- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2008

Times for temper

We see that Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, in the “media appearances” section of his weekly newsletter, draws attention to his interview last week with Steven Colbert on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”

You’re known for having something of a temper,” Mr. Colbert reminded the Democrat. “Why is it you and [John] McCain, the two Navy men from Vietnam, are the ones in the Senate known for their volcanic tempers?”

Mr. Webb replied: “I don’t think that I’m actually known for a temper,” but then conceded “there are things to fight for, by the way.”

For the record, Mr. Webb’s bio states that he served with the 5th Marine Regiment during Vietnam, where as a rifle platoon and company commander in the infamous An Hoa Basin west of Danang, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star medal, two Bronze Star medals and two Purple Hearts. He left the Marine Corps in 1972.

In 1987, President Reagan appointed him secretary of the Navy, a position he resigned from one year later when he refused to agree to a congressionally mandated reduction of the Navy’s force structure because of budget cuts.

Mirrors society

“Are you politically incorrect enough for this?” writes game creator David Pimentel, sending this columnist his California company’s newest board game, “Politically Correct the Game.”

The object, the directions reveal, is to be the most politically correct person. For instance, the ultimate winner will have known that Bill Clinton was actually honored as the nation’s “first black president” at the 2001 Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner in Washington.

Instead of tokens like Monopoly’s top hat, thimble or horse and rider, pawns of Politically Correct include gardener Zeferino Ortiz de la Vega Hernandez, described as a 38-year-old Mexican illegal immigrant with six U.S.-born children. He sends half of his income to Mexico and is a registered Democrat.

Other pawns include a jihadist named Yasser Mohammad Arafat, a 19-year-old unemployed Palestinian construction worker and loyal member of Hamas whose aspirations are to become a suicide bomber and kill innocent people. Other pawns include Father O’Hara, an embattled Catholic priest from Boston; an oil company CEO who takes advantage of more than just American motorists; a Kentucky tobacco farmer; and a pregnant teenage high school dropout.

Before politically correct readers get too upset at Inside the Beltway for promoting this most unusual but arguably realistic board game, we are pleased to report that a portion of the proceeds of sales go to the children of U.S. troops killed in the line of duty.

Handling surge

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending the secretary of state develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy for U.S. passport operations using a “business enterprise” approach.

“GAO also recommends that State track passport applications from the time the applicant submits an application in order to provide better customer service,” according to a new GAO report we obtained.

The investigative arm of Congress recalled the State Department being unprepared for the record number of passport applications in 2007, when passports were required for more destinations, leading to significant delays in passport processing.

“As a result, reported wait times reached 10 to 12 weeks in the summer of 2007 — more than double the normal wait — with hundreds of thousands of passports taking significantly longer,” the report states.

The department, GAO points out, took a number of emergency measures to the tune of $43 million to help adjudicate passports during the “surge,” and wait times returned to normal last October.

Still, the GAO says the State Department still lacks a comprehensive strategy to improve long-term passport operations.

Barack on the rocks

That was Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City general manager Angella Reid inviting women of influence to a cocktail party at Fyve Restaurant Lounge to celebrate “Convention Countdown.”

Guests included the Newseum’s Pam Galloway-Tabb, CharityWorks’ Miriam Pollin, Navy Memorial’s Taylor Kiland and Elaine Rogers, president of USO-Metropolitan Washington. Each was greeted with a ballot and one mission: taste-test two cocktails named after the presidential candidates and vote on their favorite to become the new addition to the lounge menu.

Barack on the Rocks (vodka and fruit juice with fresh basil) easily beat out the McCain Martini (gin with a splash of cranberry). But in truly bipartisan fashion, Ms. Reid soon announced that she would include both drinks on the menu through Election Day.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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