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

Better All the Time

War appears to be on the verge of making everyone -- except for a few U.C. Berkeley students (see below) -- sane. As George Will recently observed, because of the present conflict, "Both conservatism and liberalism have been purified by being purged of some anachronistic ingredients." Conservatives have given up on their more radical anti-federalist streak; liberals have shed the influence of the loony left (or what Idea Log last week called the "preemptive peace" movement) to become internationalists and humanitarian interventionists. One aspect of this trend has been particularly heartening: Some conservatives have backed off their rhetorical tirades against "nation-building." Sure, in late September Bush asserted that "nation-building" wasn't our goal in Afghanistan, and the White House flack-o-matic Ari Fleischer has been parroting this ever since. But Tony Blair put Bush to shame with the resounding internationalism of his October 2nd speech at the annual conference of the...

Preemptive Peace

The Idea Log is a new column by Chris Mooney. It will appear on TAP Online every Tuesday. After attending last Saturday's 7,500 person peace march in downtown Washington, D.C., sponsored by "International A.N.S.W.E.R." (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), I was left with a rather odd conclusion: The protesters hadn't watched enough CNN . I mean, I'm sure they were glued to the news on September 11th like all the rest of us, watching the trade towers collapse again and again, and hearing some U.S. foreign policy luminaries, like Lawrence Eagleburger, call for sweeping retribution. But after September 12th or 13th, the demonstrators, many of them students, appear to have switched off. One of the countless protest signs I saw -- and one of the few sarcastic ones -- read "Rush In, Think Later." This is precisely what the Bush administration has not done, though it's hard to say the same of certain peaceniks. Such is the paradox of a preemptive peace march, a protest that critiques the...

Back to Church

H awkish conservatives today must secretly reserve a special affection for the late Idaho Democrat Frank Church; after all, he provided them with the cudgel they've since used to batter liberal critics of the U.S. intelligence community. As chair of the Senate's 1975 intelligence investigation, Church famously characterized the Central Intelligence Agency as a "rogue elephant rampaging out of control." He was struggling to describe the lack of any clear presidential authorization for the agency's bungled assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders. But to Church's critics, the "rogue elephant" comment came to epitomize the barnstorming liberal senator's hopelessly naive approach to intelligence. What president, they asked, would leave behind a written assassination order? Who was Church kidding? And how dare the senator--gearing up to run for president--grandstand at the expense of national security? In the wake of September 11, we've been hearing "rogue...

Land Mass Follies

Despite media and pollster predictions to the contrary, George W. Bush lost the nation's popular vote to Al Gore on November 7. But according to Republican howitzers Rush Limbaugh, David Horowitz, and others, he won something more important: the most land. During the early stages of the Florida recount, both www.rushlimbaugh.com and Horowitz's Front Page Magazine ( www.frontpagemag.com ) displayed a graphic lifted from the November 9 issue of USA TODAY . It was a county-by-county breakdown of presidential election results, with Bush counties in red and Gore counties in blue. The map of the United States in the image was covered with vast swaths of red and tiny splotches of blue--an overwhelming cartographic victory for George W., who won 2,434 counties to Gore's 677. Citing the total square miles won by each candidate--2,427,039 for Bush, 580,134 for Gore--to show that the Republican prevailed is an argument that probably wouldn't hold up very well...

Surprising Nostradamus

One of the synchronicities of the 2000 election was that interest in Nostradamus spiked after George W. Bush was finally acclaimed president-elect. At the turn of the year, the sixteenth-century French seer was listed at number 32 on the Lycos 50, the search engine's compilation of top online information requests (the list doesn't include pornography-related searches). The sudden prominence of Nostradamus was undoubtedly triggered by a widely circulated electronic message asserting that in 1555 the prophet had foreseen the results of the presidential election: Come the millennium, month 12, In the home of the greatest power, The village idiot will come forth To be acclaimed the leader. The message, which sounds a lot like something unleashed from a college dorm room somewhere, was forwarded around the world via the Internet. And references to the "quotation" popped up in columns by The New Republic 's Martin Peretz and The New York Times 's...

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