July 10, 2014

225: The Greatest Blog on Earth

Dear Wafers (and Waferettes):

Can anyone doubt it? There are millions of blogs out there, but only one worth reading: Us! The Waferblog is the creme de la creme; what more is there to say?

Anyway, now that we've beaten the subject of GMOs into the ground, until all of us are ready to scream with boredom, I figured it was time to move on. As I write, the U.S. continues to crumble, and the president, a colossal horse's ass, continues to look more and more like the utter nonentity that he is. He tours the country, breaking wind through his mouth, as Umberto Eco said in another context. Meanwhile, the 'progressives', with their heads wedged firmly in their rear ends, are excited about Hillary and how she's going to change everything as of 2017; or else they are excited about how they are going to change everything, preferably starting tomorrow. I tell you, if you are into humor, it's a great time to be alive.

O&D, amigos; O&D.

-mb

146 Comments:

Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

It's crystal clear to any sane observer that Obama, and just about every other American politician, are just actors. You'd have to be severely psychologically warped not to see it, but most Americans see their chosen political candidates as saviors. That level of delusion is terrifying.

And yes, Obama is looking emptier and emptier with each passing day. But in addition to this, I sense something else in him: rage. He's compelled to destroy the world and create as much suffering as he can. He views the world as a stage to play out his inner drama of vengeance, entitlement, and grandiosity. I suspect he's not capable of actually interacting with anyone in a genuinely social manner, even his family.

And neither are his supporters, who view the world in the exact same way, except for Obama himself, whom they regard as a savior. But even that is narcissistic identification; they love Obama because they wish they were him, and wish they had all that political power and wealth. They suspend reality every time they see or listen to him, and for awhile, feel like they are Obama, the person they wish they were.

In decayed societies, the political and economic elites amass more and more power and wealth precisely by stoking the flames of this type of narcissistic identification/fantasy. This is done through celebrity culture and the promulgation of military values, not just through political speeches.

Not sure if Americans generally continue to believe they are going to get rich. It seems like the economic downturn has shattered that delusion, leaving Americans with no purpose in life at all - hence, the emptiness of American culture today.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

317 million people w/shit for brains:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/08/the-american-political-mind-is-in-a-sad-tate/print

12:36 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"Not sure if Americans generally continue to believe they are going to get rich."

Americans, but especially more and more members of what has traditionally been considered the middle class, may be coming to a realization that the system under which they had once flourished--namely, free market capitalism--is no longer working for them.

But giving up the belief that "progress," a notion that is ill-defined but no less heartfelt, is both inevitable and every American's natural birthright has proven nigh-on impossible to do. This in the face of evidence as near-to-hand as the snoring heap of humanity sleeping on their basement couch: a son or daughter obliged to return home because the system that had worked for 150 years has suddenly seemingly collapsed.

As others on this blog have noted in earlier posts, the American delusion/illusion was captured by an observer in the previous century, rendered as the following misquotation:

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

What Steinbeck apparently wrote, in America and Americans (1966), was:

"I guess the trouble was that we didn't have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist."

7:39 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Three stories today:

1. from The Guardian: "Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away"

2. from Zero Hedge: "JPMorgan Executive "Blasts Wife, Kills Self" With Shotgun"

3. from the Guardian: "At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US"

Don't worry though. iPhones, self-driving cars, and Amazon wish lists will save us.

In other news, Detroit is selling houses for $1000 in a desperate move to get people to move to Detroit.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

It's disputed. A lot of sources have it as "millionaires." Not that it makes a ton of difference.

mb

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There is a good article on CounterPunch by John Pilger, on The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War, here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/11/on-israel-ukraine-and-truth/

2:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Hola Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Here's an apt quote:

"For kids today their cell phone is everything to them."

~ Anthony Bertagna, police officer

California teen, Rubi Rubio, dies attempting to retrieve her new iPhone:

http://news.yahoo.com/teen-dies-jumping-iphone-thiefs-car-142825150.html

MB, Wafers-

Obama is our Caligula. Remember, upon ascension, everyone in the empire rejoiced and loved Caligula. He was viewed as a noble and moderate ruler for about the first six months of his reign. Then all he broke loose, as Caligula turned into one of the most evil men in human history. Perhaps he was sickened by a spoiled dormouse or pickled olive. Suffice it to say, many Jewish, Christian, and Muslim historians considered Caligula an insane tyrant; possibly possessed by a demon.

Caligula moved quickly to a situation where he demanded that *all* regard him as divine. He began to dress up as Apollo and Venus and order the wholesale murder of anyone who disagreed with him; even the most trivial and insignificant disagreement could be a death sentence. Once, a citizen insulted Caligula, and in a fit of rage, he responded by having him tied down and beaten with chains. He publicly engaged in sex with his own family and had a strange appetite for live human testicles.

All of this was incredibly tragic, of course, but we hafta do the math, Wafers: Obama is our Caligula! He is nothing more than a whored-out sadist; a Duplicitous Douche Bag (DDB) in a power tie.

Jeff

ps: I sincerely hope I didn't ruin anyone's lunch.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

One big difference, tho: Obama has no real strength, no personal power. As sick as Caligula was, he seems to have had it. Obama is an empty douche bag. Voted worst pres since 1945, and no more significant than Millard Fillmore. In 2017, he'll get some professorship at Yale and disappear into the recesses of history. Who thinks abt Millard Fillmore today? I keep urging Wafers to pee on Obama's shoes, but in truth: why waste perfectly gd urine?

mb

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

James and MB,

Several years ago, I tried to verify the source of that Steinbeck quote. The disputed quote has a better ring to it than the quote in America and Americans. But, I was hoping that Steinbeck had paraphrased himself in another work.

The disputed quote would have been good to introduce a chapter in the book Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir by Joe Bageant. Just as the final manuscript was almost ready to send to the publisher, Joe was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer. So, I did the final work. I was not comfortable with the sources that attributed the quote to Steinbeck, so I deleted it.

Joe died a week before the Rainbow Pie was released.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I object to this constant denigration of Obama's character, as if he stood for nothing. He definitely has a distinctive historical role to play. When those of us who voted for him did so (in '08, not the second time around), we hoped to find in him a combination of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, & Martin Luther King - admittedly somewhat over-elevated expectations. Instead we got President Stepin Fetchit. His role is to deliver a constant stream of mint juleps to the plantation, in the form of bailouts, QE and tax breaks, while making sure us field hands get longer hours, shorter commons and ever harsher applications of the whip, in the form of sub-minimum wages, repossession, rent hikes, evictions and foreclosures (debtor's prison is also a de facto reality for some people). Besides this, he helps out the insurance industry and authorizes drone strikes with lots of chuckle-worthy bug splats. What more could we want in a Pres? He certainly stands for something.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Yr rt, but I still think he's a piece of garbage.

mb

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

James,

I agree with you that Americans are addicted to a poorly-defined concept known as "progress". I'd like to give what I think is a clearer definition: blind optimism. As we know, blind optimism is actually a form of denial; that's why it's said to be blind, as it is unwilling to confront reality. Blind optimism always assumes things will continue to get better and better, and that if things are getting worse, it is only a minor, temporary setback.

As for why Americans are blindly optimistic, I think the causes are a combination of narcissism, solipsism, dishonesty and stupidity. When you buy into the values of a hustling society, you start to believe all the bullshit; the surface appearance becomes reality for you. And since the surface appearance is always "joyful" and "optimistic", you begin to think your society is actually like this, regardless of how much hate and mistrust you and everyone else you know carries around.

This is a contradiction, of course. If "everyone you know" is an asshole, your country probably isn't all that wonderful. But as people have pointed out, all this blind optimism is just a defense mechanism designed to shield the ego from any thought that would uproot the sense of belonging to something uniquely wonderful and chosen by God. Americans all subconsciously believe the Rapture is imminent, that "progress" will continue to accelerate until all patriotic Americans are ushered into eternal heaven, either on Earth (i.e., Sam Harris) or in the hereafter (i.e., Pat Robertson), and all "lesser people" are either annihilated (i.e., Sam Harris), or cast into the flames of hell forever (i.e., Pat Robertson). Charming, isn't it?

10:48 PM  
Anonymous islandfever said...

My asshole brother in law works at a tech firm in silicon valley, where you are encouraged to be as aggressive as possible to everyone all the time. He has no concept of separating work from business, so he is constantly thinking that people are attacking him, even in normal conversation. He has no idea how to have a conversation. I doubt he's ever talked to someone for more than 2 minutes straight. He is also boring as curling linoleum, as all he talks about is the new shit he just bought. I can't deal being around this asshole, so I've been avoiding my sister, and I can't tell her why. Christ, why did my sister marry such a jagoff?

11:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Island-

Perhaps it's time to unleash yr urine on his shoes. It wd make a statement.

mb

1:05 AM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

Look, Obama isn't really the one making these decisions. He may be a piece of garbage for lending whatever credibility he once had to the American ruling class, but let's not pretend that drone strikes and corporate welfare are happening because Statesman Obama decided that they were necessary. The presidency exists to mediate disputes between factions of the bourgeoisie, i.e. the Christian Fanatics and secular "humanist" tech-obsessed douche bags. This is why the political system will not save us, but also why the figurehead can't be blamed for all the problems.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Patricia said...

Mike -
Tried to read the Pilger article on Counterpunch this morning, but the photo of Thom Friedman on the sidebar (ad for his new book?) was just too much to stomach before breakfast. Will try again when I'm feeling better.
Cheers,
Patricia

6:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Desert Fox:

True, but he didn't even *try* to do anything resembling a liberal agenda. He's nothing but a weather vane. He saw that the game was abt the corporations and the military, and acted accordingly. After the crash of 2008, he funneled something like $19 trillion to the banks, and left the unemployed (nearly 20%) to fend for themselves. He knows who his friends are--not "los pobres de la tierra."

He also violated just abt every campaign promise he made. His previous 'record' reflects that of a hollow man, if we had only bothered to look.

The guy is trash, a human disaster.

mb

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ El Al:

But Obama is responsible for the increase in drone strikes and he did decide they were necessary. There was a massive increase in drone strikes under Obama compared to the amount ordered under Bush, and Obama frequently gives speeches justifying such drone strikes as being a desirable alternative to conventional wars. Why are you denying the obvious?

11:21 AM  
Blogger Dominic O'Malley said...

You lady Clinton bashers. For shame! I think Hilarity will be great for the presidency. Move over Obummer, bring on Hilarity!

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Wikiquote has a note about the Steinbeck quote. It does seem to be a slight alteration of something he wrote in a 1960 Esquire article, which was then reprinted in America and Americans.

Wikiquote on Steinbeck



"Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: 'After the revolution even we will have more, won't we, dear?' Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property.
"I guess the trouble was that we didn't have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn't have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves."

12:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dom-

I'm so excited abt The Traveling Pants Suit being installed in the W.H. And it's less than 3 yrs away. A New Era for America! (Perhaps she'll appt Lorenzo Riggins Secy of State.)

mb

12:03 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings all,

MB-

You're right about Obama, of course. Perhaps referring to him as Caligu-lite would be better.

Jeff

12:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Each of us needs to drink a 6-pack of Caligula-lite, and then hose down his Guccis.

Sav-

He may have said 'millionaires' in his Nobel acceptance speech, but frankly I haven't had the energy to check it out.

mb

2:56 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Regarding the Commander-in-Drone,

Obama is against “dumb” war crimes, “dumb” bullying, and “dumb” genocide.

He’s not against “smart” war crimes, “smart” bullying, and “smart” genocide.

In this context, smart’s connotation and denotation are nearly identical to those of the “smart” in “smart phone” and “smart bomb.” As for “dumb”, the meaning is strange and somewhat vague, but it definitely implies meager cost-benefit calculations and rash, uncalculated, and unprofitable bullying/slaughtering decisions.

In a perverse way, the purity of Obama is almost breathtaking. The man is truly “an O without a figure.”

4:47 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

an article on yoga:

"Exercise is boring. It can make you feel great or it can give you shin splints. But it never makes you interesting. Infusing stretching with some type of vague and varying mysticism to make the participants seem deep and interesting only highlights its nonsense. I worry not for the souls of those who need supernatural stories in order to get bendy, but for the friends, family and colleagues who have to put up with the rubbery, vainglorious dullards."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/11/father-obaoill-yoga-unsavoury-irish-priest

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

With all respect Dr. Berman, I can't find much humor in light of what's going on in Gaza. The news coverage in Asia is so far superior to what western media shows which I suspect is mostly Israelis running into bomb shelters. Meanwhile, full blown slaughter is occurring in Gaza. The pictures I see of unimaginable panic is almost too difficult to watch. Needless to say, the Israel right or wrong crowd is having wet dreams over this. Yes, Israel learned much from the Holocaust. They learned how to behave like Nazis.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Well, I certainly wasn't making light of Gaza, as far as I can remember. I'm sure it's "Cast Lead" of 2009 all over again. The country is morally bankrupt, as writers like Max Blumenthal and Ilan Pappe have shown. Also check this out:

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.604431

mb

9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I told you so dept.:

http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/blog/dead-zones-cell-phones-can-kill

Of course, in the case of Americans, it doesn't really matter, because there's nothing inside the head to get damaged (beyond cottage cheese).

mb

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Strangelove said...

It's stuff like this that is really fueling my desire to either leave this nation of dangerous morons forever or to find a way to isolate myself completely.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/jun/28/letter-threat-us/

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Blair said...

Very good article on cell phone and other wireless health threats:
http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/blog/dead-zones-cell-phones-can-kill

11:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Strange-

Leaving is a gd idea. But in the meantime, here's a helpful thought experiment: every time you interact w/an American, either face-to-face or via print (as in the article you cite), imagine that they have their heads wedged firmly up their buttocks. Cd anything useful come out of such a discussion? What wd be the pt of dialogue, if they are just rolling around like a donut? Do you really think this metaphor is that off the mark?

mb

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

As an example of the Progress/High Tech Is All Good mentality:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/13/forget_google_glass_our_next_gadgets_should_take_care_of_us/

Not once is there even a hint of possible social & cultural effects or fallout. Not once is there a question of whether the power needed for all these gadgets will be infinitely available, or run out some day. Not once is there any musing about what outsourcing every aspect of our humanity to technology does to human beings, both individually & as a group.

Biddly,

I've talked/argued with apparently intelligent people who insist that every current problem can & will be solved by technology. They'll just invent new sources of power, they'll just create new ways of cleaning water & re-vitalizing the soil, and everyone will be happy, healthy, and rich.

As to the question of whether pursing wealth to the exclusion of actually living life & becoming more of a whole human being -- well, that one doesn't seem to come up. And if it's raised, it's only to be dismissed immediately.

You're right about "blind optimism" -- it's a cheerful grin that's really a death rictus.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thousands of people protested all over the world against the Israeli massacre of Gazans, including in the US. At least many ordinary people care about this mass murder of 174 Palestinians, including whole families, children, the elderly, and disabled, even if our governments do not.

Photos are here:

http://samidoun.ca/2014/07/photos-protests-around-the-world-stand-with-palestine/

Also check out this video on Democracy Now, where Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat takes apart the justifications for this massacre offered by an adviser to Israel's ambassador to the US:

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/11/gaza_debate_as_palestinian_deaths_top

12:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

The problem is that Israel doesn't really care what the world thinks of its actions, and the US is not willing to pull the plug on the $3 billion/yr it sends them.

mb

3:23 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I have lately learned that Oakland mayor Jean Quan has teamed up with the crown prince of Dubai to flatten a big part of Oakland - near which I abide - and replace it with "Coliseum City," a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment complex that will stretch from the Oakland Coliseum to the airport, and which will be devoted to big box chain stores, expensive condos, swanky office spaces, ball teams and all things wonderful in the eyes of developers. This marvelous project will wipe out blight (viz., places where poor people live) and replace it with square miles of rebar-and-concrete wonderfulness. Isn't that great?!

A referendum will not be submitted to voters. Instead the project will be financed by what Quan somewhat vaguely calls a "public-private partnership." I gather this means that whatever the crown prince doesn't shell out for will be financed by Santa and the Easter Bunny.

What a great investment of public funds. Who needs education and urban infrastructure anyway? Jean Quan is a genius. All American politicians are geniuses. That's why Oakland and the USA have such a great future!

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

Tim,

Every time people think they've found a technological solution to all the world's problems, it just ends up creating more problems (i.e., global warming, Chernobyl, etc.). Also, even if "green" technologies, reforestation and population control could save us in terms of our ecological/industrial situation (and there's actually a good bit of evidence that they could), no government has been willing to implement it on a large scale thus far, which demonstrates that humanity cannot be saved by anything, including technology, when it isn't even willing to make the necessary sacrifices and changes to save itself. It's kind of like realizing that a food addict isn't going to be saved by the greatest weight loss program in all of existence, because he's unwilling to give up his addiction and actually implement that program.

And as far as non-physical problems are concerned, there's no question that technology can literally do nothing to save us - quite the opposite. The highest rates of mental illness are found in countries that are either heavily industrialized, or the victims of modern industrial warfare. Psychiatric meds can be effective for some (myself included), but their benefits are outweighed by the drawbacks of mental illness that come with industrialization.

Oh well. Americans will continue to keep on smiling, even as their cities literally go underwater due to rising sea levels. I can just imagine them singing "America The Beautiful" as their cities are inundated; they'll be singing "from sea to shining sea" as their lungs begin to fill with water. I hate to say this, but most people would pay good money to see such a scene; they'd find it humorous to watch a collection of deluded, self-loving psychopaths sing about their own immortality and perfection as they die in a hideous manner.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Most Americans will be excited abt this; after all, it's 'progress'. Myself, I can't wait to fly into Oakland to do some serious shopping.

Meanwhile, here's the shooting of the day (by, of course, an 'insane loner'; no connection to the culture at large):

http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/07/13/kcbs-kcal-pasadena-shooting.kcbs-kcal&hpt=hp_t2&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fus.cnn.com%2F%3Fcnn_shwEDDH%3D1#/video/us/2014/07/13/kcbs-kcal-pasadena-shooting.kcbs-kcal

Why do I have a feeling that the Oakland Coliseum, and the now-daily shootings in the US, are closely related?

mb

6:06 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Chris Floyd touches on Americas Hitler fetish here.

http://chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2409-massacre-of-the-innocents-slaughter-in-the-gaza-ghetto.html

6:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Gd article. Comments section also gd.

Near-

Cdn't post it, sorry (too long).

mb

7:29 PM  
Anonymous dkhinkle said...

Dr. B. and Fellow WAF'ers,

That was a good article about the hazards of cell phones, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and even the power wiring in our homes. To add a couple of anecdotal data points:

In the early 2000's in Taiwan I knew a woman who could actually feel the RF that cell phones emitted, and she could even distinguish between brands (i.e. some would cause her more pain than others). She still owned and used one, however, as already at that time in Taiwan they were ubiquitous. I remember once watching her skip quickly past an operating microwave oven, as she could also feel something there. (As an aside, this person was also very sensitive to spiritual energies -- and I could tell you some stories -- which makes me wonder at the connection.)

A couple of years later, again like many others in Taiwan, I owned a cell phone and got into the habit of carrying it in a holster attached to my belt. After a number of weeks, I began to notice a persistent pain in my groin, which scared me. I then remembered my old friend, and had the feeling to stop carrying the cell phone at my waist, and the pain went away a short time later and never came back.

Now I try to keep electronic devices -- esp. those that emit RF by design -- away from my head and body (and those of my family), but Wi-Fi makes it harder to do. (And, once again my heretical thoughts have raised eyebrows at my high-tech company!)

1:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

From comments on the Chris Floyd article cited above:

"Meanwhile, up on the hills over Gaza, some people find the slaughter a spectator sport:

"People have dragged camping chairs and sofas to the top of the hill. Several sit with crackling bags of popcorn, while others smoke hookahs and talk cheerfully. People come and go from the site in a steady stream."

It's hard for me to grasp the fact that these are "my people," or that they are the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Whew! Asked by a Roman soldier to explain the Torah to him in the time he (the soldier) cd stand "on one foot" (al regel echad, in Hebrew), Hillel (1st C BC) replied: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation."

Wha' happened??!

mb

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

I agree with you that the problem is that the US is not willing to pull the plug. But as I said before, the solution to this problem is the Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement. The two-state solution is a fantasy, so it falls on people outside of government to persuade organizations to boycott Israeli products. BDS has already had a major impact on the Israeli economy, and is set to intensify.

Regarding your second point, that Israelis don't care what the world thinks, I partially agree with you. But once young Israelis see that musicians refuse to play in their country, scientists refuse to work with Israeli scientists (think Stephen Hawking), and companies and people refuse to buy their products, this will have a major impact and force them to change their ways. People within the highest level of the Israeli government, including Netanyahu, are very scared of BDS because they realize how effective it is.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

According to Max Blumenthal, what young people are doing is precisely what I've been telling young (and old) Americans to do: hitting the rd. An astounding 10% of Israeli citizens now live abroad (Berlin being a favorite destination, ironically enough). BDS may or may not work; I have no idea. But I frankly doubt that the current gov't cares all that much. As in the US, the ruling class wd prefer that the country collapse rather than it (the r.c.) give up power, or change the national trajectory. And most Israelis, who quite avidly support Netanyahu, probably feel the same way (I think they think they are living in Masada). I'd like to believe that economic and cultural pressure will bring abt signficant change, but I suspect this insane ideological commitment, based on an endless terror of the Holocaust, is going to override any rational decision-making. Demography may be the only hope for the Palestinians, as Israel well knows; which is why the settler movement is so crucial, as the settlements are being used to break up Arab concentrations.

In short, I'd like to share yr optimism, but at this pt it's hard. I do think it's unlikely, however, that Israel will be able to celebrate its 100th anniversary (2048) in any meaningful way.

mb

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow Wafers,
Regarding the conflict in Israel and Gaza, let me quote Dr. Chomsky, "It is important to understand what life is like in Gaza when Israel’s behavior is “restrained,” in between the regular manufactured crises like this one. ....in a report to UNRWA by Mads Gilbert, the Norwegian physician who has worked extensively in Gaza, ..in every respect, the situation is disastrous. Gilbert reports: “Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering immensely. A large proportion are affected by the man-made malnourishment regime caused by the Israeli imposed blockage. Prevalence of anemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively".....When Israel is on “good behavior,” more than two Palestinian children are killed every week, a pattern that goes back over 14 years."

It's all here : http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/24931-gazas-torment-israels-crimes-our-responsibilities

11:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

I have a feeling that citing Hillel's version of the Golden Rule (see above) to Israelis won't make much of an impression on them.

Meanwhile, I've been reviewing the dvd's of the HBO series "Rome," which Chuck J. on this blog sent me a couple of yrs ago. It's really fabulous. One thing that is most striking about the depiction is how utterly brutal the Roman Empire was, and how very similar it now is to the American Empire. I encourage everyone to watch it, see what u think.

Meanwhile, I found this recent news story depressingly iconic of our fair nation:

http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/07/12/dnt-wi-puppy-thrown-in-trash.wbay&hpt=hp_t2&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fus.cnn.com%2F%3Fcnn_shwEDDH%3D1#/video/us/2014/07/12/dnt-wi-puppy-thrown-in-trash.wbay

mb

12:07 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

The ref. to Stephen King in the article MB cited above re: the deleterious effects of technobuffoonery, EMR & electrical field exposure, reminded me of King's professed love for poets (to hell with cell phones: afterall, poets are the *real* "antennae of the human race," or so says Ezra Pound). But his favorite poet may be Edward Dorn (1929-1999), whose poetry he described as 'talismans of perfect writing' & named the first novel of "The Dark Tower" series in honor of Dorn's epic 5 vol. poem "Gunslinger" (1968-75). As for myself, after reading some Dorn over the last few days, I've no doubt that he's one of our more interesting "discontents." (As time permits, ie, in the coming days, I think I can show you all an interesting connection I've found to WAF).

Joseph Richey (who edited Dorn's collection of interviews/talks) writes: "In 1984, as Ronald Reagan steamrolled toward reelection, Ed Dorn began "Abhorrences," a daybook of running commentary on the atrocities he witnessed in the press. "Abhorrences" exemplifies Dorn's poetics of aggression. The combined effect of these statemental lyrics or op-ed poems is a broadside attack against political and cultural trends in the United States."

Here's a sample "abhorrence," from his 1990 volume "Abhorrences: A Chronicle of the Eighties." It's title is "Not Good, but Getting Better: dog fights on the increase in Denver":

It would have been as good
to live with Genghis Khan as Reagan Ron,
with the mass decapitations of Khorasan,
the garden of Asia
as the industrial strength genocides
in the gardens of Missouri.
Remember the town that
had to be scraped off—villa dioxin.
It’s just dog shit—a society of hi-tek dogshit.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Since Israel is very dependent on US military aid, I think the exact date of US collapse will have a strong correlation with Israeli collapse. They have no doubt made contingency plans, but they cannot have stockpiled decades worth of advanced military equipment. Within a relatively short while after the US starts fretting about what to do with its decaying fleet siting at the docks, including how to decommission all those dangerous nuclear reactors (much as Russia had to worry after its own collapse) there will be another battle of Jerusalem, much more like the first than the battles that came between. Like the first battle it will be fought with aging and/or partially inoperable military vehicles and even civilian vehicles converted for emergency combat uses. But given the large demographic changes in the region over the decades, the outcome will be very different.

It's interesting to think about the two nations' relative views of each other and themselves. The CIA has already projected that Israel cannot last much longer. In 2009 a report was released projecting the collapse of Israel within 20 years. (CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years) Ironically, I suspect that the Israeli government is much more aware of the depth of trouble that the US is in, and have been putting more effort into their "contingency plans" to survive without US support because they see what is happening here more clearly. Not that that will make much difference. But do either of these governments ever dare recognize the possibility of their OWN failure, I wonder? Such reports would never be declassified by either, of course. But it's fascinating to wonder if they can even think about their own failure(s).

12:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

Around the same time the NIC did an internal intelligence report called "Global Trends: 2025," wh/essentially said the US is in deep do-do.

Near-

That last line is a pretty fair summary of the US. Author fails, however, to mention CRE, wh/I think is a crucial factor in all this. Also check out Ursula Le Guin, "The Telling," a great novel that refers to "undigested techshit."

mb

12:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Sav-

Dr. Berman's explanation about the disease of alcoholism helps explain why there's such a denial of reality in the US. Only when an alcoholic is dangerously close to death will he seek help, analyze his life, get a grip, so to speak. Even then, of course, many don't make it... The *only* way Americans will move to a level of serious reflection and awareness is when they hit absolute bottom; it's gonna take a near death experience. Unfortunately, the American Dream is the heroin high in America and people like Kim K. are its pusher. The power of the dream is the problem as it never, ever seems to fully die. It negatively infects everything in the overall scheme of things.

You know, I often lay awake at night thinking: What will it take to really break our narcotic dependency on the American Dream? How do we repair the damage it has caused? The only solution that I can come up with is more Wafers; Wafers and Tikkun Olam!

Jeff

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

MB,

I remember reading in Dark Ages America that you thought Islam was much, much worse than the disease of unfettered American capitalism. Do you still believe that to be the case? Whatever your answer, I'd like to know exactly why you think the way you do. I'm desirous of learning something about a comparison between the two systems, especially since I don't want to live in either.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Papa has died. said...

Hello. My father in law loved this blog and the books and ideas of Professor Berman. My kids and I would read it to see what things Abba would say under his nome de plume "Capo". He passed away Friday night suddenly in France on vacation with Bubbe. We are devastated. He was great and sensitive man who adored his children and grandkids.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Jeff,

The problem, of course, is that the only bottom that most Americans are ready to hit is Kim K's.

The always reliable TomDispatch:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175867/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_age_of_impunity/#more

Andre Gregory's belief about most people "living in an insane dream world" was never more true than in America today.

Re: American optimism:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/14/must_see_morning_clip
_john_oliver_tackles_income_inequality_
destroys_myth_of_american_dream/4

And a sample of the "education" provided by those wonderful charter schools:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/14/arizona_charter_
school_history_book_says_whites
_envied_freedom_of_slaves/

Yeah, I'm all over the map today. But it's all summed up so neatly & succinctly by Einstein: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

2:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Papa has died-

My dear friend: I can't tell u how devastated I was to hear that Peter had died. How awful, and how unexpected. He was a radiant presence on this blog--so supremely intelligent, and so dynamic. My condolences to you and your family at this time. I'm so sad. It's a major loss for anyone who knew him, I'm sure. If you want to talk with me about it, feel free to write to me at mauricio@morrisberman.com.

mb

4:02 PM  
Blogger douken said...

This is my position in brief: Barack Obama is an exceptionally smart man, we note; an honors graduate of Columbia University in 1983 and while at Harvard University he was president of the Harvard Law Review, graduating JD magna cum laude in 1991.

He served as a community organizer in Chicago, eight years in the Illinois State Senate, and one term in the U.S. Senate. Following Harvard, while a visiting fellow, lecturer, then senior lecturer at University of Chicago Law School teaching constitutional law, Obama took the time to write two books, the first a memoir (that I have read): Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, and the second The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (which I have not read).

Obama was also an associate, then counsel at Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland law firm from 1993 to 2004. However, his focus was always on a political future and during the period following Harvard until his presidential campaign, Obama neither authored nor published a single scholarly paper for peer review to any law conference proceedings, review, or journal.

It appears that Obama has followed a political path with a non-zero-sum ethic: he can figure out a way in which everyone can win. Here again, his ethic was not buttressed by any significant strategy of real-politic, a helpful dollop of skepticism, nor understanding of administration and management of enormous stovepipe bureaucracies. Let it be said, most emphatically, I find Obama's ability as a communicator lacking in evocative vision -- that is, his inability to transfer his inner vision to the public both wholesale (over the media) and retail (in public gatherings) except on rare occasions, hampered by his overt stiffness and mediocre public speaking skills (audience, room, cadence, enthusiasm, tone modulation, body language, making the point, knowing your material - know more about it than you include in your speech, use of humor, personal stories and conversational language, relax, concentrate on message not medium -- minimizing use of teleprompter)

His inexperience due to youth and an unconscionable level of naivety has left him without sufficient personal resources to overcome the immense responsibilities of the Presidency of the United States. One obstacle in particular would have been difficult for any black man in this office: disguised racism. To give him his due, overcoming all the obstacles, particularly a vindictive right-wing Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Republican minority in the Senate armed with a filibuster requiring sixty votes for cloture, would have required the tenacity of FDR and the congressional clout of LBJ. Alas, a mediocre presidency will be his legacy.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bid-

A lot of it depends on what one grows up with. Islam has some very positive aspects, such as loyalty, group solidarity, a moral center or code, and so on. My problem is that not being raised in a Muslim nation, there is too much that would get in my way. One is not allowed to be a freethinker (atheist), wh/I am, or to disagree very much with the consensus (if at all). The Islamic cultures tend to be intellectually stultifying, and the treatment of women is something I find particularly objectionable.

I was in London a couple of yrs ago, and was talking w/an Iranian woman, abt 36 yrs old, who was planning to return to Iran after having lived London nearly 10 yrs. I cdn't help wondering what the re-adjustment process wd be like for her. Anyway, I mentioned the stoning of female adulterers as something I personally found barbaric, and she replied: "Oh, the Western press tends to exaggerate that. There are only about 2 or 3 stonings every 5 yrs." This is what I mean by, it depends on where u were raised. For me, 1 stoning a century wd be too many.

That being said, Muslims tend to find American "culture" repulsive, and in this I agree with them. Superficial, with a vulgar emphasis on sexuality; no guiding ethic beyond hustling, money, and consumerism (they are fully aware that talk of 'democracy' is largely a sham); and indifference or cruelty toward the disadvantaged and the unfortunate. I don't want to live in either society, really, nor do I have much interest in the other two major isms of the 20C, namely Fascism and Communism. Leaving Fascism aside (wh/to me has *no* redeeming aspects), Communism, Capitalism, and Islam are all lusterless; they've basically all shot their wad. In my view, they are all traps, belief-systems that repress much of what it is to be human.

At the same time, they each have positive aspects; they all are based on a Great Idea. I indicated the positives of Islam above; in the case of capitalism, it's the promise of individual achievement. In the case of Communism, that everyone get a fair shake, get the basics covered (food, shelter, clothing, medical help, education), and work together for the common gd. These are all great Ideas, but in all three cases the institutionalization eventually buried the core Ideas.

In any case, when I say Islam is worse than capitalism, I mean for me, and for most of us raised in so-called liberal democracies. I have no doubt that millions of Muslims wd not be able to adapt to American values, and in fact wd regard them as anti-values. So again, a lot depends on where yr coming from. But at the end of the day, all 3 of these systems are, imo, failures. And a lot of this, as I've said, is a matter of scale. All 3 systems, and of course Fascism as well, believe(d) that one size fits all; that *everyone* should be a good little consumer, a good little communist, or that Sharia law shd govern the world. Blech.

mb

4:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

douken-

Well, I really disagree; I think he's a completely empty person w/no vision at all. This is the key reason why his presidency amounted to nothing: he had no idea of where he was going, or even what 'going' might consist of. He just bent w/the wind, and of course made sure to feather his nest. He's a zero; he has no inner vision to 'transfer'. I haven't checked for sure, but one source told me that in his tenure as senator, he was absent half the time and abstained (mostly) when he was present. That he might have done great things but for racism and GOP opposition will be part of liberal-Democratic mythology for yrs to come. More 'progressive' hiding from reality.

I also disagree w/u regarding his speaking abilities: I think they are very gd. He shined for that reason during the 2008 debates w/John McCain, and in every video I've seen of him speaking, he is casual, relaxed, uses lofty language, and seems committed. It's completely empty; it amounts to nothing at all, finally. But it sure sounds gd. He communicates very well--I'd say rhetoric was his forte. The problem is that he has nothing to communicate.

mb

5:04 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

I thought the same thing about Judaism, that it has it's good points, like Islam. Also Jewish people generally seemed liberal (compared to say, Baptists) and mostly people got together for social functions, so no harm. Then I dated a Jewish woman and told her what I thought, and she disagreed. She told me about the fanatics she encountered when she went to Israel, and it turned her off from the whole thing. She'll still go to some social functions, but the religious part just seemed as fanatical and crazy as anything else, and she wanted nothing to do w/it. Her parents are strong supporters of the state of Israel, and I don't think that helped things.

This woman was also very envious of Mark Z. and she wished she had a billion dollars too.

Is there no alternative?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lack-

Every religion has its douche bags; typically, many of them. This applies to the secular religions as well: 'progressivism', atheism, and consumerism, for example. Escaping douchebaggery can be a lifetime project, for some.

mb

5:44 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...the NIC did an internal intelligence report called "Global Trends: 2025,"

The National Intelligence Council report "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World" was published in November 2008 as NIC document NIC-2008-003.

It is available for purchase from the Government Printing Office (bookstore.gpo.gov) or can be read for free at the site of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) (dni.gov).

A new report from the NIC, published in December 2012 as NIC 2012-001, is entitled "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds." It too is available at the DNI site.

I haven't read either report, but am guessing that reading the police blotter and the TMZ website every day is just as useful in giving me a sense of the general trend for what Guy McPherson calls homo callidus: downward, with acceleration.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Dear Capo's family,

I am shocked and saddened by the news of Capo's passing. I just want to say that Capo's intellect, sagacity, and wisdom will be deeply missed. One could tell, from his many contributions on this blog, that he was a lover of life in all its beauty and complexity. My heart felt condolences to all of you.

Sincerely,

Jeff Tidwell

5:47 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Tim Lukeman,

this is a very late response, but I totally agree with your response to my comment (in the last post). As the Ris(en) J.C. once put it, "They know not what they do." The unreflecting cookie-cutter masses think they're doing one thing, while actually doing just the opposite.

Forgive me Wafers for all the Bible references. You can take the Catlicker outta the Church, but you can't take the Church outta the Catlicker.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

My fellow Wafers:

I just went back to the previous post to check on what Dr. B said to that Yogic person, "No, we didn't actually fly; but you wind up feeling a lot lighter," because I thought it was hilarious - right out of Monty Python's "Holy Grail," but then I saw it was a reply to Capo.

Now it doesn't seem quite as funny. Thanks, "Papa has died," for letting us know. I liked Capo's posts; he was a wealth of knowledge.

On a further sombre note, it's probably hard for many of us to grasp that what's going on in Palestine is done by "your" people, some of whom are descended from Holocaust survivors. Maybe "Israeli" doesn't really signify "Jewish," but has evolved (devolved?) to mean something else, despite its origins.

Lenny Bruce, if he were around today, would probably say that Israelis are goyish and Palestinians are Jewish .

7:09 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

I also had noticed that comment, very jarring. It reminded me of the cars driving around honking after Bin Laden was killed.

In other news, the Archdruid is working on a new book with a very similar title to DAA. Sue him for all he's worth!!!

" Dark Age America: A Future History of the North American Continent 2050-2550 AD. " From his comment on 7/9/14 at 10:28pm.

Its a good post as well.

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/07/bright-were-halls-then.html

And finally, another LD gem re Isreal and Palestine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmui1Jo-FaE&app=desktop

RIP Capo

7:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fan of Nuance-

Not much nuance in yr attack on me, eh? Not only are you wrong, but u.r. rude. If you want to participate in this discussion, you (a) apologize for insulting me, and (b) make sure you treat everyone on this blog, myself included, w/respect. Professional jackasses such as yrself are not welcome here, OK? Jesus, what dreck is out there; it never ceases to amaze me.

Dan-

There's no copyrt on titles, sad to say, and my titles have been stolen b4. It'll be interesting to see if he cites my work. (The majority who use it, don't.)

mb

8:05 PM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

Dear People All,

I know that what counts as Islam varies in reality almost as much as it does in the minds of those who fear it. I have limited experience of being among those who love the Koran, and some of it counts as both the best and the worst. By the time I found myself (passive voice is ok here) in the Sudan I was weary of the hustle I had borne elsewhere under the sickle moon. Took a while for me to notice the difference, but once I had grokked it, the difference has gained in memory over forty years: nobody there ever hassled me in any way. Kind of took reading Belman to get it into words.

David Clausen

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Door said...

Dear Capo's family: I enjoyed Capos comments on this blog.He always had something interesting to say.So I am reminded of the two truths of life death and impermanence.So thanks Capo

9:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David, others-

It's been a long time since I read it, but I remember that Karen Armstrong's bk "Islam: A Short History" presents a very complex and interesting picture of the religion. In fact, I think I may reread it, now that the subject has been raised here.

mb

10:16 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

I’m saddened to learn of Capo's death. He was a brilliant, shining light on this blog, and I always looked forward to his comments. A loss for all of us. My condolences to those who knew and loved him.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

To Capo's family--His comments were always thoughtful, intelligent. My condolences to your grieving family and his wife.

Earlier in this post you mentioned "self-loathing Jew." I've always thought this was simply a way to silence all criticism of Israel by turning it back on the critic and dodging any real discussion of the issues. They can't accuse a real Jew of being anti-Semitic so this is the next best thing. I've been a Catholic all my life and am very critical of all the abuses of the Church (going back many centuries), particularly their providing cover for pedophiles. Yet no one would probably think to call me or anyone else a "self-loathing Catholic". Why is this? In describing the many abuses by the Catholic Church I'm identifying crimes (rape, theft, murder) and it seems to me that's all most people are trying to do when discussing the mess in Israel.

Maybe b/c the Jewish people have suffered so much persecution for so many centuries they somehow believe they've been inoculated from the capacity for cruelty and exploitation that we all posses. I saw Chris Hedges several years ago in a debate with Sam Harris make the point that it wasn't about religion, it was about the darkness in the human soul.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Borges used to say that when a man dies, a whole universe dies with him. This certainly applies to Capo's passing away. His views and analysis will be highly missed by all of us who visit this post. My condolences go to the family who I am sure will miss other aspects of that universe.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Someone up in the economic stratosphere realizes there is a problem. Nick Hannauer, a multi-billionaire who was one of the earliest investors in Amazon.com and also sold some businesses of his own for billions, has written an article in Politico magazine. The Pitchforks are coming... For Us Plutocrats Now watch the reaction from his "peers" to this heresy against the religion of money. Suggesting that there is anything wrong with the system and the poor aren't poor because of their own bad choices and inadequacies, is the ultimate heresy. As the article notes, Forbes Magazine has already condemned his warning and suggested solution as "near insane". There will no doubt be much more hysteria if he garners much attention.

Seattle Times: Mega-millionaire in warfare against his own class

For someone who just predicted an armed revolution is on its way — against himself — Nick Hanauer doesn’t seem too fraught when I catch up with him.

“It’s not like my jet is warming up at the airport, ready to make a quick getaway,” he said. “It was hyperbole to make a point.”

That bit of hyperbole, though, has arguably catapulted Hanauer into the front lines of the nation’s simmering class war. On the side opposite from his own class.

...

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

Two very good intros to Islam are A Brief Guide to Islam by Paul Grieves and No God but God by Reza Aslan. A near classic in Shi`a Islam in Iran is The Male of the Prophet by Roy Mottahedeh.
It`s unsurprising but appalling how ignorant Americans are of this world faith. I`m not signing on, but I`ve known more than a few Muslims pretty well and they seemed above average on the ethical front.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

“Not sure if Americans generally continue to believe they are going to get rich. It seems like the economic downturn has shattered that delusion, leaving Americans with no purpose in life at all - hence, the emptiness of American culture today.”

Good analysis. During a recent visit with my in-laws, who are wealthy, small town Midwest, country club, Republicans, we got around to discussing that I will test for my black belt in Aikido in about 18 months. The first words out of my mother-in-laws mouth were “what will you do with that? Start teaching or open a school?” You see, a person must find a way to make money with any endeavor they pursue. Why else do it?

Further, many years ago my first wife’s brother explained to me in a rather haughty manner that I needed to find hobbies and interests that also serve as an income source, as he does. He poo-pooed my hobbies like model railroading, oil painting and reading science fiction as wastes of time unless I can sell finished product.

This is how ‘Murcans are trained from birth. To them nothing is worth doing unless it makes a buck.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Seeking-

"Monetize," it's called. As I mentioned earlier, I'm planning to monetize my rear end, but of course Kim beat me to the punch. It's time to institute our own SWAT program--Serious Wafers Attack Trollfoons--by hosing down the shoes of 317 million Americans. Problem is, that = 634 million shoes, and I doubt there's enuf Bud Lite in the country for us to do a thorough and adequate job. But these people need it so badly, and Wafers are always ready to do public service.

mb

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Thor said...

Hi Wafers! As a long time reader of both this blog and John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report, I just want to point out that the fact that the working title of his next book is similar to Berman's is most likely coincidental. Greer tends to base his views on older, less contemporary works and is probably not even familiar with Berman.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous tamara said...

Interesting development. Whaddayall think of this marriage?

BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency reserves to cut out Western dominance.

http://rt.com/business/173008-brics-bank-currency-pool/

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

Blair,

I concur. Most Muslims I've known have been kind and ethical people. It's true they don't believe that other religions and lifestyles are as good as their own, but they nevertheless exhibited respectfulness, compassion, and honesty. It's much more than I can say of most Christians I know, and of most Americans.

That said, I could never integrate into a Muslim culture. I believe that people should pursue a lifestyle, and a belief system, that suits their individual temperament (and does not cause harm to self or others). Indeed, one size does not fit all, and Islam can't seem to understand this.

Of course, Christians take this rigidity and superiority complex much, much further. They believe everyone who is not Christian isn't merely following the wrong path; most Christians believe that all non-Christians are literally spawns of Satan that must be annihilated by any means possible. If you doubt this, look at how three whole continents were depopulated of natives by rabid, self-righteous, self-deluded, sadistic Christians: Australia, North America, and South America. And now, Christians are calling for the depopulation of the Middle East. Let's hope they don't succeed.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

Correction of the correction:
The title is The Mantle of the Prophet.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Hannauer could win a presidential election on that platform. As many of our wackos want extreme wealth for just themselves, all of our wackos want extreme wealth. "More stuff through more jobs". It's 'Murican as apple pie.

Made me think of another t-shirt idea:

America: We question price, never desire.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

# of dolts in US now approaching an asymptote:

http://www.themarysue.com/tsa-washington-d-c/

Tam-

Every single day, another chink in American armor. Another shooting, another bit of stupidity, another economic setback. Paso a paso...it's over for the US. Even internal American intelligence reports are saying this. Karma, kiddies; karma.

mb

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

My comments regarding BDS reflect not so much optimism, as a sense that it's the most viable way to stop Israeli apartheid. I'm not saying it's definitely going to succeed, only that it has much great prospects of success than the sham "two state" solution which allows Israel to keep grabbing more and more Palestinian land without suffering adverse consequences.

Also, there are some historical grounds for thinking BDS is an effective strategy. The boycott of South Africa during Apartheid played an important (if not exclusive) role in bringing down the Apartheid regime there. Wondering what you think about that historical parallel.

You also say you doubt whether the Israeliis care about what the world thinks that much. I completely disagree with you. Israelis cares a great deal what the world thinks, which is why it puts so much effort into so-called hasbara (i.e. Zionist propaganda). There are many examples of this:

http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-student-union-sets-war-room-sell-gaza-massacre-facebook

Or see this article from Mondoweiss, "Netanyahu mentions 'BDS' 18 times in denouncing movement and its 'gullible fellow travelers'.

http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/netanyahu-denouncing-travelers.html

It is quite clear for anyone following the Israel-Palestine conflict that Israel is greatly concerned about BDS. See, for example:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/opinion/sunday/why-the-boycott-movement-scares-israel.html

http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/american-elite-scared.html

So yes, to the extent I am optimistic about BDS, it is grounded in empirical evidence both from today and from history. But of course there is no guarantee of success.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

In S. Africa, I suspect it was demography rather than sanctions that tipped the balance, tho I cd be wrong. As for Israeli concern abt perception: I'm aware of hasbara, of course; my pt is that Israel will continue to do what it wants to do even if the entire world censures it. So yes, it cares; but no, it doesn't--and the no is more significant. I.e., it wd *like* to have the world on its side, but push comes to shove, it doesn't really matter to them, in terms of political position, military action, and so on.

mb

8:03 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers worldwide:

Besides this place, I follow the comments on leftish site, Commondreams.org.

The Gaza situation is bringing out all the animals. On one side are the hasbara zealots and those under the fiendish grip of hasbara mind control.

On the other side, shameless antisemites are having no qualms about spouting their disgusting opinions.

This is taking place on a "progressive" forum. If things are this bad on CD, I wonder what right-wing sites are like.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

Jesus, did TSA recently hire Lorenzo Riggins? Holy Moly, this place is down for the count!

Tim-

Many thanks for the Tom Engelhardt article and other info. His reference to the US as an unaccountable basket case is right on target.

Jeff

8:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

The two sides feed each other, of course; a synergy of dementia. There is a way to cut the Gordian knot, and that is to recognize that Judaism is not Zionism. There are many, like me, who are Jews but not Zionists; and as a Jew, I'm on the side of oppressed people. This is why I'm ashamed of Israelis who cheer Operation Cast Lead, or Protective Edge; which are nothing but slaughter and barbarism. The teachings of Hillel are very far from these folks. And if u read Ilan Pappe, you'll discover that expulsion of the Arabs was on the Zionist agenda as far back as the 19C. What the Israelis (well, most) want to do is create their own identity on the base of the destruction of the identity of the Other. This cannot work, in the long run; the Other will not be silenced. In 1947, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the world had a Jewish Problem. As Walter Laqueur once wrote, it 'solved' that problem by creating an Arab problem--musical chairs. The situation in Israel/Palestine will not get resolved until the Arab problem gets solved, and that, I believe, is a question of time and demography. Meanwhile, the Palestinians aren't going to take the attempt to rub out their consciousness and identity lying down.

Zionist identity, which is built on opposition to the Other, is fragile; wh/is why Zionists hafta keep propping it up. Jewish identity is 5000 yrs old; it needs no propping up. It's as solid as a rock.

In any case, separating Jews from Zionists, i.e. as categories, wd help the situation a lot, I think, but you can be sure the antisemites u mention have no interest in doing so. Self-righteous hatred is a heady wine.

mb

8:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

I say, Move over, Lorenzo Riggins; we've got another cutting-edge (sorry for the pun) intellect who needs to be running in 2016:

http://us.cnn.com/2014/07/15/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/rapper-severed-penis-andre-johson/?hpt=ob_articlefooter&iref=obinsite

Honestly, there's apparently no upper limit to the # of douche bags contained in the US. One goddamned clown after another. Anyway, Andre is my man.

mb

8:57 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Papa has died,

It was shocking to read of Capo's passing, and I am very sorry for your loss. I appreciated all of his contributions to this blog. It was always evident that he put much thought into what he shared here, and I, for one, benefited from it. Take care.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

MB-
I'm a 21 year old wafer and I've got to tell ya- things are not looking good. Most people my age because their brains are still developing simply don't have the intellectual ability to escape the traps of American culture. Those who feel alienated by the vulgar nature of the hyper-competitiveness which passes for friendship in America or the vapidness of consumerism often channel their discontent into self-destructive fantasies like online video games or drugs. How is a teenager who feels like there is more to life than just making money or that spectator sports like football are ridiculous supposed to form any kind of opposition if everyone around them are acting like dolts? How can they share such blasphemous truths and not be ridiculed or ignored?

The truth is that there are millions of potential WAFER children with endless potential who simply get grinded up like pieces of garbage in the machine of American culture and become destroyed spiritually. They become like Winston Smith in 1984, broken and compliant. It takes extraordinary circumstances to produce a WAFER. I was lucky enough to stumble across this video interview with Chris Hedges a few years ago where he laid out pretty much all the thoughts I had about where the country was going http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zotYU21qcU. Watching the video made me feel like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because I knew I wasn't crazy. All the years of my friends dismissing me when I brought up any of these points finally made sense. It didn't take long for me to find my way to your books once I had finished with Chris Hedges books and a few other authors.

Thank you for all the work you have done. It obviously won't make any difference and may seem like no one pays attention but for the few who manage to find out about you it amounts to a confirmation of sanity. Hilary Clinton/Lorenzo Riggins 2016 full steam ahead!

1:51 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I too am very sorry to hear of Capo's passing. My sympathies.

MB: Regarding Jew vs. Zionist ... don't forget such a subtle bit of nuance is beyond the comprehension of %97.5 percent of the population! There is a weekly "Israel out of Palestine" protest near Macalester College, but all of a sudden last week the graying ex-hippies showed up with $50,000 cars and $2000 cameras to pretend they still can protest something. This is all fine I guess but I wonder, if this is so important to you, where were you the past 51 weeks?

Anyway, enough about duplicitous hippies, back to my job of providing links to stories about the US going crazy, and having a 3 year old around makes it even worse:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/07/arrested-for-letting-a-9-year-old-play-at-the-park-alone/374436/

9:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kyle-

Get outta Dodge. Quite simply, emigrate. Apply to some university in Europe, get a student visa, get your degree there, find work when you graduate, meet a girl (not an American girl) and marry her, and visit the US at Xmas time 2c yr family. If u persist in trying to make it in the US, you will regret it; and 40 yrs from now, when there is no Social Security or Medicare, when we are making yet another war on some no-account country in Asia or Africa, and when the entire nation resembles "Idiocracy" (impt film 4u2c), you'll say: "Why oh why didn't I get out when I had the chance?" DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN 2U! Don't piss away the best years of your life in a lunatic asylum, amigo; I'm begging you.

mb

9:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Well, I didn't think it could be done, but Andre Johnson has surpassed our Lorenzo in utter douchebaggery and sheer stupidity. A eunuch president in 2017 would be a fitting end to our dickless nation. One thing tho: Andre is gonna hafta get healthy, he's one sick dude. He can't lead this great nation high on angel dust and slinging a blade. I ask all Wafers to unite in their support of Andre and help him to just say "no" to drugs...

Andre "w/outta" Johnson, 2016!

O&D,

Jeff

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

When I opened the blog yesterday morning and read about Capo’s death I was in such a state of shock I couldn’t write anything. That Capo’s death is a tremendous loss to all Wafers and to this blog goes without saying.

But what a tremendous loss his family is suffering after his sudden death. Bubbe has lost her loving husband, their children have lost their Abba, and the grandchildren have lost their Zayde. I could tell from some of his posts and from our own correspondence that he was tremendously devoted to his family and friends. I send my sincere condolences to the entire family.

I am reminded of the first poem in Dr. Berman’s “Counting Blessings” – the one that begins “If you sit in the café long enough, everyone you know will pass by.” In this poem Dr. Berman talks about his own grandfather (Zayde) saying, “When he died a whole world of learning disappeared.” (I paraphrase since my copy of “Counting Blessings” is still packed away in a box.)

Capo, of blessed memory, will never be forgotten by me, and I’m sure by many Wafers. May the influence of his wisdom continue to flourish in all who knew him.

David Rosen

12:01 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Papa, @Morris, @Capo's family:
I just checked in (I stay away from the web more these days), and was incredibly saddened to learn of Capo's death.

He was, and his spirit still is, an enlightened, thoughtful, deep mind.
My sincere condolences.

If Capo's (Peter's?) family would send me an address to send a card, please email me:
publiusdemocritus _at_ yahoo.com, or post something here.

Again, my condolences. His passing is a great loss to all of us, but especially his children and grandchildren.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Dr. Berman,
Just purchased and read most of 'Counting Blessings' I like your poems. I think is great to have the opportunity to thank an author directly for the gift of his work so, thank you! On that too, I notice your last poem, 'Courtyard' brings relevance to that invention that we got from the arabs: the patio. The patio as a methapor of life, with the things that really matter within it: plant life, silence, the sky as a roof, solitude, water etc. I also spend a lot of time in my own patio. Allow me to show you this poem on Borge's patio in case you haven't read it:
Un Patio
Con la tarde,
Se cansaron los dos o tres colores del patio.
Esta noche, la luna, el claro circulo,
no domina su espacio.
Patio, cielo encauzado.
El patio es el declive
por el cual se derrama el cielo en la casa.
Serena,
la eternidad espera en la encrucijada de estrellas.
Grato es vivir en la amistad oscura
De un zaguán, de una parra y de un aljibe.

En fin.....three patios, two great authors, one grand admiration!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

I don't know if this is historically accurate, but it nicely sums up the Palestine/Israel conflict:

http://loiter.co/v/the-israelpalestine-conflict-illustrated-beautiful/


1:31 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Very sorry to hear about Capo. I always enjoyed reading his comments, and will miss his insights.

I've read Nick Hannauer's article, and thought it pretty sensible. The notably unintelligent response by his fellow billionaires and their media puppets has helped to complete a shift in my view of very wealthy people. I used to think they must have something important on the ball that I don't, and be practicing some kind of uber-cleverness that I just can't get my head around. Now I suspect they're actually some kind of rather special idiot savants, temperamentally predisposed to the worship of money, whose mania happens to produce bloated personal wealth and ownership of some very big toys like jets and submarines. Their case suggests the existence of an important distinction between cunning or money smarts one the one hand, and intelligence on the other.

Not that any of this dims my enthusiasm for the coming glories of Coliseum City, or the radiant genius and benignity of Mayor Quan and His Highness of Dubai. What a superb site its echoing mega-malls will make for future shootings and Black Friday taser riots. I'm so grateful Mayor Quan stamped out those awful Occupy protesters a couple of years ago, and so made it possible to continue with our marvelous Way Of Life. That, after all, is what we're fighting wars all over the planet to perpetuate.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

In this video, Max Blumenthal talks about the atmosphere of racism in Israel that he wrote about in Goliath. In the last two minutes of the video, Max turns towards the youth center he's filming at, and talks about how tons of youth disillusioned by the spiritual death and hostility of Israeli culture just do drugs constantly as an escape. To be fair, Max also says most of them are acting that way because they're dislocated from the American culture that they're more comfortable with.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6baL2-8MTTE

I know Chris Hedges is sort of radioactive here now, but THIS video about censorship and oppression of pro-palestinian activism in American universities is amazing. It starts with a short primer on the issue by a SJP student activist, a longer discussion of the power dynamics by an adjunct professor, and ends with Chris Hedges at his best, giving a simply kick ass speech on the moral dimension of the conflict.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO1OcTttOp0

I've been trying to decide for a while whether I should stay in the US to get a very comfortable job with a nice pension (that probably wont be there when I reach it) or to intensely study another language so I can make it abroad. It seems like working in Europe as an expat can be very difficult without strong skills - I'm looking at all the graduate programs I can. I can't believe that even the most elite cost basically as much as an iPad each year, while in America I could buy a new car with each year's tuition! For a lot of reasons I still have to finish my BA here, but recent events have me pondering...

1:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ariel-

Many thanks; glad you enjoyed the bk. Nice poem by Borges, por cierto.

Kev-

Most wealth in the US is inherited, not the result of some Horatio Alger scenario.

Zeke-

Hedges is not 'radioactive' here; pls be clear abt that. As I discussed earlier, there is a sharp distinction between plagiaristic activity and political activism/commitment. I admire him for the latter, always have. As for emigrating: do NOT wait one more day. This is a no-brainer.

mb

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

If there`s one man who can beat HRC in `16 it`s Governor Paul LePage of the great state of Maine ("Life the Way it Should Be" is the unofficial slogan).
http://youtu.be/ONj3kB-5s2Y
As Maine goes, so should go the nation. (He first appears in the video around 4:00)

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Rabbi Yossi said...

Hello all. My sister in law told me about this blog. I thank you all for the kind words for father who was known here as "capo" or "peter" I assume his "secret" email named after a character peter clemenza in the godfather movie he liked so much. He liked to be behind the scenes and very private but for those interested his Hebrew name was Mordechai Benyamin. I am happy to see the kind words about him from people who only knew him from this blog. Its a testament to his words and wisdom. We all thank you The last few days have been challenging but we have been supported and blessed with support and kindness from around the globe. He was a character and a great though unassuming man. When I last saw him in his home in Washington he was engrossed in play with my young children. The phone rang and it was the president of panama wanting to speak to him. Abba told my stepmother who answered--I'm busy he can call tomorrow. He had many worldly achievements and left a substantial estate but his joy was with his books, friends and family.

We will certainly contact Professor Berman for the unveiling next year in Mexico.

Thank you all again.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rabbi Y:

Many thanks for writing in, and for your appreciation of our appreciation. "Peter" was a very special guy, as you know. If I'm in the country at the time, I'll be sure to attend the unveiling.

Sei gesund,
mb

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

I'd like to say that although I never got to know Capo, his comments were indeed insightful. The world has lost a person with a good heart, high intelligence, and a conscience, the three most important attributes that anyone could possibly possess.

As far as emigration is concerned, I'd like to do so, but my gf isn't willing. I want to keep our relationship, so what do I do? She knows the country is deteriorating, but she doesn't want to leave her mother, who insists on remaining here. Any suggestions?

7:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bid-

Kidnap yr mother-in-law.

mb

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

JWO,
Yesterday in north Thailand I saw an appalling scene. A 3 year old girl dropped her pants on the sidewalk and urinated! Where were the police to arrest this girl and scream at her about public decency? And where were the police to arrest her parents for allowing this to happen? Surely, in the US the girl would have been kicked out of nursery school, have to attend weekly meetings about where to urinate, and write a letter of contrition to the city council when she is able to write.
The parents would be charged with a misdemeanor, risk losing the child to Home Services, pay a hefty fine with the possibility of going to jail. I mean what was Thailand thinking?!
PS. For any of you reading this and thinking I'm serious, this is called irony. Can't be sure, Dr. Berman, if even Wafers understand irony.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Yes you can (be sure).

mb

10:31 PM  
Anonymous wh said...

Its great that you see the demise of America too. Glad I want the only college student who was a regular reader of this blog.

Reading the Great Gatsby was when I knew that America Dream a big lie.

Dr. Berman that is what I plan to do after I graduate college here.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Jerome L said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I also am very shocked and saddened at the news that Capo has died. As many others have noted, his contributions to the blog were always wise, thought-provoking, and humane. I believe it was just last week that he posted about the fleetingness of life and the importance of being in the moment with those one loves. And I loved reading the story from Rabbi Y about the president of Panama.

Jerome

8:04 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I saw this interesting article and thought it relevant to our recent blog discussions:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118655/theoretical-phyisicist-explains-why-science-not-about-certainty

A good quote from the article:

"The final consideration regards just one comment about this understanding of science, and the long conflict across the centuries between scientific thinking and religious thinking. It is often misunderstood. The question is, Why can't we live happily together and why can’t people pray to their gods and study the universe without this continual clash? This continual clash is a little unavoidable, for the opposite reason from the one often presented. It’s unavoidable not because science pretends to know the answers. It’s the other way around, because scientific thinking is a constant reminder to us that we don’t know the answers."

I also read somewhere (perhaps in Guy McPherson) that these days the vast majority of people confuse (capitol s) Science with Technology. Also worth pondering.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Looks like Russia shop down a plane. Will this finally give us reason to bomb someone?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/17/ukraine-crash-airplane-idUSL6N0PS57720140717

12:54 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Guten Tag, wundervoll Wafers,

Ein paar Artikel:

1. To the Malabar front, Wafers!

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/16/tech/innovation/marines-amphibious-vehicle/index.html?hpt=us_c2

2. Robots as transitional objects:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2014/07/15/pkg-ripley-japan-robot-revolution.cnn&hpt=wo_c2&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2FWORLD%2F%3Fhpt%3Dsitenav

3. Und schliesslich, eine dumme amerikanische:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/16/seattle-house-fire-spider/12724817/

Mach's gut!

Geoffrey

1:13 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I am listening to an audio book from Comedian David Cross while working today (see boss, I'm a multi-tasker). He opens with a good rant on the cruelty on American society, and just dropped this life that I really like, "Life is cheap in America. It's the living that's expensive".

2:51 PM  
Anonymous David Dlausen said...

Capo is dead, long live the Capo. To have been deemed sane by him while foundering in my own chaos gives me enduring courage. We all die, to have died content, in the hearth of love, is a fit ending for a large life writ modestly. He is a standard, his dudlieness endures. My sweetness to his family, and thanks.

David Clausen

5:15 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"Looks like Russia shop down a plane. Will this finally give us reason to bomb someone?"

"All right," Curtin shouted back. "If you are the police, where are your badges? Let's see them."

"Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges, you goddamned cabron and chinga tu madre."
[The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, B. Traven, 1927]

Like the bandito quoted above, we [in the United States] don't need police badges. When bad shit goes down, we enjoy universal license to kick ass and take names.

For the moment, however, we're caught on the horns of a trilemma: do we intervene in Syria, the Gaza Strip, or Russia/Ukraine?

Americans can take comfort from the fact that our preeminent foreign and defense policy leader is " on the case(s)." Senator McCain will be issuing his instructions once he's had a chance to discuss matters with his consigliere Lindsey Graham.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

MB and everyone else,

I think what we should discuss is exactly what's in store for American culture. Since it's already completely empty, can it simply get emptier, or has it reached some kind of absolute nothingness already?

I don't think absolute illiteracy will take place, because many workers need to be able to read and write at a very basic level for the American economy to function, even if its only function is the transfer of wealth upward.

But what is certain is rising levels of violence, physical and mental illness, and political and religious extremism. I also think toddlers will start wearing daisy dukes, while mothers have them watch Miley Cyrus videos instead of paying attention to them. At the same time, the American media will trumpet that nation's "moral leadership of the world" louder and louder, and Americans will believe it, regardless of the squalor and violence all around them.

But as far as emptiness, it can't get much worse than this. Or can it?

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I've been away for a few days, and have returned to the sad news of Capo's death. My deepest condolences to his beloved family. I always found his posts to be not only intelligent & witty, but warm & humane -- a fine model for a worthy life, I'd say.

May we all live as well as Capo did!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Lack of coherence said:

“Looks like Russia shot down a plane. Will this finally give us reason to bomb someone?”

Actually, we don’t know that Russia shot down the plane. We really don’t know anything, except that probably there was an incident. More questions arise than there are answers for.

Assuming that a plane crashed, for example, was it shot down, was there a bomb on board, or a mechanical failure? How do we really know the missile that supposedly shot it down was Russian? What would the separatists in eastern Ukraine have to gain by doing something so heinous? If the separatists shot down the plane was it their own idea (that is, they have a death wish), or was there an agent provocateur?

Who would actually benefit from shooting down the plane? Would the Ukrainian government benefit from successfully pinning it on the separatists? Or did Putin have the plane shot down so that he could blame it on the Ukraine? Can we trust that anyone investigating the incident will be telling the truth?

What I do know from reading comments is that, in general, the American public, in all its CRE glory, is buying into the idea of an evil Putin/Russia. Again we are confronted with the Hegelian Dialectic, especially in the form of Problem-Reaction-Solution.

Also, please note, that the focus has been taken away from Israel’s attack on Gaza. And you really have to wonder why, once again, it’s a Malaysia Airlines plane… has Malaysia pissed off the PTB in some way?

We are constantly being lied to and manipulated (have been so for millennia), and sorting out the truth is near impossible when the PTB, in one way or another, control the sources of information. Anyway, all of the above is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to truly endless possibilities.

Question Everything…Believe Nothing.


11:59 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Biddly,

I'm thinking Liberia, early-to-mid 1990s, only much compounded by delusions of withered grandeur and a widespread & unwarrantable sense of entitlement. Ever-escalating violence seems to me like a pretty solid bet. Your 2nd paragraph assumes that the American economy will continue to function in some fashion, but I'm guessing that at some point it might not even seem to. As for total illiteracy, we're already well on the way there.

MB, I'm distressed that you seem to suppose me capable of subscribing to Horatio Alger fantasies. I've always been repelled by that sort of nonsense. I was merely suggesting that the Zuckerschmucks and Chuck Hurwitzes of this world really aren't all that bright and have little or nothing to contribute - in fact, a lot less than nothing.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Carl Jr. said...

Everyone is worried about Russia, Ukraine, Gaza, israel, Iraq, Iran, and whatever version of Team USA is playing today.

But worry not, WAFers! School's out for summer, so there hasn't been a teen-on-teen bloodbath in weeks.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

Malaysian plane shoot-down another false flag.
See this: http://youtu.be/28MrASx-RiM

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Christian Schulzke said...

"But as far as emptiness, it can't get much worse than this. Or can it?

I think we will only know how deep the well is after we have hit bottom. That said, I think we have a ways to go yet.

I am 42 and I have friends that literally have zero friends. They are not WAF'ers, they are very much caught up in American life. Nor are they introverts. They just...don't have friends. I haven't run into this in previous decades of my life except for real loners (which these people aren't) but I get the feeling it is on the rise and will one day become the norm.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Biddly Spop: "I don't think absolute illiteracy will take place, because many workers need to be able to read and write at a very basic level for the American economy to function, even if its only function is the transfer of wealth upward."

That is an interesting question. Short answer? Total illiteracy is unlikely in our lifetimes. However, if you project the American Dark Age out for 200-300 years, there are no guarantees.

The Archdruid John Michael Greer recently pointed out that there have been Dark Ages where literacy was, in fact, completely lost. One example was post-Mycenaean Greece. The only reason that didn't happen in post-Roman Western Europe was because of the Irish and Benedictine monks. Otherwise, the place could have reverted all the way back to the caveman and the hyena.

Incidentally, Greer has announced that his next series of posts will trace out the probable, likely broad trajectory of the American Dark Age over the next 500 years. I, for one, will follow his analyses with great interest.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I am also troubled by the Malaysian airliner incident. I'm seeing a lot of "Putler" screams on message boards...

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Joe Hohos said...

WAFer's, Papa,

As a (semi)- regular WAFer I am saddened to hear of the loss of a great man - Capo. May your soul rest wherever you are.

From the Oh no! Is someone going to stop the decline department? - has anyone else heard of Mayone.us? It's a crowdfunded website which has been set up to fight fire with fire - they are going to use the contributions they received to fund a Superpac to back congressional candidates who vow to implement campaign finance reform. If this works out, it may halt the decline for another generation or so.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

Hedges' makes the claim in Days of Destruction that the whole country will basically look like Detroit, or an indian reservation. Internal colonies where wealth is sucked out by bland big-business to somewhere else, probably outside the country. Dirty energy sources will mean more oil spills, more fracking contaminated water, more exploding traincars and factories. Global warming is a little further out, but we'll have tons of wildfires, the entire southwest - as far as north as Oregon - turning into a permanent dustbowl, and increased storms.

If the populace responds to these threats at all instead of just ignoring them, they'll basically go insane. My guess is something fascistic will come about, but I've always been on edge about that stuff. Gun nuts will blame all of this on "libruls" and "illeagles", and any meaningful progressive action will be met by a massive, angry and well-funded counter-revolution.

I'd really like to hear more guesses about what the next 15-30 years will look like through a WAFer analysis. Warning signs, if you will. I don't think I'll be able to accurately grasp how Americans will react culturally until I read The Society of the Spectacle, but my guess is more reality tv that is completely divorced from actual reality. News might even say that everything is good, couldn't be better, while the whole country suffers with a smile.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Here are some suggestions for background on what’s going on in the Ukraine.

First check out Immanuel Wallerstein’s commentary “The Geopolitics of Ukraine's Schism” of Feb. 15, 2014 which contains:

“Let me … propose that Ukraine is merely a convenient excuse or proxy for a larger geopolitical division that has nothing whatsoever to do with (Ukraine’s) internal schism. What haunts the Nulands (Neocons) of this world is not a putative "absorption" of Ukraine by Russia - an eventuality with which she could live. What haunts her and those who share her views is a geopolitical alliance of Germany/France and Russia. The nightmare of a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis.”

See it at: http://www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/commentaries/archive-2014/371en.htm

For more on the US and Russia’s rivalry for Germany’s affection and favors see Wallerstein’s July 15th commentary, "Germany and the United States: Unprecedented Breach" in which he says:

“The basic problem is that the United States is, and has been for some time, in geopolitical decline. It doesn't like this. It doesn't really accept this. It surely doesn't know how to handle it, that is, minimize the losses to the United States. So it keeps trying to restore what is unrestorable - U.S. "leadership" (read: hegemony) in the world-system.”

See it at: http://www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/commentaries/archive-2014/381en.htm

In view of the above, a July 8 guest posting, “What if it all becomes obvious enough?”, on Cluborlov starts to look more plausible. See it at:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.mx/2014/07/what-if-it-all-becomes-obvious-enough.html

NB: All of the above comes from before the airliner crashed. Who knows what happened? It was probably either a mistake by separatists in eastern Ukraine, or a (CIA backed?) Ukrainian false flag operation. The latter seems highly plausible – cui bono? See Pelpe Escobar’s take on it in the July 18 Asia Times at:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-190714.html

In any case, governments will continue lying, and the truth will come out – someday – maybe.

David Rosen

4:22 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Just watched the Colbert Report in which he was doing his thing with Fox News' coverage of the refugee children at the southern border. Wafers must know that Fox and its ilk are sick, sick ... AND just itching for a pretext to use all of their guns. Heck, look at the Cliven Bundy ridiculousness. Just real psychopathology out there. What did Sinclair Lewis say? Something about fascism coming to the US wrapped in a flag?

It does seem that some tipping point is close at hand -- maybe in 10-15 years. Sadly, it's the wackos who are the most moved to action at this point. Neoliberal economics has forced most who would protest into survival mode, living hand to mouth. The US is really just a hollow shell, assuming there ever was anything under the shell at all: I will hold fast that jazz music has been and remains one of the few cultural gifts the US has birthed. That and John Muir.

DTE

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

To demonstrate what Americans really care about, I'd like to relate a personal anecdote. My mother is moving, and is absolutely devastated that she won't have the house she currently lives in. She's a broken woman, and is now saying she'll never recover from her loss.

On the other hand, when I was much younger and came home from college nearly dead from disease, my mother attempted to convince me to go back to college. She knew I would die if I went back, but apparently didn't care. She shed very few tears over my being nearly dead, but she'll never recover from the loss of her house, even though she's moving into a house almost as nice. I still remember coming into her room in the middle of the night when I was nearly dead, when my heart was beating 230 times a minute due to the disease, sobbing; she just had this resentful, bored look on her face. She didn't want to have to care for me.

I also recently got surgery for another life-threatening condition. I was bedridden for a week, during which time my parents were very resentful and unwilling to do anything but the bare minimum for me. When I could finally walk slowly, my mother demanded I help her do some heavy lifting, even though if I fell, the surgery would be ruined and permanent, severe damage would be the outcome. I refused to do the heavy lifting, of course, but that's small comfort.

Does anyone have any anecdotes they wish to share? I think that intellectual analysis is great, but that anecdotes are probably an even more powerful way of illustrating who Americans are and what Americans do.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Bill Michelob said...

America is breeding such wonderful people!
http://youtu.be/tS3pG00k4lU

11:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

I don't post Anons. Suggest you pick a handle, try again. Thanks.

Di-

I think it was Orwell: When Fascism comes to the West, it will come in the name of freedom. Something like that.

mb

10:54 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

A few minutes' GOOGLE-ing brought me to the website of The Sinclair Lewis Society, which we might reasonably assume consists of people for whom Lewis is an intellectual icon and who might therefore be quite attentive to what they--and others--say about him. From their site, the following:

"Here's our most asked question:
Q: Did Sinclair Lewis say, "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"?
A: This quote sounds like something Sinclair Lewis might have said or written, but we've never been able to find this exact quote. Here are passages from two novels Lewis wrote that are similar to the quote attributed to him.
From It Can't Happen Here: "But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."
From Gideon Planish: "I just wish people wouldn't quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls."
There was also a play called Strangers in the late 1970s which had a similar quote, but no one, including one of Lewis’s biographers, Richard Lingeman, has ever been able to locate the quote."

As for the notion of an American tipping point (Diogenes), I would wonder, "tipping" into what? I've been following--in the non-Tweeting sense--the blog of Guy McPherson, who as WAFers may well know, believes that we're headed for a rollicking good time as various feedback loops kick in because of the effects of global warming/climate change, (Time to unload that beachfront property?). With 200,000 new mouths joining the planet every day--his figure, not mine, as I can't count that high--all of whom will want iPads and iPhones and a nice "ride," things are headed south in a big way.

As he points out, the things he talks about and reports on come from specialists in the field; they're not his. And if they are even close to being correct in their assessments and conclusions, well, as Bette Davis said, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night,". [As Margo Channing in All About Eve, 1950]

12:01 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

You know how you've said the government will definitely not get out of the way during collapse? Here's the latest example:

A man was selling cigarettes on the street and the cops ended up choking him to death. There's a video somewhere showing them all standing around while the guy died.

http://kdvr.com/2014/07/20/new-york-man-dies-after-being-choked-by-police-officer/

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Bill Michelob said...

The link was dead on my last post, so here is a working one.

http://youtu.be/3yqgBCgrxdU

Florida teen girls kill time by torturing and killing an endangered tortoise. What a sick culture we live in. Freak central.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

WAFers--


Biddly wrote--" Does anyone have any anecdotes they wish to share?"

Well, I can share that I've noticed a particularly amusing theme emerge among the CRE set who are nearing "retirement" (whatever that means). In numerous conversations with said population, a popular theme is "Oh, and I've got 3.5 years to go!" And I'm thinking to myself, Okay, and *then* what? You demonstrated no self-direction or curiosity or reflexivity in your life, so what--pray tell--will be so different and "better" about your life when this magical time in your life commences? Do these CRE folks truly feel they have the capacity to create a life and assume the responsibility that takes, when for the better part of their life, they've been passive consumers. And the expectation of what life in later life *should* be like (e.g., enlightened hedonism) is a knee slapper . . .

I keep coming back to I. Berlin: such folks think of freedom in terms of "freedom from," not "freedom to."

Brian

2:44 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Biddly Spop,

that's a truly terrible story, and it actually brought tears to my eyes. For what it's worth, I feel your pain brutha and hope you can move your life in a better direction... away from those assholes. I agree that it's our personal experiences that have the most to teach us, especially because context is so important. I experienced something very similar about 8 years ago. I had gone into Urgent Care for what turned out to be Lyme's disease, and my temperature was literally off the nurse's chart (she had to convert the metric measurement with a calculator). The doctor told me it was very important to keep it down so as to avoid brain damage, which worried me because my fever had broke several times the two nights before. My significant other of 6 years drove me there, and was well aware of the situation. Of course, when my fever escalated that night she couldn't be bothered with helping me because she was too busy eating Fruit Loops and reading a book. I stumbled around dizzily for ice, rags and a cold bath. And it's not like there had been any recent drama between us (as if that would be an appropriate excuse), this is just how she acted; incidents like these happened from time to time over the years. Recovering from that emotionally abusive relationship took awhile and a lot of persistence in trying to avoid becoming bitter. I honestly wouldn't be here if it weren't for one friend and two of my family members (most of the people I reached out to couldn't be bothered with me). It may sound crazy but I was honestly confused about the relationship; I had to explain these situations to others and ask them if they were as bad as I suspected or if I was just being too sensitive. Similarly, for years I was somewhat confused about the crippling macro-scale social, political and economic abuses in this country. In part, due to the unrealistic optimism of the Left, I was reluctant to give up hope. If not for mb, Chris Hedges, and a few others, I would probably have gotten sucked back into the hope trap. So thanks again, mb. Also, thanks for putting so much time in moderating this blog, and frequently giving thoughtful responses.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

On July 6th Henry Giroux appeared on Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio program. It’s an interview that all Wafers should appreciate. Here’s a link:

http://prn.fm/resistance-radio-henry-giroux-070614/

Enjoy!

7:58 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

This is a comment that was posted to that Nick Hannuer article Sav linked last week. It had over 1200 upvotes/likes when I read it. I immediately coped it to my notes as a picturesque example of the muck that is the American mentality. I labeled it "distilled tripe" in my notes, which I rather like.

"Trust me Nick, it's not that people WANT to bring out the pitchforks. People want to work, but they want to be rewarded for their work. They want to climb that same ladder you climbed. They know that they may not reach the same dizzying heights that you ascended to, but Nick, the general feeling down here is that some of your friends are either furiously sawing the rungs off the ladders or pulling the ladders up altogether once they get over that wall. Believe me, only the lunatic fringe believes in or expects equal outcomes, the vast majority of the former middle class simply wants equal opportunity, they want a fair slice of the pie that they work for. They want a square deal that makes it possible for them to do for themselves and their children what their parents were able to do for them. Most Americans don't want socialism, they know that it protects the poor but they also know that it rewards mediocrity. Most Americans just want to feel that, at the end of the day they've made ends meet and that they have a secure future if they work hard like their parents did. They want to know that their labor will earn them "enough". That's not too much to ask."

9:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bid-

Check out the Seinfeld episode where Elaine's boyfriend is in an auto accident, and before she goes off to the hospital she stops off to by some Juji Fruits.

mb

10:29 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Biddly Spop

I’m not a “mental health professional,” but it sounds to me like your parents, at least your mother, are psychopaths, narcissists or borderlines. The first thing to do is figure out which, learn some coping strategies, and develop a keen sense of humor.

But in the long run, get out while the getting’s good. Follow Morris’ advice…move to Central or S. America to live amongst genuine human beings and make yourself a family there, because you certainly don’t have one here. Your mom is never going to change, she’s not capable of loving you the way we all need to be loved, and that’s how she’s going to die. This is her tragedy, but it need not be yours.

If you’re awake, then through self-observation you can pick up on the inevitable “fleas” you’ve caught living in such an environment and you can transform yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s doable and necessary. I speak from experience. But you’ll never heal if salt is constantly being rubbed in your wounds.

My mom is still going strong at 95 and is a classic narcissist…the stories I could tell are legion. Suffice it to say that I can still be astounded by her total lack of empathy and self-absorption. Her life was a harbinger, way back when, of the U.S.A. trajectory: shallow, self-absorbed and cruel.

This blog really isn’t about our personal trauma, which I’m sure all of us here have experienced, but about witnessing and documenting the collapse of what could have been a great nation. The bottom line is that your family has provided you with the perfect fire under your a** to create something much, much better for yourself.

Good luck!!!

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Biddly Spop said...

MB,

I will check that out, it sounds hilarious. I haven't really gotten into Seinfeld, but this seems like a good time now that I know it's all a commentary on American life.

Tearinrain,

I'm sorry your girlfriend was a narcissistic asshole (that's what she sounds like to me, at least). You definitely deserve better than that; you had every right to expect far better treatment from her. As everyone here knows, this is just how Americans are; they see this sort of behavior as normal and praiseworthy when they engage in it, and worthy of punishment when other people engage in it. This habit of attempting to enforce double standards is so deep and pervasive that Americans can't even be aware of it. It's completely unconscious, this idea that "Whatever I do and whatever I am is great, and whatever you do and whatever you are is shit." This means that short of a brain transplant, there's no way to rid Americans of this vicious idea.

As far as unconscious double standards go, my mother thinks her resentful, lazy "care" was heroic and praiseworthy. Nevertheless, she's always criticizing me for the most ridiculous things: talking slightly too loud, holding my mouth open for a couple seconds when I'm not talking, etc. Meanwhile, her support of Obama and his wars is praiseworthy, and her habit of always being compassionless, critical and cold toward me is only "for my own good" because she is "concerned". Punitive behavior is apparently her definition of love, at least when she does it.

I'm sure you have anecdotes like this too. We all do. After all, we were all raised in America, a place where most people are incapable of love or compassion.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

What is your response when people say "Israel has a right to defend itself" and "Hamas is to blame for civilians deaths for having tunnels/rockets in civilian areas?"

People here refer to Kunstler a lot, and he posted an article yesterday, with a quote: "the Left adopted the Palestinians as their pet oppressed minority group so there is nothing that Israel might do that will be okay with them"

11:41 AM  
Blogger Paolo said...

MB -

This guy expatriated to Eastern Europe and has an interesting blog/forum. He recently had the following article on American culture.

http://www.rooshv.com/7-reasons-why-american-culture-is-the-most-degenerate-in-the-world

6:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

NOTICE TO ALL ANONS:

Thank you for your insightful messages, but I don't post Anons! PLEASE pick a real handle and re-send those messages. Here are some possibilities:

Chopped Liver
Cranston Butterworth III
Hans Schmaltzkopf, Ph.D.

Thank you!

Lack-

Very disappted in Kunstler; that comment lacks any real analysis, and is nothing more than a cheap shot. I generally don't have arguments w/the pro-Israeli crowd, because they are operating out of anxiety and historical trauma. Reason is very far from their minds, I fear. The best I can do is recommend writers like Max Blumethal and Ilan Pappe, but I'm sure they won't read them. Anyway, the problem with the comments you've registered is that they make sense if this were a war, but it's not; it's an occupation. SCUD missiles into Israel are more symbolic than really threatening; as of this pt, 500 Palestinians have been murdered by the IDF in last two wks. This is genocide, in a word, and this whole thing won't end until demography makes the apartheid arrangement untenable. In the meantime, Israel will never cop to the expulsion of 1948, of 700,000 people; and there can be no peace until that is openly admitted and addressed. Anyway, as I say, I'm not much into debate on the subject, as I've found it largely useless. But I believe history will render its judgment, and it won't cast Israel in a favorable light--of that I'm quite sure.

mb

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, here we have a douche bag rendering gov't agencies douche bags, as douchebaggery swallows up the entire country:

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/kim-kardashian-app-takes-over-epas-twitter-account-2014227

I love it!

mb

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

I am one of those ANONS. I was posting from work and proved that I'm a lousy multi-tasker.
One of my work friends (Olde Coyote) , when he heard that MB was in Mexico, called him "the Wolfman Jack of intellectual iconoclasts." To be sure, he was referring to the early WJ when he was still a mysterioso radio purveyor of rock & R&B, before being sanitized as safe for USA TV.
Coyote first recommended MB's books to me. He had been a classic itinerant scholar, non-enrolled and auditing classes at Berkeley and Santa Cruz (notably with Norman O. Brown) on the strength of letters of introduction from previous teachers. Learning for its own sake- imagine that! Positively medieval.
At the risk of plugging naughty copycats, Chris Hedges Published "American Fascists" in 2007. I find his books troubling- howling screeds & jeremiads. But I agree with most all of them. I met Howard Ahmanson in a college dorm soon after he had come into a third off his papa's billion (back when a billion was a lot of dough.) Seemed harmless enough. I hope that AF is revised and updated every decade or so.
MB, when I asked you to sign my copy of WAF, I meant my Kindle edition. Wait…. Nevermind.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...the Wolfman Jack of intellectual iconoclasts..."

High praise indeed. Interestingly, Wolfman Jack (Robert Weston Smith) worked for a time at XERF-AM in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Wolfman described his XERF signal (250,000 watts, per Wiki) as the most powerful in North America, one that a driver tuned in could hear without interruption while driving from NYC to LA. And Burton Cummings and the Guess Who did a tribute song "Clap for the Wolfman" ("...he's gonna rate your record high...") that reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.

So MB, a Mexico connection for you and Wolfman, and a song of praise from a Canadian.

Thanks to Dawgzy, and welcome to our nightmare.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Waferinos-

Thank u all for yr insightful comments. I'm still incommunicado, hidden in the wilds of Mexico. That I managed to find an Internet connection is a tribute to the penetration of American technology into every nook and cranny of the globe. But I'll be back home this weekend, hopefully, and will be able to be a bit more responsive. Just remember that when yr dealing with Americans, yr dealing with dolts. Most recent studies have determined that at least 97% have mucus in their heads.

mb

4:42 PM  

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