Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Republicans can't quit Lott

Update: I hadn't realized that Lott was complaining about this before the WSJ brought him up and Roger already pointed out how ironic this was.

As the recount in Minnesota ramps up, the Republicans are already begin to scream conspiracy!, stolen election! fraud! The smart folks on the right, of course, know this is bullshit, but there are damned few of those people left, as I've been saying for some time.

The funny part is that embedded in the right's "questions must be asked" narrative is a perfect example of the right's growing bench depth problem. From the WSJ:
You'd think Democrats would be content with last week's electoral rout. But judging from the odd doings in Minnesota, some in their party wouldn't mind adding to their jackpot by stealing a Senate seat for left-wing joker Al Franken.

When Minnesotans woke up last Wednesday, Republican Senator Norm Coleman led Mr. Franken by 725 votes. By that evening, he was ahead by only 477. As of yesterday, Mr. Coleman's margin stood at 206. This lopsided bleeding of Republican votes is passing strange considering that the official recount hasn't even begun.


According to conservative statistician John Lott, Mr. Franken's gains so far are 2.5 times the corrections made for Barack Obama in the state, and nearly three times the gains for Democrats across Minnesota Congressional races. Mr. Lott notes that Mr. Franken's "new" votes equal more than all the changes for all the precincts in the entire state for the Presidential, Congressional and statehouse races combined (482 votes).
Aside from the fact that there really wouldn't be any such thing as a "conservative statistician" if reality didn't have a "well-known liberal bias," there are many layers of background here for those who haven't been obsessively following politics for the last eight years.

John Lott is a guy who claimed in his book More Guns, Less Crime to have conducted a study which found that, in 98 percent of cases, guns which were used defensively were merely brandished and not fired. When he was called on these numbers and asked to show his actual research, Lott claimed to have lost it all during a computer crash. In fact, he had no proof whatsoever that it had been conducted. This was too much to swallow even for Michelle Malkin:
Lott claims to have lost all of his data due to a computer crash. He financed the survey himself and kept no financial records. He has forgotten the names of the students who allegedly helped with the survey and who supposedly dialed thousands of survey respondents long-distance from their own dorm rooms using survey software Lott can't identify or produce.

Assuming the survey data was lost in a computer crash, it is still remarkable that Lott could not produce a single, contemporaneous scrap of paper proving the survey's existence, such as the research protocol or survey instrument.
As Lott squirmed and repeatedly changed his story, gun rights advocate and blogger Julian Sanchez wrote it was "long past time for people who care about gun rights to cut this albatross from our necks." (Please see the note below.)

Luckily for Lott, a former student of his named Mary Rosh popped up on the internet to defend him, saying he that "well before he gained national attention, and I have to say that he was the best professor that I ever had." Unfortunately for Lott, it was quickly figured out that Rosh--who claimed to weigh in at 114 pounds and worried about outrunning criminals in her high heels--was, in fact, Lott himself.

Of course, when a man named Michael Bellesiles made up information to support his contention that guns weren't as common during the colonial period as we'd imagined, he was forced to resign from his professorship and to slink away in shame. The right doesn't do shame, of course, so even after his fraud came to light (and he made some kooky claims about the 2000 election), he continued to serve as a "resident scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute and then moving on to a research position at the University of Maryland Foundation, as well as a weekly column at

In April of this year, Lott claimed the media was lying about America's financial difficulties to benefit the Democrats.

Apparently, as long as you put the word "conservative" before your job title and follow the party line, you just can't be wrong enough to be rejected by the right. Such rejection is reserved for those who make the mistake of admitting inconvenient truths.

A note: Nitpicker has repeatedly stated his support for a broad reading of the Second Amendment. This isn't about ideology.


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