- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Pass the crackers

Good morning, a new year and new millennium is almost upon us, which means it's time for Inside the Beltway readers to send us their New Year's Resolutions (if possible, please include your names and hometowns, which will be published with selected resolutions in Friday's newspaper).

Helping us get started is J.C. Bowman, of the Tennessee Institute for Public Policy, who says he plans to have a more positive outlook in 2001, and not allow his opinions to be "shaped" by CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS.

"I am getting my news straight from the waitress at Cracker Barrel," writes Mr. Bowman. "She thinks more like I do anyway."

Supreme concern

The dean of a major university law school in Washington, who wishes to remain anonymous, has handed Inside the Beltway a rather intriguing letter he received surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision crowning Texas Gov. George W. Bush the 43rd president of the United States.

The "offending" letter, as he calls it, was addressed to the deans of every American Bar Association-approved law school in the United States.

"In case you don't know," the dean adds, "most law professors describe themselves as 'liberal.' "

The letter reads:

"Dear … Dean:

"A large number of law professors concerned about the Supreme Court's recent decision are trying to circulate a petition to interested faculty. Could you email us the faculty email list for your school so that we could reach them expeditiously?

"Thanks for your help. Teresa Strausser, Administrative Assistant, Stanford Law School."

Since then, 306 law professors signed the petition, agreeing "when a bare majority of the U.S. Supreme Court halted the recount of ballots under Florida law, the five justices were acting as political proponents of candidate Bush, not as judges."

Clinton credit

Who will ever forget President and Mrs. Clinton's inaugural stroll into the Oval Office in 1993, at which time they abruptly fired seven White House Travel Office employees and beyond those initial greetings persuaded the FBI to investigate the workers.

The first, needless to say, of several Clinton White House scandals.

Today, it's most fitting that the same White House Travel Office that immersed this administration in controversy now helps close it in similar fashion. Proof lies in the "collection agency" notice to the White House we've intercepted, informing our commander in chief to pay up, or else.

"You have been advised of the problems and possible consequences connected with non-payment of a legitimate debt," Transworld Systems Inc.'s Collection Division, of Falls Church, Va., writes in its transmittal to the White House.

"Unless timely payment is made, we will recommend to our client that this claim be transferred to the Credit Management Services office nearest you for personal attention by their staff. Voluntary settlement now would be your best policy."

The transmittal reveals that the Westin hotel of Providence, R.I., has had difficulty retrieving $1,451.99 it says it's owed by the White House.

Sinking the Lord

We've learned the Coast Guard has once again given the go-ahead to remove the phrase, "In the Year of our Lord," from all official documents and certificates.

A directive was first approved by the Coast Guard in 1994, although deleting the Lord's name "was poorly implemented," a Coast Guard official in Washington confirmed in an interview with this column yesterday.

As a result, the person who initially complained about the reference to the Lord in 1993 complained again in 1999, and the 1994 directive was revisited, the official explained.

While it's been determined that printing technology since 1994 has made it possible to accommodate "alternate wording" without removing the Lord's name from all documents, the Coast Guard has opted to drop the religious reference altogether, said the official.

"The recommendation was made in 2000 … in consultation with the diversity staff to keep the phrase on all documents and accommodate individual member requests for alternate wording," said the official, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity.

"In effect, no need to upset the majority of your people when you can responsibly handle an individual's request for accommodation."

But that recommendation was rejected during a high-level meeting last month, when one Coast Guard admiral in attendance is said to have remarked: "We removed the phrase from some documents already and no one objected, so apparently no one cares."

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