Square Facts Into Round Memes

UPI has long offered an array of probing commentary and analysis. Typically, their thought pieces are factually dense and robustly reasoned, feature substantial historical erudition, and overall convey intellectual suppleness. Naturally, such qualities therefore often make UPI’s output inimical to our Commodity Society. Cable news producers, talk show hosts, none can integrate such sui generis output into their meme-based programming. Think Wolfie’s “The Situation Room” viz-a-viz the BBC World Report.

If The Saban Neocon Lites Say So

Nonetheless, UPI’s overall output is vastly more accurate and useful than say George Friedman’s tedious “Stratfor” and similar self-promoting private analytical belches. Astonishingly shallow, shoddy and useless product. (Never give your email address to George. “Strafor” will spam you Dear Reader down unto Rapture Day with their trial offers, special offers, free offers, and God knows what). Today, UPI’s Marty Sieff explains some of the push back visited upon UPI for a column dedicated to statistical analysis of the Iraq War.

It is extraordinary that during the four and a quarter years the Iraq conflict has been running so far, no other mainstream American news outlet has run any regular column — weekly, biweekly or monthly — to analyze statistical trends in the war, nor, as our sister Eye on Iraq column did, to analyze political or strategic developments in it.

This failure does no service to the well-being and prospects of American soldiers serving in the conflict. Through World War II, the Korean War and even at later periods in the Vietnam conflict, many of the most successful and respected U.S. generals like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley and Matthew Ridgeway carefully read the dispatches of the leading war correspondents and invited them to their headquarters to pick their brains and get their perspectives on the conflict independent of those who came filtered up the long and complex military chains of command . . .

By contrast, the British media was at its most craven and slavish during World War I when the British “quality” and tabloid press, led by Lord Alfred Northcliff’s “Daily Mail,” completely covered up the criminal incompetence of Sir Douglas Haig and his favored colleagues that sent almost a million British soldiers to their deaths for no appreciable gain or significant damage inflicted on the German Army. Until Gen. Philippe Petain, the only outstanding Allied general in that conflict, took over the French army, the same fate befell an even larger number of French soldiers for similar reasons.

Marty continues here in Pt. 2. Unfortunately, Marty’s excursions into the past for comparative analysis fall short — or rather, contemporary America falls short. True, American society and the military previously embraced positive objective rationality and empiricism.

Our hyper-real AgitProp suffused miasma is separated from that America by more than mere time. Today, our denatured discourse and policy deliberations can not transcend meme commodification, self promotion and branding. Participants in the circle jerk are and would be either befuddled or curiously angered by facts that refuse simple meme configuration. Cognitively, the American people perhaps are no longer even members of the same genus as our forefathers. So the task really is, how to re-purpose long term statistical analysis of the war in the argot of maximizing shareholder value? Ideally with a celebutante co-branding with it and associated clothes line. And secondly, what should the logo be?


  1. says

    @Sam Lowry Talk about mission creep, right? An initial risk intelligence newsletter grows to pull in significant cash flow to these allegations. (Although part of George has to secretly be pleased despite circumstances he’s getting the substantial international recognition).

    If a newsletter can morph into these areas however comedically just imagine what the National Security State Nomenklatura have done over the past 10 years. And will continue to do.

  2. Comment says

    What did Edelman do when he was Ambassador to Turkey? Anyone? Anyone? – His gang and Newt are the ones always talking about the need for Ambassadors to be pitchmen for the US – All Edelman seems to have done is to oversee a greater deterioration in US public opion in Turkey primarily over policy.

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Jim Lobe does some good reporting. The Cheney-Edelman nexus is well known. We doubt highly Addington drafted the letter but likely reviewed it. With the exception of the ‘retreat’ and other sentence, the letter was fairly boilerplate. They were all probably caught flat footed that Clinton took the offensive and made the issue public, forcing Gates to take a stand.

    Wurmser’s departure has been rumored for sometime. His disappointment that the ‘Grand Strategy’ for regional transformation did not occur is well known.

    re Cher Condi, what’s new? She has the soul of a staffer and naturally would revert to passivity now that a more experienced senior personality (Gates) is on the scene. Of course Gates is not in the inner circle at the WH, and so on.

  4. Swedish Chef says

    Isn’t UPI connected to the Moon organization?

    Why is it biting the Movement hand that its master feeds?

  5. Comment says

    Poorly prepared Democrats missed an opportunity to paint Rumseld and Myers in an even poorer light during the Tillman hearings – Our sources on the Hill have told us that Dem committee members hardly spend anytime preparing for these things – They just sort of wing it and rely on mixed quality staff work.

    If they really want nail slippery types like Rumsfelf, they have to learn to prepare, prepare, prepare – research, reseach and practice.

    Do you thin Nixon would just walk up there and question Hiss casually? No – he took his job of nailing witnesses in public seriously.

    Even a mild ridiculing of Rumsfeld by cleverly throwing his “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” back in his face, could have gotten some good cable/blog spin if gammed properly. Afterall – it was not justified when Rumseld said it, but it is justied now since we know there was Kate O’Beirn size boatload of lies related to Tillman.

  6. Comment says

    There were many gag moments with Charlie & Rudy – but one where we are confident that you would gag on was Charlie saying “even Colin Powell” wants to close GITMO – to Rudy when he balked at answering about closing it.

    With the Charlie Rose set – the prevailing meme of Colin Powell respectability – makes it impossible for Charlie to grok Powell’s foolishness.

    Doc – as implied above – the ‘Colin Powell is good’ meme is embeded in le bien pensant class as some form of compensation mechanism.

    “Even Colin Powell …” says Charlie. It’s doubtful that Rose would have said “Even Lindi Rngland thinks GITMO should close,” even though this would be less of a non sequitor.

  7. Comment says

    Rudy on Charlie Rose indicating his desire to go to war with just about everyone – Doc, we have no doubt he went into decline in his second term as Mayor – denouncing his wife in public and using the NYPD to harass political cartoonist. Then he became America’s Mayor while the Warlord was wetting himself with My Pet Goat.

  8. Dr Leo Strauss says

    George has a number of idiosyncratic weaknesses but contra TPBarnett, he never used his sickly children in his PowerPoint dog and pony shows for emotional manipulation, nor did he ever attempt to claim that ‘draining the swamp’ (remember those halcyon days of global war without limits?) would take place as in Star Trek the Next Generation, with the U.S. as Jean Luc Picard . . . one could go on, but the utter banality of it all defies comprehension without absynthe.

    We always respected the sheer intellectual acuity of the late Admiral Art Cebrowski, Rummy’s head of OFT. Why and how Cebrowski fell for Barnett’s ‘Law and Order’ wav files and other meme-marketing a sad denouement to an otherwise extraordinary career.

    re PT, the problem with the Army and DoD is that they did not own the moral and actual intellectual property rights to the PT brand — his family’s vigorous assertion of their moral and actual right to controlling the brand caught OSD and the Army flatfooted.

  9. Comment says

    re Commodity values – Don’t tell Lind, but put on your Adorno/Benjamin hat again for a second and consider the complicated mix and match of weird commodity values assigned to Pat Tillman and how, posthumously, the commodity wiring crossed hot with neutral and led lies and investigation and conspiracy theory. It probably never occurerd to the three stars and under to tell the truth – and Rumslfeld was still and high tide then and contemptuous of truth.

  10. Armchair says

    Just trust Debka – they were the first to get the scoop that the Saddam WMD were airlifted and carted to Syria and then the Bekaa shortly before the ground war began. Rush didn’t get around to reporting this until a week later.

  11. sglover says

    Yeah, I figured “StratFor” hadda be a big gooey piece o’ shit when Darling Andy Sullivan was always citing it for hopeful portents in the war that he was pimping. But the critical question is: Do they top Tommy Barnett for molar-grinding obfuscatory jargon?

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