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

Localizing Globalization

I n 1999, after a study by the university of California at Davis warned that the chemical MTBE may cause cancer in humans, California became the first U.S. state to phase out its use as a gasoline additive. (MTBE from leaking underground storage tanks contaminates soil and groundwater.) But the Canadian corporation Methanex, which produces the MBTE ingredient methanol, viewed California's action as a confiscation of its property. So Methanex pursued a novel avenue of redress--one that leaps across three separate levels of law and governance. Though its quarrel was with a state law, Methanex sued the federal government of the United States for $970 million under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) . The company's litigation strategy was made possible by NAFTA's Chapter 11, which provides sweeping property-rights protections for foreign companies, including a ban on all hostgovernment actions deemed "tantamount" to expropriation. This sleeper provision also contains a...

Mothers of Invention

As the political season heated up, the mass media delightedly revived a favorite clash-of the-titans saga from the mid-1980s: the supposed battle between outspoken rock star Frank Zappa and Tipper Gore over nasty lyrics peddled by the music industry. With Tipper Gore much in the news, and then with the selection of the high-minded Joe Lieberman as Al Gore's running mate, media minds reeled back to the war between the righteous and the raunchy that began with Tipper's establishment of the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 and ultimately led to the recording industry's adoption of "Tipper stickers," labels that warn parents about record contents. Back in those days, Frank Zappa--whose comically foul songs often seemed designed to peeve parents--took on Tipper and the "wives of Big Brother," memorably lampooning their proposals during U.S. Senate hearings. Zappa also added a mock "warning/guarantee" label to his albums, reading in part, "The language and...

A Fox in Sheep's Clothing

It was a moment that had political junkies, just out of bed for the Sunday morning talk shows and slurping cereal milk, snarfing with laughter. Asked by ABC's Sam Donaldson to comment on Pat Buchanan's build-a-wall protectionist views on the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox responded, "Is he still alive?" The real Fox-Buchanan joke may have a different punch line. Though the two are far apart on economic issues such as NAFTA, on social questions the Jesuit-schooled Fox takes a number of stances reminiscent of Buchanan's right-wing Catholicism. Vicente Fox on abortion? As a devout Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. Fox, who has four adopted children, says he doesn't want to change Mexican abortion laws, which currently allow the procedure only in cases of rape or when the life of the mother is at stake. Fox on homosexuality? "A degenerate act which goes against human nature." During his victorious campaign against Institutional Revolutionary Party (...

We Aren't the World:

Chances are most liberals aren't familiar with the Left Behind series, the set of apocalyptic mega-bestsellers penned by the fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. But if you want some insight into conservative rage over the recent booting of the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Commission -- where it has held a seat since the body's founding in 1947 -- the Left Behind novels are a good place to start. Informed by a rather oddball theological outlook, LaHaye's and Jenkins's fictional account begins with what evangelicals refer to as "the Rapture." In this supernatural conflagration, all devout Christians (the "saved") are summoned instantly from Earth up to Heaven, leaving behind their worldly possessions and even their unrepentant family members. Not surprisingly, deprived of its most morally straight inhabitants, the world goes quickly to hell. One indicator of the apocalypse? The Antichrist ascends to the position of Secretary-General of the United...

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