SteadyBlogging on Twitter (SteadyTweets?)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coming soon: Steadyblogging's 1st annotated summary--"(Advanced) Obamanomics"

I've only done ~10 blog posts over the past two months, and pretty haphazardly at that. One goal for the summer/fall was to do some more focused and substantive writing. Now it's a goal for the winter..

But at least I think I've settled on a format and topic. Coming up with original content is (a) difficult, and (b) almost pointless, given how much content is already out there. Indeed, one reason I haven't sat down and wrote (generated content) is that I spend way too much time reading (consuming content).

As a result, many of my blog posts have been just compilations of links (or even lazier, interesting stuff that lands in my inbox, which I just forwarded to the blog!). Often they're longer and pretty substantive news or magazine articles (typical sources are: NYT, WSJ, New Yorker, The Atlantic; i.e., what we're subscribed to and get delivered as hard copies--I've found I don't read newspapers and magazines online, esp now that I'm not tied to a desktop computer 10 (or 12, or more) hours per day.

But people have told me that they usually don't have the time to follow those links..and hence they're not getting to the interesting content that I'm trying to direct them to.

Meanwhile, I'm reading thru this stuff..and people who know me know I like to chime in. Hence, what I've decided I'll start doing is post "annotated summaries" of some of these longer and interesting articles.

I've got the first one almost done, at least in draft form (version 1.0)--a walk thru this longish piece that was the cover story of the NYT Magazine in August, titled "(Advanced) Obanomics." I found it very informative and stimulating when I finally read it (at the beginning of November--I'd saved that issue of the magazine for all those months, to ensure I would eventually get to it!):
How Obama Reconciles Dueling Views on Economy

Barack Obama is both more left-wing and more right-wing than many people realize. A 15-year debate among economics experts in the Democratic Party helps explain why.

So, I should have a summary of this up by Tuesday. I also have a growing list of articles I'd like to tackle in a similar manner. I'm interested in getting some feedback about which of the following would be of interest to people. Make a comment, or e-mail me directly..

The New Liberalism
How the economic crisis can help Obama redefine the Democrats.
by George Packer
The New Yorker
November 17, 2008

Anatomy of a Meltdown
Ben Bernanke and the financial crisis.
by John Cassidy
The New Yorker
December 1, 2008

The Confidence Game
by James Grant
October 18, 2008

Economics: Which Way for Obama?
By John Cassidy
NY Review of Books
June 12, 2008

After Musharraf: What the future holds for Pakistan—and for America
by Joshua Hammer
The Atlantic
October 2007

Behind the Indian Embassy Bombing
by Robert D. Kaplan
The Atlantic Unbound
August 1, 2008

Behind Mumbai
by Robert D. Kaplan
The Atlantic Unbound
November 2008
Robert D. Kaplan offers insight into the Hindu-Muslim tensions festering within India.

The Lawless Frontier
by Robert D. Kaplan
The Atlantic
September 2000
The tribal lands of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border reveal the future of conflict in the Subcontinent, along with the dark side of globalization.

Where Europe Vanishes
by Robert D. Kaplan
The Atlantic
November 2000

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai: "Slumdog Millionaire" + live SAJA webcast

Just got home, after a full day in the city--centered around a viewing of "Slumdog Millionaire."  More on that later..but just checked my e-mail to see that there is a live webcast about the events in Mumbai, so listening to that now.

This is already the 6th such webcast that SAJA has hosted.  Looks like they will be doing these every 12 hrs.  Here is their archive of webcasts and their posts on the Mumbai events:

For good measure, here is SAJA's post from a couple weeks ago about "Slumdog":

Hope/plan to write more on "Slumdog" and Mumbai soon..

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Sree Sreenivasan <>
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 8:46:45 PM
Subject: MUMBAI & phonecast: Webcast #6 - novelists + business implications

[PLEASE SUPPORT SAJA: Help us meet our new $15,000 challenge grant:

Download the new SAJA application on your iPhone or iPod Touch (search "SAJA" in the App Store) or on your BlackBerry - FREE! - ]

SAJA is hosting live discussions with journalists and experts in
Mumbai and the U.S. about the terrorist attacks.

See our webcasts below. Every 12 hours!
Webcast #6: Friday, 10 pm-midnight (8:30-10:30 am India time Saturday)

Webcast #7: Saturday, 10-11:30 am (8:30-pm 10 pm India time Saturday)
(a discussion focused on terrorism)

===> Join us for Webcast #6
Friday 10 pm-midnight (8:30-10:30 am India time Thursday)
Listen via computer:
or via phone: +1-347-324-5991 or via the live chatroom

We are doing two back-to-back themed shows.

* First hour: Writers and novelists with Mumbai connections talk about the city they love.

- Vikram Chandra, author of two landmark Mumbai books, "Sacred Games" and "Love and Longing in Bombay" - calling from Mumbai (more at

- Thrity Umrigar, author of "Bombay Time" and "The Space Between Us" - calling from Cleveland (more at

preceded by a news update

* Second hour: The Business Implications for India, the US and Beyond

- Anuj Puri, chairman and CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, the Indian arm of international real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

- Betty Wong, global managing editor, Reuters

preceded by a news update

Hosts: Arun Venugopal, SAJAforum editor and WNYC Radio reporter; Aseem Chhabra, freelancer and SAJA-NY coordinator; Sree Sreenivasan, professor, Columbia Journalism School and WNBC-TV tech reporter

See the full archive of webcasts at

If you want to subscribe to the SAJA webcast as a podcast via iTunes,
go to "Advanced" within iTunes, then select "Subscribe to podcast"
and type and hit OK.

Download the new SAJA application on your iPhone or iPod Touch (search "SAJA" in the App Store) or on your BlackBerry - FREE! -

Follow us on Twitter:

See all our posts below in the MUMBAI ATTACKS category -

* Critiquing the media
* Breaking news coverage and commentary
* Sources available
* Statements from US orgs

Signup for our mailing lists:

Here are two ways you can support SAJA's work:

1. donate money to the $15,000 challenge grant - no amount too small
and it will be matched:

2. become a paid member or renew as a member:
$10 for students
$20 for journos
$40 for non-journos
$250 for lifetime, journos; $400 for lifetime, non-journos
you don't have to be south asian to be a member.

Thanks, as always, for your support of SAJA...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thomas Friedman: "Finshing Our Work" (5 Nov 2008), New Yorker profile

I'm still going through the piles of newspaper that have accumulated on our dining table over the past 10 days.  Just today I finally got to Thomas Friedman's morning-after column:

The title, "Finishing Our Work", refers to the American Civil War.  The opening two paragraphs:

And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man — Barack Hussein Obama — won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States.

A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of America's Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia — the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general — voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the column does not expand on this theme, since I am interested in reading/thinking more about it.  Instead, Friedman offers some ideas on how Obama won the election, and quotes at length a Harvard political philosopher, Michael Sandel.  Some excerpts I found interesting:

There may have been something of a "Buffett effect" that countered the supposed "Bradley effect" — white voters telling pollsters they'd vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite. It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men's grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes.


Why? Some did it because they sensed how inspired and hopeful their kids were about an Obama presidency, and they not only didn't want to dash those hopes, they secretly wanted to share them. Others intuitively embraced Warren Buffett's view that if you are rich and successful today, it is first and foremost because you were lucky enough to be born in America at this time — and never forget that. So, we need to get back to fixing our country — we need a president who can unify us for nation-building at home.

And somewhere they also knew that after the abysmal performance of the Bush team, there had to be consequences for the Republican Party. Electing McCain now would have, in some way, meant rewarding incompetence. It would have made a mockery of accountability in government and unleashed a wave of cynicism in America that would have been deeply corrosive.

And later, towards the end of the column:

Bush & Co. did not believe that government could be an instrument of the common good. They neutered their cabinet secretaries and appointed hacks to big jobs. For them, pursuit of the common good was all about pursuit of individual self-interest. Voters rebelled against that. But there was also a rebellion against a traditional Democratic version of the common good — that it is simply the sum of all interest groups clamoring for their share.

"In this election, the American public rejected these narrow notions of the common good," argued Sandel. "Most people now accept that unfettered markets don't serve the public good. Markets generate abundance, but they can also breed excessive insecurity and risk. Even before the financial meltdown, we've seen a massive shift of risk from corporations to the individual. Obama will have to reinvent government as an instrument of the common good — to regulate markets, to protect citizens against the risks of unemployment and ill health, to invest in energy independence."

This does seem to be Obama's mandate--a post-partisan, post-ideological reconception & reinvention of government as an instrument of common good.  Perhaps the central problem that the Republican party has is that, over the past couple decades, it abandoned the idea that government has any capacity to contribute to the common good, as Friedman describes.  

On the other hand, it will be a challenge for Barack to say no to the traditional Democratic agenda; case in point, the first issue and political battle that's come to the fore in the two weeks since his election--a potential bailout of the Detroit auto companies, which congressional Democrats and, of course, the big labor unions, are pushing for strongly.  It's worth noting that the labor unions helped elect Barack--but also worth noting that they were up in arms when Barack named Jason Furman his main economic policy guy (see this news article from June: ; and also

(A couple links on Michael Sandel, the prof who's quoted by Friedman: 

It's not clear to me if Friedman's quotes are from an interview or some recent writing.)

Finally, here is a length profile of Thomas Friedman that ran in the New Yorker a couple weeks ago, and also Friedman's own website:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fw: Barack Obama is now following you on Twitter!

I thought this was pretty cool..

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Twitter
To: Me
Sent: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:55:23 PM
Subject: Barack Obama is now following you on Twitter!

Hi, suman_ganguli.

Barack Obama (BarackObama) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Barack Obama's profile here:


Turn off these emails at:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fw: UChicago News for Alumni and Friends

Lots of interesting news out of the UofC: David Booth, Studs Terkel, Nate Silver, Raghuram Rajan, and of course Barack.  Just uncovered the Sept/Oct issue of the Chicago magazine, which has a photo of Barack, with the headline: "How UofC is Barack Obama?":

More on that forthcoming..

If you're having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online.

November 11, 2008

Top Stories

Testament of Booth

David Booth, MBA'71, and his family have given $300 million to the GSB. Recognizing the largest gift in University history, the GSB is now the Booth School of Business.

Sergey Kozmin

Historic election's local angle

For the University community, the 2008 presidential election was up close and personal. Read about U of C reactions.

Project Bamboo's latest shoots

The new multi-institutional project, based at Chicago, works to answer a big question: How can we advance arts and humanities research by developing shared technologies?

Chicago in the News

From the Editors

We invite members of the University of Chicago community to share your thoughts about former Law School lecturer Barack Obama's election as the 44th president of the United States, whether stories of your election-day experiences or thoughts about the election's impact, locally and globally.

Discuss the Election Results >>


Wednesday, Nov. 19

Harper Lecture

Christine Stansell and Deborah Nelson
No Hard Feelings: Legacies of Feminism & the Role of Emotion in American Public Life

6 p.m.
San Francisco

Wednesday, Dec. 3

Business Forecast 2009

In the first of an eight-city series, Chicago business faculty and alumni offer insights on the economic year ahead

11:30 a.m.

View all events >>


Studs in 2008

In His Own Words

During Alumni Weekend 2004, legendary Chicago journalist Studs Terkel, PhB'32, JD'34, held forth in a conversation with WFMT's critic-at-large Andrew Patner, X'81.

Listen in >>
Read alumni appreciations >>

The University of Chicago Alumni & Friends | Make a gift | U of C Magazine

Update your contact info

Email with any questions or comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

draft: Thaler & Sunstein WSJ Op-Ed, "Disclosure Is the Best Kind Of Credit Regulation"

Disclosure Is the Best Kind Of Credit Regulation

This appeared in the WSJ Op-Ed section three months ago (mid Aug). The authors are Richard Thaler and Cass
Sunstein.  Both are very highly regarded academic researchers, and both have ties to Barack Obama's economic thinking and policy.  

Thaler, an econ prof at the Univ of Chicago, is one of the founders of the field of behavioral economics, and is sometimes mentioned as a possible Nobel Prize winner (  Sunstein was for many years a law prof at the UofC--and hence a colleague (in fact a mentor to) Obama during Barack's tenure as a lecturer in the UofC law school.  Thaler and Sunstein recently published a semi-popular exposition of their work ("Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness").  Unfort for the UofC, Sunstein recently moved to Harvard (  

Both Thaler and Sunstein have advised and influenced Obama on economics, thanks to Obama's time at the UofC, and even more so since Obama's primary economics advisor is Austan Goolsbee--an econ prof at the UofC who works with both Thaler and Sustein. (

An excerpt from the op-ed:

The Federal Reserve Board recently issued proposed amendments to
Regulation Z, which governs Truth in Lending. According to the Fed,
the amendments "are intended to improve the effectiveness of the
disclosures consumers receive in connection with credit card accounts
and other revolving credit plans by ensuring that information is
provided in a timely manner and in a form that is readily

The Fed's interest in this problem should be applauded, especially in
light of the consumer credit crisis. Improved transparency, rather
than draconian regulation, is the best response to the current
situation. However, the Fed can substantially improve its proposal by
requiring credit issuers to disclose relevant information
electronically in a standardized, machine-readable format. In one
simple stroke, new disclosure requirements would dramatically improve
the current situation.

More on this to come..

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fw: Michael Lewis book on financial crisis

Got this in an e-mail today...

This book deal was announced on Friday:
MONEYBALL and THE BLIND SIDE author Michael Lewis's untitled behind-the-scenes story of a few men and women who foresaw the current economic disaster, tried to prevent it, but were overruled by the financial institutions with whom they worked, to Star Lawrence at Norton, in a major deal, by Al Zuckerman at Writers House (NA).

No doubt this will be a big book--esp since, instead of focusing on the villains, Lewis is going to look for heroes in all this mess.  Smart.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Sec of Treasury & "Transition Economic Advisory Board"

I've been spending some time the last couple days trying to catch up on what Obama's economic thinking is, and trying to get a better sense of what his administration's economic policies will be.  

Luckily, I'd saved the August 24 issue of the NYT Magazine, b/c the cover story was David Leonhardt's essay on "Obamanomics":

(Interestingly, it's currently the first Google hit for "obamnomics", with 2nd hit being the Amazon page for this book:

I'm still working through Leonhardt's essay.  My plan is to write up and post a short summary within the next week.  

In the meantime, I've also been following the beginnings of the transition.  Esp interesting, given the everything that's happened over the past year, and a fortiori over the past 2 months, is the speculation about who will be Obama's Secretary of Treasury.  Here are the names I've heard floated since Wednesday morning, in rough order of likelihood:
  • Larry Summers: Harvard economist, Sec Treasury under Clinton from 1999 to 2001 (he succeeded Robert Rubin, who he worked under while Rubin was Sec Treas from '95 to '99).  If and when he gets the job, I'll have to go into some details on his fascinating bio:
  • Tim Geithner: currently head of the NY Fed; interestingly, has spent his entire career in public service--including a stint under Summers and Rubin '99-'01.  From what I've read the past few years, he is well-respected on Wall Street, and he had been trying to draw the potential problems that derivatives (and specifically credit derivatives) could pose to the stability of the financial system--exactly what's playing out these days.
  • Paul Volcker: most famously chairman of the Fed from 1979 to 1987.  Something of a legend: "Volcker's Fed is widely credited with ending the United Statesstagflation crisis of the 1970s by limiting the growth of the money supply, abandoning the previous policy of targeting interest rates. Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983."
There are two other names I also heard (Jon Corzine and Larry Fink), but those seem unlikely.

We very well could get an annoucement from Barack within the next few days..or even this afternoon.  Obama is in a meeting with his economic advisory team this morning, and then will have a press conference this afternoon (all in Chicago, which is interesting in and of itself..the world has been pretty much focused on Chicago since approximately 11pm EST Tuesday night..until Mr Obama goes to Washington, tomorrow I believe).

I was looking, unsuccessfully, for a list of who would be in that meeting this morning.  Another example of the power of social networks--I posted that to my facebook status, and got a reply within minutes:

Take a look at the list of who's on the "Transition Economic Advisory Board."   My initial thoughts:

  • a pretty damn accomplished, affluent and economically astute collection of people
  • some serious finance people: certainly Rubin, Volcker, Ferguson, Summers, Buffett; prob more who I am not that familiar with (like Daley and Donaldson)
  • quite a few Clinton era folk: Reich, Rubin and Summers of course, and also Tyson (I got to meet her briefly when she returned to Berkeley a couple years ago..I got the sense she'd returned to the US from London in part to get back on the political scene)
  • good to see Rubin and Reich are both on there: the internal Clinton Administration/Democratic debate of the '90s, which Obama seeks to synthesize (not something I was really aware of until reading Leonhardt's article)
  • more CEOs than I realized go onto something like this..
  • also didn't realize politicians get included; find those choices somewhat odd--Bonior, Granholm, Villaraigosa?  With the first two, seems like the auto industry will have a couple voices at the table..

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Grand New Party? David Brooks on Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam

So what does the Republican party do now?  David Brooks has been calling this for months (years?)--the implosion of the (his?) party.  I heard him discussing this on the radio yesterday.  He compared what he sees now with Britain's Conservative Party post-Thatcher--an ongoing reconstruction that has taken 15 years.  

(I don't know the history well--looks like the Conservatives held on to power til 1997 (Thatcher was PM til 1990, John Major '90-'97), when they were defeated by Labor in a landslide.  Labor continues to rule, with Gordon Brown having succeeded Tony Blair.)

Brooks published a column in June titled "The Sam's Club Agenda" (, presciently focused on this topic, and specifically on two young conservative writers: Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam.  Since then, their names keep popping up--I suppose b/c I use the "blue" sort media outlets that feature Brooks--the NYT, the Atlantic, NPR.  

Here is what Brooks had to say about Douthat and Salam:

"This pair has just come out with a book called 'Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.'

There have been other outstanding books on how the G.O.P. can rediscover its soul (like 'Comeback' by David Frum), but if I could put one book on the desk of every Republican officeholder, 'Grand New Party' would be it. You can discount my praise because of my friendship with the authors, but this is the best single roadmap of where the party should and is likely to head.

Several years ago, Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, said the Republicans should be the party of Sam's Club, not the country club. This line is the animating spirit of 'Grand New Party.' Douthat and Salam argue that the Republicans rode to the majority because of support from the Reagan Democrats, and if the party has a future, it will be because it understands the dreams and tribulations of working-class Americans."

My understanding is that they recommend a greater attention to the economic plight of America's working class, with much much less attention on the conservative cultural agenda.  E.g., I just heard Salam on NPR arguing for a federalist ("local democracy") approach to abortion.

A random thought: this tack could be interpreted as taking seriously Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and the thinking behind Barack's one gaffe of the the campaign (the "they cling" comment in SF).

Here is the Amazon page of their book:

These guys have been writing a lot lately: