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

Beauty Queens and Current Events.

Following up on Monica's and Adam's posts below about the crazy right-wing reaction to the fact that Rima Fakih , a Muslim-American from Michigan, won the Miss USA contest, I have a question: Why are beauty pageant contestants asked for their opinions about hot-button political issues? Apart from giving right-wing bloggers justification for railing about the liberal bias of the pageant cabal, which gives the rest of us the ability to make fun of them, that is? Yes, the beauty pageant should have disappeared with the poodle skirt. But as long as we have them, why is it that someone thinks it's important for a beauty queen to be able to speak intelligently about controversial political issues? Gee, Miss Nebraska looks really sparkly in that ballgown, but on the other hand, Miss New Hampshire seemed to have a better grasp of the implications of treating hedge fund managers' income as capital gains for tax purposes. Goodness knows I love politics, but there are some places you could...

Republican Members of Congress Continue Their Assault on Family Values.

Here we go again: Another "family values Republican," Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, has been caught having an affair with one of his (female) aides. But so far, the story lacks the zazz you really need for it to become a front-pager. Like tickle fights. Why did this happen? One explanation is that Indiana is only a couple of hundred miles from Iowa, where they legalized gay marriage last year, and Souder's own union couldn't withstand the values-undermining force of gay people being allowed to marry nearby. But that's probably not it. While reliable statistics aren't easy to come by, let's make a low estimate and say that in a given year, 5 percent of the married population is stepping out on their spouses. In a Congress with 535 members, that would give us 27 adulterers per year. And its probably true that being a powerful and somewhat narcissistic person who has in his employ a rotating cast of comely 20-somethings who practically worship the ground you walk on just might increase...

Throwing Away the Key.

(Flickr/ Tim Pearce, Los Gatos ) Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that the indefinite detention of "sexually dangerous persons" after they have completed their sentences is constitutional. In case you weren't aware of it, in recent years, many states have established procedures whereby officials can, at the end of someone's prison sentence, place them in some kind of preventive psychiatric detention, essentially forever. The plaintiffs in the case (which concerned federal prisoners) argued that they had served their sentences and should therefore be set free, not given an indefinite sentence at the whim of federal officials. There are currently fewer than 100 federal prisoners in such detention, though those held by states numbered a few thousand . What you have here is a fundamental principle of justice coming in conflict with a powerful practical consideration. On one hand, in a system like ours, if you're convicted of a crime and given a sentence, and you serve that sentence,...

Three Reasons a GOP Landslide Won't Happen

Come November, Democrats will still be stronger than the troubled GOP.

(White House/Pete Souza)
While most of those in the business of predicting elections are smart enough not to offer a specific number of seats they think the parties will gain or lose, there is fairly wide agreement on this proposition: Come November, the Democrats are doomed. They'll hold the Senate, but the House is all but lost. Charlie Cook, probably the most popular of this group, has for months been saying things like, "It's very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House." Others have been only somewhat more pessimistic about the ruling party's chances. The Democrats will certainly lose seats. The president's party almost always does in off-year elections, and Democrats have to defend seats they won in many conservative districts in 2006 and 2008. Put that together with the still-struggling economy and a broad anti-incumbent mood, and you've got a lot of nervous Democrats -- and a lot of Republicans who believe that we'll soon be adding the phrase "Speaker of the House John...

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...

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