Pat at Stubborn Facts learns a bit about how some contemporary academics respond to criticism:
As with the inital paper, the opening paragraph (initially written as a letter to the Philidelphia Inquirer responding to the Smerconish article) includes a massive, gratuitous, ad hominem swipe at all conservatives:
Mr. Smerconish chose to swift-boat us and our research in the tradition of the attacks made on Senator Kerry and Congressman Murtha’s war records in 2004, not to mention Rush Limbaugh’s ridiculing Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson tremors.
That's pretty funny - a shorter defense would be Bush Lied, People Died, so this paper is right!
Our involvement in this dust-up began when I provided a guest Insta-link last week, and Pat has done yeoman work debunking this dubious study since then.
However, although it is junk social science, it is partisan junk social science, so it will surely retain its audience. And we thank Paul Krugman, who popularized it with his mention in a column last week.
MORE: Let's have some more background: The Political Profiling of Elected Democratic Officials: When Rhetorical Vision Participation Runs Amok by Donald C. Shields and John F. Cragan is here.
Krugman wrote this:
Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.
How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: “We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest.”
Other commenters have expressed an alternative belief - Federal prosecutors are based in the bigger cities, and Democrats tend to control the bigger sities. So, just thinking out loud here, if a Federal prosecutor takes up a case close to home, it will more probably involve a Democrat.
Well - the authors have no data for the Clinton years or earlier, so any "explanation" is speculation.
YET MORE: On the subject of junk social science - the preliminary results of this "study" are presented at E Pluribus Media, on on-line venture founded two years ago by some Daily Kos readers energized by the Jeff Gannon debacle (an oldy but goody with more than you could want to know about Gannon here. Gosh, that was fun, though.)
OK, so it is a lefty agit-prop site, fine. Please don't pass it off as a site for serious academic research.
And a Point to Ponder - those links from Kos really give the E Pluribus "research" a Google boost. Right now when I Google on "Donald C. Shields and John F. Cragan", the Stubborn Facts rebuttal is on page 2.
And this search - "shields cragan department of justice" - currently has the rebuttal on page 2.