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Monday, February 28, 2005

Gannongate, Part 5: Democrats – Open the Floodgates!

Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 in case you missed any. In this part we’ll get a little more serious and talk strategy, first from the Democratic perspective.

By now, you’re all familiar with the main points of this story/emerging scandal. We know that a person with questionable journalistic credentials gained access to the daily White House press briefings. We also know that the person in question worked for a right-wing news organization which didn’t have exactly an exemplary record as a news entity. Indeed, certain reporters from more well-known and established news organizations were presumably denied access (only a limited number of seats for reporters in the daily press briefing room) because this person was given a seat. This person repeatedly lobbed ‘softball’ questions or threw out life-lines to the Press Secretary and even the President. Some serious sleuth work by dedicated bloggers (“real” reporters, if you will) unveiled a whole new layer to the onion. This right-wing reporter had not only gotten great access to the White House on a daily basis, he also was a gay hooker and pimp who ran Internet ads for his services. Oh, and apparently he had access to certain classified documents or materials during his stint as a White House reporter.

When faced with this embarrassing evidence, the White House declared that they had no idea about this person’s private (or not so private, given the pubic sex ads) life. Nor did the White House realize any connection with this dubious right-wing “news” organization. Now, there are several different potential conclusions one can draw from this scenario and a couple different paths one can pursue:

1) White House security (Secret Service, FBI) is grossly negligent for not knowing about this reporter’s dubious side-business

2) White House security is doubly-negligent for not knowing that this person somehow got access to classified material

3) White House security did know about this person’s
sextra-curricular activities, but some low level staffer, or even the Press Secretary himself, pushed it under the rug

4) The White House Political Advisor (Karl Rove) knew about this person’s other affairs, but decided that having a sympathetic reporter in the White House press pool superceded any concerns about this person’s other life

5) The White House (including the President) knew about this person’s other affairs, but decided that having a sympathetic reporter in the White House press pool superceded any concerns about this person’s other life

6) The White House knew that this person was a gay hooker and pimp and wanted this person in the White House

I find conclusion #1 (the reason du jour that most Democrats and left-wing bloggers are using to pursue this story) to be wholly unbelievable. I really have a hard time believing that the Secret Service and the FBI did not know who this person was. I don’t think that someone can walk around in the White House everyday without security knowing who he is. Also, Bush runs a very tight ship; I refuse to believe that he is actually really sloppy about his own security. If reason #1 is dubious, reason #2 is even more dubious: I don’t think that people can randomly walk around in the White House – and I don’t think that classified documents are just laying around in the White House for anyone to pick up. Any classified information that Jeff Gannon saw was leaked to him! Reason #3 is pure fantasy – if the Secret Service and the FBI knew about Gannon’s background (which I’m sure they did), they would not allow a low-level staffer or the Press Secretary to shove it under the rug! The Chief of Staff, or at least Karl Rove, would see the background report – I don’t think that staffers and Press Secretaries can make executive decisions on security.

Conclusions #3 and #4 don’t make any sense: If the White House (or Karl Rove) just wanted a shill reporter they could get a million people to take the job. If all they wanted was a cardboard-cut-out journalist they would not get one who is also a gay hooker and pimp! That only leaves conclusion #6 – the only logical conclusion.

From a strategic standpoint, this is actually the best conclusion that Democrats could hope for. Frankly, no one wants to hear Democrats and left-wing bloggers pontificate and provide faux concern over the President’s security. The Democrat’s strategy needs to be one which pushes conclusion #6 and asks the relevant questions which follow from that conclusion. Why did the White House want a gay hooker to visit them every day? Which top-level administration official was using the services of this pimp? How can the White House be so hypocritical as to stand on a platform against the “homosexual agenda” while participating in such behavior? The potential answer to any of these questions leads directly to criminal activity taking place in the White House (I haven’t checked in the last 10 minutes, but I still think prostitution, pimping, and solicitation of sex are illegal). These questions lead to the conclusion that this activity was taking place with the consent or participation of senior administration members. These are also questions that, if raised and repeated by the left, the religious right will soon find themselves asking. Therein lies the crux of the Democratic strategy for success: you must get the religious right to investigate these questions as vigorously as possible. The Democrats have no power in the Executive Branch, Congress, or the courts to push for an investigation. There will be no special investigator appointed without pressure from the religious right-wing.

If the Democrats continue to push the tired old “possible security breach” or “biased reporter” angle pretty soon no one will care. Nobody cares about which staffer potentially misplaced some paperwork or accidentally handed out a daily pass to which person. Nobody cares which reporter was supposedly paid off to have a bias. Nobody cares! People will only care if it becomes apparent to them that this White House has become a gay brothel and that this White House is being hypocritical in it’s position on gays.

In the next part, we'll tackle the Republican strategy for handling this whole affair.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sire, the Bloggers are Storming the Gannongates!

Well, we’re back to my weekly review of the Los Angeles Time’s Opinion Section. Check out the inaugural edition last week in which I took an opinion writer to task for suggesting that Condoleezza Rice might deserve a Nobel Peace Prize (WTF?!?).

This Sunday I noticed the panel discussion had a couple interesting cartoons (The Bloogeyman loves cartoons since he doesn’t have to read much!), one of which talked about bloggers (!) and another which obliquely referred to Gannongate (!). Those are a couple things I didn’t expect to see any mention of in the main-stream-media, even in a notoriously “liberal” rag such as the LA Times.

I’ve reproduced a couple of the cartoons below for your enjoyment:



Let’s take a look at the first one…my heart went all atwitter when I saw that one. I imagined myself leading the charge, setting up the siege engines as we bloggers get ready to storm the castle of the main-stream media. I love the snooty king, dismissing the bloggers as if they still control the news flow. I mean, really, has any important news been broken by the mainstream media lately? Between Seymour Hersh and Atrios they’ve covered just about anything worth hearing about. Yeah, I guess if I want to get the “scoop” on the Michael Jackson trial I’ll know where to go, but if you’re serious about news you’re going to want to hang around bloggers. Yeah, we’re just that cool!

How about the White House Press Corps? Mr. Rogers really nails it with that one – it’s kind of funny how in the mad rush of bloggers that have elbowed their way into the Gannongate story (yes, that includes the Bloogeyman, check out my Gannongate series), few people have stepped back from the fray and said “Wait a minute, you know, just exposing one reporter who actually is a whore doesn’t change the fact that most other reporters are sluts”. Yes, most other White House press reporters are just plain-jane sluts. At least Gannon had the nerve to charge for it – the others basically tow the line for free. Sure, they get their six-figure salaries and get to go to White House Christmas parties, but basically they’re all sluts – they get some perks from time to time but they like putting out for free.

As for the last cartoon, titled ‘News’, the Bloogeyman looked at it and went “Hmmmm”. Now the Bloogeyman didn’t go “Hmmmm” because the cartoon launched a philosophically complex internal dialogue on freedom of speech and the eternal human struggle – the Bloogeyman went “Hmmmm” because he actually was a little confused by the cartoon. Now, most people will never admit to ‘not getting’ a political cartoon.

Let’s say your spouse, girlfriend, significant other, or friend is perusing the Opinion section with you one Sunday morning and shows you a cartoon:

“Hey, look at this”, they’ll say as they hand the cartoon over to you, “What do you think?”

Now, you look at the cartoon and think, as I did on this one, “OKaaaaay, let’s see – I see a guy walking down the street and looking at a newspaper dispenser with bars on it with a guy trying to get out…” And you say, “Boy, that’s a good one!”

“Do you think it’s true?”

“Yeah…sure…um, it sure says something about the plight of today’s media”

“You don’t think it talks about the current state of the news-consuming public?”

“Uh…yeah, that too…”

That’s about the situation I found myself in when I looked at it. Sure, it seems to make sense from a cartoon-perspective: you’ve got the ‘regular guy’ on the street, you’ve got some institution (this one is labeled ‘News’), and you’ve got bars signifying that something is being restricted. But, when you look closely you realize that you can’t quite put it all together (maybe it’s just the Bloogeyman, he’s not too smart). I see a guy walking past the “News” caged up – is the News trying to get out but the dumb American public won’t pay a quarter to let it out? Or, is there some big story that the News won’t let out? Or, is it decrying the new restrictions placed on the fourth institution vis-à-vis the Justice Department’s investigation of reporters' sources? Or maybe the lamp post is a critical component to this whole thing and the Bloogeyman is just too dumb to figure it out.

Funny how reading the Sunday Opinion can start out as a relaxing past-time but can quickly make you question your intelligence over something as simple as a cartoon…

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Gannongate, Part 4: Who Got Gannon’s Cannon?

In the first part, we talked about why we think this story is important, in the second part we deduced what was happening in the White House, in the third part (by popular demand) we did a redux on why we were able to ascertain what was going on in the White House, and now, finally, we get to use our vast logical and deductive powers for a truly profound purpose: guessing who got Gannon’s cannon!



In the next part, the Bloogeyman will get a little more serious and try to look at this whole thing from two perspectives. We’ll talk strategy: How should Republicans handle damage control and ensure that this whole episode is soon forgotten? How should the Democrats ensure that this thing is not only fully investigated, but also fully exposed to the public?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Gannongate, Part 3: De-deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo

Last time we talked about why Gannon and the White House need to be thoroughly investigated – criminal activity is going on! Also, we realized that when presidents commit crimes (Bill Clinton perjured himself), they need to be held accountable.

We have now deduced that criminal activity is taking place in the White House (prostitution, pimping, and solicitation of sex) and now comes the fun part of trying to deduce who is involved. “Hold on there Mr. De-deuce Bigelow”, you say, “I’m not sure you have enough evidence to even deduce what you’ve been deduce’n!” Well, previously we deduced that there was sexual (and criminal) activity going on the White House, but the Bloogeyman has gotten many comments from people who just aren’t able to take the logical leap that the evidence provides. So, we’ll just delay the next part in order to look a little more into the evidence available for us to deduce the events that have been taking place in the White House.

In the previous part we figured on a personal level that if the White House was just looking for a shill reporter they would get someone with no ‘personal-life issues’ or dirty laundry. There are millions of people willing to be pseudo-journalists if you pay them enough, and most of them don’t have much baggage or dirty laundry. Why not get someone to lob you easy questions during press briefings who doesn’t have a gay hooker/pimp background? Why, indeed. In fact, the more you think about the situation the more it becomes clear that Gannon was in the White House because he was a gay hooker, not because he was just a right-wing “journalist”.

We can also look at the whole scenario from a different perspective. The Bloogeyman is a capitalist and has studied a little economics. The Bloogeyman believes in supply and demand. For example, during the Clinton administration the whole ‘intern industry’ prospered because there was demand for fresh young interns – no demand, no sexy interns show up. But, if you didn’t know of the demand, you could still look at the fact that there was so much supply of interns (and the ‘price’ wasn’t declining) and deduce the fact that there was a lot of demand for interns.

Now, look at the current economic scenario. Suddenly, there are a lot of gay hookers in Washington (some would argue there were always a lot of gay hookers in Washington, but let’s not drag congressmen into this…). In fact, ever since the Bush administration moved in the supply of fresh young interns has dropped off the map (apparently the demand cratered) and the supply of gay hookers has gone through the roof. I mean, the fact that that a gay pimp/hooker is sitting in on press briefings and going to White House Christmas parties tells me that the market is hot. Hey, this is all Economics / Logic 101. Below is a chart from a recent study done by Professor Shinkleton regarding economic indicators in the Washington D.C. area:




Where there is supply, there is demand (or excess demand if prices are rising). And if you have supply you need distribution channels. Those distribution channels will lead right to the demand source. All roads lead to Rome, right? Well, it seems that all gay hooker distribution channels lead to the White House. We’re looking at a situation where the demand was so hot that a distribution channel had to be operating in the White House every day. Sure, they treated him like a whore by making him get a pass every day, but, well, I guess he was a whore.

In the next part, the Bloogeyman will finally get to where he was going all along: finding out where these distribution channels lead. That is, who the hell is using up all the supply of gay hookers in Washinton?!? (Inquiring congressional minds want to know!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gannongate, Part 2: This Administration Really Does Have A Man-Date

Last time we talked about why this whole Gannongate thing is starting to get interesting – who Jeff Gannon is, what his journalistic background was, the seedy details of his private life, and why he was in the White House so often.

Any investigation on the Jeff Gannon / White House connection eventually leads to his…err…extracurricular activities. But, hey, it’s just some guy’s private life, right? No reason to go all Ken Lay on everyone, right? Well, I’m going to catch a lot of flak from Lefties for this: Bill Clinton deserved to be impeached. Now, Bill Clinton’s private life shouldn’t matter to anyone (and, in fact, after the “scandal” unfolded, his approval ratings went up!) and shouldn’t have been investigated in the first place. However, given that it was investigated, and given that Bill Clinton was summoned to testify in front of a Grand Jury, he has a responsibility to tell the truth. Bill Clinton perjured himself in front of the Grand Jury – and that’s criminal, plain and simple. The fact that he shouldn’t have even been in front of the Grand Jury has nothing to do with it. That line of excuses for Bill Clinton’s behavior is akin to saying that if you shouldn’t be somewhere to start with, all of your actions while there are excused. For example, let’s say a police officer mistakenly pulls me over. I’m mad and I shouldn’t even be in that situation because he’s “investigating” me for no reason. But just because I shouldn’t even be talking to the officer doesn’t mean that I should be excused if I whomp the officer with a 2x4. Whatever path you’re on, wherever you find yourself, you have an obligation to obey the law (especially if you’re the president), and if you don’t you should face the consequences.

How does this apply to Gannongate? Well, last time I checked, prostitution is illegal, pimping is doubly-illegal, and johns go to jail. The fact that this is all happening in the White House is triply concerning. Sure, it happens all the time all over America, but it’s illegal. And just as Clinton’s perjury should be held to the same level of accountability (if not higher) as anyone else’s perjury, illegal activity going on in the White House should be investigated and people should be held accountable.

Additionally, it’s in the public interest to expose who in the administration is a political hypocrite – who generally denounces homosexuality and supports administration policies regarding homosexuality, while engaging in such behavior himself – because it relates to public policy. For people on the Right, it’s of tantamount importance – they are probably feeling betrayed right now given that they supported Bush on the understanding that he would push for a ban on gay marriage. They already blew a gasket in early January when Bush said in an interview that the gay marriage ban thing wasn’t really high on his agenda and implied that it won’t ever get done. Apparently the White House’s phone lines started lighting up like a Christmas tree as furious social conservatives called in, foaming at the mouth, demanding to know whether or not Bush had hoodwinked them. At this point, the picture is starting to come together for social conservatives and before long they will realize that if they want to salvage any of their social agenda they will have to ferret out the those members of the administration who are undermining the administration’s commitment to act on its campaign promises.

For people on the Left, especially homosexuals, this situation provides a moment in which they can finally expose the hypocrisy of certain members of the administration. Yes, they take a perverse joy in the ironic turn of events, but at the heart of it the goal is the same: ferret out the political hypocrites that reside in the White House. While it was the Left who initiated the investigation and scandal, it will be the Right who takes it to completion. The Right will soon understand that to salvage any of its social agenda, and to stave off countless gay brothel jokes that are bound to follow, it will need to “clean house”. That includes looking in all the closets. That’s why this story will be around for a while – as long as both sides have a reason to keep it alive and see it through to the end, it will not go away.

In the next part, the Bloogeyman will take a look at who the key players might turn out to be…

Gannongate, Part 1: Should We Even Care Who Left the Gate Open?

The Bloogeyman has thus far refrained from jumping into the Gannongate fray. For anyone new to the story - a journalist, Jeff Gannon, for conservative news source Talon News basically got a day pass to White House press conferences every day for the past two years and liked to lob easy questions to the press secretary and even the president. Also, it seems that this “journalist” had no prior journalistic experience, was using a fake name, and was operating a gay hooker service. Whew. Despite the intriguing possibilities, initially the Bloogeyman was not so interested in this story for several reasons:

1) A person’s private life, gay or otherwise, is none of my business

2) This story did not seem to necessarily have any bearing on public policy

3) This story did not seem to have “legs”; it seemed like a story that would be ignored pretty soon – anyone remember Harken Energy?

However, the more that the Bloogeyman thought about this whole surrealistic episode, the more he realized that there were reasons that this story is important:

1) A person’s private life, especially a public figure’s private life, becomes public business when that person is engaged in criminal activity

2) It is apparent that one or more of the administration members is a “political hypocrite” in that while publicly supporting a conservative gay policy, the person was personally engaging in activities he professed to oppose

3) This story is of interest both people on the Right and the Left: Any Right leaning person that has supported this administration’s policy regarding homosexuals has to feel uncomfortable that perhaps this administration is not sincere in its policy platform; Any Left-leaning person feels that any political hypocrisy needs to be exposed to inform the public about the administration’s true platform. Because both members of the Right and the Left have an interest in investigating this story to the fullest extent, this story probably has “legs”

Let’s talk about what we know and what we can deduce. We know that Jeff Gannon (real name, James Guckert) started showing up to White House press briefings in early 2003 using a “day pass”. He was frequently called upon during the press briefings (and even called upon by President Bush, who called him by his pseudonym “Jeff”, ahead of dozens of other reporters from larger, well established news agencies), and seemed to always offer up “soft-ball” questions. For example, here’s the question he asked President Bush:

Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines. And Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work - you've said you are going to reach out to these people - how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

We know that he went to the invitation-only White House press Christmas party in 2003 and 2004. He also allegedly had access to exclusive or even classified information. Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves- this is not a security issue, personal, executive, or national. There was never any danger to the President, White House, or to the nation – even the classified documents that he allegedly saw were shown to him by someone in the White House – that’s not a security breach, that’s a deliberate leak. Regardless of the level of background checks the White House admits to doing on Gannon, I’m pretty sure that someone who walks in and out of the White House every day has been thoroughly checked out by the Secret Service and the FBI. People don’t get in the White House 20 feet away from the President without the Secret Service knowing who they are.

But that leads us down a more fascinating path. If the White House knew about Gannon’s background - his pseudonym, his lack of journalism experience, his gay hooker service – why was he given a daily pass? Sure, maybe the White House was looking for a shill to ask them easy questions (when’s the last time you saw a politician sit down for a “hardball” interview - half of the time they know the questions in advance), but then why not get some guy with no background story and no baggage? No, if you just want a shill, there are a million guys out there – but, if you want a thrill, there’s only Gannon. And don’t give me this “oh, maybe some low-level staffer just put through some paperwork and got Gannon in”, with a background like Gannon’s any Secret Service or FBI file would go directly to the Chief of Staff and probably to the President himself before he was even let within 100 yards of the White House. Yes, the White House knew who he was, hooker and all, and wanted him there. The hard truth is: Jeff Gannon was in the White House because he was a gay hooker, not in spite of being a gay hooker.

In the next part, the Bloogeyman will discuss what this all means and why this story will continue to have legs...


Monday, February 21, 2005

This is Even Cheesier Than Rice-a-Roni

Like many of you, the Bloogeyman enjoys his Sundays. He likes to sleep in and then wake up to read the Sunday newspaper over breakfast. Which paper does the Bloogeyman read? Well, I tried reading the New York Times – the print is too small and too much of the paper seems to be filled with weird New York-centric articles. The Wall Street Journal? Well, the Journal has to be about the most boring wide-circulation paper in the country. It’s funny, because the more you read the Journal, the more you actually start to like it. The Bloogeyman had a job once where part of his every-day activities was to read practically every article in the Journal (mainly for news on the market and its potential effect on positions). The Bloogeyman got to the point where he could go through the whole Journal – article by article – in about 2 hours and it wasn’t even that boring. But when it comes to leisurely Sunday morning reading the Journal is about as relaxing as an S&M session with an economist.

What about all of the other regional or national papers – New York Post (do these guys even pretend to be journalists?), San Francisco Chronicle (a paper so slim on content that I could breeze through everything worth reading in 15 minutes), or USA Today (These guys are just trying to be funny, right? Recent headline: Why NHL fell through the ice - After a 154-day lockout, hockey is the first pro sport to call off an entire season - Analysis, reaction, commentary, 1, 2, 4C. Good lord, who fucking cares? I mean if you guys spent that much time and space investigating something actually worth investigating (WMD? 911? Iraq? Iran?) you might be considered a real newspaper in my book). What’s left? The Los Angeles Times. The great thing about the LA Times is that you don’t have to live in LA to get it (plus they don’t print in microprint!).

I guess people consider the LA Times to be one of the preeminent large-circulation liberal papers. Apparently, these days if you engage in even a modicum of question asking you’re considered extremely liberal. But I’m not sure they are that liberal – yes the editorial board is pretty liberal, but you only have to open up the opinion section to get a good idea of the kind of mix of columnists they keep.

The Sunday Opinion section is usually a pretty good read – the articles are generally well researched and tend to present interesting, if not always water-tight, arguments. Since I like reading the Opinion page on Sunday I figured I’d start putting up a post every Sunday or Monday talking about a particularly interesting opinion piece. Sometimes it will be a thoughtful look at a though-provoking piece. Sometimes it will be an extension of a premise or discussion of a policy framework that was presented in the context of current events. Sometimes the Bloogeyman will couple a unique socio-economic framework theory with metaphysical philosophy. But mostly the Bloogeyman will just shamelessly ridicule some idiot writer who apparently slipped through the basic sanity/quality screen that I’m sure the LA Times has in place.

The opinion page does seem to have the now industry-standard brainless support-administration-policies-no-matter-what-guy©. Take editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez for example – I don’t know much about this guy (except that he’s won a Pulitzer or two and his artwork is very nice), but I do know that I’ve probably seen him deviate from the administration line once or twice in the past five years. That’s right – out of hundreds of editorial cartoons he’s penned he has almost never deviated from the party line. It’s like he has a magical telekinetic line into Karl Rove (or just a fax machine). Hell, he should probably be up for an Armstrong award by now (I mean, come on, now that we know that Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher took payola – and I don’t even want to mention the G-man – Ramirez should be at the top of anyone’s suspicion list).

I’m pretty sure that even if the Bush administration announced a new policy in which anyone with the last name ‘Ramirez’ instantly gets deported to Guantanamo Michael Ramirez would quickly pen one last cartoon supporting the policy before he was dragged off by the feds shouting “Viva Bush!”. But I digress, suffice it to say that even though the LA Times has a reputation of being a ‘liberal’ paper, there are plenty of different view points expressed in the opinion pages.

Yes, the LA Times has got all kinds of columnists – conservative, liberal, libertarian, social democrat, fascist – but lately I’ve noticed that they’ve started adding a new class of opinion columnist: retarded.

This last weekend the Bloogeyman opened up the Opinion section to see the first headline ponder: “A Second-Term Shift?”. “Ok”, the Bloogeyman thinks, “an in-depth analysis of possible shifts in foreign policy and tactics?” – noting that the illustration shows a simian George Bush reaching across the globe towards Europe as a gap-toothed Condoleezza Rice glares on. Oh, and look at this, this opinion piece is written by “Nancy E. Soderberg, a senior national security advisor in the Clinton administration”…she should have an interesting take on what’s been going on thinks the Bloogeyman.

Now the Bloogeyman reads the first line: “Let me be the first to say it: Condoleezza Rice may be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize.” Wait a minute…WTF?!? Did you just say that Kinda-phoney Rice might be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize?!? WTF?!? Ok, breath deeply, let’s just relax and think this through for a second…lets think about and enumerate the things she’s done as Secretary of State that might warrant consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. 1) Ok, she’s gone to Europe and…uh…she’s talked about…uh. Wait a fucking minute here…she hasn’t done anything! I’m pretty sure I haven’t been in a coma or anything since she was confirmed like just-last-fucking-week, but maybe I’m missing something. Let me think…nope…she hasn’t done one fucking thing! Yeah, she’s talked a lot – but hell, doesn’t everyone talk a lot – what matters is what you do. Look at this excerpt:

Going into the lion’s den of France earlier this month, Rice spoke of the need for “an even stronger partnership based on common opportunities” and laid out threats both countries face – terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failed states and organized crime. Over the last four years, we have lost ground in combating these threats. If she and her boss succeed in restoring America’s place as persuader, not just enforcer, dramatic progress is possible.

Where do I even start? Wow, going into the ‘lion’s den’ that is France was pretty fucking courageous – I think she deserves at least a Medal of Honor for that. And she “spoke” about this and that – blah, blah, blah. She still hasn’t done anything. But wait, “over the last four years, we have lost ground in combating these threats” – last I remember, she had something to do with what’s been going on these last four years – so she’s actually been doing a really bad job these last couple years? But maybe a ten minute speech promising big things that you have no intention of ever actually doing warrants a Nobel Peace Prize. Hell, if that’s the criteria, wait till Nancy Soderberg hears all the things I can promise. The Bloogeyman hereby promises …blah, blah, blah. Hey Nancy, will you be nominating the Bloogeyman for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Oh, and I’m pretty comfortable in Nancy’s assessment of Condoleezza Rice’s performance as Secretary of State given her firm grasp of reality in the context of other events. How about this quote:

…the recent elections in Iraq came off better than even the administration had hoped, with 8.5 million Iraqis voting despite insurgent violence. And they voted for a secular – not Islamic, Iranian-style – government.

Wow, I’m sure glad that the elections came off “better than even the administration had hoped” – but wait a minute…haven’t you heard of lowering expectations? I’m pretty sure the Bush administration had actually hoped that the elections were a fucking disaster, whew, good thing they turned out better than the administration hoped. And, hey, guess what? They voted for a “secular” government(!) – I didn’t know that. I’d think that when the party that got 51% of the seats in the new parliament was backed by the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq they’re pretty fucking non-secular. But, hey, I’m not a real journalist like you…I’m sure you did your homework and understand the situation better than me. Well, than explain me this – why the fuck is the leader of winning party (and now de facto leader of the Iraqi government) called Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani?!? Um, ok, I’ll do a Google search and see if I can dig up some information on this guy. Maybe the first name his mom gave him is ‘Grand’ and he really is just a secular kind of guy. But wait, according to this CNN article “Al-Sistani is known to be in favor of declaring Islam as the official faith of the country”. It’s pretty fucking sad when CNN out-journalizes and out-fact checks you.

Or, how ‘bout this little gem of gullibility:

…if the administration's newfound fondness for building partnerships and diplomacy holds, it has a chance to make significant progress in stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The administration has a newfound fondness for building partnerships? Funny, you wouldn’t really get that idea from reading the news lately and actually looking at the administration’s actions instead of taking everything they say at face value like you just fell off the turnip truck. Good lord, I thought journalists were supposed to think about things, analyze, investigate, and not just parrot anything thrown their way like some dumb little puppy dog wagging his tail and waiting for a pat on the head! What the hell has happened when the readers have to fact check everything and do all the investigating themselves? Maybe I should just red-line the whole column and send it in to the editor so I can get paid for doing all the fact-checking. And does the editor of a paper even have to fact check an opinion article (or is it just an opinion so you can say whatever the hell you want)? Really, I’m not sure about that – if I become a syndicated opinion columnist does that mean I can really say anything I want without regards to fact?

The writer also mentions that “In his first term, Bush doubled aid to Africa, including $15 billion to fight HIV/AIDS”. Ok, did that even happen? Really, I don’t know. Yeah, everybody remembers the State of the Union address when he announced it and how everybody patted everybody on the back for being so benevolent, but really – did Bush even send any of the money? I’m pretty sure that he hasn’t sent even a significant portion of the $15 billion, another empty promise, but, frankly, I’m too tired to even Google it. *Sigh*, there was a time when being a journalist or an editor was actually a job – you actually had to work – but now it seems everyone is just a glorified press release transcriber.

Well, I got to get going; the Bloogeyman’s going to be writing his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nancy, you’ll nominate me, right?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

When You Play Gin Rummy With This Group You Always Lose

Ok, let’s talk about Donald Rumsfeld. He had a pretty telling question-and-answer hearing in Congress a couple days ago. It’s interesting how throughout the history of the United States the Secretary of Defense either is one of the highest profile persons in government, or all but forgotten and anonymous. In fact, I’m guessing that Rumsfeld is perhaps the best known member of the Bush administration except for George Bush himself. How many people can name Clinton’s Secretary of Defense?

And it’s not just the fact that we’re tangled up in two wars and facing the prospect of a couple more – Rumsfeld is generally one really irascible old man. I guess you could compare him to your wrinkly, old uncle who gets really drunk and then starts picking fights with everyone – you can pretty much ignore the old bastard, unless, of course, he’s your Secretary of Defense.

Now, Rummy gets a lot of flak for his I’m-an-asshole-but-you-can’t-do-anything-about-it-so-take-this! attitude towards everyone from regular soldiers (‘you get shipped home in the box you have, not the one you’d like to have’) to congressmen (‘wow! I really can just say ‘fuck you!’ to every question they ask me and eventually they will just go away’).

He gets tons of hate from the Left – hated for everything from his mismanagement of the war (and his ‘fuck you’ attitude to anyone who points it out) to his seeming callousness towards dead soldiers (‘I could sign this condolence letter to his mother, but damn, my fingers are all tired from signing all those checks to Halliburton!’). The Right vacillates between lightly condemning him to an uneasy endorsement (‘Well, he is a tough guy…’).

But hold on, I’m not here to pile onto the hate heap, there are plenty of columns talking about that, I’m going to talk about why Rumsfeld is the right guy for the job – why I even *gasp* kind of like him. “WTF?!?”, you’re going to say, “The Bloogeyman’s off his nut”. I’m not saying that I’m sending Rummy love letters or anything, but let me take you through why I think that Rummy’s an important part of the administration. When it comes down to it, the Bloogeyman prefers the boogeyman that is out in the open to the one that is still hiding in the shadows.

I’ll admit that that’s kind of warped way of looking at things - to ignore some of the obviously incompetent or just plain horrible things Rummy has done (“But Mister Bloogeyman, his fuck ups are so many and so obvious!”) - but first lets look at what his part is in all this. Who sets the policy and who follows it? Sure, Rummy had a say in the decision to go to war, how to set up the war, and how to execute it – but it was Bush and Cheney who were the final decision makers – it’s their policy. The Bush administration, as we have all come to know and treasure, will never give anyone a straight answer on anything. They’re like a guy at the bar who will keep buying you drinks, joking with you and generally having a good time, only to stab you in the back later and take your wallet. Rummy’s kind of like some guy who steps out of a dark alley, shows you a knife, says he’s gonna stab you, stabs you, and then tells you he’s stabbing you as he turns the knife. Which is better? Well, there’s really not much difference in the end result (you’re still face down in your own blood and puke in a back alley, minus your wallet), but at least in the second case you know what’s happening and maybe, just maybe, you have a chance to take some action to prevent the end result.

It’s interesting to see how people pile onto Rumsfeld (even Republicans from time to time), but refuse to point a finger or raise a hubbub in regards to Bush. I’ll sit there and watch as everyone - newspapers, TV, Democrats, Republicans, bloggers – denounce or distance themselves from Rummy because of his latest gaffe or straight-talk but refuse to take the logical step and apply blame where it really needs to reside. Frankly, everything Rumsfeld says or does represents the Bush administration view of things and Bush’s policy (remember, he did submit his resignation twice – both rejected by George Bush). Rush to war? Bush. Don’t think about adequate troop levels or supplies? Bush. Don’t bother signing condolence letters to the families of the dead? Bush. Give Congress the finger if they try to question you? Bush. Give soldiers the finger if they want armor? Bush. Hello everyone, it’s Bush, Bush, Bush!

The only difference is that while Rummy tells it to you straight (through words or actions), Bush wraps everything in warm, fuzzy platitudes about honor, sacrifice, liberty, and freedom. And, there are actually times when Rumsfeld is right about things and the look on people’s faces (especially rank and file Republicans’) is priceless. Complaining about a “war” in which 1,500 soldiers have died? Shut the hell up, Rumsfeld basically tells you. When you kill over 100,000 people and lose 1,500 that’s not a war, that’s an administered beating, pretty much a massacre. When people complain about casualties to Rumsfeld he’s probably thinking, “Good lord, you fucking babies, stop complaining every time someone dies – 30,000 people died a day, every day, for six years during World War 2 – that was a war” What he actually says is “Well, sure they[casualties] bother me but remember they're volunteers.” When someone complains about inadequate armor he’s probably thinking, “Can you ever stop whining? I mean, the insurgents are running around in tee shirts and tennis shoes and you want me to armor your fucking toilet?!?” What he actually says is, “As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want”.

Oh, and here are some excerpts from his friendly little Q&A session:

Two dozen members of the House Armed Services Committee had not yet had their turn to question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at yesterday's hearings when he decided he had had enough.

At 12:54, he announced that at 1 p.m. he would be taking a break and then going to another hearing in the Senate. "We're going to have to get out and get lunch and get over there," he said. When the questioning continued for four more minutes, Rumsfeld picked up his briefcase and began to pack up his papers.

The chairman, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), apologized to his colleagues for a rather "unusual" situation.

With the Bush administration asking Congress this month to write checks for half a trillion dollars for the Pentagon, you might think the secretary of defense would set an accommodating posture on Capitol Hill. But, to paraphrase Rumsfeld's remark in December about the Army, you go to budget hearings with the defense secretary you have, not the defense secretary you might want or wish to have at a later time. And Donald Rumsfeld doesn't do accommodating very well.

Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: "I am not going to give you a number."

Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? "I don't."

Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? "I can't."

How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? "I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."

How long will the war last? "There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."

The hope is that at some point everyone - Congress, soldiers, people, Democrats, Republicans - will realize that this is actually not how they want war and foreign policy run. That this level of respect for Congress and, ultimately, the American people is not acceptable. However, the blank, stunned look that people get when confronted by the bare, hard truth is only superseded by the faux outrage that they whisper afterwards. But outrage is nothing if not coupled with action. And, as Bush said, the moment for accountability and action has passed.

I’ll leave you with another nice little Rumsfeld exchange along with the translation:

In Europe last week, Rumsfeld joked that he was no longer the "old Rumsfeld" who disdainfully referred to France and Germany as "Old Europe."

But Wednesday, he made it clear that the new Rumsfeld would not be a softy. When he scolded Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) by saying she incorrectly described his role, Tauscher inquired: "Is that old Rumsfeld talking to me now?"

"I think so," Rumsfeld said, smiling.

"I'd prefer new Rumsfeld," she requested.

"No, you don't," he said.

That’s the Bush administration saying ‘fuck you’ to everyone – you had a chance to vote for a new path, but you didn’t so shut the hell up ‘cause we’ll tell you what you prefer now. At least Rummy has the guts to say it to your face.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Everything is Ponte’ing to Trouble

Ok, I’m pretty sure that Charles Manson could get confirmed by this Congress. Just when I thought my blood pressure was coming down from the Alberto Gonzales and Condoleezza Rice confirmations guess which boogeyman comes crawling back? I’m not going to rehash John Negroponte’s long and despicable career (it looks like a ‘distinguished’ career if you’re in Congress). Instead, just take a look at some comments from people regarding his nomination (taken from these CNN and Fox News articles):


At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, Rockefeller had criticized Bush for taking so long to name a director.

But Thursday he praised the president's choice. "I think that Ambassador Negroponte is a very sound choice," Rockefeller said. "Ambassador Negroponte has served bravely and with distinction in Iraq and at the United Nations during a time of turmoil and uncertainty. He brings a record of proven leadership and strong management."

……….

"I'm enthusiastic …he stands sort of midpoint between the military and the intelligence world … and he has as his deputy someone who knows more about the collection of intelligence than anybody else on Earth ... they have very good chemistry, I think they'll make a very good team," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told FOX News. "He'll get confirmed, I think, easily and quickly."

……….

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., however, said she is thankful Negroponte will be in the business of collection, analysis and dissemination of information, and not a policy maker or Cabinet officer.

"As one who has disagreed with Ambassador Negroponte for over 20 years, I am pleased that he is in a position now that doesn't have anything to do with policy."

……….

Both skeptics and hopefuls say the new director has more than a few challenges ahead — from turf battles at the major intelligence and national security agencies to bureaucratic resistance and the ultimate test of wielding the authority needed to transform the nation’s intelligence capabilities.

"He’s going to have to be a skull-cracker, that’ll make the difference," said Amy Zegart, a professor of public policy at UCLA, former student of now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice…

WTF?!? Ok, we’ll start with you Mr. Rockefeller. I understand that you’re a Senator from West Virginia. Yeah, I know that’s a dreaded ‘red state’. But for fuck’s sake, Robert Byrd is from West Virginia and the Bloogeyman doesn’t see him bending over backwards to sycophantically slaver over everything Bush does! Maybe you don’t have enough votes to stop the confirmation, or even attempt a filibuster, but you don’t need to jockey for the best doggy award.

Nancy Pelosi – you’re a fucking disaster. You’ve never agreed with him on anything but you’re pleased that he’s not in a position that has anything to do with "policy" like, say, head of manipulating intelligence to support policy, or anything?!? Whew, that was a close one, for a moment there I thought he might continue to be an ambassador. Good lord, there are like a million ambassadors – if I had like $20,000 dollars I could be an ambassador. But gee, from what I’ve heard this Director of All Fucking Intelligence thing doesn’t sound like a big deal. Does the name J. Edgar Fucking Hoover mean anything to you?!? And don’t give me that look. The Bloogeyman knows you - you’re a congresswoman from San Francisco for crying out loud. Your probability of losing your seat is like negative 500%! You could vote against all Bush legislation all day long – and you probably should, given where we know all Bush legislation leads us - and your poll numbers would actually go up. And you’re the Minority Leader in the House? Please, act like one – you can even use WWTDD if you have to. Just think, every time, “What Would Tom Delay Do?”

And that last quote – boy, it seems like there is going to be a lot of work to be done. Gee, it seems like there is always a lot of work to be done in the Bush administration and it all seems to be hard work. Man, there are going to be “turf battles”, and “bureaucratic resistance” (read: judicial resistance), and “the ultimate test of wielding the authority” – talk about some serious heavy lifting. Well, good thing we’ve got John Negroponte, you see, “he’s going to have to be a skull-cracker”. Wait…what?!? Now I’m really creeped out. I mean, I kind of gandered a guess at where this might lead, but you don’t just come out and say it. Think of the children! I’m pretty sure little Timmy will have a hard time sleeping knowing that some boogeyman just crawled out of the sewer and now is going to have to be a “skull-cracker”. I know I’m going to have a hard time sleeping.

Well, that’s the story – he’s been nominated and his confirmation seems like a “slam dunk”. I’m not going to rehash history or go into a tirade of often used accusations and evidence pointing to his many ‘shortcomings’ (to really, really understate the situation). The Bloogeyman will just get into a line of a little deductive hypothesis (some might call it rumor-mongering). That is, I’m just going to sit back a little bit and look at the whole situation and try to see if I can glean anything that has not been explicitly said or reported in the “media”.

We were all a little shocked when (*surprise!*) the Bush administration announced that John Negroponte would be the ambassador to Iraq. Hell, a lot of people thought that ghoul had long since passed. But, “What the hell”, we said, “he’s far over his days of mischief in Honduras and Nicaragua, right?” Right? Then came the news that the Pentagon was considering (read: already using) the ‘Salvador Option’ – the tactic of putting special-forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq to battle the growing insurgency. Now, I may be a little slow on the uptake, but when I hear “John Negroponte” + “Ambassador to Iraq” + “Salvador Option” I think “uh, oh…” Now, I’m pretty sure that the Shiites in Iraq are smarter than me and think “UH, OH…”. So, here’s how I think a conversation between Ali al-Sistani (de facto leader of the Shiites in Iraq) and one of his aides might have went (paraphrased, I’m sure they weren’t this eloquent):


Ali al-Sistani: So, what’s going on?

Lackey: Well, there’s news: the Occupation Forces just appointed John Negroponte as the Ambassador to Iraq.

AaS: WTF?!? Is that the John Fucking Negroponte I’m thinking of?

L: Yep, that’s the motherfucker.

AaS: Really? Hell, I thought that ghoul had long since passed.

L: Nope, he was actually the U.N. Ambassador before this.

AaS: Oh, that’s why I hadn’t heard of him – does anyone even pay attention to the U.N. anymore?

L: Well, not Saddam and definitely not the United States.

……seven months later……

L: Uh, you gotta see this article in Newsweek. It talks about how the Occupation Forces might use the “Salvador Option”.

AaS: Yup, knew that. Next.

L: WTF?!? How the hell could you know about this? It just came out!

AaS: Didn’t you get the memo? I sent it out a couple months ago.

L: What memo?

AaS: Don’t you ever check your inbox? Anyway, they’ve been using the Salvador Option for a while now. I mean, come on, the Sunnis have their hands full getting beat down by the Occupation Forces – they’re not dumb enough to start car-bombing Shiite mosques so we also come in and regulate on their asses. That’s why I’ve told everyone to play it cool and not get a civil war started with the Sunnis.

L: Wow, and to think I was about to open a can of Shiite on my Sunni barber…

AaS: Look, anything else?

L: Well, what do we do about this whole Negroponte situation?

AaS: I may look like Santa Clause, but I’m not dumb. I’ve already handled it.

L: What did you do?

AaS: Well, I sent an intermediary to talk to the Occupation Forces and basically said: “We’ve got your number so don’t try any tricky shit – get this John Fuckingponte guy out of my country or you’re in for a world of hurt. You can get him out after the election so it doesn’t look all weird and stuff, but I want him out!”

L: Wow, I never would have imagined…

AaS: God, you’re dumb – how much do I pay you?

L: You pay me with the promise of eternal paradise.

AaS: Really? Damn, I need to re-evaluate my health-care plan, sounds expensive.


So there you go. Of course it’s a complete, unsubstantiated rumor, but that’s how the Bloogeyman logically thinks things could have gone down. The Bush Administration had to get Johnnie boy out of Iraq, but wanted to put him in somewhere else so that things don’t look all weird and stuff. Am I right? You Tell Me.

But Director of National Intelligence? This guy has never been involved in anything remotely resembling intelligence (unless you count shredding classified documents as work experience). I mean, look at Bush’s explanation for why he would make a good Director of National Intelligence (excerpted from a Fox News article):


But Negroponte may appear to be somewhat of an unusual choice, some observers said.

"He has stature ... what he doesn't have is expertise in intelligence," said Walter Pincus, senior writer with The Washington Post. "He's been an ambassador, he's dealt with intelligence but he's never served in any of the intelligence agencies."

Bush responded to questions about the appropriateness of the choice by saying that Negroponte can maneuver through bureaucratic Washington because of a strong familiarity with using prior intelligence reports.

"He's a diplomat ... he understands the power centers of Washington, he's been a consumer of intelligence ... he's got a good feel for how to move this process forward to address the different interests," Bush said.

WTF?!? I mean, I consume a lot of donuts, but I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to be the CEO of Krispy Kreme Donuts. “Ok, Bloogeyman”, you’re probably thinking, “who cares if he’s qualified or not, he’s just a Bush lackey. I mean, Bush isn’t qualified to run a lemonade stand and look at him.” Granted, just because an administration appoints an incompetent to a position (Janet Reno, anyone?) doesn’t mean that something sinister is happening.

But the Bloogeyman wants to take another deductive look at the situation. Let’s look at Negroponte’s history. He’s been involved in some pretty nasty, under the table-type stuff over the years. He’s practically the boogeyman of nasty plumbing – he gets into the stuff that really stinks. And why would you hire a plumber if you don’t got some plumb’n that needs a fix’n? Chew on that for a while and see if your skin doesn’t start to crawl.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Bloogeyman Has Emerged

Ah, the boogeyman. You all remember him from your childhood, right? You didn’t know exactly what he was and what he could do to you – all you knew was that he could “get” you. After that everything else was left to the imagination. Oh, and how we imagined! Indeed, we imagined not only what would happen to us if this “boogeyman” fellow got a hold of us but we also imagined how we could defend ourselves from that. Little kids may be a little deluded, but they’re not dumb. Faced with a survival problem like that we came up with plans, schemes, and rules that would keep us safe.


The boogeyman lived in the closet, or under the bed, and we knew that he couldn’t get us as long as the light was on. He couldn’t get us if our parents were in the room (why would a crazy mofo like the boogeyman be afraid of our parents?!? We never thought of that…). Once you were in bed (assuming you lived through the trip from the light switch to your bed), your blanket was your shield. If things really got bad, you could pull it over your head tight (you couldn’t see, but you’d listen with bated breath for any ominous sounds) and hope for the best.


Of course, we all survived the boogeyman, but what was he really? Perhaps he is a hardwired part of our psyche – a fear of the dark and the unknown. Even if we rationalize that something can’t hurt us, we are sometimes still instinctively fearful of it (note the case of a grown man’s instinctive recoil at the quick movement or thrust that a small harmless snake, or even a mouse, makes – we know that it can’t hurt us, but we will instinctively pull back from that quick movement). Perhaps as a child, when we have the least amount of control over our lives, we are looking to exert control over our very existence. Chillingly, sometimes the childhood focus on the archetype of the boogeyman blinds them to the real boogeyman down the street – the one offering candy or a ride home.


And why do we lose some of that fear as we grow older? Of course almost anyone will feel a tinge of fear walking down a dark, unfamiliar alley. But, for the most part, we have rationalized away the fear of great harm coming to us by way of this “boogeyman”. Perhaps we are old enough to understand that enough bad can happen to us at any time (car accident, cancer, the death of a loved one) that we don’t feel the need to think about such a low probability event as the boogeyman getting us. Hell, even if the boogeyman showed up at my door now I’d probably invite him in for some tea and crumpets (as long as he wasn’t wearing an IRS badge). Why, frankly, the boogeyman’s probably so far down on my list of worries now that he comes slightly after ‘finding out I don’t have any clean underwear’ and a little before ‘missing a meeting at work’.


But the boogeyman still exists. He has changed a little, but he still lurks in the dark corners of our mind. Sometimes he is a personal fear, something waiting to be discovered or a horrible thing waiting to happen. Sometimes he is societal – something we all fear (They’re coming to get us!). However, sometimes he is not what he seems. Just as chilling as in childhood, perhaps the boogeyman is not the archetype that we know. Maybe he’s just the guy next door, or the guy smiling at us on TV – we just don’t know it yet.


Interesting also is the use of the boogeyman in adult pop culture and politics. As adults we are rational and don’t give into irrational fears (right?). While some people are always yelling about boogeymen – Communists, Fascists, Terrorists – we “rational” adults take pride and pleasure in denouncing those boogeymen as fake threats. “Hah!” we say, “only a complete idiot would believe in boogeymen!” But, perhaps we have gotten so used to shouting “Fake boogeyman! Fake boogeyman!” that we are wholly unprepared to consider the idea that perhaps there is a real boogeyman. Maybe it’s not even hidden in the shadows anymore – it has gotten so used to being ignored by adults that it can walk right into the open and no one will notice.


Enter the Bloogeyman. The Bloogeyman has come to remind you that we are all still children. The Bloogeyman will help you take off your adult blinders and start to really look into the shadows. Of course, like children, in order to truly understand the boogeymen that walk among us we must allow some of our fear to return. We must understand that the boogeymen that walk among us will not simply waft away like some mild stench on a sweet summer’s breeze – they will only get stronger as they are ignored.


Like children we may not have all the facts, but we must use logic to deduce the truth. A child knows that if they heard a noise from some dark corner, if the closet door has creaked open on its own accord, if something is missing – has been snatched up by unknown hands – than there is something to fear. Not just something to fear, but something to be curious about, something to demand investigation, and something to eventually be overcome.


The Bloogeyman is simply the guide. Will he tell all he knows? Yes, but the Bloogeyman does not know all – it will be up to you to ask questions and provide answers. We will talk politics, recent events, philosophy, economics and all other manner of things – the goal will not be to just look blindly into the lights, but to peer into the shadows.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Bloogeyman Signs On!

The Bloogeyman is here - don't be afraid, he is only here to help.