Category Archives: James O’Keefe

Hot Air

Abbie Hoffman: An Oldie But Goodie

I thought I’d run an old chestnut from my days as a keyboard clacker for The Third City this AM. I’m doing this because I feel lazy as hell and I’ve got about 2300 other things to do. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past.

[Originally published in The Third City, February 2nd, 2010.]

Big Mike: Fight The Power(less)

I knew I was a liberal after watching Bull Connor’s thugs knock the crap out of civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1963. I was seven years old at the time. I knew I was a rebel after reading Mad magazine a few years later when I was ten. I knew where my sympathies lay after Martin Luther King was bumped off and and West Siders tried to light their shitty ghetto on fire in response. I knew whose side I was on when Chicago cops were fracturing skulls in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 11.06.02 AM

The 1968 Democratic Convention In Chicago

So I’ve known from the earliest age that I’d never, ever want to be part of the bully crowd, the gang with badges and guns and respectability, pillars of the community, the backbone, the bedrock, the silent majority of this holy land. From all I could see, those people could turn into mean bastards in the snap of a finger when, in their fever dreams, they saw niggers, broads, queers, and pinkos plotting to sap and impurify all their precious bodily fluids.

From the age of nine on, I knew that those in power had to be defied, ridiculed and distrusted. For my money, it was better to piss all over their shoes than to shine them. When I was fourteen years old, I found a voice and a face for my nascent philosophy. His name was Abbot Howard Hoffman of Worcester, Massachusetts. The world knew him as Abbie.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 11.07.49 AM

Abbie

He was the fun guy, the sex symbol some said, of the Chicago Eight. The Big Boys in in Washington and Chicago (appropriately enough, led by a couple of Dicks — Nixon and Daley) needed to string some people up for wrecking the Democrats’ bash in ’68 and for saying what pretty much everyone else with a cerebrum knew: that the Vietnam War was nuts. So US Attorneys threw darts at a list of radicals and came up with eight names to persecute and prosecute. Abbie was the star of that cast.

The war, segregation, corporate oligarchies and the rest might have pissed him off, but Abbie rarely lost his mischievous grin. Once, standing before a mass march of some 50,000 anti-war protesters outside the Pentagon, he directed them to marshal all their “psychic energy” to levitate the building. It didn’t work but he gave it a good try. Later, he and some cohorts stood in the visitors’ gallery above the New York Stock Exchange and tossed handfuls of cash on the trading floor, causing a mini riot as people scrambled to grab the fluttering dough.

During the Democratic convention protests, he and Jerry Rubin nominated a pig — whom they’d named Pigasus — for president. The pig lost. I think.

J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI file on Abbie ran to 13,262 pages.

Abbie mixed a joie with his rage. He was my hero. I even gave myself the nickname Abbey (yeah, I inadvertently misspelled it — sue me, I was 14.) I tried to grow my hair out like his — tough to do while trying to remain within the confines of a suburban, Catholic, college prep school appearance code. Had I been able to find an American flag shirt, I’d have worn it; of course, this was before wearing an American flag shirt became a statement for the entirely opposite reason.

When Abbie was found dead of a phenobarbitol overdose (he battled bipolar disorder) I mourned. The rabbi at his funeral said Abbie’s life’s work was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

That’s why some recent news has made my ears turn red. A quartet of little masturbation artists was busted down in New Orleans for impersonating telephone repairmen and sneaking into Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s office. They wanted to tap into her phone system illegally. They say their little prank was justified for moral and ethical reasons. Landrieu’s sin? She supports health care reform.

The four are part of a burgeoning movement of right wing college students who employ capers, hijinks, dirty tricks, entrapment, and guerrilla journalism to fight the forces who are destroying this holy nation. You know, those who push for universal health care, speak out against racism and sexism, and community organizers — terrorists of the worst sort.

You may recall one of the four as the guy who dressed up as a pimp and entered an ACORN office, phony street hooker in tow, looking for a small business grant. The ACORN representative, unwittingly (and suspiciously stupidly), went along with the scam. The right wing world, naturally, saw the isolated incident as a broad indictment of.., um…, I guess community organizations. You know, groups that try to help the little guy, the bastards.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 11.09.16 AM

James O’Keefe And Accomplice

Anyway, the financier behind this homunculus’s campaigns, a wealthy right winger, has compared his work to that of Abbie Hoffman.

Those are fighting words. Look at the mugshots of the four and you’ll see the faces of privilege. They’re well-fed, smug, and awfully pale. They’ve gone to to best schools. They have bright futures in the corporate world — even if they now carry felony raps. They have as much to do with Abbie Hoffman as they do with Moe, Larry and Shemp (who, I recall, also impersonated telephone repairmen in one of their shorts.)

They’re fighting for the bullies of this world, which in my book makes them uber-bullies. They afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. I hope they enjoy their stay in state prison.

I’m still an Abbie guy, even if hyenas like the New Orleans four try to hijack his legacy.

At the ripe old age of 52, last year, as Barack Obama was being sworn in as 44th President of the United States, I realized I still walked the path with my old idol.

My feelings were mixed as I watched the inauguration. I was giddy that a brown human being had reached the White House. But I was also scared to death that some member of this nation’s racial majority, some lover of status quo, some idolator of guns and badges, certain that pillars of the community and its leaders should have pale skin, would aim a rifle at Obama. If anybody bumps this guy off, I swore to myself, I’m gonna go out with a baseball bat and make some fuckers pay.

It’s what Abbot Hoffman would have thought. Radical? Sure. Unreasonable? Hell no. Thanks Abbie.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 11.11.48 AM

Your Daily Hot Air

Reactions

Barack Obama yesterday spoke like a black man for the first time since he hit the national scene. He said, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

Impromptu & Unexpected

Now, I’ve just read about this impromptu speech on the Guardian UK website. My immediate reaction was: Guaranteed, tons of folks in this holy land are gonna say, “If only that was Barack Obama 35 years ago.”

So let me take a break for a few moments so I can go through my go-to Right wingnut sites and see if  the oh-so dependable crypto-racists of Murrica have made a seer out of me.

While you wait for me to do this pressing research, enjoy this:

Okay, I’m back. In fact, I was finished with my search long before the above vid was over. Ya gotta love the Right; they come through every time.

The reactionary conservative world had apoplexy over the prez’ comments, natch. Among other things, they accused Obama of trying to “tear the nation apart,” they called him the “Race-baiter in Chief.” One woman wrote, “I had no idea Obama sucker-punched a watch volunteer & then bashed his head in. Who knew?” Another called him a “buffoon,” “racist,” a lyncher, and guilty of sedition. A third called him “the most irresponsible president in history.” Jim Hoft, AKA the Dumbest Man on the Internet, wrote, “Good Lord — he is stoking a race war.”

And that very sensitive deep thinker Sean Hannity wondered aloud if Obama really meant he was like Martin because he (Obama) had smoked pot and “did a little blow” when he was the age of the late Florida teenager.

Now, bingo! Here’s the magic comment by someone named OldHickory21 on the Daily Caller website: “If only Obama had run into a George Zimmerman there in Hawaii, we wouldn’t be watching our country going down the drain right now. Too bad.”

From the Daily Caller

Good to know some things are reliable in this ever-changing world.

Pretty Little Terrorist

Speaking of the deranged Right (and ain’t I always?), our nation’s non compos mentalists found themselves all aflutter earlier in the week when Rolling Stone put a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover.

Rolling Stone Cover

For years, being on the cover of the Rolling Stone was seen as perhaps the ultimate honor a rock star or movie actor could earn. Hell, there was even a hit song about it called — what else? — “Cover of the Rolling Stone” back in 1973.

Ignoring the fact that the remaining couple of dozen people who still read Rolling Stone are those who were young and hip aways back in 1973 and now are concerned mostly with erectile dysfunction and the rising cost of cemetery plots, the hysterical Right concluded that the mag was championing young Tsarnaev and his alleged pressure cooker attack on the Boston Marathon.

For some odd reason, the unreasonable of this nation feel the rather normal-looking mug of the accused deep-fryer bomber will inspire doddering former hippies to revolt. Presumably, they’ll attack the Silent Majority with their canes and walkers.

It follows, then, that a number of drug and convenience stores had removed the publication from their shelves because…, well, because. And some guy from the Massachusetts State Police said the cover “glamorized the face of terror.”

I have no idea what they’d have preferred Jan Wenner put on the cover — perhaps a photo of a warthog or Adolf Hitler or simply a garden variety brown Arab. Now those things are ugly and/or evil. Tsarnaev the Younger can even be described as attractive. What kind of monster would attach a picture of a cute white kid to a story about a vicious terrorist act, even if the cute white kid (allegedly) did the act?

Warthog

The Face Of Terror

Anyways, my concern here is with the retailers who took the mag off their shelves. It makes me think of my recent promises to refuse to sell certain books to people at (shameless plug here) Bloomington’s only remaining independent bookseller, the Book Corner.

Loyal readers know that I’ve promised not to participate in a transaction with any customer who wants to buy faux-pimp James O’Keefe’s memoir, anything by the execrable Glenn Beck, and anything by or on behalf of doughy vigilante George Zimmerman. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing I’d helped those chuckleheads earn even a penny.

My take on those who refuse to peddle the Tsarnaev Rolling Stone is that they’re narrow minded prigs who dig censorship.

So I have to ask myself, when all is said and done: Aren’t I, too?

To be frank, I don’t know the answer yet. Either that or I do know the answer and I simply don’t want to admit it.

It Is A Puzzle(ment)

Here’s a fun heads up. Theater and non-profit maven Marc Tschida is making, with his bare hands, a neat selection of Bloomington-oriented jigsaw puzzles.

Tschida

Marc Tschida

Well, okay, he’s using a jigsaw, among other handy tools, but y’know.

Thus far, he’s produced a nifty Buskirk Chumley Theater puzzle as well others depicting Cardinal Stage Company productions and the face of a beloved local citizen whose identity will remain a secret until he gets all the appropriate releases signed and sealed. Look for tons more B-town landmarks and defining images to pop up in stores near you within the next few months.

Tschida Puzzle

Tschida’s “Charlotte’s Web” Puzzle

Tschida is donating gobs of the puzzles to area non-profits for fundraising raffles and giveaways. Pencillistas, unbuckle your money belts and throw a little cash Tschida’s way.

Your Daily Hot Air

Imperfect Hero

Computer patriarch Steve Wozniak told CNN’s journalist-manqué Piers Morgan the other day that the secret-spiller who blabbed that the NSA is trawling through yours and my phone and interwebs records, purportedly for the purpose of looking for bad guys, is the moral and heroic equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg.

Wozniak

Steve Wozniak (photo by Nik Harrison)

Now, Ellsberg was one of my great heroes back when I was an idealistic (and insufferable) teen rebel. Now that I’m an old man rebel, Ellsberg still holds an honored spot in my pantheon. (And I’m still insufferable.)

Anyways, I’m tempted to agree with Wozniak. Edward Snowden did indeed perform a patriotic service by revealing the NSA’s spook methodology. If the bosses of my gummint are eavesdropping on my conversations or peeping in my garage windows, I want to know about it. Even if they are protecting me from 9/11: The Sequel.

Look, I have no desire to have skyscrapers collapse on top of me (and the way things are going here in B-Town, our heretofore quaint town square ought to be ringed with supertalls by the start of the next IU semester.) Still, if the Feds are honestly trying only to protect us, I want to know how often G-men are going to be rifling through my folded underwear.

Underwear Drawer

Secret Drawers

Guaranteed, there’ll always be one or two true-believer pencil-pushers who want to expand the spy ops to swallow up anybody they disagree with politically or whom they feel might not worship god properly. As long as we know what mechanisms they have in place to harass us, we can at least pretend to resist.

All that said, this Snowden character sure gives me the willies. From his premature Army discharge to his selfie-addicted girlfriend (whom he suddenly bolted from when the story broke) to his habit of wearing a red hood when he logs on to his interwebs browser, he just seems like a guy who sees life more as a histrionic graphic novel than, well, reality.

He calls himself a “spook” and says he’s been spying all his adult life which is like a guy bragging that he’s a member of the Mafia. Real spooks and real mobsters rarely have the inclination to call attention to their job descriptions.

His globe-trotting odyssey keeping him one step ahead of teed-off cops and prosecutors seems a bit overkill-ish. He says he can’t bear the idea that he lives in a country that’s a nest of spies, then he hides out in Hong Kong and, now, Moscow. Honestly? He wants to couch surf in China and Russia to get away from spies?

What’s next — he wants to get a job at McDonald’s because he’s worried about Americans’ eating habits?

None of Snowden’s weirdnesses, in any case, should detract from the importance of what he has revealed. He’s a hero for blowing the whistle. But he’s Daniel Ellsberg with a lot of baggage.

Daniel Ellsberg

No Baggage

When all is said and done, though, I shouldn’t care about the baggage, only the revelations.

The Plot To Oust Obama

It may not surprise you to know that the psychotics who run World Net Daily love this whole NSA domestic spying story.

Their take, natch, is that President Obama, channeling his inner Hitler, spends all his days and nights listening to phone conversations of honest, law-abiding Murricans, hoping to put the screws to Tea Party-ists, militia members, and other pathologically bent individuals.

They’re certain, of course, that Obama’s Secret Black Shirts will be rounding up all gun-fondling, god-fearing, Flat Earthers long before his eight year Reich comes to an end.

Eavesdropping

And they’re not gonna be marched into re-education camps without a fight, god help them.

If they had any sense, they’d wish with all their hearts that Obama actually was listening in on their conversations. Nothing could drive him from office quicker than suffering their paranoiac prattle for anything more than three and a half seconds. He’d be pulling his hair out and bouncing around the Oval Office like Daffy Duck if subjected to (what passes for) their logic.

In fact, perhaps this whole NSA deal is a clandestine operation conjured by the likes of Chuck Norris, Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and other stars of the Right Wing bedlamite firmament. They know that if the Prez does indeed monitor their respective audience’s jabberings, he’ll be carted away from the White House in a straightjacket before they get to discussing which canned goods they should stock up on for the coming apocalypse .

Who sez Me Party-ists are stupid?

Your Daily Hot Air

Raison D’Etre

Sometimes I wonder why I push this boulder up the mountain on a daily basis. The Pencil isn’t making me rich. Nor have millions bookmarked this site. But, like pizza, the Cubs, and taking naps, writing the Pencil is irresistible for me. I can no sooner stop churning out these screeds than I can abstain from turning the air conditioning down to 70 degrees seconds after The Loved One has dialed it up to 72.

There are rewards in this Sisyphean endeavor. I seem to have attracted a number of very nice, decent, and thoughtful conservative readers. For instance, check the comment by Mari Loosen under yesterday’s “Abortion: It’s A Laff Riot” entry.

Now, Mari and I understand that the only thing we agree upon is the fact the the sun rises in the east, and even that might be open for debate on certain days. No matter. She reads the Pencil, well…, religiously.

But the last thing we’d ever do is call each other names. So this tiny space on the interwebs is our way of standing up for civility in this very uncivil world of political debate.

Satan

We Disagree; Ergo, You’re Satan

I’ll continue to come down as hard as I can on Right Wingers who are unreasonable or destructive. And willful stupidity makes me want to throw tomatoes at those who parade it proudly. But anyone who wants to argue for a rational, heartfelt conservatism is always welcome here.

I’m thankful for everyone who’s a Pencillista.

Bad Guy

Now, then. Let us consider one of those unreasonable, destructive Right Wingers who wallow in willful stupidity.

That would be one James E. O’Keefe, the noted video saboteur and revolutionary Tory.

You may remember him from his appearances on national television in this get-up:

OKeefe

Yeah, O’Keefe’s the upper middle class white boy who disguised himself as an inner city pimp so he might create havoc in an office of ACORN, the international social service agency.

ACORN’s aim was to help poor people, simple as that. But since the folks who ran the org. didn’t run away shrieking whenever anybody used the term “social” to describe it, Cro-Magnons like O’Keefe immediately assumed they were “socialist,” much like the Kenyan-born Manchurian Candidate who’d stolen the office of President of the United States and who was driving them to extremes of lunacy they’d previously managed to keep hidden.

O’Keefe and some equally well-fed female cohort pretended they were a pimp and a streetwalker trying to get ACORN to finance their illegal sex enterprise, their way of showing that community organizations and social service agencies are more interested in destroying the fabric of society than, y’know, helping people. They played their roles as a hidden camera rolled. Then, using misleading edits, they spliced together what they thought was a damning video indictment of all things liberal. Their end goal was the downfall of ACORN.

Social Service

Another Commie, Helping Someone

And guess what: they succeeded.

Repugnican Congressbeings and their spineless Democratic counterparts bought the scam hook, line, and sinker. Federal funding for ACORN was cut off and the ensuing shit-storm of bad pub dried up the agency’s other sources of revenue. Next thing you knew, ACORN was out of biz and poor folks who’d come to rely on them to help in matters of voting rights, housing, safety, health care and other things that come by divine right to upper middle class white punks like O’Keefe could just go straight to hell.

And that wasn’t O’Keefe’s only sin. He was busted along with three henchmen trying to bug Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in 2010. He secretly recorded NPR executives. He misrepresented and slandered Planned Parenthood, and more. Overall, his deviousness would make Tricky Dick Nixon’s rat-fuckers envious.

And perhaps worst of all, he now writes for the thankfully-dead Andrew Breitbart’s eponymous online orgy of yellow journalism.

I bring this chucklehead up not for gratuitous purposes, although, I’d be thrilled to eviscerate him for no better reason, but because he has somehow conned a reputable publisher to put out a book of his verbal emesis. Or should I say formerly reputable?

Anyway, most of you know I’m also a bookseller. I peddle ’em at the Book Corner, Bloomington’s only remaining independent book store. Yesterday, I posted a mini-manifesto on the Book Corner’s Facebook page. I thought I’d share it with you here:

A Bookseller Draws A Line In The Sand.

Hello, Book Corner fans, customers, and supporters. This is your loyal and congenial bookseller, Michael G. Glab, more familiarly known as Big Mike.

As you know, I have never quibbled with any customer over her or his choice of reading material. I have happily sold even Bill O’Reilly’s assassination-porn series of books. I’ve always believed that reading is a good thing, regardless of the topic (even tarot stuff and James Patterson novels.)

But I must make a stand here and now. Today, Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, released a book written by James O’Keefe, the self-styled “citizen-journalist” whose ambush methods and “creative” video editing style have resulted in numerous sabotaged careers, the destruction of a national social service agency, and innumerable instances of deception, prevarication, and dissembling designed to confuse participants in the arena of political discourse. The book is entitled Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy.

The book, like the man who purportedly wrote it (I am aware of no evidence at this time that he is able to read and write), is dangerous. Therefore, I can not in good conscious sell it to you in the unlikely event that we should stock it.

With all due respect, if you approach me and ask for the book, I will politely request that you take your custom elsewhere. I am certain there is a perfectly good bookstore in Hell that is even now stocking the book.

Happy Reading!
Big Mike
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You know, business is business and all that, but sometimes a guy just has to follow his conscience.

%d bloggers like this: