Dingus of the Week: Kyrsten Sinema

America's manic pixie dream obstructionist and Manhattans

Hi! Welcome to the Weekly Dingus, my Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink, and yell about a dingus. Is that dingus a politicianA boat in a canalMy dog? Or maybe it’s just pants. You can read about past weekly dinguses in the archives.

Some weeks, picking a dingus is a lot of work. I have to sift through the daily stories of our planetary and democratic demise trying to find a worthy example of that dingus essence—that is not quite murderous, yet sufficiently stupidly ridiculous that it both enrages and highlights the absurdity of our time.

But some weeks, the dingus chooses itself.

This is one of those weeks.

I suppose, women (like me) who also have names with errant Y’s in them, should not pick other women who have names with errant Y’s in them (Kyrsten Sinema). But she leaves me no choice.

If you somehow missed the news, the government narrowly avoided a shutdown, because two centrist Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are a little worried about the price tag of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill. To be clear, the bill is mostly paid for, and the polo shirts at Bloomberg say it will have little effect on inflation. 

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona’s manic pixie dream obstructionist, is out in Washington, DC, this week holding up key legislation that is supported by 96 percent of Democrats in the House and the Senate and 70 percent of Americans, just because she once used Excel. 

Listen, for three years I taught Excel at community college to the laid-off hordes of the 2008 recession (one of whom was me, I was a laid off horde). I know my way around a tab and a cell. And all that learning has taught me that money is an invented concept that becomes faker and faker the more rich you are. If you are poor, money is so real. If you are rich, money is a line item that you move around and when things get tough, the government bails you out. 

What is real are the human lives at stake.

Sinema beats out Manchin for the winner this week because Sinema has no coherent excuse for her obstructionism. Sarah Jones, writing for NY Mag, points out that while Joe Manchin faces the prospect of losing his seat in a deep-red state, Sinema has no reasons to play these games. Noting:

“In fact, she has practically guaranteed herself a primary challenge that she’s poorly positioned to win. The Sinema and Manchin school of politics defies reality, and common sense along with it. It has never been more apparent that the real threat to the president is not the left — which has emerged as the strongest defender of the Biden agenda — but the centrists. They have no vision. Asked, repeatedly, by the president, their colleagues, and nearly everyone else what it would take for them to support the spending package in question, they have little to say.”

Any pearl-grabbing over a spending bill in 2021 is a pathetic ruse. Anyone who can buy alcohol and cigarettes remembers the 2008 recession. That coupled with the pandemic has shown us that the government can and will toss tons of money out to banks and airlines and anyone else with a tie and a trust fund when the going gets tough. Our military budget is large, bulky, and pointless. In 2020, Iowa farmers were one of the biggest recipients of federal subsidies that boosted their income 41 percent. And yet, somehow when it comes to passing a bill that seeks to lower child care costs and lower health care costs? That’s somehow socialism?

Pass the bill.

PS: A dingus runner-up is that stupid congressional baseball game, which Christopher Ingraham skewered in his great newsletter.

What I’ve Been Reading:

This week, I got to the part of The Feminine Mystique when Betty Friedan gets weird about gender and really lets Freud have it without examining her own heteronormative beliefs. So that’s been a real eye-opener. I think it’s very possible to engage with the texts and personalities that have pushed progress forward and also held progress back in a way that doesn’t toss out baby and bathwater. Although, who wants another baby? Not me. But that’s the project right now. Not babies. Betty Friedan. 

And last weekend, I was out in Decorah for the Luther Literary Festival and I heard the luminous and wonderful Geraldine Brooks speak. She spoke about the unheard voices of our era, how they are not us, out there clacking and clamoring, but those who are struggling and unable to speak for themselves right now. It was a reminder to talk less. 

Because I loved her talk so much, I picked up her book Year of Wonders, which is a historical novel set during the plague times in England. The story is fascinating and so wonderfully told I could not put it down. It’s an exploration of all the horrors humans are capable of in the worst circumstances. And I wanted to think it was a bit over the top, but looking out on our country, maybe not.

This week, I read an exploration of childhood poverty: “When Dasani Left Home.” I also read this incredible essay by Osita Nwanevu, “What Is Political Writing For?” It made me rethink the goal and purpose of a lot of my writing and shifted how I fundamentally look at who I think my audience is. And that’s good, because I have been struggling to understand who and what that is as I approach the one-year anniversary of this newsletter as my primary income.

Everyone is talking about hopelessness and rage. This article, “We Found Rage in a Hopeless Place.” Parker Molloy’s “Are You Okay?” And Charlie Warzel’s “What Do We Do With All This Rage?” I approached the topic from the other end. Not how to handle the anger, but how to find empathy, when I discussed living on the edge of death with best-selling author Kate Bowler.

Also, I really appreciated Virginia Sole-Smith’s “What We Get Wrong About Trauma and Fatness.” I am a person who gets thin during trauma, because I like to use food as a form of control, which is not great. But the way that impulse is rewarded is deeply damaging. And I appreciate her perspective that we are the beautiful bodies of survival because we are alive.

For The Riveter, I wrote about how kids’ sports are taking over my life and how schools still default to assuming a two-parent household where one doesn’t work, and I hate it.

Also, ICYMI: It’s the worst tweets bracket. None of mine are in there.

And as I come up on the anniversary of doing this newsletter full time, I have no idea how I am going to commemorate it. But I would like to thank everyone who subscribes. We have nearly 13,000 subscribers and an open rate of over 40%. That’s incredible. If you love this newsletter, please share it with friends and family and even a couple enemies.

What I’ve Been Drinking:

This week, I drank too much on Monday night and aggressively texted friends to encourage them to adopt dogs. Then, I apparently planned a party literally right over another event, so the party was canceled. We will reschedule! This is all to say, seeing my friend Kristie is amazing. And while I made us Manhattans with chocolate bitters, she suggested this drink as a sweater-weather gin and tonic. She calls it a G&Tea.


Lightly brew Earl Gray tea and chill. Add 1 cup to 1 oz of gin, 1 Tbsp simple syrup, and ½ Tbsp of lemon juice. Serve over ice.

I have not yet made it because, since Monday, this is a temperance household.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Men Yell at Me is a newsletter about the places where our bodies and politics collide and yes, the occasional yelling man. Learn more about it and me (Lyz) here. You can sign up to receive the free weekly email, which includes interviews, essays, and original reporting. The Friday email is a weekly round-up of dinguses, drinks, and links. On Monday I have a subscribers-only open thread where we discuss politics and our bodies and more.

If you thought this newsletter was funny or interesting in anyway, share it! Send it to a friend! or don’t, I am not your mom.