Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Romney the High School Bully

By John Ballard

Today, the day following the president's endorsement of marriage equality for gays, this story made footnote status on the national network news. Those who would accuse the media of pandering to the president should reflect on how much more juicy the story could have been with little or no tweaking. That's why we have blogs. And I'm here to twist the handle of the knife to make certain it hit the mark. This is how I was about to connect the dots before watching NBC.

This morning the Washington Post published a detailed account of an incident that happened in 1965 when Mitt Romney was still in high school. 

Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn�t having it.

�He can�t look like that. That�s wrong. Just look at him!� an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann�s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber�s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school�s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber�s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them � Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal � spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama�s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

�It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,� said Buford, the school�s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was �terrified,� he said. �What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.�

�It was a hack job,� recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. �It was vicious.�

�He was just easy pickins,� said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.

Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.

In less than half a day there are already over five thousand comments at the site. From the 1500 "top comments" the mood seems less than charitable. 

Romney's response is that he doesn't remember the incident. 
Like several of the commenters I don't think that response passes the smell test. If he's telling the truth the man's even more unfeeling than I thought.

Meantime, Angry Black Lady puts the political sequence of the last twenty-four hours into perspective.

As I�m reading and pondering this, I�m marveling at the political strategery of Davids Axelrod and Plouffe. Think about it:

On Sunday, Vice-President Biden comes out in favor of same sex marriage.

On Wednesday, President Obama comes out in favor of same-sex marriage, leaving some to speculate that he was backed into a corner, or that he should have done it sooner, or later, or whatever it is that people complain about when they simply can�t shake the need to be outraged about something, like, all of the time. (asiangrrlMN already covered this, but long story short, Obama�s record on LGBT rights is second to none; and he announced his support for the Respect Marriage Act last year, legislation which would repeal DOMA, so can we all calm down for a minute, please?)

Then today � Thursday, a front-page article drops in The Washington Post about how Romney was a big ol� gay-hating gay-basher.

Back when President Obama was a young man, trying to figure out who he was and writing pensive letters to his girlfriend about T.S. Eliot and other philosophical shit, Romney was picking on and assaulting gay people.

Face? Meet brick.

And here�s the kicker � here�s the dark chocolate inside this croissant d�awesome: Romney�s behavior most assuredly would have constituted a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which President Obama signed in 2009, if such a law had existed at the time and had Romney been prosecuted under that law. (The Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded the existing hate crime law to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and is the first federal law to extend protections to transgendered persons.)

You cannot convince me that this was not planned. At the very least, the Obama campaign knew the article was going to drop and decided to announce sooner rather than later that President Obama supports same-sex marriage (he had already planned to announce it at some point before the convention.)

This is how it�s done, folks.

Mr. Romney, sir? I do believe you have been served.


  1. I think this is a non issue. I was a complete asshole in high school - I don't like the person I was then. There are plenty of things to attack on - no need to go back that far.

  2. Do the people touting this think that a person goes through life unchanged? One does not gain anything from fifty years of experiencing life? Marriage and rearing children does not change one's perspective? This is just nonsense.
    Obama's evolvement is an equally trivial distraction. How is his decision going to affect the economy? How is it going to provide jobs for the millions who don't have jobs? But he succeeded in getting us talking about his personal opinion on a religiopus matter instead of the real and actual disasters which this nation is facing.
    Politicians, media, and the blogosphere are like a bunch of Labrador Retrivers. We'll be talking about what matters and suddenly, "Squirrel! How exciting, let's chase that."

  3. Ron, I had a HS principal who evidently had been a bully in his youth; he refused to take seriously the really vicious bullying going in our school.
    It's one thing to argue that somebody who shows genuine remorse for their youthful bullying has matured and become a better person. It's quite another to say everybody gets a pass just because. Romney has never shown any remorse, he issued a dismissive non-apology when the story broke, and he even claims he can't remember a violent assault that was seared in every other witness's memory. His attitude was appalling at the age of 18 and it's still appalling today.