Today's Blogs

Rough Estimate

Bloggers go to work on the declassified bits of the National Intelligence Estimate. They are also unsure what to make of Pervez Musharraf’s appearance on the Daily Show, and rather admire a 3-year-old who bought a car on eBay.

Rough estimate: Acting under pressure, the White House released the “key judgments summary” of the National Intelligence Estimate on Tuesday. Among the more bruited disclosures is that the Iraq war has become a “cause célèbre” for jihadists and has led to the rise of Islamic terrorism around the world. But it also confirms that U.S. policies have greatly damaged al-Qaida’s infrastructure.

Conservative and Bush administration critic Andrew Sullivan writes: “As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it’s clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam’s vile regime. … At this point in time, there’s no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future.” Sullivan concludes that more troops or total withdrawal are the only options left.

However, Daniel McKivergan, at the neoconservative Weekly Standard’s foreign-policy blog WorldwideStandard, indicates a shaft of optimism within the NIE report: “Among other things, the NIE, which Democrats have embraced, indicates that a jihadist failure in Iraq would hurt their cause. It will be interesting to listen to Democrats explain how their troop withdrawal plans for Iraq would hasten that failure.”

One Democrat, Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly’sPolitical Animal blog, thinks it’s a mite early to draw conclusions from the NIE, since only part of it has been released to the public: “[B]ecause only the NIE’s key judgments were declassified, these are still nothing but assertions. Without seeing the context, analysis, and dissenting opinions that shaped them, there’s nothing to assess.”

Lefty Spencer Ackerman at the New Republic’s The Plank is already onto the report’s detractors like Robert Kagan, who wrote a critical analysis of it in today’s Washington Post [Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.]. Kagan asks: “How many new terrorists are there? How many of the new terrorists became terrorists because they read the messages on the Web sites [claiming that the Iraq war is the ‘Western attempt to conquer Islam’]?” Ackerman is unimpressed:  “What Kagan is doing–and, as a supporter of the disastrous war, needs to do–is to impugn an analysis that doesn’t go his way. Get ready to hear a lot more from the right that follows Kagan’s lead.”

Read more about the declassified NIE. In Slate, Timothy Noah annotates the report.

A little too Mushy: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appeared on The Daily Show Tuesday night, marking the first time a sitting head of state has occupied the “Seat of Heat” opposite Jon Stewart. They kibitzed over tea and Stewart asked, “Where’s Osama Bin Laden?”  Laughs all around in the studio audience, but not in cyberspace, where Musharraf is labeled an autocrat unworthy of light repartee on comedy chat shows.

Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer filed an eyewitness report at the Huffington Post: “Bulletproof glass was installed in front of Jon’s desk in the studio. There was a ‘sweep’ of my office by what was evidently a satire-sniffing dog (and, I can only assume, a Pakistani dog, because when I asked him where Osama was, he fell suspiciously silent.) Add to that a few a snipers on the roof of our building. …  So you can appreciate the dissonance I feel.”

Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq? was appalled at the chumminess between host and guest: “Stewart went out of his way to treat Musharraf as some kind of cross between Mahatma Gandhi and Captain America. Dan Rather got an awful lot of criticism from the right for ‘sucking up’ to Saddam Hussein, but I’m sure that I’ll be of the minority opinion in slamming Stewart for accepting everything that Musharraf said or wrote in his book as fact.”

At Shatnerian, Quebecois John Lachine liked the interview but points out: “Considering this guy took power in a coup d’etat, has nuclear weapons, and may or may not know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, Stewart went more or less easy on him.” Lachine also thinks the tipping point of The Daily Show’s cultural significance has been reached and that the next one on the couch will be—George Bush.

Read more about Musharraf’s Daily Show guest spot.

Baby’s first haggle: Jack Neal, a British 3-year-old, purchased a pink Nissan Figaro valued at $17,000 on eBay. Mom says young Jack is a computer whiz a little too familiar with the auction site’s “Buy Me Now” option, and the seller was gracious enough to laugh off the episode.

Kate at The Original Musings smells a dirty diaper: “IF the parents’ story is on the up and up, that means that the kid browsed to the page with the car (since the parents weren’t aware it existed, mom must not have left that particular page up). … Hit the buy it now button. AND confirmed it on the next screen where it makes sure you understand what you’re doing. Awfully complex string of steps, IMHO. I wonder what really happened.”

But a used pink Nissan Figaro? asks med student Jake Young at Pure Pedantry. “I say they make him drive it when he turns 16 as punishment.”

Read more about Jack’s spending spree.