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|LATEST VICTIM! Richard Cohenthe CIRS latest markhopes youll get mad about race:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2003
TOOL TIME: This morning, Richard Cohen does the honors. The Slacker King recites the 20/12 spin-point late in his Washington Post column:
COHEN: [A]ffirmative action sets one race against another. It elevates racesheer skin colorto an importance it should not have. Under the Michigan system, an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority gets a 20-point bonus even if he or she is the child of a dentist or Wall Street analyst. A perfect scorer on the SAT would get a measly 12 points.
Ironically, Cohens column runs under the following headline: Failed College Math.
Does UMs admission policy elevate race to an importance it should not have? That is a matter of judgment. But Cohen produces a misleading pair of factsand leaves out many others. Readers arent told that, along with those 12 points for SATs, applicants can get 80 points for their GPA, 10 points for attending a rigorous high school, and 8 more points for taking tough courses (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/20/03). Cohen hopes that you will get mad about raceso he tells you the facts that he hopes will enrage you. Whatever the justice of UMs system, this system of rhetoric is quite well-known. Sadly, rhetoric like Cohens has played a key role in our national tragedy, race.
Reading Cohen, one gets the impression that Michigan gives extra points for raceand for nothing else. That, of course, is completely untruebut you wont ever learn it from Cohen. You wont learn that white kids who come from poverty backgrounds can get those 20 bonus points too. You wont learn that applicants can get 16 points if theyre from the Upper Peninsulaan area that is mainly white. And you wont learn that other elements of UMs system also tend to favor whites. For example, 4 points can go to alumni kids, who are predominantly white. Those 10 points for a rigorous high school? Most often, they will go to kids from the burbs or from private schools, who will most often be white. And how about that 12 points for the SATa test for which affluent kids can gain special preparation? Why cant Cohen tell you the truththat whatever we decide about UMs system, it includes provisions that favor whites as well as that 20 for blacks?
Cohen doesnt explain how the UM plan works. But then again, this is Richard Cohenso he may not know his subject. As weve told you in the recent past, Cohen is one of the corps greatest slackers. Signs within this mornings piece suggest that his sloth is at work once again.
Where does Cohen get his facts? His column starts with a silly deductionand with a quote from the current Newsweek:
COHEN: In its Jan. 27 cover story on affirmative action, Newsweek tells us that less than 7 percent of Harvards current freshman class is black, compared with 12.9 percent of the overall population. The implication is clear: This is a low, unacceptable figure that can be remedied only by the application of affirmative action.
Race-men will cheer Cohens weird deductionthat Newsweek, by stating elementary facts, has forced a clear implication upon us. But how hard has Cohen worked to master his subject? As we work our way through his piece, it seems that Newsweek may be all he has read. In paragraph 5, he again cites the Newsweek piece; in paragraph 6, he quotes a former UM president (the quote was also in Newsweek, he says). In fact, Cohen gives no sign of having read anything but the Newsweek piecewhich may explain why he seems to know so little about UMs plan. (The weird deductions that litter the piece are, of course his and his only.)
But then, Cohen has long been a slacker (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/24/02). In November 1999, he based a ranting column on a quote by Naomi Wolfa quote which had never appeared in print, except in an old, mistaken Esquire which someone apparently gave him. In August 2000, he spent a column attacking Joe Lieberman for a phantom quotefor a statement which had actually been made by Liebermans opponent, George Bush! As Michael Kelly has long made clear, phoning in an op-ed piece is pretty much par for the course at the Post. But here is Cohen, at it againclipping facts from a Newsweek piece and showing little sign of knowing how the UM plan actually works.
In this case, Cohens sloth may have made him a mark. Like a string of Slacker Pundits before him, he repeats the misleading 20/12 spina spin-point devised by the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative Scaife organization (see below). In doing so, he becomes a tool of conservative spin. Of course, the press corps slackers may not even know whose spin it is that theyre actually mouthing. Comically, Cohen is quite upset at that UM ex-prez. Again, we emit mordant chuckles:
COHEN: The universitys former president Lee C. Bollinger writes (again in Newsweek) that he knew when he went to Michigan in 1997 that affirmative action in higher education was under siege from the righta sweeping characterization that must include me and the two-thirds of Americans who oppose such programs.
Sorry, Richardthat does include you. When you recite bogus spin from the latest Scaife org, yes, youre a part of the right.
Tomorrow, well continue to look at UMs admission plan. Does the system have merit? Thats a matter of judgment. But Cohens latest slacker performance is nothing more than failed college math. Has Michigan really given in to low standards? Were not surebut low standards prevail when the slacker Cohen gets paid his big bucks by the Post.
CENTRAL FUNDING: Theres nothing wrong with repeating some orgs talking-pointunless the point is misleading. And the 20/12 spin-point is grossly misleading, as Jim Pinkerton helped us to see (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/20/03). That spin-point came from the CIRand the CIR is funded by Scaife. This morning, Cohen does act as a tool of the right. To check out the funding, click here.
TOMORROW: Bush says quota/quota/quota. Thursday: Kaus was right.
The Daily update:
(DONT) TAX THE RICH: If John Tierneys report in the Times is on target, Tarek Zahow is the guy Bush is after. Tierney asked voters in a tony suburb what they thought about estate taxes. Most people opposed repeal. But Zahow thought repeal was quite fair:
TIERNEY: The closest encouraging word for the Bush plan came [from] an Egyptian immigrant, Tarek Zahow, who commutes to his 70-hour-a-week job from a much less upscale neighborhood 15 miles out of town. Of course Im for tax cuts, Mr. Zahow said. He said he supported the White Houses proposal, even though he realized the affluent would receive most of the money, and favored eliminating the estate tax even if it applied only to millionaires.
Charge everyone the same, Zahow said. But thats what estate tax repeal makes impossible. Just think how the system will work if the estate tax is killed. If the estate tax is repealed, Zahowand other working peoplewill have to pay tax on the money they work for. Meanwhile, children of the very wealthy will pay nothing on the money theyre given. What kind of values would that reflect? What kind of system taxes policemen, nurses, teachers and welders, but gives lucky kids of the wealthy free rides? After all, for children of the very wealthy, inheritance is a form of income. Why should income from labor be taxed, but this income show up free of charge?
Im nowhere near a million in assets, but I might be someday, he said. I dont think its fair to have a tax for just a few people. Charge everyone the same.
Charge everyone the same, Zahow said. Duh! Thats why we support an estate tax.