Intrepid Antiwarriors of the Libertarian Right Stake Their Rightful Claim to Power

Looking into the endearing obsession known as Antiwar.com

"We followed Pat everywhere he went – like groupies!" says Raimondo. But after making waves by winning that much-watched primary, Buchanan lost the Republican nomination. Once again, Raimondo and Garris' hopes were dashed.

"Electoral politics is really maddening," says Garris, bitterly.

"It's BORING," says Raimondo.

Many early Randians, like Justin 
Raimondo, became libertarians.
James Sanders
Many early Randians, like Justin Raimondo, became libertarians.
Colin Hunter is the deep pockets 
behind Antiwar.com.
James Sanders
Colin Hunter is the deep pockets behind Antiwar.com.

"It seems like it should be interesting," says Garris. " But it's not."

Unable to keep up with the demands of bookkeeping, they sold their bookstore to some other libertarians. It was recently obliterated to make way for a new gay, bisexual, and transgendered community center.


Three times a week, a personal trainer comes to work out with Garris, Hunter, and Hunter's longtime partner, Alexia Gilmore, in the gym at the back of the property where they all live. Inside are shiny new Nautilus machines. And outside, there is a large pool surrounded by manicured lawns and topiary bushes being trained in the shape of horses.

While Garris and Raimondo were throwing all their energies into things like LROC, Hunter was busy getting rich. In 2000, Hunter's microprocessor start-up, Transmeta, went public to the tune of $273 million. He bought a Menlo Park nouveau Tudor mansion with an elevator, 11 bathrooms, and a two-story guesthouse at the back, where Garris now lives, rent-free.

"We have this enormous house, so it's kinda lonely when there's not a lot of people around," says Hunter, a brusque, gray-haired 52-year-old with wire-rimmed spectacles and a plain, button-down cotton shirt. "That's one of the reasons why Eric's over in the guesthouse. It's fun. It's kind of like a dorm."

Although the whole "family" is involved in Antiwar.com – Gilmore, the executive director of the site, helps find interns and fund-raises, and Hunter sometimes reads material before it's posted – only Garris and Raimondo work at it full time. Hunter pays their small salaries, and until the donations they're getting over the Internet make up the slack, he is paying for the rest of the site, too, including the phone bill, the ISP, and the salary of the part-time office manager who works downstairs from Garris. The total cost of the site works out to be $5,000 a month. The arrangement, which might seem uncomfortably paternalistic, doesn't bother Garris.

"Quite the opposite," says Garris, an elfin man with a curly brown mullet and a polite, serious manner. "The fact that I'm living here makes it kinda hard for him to say, 'Well, I'm not supporting [Antiwar.com] anymore.'"

Hunter has had this kind of relationship with Garris and Raimondo before; he'd give them donations for LROC and their libertarian newsletters. "I'm always, like, the CEO figure in these endeavors," he says.

But, they all agree, the Antiwar.com project is their best yet. Garris says the site gets 300,000 visitors a day – a number that's hard to verify, because the large Web measurement firms like Nielson don't track it. Garris and Raimondo certainly feel like they're making waves. Garris can see in the site's tracking software that some of their readers are coming from White House and other governmental domains. Last quarter, they got $30,000 in donations – solicited over the Internet – from their readers.

One of the site's fans and donors is none other than Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, who is a liberal Democrat. "I like the collection of news stories and columns from all over the world," says Ellsberg. He also liked Raimondo's "flamboyant" column so much that he insisted on meeting him in person.

"He's been a fan of Buchanan right along, and that has a crazy aspect to it," says Ellsberg. "But if I've learned one thing at 72 years old, I've learned that nobody's perfect."

Raimondo's columns are also being read by the dreaded neocons.

"I'm getting 30,000 readers a day – sometimes more," cackles Raimondo. "And the damned Weekly Standard isn't even selling that on the newsstands. So suddenly people are reading meinstead of [Standard Editor] Bill Kristol."

David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter who coined the phrase "Axis of Evil," has mentioned the site twice in his column for the conservative journal National Review – once in a piece titled "The Loonies Are Heard," the other in a column titled "Unpatriotic Conservatives." Both characterized Antiwar.com, and Raimondo, as being fringe and crackpot. (Frum declined to be interviewed about his feelings toward Raimondo.)

"The very fact that Frum chooses to talk about Antiwar.com is in itself significant," says Jim Lobe, a columnist for Antiwar.com. "You're talking about the top levels of the neocon network."

This year, a college student interning for Antiwar.com helped put together a university speaking tour for Raimondo. Every room was packed, and though he had some heated run-ins with liberals who seemed "confused about economics," the trip was a roaring success.

"At Berkeley, I was like a GOD," Raimondo says.

Antiwar.com is the best thing that ever happened to [Raimondo]," says the Center for Libertarian Studies' Blumert. "He's floundered ever since I met him; he was always starving, never knew where to get money to buy his next pack of cigarettes, would forget about meals."

Now, thanks to renewed interest in Raimondo's work, a book he wrote in 1993 about the "lost legacy" of the conservative movement is coming back into print. He's been asked to speak at political symposiums. Last March, a column he wrote for Antiwar.com was anthologized in a book on American foreign policy, which paired up pieces from opposing perspectives, in a point/counterpoint format. Included among the contributors were Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, and writers for the respected journal Foreign Policy. Raimondo was paired with Pulitzer Prize-winning Weekly Standard scribe Charles Krauthammer on the issue of "Has President Bush created a new U.S. Foreign Policy Direction?"

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