Troubling and mysterious development at the Iraq the Model blog. One of the three blogging brothers--Ali, the one who hasn't been touring the U.S.--appears to have quit, citing "the act of some Americans that made me feel I'm on the wrong side here." He goes on to say "I will expose these people in public very soon and I won't lack the mean to do this." ... Link via Sullivan, who makes a vague-but-possible connection to American torture and abuse in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Whatever the cause, there are indications this was something that's been in the works since before Ali's brothers left for their U.S. visit. A week ago Ali wrote:
I was very excited to meet our friends that we met through this blog, and I wanted to be able to say "Thank you America" in America, but I decided few days before the trip not to go (for reasons that I'll discuss in the future, probably). However, my invitation was cancelled even before I tell the people who set up the trip about my decision. So I asked Mohammed and Omar to go ahead, as I thought it might be good for our project "Friends of Democracy" and Iraq. [Emphasis added]
Stay tuned. ... Pressure on: Roger Simon to tell us what this is all about. ...Update: At least WaPo's Kurtz didn't come out Monday with a favorable article on Iraq the Model that missed the weekend 'Ali quits' story entirely. ... Oh, wait. ... 1:10 P.M.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Raines Must Fall? Frank Raines is presumably a fine man, as was his predecessor and fellow Democratic bigshot Jim Johnson. But executives at Fannie Mae are so wildly overpaid--it's where politicos go to heaven--and so self-congratulatory about the alleged affordable-housing mission that makes them rich that it's hard not to feel more than a frisson of schadenfreude when they get in trouble. ... True, Henry Blodget depicts Raines as the victim of a political or bureaucratic campaign to make "what looked like normal accounting a few months ago" seem fishy today. And Floyd Norris appears to uphold Blodget's view on one charge (the big-dollar "derivatives" controversy). But the proper treatment of the value of mortgages when interest rates plummet and homeowners refinance seems pretty cut and dried. Norris:
Fannie Mae should have taken a $400 million hit to profits, but instead it deferred half of it. That meant executives qualified for bonuses that would not have been paid had the full impact been taken.
Nor does it seem wildly unfair to hold Fannie Mae, which depends on Congressional and taxpayer support in the form of perceived federal backing, to a higher standard than a regular Fortune 500 corporation when it comes to 'smoothing' out earnings for appearances (and bonuses?) sake. ... More:WaPo's Pearlstein says Raines should go. Nell Minow disagrees. ... You can't make the call! That is, unless you know a lot more about accounting than I do ... ... 3:11 A.M. link
Friday, December 17, 2004
"Off Message": Great column name. ... 5:33 P.M.
Andrew Sullivan needs another vacation! He's turned from joking about his "power glutes" into a humorless PC scold, defensively seeking victimhood, subtle homophobia all around him. Latest example: He takes offense at a bit of hypothesized banter:
If it emerges in conversation that a man is married to a woman, would he be offended if a gay guy were to say, "What a waste"? I think he would. Or am I wrong?