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

Those Lazy Unemployed.

One of the things I tell college and grad students studying social science whenever I have the chance is that the most important class you can take is the one in research methods. It's usually taught by someone who doesn't really want to teach it, and it's usually pretty boring, but what you learn there gives you some vital skills. Among other things, it teaches you which questions are important to ask, and how to go about answering them. I raise this because yesterday, Jon Chait linked to Kevin Drum discussing a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Arthur Laffer , whom you might recall as the man who convinced Ronald Reagan to believe in the tax fairy, the idea that cutting taxes increases tax revenue. Even though the op-ed is a week old, it's worth taking note of, both because of the new Republican assault on the unemployed, and for what it says about our current state of political debate. Laffer's argument is that increasing unemployment benefits causes unemployment to rise. Yes, you read...

What We're Getting Is Just a Taste

You've probably heard about the New Black Panther Party "scandal," in which a guy stood outside a polling place in a heavily black precinct holding a billy club (Adam has been talking about this extensively; see here ). Well it's starting to break through to the mainstream media, as these things always do; see, for instance, this Washington Post article in which the passive voice is used extensively. It "has become a political controversy for the Obama administration," yes indeed. The conservative media pushing this story are indignant that anyone could suggest that race has something to do with their interest in it. After all, they're just passionate defenders of voting rights, and it's obvious that after looking through all the voting rights cases that have occurred in recent years, they decided that this was the most outrageous, and demanded wall-to-wall attention. We didn't need a lesson in how good the right is in kicking up these dust storms, because they've done it so many...

What's the True Face of the Tea Party?

Dave Weigel makes a good point about congressional candidate and now-famous nutball Rick Barber , whose loss in a runoff for a seat from Alabama Jamelle wrote about this morning: But the tea party's success in boosting some serious candidates, like Scott Brown , has got the nonpartisan and liberal media chasing after any candidate who ostentatiously proclaims himself a tea partier. The "wackier" his appeal, the better. The easier it is to "nail" him on his views in an interview, the better. It's a bit like when a new craze hits (let's say alt rock) and all of a sudden every going-nowhere band can get a record deal (let's say The Verve Pipe, Days of the New, Marcy Playground) simply for acting up. Fair enough -- Weigel is right that at places like TAP , we take an interest in the wackier corners of the Tea Party movement, both because we want to highlight the evidence that the movement is indeed dominated by extremists, and because people like Rick Barber are highly amusing. To take...

It's Not Easy Being Green.

Coal-powered vehicle? (Flickr/ jurvetson ) Two things for you to contemplate: First, Scientific American gives us "The Dirty Truth About Plug-In Hybrids," which shows you how, depending on where you live, switching to a plug-in vehicle might actually increase your carbon emissions (compared to a regular gas-electric hybrid, that is). That's because much of that electricity is probably coming from coal. The interactive map shows that it's particularly bad in parts of the Midwest but a better deal for the climate in the Northwest, California, Florida, and Texas. Just a reminder that shifting to an electric fleet only solves part of the fossil-fuel problem. From what comes out of your tailpipe to what goes into your mouth: "If you're a typical westerner, you ate nearly 100 kilograms of meat last year." That provocative sentence begins this article in the New Scientist on why going to an all-veggie world, or even a free-range world, would be awfully difficult. Not much breaking news there...

WSJ on the Lookout for Health-Care Commies.

Let's say you're an opinion writer, and you really, really want to write that Donald Berwick , the new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, is a communist. Sure, he's not actually a communist , but why should that stop you? You can try taking some remarks he made about Britain's National Health Service out of context to falsely portray him as a lover of everything you don't like about the NHS, but that only gets you so far. Well, how about Cuba? Sure, Berwick has never actually said anything about Cuba's health-care system that would indicate he thinks it tells us anything at all about what course reform should take in America. But Fidel Castro is a jerk! And Michael Moore praised Cuba's health-care system, and he's a jerk too! Isn't that a good enough basis to say that Donald Berwick wants to turn our system into something like Cuba's? It is, apparently, if you're The Wall Street Journal . Bret Stephens , one of the Journal 's opinion writers, gives us this in his...

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