Since Dec 10, 2000
Former tagline: If I had a buckhead moment, would I know it?
No one on the right, in 2005, foresaw the rise of Barack Obama to the presidency. The threat to our freedoms by liberal fascism is even greater today.
Showdown: The left vs. the Web
Posted: July 20, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Richard Poe
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
"I have decided to leave the 'CBS Evening News,'" Dan Rather announced on Nov. 23, 2004. The venerable anchorman's retirement had been in the works for months, CBS explained. He was 73 years old and it was time to move on. Maybe so. But Rather stepped down in the midst of CBS's internal investigation of the so-called "Rathergate" scandal. Most industry observers drew the obvious connection.
In the weeks and months ahead, many writers would credit the blogosphere for bringing down Dan Rather. And bloggers did play a crucial role. But the citizen journalist who broke the Rathergate was not a blogger. He was a Freeper a registered poster on the FreeRepublic.com message board, who called himself "Buckhead."
On Sept. 8, 2004, the CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes 2" aired what it doubtless hoped would be the magic bullet to end Bush's presidency. It asserted that Bush, while serving in the National Guard, had disobeyed an order from his superior Lt. Col. Jerry Killian in 1973, to report for duty and take a physical. CBS rested its case on a set of memos allegedly written by Killian. The memos turned out to be forgeries, which CBS had accepted from a source and showed on the air without proper authentication.
On a FreeRepublic.com discussion thread, Buckhead spotted the problem immediately and posted his analysis. "Every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively."
In all the ensuing media hoopla over the power of the blogosphere, FreeRepublic tended to get short shrift. Many writers lumped it in with the blogs. But FreeRepublic is not a blog. It is an online community, a message board where tens of thousands of regular posters meet every day to analyze the news and coordinate their political activism.
Founded in 1996, FreeRepublic played a major role in the Web-based dissident movement of the '90s. Like many Clinton foes, the Freepers felt the fury of Hillary's Shadow Team. But they outlasted their adversaries. Freeper activists helped turn the tide during the election crisis of 2000.
Hillary's jihad against the Internet backfired. While she won some battles, she lost the war. At least temporarily. The more ruthlessly Hillary persecuted Internet dissidents, the stronger the cyber-resistance grew.
Some websites went further than mere dissemination of information. They pioneered cyber-activism direct political action, coordinated through the Web. FreeRepublic.com leads the field in conservative cyber-activism.
The site's founder and mastermind is Vietnam veteran, computer programmer and software entrepreneur Jim Robinson. Today, Robinson is confined to a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. But his disability has not dampened his fighting spirit.
Robinson grew up dirt poor in Fresno, Calif., in a family of nine children. His father was a laborer, working in construction and farming. "During the summer, when the fruit, grapes and cotton got ready for picking, my whole family would go to work in the fields," recalls Robinson. "That's how we earned our money for school clothes."
During the Vietnam War, Robinson served on destroyers in support of U.S. ground troops, steaming up and down the Vietnamese coast, bombarding enemy positions. Enemy shore batteries often fired back. I asked Robinson if he had been frightened during these battles. "The first time I was," he replied with simple honesty. "Not the other times."
Robinson earned his high-school equivalency degree and attended electronics school in the Navy. Following his honorable discharge in 1969, he worked as an aircraft sheet metal mechanic and later sold vacuum cleaners. Robinson became a computer programmer in 1972. By 1995, he was a successful high-tech entrepreneur, the chairman and CEO of a $2 million public company he founded called ProtoSource.
But harsh trials lay ahead. In May 1994, Robinson's wife, Sheila, suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side. About two years later, Robinson was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. "As I grew weaker, I could no longer travel by myself or even step up a curb to enter a client's building, much less climb stairs," Robinson recalls. "Plus, I had to spend ever increasing amounts of time at home helping my wife. " The board of directors asked Robinson to step down as CEO in April 1996. His world was crashing down around him.
Still, with help from his programmer son, John, and from another partner, Amy Defendis, Robinson managed to organize a small business called Electronic Orchard that provided Internet computer consulting.
FreeRepublic an online community
"I had not been all that politically active prior to President Clinton's election," Robinson recalls. "Yes, I complained about government and politics just like everyone else but politics was not particularly high on my list of priorities until Slick came along."
Robinson saw that the Clintons had brought a new and dangerous level of corruption to American politics. He could no longer remain aloof. "I knew that the newspapers and news media were lying and I knew that government had been encroaching on our individual rights and that our politicians were as corrupt as the day is long. I also knew that nothing would be done about it unless we the people somehow joined together to exercise our political free-speech rights."
Robinson began to frequent the Prodigy "Whitewater News" board around 1993 or 1994. As mentioned in Part 2, Robinson like many other Prodigy regulars grew weary of the nosey moderators who policed the bulletin board, censoring anti-Clinton messages. Seeking greater freedom, Robinson and his son John launched FreeRepublic.com in September 1996. They added its key feature the message board in January 1997. "I was the only poster for a few months," says Robinson, "but I kept sending my URL to search engines and trolled the newsgroups by reposting articles from the forum and eventually I picked up a few readers. "
Antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo, who frequented FreeRepublic in its early years, writes, "FreeRepublic soon attracted hundreds, then thousands, and eventually tens of thousands of individual visitors. A cybercommunity of like-minded souls began to develop united not only by politics but by mutually observed rules of behavior. [A]n online subculture was being born."
Today, the Freepers that is, registered members of the site constitute a highly motivated activist community numbering in the tens of thousands. FreeRepublic chapters have formed in every state. The term they use for political action is "freeping." A freep can be anything from an e-mail campaign to a boycott or a street demonstration.
The war on Jim Robinson
Every dissident website of any significance was targeted for harassment during the Clinton years. FreeRepublic.com was no exception.
Like thousands of newsgroups and message boards, FreeRepublic offers a forum for posting and discussing articles picked up from newspapers, magazines or other websites. Posting of full-length articles for discussion purposes has been a standard practice since the earliest days of the Internet.
On Sept. 12, 1997, however, the practice suddenly became controversial at least for FreeRepublic.com. The trouble began when a Freeper posted an article from that day's Washington Post, revealing new developments in the Chinagate scandal. The article cited intelligence sources accusing Indonesian businessman Ted Sioeng, a suspected agent for the Chinese government, of having donated $250,000 to the Democratic Party possibly as part of a broad Chinese plan, confirmed by electronic intercepts, to influence U.S. policy through illegal campaign contributions.
Soon after, Jim Robinson began receiving cease-and-desist orders from major news organizations, charging commercial misappropriation, copyright and trademark infringement, and unfair competition. They commanded Robinson to stop posting their articles. The Washington Weekly noted:
"There is something odd about these cease and desist orders, which Robinson has shown to the Washington Weekly. They use similar wording and details, and three of the letters were sent on the same day, Dec. 5. The timing and language suggests that this was a concerted effort. Some person or group did the legal research on Robinson and his website, uncovering all his past and present business affiliations, and distributed a legal brief to the news organizations Times Mirror, Dow Jones, Reuters and Washington Post."
The Washington Weekly identified Debevoise and Plimpton a law firm used by the Clintons and the Democratic National Committee as the coordinator of the attack.
"Debevoise & Plimpton [is] a DNC law firm that has conducted most of the internal investigation of illegal foreign contributions received by the DNC," wrote Wesley Phelan and Marvin Lee in the Washington Weekly. "Clinton private eye Terry Lenzner admitted in a Filegate deposition earlier this year that he had been retained by Debevoise & Plimpton to perform investigations of a political nature. Debevoise & Plimpton refused to answer questions about the selection of the FreeRepublic site when contacted by the Washington Weekly. " Robinson had recently noted a large number of visits to his site from eop.gov, a White House domain, suggesting that he was under White House scrutiny.
The e-mail that Robinson received from the Washington Post complained specifically about FreeRepublic's posting of the article about suspected Chinese agent Ted Sioeng and his ties to the Clinton machine.
Robinson refused to stop posting articles, arguing that the Freepers had a First Amendment right to discuss news stories, and that posting copies of such stories for reference purposes on a nonprofit discussion forum constituted "fair use" under copyright law.
By the time Debevoise & Plimpton attacked, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were both confined to wheelchairs. But they fought with extraordinary zest and courage. "They'll have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers," Jim Robinson famously told Washington Weekly in April 1998. The battle lines were drawn.
On Sept. 28, 1998, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times the latter owned by the Times Mirror Company joined forces to sue FreeRepublic.com for copyright infringement, filing suit in a Los Angeles federal court. However, the plaintiffs seemed to lose interest in the case after the Clintons left office. Though they had already obtained a million-dollar judgment against Robinson in a lower court, during Robinson's appeal in May 2002, they quietly agreed to settle for a token payment of $5,000 apiece from Robinson. He agreed that in future he would permit Freepers to post only excerpts and links to the plaintiffs' articles, not the full text.
Taking it to the street
Small businessman Gene McDonald lives in Nevada today and sells Freeper-oriented goods through his 0cents.com website. He was formerly president of the Florida Chapter of FreeRepublic and helped found the Free Republic Network, an activist arm of the Freepers dedicated to taking the fight to the streets.
McDonald was 50 years old when a 30-ish Clinton supporter physically attacked him because he was holding an "Impeach Clinton Now" sign. The incident served as a wake-up call for McDonald. At the suggestion of a fellow Freeper, McDonald read "Radical Son," the autobiography of '60s-radical-turned-Republican activist David Horowitz. "It rang a bell with me," says McDonald. "Conservatives have to adopt the tactics of the left and use it against them."
It wasn't long before McDonald and his fellow Freepers were called upon to put their theory into practice. As a resident of Boca Raton, Fla., McDonald unexpectedly found himself at what he calls "ground zero" of the 2000 election crisis. The town was in chaos after the election, filled with reporters and angry citizens.
"We all went up to the West Palm Beach Courthouse," says McDonald. "Jesse Jackson was trying to turn it into a racial thing, saying he was going to bus in 30,000 people in two days and hold a rally in front of the courthouse, about how blacks were disenfranchised. Emotions were raw. People were screaming and yelling. You felt a riot was going to break out any minute."
On Nov. 13, McDonald and a small contingent of Freepers showed up at the Jesse Jackson rally. About a hundred counter-demonstrators Freepers included huddled by the stage, amidst a crowd of about 2,000 of Jackson's demonstrators.
"We decided we were going to somehow disrupt this process. But we didn't know how," McDonald recalls. "Then all of a sudden it dawned on us. We're not going to allow these guys to speak. It was like a group-think process, a spontaneous decision. We weren't going to let Jesse do it. And since we were literally two feet in front of the microphone and we had a megaphone going full blast, we could do it."
For about an hour and a half, the Freepers drowned out every speaker who attempted to take the stage, leading the counter-demonstrators in chants of "Jesse, go home! No more Jesses!" Tempers flared on both sides, but no riot erupted. Jackson's people outnumbered the demonstrators at least 20-to-1, but they seemed strangely intimidated by the unexpected sight of ordinary, law-abiding, middle-class folks standing up for their rights.
"Jesse made a few attempts to speak," McDonald recalls. "He got on the stage. But every time they tried to introduce him, we would not allow him to speak." After about an hour and a half, says McDonald, Jackson retreated to his limo and fled the scene. "We stayed there chanting and chanting until it broke up," says McDonald. "I'll never forget it. I'm proud to have been there. It's something I'll always be proud of."
Red-state rabble rouser
"Personally, I think one of the best ways to improve airline security is to put September 11 pictorials on the back of every seat on every airplane," says J.J. Johnson, founder and editor of SierraTimes.com. "There's enough Americans out there who'll get up and do something. Attempted hijackings have been stopped by passengers many times. That's the America that I love."
J.J. Johnson is a black man, born and raised in the ghettos of Buffalo, N.Y. He was also a prominent member of the militia movement from 1993 to 1997 a movement in which blacks, Hispanics and other minorities have participated heavily, says Johnson, despite media stereotypes to the contrary.
Johnson ultimately decided that "the pen is mightier than the sword" and left the movement in 1997. He has not, however, lost his belief in the right of an abused citizenry to seek redress, by any means necessary.
An electrician by trade, Johnson started SierraTimes.com in January 2000, a website that caters to the so-called "red states" states that voted for George W. Bush.
Sierra Times deals with federal land grabs, oppressive environmental laws and other issues of special interest to the cowboys, ranchers and farmers of the West. "The Jim Crow laws are moving out west, directed against any person that's not walking on four legs," Johnson quips.
Johnson now lives in Pahrump, Nev. "When I look out of my house, I see the Sierra Nevada," he says. "You walk outside and you see mountains, tumbleweed, people wearing cowboy hats."
When it comes to cyberactivism, SierraTimes.com is where the rubber meets the road a power point on the Web where protest can escalate quickly to mass civil disobedience. SierraTimes is to the Web Underground what Concord Bridge and Lexington Green were to the Minutemen in 1775.
"I don't like war," says Johnson. "I grew up in the ghetto in the turbulent '60s. I know what war is. I grew up hearing gunshots and sirens. I remember fires and breaking glass and armored personnel carriers in the streets, and coming home from school at 6 or 7 years old and seeing soldiers pointing guns at guys spread-eagle on the street.
"I don't want confrontation, because people get hurt. But I'm no pacifist. When diplomacy fails, that is when men take up arms and go to battle."
During the election crisis of 2000, SierraTimes.com became the command-and-control center for Operation Truckstop 2000 a planned general strike of all trucking in the United States. Had Gore succeeded in stealing the election, Johnson claims that Operation Truckstop would have paralyzed the nation.
"I think it could have gotten ugly," says Johnson. "They would have called out the National Guard. Neither side was budging. We knew the left was going to be out in the streets, with the Big Media backing them up. I was saying, 'OK, conservatives, you can't just sit on your butt and complain anymore. You're going to have to meet these guys nose to nose.'
"We had truckers organized, prepared to shut down this country. People were saying now is the time for action. I heard them on the CB networks. We were simply not going to accept a Gore presidency."
Fortunately, Operation Truckstop never came to the test. A general trucking strike would have constituted the most serious act of civil disobedience in our country since the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter. But the deadly earnestness with which Johnson and his network pursued their plan testifies to the deep and ever-widening divide that sunders American from American in the 21st century.
A page from the leftist handbook Like Gene McDonald, Cuban-born Freeper Luis Gonzalez took to the streets in Miami as the election crisis deepened. A trio of creative Freepers bearing the screennames "Registered," "Mass Exodus" and "CPL BAUM" had designed the now-famous "Sore Loserman" logo with its teardrop emblem, and Freepers around the country were downloading it and making up posters.
"We were waving the Sore Loserman sign and confronting leftists in the street," Gonzalez remembers. "There were shouting matches. Cops had to separate us. It was intense and it felt so good, just to say, 'You know what? We're not going to lay down here. Miami is my city and they're not going to steal my city.'"
On Nov. 21, the all-Democrat canvassing board of Miami-Dade County attempted to move the recount into a small, inaccessible room at the Stephen Clarke government building in Miami. Reporters would be excluded. Also, the board suddenly began announcing last-minute rule changes in the vote-counting procedures. Since there was not enough time to hand-count all the ballots, they said, they would only hand-count some ballots, but not others. This was plainly illegal, as the law stated that all ballots had to be counted in a hand recount.
As the vote-counters disappeared into the new "tabulation room" to work their black magic, reporters demanded to be let in. Republican observers began chanting, "Let them in! Let them in!" Before long, the chant changed to, "Let us in! Let us in!" and Republicans began pounding on the doors.
Rumors of Democrat skullduggery spread like wildfire through the Miami grapevine.
"I heard on the radio that they were not going to count the heavily Cuban districts," says Gonzalez. By excluding Cuban districts, which were mainly Republican, the Democrat canvassing board would skew the vote toward Gore. Gonzalez joined the angry crowd outside the Stephen Clarke Building, many of whom were fellow Cubans. "We were ready to go in there and fight, if we had to," he says. "I was ready to fight."
Only when Gonzalez got home afterward and saw the TV news did he realize what had happened. Intimidated by the public outrage, the Democrats had backed down. The canvassing board announced that it would obey the law after all. Since there was no time to hand-count all ballots, they would conduct no hand-count at all. The vote would stand as is. The recount was over.
"I couldn't believe that we had actually done this. It was always my idea that conservatives did not do this, that that was the liberal thing to do, to go out in the streets and take the streets," says middle-class family man Gonzalez, a mild-mannered salesman in ordinary life. "It was very emotional that day. I'm getting goose bumps thinking about it. Driving home afterward, I was singing. I rolled down my window on I-95 and I was yelling out the window, all the way down."
At a Nov. 25 press conference, following the ruckus, Democrat Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, "A whiff of fascism is in the air. [A] mob threatened them [the Miami-Dade board of canvassers], banged on their doors, roughed up people, threatened them, and they succumbed to the mob violence and the intimidation."
Wade Rathke, leader and founder of the radical ACORN group, took a more realistic and more honest view of the event. In the November 2001 issue of ACORN's Social Policy magazine, Rathke scolded leftwing activists, writing, "[W]e allowed conservatives to steal pages from our playbook and do actions on us in Dade County."
Why Gore lost Through websites such as FreeRepublic.com and SierraTimes.com, conservatives have begun availing themselves of the full arsenal of radical tactics long wielded by the hard left, from street protests to general strikes. But, as J.J. Johnson observed, the ability to disseminate information the power of the pen remains decisive in political conflict.
No more than a few hundred votes were disputed in the Florida recounts that held America spellbound for over a month. But Big Media robbed Bush of many times that number of votes simply by calling Florida for Gore while the polls were still open in the Florida Panhandle.
The Panhandle which favored Bush two-to-one, according to polls extends into the Central Time Zone, and thus runs one hour behind the rest of Florida. By calling Florida for Gore while people were still voting in the Panhandle, Big Media cost Bush a net loss of about 10,000 Florida votes, according to post-election surveys.
Calling states early based on phony or unreliable exit polls is one of Big Media's time-tested methods for manipulating elections. Even more effective, though, is its ability to suppress negative information about the candidates it favors.
Big Media long sought to portray Al Gore as a "squeaky clean" alternative to the scandal-ridden Clintons. WorldNetDaily helped puncture that myth. Before the election, Joseph Farah ran an 18-part series in WorldNetDaily, by reporters Charles C. Johnson II and Tony Hays. The series exposed Gore's long history of corruption including ties to Tennessee's so-called "Hillbilly Mafia," a criminal syndicate involved in drug-running and other serious corruption.
"While we were running this series, we're thinking, holy smoke, we're breaking these incredible stories and nobody cares!" recalls Farah. "Nobody's calling us. Nobody's asking, 'Can we use this? Can you come on television and talk about this?' Nothing."
What Farah did not realize is that WorldNetDaily's series was getting saturation coverage throughout Tennessee, on television, talk radio and in local newspapers. Farah now believes the story may have been decisive in turning the election against Gore. Had Gore managed to carry Tennessee's 11 electoral votes, he would have won, no matter what happened in Florida.
"The election was decided in Tennessee," notes Farah. "Al Gore lost his home state, even lost his own congressional district. A lot of people subsequently have said that it was our series that actually lost Gore the election."
"It was the character issue," agrees Nashville radio talk show host Phil Valentine. "Thanks to talk radio and sources like WorldNetDaily getting out the truth, I believe it tipped the state to Bush."
Of course, in the Web Underground, no good deed goes unpunished. Shortly after the election crisis was resolved, Democrat party activist and Gore crony Clark Jones a relatively minor figure mentioned in the series on Gore corruption filed a $165 million libel suit against WorldNetDaily.com.
Farah stands by his story. He is confident that the facts will vindicate WorldNetDaily. Still, $165 million is a lot of money. I asked Farah whether the suit potentially threatens the site's existence. He responded with the battle-weary chuckle of a Web Underground veteran.
"If [Clark's lawsuit] was the biggest challenge I had facing me right now, I would be one happy camper," Farah replied. "I would be one celebrating son of a gun."
The once and future Hillary
Some readers may be skeptical of the charges presented in this series. If Hillary abused power so blatantly, they may ask, how did she manage to escape punishment?
The simple answer is that Hillary's attack machine bullied, blackmailed, terrorized and intimidated every serious investigator from journalists to federal prosecutors and independent counsels until they simply gave up. In many cases, Hillary's operatives carried out these attacks openly and in full sight of major media. No one blew the whistle. No one cried foul. No one stopped her.
Consider the words of former White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos in a Feb. 8, 1998, interview on ABC's "This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts." With pressure mounting to impeach Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos blandly dropped this bombshell:
Stephanopoulos: White House allies are already starting to whisper about what I'll call the Ellen Rometsch strategy. She was a girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, who also happened to be an East German spy. And Robert Kennedy was charged with getting her out of the country and also getting John Edgar Hoover to go to the Congress and say, don't you investigate this, because if you do, we're going to open up everybody's closets.
Donaldson: Are you suggesting for a moment that what they're beginning to say is that if you investigate this too much, we'll put all your dirty linen right on the table? Every member of the Senate? Every member of the press corps?
Stephanopoulos: Absolutely. The president said he would never resign, and I think some around him are willing to take everybody down with him.
At the time he made these comments, Stephanopoulos was an ABC News analyst, having resigned as White House communications chief in 1996. He was thus able to pose as an impartial journalist, innocently "reporting" what his White House sources told him. Behind the mask of objectivity, however, Stephanopoulos was still doing the Clintons' dirty work, using his platform as an ABC analyst to deliver the Clintons' threat.
Stephanopoulos had just announced on national television that the White House was prepared to unleash an "Ellen Rometsch"-style bloodbath. He thus put "every member of the Senate" and "every member of the press corps" on notice that their personal "dirty linen" would be exposed should they investigate the Clintons too aggressively. This was no idle threat. Thanks to her Shadow Team, Hillary had extensive dossiers on every potential foe. On Feb. 12, 1999, the Webzine Capitol Hill Blue reported:
"Despite official denials, the Clinton White House has collected new dossiers, complete with financial records, FBI investigative information and IRS reports on House impeachment managers and other perceived enemies of the administration.
"I've seen FBI and IRS files on members of Congress, complete dossiers on reporters and more," one worried aide admitted. "This is really scary."
And so the Clintons got off the hook not once, but many times. That the Clintons ruled by fear and that fear alone kept them in office has long been an open secret in Washington. When Richard Nixon stepped down in 1974, many newscasters exclaimed, "The system works!" But "the system" which is to say the separation of powers set up by our Founding Fathers most certainly did not work in the case of Bill and Hillary Clinton. It remains to be seen whether America's constitutional balance can be restored. As the Romans learned from the usurpations of Julius Caesar, senators who surrender their power rarely manage to regain it.
In the final analysis, the best advice for 2008 may have come from a seemingly unlikely source former Congressman Rick Lazio. Fresh from his defeat by Hillary in the New York Senate race, a harder, wiser Lazio appeared on the Sean Hannity radio show on Nov. 24, 2000, to talk about the ongoing election crisis.
"It's not going to be a governor or a senator or a congressman that's going to save the American people," said Lazio. "It's going to be the people themselves that rise up. You just cannot count on elected people, people who are well-known names, to go out there and do it for us."
With Hillary most likely running for president in 2008, it would seem only prudent to ready ourselves for the worst. Knowing the past is the key to the future.
________________________________________ Joseph Farah, founder of WorldNetDaily.com and co-founder of WND Books says, "'Hillary's Secret War' is not just an indictment of a woman now sitting in the U.S. Senate. It's an expose of an authoritarian mindset that longs to regain power and will stop at nothing to achieve its objective." Order your copy of "Hillary's Secret War" from the source, WorldNetDaily!
Former tagline: If I had a buckhead moment, would I know it?
"McCain will bring a lifetime of experience. Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002." -Hillary Clinton