Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

R.I.P. Man On the Silver Mountain.

Katie Couric may not mention it tonight, but head-banging just lost one of its greats: Ronnie James Dio , lead singer for such bands as Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio, passed away at age 67. He had the perfect voice for a particular brand of heavy metal, the one that spent a lot of time on occult imagery, swooping vocals, and somewhat ridiculous lyrics. The bands Dio sang for were the kind mocked in This Is Spinal Tap ("Stonehenge, where the demons dwell/Where the banshees live, and they do live well"), and yes, it was all kind of silly. But in retrospect, sort of sweet, too. As the obituaries have noted, Dio took credit for making the "devil's horns" symbol the universal sign of "Rock n' roll! Yeah!" He said he got it from his Italian grandmother, who used to make the sign to ward off the evil eye, and he figured if he was singing about Satan, it seemed appropriate. Wikipedia, however, documents some pre-Dio musical appearances of the gesture. In any case, Dio was outspoken in...

The Future of Parking.

(Flickr/ MattJP ) When asked why he spent so long looking for a parking spot instead of going to a garage, noted philosopher George Costanza replied, "A garage. I can't even pull in there. It's like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?" There are few rituals of modern life less pleasant than driving around a congested area searching for a parking space. But what if you could get a text message from the city telling you where there was an open parking space? As this local TV report explains, San Francisco is beginning limited trials of just such a system, where sensors on meters detect open spaces, then communicate with a central database, which can send the information to your phone. At first it'll be only in a few places, and will only direct you to a block where there are some spots. But you can see where it's headed. Once a system like this is complete, and it's linked up to the GPS system embedded in your car (they'll all...

Politics Is Hard.

Prior reports have told us that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was less than enthusiastic about Obama 's decision to essentially stake his first term on an ambitious effort to comprehensively reform the nation's health-care system. Today, Greg Sargent gives us some more detail, from Jonathan Alter's upcoming book: The book, Jonathan Alter 's The Promise , goes much further than previous accounts in documenting just how opposed Rahm was to proceeding with ambitious reform -- something that was widely suspected at the time but never proven in detail. Excerpts of the book were made available in advance of its release next Tuesday. "I begged him not to do this," Rahm admits to Alter. But according to the book, Obama overrode Rahm's advice, privately taking a bit of shot at Clinton by telling advisers that he hadn't been sent to the White House to do "school uniforms." After Obama had made his decision, Rahm threw himself into getting the President's plan passed and worked almost...

No Broadband For You! Next!

A few years ago, municipal broadband seemed like a progressive's dream. Instead of relying on the likes of AT&T and Comcast to deliver high-speed internet to people at a reasonable price, towns and cities could just do it themselves. But some of the high-profile projects didn't go so well. The most ambitious plan -- to turn Philadelphia into a giant wireless hotspot with low-cost access for everyone, courtesy of of a partnership between the city and Earthlink -- turned into something of a boondoggle, and eventually was dismantled . That said, there are smaller-scale systems operating successfully (for instance, you can read about Bellevue, Washington's free downtown wifi hotspot here . But there's something besides technical and economic challenges standing in the way of municipal broadband: big telecom companies who see it as a threat. This story about Lafayette, Louisiana is pretty amazing. In a nutshell, the city approached some big ISPs to see if they'd build fiber connections...

The Trouble With Washington.

Not the problem. (Flickr/ humbertomoreno ) One of James Fallows ' readers points out that bashing Washington has become something akin to "God bless America" -- the thing a politician throws into his speech just because he's supposed to. "It's great to be here in Whereverville. So nice to be out of Washington," they say. The reader, a retired Air Force officer, says that when people do that, "we diminish the many very good things that many good people in Washington and in government generally are trying to accomplish." As someone who spends a fair amount of time on this blog pointing out good things the government is doing -- and someone who also bashes Washington with some regularity -- this hit home. But you can bash Washington in a variety of ways. You can bash "Washington," a place where gridlock reigns, special interests screw the little guy, and nothing good ever gets done. This is what politicians do, usually when they're trying to convince voters to send them to Washington. Or...

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