Saturday, May 12, 2007

'Far better reporting'

I dunno about you, but I was really taken with Lou Dobbs' defense of the bogus leprosy numbers he has been broadcasting -- besides just the charming combination of self-absorbed cluelessness and sheer arrogance, there was this:
"And the fact that it [the number of leprosy cases] rose was because -- one assumes, because we don't know for sure -- but two basic influences: unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country primarily from South Asia, and secondly, far better reporting."

Now, Dobbs is obviously trying to suggest that a sudden improvement in medical reporting of these cases will transform the 296 actual cases of leprosy on record at the Center for Disease Control over the most recent three-year period on record into some 7,000 cases. This would be a remarkable feat indeed, especially considering that there is no particular reason that medical reporting on leprosy or immigrant diseases in general would be significantly improved in recent years, particularly not by a factor of 200.

But then, in the defense he later erected on CNN, it became clear that he and Christine Romans, the reporter upon whom he depends for this information, have one single source for their claim: the late Madeleine Cosman. That's right: someone whose figures for the questionable (and non-peer-reviewed) journal article that Dobbs and Romans cite appear to have been made out of whole cloth, considering the scope of the actual statistics.

It's not enough to call Cosman a nutcase, though clearly that particular shoe fits like Cinderella's slipper. It's helpful, perhaps, to sample a full dose of the paranoiac fantasizing of which she was capable. Here's a sound bite from one of Cosman's speeches, this one on the sexual proclivities of male Mexican immigrants:

A transcript:
Recognize that most of these bastards molest girls under age 12, some as young as age 5, others age 3, although of course some specialize in boys, some specialize in nuns, some are exceedingly versatile, and rape little girls age 11, and women up to age 79. What is important here is the psychiatric defenses. Why do they do what they do? [Mockingly] They do not need a jail, they need a hospital. They are depraved because they were deprived in their home country. But more important is the cultural defense: they suffer from psychiatric cognitive disjuncture, for what does a poor man do if in his home country of Mexico, in his jurisdiction, if rape is ranked lower than cow-stealing? Of course he will not know how to behave here in strange America. This is thoroughly reprehensible.

This is the woman who is not just the primary but apparently the sole source of Dobbs' claim. Whatever "better reporting" she found appears to have been cooked up by her attempts to wade into medical statistics -- something inadvisable for PhD. in English.

In any event, it's hard to get across the full flavor of this rant without listening to it. Because there's something oddly ... familiar about all this.

The grotesque distortion. The obscene fantasization. The sneering mockery of the straw-man liberal she creates and immolates. The brittle, twitchy delivery. Where have we seen that before?

But of course:

We recall that Ann also enjoys a special place in the heart of Lou Dobbs and Christine Romans, who have similarly helped broadcast Ann's afactual fantasies.

Must be that "far better reporting."

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