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Heading Right for Disaster

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So Friday, the LA Times fired both leftie Bob Scheer and neocon Michael Ramirez. And if that were the end of the matter, we'd say, "carry on." It's our humble opinion that both of these men are partisan propagandists. Both are lazy thinkers, comfortably entrenched, parroting their respective party lines. Scheer's column seems to mostly write itself, rarely reaching any unexpected conclusions. For all that we often agree with him, he's an extremely sanctimonious man, who somewhat hypocritically carved out a comfy niche as a token thorn in the side of his corporate overlords. Ramirez, for his part, can be counted on to do nothing more dangerous than doodle out yesterday's Fox News talking points without trace of imagination or wit. Both men have made careers out of preaching to the choir.

But the Times didn't shitcan Scheer and Ramirez to make room for fresh, thoughtful or dissenting voices. The paper's announcement on the subject offers up no coherent explanations; only utterly empty platitudes. It doesn't even appear to refute Scheer's stated hypothesis that the Times seeks to fashion itself "blander and safer."

While we can't really get behind Scheer as a dangerous martyr, when he was quoted, he might not have known that his replacement would be Jonah Goldberg, proto-fascist editor of the National Review. In a single swoop, the Times has replaced one of the Iraq War's most deafly adamant critics with one if its most blindly ardent supporters. Goldberg is the archetypal conservative spin-master who -- at least until the Miers nomination -- never deviated from lock-step with the Bush cabal. If the Times had wanted to choose someone more out of tune with the political mood in Los Angeles, it's hard to think who that would have been. At any rate, we believe they've missed a genuine opportunity to enliven their pages with free-thinking, nonpartisan voices who could reflect the disillusionment many Angelenos currently feel with both political parties.

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The choice to take out Ramirez seems to have been an economic one. With business faltering largely as a result of new media, several papers have recently cut editorial cartoons to save space. The move against Scheer, however, can only be viewed as blatantly political.

We wonder how the Times could be so far off the mark as to think that Goldberg might better speak to the average Angeleno. This, after all, is a man who craves nothing more than an excuse to attack the Hollywood elite. Assuming that placating the readership was the Times' intent in the first place, we'd like to offer a speculative insight into Scheer's dismissal, and why the paper might have been led to believe it would suit the readership. Take it for what it's worth: A visible portion of Scheer's fellow Jews absolutely despise the man, writing the paper vociferously and profusely in objection to his column, and generally making their voices loudly heard. Their vitriol for him runs far deeper than it would toward any non-Jew of his stripe, while their own positions are virtually identical to Goldberg's. They pronounce Scheer a "self-hating Jew," without realizing that it's always been the dissidents and peaceniks -- not the gunslingers -- who've saved our people from total annihilation, precisely insofar as they temper the steel of the religion's core by submitting it to the unassailable logic of compromise and assimilation. It's not going too far to say that the argument between Diaspora and Zionist thinking is one that's driven world politics since Zechariah returned from Babylon. And in Jewish politics, it's usually the liberals who wind up hung on a cross.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg the Times is up against. The newspaper as a format is archaic. Circulation is sinking inexorably. Do they really think throwing liberals off the deck is gonna keep the ship afloat?