Friday, May 19, 2006

Baghdad ER vs Ground Zero forensics

It is all about context. WARNING. I am pissed off. I have lost my temper. I am going to cuss a very little bit (OK, I will self-edit and use substitutes so your Net-Nanny won’t filter out the post). I will pray on my anger later. If you don’t like potty mouth, or am going to send me to Courts Martial for it – then stop now.

OK. 5-4-3-2-1

I am going to Fisk the living sh1t out of Bob Herbert’s “Warfare as it Really Is" from the 01 MAY NYT. I just can't take it anymore. My work email is full of crap about the movie and .... I am just beyond medication right now. It is “Times Select,” but in case you don’t have it, I will quote below. It is all about the upcoming “Baghdad ER.”

The horse is out of the barn on the brilliance of letting HBO film the absolute roughest side of the consequences of going to war. So besides putting a small rug on the ground, dropping to my knees, making sure I am facing the right direction towards the Pentagon and yelling "A55HATS -- YOU STUPID FRACKING A55HATS," There isn't much I can do.

There is a difference if you are the one going to war, knowing what happens to friends and comrades as a by-product of defending your nation, and seeing this up close. Smelling it. Feeling it. When you are there, you understand the context. But smearing gore in the living rooms of protected, coddled, context denied citizens is just stupid. Yes I said “context denied.” With “United 93,” everyone was saying “Is it too soon?” For the last half decade, the CIA and the media have leaked anything related to national security for a headline - the deaths of Americans and their allies be damned if it makes Bush look bad - but they would rather behead their own grandmother than show you the pictures, video, or even the pocking soundtrack of what it sounds like when a body impacts the pavement from 100 stories in the air. He11 no, they won’t do a documentary on that. They are fundamentalists on protecting the “privacy” and “feelings” of the “victims' families” as far as that goes. No, we can’t remind anyone why we are at war or the nature of why we are doing it. No. No. No. Let’s just smear everyone with gore and talk about what powerful art we have created. Shock and awe my a55. Ever wonder why this wasn’t done in 1943? Pick the reason. Frack it, let’s Fisk.

First of all, know Bob’s biases. Just go here and read. Like it needs saying.
“This HBO production is reality television with a vengeance – warfare as it really is.”
No, you a55. It is the consequence of war as it really is. That is like saying placenta and afterbirth is “sex as it really is.” Oh, Bob knows that. Don’t be the simpleton he thinks you are. It is the same as if you had a “Sex in the City” series on HBO that was nothing but the up close and personal view of the vaginal, episiotomy, birth of a 10# child by a 115# woman – anyway, those who have been there know what I mean - and then say "This HBO production is reality television with a vengeance - sex as it really is." That is about the context.
The movie is neither pro-war nor anti-war. It is simply a searing record of the ferocious toll that combat takes on real human beings.”
Bullsh1t. Fine. Where is the high profile, full media hype HBO show on the “searing record” of the impact on the families of the Four Flights on 11 Sep 01? Where is the “ferocious toll that combat takes on real human beings” under attack in Indonesia, Thailand, Afghanistan, or what happened to the Kurds, Shiites, Kuwaitis, Jews, and others under Saddam? Where is the “what if” HBO Productions movie of what would happen if Islamic terrorists succeed in using WMD in the US? A “what if” looking at the results if Bush in response to 911 brought all our military forces out of the Middle East and broke off our “special relationship” with Israel? Want to ponder that? I didn’t think so. Anyway, let's get back on centerline.
..they watched, -- and taped --, the heroic struggle of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to salvage as many lives as possible from what amounted to a non-stop conveyor belt of bloodies, broken and burned G.I.’s.
Of course it is. When do we expect to see a documentary about our success in Kurdistan and the other successes in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the Afghani who are returning home after years away? What about the Marsh Arabs who were slaughtered wholesale and the ecosystem in southern Iraq destroyed in parallel? Where? Where are the tales of heroism on the battlefield and the gains? Balance? Context? No can’t have that. Ohhhhh no. Just shock and awe with gore.
..you just knew that every single day that door was going to open up, that the helicopter was going to land, and they were just ging to bring in something that looked like hamburger instead of a human being.
Yep, you are right. That is all that war is about. That is all HBO needs to let the American people know. Poor Bob, like a dog to his vomit
Above all else, war is about the suffering of individuals. The suffering is endured mostly by the young, and these days the government and the media are careful to keep the worst of it out o f the sight of the average American. That was we can worry in peach about the cost of the gasoline we need to get us to the mall.
I don’t know what is more insulting in that paragraph, the tone or the complete ignorance of war by the author. We’ll call it a draw. Can I by Michael Yon a plane ticket to bash this guy with a cluebat on war?

Well, Bobby knows his readers. Check some of the letters he received on
here and here.

I will not, and do not, feel the need to see this. I have read enough here and elsewhere. I have seen enough in 3-D. If this is such a great idea, I know what we should do at every MEPS. Let a 60 minute loop go of what happens when you get sucked in an intake on a plane at military power on a catapult – show what a fatal steam burn looks like. Show what a separated line during UNREP can do to the human body. What a snapped 3 wire will do to your legs. What backing into an E-2 will do to the back of a head. Big screen. Color. Give me sound and smell if you can. Don’t tell they why we have a military. Don’t tell them what the folks on the other side would do if there was no one to oppose them. No. Never give them context. Never give them a reason. Just let them see that it is nothing but nightmares.

Nice job media affairs guys. You PIO guys really know your history and psychology of war. Pathetic. In the end, I don’t blame HBO; they can’t help themselves. This is all Pentagon. Film caskets? No. Let a camera crew show non-context gore? Sure. Pathetic.

The self-flagellating/self-hating/anti-war types are going to lap this up like Boy George at a Boy Scout retreat. This helps the War on Islamic Fundamentalism (that is what it is, call it a ham sandwich if you want, I don't care) like strippers and porn help marital fidelity. Pathetic.

Now that I have vented, let's go back to the title of the post. Where is HBO's work on the bodies falling? I want close ups. I want heads like broken eggs. I want pools of squirted gore on the sidewalks. I want the small bits of bone and flesh that are still being found on rooftops. Come on HBO. Be brave. Be direct. Be balanced. Be American --- if you can.

Put on your glasses. I am putting the whole thing below on tiny font to save space. Read it all. Remember; this passes for enlightened thought.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Warfare as It Really Is
By BOB HERBERT (NYT) 800 words
Published: May 1, 2006

In the first few moments of the documentary film ''Baghdad ER,'' we see a man dressed in hospital scrubs carrying a bloodied arm that has been amputated above the elbow. He deposits it in a large red plastic bag.
This HBO production is reality television with a vengeance -- warfare as it really is. And while it is frightening, harrowing and deeply painful to watch, it should be required viewing for all but the youngest Americans. It will premiere May 21.
For two months in 2005, the directors Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill were given unprecedented access by the Army to the 86th Combat Support Hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Working 12-hour shifts, they watched -- and taped -- the heroic struggle of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to salvage as many lives as possible from what amounted to a nonstop conveyor belt of bloodied, broken and burned G.I.'s.
At one point in the film, a specialist who survived a roadside bomb attack murmurs from a stretcher, ''It was the worst thing I ever saw in my life, sir.''
''What was that?'' he is asked.
Recalling his last view of a buddy who was killed in the attack, he says, ''My friend didn't have a face.''
The movie is neither pro-war nor anti-war. It is simply a searing record of the ferocious toll that combat takes on real human beings.
In an interview, Mr. Alpert described ''the shock of seeing human beings twisted into these horrible shapes, with parts missing and parts being detached from them.'' In the first couple of hours after he and Mr. O'Neill had arrived at the hospital, he said, ''We had already seen two amputations and they were prepping someone else for another one.''
Before long, he said, the effort to document the daily activities became psychologically grueling because ''you just knew that every single day that door was going to open up, that the helicopter was going to land, and they were just going to bring in something that looked like hamburger instead of a human being.''
Above all else, war is about the suffering of individuals. The suffering is endured mostly by the young, and these days the government and the media are careful to keep the worst of it out of the sight of the average American. That way we can worry in peace about the cost of the gasoline we need to get us to the mall.
''Baghdad ER'' is going to tell us right in the comfort of our living rooms that there is really horrible stuff going on over there in Iraq, and whether we think this is a good war or a bad war, we need to be paying closer attention to the human consequences.
''We tried to put a human face on the war,'' said Sheila Nevins, the head of documentary programming at HBO. ''It's a part of the story that hasn't really been told.''
Capt. Glenna Greene, an operating room nurse, says in the film:
''It just kills me, because these kids are, you know -- I'm old enough to be their mom. And just to see them hurt, it's very difficult.''
She said she tries to comfort those who are seriously wounded and about to be evacuated to Germany. ''I always try to tell them before they go to sleep: 'You'll wake up in Germany. Have a beer for us.' '' And then she laughed. ''Some of them aren't even old enough to drink,'' she said.
The medical personnel do an extraordinary job. The film tells us right at the beginning that 90 percent of the troops wounded in Iraq survive, which is the highest survival rate in U.S. history. But many of the more than 17,000 who have survived their wounds will face a lifetime of physical and mental struggle.
A member of the operating room team, commenting on the amputation of a soldier's thumb and the partial amputation of his ring finger, says that the patient who immediately preceded him ''lost his left arm and his right leg above the knee. And, you know, there was a couple of marines in here the other day, one lost both his arms, the other lost both his legs. And this is a bad injury, but certainly could have been worse.''
The movie does not shrink from those instances in which the G.I.'s do not survive. We see doctors all but begging the patient to make it. We see buddies weeping. We see a chaplain speaking softly to a mortally wounded marine:
''We don't want you to go. We want you to fight. But if you can't, it's O.K. to go. It's O.K. to go. But we'll be right with you. If you get better, or if you go.''
HBO. Later this month.

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