Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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

The Obama Defense Budget.

Using the handy historical tables of the budget the White House put out today, I created this graph to show just how radical Barack Obama 's agenda to disarm America and surrender to the terrorists really is: The administration is requesting just under $750 billion for defense for next year, or over $2,400 for every man, woman, and child in America. Though there's plenty of waste in the Pentagon, the reason the defense budget is so large isn't $1,000 ashtrays. It's that we've come to accept that the United States has an obligation to extend its military reach to every corner of the globe, as Matt Yglesias reminds us. Most of this has little to do with "defense" in the real meaning of the term, except in the most tangential way. It's clear that the administration has no intention of challenging that fundamental idea. I suppose it's possible that in their heart of liberal hearts, they'd love to cut the defense budget in half and spend the money on schools, health care, and other leftist...

Faster, Higher, Under Constant Surveillance.

Those mascots look suspiciously performance-enhanced. ( VANOC/COVAN) The Winter Olympics start week after next. As those of us who love this stuff get ready to watch the various events of shushing, sliding, and spinning, it might be worth taking a moment to consider what these athletes -- most of whom will never gain riches and fame -- have to put up with to pursue their Olympic dreams. Outside magazine has a fascinating article about how the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has become a quasi-governmental agency whose tactics remind some people of the East German secret police. In their effort to clean up what everyone acknowledges has been an incredibly dirty sports world, WADA has upended or destroyed the careers of plenty of innocent athletes, like Zach Lund , an American skeleton competitor. For years, Lund had been taking finasteride, an anti-baldness drug. He had dutifully informed the anti-doping agency of his use of the medication. Then in 2005, the agency added finasteride to...

Big Government, Big Lasers

(The interior of the NIF target chamber. Credit is given to Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Department of Energy under whose auspices this work was performed.) At a time when we're arguing vehemently about what government should and shouldn't be doing, I thought I'd point out something pretty amazing an arm of the government just did. On Wednesday, the National Ignition Facility in California fired its 192 lasers at a pellet the size of a pencil eraser, successfully delivering one megajoule of energy -- about 500 times all the energy being used in the country at any one time. It all happened within a few billionths of a second. That's right: Superlaser. Megalaser. Ginormolaser. What they are trying to do at the NIF is recreate the nuclear fusion that happens at the center of the sun. When they blast a tiny fuel pellet containing deuterium and tritium (two hydrogen isotopes) with this focused laser beam, the laser energy will...

Marijuana Legalization Initiative Advances in California.

It looks like backers of a marijuana legalization initiative in California have gathered the signatures they need to get on the ballot this fall. Depending on your perspective, this is either a tribute to the power of ordinary people to enact commonsense change when their government is too timid to do so, or more evidence that the initiative system is out of control. Passage of the initiative is by no means a sure thing. Keep in mind that this isn't about medical marijuana; this is outright legalization. Anyone over 21 would be able to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and Californians would be allowed to cultivate up to 25 square feet of plants in their homes. Each local government would be able to regulate and tax it as they saw fit, which in practice would mean a patchwork of "dry" and "wet" counties. You would still be prohibited from smoking it in public or giving it to anyone under 21. The intention, in other words, is to regulate pot the same way we regulate alcohol (the...

Don't Mess with Nancy Pelosi.

If there's one reason to think that health-care reform will still succeed, it has to be because of the speaker of the House. Here's what she said Thursday, via Greg Sargent : You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people. Kind of reminds me of Sean Connery saying, "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue." And not the sort of thing we've been hearing from tremulous Democrats over the last week and a half. Throughout this process, Pelosi has had a pretty good handle on her caucus. Engineering the passage of the original House bill was no mean feat, with both Blue Dogs and members of the Progressive Caucus issuing ultimatums and threatening to walk away if their demands weren't met. Pelosi employed the "catch and release" technique...

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