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

We Need to Talk About Your TPS Reports.

(Flickr/ Tim Patterson ) It seems like every time I've turned on my radio in the last week, I've heard Daniel Pink , author of the new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , explaining how we can all be happy and fulfilled at work. Turns out you need three things: autonomy (making your own decisions about what to do), mastery (having challenging tasks), and purpose (feeling like your work accomplishes something meaningful). Since I haven't actually read Pink's book, I don't know if he tries to determine how many people actually have these things in their work. If I had to guess, I'd say it's around 5 percent. Which is why it reminded me of this fascinating 2008 piece in The New Atlantis titled "The Moral Life of Cubicles," wherein author David Franz explains the countercultural roots of that emblem of corporate soullessness. It turns out that when it was introduced, the cubicle was designed to enable us to work in our new collaborative, open offices, fostering...

The Powerpoint Is the Message.

Back in the 1960s, Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan told the world that “the medium is the message,” by which he meant that content was far less meaningful than the form in which that content was delivered. If you’re reading, McLuhan felt, your brain is operating in a specific way, regardless of whether you’re reading Ulysses or the latest Penthouse Forum. If you're watching moving images on your television, your brain is operating in a fundamentally different way. There are profound implications for what you’ll retain and how your mind will work in the future. Lots of McLuhan's claims were speculative, and the joke about him goes like this: He argued that print was a dying medium. And if you have to suffer through reading his awful prose, you begin to believe it. But I couldn't help but think of McLuhan when I saw Matt Yglesias note that according to a new report from the Center for New American Security, at least part of the intelligence community’s difficulties in...

Insidious Hippie Values, Now in 3-D.

(Twentieth Century Fox) Via Kevin Drum , Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times offers an interesting exploration of conservative enmity toward Avatar . On the surface, the criticism was pretty predictable – after all, the bad guys in the film are military contractors, and the noble Na’vi, instead of worshipping the kind of god who smites infidels and spends his time worrying about where his creations are putting their naughty parts, have a Gaia-type theology. And it has the benefit of actually being true – their planet really is one big organism in which all living things are connected to each other. Typical hippie claptrap. On the other hand, as I watched it and the climactic battle was approaching, I found myself thinking, “Gee, you know what would be really radical? If instead of taking up arms to cast out the imperialist earthlings, the Na’vi undertook a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience.” That might have been dramatic in its own way, but it couldn’t compare to a...

My New Year's Resolution: More Partisanship.

Well, not really. But one thing the administration must realize by now is that no matter what they do, they’ll get no credit for their efforts to appeal to Republicans, so long as the revanchist right that sits in Congress is uninterested in their entreaties. So why bother anymore? The way history is so quickly being rewritten by the leading lights of the conventional-wisdom-mongering that goes by the name “political journalism” is enough to make your head spin. Criticizing Obama for not “changing the tone,” Time magazine’s Mark Halperin writes , “Once the new President cast his lot with his party in passing an economic-stimulus measure rather than seeking bipartisan agreement, rival Republicans started digging in.” Yes indeed – if only Obama hadn’t tried to prop up the sinking economy with the stimulus, Republicans would never have “started digging in.” They were all ready to be his partners! Never mind that the stimulus included a couple of hundred billion dollars in tax cuts,...

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings.

Let’s say you’re a State Department official, and you learn that in a country with a strong terrorist presence, there may be a bomb attack on the United States embassy. Do you 1) close the embassy, thereby protecting the lives of the personnel there, or 2) Keep the embassy open, cause you know, to hell with them darn terrorists. Bring ‘em on! Before you answer, keep in mind that if you close the embassy, terrorists might interpret it as a “sign of weakness.” And how many lives is that worth? If you answered something above “zero,” to the last question, guess what – you’re qualified to be on Fox News. I give you Republican uber-pundit Bill Kristol : “No one wants State Department officials to be put at risk and all that, but that is a sign of weakness. Closing the embassy? We can’t protect our own embassy in Yemen, a place we have special operations forces, a place we say we’re working with the government on the front lines of the war on terror, and there’s a terror threat, and we...

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