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Newsweek on Gov. Mark Sanford’s “root-canal economics.’

Newsweek, May 4

A profile follows Republican South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford as he prepares to reject $700 million in stimulus money as a gambit to coax the state Legislature into paying down debt. The author dubs it “root-canal economics (pain today, efficiency tomorrow).” Resolutely small-government and colorful to boot—he “once vetoed 106 pork-barrel projects in a single swoop, then carried a pair of squealing piglets into the statehouse to make his point”—Sanford may just emerge a leading GOP contender in 2012. The cover story identifies the forthcoming Star Trek movie as the venerable franchise’s latest move “at once again commanding the zeitgeist.” In the early ‘70s, “Trekkies” like the author were “pioneers in a techno-nerd meritocracy that people like Bill Gates would come to embody.” In 2009, “Spock’s cool analytical nature feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we’ve put a sort of Vulcan in the White House.”

The New Yorker, May 4

An article about President Barack Obama’s budget focuses on 40-year-old Budget Director Peter Orszag. “A policy Eagle Scout, always prepared,” Orszag is also “a subtle and persistent political player.” Indeed, “Orszag, despite his image as a number-crunching technocrat, considers himself an activist.” He is convinced that “rising federal health-care costs are the most important cause of long-term deficits,” and he is especially ready for a fight for reform in this area. In his previous gig at the Congressional Budget Office, “he produced the book that Congress uses to estimate the cost of various health-care ideas.” A short piece opines that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s musing about secession “merits the respectful consideration of concerned citizens.” Texas and other disgruntled Americans could form the “Federated States,” join OPEC, protect “the sanctity of marriage,” and teach creationism in public schools. The downside? “The Dallas Cowboys could no longer style themselves ‘America’s Team.’ “

New York, May 4

A profile finds legendary journalist Gay Talese writing a memoir of his 50-year marriage to book editor Nan Talese. Both his marriage and career were “pushed to the breaking point” by the 1980 publication of Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Gay’s recently re-issued book on the sexual revolution, whose “research” involved running a massage parlor and participating in orgies. Daughter Pamela avows, “What you two have gone through together would have destroyed most marriages.” Meanwhile, the public’s tabloid take on Gay compared with its respectful, dignified treatment of novelists like Philip Roth frustrates Gay: “I didn’t feel any less motivated as a nonfiction writer. I wanted to really pursue material at a depth that fiction writers can by not naming names.” An appreciation of Pete Seeger calls the 90-year-old folk singer “America’s most celebrated anti-celebrity.” While acknowledging a certain datedness, the author praises Seeger on the grounds that he “always finds a way to make you join in.”

Weekly Standard, May 4

The cover story accuses the SAT’s critics, including colleges that have adopted “test optional” admissions, of devaluing “the traditional notion of aptitude” and espousing “the same postmodernism that has overtaken the humanities in most elite colleges.” The article recounts the test’s origins as a progressive tool intended to democratize higher education as well as the subsequent progressive backlash against its alleged bias in favor of rich whites. While testing gaps may reflect inequality, this is not the test’s fault; as one 1968 study put it, “Life is unfair to the poor. Tests merely measure the results.” An article argues that Obama’s celebrated “pragmatism” is really “another name for achieving progressive ends; flexibility is confined to the means.” Obama is “pretending to be nonpartisan” in order to impose “far-reaching progressive policies on an unwary public.” This strategy is “disrespectful of citizens” and “is also a threat to our freedom.”

New York Review of Books, May 14

Two authors assert, in opposition to Israel’s head of military intelligence, that a state wishing to conduct war justly must prioritize the security of the other side’s noncombatants over its own soldiers’. “The only morally relevant distinction that all those involved in a war can agree on,” the authors say, is the fundamental difference between combatants and noncombatants, where “the capacity to injure … makes combatants legitimate targets,” and those “without that capacity are not legitimate targets.” States therefore ought to follow the maxim: “Conduct your war in the presence of noncombatants on the other side with the same care as if your citizens were the noncombatants.” Democratic convert Sen. Arlen Specter decries the Bush administration’s “expansions of executive authority.” He pledges to remedy the “imbalance in our ‘checks and balances’ ” by passing legislation to mandate judicial review of warrantless wiretapping and to drain presidential signing statements of their legal power.