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

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...

The Irony of Government Response to Disasters.

There's a saying about the Republican Party: When they're out of power they argue that government is incompetent and corrupt, and then when they get power they set about to prove it. So failures of government like George W. Bush 's response to Hurricane Katrina end up as lessons conservatives use to demonstrate not that we need more effective government but that government can't do anything right, and therefore ... we should elect more Republicans. It would be nice if this argument were met with howls of laughter, but it isn't, in large part because of what we tend to remember and what we tend to forget. Frequent TAPPED contributor Robert Farley reminds us (via Matt Yglesias ) that the Haiti earthquake -- remember that? -- was actually a success for the Obama administration (and obviously for the many other governments and NGOs that are still working to restore the country). For all the problems Haiti still faces, they haven't descended into the kind of chaos and mass post-earthquake...

Please Remain Calm.

For years, hawks have tried to convince us that terrorists, whether affiliated with al-Qaeda or anyone else, are brilliant masterminds of evil with infinite resources who could kill us all at any moment. But once again, we see that actual terrorists tend to be remarkably incompetent. Whoever the guy who tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square was (and there is no evidence yet that he was affiliated with anyone), his knowledge of explosives seems to be about that of the typical sixth-grader. Propane tanks, gasoline canisters, some non-explosive fertilizer (he apparently thought all fertilizer could explode), and firecrackers. Firecrackers? As The New York times put it , "Investigators believed that the fuses on the firecrackers had been lighted, but they did not explode, officials said. The burning fuses apparently ignited a portion of the Pathfinder’s interior, causing a small fire that filled the inside with smoke, one law enforcement official said." That's some real super-villain...

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