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.
Many of the gains made by minority groups would disappear under a direct vote system. Control of certain areas is in the hands of minorities; thus their voices can be heard. A direct vote would put all of the political power into the hands of the majority.
It is for this kind of situation that the reason for the difficulty of amending the Constitution becomes clear. When people in and out of government get ideas which they have not completely thought through, they cannot get their way and ruin our system )) of government.
Perhaps the members of the House of Representatives, Sen. David Pryor, Sen. David Boren and Mr. Peirce should all take a course in the workings of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Richard E. White Jr.
Court Ruling Light on Justice
As I understand the article "DWI victims impeded in civil claims" in The Sun of Aug. 3, the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that a jury cannot be told that the defendant in a civil suit was driving while intoxicated (DWI). That tightens the rules of evidence in these cases.
This is wrong. This is not just. The rule gives undue protection to a person who drinks and drives or is otherwise DWI.
The person consuming alcohol or other drugs and driving is doing a voluntary, willful act. No one is forcing the drugs on the driver. No one is forcing the person to drive the car. That person must be held accountable for his or her actions. This ruling by the Court of Appeals eliminates that individual responsibility.
This ruling harms the victim by overly protecting the defendant. This is not justice.
Once again, we have a ruling that is heavy on procedure and due process, but light on justice.
I wonder if the time has not arrived for citizens to make changes in our state judiciary, replacing some of our present judges with new ones who have more common sense and wisdom, and are more concerned with justice and equity.
Daniel P. Murphy
For Baltimore, Channel One Is No Bum Deal
This is in response to your Aug. 21 editorial, "Switch Off Channel One," in which you suggested that the Baltimore public schools should abandon their plans to allow Whittle Communications to pipe a daily, 12-minute news program into 46 junior and senior high schools.
You argued that since the programming contains two minutes worth of commercials daily, and that there was some evidence that Channel One only made kids slightly more familiar with current events, it was a bum deal for city school children.
I just don't see it that way.
First of all, while you admitted that the city is strapped for resources, you really didn't point out what a good deal Channel ** One is for city schools.
In exchange for agreeing to show the 12-minute program, Baltimore schools will be picking up unlimited use of 2,000 televisions, 46 satellite dishes and 100 VCR's, along with the installation, service and maintenance of the entire system, at no cost to the city.
Conservative estimates put the value of this package at $1.5 million -- not to mention the value of the programming (other than Channel One) the system can download. Imagine the uproar if the schools spent their own money on such a purchase!
Sure, maybe Whittle is making money on the deal. So what? Innovation such as this deserves to be rewarded.
Sure, kids watch too much television and see too many commercials already. That's why teachers and principals should thoughtful about integrating programming into the instructional environment, perhaps even providing lessons on how to be a smart consumer (of both products and news) by looking critically at what we see on television. . . .
Sure, there's lots of mind-numbing television news coverage available in this market. (And, incidentally, lots of mind-numbing print news coverage, too.)
But there aren't too many kids flipping on the five o'clock news. That's because the news doesn't appeal to most kids unless they're given some experience in how to use it and how to make it relevant -- much as you do in over 500 schools statewide with your Newspapers in Education program. . . .
Sure, Whittle's advertisers are getting a shot at what is essentially a captive audience. But who really believes that two more minutes of commercials a day are going to do any harm? (I don't suppose the Baltimore Sun clips out advertisements before delivering thousands of newspapers a year to school children as part of its Newspapers in Education program.). . .
You are correct that there are trade-offs in this kind of deal. But you incorrectly estimated how those trade-offs balance out in this case. Baltimore public schools are desperate for resources and the city's children are desperate for the kind of innovation that Channel One offers.
Is it a panacea? Of course not. Can the city pass up the equipment and programming they receive in this deal? No way. Is your opposition to this deal anachronistic? You bet. I, for one, say "don't touch that dial!"