethesda (verses 22 and 23).  He asks them how they can truly object to His merciful restoration of a man’s physical and spiritual health.  Not only that, but recall that the Jewish leaders asked the healed man — who was taking his first steps in life — why he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath!  (It is against Jewish law to carry things or work on the Sabbath.)

Matthew Henry tells us that if a sick child underwent circumcision, the priests were concerned only for healing of the circumcision wound, ignoring the child’s illness.  Therefore, what Jesus is saying is that, instead of being concerned only about performing a circumcision and enabling the healing of the wound, He actually made a man whole in body and soul.  How could that possibly be a sin? Only a hypocrite would think so.

Henry cites Chemnitz on this point:

Chemnitius understands this as a reason why it was time to supersede the law of Moses by the gospel, because the law was found insufficient to restrain sin: “Moses gave you the law, but you do not keep it, nor are kept by it from the greatest wickedness; there is therefore need of a clearer light and better law to be brought in; why then do you aim to kill me for introducing it?”

Jesus concludes His remarks by telling the hierarchy to judge righteously, in truth (verse 24) — not with subjectivity or hypocrisy.  He also means for them — and us — not to judge by appearances.  Prestige and finery might well be false, whereas humility and honesty are true.  The priests had the power and prestige.  Jesus had the truth and the humility.  It is still an easy mistake to make!

Henry explains the Jewish mindset of the time:

The Jews expected the outward appearance of the Messiah to be pompous and magnificent, and attended with all the ceremonies of secular grandeur; and, judging of Christ by that rule, their judgment was from first to last a continual mistake, for the kingdom of Christ was not to be of this world, nor to come with observation. If a divine power accompanied him, and God bore him witness, and the scriptures were fulfilled in him, though his appearance was ever so mean, they ought to receive him, and to judge by faith, and not by the sight of the eye. See Isa. 11:3, and 1 Sa. 16:7. Christ and his doctrine and doings desire nothing but righteous judgment; if truth and justice may but pass the sentence, Christ and his cause will carry the day. We must not judge concerning any by their outward appearance, not by their titles, the figure they make in the world, and their fluttering show, but by their intrinsic worth, and the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit in them.

Well worth remembering today:

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.  (Psalm 146:3)

Next week: John 7:25-36

The past two posts have featured an Epicopalian who writes at Not Just Another Episcopal Church Blog.

What you read in the Lectionary edit critiques is priceless, so much so that I  have included it on my blogroll (left-hand column).

In ‘Inconvenient Lectionary Edits’, we find a warning about persecution [specific passage available at the site].  As the blogger says:

Is it because these verses sound more appropriate for Holy Week that they get left on the cutting room floor during the Easter season?

Yes, many of us believe so.  After all, we can have only so many dramatic scenes in the Gospels and only during Holy Week. We wouldn’t want the congregation to experience too much emotion where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is concerned. It might make people sad and guilty, and no clergyperson wants that: ‘They’ll never attend church again.’

Actually, they would.  Pews could be full, Sunday after Sunday.

If you wish to get serious about what is presented at Sunday worship — including Mass, where, quite frankly, all this began with Vatican II (Protestants harmonised soon afterward) — then let your vicar or pastor know.  Point out that much of the meaning of these passages is missing without all the Scripture verses.  Illustrate with a few examples.

If Lectionary readings are anything to go by, it’s no wonder people find the Bible incomprehensible or, worse, boring.  I really am of the opinion now that most clergy would prefer we not read Scripture for the reason that our featured blogger states: we might point out the errors in their  Sunday sermons. Even more dangerous, we might feel that call to repent.

Yesterday, I featured posts from Not Another Episcopal Church Blog (see Blogroll, left-hand column), where the finest moments come in discussions on the Lectionary — Scripture readings — for public worship.

Each post has a full explanation of what was — and wasn’t — read.  Please do not miss out on these fine expositions.

Yea, and verily, we churchgoers are missing out on the finer nuances of the Bible.  You might just think I’m the only one carping, but read this … (emphases mine) … [ellipses just for an emphatic pause, no omissions]:

‘Funding Evil: A fool and his Money’ (on Hebrews 11:4-7 — read the post):

There is so much good stuff in there that I have to wonder if we indeed are guilty of a great sin by omitting verses for whatever reason, be it in the interest of shortening the service, or trying to focus on one theme, or what I suspect, and that is to minimize people’s exposure to talk about sin and judgement.

A reader, R Sherman, responds:

That seems to be the trend these days, i.e. eliminate the “icky” stuff that makes us all feel bad and examine our lives in light of God’s Word, which, alas, could cause a change in behavior and a rejection of our current shepherds’ pronouncements.

Around the end of October 2010, we had a reading from 2 Thessalonians 1.  Our blogger wonders what happened to verses 5 – 10:

It should be obvious that those verses contain taboo words. “Judgement”, “repay with affliction”, “flaming fire”, “vengence”, punishment”, and “eternal destruction” are possibilities to which the average Sunday visitor to church shouldn’t be exposed.

Stripped of this language, the letter loses its punch

Please read the blog for the full impact, which, of course, cites the omitted Scripture.

And, at the Advent Pageant, more lessons — as well as the Creed and Confessions of Sins — were lost to the four winds, as it were.

I didn’t hear any complaints, but IMHO those are so very important that their omission must be noted.

Thankfully, I had a private confession with the Lord before the service, but I always worry about coming to the Lord’s table unrepentant …

Enough said.  If this isn’t encouragement enough to read the Bible privately or in a family setting, what is?

In 2010, I featured three posts on the three-year Lectionary: February 22, December 6 and December 7. You can find out more about the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) by examining the ecumenical committee which puts it together.

I try to be fair about the Lectionary, but when I return to it weekly for the Forbidden Bible Verses series, I cannot fathom how or why CCT members over the past 40 years can leave out so many verses. Without them, we lose the significance of Scripture.

How do you know you are hearing a truncated Bible passage if you don’t have a copy of the Good Book in the pew?  Normally, your church bulletin tells you what is being read.  Skipped verses are indicated by a comma or an ellipsis, the three dots which indicate either a pause in dialogue or an omission.

Recently, I was delighted to find out that other voices in the wilderness are pointing out the omissions and how much meaning the passages have when read in full.  To be fair, some priests and pastors read the appointed passages in their entirety, but not enough.  Lectionary supporters say that clergy cannot do everything; it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for his own scriptural education.  But, really, most people think they are getting everything they need on Sundays and, because those readings are sanitised to meet 100% mass consumption (sorry if that offends, but there’s no other way of expressing it), they have no interest in pursuing the Bible further.

That said, I bring you the thoughts of Not Another Episcopal Church Blog, which has several entries on Lectionary edits.  These help to prove that the ellipsis is not always your friend.  (I have added the blog to my blogroll.)

Excerpts follow — please take the time to read the posts in full if you are in any way concerned about Scripture knowledge or the lack thereof!  Different examples are posted each time.  Emphases mine below.

‘O Lectionary, Lectionary, Thou that carves up the words of the prophets and the words of the Lord’:

I suggest to you that the Lectionary is contributing to the delinquency of Sunday pewsitters. It is a clear pattern, and you have to wonder why the people who wrote the lectionary chose to present a watered down version of the Scriptures to the congregations (who do not read the Bible regularly and whose only exposure to the text is likely to be on Sunday morning). My theory has been that the editors do not want to scare people with all that judgement and wrath business (as if they might not come back next week for more). I am beginning to think that there are deeper theological implications of the lectionary edits. How does the revision affect our thinking about things such as repentance, salvation, atonement, sin, judgement, and the might and power of the Lord?

The long term effects of listening to an expurgated Bible every Sunday cannot be healthy.

Maybe that has something to do with the decline of the church.

‘There’s Something Wrong with Our Bloody Lectionary Today’ (emphasis in the original in this entry):

I have heard the excuse that the lectionary shortens some Sunday readings so that the service does not run long. I think we have debunked that myth in the past when it was noted that one or two verses were all that was cut. Just yesterday I was reading an explanation of the Lectionary in the Prayer Book Society’s Spring Quarter 2010 (print version not on-line) of “Mandate,” and while the Rev. Gavin Dunbar gives a capable commentary on the history, weaknesses, structures, and purpose the lectionaries, there was no comment like the one I am about to make about the RCL:

There is a conspiracy to keep you from reading things that might offend the zeitgeist.

… when even an under the radar Bible reader like me notices that the verses that sound easy, sweet, and soothing never seem to be the ones that get sunk, is it any wonder that one’s mind starts questioning the intentions of those commanding the fleet?

This third post addresses missing verses from Revelation, which comprised one of my earliest Forbidden Bible Verses posts.  But don’t miss what Not Another Episcopal Church Blog has to say on the matter in ‘A Warning to the Writers of the RCL’. (RCL stands for Revised Common Lectionary, by the way.)

More Lectionary edits tomorrow

A number of Anglican clergy around the world try to make their Sunday services ‘relevant’ to the drive-by unbelievers who drop in out of curiosity.  These vicars and rectors often ask their congregations to suggest more ‘user-friendly’ types of worship.

Worship is for the believer.  If a non-believer becomes a convert through repeated attendance and the mysterium tremendum on offer, then God’s grace is working through him (or her).  However, clergy who wish to appeal largely to non-believers — including giving Communion to the unbaptised — are ignoring the central focus of public worship: Jesus Christ.

Peter Carrell in his Anglican Down Under blog has observations and recommendations in this regard:

A couple of themes these days are recurring in my reflections about services. One I will describe as ‘missional’: is what we are doing in worship services helpful in the mission of the church? Primarily our worship services are gatherings of faithful believers, but often a non-believer is present: is what is said and done a proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ? That is, does the content and the style of the service communicate the reality of Jesus Christ alive and reigning in the midst of the congregation?

Another theme is ‘christological’: is what we are doing in our worship services centred on the Lord Jesus Christ, and does it flow out from Christ – his teaching, his commandments, and his life (example, death, resurrection)? It is (in my experience) remarkably easy to ‘miss the christological mark’ in worship services. A certain chatty casualness can easily centre the service on ourselves. A prissy fussiness about getting details right (from ritual matters through musicality to Powerpoint backgrounds) can easily centre the service on performance up front. A christologically shaped service will subsume everything said and done to the presentation of Christ and to enhancing Christ’s presence in our midst.

He concludes:

[Christ] calls us to himself, to be with him, to watch and pray with him, to listen to him and to break bread at his supper. Anglican liturgy must serve that end, not be an end in itself.

As I see it, PowerPoint, praise bands and faux ‘we-wrote-this-ourselves’ creeds do our Lord no honour at all.  But they certainly do tickle our ever-itching ears.

There is a reason that orthodox liturgies, architecture and hymns have withstood the test of time.  To worship properly — giving the Holy Trinity full honour and glory — involves solemnity, gravitas and liturgy as set forth by one’s particular denomination.  As far as Anglicans are concerned, a return to the Book of Common Prayer along with Hymns Ancient and Modern would do us a world of good in focussing our attentions on Christ Jesus, our only Mediator and Advocate.

Back in June, I warned about our getting the leaders we deserve and recalled the unhelpful commentary from left-wing Americans, many of whom were paid to ‘astroturf’ (swarm news sites and blogs with anti-conservative invective):

Watch for astroturfing on American political fora over the next 15 months. Obama’s political contributors — knowingly or otherwise — heavily financed these efforts in social media in 2008.  Some of these kids — generally university students — were better than others.  Nonetheless, they completely swamped comments on various sites and drowned out individuals who preferred John McCain.  The astroturfers never debated the issues or brought up facts but resorted to name-calling, e.g. ‘stupid’, ‘moronic’, ‘deluded’ — those were just the milder terms used.  Getting pounded like that is bound to drive the opposition away, and — as many of us will recall — these underhanded Alinsky tactics succeeded.  Once again, only Hillary Clinton’s supporters — because they were from the somewhat-defecting left-wing side of the spectrum — could see through them and try to explain to Republicans what was happening.

Hillary’s supporters called these people Obots (Obama robots). Astroturfing has resumed for another election cycle.  As the French say, tongue in cheek, ‘Que la fête commence!’

On August 13, 2011, the Los Angeles Times featured an article on Sarah Palin, who had visited Ames, Iowa.  She’s weighing up her options as a possible Republican presidential candidate.  (My only comment about her: Sarah really should stop with the flirtatious poses, because those are always the ones shown in the lefty press.)

It is possible to read the article and say, ‘So what?’ However, those of us who watched Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS) in full flow three years ago recognise the subtlety of media-instigated conditioning, such as:

She appears to be weighing her options and believes that the rules of timing and engagement do not apply to her.

Palin, who has a small, far-flung staff, some of whom are not experienced in national politics …

The Palins, who have purchased a tony home in Scottsdale, [Arizona]

Both [Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry] are telegenic personalities with tough, frontier personae—she as the Mama Grizzly, and he as the guy who shot a coyote that menaced his dog during a run. Both appeal to Republican Iowa caucus goers who are overwhelmingly socially conservative evangelical Christians and like candidates to have executive experience …

So, that’s negative enough in a seemingly ‘objective’ way, then, we get to the comments from Astroturf Central, as I call it.  They are organised, they are paid and they attract other useful idiots, the type who read Democratic Underground.  Here’s a taster (also note the votes for the comments — pages 1 and 2):

6:16 PM August 14, 2011

She’s nasty baby! she nasty! Shes a bad bad girl. She got rich off the republican wingnuts. They fantasize about her. So many repulsive republicans this year running for president. You gotta laugh otherwise you gotta cry.

2:09 PM August 14, 2011

This “family values” person is living in Arizona, when she is not on the road, while her teenage daughter Piper is home alone in Alaska. Anyone want to bet on how long it is before Piper is knocked up? When as the last time she was photographed with Trig? Who is raising that child?

11:26 AM August 14, 2011

Ah yes. The classic Mama Gorilla in the Mist  pose. So county fair. So perfect.  Surrounded by her trusted fan base, the dazzled and the bedazzled, this shot really captures her essence.  She stands so proudly among the vertible who’s who of beer bellies and bible humpers clamoring to get a glimpse of the one woman at the fair who doesn’t remind them of ol’ Elsie back home …

8:19 AM August 14, 2011

Time to sweep up the road kill… Flying Monkey Mama’s need NOT apply..

8:59 AM August 14, 2011

Can you imagine Palin trying to discuss ANY topic in a debate?  The woman can’t read for gods sake!  She can see russia from her window!  She has a ‘deer in the headlights’ look of a stunned waitress as a cheap roadside greasy spoon.

It’s Sarah’s decision whether to run. Even if she decides not to, it does the Republicans good to have her onside at rallies coming up next year.

Todd Palin made his money through his own hard work, something many on the Left sucking on the public mammary or collecting welfare cheques wouldn’t know about. Sarah earned a modest salary in public office, as Mayor of Wasilla then as Governor of Alaska. She and her family mind each other’s children, so she has a close-knit network around her.  Her kids are being well looked after when she’s away.

I don’t know what it is about Sarah Palin that gets the Left so up in arms. Maybe it’s because she looks happy (and pretty) living according to the Bible.  Sorry if that is too simplistic a conclusion, but simple truths can irritate the Left — and often do.

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