Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Don't Tell the Vampires.

(Flickr/ digiom ) Not many good things have come out of the two wars we're still fighting, but one thing you can say is that they have spurred medical advancement. They've given more urgency to the development of prosthetic limbs, for instance, and opened new understandings in how to treat pain . And here's the latest, as Wired tells us: synthetic blood delivered to the battlefield. A company called Arteriocyte, using a $1.95 million grant from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), just sent a "pharmed" blood product to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. The process, which the company describes as "basically mimicking bone marrow in a lab environment," uses one unit of donated umbilical cord blood to manufacture 20 units of universal, O-negative blood. It'll be a while before we all start getting synthetic blood every time we go in for surgery -- human trials haven't started yet, and right now it costs $5,000 per unit, so the process needs to be scaled up...

Innovations in Corporate Lobbying.

Don't let The Man cramp your texting style! (Flickr/ OregonDOT ) Let's say you're an entrepreneurial lobbyist, looking for a beleaguered industry in need of some help. Someone whose products are being criticized, but who hasn't fought back. Well, how about this "distracted driving" thing? Shouldn't there be someone out there arguing that people should be texting while driving? Or at least that if they do, it really isn't any worse than, say, listening to the radio? And wouldn't wireless companies and smartphone makers pay you a lot of money to go out and make that case? I know, it sounds like a joke. But it's apparently what a lobbying firm called the Seward Square Group thought. In an internal document laying out the plan obtained by the website , the firm says, "With industries remaining silent, national transportation authorities and media celebrities have hijacked the debate, a dire consequence to reasonable regulation." So it created the DRIVE coalition (Drivers...

Chamber of Horrors.

The Washington Monthly has an interesting article by James Verini about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its president, Thomas Donohue . You already know that the chamber is a major player in Washington -- they spent $120 million on lobbying in 2009 and have pledged to drop $50 million on races this fall, mostly to elect Republicans. But the question one has to ask about the chamber is this: are they actually serving the interests of American business, or are they really just serving the interests of the Republican Party? There are certainly issues on which they depart from Republican orthodoxy, because big business does -- immigration and the Cuba embargo are two good examples. But there are also many issues where they seem to be acting contrary to the interests of business. Take health care. You could make a very strong case that what's most in the interests of American companies is to get out of the health-care business -- they spend a lot of time and money dealing with their...

Goddamn, You Should Read This Post.

If like most Americans you're a longtime watcher of television, you've probably noticed a loosening of language standards over the last decade or so. You can now hear a number of words on TV that used to be bleeped out; we won't go over the list, but you know what they are. They're a subset of the broader category of taboo words that have to do with what the Supreme Court refers to in obscenity cases as "sexual or excretory organs or activities." Cable has loosened the standards considerably -- the FCC operates on the somewhat outdated theory that while broadcast is ubiquitous and therefore able to infect children's minds willy-nilly, your affirmative decision to get cable means you've agreed to hear a higher level of naughtiness. But there are two notable exceptions. The first is the word we now call "the N-word," which used to be offensive to call someone, but not necessarily obscene to speak aloud . Today, however, it is taboo to utter it, regardless of the context or intent. While...

Attention, TV News Editors.

Quick, put that woman on television! (Flickr/ SashaW ) "It's hot. Back to you, Brian." That's all that's necessary. We don't need team coverage, with reporters scattered up and down the coast. We don't need endless B-roll of people mopping their brows. We don't need a demonstration of whether you really can fry an egg on the sidewalk. It's hot. We get it. There are other important things going on in the world. And while we're on the subject, remember last winter, when there was a big snowstorm, and people like Sean Hannity and James Inhofe made all kinds of jokes about what a fool Al Gore is, and how global warming is a giant hoax? Well guess what -- this heat wave, in and of itself , doesn't prove global warming is happening, any more than a snowstorm disproved it. So if you're feeling the need to apologize for being such idiots, well, don't sweat it. -- Paul Waldman