April 08, 2012

The Case of the Lost Comments

Dear Friends,

I have a feeling that this blog starts to cut off comments after the number reaches 200. I've received posts from Julian, Zosima, and Vince, hit 'Publish', and then nothing appeared. I guess the thing for me to do is start with a new post; so for now, here it is. I'm doing another interview today, so will post the link for that as soon as it comes available. In the meantime, my apologies for this little note, but I didn't want to lose any more of your letters. Another case of technology being a pain in the neck, I suppose.

mb

85 Comments:

Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Technology can be more than a pain in the neck. Try kidney.

A boy reportedly has sold one of his kidneys for cash in order to buy an iPhone and an iPad. Now he is dying of renal failure.

Link to story.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Dr B

I stopped posting, but I still visit to read others’ posts - I get a lot of excellent books from here. I am a web developer; I have noticed that morrisbergman.com is still unregistered. You may consider registering and powering up the domain. This will give you more control, less lost posts, and more exposure.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tony-

Thing is, my name is not Bergman. morrisberman.com, however, *is* registered.

mb

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

My lost post was concerning the Pope's Easter message.

The title of the BBC video clip is
Pope: 'Mankind groping in the dark'.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17649553

I thought that perhaps he may have started to read some of your books, perhaps believing that he is just behind the curve so to speak, concerning the "darkness" that is.

Vince

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

The always attentive & thorough Glenn Greenwald on the continuing erosion of civil liberties & the relentless effort to cow & silence anyone who questions what's going on:

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/08/
u_s_filmmaker_repeatedly_detained_at_border/
singleton/#comments

8:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

That's one scary article. What can I say?

mb

11:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note: Someone posted a long message regarding how (in his opinion) the US really hasn't failed. I hit 'Publish', then it disappeared. If you posted it to the previous post (Interview w/Nomi Prins), it probably got cut off, since I think 200 posts is the limit. You might wanna post it to this one. Thanks.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

This was the question and deleted answer I sent in the previous post.

We humans spent at least 95% of our evolution in groups or tribes of probably 200 or less. There are, and have been, many thousands of different tribes, each with at least some differences in ways of life, organization and survival strategies. Why, then, should all of humanity now follow only this one particular and peculiar tribe, global capitalism, and its illegitimate and irresponsible leaders off a cliff?

For millions of Americans the answer to this and many other related questions may be as simple as: “Well, because for 25 years some guy on the radio has told me I should.”

1:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

Dittoheads, I think they call themselves. And there are many millions of them.

mb

5:36 AM  
Anonymous James Sosa said...

Zosima:

The truely right answer from millions of Americans should be this: because Americans got thousands of nuclear bombs and millions of guns and the right to own and use guns.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

A fascinating little article about the connection between kitsch & authoritarian ideology:

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/09/
thomas_kinkade_the_george_w_bush_of_art/singleton/

The telling point is made that an authoritarian or totalitarian culture invariably expresses itself through kitsch, the soma for the simpleminded.

We rightfully recoil in disgust from the crassness of American popular culture -- the Jersey Shore, Mob Wives, celebrity gossip, Michael Bay movies, etc. -- but the shallow sentimentalism of the "uplifting" & the "optimistic" is just as damning & alarming.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Clearly the new spy center in Bluffdale, NV still has a few kinks to be ironed out. But I am sure NSA’s best and brightest are working tirelessly, day and night, in order to make our future blogging experience as seamless and pleasurable as we have grown accustomed to. lol

Julian

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. B,

Hope you are doing well, Maestro! I haven't posted in a while and wanted to say hi to my amigos here. Hope everyone is good. I'm excruciating busy with work and attempting to save and save to expedite my extrication strategy :)

Zos...your post reminds me of Civilization and its Disconents. Know what i mean? certainly there are plent of discontents!


Re: the kid who sold his kidney to buy an ipad...at least he can post status updates now on facebook, as his body shuts down...no? and he can talk to steve jobs when he sees him in the afterlife.

a little too cynical perhaps. it's good to be back:)

12:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Joe-

Welcome back; we missed u. Here's a little article to cheer u up:

http://www.alternet.org/
occupywallst/154884/10_ways_our_democracy_is
_crumbling_around_us/?
page=entire

mb

8:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"When it's time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived."--Henry David Thoreau

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Welcome to Dronesville, USA!

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/10/
the_drones_are_coming_to_america/

Between drones, data mining, and a populace trained to be the countless all-seeing eyes of Big Brother, we'll never have to fear being alone or ignored again. Now that's community!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous James Sosa said...

The land of the free: corporations want more wars but they refuse to pay taxes. More than 30 profitable corporations did not pay taxes between 2008 and 2011, thanks to Obama, the agent of hope and change

http://ctj.org/ctjreports/2012/04/big_no-tax_corps_just_keep_on_dodging.php

5:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

FYI Dept.:

Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion
Jeffrey St. Clair (Editor)

“Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank have skillfully smoked out the real Barack Obama . . . the technofascist military strategist disguised as a Nobel Peace Laureate, but owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Pentagon.”—Thomas H. Naylor, co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA

"Those who feel that like lemmings they are being led over a cliff would be well-advised not to read this book. They may discover that they are right."—Noam Chomsky

(And millions will go to the polls and vote for this clown in November. WHAT can one say, finally?)

11:52 PM  
Blogger Mike Cifone said...

Dear Morris and friends:

Re the discussion of Smith and his Newtonization of capitalism:

... and what Marx did, following the cue from Hegel (who actually presented a pretty powerful critique of the Newtonian paradigm on the rise by early 19C), was to "re-scientize" political economy, that is: he put the real "motion" back in the laws of political economy by demonstrating that capitalism is built upon the basic antagonism of capital and labor -- a fundamentally human affair, rather than an abstract affair of idealized (greedy) particles-in-motion. The *dialectical*, rather than mechanical, relationship of capital & labor is what actually drives political economy.

When you finally see the laws of this system for what they actually are (material forces driven by human conflict, struggle, etc.), you yourself are thereby implicated in those very laws of motion and can see a way to arrest them. Thus, the theory of political economy itself is the first principle of true human freedom (we move from science directly, by way of Hegel's dialectic, to ethics): by taking over the means of social production (involvement of yourself in the drama of capitalism as an adventitious saboteur), Labor can emancipate itself.

Capitalism is therefore not "necessary" in the way gravitation is; the particles in this case have the power to suspend themselves and oppose what seems (under 'bourgeois' science, i.e., Smith et al.) necessary. Hence, the need for revolution and the call at the end of the Manifesto: "workers of the world unite!"

This is the (philosophical) core of Marx, and you can argue (as the Left Hegelians did) that this is the fulfilment of Hegel's promise of true freedom.

... and then there was the whole Russian thing ...

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Yesterday I was sitting in a café, here in Romania, and I overheard a guy speaking in English. So I asked him where he was from. It turned out that he was a native Ecuadorian who has been living in the US for many years, but was married to a Romanian woman. So I had a great conversation with him, and I told him that I too had lived in America for many years. One of the first things he asked me was how I liked living in the US. Of course, I had to tell him that I detested the experience, and he said he felt the same way. His reasons were many of the ones explored in Dr. Berman’s books, including the hustling way of life, lack of community, inability to make any friends, workoholism, social insecurity, etc.

Anyway, my point here is that it is amazing how people from a different culture can easily identify these troublesome aspects of American life, while most Americans seem to remain completely oblivious to them. Perhaps Americans should try tourism, for a change. You know, things like traveling abroad. And by “traveling abroad” I don’t mean joining the US military in order to go to other people’s countries and kill innocent women and children; although, I must admit, for Americans, that is usually a much cheaper way to travel internationally...

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

William Pfaff on American decline:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/
american_decline_debated_contested_obvious_20120410/

What was derided and/or ignored just a few years ago is becoming apparent to more & more people. This includes some in places of power, as well as their loyal followers ... and that's not necessarily a happy thought. Anyone feeling trapped & aware of inevitable doom is likely to turn violent & vicious with fear -- as we're seeing right now, of course, even in the midst of protesting-too-much denials.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous IsoscelesPopsicle said...

All this talk of drones lately makes me think of the Mechanical Dog in Farenheit 451. I predict that within 5 years we will have our own "machanical dog" moment where some bad guy is pursued by a drone with a camera attached. The live feed will be beamed to CNN and we'll all watch .

2:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

The problem is that even when Americans travel abroad, it doesn't really enlighten them all that much, since their heads are filled w/chopped liver to begin with--notoriously difficult to remove.

Tim-

Pfaff article very good, I thought, altho he ignores the chopped liver factor (see my reply to Julian). A bumper sticker I once saw a few yrs back when I lived in DC: "You can't fix stupid." And this certainly includes Robt Kagan and Mr. Obama, who are eager to deny the obvious. What else is there to say?

mb

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet more chronicles of absolutely unrestrained greed and corruption by Matt Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone Magazine:

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?

...

Anyone who wants to know what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about need only look at the way Bank of America does business. It comes down to this: These guys are some of the very biggest assholes on Earth. They lie, cheat and steal as reflexively as addicts, they laugh at people who are suffering and don't have money, they pay themselves huge salaries with money stolen from old people and taxpayers – and on top of it all, they completely suck at banking. And yet the state won't let them go out of business, no matter how much they deserve it, and it won't slap them in jail, no matter what crimes they commit. That makes them not bankers or capitalists, but a class of person that was never supposed to exist in America: royalty.

Self-appointed royalty, it's true – but just as dumb and inbred as the real thing, and every bit as expensive to support. Like all royals, they reached their position in society by being relentlessly dedicated to the cause of Bigness, Unaccountability and the Worthlessness of Others. And just like royals, they spend most of their lives getting deeper in debt, and laughing every year when our taxes go to covering their whist markers. Two and a half centuries after we kicked out the British, it's really come to this?

...

5:08 PM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

Not only does travelling abroad not enlighten most Americans due to their having sh*t for brains, but most of them spend the trip staying on some lavish americanized resort where they get fleeced out of their money and see none of the local culture, all the while thinking they're "safe", since they're bombarded with propaganda about how "dangerous" it is outside the resort.

Even living abroad does little for them. Ninety percent of the American Ex-patriates I know who live full time in the Dominican Republic are complete dolts. They have no interest in the culture or language, they constantly bad mouth the country and the people. They're there just to live cheap on their pensions and to chase teen-age and prepubescent girls. They back stab and fight among one another all the time over the stupidest things imaginable.

By contrast, the European Ex-pats are just the opposite for the most part. They're at least bi-lingual, often multilingual, and they can hold an intelligent conversation.

As for the americans, I avoid them like the plague.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Julian & Dr. Berman,

I am afraid that the intracranial chopped liver syndrome is the correct diagnosis for most Americans. I think it will take more than tourism to open their minds, or in honor of Easter, to resurrect their minds. So many American tourists go on guided tours, expect everybody they meet to speak English, judge every place they visit by the consumer products available, only go to tourist attractions they already know about – usually by having seen them on TV, are incapable of enjoying anything they haven’t seen advertised on TV, are outraged when they see foreigners, especially non-white ones, wealthier then they are (Did I really see this in Kuwait!), etc.

Many of the Americans who choose to go overseas to teach English are no better. They are known internationally as ‘language cowboys’, and instead of being drawn to the positive aspects of other cultures, they seem to be running away from a bunch of psycho-social problems, which of course they just bring with them. Whatever troubles they have had in America were just problems, but whatever misfortunes they have overseas are blamed on not being in America.

There is no use in even trying to talk to the overwhelming majority of Americans, and I’m afraid the best we can do is let them run along with all the other lemmings.

David Rosen

7:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

You guys might wanna check out the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Article on cranial biopsies that have been randomly been performed on American citizens over the last decade. It turns out that while something like 32% of them had chopped liver up there instead of gray matter, a whopping 67% had a puree of tuna melt and baby diarrhea (the remaining 1% had goose fat, wh/the researchers found puzzling). "We now," concludes the leading researcher, Franz B. Scheisskopf, M.D., "are just beginning to understand the nature of American politics, and the reason behind the obvious collapse of the country. The fact is that tuna melt contains no dendrites, so the functions of the prefrontal lobes are severely compromised. This includes the moral judgment capabilities of the cerebral cortex as well. At this point in our researches, we have no solutions to offer, although we can say that the prognosis for the United States as a whole is rather dire. To quote the late Kurt Vonnegut, 'There's a shit storm coming'."

Hey, I'm just reporting what I read.

mb

8:53 PM  
Anonymous James Sosa said...

I read the article by William Pfaff.
The American people are in a bind. There are no leaders to motivate Americans into behavior change or into looking at the world with different eyes. I think we place too much blames on the American people. They are also victims. For example, Obama was elected to do some serious changes, but look at how he sold us out.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i didn't see this posted anywhere but prof. berman's talk at the univ of British Columbia is up on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7MoBHlP37E

1:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

James-

Yes, yr right, victims; but very willing victims, it seems to me. They like this way of life; they think having a Mercedes and the latest cell phone is what life is about. Even the smart Americans are dumb--folks who proclaimed, for example, that the 2008 election was "transformative." Howard Zinn was interviewed a couple of yrs back on whether he was disappointed with Obama, and he said "No, because I wasn't expecting anything." Now this is (was) an intelligent person. Which means he understood the following:

1. Elections cannot change anything. What the US is now mired in is now so deep that even a leader hell-bent on change (which does not describe Mr. Obama) can't really do anything, because it wd mean taking on the Pentagon, the corporations, and also the American people (as Jimmy Carter discovered, to his chagrin). As a 1960s graffito had it, "If elections could change anything they would be declared illegal."

2. Where do you think presidential candidates get the huge sums to be able to wage a campaign? From corporations, who expect to get a return on their 'investment'. Mr. Obama was faithful to his bosses, not to us. Intelligent people understand that the candidates are bought and paid for.

3. Americans didn't bother to check out his credentials in 2008, wh/were on the Net for all to see. Instead of looking up who he was, they paid attention to his rhetoric, which counted for nothing. In 12 yrs as a law professor, Mr. O didn't publish a single article; not a page. He was heavily absent from the Senate during his 2 yrs in office, and something like half of his votes when he *was* present were "abstain". He had/has absolutely no record of empathy for the poor, or for any type of welfare statism; that was never on his resume. But Americans are easily misled by identity politics, unfortunately; they somehow equated being black with being politically liberal, or empathic. I guess they overlooked the fact that Condi Rice and Colin Powell are war criminals. Mr. Obama was never MLK, or even close to it, and the record on that was pretty clear.

Nor is the stupidity over. Now that he has turned the US into a police state (de jure, not only de facto--the NDAA, the CMUs, etc.), millions of Americans will rush to the polls this Nov. because he is supposedly the lesser of two evils. Could Rom Mittney (speaking of dumb) seriously be more evil? The bottom line is that our fellow countrymen and women don't know *how* to stop being stupid. Their heads are wedged in their rumps and they will stay firmly in place--you can count on it.

Anon-

Thanks. I didn't post it because it's roughly the same talk as the one I gave in Seattle and LA last November, and which are already available online. The only diff is the Q&A at the end.

mb

8:44 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman & DAAers
Many years ago I made regular visits to the caymen islands to go diving. After each visit I would notice how Americanized it was becoming. On my first visit, there were no supermarkets and you had to go to Ma & Pa grocery stores, which was an adventure in itself. I would have to ask how to prepare some of the vegetables and roots that were sold there. I would set out in the evenings and travel to the W and NW side of the island to get away from the touristy hotels of Georgetown and find little family restaurants and bars. These exscusions and experiences are some of my fondest memories. I met a lot of nice folks. One thing that embarassed me, at that time, was watching rude american cruise ship passengers run for the tee-shirt shops, fight over souvenirs, and then run back to the ship just waiting to get to the next port for more souvenirs. My last visit was horrible. It was completely Americanized. Supermarkets putting the the small grocerers out of business, the small restaurants and bars less friendly and more commercial. I stopped in one of my faverite bars, put on some local music and the bar tender came over and thanked me because all he heard all day was american pop. That last visit was over twenty years ago and I can't imagine how bad it is now.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman
Correction to my privious post. It was the East and North East side of the Island. OOPS!

10:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DM-

American tourism: a tsunami of dolts. We have it down here in Mexico as well, w/this added horror: many of them wind up moving here (like me)!

mb

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Dani Frankie said...

It is easier to blame working Americans and Obama than the real source of the problem in the US government. The president and the masses are not in control - the country has been invaded, admit it and move on:

“Now, at age 83, Moskowitz has turned his money on the American political realm in a more prominent fashion than ever before, funding "birther" groups that question the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship and others that stoke fears about the president's alleged ties to "radical Islam."”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/irving-moskowitz-israeli-settlements-anti-obama-super-pac_n_1416041.html

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a palace revolt. Economists, especially the younger ones, are starting to question the market theology of the past half-century.

Not their fathers' economics


There is a growing student protest movement against orthodox economics that could change the field as we know it.

If it is sustained, historians likely will cite Nov. 2, 2011, as the start of the revolution. On that day at Harvard University, roughly 70 students organized a walkout of an introductory economics class taught by N. Gregory Mankiw.

Mankiw is the former head of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bushand an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the author of "Principles of Economics," the predominant textbook used in introductory economics classes worldwide. Not surprisingly, he has an extremely traditional, market-oriented view of the discipline.

The students who walked out of Mankiw's class explained their reasoning in an open letter printed in the Harvard Political Review. It began with this declaration: "Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University [sic], and our greater society."

...

6:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life (reprise):

http://www.cnn.com/
2012/04/09/us/maryland-beating/index.html?
iref=allsearch

7:30 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dani: The gubmint (includes Congress) is owned by the Corporations.

Invaded by whom? The balloon people?


In other news: Seems, about 1200 individuals renounced their USA citizenship in 2011. Is that all? We're stupider than I thought.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous TimR said...

MB - Romney strikes you as "evil"? I have a hard time making him out personally. Not sure what motivates him to want to be president, since he doesn't seem like someone who believes in any ideology. Maybe it's just a notch in his belt, continuing the family political legacy? Or maybe he's made so much money he's got nowhere else to go if he wants to continue "rising". (Or maybe he's just a "team player" for the establishment, tasked with keeping down the Newts and Santorums who'd otherwise fill the void and potentially mess things up - by being too crazy ideological, not completely down with pure pragmatism.)

I could maybe see calling his business practices "evil", from what I understand of private equity/LBO's. Although it's probably very easy to rationalize most of that stuff and genuinely believe you were just making things more "efficient" , productive, etc.

9:53 PM  
Blogger J. P. CAZADOR said...

Shep's comment about U.S. citizen renunciation comes at a good time, because by coincidence I was thinking today about posting a comment here to those of us who reside abroad, and to those who are planning to, to see if anyone has toyed with the idea and what would be the motivating factor.

I have been a permant resident of the Dominican Republic for just over two years. When I hit the three year mark next February I'll be eleigible for DR citizenship, which I am definately going to get and thus be a dual citizen.

The one thing renunciation would do is release you from the IRS's grasp, and from what I've read, that is the motivating factor for many who don't want their money used to pay for and fund these criminal wars the U.S. wants to keep getting mired in.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

No, Mittney isn't evil; I was just using the word in the context of "choosing the lesser of two evils," wh/is considered the necessary voting pattern in the US. Vapid, is how I wd characterize him.

mb

9:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

J.P.-

But war is a drug, for the US; like an addict, it can't help itself. It hasta have an enemy in order to feel OK. And if it runs out of external enemies, it can always switch to hunting for internal ones:

http://rt.com/news/
utah-data-center-spy-789/

Goodness, so much to do! 1st the commies, now the Ay-rabs, and now--ourselves!

mb

5:12 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Speaking of commies: "Show me where Stalin is buried and I'll show you a Communist plot."

Edgar Bergen

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Noble Savage said...

MB: And if it runs out of external enemies, it can always switch to hunting for internal ones

Correct. Agricultural city-Statism (civilization,) especially the modern industrialized manifestation, is both ruthlessly invasive and brutally occupational.

"Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home."

~Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization, page 1, first sentence

DF: ...the real source of the problem in the US government.

Incorrect. The business of America is purchasing the government that concentrated-money-interests want, which is how 10,000 years of agricultural city-Statism (civilization) has worked.

"Agriculture creates government."

~Richard Manning, Against the Grain, p. 73

8:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

--Groucho Marx

"Nous sommes marxistes, tendance groucho."

--Paris graffito, May-June 1968

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Sign on a laundromat bulletin board directly across the street from Marx's birth house in Trier (in 1994):

"Backpackers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your change."

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

For those mulling emigration but still not quite sure about leaving, let me recommend a fascinating little novel (119 pages) by Bryher, Visa for Avalon, published in 1965. In an unnamed country very much like English, fascism is slowly creeping in, and a small number of people intend to emigrate to the tellingly-named country of Avalon. There's nothing overt yet -- no mass killings, no camps, nothing like that -- but all the signs are there, for those who'll see them.

A few quotes:

"It's a return to barbarism, I suppose, we have given them more than their little brains can handle."

"We are growing poorer, even in our minds, and wherever I look I see darkness."

"How ironical life was! They now possessed a knowledge of the inner workings of the mind no other centuries had known and it was precisely against such understanding that the revolution was directed. Anything but wisdom was the slogan they would chalk up on the walls. Search, except within narrow limits, was a new word for sin."

Sound familiar?

The author lived in Switzerland during WWII & was involved in helping Jews escape from Germany, so she's writing from experience.

My wife & I are probably here for the duration due to family obligations, so we're taking the NMI route; but even so, we keep the option of emigration open, just in case ...

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Julian said...

TimR,

Regarding Romney’s equity business practices, he was just “doin’ God’s work.”

Cazador,

From what I heard, most people who renounce their US citizenship are very rich, and no longer want to pay US taxes. But I understand it is up to the US embassy to accept or deny such requests, and apparently they deny about half of them. I also heard that O’bummer was contemplating a law requiring Americans who desire to renounce their citizenship to also surrender half of their assets in the process—like an exit tax. I'm not sure what the status of that law is. To me, it sounds like a lot of hassle, and I’m not sure what advantages it offers. I think if you don’t have US income for a number of years, the IRS will eventually leave you alone.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Tony U said...

Talk about “mindless oversimplification”. Obama and Romney make more than enough money with which to afford childcare and daycare, so they will never think of a public policy for helping struggling women with children.

Sarah Palin: Why is it that some on the left choose to divide, to incite with comments like that, instead of just respecting women's choices and what they want to do with the gifts that God has given them?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/sarah-palin-hilary-rosen-_n_1423231.html

William Pfaff : “mindless oversimplification plus ignorance, following from collapsing public education. The latter has a cause that it has not been politically acceptable to identify: the liberation of women. In the United States before the Second World War, teaching in public (or parochial) schools was virtually the only serious work open to university-educated women. They educated America. They now have other things to do, for which we give thanks. But the nation suffers the consequences.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/american_decline_debated_contested_obvious_20120410/

1:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I recently heard someone on ALternative Radio mention his three g's=a gun, gold, and a getaway plan for his future life in America. Did he leave out a
g?

3:13 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Unknown-

Yes, he certainly did: gehackte Leber, i.e. chopped liver. Big topic of discussion on this blog, from time to time.

He also left out an m: Mittnism, which is the philosophy of Rom Mittney. I urge everyone on this blog to read Rom's important books--cutting edge intellectual stuff.

mb

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Finally, somebody figured it out. what America needs to become a healthier and happier place is just a good lay:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/154970/5_countries_that_do_it_better%3A_how_sexual_prudery_makes_america_a_less_healthy_and_happy_place/

6:27 PM  
Anonymous farbror Frej said...

Berman: "And if it runs out of external enemies, it can always switch to hunting for internal ones: http://rt.com/news/
utah-data-center-spy-789/"

It certainly goes both ways. Check out the "Doomsday preppers" TV-series on National Geographic channel. The whole first season have already been aired, and can be googled/Torrent-downloaded.

Always an indevidual solution to collective problems. Crumbling national infrastructure? No problem: Hoard food + guns/ammo - but dont forget to think "outside the box" (that is; more of the same): prepare the all-important "bug-out" plan.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Renunciation of US citizenship

On a practical, financial level it may not make much difference. I believe the income you have to exceed to pay any taxes while maintaining residence abroad is quite high – about $92K/year.

One political protest used by Quakers in the past (Vietnam War/Gulf War) was to purposely work in low wage jobs to avoid supporting the war thru taxes.Thanks to the corp. controlled nature of the US more and more people work for low wages!

I’m quite happy I haven’t paid taxes in the last four years - can’t see much I want to back with even a small tax on my earnings.

In many cases paying a foreign tax is very progressive relatively speaking. Even here in ultra Americanized S. Korea, taxes are better distributed to pay for easy to access health care and a first rate public transportation system.

El Juero

8:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

"A good lay
Goes a long way."

Yes, you may quote me.

mb

11:30 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Are the 'political leaders' or hopefuls of today more absurd than during America's past? I know the present ones are beyond laughable, but don't know enough of America's political history to answer the question. Do those today look so silly only because of enhanced visibility via new technology?

My theory is this, that as the divide between the dream and reality widens it calls for increasing illusion. Those prepared to lie even more (and this pre-supposes a lack of nobility) will please the masses and accede to power. It is akin to telling the fat girl that she can indeed be a catwalk model. But, as a wise Greek noted, reality can only be pushed away temporarily. It always returns.

Another point is that despite the clear decline of the U.S., it still is a favourite of prospective immigrants. It also enjoys, compared to the hundreds of other nations, and although in free-fall, a high standard of living. So is the immigration attraction one of a chance to exercise unbridled greed? Or is it the standard of living?

6:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Michael-

Mark Twain called the period following the Civil War the Gilded Age, and said that Americans, who were in love with prosperity alone, would never achieve a Golden Age. What America might achieve, he wrote, was a gold veneer, with dross underneath.

I think foreigners are still fooled by the veneer. When they come here, they find the dross.

mb

10:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More of This American Life (aka Deeper and deeper into the pit we go):

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/10-11

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/06-8

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/09-14

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

I have admired the essays of William Pfaff since I first ran across his writings a number of years ago. He is an American who succeeded in becoming as literate and engaging as a European public intellectual.

But in his otherwise fine essay in the current Truthdig,I hardly understand his point about women leaving the field of teaching as a basic cause for the decline in American primary, middle, and high school education. Poorly stated maybe. I can't figure out what he is trying to say.

J.D. Hirsch, author of "Cultural Literacy" and other works, points out that it is the neo-romantic assumptions guiding most schools of education which have rendered, in part, students incapable of learning while offering them a curriculum that is not worth studying. This is the major institutional cause of decline in public education, and not the sex of the human being who is doing the teaching,

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

From the This Says So Much About America department, courtesy of today's Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: I have a message for seniors and others who live alone: You need a friend or neighbor to keep in touch with you. Recently at the condo complex where I live, someone complained to the management office about a dog that wouldn't stop barking. When there was no answer on the phone or at the door, they went in. The woman had died and no one knew but her dog.

Our single neighbors now make a point of keeping in touch, if only to say hello and let us know they're OK. -- CONNECTED IN PALM COURT, FLA.

DEAR CONNECTED: That's good advice -- because the sad circumstance you described happens more often than most people would think. A similar thing also occurred in a condominium development where I lived. A word to the wise ...


Of course, plenty of retirement homes will be happy to take you & bleed you dry financially. There's your word to the wise ...

2:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cd this be the movie version of WAF? Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul4CZrnEFxU

2:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The Face of America, up close: Does it get any dumber than this?:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t2#/video/politics/2012/04/13/bts-santorum-bella-nra.cnn

4:14 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Can someone explain the value of this type of class to students? Sooner than later, courses in homosexual sex will be mandated:

Fresno State Professor Peggy Gish Accused Of Showing 'Porn' To Class

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/14/peggy-gish-fresno-state-professor-porn_n_1425821.html

7:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tony-

Actually, the larger problem is that college students graduate having learned nothing at all (see Arum and Roksa, "Academically Adrift"). You can get a B.A. now watching videos for 4 yrs and rdg virtually 0. Let 'em watch porn, what the hell.

HRIR!

mb

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Michael,

I have experience with immigration to the US, as I did that once. The quality of immigrants who choose America has been declining in recent years. In the past you had many highly educated immigrants from former communist countries, but few do that today. Here in Romania, many would-be emigrants are afraid to go to America now. The images they see on television about America are pretty scary. So, since Romania joined the EU, they just go to Western Europe. Also, there are many Romanians in America who are planning to return if the economy worsens. A lot more would like to leave, but cannot because they are trapped in underwater mortgages or have Americanized children.

From my own point of view, America would *presumably* make sense financially, because I could earn more as a psychologist there than anywhere in the world. But the cost of living is quite high now in the US, and when you add things like health insurance costs, rent, it does not look so appealing anymore. Then you have intangible costs, such as an isolated lifestyle, long commutes, eating hormone-infested factory farm-raised meat, drinking shitty coffee served in toxic cardboard “cups” at Starbucks, seeing your kid become depressed because she has nobody to play with, and America quickly loses its charm. So, I prefer to teach online psychology courses from the comfort of my home in Romania, eat locally-raised meat, smile seeing my kid play with her friends and cousins, and enjoy cappuccinos served in porcelain cups with a cookie on the side. Last but not least, living in a country that has socialized medicine keeps my anxiety low (three years ago this socialized medicine saved my sorry ass with free latest-generation treatments that would have likely bankrupted me in America).

Anyway, just sharing my impressions.

Julian

8:03 PM  
Anonymous satyaSariak said...

I disagree that Mittens is not evil. When/if he's 'da man', he'll be ordering murders just like the current occupant. Just because he's no Dick(less) Heartless Cheney, don't mean he ain't a evil mean ass mofo! Think the 'banality of evil' and you've pegged obombney. Are they even really different people?

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

MB,

I came across this on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Mf3pYyk5PY

It was from the 1987 ABC Miniseries Amerika. About 8 minutes into this segment there is a conversation between a Russian colonel and a newly appointed Governor-General of soon to be new country carved out of the U.S.

The American G-G wants to know how they lost to the Soviet Union. I believe that you and anyone else willing to watch it will find it interesting.

Best,
Vince

9:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Satya-

Shall we call him Mittens? I prefer Mittney, myself, and his philosophy Mittnism. I'm hoping that between now and the Nov. election Wafers will outline on this blog the major principles of Mittnism, so we know what we are voting for. I personally hope he wins, because then after a time the Secret Service won't be protecting Obama; at which pt I might fly to Chicago and barf on his Guccis. I also hope to take a documentary filmmaker w/me for this. Can u.c. it on YouTube? "The Man Who Barfed on Obama's Guccis"--intriguing title, no? I tell u, there's just so much to do in the US!

mb

10:44 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

On the is Willard is evil question. The better question is does Willard think you’re evil? Rest assured, unless you're a multimillionaire, a corporation, or someone who doesn’t mind being a low wage slave to them, the answer is yes. Because, then you’re standing in the way of even more money flowing toward people like him, so, have no doubt, he hates you and thinks you are evil.

1:53 AM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Dear Dr B,

Love the image of your barfarama on BO's Gucci's. Careful, the NSA at Bluffdale, Utah may be scooping you up any time now. :) You've given me so many chuckles; your quips are almost as fun as your cultural criticism of my sad sack of a country. But isn't it true that prezes and vices get Secret Service for life? How else to account for the continued existance of W and his vice?

Why stick to just one moniker for these cartoon characters? As long as they aren't called Anonymous :), we'll all know who they be. I mean we don't just call our loved ones 'Honey' do we? And these clowns give us so much amusement (as long as we can distance ourselves from the fact that they are murdering mofos), I think we deserve any enjoyment we can create poking fun at them.
Speaking of, somewhere I read that the current contender was best buds with BooBoo Yahoo when they were college lads at Harvard and MIT respectively --- which btw proves that those schools certainly ain't worth the tuition they charge, much less the prestige ...

4:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Satya-

Protection for life? Really? This is Not Good. I kept envisioning the NYT headline: "Radical Historian Tosses Cookies on Ex-President's Shoes".

Possible subheads:

-"Many Applaud"
-"Alienated Scholar Flies in from Mexico to Projectile Vomit on Mr. Obama's Guccis"
-"He Was Always an Unhappy Loner, Says Old College Roommate"
-He Was Constantly Talking About Barf, Says Ex-Girlfriend Lola"
"Why Didn't *I* Think of That?,
Says Michael Moore"
-"Perhaps Not in the Best of Taste,
Says Rom Mittney"
-"Eeww, Says Kim Kardashian"

mb

7:04 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

Sorry you forgot about the lifelong Secret Service protection thing, but luckily you found Bobcat's recent opus.

Look on the bright side. There is a looong list of folks who do *not* have such logistical impediments lurking in the way of their receiving a friendly a capella version of God Bless America.

Grover Norquist and Karl Rove seem to ricochet back and forth between the #1 and #2 spots on my Hit Parade. Your mileage, kilometerage, and millimeterage (aye, and windage) may vary. There are plenty of slots on the Hot 100 chart, y'all...no reason for bickering amongst us consumers. After all, de disgustibus non est disputandum.

Sure, you won't be in everyone's face back home, nor be clogging their footpath when they venture to the fridge for late-night snacks...but you know you can't change the world from a hospice. So, when your 2nd opinion confirms your 6-month pull date, it's time to get packin' and start checking off the To Do items on That Other Bucket List.

11:08 AM  
OpenID brutus said...

Of failed American institutions, perhaps none is as heartbreaking education. It's interesting that Harvard students staged a walkout of an economics class. A similar action (symbolic only) should take place at the law school, as both economics and law have become free-for-alls where the models, systems, and ideals bear little resemblance to reality (i.e., a privileged few benefitting from the labors and suffering of the rest -- and with obvious impunity). I don't hang with Harvard undergrads, but I have doubts students really have the wherewithal to judge whole entrenched, intractable systems prior to learning them (despite their glaring invalidity). Vague, discontented disapproval is clearly gaining adherents, as with OWS and the Tea Party, but how fully agitators repudiate corruption and upstream gaming is still an open question. Even though not yet being admitted to the game, however, Harvard graduates are not typically among those barred at the doors.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

What a riff! I didn't understand a word of it, but I enjoyed it immensely; sort of like a jazz version of Kant.

mb

1:53 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,
Glad you enjoyed the riff. It was more or less a straightforward meditation on the intersection of the Gucci-barfing meme and the movie trailer you posted yesterday. Like the guy, Frank, in the movie, any of us may face a morbid diagnosis with a short fuse. I'm not divulging anything in the way of sources and methods, but if ever find out that I have less than a year to go, there will probably be more than a few people who will be surprised to find out that they are not exempt. The key is to begin promptly before the body & mind deteriorate to hospice levels. The key to acting promptly would seem to me to be thinking ahead. Maybe that's just me...others may have different keys to getting their motors running. Some here may believe that there would be no differences between the world we have and one without a Rove or a Norquist (or Murdoch, or Ailes, or whoever their favorite adversary is). I think that's a cynical position buttressed by weak sophistry born of understandable cowardice. We're only human.

The last time my wife and I visited the USA, we were in Austin and drove by the building where a disgruntled citizen managed to fly a small airplane into IRS offices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Austin_suicide_attack

Since soon after the Oklahoma City bombing, I have been convinced that the current trajectory of the USA is such that there will be more and more such events in the future. With as many Desert Storm vets as exist, some fraction will be (or have been) foreclosed on by lenders. Some fraction of those will live in their cars or vans, unemployed and with few prospects. Some, eventually, will "go postal" and evolve into one of several versions of American suicide bombers. The number of vets from the more recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars coming home to financial chaos or ruin only increases the likelihood of this sort of thing becoming more common.

Your Vonnegut quote earlier is spot on. Most of the people in the path of the shitstorm may be distracted and hypnotized by what Joe Bageant called The Hologram, but from the empire's periphery we can see the shape of things to come.

My Dad's 91st birthday this August is about the only reason for us to leave Costa Rica for another visit to Jungleland del Norte.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

Actually, one thing that many people aren’t aware of is that federal prisons are full of people who expressed a desire to carry out some kind of non-violent action against a prominent figure in government. About 10 years ago, the typical sentence was 5 years in a federal joint. I can think of at least 5 of my former patients serving those types of sentences. For example, one called the While House and asked to speak with Hillary (when she was first lady) in order to set up a date at a hotel to have sex with her. Of course, he never met Hillary, nor was he anywhere within 1000 miles from her at the time. But the secret service showed up at his door, interviewed him, and shoved him in the so-called federal justice system, and there went 5 years of his life. The sad part is that all those I met serving sentences based on that type of offense were schizophrenics. However, severe mental illness has never been much of a mitigating factor in the US justice system. Usually, if you have a pulse, you’ll do the time. The American justice system is considerably more evil than most Americans realize. Today, after 9/11 and all the prison privatizations, I imagine it is much worse than when I saw it.

You know, 25 years ago, when I escaped from communist Romania in order to seek freedom in America, rumor had it that anybody who publicly cursed at or spat on Ceausescu (Romania’s late Stalinist dictator) would receive a 5 year prison sentence. Sadly, 25 years later the roles have completely reversed.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Watched the "God Bless America" clip. "Natural Born Killers, part 2?"

Also on a film note, saw the rediscovered (truer to Dreyer's original conception and shown at the correct speed) version of "The Passion of Joan of Arc" this afternoon - stunning. Will be rereading the Cathars chapter of CTOS.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Kevin,

I'm hoping the young woman in God Bless America turns out to be channeling elements of Prairie and DL Chastain from Pynchon's Vineland, Y.T. from Stephenson's Snow Crash, or Chevette Washington and Molly Millions from Gibson's Virtual Light and Neuromancer.

If there is such a thing as depraved naivete, it blooms on the screen when she says "Awesome!"

11:47 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Kevin:

Thank you for Dreyer's, "The Passion of Joan of Arc". Stunning for me also!

It led me to discover, somehow, Leonard Cohen's version of Joan of Arc.

I will never know how I missed this gentle, simple, man; his music and his poems.

It drives the melancholy and ache within me for a better world.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julian wrote:
"The sad part is that all those I met serving sentences based on that type of offense were schizophrenics. However, severe mental illness has never been much of a mitigating factor in the US justice system. Usually, if you have a pulse, you’ll do the time. The American justice system is considerably more evil than most Americans realize. Today, after 9/11 and all the prison privatizations, I imagine it is much worse than when I saw it."

Honestly, those people are probably better off in prison than in a mental hospital. At least in prison they stand a slight chance of not being forcibly medicated with brain - damaging neuroleptics , or receiving electro - convulsive therapy.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Best to send messages to latest post; folks tend not to read the old ones.

As for ECT: the US behaves as tho 311 million people already *had* 50 treatments each of said therapy, don't u think?

mb

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morris,

Are you related to the late Farley Berman of Anniston,Alabama? http://bermanmuseum.org/

10:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Farley, my long-lost brother!

Well, actually no...

12:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There is this confusion about your last name being Bergman. Are
you sure you are not that Swede who made strange movies?
One will do well to read Chris HEDGES Empire of Illusions.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Just call me Ingmar; I died in 2007, but my spirit lives on. BTW, it's better to send messages to latest post, as folks don't tend to read the older posts.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

Mitt Romney is indeed evil. He's a sociopath, just like Obama. These are two men who have unlimited lust for war, torture, and destruction. They appear vapid because that's what the public wants. What lies within them is a totally different story. If you look closely, you can see this ferocious rage in their expressions from time to time.

11:56 PM  

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