Neal Rauhauser, From the Beginningby Jay Batman, screedofmomus.info
June 21st 2012
After my own dealing with Neal Rauhauser, I've come to the conclusion that many of us in the blogging community have focused on his last decade or so of history. No one has actually gone back to his beginnings in Graettinger, IA, along a little Rural Route where his parents brought a farmhouse in Palo Alto County, Iowa. The house still stands to this day, almost 93 years after it was built.
The story of Neal Rauhauser begins like so many others do, in a small American town in a rural area of a small state like Iowa. His parents brought him to that old brick farmhouse in the Seventies when Neal was just a boy, and he would go on play basketball at Graettinger Community High School, graduating in 1985. There were few indications that Neal would go on to infamy as a cyberbully and troll, let alone a career as a Democratic Party operative.
And, like so many lives do, Neal's life led him back to that farmhouse, where, in a post on the Daily Kos dated Monday August 03, 2009 AT 09:04 PM PDT, he posted a picture of that farmhouse as he explained how he lived in an area famed for its high winds. Neal had returned to Graettinger with big plans for a wind-powered ammonia plant, to be built on the outskirts of town. Neal's life hadn't turned out the way he'd wanted it to turn out. He'd been married and divorced, with two children back in Omaha and an ex-wife who'd taken him for over $1,300 a month, a fact that he lamented in his capacity as a commenter named Iowa Boy on The Daily Kos.Neal's multiple profiles on Daily Kos would eventually cross him up, providing others with the confirmation that he was not only Stranded Wind, but also Iowa Boy, as the graphic to the left will illustrate.
And it would also get him in trouble, as Neal's capacity for blustering bravado would lead him to post the following comment about Dick Cheney as Iowa Boy, a comment which would prove to be great fodder for the conservative bloggers and tweeters he antagonized almost daily online. Neal blustered, he ranted, he fulminated, and he generally tried to make himself appear bigger and larger than he actually was. Today, there is no ammonia plant outside of Graettinger, no heroic accomplishment for the hometown boy who once lobbied Republican Senator Charles Grassley to keep the subsidies that would fund his ammonia plant and keep the dream alive. There are various websites and blogs, all of which promise news on the Spirit Lake project in the spring or summer of 2012.
A call to the number at the Freedomag website gets you through the voicemail of Steve Gruhn, one of the three principals listed at Freedom Fertilizer's website. In the about section of the Freedomag site, the following is written:
"Freedom Ag, LLC, is an emergent Iowa clean technology firm focused on the agricultural sector. We are currently securing resources to move from lab-tested systems to commercial protyping."
For almost half a decade now, the company, through its various iterations, has been moving forward to a plant at Spirit Lake, but the plant has never materialized. A $100-$150 million project, as Neal noted, has yet to break ground in either of the two proposed sites considered for its location in Iowa. On strandedwind.org, Neal boasts that the financing for the plant is unaffected by the crash of 2008, a crash that is arguably still ongoing. This is because Freedom Fertilizer/Freedomag's project at Spirit Lake is based in commodities rather than financial devices like derivatives.
And though Neal put himself front and center in questioning Senator Grassley as to the survival of wind energy tax credits, saying that he was working with Steve Gruhn to generate power and eventually ammonia using a 90-year-old Haberbosch process. In truth, Neal was part of his own Stranded Wind Initiative, and he was not a principal in Freedom Fertilizer. He wanted farmers to put forth $100,000 for his idea, and the federal government to foot the other $100,000 to start up the plant. In his strandwind.org post, however, Neal says that the plant will cost $100-$150 million. Neal's query and lobbying of Senator Grassley at the Estherville Rotary Club was reported by Michael Tidemann of the Estherville Daily News in March of 2008.
$200,000 in start up capital for a plant costing as much as $150 million, and federal subsidies to boot! Over half a decade after Freedom Fertilizer started with the idea of a wind powered ammonia plant, its new website states that it is securing the resources to move from lab-tested systems to commercial prototypes, with no plant at Spirit Lake.
And there in the middle of it all, with his self-started Stranded Wind Initiative, was Neal Rauhauser, right before he became a rabidly partisan political operative who would go on to infamy for his deeds on Twitter and his threats of lawfare towards conservative bloggers.
To understand how Neal became who he is today, we need to go back in time, to his marriage to one Nancy Nogg, daughter of a wealthy Jewish family in Omaha, Nebraska. The Nogg family was a pillar of the Omaha community and a fixture in the Jewish community as well. Irving and Marian Todd Nogg (maiden name: Wolpa) had four children, Carole, Russell, Margery, and Nancy, who was the youngest.
The Nogg children were largely a success in their own right, with Russell going on to work as an estate lawyer in Anchorage, Alaska. He and his spouse Jeanne made their life up north, while the girls married, with Carole settling in as Mrs. Robert Adelstein in Denver, and Margery settling in as Ms. Hughes in Minneapolis.
Neal was busy bettering himself just as his wife had done, and in 2000 he received his Cisco certifications and began work in his field. Effective January 3rd, 2000, Nancy also received good news career-wise: she replaced Bill Swanson as the Assistant Dean of the College of Business Administration, just three years after received her MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It was a busy year for the Rauhauser family.
The death of Irving Nogg in 2001 could not have been easy on the family, given that he was Nancy's father and she was his youngest daughter. Irving left behind a life of accomplishment, and a high standard for Neal to meet, because Irving spent 53 years in the truck transportation business, 43 of them as a partner in I-Go Van and Storage, eventually retiring as president and manager in 1989. The Nogg family still runs I-Go Van and Storage with three locations in the Omaha and Sioux City areas.
There were ugly accusations, and the divorce was every bit as acrimonious and personal as divorces typically are, if Neal's online allegations about his wife's drug habit are any indication. Still, Nancy Nogg continued on as the Assistant Dean of the College of Business Administration until around 2004, when she left to pursue jobs as a consultant while Neal built his own professional career. Eventually, Nancy would wind up at the Omaha Conservatory of Music as the director Marketing and Development.
Neal would wind up across the country leading a social network war against conservative bloggers in his capacity as the founder of Progressive PST, a consulting firm he cofounded with Beth Becker. If the bar mitzvah announcement of his son Ari's 13th birthday is any indicator, Neal wasn't present all that much in his son's life. The announcement pointedly omits any mention of Ari's father.
There's little evidence that Neal's upbringing was rabidly partisan, or filled with political intrigues. In truth, it's Nancy Nogg's mother Marion who had the record as an activist. Marion's alma mater Briar Cliff notes how versatile an English major can be by pointing out Marion Nogg's public activist work. And while Nancy Nogg's Facebook page indicates a like for Barack Obama, there is precious little evidence that her hatred of right wing conservatism burns as bright as her ex-husband's. Nancy appears to have a life outside of political activism, online smear campaigns, and dirty tricks that belies her past connection to Neal Rauhauser.
Nancy's public image and record as a driven career woman defy Neal's characterization of her as a woman struggling with addiction, because Neal's post as Iowa Boy on Thursday, May 25th, 2006 at 07:51:40 PM PDT alleges that Nancy had a crash St. Patrick's Day 2005, and that she may have gone through treatment afterwards.
Then again, Neal also alleges that he defended himself by putting his ex-wife in a painful stress position utilizing the martial art Hap Ki Do, after she got angry with him and threw a punch when she became frustrated with her inability to hit him with thrown dishware. Such is the way of Neal, where his enemies, even the mother of his children, are subjected to one online disclosure and allegation after another of impropriety, all of which is traceable due to Neal's own failure to maintain discretion and his inability to keep his online personas straight.
Today, Neal Rauhauser doesn't even appear on Progressive PST's website, a fact that belies the about us section's note that Progressive PST was founded by a couple of Daily Kos bloggers. Only Beth Becker appears with a bio as one of the two founders of Progressive PST. Neal is absent, just as he is absent from any of Freedomag's websites or online promotional materials.
However, assuming the divorce from Nancy was as bitter as Neal's public postings as Iowa Boy indicate it was, and given what we can deduce from his presence on the East Coast and his near constant activity on the side of the country that is opposite to his own children, we can perhaps understand the bitterness that drives Neal. After all, by 2007, he'd added Lyme Disease to his Asperger's Syndrome, a disease that was every bit as physically debilitating as his Asperger's was socially debilitating. Today, when Neal does get out of bed to go out and live his life, he does so as man reviled throughout the Internet for his associations with men like Brett Kimberlin, and his posturing overstatements as regards his involvement with wind-powered ammonia plants, Project Vigilance, and his attempts to link up with the Anonymous movement, whose members routinely refer to him in derogatory fashion in their IRCs. References like SPAI and remarks about his age are the norm, as Neal attempts to co-opt yet another online effort just as he did with the Beandog Militia.
He's a man with multiple employers in his wake, multiple company startups that went nowhere, and multiple initiatives to do this and that. He retreated from Omaha to the farmhouse his parents raised him in, and you can detect a bit of wistfulness in his reference to the house of his upbringing: "My home, such as I have one..."
The Aaron Walker complaint against Neal poetically and somewhat ironically enough lists the parking lot of a Walgreen's at 220 South Century Blvd in an unnamed city (by my choice) in Illinois as Neal's residence. He's a man with no real home, just a houseguest of various individuals like Beth Becker and Brett Kimberlin who allow him to visit and drive their ideas and proposals into realization with his technical skills. Neal Rauhauser is, if his life before he became the Neal Rauhauser we know today is any indicator, a nomad.
There are addresses in Nebraska, in Iowa, in Illinois, and now under the names of his companies in Eastern Seaboard states as Neal tries to evade being located by the numerous right wing bloggers would doubtless love to serve process for civil actions and depositions on him for the acts he's committed over the past two years. And so it is that Neal Rauhauser cannot even use his own name online any longer, nor can he put an address under his actual name, because that name is so attached to the various and sundry underhanded, unethical, and possibly illegal deeds he committed over a two year period in which he stalked, harassed, intimidated, and intimated admittedly frivolous legal action for the purpose of inconveniencing and harassing his prey. His children continue to grow into adults in Omaha, and Neal fights against invisible enemies and non-existent conspiracies against his progressive heroes like Anthony Weiner while the life he left behind continue with a void in his place.
Throughout the past six or seven years, Neal's public online behavior has targeted the mother of his child with allegations of drug use, spousal abuse, and insinuated that she had to enter treatment for her substance abuse in 2005. No one had to hack Neal's computer to get that information; he put it out for the world to see and then revealed himself as the poster. The same is true of virtually every other former friend of Neal's who didn't conform to Neal's standards, from the Beandogs to his musings about Ron Brynaert's sanity and his public distaste for Brett Kimberlin, whom he was chagrined to realize was a mutual acquaintance of his and Brynaert's.
Neal doesn't have friends, he has present associates he can't preserve due to his own self-destructive actions. He can't claim his companies, and they can't claim him because the brand attached to his name is so radioactive at this point that it would be professional suicide to have his name on the masthead at Progressive PST. He's lost his posting privileges as Stranded Wind at the Daily Kos, a leftist site whose standards take a tremendous amount of testing before the administrators will deign to kick someone off of the site. So it is that Neal Rauhauser, a professional online troll with few if any visible friends and a family he has little to do with if the visible online evidence is any indicator, continues his nomadic existence and his journey from present associate to present associate, each inevitably destined to fall into the category of former associates who cannot publicly acknowledge their affiliation or involvement with him or his self-destructive actions.
Don't begrudge him his outrageous antics online, because they're all he has left to go with his delusions of grandeur about a wind-powered ammonia plant on the outskirts of his hometown and a social networking effort that will return truly partisan progressives to a majority in Congress where they can re-make the country. Unfortunately, given the political realities of the present day, Neal's dreams have absolutely no chance of being realized.
His own ally, Democratic candidate for Congress in Washington's District 1 Darcy Burner, revealed as much when she refused to give contributions to Barack Obama in December 2011 on the grounds that he was a Republican. Disappointment is destiny for Neal, and the only solace he has is in feeling as if he took a few of the people from the other side with him, people like Greg W. Howard and Patrick Read. Then again, no matter how badly they've been inconvenienced by Neal's antics and those of his allies, they can still show their faces and use their names on Twitter and they still have families. Neal's life is what is, and perhaps a glimpse of it from the beginning with an emphasis on the past sixteen years will add some context to why he is the way that he is.
(Author's note: this piece will be updated with more information as I assimilate it. Two years of Google Alerts on Neal and his antics have given me a wealth of information and data to write about, and I held off until his alliance with Kimberlin produced an attack on our right to write and blog freely.)
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