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The Corn Refiners Association says Bill Maher is not "reasonable," just "bizarre."

12:00 AM, May 3, 2005
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.

*1*

An April 21 commentary by Michael Goldfarb regarding Bill Maher's "one-man war against high fructose corn syrup" is both entertaining and informative. Unfortunately, the commentary notes that Bill Maher's views about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), although "bizarre," may in fact be "reasonable." We would like to ensure that your readers have all the facts about HFCS:

The American Dietetic Association notes that "Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations . . . as well as individual health goals."

In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration listed HFCS as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (known as GRAS status) for use in food, and the FDA reaffirmed that ruling in 1996.

HFCS contains approximately equal ratios of fructose and glucose similar to table sugar. The human body cannot discern a difference between HFCS, table sugar (sucrose), and honey because they are all nearly compositionally equivalent.

Recent mischaracterizations of HFCS as a unique cause of obesity do not represent the consensus opinion of scientific experts. The Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech issued a report last year compiled by scientists who reviewed a number of critical commentaries about HFCS. Their analysis found that HFCS is not a unique contributor to obesity.

HFCS has proven beneficial to consumers through its use in many foods and beverages, including several products that are specifically made for people trying to control their weight.

For more information about HFCS, please visit HFCSfacts.com.

--Audrae Erickson

President, Corn Refiners Association

*2*

Many of the concerns regarding the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) cited in Scott Johnson's April 25th article The Ambassador Nobody Knows have been noted by the U.N. and its secretary general. In fact, Secretary General Kofi Annan recently said that "unless we remake our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself." He went on to say that "We have reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole, and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough."

In his comprehensive report on U.N. reform, "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security, and Human Rights for All," the secretary general outlined his recommendation to do away with the UNCHR in favor of a smaller, more effective Human Rights Council. His proposal calls for the membership of the new council to consist only of member states with the highest human rights standards.

The United States, working closely with other like-minded governments in the new U.N. Democracy Caucus, can use its standing and leadership to support this and the many other significant reform recommendations that will be discussed at the 60th annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.

--Ted Piccone

Executive Director, Democracy Coalition Project

*3*

David Skinner touches most of the bases in his piece on the appeal of Miami Vice (now available on DVD). However, it seems to me that he is mistaken in several respects and overlooks the genuine significance of the series even when his observations are accurate. He writes that the entire appeal of the show "depended on selling the notion of cops as figures of unequaled glamour." Yet in the course of its run, the series shows us some of the enormous pressures police officers face in the line of duty, as well as many of the compromises they must make that lead, in some cases, to their psychological undoing.

Both Crockett and Tubbs lose family members and other loved ones in drug dealing-related killings, and their personal relations are a shambles; both are subject to several investigations by internal affairs that raise demoralizing questions about their honesty and integrity; both have to face the fact that fellow officers have been bribed and otherwise corrupted by the criminal element, and, in at least two instances, see "brother officers" commit suicide.

They also are depicted as constantly caught between quarreling factions within the larger law enforcement community, and, in the end, they come to question the very dedication that brought them into law enforcement in the first place. Anyone who thinks such individuals are being depicted as figures of unequaled glamour has not been watching very closely.

David Skinner writes that there were weaknesses in dialogue and characterization, but his two examples fail to convince me. Tubbs's response, "Like a bad dream" to the question, "Is Calderone still following us?" seems an entirely appropriate simile for one who has seen the drug dealer Calderone kill his brother, and who has repeated flashbacks of the awful event. It's no stretch to imagine that the scene inhabits his dreams.

David Skinner is also puzzled by Tubbs's adoption of a Jamaican accent--"without warning," he says. But Tubbs's background, with which a regular viewer would have been familiar from the pilot episode, indicates he was a New York police officer who worked a robbery beat. Is it so surprising that such an individual would have picked up the patois? The scene in which Tubbs comes across with his "Cool runnin', mon," (not "Ja, mon")is not, as Skinner says, an "interrogation scene" with a Jamaican drug dealer, but a meeting set up by Noogie Lamont to establish some rapport with the Jamaican. Tubbs is, after all, working undercover. We're hardly surprised to hear Tubbs say "Sit yourself down, mon," and the like. When the actual interrogation scene takes place, Tubbs has dropped his Jamaican accent.

I think David Skinner would agree that through a combination of accomplished scriptwriting, jaunty direction, and tour de force performances by Bruce Willis, John Glover, Bruce McGill, and others in guest-starring roles, the series exhibited a range of brilliantly delineated characters in addition to the central figures. But I believe the genuine significance of the series lies in its presentation of a kind of "neo-noir" on the small screen with its emphasis on the subliminal, allusive power of film. I cannot say that every episode did this, or that the series as a whole achieved it consistently. But when it did succeed, it gave to episodic programming in the '80s a whole new look and mood. David Skinner recognizes this ("Miami Vice remains visually compelling"), though I'm not sure he would acknowledge how very significant this is. For my own part, I'd argue that all those lovely visuals were put there to serve some higher aesthetic purposes.

--Steven

*4*

Chris Pope's argument that a gas tax is no way to solve the problems facing America is largely right. Imported oil, however, is a different story. Petroleum is used for more than gas and America produces much of the oil used in the gas sold here. Three large American problems could be ameliorated through a tax on imported oil. New domestic energy sources could be developed, billions would pour into the treasury, billions would cease to go to the treasuries of Middle Eastern (and Venezuelan) despots, and our trade deficit could be reduced. It is most economically efficient to have free trade in oil, but other American interests require even tax-a-phobic Republicans like me to look at levies on foreign oil.

--John J. Vecchione

*5*

I think Chris Pope's argument is sound, but would like to point out how relevant the same argument is to a sin tax on cigarettes, which burdens the most anxious in our society, the poor.

--Barbara Velen

*6*

Regarding Irwin M. Stelzer's Monster or Myth?, there is an uncounted cost to the rise in the price of gasoline and that is the amount of money companies reimburse their employees for business driving.

I have watched the cost of gasoline increase over 40 cents per gallon without seeing the amount I am reimbursed increase at all. I am left to cover the difference between what the federal government will allow my company to pay me and what my per mile driving cost is. And the increase in the price per gallon of gasoline is only the most obvious factor in all of this.

Now that the gas companies know we will pay, albeit grudgingly, over $2.00 per gallon, why would they ever drop the price below that threshold?

--Aaron H. Frank

*7*

Irwin M. Stelzer should know that Alan Greenspan has every right to be concerned about inflation. We have created an economic construction in which inflation works against us instead of building an alternative where inflation works for us. Accordingly, it is quite acceptable for the Fed to be worried about the future of the economy because the future isn't going to get any rosier while we refuse to accept the basic mathematics governing federal spending.

--Clint Lovell

*8*

John Hinderaker's What Liberals Want, demonstrates that the recent use of the filibuster isn't about disagreement on legislation or the views of a judicial nominee. It's about thumbing your nose at the people in power. It's like the neighborhood kid who loses the game so he takes his ball and goes home so no one can win. No legislative body should block votes on anything just because a group of senators or a single senator refuses to vote. In school, I learned that the president was the only one with veto power. It takes two thirds of them to override a presidential veto. Yet, a single senator is able to effectively veto a presidential nominee. Does this make sense to anyone?

--Landon Farmer

*9*

Tim Lehmann's latest piece actually inspired me to read the EU "constitution." I now have a raging headache.

--Mary Mclemore

*10*

Hugh Hewitt writes in his piece Now, More Than Ever what many of us across America would like to hear, and describes what many of us would like to see done. It is true that, apart from the defense of this country, no issue is as important as the judges who will rule over us. That is an important phrase--judges who will rule over us. Naturally, that is not what judges are supposed to do. They are supposed to adjudicate matters of law, determining in any dispute which side is most in accord with the written law of the land. Unfortunately, that is not what most judges now do. Thus, it is exceedingly important who is nominated and confirmed to the judiciary.

At the present time, the injuries done by the judiciary to the American people will be minimized if those who sit as judges are of the "originalist" school--that is, those who try to determine what the law actually says about a matter, rather than what they want the law to say.

I hope that one of our younger senators will be saying something similar soon, in addition to the comments that Hugh Hewitt would like them to say.

--Benjamin F. Lasseter