Getting the News, Weakly

October 30, 2009 - 4:24 PM
Conservatives: Looking for the perfect Christmas gift this year? You might want to consider a gift subscription to the "new" Newsweek magazine. It's the gift that will keep on giving, providing laughter throughout 2010 -- assuming it survives that long.
Conservatives: Looking for the perfect Christmas gift this year? You might want to consider a gift subscription to the “new” Newsweek magazine. It’s the gift that will keep on giving, providing laughter throughout 2010 -- assuming it survives that long.
 
The magazine has become a weekly version of The New York Times. It’s reliably liberal, with only a bi-monthly column by George Will to provide sanity. Yet, like the Times, its liberal readers can tell themselves they’re reading unbiased news (Dan Rather once told Bernard Goldberg the Times was “middle of the road”).
 
Consider “How to fight extremism in Muslim states,” the title of a recent Newsweek item. “Eight years after 9/11, many in the West still think of Islam as a threat,” writes Vali Nasr. Well, yes, we do.
 
Nasr, though, insists the problem isn’t Islam; it’s the economy. Well.
 
For one thing, 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabians. And while that nation is no bastion of free-wheeling capitalism, it’s one of the least-bad Islamic nations when it comes to its economy.
 
Nasr tries to wave that fact aside: “While it’s true that the 9/11 attackers were middle class (as have been many other terrorists), what matters is whether or not the middle class as a whole supports extremism.” But the fact remains: Terrorists are coming from the middle class of wealthy nations, not from the lower class of poor nations.
 
Another fact is that violence today is centered in the Muslim world. You don’t hear Italian Catholics, Israeli Jews or Indian Sikhs chanting “Death to America” every week, as Iranian Muslims do. As the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington once wrote, “Islam has bloody borders.”
 
And you seldom hear about Protestants, atheists, Taoists or Buddhists blowing themselves up in restaurants or hijacking airliners and crashing them into buildings. Suicide attacks seem linked to Islam. That’s a problem within that religion, not a problem caused by a lack of economic freedom.
 
Still, Nasr is certainly correct that capitalism would be helpful, in the Islamic world and here at home. That only makes one wonder why liberals in Congress seem so insistent on nationalizing our health care system.
 
Nasr correctly decries “sclerotic, overregulated economies that stifle entrepreneurship; isolate people from the global economy; and deprive them of jobs, services, and hope for a brighter future.” But that’s exactly what the U.S. would become if the government becomes the sole provider of health care, which already accounts for one-sixth of our economy.
 
For a glimpse of federalized health care, read on. “The federal government’s unprecedented campaign to protect the nation against the swine flu pandemic has gotten off to a sputtering start, frustrating parents, pregnant women and others anxious to get immunized against the new virus,” began a story in The Washington Post on Oct. 23.
 
Ah, but things are certain to get better. “Federal officials defended the program Thursday, saying they were frustrated by the slower pace, too,” the story continued. “They blamed the lag on the need to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness and unexpected problems such as the virus growing unusually slowly and snags at factories filling vials with vaccine.”
 
So let’s review: The federal government is overwhelmed by its attempts to provide one vaccine against one disease. That alone should be argument enough against the so-called “public option,” which would put Washington in charge of the entire health care system.
 
Let’s flip back to Newsweek, where the magazine’s editor insists President Barack Obama is no liberal. “A Democratic president who is not pushing for mandated universal health care and has no apparent interest in engaging issues of gay marriage and gun control is not the traditional liberal’s long-expected messiah,” writes Jon Meacham in the Nov. 2 issue.
 
But Obama has said he wants a single-payer system. He’s just being coy about how to get there. Also, Obama has weakened the national defenses by canceling a missile-defense agreement in Europe and jacked up spending by more than $1 trillion at home. Sounds pretty much like traditional liberalism.
 
When all is said and done, there’s at least one good reason for conservatives to subscribe to Newsweek: we’d be annoying the magazine’s liberal overseers.
 
“Newsweek, whose circulation was as high as 3.1 million in recent years, plans to cut that to 1.5 million by the beginning of 2010, in part by discouraging renewals,” wrote media critic Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post on May 18. What a great business strategy: encourage half of your customers to go away.
 
If only we could convince the Obama administration to give the same treatment to the so-called stimulus bill, we’d be in business.