Supreme Court Rules for States on Internet Sales Taxes

The Story:

The U.S. Supreme Court, on Thursday, June 21, ruled that states have the authority to collect sales taxes from the merchant on internet sales even when the retailer has no “physical presence” (no brick-and-mortar store or warehouse) in the state where the purchase is made.

The Background:

Back in 1992, in a case involving mail order catalogs, the court had ruled that states do not have this authority in the absence of physical presence. The “World Wide Web” had been formally launched only a year before, and no one at the time of the QUILL case was thinking of the wave of online merchants soon to wash up upon the shores of retailing.

But QUILL has given a built-in price advantage to those online merchants, and companies that have continued to sell at brick and mortar outlets have resented it.

The Thing to Know:

The WAYFAIR case overturns QUILL. This doesn’t mean that the internet tax advantage will immediately disappear, but it does mean that the legislature of many of the individual states will likely begin their deliberations on whether they will use their re-affirmed sovereignty to increase revenue from this quarter.

Arrington, SC House Candidate, Hospitalized

The Story:

Katie Arrington, Republican candidate for a South Carolina seat in the US House of Representatives, was in “critical but stable condition” in a hospital over the weekend after an automobile accident. A vehicle in which she was a passenger collided with another vehicle going the wrong direction on a highway.

The Significance:

On June 12, Arrington, a former real estate developer, defeated Mark Sanford, a former Governor, in the primary for the GOP nomination for the 1st district seat. The 1st district runs along much of the state’s coast, taking in the cities of Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

Arrington’s victory in this primary made Sanford the second Republican incumbent in the House in this election cycle to lose to a challenger for his party’s renomination. (The other is Robert Pittinger, of North Carolina’s 9th district.)

The Thing to Know

Arrington’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Joe Cunningham, has expressed his sympathy at news of her injuries and has suspended his own campaign activities until further notice.

Zoltan Istvan, Candidate for Governor (CA)

The story:

Even in the always-colorful politics of the state of California, futurist novelist Zoltan Istvan stood out. He was a long-shot candidate for Governor in the primary this spring, with a Libertarian Party affiliation and a personal “transhumanist” philosophy.

Transhumanism Is:

Transhumanism is the adoption of certain lifestyles, technologies, and political views in the belief that they are bringing about a radical and desirable transformation in the species. It owes much to Friedrich Nietzsche and his anticipation of the “overman.”

Istvan is the author of a novel, “The Transhumanist Wager,” expounding on this philosophy especially in connection with the technologies that could produce earthly immortality. He has proclaimed his belief that transhumanism will become a mainstream way of thinking in the US by the mid 2020s.

The Thing to Know:

Istvan came in fifteenth, in a crowded field of 32 candidates. Under the state’s rules, the first and second place finishers are the only two to advance to the November vote. The first two in this instance were from the established major parties: Gavin Newsom (D) and John Cox (R). Transhumanism will have to wait for another day.

Jennifer Wexton Challenges Barbara Comstock

What does a blue wave mean for 2018 midterm elections?

 The Story: 

In a race that the Capitol-Hill themed publication “Roll Call” lists as a toss up, the Democratic Party’s nominee to represent Virginia’s 10th district in the US House of Representatives, Jennifer Wexton, opposes Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in the November voting.

The Daughter of Two Economists:

Ms Wexton is the daughter of Paula and Peter Tosini, both distinguished economists. Her father was a senior economist at the Treasury Department; her mother was chief economist of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and later served as executive vice president of the Futures Industry Association.

Ms Wexton has worked in the state senate for four years, since winning a special election for the district that included her home town of Leesburg in 2014.

The Thing to Know: 

Early last year the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designated Comstock’s Virginia district as one of its top targets for this election cycle. The DCCC sees this as a district vulnerable to a “blue wave,” one that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 Presidential vote.

Manafort’s Bail Revoked Due to Witness Tampering

President Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort Sent To Jail To Await Trial | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

The Story: 

Paul Manafort, who was the campaign manager for now-President Donald Trump from June to August 2016, was booked into Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia on June 15, 2018 under orders from a federal court judge, who revoked his bail and wants him held until trial.

Background:

In October of last year, Manafort surrendered to the FBI after being indicted on charges that relate to laundering money for pro-Russia forces within the Ukraine. He is charged, among other counts, with acting as an unregistered agent for a foreign principal, and of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The prosecution added additional allegations this February.

The original October indictment came about as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is scheduled to begin in September

The Thing to Know:

The new (June) charges involve Manafort’s alleged efforts to persuade witnesses to lie about those underlying charges, efforts he has engaged in while under house arrest. As a consequence, Judge Amy Berman Jackson has evidently decided that “house” arrest was not arresting enough.

Run-Off for Republican Nomination for Gov (SC)

'No Confusion Nikki' takes the media by storm

The Story:

Tuesday’s primary did not settle the question of who will be running for Governor of South Carolina as the nominee of the Republican Party. Nobody won a majority so there will be a run-off in two weeks.

The Score Card:

Among the Democrats, on the other hand, Tuesday’s voting proved decisive. James Smith, a Columbia area attorney, easily secured that party’s nomination with more than 63% of the vote. Marguerite Willis, also an attorney, finished a distant second with 26%.

Henry McMaster (R) became the Governor of South Carolina in January 2017. He was the Lieutenant Governor until Nikki Haley (R) resigned the Governor’s job that month in order to take on the role of US Ambassador to the United Nations at President Trump’s request. Now McMaster seeks to win a term in his own right.

The Thing to Know:

On the Republican side, incumbent Henry McMaster received roughly 44% of the vote Tuesday, well above second-place finisher John Warren, but less than the 50% he would have needed to beat in order to make himself the nominee. Now, he and Warren go head to head in the voting on June 26.

Democratic National Committee Changes Its Rules

The Story:

The Democratic National Committee has changed the rules by which that party will decide hereafter who shall be its nominee for President. One change in particular has riled up supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran for that nomination in the last cycle and who may do so in the next.

The Background:

On Friday, June 8, the DNC voted to bar anyone from running for the 2020 presidential nomination who is not a member of the Democratic Party at the time he announces his candidacy.

This looks to Sanders’ supporters like a swipe at their leader, who (though he caucused and still caucuses with the Democratic Party in the US Senate) when he campaigned for the nomination against Secretary Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary season, was an Independent.

The Thing to Know:

At the party convention in 2016, Sanders received 43% of the delegate votes. Jeff Weavers, who was Sanders’ campaign manager, has said that the Senator is “considering another run.”

Discharge Petition Looms on DACA

The Story:

Members of Congress who want to force a vote on the issue of the status of the alien “Dreamers” may resort to a rarely-used procedure known as a discharge petition.

Background:

The issue roiling Congress, one that has become mixed up with a number of other immigration concerns, is the consequence of an Obama administration program, called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.” DACA offered at least a temporary reprieve from deportation to the more than 11 million people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

Trump ended DACA last September. As for the future of the Dreamers, Trump said then that he was open to signing an Act of Congress that would offer them additional protection. There was some back-and-forth over whether this should be a “clean” bill or whether it would be expected to include other features.

The Thing to Know:

A group of centrist Republicans is apparently prepared to sign a discharge petition to get a clean DACA bill onto the House floor.

Sanders Endorsement Does Iowa Candidate Little Good

The Story:

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party nominated Cindy Axne as its candidate for the US House of Representatives from Iowa’s 3rd district, in the southwestern part of the state. Despite the ardent support of activist favorite Senator Bernard Sanders, Pete D’Alessandro ( an advocate of single-payer health coverage) polled roughly 15% percent of the vote.

Background:

Sanders (I – VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were the two chief contenders for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President in 2016. Sanders ran to the left of Clinton, criticizing her for refusal to support single-party health insurance as well as for her excessive clubbiness for Nixon-era Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Since then, Sanders and Clinton factions of the party have continued their rivalry and the Iowa primary campaign was one of the relevant battlefields.

The Clintonite candidate in this primary, Cindy Axne, who favors health care reform within the existing framework of Obamacare, won easily, with more than 57% of the vote.

The Thing to Know:

Not only did D’Alessandra lose to Axne; he came in third, also losing out to Eddie Mauro, a small businessman who had dropped out of the campaign but was still on the ballot.

Minnesota ex-Governor Pawlenty Attempts Comeback

Democrats are on defense in deep blue Minnesota

The Story: 

Tim Pawlenty, the Governor of Minnesota from 2003 to 2011, left that post in the latter year to run for President. His Presidential campaign didn’t get very far in that cycle, and he has been a private citizen (and a lobbyist) since. But this year he is attempting a comeback in electoral politics, hoping to return to the Governor’s office.

‘The Swamp’:

In the years since his ill-fated Presidential campaign, Pawlenty has worked as a DC based lobbyist for the banking industry. Pawlenty announced his candidacy for Governor on April 5 this year. Given the present political climate, it appears certain he will be attacked for his lobbyist role. Former public officials who have turned to lobbying are the epitome of what populists commonly disparage as ‘the swamp.’

The Thing to Know:

In order to become the Republican nominee, Pawlenty will have to defeat the party convention’s choice, Jeff Johnson, in a primary slated for August 14. Johnson also ran for Governor in 2014, that year beating three other candidates in the primary but losing the general election by six points.