When Roger Stone met Antiwar.com
An interesting epilogue to my story on Nixon dirty trickster and longtime Trump sidekick Roger Stone.
During my research, I came across a story about how, in 1973, the GOP infiltrated and bought off California’s socialist Peace and Freedom Party, using one of the co-founders of the popular Bay Area libertarian website, Antiwar.com. It’s too fascinating a story not to share.
The Peace and Freedom Party was founded in the Bay Area in 1968, at the height of leftist radicalism and the antiwar movement, nominating Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver as the party’s candidate for president.
Nixon’s CREEP campaign operatives, including young Roger Stone, specialized in manipulating anti-establishment politics in order to help Nixon (and later, Reagan, Bush, and who knows who else). As I wrote about in my Roger Stone-Donald Trump article, the Nixon people in 1971 laid out a campaign strategy centered on exploiting and manipulating anti-establishment politics in order to destroy their real competition in the Democratic Party.
At the national level, that meant Nixon’s people cut a secret deal with Alabama’s segregationist governor, George Wallace, to run in the Democratic primaries as a far-right populist; and it meant pushing and funding candidates on the far left of the party, particularly black candidates like Shirley Chisholm and antiwar hero Gene McCarthy, to “exacerbate rifts” in the Democratic Party, and allow Nixon to sail to victory.
It worked with depressing efficiency. Nixon’s 1972 victory was one of the biggest landslides in American history.
According to a New York Times scoop, Nixon’s CREEP (Campaign to Re-Elect the President) operatives also brought their strategy to the state and local level. In 1971, the CREEP crew funneled $10,000 into California to try to keep George Wallace’s third party, the American Independence Party, off the California ballot for the 1972 presidential election (Wallace’s independent run in 1968 nearly lost Nixon the election). The effort to keep Wallace’s party off the California ballot failed—but, as I wrote, it didn’t really matter anyway, because Nixon’s people had worked out a sleazy deal with Wallace to run in the 1972 Democratic primaries and divide and depress the party… an effort that was cut short when Wallace was gunned down during a campaign rally, and paralyzed for life.
Other GOP operatives paid and infiltrated the left-wing antiwar party, the Peace and Freedom Party, specifically to undercut California’s Democratic Party candidates by running to the left of the Dems, splitting liberal and antiwar voters, thus helping Republicans to win races they’d otherwise lose.
One of the main GOP-paid infiltrators in the Peace and Freedom Party in the early 1970s was Eric Garris—co-founder of Antiwar.com and a longtime Libertarian Party and Republican Party activist in the Bay Area. In the New York Times exposé, Garris freely admitted working with and taking money from a Republican operative in Sacramento. The Times reported that the scheme worked—several Democratic Party politicians lost races thanks to GOP-financed Peace and Freedom Party candidates. To show just how cynical the operation was, one of the Democrats targeted by the GOP and their Peace and Freedom Party infiltrators was Oakland Congressman Ron Dellums, perhaps the most radical leftwing antiwar Democrat in decades. (Dellums’ seat is now held by Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against Bush’s war resolution in 2001).
According to the New York Times article, “Leftist Group Says G.O.P. Aid Aimed At Democrats,” published in July 1973:
Members of the Peace and Freedom party, a left-wing splinter group in California, say they received secret funds from Republicans last year to finance some of their campaign and drain votes from the Democrats.
The article goes on to report that the GOP-funded Peace and Freedom party candidates “occasionally contributed to the defeat of the Democrats,” and then introduces the GOP’s operative in Sacramento, and his libertarian mole inside the Peace and Freedom Party, Eric Garris:
Much of this money was transferred by Frank Delong, a consultant to the Republican leadership in the State Assembly, according to Eric Garris, a young Peace and Freedom activist who ran in the 61st Assembly District.
After [Garris and another activist] succeeded in qualifying a candidate in the Assembly race, Mr. Delong agreed to finance party-organizing efforts in three Assembly Districts and the Congressional District of Representative Ronald V. Dellums, Mr. Garris said.
Garris—who in later interviews says he “converted” to “anarcho-capitalism” in 1972, the same year he worked as a paid GOP mole inside the socialist Peace and Freedom Party—comes off as a starry-eyed sucker for the material things in life:
Mr. Delong [the GOP operative] reportedly met [Garris and another paid mole] at the airport gave them a car and some expense money.
Mr. Garris added: “He had a real nice car. We’re used to low-budget operations, you know, hitch-hiking everywhere, and now we had this red carpet treatment. It was great.”
...“We were given goods,” Mr. Garris said. “Like the telephone was paid for, and buttons, leaflets, bumper stickers and transportation money was given.”
What’s somewhat remarkable is that even after the New York Times outed Garris and the Peace and Freedom Party’s problem with GOP-paid moles, he not only stuck around inside the PFP, but he and other free-market libertarians tried taking over the party, led by Garris' mentor, an early libertarian activist-turned-GOP apparatchik named Bill Evers. Together, they nearly succeeded in subverting and taking over the national party, stripping out all of its original leftwing socialist planks, and replacing them with a far-right “Rothbardian” libertarian platform, described in a 1975 issue of Reason magazine:
The new PFP platform includes planks calling for the following: abolition of taxes, the Federal Reserve System, wage and price controls, ending public financed education; withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from around the world; ending all censorship; abolition of the FCC and FTC... abolition of child labor laws; support for persons who engage in tax refusal and organization of massive tax rebellion.
The Peace and Freedom Party imploded before finally ousting the libertarians and returning to its socialist politics.
By the late 1980s, Bill Evers took a post at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, where he worked with successive Republican administrations and wound up being put in charge of occupied Iraq’s education (or re-education) program, which Evers declared a rousing success in the Wall Street Journal in 2004.
But before going mainstream Republican, Evers — like Roger Stone, like so many libertarians — specialized in trying to trick leftists and liberals into taking up libertarianism. In 1980, Evers ran against Bay Area antiwar Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, a longtime target of Republican dirty tricks. One of Roger Stone’s first dirty jobs for Nixon’s CREEP was smearing McCloskey when he ran in the 1972 primary against Nixon as a Republican peace candidate. (Stone wrote a check to McCloskey’s campaign and signed it from the Young Socialist Alliance, then mailed a copy of the check to the largest New Hampshire daily newspaper to tarnish McCloskey as a commie). When Evers ran as a Libertarian to unseat McCloskey in 1980, he ran to McCloskey’s left to split the antiwar vote, as this old op-ed in the Stanford Daily shows, painting McCloskey as a pro-war, pro-draft Reaganite. (And in case the point isn’t clear enough, here’s a video of Bill Evers in the Reagan years, giving a talk to libertarians on “How To Convince a Socialist to Become Libertarian”.)
After destroying the Peace and Freedom Party from within, Garris and Evers moved over to oil billionaire Charles Koch’s new Libertarian Party, where they joined up with another future co-founder of Antiwar.com named Justin Raimondo.
After Reagan came to power, Garris and Raimondo moved away from the Libertarian Party and into Republican Party politics, founding a libertarian caucus within the Republican Party, along with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Colin Hunter, who later co-founded Transmeta.
In the early 1990s, Raimondo and Garris were smitten by Pat Buchanan’s far-right GOP insurgent campaign against George Bush Sr. This would eventually lead to their involvement, probably unwittingly, in the Trump-Roger Stone “dirty tricks” operation to destroy Ross Perot’s Reform Party, and help Bush’s son, George W. Bush, win the 2000 election.
Pat Buchanan ran in 1992 on waging “culture war” against gays and multiculturalism, and on transferring overseas American troops home in order to fight insurrection by blacks and minorities in American cities. This jibes with the other Antiwar.com co-founder, Justin Raimondo’s, own politics laid out in a 1993 article, a year after the Los Angeles riots, headlined “A New Nationalism”:
An "isolationist" is what they call you if you dare utter the forbidden phrase, America first. They call you that, and worse, if you are so depraved as to suggest sending the Marines to South Central Los Angeles instead of far-off Mogadishu.
...American nationalism is on the rise, and the forbidden phrase, America first, is once again heard in the land, raised not only by Pat Buchanan but also strongly implied by the Perot phenomenon.
Garris served as South Bay Area coordinator for the California “Buchanan For President” campaign in the primary against Bush in 1992; while Raimondo got in the San Francisco media as a “gays for Buchanan” curiosity in 1996. (Raimondo also ran as a Republican against Nancy Pelosi, getting trounced with just 13% to Pelosi’s 85%; and served as San Francisco coordinator for the anti-immigrant Prop 187 referendum denying services to undocumented immigrants.)
In 1995, Garris and Raimondo launched Antiwar.com, and gained some popularity in 1999 during Clinton’s war against Serbia in Kosovo. This was when I first heard about Antiwar.com, as The eXile was one of the rare English-language media in 1999 critical of Clinton’s sleazy war.
I still read Antiwar.com from time to time—they have some great curators on wars around the globe, some good writers along with some awful far-right puke, and Scott Horton has a radio show that I used to appear on and have always liked, but I couldn’t stomach the fucking Ludwig von Mises proselytizing, so that ended that.
Around this time, Antiwar.com got a nice giant money boost from Garris and Raimondo’s old libertarian activist friend and funder, Colin Hunter, whose Transmeta IPO in 2000 scored the company nearly $300 million, just as the dot-com crash was about to collapse the market. Hunter moved into a giant Atherton mansion, let Eric Garris move into a guest house on his mansion grounds, and put his partner in charge of the site’s fundraising.
That same year, 2000, was when Roger Stone and Donald Trump were tasked with setting up George W. Bush’s biggest threats from the right —Pat Buchanan, and the Reform Party of Ross Perot. As I wrote about in my last article, Roger Stone conned Pat Buchanan to ditch the GOP and run as the candidate in Perot’s party. Then Stone had Donald Trump fund moles in Buchanan’s campaign, run against Buchanan, build up capital, then drop out of the race and accuse Buchanan and the Reform Party of being a nest of anti-Semites and Hitler lovers, thereby killing two birds with one Stone, so to speak.
Antiwar.com’s little contribution to this GOP dirty tricks operation to put Bush in power was Justin Raimondo’s role as Buchanan’s leading alt-media propagandist. Indeed, at the Reform Party convention officially nominating Buchanan for president, Justin Raimondo gave the nominating speech. Little did he know, he was merely a dupe in Roger Stone’s and Team Bush’s dirty tricks op to kill off serious competition from Bush’s right, the same two forces—Buchanan and Perot—that sank Dubya’s father’s presidency in 1992.
Stone, as we know, was rewarded handsomely by the Bush team, gaining virtual control over naming the Bush Administration’s Indian Affairs Bureau officials, which would help him and Trump profit handsomely in the casino business.
Meanwhile, as a 2003 San Francisco Weekly article reported, Bush’s neocon wars and Iraq invasion had a weird way of working out great for the Antiwar.com libertarians as well:
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.
...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."
... The arrangement, which might seem uncomfortably paternalistic, doesn't bother Garris..
That last line is the real punch-line of this tiny little episode in the Roger Stone/Dick Nixon political legacy. Multiply this little story by many thousands of little Eric Garrises we’ve never heard about—and you begin to get a sense of what really goes on beneath the TV spectacle this campaign season.