Francis A. Cherry Jr., Richmond
In his praise of the Nationals, Thomas Boswell has gone off the deep end. But so have many in this area, me included.
For the past four years, I worked for the firm that tests major league ballplayers for performance-enhancing drugs and have spent time in the Nationals’ clubhouse. It has been fun to watch this version of the Nats emerge. Stephen Strasburg went from petulant to quietly mature. Howie Kendrick worked all last year to rehab a physical injury and brought with him his delightful sons when they were not in school. Adam Eaton would talk cars with anyone who would listen. On days he was pitching, you did not talk to Max Scherzer. I would like to mention the entire team.
An individual’s and, in this case, a team’s, character is revealed by how they treat those they do not have to be nice to. The Nats certainly did not have to be nice to us. We were aliens in their midst requiring them to urinate into a cup while one of us watched. They took it with good grace and, when a rookie was slow in following the protocol, one of the veterans would quietly tell them to get with the program.
Boswell’s hyperbole was, if anything, understated. Every one of the Nats and their whole support staff — from the clubhouse workers who pick up their towels to the front office — deserved every word of it. In the howling wilderness that is now Washington, for at least one splendid moment, God was in His heaven and all was right with the world.
“Four.” So began Petula Dvorak’s Nov. 1 Metro column, “As we celebrate Nats and Caps, let’s remember 2 D.C. women’s champs, too,” purporting to correctly state how many national titles have been won by professional sports teams in the District in 2018 and 2019. She reflexively blamed sexism for the Capitals’ initial congratulatory tweet to the Nationals not mentioning the Mystics (or the D.C. Divas) when she wrote, “It’s not real unless men do it? Puhleez.”
Perhaps she should have given stronger consideration to the real culprit being mere market forces, namely the significantly lower popularity of certain sports relative to others — because I’d like to believe that just such an innocent explanation (rather than lower regard for the opposite sex) is responsible for her own undercounting.
You see, I was in attendance at Arena Bowl XXXI on July 28, 2018 (which is even more recent than the Capitals’ winning of the Stanley Cup), when the Washington Valor defeated the host Baltimore Brigade 69-55 to capture that sport’s championship. Might its status that year as a mere four-team league (that now is folding) have any bearing on its exclusion?
In straining to detect the pea of sexism under any number of mattresses, Dvorak hoisted herself by her own Petula.
I greatly appreciate the thoroughness and completeness of The Post’s coverage of the Washington Nationals. In particular, I congratulate the headline writers for a superb job in capturing the Nats fans’ anxiety and glee!
Barbara Coleman, Chevy Chase
Skip the euphemisms. Period.
I’m grateful that the Health & Science section features articles specific to women’s health. However, the euphemism “that time of the month” struck me as odd and outdated. I’d love to see us calling it what it is: menstruation. We don’t have to be afraid of blood and women’s bodies.
Elena Pinsky, Oakland, Calif.
A mysterious sculpture and other glorious art
Elizabeth D. Whiting, Leesburg
Shortly after the gallery opened, my friends and I enjoyed unobstructed views of Verrocchio’s “David,” cupids and the Madonna and child. At the display of Verrocchio photographs by Clarence Kennedy, we were the only viewers. Want to admire the antecedents of Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic smiles and expressive hands, of Sandro Botticelli’s tilted heads, of generations of swirling marble draperies in quiet, free surroundings? Go to our national treasure house before Jan. 12. Because mentors of the famous are often neglected, this show is especially notable. Thanks to the curators for bringing it here.
Sandra B. Calhoun, Alexandria
Was this a Capital offense?
The decision to capitalize “deep state” sans quotation marks in the Oct. 26 front-page article “Trump’s strategy shifts as efforts to stymie probe fail” was curious. When did “deep state” become a proper noun? Capitalizing those words legitimizes the idea that government bureaucrats are out to get the president. Was that the intent?
Kirsten B. Mitchell, Washington
Constable will be missed
Her well-researched and insightful reports over the past several years helped clarify often-opaque events in Afghanistan and Pakistan, troubled nations with which the United States is deeply involved and has important, complicated relationships.
I met Constable in Haiti in the 1980s, when I was serving at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and she was covering Latin America for the Boston Globe. It was a time of great turmoil and change in that country, and though her expertise had been in Spanish-speaking countries, she quickly became an expert in Haitian politics and culture, reporting and interpreting events leading up to and after the downfall of the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime in 1986.
I was particularly impressed by her bravery. Haiti was a dangerous place in those days, yet she went wherever the stories were. She was determined to uncover and report the facts, despite the potential consequences to her safety.
Several years later, after she had been hired by The Post, she was assigned to cover the war in Afghanistan, a part of the world she was then unfamiliar with. Knowing that I had served at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul before my time in Haiti, she contacted me to ask my advice. “Be careful,” I told her. Even so, she continued to take risks to report breaking news and also contributed thoughtful backgrounders, providing the “why,” as well as the “what.” She even found time to write stories about the human costs of the conflict, both there and in Pakistan. She brought to life ordinary men, women and children who were just trying to eke out a living and avoid becoming victims of the violence around them. Her stories were often published with photographs she had taken in rural areas far away from the relatively safe cities in which she was based (and could have stayed). Her reportage will be missed.
Jeffrey Liteman, Arlington
The writer served as public affairs officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 1983 to 1988 and information officer in Kabul from 1968 to 1969.
A 'Classic' timely message
I normally consider “Classic Peanuts” to be just that — a paean to a great cartoonist, but without relevance to what we are experiencing today. Contemporarily, we face a presidency without precedent; a man who occupies the highest office who does not have a basic understanding of the responsibility the office requires. In the Oct. 28 “Classic Peanuts,” Linus is facing the suppression of a book by an author whom he loves. As could be expected, he retains Snoopy as his attorney. Snoopy spends his time quoting legal phrases.
However, in this instance, one of Snoopy’s quotes originates from the John Peter Zenger trial of 1735, which was strictly concerned with freedom of speech. The quote has taken a legal life of its own: “The suppressing of evidence ought always to be taken for the strongest evidence.” Though libel is not the issue regarding the impeachment proceedings, the obstruction of testimony by the Trump administration parallels what the quote addresses. Freedom of speech, and the transparency that is part of that right, when infringed upon in any legal proceeding, is aptly represented by this quotation. When testimony is suppressed, it surely appears that such suppression is indeed “the strongest evidence.”
Forget what the reviewer said
The play asks: Should the Internet let you erase your past bad acts? The answer in this case is clearly “yes.” Marks’s review should disappear in its entirety, taking with it such inappropriate terms as “anemic,” “tepid” and “lackluster.”
Having read the review before seeing the play, I was blindsided by a show that was topical, poignant and quite humorous. It was simply fun theater, grabbing my attention from the outset and holding it throughout with interesting characters and good acting. It did not answer any questions but asked them in clever ways that underscored the complexity of the issues. To a one, the theatergoers I spoke with and heard from at the play’s end and during the enjoyable post-play discussion were uniformly positive. Put simply, everybody seemed to enjoy the play and could not comprehend Marks’s critique.
Michael Strauss, Rockville
Regarding “In David Alden’s bleak take on ‘Otello,’ the music finds a way to shine through,” Anne Midgette’s Oct. 28 review of Washington National Opera’s “Otello” [Style]:
I attended a dress rehearsal and could not have disagreed with Midgette more about the performances, the sets, the costumes and the lighting. Disagreements based on personal taste are one thing, but my unhappiness with her review was with the tone. How does it educate the public considering buying tickets to write, “The singers were reasonably cast and able to follow him [the conductor] while offering more or less convincing portrayals”? After this blah statement, later in the review, Midgette writes, “The cast all did perfectly well, however, even under these circumstances.” Which is it? More or less convincing, or perfectly well? Either way, Midgette’s praise bestowed begrudgingly felt insincere. I am not a professional critic, but Midgette’s review of “Otello” missed the mark on so many levels.
Don't delay, Congress
I’ll bet Pete Buttigieg was feeling overlooked when the Oct. 21 editorial “A compelling case for a carbon tax” bemoaned the lack of a carbon-taxing plan by Democratic candidates for president. That’s because his website, peteforamerica.com, says this about building a clean economy: “We will enact a price on carbon and use the revenue to send rebates to Americans. With money returned directly to their pockets, lower- and middle-class households in particular will experience economic gains.”
And what do Republicans think about a carbon tax? A May poll by Luntz Global found that charging fossil-fuel companies for their carbon emissions and giving all the money to the American people through a quarterly check had 2-to-1 GOP support and 75 percent support from Republicans younger than 40. Another sign of growing support for a carbon tax on fossil-fuel companies is the bipartisan, revenue-neutral Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, H.R. 763. It has nearly 70 co-sponsors because Americans are telling their representatives they want effective climate-change legislation that’s also good for the economy. Climate change won’t slow until we act. There’s a bill with teeth in Congress now. We can’t wait until the next election to pass it.
Cheryl Arney, Ellicott City
The writer is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Tiger! S-s-s-s-t! Boom! A-h-h-h!
In the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” However, before the editorial board writers expressed their opinion concerning Harvard’s status as our country’s “most prestigious university,” they might have considered that the owner of The Post, Jeff Bezos, is a graduate of Princeton, not Harvard.
Laurence E. Block, Annapolis