As a veteran women's shelter volunteer, I would like to respond to Diane Oklota Wood's column "Beauty for the Homeless" (Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 14).
I presently volunteer in a home for older, mentally-ill women and I can see the difference when a woman has been to a beautician. Her mood improves. She becomes happier, more extroverted and less agitated.
For younger women or abused women, simply being "pampered" and encouraged to care for their appearance eases the depression of shelter life. It boosts their self-esteem and helps them look their best for job interviews.
Beauty care is not the answer to homelessness but it can lift a homeless woman's spirits. God gave us all different gifts to share with those in need, and no gift should be despised.
Cosmetologists who have the patience and love to work with homeless women are welcome and should contact their local shelters.
As a Scottish Presbyterian who came to this country 24 years ago, I am mad as hell at those Republicans who claim that only they stand for family values.
All of us Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Jews and others cannot help but be outraged by being told we do not have family values.
Does it stand up to scrutiny that, when we resist fundamentalist religious governments in countries like Iran, we should now let our own country fall under the control of an unholy combination of similar fundamentalists and right-wing Christians . . ?
This is a group which wants all of us historically diversified Americans to follow their religious rules and beliefs, and I feel very strongly that if we as a people are naive enough to do this, we will sink into the rigid doctrinal mediocrity of all such religious-fundamentalist-controlled countries.
Now is the time for all of us who believe in the true traditional American values of freedom of choice and separation of church and state to assert ourselves at the ballot box and reverse the dangerous trend that has been pervasively infiltrating our politics since 1980.
In "Term Limits: Easier than Voting" (column, Aug. 15), Patrick Ercolano seems to have missed the most important reason for a broad-based term limitation movement.
As he points out, in a recent poll, 71 percent of Americans disapproved of Congress' performance, but only 30 percent disapproved of their own representatives' performance.
Now, Mr. Ercolano, what does this mean?
In ordinary circumstances, I don't want to vote against my incumbent; he's working (mostly) for my interests, even if they conflict with the interests of the country as a whole.
By merely voting him out, I sacrifice his seniority, which works for my state, without gaining anything for the country as a whole (because his peers are still there, re-elected again and again and again). Seniority would lose importance with term limits in place.
Mr. Ercolano's article assumes without evidence that the term limitation movement is motivated by anger; he states without evidence that the term limitation idea is anti-democratic. (Is the existing two-term presidential limit anti-democratic as well?)
And he argues against term limits by imagining that fictitious characters support them. ("It's a safe bet that Bart Simpson . . . and Morris the Cat think term limits are swell too.") This is not a high point in persuasive reasoning. The term limitation concept is a rational response to a real problem.
We should thank Mr. Ercolano, however, for pointing out that the percentage of incumbents re-elected, usually well over 95 percent at the federal level, is expected to be much lower this election year. This is, in fact, a good year for voters to limit terms.
Murphy and Joe
Isn't it strange how the liberal left-wing news media of this country tried to destroy Vice President Dan Quayle when he made the remark about "Murphy Brown" and family values, yet we have a surgeon general who is campaigning against a cartoon character (Joe Camel) and that seems to be OK?
Is old Joe that big of a threat to American society? I think there are better ways for the country's surgeon general to earn her salary.
Raymond Tabak Jr.
Neal R. Peirce's column of Aug. 19 attacks the institution of the Electoral College and, by implication, the motives of the Founding Fathers. So again we have a misreading of the true intentions behind aspects of the Constitution.
If, as Mr. Peirce suggests, we did away with the Electoral College and relied on the direct vote, the dire consequences the Constitution was designed to confound would be loosed on our nation.
The idea is that a presidential candidate must appeal to the needs of the majority of states and regions -- not the majority of people.