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

The Magical Miranda Warning.

Following up on Adam's discussion of Joe Lieberman 's proposal to strip American terrorism suspects of their citizenship so as to avoid having to Mirandize them, there's something odd about this -- and I'm not talking about how profoundly un-American it is (sadly, we've gotten used to that). Conservatives seem to have moved their anti-due-process position over to an anti-Miranda position, which is silly because the reading of Miranda rights doesn't grant them. Suspects have, for instance, the right to a lawyer whether you remind them of it or not. The Miranda warning isn't a magical incantation that brings those rights into being. If you understand that (and granted, it's not a sure thing that Lieberman or anyone else embracing this new attack on due process does), the other possible anti-Miranda rationale is that it will enable us to pull the wool over suspects' eyes for a while if they remain unaware of their rights. But really? I suppose that foreign nationals might be unfamiliar...

Big Brother Is Watching.

As someone who believes that citizens ought to view their government not as a hostile force but as something they, as participants in a democracy, have the opportunity and obligation to both monitor and help shape, I find this ad from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue ( via Andrew Sullivan ) profoundly disturbing: I don't know whether anyone will believe that the department actually has its own satellites, and might right now be looking at you to see if you're picking your nose. And maybe the ad could be an effective way to get tax cheats to come in for the state's tax amnesty. But it also reinforces the image of government as a malevolent, privacy-invading force that views you as something tiny and potentially squashable, which isn't really good for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the long run. Speaking of large malevolent forces, it's not just the government that's looking down at you. Over at Gizmodo, Dan Yoder gives the "Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook," most of...

Republican Governors Push Federalization of Health Insurance.

As you no doubt remember, much of the Affordable Care Act doesn't go into effect until 2014. In order to deal with the problem of people whose pre-existing conditions make insurance companies uninterested in giving them coverage, the act provides for the creation of high-risk pools for people who have been uninsured for over six months. States can establish the high-risk pools themselves (some states already have them), or they can let the federal government do it for them. So what have they chosen? The Washington Post tells us that 18 states have said they won't do it, which means the federal government will be taking care of citizens in those states who need to be in a high-risk pool. They are: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. Notice anything about that list? Fifteen out of the 18 are ruled by Republican governors (the exceptions are...

Singing Government's Praises.

Over at her other home, Nancy Scola hips us to the results of the General Service Administration's video contest, which challenged Americans to create a video explaining the tsunami of awesomeness that is USA.gov . The site is GSA's portal into a range of government services. I know, I know -- you've been following this like a hawk. But in case you missed it, the winner was Peter Sullivan of Nashville, TN, who created this little ditty: Not bad! For his efforts, Sullivan won $2,500 and the thanks of a grateful nation. When I watched it, I couldn't help but think of the contest MoveOn.org put on back in 2004, called "Bush in 30 Seconds," for which thousands of people submitted ads, some incredibly professional and creative, about how awful George W. Bush was. The spirit here couldn't be further from that contest, which happened during an angry election season. And let's be frank -- the General Services Administration, which does things like oversee federal properties, is not exactly...

Child's Play

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a California law restricting sales of violent video games to minors. But do the games harm kids?

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
In the late 1920s, as Americans became more and more concerned about the effect "talking pictures" might have on impressionable youth, the Payne Fund commissioned a series of studies on the subject. Movies, the researchers reported, put children into an emotional state, affected their sleep patterns, and probably contributed to juvenile delinquency. Among the alarming findings was that movie scenes with erotic themes seemed to make teenagers highly aroused. If you can believe it. Over the last century, we've seen one moral panic after another about culture corrupting the young. Jazz, movies, comic books, heavy metal, gansta rap -- whenever a new form of entertainment seemingly more intense and involving comes along, adults fear young minds are being warped and twisted, that Beaver Cleaver is being transformed into Dylan Klebold. Which brings us to video games, pegged as a fertilizer of mayhem and murder when Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 of their classmates at Columbine High...

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