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Our Best Stuff from the Week We Hit the Debt Ceiling
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Our Best Stuff from the Week We Hit the Debt Ceiling

Plus, more on George Santos and the last word (we hope) on gas stoves.

The national debt clock. (Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Hello and happy Sunday! This is going to be a short one, as preparations are under way in the Ohio bureau for the big game between the Bengals and the Bills. I’ve gotta say, it feels a little strange. 

It’s plenty easy to get excited about the Bengals. They’ve got a young and dynamic team led by Ohio native Joe Burrow and his former college teammate, Ja’Marr Chase. Their young and dynamic coach, Zac Taylor, has become beloved for taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl last year—and for embracing the community. After every playoff win, he autographs a half-dozen footballs and takes them around town to various bars and restaurants that cater to Bengals fans. 

Normally, though, when you play a big rival or playoff game, you get an extra boost from your animosity for your opponent. Here in Cincinnati, we have a particular distaste for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. We like to make jokes about the Kansas City Chiefs, an immensely talented team that has never beaten Burrow. But this week? Well … it’s the Bills. Even if you’re not a sports fan, you’re probably aware of what happened the last time these teams met. It was a Monday Night Football game three weeks ago, and the NFL and ESPN had been hyping it for weeks. Both teams were challenging the Chiefs for the top seed in the AFC bracket and the implications were immense. Until they weren’t. 

The game was still in the first quarter when Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. Quick work by the Bills medical staff revived him, and he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he received more lifesaving care. After two very quiet and uncertain days with no updates—Hamlin had been sedated to allow him to heal—he woke up. It’s been a feel-good story ever since. His recovery has been remarkable, and Bengals and Bills fans came together not only to support Hamlin but also Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, who Hamlin had tackled before he collapsed. There had been speculation that Hamlin’s cardiac arrest happened as a result of the play, and Higgins was wracked with guilt. Yet Hamlin’s family and Bills fans spoke out in his defense. It all became a bit of a love fest.

And it wasn’t the first time. A few years ago, the Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in the last week of the regular season, knocking them out of the playoffs. Who went instead? The Bills. And so the “Bills Mafia” responded by pouring donations into charities run by Bengals players. 

Today feels like playing a game against our kid brother or our favorite cousin. You want to win, for sure. But at the end of the day, you’ll remember it’s just a game. 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Fiscal conservatism is one of the hallmarks of modern conservatism. We want the government to be smaller, right? But the present-day Republican Party can be selective about when to flex those muscles. And now that the GOP is in charge of the House (if not the Senate or the White House), the flexing is hard. One problem: Republicans have a long history of overpromising and underdelivering on fiscal responsibility. Brian Riedl proposes a common sense approach: If you really want to cut government spending, go for small and manageable cuts that stymy further growth rather than promise to “balance the budget.” It won’t happen and such promises will only disillusion voters. In case that is not enough to satisfy budget geeks, Kevin lays out all the things that would have to be cut to truly balance the budget. I mean, do we really need the Army?

Part of our mission is to turn down the volume and lower the heat regarding our political discourse. But there are exceptions that prove the rule, and Nick’s edition of  Boiling Frogs (🔒) inveighing against problematic New York freshman GOP Rep. George Santos is one of them. He details the story that broke last week alleging that Santos—at the time going by the name Anthony Devolder—helped a homeless veteran with a sick service dog set up a GoFundMe for the dog’s surgery. The veteran told a local news site in Oyster Bay, New York, that “Devolder” gave him the runaround and then disappeared, taking the $3,000 raised with him. And then there’s the investigations into whether Santos pulled some campaign finance shenanigans. “We all ‘get’ big lies,” Nick writes. “We understand the greed that motivates them even if we find it abhorrent. …What we can’t understand is conning a homeless vet out of the money to treat his pet for cancer. That would be a small lie in the grand scheme of Santos’ con artistry but it’s the small lies that are the most disquieting. They’re intimate in a way that big scams aren’t, the difference between strangulation and sniper fire. Envision looking a struggling man in the eye while you pick his pocket of the money he needs to save his dog’s life.” P.S. If you’re wondering what consequences a lawmaker might face for fabricating his background and committing campaign finance violations, Price has the (not-so-encouraging) details

Weirdly enough, I’m going to get back to cooling down the heat by sharing Kevin’s piece—commentary with a heavy dose of reporting—on the gas stove kerfuffle. It’s the sanest thing you’ll read on the matter. For anyone who’s behind: A commissioner for the Consumer Product Safety Commission told Bloomberg that “any option was on the table” for dealing with alleged negative health effects of gas stoves. Sane people—many conservative—responded with claims of government overreach, the media responded by claiming that “Republicans pounced” on a culture war issue, and hilarity ensued. Kevin mostly ignores all that and points out that cooking itself—regardless of whether it’s on gas or electric—generates pollutants. Not only that, but in the grand scheme of things, cooking-generated pollutants are only a minor ingredient in the potentially toxic stew inside a typical house. Attached garage? Leaky roof?  Proximity to a highway? He recommends a nice wine by a roaring fire to ponder.

I’m incredibly sad that I’m running out of time to call out great pieces by David French, someone who I’ve been giddy to call a colleague for the last three-plus years. (True story: I squealed out loud when Jonah sent me a top-secret email that David was joining us, a squeal I could not explain to the journalist/former colleague I was on the phone with at the time.) While it might seem unusual to highlight a French Press (🔒) based on a piece published elsewhere, allow me two points: 1) the headline warned you, and 2) the piece that David highlights is written by Jesse Singal, a left-leaning journalist who seeks to battle the liberal conventional wisdom on a number of issues, so he’s a bit of a kindred spirit. David calls attention to Jesse’s article in the New York Times about how the effects of diversity training  are not only overstated but can actually cause harm. David uses that article to hit on a familiar theme of his—that we change minds more through personal conversations and building relationships than mandatory top-down instruction: “ it can be discouraging to know that big problems aren’t amenable to simple solutions. There isn’t and can’t be a five-point-plan to save faith, to rebuild the family, or to end racial discrimination. The efforts that matter—that really matter—tend to be more individual, more long-term, and more driven by relationships and experience, not by preaching or instruction.”

And here’s the best of the rest:

  • Everyone likes to complain about the border crisis, but is anyone willing to really do something about it? Harvest reports on what Congress could do in the coming term, but don’t get your hopes up.
  • The U.S. hit its debt ceiling this week, though Janet Yellen has a few more options to buy time than the average American consumer who maxes out a credit card or two. In Uphill (🔒), Haley looks at the coming standoff in Congress, where Republicans want to cut spending but can’t agree how.
  • Don’t forget to check out The Dispatch on the weekends, as we’re trying to publish more news and analysis for you. This weekend, Charlotte looks at whether South Korea, a little spooked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and realizing it, too, shares a border with a nuclear power, will develop its own nuclear program.
  • In the G-File, Jonah discusses his trip to Portland this week, where he was a little depressed to see the extent of the city’s vagrancy problem. “The mismanagement of Portland is idiotic and tragic not only on normal terms—wasted lives, wasted money, reduced quality of life, etc.—but on progressivism’s own terms,” he writes
  • On the pods: On Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah review a list of cases the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, including one on immigration. The gang talks about the fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party on The Dispatch Podcast. For more budget wonkery, check out Jonah’s interview with Brian Riedl on The Remnant. And it’s a very special “ask us anything” edition of Good Faith with David and Curtis Chang. 

Rachael Larimore is managing editor of The Dispatch and is based in the Cincinnati area. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served in similar roles at Slate, The Weekly Standard, and The Bulwark. She and her husband have three sons.