Dingus of the Week: Andrew Yang
My good sir, is it wrong to hold power accountable?
This is the weekly dingus email. It’s a Friday newsletter, where we talk about something really dingusy in the news. Then, share some links and a drink. Join us, won’t you?
This week, Andrew Yang, most famous for losing various races for office, and promising to create 100,000 jobs, but only creating 150, criticized the Department of Justice for executing a search warrant on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Yang’s tweet warned that enforcing the laws of our country would make Trump look like a victim.
Yang then pontificated that the raid was authorized by a local judge.
The very next day, Attorney General Merrick Garland took the stage to say he signed that search warrant himself and that he’d happily have it unsealed if that’s what you cowards want. And a breaking story from the Washington Post contends that the documents the FBI were after were actually nuclear secrets. Which, yikes.
Yang was wrong. But he’s not alone in his logic, which mirrors the Greek chorus of horse-race pontificating in our everybody-is-a-pundit culture. Horse-race reasoning views political battles not as issues of democracy, law, order, or the well-being of humans, but as races that need to be won. That’s it. Every bit of news suddenly becomes about how it will affect candidates while the rest of humanity sits on the sidelines and loses. This punditry often passes for intelligent analysis instead of what it is: cynical and short-sighted and, really, kind of dumb.
In a culture where everyone needs to say something so loudly, horse-race political analysis allows commentators to say something without ever really saying anything.
“Why are you being so divisive?” the intelligent pundit calls out when people point out the cavernous divide. “Calling bad things bad is bad,” the pundit declares, while things continue to go from bad to worse.
Yang and others are wrong because no amount of pandering is ever going to make America’s fringe think that it isn’t the target of some vast conspiracy. No amount of ignoring corruption will stop the rise of extremism in America. This is the “stop hitting yourself” logic of political punditry, which argues that the most noxious elements of American politics are a result of people calling a bad thing bad, rather than the bad thing being bad.
As a treat, have some Alexandra Petri, who wrote about Yang’s third party, which he founded so he could found a third party.
We are not a party of ideas. We are a party of the total absence of ideas. No, rather, our idea is that we will solve problems using good ideas. This is such a good idea we are amazed that nobody has had it before. Do we have any good ideas? No. We are more idea-ideas people than idea people, if you see. Our big idea is to disrupt the party system. Other parties have brought things to the table, but we are disrupting that by bringing nothing to the table.
This week, Iowa’s favorite reanimated corpse, Chuck Grassley, speculated that the IRS, which does not have actual scanners, is going to use some of its new money to start a militia.
And Now, for Something Good:
Beto O’Rourke swore at someone again. This time it was a heckler who laughed when he brought up the Uvalde shooting. “It may be funny to you, motherfucker, but it’s not funny to me.”
In response, some people are declaring that Beto’s language is a disgrace to politics. But you know that old Texas saying, “If it looks like a motherfucker, acts like a motherfucker, you better just call it a motherfucker.”
And excellent news, standards for relationships are getting higher, which means men have to level up. And also, this is your regular reminder that being single is actually wonderful and fun, and no one is owed a relationship.
Also, Fox’s Brian Kilmeade blamed this judge for the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago. (See above: it was Merrick.) But in the smear campaign to discredit the search, Kilmeade mocked the judge for this Facebook picture of him eating Oreos and drinking whiskey. Sorry, Brian, but eating Oreos and drinking whiskey is more American than Funyuns and Bud Light, it’s more American than Apple Pie and Moonshine.
It’s definitely better than whatever this is.
What I Am Reading:
This week marks the five-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally was such a pivotal moment for so many in America—because it unmasked a violent extremism that too many in America wanted to ignore. Even now, it’s easy to pretend that the hate isn’t us and this isn’t America. But last week, at the farmer’s market, a local vendor was selling coasters with the Three Percenter symbol on them. Iowa’s governor is using a lawyer from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group, to try to get abortion restricted. Christopher Mathias, writing for the Huffington Post, wrote about the hunt for white supremacists after Charlottesville.
Last year, I covered the civil trial against the organizers of the Unite the Right rally and wrote a series of newsletters and articles about it.
Anne Helen Petersen wrote about how work-from-home traps women.
Remember when I saw two women hit by a truck at a pro-abortion protest in Cedar Rapids? Well, the police finally pressed charges against the truck driver. And I do not love carceral justice. But in the aftermath of this attack, I’ve had so many people tell me the women deserved to be hit or that I was overreacting, and this feels very vindicating. I might write about this more later, but I’ve really been struggling running outdoors since this happened. And I won’t give up on one of my greatest joys (yes, jogging, yes, I am a sicko).
And over on this professional newsletter, I wrote about puzzles and survival.
What I Am Drinking:
I have a lot of mint in my garden, so tonight I will be making a whiskey smash—muddling up mint and lemon, and then adding a bit of bourbon and simple syrup. I also have some blackberries, so I’m considering muddling, blackberries, sugar, mint, and lemon. Then topping it off with some bourbon. Making a complicated drink? IN THIS ECONOMY???
I absolutely made this up. But it should absolutely be a saying now.