Too Much Enemy Exposure

Because I was not in Washington during World War II, I am curious about whether it was common practice during that time for your paper to frequently publish pictures of our enemies dancing around destroyed U.S. vehicles, displaying captured equipment or saying their daily prayers [front page, Aug. 12]. Perhaps Bob Woodward ought to investigate whether your editors are underplaying positive pictures of U.S. servicemen doing their duties.

-- Hans Heinz

Culpeper

A Bigger Failure

Henry Kissinger [op-ed, Aug. 16] talks of four great intelligence failures of the past three decades and never mentions the fact that our intelligence agencies missed the decline of the Soviet Union and were still talking about the threat of its great military power up to the day it collapsed. That certainly seems to me a bigger failure than any of the four he mentioned.

-- Allen Ahearn

Dickerson, Md.

Double Standard of Style

Four years ago your paper, among others, ridiculed Al Gore for ditching his suits in favor of shirt sleeves [op-ed, Nov. 28, 1999]. Now John Harris [news story, Aug. 16] celebrates George Bush for his "shirtsleeves campaign. . . . No coat, no tie, rolled up sleeves." Harris further gushes that "in loosening his style, Bush tightened his message" -- whatever that means.

What's the difference?

-- Dorothy Herbert

Falls Church

The Best Grammarian

Of course you can have "the best of two" -- a construction used by reputable writers since William Shakespeare. R.L. Promboin [Free for All, Aug. 14] invokes not English grammar but those self-styled grammarians who made up silly and arbitrary "rules" to perplex the unwary and pander to snobs. Their shibboleths and canards -- found only in grammar books and not in real books -- are as fanciful as flat-earthism and the tooth fairy.

-- Peter Brodie

Palo Alto, Calif.

Offal Omission

Your lyrical article encouraging readers to swim or canoe on Antietam Creek [Sunday Source, Aug. 15] failed to mention the sewage spill your paper reported in the Aug. 4 Metro section. The spill led the Washington County health department to ban swimming and discourage fishing, wading and boating on the stream for days.

More than 2 million gallons of partially treated sewage would certainly keep me off the water for a while.

-- Peter Meredith

Severna Park

A Scrap Over 'Scruffy'

Tim Page's review of Opera International's recent production of Francis Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" [Style, Aug. 2] referred to the "small, scruffy orchestra." As one of the musicians, I take issue with this description.

We were all well-groomed, well-dressed, and not the least bit shabby or untidy. In fact, most of the men wore tuxedos. Moreover, the orchestra was large enough that we did not all fit in the pit. We may have been lousy, pitiful, out of tune, or any of a number of other adjectives complimentary or disparaging, but I will fight Page to the death over "scruffy" and "small."

-- Laurie Loomis de Mancebo

Vienna

Catty Column

Claws back, Donna Britt!

Shame on your paper for allowing Britt to use the weight of Elizabeth Edwards as a factor in the Aug. 13 Metro column, "Size Aside, a Couple of Great Magnitude." The headline and article were as tacky as something screaming from the National Enquirer or the Globe.

Edwards appears to be a well-educated, articulate woman who enjoyed a successful career and is now a devoted full-time mother. What does her weight have to do with anything?

-- Missy Snelling

Arlington