All-Sniping Edition!

All-Sniping Edition!

All-Sniping Edition!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
May 26 1998 1:43 AM

All-Sniping Edition!

Smart move by Joe Conason of the New York Observer to counter his defend-Clinton-at-all-times reputation by writing a column that seems to take the scandal about illegal Chinese campaign contributions seriously. ... Too bad, though, that Conason stuck in that defense of Bernard Schwartz, President of Loral Space & Communications, Ltd.. Conason says "Mr. Schwartz's competitors are bemused by his politics but consider 'totally implausible' the notion that he lobbied the White House for favors." This only days before the New York Times reported that Schwartz hunted for national security adviser Sandy Berger at a White House dinner for Tony Blair on February 5, in order to personally lobby Berger for a quick decision approving the launch of a Loral satellite by a Chinese rocket. "Bernard Schwartz intended to raise this issue with you ... but missed you in the crowd," a Loral lobbyist wrote Berger a few days later. ... Then there was that May 1996 letter to Clinton urging that jurisdiction over such satellite decisions be transferred to the more lenient Commerce Department. ... Oh, yes, and that successful 1994 effort by Schwartz to get a seat on Commerce secretary Ron Brown's plane to China, where Schwartz promptly reeled in a $250 million cellular phone deal, much to the chagrin of his competitors at Motorola, who weren't invited on the trip (according to a March 18, 1997 report by John Mintz of the Washington Post). ... Throughout all this, Schwartz claimed, ludicrously, as he does now, that he has never asked for a favor in return for his $1.3 million in donations to the Democrats. ... Does anybody except Conason believe him? ...

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Facts for Hacks!: On April 5, in a Sunday thumbsucker on affirmative action, Steven Holmes of the NYT asserted that "Berkeley turned away 800 black applicants who had 4.0 grade point averages and scored at least 1,200 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test." But, as Prof. Stephan Thernstrom of Harvard has pointed out in an e-mail making the rounds, the 800 figure includes not only blacks but Hispanics and American Indians. Since blacks are only 22 percent of total admissions of these three "underrepresented minorities," they probably constituted about 176 of the 800. ... The Times has yet to correct Holmes' mistake, however--at least no correction has been posted on Lexis-Nexis. ... A few days after Holmes' piece, Times columnist Anthony Lewis recycled the 800 figure, this time correctly stating it included "black and Hispanic applicants with 4.0 grade point averages." (O.K., he left out the American Indians. Sue him.) But even the accurate statistic used by Lewis is fundamentally deceptive. Most people who haven't attended high school for decades (e.g., Chatterbox) think a 4.0 is a perfect straight-A average. Not so! As Thernstrom notes, "a 4.0 average ain't what it used to be, because A's in AP courses count as 5.0." Indeed, the average grade point average for students admitted to UC's less selective UCLA campus--figures for Berkeley apparently being unavailable--was 4.19! ...

Waiting ....still waiting...: Many commentators, such as Peter Beinart, the New Republic's Senior Editor for Wishful Thinking, have been salivating over the prospect that the California GOP will alienate the Latino vote by supporting Proposition 227, a measure that would virtually outlaw bilingual education in the state. They must have been disappointed by the latest Los Angeles Times poll, which showed that the measure retains the support of 62 percent of registered Latino voters, virtually the same as the percentage of whites (64 percent) who support it. ... It's hard to believe support for 227 among Latinos won't drop by election day, but it's getting awfully late. ... One salubrious side-effect of 227's passage will be renewed prominence for Ron K. Unz, the software entrepreneur who has championed the measure. Unz has special appeal for hack headline writers of the Variety school. For example, what would the headline be should Unz declare his candidacy for California governer (he's already sought the office once) in a targeted fundraising letter to German-Americans that shocked the Catholic Church by using sharp pro-choice rhetoric? It would be: UNZ RUNS, DUNS HUNS, STUNS NUNS! ... It practically writes itself!