- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 28, 2016

This should be quite the gathering. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has announced it will stage the fourth Reagan National Defense Forum in early December, just three weeks after the presidential election. This is the kind of event which includes a “Peace Through Strength Dinner,” complete with an annual award featuring a bronze eagle trophy set in a granite base. The eagle is holding a piece of the Berlin Wall in one talon. Enough said.

“In the past three years, the Reagan National Defense Forum has become the premier high-level global convocation for discussion of the security of the United States and its allies, ultimately becoming the true Davos of Defense,” says Frederick J. Ryan, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees. He is, of course, referring to the ski resort in the Swiss Alps that hosts the annual World Economic Forum for the planet’s leading political and business elite, those who must make it to “Davos” or else.

The Reagan event is already a destination of choice. In past years, it has drawn Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and three of his predecessors, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, an intense collection of serious military brass and the very biggest of cheeses from key defense industries.

The steering committee for the two-day event includes Sens. James Inhofe, John McCain and Jack Reed, Rep. Mac Thornberry, and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among many.

THE IRS AND THE GOODY BAGS

Yes, yes, the Academy Awards have finally come and gone. Yay. But one particular after effect won’t be going away, and that has to do with the goody bags doled out to Oscar nominees. This year the showbiz swag amounted to $232,000 worth of certificates for vacation travel and plastic surgery procedures, jewelry, edibles, cosmetics and other pricey whatnot. The IRS has made its policy known on this, however:


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“The Internal Revenue Service is conducting an outreach campaign to the entertainment industry regarding the taxability of gift bags and promotional items. This effort is focused on distribution of celebrity gift bags and goodie bags in conjunction with appearances by the stars at award shows and other gatherings,” the federal agency notes at its website.

So, what are the federal income tax consequences to a person who accepts a gift bag in recognition of involvement in an awards show?

“In general, the person has received taxable income equal to the fair market value of the bag and its contents and must report that amount on his or her federal income tax return,” the IRS states.

NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE

“The first McDonald’s in Kazakhstan to offer horse meat burgers,” reports RT, the Russian cable news channel. The new eatery will open next week; 15 more are planned in the nation.

“We’ll try to adjust our consumers’ requests and cater to Kazakh national cuisine,” explained the owner and developer Kairat Boranbayev.

‘Politicians had their chances and failed’

Spirited encounters between Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio would suggests they are diametrically opposed on just about everything. Not so says Roger L. Simon, founder of PJ Media and a former Hollywood screenwriter who knows political theater when he sees it.

“In broad stokes, all three Republicans are close to identical, especially compared to their Democratic opposition,” says Mr. Simon. “All three would build up the military, abrogate the Iran deal and move more forcefully to destroy ISIS. All three would be tough on Islamic immigration from the Middle East. All three would lower taxes and reduce regulations. All three would appoint conservative judges, oppose abortion and support religious freedom and the Second Amendment.”

Each also would build a security wall on the southern U.S. border, revamp the Department of Veterans Affairs and abolish Obamacare. They all oppose Common Core, encourage oil drilling and reject global warming, Mr. Simon points out. “What we have is largely a battle of personalities underscoring the more important issue,” he says.

Which is practical and straightforward: Who can actually accomplish all these things?

“As of now, the Republican electorate is obviously saying it’s Donald Trump. In their view, professional politicians had their chances and failed. It’s hard to argue with that,” Mr. Simon notes.

AND IN SUMMATION

“You don’t defeat Donald Trump by getting down in mud with him. We’re trying to stay above the fray, to stage a positive campaign that we’re proud of. All this name-calling, bickering, and childish, boorish behavior doesn’t serve the party.”

John Weaver, campaign strategist for Republican hopeful John Kasich, in a press call on Sunday.

CARSON DIGS IN

He’s been offered money to drop out of the 2016 race. That’s what Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson told Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

“The machine in Washington is extremely complicated and complex. It is corrupt. People say, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is, and we just have to accept that.’ I don’t think we have to accept that. I think there is such a thing as right and wrong,” Mr. Carson said. “Millions of my supporters are saying please don’t give in. Please don’t give in to the system. Please fight for us. And I’m going to do that.”

Mr. Carson campaigned in Tennessee and Georgia on Sunday, and is bound for Kentucky, Virginia and Alabama on Monday.

POLL DU JOUR

86 percent of Americans say it’s difficult to “unplug” from the smartphones and other devices which access social media, text messages, emails and games.

67 percent say they have tried to unplug from their devices in the past; 45 percent say they do so once a week, 16 percent once a day.

60 percent wish their family would unplug from their devices.

44 percent get anxious if they don’t have their smartphone with them.

37 percent have a fear of “missing out” if they unplug; 27 percent have been personally advised to unplug “more often.”

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,193 U.S. Adults conducted Jan. 13-18 and released Friday.

Churlish remarks and polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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