- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

Golf handicap

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft was fined yesterday for failing to report personal gifts that included two rounds of golf.

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the governor, a Republican, failed to report that he went on a pair of golf outings valued at $100 each. Ohio law requires officeholders to report gifts valued above $75.

Even worse, the governor’s golfing buddy was coin dealer Tom Noe. A Republican fundraiser, Mr. Noe invested $50 million of the state’s money in rare coins, and the resulting scandal revealed the rounds of golf.

Brian Hicks, former chief of staff to the governor, said he didn’t know what all the fuss is about. Everybody needs to unwind, he reasoned, and what better way than golf?

That said, the game of golf has long haunted the Taft family.

Grooming Mr. Taft’s great-grandfather, President William Howard Taft, for the nation’s highest office, Theodore Roosevelt sensed that Taft’s Democratic opponent, William Jennings Bryan, was gaining steam among voters.

So Roosevelt told his protege to quit playing golf for the duration of the campaign, explaining to his Ohio friend (they later had a falling out, and Roosevelt, as a “Progressive” candidate, opposed Taft and Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912) that golf was a sport reserved for the upper crust, and the average voter might get the wrong impression.

All about Roberts

No August vacation for Joseph E. Sandler, general counsel to the Democratic National Committee.

In the name of DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Mr. Sandler on Monday will submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the Justice Department pertaining to President Bush‘s nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court.

As Democratic senators sought to no avail, the DNC will seek within 20 working days the files of 16 specific cases Mr. Roberts argued before the Supreme Court while working in the solicitor general’s office under former President Bush.

“His work on these cases offers the American people a realistic snapshot of his approach to the law and his regard for our fundamental rights and freedoms,” says Mr. Sandler, who questions whether Mr. Roberts “will be a justice for everyone or advance the activist, partisan agenda of a few.”

You decide

No summer doldrums for the Fox News Channel, which for the 43rd consecutive month leads all cable news stations.

Nielsen ratings for July have Fox moving even further ahead of rival CNN — a total advantage of 168 percent — with prime-time viewership jumping 85 percent since January 2005.

CNN’s prime-time ratings fell 3 percent during the month, although the network’s Headline News channel witnessed a big jump — 96 percent — in the same time period.

MSNBC continues its downward spiral, dropping 11 percent in total viewership during the past 12 months.

Anti-terror majors

Roseann Runte, president of Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, successfully has lobbied for a homeland security-related research center for Hampton Roads that will assist state and local governments in preparing for possible terrorist attacks.

Ms. Runte told Inside the Beltway during a visit to Washington this week that the Emergency Management Training and Simulation Center (EMTASC) will provide scientific and computer-assisted simulations and structure for emergency-management level training, analysis and decision support.

EMTASC will be housed at an ODU field campus in Suffolk until a new building is completed within two years. Apart from state funding secured by Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who officially will open the anti-terror lab next Wednesday, defense contractors that include General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing committed upward of $5 million in startup costs.

Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, both headquartered in Norfolk, also lobbied hard for the new center.

The Joint Forces Command and ODU have a longstanding relationship. Already, the university develops computer simulations for the U.S. military.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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