- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

Uh oh

President Bush had better not ask John C. Duff whether he feels safer today than he did five years ago right after the September 11 attacks.

Having booked a Caribbean cruise for January, the suburban Maryland resident recently applied for his first U.S. passport to comply with travel requirements that go into effect Jan. 1.

“I took a day off of work and went to a local post office with my birth certificate and several forms of identification, filled out an application and paid the fee,” Mr. Duff informs Inside the Beltway. “The State Department takes your birth certificate as part of the process, mailing it back with the passport when the process is completed.

“I then waited six weeks and eventually received my passport in the mail. When I checked the information on the passport — it is a good thing I did this — I noticed that they had issued me a passport designating me as a female. My birth certificate memorializes a live birth of a male child, and I assure you I am a male.

“Apparently this inconsistency escaped their strict scrutiny of my application,” Mr. Duff notes. “It sent a chill down my spine that they could make such a glaring mistake despite having in their possession several documents stating to the contrary.

“But when I called their number to bring it to their attention, I spoke to someone — oddly, located in New Hampshire — who told me I would have to go to the State Department in Washington presumably to start the process over again. I cringe to think of what I will be required to show them to clear this up, since apparently the birth certificate and application were not enough for them to get such a fundamental fact right on such an important document.

“Incredulous, I asked the person on the other end of the line if he meant that I had to go all the way down to Foggy Bottom, and the reply I received was, ‘Where’s that?’ Apparently he didn’t know where State’s headquarters was located. This would be hilarious if it were not so frightening.”

Mr. Duff concludes that “in the interests of national security” he will take another work day off and proceed to Foggy Bottom, where he will no doubt display his masculinity.

In the meantime, the National Passport Information Center apologized to Mr. Duff last week for the mistake, “but human error does happen,” he was reminded.

That’s exactly what scares the applicant. Mr. Duff said Mr. Bush, on more than one occasion, has warned that in the war on terrorism, one mistake on our side can cost lives; the enemy has to be right only once.

Office to let

“Vacancy.”

The lone word that appeared almost immediately on Florida Rep. MarkFoley’s official congressional Web site after the prominent Republican resigned Friday after the publication of sexually explicit e-mails the congressman had exchanged with a former congressional page.

The disgraced former congressman’s Capitol Hill office and Florida district offices will remain open to accommodate constituent business. Under House rules, the clerk of the House of Representatives, currently Karen L. Haas, manages offices when a member dies, resigns or is expelled.

NEW age

Suffice it to say, it’s not your mother’s college campus anymore.

What began as a book club at the University of Virginia has, in two years, evolved into a network of conservative college women on campuses throughout the country.

“We had our first meeting at UVa. on Sept. 29th, 2004,” Karin Agness, founder of the Network of Enlightened Women (NEW), told Inside the Beltway on Friday. “About six months later, our second chapter was founded at William and Mary. We now have chapters on 15 college campuses spanning the country, from Virginia to California.”

And what do these emerging right-thinking women do when they meet?

“This semester our chapters are reading books such as ‘What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman,’ by Danielle Crittenden, ‘Taking Sex Differences Seriously,’ by Steven Rhoads and ‘Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military and Sports,’ by Kate OBeirne,” she tells us.

Other chapters, such as High Point University in North Carolina, has held September 11 vigils, while the chapter at Arizona State University brings conservative speakers to the campus.

“NEW provides these women with a way to organize and become more educated on conservative principles,” Miss Agness says. “It is so exciting to see how many conservative women there are on college campuses who are willing to stand up for what they believe.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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