Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a Prospect senior correspondent and, most recently, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatened Our Future (with Sheril Kirshenbaum).

Recent Articles

Daschle and Destiny

I n late December, as Republicans and Democrats clashed by night over rival economic-stimulus plans, the nation's newspapers began to take note of a top-down GOP campaign to "demonize" Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. "Republicans leave little doubt about their strategy, or its antecedents," wrote Todd Purdum in The New York Times . The game plan, Purdum explained, is to define Daschle as the chief thwarter of the president's high-minded goals for the nation -- a "partisan" (as the New York Post and Wall Street Journal put it), an "obstructionist" (as Dick Cheney did), and George W. Bush's very own Newt Gingrich problem. As evidence, the Times cited a now notorious memo by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who called on loyalists to equate the phrase "Daschle Democrats" with "obstructionist" whenever possible. But there have been hints of an anti-Daschle cabal in the conservative Washington Times since as far back as June, shortly after Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the...

The Most Partisan Journalist

The prize, at least for this week, goes to George Will. In last Sunday's column in The Washington Post , Will repeatedly employed a moniker that Republican strategists have explicitly called on their supporters to use in a propaganda war against Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle: "Daschle Democrats." Will's column itself was titled "The Daschle Democrats." In case you're wondering where this phrasing came from, here's a quotation from a December 21, 2001 New York Times story about conservative attacks on Tom Daschle: It's time for someone, everyone, to start using the phrase 'Daschle Democrats' and the word 'obstructionist' in the same sentence," the Republican strategist Frank Luntz wrote in a memorandum of suggested talking points to the Senate Republican caucus on Wednesday. "It's time for Congressional Republicans to personalize the individual that is standing directly in the way of economic security, and even national security," the memorandum added. "Remember what the Democrats...

Spy Tech

The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology By Jeffrey T. Richelson. Westview Press, 416 pages, $26.00 I n 1954, James R. Killian, Jr., then president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Edwin H. Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation, sent a letter to Central Intelligence Agency Director Allen Dulles outlining an idea they hoped would greatly strengthen the nation's Cold War spying efforts. "Quite strongly, we feel that you must always assert your first right to pioneer in scientific techniques for collecting intelligence," Land and Killian wrote. Referring to plans for a U-2 spy plane, they continued: "This present opportunity for aerial photography seems to us a fine place to start." Killian and Land's cheerleading helped persuade President Dwight Eisenhower to devote $35 million to the U-2 program. Beginning in 1956, secret reconnaissance flights over the USSR began to yield invaluable photographic documentation of Soviet weapons...

The Atheist-Christian Alliance

The motley marriage of convenience between serious intellectual critics of Islam (whatever you may think of them) and the Christian right (who're just bashing a rival religion) continues. In the latest development, the Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes has appeared on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network to discuss the "need to have a general understanding that militant Islam is the enemy and we have just begun the fight against it," as Pipes put it. I recently wrote an article detailing how the anti-Muslim apostate Ibn Warraq, the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim , has been hoisted onto the shoulders of the religious right even though he's an atheist. Pipes too is basically areligious; according to the Washington Post he has described himself as an "agnostic Jew." Granted, it's not that surprising to find Pipes and Robertson in the same camp when you have the situation that Pipes describes here: One finds over and over again that Islam is given special privileges. You may...

Reality Bites Don Feder

Boston Herald columnist Don Feder spends a good chunk of his time penning anti-liberal screeds; recently he dubbed liberalism " America's homegrown suicide cult and the real threat to our nation's survival ." For a man who views those on the left as mere escapists, then, it's simply stunning to read Feder's recent adoration -- political much more than literary -- of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings . In it, the columnist confounds fantasy and reality in a far more literal way than any liberal idealist could possibly manage. In the piece, titled " A ringing affirmation of a moral universe ," Feder finds evidence for such an "affirmation" in a recent upsurge in Bible sales and in the box office success of New Line Cinema's recent Tolkien blockbuster. He seems unaware of the possibility that such a trend might signal just the sort of escapism of which he so frequently accuses the left. Indeed, Feder wonders in all seriousness: "Can mythology, or fairytales, lead us to faith?"...

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