August 30, 1999


It was an entirely innocent impulse that got me thrown off, really it was. I mean, how was I to know that I had run aground on the ideological shores of the Internet, marooned – and then ambushed! – in the cyber-country of the New York Neocons?


For those not In the Know – and for all you readers outside the United States – is the site run by the infamous Lucianne Goldberg, a New York City literary agent and bit-player in Monica-gate, who held the Linda Tripp tapes – and, for a moment there, the fate of the Clinton presidency – in her hot little hands. From Clinton's point of view, those hands might just as well have been around his neck.


If more than Clinton's lower lip trembled at the thought of it, it is no wonder. For the redoubtable Lucianne's politics are unabashedly and even combatively conservative. It was rumored that she had been a Nixonian spy on McGovern's campaign plane back in '72. If the Clintonians could play rough, then Lucianne proved more than their match: as a real Republican fire-breather ensconced in the urban liberal wilderness of Manhattan, she was battle-hardened and ready to rumble. Her tough-gal persona and unapologetic rightism thrilled grassroots conservatives, and she was a hit on the television talk show circuit. It wasn't long before she became a hot item on the short list of right-wing celebrities, sought after as much for the charming authenticity of her abrasiveness as for her value as a newsmaker. During that long interregnum in which no news was permitted unless it had something to do with the Presidential libido, La Goldberg was much sought after. But Lucianne, smart girl that she is, never let it go to her head: she knew there would come a time, and soon, when her fifteen minutes of fame had long since passed. With stunning swiftness, she managed to parlay her notoriety into a radio talk show and a website,


In the wild and wacky world of the Internet – why do you think they call it WWW? – politics takes on an immediacy and intensity that seems to exaggerate the foibles and conceits of the human species. Political "chat rooms" are noisy and often noxious places, filled with the smoke and flame of cyber-political sloganeering, all too often IN ALL CAPS and in sentences invariably ending in at least three exclamation points!!! A more sophisticated form is the posting site, where champion posters show off their research skills in uncovering the most informative news articles on current events: but it is more than a collective clipping service. For anyone who is a registered member can comment on the article, or on the last comment, or on anything at all. At its best, a posting site is a combination political salon and "Crossfire" segment, in which cute one-liners intersperse serious political analysis. For some reason, this is a cyber-phenomenon that – as far as I know – is purely a creature of the Right. The best and most famous site of this kind is, without a doubt,, run by Jim Robinson out of his living room somewhere out in the California boonies. And therein lies a tale . . .


In spite of many premature pronouncements of its death, Freerepublic is flourishing with more visitors and more activity than its heavily-subsidized rival and nemesis, the ultraliberal online "magazine" that since its founding has really functioned as a virtual While Salon's stock is falling, its seems as if Freerepublic's is rapidly climbing, with almost as much activity as at the height of the Clinton scandals. The discussions are spirited, but usually civil, or at least no less civil than out in the "real" world. But most impressive of all is the consistently high quality of the postings: there are some real champions out there (are you reading this "Hamiltonian," and especially 'StandWatchListen"?) whose research skills are truly awesome, to say nothing of the speed at which they work. If it's on the Internet, they'll find it – and you can be sure they all have an opinion about it. The unique sense of community that came out of shared politics and the new technology created a virtual movement: and the "Freepers," as they call themselves, continue to thrive. But like all movements, especially new ones, the new cyber-populism soon began to differentiate itself into various tendencies: it was almost inevitable that a split would come. When it finally did, all hell broke loose.


As L'affaire Lewinsky oozed to halt, Lucianne and her son Jonah Goldberg, who had been two of the brightest stars in the Freeper firmament, announced, with great fanfare, that they were leaving forever. They chose to do it in a manner – and in a place – that caused a sensation – it was the equivalent of a supernova in the cyber-political universe.


In the pages of none other than, Lucianne and her son Jonah accused the denizens of Freerepublic of having committed verbal hate crimes against not only homosexuals, but also against Jews. In an article by Jeff Stein, "Free for All at Free Republic," Lucianne let loose at the Freepers. And the special cruelty of it was that she was given a platform to do it by the same people who had excoriated the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy out to get the President and mercilessly mocked Lucianne, Linda Tripp, and other "Clinton-bashers" – as its headline-writers invariably described people they didn't like. Salon gleefully reported that Freerepublic's hits were down to half of what they had been a year ago (maybe, but still higher than Salon!) and more seriously gave vent to Lucianne's viperish charges, uttered in her characteristically "salty" manner. As Salon "reported":


"He's a mean shit," says Goldberg of Robinson, once her partner in exposing Clinton crimes. She launched her own Web site,, taking "2,000" Freepers with her, she says. "I am not anti-abortion, I am not Y2K either. I'm not a homophobe, I'm not an anti-Semite – Christ ... I have a Jewish husband ... I have four people who work for me and half of them are gay. I mean, this is ridiculous."


Yes, it's true: the poison of political correctness so permeates our culture that even the conservative movement is saturated with it. Of course, many on the Right are not "antiabortion," but they take pains to point out that neither are they pro-abortion either. Such subtleties are lost on Lucianne, however, who merely slings the whole barrel of mud at her former friends and allies without making too many fine distinctions. She isn't Y2K? This may or may not mean that will be down as the new millenium dawns. Perhaps it means that she has complete faith in the assurances of Clinton/Gore that Everything is Under Control.


But it is not hard to miss the meaning of the ugly charge of anti-Semitism, hurled without proof, context, or any reference to a particular individual. This is the traditional smear technique, which has always been used against conservatives by the Left, here employed by the Respectable Right against allegedly dangerous radicals. It was a cheap and slimy trick, a reckless charge offered without a shred of evidence or documentation, just the baldest of accusations. What is going on here?


The cyber-split in the conservative movement is a funhouse mirror reflection of a fissure that has long threatened to divide the Right into two camps. The issue is who and what is the Respectable Right, but the key question is really where is it: outside the Washington-New York-California corridor, the favorite (and only known) breeding grounds of that fabulous sect known as the Neoconservatives, is considered an ideological no-man's-land. Ex-lefties who gravitated toward the Right as the failure and evil of Stalinism unfolded, the neoconservatives (or neocons, for short) ensconced themselves in the Washington-and-New York-based institutions that made up the conservative movement, taking over existing organizations and creating a plethora of new ones. Loaded down with foundation money, and corporate sponsorships, they triumphed in the eighties. But it was only by mistake, or for the sake of convenience, that this cosmopolitan coterie of publicists and activists, many of them writers and academics, became known as conservatives: for really they were Mensheviks, or Right-wing Social Democrats, who were content to give "two cheers for capitalism," as neocon godfather Irving Kristol put it, but three or perhaps even four or five cheers for the Cold War. The glorification of war soon overwhelmed the earlier conservative "isolationism," and an openly militarist authoritarianism displaced the old libertarian anti-statism of Robert A. Taft and John T. Flynn. For a while the neocons had the Right in their vise, indeed for as long as the Cold War lasted: but now that the Kremlin is fallen, the bottom has fallen out of their ideological bandwagon. Their great crusade to make the world safe for "democracy" is not nearly as popular as the fight against Communism: instead of looking to right every wrong in every country, the American people want to right the wrongs committed by their own government in their own country – against their own countrymen. Or can we expect that the International Tribunal in the Hague will take an interest in who killed the children of Waco?


This scares the neocons, who don't like populist movements, and especially rural white Protestant movements which they claim have been traditionally prone to anti-Semitism. Of course, since such sentiments as opposition to the Federal Reserve, the belief in a ruling elite analysis of events, and the view that U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast should be neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are all considered "anti-Semitic" according to the sociological ruminations of neocon scholars, whole sections of the Right are declared off-limits, the "extremist" "fever swamp" that must be avoided and isolated at all costs. This was the whole point of the Salon article – and a point of agreement between the Luciannites and their ostensible enemies in Clintonia.


As framed by Salon, which labels Robinson an "extremist" – the favorite epithet of the Smear Brigade, in which anyone to the right of William F. Buckley, Jr. is portrayed as a potential Timothy McVeigh – the charge of "anti-Semitism" blends naturally into the general background of calumny. Again, it is a charge offered without proof – or even some sense of the need for any. A charge, repeated often enough, becomes its own truth, as any liar or gossipmonger knows. It is only natural that people who started out as spreaders of rumors evolved effortlessly into political gossip columnists and smearers of the reputations of their perceived enemies on the Right as well as the Clintonian Left.


What is especially revealing is that Salon quotes one Robinson Giles, a partisan of Lucianne's, as calling Robinson "a stinking mackerel in the garbage can of truth." Giles lets slip out the real politics of the split when he continues ranting on about how "Robinson allowed the site to become 'a hate group open to all sorts of off-the-wall stuff – conspiracy theories that really come from the left."


Now this is a very curious remark to have made, and it wasn't just casual but packed with political meaning. Aside from the usual smokescreen thrown up by the phrase "hate group," here we have the self-proclaimed pro-choice Y2K-skeptical "moderates" who have a lot of gay friends – or so they say – and live in the Big City and don't mind an abortion or two every once in a while, claiming that the "extremists" really "come from the left." Just what could this mean, I wondered, as I read the Salon piece. I soon decided to find out for myself.


I had never been able to decipher the somewhat arcane and cumbersome process by which readers could go from being "lurkers" to participants in the posting process: they seem to have a lot of rules and "guidelines," but very little instruction. At one point, however, in an idle moment, I went lurking on, researching my column, but didn't find anything. I hadn't really explored the site all that much after my initial curiosity over the brouhaha in Salon, because it wasn't really very interesting. The posts, I noticed, were nearly all from East Coast newspapers and a selected list of British papers, whereas on Freerepublic you could find everything from the New York Times to the South China Morning Post and everything in between, including all sorts of miscellaneous and very interesting documents. What is more, there didn't seem to be many posters: it looked staff-driven, rather than spontaneously-generated like a real conversation.


The difference between the Freeper experience and spending a few minutes in Lucianne's World is the difference between a free-wheeling beer-bust in small town America where any topic is likely to come up, and a snooty somewhat subdued (if not downright dead) cocktail party on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where everybody knows everybody else and what isn't said is rigidly defined and brutally enforced – as I discovered to my surprise.


Well, I thought, this place is kind of boring: I mean look at all those articles from the New York Times, for god's sake, no wonder none of the lurkers are talking: what are we supposed to talk about? Out of sheer boredom, I registered under the name of "Garrett: – after Garet Garrett, my favorite writer – and starting posting articles from I genuinely thought that this would give the roster of posted articles some balance: there were almost no articles dealing with foreign policy, whereas Freerepublic has a whole section devoted to it. I posted my column on George Dubya's foreign policy advisors, ("Dubya Dubya Dubya Dot Warmonger Dot Com") and the last one on Iraq ("Is Iraq Next?"). There, I thought, proud of myself that I had finally mastered the art of posting, I have made my contribution. Now let's see what kind of conversation develops. Boy, was I in for a shock . . .


With blitzkrieg-like swiftness, the shock troops of the Thought Police weighed in with their interdiction: "Thread closed"! What? What can this mean? – I thought. Right below the "thread closed," a graphic of a gate x-ed out, as if to explain the inexplicable, a Thought Cop who called himself "ij south" posted the following message: "This is not a legitimate news source, it is an advocacy site."


I couldn't help laughing out loud. Here is a website that advertises Lucianne's radio talk show interview with a Washington Times correspondent as "getting the dish from Washington" ruling that is not "legitimate." (Gee, weren't we profiled on the Lehrer News Hour? If that doesn't makes us legitimate, then nothing short of canonization will work!) And wait a minute, I thought: doesn't that line about "legitimacy" sound familiar?


This is the very same argument made about Matt Drudge, when he broke the story that became Monicagate. The President's henchmen worked overtime denigrating the venue, disdaining the Internet as inherently unreliable – or more unreliable than the "mainstream" print and television media – and getting egg on their faces when it turned out Drudge was not only first but the story was right. If you read his famous speech to the National Press Club, available on his site, you can catch the flavor of the conflict between the cyber-media and its' jealous and vengeful opponents. Drudge points out trenchantly that this is a very political conflict, and that the fight to delegitimize the Internet (and specifically him) as a news source reflects a larger battle: the struggle between the populist anti-Big Government masses and the entrenched elites, in the news media as well as the White House.


It was therefore with some surprise that I encountered this statement from Lucianne's cyber-Praetorian Guard, a Mr. "ijsouth" (what is it with the "monikers," doesn't anybody have a good old-fashioned name anymore?) Here was Lucianne, a prime beneficiary of Drudge's success – her site would be completely empty if not for the link he provides – making the very same argument made by Drudge's enemies in the White House (and they make it to this day): "You're not legitimate."


If this was bizarre, it was more maddening than anything else: and I determined to do something about it. Nothing unethical, mind you: just something to provoke discussion and make my point. I then posted an article from Investor's Business Daily that was about along with an announcement: the administrators of had unfairly and arbitrarily ruled out or anything originating on it as a "legitimate" news source, when other "advocacy" sites routinely have their material posted, including the Heritage Foundation (surely an "advocacy" group) and the Center for Popular Culture. But this raises the question, I wrote, of what is a legitimate news source, a question I though interesting enough to provoke quite a discussion amongst the lurkers. I added: "Email the administrators of this site and let them know what you think."


Well, the lurkers came out in record numbers: a site that seemed previously comatose, if not actually dead, came to life all at once, with seven or eight postings, all of them sympathetic and several saying that they would immediately check out It was getting pretty lively there for a while, with an interesting discussion going on about the proper management of a website – until, in a sudden burst of smoke and a thunderous burst of anger, Lucianne Herself stepped in to put a stop to it and announced that anyone and everyone associated with was permanently banned from posting anything on "You guys have your own website," she hissed, "now shoo and go there!" "It's not your politics," she claimed, "but your attitude."


We were banished, exiled, purged, not to mention Cast Into the Outer Darkness – and don't you believe it wasn't for our politics. Good old "ij south" no doubt learned his lesson at the knee of Mr. Giles: ", huh? Probably one of those extremist, conspiracy-mongering hate groups that really come from the left" – which just about sums up the opinion of this Manhattanite grouplet of anyone to the right of Rudy Giuliani. If you aren't for "gay rights," and don't take your political cues from the editorial page of the New York Post, then you're probably one of those terrible Freepers whom we wouldn't want to sully our site with.


For Lucianne and her gaggle of gay neocons to attack the Freepers or anyone else as "extremists" who "really come from the left" is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. For in reality – that is, outside New York and environs – their big hero Giuliani is a liberal Republican, at best, far to the left of the GOP mainstream. And as for their antipathy to anyone who says that we should put America First, and disdain the idea of a global empire, it is hardly shared by the rest of the conservative movement – and especially not by the Republican congress. It was the Right that took the lead in opposition to Clinton's war for "human rights" in Kosovo, and any future interventions will meet popular resistance from grassroots conservatives as well as their representatives in Congress.


So let Lucianne stew in her own juice for a while: her Draconian methods are sure to strangle what little life there is on her site. But more importantly, the neocons are losing their intellectual and political stranglehold over the conservative movement as a whole, not just in cyberspace. As a closed-off little sect, dependent on buying influence with money and finagling it through their liberal friends, they have no future. They can only temporarily try to stem the rising tide of rebellion against the status quo, not only against the globalist foreign policy of both parties but against the ruling circles in this country. They are now pushing Bush, furiously posting articles that put him in a good light and denigrating everything that points to the fact that we are in for more of the same – but the lack of enthusiasm is so obvious that it is embarrassing. And naturally, in true neocon style, they will no doubt continue to try to control what little discussion there is, ruthlessly purging anyone who raises fundamental questions. What is fatal for a posting site such as, is that fundamental questions are always the most interesting ones. Lucianne's online Thought Police can close off all the threads they like, but in doing so they open themselves up to the greatest enemy of all: boredom. The market will soon take care of – unless they can get a grant from some big neocon foundation, if they haven't already – and never was such a fate so richly deserved.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, “China and the New Cold War”

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

Archived Columns

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).


Please Support

A contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your Contributions are now Tax-Deductible

Back to Home Page | Contact Us