On The Hill’s list of lovelies, bespectacled beauties unseen

(Regarding annual feature “The 50 Most Beautiful People of Capitol Hill,” July 30.) I’m usually a “glasses-half-full” kind of guy, but I believe your editors were a bit shortsighted on your selections.

Don’t get me wrong — all 50 choices were truly beautiful. As best as I can tell, however, not a single person was photographed wearing glasses.

I, for one, think all these photos would look great in frames. In a year when barriers have come crumbling down in Washington, must this four-eyed father of three adorable, bespectacled children tell them they will never grow up to be one of The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People? I guess it just goes to show you that to be successful in Washington, you have to have great contacts.

Alexandria, Va.

Unselfish motive

From Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.)

Although I am grateful for The Hill’s coverage of my involvement in voting for the recent real estate legislation, I’m afraid the July 31 article “Vulnerable Republicans in House break ranks on housing-rescue bill” missed several key points that I made during my interview.

As cofounder of the Real Estate Caucus, I have long been involved with the issues and challenges facing the housing market. As such, I understand there is a special need to advocate for the real estate sector. Whether or not I would be in a competitive race, my voting is consistent.

Although policy debates are frequently diluted by speculation about political motives, I think the relevant point is that there are political liabilities on both sides of this issue, and members of Congress should be guided by their understanding of how best to forestall a major meltdown in the real estate markets, which would not be beneficial to our economy or either political party.

Washington

Brownback’s hypocrisy

From Paul Snodgrass, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Should the Chinese listen to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) when he condemns them for planning to spy on the Internet traffic of visitors to Beijing for the Olympics? (article, “Senators want IOC to reverse Olympic censorship deal,” July 31.)

Brownback surrendered his credentials as a defender of privacy rights when he voted in support of the USA Patriot Act, and more recently, for FISA reform legislation, which granted immunity to telecom companies that unlawfully shared their customers’ private information with the government. With judicial and congressional oversight undermined, we will never know the extent to which warrantless wiretapping has targeted American citizens and visitors with no involvement whatsoever in terrorism.

I share Brownback’s criticism of Chinese measures to spy on athletes and journalists in Beijing this summer. I challenge him to apply the same standards to the government he actually has a role in.

Then, perhaps, China would listen to him, and America could once more lead by positive example.

Arlington, Va.

Religious welcoming

From the Revs. Greg Harris and Stan Wachtstetter, Apostolic Initiative
(Regarding article “Church-paid trips by aides raise questions on religion-politics mix,” Aug. 1.) The First Amendment provides freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Under the First Amendment, churches are to be treated equally, and religious freedoms are not to be hindered. This means the president should be open to all religious groups, just as he is to colleges and universities, businesses and any social entity. Churches should be free to invite political leaders to their camp meetings and conventions with the same policy as any other entity.
 We appreciate the last five administrations for keeping the door open to visiting our churches and conventions. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have indicated they would expand these opportunities.
Some complain about the church groups paying the airfare and hotel accommodations for White House staff attending their functions. This is a common practice when they visit any group, and churches should be no different. Those complaining know that the White House staff receive no honorarium or money for themselves, but only travel expenses — the thought being, Why should the government pay for religious involvement?
Charleston, Miss.