Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Our "Hollowed Out" Military.

During the Cold War, defense and intelligence officials used to routinely go to Capitol Hill and warn that the Soviet military was a gargantuan colossus, one that would inevitably crush us when the inevitable third world war came to pass. In response, of course, it would be necessary to dramatically increase our own defense spending. Much of what they said about the Soviets was based on incorrect information or just wildly exaggerated, but it usually did the job. And today, with the Soviet Union gone, we account for most of the world's defense spending -- 54 percent in 2009 , according to a recent report. That's right: There are 195 countries on planet Earth, and if you added up the military spending of the 194 of them that aren't the United States, you'd still have less than what we are spending. Now, many conservatives think that's as it should be. Fair enough. But if they're going to convince the country to spend significantly more , what are they going to say? You guessed it: They...

Stimulus Kudos.

It may not be the kind of thing that gets people joyously running to the polls, but the administration deserves some credit for this : The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report to be released Friday... Even some former skeptics who predicted that the money would lead to rampant abuse now acknowledge that the program could serve as a model for improving efficiency in government... Meanwhile, lower-than-anticipated costs for some projects have permitted the administration to stretch stimulus money further than expected, financing an additional 3,000 projects, according to the report... "Certainly, the fraud and waste element has been smaller than I think anything anybody anticipated," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "You can certainly challenge some projects...

The Impossibility of Having an Intelligent Conversation About Government, Part 4,592

We're spending a lot of time these days talking about the proper size of government, an eternal debate in American politics. You've probably gotten frustrated recently when you see Tea Partiers talking about how they feel terribly oppressed by the tyranny of things like the stimulus bill. "What the hell are they talking about?" you ask yourself. The idea that the federal government funding things like highway projects is pretty much the same thing as the Stasi bugging your house and carting your uncle off to jail for making a joke about a local apparatchik seems like something no sane person could believe. So where do they get these ideas? Well, one place they get them is from our nation's lawmakers. Think Progress gives us this rather amazing video , featuring Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia: BROUN: I tell ya, we’ve got some new problems in Washington. Big problems. Just today, Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said people in America are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. They...

Zoom Zoom.

(Flickr/ Ivan Walsh ) Amtrak recently released a plan to create a "Next-Gen" high speed rail line on the eastern seaboard. For $117 billion and 25 years of construction (new tracks and tunnels, among other things, would be needed), we could get trains moving 220 miles per hour. And we should -- it would create more economic benefits than the cost, for starters. But just as a reminder of how absurdly behind the United States is in this area, China just tested their newest high-speed train, which goes 258 miles per hour. Not 25 years from now, but now. -- Paul Waldman

Kittens Resting Easy Tonight.

This bundle of cuteness has just been saved by the U.S. Senate. (Flickr/ Stijn Vogels ) Back in April, the Supreme Court struck down a law banning depictions of animal cruelty on the grounds that the statute was overbroad (I wrote a column about it) . The law was meant to crack down on "crush videos" - in which women in high heels are seen stepping on small animals, like our friend pictured above - but the Court worried that the law could be used against things like hunting videos (and the case in question actually involved videos of dogfights). If you thought your representatives in Washington would take that kind of thing lying down, you couldn't be more wrong. Following on a House action from July, the Senate just passed a measure making it illegal to make or distribute crush videos - with appropriate exemptions for videos portraying hunting, fishing, trapping, and other wholesome activities. Not only that, they did it unanimously. Maybe Barack Obama has changed the partisan...

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