The Angle

The Angle: The Last Line of Defense Edition

Slate’s daily newsletter on the Pentagon, New Orleans’ trouble with the Mississippi River, and a congressional hearing on reparations.

Defenseless: Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stepped down from consideration for the full post today, an announcement shortly followed by reports of a brutal family incident from several years ago. Fred Kaplan examines the newly haphazard circumstances at the Pentagon and in Iran, and explains why Shanahan’s replacement isn’t about to help set things straight anytime soon.

Big Muddy: Record high water levels in the Mississippi have plagued New Orleans for months on end, testing the city’s intricate levee infrastructure and trying local river pilots. Henry Grabar took a trip to the Big Easy to paint the ominous scene—“a log floating downriver through New Orleans (and there are quite a few of them at the moment) is traveling at an easy jog, past banks of submerged willow trees bobbing in the current”—as hurricane season looms.

It’s time: On Wednesday, a House Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing on reparations for slavery, at which luminaries such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover are expected to testify. Four scholars on the subject had a meaningful conversation on what they would like to see happen at the hearing, why reparations are important and necessary, and what sort of changes need to take place in American society for this long-overdue justice to happen.

Dystopia realized: Hollywood sci-fi flicks have often served as prescient visions of technological terror. But sometimes, the very movies that warn us about the horrifying possibilities of modern tech can also inspire someone to bring that technology to life, all caution disregarded. This is what happened with the Will Smith film Enemy of the State—the surveillance equipment shown in the movie inspired a scientist to make something similar, which was then used in U.S. operations in the Middle East. Arthur Holland Michel tells a morbid tale of fiction becoming reality.

For fun: Is this the worst argument anyone has ever made against socialism?

All because the red menace forced Luntz to take the stairs,