Magazine | October 14, 2013, Issue

Letters

A Period Problem

As a faithful reader, I was surprised to see an erroneous reference to “Harry S. Truman” in “Why Like Ike” (Kevin D. Williamson, September 2). The “S” in his name is not an abbreviation, but a tribute to both his grandfathers. His correct name is “Harry S Truman.” I expect such errors from others but not National Review. The bar is very high for you indeed.

Timothy C. Siegel

Knoxville, Tenn.

Kevin D. Williamson replies: President Truman said that there was no need to put a period after the “S,” since it was not an initial and did not denote anything. In the 1960s, he was asked how he preferred it, and he said that it usually was written with a period, and that was fine by him. The Associated Press stylebook has called for a period since that time. I myself am a dissenter from AP style on this issue—Truman’s preferences be damned, the “S” doesn’t stand for anything—but was in this matter overruled by National Review convention. Given that the editors spare me at least three embarrassing errors a fortnight, I am happy to submit to their preferences in this matter, even though my own instincts go in the other direction. You might try launching a petition effort to have the style changed, but I would not invest too much hope in it: Custom and usage are not lightly subordinated to mere democratic preference.

The Editors reply: Doesn’t the “S” stand for two names, not none? Most initials abbreviate the names of the people whose initials they are, and Truman’s did not, but why should that make any difference for the period?

The Service You Haven’t

Excellent article from Mr. Talent (“The Army You Haven’t,” September 16). His analysis is thorough and illuminates the folly of our defunding defense with minimal fiscal gain and maximal defense degradation. But I have to take issue with his assertion in the first paragraph that there are “three services.” What are these three services? There are three defense departments, but I don’t know which are the three services. The last I counted there are four: (in seniority order) United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and United States Air Force (the United States Coast Guard is considered a military service only in times of combat).

Ras Smith

United States Marine Corps (Retired)

Las Cruces, N.M.

Jim Talent replies: You are correct. There are three departments, with three service secretaries. But there are four services, and that is how I should have put it. My thanks for correcting the error; it gives me the opportunity to acknowledge it and send my regrets (and thanks) to you and all those who have served their country.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Politics & Policy

The Height of the Net

America long ago committed to providing for the basic needs of all its citizens, constructing a so-called safety net of government programs to catch those unable to support themselves. But ...
Politics & Policy

Divestment du Jour

Has President Obama declared war on America’s fossil-fuel industry? The administration has been at pains to deny claims by lawmakers of both parties that it is waging a “war on ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

The Roadmap

Back in the late 1980s, I was working at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., while finishing my dissertation. At that time, I attended Harvard’s public-economics seminar, ...
Politics & Policy

The GOP at War

The testy exchange this summer over U.S. counterterrorism practices—involving two leading potential GOP presidential candidates, Kentucky senator Rand Paul and New Jersey governor Chris Christie—is part of a broad and ...
Politics & Policy

Modern Love

It’s hard for new parents not to find themselves regarding childless twentysomethings with a mix of envy and contempt. Compared with the unavoidable reality that is parenthood, their freedom seems ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

A Period Problem As a faithful reader, I was surprised to see an erroneous reference to “Harry S. Truman” in “Why Like Ike” (Kevin D. Williamson, September 2). The “S” in ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Ted Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham to the Senate, and for all they know it could have been a chapter of the Affordable Care Act. ‐ Aaron Alexis, who ...
Athwart

Suffer Little Children

The odiferous species of Jerkus internetus lacks the moral compass of the Mafia, and that’s saying something. As I understand Cosa Nostra mythology, you could whack a guy for cause, ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

THE PORTRAIT Her face hung white and empty as a spoon. She had resisted every breeze and flutter That shuffled dead air through the shutter, Propped up all morning in a pose. To flush the ...
Happy Warrior

Whose Islam?

The “war” part of the war on terror is pretty much over, and we’re now fighting it culturally, rhetorically. Which is not something we do well. Take the British prime ...

Most Popular

Culture

‘Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself’

It was just one more segment to fill out the hour, and thereby fill the long 24 hours of Saturday’s cable news on November 2. Or so it seemed. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland was on the Fox News program Watters World to talk to Jesse Watters about trained German shepherds like the one used in the raid that found ... Read More
Film & TV

The Manly Appeal of Ford v Ferrari

There used to be a lot of overlap between what we think of as a Hollywood studio picture (designed to earn money) and an awards movie (designed to fill the trophy case, usually with an accompanying loss of money). Ford v Ferrari is a glorious throwback to the era when big stars did quality movies about actual ... Read More
White House

Impeachment and the Broken Truce

The contradiction at the center of American politics in Anno Domini 2019 is this: The ruling class does not rule. The impeachment dog-and-pony show in Washington this week is not about how Donald Trump has comported himself as president (grotesquely) any more than early convulsions were about refreshed ... Read More
Politics & Policy

ABC Chief Political Analyst: GOP Rep. Stefanik a ‘Perfect Example’ of the Failures of Electing Someone ‘Because They Are a Woman’

Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News, suggested that Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) was elected due to her gender after taking issue with Stefanik's line of questioning during the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. “Elise Stefanik is a perfect example of why just electing ... Read More
U.S.

What Happened to California Republicans?

From 1967 to 2019, Republicans controlled the California governorship for 31 of 52 years. So why is there currently not a single statewide Republican officeholder? California also has a Democratic governor and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. Only seven of California’s 53 ... Read More