The phrases “someone should” or “someone needs to” make me cringe — they explain why the organized Left has beaten conservatives for the last two decades. The Left doesn’t wait around for someone else to do it. Breakthrough: Our Guerrilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy, the new book by James O’Keefe, makes clear this problem to armchair patriots who think someone else is better qualified to engage in direct action. It is a how-to guide for a modern activist craving a blueprint for action.
O’Keefe didn’t accomplish his many stings with the backing of a billionaire. The book begins with O’Keefe at rock-bottom:
I woke up in a fetal position, on a green mattress stained with seminal fluid, to the sound of my fellow prisoners chanting the Qu’ran.
It didn’t get much better after that. Between working on a road chain gang breaking up rocks, O’Keefe was able to expose NPR fundraisers as even more biased than we assumed, to expose massive vulnerabilities in our electoral system, and to expose gun opponents as the hypocrites they are.
Breakthrough mentions this bootstrap approach in Veritas Rule #2: “You must do what you can with what you have.” O’Keefe accomplished these narrative-altering events amidst far stronger headwinds than most of you reading this review face. O’Keefe takes you inside each of his stings, from the planning, to the scouting of the target, to the endless battles with the establishment media and their efforts to crush his narrative.
O’Keefe, a fellow Eagle scout, also had to battle the law. His famous case arising out of the botched sting of Senator Mary Landrieu’s office is just one example. In New Hampshire, O’Keefe also crossed the appropriately named Dick Head, a state assistant attorney general (who has still failed to produce records which I requested in a Freedom of Information Act request a year ago. Mr. Head must not be familiar with past FOIA lawsuits from these parts against far bigger non-compliant fish).
Per Veritas Rule #5: “The law will always surround you. Learn it.” Head harassed O’Keefe by serving subpoenas on his group after they exposed massive vulnerabilities in New Hampshire elections. In the absence of voter ID, O’Keefe’s crew were given ballot after ballot for dead voters. (A personal memory: I’ll never forget spending a solid 15 minutes on the phone laughing convulsively with Andrew Breitbart at the sight of poll official Ryk Bullock describing how nobody could ever obtain a ballot for dead voter — after watching a bunch of people do precisely that. Neither of us could speak. O’Keefe’s stunt was perfect; activist lightning.)
O’Keefe describes the “anti-journalists” who are quick to defend the government or the status quo: anti-journalists don’t expose the powerful and corrupt, but rather make a career of defending them. After O’Keefe began his stings of state election sites, instead of criticizing the vulnerabilities his videos exposed, some journalists attacked O’Keefe. One headline is laughable in hindsight: “Election Law Experts Say James O’Keefe Allies Could Face Charges Over Voter Fraud Stunt,” from Ryan Reilly at TPM Muckraker. Reilly’s article appeared on January 11, 2012. Reilly’s partisan sources were wrong — O’Keefe has never been charged because he did nothing illegal; “experts” Rick Hasen (“risk a felony conviction”) and David Schultz (“what they did violated the law”) both blew it. Naturally, these sources were recruited by Reilly because they are known primarily for denying the existence of voter fraud — some people actually do build a career on providing intellectual cover for criminals.