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Palin’s Doomed Campaign, Fact-Checking Orgasms, and More on Anthony Weiner

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

“‘I Would Have Loved To Piss on Your Shoes,’ Part 1 and Part 2 ,” by Jack Shafer. Journalists may seem like happy-go-lucky employees, answering not to a silly editor but to the omniscient god of news and truth-telling. But don’t be fooled: Like the rest of us, they, too, suppress feelings of fury and resentment toward higher-ups. Unlike the rest of us, they can articulate that contempt beyond a simple, yet timeless, “Go to hell!” In this two-parter, Shafer collects some of journalism’s most offensive and hilarious parting words. 

Meetless Weiner: If Anthony Weiner never met his online girlfriends in the flesh, does that mean he didn’t cheat?” by William Saletan. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s story just didn’t add up at his Monday press conference, writes Saletan. Whether Weiner calls his social media escapades relationships or mere communication, the fine line between online vs. offline appropriateness was blurred long ago; Weiner has crossed it.

Why Did Weiner Do It? What we can learn about the congressman—and about human sexuality— from his ill-advised photographs,” by Laura Kipnis. Instead of denigrating the political sex scandal, why not treat the salacious Weinergate episode as further research into human sexuality? asks Kipnis.  A possible explanation for Weiner’s antics: Childhood humiliation (stemming, perhaps, from carrying the name Weiner during puberty). It often has a huge impact on an individual’s future erotic life.

Shooting Pains: Florida’s crazy new law preventing doctors from asking patients about their guns,” by Dahlia Lithwick. The Sunshine State’s new law “raises a very important legal and constitutional question: Huh?” writes Lithwick. She dismantles the illogical law, asking when, exactly, “discussing” someone’s guns becomes synonymous with “harassing” gun-owners.

GOP to Palin: It’s Over; Why a Sarah Palin presidential campaign is hopeless,” by John Dickerson. Sarah Palin may equate her call to serve Americans to George Washington’s famous reluctance to lead the electorate, but there’s a key difference between the stories of the two leaders: For Palin, no one is calling.  If Republicans voted today, Palin would lose, writes Dickerson. And no glitzy motorcycle or bus will change that.

Thanks a Lot, Ken Burns: Because of you, my Civil War lecture is always packed—with students raised on your sentimental, romantic, deeply misleading portrait of the conflict,” by James M. Lundberg. Thanks to Ken Burns’$2 11-hour miniseries The Civil War, 40 million Americans believe in a “semi-mythical narrative” of collective sacrifice. On the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, the author urges us to remember the truth.

Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic: What Rotten Tomatoes data tells us about the best, worst, and most bizarre Hollywood trajectories,” by Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine. How does a B-list celebrity become a red carpet regular? Beam and Singer-Vine have created a tool that graphs fame trajectories with the data from online movie reviewer Rotten Tomatoes. Take Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, for instance. Since they starred in Good Will Hunting in 1997, Damon has clearly and consistently made better films than Affleck. But not all trends are so obvious, say the authors. Type a famous actor or director into the generator and see for yourself.

Orgasm Guaranteed: What I learned while freelancing at Cosmopolitan,” by Katherine Goldstein. At 23, Goldstein was certain her fact-checking job at Cosmopolitan in New York City would be her big break into the fiercely competitive magazine industry. For the next 18 months, the author fact-checked it all: Do men have G spots? Oh yeah, P spots, in fact. Will rubbing the spongy tissue in his penis against her prostate guarantee a domino effect of sensation? Absolutely. And does every first job in publishing have to come to an end in pursuit of greater goals? You betcha.

The White House Debates Afghanistan—Again: Should Obama withdraw a lot of troops or just a few; change the war strategy or stay the course?” by Fred Kaplan. To withdraw or not to withdraw—the Afghanistan strategy has become Obama’s eternal dilemma.  If the strategy doesn’t get a “course correction,” soon, fatigued and frustrated Democrats and Tea Party libertarians might team up to stop the money flow.

Happy 10th Birthday, Bush Tax Cuts! You’ve been a failure in every conceivable way,” by Annie Lowrey. Back in 2001, President Bush vowed his tax cuts would lead to job creation, prosperity, new opportunities, and a smaller government.  None of that happened. But maybe we shouldn’t all cry into the tax cut birthday cake.  As Lowrey points out, tax cuts are not magic. And exaggerated, hyperbolic promises lead to disappointment.  In order to celebrate, perhaps we simply need to adjust our expectations.