May Mr. Limbaugh rest in peace, of course, but let’s be clear: He was a man whose adult professional life was devoted to mendaciously fomenting anything but peace, and he did his job well. He wasn’t just a sharply critical, sharp-elbowed political-social commentator; he was, for four decades, an acid-tonged, angry fomenter whose attacks and diatribes often veered into the ugly and worse. Anger, animosity, fear, mistrust, misunderstanding, ignorance, hostility and division in the American body politic are the products of his talents. Tragically, he leaves behind an army of imitators zealously carrying on his destructive mission. A through-line runs from him and his work, beginning in the 1980s, to the hyperpartisan mayhem we see today, including the shocking display in D.C. on Jan. 6.
Our humanity cautions us to hold back our criticism at this time, but this man has done too much damage to our country to be silent. The Post did not shrink from the responsibility to be candid, nor did Charles Sykes in his Feb. 18 Thursday Opinion essay, “We’re all living in Rush Limbaugh’s world.”
Bill Conrad, Alexandria
When finding fault was a net positive
The Feb. 9 obituary for tennis legend Tony Trabert, “Hall of Fame tennis champion of 1950s won 10 titles, became a broadcaster,” brought back a treasured high school memory. In 1958, Jack Kramer’s pro tennis barnstorming tour, featuring Kramer, Trabert, Pancho Gonzales, Pancho Segura and Lew Hoad, among others, blew into my hometown of New Castle, Pa., and my high school tennis teammates and I were thrilled to be drafted as line judges. Although my teammates and I were seriously intimidated by having to shout “fault” when the likes of Gonzales or Trabert erred on serves that we could barely see, the pros treated us schoolboys with courtesy and respect.
That tour went a long way in establishing the popularity of tennis among U.S. sports fans, and Trabert, both as a player and later a broadcaster, played a pivotal role in creating enjoyment for millions. Thanks for the memory.
Bruce O. Boston, Reston
The missing 'third thing'
The Feb. 11 news article “Majority of people charged in riot have had money woes,” which investigated the financial histories of alleged Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, deserves commendation for its rigorous research. It rightly avoided suggesting that rioters’ financial problems caused their acts of treason. However, I was disappointed to see no discussion of a possibility that seems fairly obvious: that a third thing could be a causal factor in both. For example, it seems fairly plausible that a disdain for government could lead to both tax liens and participation in an anti-government riot. A feeling that “the rules don’t apply to me” could conceivably result in both business troubles and arrest for property destruction. And though it’s noteworthy that many rioters have faced eviction or foreclosure, we know from Matthew Desmond’s work that Black Americans are overrepresented in those statistics, but the Capitol rioters were overwhelmingly White; positioning eviction by itself as causal leaves out this important reality.
Did economic difficulties contribute to the rioters’ actions, or was some third factor causal in both their economic difficulties and their acts of treason? With so many distinguished scholars quoted in the article, it seems a missed opportunity not to have asked them this question.
Kate Ward, Milwaukee
Quoting a quote of a quote of a quote
In his Feb. 9 op-ed, “Convicting Trump is necessary to save America,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) quoted Winston Churchill: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” But Churchill himself was simply repeating philosopher George Santayana’s much earlier observation: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” which is inscribed on a plaque at Auschwitz, in this translation: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” Let us all hope we won’t have to.
Lois Lowry, Falmouth, Maine
Keep up with a local runner
American track and field athletes set three indoor world records and there were 11 national marks set at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Feb. 13 in New York. Unfortunately, the news didn’t crack The Post’s sports section in this Olympic Games year. In addition to these noteworthy performances, missing was coverage of Noah Lyles, who won the 200 meters at the meet. Lyles, the world champion in the event, won national acclaim at T.C. Williams High School and is highly favored to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Games. The failure of The Post to provide results about the New Balance meet, in an Olympic year, with a locally raised athlete, is deeply disappointing. Going forward, Post readers would be well served by extensive coverage of the world’s leading track and field team, the United States and Lyles.
Paul O'Shea, Fairfax
Congress has a prayer
In her Feb. 13 news column, “Senators should heed chaplain’s prayers for integrity,” Robin Givhan drew attention to one aspect of Senate proceedings few others do: Chaplain Barry C. Black’s prayers.
As Givhan noted, “Each day begins with a prayer.” Indeed, not only does each legislative session in both the Senate and House begin with a prayer — even before the Pledge of Allegiance is recited — but the tradition goes back to the beginning of Congress.
One historical footnote: After the Clinton impeachment trial, the Senate produced a book compiling prayers delivered by then-Senate Chaplain Lloyd John Ogilvie: “Opening Prayers: Impeachment Trial of the President of the United States January 7 — February 12, 1999.”
The leaders of both parties — Trent Lott (R) and Tom Daschle (D) — provided the collection to all senators with this message: “We hope that the words of Dr. Ogilvie will continue to provide you with comfort and inspiration in the days ahead.”
Howard Mortman, McLean
The writer is the author of "When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill."
Don't expect the whole truth
In his Feb. 14 Fact Checker column, “Biden overstates the effect of a $15 minimum wage,” Glenn Kessler wrote, “As any student of Economics 101 can tell you, higher wages are expected to lead to less demand for labor, resulting in higher unemployment.” As a former student of Economics 101, I’m going to have to give that thinly supported statement four Pinocchios. A competing theory is that when low-wage employees are given an increase in wages, they tend to spend it immediately, thus increasing demand for goods and services and leading to increased or steady employment.
A review of five articles estimating the effect of a raise in the minimum wage shows that two predict a rise in unemployment, two predict no job loss, and one states that the results are unclear.
The Fact Checker assigns President Biden two Pinocchios for not alerting voters that an increase in the minimum wage could result in 1 percent of U.S. workers losing their jobs, as estimated in one study. This sets a very high standard for full disclosure. I hope The Post will alert me when any politician discloses the possible adverse consequences of a policy that he or she is advocating. I want to look up to the sky to see if any pigs are flying.
Richard Leverone, Arlington
Wines that have aged well
I spent my entire adult life working in the wine industry, so the Feb. 14 The World article “In Lebanon, a winery boom at risk,” caught my attention. The article was well written; however, I do have one serious complaint. The article gave the impression that winemaking on a commercial scale in Lebanon is a new phenomenon. In fact, successful commercial wineries date back many decades, with the crown jewel of Lebanese wineries, Chateau Musar, dating to 1930. Musar is considered by many “experts” one of the finest wineries in the world, and its Bordeaux-trained winemaker, the late Serge Hochar, earned the Man of the Year award from the prestigious British wine magazine Decanter in the mid-1980s.
Lebanese wines have been found on the shelves of Washington-area wine shops and liquor stores for well over 25 years and, in my humble opinion, are well worth seeking out.
Steven Schattman, Chevy Chase
Differentiating from self-harm
The Feb. 11 “Ask Amy” column, “A survivor of childhood sexual abuse wonders how to talk to her siblings” [Style], provided advice to a woman who had experienced sexual abuse as a child and who suffered from trichotillomania (also called “hair-pulling disorder,” or HPD). As a psychologist who has studied and treated HPD for more than 30 years and who fully appreciates the potentially damaging consequences of sexual abuse, I agree that both conditions are significant and typically require professional help. However, there were some points about hair-pulling disorder that should be clarified lest readers be led astray.
First, the column called HPD “a form of self-harm,” which in a casual sense is true. But most experts who study HPD and closely related disorders such as skin-picking disorder clearly differentiate these conditions (called “body-focused repetitive behaviors”) from clinically relevant self-harm behaviors such as intentional cutting or burning of the skin because they differ in the functions served by these practices. Therefore, knowledgeable clinicians usually treat them with very different therapeutic techniques. Moreover, evidence suggesting links between HPD and trauma or abuse, sexual or otherwise, has not been supported by scientific studies. There is evidence of relatively high rates of exposure to a wide variety of early stressors among people with HPD, but not unusually high rates of sexual abuse.
The large numbers of individuals who suffer with HPD, often in secrecy and with unwarranted shame, deserve the most accurate information about their condition to aid them in their personal decisions. An excellent resource for sufferers and therapists interested in HPD and related conditions is the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.
Charles S. Mansueto, Silver Spring
'Human' is worth more than 'robot'
Amy Fusselman’s Feb. 7 Outlook essay, “My favorite online Scrabble opponent had a secret: He was a robot,” was amusing, but it may have given readers the misleading impression that engaging with robots online is the preferred way to play one of our favorite word games. In fact, thousands of Scrabble players regularly match their word skills online with real human beings. I head the North American Scrabble Players Association club in the Washington area. Though we would rather play in person, social distancing rules won’t allow that during the pandemic, so we convene our club online every Tuesday. One recent week, our members played such seven-letter words as “blankie,” “hirsute” and “nonself” and many more common, shorter words. Anyone is welcome to join us. Unlike the robot featured in the essay, we answer messages.
Ted Gest, Washington
Too many men
The Feb. 14 Sports section had 23 photographs — all of men. Really, in 2021?
Nelle Fonseca, Washington
The most dangerous animal
The Feb. 14 Metro article “At 25 weeks, panda cub is thriving, on the move,” about the National Zoo’s panda cub, declared, “Significantly, the zoo indicated that his increases in avoirdupois do not stem from any sedentary life of lolling about the den, sampling sweet potato, bamboo and biscuits.”
What is “significantly” indicated? The animal’s weight gain is an important milestone for a species that weighs well over 200 pounds. Biscuits are a nutritional supplement, and cooked sweet potato or honey are provided in trace quantities only.
It may seem amusing to suggest “despite the cub’s popularity, there is no indication that he has endorsed any brand of sneaker or track shoe,” but the giant panda faces a world of woe. Once-vast expanses of habitat have been obliterated by human development. All native species in the region, including the snow leopard, the clouded leopard and the Amur tiger, teeter on the brink. It’s far from clear whether zoo populations can sustain them or ultimately whether they will even have somewhere to go.
And the fault certainly lies not with feral cats but feral humans, strayed far indeed from Olduvai Gorge. The cats make immensely more benign neighbors.
Dave O'Connell, Gaithersburg
Starting right is wrong
The Feb. 16 Hints from Heloise, “The psychology behind pricing, plus some tips for staying healthy and safe,” stated that pricing strategy is based on the fact that we read from right to left.
Hmm, I have been doing it wrong for 77 years. I read left to right.
Barbara Waite-Jaques, Silver Spring
We're hurrying before he's canceled
Kudos to The Post for working references to Shakespeare into headlines. I’m certain I’m not sufficiently well-read to recognize all the clever literary allusions in The Post’s headlines. But even I couldn’t miss the delightful connection to the Bard’s work in the Feb. 13 Sports article “Without unity felt in bubble, NBA battles toil, trouble.” Perhaps because my middle school English teacher let us watch the movie version of “Macbeth,” I can still picture the witches chanting “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
I’d like to suggest that the headline for a feature on the hapless Washington Wizards draw on this quote from “The Comedy of Errors”: “Sweet recreation barred, what doth ensue but moody and dull melancholy, kinsman to grim and comfortless despair.”
Steve Levine, Bethesda