Mori Dinauer

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

Recent Articles

Lightning Round: Today Is the 54th Anniversary of Ike's Second Inaugural! Rejoice!

What the hell, let's engage in some irresponsible 2012 presidential speculation. I see that the Republican primary is essentially (I don't consider the former governor of Alaska to be viable) down to Romney and Huckabee , which, as David Weigel puts it , "emphasizes the power Mike Huckabee has to shape the race." Why is this? Because Huckabee won Iowa in 2008. Romney came in second. Romney also came in second in New Hampshire, behind McCain . Nevada? All Romney. South Carolina? Huckabee came in second behind McCain with Romney essentially tied for third with Fred Thompson . If there's no Huckabee, 2012 belongs to Romney. Robert Dallek asks , on the 50th anniversary of JFK 's inauguration, "Why do we admire a president who did so little?" I think the answer here is pretty obvious: JFK had a group of people willing to tirelessly promote the idea of JFK, and they succeeded. Something comparable happened with Ronald Reagan , because even though he "accomplished" more than JFK did, his...

Lightning Round: And Also, They Greeted Us as Liberators.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Republicans are now suddenly talking about the filibuster as an undemocratic abomination or that they would continue to lie out of convenience or ignorance about the costs/benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Whatever principles inform the conservative mind are conspicuously absent in the modern Republican Party. Since it's politically possible for the GOP to dismantle the welfare state, they instead do nothing and then blame Democrats for gridlock. Truly one of America's great political parties. Today's non-controversy concerns the absence of John Boehner at tonight's state dinner, which leads the gang at First Read to note , "The move has raised eyebrows for some, especially after Boehner turned down a ride on Air Force One to go to Tucson, and after Republican congressional leaders wanted a later date for their post-election meeting with Obama ." The problem, it would seem, is that Boehner is engaging in insufficient pomp given his promotion to...

Lightning Round: Principled Helplessness.

Yesterday, First Read had an item correcting a Washington Post article that claimed "federal authorities" were attempting to move the Jared Loughner trial to San Diego, which is actually up to the judge. Now, I bring this up because it's a great example of the mainstream journalism correcting a false meme. But my question is why this happens so infrequently. Maybe it's because this correction is uncontroversial, but we could use more of this routine fact-checking in our political discourse instead of the usual he-said she-said blathering. It is instructive to think about conservatism as a form of principled helplessness whereby we cannot countenance collective solutions to any public-policy problem, whether it's regulation of industry or basic sanitation services . I think the principle at stake here is that we mustn't interfere with the natural order of things, which should be sussed out through the mechanizations of the market, but it doesn't take much to realize that "free markets...

Lightning Round: There's More to Freedom Than a Mel Gibson Monologue.

According to the Heritage Foundation, America continues its steep descent on the "economic freedom" scale , dropping to ninth overall, firmly in the "mostly free" bracket. Now, I happen to believe economic freedom is a good and important thing. But it is one freedom among many. For the libertarian right, however, economic freedom is freedom, QED. Similarly, this Washington Post editorial that reads a gloomy Freedom House report and concludes that Obama and America need to "advocate" more for freedom in the world. Haven't we done enough "freedom advocacy" this past decade? Jonathan Bernstein has a great post about how recent events have revealed the pervasiveness of the conservative movement's "epistemic closure" problem (remember that?). And to be honest, I'm not clear how the echo chamber works. I don't buy that it's as simple as Rush (or whoever) says something and everyone's got their marching orders. Rather, I suspect it has to do with a set of shared assumptions that bind...

Lightning Round: Beltway Theater.

I know we're all feeling unified as Americans after last night's speech, but Sen. Mark Udall 's idea to have bipartisan seating for the upcoming State of the Union Address feels gimmicky. As Dan Amira writes , the normal separation allows viewers to see "in real time" politicians' "positions on the president's agenda" and "allows us to identify the few party-bucking independent thinkers." All true. But a facade of bipartisanship does not necessarily lead to legislative bipartisanship, so this just feels like Beltway theater. Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison has announced that she will retire, rather than seek another term next year, to live "full-time in Texas with my family." Of course, the real reason is probably closer to "I'd rather avoid the circus that will be the inevitable primary campaign against me" but that's how things go in Republican politics these days. This is the first announced retirement for the 2012 cycle. Some possible candidates for the now-open seat can be found here...

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