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

A Bold New Plan!

Sigh. (Via Daily Kos ) One of the image problems religion has is that a lot of its biggest fans have a rather juvenile conception of God as a capricious and cruel being who needs to be begged to stop being so mean to us -- but can be persuaded to do so if we ask in the right way. After all, if we're praying to God to stop the oil spill, doesn't that mean God caused the oil spill in the first place? Or at least if he wanted to stop it, why didn't he do it right away, instead of befouling so much of his creation and ruining the livelihoods of so many people? And if this is all His Plan, who are we to ask him to change His Plan in the middle of things? Is he going to say, "It was my divine plan for this spill to continue for another month, but since you prayed ... oh, all right." These are questions one would hope a child would begin to ask in Sunday school. But throwing up our hands because "man's efforts have been futile," then asking God to step in and solve our problems is probably...

Keep In Touch

Savvy politicos make sure their bosses know what the current price of items like milk and gas are, because every once in a while someone will deliver a little pop quiz to the candidate, and the last thing a politician wants is to appear "out of touch" with ordinary people, like the kind of guy who doesn't buy his own groceries. I've always thought those kind of quizzes are silly -- in my experience, ideology has a lot more to do with the priorities politicians have than how "in touch" they are. It's not like you're going to find too many Republicans saying, "I had no idea it was hard to make a living on $5 an hour -- from now on, I will support increasing the minimum wage!" That being said, there are times when it becomes clear that we do want our politicians, no matter what their ideology, to have some conception of what ordinary people are going through. Here's Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul , explaining why he opposes the extension of unemployment benefits: "As bad as it...

It's Not You; It's Me

As California's same-sex-marriage trial ends, the case against marriage equality is all about straight people.

(Flickr/wanderinghome)
In 2003, the Supreme Court, in the case of Lawrence v. Texas , declared that statutes outlawing sodomy were unconstitutional, because the moral judgment of a majority was not sufficient reason to deprive a minority of its fundamental rights. In a typically spirited dissent , Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the majority had "taken sides in the culture war" -- though of course, he, in opposition, was not taking sides but merely objectively assessing the Constitution. "Today's opinion," Scalia wrote, "dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned." Last week in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, closing arguments were made in Perry v. Schwarzenegger , a case that could well prove Scalia right. But in the intervening years, the case against gay rights has changed dramatically. Gone is the assertion of moral condemnation that lay at the...

Why Did the U.S. Get Robbed of a Win? Right-Wing Authoritarianism.

OK, I'm kidding - sort of. But bear with me. Before we get to the travesty of the Americans' match against Slovenia, let me explain what I mean. At their cores, conservatism and liberalism have different approaches to bad behavior, whether we're talking about kids acting out or criminals making mayhem. The conservative perspective says that people are fundamentally sinful and fallen, and will get away with as much as they can. You need harsh penalties to keep them from straying, otherwise they'll run rampant. The liberal perspective says that people are fundamentally good, and while punishment is necessary for some actions, on the whole you do a better job with carrots than sticks. That's an extremely simplified version of the difference, but you can see it in parenting styles, and most clearly in the criminal justice system. There, it often seems that the conservative perspective says that allowing a guilty person to go free is worse than punishing an innocent person. Or even that...

Dogs of War.

Things may gradually be improving in Iraq, but it's not a good time to be a dog in Baghdad, as Mother Jones tells us : Amid its struggles with Sunni jihadists, Shiite radicals, and Kurdish separatists, the Iraqi government is training its sights on a new enemy: dogs. According to the UK's Daily Mail , Iraq is spending 35 million dinars—about $30,000—to send 20 shotgun-wielding squads out to hunt down the capital's strays. Their goal: Killing one million canines. So far, they've scratched 42,000, and they're averaging 2,400 a day. "We could consider this the biggest campaign of dog execution ever," Baghdad's chief veterinarian, Mohammed al-Hilly, told the newspaper . Put so bluntly, it sounds heinous, perhaps even criminal. It's also a tough pill to swallow for many US servicemembers in Iraq, who find comfort in adopted Iraqi pets that wandered in from the wild. But the dog-eradication program is incredibly popular among Iraqis, and could even enhance the government's standing with its...

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