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

Investment Advice From Those Who Know.

The latest New Yorker has an interesting profile of Paul Krugman , and it contains this fascinating nugget: Krugman and [wife Robin ] Wells pulled out of the stock market ten years ago and never went back. "It just takes a lot of work to think about it," Krugman says, "and at no point—except maybe early 2009, if I'd been really feeling daring, stocks really did look cheap—" "We bought a couple of things," Wells says. "We bought muni bonds and some Ford Motor bonds. The thing is, if you look at it on a historical basis, even back in the two-thousands, stocks are not cheap." "They were a good deal when the average price-earnings ratio for stocks was thirteen or fourteen, but now, except at the very bottoms of recent swings, it's been over twenty, which means that historical rules probably don't apply anymore. Stocks used to be undervalued." "I made some money and lost some in the Internet bubble," Wells says. "You told me to sell and I didn't sell, and I should have sold, and I never...

Phony Process Objections.

Seemingly spent on all their absurd arguments about the substance of health-care reform (death panels! socialism!), Republicans have now moved on to making absurd arguments about the process of health-care reform, namely that circumventing the filibuster is like spitting on James Madison 's grave (just to clarify, the filibuster is not in the Constitution). But when you listen to them talk, you quickly notice that they never make a real, substantive argument in favor of the filibuster. Indeed, the word "filibuster" doesn't pass their lips too often. They'll disingenuously characterize the use of reconciliation as some kind of extraordinary, unusual, unconscionable power play in which legislation is "rammed through" (after only a year of debate!), but they won't say exactly why filibusters are good. A 60-vote supermajority is just presented as the norm, and departing from the norm is said to be a problem. Yes, the hypocrisy here is impossible to ignore. And of course it's true that you...

The Tao of Newt.

Newt Gingrich , the Republican Party's "man of ideas," has been all over the place in the last couple of days, coming up with inventive new arguments against health reform. First, he said that the attempt to pass reform constituted "suicidal hubris" on the part of Democrats, particularly since congressional staffers "who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home" are incapable of writing legislation. Then, he took up the issue of passing a fix to health-care reform through reconciliation, in which the Senate, like the House, would pass the bill when -- cover the children's ears -- a majority of the chamber's members voted for it . This is apparently an unconscionable act in a democracy, and Newt is sure that good Americans won't stand for it: "The United States is not going to tolerate a group of people trying apply kind of a Hugo Chavez majoritarian rule in the Senate," he said. You're only tempted to point out that Newt was...

Meddling Bureaucrats and the Health-Care Summit.

During the health-care summit, both Obama and Biden tried to make the point that both Republicans and Democrats agree that there should be some government regulation of health care; they're just disagreeing about exactly how much. As they observed, GOP members of Congress have signed on to certain kinds of regulation (the popular kinds), like ending recissions (where your insurance company kicks you off your policy when you get sick) and even outlawing denials for pre-existing conditions, which is a large change with serious implications. Nevertheless, Republican rhetoric in criticizing the Democrats' plan continues to be about "putting Washington in charge" of health-care decisions, "putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor," and so on. This is supposed to be in contrast to "letting patients and doctors decide." The problem is this last part -- they have a vision of a fantasy world where insurance companies don't exist. You go to your doctor, you and she decide on...

The Amazing Vegetable Oil Jet

TAP talks with The Department of Mad Scientists author Michael Belfiore about the government agency where being outlandish is part of the mission.

The DarkStar, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-designed unmanned aerial vehicle on display at the Smithsonian. (Flickr/Cliff 1066)
The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs , by science and technology journalist Michael Belfiore , takes readers behind the scenes at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which created things like GPS, stealth technology for airplanes, and real-time speech translation now being used by soldiers in Iraq. And oh yeah, the Internet. I spoke with Belfiore about his experience reporting on DARPA and what the agency is up to now. From reading your book, I got the impression that the folks at DARPA weren't all that happy about you nosing around. But it certainly seems they could do a better job of promoting themselves. Why don't they? I was told that about 50 percent of everything DARPA does is classified and thus, off limits to reporters. So the agency is used to working in secrecy; it's part of the culture there and almost reflexive in many ways. On the other hand, since the program managers who run the place turn...

Pages