Saturday, January 26, 2008

NYT demands a rewrite when none was needed

I was having an emotional breakdown at work, seeking aide from the combat stress people we had there. I told them of my lack of sleep and loss of appetite. They put me on a med called Seroquel. It was not working for me too well for I was having bad dreams and was unable to focus. During a fire fight, when I was shot at, I froze, which was something that never had happened to me in any of my past engagements. It was not fear, but it was me thinking of my family, it was all that was rushing tough my head. In a few days the preterm problems at home were getting bad. I rushed and traded out my leave dates with another solider and came home earlier. The night I came home in early December, my wife went right into early labor. We went to the hospital in NY. She was only 33 weeks, so they stopped the labor and gave her meds. We went home and enjoyed some time together. We started to have a bit of a falling out, when I told her it was out of my power to go back to Iraq and that I would have to go. She kept telling me she couldn't do it all alone and why should she have to. I told her that I did not want to leave her and the kids. I was very stressed out about our new born son, who had some health concerns; going back to Iraq; finance issues; and just so much was going on in my head. I still was not sleeping or eating right I just did not have the urge.
So I went to mental health, where they said that they wanted to treat me further, but could not, due to the nature of my deployment and the fact they could not hold me back unless I was either suicidal or homicidal. So they put me on new meds called "TRAZODONE". The new pills help me sleep more at night, so at this point in the story I'm stuck because I know I have a big issue and that I need to fix it and take back control, but the Army just will not allow it. So what I did was go to my representative for my Unit here in the States and he got a hold of my Commander. I talked to my Commander a few times on the phone and he kept telling me that he understands and that he was on my side with this issues. He believes in family and my well being. My Commander knows me as a person. We have talked several times before and I had even seen him before I left Iraq to tell him about my issues a bit, so this was not a fully new issue to him. At this time I'm doing the right thing. By going to my Chain of Command, and trying to get this all settled the right way. My Commander told me that there was nothing he could do for me except write a letter to the Battalion Commander on my behalf. Witch he did...
My wife wanted to be close to family and did not want to be in the States. I really wanted the baby born in the States, but at this time nothing was going my way, so I followed her up to Canada. On Christmas Eve she went in to labor again and on Christmas morning at 6:01 a.m., we had our new baby boy, Grai Jacob William Keller. Christmas night I got a voicemail from my Commander telling me, all that he could advise at this time was for me to get on the plane and head back to Iraq. I was to leave on the December 26th at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. My Commander told me that there was too much going on in Iraq at this time to settle my problem right now and that they would want me to come back and fix it there. I know what they have to offer there and there’s nothing to fix me over there, so after spending 2 days in the hospital with my wife and son, I made up my mind that I was not going back. I was staying to be with my family. No matter what.
So now I'm AWOL and on the run but to me it is worth it 100%! I've done my time. I fought the battles (and continue to do so every time I fall asleep) and I came home and I’m staying home. The Army can take the hard road, but bring your worst, because I'm not going back to Iraq. As of Jan 26th, 2008, I should be officially marked AWOL. I make myself eat, because I know that I must. I can't stand crowds around me, so shopping for our children, before Christmas was almost impossible. I believe that I’m suffering from undiagnosed post traumatic stress and when you have that, you suffer and so does everyone around you. I’ve suppressed my issues and as long as I’m awake, I seem to be fine. After much struggle, when I can finally fall asleep, I have hideous dreams that are so real. My wife can’t sleep in the same bed as me, because apparently I jerk, talk out loud and moan all night long, so she lays beside me, so that we can cuddle and be close, but when I finally fall asleep, she has to get up and go into the next room. When I wake up in the morning, I follow her into that bed, because I need to feel her beside me again. I need to know that "she" is not just a good dream. I wake up exhausted. I believe that my problems sleeping are caused by a fear of dreaming. My dreams bring me back to Iraq every night.

The above is from Sgt. Allen Robert Keller's "Sgt. Keller in his own words" (Daytona Beach News-Journal) and, as with Audrey Parente's "Combat, family stress bring soldier to desert" (Daytona Beach News-Journal), was noted by Wally's grandfather.

In the New York Times today, Iraq appears on A7 and, sadly, is co-written. Stephen Farrell's piece that was completed and posted by three p.m. EST yesterday was much stronger. So the paper brings in War Pornographer Michael Gordon for 'touch-ups.' It is, in someone's cracked brain, important to have Gordo add touch ups from DC to what is a Baghdad and Mosul story.

It's titled "After Bombings in Mousl, Iraq Plans a 'Final' Battle" and we'll summarize that the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is gunning for Mosul and making proclamations about "al Qaead" when the reality is that the people of Mosul are Iraqis. They're just Iraqis that don't care for puppet governments imposed by foreigners. Gordo's main contribution, besides watering down a strong piece, is to drag Saddam Hussein into it. He's a bit like Bully Boy in his first term always screaming, "It's Bill Clinton's fault."

Feel sorry for Farrell, he wrote a great article before Gordo's dirty fingers got a hold of it.

Gordo only knows 'simplicity' and war cheerleading. Farrell's original included strongly crafted sentences such as "After the second attack, the provincial governor, Duraid Kashmola, declared an emergency curfew in Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq and the capital of . . ." which now are reduced to "After the second attack, the provincial governor, Duraid Kashmola, declared an emergency curfew in the city." Can't include the basics on Iraq when you're as determined as Gordo is to re-sell the illegal war. Stripping the life, the grace, the urgency out of everything -- that is Gordo whom you just know if he was asked to dance a ballet would be doing barre work in combat boots. He is the hippos in Fantasia. Clomp-clomp-clomp.

Here's a thought for the paper: Why spend so much money stationing reporters in Iraq if you're going to put them through the Gordo Mixer? Gordo, from DC, can just rewrite the wire services and save everyone a ton of money. (I've never been a big fan of US reporters grabbing credit -- let alone doing damage -- by glomming on a news organization's reporters from Iraq. That's why we've repeatedly avoided reports from one outlet this week. The US based reporter has nothing to offer and by offering the White man along with the Iraqi, it really begins to play out like the 'independent' source doesn't think an Iraqi can report on his own.)

Leila Fadel and Hussein Kadhim* (McClatchy Newspapers) report in "Some Sunni Muslims won't salute Iraq's new flag:"

Officials in Iraq's mostly Sunni Muslim Anbar province are refusing to raise Iraq's new national flag, which the parliament approved earlier this week.
"The new flag is done for a foreign agenda and we won't raise it," said Ali Hatem al Suleiman, a leading member of the U.S.-backed Anbar Awakening Council, "If they want to force us to raise it, we will leave the yard for them to fight al Qaida."
U.S. officials credit the Anbar Awakening Council, part of the American strategy of recruiting local Sunnis to battle Islamic militants, with driving al Qaida in Iraq, which once largely controlled the province, out of Anbar.
The dispute over the flag is a more accurate symbol of Iraq today than the flag itself is. "On nothing we are completely united," said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish lawmaker.
Although parliament speaker Mahmoud al Mashhadani said the new flag would be raised immediately across Iraq after the parliament approved it Tuesday, it's nowhere to be seen. In fact, when the parliament met Wednesday, the old flag was still behind the speaker and his two deputies.

*Both Fadel and Kadhim are based in Iraq, for any wondering.

So the temporary measure (hailed by most of the press as a 'breakthrough,' but Fadel noted in real time that it was a band-aid) is already receiving objections?

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
and Ruth's Ruth's Report

"Coded" language is all the rage in many paper's today. But who's using it? From Margaret Kimberley's "Why We Write About Obama" (Black Agenda Report):

In the week before the Nevada caucuses Barack Obama responded to our critics for us. If the stakes were not so high, we might exult in saying, "We told you so." The dangers presented by an Obama presidency are becoming clearer every day, and that is no reason for celebration. In an editorial board meeting with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Obama said the following about Ronald Reagan:
"I do think that for example the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
Not only did Obama praise Reagan, but he used racist, conservative code words from the GOP play book to do it. Obama's supporters should be the first to ask him what he believes to be the "excesses of the 60s and 70s." Does he think the Voting Rights Act was an excess? What about the Civil Rights Act? Were the protests against the Vietnam War excessive? What about Fair Housing legislation, was it all too much for the Republic to handle? Was abortion legalization an excess? Obama's very vocal fans should speak up. Their candidate is praising the right wing rollback of civil rights. Do they think the 60s and 70s were full of excess? If so, what were those excesses? If they don't agree with Obama, will they say so? What does this statement portend for the policies of an Obama administration? It is past time for the love fest to end, and hard questioning to begin.

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