Comic Crime

As a longtime reader and subscriber of your newspaper, I particularly enjoy the Sunday comics. While I understand that political satire is fair game, especially in Washington, I found the Oct. 31 "Boondocks" comic strip to be quite offensive. The comic portrayed a group of "mindless zombies" turning out to support the Bush-Cheney ticket -- still fair game by my book. Yet on closer examination, it turns out that the mindless zombie leading the pack is wearing an antiabortion T-shirt. As a longtime supporter of the pro-life movement, I don't care for that association at all; it is unnecessary, vulgar and tasteless. Your paper has a responsibility to its readers to curtail the printing of such associations.

-- Michael A. Gowen

Severn

Headline Howler

Regarding Jerry Knight's Nov. 1 Business column, "Got the Flu? Blame the Free Market":

The copy editors who write your headlines really ought to read the copy. Knight's description of the vaccine business is not about a "free market," it is about a marketplace that has been distorted beyond recognition by fear of product liability lawsuits, over-cautious regulatory practices and government purchasing practices that act as a disincentive to vaccine producers and inhibit much-needed innovation in an important sector of the pharmaceutical business.

Given the above, one finds it hard to believe that effective vaccines to combat avian flu variants will be developed and brought to market, and hence to patients.

-- Mark Sofman

Rockville

A Racial Wrong

In the Oct. 31 Metro article "At Black Colleges, a Test of Change," Chad Bishop, a white student at Howard University, cited eating greens mixed with cornbread with his fingers as an example of black culture.

I certainly have never eaten greens mixed with cornbread with my fingers, nor have I seen any of my African American friends, including many Howard alumni, do so. Even if eating greens with one's fingers were true, that activity is not cultural.

It is a shame that even as a student at a historically black university, Bishop still has not gotten it. Apparently reporter Avis Thomas-Lester and her editors haven't either.

-- Karolyn Elskoe

Silver Spring

The Real Spitzer

Your praise for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [editorial, Oct. 25] is misplaced. Rather than a reluctant do-gooder, Spitzer is a self-promoting opportunist exponentially expanding his power through aggressive public relations prosecution.

His pursuit of the insurance industry is the latest example of Spitzer claiming industry-wide corruption before proving anything.

No matter. By attracting favorable media attention, including The Post's laudatory editorial, Spitzer has already accomplished his primary goal. His fondness for self-promotion hardly makes Spitzer unique. But his vigorous expansion of government regulation to further his own objectives makes his activities troubling.

-- Marshall Manson

Alexandria

The writer is vice president of public affairs at the Center for Individual Freedom.

Quizzical Question

In the Oct. 25 Federal Page's "Presidential Quiz," the text of the first question states that former president Jimmy Carter was one of only three presidents with military service records who did not serve on the front lines, the others being Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It's hard to fathom how that conclusion was reached. As a young Annapolis graduate during the early years of the Cold War, Carter served aboard fleet submarines for two years, first aboard the USS Pomfret in the western Pacific and later as a "plank owner" and executive officer aboard the newly commissioned USS K-1 before joining then-Capt. Hyman Rickover in the nascent nuclear submarine program. Submarine service has always been hazardous, and during the Cold War submarine operations were renowned for being conducted on almost a wartime footing.

Unlike Reagan and Bush, whose service was far from the front lines, Jimmy Carter was most definitely there, and during a period of great international tension.

-- Jim Cornelius

Arlington