BREAKING: The pleasurable embellishment rules!

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2018

Goodbye to [most of] this:
We raised this question yesterday, at the end of our post.

Is the highlighted statement true? That was the question we asked:
"The reason I'm being a little snarky is because all this comes just as Nancy Pelosi led her party to an electoral victory that will return them to power in the House with the largest margin victory in the popular vote of any party ever in the midterm election. No party ever in the history of the country has won a midterm election by a larger margin than Pelosi's Democrats just did in the House."
Is the highlighted statement accurate? Setting Pelosi's role to the side, did Democrats just record "the largest margin victory in the popular vote of any party ever in the midterm election?"

(Asking our question a different way, is that second formulation true? Is it true that "no party ever in the history of the country has won a midterm election by a larger margin than the Democrats just did in the House?")

For the record, it doesn't exactly matter if those statements are true. Nothing is ever going to turn on the question raised by those statements.

That said, we'd say that those statements reflect the unfortunate culture of endless tribal embellishment. At best, we'd call those statements bogus. If we live in even a mildly rational world, we'd say that they're simply false.

The culture of casual reflexive embellishment has been with us for a long time. At the time we started this site, it dominated the work of the upper-end mainstream press corps.

Twenty years later, it plays an increasingly significant role in the frequently unimpressive culture of our own liberal/progressive world. It also dominates the culture found over there at Fox.

We don't think this widespread culture is helpful, smart, constructive, respectful or wise. That said, it's utterly pointless to oppose this culture.

Rather plainly, embellishment and novelization are what we rational animals like. That culture won't be going away. We tend to take numbers and stand in line in order to consume it.

On Monday, we're going to flip the focus of this site back in a different direction. But even as we're saying good-bye to [most of] this, we'll show you the times, in modern history, when a party recorded higher victory margins in House midterm elections than the Democrats did this year.

One of our two major parties did so in these midterm elections: 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1986. (That same party came very close in 2006.) Those elections were part of "the history of the country," no matter what you've been told.

(For what it's worth, that same party achieved a higher victory margin in these presidential-year House elections: 1960, 1964 and 2008.)

Pleasing embellishment makes us feel good. It's part of the porridge "cable news" pours down our rational throats.

That said, this form of pleasing embellishment, on the part of the press, sent George W. Bush to the White House in 2000. He proceeded to send the U. S. army to Iraq.

Embellishment can be a deadly disease. But dear lord! How good it can feel!

Like rust, it never sleeps: The desire for tribal pleasure never sleeps. We expect to discuss this recent professional-level stretcher next week, though only in our badly devalued afternoon slot.

Only 49 cents on the dollar! That said, do you see the way the methodology works? Is some sort of actual gain actually lurking in this?

17 comments:

  1. "Nothing is ever going to turn on the question raised by those statements.[...]
    At best, we'd call those statements bogus. If we live in even a mildly rational world, we'd say that they're simply false."

    Thanks Bob. I think your first answer is certainly better than what followed.

    More to the point, by framing it as "victory in the popular vote" your goebbelsian zombie cult leaders are spreading misinformation, implying that the US has a system of proportional representation. Oh well, no surprize there...

    ReplyDelete
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  2. You make a strong claim--that there were larger popular vote majorities in previous elections. but you evidently can cite no numbers to back up your claim. I have no idea whether or not your claim is true. But evidently you don't either.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maddow is talking about the popular vote margin, meaning the difference in the vote total. She is correct in saying that this was the largest such.

    She was not referring to percentage of the total vote, which is what Somerby is talking about when he lists all those other elections. Somerby may feel that that is a more important statistic. Perhaps it is. But he is disingenuously re-defining her words to mean something she did not intend, and criticizing her on that basis. It does not display “tribal embellishment” when it is a statement of fact.

    And no, presidential elections have no bearing on this discussion, so it was utterly pointless to throw that in there “for what it’s worth”, ie nothing.

    Finally, “Nothing is ever going to turn on the question raised by those statements.”

    Nothing except perhaps helping to energize the Democratic Party and their voters to continue to work on retaking the Congress and the Presidency, allowing liberals and progressives to enact their agenda.

    You know, trivial things like that, Mr Somerby, aka Mr True Progressive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "It does not display “tribal embellishment” when it is a statement of fact."

    Sure it does, dembot. Because it's a misleading bullshit factoid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Democrats earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now they intend to spend it.

      Delete
    2. What you typed here, dear dembot, is a word-salad with no meaning.

      In fact, what your zombie cult leader have done in the last couple of years, is establishing the environment of new mccarthyism, censorship, suppression and repression, destroying any possibility of civilized political discourse.

      If that's the 'capital' you want, then sure, go ahead and spend it.

      Delete
    3. You can show us all the way with your “civilized discourse.”

      Delete
    4. Aaah. Poor dembot needs a lecture on civility from the Russian troll. How quaint.

      Delete
  5. There is also this tidbit:

    “The Democratic margin of victory in the house popular vote was 8.4%, the greatest margin for a minority party in a midterm election since the Republican victory in the 1946 elections.”

    In how many of Somerby’s listed elections were Democrats the minority party in the House going into the election? That is another pertinent piece of information.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is common knowledge that numbers actually matter in elections.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rather embarrassingly, some have a fundamental misunderstanding of how citizens are represented in the US government, and how that representation is apportioned. Such a person might peruse the US Constitution - Article I, section 2 - which provides for proportional representation in the US House of Representatives.

    The Senate is geographically based, and gerrymandering has been used to introduce a geographical element to the House as a way of gaming the system. Presidential elections are a mix of geographic and proportional, each state is weighted in the electoral college by population. Polls show that US citizens prefer the presidential election be decided by the popular vote, an effort to achieve this is under way with 11 states already on board with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This effort is prominently led by Rep Jamie Raskin of MD:

    Jamie Raskin talked about sponsoring National Popular Vote legislation

    Pakman National Popular Vote for President


    ReplyDelete
  8. Aristotle called humans "the" rational animal. Marie Antoinette said "qu'ils mangent donc des brioches." Both totally false asasertions.
    For specialists in apocrypha:

    Libération (28 nov.)
    La citation apocryphe de Marie-Antoinette a été reprise par des politiques de tous bords pour montrer la déconnexion d'Emmanuel Macron.

    Question posée par Martin Issou le 24/11/2018

    Bonjour,

    Vous nous posez cette question après qu’une déclaration de François Ruffin, samedi sur LCI, a été moquée sur les réseaux sociaux. Voulant prouver la déconnexion d’Emmanuel Macron, le député insoumis de la Somme déclare pendant le mouvement des gilets jaunes :

    «Macron, c’est Marie-Antoinette au moment de la révolution française. C’est quoi? C’est "vous n’avez pas de pain? Eh bien vous n’avez qu’à acheter de la brioche". Vous n’avez pas de quoi faire le plein de votre voiture ? Eh bien vous n’avez qu’à en acheter une neuve? Vous n’arrivez pas à remplir votre cuve à fioul? Eh bien achetez une nouvelle cuve à fioul».

    La comparaison est percutante, mais historiquement fausse. D’où vient la citation? Des Confessions, de Jean-Jacques Rousseau. L’écrivain du XVIIIe siècle raconte ainsi l’histoire d’une «grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche». Rousseau ne précise pas qui est cette princesse, mais impossible qu’il s’agisse de Marie-Antoinette. D’une part, parce qu’il n’existerait aucun autre écrit de l’époque relatant cette citation de la reine franco-autrichienne. D’autre part, parce que les Confessions ont été publiées à titre posthume à partir de 1782 et racontent la vie de Rousseau jusqu’en… 1765. Or, Marie-Antoinette est arrivée en France pour épouser Louis XVI en 1770.

    Pour sa défense, François Ruffin n’est pas le seul à filer cette métaphore erronée. Sa collègue Danielle Simonnet l’avait sortie deux jours plus tôt:

    Il y a une dizaine de jours, c’est Nicolas Dupont-Aignan qui se faisait reprendre par Quotidien.

    Avant cela, le député Les Républicains des Côtes d'Armor et vice-président de l’Assemblée nationale Marc Le Fur faisait la même erreur:

    En 1980 déjà, un lecteur du Monde corrigeait le quotidien du soir.


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