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

G.W.'s Litterbox Strategy

"George and Laura Bush also own two cats, Willie, who is coal black, and six-toed Ernie, an orange-and-white feline. Ernie is named for Ernest Hemingway, who also owned a six-toed cat." -- Austin American Statesman , September 2, 2000 E arlier this month, the Bush campaign revealed its latest slogan: "Real Plans for Real People." Some found the new theme puzzling, wondering, "What exactly is a real person?" Others pondered: "What would a fake person be like?" Though the new Bush slogan raises deep questions, Rightwatch believes it has uncovered the answers. They lie in the Bush family litterbox. One of the Bushes' cats, Ernie, is named after the famous American novelist, Ernest Hemingway. Could it be that Bush was also thinking of Hemingway's unique brand of terse, evocative literary realism when he came up with his strikingly plain new slogan, "Real Plans for Real People"? By "real people," could Bush have meant Hemingway'...

The Cajun Rage:

When Pat Brister, state chairwoman of the Louisiana Republican Party , wanted to do her part to seal the 2000 election for George W. Bush, she didn't need Tom DeLay to provide an e-ticket to Florida. Instead, she just strolled out into her political backyard. Last month, Brister assembled a mid-sized Republican mob outside the Baton Rouge office of Louisiana's senior senator, Democrat John Breaux , and hand-delivered a letter urging Breaux to "call for Vice President Gore to accept the certification of the Florida Secretary of State" ensuring that Bush had won the election. Covering the media stunt, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported that Brister was unable to actually get to Breaux, and had to hand the letter over to an intern. But Louisiana Republicans had made their point. In a state George W. Bush carried handily, John Breaux was beholden to them at least as much as to the national Democratic Party. So far, Breaux hasn't called for Gore to concede...

Standard Shift

U .S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been getting himself dusty in the law library lately. News organizations reported on July 12 that Ashcroft, a National Rifle Association member, had reversed the Justice Department's long-standing constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment (which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"). According to Ashcroft, the amendment protects a robust individual right to bear arms for every American, and not merely a collective right limited to militia service, as federal courts have ruled. This is no mere abstract intellectual dispute: The Justice Department shift could make it easier to bring constitutional challenges against the nation's gun laws. In a May letter to the National Rifle Association, Ashcroft maintained that his individual-rights interpretation "is embraced by the preponderance of legal scholarship on the subject...

Jumping the Gun

The Weekly Standard ran a story in July titled "Taking the Second Amendment Seriously," its cover art showing the weather-stained statue of what looks like a militiaman. The article--actually a thick chunk of legalese by George Mason law professor Nelson Lund--turns out to be the latest conservative gush-fest over an April 1999 federal district court ruling out of northern Texas affirming an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Thanks to the NRA, most Americans believe the Amendment already confers such a right. But the federal courts have generally only endorsed a "collective" right to bear arms in the context of a state militia, such as the National Guard. Gun rightists hope the Texas case U.S. v. Emerson will ultimately percolate up to the Supreme Court, where it could become a landmark--the gun issue's equivalent of Roe v. Wade . At NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, Lund's article is probably already responsible for overheating several copying machines...

The Real Gun Crisis

It was Sunday morning, Mother's Day. In Washington, D.C., the Clintons were welcoming Million Mom Marchers at the White House before their rally, while near the Washington Monument, the Second Amendment Sisters were beginning to assemble. But in North Michigan, in the town of Menominee near the Wisconsin border, it was also the morning after the local high school's prom, and B.J. Stupak, son of the four-term Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, had been found dead in his home. The apparently thriving high school junior -- recently elected president of the student council and named to prom court -- had shot himself. As Capitol Hill mourned the tragic death of Stupak's son, Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono decided something had to be done. She sent an open letter to the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, encouraging the group "to inform parents, teens and all gun owners of the potentially dangerous connection between the access to a gun and suicide." In B.J.'...

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