Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Brief Foray into The L.A. Times Opinion Section

When I have a few extra moments on a Sunday (which is not often) I like to see if the print edition of the L.A. Times has published anything unexpected in the Sunday opinion section. That section is now called "Current." This is ironic; the notion of new wine in old bottles comes to mind. Or maybe it's the same old wine in a new bottle?

Snarky comments like that aside, I did find some pleasant surprises today. (Hugh Hewitt noticed them too.)

Starting with the unsurprising stuff, today the first page of Current was devoted to an utterly predictable three-editorial broadside on the Bush administration's foreign policy called "Axis of Evil Revisited." Each of the three op-ed pieces attacks Bush's record on North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. In the on-line edition the three pieces are not featured together on the same page, but you get the idea.

But page 2 improves somewhat. True, there is a predictable selection of three editorial cartoons (two of them harshly critical of Condoleeza Rice and President Bush, but that probably constitutes balance in the minds of Times editors). Then, alongside those cartoons, Dennis Prager has a nice piece called Religious zealots, arranged right to left. The provocative first paragraph:

AMERICANS CONSTANTLY hear and read about the dangers emanating from the religious right. But what about the dangers from the religious left? Ever hear about those dangers? In fact, do you ever hear about a religious left at all?
It's a good read.

Joel Kotkin also offers a "Modest Proposal" for the new mayor of L.A., Antonio Villaraigosa, who, despite failing the California bar exam more than once, still found work after law school as a labor union organizer. Now, years late, as an elected official His Honor apparently is still very fond of unions and eager to please them:

Villaraigosa signed off on a deal with Department of Water and Power workers that no sane private executive would ever agree to — five years of annual wage increases of 3.25% plus a cost-of-living clause. Now all the other city unions, starting with the 8,000-member Engineers and Architects Assn., are demanding the same sweet deal.
Man, it must be great to an L.A. City employee-- at least until the city faces the same bloated compensation and benefits obligations that General Motors is now trying to cope with. It's depressing for me to contemplate, as one who plans to live and work in L.A. for at least another 15 years, the impact that decisions like this will soon have on life in this town. Maybe I can move somewhere outside the city limits and just drive a little farther to work.

An Outside the Tent piece by Catherine Seipp makes great fun of the Times' recent pathetic effort to chronicle the blogosphere. The degree to which those folks are clueless about blogs is nothing if not morbidly fascinating. Read it; you'll be amazed.

Now for the money piece: This on-line poll gives some insight into who actually reads the Times on-line opinion section:

Which political party is more apt to run the country, Democrats or Republicans?
Democrats, Republicans have proven themselves to be corrupt
(1824 responses)
Republicans, Democrats are not unified and lack a cohesive vision
(410 responses)
Neither, Where is a viable third party when you need it?
(861 responses)
3095 total responses
Hey, if that's the makeup of the Times audience, I can see why the paper slants its opinion pages in that direction. Maybe it's time for a new L.A. Times advertising slogan:

The L.A. Times - The Left-of-Center Echo Chamber of The West!

Then again, if the Times keeps putting stuff like the articles above in the paper, maybe the readership will balance out a little. At least center-right thinkers would find a reason to start reading the thing.


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