Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Goddamn, You Should Read This Post.

If like most Americans you're a longtime watcher of television, you've probably noticed a loosening of language standards over the last decade or so. You can now hear a number of words on TV that used to be bleeped out; we won't go over the list, but you know what they are. They're a subset of the broader category of taboo words that have to do with what the Supreme Court refers to in obscenity cases as "sexual or excretory organs or activities." Cable has loosened the standards considerably -- the FCC operates on the somewhat outdated theory that while broadcast is ubiquitous and therefore able to infect children's minds willy-nilly, your affirmative decision to get cable means you've agreed to hear a higher level of naughtiness. But there are two notable exceptions. The first is the word we now call "the N-word," which used to be offensive to call someone, but not necessarily obscene to speak aloud . Today, however, it is taboo to utter it, regardless of the context or intent. While...

Attention, TV News Editors.

Quick, put that woman on television! (Flickr/ SashaW ) "It's hot. Back to you, Brian." That's all that's necessary. We don't need team coverage, with reporters scattered up and down the coast. We don't need endless B-roll of people mopping their brows. We don't need a demonstration of whether you really can fry an egg on the sidewalk. It's hot. We get it. There are other important things going on in the world. And while we're on the subject, remember last winter, when there was a big snowstorm, and people like Sean Hannity and James Inhofe made all kinds of jokes about what a fool Al Gore is, and how global warming is a giant hoax? Well guess what -- this heat wave, in and of itself , doesn't prove global warming is happening, any more than a snowstorm disproved it. So if you're feeling the need to apologize for being such idiots, well, don't sweat it. -- Paul Waldman

You Too Can Graduate From Beck University.

One of the many marvels the Internet has brought us is free education. For instance, let's say you wanted to listen to a lecture about thermonuclear dynamics, or bioethics, or the history of ancient Rome. You could go over to MIT's Open Courseware site, where you can watch hundreds of lectures for free. Or do the same at Yale's YouTube channel . Or look through one of the many sites that gather free online lectures and courses together. America has the world's best universities, and much of what those universities offer can now be accessed from anywhere, for free. But what if all that makes you a little suspicious? What if you're worried that all that stuff might just contain secret crypto-socialist-fascist-liberal-elitist propaganda meant to infect your mind? Where could you turn? Glenn Beck University , that's where. Let it never be said that Beck lacks entrepreneurial spirit. His website is covered with ways for you to fork over some of your hard-earned cash to him, from ordering...

Immigration Returns

President Obama's call for reform is putting the hot topic back on the map. Can he shift the rhetoric?

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform at American University in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The American public was fed up with hordes of aliens pouring into the country, speaking foreign tongues and threatening to take jobs from native-born citizens. So Congress took decisive action, and passed the Emergency Quota Act. It was 1921, and the new law, designed to solve the country's immigration problem, limited immigration from any one country to 3 percent of the population from that country counted in the 1910 census -- so if there were 100,000 immigrants from a particular nation already here, then only 3,000 more could be admitted per year. But countries in the Western Hemisphere were exempt -- as many Canadians as wanted could immigrate, and the doors were wide open to Mexicans, Salvadorans, Brazilians, and everyone else from Latin America. At the time, the invaders that threatened to dilute the American character were thought to come from our east (especially southern Europe) and west (China) but not our north and south. It was neither the first nor last time that concerns...

The Varieties of Nazi Analogies

Adam has touched on this, but here's a bit more Nazi analogies: If the Internet has brought us anything, it's the opportunity to contemplate the nature of Nazi analogies at length. But yesterday's argument about it is actually instructive. Briefly: Jeffrey Goldberg defends the invasion of Iraq by noting that the Kurds were quite pleased by it; Glenn Greenwald criticizes Goldberg by noting that every invasion, including those perpetrated by the Nazi regime, found some people in the invaded country who welcomed it; Joe Klein , with whom Greenwald has a pre-existing feud, goes crazy on Greenwald for comparing America to Nazi Germany. Kevin Drum sensibly notes that we shouldn't say a priori that all Nazi analogies are out of bounds. There are really two kinds of Nazi analogies that are worth distinguishing here. The first is the meta-argument, which goes something like this: You have argued X. Your argument is unpersuasive, because I could take that principle and use it to defend...