- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Drawn together
Strobe Talbott, who was a correspondent for Time magazine before he was deputy secretary of state for seven years and architect of the Clinton administration's policy toward Russia, soon will have a new book out titled "The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy."
We got an early peek at Mr. Talbott's memoir, in which he discloses the challenges of dealing with former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, whose alcoholism not only exacerbated his poor health, but also seriously interfered with his ability to govern (and hold summits with the United States).
Mr. Talbott, as unlikely as it sounds, reveals that he and other U.S. officials regularly tracked Mr. Yeltsin's alcohol consumption during meetings. Based on the number of drinks that went down the Russian's chute, the U.S. officials would adjust their expectations for progress.
President Clinton, who huddled with Mr. Yeltsin on everything from nuclear weapons removal to NATO enlargement, never seemed bothered by the leader's insatiable thirst, perhaps because Mr. Clinton was trying to hide an addiction of his own (but not of the bottle).
The Random House book will go on sale May 21.

Professorial perks
Did the daughters of former President Lyndon B. Johnson get a free ride through school?
Author Tevi Troy, who will participate in today's American Enterprise Institute book panel surrounding the release of "Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters or Technicians?" suggests that LBJ provided the first daughters with more than just a tutor.
One of several presidential "intellectuals" (brain trusts who serve as unofficial advisers and policy planners at the White House) Mr. Troy writes about in his Rowman & Littlefield book was Princeton professor Eric Goldman, who LBJ figured could be of more help to the country by helping Lynda Bird and Luci Baines upstairs.
"As a professor only two years earlier, Goldman had graded the papers of college students," observes Mr. Troy. "Now he was ghostwriting for two girls in their teens."

Know thy enemy
The Wilderness Society has announced a fund-raising campaign to stop Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton from eliminating "special protections placed on America's last remaining roadless areas in our national forests."
The only problem is that Mrs. Norton is charged with protecting the nation's parks, not its national forests. Trees are left to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, whose department oversees the U.S. Forest Service.

Made in Virginia
Congress is reminding us that the imposing U.S. Capitol, White House, and much of the rest of majestic Washington arose from the soil of a rural Virginia county.
President George Washington, as we all know, selected the site of the District of Columbia and personally took charge of plans for developing the new capital or so reads a just-passed House resolution recognizing the historical significance of Stafford County.
A boyhood resident of the Virginia county, Washington recommended that the freestone quarries he came across as a youngster along Aquia Creek be purchased as stone quarries for Washington's public buildings.
His desire was that the grandeur of the stone buildings in America's new capital rival those of European capitals, and the planner of the new federal city, Pierre L'Enfant, couldn't have agreed more. In due time, these same quarries Washington knew as a boy, later renamed Government Island, became the major source of building stone for much of Washington.

It pays to walk
Pierre L'Enfant, the French military engineer-turned-city planner, thought he was doing future Washingtonians a favor when he laid out the crisscrossing avenues of the nation's capital for the horse-drawn carriages of the early 1790s. (The traffic circles, so terrifying to tourists and newcomers, were put there to prevent an invading army from firing a cannon down the avenue into the Capitol and the White House.)
The reality is that Washington's slashing streets and thoroughfares, now hooked up to a confusing maze of suburban freeways and interstates, leads (if motorists are moving at all) to the second-worst traffic nightmare in the nation.
Enter Christopher Zimmerman, the new chairman of the Arlington County Board of Supervisors, who included in his 2003 budget a new "walk/bike" incentive of $25 per month.
According to the budget description forwarded to us, the incentive would provide a small cash "award" or incentive to employees who choose alternative transportation to the office i.e., walking or biking.
The county's employees would register as "alternative commuters" and receive $25 per month post-tax for biking or walking to work. This incentive would allow them to purchase new equipment periodically, as it says, to continue their healthy lifestyle. (And this in turn would help the rest of us stifle the temptation to fire a cannon at the cars ahead of us on the avenue.)


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