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Miley’s mandate: Return to prudery
Written by Kathleen Parker   
Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:24 AM

MOUNTAINTOP, N.C. — If opinions differ on Miley Cyrus’ raunchy performance during MTV’s recent Video Music Awards, on one thing we all can agree: Miley loves her tongue.

Throughout her lively exhibition, the 20-year-old former Disney starlet and erstwhile Hannah Montana was busy extending her gustatory hydrostat. It is a healthy tongue, indeed, and as tongues go, Cyrus is justified in being proud of hers.

She is also, apparently, proud of the results of her successful passage through puberty, which she felt compelled to share. Highlights of her nearly X-rated performance can be found easily enough. Readers of op-ed pages don’t sign up for such descriptions when they seek opinion so I will spare the details except to mention that she was dressed in her undies and employed a foam finger with which to stimulate her performance partner, singer Robin Thicke.

“That was dope,” Thicke tweeted afterward, which ostensibly was intended as an expression of praise rather than commentary on his “dance” partner. Apparently, Thicke’s wife, actress Paula Patton, was also fine with the performance.

So who are we to protest? Who are we not to?

By far the best commentary — in the picture-worth-a-thousand-words category — was Rihanna’s blank stare. Maybe she was thinking about her next dental appointment, but her expression of utter ennui spoke for me and doubtless others.

The usual critiques have included mockery of the right wing, which apparently includes anyone who cares about the culture we’re providing our children. But other commentary makes one hopeful that we may be experiencing a broader desire for greater decorum. Call it post-modern prudery.

This is possibly a false hope, I concede, but there’s some basis for imagining that the pendulum might find its way back toward civilization’s center. Even by the dubious standards of MTV, Cyrus’ performance was widely considered over the top. Or should we say, under the bottom? At a reported rate of 300,000 tweets per minute during the broadcast, viewers tweeted reactions that included shock and outrage. Not all, obviously, but enough to suggest a tipping point in America’s slow decline into prurient voyeurism.

This is not the first offensive display — and probably not even the worst. I pretend to no authority but have seen enough to know that MTV videos often resemble soft-porn mini-movies. Children marinating in a culture of online porn, sexting, rainbow parties and worse have little experience with other ways of relating emotionally.

Hard to believe, I know, but there was once a time when entertainers could get through a song without actually touching themselves. Or simulating fellatio, as Cyrus did. The impulse to replicate animal behavior — now called “twerking” (the lascivious gyrating of one’s fleshy extremities, according to my handy slang dictionary) — now is mainstream entertainment. So inured have we become to grotesque behavior that even a congressman’s sexting expeditions, at least initially, were blithely disregarded as errors in judgment.

The notion of community standards, meanwhile, has become quaintly irrelevant. How does one impose standards when almost every citizen has his own videocam and vast audiences can be summoned with a tweet? One doesn’t. In free societies, the call to civilized behavior is strictly voluntary. Like democracy, it has to be willed by the people by community consent.

To that end, Cyrus inadvertently may have performed a public service. She didn’t just tip the point, she forced the shark to jump the shark. There are only so many ways to shake one’s booty, after all. Everybody has a tongue. Sex is universal. Given those circumstances, what’s a girl gotta do to get attention?

The grinding image of Cyrus playing nasty while sticking out her tongue at the world ultimately was mostly sad and, as Rihanna so perfectly projected, kind of boring. Provocation for the sake of provocation is rarely provocative. And sex in the hands of a Cyrus-gone-wild has all the appeal of rutting season at the zoo. Whither mystery?

Even posing such a question usually invites dismissal as out-of-touch old-fogery. The planet’s young, having discovered sex anew, have always imagined their predecessors as hopelessly square, forgetting until they themselves become parents that certain acts of passion were involved in their invitation to the circus. This time may be different. This time, even the young are offended.

Just possibly, America has had enough. When all things are permissible, then permissiveness loses its allure. And the pendulum always comes back.

 

Kathleen Parker’s email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 
On the Other Hand - Supporting each other
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Sunday, August 25, 2013 12:00 AM

The carpeting came from one store; the furniture another; and the appliances yet another.

When my father owned his business, he made it a practice to shop locally and support those who supported his business.

It was a good practice and still is today and perhaps more important than ever.

 
Uncovering the full truth about IRS abuse of power
Written by U.S. Senator Rob Portman   
Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:00 AM

BY U.S. SENATOR

ROB PORTMAN

 

Big scandals start off as small stories. The controversy engulfing the Internal Revenue Service seems to grow bigger every day. What began as what the Obama administration said was a handful of “rogue agents” in a local Cincinnati office has turned into a scandal that runs all the way to the highest levels of the IRS and maybe beyond. The question every American should be asking is this: Just how far does this story go, and when is President Barack Obama going to do something about it?

In the run-up to the last election, I started receiving troubling reports from conservative groups in Ohio about alleged mistreatment by the IRS. In response, in March 2012, I spearheaded a Senate letter to the IRS demanding answers. Six weeks later IRS officials assured us that only legitimate criteria were used to evaluate tax-exempt groups. That assurance proved false, and instead of correcting the record when they say they learned the truth a week later, the IRS remained silent. The truth was uncovered only when the press began to report on the agency’s ideological targeting.

But the cover-up didn’t end when IRS misconduct became public. Initially, the IRS sought to explain away its political targeting as a “shortcut” to deal with a “surge” in tax-exempt applications. But the record soon revealed that tax-exempt applications actually declined the year the targeting began. Then the IRS claimed that any misconduct could be attributed to a handful of “rogue” employees from a regional office, rather than at the direction of senior officials in Washington, D.C. But investigators soon found letters targeting Tea Party groups signed by Lois Lerner, the Washington-based IRS official who led the division that carried out the targeting policy. Ms. Lerner refused to answer questions from a congressional committee investigating this issue, choosing instead to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Now an IRS whistle-blower has confirmed what many had suspected but could not prove — the misconduct involved not only Ms. Lerner and the Washington office generally, but specifically included the IRS chief counsel, one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency. Several news outlets have now reported that the chief counsel may have met with the president at the White House on April 23, 2012, just two days before the IRS issued a revised set of “be on the lookout” instructions to IRS agents reviewing tax-exempt applications that appear to target Tea Party groups for more stringent review. Perhaps most troubling, the White House’s timeline of events — who knew what and when — has changed repeatedly since news of improper targeting first became public.

And the scope of the scandal is growing. Just a few days ago, congressional investigators released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission were engaged in conservative targeting of their own, perhaps with improper help from Ms. Lerner and the IRS. Now evidence is mounting that one of the most powerful agencies of the federal government — the Securities and Exchange Commission — has also engaged in political targeting. In a letter to the chairwoman of the SEC, congressional leaders revealed that documents produced for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “indicate that the SEC has been under immense pressure from elected officials and special interest groups as part of a government-wide effort to stifle political speech.”

With each new revelation we discover more incompetence, and more examples of politicized enforcement of the law — all enemies of good governance. And while the Obama administration has voiced outrage about government misconduct, it has failed to provide the American people and congressional investigators with critical information and promised transparency. Outrage has not led to action.

Instead, the president and his administration have ignored requests for more information — including multiple specific requests from me. They also have not fully answered a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Finance Committee of which I am a member. In total opposition to the words and assurances of the White House, the IRS, which answers to the president, has simply failed to comply with many of the committee’s requests.

Based on its conduct, the position of the Obama administration seems to be that if they ignore these scandals long enough, they will simply go away. The White House has gone so far as to refer to the outrage surrounding revelations about the IRS as a “phony scandal.” That’s a shame. This pattern of misconduct represents everything that is wrong with Washington, and it is behavior like this that has shattered the trust of the American people in their government.

If the Administration does not come clean soon, the stain from this scandal will not just be on the IRS, but on the Administration as a whole.

 
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information submitted   
Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:00 AM

DEAR EDITOR:

On behalf of the volunteers who have just completed our annual Marbletown Festival, I would like to sincerely thank the businesses in our community and the area residents who turned out to make our 2013 event the most successful ever.

As has been the case since our community celebration began, funds you helped us to raise will be used to make improvements in Garfield Park, which draws its history from the very beginnings of our neighborhood.

We are very grateful for the corporate contributions we received and for the many folks who took part in our activities or purchased our raffle items and souvenirs.

We hope you will plan to join us in early 2014 for our next Marbletown Festival.

Sincerely,

Kathy Gengler

Marbletown Festival Committee Chair

 
Come on down to Marbletown
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Sunday, August 11, 2013 12:00 AM

I hope many of you are going to mosey on down to Marbletown and see what’s going on today.

The annual Marbletown Festival will have a little something for everyone. Be it a little frog jumping or maybe a Marbletown steak. I don’t think you can go wrong.

I think these kinds of things bring people together and make Delphos a better place to live than many others. A community that comes together to have fun and remember good times from days past is a nice place to be. We learn from history.

Whether you grew up there, are a transplant or come from across town — Marbletown’s the place to be today.

The events on the schedule for today are simple and fun. They will take you back to a much less complicated time when visiting with neighbors was common and everyone knew everyone. The front porch was the place to be after supper and there was always a hand in time of need. The common thread was people.

We are so busy these days and technology races to stay ahead of us. There’s always a faster way to do everything so more things can be done. We don’t take the time to enjoy a conversation or get to know each other anymore. Small talk is tossed around while racing from one place to the next.

The stories will be flying, so you’ll have to pay attention. There are some very funny tales that need to be passed along so they are not forgotten.

Many of you know that my father, Roger Briggs, grew up in Marbletown and his father, Earl Briggs, resided there until he entered a nursing home in his twilight years.

The Briggs homestead was on the corner of Clay and King streets. It was a small home with rolling floors and a huge yard with apple trees and a bountiful garden.

The neighborhood was full of children and we could scare up a game of something or other — whatever we were in the mood for.

So today, I’m just getting back to my roots — in Marbletown.

 
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