- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SANFORD’S STANCE

“As governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford has made a mark not by creating any new social programs or by slashing taxes or making some other dramatic gesture. He’s done it by doggedly opposing new spending at every opportunity, to the point where he’s struck many critics as a monomaniacal economic Luddite,” Reihan Salam writes at www.forbes.com.

“Sanford’s opposition to President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and in particular his insistence on using up to a fourth of his state’s stimulus funds to pay down debt or refusing it outright, has fast made him a folk hero to conservatives. To some, Sanford’s opposition to the stimulus funds is an act of political grandstanding, a naked effort to sell out the poorest and most vulnerable South Carolinians in order to curry favor with a national Republican audience,” Mr. Salam said.

“To others, he has struck a mighty and principled blow against big government. Whatever else Sanford has done, he has given conservatives a rare opportunity to return to their roots and to shake off the contradictions and compromises that have built up over the past 30 years.”

PROTECTIONISM

“When G-20 finance ministers met in England over the weekend to discuss a way out of the global financial crisis, the group pledged to eschew trade protectionism,” Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes.

“That sounds good. But some of the governments represented at the meeting aren’t walking the walk on global commerce at home. Instead they’re taking the side of special interests that want to weaken foreign competition. One culprit that comes to mind is the U.S.,” the writer said.

“In violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. last week again closed its southern border to any Mexican trucks additional to those with existing permits. It did so on the usual grounds that Mexican trucks are unsafe, even though that hoary claim has been demolished by extensive testing. But Congress and President Barack Obama are catering to the Teamsters union, which has spent more than a decade lobbying to keep Mexican competition off U.S. highways.

“Candidate Obama ran for president as a protectionist, with a special emphasis on a promise to block ratification of U.S. free-trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia. Big Labor was a big giver to Mr. Obama’s campaign, and he owes it big time. Last week, he began paying up. During confirmation hearings, his nominee to be U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, sharply criticized both agreements.

“Yet if Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats were not expected to champion freer trade, some hoped they would not reverse liberalization gains of recent years. The decision on Mexican trucks last week shows they are doing just that.”

HOLDER’S SILENCE

Attorney General Eric Holder calls the U.S. ‘a nation of cowards’ because we ‘do not talk enough about race.’ I find this ironic, since the Justice Department seems embarrassed about a recent judgment in its favor by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. U.S. v. Ike Brown isa major Voting Rights Act case involving intentional race-based discrimination by local officials in Noxubee County, Miss.,” Hans A. von Spakovsky writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“When the Fifth Circuit issued its decision on Feb. 27, there was complete silence from Justice. The department typically issues a press release after any significant litigation victory, and the Civil Rights Division trumpets every success. But not here. The silence from the nation’s leading news outlets was also deafening: Not a word was published about the case by the New York Times, The Washington Post, or any other major publication. Why? Because the offensive conduct at issue did not conveniently track with the Left’s view of race discrimination,” said Mr. von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission.

“The Noxubee County case presents a deeply disturbing account of some of the most egregious racial discrimination the Justice Department has encountered in decades. In Noxubee, 80 percent of Democrats are black; 20 percent are white. (There are some Republicans as well, but the number is negligible.) The chairman of the Democratic party, Ike Brown, is black, and he, along with the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, set about to effectively disenfranchise white voters.

“The court decision shows that Brown had his own local version of Tammany Hall, and local election officials followed his orders. This included publishing in the local newspaper a list of 174 white Democratic voters whose eligibility he intended to challenge if they tried to vote in an upcoming election. According to the court, Brown compiled the list based on the individuals’ perceived lack of support for black candidates. One voter testified that she was so intimidated, she didn’t vote. Another testified that she was so scared, she felt she couldn’t approach the polls alone.”

CHARITY WOES

President Obama’s drive to reduce tax deductions for charity means trouble for New York - especially its cultural institutions,” Roger Kimball writes in the New York Post.

“Consider: The Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced that it’s eliminating 74 full- and part-time employees from its merchandising staff and plans to reduce overall staff by upward of 10 percent in the near future,” said Mr. Kimball, editor and publisher of the New Criterion.

“And those cuts are prompted simply by the stock market’s decline, which has hammered the Met’s endowment. Still ahead is the hit the museum would take from Obama’s proposals to make it about 20 percent more expensive for top earners to give to charities by reducing what they can deduct from their tax bill.

“So, even as people are upgrading their calculators to handle the large number of zeros required by the Obama administration’s gargantuan spending packages, cultural leaders are asking themselves: What in God’s name is he doing?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or Greg Pierce

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