- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2013

There will be some belligerent squawking in the liberal media in the wake of the fifth annual Red State Gathering, organized by columnist and RedState.com founder Erick Erickson, and staged in a spiffy New Orleans hotel starting Friday. Mr. Erickson expects hundreds of conservatives to show up, along with the proverbial thought leaders of the movement, and “happy warriors,” he says.

Among those on the podium during the two-day event: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina; Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Nikki Haley of South Carolina; plus Reps. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma and Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

“We’ve never had a set theme, but this year it seems pretty clear there is a theme of disruption within the GOP — fighting within to defund Obamacare, challenging incumbents to move to the right in states where it is possible, and fighting the Democrats within the moral parameters of freedom,” Mr. Erickson says.

GRIDIRON TACKLED BY TAXES

With training camp for each of the NFL’s franchises underway, rookies and veterans have signed sumptuous contracts with new or current teams around the league. But a little surprise awaits them, says Americans for Tax Reform, a nonpartisan interest group opposed to hefty tax increases.

“While many first-year players join their new team expecting to make millions in their professional debuts, the truth of the matter is the part of their paycheck for their first game will go directly to the state tax collectors,” spokesman John Kartch says.

NFL players can expect the state to collect taxes from the first few quarters of their first home game of the regular season before they begin to keep their earnings. The group has done the math. Players for California teams — the 49ers, Chargers and Raiders — face a 13.3 percent combined state and local tax rate, for example.

“They must play one game and a quarter into their second home game just to pay off their home game state tax liability,” Mr. Kartch says.

“The Minnesota Vikings have the second highest tax rate, 9.85 percent, due to Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent income tax hike,” he continues.

Things are also pretty miserable for players in New Jersey, where the rate is 8.97 percent, Maryland (8.8 percent), Ohio (8 percent) and Wisconsin (7.75 percent). But it’s not all bad news.

“Players on teams based in Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Washington are able to keep their earnings from the start of the regular season due to no state income tax,” Mr. Kartch observes.

BUMPER PATROL

“I can’t afford the Affordable Care Act”

— Bumper sticker spotted in Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington

OH, WOE IS JOURNALISM

“Tabloids on steroids is journalism today. Hard news still exists, sure, but only when domestic terrorism, huge natural disasters and decadelong kidnappings are concerned,” observes Mediate analyst Joe Concha after conducting a casual review of headlines and lead stories on MSNBC and CNN and in the New York Daily News, among other news outlets.

He mournfully notes the “media moral decline,” citing persistent sensationalized headlines and story selections.

“But if that’s what the public wants, if that’s what they’re buying, then as a business, news outlets need to heed to whims of supply and demand,” he continues. “As a wise man I worked with once said when talking about generating corporate profits, ‘We’re not here for the dental plan, now are we?’”

Mr. Concha adds, “Thus is the state of journalism today. Show me the money. It is what it is. That doesn’t mean it’ll put me in a better mood.”

GOATOPIA

Forget the dog days of August. It’s goat days of Washington. In the very near future, the historic, 207-year-old Congressional Cemetery in the nation’s capital will be neatened up by a herd of hoofed helpers. The nonprofit Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery has partnered with a herd of 100 grazing goats, who will trim the exterior perimeters of the site from Aug. 7 to 12 as an “innovative green project.”

Indeed. The goats will graze 24 hours a day for six days, scarfing up vines, poison ivy, ground cover and random debris, “all the while fertilizing the ground,” organizers say.

“The revolutionary use of eco-goats eliminates the need for harmful herbicides and prevents the invasive and often foreign species from killing large mature trees in the cemetery’s wooded area, which can fall onto the grounds as a result and damage invaluable historic headstones,” the association says.

“This is also the first time we have found a suitable partner for a project inside the Beltway,” says Brian Knox, owner and supervising forester of Maryland-based Eco-Goats, home of the herd in question.

A PHYSICIAN’S EDGE

Lest we forget, Sen. Rand Paul, like his father Ron Paul, has a healer’s calling. The son is an ophthalmologist, the father was an OB/GYN. And now, the Kentucky Republican is calling upon his medical training to enhance his legislative finesse.

“As a doctor, I have had firsthand experience with the vast problems facing health care in the United States. Medicare, as we know it, is broken and in desperate need of reform. It is indefinitely $43 trillion short and must be reformed now before it’s too late,” the lawmaker said upon introducing his Medicare reform plan, also known as the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act.

The bill is, incidentally, 22 pages — not 2,200 pages — long.

“My plan fixes the Medicare system and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank,” Mr. Paul continued. “Seniors deserve to have a world-class health care system, and U.S. taxpayers deserve to have their hard-earned dollars put to better use, in a system that will not eventually bankrupt this country.”

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: the Hotel Hinton, Edenton, N.C. Four story, “early 20th-century” brick building, 32,000 square feet, overlooking Edenton Bay on Albemarle Sound. Currently divided into 68 county-office spaces “in relatively good condition.” Price: $125,000, through Preservation North Carolina (Presnc.org)

POLL DU JOUR

78 percent say the U.S. Congress influences their personal economic status.

76 percent cite state governments as an influence, 75 percent cite the Federal Reserve, 70 percent President Obama and 64 percent local governments.

67 percent give Mr. Obama a negative rating on the job he is doing for the economy; 93 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of conservatives, 40 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of liberals agree.

75 percent of independents and 63 percent of moderates also give Mr. Obama a negative review.

44 percent overall expect their economic status to remain the same in the next year; 29 percent say it will improve, 27 percent say it will get worse.

Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.