Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

You Can Have My Parking Spot When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Hands.

Flickr/ woodleywonderworks The Washington Post recently reported that Washingtonians aren't quite sure what how to handle the thorny question of whether, once you've dug out a parking spot, it remains yours. Jonathan Chait gives us the philosophical implications (short version: he's with Locke) today. I lived for almost a decade in Philadelphia, where the rule is clear: If you dig it out, you put a lawn chair or something similar in it. If it doesn't have some such marker, anyone is free to park in it. But if it has such a marker, and you come along and move that marker and park in the spot, then your car, your person, and possibly your offspring down through seven generations will feel the consequences, which will likely involve pummeling. The problem Washington faces is that we don't get this kind of storm very often, which means that the society hasn't had the opportunity to establish and reinforce a set of social norms around the issue. But more important, Washington has less of...

The FDA Does Its Job.

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new initiative to increase the safety of imaging devices that use radiation, like CT scans. This came about because of a New York Times investigation detailing horrifying cases of patients being given overdoses of radiation when going in for routine scans. Hospitals are employing incredibly powerful equipment that can -- and has -- killed people if used incorrectly. The machinery sometimes lacks systems that would prevent these deaths, like an alarm telling the technician when they're about to deliver an overdose of radiation. Regular readers will know by now that I think it's important to draw attention to the times when the government is doing its job, and we all need that job to be done. Whatever the limitations of the Obama administration's legislative record (so far), we should remember that if nothing else, they have staffed the executive branch with people who believe that regulatory agencies ought to, you know, regulate...

Very Serious Republicans, Working Hard to Achieve Bipartisanship.

If you want to understand the depths of Republican intransigence on health-care reform, I'd encourage you to read Ezra Klein 's interview with Sen. Lamar Alexander . Alexander is not the most conservative senator, or the one most prone to the kind of bomb-throwing and mendacity that characterizes some of his colleagues. Which is why it's so revealing to hear him actually try to explain his position to an interviewer willing to press him. If you're a Republican who wants to seem like a serious person, part of the problem when discussing your opposition to health-care reform is that most of the key arguments your side has made are based on either distortions or outright lies. There are no "death panels," no "government takeovers," no "socialism." Everyone understands the simple political reality: If reform passes, it will be very good for Democrats, and if it fails, it will be very good for Republicans. But of course, Republicans can't say that. So in an attempt to sound like he has...

Your 2010 Apocalypse, In a Handy Interactive Infographic.

Wondering just how human society might collapse into chaos and cannibalism this year? Want to know what the chances are of, say, a cyclone, and how it might relate to an asset price collapse and food price volatility? The World Economic Forum, the masters of the universe who put together those glamorous conferences in Davos, have provided a snappy infographic to tell you the odds, and economic impact, of various economic, social, environmental, geopolitical, and technological catastrophes (via datavisualization.ch ). It's actually a pretty well-constructed infographic. You may not understand the world much better after seeing it, but it's nicely interactive – you can play around with all the different potential causes of global upheaval, see how they relate to each other, and see the (essentially arbitrary) probabilities the WEF has assigned to each. Just something to brighten your Tuesday. -- Paul Waldman

The Lessons of Air America.

Danny Goldberg , a music-industry veteran and prominent progressive donor who spent what he describes as "one unhappy year midway through Air America's life as its CEO" has an interesting piece on Alternet about the radio network's demise. While it's true that there was terrible mismanagement over the course of Air America's existence, Goldberg argues that the whole idea of an ideologically driven radio network that could generate profits was probably misguided: The fatal flaw in Air America's genetic code was the pretense that liberal talk radio was a great business opportunity, that progressives could have their cake and eat it too, could do well by doing good, make big salaries and get a great return on investment while also pursuing an ideological agenda. Sure, every once in a while political media like Michael Moore 's movies or Rush Limbaugh 's radio show will make money, but for those interested in influencing public opinion, media in all venues is vital whether it makes money...

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