The Morning Dispatch: Liftoff

The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off from Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. April 24, 1990. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Happy Wednesday! If you’re reading this, that means our new website is up and running! Our operations team has worked incredibly hard these past few months to ensure this process is as smooth as possible, but there are bound to be some hiccups in the early going. (For instance, we’re not sure links in bulleted lists like Quick Hits and Worth Your Time are displaying correctly yet; the links are there, but on some screens they seem to be invisible. We’ll figure this one out before tomorrow.) Please bear with us!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Russian airstrikes on civilian targets throughout Ukraine continued on Tuesday, with rockets reportedly hitting residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia and electrical infrastructure in Lviv—though Ukrainian officials claimed they intercepted many of the attempted strikes. About 20 people died as a result of the renewed bombings on Monday and Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s emergency services, and more than 100 additional people have been injured. G7 leaders met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, issuing a joint statement afterwards condemning Russia’s recent attacks and pledging to provide Ukraine with financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic, and legal support for “as long as it takes.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters yesterday the alliance plans to “step up” its backing of Ukraine, and defense ministers huddling this week are expected to discuss sending Ukraine air defense systems to protect the country’s infrastructure from additional strikes. 
  • NASA announced Tuesday it has confirmed that last month’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission—in which the agency crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid 7 million miles away—was a triumph, altering the asteroid’s orbit by more than 25 times the amount NASA officials had previously defined as the minimum threshold for success. “As new data come in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way,” said Lori Glaze, NASA’s planetary science division chief.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Republican judicial candidate in Pennsylvania who lost his race earlier this year, vacating a May 2022 ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that required 257 undated mail-in ballots in that election to be counted. The Supreme Court’s decision does not retroactively change the outcome of that race, but could affect the outcome of future elections in the state. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson indicated they would have declined to take up the case.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday also declined to take up dozens of other cases, including one from Rhode Island on fetal personhood that would have tasked the justices with determining—in light of this summer’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling—whether unborn children have constitutional rights.
  • The Labor Department issued a draft rule on Tuesday that—if finalized after a several-week public comment period—would expand the federal definition of who counts as an employee (rather than an independent contractor) for the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Biden administration’s broader rule would supplant a simpler one instituted by the Trump administration, reinstating a “totality-of-the-circumstances” test that looks at “the opportunity for profit or loss, investment, permanency, the degree of control by the employer over the worker, whether the work is an integral part of the employer’s business, and skill and initiative.”
  • Israeli and Lebanese officials announced Tuesday the two countries had reached an agreement on a deal—brokered by the United States—that would resolve a decades-old maritime territorial dispute by divvying up drilling rights at multiple gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. The two countries’ governments—which don’t recognize one another diplomatically—still need to ratify the agreement before it is formally signed, but that process is expected to be completed within a few weeks.
  • For the third consecutive day, People’s Daily—a state-owned Chinese publication widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party—published a story this morning touting the supposed benefits of President Xi Jinping’s COVID-zero policies, indicating the country’s lockdowns and mass surveillance programs are likely to persist into the foreseeable future. Xi is all but assured to secure a third term in office when the CCP’s party congress kicks off this weekend.

Welcome to the New Dispatch Platform

As of about 3 a.m. ET this morning, The Dispatch officially has a new home! The URL is the same—www.thedispatch.com—but you might have noticed things look a little different today than they did yesterday. We’ve done everything we can to ensure the transition is a smooth one, but we’re creatures of habit too, and we understand that change can take some getting used to.

There’s no way for us to foresee every single question you might have today or tomorrow, but we tried to anticipate as many of them as we could—and compiled the answers on this FAQ page.

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Why did The Dispatch leave Substack?

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We’re opening up this week’s Dispatch Live—typically reserved for members—to everyone, since Justin Fritz, our chief operating officer, spent the first 15 minutes walking through all of these platform changes and answering some member questions. You can check it out here:

We know there will be additional questions that pop up throughout this process. If you have any, please let us know in the comments below—or by clicking here. Enjoy exploring the new site!

Worth Your Time

  • Kari Lake—the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Arizona—is the most talented Trump emulator in American politics, Elaine Godfrey reports for The Atlantic. “The way Lake has imitated Trump’s rhetoric is obvious, but as I’ve followed her in the months since, something else has become clear: She is much better at this than Trump’s other emulators,” Godfrey writes. “That makes sense, given her first career in front of the camera, cultivating trust among thousands of Maricopa County viewers. But this is more than imitation: Lake has made MAGA her own. She’s agile as a politician in a way that other high-profile Trump-endorsed candidates, like scandal-plagued Herschel Walker and crudités-eating Mehmet Oz, are not. Lake is more likable than Senate hopefuls like Blake Masters or J.D. Vance. And she bats at the press with a vivacity unmatched by anyone but the big man himself.” Win or lose, Godfrey writes, “Lake’s political trajectory seems set to stretch well beyond the November election. Her success so far has unlocked glittering possibilities, including book deals and prime-time pro-Trump TV slots. She may even be rewarded with a spot alongside Trump on the 2024 presidential ticket. Whatever happens, Kari Lake is here to stay.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a lengthy interview to CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju this week, and it’s well worth the read. From his legacy, to the midterms, to his relationship with President Biden, to his hopes for the GOP, the Kentucky Republican was fairly transparent. “If Republicans take back the Senate, McConnell would find himself again as majority leader in opposition to a Democratic President—as he was with then-President Barack Obama after the 2014 midterms,” Raju notes. “In the interview, McConnell declined to say if he would even consider holding a vote on a Biden Supreme Court nominee should a vacancy arise next year in a GOP majority. Instead, he warned that Biden must talk to Republicans as he goes about making any number of executive and judicial branch appointments. ‘Many of the appointments the President has made during the first two years have been quite extreme,’ McConnell said. ‘I’m not just talking about judges. I’m talking about the boards and commissions. And I think our view would be on appointments that we need to talk about it more and maybe have some recommendations to make ourselves before going down that path.’” He and Biden aren’t as close as both of their detractors would have you believe: “I don’t even remember [the last time I spoke with him],” McConnell said. “It’s been a while.”
  • Abby Livingston moved to D.C. in 2006 to work for her home-state senator, and left the nation’s capital a decade and a half later a jaded and disillusioned journalist. “Some of the most brilliant, thoughtful people I have ever met are members of Congress. But this is a degraded profession,” she laments in the Texas Tribune, where she served as Washington bureau chief for nearly a decade. “Backbenchers, long ignored by the press corps, discovered they could get on TV or pick up Twitter followers by publicly attacking colleagues over an innocent miscommunication or, more often, out of transparently bad faith. Tracking Congress began to feel like keeping up with the latest from the mean girls in my sixth grade cafeteria. That first day back, I saw members wandering around the Rotunda, livestreaming themselves in the middle of the workday, rather than attending committee hearings or meeting with constituents or, hell, even lobbyists. It finally dawned on me that what had once been an unhealthy trend had now hit critical mass: Becoming internet famous was now the entire point of serving in Congress.” When Livingston announced she was leaving her job earlier this year, she got plenty of calls and texts demanding to know what was next. “But mostly,” she writes, “I heard from dozens and dozens of people who sent me texts saying, ‘I get it.’ They opened up, conceding the private stress of finding their own paths through whatever it is this country is going through. Other friends are planning their own exits. … The fact that so many of them are at the end of their rope should worry every American about what comes next.”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Also Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • Sloppy polling coverage is going to give Sarah an aneurysm. “‘Half of voters say climate change is important in midterms, poll finds.’ That is true,” Sarah writes in this week’s Sweep (🔒). “But here is an alternative headline they could have drafted from the exact same data: ‘Climate Changed ranks LAST in issues for voters this fall—after the economy, inflation, education, abortion, crime and immigration.’” Also in yesterday’s newsletter: the disappearing college Republican, a campaign advertisement explainer, and Kari Lake’s canny campaign strategy in Arizona.
  • Tuesday’s episode of Advisory Opinions was recorded in front of a live audience at George Mason University, and featured a discussion between David and Sarah on the never-ending Yale Law School drama, an update on The Onion’s amicus brief, and a look at a 5th Circuit decision in a “zero-pence case” on religious coercion. Plus: Amy Coney Barrett takes on “common good” constitutionalism.
  • On today’s episode of The Dispatch Podcast, Sarah is joined by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana for a conversation about the production cut announced by OPEC last week. How should the United States approach its relationship with Saudi Arabia when the kingdom can “make or break a family budget” on a whim? What can policymakers be doing—or not doing—to bolster American energy independence while continuing to slow carbon emissions? Plus: Who’s got better BBQ, Louisiana or Texas?
  • It’s a Sarah tripleheader on the podcasts today, as she fills in for Jonah and guest hosts today’s Remnant. Axios national political correspondent Jonathan Swan drops by, and Sarah’s uncomfortably personal lines of questioning—from kangaroo meat to childhood crushes—may discourage him from ever returning. Plus: How are Trump’s candidates going to fare in the midterms? Are campaign staffers dragging Democratic candidates to the left? And what are the most important shifts happening in each of the two major parties?
  • Justin Fritz, The Dispatch’s chief operating officer, dropped by Dispatch Live last night to talk about the new website and why we’re leaving Substack, and to answer some frequently asked questions surrounding the migration. Then, Sarah, Jonah, Kevin, and Adam took the reins for a conversation about Sen. Ben Sasse’s likely departure from the Senate and next month’s midterm elections. What’s the point of opposition research? Do debates still matter? Dispatch members (and, for this one, non-members) who missed the discussion can catch a rerun—either video or audio-only—by clicking here.
  • On the NEW site today, Naheed Farid writes about the Taliban’s rapid institution of “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan, Price St. Clair recaps what we’ve learned from the January 6 committee hearings so far in advance of their next hearing on Thursday, and Nick Catoggio looks at how 2024 contenders are navigating the apparent growing popularity of foreign-policy isolationism in the Republican base. 

Let Us Know

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher David Robertson was removed from the team’s playoff roster yesterday after he strained his calf celebrating a teammate’s home run, and Houston Astros pitcher Phil Maton is out for the rest of the year after he broke his fifth metacarpal bone punching his locker in frustration after surrendering a hit to his younger brother Nick. 

What’s your most embarrassing self-inflicted injury story?

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