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Is This The Santos Tipping Point?
Plus: Gaslighting on gas stoves
In today’s Morning Shots, the latest on George Anthony Devolder Kitara Ravache Santos; the GOP’s new inquisitors: God, guns, and gas stoves; and Why Johnny Might Finally Learn to Read.
But let’s start with some comments on the comments.
If you want to understand just how remarkable the Bulwark community is, just read the comments section of Morning Shots and the Triad on a daily basis. Read the comments on JVL’s discussion of the transformation of the GOP here. Read the comments on Tim Miller’s remarkable essay on suicide yesterday here. Read the hundreds of comments on Morning Shots on pretty much any day.
As I said, remarkable.
It’s easy to dunk on the state of our online discourse, and I know that some publications would rather have dental surgery with rusty implements than open their work to random commenters. For a lot of publications, that way lies madness. But for us, it’s a window on the thoughtfulness, intelligence, and occasional eloquence of Bulwark+ members. We don’t always agree, and the members don’t always agree with one another. But the conversation is the point; and it’s almost enough to restore your faith in your fellow man.
So consider joining us. Bulwark+ members have access to all of our material, but maybe the best perk is being able to join the conversation. We’d love to have you, and you won’t regret joining.
Trigger warning: The dog died.
We discussed this in yesterday’s newsletter and on my podcast with Bill Kristol. But it’s worth revisiting, if only as the latest wellness check on the House GOP (I know. I know.)
QUEENS, NY — In May 2016, Richard Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey, with his beloved service dog Sapphire. A veteran's charity gave the pit mix to Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.
When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, "'I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,'" Osthoff recounted.
His name was Anthony Devolder, and his pet charity was called Friends of Pets United, the vet tech told him….
Osthoff and another New Jersey veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, who tried to intervene to help Osthoff in 2016, told Patch that Santos closed the GoFundMe he set up for Sapphire after it raised $3,000 on social media and disappeared.
Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. After being out of work with a broken leg for over a year, Osthoff couldn't afford the dog's euthanasia and cremation, he said.
"I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do," he remembered.
Surely, this crosses whatever vestigial red lines remain in Kevin McCarthy’s etiolated and withered heart? Benjy Sarlin thinks this could be the thing that brings Santos down.
Really? We know that the GOP has found a way to rationalize all of Santos’s other lies. But this story involves:
A disabled vet, and…
A service dog…
Who died after Santos absconded with the cash.
So is this really a tipping point, or not?
Point: It’s one thing to be a grifter crook. But now we’re talking abut a dead dog.
Counterpoint: This is Kevin McCarthy’s GOP. Why do you think that being the world’s worst human being would be considered disqualifying?
Bottomline: Probably not.
This, on the other hand?
For those of you keeping track at home:
BONUS: Speaking of the House GOP: “Biden world giddy at MTG, Gosar, and Boebert being placed on Oversight.”
Gaslighting on gas stoves
Major hat tip to my colleague Sonny Bunch, who was en fuego on the gas stove debate on the latest Next Level podcast (which is very much worth your time).
Sonny discussed the fiery reactions to suggestions that the government might ban the stoves, and pushed back on the notion that the whole thing was a completely fake culture-war slap fight.
Undoubtedly, you know the story by now. After a new study once again raised questions about possible health hazards from the appliances, a member of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Richard Trumka Jr. suggested banning gas stoves.
Trumka’s remark set off a paroxysm of agitation among conservatives. One National Review writer warned, “Biden Administration Considers Banning Gas Stoves Over Health Concerns,” which is true in the sense that a single appointee in the administration discussed it. Fox News alone flooded the zone with pro-gas venting: An anguished restaurateur poured out his woes on Tucker Carlson’s show; a CPSC spokesperson’s limp deflection earned its own write-up; Fox Business carried a barely reworked press release on the topic from a very neutral observer, the American Gas Association; and, naturally, a story involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting flamed on Twitter was a must.
Of course, the usual suspects jumped on the issue, with their usual sobriety and thoughtfulness. (Just kidding.)
For much of the media and the left, all of this was met with eye-rolls. “The Gas-Stove Debate Exemplifies the Silliest Tendencies of American Politics,” declared the Atlantic. “A big nothing can morph into a huge controversy for no good reason at all.”
Of course it was silly, because nobody really wanted to ban gas stoves, right? Nobody was really coming for your gas stove, so LOL.
But, as Sonny pointed out on TNL, this was gaslighting. Even though some GOPers reacted with performative childishness, the issue is not actually just made up.
In fact, there are progressive activists who do want to come after the stoves. And Democratic politicians who back them. Via Slate:
While there is no nationwide ban of gas stoves in the offing, there are indeed plenty of Democrats who’ve raised concerns about gas stoves of late as research has amassed showing potential health risks. (It’s not as if anyone supposed that hovering over an open gas flame was actively beneficial.) Certain blue states, like New York, are considering action against gas appliances in new construction; California is ahead of them. A bicameral group of Democratic legislators in December, meanwhile, sent a letter to Hoehn-Saric urging CPSC to study emissions from gas stoves and consider certain regulations.
After withering public criticism, including by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, the CPSC Chairman denied any plan to ban, and the White House said President Biden also doesn’t want to ban gas stoves. But that’s cold comfort given that the climate left does want to ban them, and progressive cities and states are doing it.
Wait. Actual bans? Why yes.
Progressive cities such as Berkeley, San Francisco and New York City have already banned gas stoves and other appliances in new buildings. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul this week proposed a ban on gas equipment including stoves in new small buildings in 2025 and larger ones in 2028.
Come 2030, New Yorkers won’t be allowed to replace their gas stoves with new ones if they break down. “As you begin making a transition, everyone will have to switch out appliances,” a state official explained. This is how the left’s green-energy “transition” will work for all things. Come 2035, New Yorkers and Californians won’t be able to buy new gasoline-powered cars either.
The Biden Administration has also flirted with the anti-gas stove cause.
Last year it filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting a gas ban by Berkeley, Calif. The departments of Justice and Energy argued that cities and states should be able to exercise police powers to prohibit the use of “dangerous or unsafe items.” Why would the federal government weigh in on a local regulatory case, if not for ideological climate solidarity?…
So, as the WSJ noted, “There really is a culture war coming over gas stoves…”
You can, of course, think that the gas stoves pose both an environmental and health hazard and make the case for limitations.
But, as Sonny argued, don’t pretend it’s not a real issue.
Why Johnny Might Finally Learn to Read
Phonics works—we’ve known that for decades. In today’s Bulwark, Mona Charen asks: Are schools finally getting the message?
American education has been plagued by fads. Remember “new math”? Satirist Tom Lehrer skewered it as a method “designed to help students understand what they’re doing, rather than to get the right answer.” Reading fads have had different names over the years. Sometimes it was called “the word method” and later “whole language” and then “balanced literacy,” but all of them were united by their lack of scientific evidence and their romantic ideas about how children learn to read. The alternatives to phonics were all supposed to be liberating and fun and empowering for children. Instead, they did terrible, avoidable harm. As one dissatisfied public school mother put it, when children don’t learn to read, “They doubt their ability to do anything in life.” After decades of this educational malpractice, nearly a quarter of American adults are deficient in literacy.