And chief among those people is his ex-wife, Nancy Nogg, who I contacted today via telephone. I introduced myself, and told Nancy that I was writing a series of stories on her ex-husband, and that I wanted to ask her about his allegations on the Daily Kos. Writing as Iowa Boy, Neal had accused his ex-wife of drug use and violence, and I felt that it was only fair that she should have a chance to address these accusations. Of course, no one who has ever dealt with Neal personally would find his wild accusations credible.
One of those wild accusations was that his ex-wife had to relocate because of threats from various right wingers and Tea Party fans. According Nancy, she and her children have lived in the same house for fifteen years. There was no mention of any campaign of right-wing harassment against her or her children throughout our phone call, but there was mention of one recurring theme: Neal's mental instability.
When you cross paths with Neal Rauhauser, and he decides to fixate on you as a target, you'll understand all too well the depth of his anger and his capacity for vindictive behavior, as well as his grandiose notions of his own impact on the lives and fortunes of others. Then again, there are times when Neal's grandiose notions are quite in line with reality. He and his allies in the Beandog Militia did ruin the existence, career, and life of one Greg W. Howard. They didn't just target him as an individual; rather, they went after his son and his spouse as well. They constructed various accounts, built and registered various websites, and generally reduced Greg's online reputation to shambles.
As a result, Greg W. Howard languishes with qualification and skills in various low-paying and menial jobs. Greg was not the only target of Neal and his minions. Patrick Read found himself on the receiving end of many of the same tactics for coming to the defense of Greg, and for vigorously documenting and opposing the antics of various Wrecking Crew members as well as the Beandogs. As implausible as it might have seemed to those of us who watched the Wrecking Crew begin, by the time it ended its members were making alliances and cooperating with the remnants of the Beandogs to go after Greg and Patrick. Patrick's wife had her workplace contacted, and Patrick had to deal with the police right before his wedding last year as part of the fallout.
It should not surprise you to hear that Nancy Nogg, the ex-wife of Neal Rauhauser, suffered from Neal's capacity for cruelty when she and Neal squared off in a divorce. As Nancy puts it, she had a choice: she could raise her children, or she could raise Neal. She chose to raise her children, and by all indications, those children have grown up to be bright and decent individuals. Ari is now 15 years old, interested in art and his observations about politics seem quite fitting, given the way people on both sides of the partisan divide act. As Nancy quoted him to me during our conversation, "They're the Bloods and the Crips, mom, and they even wear the same colors." Indeed.
Madeline plays the cello and makes straight A's. She has a musical ability that enables her to pick up any instrument she's interested in, and she's learning Mandarin.
Neal is absent from the lives of his children. Though Nancy Nogg is a cancer survivor who had to endure that disease alone, she's raised two children on her own since 2002 and she's largely been their sole means of financial support. Neal is $30,000 behind in child support, and Nancy can't find an address for the state of Nebraska to pursue her husband for his obligations. I gave her two of the addresses I had found in my investigation, the two that I considered the best possible candidates as residences for Neal, and I told her that I would help her any way that I could in her quest to locate Neal and enforce his legal obligations to financially support his children.
Nancy has nothing but good things to say about the Rauhauser family, gushing with praise for Neal's parents and the great-uncle who sees her children regularly. They are surrounded by love, and while Neal isn't there to contribute as a father either emotionally or financially, his parents and his extended family do their part to make up for his shortcomings.
How is it that Neal's family can be so loving and empathetic, and so caring and affectionate towards his children, while Neal's actions indicate a lack of anything but apathy towards his roles and responsibilities as a father? Well, Neal isn't a Rauhauser by blood. He was adopted as an infant, and raised by the family that nurtures his children in much the same way that they nurtured him as a child. He doesn't have the excuse of a tortured upbringing to point to for his present existence as an online bully who delights in the torment of those he disagrees with politically.
When I began writing these pieces, and I decided to focus on Neal's origins, I was struck by how decent, simple, and normal everyone around him in Iowa seemed. Neal's parents are just regular rural folk. There's no evidence that they support his online behavior, or even that they possess the same rabidly partisan political outlook their son has. In point of fact, there's nothing whatsoever to explain Neal's attitude or his conduct present in the lives of the elders who raised him.
In Omaha, there's nothing about Neal's correspondence with various technical support groups and the bulletin boards they populate to explain how he became a radical left-wing operative with a seeming hatred for conservatives and Tea Partiers. There's just a guy asking questions about networks and various technical hardware, but glimpses of Neal's nature did come through on occasion.
These are two messages posted on a technical board for systems engineers and networking specialists, all of whom have various threads about the problems they're facing with their own networks and hardware. Down in the threads, buried among questions about routers and motherboards, is Neal's contribution, a rant about Sprint's cellphone billing. To be fair, anyone who has ever had Sprint in the past can attest to how maddening their invoices are. When I lived in Tennessee, I had a Sprint cellphone for a short time, and I could have throttled them for the billing. I did what any sane person would do: I paid to cut my contract short, and then switched to Cricket. My bill was a consistent $45 a month from there on out.
What's curious about Neal's reaction, however, is that he posts a letter in the middle of threads about serious technical questions recounting his irritation with Sprint, and then comes the grandiosity we expect: "I figure this email alone is worth maybe $200,000 in negative advertising." There's the inflated sense of power and influence Neal has about himself and his actions, an inflated sense many of us have dealt with firsthand.
Nancy Nogg certainly has. There was a pause early in our phone conversation, and then a simple question from Nancy to me. "What's that movie, the one with Russell Crowe in it? I can't think of it...oh, a Beautiful Mind! Have you seen that movie?" I answered that I had, and what Nancy said next surprised me. "I can't watch it. It reminds me of what my marriage was like."
Nancy then began to open up about Neal, and the specifics of her divorce with him. She told me how she'd struggled through miscarriages, and finally conceived Madeline only to have Neal refuse to give her the daily injections she needed to make it through her pregnancy. Her good friend came over to give her the injections while her husband, the father of her unborn child, sat aside and refused to assist in any way, shape, fashion, or form.
And when Neal and Nancy divorced, Neal's antics were sufficiently disturbing enough to result in a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. What the psychiatrist found was a man who was deeply disturbed, possessed of the worst narcissism he'd ever seen. Neal had reactive attachment disorder. He was sociopathic, and his behavior resulted in Neal facing various difficulties socially and professionally. Today, from what we've seen of Neal and his behavior online, the pathologies fit. The grandiosity, the unlimited ambition, the delusional sense of self-importance, and the inability to tolerate or endure any personal criticism as an individual, or any personal criticism directed at those whom Neal considers to be allies, all fit with Neal's current and past idiopathic behavior. Only it really isn't idiopathic, because Neal has acted like this for some time.
Marriage to Neal was not a happy experience for Nancy, and what one detects in her voice as she talks about Neal is a weariness. She's dealt with him attacking her computers, his various emotional outbursts, and the anger of her children at the absent father who doesn't meet his financial obligations, much less his obligation to be present and emotionally fit while present. She's survived Neal and cancer, but the experience has clearly worn on her.
Still, she seems happy when she talks about the relationship her children have with Neal's parents and his uncle. She recounts how Ari spent time at the parents' farm, and how they've accepted and embraced and supported her in Neal's absence by offering their love and affection to her children.
The struggles of single motherhood are there for Nancy to endure: financial, emotional, and otherwise. She's dated the same man for some time now, but she's a traditional woman. She won't live with him before marriage, and she's raising her children religiously in the Jewish faith. She conveys her disagreement with how Neal refuses to treat those he disagrees with politically with an anecdote about her own boss's Christian faith. While they obviously don't see eye to eye on religion, Nancy praises her boss as a good person and a friend.
You just don't treat people like that, she says, and I concur. "You treat the people you disagree with with a measure of respect and civility," I say. We agree on that much, and we agree that Neal's inability or unwillingness to do this is what separates him from us and the world at large. And so it is that my conversation with Nancy draws to a close, and we exchange goodbyes after telling each other our stories about Neal, the common link we share. And like so many other conversations I've had with others about Neal as a common link, this one is tinged with sadness over the way he treats others and the utter refusal to act with that common decency so ubiquitous among the ordinary people Neal has denigrated time and time again.
We can't all possess the same lack of empathy as the Speedway Bomber, and so it is that most of us in the ranks of ordinary folks can't get along with Neal Rauhauser.
But later on in the afternoon, I receive a text from Nancy saying that Neal has popped up out of the blue with a text saying that he's sending money. It's a small amount, but it's more than what he's sent previously. Though Neal regales the world with tales of his Lyme Disease and how it inhibits his ability to work, he has all the time in the world to post videos on Youtube from Zuccotti Park about the impending Kookpocalypse or write screeds about wind power. In the meantime, his children go without a present father or even financial support from their absent father. Their mother hopes for someone to help her with an address for the state of Nebraska to pursue Neal for his unpaid child support.
And it's rather ironic that Neal, a man who delighted in siccing people on Greg W. Howard over his unpaid child support obligations, allegedly owes more than four times the child support that Greg owed. And while he makes excuses about his inability to work, all the while galavanting off to the Occupy events and engaging in horseplay online, he also hurls acidic remarks through various sock accounts on Twitter at his enemies for their failures. He's a hypocrite, and likely a liar as well, and this is made all the more pitiful by the fact that one of Neal's online professional resumes lists his minimum hourly rate as a networking profession with Cisco certification at $125 an hour. This is a man who can't meet his obligation to his children as a father. I'm sure that seems credible in light of the facts that are coming out, and light of Neal's documented behavior over the past two years. Neal worked, he just worked at something other than the career that could afford him the ability to meet his obligations as a man to his children. That says everything about Neal Rauhauser's priorities and his character, but it also explains his total lack of decency towards others. Just look at the way he treats his own children.