When communications consultant Susan Nall Bales talks to environmental groups, she tells them that they can't fix government policies until they first fix themselves. For Bales, that means these groups must become acutely conscious of the stories that they're telling and the hidden chains of reasoning their narratives can set off in the public mind.
As early as this week, the full Senate may vote on the nomination of the conservative lawyer Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Estrada's nomination squeaked out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 10-9 party line vote: no Democrat supported it, and now liberal activist groups are calling for a filibuster. News coverage has frequently emphasized that Estrada has been appointed to the nation's "second most important court," but has rarely explained what this actually means, or why the Bush administration's desire to pack the DC Circuit with conservative judges is so troubling. From our upcoming March issue, Chris Mooney reports on this crucial but often neglected court:
In a recent New York Times Magazine cover story about animal rights, journalist Michael Pollan reported that 51 percent of Americans believe that "primates are entitled to the same rights as human children." It was a surprising finding, but one that Pollan simply attributed to a "recent Zogby Poll." When Pollan's article came out, you can only imagine the celebration at the Doris Day Animal League, a group dedicated to establishing legal rights for chimpanzees. The league's role in commissioning the survey went entirely unmentioned in the Times story. By hiring the renowned pollster John Zogby, the group had essentially purchased an objective fact, one that entered into the conventional wisdom via the nation's leading Sunday magazine.
It must take guts to be a "young-Earth" creationist. After all, imagine rejecting virtually all of modern science based on a literal interpretation of Genesis. Imagine opening yourself up to ridicule by insisting that Adam and Eve lived alongside the dinosaurs, Dinotopia-style, and that Noah crammed brontosauruses onto the Ark -- necessary inferences if you think the Bible is true and that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago. Sure, these views are way outside the scientiﬁc mainstream (though polls suggest nearly half of Americans may hold them). But young-Earth creationism is so rigid in its adherence to religious doctrine that there's almost a kind of perverse integrity to it.
"A day doesn't go by but somebody comes into my office and says, 'How do I get into the intelligence system?'" remarks Arthur Hulnick, a 28-year Central Intelligence Agency veteran who now teaches international relations at Boston University. This avid interest is a far cry from 15 years ago, at the height of Iran-Contra, when students nationwide were being arrested in connection with anti-CIA protests. Representing "the Company" on campuses in those days, Hulnick once had a pot hurled at him.