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

GAMING ELECTIONS.

GAMING ELECTIONS. Researchers have again successfully broken into computerized election systems, this time in California and in Florida . The exercises show that most of the commonly used machines have problems and that it is easy to alter vote totals or to reassign votes. The bill sponsored by Rush D. Holt in the House is not a complete solution to these problems. It requires a paper trail for each vote, true, but it also gives most states until 2012 to upgrade their systems. What to do until then? Presumably we are to hope that nobody will take advantage of those weaknesses in the systems. Hendrik Hertzberg writes about a different kind of election gaming in a recent New Yorker article. A snippet : Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California's electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the...

The Tortured Path to the Minimum Wage Hike

Given the minority party we have in Congress and the president we have in the White House, the mere passage of the wage increase was a feat just short of magical.

Reading about the most recent raise in the federal minimum wage rate is not quite as exciting as reading the most recent Harry Potter book, but it has its moments. Example: The passage of the increase must have been done in such a magically sneaky fashion that it totally eluded the Republican senator Jon Kyle, who recently said that the only consistent legislative work Democrats have done in power is "the renaming of post offices." Getting the federal minimum wage raised was one of the central issues on the Democrats' agenda before the 2006 election. One would have thought that Senator Kyle might notice. There was also the magic of getting the raise signed by President Bush. Harry Potter and his fellow wizards could have simply shouted some magical word to get those 70 extra cents per hour for the lowest paid workers of this country. The Democrats had to tie the increase into a package with both the $120 billion Iraq war spending bill and nearly $5 billion in tax relief for small...

FROM MY TINFOIL HAT FILES.

FROM MY TINFOIL HAT FILES. Congressman Peter DeFazio recently asked to have a peek at the plans the government has for keeping control under various apocalyptic scenarios. He has the required security clearances. But the White House wouldn't let him : Last Wednesday, DeFazio received word that his request had been denied. Through Homeland Security Committee staffers, he learned the White House had initially granted his request, but that it later was rejected. There was no explanation of why - and no word about who made the final decision. Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn refused to shed any light. "It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive," he said. That famous secrecy of this administration strikes again. Too bad that it creates a situation where the tinfoil manufacturers will have a growing market for their products. If the government will not provide information, conspiracy theories will take its...

FOOD CHAIN GAMES.

FOOD CHAIN GAMES. The FDA is planning a decisive response to the recent worries about tainted foodstuffs: It's going to get rid of seven of the current thirteen FDA laboratories, including the only one that specializes in detecting radioactive elements in food. Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach defends the move as a way to bring the FDA laboratories into the 21st century. Perhaps, but surely this particular announcement was very badly timed, given news like this : Even when products are flagged by the FDA, importers have learned to manipulate the system, investigators said. For example, the FDA relies on results obtained from private labs, but those labs produce results driven by financial rather than scientific concerns, investigators told the subcommittee. Investigative counsel Kevin Barstow said he was told by an unnamed FDA deputy lab director that "none of the test results he's seen are completely accurate." "The words he used were 'not good' and 'spooky,'" Barstow said...

FEAR.

FEAR. Suppose that you get up in the morning, see the wonderful sunrise and amble downstairs to the kitchen for your first cup of hot coffee. You sit down at the kitchen table and start reading the newspaper, and this is what you read : Nearly six years after the United States set out to crush Al Qaeda, the terrorist network has "regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack targets in America, and is intensifying its efforts to put operatives inside the country, according to a sobering new report released today from U.S. intelligence agencies. The document warns that the United States is "in a heightened threat environment" because Osama bin Laden and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda have taken advantage of a more secure environment in their hiding places in remote Pakistan to reestablish their leadership of the far-flung network and refocus its energies on striking the United States. The report also concludes that Al Qaeda "will probably seek to leverage the contacts and...

Pages