Mori Dinauer

Mori Dinauer is a former web editorial intern at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Who's Got the Power?

Last week, Gallup released a poll asking Americans whether various institutions of social authority, especially those that form the government, wield too much power, and the consensus was, virtually, "they all do." Conor Friedersdorf sees this as evidence of a coherent political worldview, one that he himself shares, and he even goes through each institution to explain whether they have too much power or not. Well, almost every one. He doesn't mention the military, which a mere 14 percent of respondents said had too much power. This is a bit inconvenient for arguments that suggest some creed of civic libertarianism flows through the veins of the American public, but it also reveals something interesting about the nature of power. Isn't the military, by definition, an institution that wields great power? Well, yes. But it doesn't wield its great power within the confines of the United States. Yes, the tidy relationship between defense contractors and the state, congressional districts...

Pundits Have Difficulty Discerning the Republican Party's Priorities

What more is there to say about about the topic of the week, Paul Ryan 's "Path to Prosperity?" Its novelty, as it were, is a complete fiction. Anybody who has paid the slightest bit of attention to American politics over the last century knows that Republicans are opposed to funding a welfare state. Anybody paying attention to American politics over the last 30 years knows that slashing income taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, or any tax falling on the richest Americans has been the top priority of the Republican Party. And anyone paying attention to American politics over the last 15 years knows that Republicans have only intensified in these views and have begun to punish apostates across the board. Yet there seems to be utter confusion in punditry that this is what the Republican Party stands for. This week, Mark Kleiman wrote , as an aside, "The basic fact about American political life today is that one of the two major parties is dominated by dangerous extremists. The...

No, Really, Americans Aren't Motivated by Ideology

Richard Florida has a post in The Atlantic that sees the number of people who self-identify as conservative state by state as evidence that "America is an increasingly conservative nation, by ideology and by political affiliation." Let's leave aside the obvious point that Americans telling us they are "conservative" is essentially meaningless in terms of sussing out the ideological bent -- if any -- of the country. Florida asks a more interesting question, which is why some states are becoming more conservative, looking at a variety of possible correlating data. Unsurprisingly, he finds that more religious states tend to be more conservative while more educated states tend to be liberal. Similarly, conservative states are "working class" while "creative class" states are liberal. And finally, higher income means wealthier individuals tend to vote Republican, while richer states vote Democrat. So what does all this mean? Florida suggests the following: Conservatism, at least at the...

Ideas Have Consequences (When They're Sophisticated)

As I've written before, to call public furor thus started "astroturf" or phony misses the point; people can try to make an idea catch fire, but it only does so if it genuinely meets the emotional or political needs of a mass; and the need to pretend that the only reason anyone is against public unions, taxes, and spending is that evil oil billionaires are paying them or manipulating them is mighty strong out in the rank and file as well as among progressive leadership, in government or the foundations. That's Brian Doherty , weighing in on the latest round of blogospheric pondering over the Koch brothers, this time set off by an blatantly flattering portrait by Matthew "The Persecution of Sarah Palin " Continetti in The Weekly Standard . I actually agree with Doherty that "ideas can have consequences" if they're compelling enough, but he seems to believe that the Kochs' embarrassingly unsophisticated ideas about how economics work are expressed in the public's desire to "cut spending...

How Concern Over Media "Bias" Warps Judgment

Conor Friedersdorf calls on the right to police their media outlets and call out slander and lies, but rightfully notes that critics fail to realize how fundamental a shift this would be for conservatives: I’d love to see more folks in the conservative movement adopt Rubin ’s attitude. But they won’t. One reason is that it’s difficult to condemn Beck in isolation. Acknowledging that his show is indefensible -- that’s the core of her critique -- means confronting the fact that Fox News under Roger Ailes knowingly broadcasts factually inaccurate and egregiously misleading nonsense every day. How many conservatives are willing to stipulate that? It also means departing from the conservative movement’s standard approach to its entertainers: It’s verboten to criticize anyone on “your own side” in an ideological conflict many see as binary. I'd put that last sentence differently. It's not so much that conservatives assiduously stick by Reagan 's 11th Commandment, refusing to criticize each...

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