March 23, 2013

174

Dear Wafers-

Once again, I have nothing edifying to say (of course my critics believe that's always true, but what're ya gonna do), so can only identify this as the 174th post. In terms of possible themes rt now, I suggest:

1. CRE (a perennial favorite) 2. Reasons to kill yourself (Camus would approve) 3. Deli meats.

On that note, let 'er roll!

mb

199 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Alan said...

Concerning your topic starter " 2. Reasons to kill yourself (Camus would approve)."

I went to an awards ceremony at my 7-year old son's school yesterday. The large number of tattooed, pierced and obese parents wearing thuggish baggy pants and "gangsta wanna-be hoodies" who were downing their Coca-Colas and power drinks while fondling and obsessing over their iphones had me ready to do this one yesterday.

Another irritating thing about these folks is how much space they consume. When they sit in chairs they sprawl all over it. When they stand they take up the walkways while remaining oblivious to the throngs of people trying to get around them.

My son has been accepted into a Waldorf school next year. I have what remains of my hope that the parents will be different there. Still, they will be Americans so it's a crap shoot.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Chaz Homz said...

As a fairly typical American, I would nominate Oscar Meyer bologna as the king of deli-meats, but I'm not sure that I spelled it right.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi Dr. B and fellow WAFers--

Speaking of Camus and the "ultimate decision," I had to take this opportunity to pass along this link to a blog that I still frequent (although it's no longer active) titled, "Who is the Absurd Man?"

http://whoistheabsurdman.blogspot.com/

The blogger(s) have a range of terrific entities that--in one way or another--point out the absurdities of existence, but do so in a way that drives home the message that this realization is ultimately freeing (in a Stoic, fatalist type of way . . .).

Much like your blog, Dr. B, the Absurd Man blog pointed me to lots of terrific reading over the years (though nothin' will top your History of Consciousness trilogy!).

I teach in "higher education" (insert laugh track here) . . . and CRE administrators are all about online learning as Saviour (read: anything for cash cow $ and low hanging fruit). That said, engaging on this blog with other WAFers (or checking out the Absurd Man blog) is *truly* what online learning represents, at least for me.

Here's to NMI projects that help us connected; really glad to know there's kindred spirits out there.

Best to you--

Brian

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Zaid said...

Thanks Captain Spaulding for providing the following article at the end of our previous thread:

http://www.examiner.com/article/misinformed-usa-why-average-americans-vote-for-republicans

Everyone should read that article. After reading it, watch the following video from Bill Moyers:

http://billmoyers.com/segment/sheila-bair-on-big-banks-greed-and-impunity/

Both the article and the video highlight one thing: hustling mindset leads to lies, fabrication, lack of empathy, destruction of one's society, etc, etc.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

That's a wonderful sight, really: human beings in their most degraded form (while thinking that they are the top of the evolutionary heap.) When I see this sort of thing, I know I'm on the right track: there simply is no hope for this country. Its citizens are grotesque.

mb

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

May I suggest an analogy of the U.S. as I had proposed to you MB some time ago?

The United States of Titanic will be my theme. Two entities supposedly to big to fail.

Let's start from the bottom. In the U.S. profit is extracted from cheaper and cheaper labor and siphoned right up to the top of the class system. Compare this with the fact that the greatest profit margin for shipping came from cramming as many immigrants into the steerage compartment of such a huge ship. Meanwhile, first class passengers are lavished with the finest foods and services at virtually no profit whatsoever.

As MB as so thoroughly described, the U.S. was built on ever expanding paradigm. Structural problems were glossed over with expansion and superficiality. The Titanic was the largest moving object at the time, yet it was with fewer propellers than its competition, thus making much more difficult to steer. Water-tight compartments that were totally worthless. Steel that was defective, much like the superficial landscape that we have erected suburbia over.

The disbelief that is engrained in the American psyche that the U.S. couldn't possibly fail mirrors the sentiment of those on board the Titanic the night the ship struck the iceberg. Passengers and crew alike were convinced that the ship couldn't sink. Technology had overcome nature. This is the type of thinking we are trapped by today. That there is always a solution through technology.

There are other similarities that I could mention later. But for now we know that our ship of state has hit the proverbial iceberg. The infrastructure that supports our hustling culture is taking on water. Yet the lifeboats remained tied up.

Your thoughts.

Peace, Vince

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Mike--Waldorf schools (or at least my experience with them) are great. No screens or computers! AVoiding TV at home etc. If you hold true to supporting your kid in a waldorf school it would be a great thing to get rid of boob tube completely and use computer sparingly-when child is about. The benefits will be immense if the rule of no electronic screens is followed.....

Agree w both you and MB--americans are indeed grotesque. Really hideous in both thought and certainly appearance.

Suicide which Camus would approve. I suppose we can argue that many people in the U.S. are doing it slowly (anti depressants, diabetes, obsesity, television) but I am an advocate of sticking around as long as possible and rather than suicide be a pain in the neck to the established order or if you were going to off yourself anyway do so in same way that contributes to the betterment of soceity--take some TV news anchors with you or marketing executives, or chamber of commerce conference attendees....

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

WAFer's,

I've seen a lot of people on here talk about how when they bring this stuff up to people they know, they are given a blank stare. My experiences have been different. Everyone I talk to about this either says "yeah, well, that's the way it is" or "I know it sucks" or "what are you going to do about it?". They all acknowledge things are bad but they are uninterested. And, most of them support drone strikes and the killing of American citizens, since they are terrorists. None of them know who Bradley Manning is, however. The truth is buried and distorted in this country, and it is hard to find. Even seeing the truth and the facts is not enough for me. I want to find a way to do something, to start something, but I don't even know where to begin. I also feel like it would be pointless, but it would make me feel better. Any other WAFer's feel this way?

9:54 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

Re: CRE, the force is strong. People are *choosing* it.

Sometimes I'll bring up environmental issues in conversation to see the reaction I get. E.g. mentioning that the cherry blossoms in Japan came out 10 days earlier than normal this year, which some regard as evidence of climate change.

I think a big wet fart would be less socially awkward than *that* conversation topic.

But not to worry, people change the subject in a blink. Did you know the Kardashians have their own self-tanner line? (They really do.)

10:33 PM  
Blogger John D. Wheeler said...

I believe this fits under CRE: I suggest fellow WAFers ask people they know what they think about Cyprus. I'm curious if others find the average American basically clueless.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

There seems to be some interest in actually *doing* something abt the situation. Well, aside from emigrating (#1 recommended route) or becoming an NMI, how about this?: projectile vomiting! Start small, in yr neighborhood. You see someone on a cell phone, u puke on him. Then see if you can't set up a mtg w/yr congressman, take a few friends, and toss yr cookies w/high velocity. Finally, when you've trained enuf, the marathon: the pres. Here, p.v. (projectile vomiting) is very impt, because it's hard to get close to him. But if you can barf at 50 ft., you may be able to do the job. Check out the p.v. scene in Monty Python, "The Meaning of Life," for inspiration.

mb

11:24 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Brian,
Wonderfully funny blog at 'who is the absurd man'--and worth recommending to Martin who may not yet find it funny but will find the ideas intriguing.

I'm not sure that Camus did approve of suicide, he fought in the French resistance and played football at a professional level, neither occupations demonstrating nihilism or a giving up on life. He thought and wrote about it, which to me suggests he was engaging with something that most people tend to shy away from and avoid, a quite different proposition than either approving or disapproving it.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Camus would approve of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUHk2RSMCS8

'That showed 'em, huh?'

11:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ellen-

No, Camus didn't approve of suicide. He just said that the question of whether to take one's life was the only philosophical question worth asking.

mb

12:52 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Thanks for the CD article by John Atcheson. Some of the comments were also very good:

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of liberal critique is that it holds out for a "rational capitalism," and thus blinds people to the fact that capitalism is irrational all the way through. -jrp1900 Tom_Larsen

You are overlooking the most important factor. Massive waste and destruction are an essential and inevitable feature of Capitalism. That has nothing to do with what anyone wants or needs, other than the desire of the few to control all wealth and power. This so-called "growth" is a bunch of nonsense, anyway. Don't buy into it. -Two Americas glennk
-----
I think it’s important to keep in mind in our focus on stupidity that it is just the inevitable result of a society dominated by hustling. Hustlers can’t survive in a world without stupidity, so they have a vested interest in creating it and making it grow. Stupidity is just a tool, just like a corporation is just a tool for the 1% to continue to accumulate infinite wealth on a finite planet. This is the reason why we don’t have intelligent people because truly intelligent people would never allow the 1% to continue the endless stupidity of endless growth and endless environment destruction solely for the continued accumulation of their endless personal wealth. If you base your society on such obvious insanity, you better reduce the number of intelligent people to a minimum. One of the ongoing stupidities of the environmental movement is that they refuse to see that meaningful reduction of environmental destruction is not going to happen because the 1% need it in order to continue to accumulate infinite wealth. Stupidity is just one of the ingredients in the poisonous cocktail that the 1% force the rest of us to drink so they can go about their business of taking everything they want and leaving only a burned out husk of a world in their wake.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Z-

I dunno...stupidity seems to be so homegrown in the US, like weeds. But then, we *have* been hustling for 400+ yrs, so what seems to be in our DNA cd possibly be environmental. It's just that after 400+ yrs, it's so ingrained it might as well be genetic...the debate becomes academic, at that pt. Do u realize that a large fraction of the American public thought Sarah Palin was vice-presidential or even presidential material?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB24_jrh8Us

mb

6:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

More on plasticity of the brain, and the death of (American) society:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/your-phone-vs-your-heart.html?hp&_r=0

7:04 AM  
Blogger jml said...

mike's story reminds me of the time i went to a talent show at my niece's elementary school. most of the participants were young girls tarted up like their favorite pop star lip synching, and gyrating and acting sexy like their favorite pop star while the parents (many of them overweight - i hate to be prejudiced, but it's true) recorded them on their digital cameras and smiled and laughed and whooped for them at the end. then, in the midst of this craziness, a tiny little boy from asia - i think either korea or china - dressed in a tux, got on the stage and performed a beautiful piece on the piano. at the end, he stood and bowed and calmly exited the stage. everyone was speechless. and we wonder why we are in decline.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

Thank u for that vignette. In a nutshell, that describes the geopolitical change going on in the world today.

mb

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Daddy Issues said...

Mike Alan-

Waldorf is better. That said, I was at a presentation at the school yesterday, and overheard a conversation behind me. One dad was telling another with great pride and excitement about how he's managed to raise 2 million dollars for a medical application that can be used on a cell phone/handheld device. What struck me is that it was more about the money and the powerful companies who want to meet with him, rather than the actual value and purpose of creating this application. So, capitalism is alive and well in this school community. Has to be, because the tuition is pricey. (as opposed to Europe, where Waldorf schools are free/inexpensive)

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Pascal said...

Dr B, what do you think about this writer?

"The biggest problem is that, by design, we are cultural creatures, fated to be normal except for rare individuals with enough courage and conviction to liberate themselves partially from culture’s powerful gravitational pull. Even well meaning individuals who profess concern about the unfolding apocalypse usually plod on like zombies in allegiance to their cultural norms"

http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/762/1/

12:01 PM  
Anonymous xiale said...

Amazing that the author can't understand that the American people don't give a shit. Also, the idea of a major American news org publishing anything approaching the Pentagon Papers is laughable.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/wikileaks-was-just-a-preview-were-headed-for-an-even-bigger-showdown-over-secrets-20130322

12:04 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

jml:

Your "empty consumer" hypothesis makes a lot of sense. Perhaps constantly staring into the abyss creates a persistent void within the watcher.

By the way, now I have "I Want the Waiter with the Water" earworming its way through my consciousness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyyC0tgveSw

12:22 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

jml -

I wd have luved to have been that little boy in the tux.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

X-

Matt is a courageous reporter, imo, and his exposes of Goldman Sachs and Wall St. have been crucial to an understanding of what is going on. The problem, as u indicate, is Whose understanding? It's a fair bet that more than 90% of the American public can't tell u who Julian Assange is, or who Bradley Manning is, or what Wikileaks is, or what Goldman Sachs is, or who Daniel Ellsberg is, or what the Pentagon Papers were--etc. And if they knew, they simply wdn't care; they're too busy staring into their cell fones and crackberries. Hitler once quipped, "How fortunate it is for governments that the people do not think." Clearly, things such as democracy, accountability, and transparency are not really possible with folks like the American citizenry. They are hardly citizens in the sense of possessing awareness and responsibility, and so the govt can do whatever it wants; wh/means that every day, the country sinks deeper into the abyss. But I'm glad there are folks like Matt T. around, nonetheless, for the very few who still care.

And also like Bartholomew Sullivan, of the Scripps-Howard News Service. Sullivan foned me a few days ago to ask me why I thought that the current proposed gun legislation wdn't amount to anything (that's roughly how he phrased it). I guess he was writing abt Newtown and its aftermath. I agreed w/him, and mentioned what I discuss in QOV, that there are unconscious programs running the American psyche, such that we--govt included--are little more than marionettes on strings. The programs pull the strings, and one of these is extreme individualism. So in the fight between gun control and extreme individualism, the latter will always win, hands down. Here's the article: his reportage of our conversation is completely faithful to what I said, as far as I can remember it:

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/mar/24/school-shootings-and-long-litany-heartbreak-pearl/

Pascal-

This is a thought-provoking essay. I don't really agree w/his conclusions, but this is an article Wafers might wish to weigh in on; gd discussion material here.

mb

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Yes Daddy Issues Waldorf like any half decent thing in the U.S. is quite pricey--30k per year in D.C. /Nova which requires you earn 45k to pay 30k. But this raises the issue of how for what you get the U.S. income taxes are very high as well you get pretty much nothing for em--don;t do me the road an street song and dance those come from local taxes and sales taxes and schools from property taxes....All in all the dolts in the U.S. cannot begin to comprehend what good infrastrucutre, education and health care are like--paying for gold and getting crap. They have been getting screwed for so long they just cant live any other way. Is it a conspiracy--no its just stupidity running amock. And Wafers do not worry about being called prejudiced or whatever--americans are a bunch of fat dolts. American leaders are lightwieghts--thats right Obama and Hillary are totally sub par and in a civilized place could not manage a convenience store.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Man, that's one convenience store I wdn't wanna shop at! Only lightweights can't see that American leaders are lightweights.

mb

1:27 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

What's shakin' Dr. Berman and Wafers?

MB-

Thanks for the Jenny Diski reference on the previous thread. Portraits of the 1960s that attempt to understood how and why society went from the peace and justice movements of the era to the winner-take-all mentality of the 1980s and beyond are very intriguing. Much food for thought here.

I read that Jerry Rubin participated in EST (sorry for bringing it up again) in the 1970s. Did this somehow reprogram his brain toward capitalist entrepreneurship? What about Rubin's support of Charles Manson? I recall that after Manson forged his hippie commune into a gang of murderers, Rubin went to L.A. to speak to Manson. "I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV," Rubin wrote. Insanity such as this has to explained, no? Hopefully, Diski's book will help broaden the perspective. Thanks again.

Jeff

1:29 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

"Only lightweights can't see that American leaders are lightweights."

I am reminded of someone's observation that Newt Gingrich is a stupid person's idea of a smart person.

The other day I had one of those little insights, which we all get from time to time.

What hit me was how it is never enough in the US that the latest Conservative hero be saluted for their success in dissembling or whatever. No! These are demi-gods! Super genius polymaths for the ages! Giant-sized leaders for our time! Bow down!

So it was, for example, for Newt Gingrich (failed community college professor or something), Scalia (reliable spear carrier for the forces of darkness before they gave him robes), and Paul Ryan (embarrassing Ayn Rand junkie and life-long government employee). These are people of very modest talent at best.

They are, however, hailed as a combination of Augustus, Charlemagne and Einstein (actually, Newtie may have described himself in just those sort of terms). I believe this is what Alfred Adler called “compensation”.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Let me join in the Youtube posting frenzy. :) Joe Walsh released a new album last year, the first in about 2 decades, I think. Since I disconnected from mass culture decades ago I was completely unaware of it until I heard a snippet of Analog Man while listening to one of those NPR talk shows. Plainly he knows the techno-buffoon phenomenon. Read the lyrics on the page.

Joe Walsh - Analog Man

Welcome to cyberspace, I'm lost in the fog
everything's digital I'm still analog
when something goes wrong
I don't have a clue
some 10-year-old smart ass has to show me what to do
Sign on with high speed you don't have to wait
Sit there for days and vegetate
I access my email, read all my spam, I'm an analog man.

...

And BTW, what I was listening to was Onpoint with Doug Rushkoff talking about his new book "Present Shock". Yep, it's about the effects of the digital fog on contemporary life.

Onpoint: Douglas Rushkoff On ‘Present Shock’

In 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler brought out a soon-famous book called “Future Shock”. It described a world in which people could no longer keep up with the pace of change.

In 2013, big thinker Douglas Rushkoff is out with a book called “Present Shock”. It describes a world in which the change has arrived. In a digital tsunami. And we are lost in it.

Tumbling in an overwhelming, almost tyrannical, “now.” A present in which we’ve lost our cultural narrative, our past, our future. We can drown or we can thrive, he says.

This hour, On Point: Douglas Rushkoff and “Present Shock”.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Attention Wafers: Not to be missed:

http://www.amazon.com/Approaching-Great-Transformation-Livable-Economy/dp/1609804805/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364157263&sr=1-1&keywords=joel+magnuson

This bk is 1st-rate.

mb

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

WAFers,

In my ongoing futile efforts to educate America's failed university professors, today I made another comment in the Yahoo groups I was telling you about a few days ago. Here it is, for your enjoyment:

I teach a lot of online classes, so I am on the computer a lot. To get out of the house, I sometimes go to a cafe and work from there.

Last week I ended up at a Starbucks. As most Starbucks stores go, this one too was just as disgusting. I prefer family-owned cafes vs. these corporate monstrosities that pass themselves for “cafes”. I know the difference between a real café and a miserable corporate hellhole serving crappy-tasting coffee in toxic recycled cardboard cups.

Anyway, this was my experience that day: There were numerous loud cell phone conversations all around me. People were shouting in their phones, for no obvious reason. The two young women at the table next to me were shouting at each other without making any eye contact, while obsessively fidgeting with their respective iPhones. I heard a lot of private information that day. The two women next to me were loudly discussing their sex lives, and the douche bags on their phones were disclosing sensitive personal financial information for all to hear. Overall, these conversations were meaningless, the intended audience obviously being the people in the café. It was weird. The narcissism was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Everybody in the cafe was acting like a Mini-Me Brittany Spears performing on their own private stage. And that’s how it is in most Starbucks cafes. If you behave like that anywhere in Europe, you will be asked to leave. But here it is commonplace. And much of this weirdness revolves around smart phones.

As I wrote separately, these gadgets now serve a psychologically soothing role and have replaced real human relationships with meaningless iGarbage. This is what happens to a people that has been thoroughly brainwashed by corporations. A people whose brains and minds have been colonized by advertising. This is what happens to a nation whose people have been transformed from citizens into "consumers." There were many books written about this troubling situation, some of which I mentioned here before. Here are a few more:

Consumed by Benjamin Barbor.
No Logo by Naomi Klein
The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

As you can see, I really am trying to educate people in this group. However I am still amazed to see so much resistance to this common sense information I am sharing with you. This really is not something I came up with. There have been many books written about this. This is common knowledge.

Once again, when are you people -- pardon me, "you professors" -- going to get your heads out of your butts and start reading a book and become better informed for a change? When? I feel sorry for your students, because chances are, they are learning nothing from you.

I am looking forward to vitriolic replies from "professors" whose egos might have been bruised by my statements above. Better yet, I am looking forward to your renewed efforts to have me expelled from this group...LOL

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I ran across Jenny Diski's book at the library last month & I heartily endorse MB's recommendation. What the counterculture didn't see or understand was just how easily & eagerly the capitalist mainstream can turn anything & everything into a commodity. Remember such little things as the Campbell's Soup Kids suddenly gone Peter Max?

http://blog.finnfemme.com/2012/11/60s-campbell-soup-kids-go-flower-child/

And of course every idea & creation of the counterculture that could possibly generate a buck went the same way.

(And what was Peter Max but a long-haired hustler himself?)

I had the same naive faith that sheer goodness of intent & purity of vision would change the world as so many of my 1960s peers had. But the counterculture was always a very small minority, for all its popular visibility; and only a small percentage of that minority was genuinely committed to changing the world for the better. A lot of people were just along for the ride. And why not? It was a fun ride: dope, sex, great music, new ideas, a wonderful moment in time. But time never stops, it moves on. In many ways, much as I loved it, much as it shaped me for the better, it was finally a day-glo city on a hill that couldn't last.

Look at the English Romantics: young social radicals Wordsworth & Coleridge aged into conservatism; Keats & Shelley & Byron died young, before it could happen to them. Only William Blake continued to pursue his fiery vision into old age ... and he was marginalized & ignored by everyone. The genuine article always is; it takes later generations to appreciate them, after they're safely long dead.

T. S. Eliot was right: most people can't bear very much reality. They'll desperately believe almost any illusion in order to avoid the naked facts about their lives, especially when their lives are such blighted, grasping, hollowed-out things. ("We are the hollow men.")

Today's anecdote of cultural decline:

I bought some late 1960s issues of Look & Life at a yard sale yesterday. For younger readers of this blog, they were about as middle-of-center, mainstream, play-it-safe, status quo magazines as America produced back then, meant to appeal to the widest audience possible. And yet I find a lengthy book review entitled "The Irreducibility of Ionesco" in one. I find the movie recommendations for the week are for new works by Fellini, Bunuel, Truffaut, and Rohmer in another. I find activist priest Malcolm Boyd asked to define peace of mind & his response is to warn against the very concept because "it has been exploited by spiritual hucksters" & that it's a "selfish attempt to escape from human realities" in another. This, in magazines intended for readers who didn't want to have to dig too deeply!

7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

It's gd, to tell them they have Acute Head Wedgitis, tho I don't think it will make any difference. But I do think u need to frequent these coffee joints w/a camcorder. The world needs to see the Laptop Hooligans, the Buffoons on Phones (BOP's), and in general the TB's. It's terrifying, all those people w/mucus in their heads, while thinking they're oh-so-hip. More candidates for PV (Projectile Vomiting), perhaps.

Tim-

That's really interesting. Today's 'readers' of mainstream mags can't do much more than grunt and drool. Plus, the articles showcase Kim's rump.

mn

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Mike Alan said...

To everyone that commented on the Waldorf school, thanks for the confirmation. I think it will be good for my son in many ways.

Bingo: I enjoyed your comments about your experience at Starbucks. Last summer I had a business meeting with a guy at a Starbucks (his choice). I'm not a coffee drinker so it's a real rarity for me to show up in such a place. Anyway, it seemed like an alien world where people show up to be seen so they can look hip and cool and talk about how they were at hanging out at Starbucks today. The only saving grace was an unattractive 40 to 50 something woman with large breasts wearing a tight shirt with no bra, and there were big nips a popping. She took the narcissist award for day as she paraded them all around the place while I was there. I'm guessing none of the guys in the place ever looked at her face. You could tell the younger gals in their padded push-ups were not happy with her getting the attention. I liked your reference to Britney Spears. The lyrics to her latest song? "Everyone in the club, all eyes on us." I think you nailed it.

On another note, someone posted the following article at Dmitry Orlov's blog last week. I finally had a chance to read it this weekend and it's something most of us WAFers can relate to, especially those who care about the environment. It addresses a question I've been wondering about for some time: which does the most damage and destruction first, economic collapse or environmental collapse? It also offers some NMI possibilities.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7277/

My best to all.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Some of you WAFers may be familiar, but I was recently introduced to a late-night comedy show that used to run in ten-minute episodes on Cartoon Network a few years back. It was called "Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job" and Tim and Eric, the comedians responsible, have called it their nightmare version of TV. And nightmarish it is: bizarre blends of public-access technology, grotesque songs, and constant product placement. You could call it the un-polishing of a turd.

4:47 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@ Joe Hohos - Yes, I feel the same as you do.check out this story "Shown No Mercy in St. Francois County" w/ accompanying youtube video (re: Callion Hamblin). Whoever took part in this "know your rights community speakout" is starting something. But is it worth it? Does it make them feel better? Or is it foolish? I wonder abt the writer of the piece, too. I think whatever you try to do, know your rights, esp. Now that police in this country are militarized.

http://writtenwordspokenword.blogspot.com/2013/03/shown-no-mercy-in-st-francois-county.html

@ Martin - if you get the chance check out the book "Cruel Optimism" by Lauren Berlant. i've only read the first chapters, but I find it may be helpful in moments of duress. I also find poetry helpful. Check out George Oppen. Ie., "Of Being Numerous" (title poem & book). His poem "Route" has this epigraph (something like this): "the void / eternally regenerative"...

6:14 AM  
Blogger jml said...

Some WAFers may enjoy this blog post which makes fun of the terrible CRE problem that Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Sheryl Sandberg wanna-be's seem to have:

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/03/dont_hate_her_because_shes_suc.html

Apparently she is trying to usher in a new version of feminism that doesn't question the terrible situation the world is in and how we got here - but just wants women to want more.

I wonder if it ever occurs to these types of women that there aren't more women in power broker positions b/c lots of women find the world of MBA's to be stupid and yucky and therefore don't want to be a part of the game?

Question: When women exhibit the same obnoxious, narcissistic behavior that would cause us to call a male a "douchebag," can we call them douchebags? If so, I have a t-shirt idea: on the back "Women Can Be Douchebags, too!!" and on the front a picture of Oprah (or maybe Madonna)

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/cbs-apologizes-filming-amazing-race-near-crashed-b-014627111.html

The comments section is sadly predictable -- no mention of napalm, white phosphorus, cluster bombs, etc., or what they did to Vietnamese men, women, and children -- just endless, almost fetishistic praise for our noble heroes who rained down horrific death on a daily basis for an illegal & immoral war.

And if you dare mention what was done in (and to) Iraq for the past 10 years, forget it! "Blasphemy" isn't too strong a word for what you're doing -- as I'm sure we've all discovered on more than one occasion.

As a counterpoint, this quote from a letter by William Morris from March 26, 1874:

"... but look, suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and green fields, so that you could be in the country in five minutes' walk, and had few wants, almost no furniture for instance, and no servants, and studied the (difficult) arts of enjoying life, and finding out what they really wanted: then I think one might hope civilization had really begun."

Rather NMI, wouldn't you say?

The Penguin edition of News From Nowhere and Selected Writings and Designs is an excellent introductory overview to the work & thought of William Morris.

Bingo,

Your dispatches from that online group are fascinating; keep them coming!

On a related note, let me recommend Lena Dunham's relentlessly depressing "comedy" Tiny Furniture for a scathing look at the utter spiritual emptiness of the 20-something hipster class. Though I don't know if she intended it to be scathing. But apparently this is the best a good many supposedly bright young things can aspire to these days.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

The starbucks anecdotes are so on target. I once met a guy at his request at a starbucks in a D.C. outer suburb. It was a hideous experience the level of narcisissm was monstrous--among the crowd and the fellow I met. What I discovered when subsequently working with this fellow (very briefly got rid of him fast) is that narcissists are incapable of being productive (with rare cases of course) and this in part may explain the state of the U.S. Of late with a few friends we like to go over all the institutions which are in total free fall--education, family law is a major failure and that its overlooked as much as it is boggles the mind, healthcare, banking, food production, etc. I guess the challenge is find the institution which works. My thought is that only institutions which opress people and extract money for the oligarchs remain functioning--and violate those institutions and they will come on you hard. Hey computer hackers get longer prison sentences than rapists.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

Douche baguettes, perhaps. And speaking of what we might put on the T-shirt, try not to barf at this:

http://wallstreetonparade.com/

Yes, she's inspiring America w/her callousness.

mb

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Yikes! Further down that "Wall Street on Parade" page is a story about corporations taking out life insurance on their employees, naming the corporation as the beneficiary! And they get the death benefit even if the employee leaves the company years before dying! It sounds like something from black comedy. The exploitation is getting absolutely surreal.

quote:

Most Americans are unaware that for at least 25 years big business and banks have been secretly taking out millions of life insurance policies on their workers and naming the corporation the beneficiary of the death benefit without the knowledge of the employee. The individual policies are frequently in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes millions. To keep track of employees who have left the company, deaths are routinely tracked through the Social Security Administration. The policies became known as “dead peasant” or “janitor” policies because corporations took out life insurance on millions of low-wage workers, including janitors, without their knowledge or consent.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Savantesimal, thanks for the link to the Rushkoff interview, I enjoyed it quite a lot and it provides a nice counterpoint to the techno-buffoonery of this recent (and very well advertised) article in the Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/the-touch-screen-generation/309250/

Yikes, now that I have a 2 year old niece I have seen first hand this "my kid is awesome" crap parents spew every second (as you can see in the Atlantic article).

It reminds me of both the Starbucks anecdotes and the college professor stuff Bingo has been talking about. So much so, I often wonder if they are all connected.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good day Dr. B and Wafers,

Bingo-

Your field research is very insightful. I look forward to future posts describing Chi-Town BOP's and TB's. If you're really lucky, one day you may get to see something like this:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/wife-assaulted-with-ipad-198237

Talk about, as MB says, Laptop Hooligans...

Jeff

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

Let's say it outright- as corny and cliche as it sounds, the pursuit of money and material luxuries can truly transform people into monsters. In a way, Las Vegas' marketing itself as "Sin City" (with a clear emphasis on the ideas themselves, part. lust, gluttony and greed) and a "Winner Takes All Land" could count as a Freudian slip. "Look, we bask in the glory of our own shittiness!"
Speaking of a which, my father unfortunately has quite a tumultuous professional history. He can recount in great detail how he has helped improve the productivity and financial performance of many enterprises, yet he has been betrayed dozens of times. His associates have always saddled him with the debts and structural problems, and they have thrown him and hundreds or even thousands of employees around from one disposable job to another since at least the late '90s while embezzling all the profits for themselves. Yet he still believes such nonsense as "You are perfectly free under capitalism", "You need to adapt to the entrepreneurial environment", or "The wealthiest and most powerful are the most talented". I perfectly understand, and I hope these subhuman scum who have exploited him and his parents ((my grandmother tested medications on herself for Abbott at a bargain basement salary, from morning to evening in order to subsist after her divorce)(grandpa was cheated out of a house because real estate proprietors with connections to Pres. Miguel de la Madrid preferred his cronies instead)) have nothing but death and suffering in their futures. I can't disagree with Hedges and most WAFers that corporations and modern media are powerful brainwashing tools.
One more comment for today: Guess what- I was called "maladaptive" and "autistic" for stating that I hate cars, would rather spend the money on a real horse than a fugging Ferrari, and never want to drive one of these ugly, polluting metallic pods from dystopian science fiction. What do you make of it?
Happy trails, and thank you for the blog suggestions.

4:21 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@MB

Picked up a hardcover copy of your Reenchantment book at my local used bookstore. It has a groooovy pink and blue stripey cover. Interesting to read the first paragraph, given your later work.

@ Tim L

Some people were also upset that the TAR episode included a communist propaganda song and a task based on communist posters. Even a show about travel to other countries cannot dare show Americans that other belief systems exist.

@WAFers

I caught a case of Someone is Wrong on the Internet, with a person who thinks that Eric Williams, who wrote "Capitalism and Slavery" did not really understand capitalism or slavery, because if he did he would have concluded that capitalism is the best system and slavery is an unrelated issue. WOW.

In the glimmer-of-hope category, the other day my hairdresser said he thinks the Kardashians are terrible role models because they are materialistic and shallow. Coming from someone who works in the beauty industry, that says a lot!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

So now we have iPad tHugs, I guess.

Martin-

Clearly, yr a complete and utter deviate.

Pink-

Hmm! Hadn't read that for abt 35 yrs. I guess some people never change.

Apropos of nothing, I read somewhere that when John Maynard Keynes was an undergraduate, he and his pals wd borrow a car every once in a while and drive around the City (financial district of London), and he wd lean out the car window and yell at various suits in homburgs and briefcases, "Excuse me, sir, but you seem to have lost your sense of personal identity!" Perhaps Julian shd try that out in Starbucks, I'm thinking.

mb

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB,
In an interesting article titled " Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity", found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/, we learn that "The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent."

Why? Quoting the article: “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,” Piff later told New York magazine, “the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people.” They are, he continued, “more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”"

In addition, quoting again, " The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums........ our charity system is also fundamentally regressive, and works in favor of the institutions of the elite."

I'm thinking... I knew that.


6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

In a dog-eat-dog system, the sociopaths climb to the top.

mb

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

From the tell it like it is dept., or The Whitest Kids U'Know -
Pledge of Allegiance

-------------------------------

Sat, thanx for the CMU related links.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Winter-

My kinda kids.

mb

9:05 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Not that I want to sound particularly abrasive or anything, but those comments about hairdressers and the patrons of Starbucks--from people who frequent hairdressers and Starbucks--sound a lot like that joke about the customer in the restaurant who complained about both the bad food and the small portions.

I've never been to a Starbucks, so I suppose I don't know what I'm missing. I make my own coffee and get my hair cut at home.

Oi! For some reason this tune just popped into my head:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl01eZ3JpvQ

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Dani said...

Watch Jim Carrey make fun of gun nuts (really funny):

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/0433b30576/cold-dead-hand-with-jim-carrey?playlist=featured_videos

4:18 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Dr. MB,

In your endorsement of Magnuson’s book you say that Americans will finally have to confront the question: If money is not the purpose of life, what is?

I have the answer. Your video of Sarah Palin being inoculated against witchcraft provided the clue. Americans will fall back on their various and peculiar strains of warped fundamentalist Christianity to provide them with new purpose, when and if, the hustling paradigm is forced to slow down due to lack of cheap and easy energy. Religious delusion was always there lurking closely behind the hustling paradigm, and they have frequently worked together in a nauseating synthesis of greed and stupidity (see Mormonism, Pat Robertson, etc.). Americans may never have embraced the notions of community that the Puritan divines had hoped for, but they certainly have taken to heart the worst features of Christianity that we see manifested in the modern fundamentalist.
I guess you could call this my dual process theory. During times of energy abundance, greed and massive environmental destruction will dominate, and during times of low energy availability, religious fanaticism and the burning of heretics will be resurgent. The only way out is through, and these are the only two paths Americans know.
Yes, good times ahead, all. Prepare ye.

4:50 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Today I got booted out of the online teachers Yahoo group I mentioned earlier. It seems those so-called professors couldn’t handle my accurate diagnosis of their severe CRE. Over the past 3 months, my posts there dealt with many of the same issues we discuss here. However, I am aware of only 3 people who agreed with me, one of which lives in Japan. On the other hand, the group owner claims that she received 500 complaints about me from other members. In their posts they never mentioned any books or films they might recommend, they never discussed any social problems, but they bragged about their iPhones. They also got very defensive when I pointed out that the education system was a failure or that corporations took over it. In fact, they were very pro-corporation and pro-military. These are supposedly people with PhDs in various fields. So if they are in such rough shape, I should not be surprised that students can’t write.

Speaking of students who can’t write, I just received this hilarious email from a student who got a zero for plagiarizing her entire paper. Enjoy:

OK! I FEEL THAT YOU ARE REALLY TRYING TO FAIL ME AS STUDENT. YOU DO NOT ACCEPT NOTHING I DO CONCERNING MY DISCUSSION POST OR THE PAPER I JUST DID! I GOT MY PAPER INFORMATION FROM NO WHERE BUT EBSCOHOST DATABASES! YOU CAN GO AND LOOK IT UP YOURSELF. I NEVER HAD NO PROBLEMS OUT OF NONE OF MY PROJECTS THAT I HAVE DONE, BUT YOU ARE THE ONLY INSTRUCTOR I HAVE GOTTEN PROBLEMS WITH. I DID MY ASSIGNMENTS, I DID NOT DO NO PLAGIARISM THAT YOU MAY THINK WAS DONE BUT I DESERVE A FLAT 100 FOR DOING THAT ASSIGNMENT, NOT ONLY THAT BUT BECAUSE THEY WERE CREDIBLE SOURCES AND CITES. I WILL BE GETTING IN TOUCH WITH MY ADVISOR CONCERNING THIS MATTER!!!!!!!!!!!!! IS THAT CLEAR????????

8:02 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

To send a message to the Noble Committee to nominate Bradley Manning:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Bradley-Manning-s-Nobel-Pe-by-David-Swanson-130325-607.html

thanks

8:25 AM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

@al-Q - Oh god - the anti-fashion pose of the 1980s punk rocker who spends hours figuring out how to make his Mohawk stand up just-so in just the right shade of pink, hours in the gym bulking up to look extra menacing, hours putting arranging the pattern of safety pins in his black leather jacket. That's rich.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

The CRE of the Academy, both profs and students, is indeed dazzling. Shd we be surprised that Oprah is giving this yr's commencement address at Harvard? Dreck is now celebrated as gold. As for the student who wrote u: This is our youth, our future! She's well on her way to becoming a corporate mouthpiece, like Oprah. We are not merely descending into shit; we are swimming in it.

mb

10:45 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Bingo:

Thanks, that student's email made my day!

“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.”
― Harlan Ellison

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

This is an interesting article. Hopeful signs of the beginning-of-the-end of some forms of unsustainable consumption? Not that we would want to put a positive spin on anything happening in the US but...

http://www.businessinsider.com/scale-implosion-2013-2

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Acdemia is in a sorry state. The online universities are particulalry foul. One of my favorites was when I was on the faculty of a pretty decent place--Carnegie Mellon. A student wrote in response to a test question for intro economics--markets should be left alone and be guided by the invisible man. To be fair he did write in a blue book. Yes he did go on to form a firm and made millions..but still. Could you imagine even ivy leagers (or faculty for that matter) answering questions in essay form in a blue book--yes so 1970's.......

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Zaid said...

Bingo stated: "In their posts they never mentioned any books or films they might recommend, they never discussed any social problems, but they bragged about their iPhones. They also got very defensive when I pointed out that the education system was a failure or that corporations took over it. In fact, they were very pro-corporation and pro-military. These are supposedly people with PhDs in various fields"

Quoting books or articles and linking to supporting source for claims are no longer fashionable in today's twitter/facebook mindset. In fact, one ignorant thug told me to come out of my cave of books and journals because nobody has time anymore for books and academic journals, and that nobody cares about links or about searching for links or about giving supporting evidence.

One time when I talked to him about a remarkable lady named Dr Vandana Shiva of India and her work against globalization and Monsanto, he replied that the lady is an idiot who did not know what she was talking about. I asked him to elaborate. He replied that Monsanto helps poor farmers and poor nations like India to produce more foods. I advised him to first listen to the lady’s message and claims before condemning her work. He replied that he did not have to listen to the trash before condemning it. This was when I realized that ignorance has assumed a different meaning, and that something has been doing a lot of damage to a lot of people in this country.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi Pink Pearl:

I hear ya. Back in those days I let everything - hair, facial fuzz - go, because I thought it was more anarchic than preening mohawks, etc. Chron Gen's "Outlaw" is a sensible commentary on having to wear the correct punk uniform.

Bingo:

"I do not do no plagiarism." A new academic anthem? The title of Mississippi Fred McDowell's lost 78?

12:27 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Here is an article where Glen Greewald gets giddy: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/26-7

To summarize, Glen thinks that because the supreme court is dealing with a couple gay themed issues (prop 8 in CA and DOMA federally) that this shows that substantive political change can be achieved in US.

I completely disagree. While supporting our right to marry, this issue seems more of a red herring than anything else. A boon to wedding planners and divorce lawyers if things go the proper way, and some protection for children and parents' rights.

Aside from that, it will be hell here in Utah as the poitical discussion becomes even more peripheral to the realities of our lives. There will no doubt be a nasty backlash. Then, after that, we will be left with no substantive change.

In the '70's and '80's, the queer people of my acquaintance all had some significant social and political consciousness. That has been over for quite some time and we are now just as doltish as the rest of America.

Call me Scrooge. Bleah!

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Samuel22 said...

@satyaSarika, You said this: In the '70's and '80's, the queer people of my acquaintance all had some significant social and political consciousness. That has been over for quite some time and we are now just as doltish as the rest of America.

Questions:
I love my car. I love it so much due to my personal desires and proclivities.
1) Can I marry my car? 2) Can demand that the society create some rights for people like me who desire to marry their cars?

This is not to disrespect anybody. I simply need honest answers because I think I deserve respect from society concerning my desires.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB,


Thanks to Sarika above for pointing out Glenn's article linked here: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/26-7 .

The quote I'd like to focus on is:

" Defeatism is more often than not a psychological instrument designed to relieve one of the responsibility to act (if change is impossible, then I have no reason and no obligation to work or take risks for it). That is bolstered by the effort of all ruling interests to instill a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in those they suppress; systemic power abuses are, above all else, designed to persuade people of the futility of opposition, to adopt a defeatist mindset. But it is a mindset that finds little to no support in political history. The rapid and relentless dismantling of the anti-gay legal and societal framework in the US is yet more proof for that proposition."

I respect Glenn because he seems to be a fearless reporter, often doing sincere work, afflicting the powerful.

But what do you think Dr. MB, shouldn't we lean against the power? Do we in effect clear the runway for the elite by standing aside, awaiting the path dependency to spiral downward? Or should we try and alleviate some suffering along the way? Is there a sense of balance, do we carefully pick our battles or is it all for naught? What should we do?

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/26-7

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Bingo,

I think you should consider the possibility your star student was telling the truth. Why do I make this assertion? B/c she may not know what the word "plagiarism" even means. She may have it confused with "creativity" so, please, I beg you, reconsider your F and think of her self-esteem. I hate to see a brilliant career crushed at its outset.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Susan-

Some yrs ago I had a grad student at Hopkins who plagiarized, and when I questioned her she had no idea what it meant. Her idea of writing a paper was to copy stuff from different sources, verbatim. Footnotes? What're those? And this was in grad schl, at Johns Hopkins, in the yr 2000. Now think abt an undergrad at Podunk U. in 2013.

Trout-

We shd leave. Here's a line from Maimonides, "Guide for the Perplexed": "Character consists in keeping out of the way of fools, not in conquering them...I seek no victory for the honor of my soul."
Sometimes, it makes sense to fight, it seems to me; but only if there really is a chance of turning things around. Historically speaking, this does occasionally happen. As for USA Today, that possibility is long gone. Surely this is the most obvious fact about contemporary America.

Sam-

The answer to yr questions can be found on p. 171 of my bk "The Reenchantment of the World," Plate 17, "The American Dream," by the Mexican artist Luis Jimenez, Jr.

mb

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Shane w said...

If what MLK said about leading his people into a burning church is true about the black community, then the same is definitely true about the mainstream queer community. The mainstream GLBT community is as much a part and parcel of American decline & ignorance as any. As MB has said, the similarities outweigh the differences when it comes to American minority groups, and the queer community is no different. The ecstasy over" don't ask, don't tell" repeal is evidence enough, the GLBTcommunity has bought into the American lie as much as any & just wants a piece of the rotten pie.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shane-

This is the Achilles' heel of identity politics: it's a distraction from real issues. If a gay person/woman/black person/Martian breaks the 'glass ceiling' at Goldman Sachs--well, it's still Goldman Sachs. Minority groups just want to 'get theirs'; they don't want a different system or a different way of life. Americans, not being very bright, get all excited abt the culture wars, never managing to notice that this does not change the fundamental structures and distribution of power. If Obama were to suddenly become gay, he'd still be a war criminal and a corporate shill. Hillary is as much an apologist for empire as Thos Friedman. Condi is a thoroughly disgusting human being. Michelle is on the front cover of Vogue. Tell me who is *not* into the American Dream, besides the late George Carlin and a few Native Americans.

mb

9:26 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Sam22,

Not having a copy of MB's Reenchantment handy, re: your question concerning marrying your car: Judging from the question, seems to me you two would be well-suited. Happy honeymoon!

9:38 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Shane -

Me thinks a correction is coming when I say this, but, I not sure the Dr. KIng analogy holds with the glbt group. Seems to me it is more about being treated and loved as an equal rather than participating in a farcical dream. Certainly, Dr KIng wasn't looking for a slice of the pie. I know Harry Belafonte wasn't and he is the one that propagates the story.

It may be that I mis-read your comment,or, just do not understand it.

Satya -

Agreed

10:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shep-

The King comment was made just b4 he died, I believe. MLK started out trying to get black folks a better deal vis-a-vis the American Dream; he only began to become disillusioned w/it at the end: including speaking out against war in Vietnam etc. His awareness that the pie was rotten and the church on fire was a late development.

mb

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

@Bingo: You always put into words what I had trouble articulating. I can't say I am the go-to authority on the modern world, but I am definitely in agreement with you on Western decadence. To me, Germany, Singapore, Israel and most of Western Europe seem like America Lite- capitalist technocracies to become wealthy in, and not much else. They and America are pretty much already techno-totalitarian states with a gaudy commercialism. I would go even further and say that the other countries mentioned here have their own share of Cranial-Rectal Embedment: for example, there are upscale restaurants in France that would rather admit pets than children. Infants, toddlers and sometimes even elementary-to-middle-school-aged children may not always exhibit exemplary behavior, but come on- I'd put establishing human connections way above being smug-asses. Now to the second point:
What should be done to strengthen Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific? I am afraid that with all of the interventionist and neocolonial plans today, we in the "Global South" and the Orient will be brutally cannibalized by the "democratic and enlightened West" if we don't resist. The core of the solution would obviously be to spread education and culture (with a special emphasis on philosophy and the fine arts). To elaborate further on this, you may want to read Counterpunch contributor Andre Vltchek's articles (http://andrevltchek.weebly.com/) and this reflection by Nahida the Exiled Palestinian:http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/palestine-moment-of-reflection.html
I am done, and I hope we can become discerning enough to reject the "poisonous glitter" Nahida discusses. One more quote:
"The Europeans are about a gnat's ass behind the Americans in establishing consumerist societies." -Joe Bageant, now deceased blogger and journalist

12:05 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

MB
"This is the Achilles' heel of identity politics: it's a distraction from real issues. If a gay person/woman/black person/Martian breaks the 'glass ceiling' at Goldman Sachs--well, it's still Goldman Sachs"

Exactly. This is what's been the fatal flaw in feminism. Feminists want to have the power to devour the weak just like any other predator.

The glass ceiling has been to some degree a help to all us regular schmucks in that it's kept 51% of the sharks out of the feeding pool.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

I guess we need a glass ceiling for the remaining 49%, then. The truth is that very few Americans, of whatever gender or ism, are interested in a fundamentally different type of society. This is why all of these polarized debates between GOP and Dems, for example, are finally just shadow boxing.

mb

3:08 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Well, the American Dream is going to be safe until the end. Now there is a dolt tank that can be described as Creationist Climatist, according to NPR news this morning.

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/27/174141194/a-hot-topic-climate-change-coming-to-classrooms

I quote: "On top of this, there's the political battle over how climate change is taught. Last month, Colorado became the 18th state in recent years — including seven this year — to consider an "Academic Freedom Act."

"The bill will go toward creating an atmosphere of open inquiry," Joshua Youngkin of the Discovery Institute told state lawmakers. The institute is the same group that's long questioned evolution and the way it's taught. Now it has crafted suggested legislation that also targets global warming, although Youngkin testified that the aim is not to ban teaching about climate change.

"It just gives teachers a simple right," he told lawmakers, "to know that they can teach both sides of a controversy objectively, and in a scientific manner, in order to induce critical thinking in their student body."

What drives these people? How do we get rid of them? Drones!

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Shane, good point. Big deal, the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell just said, "Great! Now we can have gay killers too!"

8:31 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

A glass ceiling for the remaining 49%? That would work, or we could just do away with the building...or switch angles and go for defenestration.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Shep,

Whenever the homogenized, co-opted image of MLK is used by the status quo, it's always as the one-dimensional, love-&-dignity-will-conquer-all figure that everyone can support with a tear in the eye & self-satisfied nod of the head. Further, many who would have opposed him (and sometimes did) when he was alive will be sure to tell you they were always behind him -- now that he's safely dead, of course.

I was just 14 when he was killed, but I can remember how many liberal newspapers & pundits turned against him when he started questioning both the war in Vietnam & the capitalist culture as a whole. He was accused of ruining things for everyone by going beyond his accepted role as spokesman for civil rights -- a worthy & necessary cause, to be sure! -- but he wasn't supposed to do more than that.

I've been reading a lot of Malcolm Boyd lately, the activist Episcopal priest who was a Freedom Rider after leaving a secular job in Hollywood in the 1950s. Much of his writing about 1960s racism isn't about the obvious suspects, i.e., the most rabid & violent bigots down South. No, much of it is about the moderate Northern liberal, who's all for change -- but at a very slow pace, and as long as it doesn't upset day-to-day life, and as long as no angry Negroes move next door. His critique extends to liberals who are against the war in principle, but let's not be too hasty, etc. And he's absolutely scathing about empty consumer-"success" culture as well.

But you don't hear much about him when the usual 20 or so safe, fun images of the 1960s are trotted out for nostalgic purposes. Just as you don't hear about the activists who remained active, rather than turning Yuppie. Just as you didn't see much mainstream media coverage of all the anti-war demonstrations against Iraq. If they can't assimilate you, or homogenize you, they don't necessarily have to crush you. They just have to ignore & thus erase you.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

In case no one posted it yet, here is a link to Sherry Turkle's (Alone Together) TEDtalk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

@Martin
I know it's hard to see it now, because the world order is currently so dominated by the wealthy capitalist countries with the US at the top, but I firmly believe what MB says about the advantages of being on the periphery when it comes to American and capitalist collapse. His comparisons to the Renaissance coming from the periphery of the Roman empire are an apt description of what is likely as capitalism collapses--the US is finished, of that we can agree, that is what the blog is about, after all. This one trick pony is finished. As for Canada, being so close to the US, it will be very difficult for them, but, luckily, their identity is way more flexible and non-ideological than the US--they've already come out from under one empire (British), so I have faith that, ultimately, they can come out from under another (American) As for Western Europe, South Korea, & Japan, being so tied into the American/Western capitalist system, it will be very rough for them, but, looking to the USSR, I have faith in them over the long term. Unlike the US, they actually have a history and a culture to fall back to, just like Russia & the other Soviet republics after the fall of the USSR. Unlike the US, there is actually something of substance there, under all the dross. As for the developing world, how could the collapse of the US and capitalism be anything other than liberating? I mean, American and Western influence has been nothing but oppressive and destructive, so having it collapse is like the 1000 lb gorilla getting off your back.
It's like MB said, the assets of the US, and, by extension, the West, will become its liabilities & what does it in, and the liabilities of the developing world will become its assets. In the future, being resource misers, self-sufficient, and non-technologically dependent, as much of the developing world already is, will be their assets and to their benefit, while the US, and possibly other Western nations, fall into chaos & collapse.

12:46 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

WAFers,

Some names for Drones:

flamingo, hammerhead, phantom, air sniper, seeker, camcopter, fairey queen, fluffy, diamond hero, hornet, sea runner, streaker, proton, vindicator, tango, snowgoose, aerosdream, arcangel, guardian, kingfisher, brumby, pelican observer, cybird, cyberwraith, avatar, mantis, demipod, soar eagle, long haul, pterodactyl, dassault, techno-sud, barracuda, aladin, eurohawk, luna, pegasus, ideon, small target drone, medium target drone, large target drone, mastiff, scout, searcher, harpy, ranger, skylark, birdeye, pioneer, hermes, micro-falcon, mini-falcon, mini-falcon-eye, sparrow, butterfly, meteor, spa, silent-eye, cryowing, aerobot, canard, cruiser, falco, explorer, jumbo bazz, shadow, tornado, shooting star, vector, vision, flytronic, perseus, skyblade, fantail, vulture, shark, raven, queen wasp, fury, queen bee, phoenix, systems demon, banshee, voodoo, martinet, watchkeeper, teal, mote, wisp, wildeye, insect, dragon, leapp, jayhawk, cardinal, hummingbird, condor, dominator, integrator, compass, neptune, oblique wing, predator, warrior, reaper, firefly, quail, global observer, snipe, hunter, kettering bug, polecat, dark star, crossbow, lightening bug, peregrine, scarab, switchblade, stalker

12:48 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Berman

As a person with Asperger's which is a form of autism I agree with what you say. It is true that we are a nation of hustlers and a person like me who is socially inept can't play the hustler's game.

What I see is that things are corrupt and there are all kinds of deceptions going around. I see a whole lot of pretend and phoniness around my area.

Even the non-profits have to hustle as well. A lot of the money donated to non-profits do not go to the beneficiaries. They line certain people's pockets.

If you want to see what America has become and this saddens me then look at this:

http://www.hustlers10commandments.com/

http://hustleu.org/

How can a guy like me ever hope to play the hustler's game. The answer is I cannot.

Personally, I see American society as sick like you.

If American society is sick and it considers me sick then do we not have a double negation here? Am I the one who is sane living in an maladjusted, insane and twisted society.

This is what I believe we are dealing in. http://www.theparableteller.com/2010/08/poisoned-well.html

What are your recommendations for those such as myself?

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

The current tendency to look at blips rather than trends is fascination. Even in a downward trajectory there will be little upward blips. A large challenge is that even among the brighter sorts in the U.S the historical memory does not seem to go past 1929. Historic blips in the form of political events are enlarged. MB while in Mexico City behold la casa de moneda. This was the source of wealth for the richest and most powerful empire. But from between 1550 to 1647 Spain defaulted on its debt and really began its downward spiral. What is really interesting is that Mexican coinage served as currency for the U.S. up to 1850 and mexico was the center of administration even for the Phillipenes. Spain never recovered and neither will the U.S. Think of even the Roman Dark ages--went on for 500 years at a clip (poblems began when soliders pension contracts not honored) Events in Cyrpus, Bulgaria and Southern Europe do not bode well for the west and the U.S. contra popular opinion is in far worse shape than Europe. In terms of empires--the U.S. is just a flash in the pan--it wont come back no matter who you vote for or with gay marriage or any other political theatre. Extend suffrage to every body even pets and toddlers and that won;t change a thing either.....As Marty Armstrong likes to point out once a nation cannot pay its debts its all over fast and it gets ugly--just consider history its not different this time.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

@Mike Alan, thanks for the article ("Deep Ecology"). It articulated a lot of what I've been feeling lately, re: environmentalists and why much of the environmental movement has become yet another doomed project that's lost its way.

@Martin, I hate cars too, and am quite sure we are both hopeless deviants. I've lived for years in a big city (NYC), and always used to think that one of the saving graces of the place was that no one drove, we all crammed into the freakin subway together (another, sort of dubious grace was that income inequality was not at all hidden). Now, though, much of the place (Manhattan, much of Brooklyn, and a lot of Queens) has become a hypercapitalist mecca, with Daddy Bloomberg valiantly trying to improve the less pecunious of us through legislation, and everyone who gets a couple of dollars buying an SUV. It's actually kind of sad how New York has changed, but probably inevitable.

@Bingo, may I suggest another venue for your superb reporting on the decline and fall, etc: the Houston airport (named George Bush Int'l, great caesar's freakin ghost!). For your review, sights including: A gentleman with two toddler girls, obsessively talking on his cell phone and caressing his own (multi-rolled) belly, whilst pulling up his t-shirt, ignoring both daughters who proceed to walk up and down the rows of seats chanting, "money money money", in time to some pop song loop wherein the chanteuse, in that high pitched, extremely processed-sounding voice that has become what passes these days for "good" singing, sings that phrase ("money, money money"), over, and over and over and ovah...

2:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

That we are history is surely beyond debate. At the same time, I think it's time to give pets the vote. In fact, I think they shd be able to run for office. Cd they do any worse than Bush and Obama?

Cube-

Thanks for the hustler links. Amazing how these people have no shame. As for yr situation, I confess I don't know much abt Asperger's. I'm wondering if there are support groups for it where u live, or even online, so u can get some advice on how to get along as best u can in a destructive society. I'm sure yr not alone, and that some folks w/the syndrome have useful experience re: how to negotiate the terrain. Plus, if any Wafers can help Cube w/this, pls sign in; I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Near-

'leapp' is kinda neat...As long as we're murdering innocent people, we have reason to be proud.

mb

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

In violation of 1 a day rule for cube---

My eldest duaghter was diagnosed in the U.S w Aspergers. Usual followed. Moved overseas when she was 9. Saw a UK doc and with low carb diet and a lot of probiotics (there is gut syndrome associated with this) and moving her to a waldorf school did wonders and she now runs a couple of greenhouses. Key--doing things with hands and producing things, avoiding screens and news, working with things and not people and sales--build things, raise plants, in some cases design games etc. In effect avoding abstractions and interactions with politicians or sales type people---interactions which require a great deal of mirror neuron action should be avoided not just by aspies but all of us. I am too old to have been cuaght in the diagnostic dragnet of the last two decades but certainly my brother and I probably fell somewhere along the spectrum so wound up just being weird and good at math--labels easier to bear than being diagnosed with a disease. You are not sick--just sensitive in different ways. Repeat you are not sick cube!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi Dr. B and fellow WAFers--

From Connecticut, the "Land of Steady Habits" (and I'll be curious to see--as we transition from denial to anger a la Kubler Ross with respect to collapse--how many more stories like this we'll see . . . all about rankism . . . frustrated older dude takin' it out on an easy target)

http://www.courant.com/community/fairfield/hc-fairfield-mcdonalds-sandwich-thrower-0328-20130327,0,4586868.story

Best--

Brian

5:25 PM  
Blogger jml said...

Cube:

Yes you are sane living in an insane society.

"The fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane." Erich Fromm

That pretty much sums up America.

You are really not so different from the rest of us WAFers, here. Maintenance of sanity comes from turning the t.v. off, reading alot, practicing an art/craft, being in nature, visiting sites like this with like minded people who are also trying to maintain some sense of sanity in a culture that has gone mad. You are not alone.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Berman

I have tried challenging people's standards in America to get them to think outside of the box. They will not do it whatsoever.

One of the things I do not grasp is how they can claim that their extreme internal locus of control is valid.

In people's minds here if one suffers misfortune then it is the person's fault that they suffered misfortune. Why is this so? How do they derive this conclusion?

It is like people here behave as though that one has control over the very fabric of time and space itself. I can't make heads or tails of this.

Anytime I've questioned people even to obtain understanding it is rare that I receive an intelligent discussion.

I will receive :
a. cursed out
b. ignored
c. given hackney lectures
d. sarcasm

They will tell me life is unfair.

fair has the definition
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair

If life is unfair is an established rule and if life doesn't conform to established rules then how does "life is not fair" hold up? It is a logical paradox.

When I asked people this question I was called a douchebag and a dumb shit.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cube-

You'll find answers to yr questions in QOV, essay entitled "conspiracy vs. Conspiracy..." Meanwhile, a poll taken ca. 1993 revealed that 80% of Americans believe that people have to find solutions to their troubles by themselves. Theodore Zeldin comments: "Americans remain a nation of strangers, even when they are generous." (In my experience, they are not generous.) Finally, if u can use yr condition as an excuse to vomit on the type of people Capo refers to, and thus get away w/it, I'd go for it.

Brian-

That guy is the face of America. Try googling Latreasa Goodman and Rayon Mcintosh as well. I'm hoping Latreasa will be Hillary's VP choice in 2016. As for Rayon: a hero of mine, for sure.

mb

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Minor League Baseball Team to Debut Urinal Video Games

The skiing video for this game is all wrong. The game developers completely missed the urinal on this one, as anyone who frequents this blog knows, Urinate on the Gucci's was the way to go.

Before relieving yourself you get to select, from the onscreen menu, anyone of a number of qualified political or corporate figures, who then dance across the screen a la Fred Astaire while you try to hose his feet down.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Winter-

1st I thought this was a joke, like you might see in "The Onion." But no: just when u think America can't possibly degrade itself any further--it does!

mb

9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Buffoons on Parade Dept.: Portrait of a Dying Nation (be sure to view all 30 fotos):

http://www.usnews.com/photos/guns-in-america

9:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

From Lewis Mumford, in his optimistic phase (i.e., many decades ago; ya gotta love the guy, really):

“… there is so little prospect of overcoming the defects of the power system by any attack that employs mass organization and mass efforts at persuasion; for these mass methods support the very system they attack. The changes that have so far been effective, and that give promise of further success, are those that have been initiated by animated individual minds, small groups, and local communities nibbling at the edges of the power structure by breaking routines and defying regulations. Such an attack seeks, not to capture the citadel of power, but to withdraw from it and quietly paralyse it. Once such initiatives become widespread, as they at last show signs of becoming, it will restore power and confident authority to its proper source: the human personality and the small face-to-face community.”

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

Dr. B.,

I feel this is appropriate especially considering your next to last post.
http://rt.com/usa/dhs-hollow-bullets-purchase-855/
I also found a website with official government documents not too long ago and it said DHS was about to start buying drones.
http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/item/13714-dhs-inks-$443-million-deal-to-buy-more-drones Couldn't find the document but this will do. Budget crisis? HA!

12:49 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

“The truth is that very few Americans, of whatever gender or ism, are interested in a fundamentally different type of society.”

Interested in a fundamentally different type society are we? Seeing society as the problem and not yourself as the problem -- how very un-Oprah-like of you? It’s not everyday you hear or read anyone expressing that idea, at least not in the last 40 years or so. It reminds me of this from Oscar Wilde:

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

Well, Americans think they have already landed there, and so they burned the map and the sails, and it’s pretty obvious they would like to burn the people who would dare think that we need a new map. And so we have the dead, stagnant place America is today--frightened of any type of thought not directed at making oneself fit in, and full of people who fear to look any farther than their iPhones. No questions asked, no imagination allowed. Here was one of America's rare imaginative people, showing us where such a place is headed, it’s a place that doesn’t leave you with many options.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_Y3x_5tA2s

Fundamentally different type of society... No, you're not likely to see or hear such a phrase except on one or two blogs like this, tiny atolls in the middle of a vast dead ocean of conformity, distraction, delusion, sterilized of imagination. It’s a very good phrase, one that needs to be thought about, with each word deeply and repeatedly considered. Because what we truly need is a fundamentally different type of society.

4:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

I suspect the DHS knows something we don't...

Z-

Nice twist!

mb

6:40 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Berman
I read your article and it was a very good article. It is very enlightening to say the least and you conveyed your thoughts in a very profound way. You stated exactly the things I find wrong with America.

To me, our society behaves like a cult and none of its tenets are ever open to question and challenge. People become upset when one questions the tenets themselves that make up America.

For example, I have asked people why our rights are inalienable when exceptions exist to them like the Typhoid Mary Case. To me, she had to be isolated somewhere to protect other people’s lives and prevent them from contacting Typhoid.

The answer given to me is that one can’t infringe upon anyone else’s inalienable rights. Another response I receive is I’m called an idiot or cursed out. I do agree this exception has to exist but by having exceptions how can our rights be claimed as inalienable in an absolute way? It makes no sense and I do not understand it.

Our Founding Fathers were not gods. They were men like you and me and the constitution was the result of a series of compromises they had to come up with.

Even slavery was a form of a compromise the founding fathers had. Economics played a major factor with why slavery won out during that time.

Even James Madison predicted the constitution would fail eventually. He wanted a stronger central government then the one we had.

These things are treated as though they came from heaven itself and are never open to question and scrutiny. It is considered in the social veneer to question stuff like this and it is socially inappropriate to question the veneer itself.

This is another issue I have American society. How can one learn and grow and know what and conform is appropriate when it is inappropriate to question what is appropriate?

Therein lies the paradox I have found myself in. Society is extremely individualistic like you state, so how can one conform to extreme individualism. Yet, it is what the American people precisely do. The American people conform to non-conformity and rebellion which is a logical paradox.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

I wonder if an annales type history exists of the day to day life of people in a collapse or declining empire. How do they cope? Official history is as Tolstoy said an amazing thing if only it were true! What did people do in France in 1941 on a day to day basis? 1946 Germany? 1918-1999 Russia (othe than Grossmans terrifying treatment) ? 1830 Spain. 1200 to 900 bc Rome? We know the U.S. is good and done for but are there certain lessons to be drawn to make for many the transition comprehensible? I think just being stoic and bearing Seneca and Marcus Aurelius in mind are all we have and focusing on the day. Though I suspect that escapism to utopian communities like the rappites or the oneida will be common as well...

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Another brick in the corporate wall:

http://www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-hr-933-provision-1156079#

Yep, Monsanto got Congress to pass a bill forbidding litigation against GMO foods even if they're proven to have health risks. And Obama signed happily signed it.

And here's an article about a new psychological study that suggests too much religiosity in a child may be a sign of an emotional problem. Note -- it doesn't say all religion is mental illness, just that certain extremes may be warning signs:

http://news.yahoo.com/child-too-religious-094552602.html

Then read the comments posted. The American Id speaks! And it ain't pretty.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I just went through the Guns in America pics from US News. I think we Wafers should now adopt a Mr. Ken Halterman from Sandy, Utah who is seen with an AK 47 containing a 75 round clip. I think he's ready. I checked out the crime wavc in Sandy, Utah and in a population of 100,000 there was 1 murder in 2010 (latest statistics) and 34 robberies. So, load up, Ken Halterman. Sandy couldn't survive without your eternal vigilance.
By the way, my 88 year old mom still can't believe a man helped her down 5-6 steps the other day. I mean how pathetic a country if a simple act of kindness (actually responsibility) should be greeted with such amazement.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Cube:

Regarding your posts, my personal opinion (backed up by people like Richard Louv and Dr. B) is that time is a huge part of CRE-dom around the world. Everyone is moving fast, in a hurry to get ahead, can't stop and think things through - instead they rely on the soundbite and oversimplified jockstrappery, just as you describe. How much can you know about yourself if you haven't spent 90 minutes alone in the woods or prairie or fishing? Instead people become afraid, mean, lazy and stupid. Also see the Sherry Turkle TEDtalk I posed a link to earlier in the comments, she talks about this very thing.

A few things have helped me wade through the CREs: Number one is spending every free second I have outside. Read "The Nature Principle" by Louv (who I mentioned earlier), or Dr. B's chapter in QoV about going to a monastery. Second, read blogs like this and the many, many books (and a few movies) that show you that no matter if you are buried in buffoons, there are other NMIs out there. Try going back to the beginning of this blog and reading the old posts and comments, I'll bet 200+ books have been mentioned that are great reads. Third. Once you realize you are surrounded by dolts, you can take all their douchebaggery as just that and ignore them. Like talking to a babbling toddler. If a jockstrap calls you a dumb-shit, what do you care? It comes from the mouths of dolts!

9:26 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Z,

I tried to follow your link to "one of America's rare imaginative people" but couldn't find it; I kept getting either graph equations or else what seemed to be a Phillipine crime drama.

Regarding urinal video games:

This strikes me as a truly ominous development, despite its seeming whimsicality. It looks a whole lot like a deliberate program of accelerated infantilization. Do we really need grown men acting like three-year olds playing with their plumbing in public? Imagine making love to a man possessing such Fischer-Price mentality. What about little boys witnessing this? Will they not come to see this as normal and acceptable? And why would anyone, regardless of gender, need to be distracted by a screen for the thirty or forty seconds it takes to pee? Is it simply a way to sell more electronics, or is it a way to condition people towards a total electronic remote control of their own behavior?

11:37 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

MB & fellow WAFers-

That list of "names for drones" was floating around on some 'tumblr accounts' yesterday. I could not find the source documentation. Checking around the web, I'd say it's a list compiled from various sources(and some would be reliable).

However, such an 'inventory' just might remind WAFers of that list of over 200+ words connoting "a swindle" that Walter McDougall provides us in his book "Freedom Just Around the Corner." Of course, McDougall says that American English is uniquely endowed to encompass such words connoting "a swindle."

Not sure precisely, but perhaps American English is also "well-endowed" to connote or encompass word clusters befitting the "terminological," (ie., in the sense of murdering innocent people, de-termination of 'targets' & their subsequent termination).

And you know Wafers, after hearing the NIKE Corporation's new Tiger Woods "Ad" that just came out (Read: Public Relations campaign to reinvigorate Woods' tarnished image in the public eye)... I have another phrase to add to both the *swindle list* and the *drone list*:

"Winning takes care of everything."
***
But here's a site providing (it seems) reliable documentation re/ Drone Strikes:

http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/

The info tab at the top of this page says "the dataset is maintained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ)." I'll research this some more and back with you all if I find anything important but until then: O&D...

1:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cube-

Pls try to limit yr posts to one a day. Thanks. Also pls put a post-it on yr bathrm mirror. It shd say: I LIVE AMONG DOLTS. This will make u feel better. Also, it's true.

mb

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

WAFer's,

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little." - Edmund Burke

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. B,

just looked at the "guns in america" pics...sickening. Potrait of a dying nation, indeed. I guess it shouldn't surpise me at all by now, especially considering my daily affirmation that 'i live among dolts', but the fervence with which my countrymen talk about guns and their second ammendment right; the emotionally charged, ridiculous bullshit. A colleague (phd, no less) was so thrilled to report to us, his coworkers, this morning that he and his wife received their concealed-carry permits over the weekend and would be brandishing their firearms at all times. When I asked him quite simply,"why?", I was verbally lambasted by him and two other colleagues. There is NO chance for this culture. None, zero. We are in love with firearms, for Christ's sake. GUNS. we largely and proudly identify ourselves by the possession of deadly weapons. You guys all know this already. I had to rant. Haven't posted in a while, hope everyone is well.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Gd to hear from u. Yes, the death instinct has definitely taken over this culture. And as u can c, stupidity is hardly a function of IQ; Ph.D.'s can certainly be morons. But the saddest are the 'progressives', who really believe there is hope in the face of all this. You wonder at what pt the empirical evidence will finally constitute a wake-up call for them. Never, I suspect.

It's all over but the shouting, and there will be lots of that.

mb

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Daddy Issues said...

The 'alternative tradition' shut down once again. (Mountain man vs building inspectors)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324178904578340850547093268.html

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Wafers,

I see a bit of "progressive wisdom" here lately... Re: Guns. I think that in a civilized place (say Milan, or Istanbul, Tokyo) you have absolutely no need at all for guys. None. However in places like San Salvador Lagos, Bangi, Camden, Southeast D.C, a gun makes plenty f sense. The conceal carry folks in the U.S. are actually on to something. There is no trust and government institutions are failing. People are alienated and things are spiraling downward and crime and violence are on the rise. Why pray tell from a practical perspective is having a gun a bad idea? Mainstream media and Obama against guns? Progressives against guns? I'm buying 10.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Putting aside the reasons why most Americans own guns, I sometimes wonder if it might still make sense to own one myself simply because I live in a country where so many dolts own guns.

...or have I just taken a sip from the all-pervasive American cool-aid?

9:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Gd move, and I'm with u. If I lived in the US (and what a relief not to), I wd arm myself to the teeth. I'd have an arsenal in my basement, carry around a revolver and an AK-47, maybe a few grenades, and drive an Abrams tank. I'd also see if I cdn't buy a drone on the black market, park it in my backyard. All this is just common sense, really.

mb

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Cube, I have Asperger's too, and while I'm not typically called names (I live among the few decent people in America, fortunately), I'm having the same problem whenever I try to bring up anything that requires intellectual work.

That's because every time I try, my Asperger's is used against me. I'm treated as a "hostile person" in advance, my views are stereotyped, I'm verbally browbeaten, I'm basically treated with no "intellectual civility"...which is ITSELF being hostile for no reason, because I never insult anyone, I just point out problems.

And it's not just leftists who are having problems criticizing the West; this impacts the right wing, too.

Has anyone here ever heard of the right-wing British philosopher, Celia Green? When she went to school as a child, the teachers were hostile to her having intellectual talents; they forcibly tried to change her personality so she'd be absorbed in "other people" (like life is a constant party), forcibly held her back from pursuing more complicated books to read while she was a schoolchild, and they forcibly prevented her from gaining certain academic positions she sought after. They did this on the grounds that she supposedly "thought herself above everyone else", and thus this justified artificially tampering with her mind and her opportunities to learn more about life in order to enforce conformity and their idea of "niceness".

And she's still EXTREMELY angry about it, even though she's now in her seventies.

And the reason is because, as she says in one of her books, Advice to Clever Children, if you're unfortunate enough to find yourself criticizing anti-intellectualism out of your personal integrity, you are then fashioned with a new social identity, the disproving of which is necessary for anyone to ever take you seriously...

...but the catch-22 is that nothing you say will EVER prove them wrong, because if you defend yourself, that's taken as PROOF of your inflated ego, and thus your very denials are taken as proof of your guilt. She compares the situation to an old African punishment of cutting off a man's legs, then taunting him for not being able to run.

Morris Berman, I think, talked of a similar phenomenon when the New York Times trashed his Dark Ages America book, and then didn't print his response in order to "tag" him forever.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Did someone say "death instinct"? I saw this a few weeks ago but didn't get around to posting it due to the constant flow of other issues. The one post per day rule makes it hard to share all the things you see. We need a message board. Or maybe I should finally open my own blog. :)

Underworld saint becoming more popular in US - Yahoo! News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A follower in New Orleans built a public shrine in her honor. An actor in Albuquerque credits her with helping him land a role on the TV show "Breaking Bad." She turns up routinely along the U.S.-Mexico border at safe houses, and is sighted on dashboards of cars used to smuggle methamphetamine through the southwest desert.

Popular in Mexico, and sometimes linked to the illicit drug trade, the skeleton saint known as La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following north of the border: immigrant small business owners, artists, gay activists and the poor, among others — many of them non-Latinos and not all involved with organized religion.

Clad in a black nun's robe and holding a scythe in one hand, Santa Muerte appeals to people seeking all manner of otherworldly help: from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance to stopping lovers from cheating and landing better jobs. And others seek her protection for their drug shipments and to ward off law enforcement.

...

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow WAFers:

Yesterday, I visited a new gun store with its own gun range in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago. Now, I grew up in rural America, hunting, fishing, and running the dogs in the woods.
So I am very familiar with all types of firearms. The first thing you notice is there is no available parking, the place is packed, then walking into the store is the 8 to 10 people who are actually working there which I guess isn't surprising given all the traffic. And it hits you, many of the store employees have pistols strapped to their hips. Now, in my rural area, it was all about shotguns ( mostly pump action to eject a spent shell and reload the next) for hunting birds and ducks and rifles ( mostly bolt action to eject a spent shell and reload the next) were for squirrels and deer. This store had relatively few of those types of guns. Nope, the big attraction, judging by customer activity were the semi automatic pistols. They took up most ( 2/3) of the display space. The other thing I noticed was the nonexistent inventory ( empty shelves ) for ammunition, particularly for pistols. They were out of almost everything. The clerk I spoke with said as soon as it comes in, it goes right out the door. He continued to tell me that they get 3 or 4 calls a day from local police looking for ammo as well. The other major item for sale were assault rifles which covered 2 whole walls. They also had a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, yours for only $13,000 ! In back, there was a 21 station gun range, all packed with a 1 hour waiting list. The customers appeared from all walks of life from businessmen in suits to tattooed young folks dressed like gang members. All in all, pretty darn scary.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

Re: guns in america photos -- they should be called "white folks in america." With the exception of one man who looked maybe Hispanic, every single one of those people was white (and probably very very scared of anyone who isn't).

Cube: I'm with you. One more discrepancy you should note, our much vaunted constitution with its supposed emphasis on "rights" actually originally enshrined slavery. The rights it was concerned with mostly were property rights for white male landowners. I've noticed that, in this country, nothing gets people madder than suggesting that their "right" to own things should be at all limited. But apparently, their "right" to any legitimate form of dissent is not worth bothering about.

That is not to say the constitution is all wack. It *should* protect us against current anti civil liberties legislation, such as the NDAA, AETA, etc. But constitutional arguments in the SCOTUS are generally only winners when the right being upheld is that of a corporation (like Monsanto) to own stuff or steal stuff or manipulate stuff, or pay billions to politicians so they can write legislation for them (see below).

@Tim, yeah, Monsanto. Another nail in the coffin.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, I think we may have run the topic of guns into the ground. I think we can all agree that this is the real America, and it's pretty depressing. I just can't help thinking that there are only 2 things Americans need to be doing at this pt:
1. Buying guns
2. Shooting other people.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon refuses to bomb Toronto and Paris, despite my many letters to the JCS.

Smith-

Jonathan Franzen once called that reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, "the stupidest person in NYC." Why he limited himself to once city, I'm not sure. Both Norman Mailer and Salman Rushdie said she had no business reviewing bks. She has a simple formula: if she agrees with the bk, then it's a gd bk; if she disagrees with it, then it's a bad one. But even if the powers that be at the NYT realized she was a joke, they are not going to fire an Asian woman, no sirree. Meanwhile, her smear of DAA--and it was a completely dishonest review--worked. Practically no one else reviewed the bk, or the sequel, WAF, and I almost never get invited to lecture in the US. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as censorship.

mb

2:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, I think we may have run the topic of guns into the ground. I think we can all agree that this is the real America, and it's pretty depressing. I just can't help thinking that there are only 2 things Americans need to be doing at this pt:
1. Buying guns
2. Shooting other people.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon refuses to bomb Toronto and Paris, despite my many letters to the JCS.

Smith-

Jonathan Franzen once called that reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, "the stupidest person in NYC." Why he limited himself to once city, I'm not sure. Both Norman Mailer and Salman Rushdie said she had no business reviewing bks. She has a simple formula: if she agrees with the bk, then it's a gd bk; if she disagrees with it, then it's a bad one. But even if the powers that be at the NYT realized she was a joke, they are not going to fire an Asian woman, no sirree. Meanwhile, her smear of DAA--and it was a completely dishonest review--worked. Practically no one else reviewed the bk, or the sequel, WAF, and I almost never get invited to lecture in the US. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as censorship.

mb

2:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: and yes, yr rt, the Times was too cowardly to even print my response (16 June 06). Those interested can read it here; it's posted in the Archives. What a fabulous nation this is.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B wrote: I think we can all agree that this is the real America, and it's pretty depressing. I just can't help thinking that there are only 2 things Americans need to be doing at this pt:
1. Buying guns
2. Shooting other people.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon refuses to bomb Toronto and Paris, despite my many letters to the JCS.


Don't worry Dr B; some policy recommendations take some time to implement. Your recommendation may not take too long to be put into practice:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/usandworld/national/arizona-gun-proponents-launch-free-gun-program0d50a5d4074d4579877af8ca976d1e0a-200563131.html

4:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

Shaun is my kinda guy, even if he misspells his name.

mb

4:36 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Just in case we have become too despairing that there are virtually no liberals/progressives out there who "get it," one who does is Ian Welsh--but perhaps that is only because he is Canadian. Ian wrote a great blog post the other day entitled, "Go Zen: Drop Deserve and Take Responsibility," which includes this fabulous passage:

"Blood.

"Our society runs on it, it’s mixed in with your phone, your oil, your car and far more besides.

"Our societies aren’t made up of anyone but us, and we bear some responsibility for what they do. This is what’ll make readers mad, me saying that, me saying that you, we, are responsible. We refuse to accept our responsibility. It’s all the fault of the politicians, the bankers, the military, the… someone else. But not you, oh no, not you. Not me. Not us.

"I’ll tell you this, if you don’t accept responsibility, you don’t accept that you have the power to make change. Slaves have virtually no responsibility. Free people take responsibility. Those who aren’t free take responsibility for revolution, or they are slaves.

"The world doesn’t have to run on so much blood, so much rape, so much torture, so much murder, so much sickness. It’s not necessary.

"Or rather it’s not necessary if people are willing to live a different life than the suburban American life. If they’re willing to imagine a different future. But if what you want is a life where you live in your little suburban castle, driving your oil-mobile to your job, gazing at your lawn, eating factory food, then yeah, it’s necessary. If you want to maintain the current Western, the current suburban lifestyle, then people have to die. They have to be raped. They have to live sick. That’s what is required to maintain your lifestyle."

http://www.ianwelsh.net/go-zen-drop-deserve-and-take-responsibility/

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Well there's been a good deal of reference to CRE on this blog as a figurative condition. The two images provided here & here are demonstrative of how the American troglodyte (aka dolts on this blog) are able to perform such a feat.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Sorry to continue the guns topic, but I saw this yesterday and it scared me.

3d printing guns...an AR15 for everyone

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

7:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dude-

I have this vague impression that Ian may have been a student of mine, many yrs ago; but then, I'm slowly turning senile, as many of my critics will attest to.

mb

10:23 PM  
Anonymous satyaSarika said...

Looks like Noam is not so optimistice these days: http://www.commondreams.org/video/2013/03/28-0

I respect and have some serious warm fuzzies for Noam. It will be a sad day for sentient beings (all 700k of us in the US human realm) when he dies.

Dear Dr. MB, OTOH, your friend (and a fellow I admire), Richard Wolf seems positively giddy with optimism here: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/3/25/watch_extended_interview_with_economist_richard_wolff_on_how_marxism_influences_his_work

Perhaps the corporate luncheon deli meats have gone to his head?

12:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sat-

Probably closer to 200K, but who's counting. Yes, Noam is the godfather of all intelligent protest and expose. As for Rick: you cd be rt; one can actually get high from corned beef. In 1962, after a public forum that attacked Phil Roth (and this was pre-Portnoy, mind u), he went over to the Stage Deli (now sadly defunct) and had a pastrami on rye, to cheer himself up. Can u imagine what the US wd be like if instead of a gun culture we had a chopped liver culture?

mb

1:43 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hi WAFists;

All this talk about death culture during the Easter weekend got me thinking that the USA is going about capital punishment all wrong. You really ought to bring back crucifixion.

It has the benefits of adhering to a biblical tradition, which will please your religious zealots; being a great spectacle (highways lined by crosses festooned with the bodies of Negroes, the poor, and other miscreants ought to encourage the citizenry that all is in order; it's cheap; and if you do it right and recycle, it's green.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

ON to food!

In Mexico City Kurson Kosher 's has pretty darn good Pastrami and the famous Shuky's in Condesa is o.k. for many things--the white fish and herring are solid. There is that taco place Piny's which does the chicken liver alambre tacos which are pretty good. For those of us of the sephardic orientation there is schwarma in a few places. There are some people at the Cento cultural Israelita who can also hook you up with home made Ashkenazi food (the Chabbadnics are good that way too). Yet to find a decent bagel though....So you can now find solace in pastrami in Mexico--chicken liver too! Admittedly, I still get a big chuckle in the U.S. most dolts can;t process Jews in Mexico or Lebanese in Africa or Latin America--apparently only the U.S. has a lock on "diversity" . God what dolts.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Speaking of the high quality of intellectuals over at the NYT, Thomas Friedman's name popped up in an article I was reading about Facebook and the deterioration of society. The same author wrote Thomas Friedman: The Imperial Messenger. From a blurb about the book:

The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work
by Belén Fernández

"Factual errors, ham-fisted analysis, and contradictory assertions distinguish the work of the Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist and author.

The Imperial Messenger reveals the true value of this media darling, a risible writer whose success tells us much about the failures of contemporary journalism. Belén Fernández dissects the Friedman corpus with wit and journalistic savvy to expose newsroom practices that favor macho rhetoric over serious inquiry, a pacified readership over an empowered one, and reductionist analysis over integrity."

The top people there are consistently mediocre and anyone with true writing skill, a real POV and courage don't last long and the book reviews reflect it. I read somewhere Obama said Brookes was his favorite columnist.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

My apologies if this video, Consumption-Vanity Disorder, has already been shared here. It is episode #3 in a series entitled Culture in Decline, by Peter Joseph.

Here is the blurb for this installment:
Culture In Decline Episode #3 covers a new disease epidemic rapidly spreading across the world: "Consumption-Vanity Disorder". A disease spread not through a mutating virus or genetic predisposition - but through cultural "Memes" - turning the world into a cesspool of mini-malls, fashion obsessions, fake tits and belligerent gadgetry.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

In today's episode of "Things Stupid Liberal Commentators Whine About," we have a Salon article pleading for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to retire before the 2014 mid term elections, because if the Dumbocrats lose ground in the Senate, Obama will never be able to get a "liberal" nominee past a Rethuglican filibuster. And of course we all know that Obama justices Sotomayor and Kagan are the very reincarnation of the two Eugenes (Debs and McCarthy) and not soulless corporate sellouts like the charlatan who nominated them:

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/30/ruth_bader_ginsburg_must_go/

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

WAFers,

Here's yet another reason why you should immediately emigrate out of the land of plenty:

"21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/26/21-graphs-that-show-americas-health-care-prices-are-ludicrous/

8:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

Wafers, por favor.

Capo-

Where is Shuky's, exactly? Condesa is my stomping ground.

mb

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here's the article about Facebook that Susan W. referenced:

http://www.alternet.org/media/facebook-causing-deterioration-society-we-know-it?akid=10256.241474.JEVGXq&rd=1&src=newsletter816980&t=9&paging=off

I notice the phrase "alienation from reality" pops up in it.

Susan, you've sent me looking for the author's book on Friedman -- though I wonder if I'll have the stomach for it.

Speaking of alienation from reality, yesterday my wife & I walked in the local park. We were blessed by the sight of a snowy egret wading through a small patch of marsh, just a few yards away -- magnificent! As we walked away, the air was filled with birdsong from amorous birds seeking mates in the reeds.

Unfortunately that was interrupted by some woman walking by, chattering in an overly loud voice on her hands-free cellphone, going on about not having slept with someone's husband, and other personal information we didn't want to hear. She didn't hear the birdsong, see the egret, experience the late afternoon light through the budding branches all around.

Last night we watched one Week, a small Canadian film about a young man facing terminal cancer who takes off across Canada on a motorcycle to make sense of it all. Despite the premise, it's quirky, funny, thoughtful. When it was over, the TV came on for a moment so we could check the weather. The first thing we saw was an ad for a casino, followed by news stories about a man being deliberately run over by two different cars & a local teacher arrested for owning child porn.

At that point my wife said, "I don't care if we are being ostriches, I don't want to expose ourselves to that sort of garbage every day. This culture is just so sick." Garbage in, garbage out. You are what you eat. We much prefer the occasional egret & a thoughtful film to what the majority of our fellow Americans consider vitally important. We discussed it for some time, realizing as we did so that the same majority rarely or never has such discussions. If anything, they go out of their way to avoid them. I have family members who have never discussed one serious thing with me in our entire lives. If I've tried to do so, I've been cut off, told not to be so serious, let's keep things light. etc.

So who's really the ostrich here?

9:25 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

"Organic" basil:

http://therealnews.com/t2/component/hwdvideoshare/?task=viewvideo&video_id=75879

It uses methane, but at least it's local and should therefore save on oil. Right?

Greenhouse gasses? Sustainability? They're not really factored in.

I guess you're right Dr. B.: the only way out is through.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,,

Shukys in Condessa at Mercado Acapulco and Verzcruz last I was there a sign had been in planning stages for years. They have a Polanco location as well. Kleins is hit and miss but has gotten better. La Selecta in Polanco is especially good for fish.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

Let's make fun of Thomas Friedman for a while- one of his books is titled "The Lexus and the Olive Tree". What a ridiculous, corny name. It almost reads like a parody of academic and journalistic texts. What is next from him? "The Shaving Cream and the Ocean"? "The Duracell Bunny and Human Health"? When I visited his web site, I couldn't stop laughing at the book.
I don't know why, but except for a stage I went through trying to be chic and hip at the age of twelve when I wanted to consume anything remotely British or French, my cultural preferences have always gravitated more towards Asia. I don't intend to be PC, and all cultures certainly have their flaws, but now that I've studied both the Near and Far East, they definitely have their own sublime literature, art, architecture, philosophy and music. My two favorites in particular are Persia/Iran and Japan/Nippon. @Shane: It may contradict the typical Western image of the Islamic world, but I believe Iran may already be starting its own small Renaissance. Even with the political jockeying, Iranian cinema has become increasingly appreciated, at least in Europe and South America. And here is Kayhan Kalhor, a classical composer who has also won respect in musical circles: http://kayhankalhor.net/
http://insideofiran.org/en/cultureaart/3918-first-listen-kayhan-kalhor-i-will-not-stand-alone.html
There are many prominent modern plastic artists, too: http://www.zarrinkelk.com/eng/index.html http://imanmaleki.com/
And despite the repressive ayatollahs, many indexes point to great improvements in education, health and scientific research: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/05/287379/tehran-holds-intl-scientific-exhibition/ http://realcuba.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/cubas-human-development-level-is-high-says-the-undp/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Iran https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Eleven
What do you all think? I am signing out.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

WAFer's,

Here's some food for thought. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/03/28/conservatives-laugh-as-liberals-attack-president-over-non-existent-monsanto-protection-act/

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Zaid said...

Mr Stockman worked in Ronald Reagan's Administration as the budget director, from 1981 to 1985. He is a Repulican, and was once a Republican congressman for the state of Michigan.
Now read to see why he thinks American is going down.

State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America
By DAVID A. STOCKMAN
Published: March 30, 2013

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/sundown-in-america.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=opinion&pagewanted=all&

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi WAFers--

I'm printing this piece from today's New York Times, only because I'm still finding it difficult to fathom how, well, it made it in print in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/sundown-in-america.html?pagewanted=all&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

Best--

Brian

8:30 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

"Wafers, por favor."

I like to play around with suffixes. I sometimes wonder why certain suffixes, such as "ist" following cycle and rape, are used. Do cyclists and rapists believe in the philosophies of cycling and raping?

"Vegetarian" is another, with that "ian" suggesting a creed of plant consumption. Why not "legumite," or for the elite veg-head, leguminary?

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Tim,

Two years ago we got rid of our TV and never felt better. We have a large collection of quality movies, and that is all we need for screen entertainment. Of course, we get all our news on the internet.

It’s more difficult with children, so we allow our daughter a limited amount of exposure to a few safe internet sites such as PBSkids. We also have a large collection of classic children’s movies for her. With kids it’s also very difficult to push back against the massive commercial onslaught targeting children. So we aim for a balance between buying her some of the stupid plastic ponies that her classmates have, but without going overboard. Sometimes we try to make these purchases contingent to her exhibiting qualities such as delayed gratification, which are good in building character and strength in her.

Nonetheless, it is extremely difficult to raise kids in this country. You really need to try to strike a reasonable balance because if you go full Amish they will rebel. I am looking forward to finally leaving the US in 3 months. This has become a very toxic place for families and getting more toxic by the day.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Dude!

Thank you for the link to Ian Welsh's site. Like this one, it provides much food for thought and the comments are generally intelligent and varied.

Tim,

The last few days have been almost hallucinatory in their beauty here as well. I, too, encounter people continuously plugged in to their electronics and wonder why they even bother to go outside. They'd be much better off sequestered in megacity skyscrapers, walking on treadmills and wearing virtual reality glasses that customize their visual experiences the way ipods customize the aural.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"There's a shit storm coming"--Kurt Vonnegut

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

This one makes you think and roll your eyes at the same time. A woman tells other women in Princeton to look for husbands from freshman year in Princeton; also to be sure to get a husband before graduating because the rest of the world is DUMB.

I am sure Dr B will love this one!

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/03/princeton-alumna-susan-patton-urges-women-to-snag-husband-on-campus-before-graduating/

11:53 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

There is no other way than the shit storm.

I have almost ceased reading anything really. Too depressing or too accurate. Sorry, what's the point?

However, I have again picked up a book published by W. E. B. DuBois in 1910. "John Brown", for my own pleasure.

Dr Berman: you would appreciate this partial line, "...and the Indians were hustled out of their rights...".

Also, his bibliography includes a book by Victor Hugo published just 2 years after the attack at Harper's Ferry. "John Brown" 1861

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Hey Brian,

Yeah, my thoughts exactly while I was reading that piece — then I thought they (the Times) were setting Stockman up like a bowling pin to be knocked down by other economists who tout the official narrative.

Did you happen to read any of the comments? My feelings were borne out at least by the readers — man they were all over him. A couple readers were even summoning the economic high priest of the Times, Paul Krugman, to engage the estranged Stockman.

One of a few commenters did rise to Stockman's defense:

TMJones
It's disturbing that so many of the commenters on this piece are reacting with denial, disdain, or personal attacks on Stockman. I don't really care what the guy did 20 years ago as a Reagan flunky -- but look at the arguments he makes today and THINK about it. The overwhelming attitude is to dismiss Stockman's conclusions and projections because they seem "depressing" and it's un-American to even discuss the idea that America's future is one of declining influence if not outright collapse.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Winter-

Remember: the deeper the denial, the faster the collapse!

Edward-

Also check out Rachel Greenwald.

mb

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Winter- Stockman's is pretty much the standard narrative. We're "in debt", "borrowing" too much money, running up a deficit, etc. Stockman at least says he doesn't want to cut poverty programs first, but he still wants to cut spending, accepting the mainstream premise that the govt is insolvent, that it's "broke".

He says we've been doing fiat for 80 years, and Nixon made the fiat even worse. If it's all fake money, how can it work for 80 years? I agree there may be another crash, and perhaps somehow social collapse will accompany that - no one knows the future - but what is the mechanism where this hateful fiat money everyone gripes about becomes worthless? World War II involved vast money printing relative to GDP, but didn't cause hyper-inflation. In our current times, they are directing it all at rich people who don't spend it, they just "invest" it. So assets inflate, but real goods don't, at least (so far) they don't "hyper" inflate.

Not that "the system" as constituted is necessarily defensible, I just feel Stockman and others leave out the critical detail about how precisely the fiat money can fail. Maybe the Times likes him because he's still basically in line with the dominant view that govt spending is the problem. (See neweconomicperspectives.org for alternative insights on fiat money. Beware them as well, but they provide some perspective.)

10:31 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

How do I withdraw from American Society?

12:49 AM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Edward,

Regarding the Susan Patton link, I think the context is less profound than you think. What she's saying is that Princeton represents the crème de la crème of society, anything outside that circle is inferior, and if a woman from that circle wishes to find an equal for a husband she'd better do it when she's in her prime physically, which is to say, the college years. In other words, the old "MRS Degree". It's not really anything new and there's considerable room for disagreement as to the idea that college is the last chance to find lasting love. All in all, there's nothing ominous here, unfortunately.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I am new to this blog. I was introduced to your works through the late Joe Bageant's writings (I really enjoy reading Joe Bageant's books and essays).

My question is perhaps unrelated to the current topics discussed on this blog, but I will ask it anyway:

I have wondered (along with a good friend from Spain. I am originally from India and have lived in the US for over 9 years) from time to time the strong propensity of Americans to use the words "amazing", "awesome", "great" etc. while having mundane conversations. I reserve such words when I am talking about something that is truly amazing such as the Grand Canyon.

Can you shed any light on why a lot of Americans try to show that they are always so "excited"?

Thank you,
Himanshu

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

On another note, is anyone here familiar with the works of Ella Whitaker?

Because Ella Whitaker was indirectly responsible for Americans refusing to feel compassion for (and in fact, even showing anger at) people who suffer or have been wronged or treated unjustly.

Why? Because it was Ella Whitaker who said, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone."

She composed that line as part of a poem, and she composed that poem because she got annoyed at a woman sitting across from her in a train car who was grieving at her husband's death. Whitaker wanted to justify why she got annoyed at this woman instead of feeling sorry for her and showing her compassion, and that poem was her justification.

Isn't that the American mindset in general? We feel we have the right to trample over others, and if others have been trampled over that ITSELF is a reason to treat them with even MORE disdain.

No one has any right to show that they're unhappy or experience negative emotions (crybabies! whiners! pessimists! negative thinkers!) because if they did, then we might feel obligated to fight for justice on their behalf, or give them charity or compassion.

And you know what the worst part is? That crusader for cultural literacy, E.D. Hirsch, holds up this poem as a GOOD thing, a worthy sentiment to be preserved for future generations!

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Zaid said...

Compare and contrast:

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut lawmakers announced a deal Monday on what they called some of the toughest gun laws in the country that were proposed after the December mass shooting in the state, including a ban on new high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the massacre that left 20 children and six educators dead.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/01/connecticut-gun-laws_n_2994932.html


NELSON, Ga. — The city council in a small north Georgia town voted Monday night to make gun ownership mandatory – unless you object. Council members in Nelson, a city of about 1,300 residents that's located 50 miles north of Atlanta, voted unanimously to approve the Family Protection Ordinance. The measure requires every head of household to own a gun and ammunition to "provide for the emergency management of the city" and to "provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/01/nelson-georgia-family-protection-ordinance_n_2995657.html


America (the conflicted) is truly becoming a big, fat joke. Indeed!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zaid-

Call me a Nelsonian!

Smith-

And a Whitakerian (tho not a Hirschite).

Himanshu-san-

Hajimimashte! Americans get overly excited about things as a compensation for the fact that their souls are empty, as is the nation itself. For more on this syndrome check out essay entitled "Locating the Enemy" in my bk, "A Question of Values." All will be revealed. In addition, as a people, we are not terribly bright, and this doesn't help. All in all, we suffer from CRE (Cranial-Rectal Embedment), an assessment with which Joe B. concurred. Ja mata...

Cube-

Hit the rd, amigo; emigrate! If u can't do that just yet, read "Twilight of American Culture" and become an NMI, i.e. do an inner emigration. Remember, u.r. surrounded by dolts, and u need to commit yrself to a dolt-free existence.

mb

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Himanshu Tiwari,

Add "icon" to that list while you're at it!

I'm a 59-year old American & I share your feelings about the overuse of those words, which drains them of all meaning & makes them utterly useless.

Part of it, I suppose, is simply American exceptionalism & positive thinking -- everything is the greatest thing ever, bar none. This means no judgment, no discrimination, no admission of any difference between quality & crud.

Let me quote Malcolm Boyd from 1964: "In the cult of success, which is very much our national way of life, one is not officially permitted a failure." This is from a series of questions about American culture entitled "The Death Charade", by the way. Everyone gets a prize, everything anyone does is automatically wonderful & superb.

Part of it, I feel, is a desperate need to convey genuine emotion where it no longer exists. If even the most trivial thing is "awesome" or "amazing", how do you express real awe or amazement? One morning I happened to hear TV talk show & food show host Rachel Ray describe something as (from memory) "super extra doubly awesome" or something similar. What does that even mean? What can possibly live up to such a description? (In this case, I believe she was referring to a cookie recipe.)

What it all amounts to is leveling everything to the lowest, most superficial & common denominator. That's what American culture wants, that's what it is. Anything that's genuinely exceptional is "elitist" & thus un-American. So much easier to lavish the banal with empty superlatives.

And of course they all have to constantly reassure themselves that everything is fine, that this is the best country ever, that everything we do is deserving of unlimited praise. Because somewhere deep inside they fear & know it's not true.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

DR. H,

Though flawed the STokman piece hit on something Krugman and other spokespeople for the neoliberal prooejct miss---corruption. Its the 900 lb gorrilla in the room of american political economic life. As for failures of money, that is not the issue. Debt is the issue and currency as done in the U.S. is debt backed (see history of greenbacks,they lacked the interest payment schedule of earlier currency) Most progressives and conservatives and academic ecnonomists do not understand money (I am a currency trader and if I listened to any of what these folks have to say I would be living in a 73 Buick by the river). STockmans message though lamentable is correct--debt and corruption are doing in the U.S. Whether these are symptoms or cuases of an empire in decline I leave to posterity to sort out. We still don;t know the case for the Romans. I do think its funny that Marc Antony got a no money down mortgage to buy the home of Ptolemy--historic property! Ceasar was killed because the senators lost 1/3 of their money in the bursting bubble of debt and corruption that was rome. Incidentally, Stockman has histroy on his side, other than Romania and Finland no country has ever paid its debt and ultimately loose the ability to kick the can down the road, rapdid pull back on global reserve status of dollar will speed things along debt defualt wise--The BRics are out of the dollar and Australia and China now will forgoe it as well.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Here's some additional good news on the future prospects of the dollar--and some interesting reasons given for the current US policy of perpetual war:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb5ss4ATfNw

2:30 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Mr. Berman

I will give you a short history of my experience after college. I majored in information technology with an emphasis in software development.

The issue I had was that I could not find a job in information technology. The problem that I had was that each job required multiple skills and each skill required years of experience.

This was back in '09. I kept trying to work through this and figure this out. In fact, I even went to voc rehab to get help to obtain a job and they sent me to worktec to see if I was work ready.

I was at worktec for about a month. In the end, they recommended I go to the autism center.

Guess freaking what? The autism center costs $100 per hour and I only got 1 session every two weeks. How was this supposed to teach me how the workplace works in intricate detail? Worktec and voc rehab came to the conclusion that I was beyond their ability to help.

Months later another part of worktec calls me to offer to help. Guess what they did? All they did was send me job postings in which I could've found myself and I did not see how I qualified for any of them.

The counselor recommended I apply for staples and I told her I needed help with the questions on the personality test and the structure of the test itself.

It would ask me questions like do I think life is not fair? What was this questioning asking me?

I looked up the definition of fair
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair

I thought definition number 6a and 6b was the most pertinent. If life is not fair is the rule for life then how is this an established rule that life conforms itself to?

If 6b is false by asserting it as true then does this mean that 6a is true about life? Do you see how the question tripped me up? It was a paradoxical type question.

Another issue I had with the employer's personality tests are the structure.

The choices are strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree.

If I strongly agree then this does not mean I have to absolutely agree or agree 100%. Let's say I have 90% agreement.

This means I have 10% disagreement. To me, neutral means I 50% agree and 50% disagree. In some cases, I can agree and disagree at the same time with certain amount of degrees either way. How was I to answer these questions?

Because of stuff like this I am on social security disability and I am unable to procure employment.

It's been through my own trials and experiences that I've come to your conclusions about America. I've been made promise after promise with no delivery.

When I went to high and middle school it was promoted as though all one had to do was go to college and he could get a job just like that. I did not know one had to have excellent salesmen ship social skills.

The truth is I do not even fit into American society whatsoever. I wouldn't even know where to start being a NMI. I will read your book at some point.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

So it was Ella Whitaker who said "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone."

I first came across that line in the Korean movie "Old Boy." The movie is about this guy who gets locked up in prison for 15 years without being told why. Most of the movie focuses on him seeking revenge for this, believing all the while that his prison experience made him a stronger man. He eventually learns otherwise, but by then it's too late. The Whitaker line appears shortly after the beginning of his prison experience.

The movie is pretty good. The creepy music makes it even better.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Winter in America said...

Dr. Hackenbush,

Don't get me wrong I'm no fan-boy of DS. You're point is well taken about the fiscal issue, but Stockman went beyond discussing government fiscal policy and dealt with the broad economic issues/chicanery in a very sober and coherent manner.So much so that I was surprised to see it given such prominence in a major U.S. newspaper - which was the gist of my comment to Brian.

Insofar as govt. borrowing, deficit spending, insolvency etc, as you elude to, yes they are an oft heard theme within the political/economic discourse. The proviso being of course that these problems are solvable and the system can be redeemed if such-and-such policy is followed — I didn't come away with that after reading Stockman's essay, nor after listening to him in an interview this week with Chris Martenson on his podcast Featured Voices.

He seemed quite emphatic that the system is broke beyond repair — he made it clear that whatever solutions might exist, will never get implemented, and that my friend is not part of the official story line.

With regards to the other issues you raise I'll have to defer that to others in respect of the space constraints.

---------------------------

Dr. Berman,

All the best on your travels and look forward to hearing your presentation when it becomes available.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Shep writes:

"his bibliography includes a book by Victor Hugo published just 2 years after the attack at Harper's Ferry. 'John Brown'"

Here is more on that book:
http://tinyurl.com/ccnpcbo

During Brown's trial, Hugo wrote a letter to an American newspaper, pleading for clemency for Brown. "America," Hugo argued, "is a noble nation."

When Hugo heard of Brown's hanging (34 minutes with a pulse after getting swung), his response was this:
http://tinyurl.com/bub697d

He said later, "John Brown is greater than George Washington."

(Btw, here's Gore Vidal on G. Wash. as "the first American millionaire":
http://tinyurl.com/cax3osa)

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ramirez said...

Cubeangel, Dr. Berman is correct- LEAVE, or you will be thrown to the dogs. You might be able to apply for certain citizenship admissions depending on your family's lineage. Or you could leave for one of the nations where 'Murika is least popular as a "refugee" or "dissident".
@Morris: The 'Murikan "free enterprise" fetish truly amazes me. Forget about working or striving to satisfy our needs and desires in a human, cultural or nature-based context. Society ain't free from Big Gubmint until everyone is his/her own hustler, huckster, snake oil salesman or profiteer.

1:33 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Here is a nice (short) essay in NYRB that I thought most WAF-ers would like:

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/apr/02/new-american-sadism/

from the last paragraph:

"This is the new face of American sadism: the unconcealed burst of joy at the thought that pain is going to be inflicted on someone weak and helpless. Its viciousness, I believe, is symptomatic of the way our society is changing..."

7:48 AM  
Blogger jml said...

cube - i recommend finding an art or a craft to practice. it should be something done with one's hands, not a computer, some "old fashioned." this soothes the soul and can lead to an nmi experience.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Sanctuary -

I'm not sure it was a book or the painting that DuBois was referring to?

The link to the book did not work for me? Wish it did. I am very interested in that.
-------------------------
Vidal's take on the much vaunted Generalissimo Washington proves that the greatest affirmative action program is always inheritance.

Wikipedia says: In 1794, the United States Congress passed a bill calling "for the erecting and repairing of Arsenals and Magazines". President George Washington, given wide latitude in carrying out this order, selected Harpers Ferry, then a part of Virginia, for the location of the Harpers Ferry National Armory...The town was virtually indefensible, dominated on all sides by higher ground.

So, our Kardashian assed General was a complete idiot to locate the arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Had to be some kind of cronyism, as is ALWAYS the case in this country.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jwo-

Gd article. As I've stated b4, we've gone from hustlers to thugs. Predatory viciousness has become the American Way of Life in literally every institution (not to mention interpersonal relations).

mb

12:22 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

@cube angel. If you are wavering on the advice from MB & Martin, DON'T. Meanwhile I would suggest reading some George Oppen. Do not let yourself "carry nativeness to a conclusion in suicide', and let's call this a suicide of the spirit, this is a profoundly sick and twisted country we live in. Do not take this as inflated rhetoric or hyperbole. We are in a shit storm. We are in a world of hurt. I'm not totally vibing w/ your own (particular & singular) engagement with the paradox of "fair," but I get it, I get it.

Here's Oppen, but the line breaks may not work, so go to the link at the bottom of this selection:

We want to defend
Limitation
And do not know how.

Stupid to say merely
That poets should not lead their lives
Among poets,

They have lost the metaphysical sense
Of the future, they feel themselves
The end of a chain

Of lives, single lives
And we know that lives
Are single

And cannot defend
The metaphysic
On which rest

The boundaries
Of our distances.
We want to say

‘Common sense’
And cannot. We stand on

That denial
Of death that paved the cities,
Paved the cities

Generation
For generation and the pavement

Is filthy as the corridors
Of the police.

How shall one know a generation, a new generation?
Not by the dew on them! Where the earth is most torn
And the wounds untended and the voices confused,
There is the head of the moving column

Who if they cannot find
Their generation
Wither in the infirmaries

And the supply depots, supplying
Irrelevant objects.
Street lamps shine on the parked cars
Steadily in the clear night

It is true the great mineral silence
Vibrates, hums, a process
Completing itself
[...]
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175679

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

And the worst part is, once predatory viciousness becomes commonplace, you then get seen as though you're self-pitying if you protest against it, since "after all, we're all miserable and we all deal with it somehow! You're no worse off than anybody else!"

It never occurs to people who say such things that the fact that they all "deal with it" is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM, because that's precisely WHY everyone is miserable: because instead of reacting to injustice by standing up for others' injustice, they react as "crabs in a bucket" by tearing down anyone who tries to lead a better life.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Rufus T Firefly said...

Dr Berman, just FYI, Himanshu Tiwari is an Indian name, not a Japanese name. There's no "Ti" sound in Nihongo.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

Smith-

"...because instead of reacting to injustice by standing up for others' injustice, they react as 'crabs in a bucket' by tearing down anyone who tries to lead a better life."

That's exactly what my father LOVES to say about the Mexico he grew up in. He was (and still is) critical of the sins of his society (blind, fanatical devotion to Catholicism in particular) and would not shut up about it. Needless to say, this angered quite a few people in his family and he ended up leaving for the US in part to free himself from them.


Cube-

Careful with those diagnoses. Few, if anyone, fits neatly into them.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Shep, sorry abt the link. Try:
http://tinyurl.com/cs4zt2q - and click the "View Full Article" button below the article extract. Here's a Google Books result:
http://tinyurl.com/cuwxlea

While Hugo deplored slavery, his bete noir was capital punishment. Those darn socialist Europeans! The author of Hunchback and Les Miz was an un-American commie pinhead, I tells ya!

As to inheritance, I'm expecting one and don't much know how a family gets to be powerful or simply secure across generations w/o somebody leaving somebody something. The problem is that people (esp Merikans) think wealth = moral stature. (And want to evade their resp to the community.) A belief heavily promoted by our despicable elites for obvious reasons - well, obvious to WAFers.

New T-shirt slogan:

WAFers vs. Flakes -
Which Side R U On?

The background field of the shirt should be constituted of chaotic images of every kind of gun there is - AK-47s, u name it. The back of the shirt sld be an image of MB's cherubic face, eyes closed in satisfaction, smiling. The bottom fringe of the shirt cld be yellow. I assume we wld know the significance of that.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

What's shakin' Dr. Berman and Wafers?

Capo Regime-

Thanks for the memory. My father drove a 73 Buick Riviera with an 8-track player. It was a stylin' ride. Nevertheless, you're right, I wouldn't want to live in it.

JWO-

Thanks for the article on the predatory and sadistic nature of American healthcare. Sick, broke, and dying in the American healthcare vortex should be a strong motivator to hit the road...

Dr. Berman-

Is "Spinning Straw Into Gold" still on for an April release? I'm very much looking forward to purchasing a few copies. Thanks for the work that you do.

Jeff

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

David Stockman was on the Diane Rehm show today, talking about the same topics as in the NYT Oped already mentioned here.

Diane Rehm: David Stockman on The Great Deformation
Podcast here.

Also, for those who liked Douglas Rushkoff on OnPoint, he was on Radio Times last week. This conversation is even more interesting and lively than the previous one.

Radio Times: Douglas Rushkoff's Present Shock
Podcast available on the page from a "cloud" service if your browser allows the javascript to run. (Mine has security controls and I have to deliberately enable it to see such things.)

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Capo Regime- A currency trader among the Wafers? This may be the clearest sign of collapse yet...

Still you will have to elaborate on some of your claims before I can give up on MMT analysis. For instance, in what sense is the US dollar "debt backed"? I would say it is backed by the threat of violent force. That is, it is legally mandated that businesses accept it, and it is required for payment of taxes. Thus everyone buying and selling in the US has to use it, or risk ultimately imprisonment.

Families have debts; businesses have debts; cities, towns, and states have debts - but how does someone (the US gov) with their own printing press have debts? Yes they "borrow" money from banks and the wealthy and pay interest on it, but if you break this down it turns out to be a shell game. The banks that "lend" to the govt, (to the extent they don't have the capital on hand) first borrow it themselves from the Fed! The banks take a cut of this action for being a middle-man, but it's the govt lending to itself. And of course, the Fed just waves it into existence magically, they don't borrow from anybody.

It's literally impossible for the US gov to default on its debt, other than voluntarily (like when politicians threaten not to raise the debt limit.) The currency could become devalued, but that seems like a roll of the dice to me. I think privately held debt is more of a concern than federal govt "debt" (a misnomer - it is merely an accounting entry representing the amount the govt has created and spent into the economy.)

I'm not smart enough to know how the BRICS and China will play out, but I at least dispute the basic assumptions conventional wisdom has inculcated into everyone.

Winter- agree DS made some fair pts too.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rufus-

Oops! My bad. Altho I think there is a ti sound in Japanese, tho I'm no expert.

Sanc-

Why yellow?

Jeff-

SSIG is looking more like a June release, at this pt.

Meanwhile, I just started rdg "Quiet," by Susan Cain. 1st 30 pp. documents the evolution of American society from hustlers to super-hustlers to out-and-out douche bags. Gd research, I shd add.

mb

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Capo REgime said...

Dr. H,

There are plenty of critiques of MMT. Just the fact that Dick Cheney was its proponent is enough for me! Some of its most egregious errors actually embody american exceptionalism. Notions like the U.S. government is "self funding", it can run deficits till infinity on the presumption the government is immortal, there will always be demand for bonds and it can print (oops I mean quantitative easing) money till infinity and the folks around the globe will take it forever. As to default--its an impossibility for the U.S. to pay its debt. Its becoming challenging for the private debt to be paid. Again, no country has ever paid its debt other than the two cases I noted. and plentiful critiques of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)--see Michael Hudson or Steve Keen and even Soros for accessible treatments. MMT is magical thinking in economics dressed up with closed system math. Its really like modern politics a form of religion.

MB--good luck in Michigan. Places like Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are interesting and yet sad reminders of the past. Vegas, Miami and Houston are the present. Either way--it ain't pretty. We will all be keen to read of your observations and insights upon your return.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

JWO--thank you for the reference to the NYRB essay. The health care system is hopelessly corrupt and anyone who thinks this can be changed is dreaming. America is a cruel place to become ill or helpless--God help you if you become both. While simple decency and care can and do exist, to some degree, on a face to face basis with healthcare providers, even this has been poisoned by the profit motive. Hospitals operate on a budget that cuts personnel to the point where doctors, nurses, techs just don't have the time to spend with them doing real care. I used to think if only we could get single payer then it would improve but now I know USS Medical Care is headed straight for the iceberg. And just like the other Titanic only the rich will survive in the icy waters of private insurance, pharma and Obamacare.

Tim--I agree with your comments on the use of annoying hyperbole to describe everything from the Hubble telescope to a new shade of eyeshadow as "awesome". If I hear one more person talk about "closure" on anything I might just stroll down to my local gun shop and see what's on sale.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

Dr. Hack,

Regarding MMT the reason the US has debt is because the Fed is no more a gov't agency than Fed Ex is. Every dollar that is printed gets borrowed from the Fed by the gov't. It was created as a way for the banksters to make sure they would always get theirs, at the expense of their country. Impossible to default on our debt? Yes, but that doesn't mean it's good. The only reason our currency has value is because we pay our bonds (debts), and everyone believes we will continue to do so. But bonds (debt) can be bought and sold as a commodity and held, basically, in trust, like China is doing right now. They are holding $1.2 trillion (8%) of our bonds (debt). If China were to start selling bonds it would cause a massive sell off causing hyper-inflation, like Argentina and many other countries.

"Conflict came to a head in 1975, when a sharp recession looked inevitable. The Argentine government then exacerbated the situation by refusing to borrow in order to cover its budget and trade deficits. In 1975, the largest Argentine Peso denomination was 1,000. A year later the 5,000 note was introduced. In March 1976, a violent coup was staged by the country’s military leaders, who promised to bring stability to the region. By ’79, there was a 10,000 Peso banknote and by 1981, the Argentine Central Bank had introduced a 1,000,000 Peso note. The country’s economy declined, further worsening the situation – in between 1981 and 1982, Argentina’s GDP fell 12%, the worst single year decline since The Great Depression. When the currency was reformed in 1983, 1 Peso Argentino was exchanged for 10,000 of the “old” Peso. Then in 1985, the ‘Austral’ was introduced, which replaced the Peso Argentino at a rate of 1-to-1,0000 Then yet again, in 1992, the New Peso replaced the Austral this time at 1-to-10,000. This end result of this experience – in many circles referred to as, “The March of Zeros” – equated to a 1 New Peso equal to 100,000,000,000 Pre-’83 Pesos." http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters/ss/How-Much-US-Debt-Does-China-Own.htm

When currency is tied to something real, gold, silver, etc., the value has much greater chance of being maintained because it is "bonded" to the amount of that precious metal, instead of the promise of paying debts. There is $9.8 trillion more outstanding in bonds on top of what China owns, and you once the presses start rolling they are not stopping. You think austerity is bad now and the wealth inequality gap is large? Wait until we default and China says enough is enough. When it costs $1 million to buy a loaf a bread, and the average income is $500,000 we will all see the unfortunate effects of fiat money.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Susan W:

Be sure to buy a .38 Special, the iconic 'Murrican handgun.

1:52 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

For a while, I thought I could engage people with the Socratic method and dialogue. It does not work whatsoever.

Dr. Berman, a few weeks ago I came to your conclusion that there is nothing I can do. I feel this ultra despondency and despair. I tried to understand the American culture to the depth of the core and the more I find out the more depressed I become.

Even though I've only came on a few days ago, I finally found people who has confirmed my conclusions.

I think I shall become a NMI.

Susan W as a person on the autism spectrum I can say for absolute certainty your are correct. I have been screwed by our "wonderful" health care system and so has one of my loved ones.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Wafers,

Better scratch this hell hole off of your list of possible emigration destinations. Read the comments -- they are both, enlightening as well as hilarious.

"Don’t Move to New Zealand":

http://e2nz.org/migrant-stories/chapter-2/dont-move-zealand/

5:41 AM  
Blogger jml said...

fashion designed to hide you from drones:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/mar/31/anti-drone-hoodie-big-brother

7:02 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Thank you for your response. I will look up the reference you cited.

Also, you are not the first person to think I am Japanese :).

I am from India. Yes, my name does sound Japanese. In response to your Japanese salutation I will say "Namasthe!" (in Hindi).

I recently read that Chris Hedges resigned from the human rights organization PEN because Suzanne Nossel (a former aide to Hillary Clinton) has been chosen to be PEN's executive director. Here is the link:
http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/chris_hedges_resigns_from_human_rights_organization_pen_20130401

I have great respect for Chris Hedges. Here is a quote by him about the current state of affairs in USA:

We now live in a nation where,
doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice,
universities destroy knowledge,
governments destroy freedom,
the press destroys information, religion destroys morals,
and our banks destroy the economy.”

Tim Lukeman,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. What you said makes a lot of sense and jives well with my lived experience in the USA.

Himanshu

7:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

This is an updated version of the tinfoil hat!

Him-

Gd for Chris!

Namaste,

mb

12:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Spending close to $700,000 on his Gucci addiction, Pulitzer Prize winning author/journalist Buzz Bissinger is one of America's greatest shopaholics:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/fashion/buzz-bissingers-expensive-pursuit-of-a-new-self.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130404

Calling all Milan and NYC Wafers... Ol' Buzz needs a good drenching!

Jeff

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Regardless of how "flawed" it may be (and I'll leave that to others to discuss the flaws of various economic theories), Americans are way too wedded to debt-obsessed neoliberalism to give it up. WAFers have a saying "bad is good", so, if debt-obsessed austerity is the way the US shoots itself in the foot, then "yea, debt obsessed neoliberalism!" If there is so much truth in neoKeynesian MMT, then why is it so important to "believe" in it--I mean, I can believe that the earth is flat and that animals thrive on carbon monoxide, but that doesn't make it true.
China's purchase of US debt over the last 20 years is nothing if not a big part of its strategic goals to become the premier superpower, at least since the Glorious revolution, if not before. Certainly, the Chinese have taken note of the US experience empowing itself by gobbling up the debt of highly indebted countries after WWII. You can bet the Chinese are eagerly planning their "Suez moment" and have been since they first started buying US bonds. The only difference between the US and Britain and China and the US is that the US only had to THREATEN to destroy the pound, while the Americans won't back down, forcing the Chinese to actually destroy the $ (Gore Vidal's quote about Americans never learning is apropo here) At some point, as the US deteriorates and becomes more unstable/erratic, the Chinese will value owning/controlling the US economy more than profiting from it, so they will flood the market w/bonds, hyperinflating the $ (printing press goes into overdrive to pay the bonds), and then gobbling up all the fire sale priced US assets.
I wonder what WAFers take on N Korea is (as to the discussion on semantics, personally, I like the term "WAFist"--sounds more agressively militant to me, "WAFist"...) Personally, I think it's hysterical--I mean, I've been reading the headlines just cracking up laughing. To me, it's all reminescent of Imperial Japan and Pearl Harbor/WWII. I mean, you have this Asian country with zealot leaders on a death wish, with absolutely no regard for its citizens, hell bent on poking the bear, so to speak. I mean, it's so amazingly insane and crazy that all I can do is crack up laughing at the whole thing. You almost have to admire their chutzpah. And the sad thing is, with the US ignorant "bull in the china shop" foreign policy, is, once again, the poor peasants of North Korea are going to be the victims of American wrath.
Capo--
I'm not sure why I just now realized this, but you've hit the Trifecta for me--gay, Jewish, and Mexican--that represents all that is good in the world to me (maybe it was just your aunt that was lesbian, I can't remember) I've toyed with the idea of converting--Judaism fascinates me a lot, and I'm relatively bilingual, and have been wanting to get involved in the migrant community as a kind of NMI activity. Mexico and Mexican culture has fascinated me for a long time. Sigh, I haven't had Schwarma (sp?) since I visited Toronto. Toronto is so diverse that Halal delis rent space in the JCC (Jewish Community Ctr) building...

12:58 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

MB -

You asked, "Why yellow?"

The yellow fringe on the T-shirt represents peeing on a dolt's shoes.

Apologies - was drinking massive amts of coffee and making mischievous plans when I wrote that so I admit it's not really clear.

Best wishes for your invasion of sunny, warm British Columbia.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

And now David Stockman has visited OnPoint:

Onpoint: David Stockman on Crony Capitalism

And Doug Rushkoff has been on KQED's Forum:

Forum: Douglas Rushkoff on 'Present Shock'

Interesting that Rushkoff is staggering his talk show appearances out over weeks while Stockman is doing them all in a quick run.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Capo- Interesting points, I don't think you are representing MMT correctly though by saying they believe in "infinite" money printing. MMTers always emphasize that a sovereign govt *does* have financial constraints, but those constraints are determined by the "real resources" in the economy - not by the money supply, which must grow or shrink to fit the needs of society.

I'm sure there are powerful critiques of MMT out there, but since you misrepresent it in your comments it seems you have not fully confronted it yourself, and would not be able to judge those critiques. I'm surprised Michael Hudson shows up on your list of anti-MMTers, since I've seen him giving talks with Stephanie Kelton, a main popularizer of MMT, and supporting her points. I'm not sure but I think he may even be one of her mentors.

Joe Hohos- Very interesting, thanks. There are MMT responses to all of those points though, which you are not dealing with, so again I'm not sure you've really investigated MMT. I could respond with my amateur grasp of MMT but it would just bog us down in endless econ talk, when you would do better just to read their actual writings and decide if your points hold up or not. Or reprint your objections on an MMT blog and get a much more thorough response than I could give.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

DR. H, if you like MMT and it makes you happy that is great. There are critiques and there are subtle and nuanced differences between the Keynsians, Neo-Keynsians, traditional and modern monetary theorists, often they overlap. One thing all these "theories" they all have in common is that they have all failed. Not misrepresenting them, hitting high points and to fully critique them is beyond the limits of this format and not something I want to do anyway--critiqing schoools of contemporay economomic thought is much like getting into the differences between Christian Science, Scientology or Rastafarianism. Work in real world so such things are of little concern anymore. I leave such things to the believers in men and ideas. i.e. what pray tell are the real resources of an economy? At a fixed point in time or extrapolated to the future? Only the great Oz could tell us no?

Shane, not gay--but some of my favorite people are. Conversion is a bear unless you go with Reform. Few people do it, its a lot of work for a very long time, plus you have to learn Hebrew. Converts I know seem happy with their choice though.

Next topic---American Debtors Prisons and MB's reports from "the heartland". If Michigan is the heartland where is the armpit land or lower intestine land?

8:34 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

If my understanding of your idea of NMI is right, the outlook of the people gathered at the "Age of Limits" conference would have a lot in common with the idea of NMI. My wife and I attended the first installment of this conference last year. We are attending this year as well and would highly recommend it.

In case the folks on this blog are interested, here is the link:

http://ageoflimits.org/

Thank you,
Himanshu

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Shane W said...

Hack--
your treatment of MMT confirms Capo's statement about MMT being a religion like modern politics. You seem to be proselytizing for it, and promoting it--very eager for us to believe in it, and upset if we don't or dismiss it. To me, the truth doesn't need promoting--for example, the US as a dead or dying empire, WAFism, if you will, contains a truth that explains a lot to me, whether others believe in it or not is irrelevant. Engaging with a die hard patriot trying to convince him that the US is dead would be a waste of my time, and his faith in the good ole USA would not change the truth I see in WAFism.
Capo was simply directing you to criticism of MMT for your information, I'm not sure why you would redirect him back to the same criticism. Same for Joe H. For me, I'm interested in the pragmatic & what is likely to happen, and I just don't see the US shifting from its current economic dysfunction, so no matter how glorious MMT may be, I don't see American economists embracing it, or of MMT saving the US economy from failure.
Again, I have to ask, if MMT is not a religion, then why is it so important for all of us to believe in it? Remember, I spent time in AA, so I know all about pseudoreligions (if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...)

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dr. Berman,

Here's a follow-up to what you've said about CMU's. Looks like you were right: these are essentially designed to punish political dissidents.

"Environmental activist Daniel McGowan was taken back to prison on Thursday after he wrote a Huffington Post op-ed post while in a halfway house asserting that his fellow inmates were imprisoned for their religious or political beliefs, according to the Huffington Post.

McGowan wrote in an April 1 blog post that he was confined to an “experimental” segregated unit called the a “Communication Management Unit” (CMU), which he said was established during the Bush administration, before he was serving out his sentence at a halfway house in Brooklyn.

“The units are designed to isolate prisoners from the rest of the prisoner population, and more importantly, from the rest of the world. They impose strict limitations on your phone calls home and visits from family and friends — you have far less access to calls and visits than in general population,” McGowan wrote. “All interactions where conducted over a telephone, with Plexiglas and bars between us. Until they were threatened with legal action, CMU prisoners were only allowed one single 15-minute phone call per week.

“What’s also notable about the CMUs is who is sent there. It became quickly obvious to me that many CMU prisoners were there because of their religion or in retaliation for their speech,” McGowan continued. “By my count, around two-thirds of the men are Muslim, many of whom have been caught up in the so-called ‘war on terror,’ others who just spoke out for their rights or allegedly took leadership positions in the Muslim community at other facilities. Some, like me, were prisoners who have political views and perspectives that are not shared by the Department of Justice.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/05/environmental-activist-re-jailed-after-writing-blog-post-about-prison-conditions/

4:04 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

"Best country on Earth" dept.:

http://huff.to/17hIH0T

4:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shane-

Waferism. Or the Waferian Outlook.

Now switching over to next post.

mb

6:10 PM  

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