Norm Coleman and his GOP stooges and fellow travelers at FOX and other media outlets knew full well that they couldn’t stop the recount. So they’re trying to lob false smears against it in order to undermine Al Franken’s victory should he win (which got to be a lot more likely as Coleman’s alleged lead shrank during the recanvassing) . How desperate are they to smear the recount? Joe Conason points out in Salon that they’ve brought in John Lott to spin the numbers for them. Yes, folks, that John Lott — or "Mary Rosh", as he used to call himself when defending his discredited stats on guns. (He even used the "Mary Rosh" sockpuppet persona to write a glowing Amazon review of his own book More Guns, Less Crime.)

Meanwhile, in an e-mail message last week, Minnesota’s Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, points to a few newspaper pieces he thought we should read as his office gears up to do the legally-mandated hand recount of the votes cast in the Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken. There’s this StarTribune editorial, which states the following: "Despite a fog of innuendo and misinformation [by Norm Coleman's campaign and its allies], every preliminary step taken to date by this state’s election administrators appears sound. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie deserves a nod of confidence from this state as the recount begins." Plus, a writer for the Bemidji, Minnesota Pioneer examines the case of an elderly woman whose absentee ballot was rejected. Finally, Ritchie cites this excellent MinnPost article debunking Coleman campaign lawyer Fritz Knaak’s "car trunk ballots" smear.

Once you’ve all digested those pieces, head on over to The Uptake to see this story about how Coleman’s already-gossamer-thin lead of 700-odd votes has shrunk to 204 votes. By the way: The Uptake notes that Common Cause will be "babysitting the recount" to watch for hanky-panky on anyone’s part. They’ve also provided the video of the November 12th Mark Ritchie press conference that graces this post.