Archive for September, 2010

Bo-Socked (and other Massachusetts news)

Posted on September 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

What better headline could one possibly ask for than “All is Lost for the Red Sox“?’

Then came the final blow, delivered by way of Canada like a cruel winter cold front. TheYankees had beaten the Blue Jays and also were in. The Red Sox officially had been eliminated.

Well,  I can sincerely wish them better (but not that much better) luck next year; baseball’s more fun when the Sox are competitive. In the meantime…go  Yanks!

Meanwhile, Harvard Mag has a nice write-up on Drew Faust’s conversation with Charlie Gibson, which turned out to be more substantive than I anticipated.

Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that none other than Mohammed El-Erian, AKA he-who-fled-Harvard-in-a-hurry, is considered a candidate for replacing Larry Summers. Weird, right?

Also, the Facebook movie sounds great. Republicans, not so much—the guy running for GOP governor of Maine says he’d tell President Obama to “go to hell.”  Sheesh.

Also, Harvard owes a lot of money.

Oh, and one other thing. I’m getting married on Saturday. Then I’ll be away for a couple weeks. Will I blog?

I’ll have to think about that.

Be well, everyone, and if I’m out of touch, I’ll be back before too long.


Your blogger

It’s Almost Over

Posted on September 27th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Guess who wrote this?

The series sweep started to slip away from the Sox in the bottom of the ninth, when Jonathan Papelbon blew another save and the Yankees tied the score. It slipped away completely in the 10th, as the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs against Hideki Okajima.

So, there will be no epic comeback, no miraculous finish. While the Sox are not yet eliminated, their number is down to one with a week of baseball left after their 4-3 loss to the Yankees last night. It was a game that had gone from elation to depression in half an inning, in the space of a few pitches from Papelbon (even as he appeared to be squeezed by umpire Phil Cuzzi).

Jonathan Papelbon was squeezed by the umpire? I’m sorry I missed that.

More on University Professorships

Posted on September 27th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Some posts generate far more discussion than I expect to—such as the one on university professorships below, which currently has 35 comments.

There’s clearly a fair amount of confusion about the terms of such arrangements.

Which reinforces a point I was trying to make: The return of Larry Summers to Harvard provides a great hook for the Crimson to conduct an in-depth look at university professorships.

One final point about Summers’ return: There’s been much debate about whether he had to return to Harvard or lose his professorship. My hunch is that something would have been worked out if he’d come back after three or four years. Does anyone really believe that, with Bob Rubin and Drew Faust on the Corporation, Harvard would say no to Summers?

How’d The Obama Guys Do?

Posted on September 27th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Washington Post asked a group of economist/pundit types, including Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, to assess the performance of Obama’s (now separating) economic team.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, has probably the best-case scenario:

Think back to January 2009, when Obama took office: The financial system was frozen, gross domestic product was in free fall, stock prices had been cut in half, house prices were cratering, and some 750,000 jobs were vanishing each month. Consider what has happened since: The financial system is stable, GDP is expanding, the stock market has recovered half its losses, house prices have risen and private-sector job creation has resumed.

And here’s the worst take, from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former CBO director and economics adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign:

President Obama’s brief tenure has featured massive government expansion. Under his vision, the federal government has undertaken unprincipled ownership grabs (Chrysler, GM), supported devastatingly invasive regulation (Waxman-Markey, EPA regulation of carbon) and taken steps to micromanage broadband, health information technology and energy. Unemployment is nearly 10 percent, and growth is under 2 percent. It is a dismal record.

Unprincipled ownership grabs? Devastatingly invasive regulation? Taken steps to micromanage broadband?

I think I’m leaning towards the best-case scenario.

He’s Gone Too!

Posted on September 24th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

After years of failing upward, Harvard grad Jeff Zucker is leaving NBC

The Blogger Has Not Vanished

Posted on September 24th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

I’ve just been extremely busy. (Bought an apartment yesterday, for example.)

Lots of good stuff to talk about, coming soon.

Republicans: They’re Just Bigots, Aren’t They?

Posted on September 22nd, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Not all of them, of course. But…yeah. A lot of ’em.

Yesterday’s vote against the repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell was, despite all the protestations about procedure and “how dare they introduce this just weeks before an election,” was about bigotry.

And not even on the part of the public, a majority of which supports repeal. This was about Capitol Hill Republicans and their hard-core conservative constituents who just don’t like gays.

Including this Republican Senate staffer—an aide to senator Saxby Chambliss, who is himself a terrible, terrible person—who wrote “All faggots must die” on a gay-oriented blog…..

He’s Gone!

Posted on September 22nd, 2010 in Uncategorized | 35 Comments »

Yesterday this blog asked if Larry Summers was leaving the White House.

Hours later, the White House announced his departure.


I think not.

Here are the write-ups in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. (Y’all read the hometown rag, right?)

Is this a failure for Summers, another premature exit from a high-profile job?

I’m not so sure.

In the “aye” column, you can’t exactly say the economy is back on track, and no one’s calling Summers a hero; not so many people are even calling him brilliant any more. Nor has he lived down his reputation as a jerk. With him gone, the dishing is sure to commence.

Also, it’s no secret that he wanted the Fed job, and not only did he not get it, it’s impossible to think that he ever will; the man simply has too many detractors.

In the “nay” column, remember where he came from just four years ago—the only Harvard president in modern times to be ousted, a hedge fund flunkie who (probably) wrote a mediocre Financial Times column. He’s now added a new chapter to the CV, and he can go back to Harvard and continue pulling down a $400,000 salary for doing, well, nothing.

(University professorships! On several occasions I’ve suggested to a Crimson reporter that they look at the productivity—and the expense—of Harvard’s university professors. It’d be a great story.)

Thanks to his Bob Rubin-mandated severance package, Summers is getting $400k a year from Harvard for life….

Meantime, Summers can always argue that, imperfect though the economy may be, it could be a lot worse. Given how he’s woven a very specific take on the financial crises of the 1990s into his life story, he should have no problem spinning this.

So you can argue this round or you can argue it flat. On balance, I think, Summers returns somewhat rehabilitated, and yet, also somewhat diminished in stature. The height of his rise did not equal the depth of his fall; to use an analogy he might appreciate, it’s like the diminishing bounce of a tennis ball.

What, then, does he do now?

As I wrote yesterday, it’s time for a memoir.

Is Larry Leaving?

Posted on September 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Asked about the future of his economic advisers, President Obama said that “they’re going to have a whole range of decisions about family” that will contribute to their decisions about whether to stay or go.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

There has been speculation for months that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers could take the fall for potentially bad election results—and the economy souring the national political mood against Democrats.

When you talk about family in Washington, that basically means you’re a goner….

You know what book I would read? A Larry Summers tell-all. (Which he would now be free to write, having been forced out of two high-level positions.)

Can you imagine? It’d be like Edward Scissorhands on speed….

The Real Marty Peretz Problem

Posted on September 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Writing on TalkingPointsMemo, Jim Sleeper says that the real issue with the Marty Peretz brouhaha isn’t what he said about Muslims and the First Amendment—it’s the presence of not-really-academics such as Peretz in the academy.

What is truly at stake, not only at Harvard, is the increasing bestowal of quasi-academic distinction on people who’ve bought or wormed their ways into liberal education, as Peretz has done, sometimes vowing to rescue it from damage done to it by Marxist, politically correct, and post-modernist leftists.

I think it’s a worthy discussion, but I’m going to leave it to you all. As longtime readers of this blog probably know, I’m conflicted out when it comes to Marty. Ages ago he hired me to work at The New Republic, and he probably helped get me into GSAS. He’s one of the few people around Harvard who dared speak to me for Harvard Rules on the record, and I admire him for that. (So many tenured professors would not.)

I don’t agree with everything Marty says—apparently he doesn’t either—but I’m just not the guy to weigh in here.