J. Goodrich

J. Goodrich is a recovering economist and the sole proprietor of the political blog Echidne of the Snakes. She also blogs for TAPPED.

Recent Articles


RETURN ON SUCCESS. One is never too old to learn new terms, it seems. Before president Bush 's latest speech I had never heard about "return on success." It sounds a little like ROI, or "return on investment", a way to figure out the financial profitability of some business project. But "success" is not the same thing as "investment." Indeed, "success" is left fairly undefined in the context Bush used it -- in place of where he might have used "victory" in the past. Then there are the different meanings of "return," the business definition being one obvious one, closely followed by the emotional impact of quickly reading the phrase as "return, success," which might leave the listener all hopeful that good times are going to be back again, assuming that there were good times in the history of the Iraq occupation. If all this sounds like silly hair-splitting, it is. But only because the creation of new terms does affect the debate, even when those new terms have no real new content...


COMITY AND CUCUMBER SANDWICHES. Given the recent furor over the MoveOn ad using the term BetrayUs and also the instantaneous reaction to John Kerry 's troop joke last fall it is interesting to watch whether Democrats will make any kind of hay over Boehner 's "small price" comment . Sure, he may not have meant the troop deaths when he used the term "small price." But similar clarifications concerning Kerry's joke or the BetrayUs one haven't gotten much traction in the media. There is a certain imbalance in the way comity is practiced, these days. One party offers tea and cucumber sandwiches, the other party throws them back. --J. Goodrich


AND EVEN MORE ON CONSERVATIVE COLUMNISTS. Kate and Ezra have already referred to the Media Matters study findings on TAPPED. Those findings suggest that if you want to be an op-ed columnist in politics you'd better be very conservative. That's the way to maximize your market appeal. The interesting question is naturally why that would be the case. But first I should point out that the opinion pages might not be quite as red as the study suggests if the local columnists the newspapers hire are mostly liberals. The study only looked at nationally known columnists, and it's not too far-fetched to think that some newspapers might have a lot of local liberal talent but not that much conservative talent. Those newspapers might then subscribe to George Will to balance their opinion pages. But in the Media Matters study they would come out looking weighted to the right. I know, I know. This is unlikely to change the overall findings very much, as in many areas the local talent would be to the...


GOING ALL BIPARTISAN. I've read much recently about the desirability for more comity and bipartisanship in Congress and also much about the impossibility of reaching across the aisle given the dearth of topics on which the two sides agree. Two topics suggest themselves to true bipartisan action. One is the question of limiting the enhanced presidential powers. Charlie Savage notes: The expansive presidential powers claimed and exercised by the Bush-Cheney White House are now an immutable part of American history -- not controversies, but facts. The importance of such precedents is difficult to overstate. As Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson once warned, any new claim of executive power, once validated into precedent, "lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need. Every repetition imbeds that principle more deeply in our law and thinking and expands it to new purposes." Even the conservatives should be...


THE POLITICAL BRAIN. The LA Times reports on a study which compared the way the brains of supposed liberals and conservatives work: Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work. Scientists at New York University and UCLA showed through a simple experiment to be reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information. Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions. The "everyday decision" this quote refers to is the ability to differentiate between the letters M and W flashing on your computer screen, and liberals tended to do better in this...