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.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Um Ahmed, wife of Egypt's President Morsi

By John Ballard

This NY Times sketch is refreshing. 

Naglaa Ali Mahmoud wears an Islamic head covering that drapes down to her knees, did not attend college and never took her husband's last name, because that is a Western convention that few Egyptians follow. She also refuses the title of first lady, in favor of simply Um Ahmed, a traditional nickname that identifies her as the mother of Ahmed, her eldest son.

Dalia Saber, 36, an engineering lecturer, said, "She looks like my mother, she looks like my husband's mother, she probably looks like your mother and everybody else's."

For her, Mr. Morsi and Ms. Mahmoud were what the Arab Spring was all about: regular people in power.

"They're people like us," she said. "It is a strange relief to people. The people feel that there's a change."

Ms. Mahmoud, for her part, said she knew it would not be easy to be the wife of the first Islamist head of state, as she told the newspaper of the Muslim Brotherhood, the 84-year-old Islamist movement. If she tries to play an active role, she risks comparisons with Mrs. Mubarak, who was widely despised for her supposed influence behind the scenes. But if Ms. Mahmoud disappears, she said, "They will say that Mohamed Morsi is hiding his wife because this is how Islamists think."

Ms. Mahmoud's unexpected path to the presidential palace illustrates just how foreign her experience is to the culture of the old Egyptian elite - or perhaps how foreign that elite is to Egypt. Hers was a very typical beginning: She grew up in the poor Cairo neighborhood of Ain Shams, and was 17 and still in high school when she married her cousin, Mr. Morsi, who was 11 years older. He also had grown up poor, in the small village of El Adwa in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, but excelled in the engineering program at Cairo University.

Three days after their wedding, he left for Los Angeles, to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California. She finished high school and studied English in Cairo. A year and a half after their wedding she joined her husband in Los Angeles, where she volunteered at the Muslim Student House, translating sermons for women interested in converting to Islam.

It was in Los Angeles that she and her husband were first invited to join the Muslim Brotherhood, an offer that would later define their lives. "I always say that the Brothers don't blindfold anyone," she told the group's newspaper. "From the beginning they told us about the situation and what was asked of us, and they told us that the path is long and full of dangers."

She said the Brotherhood recruiters told Mr. Morsi to be sure his wife approved of the decision before joining, telling him, "We care about the stability of the family more than having one more member."

Mr. Shatner is nobody's fool.
He knows how to pick a candidate, win friends and influence people.
Um Ahmed is an Egyptian Barbara Bush.

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