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'Attitude shift': How covert teams of female US and Afghan soldiers opened the door for women in combat

A former special operations soldier shared how a 20-woman inaugural combat team and their female Afghan counterparts' paved the future for military women.
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Italian rescuers search for missing in island landslide
Rescuers dug through mud for a second dayin the search for people believed lost in landslide
When an online shopping money-saving scheme is tax evasion
People who find ways to avoid paying sales or use tax on online purchase are engaging in tax evasion. But the laws can be difficult to enforce.
General Hospital: Planning a new life for a mothballed L.A. landmark
After standing mostly vacant for the last 14 years, the iconic General Hospital is nearing a reincarnation as affordable and homeless housing.
'We'll end up on the streets': L.A. caregivers for elderly, disabled push for higher pay
The In-Home Supportive Services program pays assistants to help people who are elderly or disabled stay safely in their own homes. In Los Angeles County, IHSS caregivers make $16 an hour.
Column: What $104 million could buy, instead of a failed mayoral run
Rick Caruso spent more than $104 million on his failed mayoral run, a record in American politics. How big is that number? We count the many ways
Editorial: We have a rare opportunity to fix City Hall. This is how
Most City Hall reforms must go to voters. But which reforms should Los Angeles voters consider, and when?
Take a tour of drag icon Alaska's fave L.A. gay bars — drag brunch too
When 'Drag Race All Stars' winner Alaska isn't performing in Los Angeles, she'd spend an ideal Sunday at drag brunch, Akbar, Precinct and Hamburger Mary's.
Fed up with the ocean's plastic problems, UC Irvine post-grads open zero-waste market
To combat the rising tide of plastic proliferation, Chris McGuire and Jessica Walden branched out from the laboratory into the marketplace with Amis de la Terre, a plastic-free grocery store in Costa Mesa.
Football Is at War With the Nerds
An analytics revolution comes for every sport sooner or later. MLB had Moneyball in the early 2000s and has moved well beyond it in the years since. The NBA has used efficiency to all but kill the mid-range jump shot. Soccer has seen an influx of countless new ways to measure passes and scoring chances down to the finest detail.The NFL’s change became most evident in 2018. Computer models that looked at thousands of games found an inefficiency: Coaches were being too conservative on fourth down, when teams can either punt the ball away or go for an all-or-nothing conversion. That year, they got a little bit braver, attempting fourth-down conversions on 15 percent of their chances, up from 12 percent in the preceding few years. The quants, it seems, won the battle for football’s decision-making soul. In accord with various metrics, NFL teams now pass the ball more now than before; going into the current season, every NFL front office had at least one staffer, and often many more, primarily doing analytics work.But somewhere along the way, football ended up with an analytics backlash. Across social media and on TV, fans and broadcasters are constantly pillorying the nerds. Last season, after the Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh came up empty on a late two-point conversion to seal a loss, a crew of CBS commentators took turns hitting him like a piñata. “They’ll show you a spreadsheet and say, ‘This is why I made that decision,’” said Nate Burleson, one talking head and former player. Another, the Super Bowl–winning coach Bill Cowher, was blunter: “Paralysis by analysis. We overanalyze things. It’s not that hard.” You can find similar analytics hatred in the college game. After Texas Tech University faltered on a fourth down earlier this month, the Fox play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson said, “Analytics! Throw ’em in the garbage!”[Read: What Moneyball-for-everything has done to American culture]Such is the crossroads where the sport exists in 2022. On the one hand, analytics have helped countless champions, and have made football, America’s foremost entertainment product, even more entertaining. On the other hand, the fancy stats are tearing football’s commentariat apart, and even inviting scorn from coaches who have spent their careers doing whatever it takes to win. The very concept of analytics has become a football bogeyman that no one saw coming. Maybe we should’ve.In theory, sports are the ideal place for intense number crunching. The stock market and the weather are naturally numeric, but “we’re the only place where you have a scoreboard,” Alex Auerbach, a sports psychologist for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, told me. “Sports already quantifies the most extreme way of benchmarking where people are,” he said.The simple box score has been around forever, but even for casual football fans, advanced analytics are now unavoidable: Amazon Prime Video, the new rights holder for Thursday Night Football, runs a stats-y simulcast to its main broadcast every week. Player grades from the statistics-and-evaluation empire Pro Football Focus appear regularly on Sunday Night Football. Move into the depths of the football internet, and you’ll run into an alphabet soup of stats: expected points added (EPA) per play, completion percentage over expectation (CPOE), and DVOA (which nobody even knows by its full name). It is a Sunday ritual to see real-time, robotic evaluations of fourth-down and two-point decisions.Some football fans adore these innovations. Others very much do not. On Twitter, a fourth-down robot’s assessment of a decision often leads to responses such as this one from last week: “I don’t want to see this type of ridiculous stat anymore.” Some football media, especially on TV, take a similar approach. “It’s still reflexively negative, like, ‘The nerds don’t really know what they’re talking about,’” Bill Connelly, an ESPN writer who covers sports through an analytics lens, told me. “The end.’” Analytics has become a catchall pejorative applied to any bold, unconventional decision a coach might make—especially one that fails. What happens, absolutely, is that “when people do a quote-unquote aggressive move, it is often ascribed as an analytics play even if the numbers do not say so,” Seth Walder, an ESPN analytics writer, told me. (Ironically enough, projection models shrugged their shoulders at the Ravens’ much-derided two-point try, seeing it as a toss-up.)Plenty of coaches also recoil at how analytics have encroached on football. Consider the two most accomplished coaches of this generation: The University of Alabama’s Nick Saban and the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick, who have seven national titles and six Super Bowl wins respectively. Saban has said he is “not an analytics guy” and described the job of a quant analyst as “some guy who hasn’t played football ever and he sits at a computer and he puts a bunch of stuff into a computer.” Belichick, meanwhile, once said about analytics, “I don’t care what they say.” Both coaches employ analytics staffers, however. Saban is famous for employing a small army of coaches whose job title is literally “analyst.” So, what gives?[Read: America ruined college football. Now college football is ruining America.]Maybe this is all simple. Becoming an elite athlete, or a coach of elite athletes, requires a lifetime of work that goes well beyond figuring out the wisest analysis of data. The NFL’s precise motion tracking of players, often illustrated in moving dots, does not know the play call or a million other subtleties, and in turn, neither does all of the data derived from it. “If I want to know how to cook a beef bourguignon, I’m not going to ask Einstein,” Hugo Mercier, a cognitive scientist at the Institut Jean Nicod, in Paris, told me. “People have their areas of expertise. And even if people might be able to tell you that the MIT crowd is smarter on the whole than [an MLB] scout, they would still think that the scout knows more about baseball.”For us fans, perhaps the whole contradiction comes down to the idea that numbers can be what Mercier calls “a black box.” Consider a computer that spits out the difference in pre-play win probability if a coach decides to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down. Humans are geared to trust information sources that we can argue with, Mercier told me. There is no arguing, not really, with a fourth-down model.I am a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a normally solid team that currently has one of the worst records in the league. Before the season started, my more optimistic brethren had difficulty accepting that bad times were coming, even as various statistical analyses suggested an impending crash. “If you see someone on TV and they talk at great length about how the Steelers are not doing great this year, and for this and this reason, things are going to go bad, they might convince you,” Mercier told me. “But if you just see a statistical analysis that doesn’t explain its reasons, I don’t think it’s going to convince many people.”In a sense, sports analytics are stuck on a hamster wheel. Many who have played and coached the game harbor natural skepticism about them, which comes out when they’re asked questions about analytics or talk about stats in their post-career media roles. Then the backlash filters into the public discourse and reinforces itself over and over again before regular audiences of millions. We value what athletes and coaches say about sports, the same way we trust what doctors say about medicine or chefs about cooking.But perhaps the simplest reason for all of this resistance to analytics, in locker rooms and TV studios and everywhere else that football is played and watched, is simply that America has analytics fatigue. Escaping the algorithmic world that inundates us with an endless stream of information is impossible. I rely on a fitness watch that tells me exactly how long I slept and how hard my heart pumped for every minute of the day, then gives me advice on how intensely to exercise the next day. TikTok users can’t escape an opaque algorithm that queues up an endless scroll of videos. Political observers everywhere rely on a computer model that simulates an election and lets them track probabilities for months, or for a few hectic hours via a moving needle. Numbers are both the background noise to our daily lives and the battleground for so many of our societal fights.But sports, after all, are supposed to be a form of escapism to take us out of these troubles. What we really want, up to a point, is to argue. In that sense, analytics should be a godsend. They’re an extra weapon in any fan’s crusade to talk about their own teams or their rivals. But the cardinal sin that sports analytics commit against our brains is to make arguments that are hard to counter on their face. I might tell my friend that their team’s quarterback has an inaccurate arm, and they might respond that, in fact, the QB’s aim mimics a precision missile. But if I then counter that the QB’s motion-camera-generated completion percentage over expectation is well below the NFL average, then what is left for my sparring partner to say, other than that the stat itself is junk? Where is the fun in that?There is, of course, a way for an advanced stat to find approval with someone who believes they are skeptical about such things: It supports your argument. The analytics backlash “is kind of the same thing every year, but at least the teams change,” Connelly said. “The fan bases change that are yelling at me, because it really just comes down to: ‘If the numbers say what I want them to say, they’re good. And if they don’t, they’re ridiculous.’”
Help! My Sister-in-Law Wants Her Dead Daughter’s Ashes Carried Down the Aisle at My Wedding.
I don't want to be a bridezilla, but I'd much rather she carry a bouquet.
A Trump judge seized control of ICE, and the Supreme Court will decide whether to stop him
Armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents execute a raid on an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, on October 4. | Tom Brenner/Washington Post/Getty Images Judge Drew Tipton’s order in United States v. Texas is completely lawless. Thus far, the Supreme Court has given him a pass. In July, a Trump appointee to a federal court in Texas effectively seized control of parts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency that enforces immigration laws within US borders. Although Judge Drew Tipton’s opinion in United States v. Texas contains a simply astonishing array of legal and factual errors, the Supreme Court has thus far tolerated Tipton’s overreach and permitted his order to remain in effect. Nearly five months later, the Supreme Court will give the Texas case a full hearing on Tuesday. And there’s a good chance that even this Court, where Republican appointees control two-thirds of the seats, will reverse Tipton’s decision — his opinion is that bad. The case involves a memo that Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas issued in September 2021, instructing ICE agents to prioritize undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security and thus threaten America’s well-being” when making arrests or otherwise enforcing immigration law. A federal statute explicitly states that the homeland security secretary “shall be responsible” for “establishing national immigration enforcement policies and priorities,” and the department issued similar memos setting enforcement priorities in 2005, 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2017. Nevertheless, the Republican attorneys general of Texas and Louisiana asked Tipton to invalidate Mayorkas’s memo. And Tipton defied the statute permitting Mayorkas to set enforcement priorities — and a whole host of other, well-established legal principles — and declared Mayorkas’s enforcement priorities invalid. This is not the first time that Tipton relied on highly dubious legal reasoning to sabotage the Biden administration’s immigration policies. In July, shortly after Tipton handed down his decision, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to halt Tipton’s order while this case was still pending, but the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny that request — with conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett crossing over to vote with the Court’s three liberal justices. That means that, even if the Court does ultimately reject Tipton’s reasoning, his erroneous order will have been in effect for months by the time the Supreme Court strikes it down. And for that entire time, Mayorkas will have been prevented from exercising his statutory authority over ICE. Tipton’s opinion is an embarrassment As a threshold matter, it’s important to understand why Mayorkas must have authority to set enforcement priorities for ICE. As the Justice Department explained in a 2014 memo, “there are approximately 11.3 million undocumented aliens in the country,” but Congress has only appropriated enough resources to “remove fewer than 400,000 such aliens each year.” So it is literally impossible for ICE to arrest or otherwise bring enforcement actions against every undocumented immigrant in the country. Priorities must be set. The Supreme Court has long acknowledged that law enforcement, by its very nature, requires police and similar officials to make decisions about which arrests to make, which enforcement actions to bring, and how to allocate the limited number of officers employed by an agency. And it has warned courts not to interfere with these kinds of decisions, especially when law enforcement decides not to target someone for arrest or enforcement. As the Court held in Heckler v. Chaney (1985), “an agency’s decision not to prosecute or enforce, whether through civil or criminal process, is a decision generally committed to an agency’s absolute discretion.” This principle, the Court added, “is attributable in no small part to the general unsuitability for judicial review of agency decisions to refuse enforcement.” So if the leaders of a law enforcement agency decide that a particular class of people are not a high priority for enforcement, even if those individuals have violated federal law, Heckler says that judges like Drew Tipton should generally stay the heck away from that decision. This general rule, that law enforcement agencies, not judges, should decide their own enforcement priorities, is known as “prosecutorial discretion,” and it is one of the fundaments of how police and prosecutors operate at all levels of the government. Here’s a fairly banal example of how prosecutorial discretion works: Suppose that there are a rash of home break-ins in Washington, DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. Police precinct commanders, the city’s police chief, or even the city’s mayor may respond to this development by ordering DC cops to spend more time patrolling Columbia Heights — even though that means that crimes in other neighborhoods might go uninvestigated or unsolved. Similarly, if you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation, then let off with a warning, you have benefited from prosecutorial discretion. It would be nonsensical for judges to monitor every decision made by every law enforcement officer and their commanders about when to make an arrest or bring an enforcement action. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly warned judges against doing so. This general rule is especially strong in the immigration context. The Supreme Court has said that “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.” Even after the federal government decides to bring a removal proceeding against a particular immigrant, the Court said in Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (1999), that the government “has discretion to abandon the endeavor.” And it may do so for any number of reasons, including “humanitarian reasons or simply for its own convenience.” Indeed, the Supreme Court has held that law enforcement’s discretion to decide not to target certain individuals is so “deep-rooted” that it can overcome a legislative command stating that law enforcement officers “shall arrest” a particular class of persons. This principle dates at least as far back as the Court’s decision in Railroad Company v. Hecht (1877), which held that “as against the government, the word ‘shall,’ when used in statutes, is to be construed as ‘may,’ unless a contrary intention is manifest.” Which brings us to Tipton’s primary argument in ruling with the plaintiffs against the ICE enforcement guidelines. He relies on two federal statutes, one of which says that the government “shall take into custody” immigrants who’ve committed certain offenses, and another saying that the government “shall remove” immigrants within 90 days after an immigration proceeding orders them removed. To someone unfamiliar with the Court’s decisions in Heckler, Reno, Railroad Company, and numerous other precedents counseling judges not to interfere with non-enforcement decisions, Tipton’s statutory argument might have an air of plausibility. But, of course, judges are expected to actually familiarize themselves with controlling Supreme Court precedents before they hand down a decision — including the ones saying that the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion overcomes statutes with seemingly mandatory language. Also, even presuming that the Supreme Court’s precedents can be ignored and that Tipton is bound only by the text of the two statutes he relies upon, his decision is still wrong. The first statute provides that “no court may set aside any action or decision ... regarding the detention or release of any alien or the grant, revocation, or denial of bond or parole.” And the second provides that “nothing in this section shall be construed to create any substantive or procedural right or benefit that is legally enforceable by any party against the United States or its agencies or officers or any other person.” Both Congress and the Supreme Court, in other words, told Tipton not to interfere with Secretary Mayorkas’s decisions regarding law enforcement priorities. But Tipton didn’t care. There also are numerous other problems with Tipton’s opinion, some of which are so glaring that they suggest he’s operating in bad faith. Tipton claims, for example, that Mayorkas was required to complete a time-consuming process known as “notice and comment” before he could set new priorities for ICE. But federal law exempts “general statements of policy” from notice and comment. And, in Lincoln v. Vigil(1993), the Supreme Court held that these “general statements of policy” include “‘statements issued by an agency to advise the public prospectively of the manner in which the agency proposes to exercise a discretionary power’“ — such as the Department of Homeland Security’s discretionary authority over enforcement decisions. Similarly, Tipton faulted Mayorkas’s memo because it supposedly failed to consider “the costs its decision imposes on the States.” But a 21-page document accompanying Mayorkas’s memo includes a subsection titled “Impact on States.” That subsection concludes that “none of the asserted negative effects on States — either in the form of costs or the form of undermining reliance interests” — undercut the benefits of Mayorkas’s enforcement priorities. I could go on — and if you care to take a deeper dive into the many faults with Tipton’s reasoning, I’ll point out that the Justice Department’s brief in the Texas case also makes several strong arguments that Texas and Louisiana, the plaintiffs in this case, aren’t even allowed to file this lawsuit in the first place. But, honestly, listing all of the many errors in Tipton’s omnishambles of an opinion would require me to go on at such length, I fear my readers would lose interest. So I will do all of you the service of stopping here. It’s not a coincidence that this case was assigned to Drew Tipton According to an amicus brief filed by University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, the state of Texas has filed 20 lawsuits in Texas federal courts against the Biden administration. All but one of those cases are overseen by judges appointed by a Republican president. As Vladeck explains, this did not happen by coincidence. Rather, “Texas has intentionally filed its cases in a manner designed to all-but foreclose having to appear before judges appointed during Democratic presidencies.” The federal court system includes 94 different district courts, trial courts that each preside over a geographic region. Texas, for example, is divided into four districts — the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas. These four district courts, meanwhile, are chopped up into “divisions,” often named after the city or town where a federal courthouse is located. Tipton, for example, sits in the Victoria Division of the Southern District of Texas. Under a case assignment order handed down by the Southern District of Texas, virtually all civil cases filed in the Victoria Division are automatically assigned to Tipton. Thus, as Vladeck writes, “by filing this case in Victoria, Texas was able to select not just the location for its lawsuit, but the specific federal judge who would decide this case: a judge Texas likely believed would” rule against the Biden administration—“and who in fact did so, even as another court has rejected similar challenges.” The Supreme Court has thus far been very indulgent of this behavior, at least when it benefits Republicans. In 2021, for example, Texas chose Trump-appointed Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to hear a lawsuit seeking to reinstate a Trump-era border policy known as “Remain in Mexico.” Kacsmaryk predictably did Texas’s bidding, and ordered the Biden administration to reinstate Texas Republicans’ preferred policy. Although the Supreme Court eventually reversed Kacsmaryk’s decision, which was as inconsistent with existing law as is Tipton’s decision in Texas, the Court sat on the case for nearly an entire year — effectively letting Kacsmaryk set the nation’s border policy for this entire waiting period. Now the Court appears likely to repeat this pattern in Tipton’s case. In case there is any doubt, this is not how the Supreme Court behaved when Trump was in office. During the Trump administration, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority was so quick to intervene when a lower court judge blocked one of Trump’s policies that Justice Sonia Sotomayor complained that her colleagues were “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the Trump administration. Even when the law offers no support for the GOP’s preferred policies, in other words, the Court permits Republicans to manipulate judicial procedures in order to get the results they want. The Texas attorney general’s office can handpick judges who they know will strike down Biden administration policies, and once those policies are declared invalid, the Supreme Court will play along with these partisan judges’ decisions for at least a year or so.
College football Week 13 report card: Cincinnati, Clemson home streaks come crashing down
For Cincinnati and Clemson, home did them no favors in trying to drive momentum into New Year's Six or a College Football Playoff berth.
Can I stop my co-worker from talking about politics?
What to do about a worker whose colleague loudly discusses politics in the office and is it illegal for an employer to ask a prospective employee about their pay history.
Shop the best Amazon Cyber Monday deals of 2022: Apparel, tech, more
All the *prime* finds, in one place.
Misery Index Week 13: Ryan Day's position feels tenuous after Ohio State's loss to Michigan
It's not just the losses by Ryan Day's Ohio State. It's the nature of them. Michigan has been the more physical, and better coached team.
Russian artillery rains down across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms
Russian shelling has hit several areas in eastern and southern Ukraine overnight as utility crews continued efforts to restore power, water and heat.
Cholera and Crime
Haiti is in the midst of a humanitarian disaster.
USC set for revenge showdown with Utah: Takeaways from the Trojans' win over the Irish
After USC quarterback Caleb Williams and the Trojans beat Notre Dame, they learned they will get a revenge rematch with Utah in the Pac-12 title game.
10 bestselling Black Friday items 2022, according to New York Post readers
You shopped, we listened: here are the bestselling Black Friday deals by NYPost shoppers.
384 minutos sin anotar, la crisis mexicana en mundiales
El sábado 23 de junio de 2018 la Selección Mexicana anotó su último gol en las Copas del Mundo, gracias a Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, con lo que México vencería 2-1 a Corea del Sur en Rusia.
World Cup live scores, updates: Redemption for Costa Rica; US Soccer shows support for Iranian women
While Germany faces a desperate situation against Spain, Canada - in its first World Cup since 1986 - returns to action against Croatia.
Russia Cannot Gather Forces of Enough Quality To Achieve Donetsk Aims: U.K.
There has been "intense combat" in the south-central Donetsk region, but little territory has changed hands, Britain's military intelligence said.
Costa Rica rallies late to beat Japan 1-0 in Group E
Keysher Fuller scored in the 81st minute to lift Costa Rica to a 1-0 victory.
Airbnb has a plan to fix cleaning fees
Cleaning fees are one-time charges that Airbnb hosts can tack on to the nightly rate
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Costa Rica shocks Japan with a 1-0 victory
Costa Rica shocked Japan with a 1-0 win, thanks to an 81st minute goal from Keysher Fuller, as it kept its hopes of qualifying for the World Cup knockout stages alive with a crucial three points to pull level with Spain and Japan in Group E.
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Can Ron DeSantis ride the culture war to the White House?
The Florida governor has several things going for him, including the adulation of Fox News, which treats him as a front-runner and has begun casting Trump as yesterday’s man.
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What the Body Means to Say
The hope at the root of my self-destruction
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XPO’s Billionaire Chairman Brad Jacobs Is Hunting for His Next Big Deal
TIME recently spoke with XPO's billionaire chairman Brad Jacobs, about supply chains and why he's looking for his next takeover
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Divided government demands creativity. Here are 3 ways to get things done.
The GOP House will make it difficult for progressive legislation. Democrats need to be creative when thinking about what’s possible over the next two years.
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The West is finally waking up to the real problem in Iran
The international community must start the putting human rights of Iranians first.
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After more than 600 mass shootings this year, let’s be honest about guns
The fact that no single action will stop all mass shootings is no excuse not to do things that could prevent some of them, or lower the toll when they happen.
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He needed emergency surgery days before their wedding. So, they got married in a hospital.
Daniel Pecoraro, a teacher in Greenacres, Florida, needed emergency heart surgery three days before he planned to marry Lisa Siegel.       
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'A sense of reassurance and belonging' Campus religious groups tackle mental health services
Traditional pastoral care is being expanded in order to meet the needs of students       
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I’m Sick of Nightly Homework Battles—With My Husband
Parenting advice on homework, abuse, and trauma.
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I Can't Live With My Lazy Husband—What Should I Do?
"He did nothing to change his behaviors and merely insists that he's always been the way he is and why am I complaining now."
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The Creative Secrets of One of Detroit’s Most Innovative Theater Groups
A conversation with Liza Bielby and Richard Newman of the The Hinterlands.
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The guy who got the midterms right explains what the media got wrong
Supporters of Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial candidate John Fetterman react at a watch party during the midterm elections at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2022. | Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images The media fell for a false “red wave” narrative. In the months leading up to the midterms, many pundits and politicians thought that Republicans had momentum enough for big gains at the state and federal levels, enough to count as a “red wave.” But veteran Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg is one of a few voices in Washington who, despite President Joe Biden’s sagging approval ratings and polls that showed Democrats playing defense on inflation, remained optimistic about the party’s prospects and who was ultimately vindicated by a strong performance. Rosenberg — who has previously advised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and is the president of the progressive think tank NDN — says he’s not in the business of predictions. But he thought that the available data consistently pointed to a competitive election, and he became a self-described “info warrior” on Twitter trying to convince the pundit class of that. He believes that, unlike in 2016 and 2020 when polling failed to register Trump’s strength as a candidate, this time around, it was the media analyzing the polls who got it wrong. “There was a massive media failure this cycle,” he said. “The failure that just took place is more grave than the polling error [in 2020] because there were a lot of really smart people who basically misled tens of millions of people through their political commentary in the final few weeks.” It’s hard to know whether there was a practical effect of the doom-and-gloom stories about Democrats in the months before the election — whether it suppressed turnout by demoralizing voters or motivated them to show up because they feared what would happen if they didn’t. But even if any negative effect was small, that might have made a big impact. “My own view is that it probably net cost us. It could have cost us the House,” Rosenberg said. Here’s what he thinks went wrong. Real election results weren’t given enough credence over polls Rosenberg has been arguing that Republicans made a huge mistake in running toward Trumpism since November 2021, when he first challenged the notion that there would be a runaway red wave in the midterms. That hypothesis gained a wider following over the summer amid backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. But there was a significant vibe shift in the fall, when Democrats’ margins on the generic ballot narrowed and they showed relative weakness in polls on issues like the economy and crime. Those seemed like signs that outrage over Roe had waned and that Republicans had the edge. Rosenberg doesn’t think that was ever true and that available data showed an election where Democrats were favored in the Senate and the House was up for grabs. The clearest indication came from actual election results. “Real voting is more important than polling,” Rosenberg said. “The way you interpret an election is looking at how people vote.” Republicans had doubled down on a brand of politics that had just been twice rejected by the American people in 2020 and 2018. And a series of special elections that occurred over the summer showed a similar pattern, with Democrats significantly overperforming across House races in Nebraska, Alaska, Minnesota, and New York. In Nebraska’s First District, for instance, the Democrat lost by less than 6 percentage points, compared to more than 20 percentage points in 2020. And Democrats won a House seat in Alaska for the first time in half a century, defeating former Gov. Sarah Palin. In August, voters in deep-red Kansas also showed up in supercharged numbers to vote against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed state lawmakers to further restrict abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. All of that supported the notion that Democratic enthusiasm was up and that this wasn’t a normal midterm election, even as the polls narrowed and Biden’s approval rating was still underwater. “People should have started adjusting their understanding of the election at that point. They didn’t — they stuck with the old models. They got bamboozled by the red wave narrative,” Rosenberg said. Polls were misinterpreted When the polling averages narrowed in the fall, it was partially because partisan polls commissioned by Republican organizations were bringing them down for Democrats. Rosenberg was one of the first to identify the phenomenon, which he described as an “unprecedented campaign by Republicans to flood the polling averages in the final month to create this impression of the red wave.” If you were looking at polling averages that included Republican polls, “you were looking at a completely different election than we were looking at,” he added. When Rosenberg stripped out the partisan polling, he foresaw an election in which New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania were leaning Democrat, Nevada was too close to call, and Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin were leaning a little Republican. That’s consistent with what actually transpired. It’s not clear whether the onslaught of partisan polls represented a deliberate attempt by Republicans to change the narrative of the election and dampen Democratic enthusiasm. But it may have had an outsized effect on the averages this year because of a lack of public independent polling. As Politico pointed out, big players like NBC News didn’t commission any state midterm polls this year, and the New York Times only did so in four individual House races and five states — far fewer than the number they’ve previously commissioned. The media was also too reliant on issue polling, which can be misleading if you’re just looking at the aggregate numbers across parties, Rosenberg said. Crime and immigration were among voters’ top issues overall because they are high-priority issues for Republicans. But if Democrats were trying to turn out their own voters, they needed to focus on the issues that matter to them. In general, it’s also hard to parse issue polling. Voters may say that they care a lot about a whole range of issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any one of them will impact their decision to vote for a particular candidate or to vote at all. “This reliance on the most important issue among all voters was playing into Republican talking points,” Rosenberg said. The enduring salience of Roe was underestimated The anti-abortion movement lost big time in 2022: Democrats running on pro-abortion rights nearly swept the table, and every ballot initiative aimed at restricting abortion lost, while ballot initiatives strengthening abortion rights prevailed and even outperformed Democratic candidates in some cases. Though we shouldn’t put too much stock in exit poll data, which is incomplete at this point, KFF’s analysis of the AP VoteCast survey found that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe had a “major impact” on whether roughly four in 10 Americans decided to vote this year and that it activated key constituencies for Democrats, including Black and Hispanic women under the age of 50, voters under the age of 30 overall, and first-time voters. That’s consistent with strong post-Roe voter registration numbers: The number of women who registered to vote increased by 35 percent across 10 states in the month after the decision came down. As my colleague Rachel Cohen wrote, Republicans and their grassroots have struggled to confront just how pivotal the end of Roe and their subsequent efforts to curtail abortion rights proved in this election. And that appeared to seep into media coverage, with many media outlets projecting before Election Day that abortion had receded from the spotlight in favor of inflation, an issue where Republicans thought they had the edge. “The debate over abortion rights has not emerged as a political silver bullet for Democrats,” the New York Times declared on November 4. Rosenberg speculates that male political commentators were particularly receptive to the Republican narrative on that front. “I think that they were unsympathetic to this idea that abortion really was going to be one of the two or three things that drove the election,” he said. But the evidence was always in the polls: Interest in abortion didn’t drop over time and, among Democrats, actually increased across several tracking polls. And Rosenberg thinks its salience won’t wane anytime soon. “This could be creating a millstone around the Republican Party’s neck — not just in this election but for many elections to come, and potentially may alienate an entire generation of young people,” he said.
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