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Jesusland coconut cake

Well Hack, my wife and I hadn't even left the tarmac in Newark and we were already in Jesusland. A kindly widower from Texas struck up a religious conversation with us before takeoff and gave me an Owsald Chambers book. I'm afraid I may have scandalized him by allowing that I didn't believe in Hell in the conventional sense. I meant no offense by it. I don't believe in much in the conventional sense.

Once we got to North Carolina it was all turkey and relaxation with the extended family. The food was great (especially the coconut cake, recipe to follow) and I'm really going to have to hit the gym with a vengeance now that I'm back.

I noticed that the newspapers and magazines were full of tips and advice about "surviving" the holidays in light of the recent presidential election. We're all likely to share a turkey with people who disagree with us, after all. The articles were full of admonitions to be "considerate," and not to "gloat," but rather to think of the other person's feelings. All very nice stuff, but try as I might, I am unable to remember similar human interest/advice pieces in the wake of the '92 and '96 elections. Sort of like how I don't remember any NYT editorials saying that Clinton should pick cabinet members who disagree with his policies. Ah well, my memory is sometimes imperfect that way.

Believe it or not, Hack, I met a few liberals down in Charlotte, and I think they're experiencing the same cognitive dissonance that afflicts many here in the blue states. Moreover, I think I've finally figured out where it comes from. Many lefties here and in Europe were able to trash Bush in the most savage of terms, while simultaneously insisting that they loved "America" and "Americans." They did this by clutching desperately at Al Gore's narrow popular win in 2000 and maintaining that the current administration had "hijacked" this country, and did not enjoy the popular support of the governed.

Now, however, President Bush has won re-election by a decisive popular majority. It was not a landslide, and I (unlike some conservatives) don't see much of a mandate there, but it was a decisive win nonetheless. So where does that leave these lefties, Hack? They are stuck between two distasteful options.

On the one hand, they can stick to their guns, but they'll be forced to conclude that Americans are fundamentally either evil or stupid. (I suppose the most optimistic conclusion possible would be that Stupid America and Evil America only comprise about 30% each of the population, while Normal America enjoys a 40% plurality. It is only in the unholy alliance of Evil and Stupid that the will of Normal America is thwarted and distasteful manifestations like Bush's reelection are possible. That's probably scant comfort, however.)

That's got to be a pretty tough pill to swallow. It's not surprising that we all know people who have become virtual recluses since the election. I'm glad you haven't succumbed to this temptation, Hack, although I know you've struggled, same as everyone else. Perhaps you should do some soul-searching and ask yourself why it is that you fear powerful men.

Ha ha, just kidding on that last one. You see, for an entire decade, every time I dared utter the mildest criticism of Her Royal Clintonness, I was told it was because I felt threatened by a powerful woman. I just couldn't resist the chance at payback.

The other option for the chronically disaffected is much preferable, if still somewhat unpleasant. They could admit that some of their over-the-top rhetoric was unjustified, and unnecessarily inflammatory. These people don't want to believe in Evil Stupid America. I realize they don't especially want to backtrack either, but I think it may well be a good idea, both for their long-term mental health and for the health of the Republic.

I underwent a similar transition during the second Clinton term. Eventually, I began to realize that this guy wasn't so bad after all, as some of the direst predictions of his presidency failed to materialize, and there was growing evidence that they never would. Yes, I had to admit I was wrong, and nobody enjoys that, but after I'd done so, I felt much better.

I would advise all the depressed lefties out there to at least give it a chance. Listen, you don't have to like Bush. But simply acknowledging that his presidency doesn't necessarily herald the advent of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse could be very liberating. It could be better than Zoloft.

Give a try. What do you say? We'll be here to support you, and welcome you back to the fold. We'll do what the newspapers told us to do. We'll be considerate and we won't gloat. Just meet us halfway, okay?

Meanwhile, I'd like to extend a peace offering to help sweeten the deal. This is my aunt Nancy's fabulously famous coconut cake recipe. It's an old, authentic southern favorite, and it was a huge hit down in Jesusland this Thanksgiving. If there's anything we should all be able to agree on, it's that a really good coconut cake kicks ass! Bake it in good health.

Jesusland Coconut Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (can it really be all-purpose? --BNJ)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together dry ingredients and add immediately. Mix water and buttermilk and add that too. Then add vanilla and blend. Turn into three greased, paper-lined cake pans (8 or 9 inches) and bake at 375° for 15 to 25 minutes (don't overcook). Remove from the oven and let stand a few minutes.

Now we've got to do the filling part (Aunt Nancy insists it's improper to refer to it as "icing" or "frosting.") I hate to say it, but it's really important that you use fresh coconut instead of prepackaged for this cake.

  • Fresh coconut, grated (one large or two small ones should do)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in a small amount of water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Grate the coconut until it's more or less the texture of that stuff you buy in a bag at the store. Food processors work nicely for this. Reserve 3/4 cup of the grated coconut to sprinkle on top when you're done. Mix the remaining coconut with the other ingredients over medium heat, bring to a slow boil and cook until lightly thickened.

Allow mixture to cool slightly, then use it to cover the layers, one at a time. sprinkle reserved coconut over each layer in turn, and over the top when finished.



First of all, I personally find the “Jesusland” reference to be offensive in that there are plenty of blue staters who believe in the teachings of Jesus. One of my high school friends is an Episcopal Priest and my dear Uncle was a minister who headed Quaker colleges and retreat centers. Although my Uncle’s last stop was in the red state of North Carolina, he had stops in Indiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania before his last one. God and Jesus live everywhere, in my opinion.
As far as North Carolina goes, I have been there many times in Asheville and up near Grandfather Mountain where my parents sometimes spent their summers. I met many liberals there myself, which is another example of little blue states inside a bigger red one.
That said, during my most recent trip just after the election, I did listen to a lot of religious radio and there is a strain of religion down there which is very anti-homosexual, as well as questioning of other liberal practices such as women as deacons or ministers. (Homosexuality, I heard more than once, is passed on through incest – which is why you don’t want homosexuals teaching in the schools.) Granted, my most recent trip was along I-95, but I listened to more than a dozen radio stations and they were all talking about the election, including what they saw as their part in winning it.
Yes, it is unfair to say that all followers of Jesus believe the stuff preached on the radio. Yet for all the outrage over Bruce Springsteen, I think it should be noted that there was some very strident songs sung in support of George W. Bush. (Can you sing “abomination”?)
As far as the difference between Clinton and Bush, I remember Bob Dole saying quite clearly that Clinton did not win any mandate in 1993. In any case, I think George W. Bush was wrong in going to war in Iraq in the way he did, has done a lousy job in executing the war, and s wrong to continue to cut taxes while the deficit grows. Matter of fact, I pretty much feel the same way about Bush in 2004 that I thought about Jimmy Carter in 1980. Back then, the American people rightly voted Carter out. This time, I believe they made a mistake by voting Bush back in.
Should I give Bush another chance? Hell, he is going to get another chance whether I like it or not. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong. So far he hasn’t. He just keeps winning elections, but then again I always thought he was a smart politician. As a President, however, I can’t think of much to say in his defense. I can point to things I admired about Nixon, Reagan, and Bush’s father, but I can’t think of anything to say to say in defense of Bush. I think he is wrecking the budget. I believe he is not doing a good job in the War on Terrorism. He is, so far, a lousy President, in my view.
So excuse me if I stand with the 48% and throw back your offers of “support”. Support for what? I don’t want to eat your sweet cake. I want an effective President. You complain that it is we who were calling for CIA reform and now Bush is doing it. Well, his “reform” is to get rid of those who questioned the Iraq War and to keep those who supported the President. Is that really the reform that is going to lead to good intelligence?
Frankly, I wish you would go back to gloating. The voters I stand with may only add up to 48%, but they are the people with whom I agree. I personally would rather be thrown out in the street or shot than respect the leadership of a President that I don’t. The only thing that I will give you is that he aint the second coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, nor is he the worst President in our history. We will survive whatever he does. While I don’t believe much in this President, I do believe very much in this country. However, my part is not to lie to myself and others by supporting his policies and actions when I do not.

When I say "summered", at least when I was a kid, it was not in the Kerry/Kennedy elite limousine liberal mansion on the water sense. We rented a cottage alongside interesting neighbors who had firecrackers and bottle rockets in their car trunks. (Living in a red state does have its perks.)

PE, I'm glad you find the term "Jesusland" offensive. So do I. Were I the type to be easily offended, I probably would be. But I didn't coin the term. Your side did. Glad you agree with me that it's in poor taste.

Too bad you aren't interested in the coconut cake. Your loss. :-)

I could see you leaving that coconut cake in the office kitchen and the next morning all your co-workers wake up as George Bush supporters. (Sorry. I'm on a diet. :))

Regarding the Jesusland map, yes it was our side that came up with it and yes there are those on the left who do not respect religious beliefs. One of the Bush policies that I take seriously (while not liking the way he's gone about it) is the issue of government support for faith based programs. Anyone who has actually spent time with the working poor knows how the church is often the only anchor of support that poor families have. The government can pass out checks and fund some programs that do work, but the church offers a day to day community that can be a lifesaver for the kids of working parents. It is no accident that in the apartments of working families that were making it that there were pictures of Jesus everywhere inside, almost as if Jesus himself was there to keep the apartment a haven against the drugs and the crime in the streets below.

Driving up through the Carolinas and Virginia, the one religious program that personally engaged me was on a black station where the reverend there was engaging the issue of moral values with the callers. That station was the one religious station that did support the Democrats but they took seriously the faith based programs initiated under Bush. The Reverend did not push a point of view, but truly engaged a discussion of the role of faith and politics. You probably would've appreciated that he preached acceptance of the outcome. Also, he did seem like a guy who would have taken a piece of that cake. :)

I like "Satanland", has a nice ring to it.

Naw, they are just drunk in their vain glory, bathed in the awesome light that emanates from their 51% victory. Though temporarily blinded, they shall see again.

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