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07 September 2012


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William R. Cumming

Issues of federalism and roles of the STATEs and their local governments plague the government at all levels. Unfortunately SCOTUS has been no help in consturing issues of federalism including discussion of the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses and discussion of federal preemption. The most recent example of course is the ObamaCare decision by SCOTUS.

More disturbing perhaps is the increased liklihood of judicial interference in federal elections because of the BUSH v. Gore SCOTUS decision in 2000!

In fact and law the Presidential election process is 50 separate and highly individual STATE elections not one federal election. Example, Voter ID!

A major tragedylurks someday in the Electoral College!

Note that a third party candidate has arrived on the stage with results and impact on November election unknown and unknowable in advance. Note that IMO Perot elected Clinton twice. John ANDERSON elected Reagan!


"A major tragedylurks someday in the Electoral College!"

I used to agree with this observation but no longer. Without the Electoral College, candidates could permanently campaign only in the big states. Why go to Wyoming or Montana? Campaign on the seaboards and saturate the major media markets.

With the electoral college, however, they may focus on "battleground states" like Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio. But every state can be a battleground state if its electorate swings in alternate elections. The citizenry establish their own relevance.

William R. Cumming

Actually Matthew IMO the MSM establish the revelance of the citzenry of any state as a derivative of out of state contributions to MSM buys. Perhaps wrong. I believe 4 Presidential candidates won the popular vote but lost the election and not sure if more candidates won but only as a plurality based on there being multiple candidates and did not win a majority of all voting.


There is a de facto religious test for political office, especially for president,not a legal requirement but a political one.Actually, there are twotests and the Democrats almost failed both. Obligatory mention of God and support for Israel have in recent years been conflated into the same sacred cultural base. God has always been part of our political discourse but Israel is a new addition. Of course, Israel is a new country but our politician's submission of America's interests to a foriegn power's is new. They might as well drop the last half of the Judeao-Christian compund. I see no Christianity in the Republican platform--and very little in the Dems (a little more compassion)--but only the Old Testament mixed with a bit of Ayn Rand's moral-capitalism.

There's is also a marriage and family test, a Mom test and I'm-an-average-guy test.

scott s.

I kind of disagree with your 16th amendment example. The history of that goes back to the taxing power and first arose when the Articles of Confederation were drafted. The drafters wanted a wealth-based tax levied on states to fund the general government. The problem was in measuring wealth. Two concepts emerged: using state population as a proxy, or a direct assessment mainly of real property. From negotiations on the population idea the 3/5s rule was agreed to as a compromise on the wealth derived from slavery. Though in the end, the assessment idea was enacted. This was pretty much a failure so when the Constitution was drafted, the taxing power was revisited. This time they created two general principles of taxation: "capitation and other direct taxes" which were apportioned by population following the 3/5s rule, and "duties, imposts, and excises" which were "uniform". Fast forward to late 19th c. and re-enactment of an income tax. The question for this tax, like all taxes, is whether it must follow the rule of apportionment or the rule of uniformity. In a disputed Supreme Court case it was ruled that you had to look to the source of income to determine which rule to apply. This made the income tax unmanageable, leading to the 16th amendment which simply says that income taxes follow the rule of uniformity regardless of source. The 16th provided no new taxing power. That congress had the power to tax incomes was not disputed.

For those who dislike income taxes, it might be worth looking at the history of direct taxes imposed by Congress several times in the early years, typically to fund wars. The direct tax I think was pretty darn intrusive.

And as an aside, the direct tax imposed during the Civil War was apportioned to so-called "seceded states" and stipulated payment in person. The R E Lees failed to do so and lost Arlington (though suit after the war restored the property by then you had the Freedmans' Village, National Cemetery, etc so it wasn't really practical to keep it and it was sold to the government).


scott s.

The amendment is clear. It permits the federal government to impose the tax. The tax is imposed by subsequent and sontinuing legislation. pl



Political tests have to do with the will of the voters not the government. pl



Yes, and the voters will the conventions take place in Oprah Land.


Yes, Colonel, it's common for me to hear from one of my 18 yr. old freshmen that "so and so can't do that, it's unconstitutional" when they are referring to some private business. They are surprised when I tell them, for example, that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the local grocery store, only to the government (of course, there are certain laws which apply to that grocery store, but the Bill of Rights is certainly not one of them).

Those students are just learning, but we should expect a higher level of civic intelligence from the media.

Going on, in my opinion, the 16th Amendment did not allow states to do, or not to do, anything by implication.

Not to say that many states didn't jump on the income tax bandwagon when they saw the feds do it.

The 16th Amendment allowed a national income tax by overruling portions of the constitution which provided that a direct tax by the federal government had to be apportioned among the states.

None of that had anything to do with a state's taxing authority, either pre or post 16th amendment--that amendment and the other constitutional provisions which it overruled, were entirely directed at federal power.

In Tennessee, for example, its courts have long held there is a state constitutional bar to a state income tax.



Thanks for the correction on state income taxes. Otherwise, I believe we are on the same page. pl

Cold War Zoomie

The Free-Speechers are the folks who drive me crazy. The language in the 1st Amendment is so clear and simple, yet I would hazard a guess that 90% of the population does not understand it.

I enjoyed this book immensely...


The Moar You Know

There's a reason your freshmen don't know this.

My local high school district just cut US Government classes. Entirely.

It's not money. They're building a three-story skybox for the football stadium.

I don't live in Texas, by the way, where such an action would be understandable (they like their football, as do I) if still unacceptable. No, I live in Southern California, in one of the wealthiest school districts in the United States.

Removing education and replacing it with something very much like a circus. Didn't some other society do this? English muffins and field hockey? Croissants and basketball? Something about bread, or maybe yeast. I can't remember. I was schooled in the same district.


Bread and Circuses, it worked great for the Romans (some of the time). Nero may have been one the worst emperors but he was still in charge for more than a decade.

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