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Miss Teen USA
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MILEY MONTANA
Re: Judah Friedman’s In Defense of Miley Cyrus:

Judah Friedman has got to be kidding: “A few racy pictures”? Miley Cyrus is fifteen years old. The pictures included a suggestive one with her father Billy Ray Cyrus, for Pete’s sake! Parents are supposed to help their children avoid making mistakes, not facilitate them. Brooke Shields’ mother was very careful to protect her daughter when she was a child and teen star. In stark contrast, today we have the parents of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and the aforementioned Cyrus who exploit their children and don’t give a fat rat’s posterior for the consequences. And it’s the internet age, remember? My 8 year old daughter who is a big fan of Ms. Cyrus hears about her tawdry behavior from her friends in school who pick it up off the internet, and I have to explain why it’s wrong to a child who should not even have to hear about this garbage.

No, Mr. Friedman, we don’t destroy our heroes, we merely enable them to destroy themselves when we accept and even celebrate their poor behavior.
Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been about to explode over how parents and the media have been blowing this out of proportion. I am a 21 year old girl who looks up to Miley with how well she has handled her fame, and the leaking of her “racy” pictures, and her apology for the VF shoot. I guess since I am not a parent or overly sensitive I can see this for what it is: a girl growing up in the public eye, just trying to be herself and have a good time without harming herself or anyone else. Thank you for pointing out that she is learning and growing, as I have been thinking the same thing all along! Her backless photo wasn’t a big deal. We’ve all seen more exposure from 12 year olds in the weekend Mervyn’s catalogs, so what’s the big deal? You’re also right that parents should sit down and explain this to their children, and have them understand that it’s okay for them, too, to make mistakes, because they will. And that we should build up Miley because making a fuss out of her falls will only send the message to our youth that it’s NOT okay to make mistakes. Maybe by pointing out and dwelling on the mistakes of others we only fuel their self destructive behaviors anyway? Just a thought.

Again, thanks for an enlightening point of view on this mess.
Sarah

Judah Friedman is missing something important in his treatment of Miley Cyrus. He assumes that singers, mercenary athletes and similar people are people worthy of attention, emulation and idolization. He’s dead wrong.

He writes: “The second someone has that [hero] status we destroy them. No longer can children watch a show and just dream of becoming a singer; they now also have to think about the fact that their hero is a fake and somehow she isn’t who they thought she was.”

Why is it good or even desirable that children grow up idolizing performers? A performer, after all, is someone who specializes in presenting illusions and making them seem pleasant. Why not hold up for public praise people of serious and substantive attainments — the engineer who designs sturdy buildings, the priest who comforts the dying in a hospital, the doctor saving lives or vaccinating children? Lawyers, priests, doctors/nurses, engineers (what used to be called the traditional “professions”) all deal with real-world situations involving substantive human problems. On a more modest level, a manual laborer — a mason, a technician, a waitress — can be held up, idolized even, as an example of good living if they work hard and solve real human problems in their own working life.

On the other hand, a performer, no matter how “talented,” is at most a menial, a servitor who makes his or her living providing a distraction from reality and man’s real conditions of life. At best, they are frivolities; at worst, they are net detractors and subtractors from the social order. (See, for example, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. The prosecution rests.)

Calling someone like Miley Cyrus a “hero” is an even more blatant offense against clear thinking. A hero is “a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.” How on Earth does a 15-year-old posing semi-nude qualify as distinguished? How are her actions noble or brave? A combat soldier in Iraq (no matter how you feel about the war) has courage. An aid worker distributing food in Myanmar has noble qualities.

Miley Cyrus is no “hero.” The overwhelming majority of her fellow “performers” are not, either.

Certainly the “entertainer” deserves (and will have) a place in society. Let them work, let them earn their livings, let them exercise such talents as they may possess. But please, please don’t tempt our children to limit themselves by giving these people attention and status they do not deserve.
Mark Schaeber

Forgive me. I am an older person who knows little about what youngsters like and adore. I have watched the Hannah Montana phenom. All well and good until I saw the exorbitant prices Disney charged for one of her concerts. Parents were scrambling to buy the tickets for their little girls. It gets better. One mother lied about the death of her husband in Iraq to gain sympathy and a free ticket for her six year old daughter. Is that Miley’s fault? Maybe not. Disney knows a good thing when they see it and is more than willing to charge these prices. P. T. Barnum said it’s outrageous. Miley’s parents agreed to a photo shoot of their daughter. I saw the photos and in my old decrepit thought process said to myself, “something is wrong with these pictures.” A little too pouty and suggestive to me. Is the criticism fair? The criticism should be directed to her parents and Disney. Is Miley a hero? No. A hero is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds. The “heroes” in this are Disney and Miley’s parents. They showed their “heroism” by having their young daughter pose for “sexed up” pictures. That takes “courage.” If anything, Miley was used by the people who should have looked out for her. She should set an example for young girls. I guess I’m old fashioned. I would not want my daughter to see the pictures of Miley. I’d direct her attentions elsewhere.
Clasina J. Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

So WE should stop tearing down our hero? WE? Seems to me the decision to take those erotic photos was HER decision, not ours.

Once again, no one has personal responsibility for anything—and people like Judah Friedman are helping to keep it that way.
Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon

Pee-wee Herman, Rob Lowe. Britney Spears, vs. Roy Rogers, Bill Boyd, Shirley Temple.

If you are making money because of a certain “image,” in my opinion you lose the money when image is destroyed. Shame on Miley and Miley’s exploitive father.
Annette Cwik

Judah Friedman may know something about mistakes, but he apparently knows very little about the entertainment industry. The Vanity Fair photo shoot was not a “mistake,” but a carefully calculated piece of a larger picture: how to “transition” a child star into an adult one, under the “watchful eye” of her parents — along with a manager, an agent, a publicist, merchandisers, record company, movie and video
execs, and anyone else with a “piece of the action.”

Some “mistake.”
Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

AGAINST THE GRAIN
Re: Lene Johansen’s Food Fracas:

Johansen wrote: “The price increase is not a result of a weakened dollar, the increase is seen worldwide.”

That point is completely false. All currencies worldwide are fiat currencies and the WSJ has had articles in the past three weeks about worldwide inflation. It is indeed primarily the debasement of the value of money worldwide that has caused the increase in food prices. Indeed, food producers and people on fixed incomes get harmed the most.
Allen Niven
New York, New York

In order to get politics out of the way in food and energy production, it is going to be necessary to require that all potential members of Congress have to pass a test on basic economics and science. If this were instituted, there’d be far fewer lawyers gracing the “hallowed halls” of the Capitol Building, which would be a good thing.

If only we had any leaders these days. My father was fond of the quote, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” If only those in Congress, who are incredibly stupid about basic economics and science, would consider their own qualification and follow the relevant part of the quote, vis-a-vis their own capabilities.

Five hundred thirty-five American citizens over the age of 50, one for each congressional district, and two extra for each state, picked at random out of the phone book, could do a better job than group we currently have in Washington. As long as we didn’t allow any lawyers who might get selected to actually serve.
R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

Mr. Johansen in “Food Fracas” claims that the current increase in world-wide food prices is the result of increased ethanol production and growing living standards in China and India. Like global warming, China and India appear to explain every economic event over the past decade. But the fact that the prices of energy, metals and food are all up to records levels, and the dollar to record lows, hint that something else may tie them all together. The only event known to economics that could produce all of these phenomena is a world-wide glut of money. It works like this: the U.S. inflates the supply of dollars through credit expansion (via low interest rates). As a result, U.S. citizens import more goods. Exporting countries take those dollars and use them as reserves in their banks. Larger reserves enable them to inflate their money supply even more than they usually do. The end result is a flood of money of Biblical proportions. I realize that people trained in mainstream econ will simply role their eyes at this explanation of wide spread prices increases because they limit explanations strictly to supply and demand (demand in China and India); money is neutral is their religion. However, mainstream econ should go back and study the decades of the 1960s and 1970s again. It’s deja vu all over again.
Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

THE BIG FIVE-O
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Stuck in the Middle:

It is here, but it is good, and rest assured you are not “stuck.” Life starts moving faster that it would seem — think summer as a kid and you’ll get the idea.
Roger Ross

If you think you’re old now, Jay, just wait until you have grandchildren.

I turned 58 this year. So far my face is still naturally smooth; my hair is still naturally brown; I wear t-shirts and Adidas sneakers; and I listen to Amy Winehouse on my iPod. Most days I feel like I’m 18. However, I have four grandchildren, ages 5 to 16, all of whom periodically remind me of my chronological age.

Like my 6-year-old grandson, Hunter. My age is never a factor when I play soccer with him, yet he told his mother he couldn’t believe I workout in a gym. “You mean she lifts weights? Real weights? But, she’s a grandma!”
Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

“The classic Jewish phrase goes: “When many share the same problem, that is half a consolation.””

Yes, Mr. Homnick, us middle-aged Gentiles have our own version of this universal truth: “Misery loves company.”
Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Melrose, Massachusetts

Jay: Trade the Mustang for a Shelby GT — no more pity.
Deborah

VISIONS OF THE ANOINTED
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Pols Scheme to Nick Big Ed:

I think it’s safe to say that there will never be enough money to continue the programs that the socialist liberals who run politics in Massachusetts have devised. As Kipling said in his The Gods of the Copybook Headings: With their promises of “abundance for all,” they will always have to be “robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul.”

I’m surprised it took this long for them to go after these endowment funds. Look for other state and local governments to pick up on this and do the same thing. And look for the the amount of the funds exempted from these taxes to go much lower. And, it will naturally follow that the endowments of colleges and universities associated with religious institutions will also be targeted. There are at least 5 in my area and there has been considerable grumbling over the years about the parsimonious ways they have in giving back contributions in lieu of taxes to the municipalities they are located in.

But a pocket book issue like this can have a positive side too! The tenured dandies who work in these gated academic communities might finally come to understand how the rest of the country runs its business. As it is now, they are running the academy like the ruling class runs the country. How insolent! Who do they think they are? Even the lowly Public School teachers know enough to have their unions contribute to political campaigns. You would think that the people who run the Universities would be at least that smart!

Aren’t deep pockets grand! I wonder how much the Tobacco Tort Lawyers could have gotten out of the Duke University endowment fund seeing how it was funded by evil tobacco profits?
Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

I read this latest submission by Mr. Henry, and then I went to other things to let it sort of percolate in what I laughingly refer to as my brain. Well, I am back to it. I am having an extremely hard time finding an excuse for NOT taxing the world of academe. Yes, there is the philosophical point that argues against the taxes, but what else.

Particularly the colleges and universities in Massachusetts are famous for banning ROTC from campus, for banning or restricting military recruiters from campus, for demonstrating and sitting in against parts of the universities doing research and studies for the military and other parts of the federal government. We have read several articles about knock down, drag out battles by donors with the universities to try to force them to ACTUALLY spend the money as stipulated in the endowment donation contracts.

The academic world has become a world that does all in its power to promote socialism, if not outright Marxism. The radical left interest groups and professorial organizations spend uncountable hours not teaching real knowledge, but propagandizing the students to radicalize them. In short, colleges and universities are doing all in their power to inhibit, to the maximum extent possible, the organs of governance in America, and to deflate the high opinion of America in international organizations, and the world in general.

Then the academic community charges ungodly sums for tuition, room, board, student fees of various kinds, and books that are written by the very government subsidized professors that haven’t got time to actually appear and teach their classes because they are out demonstrating against the government. Many of the text books that are so over priced are actually written by teams of student assistants that are assigned particular chapters, and then the professor puts them all together and puts his/her own name on it as the “writer.” Oh, and please don’t deny these assertions of mine. I have been there and seen it first hand, over many years. I saw it personally at the undergraduate level AND the graduate level.

The cost of a college education today is horribly inflated by the plethora of individual courses and majors that are no more real education than John Dean is an economist or Al Gore is a serious climate scientist. Of course if colleges went back to only offering real, truly educational courses, thousands of over paid professors would have to go out and earn a real pay check, in a real job, doing real productive work. Oh, the horror of that thought.

The more I think about it, the more I am of the opinion that the Massachusetts legislature is thinking entirely too small. The threshold should $500 million, instead of a billion, and the rate double what they are proposing. I am already on record advocating that the subsidies meted out to the colleges and universities by the government should be terminated to any institution that bans ROTC on campus or allows any interference with military recruiters on campus. I am no longer inclined to give the educational industry in this country, with their unions, their well paid lobbyists, their radical agitators, and anti-government, anti-American leftist ideologues any breaks at all. I would rather give tax breaks to private companies that produce the energy that our energy hungry nation needs, or private companies that invent and produce products that improve the lethality of our military while also increasing the safety of our warriors. The real changes needed involve cutting the numbers of law school entrants by 50% for the foreseeable future and completely cleaning out, shutting down, and starting over with the schools of education that train the K-12 propagandists that we call teachers.

Sorry, Harvard, MIT, et al. get no tears from me.
Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Couldn’t happen to a sorrier bunch of cosseted liberal wimps. Here’s hoping those eastern liberal states take those eastern liberal colleges and universities to the cleaners. Poetic justice, I call it.

With the endowment Harvard enjoys, why do they even bother to charge tuition? Is it because they’re afraid they might let some conservative kid in for an education?

I, for one, wouldn’t want one of my grandchildren to go to an Ivy League school, even if the education was free. Well, maybe I’d make an exception in the case of your listed MIT, although I’m sure Purdue or CalTech would suffice just as well for an engineering/science education.
R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

SCARY THOUGHTS
Re: Christopher Orlet’s A Dose of Reality:

I read your article with interest and appreciation. Your opinions and conclusions are accurate based on the information that you have.

Unfortunately there is a great deal of information that lies below the surface as they. I have been approached by many friends (non-physicians) to actually write a book (a small book) regarding some of the not so obvious information that I have assimilated simply by having practiced medicine for the past…34 years? Yep, that’s an accurate number — 34 years.

The things that aren’t immediately apparent, e.g. the American public’s attitude toward all of this, or perhaps the myth of all these frivolous law suits, and who exactly it is that is complaining about all the law suits, or perhaps the myth of the AMA controlling the number of doctors, when in fact our immigration policies may have a big role in that area.

I don’t want to write a book, but I sure would like to talk to someone who might be interested. All I can do is tell the truth as I know it.
Sam Russo
Maryland

Never, in the history of this country, have Americans had a greater desire for “a healthy dose of good old-fashioned government bureaucracy.” Such yearning is the end result of a public school system which can be summed up thusly: a bad education equals a good Democrat.
Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

LET’S GET SERIOUS
Re: Mike Roush’s letter (under “When Readers Debate”) in Reader Mail’s Hillary Out of Grapeshot:

I believe if Mr. Roush re-read my letter, he would note that I was narrowly responding to the curious notions that the New Deal, the Great Society, and the (a-hem) Clinton Years were golden ages all Americans can look back and cry in their beers for the glories that have been lost since.

As far as the Great Depression, it had several root causes not the least of which were the disastrous decisions by Capitol Hill Republicans and Herbert Hoover. We have FDR to thank for the Depression’s end when he in his wisdom declared war on Germany and Japan. To the degree that the 1960s were a prosperous time, I think you can look to JFK’s tax cuts as well as LBJ’s “guns and butter” policies in a time of an extremely divisive war (the “divisiveness” of our current war in Iraq don’t hold a candle to that of Vietnam). Aside from the fact the sixties produced a great deal of excellent Rock & Roll, I have no desire for this country to ever go through such a time again. And to the extent we had a real period of prosperity during the reign of the Medici’s, it mostly came on the echo of the Reagan economy of the 1980’s and the fact that by and large Clinton kept his fingers off the economy (then again, the Republican Congress didn’t exactly give him much of a choice).

Mr. Roush is certainly correct that I said nothing about “W’s” years. Again, they were outside my focus. Be that as it may, Mr. Roush should notice in the pages of The American Spectator Conservatives themselves have a lengthy list of grievances with this President Bush and have been steadily jumping ship since his administration began. (Indeed, Conservatives have had a love/hate relationship with the Republican Party itself many years standing now) I don’t defend many of Bush’s policies because they defy any meaning of the word Conservative. Aside from the tax cuts, there has been very little ” conservative” economics of either the “Supply Side” or “Chicago School” variety in action.

I think it sufficient to end here except to make two notes:

1.) The long series of malfeasance in Enron took place during Clinton reign. It was a Republican administration take cornered the robber barons ten months after taking office. The employees of Enron who lost their retirements have my sympathies and I have no sympathy for those in upper management who will be in prison for a long time to come. On the other hand, many employees across this great land unfortunately lose their retirements precisely the way Enron employees did financial planners warn against over and over: failing to diversify investments and putting all one’s eggs into one basket.

2.) The only time Democrats and Liberals give a rat’s behind about “infrastructure,” “mortgaging our future,” “budget deficits,” “the national debt,” and foreign countries sucking up American bonds is when they are not in power. Somehow all these concerns disappear when the Benevolent Empire is back in full swing. Excuse me if in the end I don’t take you seriously.
Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

FOREIGN LEGION TREASON
Re: Lynn Ward’s letter (under “A Carpetbagger in Full”) in Hillary Out of Grapeshot:

One of the letters regarding the citizenship status of London Mayor Boris Johnson said one of the ways an American can lose their citizenship is by joining the military of other countries. I have heard of this, however I have never seen any proof of it actually happening. Not to any of the Americans who (A) joined the British, French, or Canadian armies during World Wars One or Two, (B) served on both sides of the Spanish Civil War (Sorry, fans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. There were a few who fought for Franco), or (C) fought in the Rhodesian Army in the 1960s and 1970s. To say nothing about all the Americans in the French Foreign Legion. If anyone has any further information on the subject could you please send it in?
Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

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