- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Inside the Beltway is told that later this spring President Obama will visit Key West, Fla., where he will announce the removal of certain travel restrictions to Cuba.

“He is said to be arriving here in about a month-and-a-half, from what I’m being told,” retired Major Andy Messing Jr. U.S. Army Special Forces, says in a telephone interview from Key West.

“The White House is making preparations to announce the changes with the Cuba visitation policy,” recaps Mr. Messing, who’s on the board of the National Defense Council Foundation. “Of course, the … community here is all thrilled about his visit.”

Mr. Obama promised during his 2008 presidential campaign to lift restrictions on travel by Cuban-Americans to the Communist island, while expressing the desire to begin face-to-face diplomacy with Cuban leaders.

But the then-Democratic candidate stressed that easing the travel ban did not mean ending the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, at least initially.

Key West is the southernmost city in the United States, located about 80 nautical miles from Cuba.


Daniel Yergin was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his book classic “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power.”

Today, explained the author, what with oil “always in the news, always on the front page,” there’s no better time to revise “The Prize” - “bring it up to date” with relation to climate change, for example, and determine whether the world’s remaining oil supply will satisfy future demands.

Updates and forecasts accomplished (Mr. Yergin sees no end in sight for oil being the primary source of energy, citing “substantial” untapped fields around the globe), Washington lobbyist Ed Rogers, who calls “The Prize” a “treasure,” is hosting an A-list book party for the renowned energy consultant and columnist.

This Saturday’s celebration at Mr. Rogers’ Surry Hill residence in McLean finds on the guest list Mr. Yergin, administration officials, diplomats, energy experts and others. Co-hosts include Mr. Rogers’ colleagues at Barbour Griffith & Rogers: Morris Reid, the onetime aide to the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown; Jonathan Mantz, former finance director of Hillary Rodham Cinton‘s 2008 presidential campaign; and Eric Burgeson, former chief of staff at the Department of Energy under former President George W. Bush.


Our weekly mailbag overfloweth, with readers mostly weighing-in on the new “Harper’s Index” revelation that Uncle Sam in 2008 spent $79,000 Bill Clinton‘s telephone service.

“Hasn’t Bill Clinton heard about Vonage? - $20 a month and you can call anywhere,” writes Rick Perry. “Why are we the taxpayers paying for outmoded technology?”

Otherwise, laying some of the blame on France for the AIG bonus boondoggle, Texas Congressman Ted Poe, we reported, let go of his emotions:

“The French are the same people who vilify the United States, blame the world’s problems on us, and have a disdain for everything American,” he said. “I think the U.S. has bailed out France enough. We helped save France in World War I, saved them again in World War II, and took over in Vietnam after they failed there - but with little or no gratitude from the French!”

Writes Dan Trey of Thurmont, Md.: “As a veteran, I agree with Rep. Ted Poe’s assessment of the French. But I believe we were much too polite in the naming of these cut-up spuds as ‘freedom fries.’ I always referred to them as ‘traitor taters.’ ”


The president of the Citzens in Charge Foundation, Paul Jacob, has a knack of delivering commentary in a way people can relate to. Consider his latest offering, “From Oz to Obama.”

“Many things remain perfectly normal,” he notes. “For instance, I often lose my car keys and sometimes misplace my cell phone. The University of North Carolina is still good at basketball …

“But when I read the paper or turn on the radio or TV news, the world has been turned upside down. It’s as if I’ve slipped into a parallel universe. I feel like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ wanting so badly to get back home. Perhaps I feel this way because government officials - from President Obama to the too-big-to-fail treasury secretary, from finger-pointing congressmen to my county commissioners - resemble ‘that man behind the curtain.’ ”

• John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or John McCaslin.

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