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Self-Made Men, Steam-Powered Catapults, and the GOP’s Moment of Truth

Self-Made Men, Steam-Powered Catapults, and the GOP’s Moment of Truth

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May 12 2017 8:39 PM
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His Loins Can Detect Promising Real Estate Opportunities

Self-made men, steam-powered catapults, and the GOP’s moment of truth, in the Slate Plus Digest.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photo by monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock.
What a happy baby!

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photo by monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock.

From Slate

  • Yascha Mounk calls the Comey firing “the moment of truth” for congressional Republicans. Jamelle Bouie notes that they’re not exactly rising to the occasion, and wonders if there’s anything that would cost Trump their support.
  • Last week, Leon Neyfakh profiled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “known in legal circles as a consummate professional who has never allowed politics to interfere with his decision-making.” This week, he follows up: Rosenstein, who made the case against Comey at his boss’s request, is a case study in the way Trump corrupts and betrays everyone who enters his orbit.
  • In less important Trump news, the president told Time he wants to ax the Navy’s new digital catapults and return to steam-powered catapults. What?
  • Meanwhile, mainstream and liberal news outlets have responded to the Trump era by hiring a bunch of right-wing commentators. Why? Will Oremus has theories.

Not from Slate

  • Democrats are taking the ridiculous “Merrick Garland for FBI director” proposals seriously. David Weigel wonders how they can possibly be that gullible.
  • How does Alexandra Petri fit such powerful writing into the narrow confines of post-Onion parody-news? I do not know.
  • Mallory “Dear Prudie” Ortberg talks to poet Patricia Lockwood about her new memoir, Priestdaddy.
  • I don’t usually link to Twitter threads here, because you have to have some standards, but I’m making an exception for this one, by Vox’s David Roberts, because it adds something valuable to our understanding of Trump’s aberrant behavior.
  • Remember how good Pixar movies used to be? Why are they bad now?
  • Ben Thompson has a clear-eyed assessment of the problem facing local newspapers—and a (radical) solution.

From the archive

Slate deputy editor John Swansburg just left the building after a strong run. This weekend, sit down with his deeply reported, dextrously written, and surprisingly personal history of that foundational figure of American myth, the self-made man.

Balls play an outsize role in my father’s vocabulary. When something impresses him, he says “that’s the balls.” When he admires someone, it’s typically because that person has done something that “took balls.” But his suggestion that his loins can detect promising real estate opportunities is a cagey bit of false modesty. When pressed to explain a given transaction, it usually emerges that he found an angle no one else had thought to exploit, or worked the deal harder than anyone else was willing to work it. Driving through Chelsea recently, he pointed out a trio of unlovable buildings he’d bought early in his career. All three had tenants at the time, but the seller had never bothered to ask them if they might like to buy the buildings they’d been leasing. My father bothered to ask.

One more thing

In March, Josh Voorhees revealed that Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway had apparently failed to divest from her polling firm—potentially committing a federal crime. This week, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee started looking into it.

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