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What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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Second Thoughts on Ridge
Thursday, August 05, 2004
You know, I really want to get back to writing about music, but I've been so busy from work (the Big Thoughts have been flying fast and furious), and I find presidential politics so compelling, that I fear I can't help myself. Maybe soon. Lately I've been listening almost exclusively to the soundboard recordings of the first leg of the Dead's summer tour, with my man Warren Haynes on board. The shows seem to have started off rocky, but I'm about 6 shows in and they seem to be finding their footing.

Anyway, my brother kind of guilted me into denying that there was anything overtly political in the timing of Tom Ridge's terror announcement. He thinks I'm a conspiracy nut (my brother, not Tom Ridge). But I don't think I am; I think that I'm merely questioning motivations, not suggesting intricate evil conspiracies. And besides, conspiracy has gotten a bum rap; all it really means is two or more people working in concert to achieve a common goal. My wife and I conspired to have a child.

I am by nature a cynic, not a paranoid. And color me increasingly cynical on this one.

As the reports about the announcement continue to emerge, I find myself wondering.

The pundits on the left seem pretty sure, but I think they're maybe getting a little ahead of themselves; their anger is showing.

Here are some things we appear to know:

1. The Pakistanis were asked by the administration to deliver a "High Value Target" (HVT) by November, and specifically were given the dates of July 26-28.

2. The Pakistanis endeavored to do so. Apparently the Pakistanis believe that in recent history, Republican administrations have been more supportive of Pakistan, Democrat administrations seem to tip the balance toward Pakistan's enemy, India.

3. There appears to be some merit to this belief.

4. Apparently, here is what happened. The Pakistanis captured one or more Al Qaeda operatives, and as a result came into possession of hard drives (or passed these along to us.) The hard drives contained extensive reconnaissance information on the buildings cited by Ridge in his speech.

5. We came into possession of the information over a week before his speech to the nation, and before the Democratic convention.

6. Much of the information dates from 2000 and 2001. It is quite logical to assume that the work might have been done as part of the research that led to the selection of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center as targets.

7. Conversely, sources from the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) suggest that Al Qaeda is meticulous and long-range in its planning, so old research is still relevant.

8. I believe Al Qaeda does indeed intend to attempt a terrorist attack on US soil prior to the election. I think they believe they influenced the political process in Spain by blowing up that train shortly before the election there, and then the "Spain out of Iraq" guy won. However, I'm not convinced the guy was going to lose otherwise.

9. Taking all this into consideration, the conclusion I keep coming back to is that Bin Laden and his Wahhabi ilk, if they are indeed thinking this through, should want to strike in such a way that hurts the incumbent. And as I've written (to the consternation of fully 20% of APW's regular readership), a terrorist attack between now and the election helps Bush (by definition it helps the incumbent.) Subsequently, either Al Qaeda are dumb (a possibility I am loathe to rule out); or else they plan to strike directly AT the incumbent. In other words, I suspect that the logical targets are Madison Square Garden, where the convention will be held, or the Waldorf Astoria, where the president generally stays when in town (not just Bush; the president dating back to FDR, according to one cabbie I had.)

What to make of all this? Especially given the "vote Bush!" coda to Ridge's speech, and the personal ethics of some of those closest to the president (Karl Rove, drop us a line some time), I am beginning to wonder about the timing and prudence of the announcement. I would like to kmow precisely why they issued a warning based on information obtained from 2000 and 2001, didn't indicate it as such, and then went on national TV not when they got the info but at least a week later, right in the middle of Kerry bounce season.

Now, to be fair, there may well be very good answers these questions. But suddenly I want to know them. Because frankly I don't really think those sites are in the kind of jeapordy the OHS would have us believe. Also, there is a legitimate question of whether it is fair game to use your office (in this case Bush) to keep your office. I mean, everyone from my city councilman on up does it. And if Kerry were president and did a similar thing, its possible I'd be applauding him for playing Republican-style hardball.

Bottom line, I think there are questions to be answered, and "Trust us, we can't tell you for reasons of national security" is starting to get old.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 7:50 PM  

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