Readers write: Favors for the president, and collective nouns

Letters to the editor for the Dec. 9, 2019 weekly magazine. Readers discuss the impeachment proceedings and think up new collective nouns.

Jacob Turcotte/Staff

Favors for the president

In the article “Was there a quid pro quo with Ukraine?” from the Nov. 11 Monitor Weekly, the writer Peter Grier paraphrases Jonathan Turley, a law professor, as such: “In many circumstances, it is perfectly proper for a high-ranking U.S. official to ask foreign countries for assistance with an ongoing law enforcement investigation.” 

In the next paragraph, Mr. Grier writes that it “may also be appropriate in some circumstances for a president to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival” and supports this idea with a Politico article written by Edward Foley, also a law professor. (Mr. Foley wrote that President Thomas Jefferson would have been justified in seeking an investigation of Aaron Burr from the British government as Burr was being prosecuted for treason in the United States.)

In considering these statements, it would have helped to provide more factual context for the current situation with Ukraine. Was/is there an ongoing law enforcement investigation of either Joe or Hunter Biden? Is there any suggestion that former Vice President Biden has engaged in potentially treasonous behavior? Do any of the circumstances cited apply to the current situation?  

Answers to these kinds of questions would have added important factual information.

Susan Johnson
Potomac, Maryland

Collective nouns

Oh, Melissa Mohr: Kudos! The two “In a Word” columns on collective nouns in the Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 issues of the Monitor Weekly really rang my bell! My fascination with words goes back many decades, and the column that gave the history for expressions we’ve used for centuries sent me to the moon. I’ll continue to look forward to more goodies to come. I especially enjoyed the final sentence in the Nov. 18 column: “What do you call a group of collective nouns? A column.”

Carolyn Hill
Portland, Oregon

Slugs and literacy

I very much appreciate the Monitor Weekly – its articles, features, and cartoons. I have especially enjoyed Melissa Mohr’s recent columns on collective nouns.

I worry that this culture is losing its ability to speak and write properly. Spelling, punctuation, diction, etc., are all suffering greatly in public media and even in books and journals. Since I believe it is words that most clearly set humans apart from animals, losing them seems a great danger.

Regarding collective nouns: How about a slime, a smear, or a snot of slugs? I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and we know about slugs.

Kenneth Kauffman
Hubbard, Oregon

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