Saturday, July 21, 2018

Seymour Hersh meanders throughout REPORTER: A MEMOIR

Seymour Hersh is an investigative reporter whose work is legendary.  His byline is attached to important news stories from the 20th century and the 21st century.  His legend will endure.

That doesn't make him a good person -- a fact that his latest book, REPORTER: A MEMOIR, makes clear.  Nor does it make him a good writer, a fact that the book especially makes clear.


At one point, he explains that he was ticked about the delay on a piece he'd written about the mafia which required extensive editing and rewriting -- he writes the issue is mainly the first three paragraphs -- and he and A.M. Rosenthal (editor at THE NEW YORK TIMES) are exchanging back and forth memos.  Rosenthal writes:

Speaking of memos: It should interest you to note that at this moment a good part of THE NEW YORK TIMES has come to a standstill because the deputy managing editor, one assistant managing editor, one acting national editor and one assistant national editor are tied up as they have been all day, and for days past, in trying to get your series into printable form.  It seems to me that if I were a reporter whose work needed that much attention, I would be slightly embarrassed and hugely grateful.

Reading REPORTER, it's obvious that not a lot has changed.

If someone termed the book "unreadable," that could pass as a kind review.

This is slop.

In fact, "slop" may be too generous a term.  That Knof published this does not speak well for them.

Hersh writes of events, whether distant past (Vietnam) or more recent present, without providing the backstory.  Is he Cary Grant?  Does he not do recap?  He certainly seems to think he's a star -- even writing of himself in third person (for example, the top of page 233).

Hersh's strong sense of self-love is not a surprise to anyone who knows him and, yes, I know him.  In Wednesday's snapshot, I noted he was under attack and that I'd try to review the book over the next few days.  I was hoping this would be a rave.  But then I read the book.

His writing of Eugene McCarthy's campaign is probably the strongest section of the book.  It comes alive and McCarthy's such a minor (and disgusting) character that it probably doesn't matter that most people today have never heard of him -- the campaign is the point, not the person.  That's a detail that Hersh gets across repeatedly noting McCarthy's disdain for his college supporters.  Hersh's distaste for the Kennedys is well known and, when reading his swipes at RFK as a candidate in 1968, a reader should keep that in mind.  Shirley MacLaine is a far better source on RFK's campaign -- and where he stood regarding Vietnam -- than Hersh or his book.

It's really sad how, to this day, the McCarthy faction is so embedded in their own lies.  But lies started his campaign, lies and schemes by the press.  Hersh rushes over it but it's there if you read slowly -- the hideous Mary McGrory, the former CBS news honcho Blair Clark, etc, etc.  McCarthy was a made up myth.  A neocon, in fact.  It probably galls the McCarthy faction to this day knowing the reality that their little rat only got as far as he did because RFK was assassinated.  Even as far as he got, he didn't manage to get the nomination (it went to Hubert Humphrey).

It's a gossipy read, the section on McCarthy, which almost comes to life.

Anything else worthy of praise?  Maybe the footnote that starts on the bottom of page 328 and better captures the Barack Obama White House than any lengthy tome has.

The rest of the book is lifeless and dull.  It needed a strong editing hand and several rewrites to shape this nonsense.  No one has bothered to try.  Asking a reader to pay $27.95 for this book is asking a great deal.

Anyone looking for insight into the Iraq War will be disappointed.  Hersh is only interested in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and then only in passing. Page 308 of a book with 333 pages of text.

Friends of the late Senator Frank Church might wish Hersh has focused more on Abu Ghraib and less on the portrait of Church who comes off bitchy and ambitious.  Does Hersh not realize how ambitious he himself is and has been?  He certainly sees ambition as a flaw in others.

He spends a lot of time teasing the reader with things he doesn't sketch out.  Lew Wasserman's mafia connections?  A passing sentence.  Wasserman and Jules Stein built MCA with mafia help and by ripping off African-American performers like Lena Horne.  Enough years have passed, you'd think the truth could be told.

In Wednesday's snapshot, I noted past history with Hersh including the fact that I had accused him -- and he had denied -- ratting out a public protest, informing on what was planned.  I dropped out of the action because of the fact that there was a rat in the midst.  So did Coretta Scott King.  She had no idea who it was.  I believed then it was Sy Hersh.  He denied it.

One of my worst qualities -- or at least the one that always ticks me off -- is that I will doubt myself.  When I know I'm right and someone assures me that, no, they didn't do whatever it is they did, I will take their word and assume automatically that I was wrong.

Reading REPORTER, I'm suddenly reminded of how right I was to suspect Hersh and I do believe he was a rat.  Why was he present at planning sessions?  He showed up out of nowhere, this NEW YORK TIMES reporter who covered the CIA.  Just showed up.  Now he couldn't -- and he didn't -- participate in the protest for peace that took part.  As a reporter for THE TIMES, he couldn't.  And he wasn't reporting on peace protests for THE TIMES.  So why was he there?

I believe I know why he was there.  He was gathering information to sell people out.  He wanted a bigger story and was willing to do favors (such as spying and snitching).  As I said in Wednesday's snapshot, that's what I thought happened and journalists have no ethics.

This comes through repeatedly in the book.  For example, then CIA-head William Colby?  He wants a story killed in the fall of 1973 -- a rather major story that would finally emerge in 1975 -- about a submarine and Hersh agrees to kill it.  But, of course, quid pro quo.  He'll gladly drop the story but needs something in exchange.

That's the reality of reporting.

It's also probably the scariest part of the book.

I disagree with Hersh, for example, about politics.  Eugene McCarthy was scum -- you didn't have to wait for his 1980 endorsement of Ronald Reagan to grasp that.  RFK would have been not just a better choice, he would have been the best choice.

Now you can disagree with that and Hersh does.

But here's what you can't disagree with: A truth teller tells truth.

Hersh isn't telling truth, not full truth.  It's half-truths and evasions.  He covers for this person or that person based on his own personal biases and beliefs.  He makes deals to conceal information and kill stories -- legitimate news stories -- based on his own capricious whims and alleged judgment.

That's not truth telling.

Sadly, it is reporting -- or what passes for it in the United States.

And that might be the saddest conclusion when you reach the last page of REPORTER: A MEMOIR  -- that and the fact that your average alley cats have more integrity, they're motivated by lust, not vanity.

Iraqis still wait for the world to support their protests

  1. In case u missed it: Large scale protests have been going on in southern recently. This powerful sign sums up the demands of the demonstrators: Revolution of the poor. Electricity. Water. Bread.

Protests continue in Iraq.  The people are asking for the basic needs.  Instead of delivering what's needed to fulfill these needs, prime minister Hayder al-Abadi sicks the military on them.  Noting the internet blackout Hayder's imposed, OIL PRICE observes:

No blackout undertaken by the Iraqi government, however, has been as intrusive as this one. This is not about ISIS, or pricing—or potentially cheating students. This is out masses of protesters who have valid grievances. They are protesting the fact that the massive oil wealth of the Basra region isn’t trickling down to the people—to the point that there is even a lack of potable water. They are also protesting the proportion of jobs handed in the oil industry to locals as opposed to foreigners.

Again, instead of meeting the needs, the people are attacked.  RUDAW reports:

Two people were killed in protests in southern Iraq on Friday evening.

"The casualties of the protests that many provinces witnessed today increased to two dead, one of them in Diwaniya and the other in Najaf. And 45 were injured, most of whom were members of the security forces," the spokesperson for Iraq's ministry of health, Sayf Badir, told al-Sumaria news.

Badir added that most of the injured had received treatment in hospital and been discharged.

The approximately 20-year-old man killed in Diwaniya was shot by a guard from the Badr organization during a demonstration outside of the Iran-backed group’s local headquarters, AFP reported.

This brings to ten the total of deaths in nearly two weeks of protests that have rocked southern Iraq.

The killing continues.

Security forces Chasing the protesters in Iraq to disperse them last night

After this goes up, my review of a book will.  I made the mistake of saying I'd write about it.  I'll make that mistake again, I'm sure.  Next time, if the book is so badly written it's practically unreadable, I'm just going to break my promise.

The following community sites updated:

  • Tell Israel to Allow Thinking in Its Schools

    By David Swanson, World BEYOND War
    Israel has passed a law allowing its Minister of Education to ban from its schools any person or group who criticizes Israel — apparently something that no teachers or students in Israel are supposed to do either (though some do). The hasbara, or pro-war propaganda, spin on this is that it is protecting Israel’s brave Troops from (rhetorical) “attacks.” But one of the chief targets of the law is understood to be Israeli troops who speak about what it is they do. And the law explicitly identifies for banning from schools those who advocate “legal or political” actions, which tend to be taken against those who make laws and political decisions, not against Troops.
    Are recruits told that their military training will reduce them to such pitiful beings that they will magically suffer if children in a school somewhere speak critically of Israeli government policies?
    If Israel were doing nothing wrong, if it had the ability to show with reasonable argument that it was doing nothing wrong, it would not need to go to such efforts to shield its young people from undesirable viewpoints. If it were trying to educate them to be thinkers and pursuers of justice, it would welcome all viewpoints. Instead it is banning advocates for peace and nonviolent rational debate and conflict resolution — violating basic principles of liberalism and also violating the law.
    As Pat Elder has pointed out to me, Israel is party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which makes the minimum age for military recruitment 18, while allowing 17-year-olds to voluntarily enlist, as Israel does, if . . .
    (a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary;
    (b) Such recruitment is done with the informed consent of the person’s parents or legal guardians;
    (c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service;
    (d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to acceptance into national military service.
    But how can this be voluntary and fully informed in a state where anyone who mentions the actual “duties involved in such military service” is banned from entering any school?
    When Israel ratified the above Protocol, it added this language:
    “The Government of the State of Israel maintains the following safeguards in respect of voluntary recruitment into the armed forces so as to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced: . . . Clear and precise explanation of the nature of the duties involved in military service is provided to both the person and the person’s parents or legal guardian.”
    Clear and precise? What about true or accurate or complete?
    What does Israel have to hide?
    Well, nuclear weapons. Maintaining the threat of ending the world will be the task of some recruits.
    Apartheid. Israel just passed another law to encourage the creation of Jewish-only towns, or what the United States calls sundown towns (Get your [black/Palestinian] ass out of [town name] before sundown). That will require help from military recruits.
    Arming Nazis. Israel can’t get enough weapons to Nazis in Ukraine without the work of some of its well-educated recruits.
    Genocide. Israel is gradually killing the entire population of the territories it seizes and occupies. An open discussion by honest seekers of truth and understanding might end up including some slight questioning of the morality of this.
    That won’t happen in Israeli schools, unless the world condemns fascism EVERYWHERE it arises. Here’s an email address for the Ministry of Education:
    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
    Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
    Help support,, and by clicking here:

    DRUM CORPS WORLD July 20th Issue Now Available

    An image
    Dear readers:

    Another weekly issue down, four more editions to go as we wind our way to the conclusion of another great drum corps season in the United States and Europe.

    The weekend of July 14-15 was a busy one and our staff has provided extensive coverage of seven Drum Corps International, one Drum Corps Associates and one Small Drum Corps Association competition, along with more exciting photography.

    There will not be an issue next Friday as we accumulate content for the full monthly August magazine that will contain reports on 13 DCI shows, including the San Antonio and Atlanta regionals, as well as two DCA competitions.

    The pre-DCI issue will be released on Friday, August 3, then it’s off to Indianapolis for the Drum Corps International Championships.

    Steve Vickers, publisher

    An image

    Drum Corps World
    4926 North Sherman Ave, Unit H
    Madison, WI 53704-8433
    (608) 241-2292 |

    How Art & Activism Are Essential In Creating Change

    Bioneers Pulse – updates from the Bioneers Community
    Greetings fellow Bioneers! 
    “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”—the sentiment has been reiterated time and again since the 2016 presidential election. This spirit of disillusionment, frustration and anger has inspired a new generation of activists to organize and take action in the face of cruel and deliberate power grabs that disenfranchise people of color, women, immigrants, the LGBT+ community, and many others. In this week’s newsletter we hear from those at the forefront of political and social movements working to effect change in the Age of Disinformation through intergenerational activism and artistic expression. We also get a sneak peek of the inspiring social justice and human rights programming coming to Bioneers 2018.

    Don’t forget to purchase early-bird tickets to Bioneers 2018 while they’re still available to save 15%. Rates will increase soon.

    The Big Question: Teen Spirit

    When politics took a swift turn to the right after the 1960s, college and high school students across the country organized to protest significant budget cuts to school systems and student programs, particularly in urban areas throughout the U.S. The massive slash in funding also inspired the genesis of a number of sweeping youth movements. Can you name the two musical genres born out of social and political protest movements during the 1970s and 1980s? (Read to the bottom of this email to find the answer.)
    Wise Words
    “This is the moment of truth in this Age of Disinformation. All people of good will and good heart need to break through the political pavement and grow a new politics. We need to do a lot more than change elected officials, although that will help at this fateful time when holding the center is a life-and-death issue for countless people. We also need to change the system, and we need a change of heart. We forget that the Nazis arose from the nation considered the most advanced and cultured in the world. It’s easy to see right now how the ‘good Germans’ came to be. Indeed, silence is complicity, but complicity is also complicity. Are we really going to accept an illegitimate regime that’s carrying out a coup d’etat in slow motion? Are we really going to give this gangster cartel any other name?”

    —Kenny Ausubel, Bioneers co-founder, in his recent article on the state of American politics

    Learn more: A Primal Scream: Taking Action Against an Illegitimate Regime
    Tom and Dallas Goldtooth - The Art of Intergenerational Activism

    Video to Watch: Bridging the Age Gap

    Tom Goldtooth is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and a lifelong advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental health. His son Dallas Goldtooth is the co-founder of the Native American comedy group The 1491s and an organizer for the “Keep It In the Ground” campaign for independence from fossil fuels. In this presentation from the Indigenous Forum at the 2016 National Bioneers Conference, Tom and Dallas talk about intergenerational organizing and what they have learned from each other.

    This Week on Bioneers Radio & Podcast

    Art As Social Change: Birthing the Dawn Of A New Day | John Densmore & Climbing PoeTree

    John Densmore, legendary drummer of the Doors, joins visionary spoken word duo Climbing PoeTree in an exploration of creativity and social change. This episode of Bioneers Radio features exclusive interviews with the artists and a special Bioneers performance of Jim Morrison's poem, "American Prayer".

    Subscribe to the Bioneers podcast on iTunes now.

    Book to Read

    Hegemony How-To by Jonathan Smucker
    Following is an excerpt from the 2017 book Hegemony How-To, in which author Jonathan Smucker draws from his years of experience and research as a doctoral student of sociology at U.C. Berkeley and as the director and co-founder of Beyond the Choir, which helps social justice organizations plan and mobilize to provide practical tools and advice for the next generation of grassroots organizers and changemakers.
    Recently, such a process has been unfolding across the United States as police killings of our black and brown brothers and sisters are now being articulated popularly as a pattern, a structural problem, and a political problem—recognized as such by more and more people. Of course some voices have been saying this for decades and organizing consistently around these issues, but only recently has this analysis and mobilization broken through into a nationally-recognized movement. This means that each needless death and each instance of excessive force is now understood as part of a bigger moral narrative. Victims’ families and communities no longer have to struggle on their own, isolated from each other. There is now a stronger sense, at least, that “you are not alone.” This articulation of a common story about structural racism and economic inequality in relation to America’s police departments provides a stronger basis for the collective mobilization it will take to change this intolerable situation.
    However, it is not easy to get people to recognize as a political problem what the prevailing common sense has told them to see as a personal shortcoming. Struggling homeowners in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, for example, tended to struggle in isolation. In the American Dream narrative, homeownership is a source of individual pride. Foreclosure and underwater mortgages have thus been implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, framed as personal problems and even reason for shame. Thus, struggling homeowners often worked extra jobs to make payments on underwater mortgages, or they went quietly when facing foreclosure and eviction. However, as the banks got bailed out to the tune of a trillion dollars, but no relief was extended to struggling homeowners— and as banks’ predatory lending practices started to face scrutiny—the political nature of the housing market crash began to come into focus. At the height of Occupy Wall Street, Monique White went to the public park where Occupy Minnesota had set up and asked the occupiers to help her fight to save her home. By joining with others to take collective action, she was able to fight the bank and eventually save her home. In similar fashion, Occupy Homes campaigns kicked off all across the country, successfully saving many homes along the way. Still, most homeowners who joined the effort did not start out as ready as Monique White. Tim Franzen, an organizer with Occupy Homes Atlanta explained how “The biggest barrier was getting homeowners to fight—to believe that it was right and just for them to fight, instead of just suffering alone in the shadows.” Individual homeowners had to confront the intuitive shame they often felt—a product of seeing their situation as their own personal problem or shortcoming—in order for the personal to become political.

    Read more here.

    Don’t Miss It: 10 Incredible Activism, Justice & Human Rights Presentations at Bioneers 2018

    We’re looking forward to gathering some of the brightest minds and most groundbreaking changemakers at Bioneers 2018. This year, our Activism, Justice & Human Rights programming will include discussions on everything from clean energy with Executive Director May Boeve to a brutally honest talk with writer, activist and speaker Kevin Powell on how we can transform the modern concept of manhood. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend workshops covering a host of important topics, including How to Be a Good Ally, a primer on creating successful cross-cultural collaborations between indigenous and non-indigenous partners, as well as the experiential workshop Art, Power and Social Change, a collaborative session led by activist/educator/performer Samara Gaev with the goal of creating a safe space for radical self-reflection, systems analysis, community building and articulating visions for change.

    Learn more here.

    Get Your Tickets Now: Pathway to Paris

    Bioneers is thrilled to partner with the brilliant minds behind Pathway to Pariswho will be hosting two evenings of music and art at the Global Climate Action Summit on September 14 in San Francisco and September 16 in Los Angeles. The events will feature well-known artists, including Patti Smith, Flea, Olafur EliassonBill McKibben, Tenzin Choegyal, and more.

    Get your tickets for the San Francisco event on September 14 now, and don’t miss out on the pre-sale tickets for the Los Angeles event on September 16.

    What We're Tracking

    • Last week the U.S. shocked the World Health Assembly in Geneva by vehemently opposing a resolution brought to the fore by Ecuador to encourage and support breast-feeding among new mothers, instead choosing to throw its full support behind the $70 billion dollar formula industry. (Andrew Jacobs via The New York Times)
    • From energy generators that produce clean renewable electricity from underwater sea currents to a device designed to prevent erosion, here are eight bold new ideas from changemakers across the country that are inspired by the wonders of nature. (via Bioneers 2018)
    • In an open letter to the nation and the current administration, some of the most prominent voices in politics, activism and American culture call for the preservation of our democracy through secure elections and national security. (via The Nation)
    • How creating building materials out of mushrooms and other fungi can negate the need for toxic materials and help us to create a more sustainable infrastructure. (via Interior Architects)

    Carbon Farming Feature: Change From the Inside

    Putting Carbon at the Center of Agricultural Policy

    Carbon farming—using agricultural practices to sequester carbon from the atmosphere—is among our best tools for mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change. In this week’s dive into carbon farming, we hear from leading expert Calla Rose Ostrander, an environmental consultant to the Marin Carbon Project, former Climate Change Coordinator for the city of Aspen and Climate Change Project Manager for San Francisco. Ostrander discusses the methods she's used to successfully advance the carbon farming movement and related agricultural policy locally and federally, and how we can expand the model. She touches on the need for cohesive messaging, face-to-face conversations with government representatives, conservation plans for ranchers and farmers wanting to implement changes, and the monetary and technical support needed to continue moving forward.

    Learn more about carbon farming in our special media collection.

    Call for artists at Bioneers 2018

    ARTISTS: Show your work at the 2018 Bioneers Conference! We are looking for outdoor installations, live painters and musicians to activate the conference grounds. Deadline to apply is August 1, 2018. Apply now.

    We're Hiring!

    Bioneers is seeking a Development Coordinator and a Youth Leadership Program Coordinator. Check out our career opportunities page for details.

    The Big Question, Answered: Teen Spirit

    Punk rock and hip-hop may have evolved into distant iterations of their original forms, but both musical genres were born as movements, protesting injustice and giving voice to the youth generation. In fact, the current state of American politics continues to inspire a new generation of creatives to do the same, including Childish Gambino’s recent hit “This is America,” calling out the country’s problem with racism and gun violence. Youth and student involvement in American politics over the past century is an often-overlooked part of what has shaped the U.S. into what it is today—and what continues to drive us forward. Read more about the history of student activism in the United States at Teen Vogue.
    Do you know people who might enjoy reading this? Please share it with them!
    Copyright © 2018 Bioneers | Collective Heritage Institute, All rights reserved.
    You are receiving this email because you have previously subscribed to our mailing list.

    Our mailing address is:
    Bioneers | Collective Heritage Institute
    1014 Torney Ave
    San FranciscoCA 94129