Happy Wednesday! Very nice of the news cycle to grind to halt in time for our annual Thanksgiving edition.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Biden administration on Tuesday extended the pause on federal student loan payments—previously set to end January 1—until 60 days after courts resolve legal challenges to the administration’s debt forgiveness plan or until September 1, whichever comes soonest. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has blocked the administration from moving forward with debt forgiveness, but the administration has asked the Supreme Court to take up the question and President Joe Biden said Tuesday he’s “completely confident” the plan is legal.
- Iran has reportedly expanded its enrichment of uranium to 60 percent purity at its underground Fordow facility, according to the semi-official Mehr News Agency. The uptick—a step below the 90 percent enrichment threshold required for weapons-grade material—is purportedly a response to last week’s censure by the International Atomic Energy Agency over Iran’s resistance to its probes into undeclared nuclear sites.
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party claimed Tuesday that some electronic ballots cast through older machines should be annulled, which the party said would overturn last month’s presidential election—won by leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a tight runoff—in Bolsonaro’s favor. The Superior Electoral Court has already ratified Lula’s victory and said Tuesday it would only consider the latest allegations if the first round of votes is also reviewed—a potential threat to the Liberal Party’s key congressional victories. The court gave the Liberal Party 24 hours to decide whether to proceed with its challenge, which may be intended to inflame protests by Bolsonaro supporters over the election results.
What We Dispatchers Are Thankful For
We’ll be back to the news on Monday, but we wanted to devote some space, given tomorrow’s holiday, to taking stock of our blessings and all that we have to be thankful for as we rapidly approach 3.5 years of The Dispatch.
Esther Eaton, TMD Deputy Editor: It’s my first Thanksgiving at The Dispatch, and I’m incredibly grateful for a job that lets me pick apart cryptocurrency collapses one day and Qatari human rights violations the next alongside a team of generous and ferociously competent colleagues—and for the sharp, enthusiastic readers who make the job worthwhile.
I’m also grateful for my oft-screaming parakeets, for sweet potatoes, and for my bike commute—I never get tired of bidding Joe good morning and good night as I dodge tourists on my way past the White House. Most of all, I’m grateful for my friends and a chance to see my family—hi guys!—this week and play cards, watch K-dramas, debate foreign policy, and pester my youngest brother for his opinions on everything. FYI: He’d rather live on Mars than the moon.
Declan Garvey, Editor of The Morning Dispatch: Putting the finishing touches on the fourth (!) annual Thanksgiving edition of TMD, it’s hard to be anything but grateful. Grateful Steve and Jonah took a chance on a random 24-year-old with no journalism experience back in 2019; grateful to work at a company that values integrity, character, and honor; grateful for new additions to the team who have embraced what makes this place so great while bringing their own unique perspectives and challenging us to improve; and grateful this community has grown and flourished beyond any of our wildest dreams. Thank you for putting your trust in us, and for making TMD a part of your daily routine.
There’s plenty to be thankful for outside the confines of this newsletter, too. A beautiful fiancée with whom I can’t wait to build a life—and who puts up with my insane sleep schedule. Loving parents who always answer the phone and can still provide a kick in the rear when I need one. Three younger brothers who amaze me every day with both their accomplishments and their ability to make me feel old. Friendships I know will last a lifetime, and in-laws in Des Moines who have welcomed me into their family with open arms. Perhaps most important of all, a competent Chicago Bears offense designed around the strengths of the quarterback. I am truly blessed.
Price St. Clair, Reporter: One thing I’m grateful for this year is the opportunity to travel internationally post-COVID. I’m writing this note from the U.K., where my family has departed from our typical Thanksgiving traditions to engage in some good old-fashioned tourism—as well as cheer on my brother and the rest of the Army West Point men’s basketball team in their London tournament (against American opponents). Exploring a different corner of the world with people I love is always a privilege!
I’m also thankful, just a few months out of college, to have a job in our nation’s capital working with and for people I like, trust, and respect. As a reporter for The Dispatch, I get to ask people questions for a living—and hopefully synthesize their answers in a way that makes a meaningful contribution to your understanding of the world. Thanks for reading!
Jonah Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief: This has been a rough month at the end of a rough year, so my gratitude goes immediately to my wife, my daughter, my friends, colleagues, my quadrupeds, and—if it doesn’t seem like excessive pandering—to Dispatch members, so many of whom have been incredibly generous and supportive. I’m also grateful for the memories of the family that shaped me, now all departed. But, I don’t want to end on such a melancholy note, so let me also express my gratitude for this country, still the last, best, hope on earth. Also, we should take a moment to appreciate the unseen blessings that make every day a joy to be alive, such as: that grizzly bears cannot fly, venomous millipedes aren’t super-intelligent or the size of school buses, and that Cthulhu yet slumbers.
Sarah Isgur, Staff Writer: I am overflowing with gratitude this year, but rather than run through all of my blessings, I thought I’d put together a little compilation of “things the Brisket has said in the last two weeks” in the hopes he can bring you just a smidgen of the joy he brings us. Now that he’s almost two-and-a-half years old, he’s got a lot of thoughts to share:
“Shh. Listen to me. I want bagel and cream cheese.”
“Nate’s a slippery man.”
“Had dream. Cinnamon rolls and Esther. Esther ate rolls. No icing.” [Esther is Jonathan and Betsy Swan’s daughter and the love of Nate’s life—so far, at least.]
“See you soon, alligator.”
“One, two, three, four, five, six, eighteen.”
“Nate is a dinosaur. Stomp stomp. Roar.”
“Sweet dreams, mommy. Buenas noches, mommy. I love you, mommy.”
Nick Catoggio (aka Allahpundit), Staff Writer: This year I’m thankful to modern medicine and some of New York City’s finest doctors for having taken a dear relative from Stage IV cancer to cancer-free in less than a year. Never give up hope. (Except in Republican politics.)
I’m thankful to Steve Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, and the Dispatch team for the wonderful platform they’ve built and the opportunity to contribute to it. I was this close to ending up as a charity case on Substack a few months ago after my old site ditched me for crimes against populism. Now I get to piggyback on the Dispatch’s success and write for the estimable audience they’ve built. Who could ask for more?
Finally, I’m thankful to the thoughtful Dispatch readership, which hasn’t turned on me yet. It’s early, though.
Andrew Egger, Associate Editor: Last year, I didn’t contribute to the TMD grub-and-gratitude roundup—I was on paternity leave with a month-old baby at home, our first, too caught up in the million panicky tasks of trying to keep the kid happy (or, barring that, at least alive) to engage in much reflection. A year on, here we are, and I don’t need to do much soul-searching here: I’m grateful for my wife and daughter who amaze me every day, for the peace of feeling the support of our families and our church in our lives, and—I won’t get maudlin on you—for the fine establishment my bosses and coworkers have built around here, and for you all for participating in it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Jonathan Chew, Social Media Manager: As I sit in an office in Washington, D.C., across from a giant poster of Friedrich Hayek, I am truly grateful to be working at an outlet that I have recommended (ad nauseam) to friends in the past. I’m also so thankful for the people in my life—insightful new colleagues at the Dispatch, old college friends I’m crossing paths with again, and family members who might just be reading this very newsletter (even if the British side might not technically be celebrating Thanksgiving).
Steve Hayes, CEO: This year, I’m grateful for the Florida Everblades, an ECHL hockey team out of Estero I’ve followed for the past several years. As a fan of the struggling Washington Capitals (7-10-3), Green Bay Packers (4-7), and Atletico Madrid (out of Champions League and Europe competitions), I am happy to focus my sports attention on the defending Kelly Cup champions (8-3). Of course, I’m also grateful for my family and friends, my Dispatch colleagues and the members who pay our salaries, our country and those who defend her—and chicken wings.
Also, the Chicago Bears (3-8), who remind me today—and have reminded me for decades, really—that however weak my teams are, there’s always a team that’s worse.
Adaam James Levin-Areddy, Digital Producer: I used to consider myself a solitary fellow. Nearly a decade of living in New York—a city not known for its warm and welcoming residents—has convinced me otherwise. Now I find myself grateful for every moment I get to spend with friends, family, and colleagues, whether arguing about some esoteric political point, or laughing at a terrible movie, or attempting to make music, or just sharing a scotch-based Old Fashioned (it’s called The King of Scotland, by the way, and boy is it smokey). Hard to top that. Though I could do with more daylight.
Ryan Brown, Community Manager: This year, I’m thankful for marriage and family—new and old. My fiance, Arielle, and I are getting married just a few days after you read this. As we approach our big day, I have grown especially appreciative of all of the good examples of marriage I have in my life. Both sets of my grandparents and hers were—or still are—married for over 50 years. My parents and future in-laws have been married for more than 30.
I am so thankful that Arielle and I have loving, happy examples of marriage in our lives. Planning a wedding can be stressful (and expensive). It’s easy to get caught up in caring about small details like what centerpieces to have or how much they cost. But having those lifelong marriages to look to as examples have been a constant and important reminder of why we’re having this big expensive party in the first place.
David French, Senior Editor: I’m thankful for our multigenerational household. We have three generations living under one roof. My married daughter, her husband, and our beautiful granddaughter are staying with us until they leave for law school. My son has taken a semester off from college, and my youngest daughter is in middle school. For most of 2022, we’ve lived a modern version of an older life—when family stayed together under one roof—and it’s been a blessing.
We’ve enjoyed irreplaceable days watching our granddaughter grow up, and there’s nothing quite like seeing your younger children become an uncle and aunt and take care of a tiny niece. We know not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy precious days like these, so we’re grateful. We know that we’re blessed beyond measure.
Some of Our Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
With all that sentimentality out of the way, we’ve got a few recipes for you to try if you’re looking to spice things up around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year.
From Audrey Fahlberg, Reporter: Gourmet Mac & Cheese
Whenever I think of Thanksgiving comfort food, a hot, steaming bowl of mac is the first thing that comes to mind. “But isn’t it a childish dish?” Wrong! Dashes of cloves and nutmeg add the perfect kick to make the dish palatable for a grown-up’s taste buds. If you prefer cajun-style mac, feel free to substitute creole seasoning instead. (Slap Ya Mama is my favorite.) I may also go crazy this year and add some velveeta for a creamier texture. Pro tip: I’ve always found that this dish tastes much better when you grate your own cheese. Shredded cheese from a package is filled with preservatives and often tastes a bit waxy.
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- ½ stick butter
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3 cups half and half
- 1 lb. elbow mac and cheese
- 5 oz. gruyere cheese block
- 5 oz. sharp white cheddar block
- 2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Dash of cloves
- Dash of nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375 ℉.
- Cook elbow pasta al dente. Drain pasta and pour into a baking dish. Stir in a tablespoon of olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick together in the pan.
- While the pasta is boiling, begin making your roux. Place the butter and half and half into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the roux thickens substantially, gradually add all three cheeses and the sour cream while stirring. (Be sure to save about a half a cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of the pasta before you toss it in the oven.) Stir in black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and garlic. When it comes to the cloves and the nutmeg, don’t add more than a dash: We don’t want our mac & cheese to taste like a pumpkin spice latte. Keep stirring, and add more half and half and/or butter if the mixture is too thick.
- Once the thickness is to your liking, pour the cheesy sauce over the pasta and stir thoroughly. Sprinkle panko bread crumbs and leftover cheese on top of pasta. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes, then again for 10-15 without the foil until the top is crispy. Voila!
From Cameron Hilditch, Fact Checker: Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup
I’m from the United Kingdom, where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated, but the following recipe is for a soup that my dad makes for our Christmas dinner, which is the meal during which turkey is eaten as the traditional main course back home. I’m sure it would complement an American Thanksgiving meal just as well. It’s my favorite dish in the world.
- 2.2 lbs. sweet potatoes
- 2 large leeks
- 2 large onions
- 2 oz. of root ginger
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 27 fl. oz. coconut milk (not unsweetened)
- 84 fl. oz. vegetable stock
- 2 tsp. chili purée
- 2 tsp. cumin powder
- 2 tsp. tomato purée
- 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Cut the sweet potatoes into small thin pieces—about ¼ in. by 1 in.—and place them on roasting trays and toss them in 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil. Then, place them in the oven to roast slowly until they’re soft. Check frequently to prevent burning.
- Chop the onions and leeks into small fine pieces and grate the ginger.
- Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a soup pot. When warm, add the onions, leeks, and ginger.
- Bruise the lemongrass stalks to release the flavor and add them whole to the soup pot along with the chili purée. Cook on medium heat for 7 minutes, stirring often and adding the cumin evenly.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pot. Leave on medium heat for a further 5 minutes, stirring often.
- When the sweet potatoes are soft to the touch, remove them from the oven and add them to the pot. Let the mixture simmer for 3 minutes.
- Remove the lemongrass stalks and add the coconut milk and the tomato purée.
- Stir frequently and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Blend with a hand blender and serve.
From Steve Hayes, CEO: Creamed Spinach
This is so good, I asked my Mom to serve it at my eighth birthday party—along with pizza, to the horror of all my friends.
- 1 lb. of frozen chopped spinach
- 4 tbsp. butter
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- Dash of kosher salt
- Dash of pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a large skillet, quickly boil the frozen chopped spinach. Drain in a strainer and squeeze out ALL the water.
- Melt the butter in the skillet, and sauté the onion until translucent.
- Add the spinach back to the skillet, and stir in the flour, kosher salt, pepper, and nutmeg on low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream, cooking slowly until the mixture thickens slightly. Can add up to ½ cup additional cream or half and half to reach preferred consistency.
Worth Your Time
- Remember that Associated Press story about Russian missiles last week that could have triggered World War III? Semafor media reporter Max Tani has the details on how it happened, and it’s not a great look for the AP. “On Monday, it fired James LaPorta, the national security reporter for the wire service who got the initial tip that set the story in motion,” he reports. “But the slack messages on which the incident played out tell a different story, of honest mistakes, internal confusion, and a lack of a clear process that led to a disaster for one of the few news organizations whose Twitter presence is an authoritative account of world affairs. … The fact that a story that theoretically could’ve triggered armed conflict between NATO and Russia required less than ten minutes, one anonymous source, and just over a dozen Slack messages for the wire service to publish suggests a systemic editorial failure, not one reporter’s blunder.”
- If you’re looking for a show to watch with family over the holiday, might we suggest Andor? “The latest Star Wars spinoff to clog Disney’s streaming library, [Andor] is not only the best Star Wars story since the original trilogy, but the best television show that I’ve seen all year,” Tom Ley writes for Defector. “Andor is good for a lot of reasons, but none more so than its willingness to turn away from the old formula while still presenting a classic Star Wars narrative. The tried-and-true beats are all there—Andor gets plucked from obscurity by an important and powerful man, gets tossed into a high-stakes conflict he doesn’t initially care about or understand, and eventually finds within himself the potential to be a hero—but everything that happens within that framework upends the old clichés.” It’s the “first Star Wars story,” Ley argues, “in which the characters feel like products of the galaxy they live in, rather than the other way around.” Bonus: The first few episodes are re-airing on ABC, FX, Freeform, and Hulu this week.
We’re just days away from a glorious month straight of nonstop Christmas music. But first, take a few minutes to enjoy one of just a handful of proper Thanksgiving songs in existence.
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Toeing the Company Line
- Reminder: The Morning Dispatch is hiring! If you’re interested in helping put this newsletter together on a daily basis, be sure to check out our new job listing here. Have any questions? Shoot a note to email@example.com with “TMD Job” in the subject line.
- Why does Trump’s 2024 campaign feel so different than his runs in 2016 and 2020? Is Ron DeSantis secretly rooting for Special Counsel Jack Smith? How the heck did the World Cup end up in Qatar? And most importantly: Is NASA’s Artemis mission a waste of ? David, Kevin, Declan, and Esther discussed all this and more on last night’s pre-Thanksgiving edition of Dispatch Live (🔒). Members who missed the conversation can catch a rerun—either video or audio-only—by clicking here.
- In this week’s Sweep (🔒), Sarah pores over the polling in Georgia ahead of next month’s runoff, looks at the data behind ticket splitting this cycle, and puts some numbers behind Trump’s drag on the GOP.
- And in Tuesday’s Uphill, Haley dives into the debate on the right over the Senate’s recently passed gay marriage legislation. “Supporters of the bill say its religious freedom provisions are robust,” she notes. “But another set of Republican senators and conservative organizations have slammed it, calling for a farther-reaching amendment blocking the government from discriminating against people based on their beliefs about marriage.”
- Nick has something else to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: Donald Trump is about to wreck his legacy. “[That legacy] should already lie in ruins after he tried to orchestrate a coup against the duly elected president two years ago, and for roughly 52 percent of the electorate it does,” he writes in Tuesday’s Boiling Frogs (🔒). “But it’ll take more than merely attempting to end American democracy to shake the faith of that other 48 percent. To lose them, Trump will need to do something really bad—like harming the Republican Party’s chances of winning power.”
Let Us Know
Let’s recycle a closing question from last year: What are some of the best things that’ve happened in your life the past 365 days? What will you spend tomorrow being thankful for?