November 03, 2015

Practice Your Spanish (Again)

Ay Waferinos!

This is an interview I did recently with Radio UDEM in Monterrey. I guess they are a bit nervous about Senor Trump, for some reason. Anyway, it starts off a bit rocky, but then evens out for most of the program. Enjoy!


Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Janus -

I’m finding myself in the exact same position as you (and I work in tech!). I need to get out of this way of life and find something simple, meaningful and satisfying. “I went from the normal happy worker to somebody who started to think our whole hustling lifestyle was idiotic and crazy.” That pretty much sums up my experience as well.

Worse part though is I take public transportation. I use my iDouche as a music defense mechanism. Really, with everyone’s cell phone constantly going off and people yelling into it on the train like they’re in their living room, it’s the only audio defense this Wafer has. That and dodging the phone zombies, several of whom have walked right into me as I was standing still on the train platform. They never apologize. They just look up and keep walking with their head’s buried in their phones.

Marc -

I too deeply enjoy the Archdruid Report. Mostly because I find him engaging and fun, and not a Dr. Doom, whom unfortunately Kunstler has really become (have you noticed that every week the world is about to collapse on Clusterfuck?).

1:39 PM  
Blogger Señor Fitzgerald said...


Feel free to drop me a message at, I am in Chicago as well. My rule of cell phone zombies is that the right of way goes to the one who is looking up, so just hold fast with sharp elbows and knock em right on down.

The thing about Kunstler is that doomsday, as it turns out, is more like doomscentury or at least doomsdecade. All our cultural points of reference are either "post-apocalyptic" or "doomsday" in nature. The timeline is unrealistically narrow. I like to view MB, Kunstler et al. as apocalypse-in-progress analysis. In "before and after" snapshots, you never get to see the "during.," but at these sites you can! There is just far too much rubble (human, financial, industrial/material) for this to be anything but a slow, drawn-out burn. Not that there are not plenty of potential accelerants that might speed things up... Land war in Asia, anyone?

4:04 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Here's a quick reading of Trump's new book Crippled America by the Guardian's Adam Gabbatt so that you won't have to:

5:32 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

"Ann Coulter esta loca" dice Morris Berman. "Absolutamente" dice Marc Bernstein.

My Spanish is horrible so I only understood snippets of the interview, although I listened to the whole thing. Maybe if I would have studied Latin ...

Chad in Chicago ---

Jim Kunstler is not alone in his assessment of imminent financial, economic and social collapse in the USA. Chris Martenson is similar. So is Dmitry Orlov. The "Peak Oil" group of persons, of which I count myself a member, are typically keenly aware of the possibility of major sudden collapse. John Michael Greer is a confirmed gradualist, much more so than most other Peak Oil aficionados. Greer believes in cycles, consistent with his Druid perspective.

Maybe it's related to Jungian archetypes.

"The worrier" or "the complainer"

"The calm analyst"

Actually, both are essential to the creative problem-solving process. Sometimes the calm analyst is too calm and becomes oblivious to troublesome developments. Sometimes the worrier is the first to spot a developing problem.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Re: NearFar & Elizabeth

No, I haven't heard anything from them either. Beverly and Elizabeth exchanged phone numbers, tho. Hopefully they'll check in soon.

Dang, the Russian Tea Rm in NYC would have been great! Any good Russian food in Mexico City? Next time yr in LA, we'll hafta go to Maxim on Fairfax (one block north of Canter's); splendid Russian/Eastern European cuisine. If the blini at RTR puts u in a coma, Maxim's blintzes w/red caviar will give u an out-of-body experience.

MB, Wafers-

A few quick videos for yr viewing pleasure:

Ben Carson supporters:

Uber driver attacked:

Hoke Johnson stumps 4 the Trump:



6:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Just some predictions, off top of my head.

1. Trump won't get the GOP nomination; someone else will (but not Jeb, or Lorenzo Riggins).
2. Hillary will get the Democratic nomination.
3. Bernie will sell out completely, and embrace/endorse Hillary.
4. Hillary will clobber the GOP candidate in an historic landslide victory, and we'll be looking at her scary, plastic face for the next 8 yrs. Her admin will be a continuation of the Obama presidency, which is to say, crisis management. Everything she does will be scripted and predictable. Bernie will get some sort of innocuous cabinet post, or else be appted Ambassador to Nepal.
4a. An elite team of Wafers will try to storm the White House and pee on her Guccis, but will be cruelly rebuffed. Hundreds of 6-packs of Bud Lite will be confiscated and consumed by the Secret Service.
5. Trump, and Biden, and Jeb, will be abt as relevant to American politics as Sarah Palin and Shaneka Torres.
6. Obama's presidency will be rewritten as masterful, strategically brilliant, etc. He will get a visiting professorship at Harvard. George Zimmerman will not get an academic appointment, however.
7. The US will continue its downward slide into a huge dogshit casserole. As stupid as they are, more and more Americans will realize that the jig is up.

Wafers are encouraged to add to this depressing list.


6:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Dang, I really wish I cd get back to LA, since I have a few friends there I'd like to see again. I keep thinking UCLA will invite me to speak, but for some odd reason, they remain silent. Go figure.


6:58 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Meanwhile, this is neat:

7:06 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Here's a few predictions to add to Dr. B's list:

1. Gun violence will continue to get worse, but cowardly president Hillary will (like Obama) do nothing about it but run her mouth.
2. President Hillary will authorize more drone strikes, more bombings and more support for "moderate" terrorist groups around the world--all of which will backfire. She'll nevertheless be cheered by feminists for demonstrating that a woman can be a "tough" leader.
3. President Hillary will do nothing to reign in Wall Street and there will be another market crash (if it doesn't happen before Obama leaves office). Meanwhile, the economy will continue to worsen for working and middle class people, especially young adults.
4. Wealth inequality will continue to worsen until America's Gilded Age looks like the old Soviet Union by comparison.
5. Bernie will be named Secretary of Labor, and will be afforded less actual power than your local dogcatcher.
6. Kunstler and others who believe in imminent collapse will continue to be proven wrong--as will Hedges and those who believe in the possibility of masses rising up in revolt.

I could go on and on, but I'll instead respect the "half page a day" rule.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...


I thought of you immediately when I was watching "I'll have what Phil's having," a PBS show featuring Phil Rosenthal, who created and wrote for the show "Everybody Loves Raymond."

The show follows Phil across the globe as he eats in different cities: Hong Kong; Barcelona; Paris; Tokyo; and Los Angeles.

The last episode, filmed in LA, features Phil joining Norman Lear at Langer's for pastrami sandwiches, which Phil--himself a New York City transplant--pronounces the best he's ever had, anywhere, including NYC.

I know you're a Canter's kinda guy, but who says you can't try Langer's too? Is there such a thing as too much pastrami? I didn't think so.

If you give Langer's a try, just ask for Number 19.

Mazeltov, gfilte fish, and similar gustatory exhortations.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We also need an Unlikely List:

1. Wafers will storm the White House, pee on Hillary's shoes, and throw her out of office. Ralph Nader will replace her.

2. President Nader will declare a National Chopped Liver Day, at which time every single American will be presented with a plate of chopped liver.

3. He will also appoint a Wafer Advisory Council (WAC) to act as the true government. Its 1st order of business will be to apologize to all the countries we fucked over since Mexico in 1848, and to send each and every one of them (long list) billions of $ in reparations.

4. 2nd order of business will be to get Kim's ass on the $1 bill.

5. Public use of cell fones will be punishable by severe beatings, followed by permanent exile to the North Pole.

6. Shaneka Torres will be issued an AK-47 and asked to shoot up every single McDonald's restaurant in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii.

7. Lorenzo Riggins will be appointed Secy of State.

Wafers are encouraged to add to this list.


7:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A while ago I watched a video put out by Langer's, and the pastrami sure looked great. So I have no objections to checking the place out. The problem is getting to LA. Then I'll work on getting to Langer's. Cd be another Wafer rendezvous, actually. I did write USC, offering to do a lecture series entitled "Americans Have Shit for Brains," but for some strange reason never heard back. It's so insulting, really. Anyway, there certainly is no such thing as too much pastrami. (Maybe Langer's would invite me...)


8:41 PM  
Anonymous Al B. Tross said...


I would also like to add that I am also of the wretched generation known as the Millennials. However, it is encouraging to see some representation from Millennials on this blog, and it is great know that our generation isn't a complete bunch of d-bags!

I have recently been reading Edward Gibbon, and find that the parallels between today and the collapse of Rome quite unnerving. Unfortunately, because there are so many similarities, and many causes, I am having trouble deciding when the USA is finally going to " kick the bucket".

Dr. Berman, in you estimation, which epoch would you consider the USA, at this point in time, as compared to Rome? For example, Late 3rd, 4th, or 5th century?



11:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This blog welcomes young people among its Waferian ranks. Just so you know what our policy is, in this regard.

As for comparisons w/Rome: I spent the most time on this in the Twilight bk, so you might wanna check that out. One thing I wd say is that while there were 'nodes' in the decline of Rome--Visigoths sack Rome in 410, Vandals in 455, Ostrogoths in 546--plus a # of wars that they lost (like us, they seemed to be constantly at war), the real bleeding of Rome was daily, gradual; what has been called the "death of 1000 cuts." There was no specific pt at which Rome kicked the bucket, and I don't think we'll wink out in a sudden flash either. The US will finish with a whimper, not w/a bang, in other words. It is in the process of committing suicide as we speak.

At some pt, however, there is a recognition that the glory days are over. For the Brits, it was the Suez crisis of 1956, when Eisenhower told Macmillan that if he didn't withdraw from Suez, Ike wd destroy the pound. Even in the early 50s, newspapers worldwide treated England as No. 1; after Suez, that was not possible. I don't think we've had our own Suez moment just yet, but I have no doubt that it's in the cards. There is a widespread recognition, even among our allies, that the US has lost its way and has feet of clay; it's just that no one is saying it out loud. But sooner or later, they will. We are already in a 2ndary position economically; by 2030 we shall be in a 2ndary position geopolitically.

Wikipedia says: "Odoacer, also called Odovacar, or Odovakar (born c. 433—died March 15, 493, Ravenna), [was the] first barbarian king of Italy. The date on which he assumed power, 476, is traditionally considered the end of the Western Roman Empire."

We're not at that pt yet, so I guess I'd hafta say 4thC. But I'm not sure it really matters. One of the things we do on this blog is catalogue the symptoms of disintegration. E.g., defined as the death of 4 or more people, a massacre occurs in the US on a daily basis. The stupidity of the American people is overwhelming, legendary, by now, and the stats show it. The distribution of wealth is roughly the same as in Mexico, Egypt, and Tunisia, and getting worse every day. The late Roman empire had a series of buffoons as emperors; we have Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr., and Obama; and we are in a situation where actual clowns--Cain, Palin, Trump, Perry and the like--are seriously regarded as presidential material.

I'm quite sure that we'll be facing another economic crash, on a larger scale than 2008, although it's hard to predict exactly when. This will be another 'node'. But you see my point: the real decline is the steady erosion, and absolutely nothing can be done to halt that trajectory. Every day things are just a little darker, a little more ridiculous, a little more self-destructive. And then one day you wake up, and you realize: the bucket has already been kicked. As the Ink Spots famously put it, It's all over but the crying.


12:13 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Al -

Every generation in the U.S. is a bunch of d bags, so no worries there. Old people love their tech and money just as much as everyone else, don't kid yourself.

It's not easy to change your situation once you realize how crazy it is, esp if you're in debt and don't have other useful skills beyond your particular job staring at a screen. Maybe make a plan to pay off debt, save money for a move and at least stop living in an expensive city that requires you make tons of cash to exist.

So much of the voluntary simplicity movement seems like just the hobby of well off middle class people, wanting to hustle like crazy for years then move to the country and pretend to be poor.

Maybe instead, pay off your debts and reduce your standard of living as fast as possible. Then you could have free time for a better life. I'd say there's a difference in earning tons of cash to buffer a fake poor lifestyle vs earning less money and using a lot of your free time to sit around and "waste time" like a lot of people would call doing things that can't be monetized and sitting around with friends beyond the occasional holiday or happy hour.

Im no good example, other people are much better at keeping up w friends and living on very little money, I'm guessing most of these people are in other countries, so I haven't had much interaction w then.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Señor Fitzgerald -

Thank you for the invitation! I will be emailing you shortly.

Marc -

I consider myself part of the peak oil crowd as well. My problem with Kunstler is that his belief, like the belief of a lot of Peak Oil people, seems to verge on the religious. It’s almost like a “Left Behind” apocalypse for the left. The evil doers with their SUVs and suburban housing will get what they deserve! I prefer Greer and MB’s approach as the downward spiral looks to be long and drawn out to me.

Bill Hicks -

Speaking of downward spirals, I wish you would start writing again. I really enjoyed your blog.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous AS said...

A protest against the opening of the first McDonald's in St. Petersburg, September 10, 1996:

4:23 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

A work colleague of my wife mentioned to her at lunch the other day that her father is a big Trump supporter who loves his anti-immigration stance. That would not be so remarkable, except that the woman's father is black and lives in inner city Baltimore. The reason he likes Trump's position is because he's angry about Mexicans who are "taking our jobs."

Most upper middle class (Lexus) liberals, who represent the core of the modern, Clintonista Democratic Party, would no doubt scratch their head at this example. They continue to dismiss the notion that economic distress among working and middle class Americans is a big factor helping to fuel Trump's campaign. Maybe it won't happen in 2016, but by 2020 my bet is that this country will be primed to elect a demagogue like Trump--only four years from now whomever that person turns out to be will probably make The Donald look like a teddy bear in comparison.

@Chad - thanks for the compliment! My long term recovery from the pancreatic cancer that nearly killed me continues to be my biggest concern. I just don't have the energy to keep up the blog these days. Maybe someday...

4:50 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Another milepost on the road down. Though it's become increasingly difficult to choose a winner in the category "Most Outrageous Event in America," the following should be at the top of most anyone's list:

Briefly, on Halloween morning a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado called 911 to report a man on the street brandishing a rifle. Informed by the 911 operator that Colorado was an "Open Carry" state, the woman hung up. Minutes later, she called 911 again, this time to report that the man she'd called about had just shot someone. By the time the police arrived, he'd shot and killed two more.

A commenter on the Salon story made the astute observation that if the rifle-toting sociopath had been black, the police would likely have responded immediately.

And so it goes.

On a pleasanter note, today was the birthday of William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (4 Nov 1879-15 Aug 1935). He might qualify as a WAFer. A couple of quotations:

"We"ll show the world we are prosperous if we have to go broke to do it."

"Last year we said 'Things can't go on like this,' and they didn't, they got worse."

"The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office."


7:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That picture warms my heart, tho I had a hard time making out the Russian: Something like, "Pay Coca-Cola....[2nd line unclear, probably slang]...Your last day arrives, bourgeois."

Of course, word has it that when Pizza Hut opened in Moscow in 1990, the line was 2km long...


7:54 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Thanks for the audio interview, Dr. Berman. I thoroughly enjoyed your Spanish. Nada mal.

This excerpt is an American voter's X-ray from a marketwatch conservative op-ed on why Trump and Carson's ("outsiders") RNC rise is like Eisenhower's. (Luckily for old Ike's family's sake, the only similarity the article could find among them is that they are all outsiders).
"Trump is attractive to voters not because of his policies but because his show of force, which contrasts with Obama's weakness. Obama might not believe in American exceptionalism, but Americans do believe in it. They want someone who says he will make America great again. Trump doesn't have his facts right, but voters don't listen to facts."
And it goes on to say that Carson connects well with the evangelical nuts. Btw, Carson has not only overtaken Trump's lead by 6 points but if he were running against Hillary today it would be a tie.
Liberals are perceived as elitists, as anti- American; they aren't seen as warmongering enough(strong) and to make matters worse liberals are untrustworthy and immoral. The anti-intellectualism- paired up with religious fundamentalism- of the average American voter is what is going to deliver a demagogue to the WH. And given that the new global economy has left millions behind - no matter how the stock market and the unemployment numbers of 4.5% stack up( those numbers only benefit the top 10% of the population) the hustling part- or what is referred as the it's the economy stupid part -is already in the hat for the GOP. You don't have to convince the bottom 90%!that they are worse off. Already 20% of blacks are willing to vote a republican in. In contrast to the 5% the voted against Obama.
Dr. Berman, I totally agree with your assessment of the hustling mentality of American culture. But I disagree on your light assessment on the power of the Protestant fundamentalists. I think it has totally hijacked the RNC and it is an active part in the death of 1000 you noted. The state by state death of women's reproductive rights are a good bellwethers of that.
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis


8:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I wonder if we are finally drifting into a Weimar/Hitlerian scenario. Of course, we aren't in the midst of that kind of inflation and economic disaster, so that scenario may be a ways off. But it's very likely that things will get worse, economically speaking, and the avg American's frustration w/the collapse of the American Dream is a powerful motivation for seeking out an 'iron leader' who will restore our former glory (I don't think Trump quite fits that description, but I suspect there will be more dangerous demagogues in our future). In addition, Obama has shown himself to be a man w/o a center of gravity, an amoral punk who is politically and spiritually adrift. He stands for nothing, and I think Americans see that, as does the rest of the world. (Putin, for example, may be a dangerous dude, but at least he's a dude. Everyone can see he has gravitas, and no one cd seriously call him a douche bag; which is basically all that Obama is.) As for the religion factor, I really don't know how significant it's going to be in 2016 or in the yrs to come, but I am sure that the irrationality, stupidity, rage, and pain that characterize most of the American people will play a key role in our continuing collapse. As for the W.H., I don't think it much matters who's sitting in the Oval Office. As I said in this interview, the real president is Wall St., the Pentagon, and the corporations. It is they, not Obama or Trump or Carson or Hillary or Shaneka Torres, who call the shots.


9:52 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Most Unlikely List continued:

8. Thomas Friedman realizes he is clueless and joins the Bermanic Monastery in Bethesda, MD.

9. Tracey McCloud mounts a third-party movement, the Poop & Noodle Bloc (PNB), and jumps in the race for President.

10. Morris Berman delivers a much anticipated televised lecture on CNN called "You're Douche Bags!: Directions in American Douchebaggery."


10:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I envision a mass rally at some future pt, involving all 321 million Americans, in which they march thru the nation's cities wearing signs around their necks that say, THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE'RE DOUCHE BAGS. If only Geo Carlin were alive to see that, eh? At that pt, there might be some slight hope for our poor beleaguered country.


10:39 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

care of a member of the "Morris Berman Appreciation Society" on facebook:

John David Ebert Interviewed by Josh Wagner Part 1:

Part 2:

"John David Ebert is a cultural critic and author of eight books. His work is based upon a fusion of religious studies, media studies and contemporary philosophy."

Before watching the videos I had never heard of John David Ebert. He's definitely a WAFer. Someone on youtube commented that Ebert is familiar with the work of Oswald Spengler. Ebert is apparently also familiar with James Howard Kunstler's work on urban living. He has stuff to say.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

civilized people, indeed!

"A police officer who was lauded as a hero after his fatal shooting triggered an intense and costly manhunt in fact committed suicide, carefully staging his death because he was about to be exposed as a thief, authorities said Wednesday.

Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz embezzled thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Police Explorer program for seven years, and spent the money on such things as mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships and adult websites, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said.

"We have determined this staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing in fact he was under increasing levels of personal stress from scrutiny of his management of the Fox Lake Police Explorer program," Filenko said."

"A male student stabbed and injured five people as classes got underway at a rural university campus in central California before police shot and killed him, authorities said Wednesday."

5:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Scenes from a 6th grade class:
1. Teacher announces that she'll be absent tomorrow and that, as a result, she won't give homework. Students cheer. Teacher says, " I don't like that cheering so I WILL give you homework."
2. There are no paper towels in the boys bathroom. A boy comes out of the bathroom waving his hands to dry them. Teacher says, " If you wave your hands one more time, you will not have outdoor recess."
3. Student begins an essay with "I would like to talk about winter." Teacher says, " Talking?" Puts the paper to her ear. " I don't hear the paper talking."

6:32 AM  
Blogger Brian said...


On my end, I eagerly await the "heated" discussion at work today about the Houston referendum fallout. One thing I can anticipate from the douchebags extraordinaire: no nuance.

The conversation will unfold as such: the vote was a blow to progress, and religious fundamentalism won the day. By extension, spirituality writ large (i.e., interiority) is inferior, anti-intellectual, and, hence, science, technology, and ludic postmodernism (i.e., dismantling *any* sense of basic "truths" or cultural agreements) are the sole keys to "progress."

Forget any nuanced discussion about what a developmentally mature life of interiority and spirituality might entail . . . the mere mention of having a sacred side and what that entails sends my colleagues into epileptic fits; the existential strain is quite palpable . . .



8:38 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

Dear fellow renegades from the Neoliberal Death Cult,

Thanks to reading MB's books, my interest in literature has been reawakened. I came across D.H. Lawrence's sublime 'studies in Classic American Literature'. It is full of wonderful insights and critiques of American life, e.g.:

“Men are less free than they imagine; ah, far less free. The freest are perhaps least free.
Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away. Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose. Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom. Men are freest when they are most unconscious of freedom. The shout is a rattling of chains, always was.
Men are not free when they are doing just what they like. The moment you can do just what you like, there is nothing you care about doing. Men are only free when they are doing what the deepest self likes.”

8:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The question is whether intellectuals have some functional substitute for religion w/o realizing it. I mentioned this at an academic cocktail party yrs ago, and the conversation went on as if I hadn't said a thing. "Sacred humanism," which is my own belief, doesn't get much of a hearing these days.


10:16 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Marc -

Thank you for recommending John David Ebert. Great stuff. I'll have to pick up some of his work.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

"O'Neill, 18, an Australian who had built up a massive social following, announced last week that she's leaving it all behind, stating in an Instagram post, 'Social media, especially how I used it, isn't real.'

She added:

'It was never my conscious intention, but I deluded a lot of people... Call it deception, manipulation, lying, not saying the whole truth... I was both addicted to social approval and terrified no one would value me for myself. So I rewrote the captions of these false photos with short shots of reality.'

What wasn't real? O'Neill had the ultimate lifestyle feed, with carefully curated photos that epitomized a well-lived, beautifully maintained life with all its Instagram-ready trappings. O'Neill has a fit, toned body with a seemingly perpetual tan; the sort of beachy blonde hair Aussies are envied for; and a love of yoga, bikinis, staring into sunsets and mirror selfies."

1:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check this out:

5:47 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Dear MB,
Can any democratic candidate ever rule as a liberal? How can a liberal candidate be respected if he has to run a primary as a liberal and shift gears during the national elections to run as a centrist or even right of the center in order to win. Obama -the primary candidate- didn't turn out to be the progressive he ran as because neither this country nor most of the democratic voters are progressives. And to get anything done in congress he has to accommodate to the insurgency of the right wing and his own party's blue dogs. They don't come from Mars- as you noted. Americans- including democrats- are for the most part conservative light. Only a fraction of democrats want a Scandinavian socialist type democracy-because they wished they could have it without raising taxes or with corporations running the show. ( Bernie doesn't have a chance in hell) Most democrats support Obama's middle eastern incursions, the drone wars, the Israeli occupation, they aren't all out for socialized medicine, or too supportive of government regulations, the list of similarities between democrats and conservatives is long. Then something's gotta give- and that's the democratic presidential candidate's balls. Putin, on the other hand, is approved by 85% of his constituents. Russians are behind Putin's annexation of Crimea and his continuous "war on terror" in Chechnya. They are also- I have read- quite a racist and homophobic bunch. The point being that Russians almost unanimously support Putin's policies which affords him the confidence to crush his political adversaries. Most political candidates want to be liked by their constituency. Unless, of course, he or she wants a reign of terror and becomes an unapologetic totalitarian dictator. As such, running as a liberal in a neoliberal environment is a progressive pipe dream.
Anyway, a republican candidate doesn't have to be smart or educated to be labeled gutsy. He can be a flamboyant narcissist or a nincompoop and be thought of as ballsy so long as he evokes American exceptionalism, picks on a fight with any world leader- or against any little brown people-and never backs down from any mistake no matter the consequences. Americans admire their assholes. Is their mirror image.

PS: if only Trump's "show of force" as the op-ed branded him his personae could merge with Carson's moral righteousness and 'brain surgeon's unquestionable intelligence' he would be unbeatable.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Tracey McCloud is the answer:

If you look into her face, you will see the future of the US.

Also, a subsequent brain biopsy revealed that she had fruit compote inside her head. I called a neurologist friend of mine and asked him if people w/fruit compote inside their heads, cd think. "It wd probably be somewhat difficult," he told me.


9:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: 'progress':

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Here's a link that captures the America that I see in my work as an inpatient psychiatric nurse.
There have been discontinuities in my work experience in terms of the types of hospitals where I worked. 6 in very good university based, 17 years in 2 crazy-ass county hospitals in Oakland and San Leandro, then 12 in a increasingly urban hospital on Portland's western edge.
It's been interesting to see trends. In Chicago and SanFrancisco in the early 80's for example, we saw the emergence of the Borderline Personality diagnosis. There was a hallmark article by (i think) Steven Goldfinger (sic) in the early 80's on the "emerging urban disorder" that is BPD. Now 30 years later it's ubiquitous. If there have been cultural interpretations of this I haven't seen them (though I don't look all that hard, either.)
These days for a variety of reasons (chiefly insurance/reimbursement related) the majority of admissions are for suicidality, with a billable diagnosis slapped on. A very considerable proportion of out patients now match the demographics cited in the article above. They're an exercise in figure/ground perception- look at their histories and there's early trauma and neglect, unstable relationships; look at them another way and see very little on the inside as to "meaningful inner life," lots of anomie, a "nemo" that can't be escaped and into which they are falling. I've always considered severely, acutely mentally ill people to be "my people." Though working with them can be draining, helping them and seeing them improve is nourishing for me. The amount of sheer despair that I see with the folks cited in the article leaves me simply drained even when they pull out of crisis.
To put it crassly (that's just me) we don't come with an owners manual or directions on how to operate this thing called Life.
Those who don't pick up at least a few pointers along the way tend to end up in a ditch, so to speak. That's what's going on I think- that that too many area born into a spiritual vacuum, though religion is readily available.
I wonder what I would do sometimes if I could "go back and do it over." It's occurred to me that being a real physical education teacher (in contrast to the jocks and martinets who were my PE nemeses) might give one a chance to "make a difference"- health promotion, what it's like to really inhabit the corpus, enjoy it, use it wisely, and above all perhaps, to maintain it. But on second thought I wonder whether that's possible in the USA public schools. Doing a good job of this would be subversive, possibly dangerous.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for yr input. I think that the deepest crisis the US is facing is a spiritual one. Outright psychotics like Dick Cheney are admired: what can that mean for the culture at large? A lunatic buffoon like Trump scores high in the polls: what can that mean, etc.? Early trauma, neglect, very little on the inside--this is truly sad stuff. For all of this, a socialist revolution is irrelevant; it's not gonna cure soul sickness, that's for sure.

The last 400 yrs of hustling and narcissism have pushed us to this pt, and I doubt there's any turning back now. In the early 70s I was a volunteer at a Montessori schl, kids of 3 turning 4. As the months went by, they became happier, stopped attacking each other and being so aggressive. One of the other counselors said to me: "Are we doing them a favor? In this culture, kids like this will be having nervous breakdowns by the time they're 12." Food for thought, indeed.


1:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: This American Life (speaking of hustling):

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

A few links for y'all:

The true face of Amerika:

And speaking of Shakespeare:

Not sure what I think of this yet, WAFers can chime in:

9:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out Jodie's face: this is truly the face of America today, and of its future.


10:47 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

A note of appreciation and thanks to the Wafer who provided the video of author Paul Auster aways back. I just finished his book, "The Brooklyn Follies." I hafta say, I've become a fast fan of his work! His ability to hone a compelling narrative about the human condition is simply poetic and amazing. Without question, Auster is an author all Wafers should read. I just ordered "Sunset Park" and "Moon Palace." Again, many thanks.

Stay beautiful, Wafers. I gotsta go instruct the hoopleheads, jetzt sofort.


12:22 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Serena Williams is a douchebag.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

If you endorse the proposition that a country gets the leaders it deserves, then you look on the current field of would-be presidents with a certain sense of satisfaction. With retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson having taken the lead among Republican aspirants, the Fourth Estate is falling all over itself examining the candidates' history and parsing their utterances to a fare-thee-well.

Coming close on the heels of a Carsonism in which Ben stated his belief that the pyramids might have been constructed by the Bibilical Joseph as grain-storage structures rather than being the final resting places of Egyptian royalty--sorry Howard Carter--we have the latest incident: the revelation (Revelation?) that, contrary to his assertion in his 1990 memoir Gifted Hands that he'd been offered a "scholarship" to the US Military Academy on the strength of his performance in ROTC in a Detroit high school, he never got such any such offer. For details:

Ben Carson campaign admits candidate did not seek admission to West Point

WAFers will appreciate this comment by Guardian reader " DCin_Texasout" on the story:

"Take it from an American; many, many Americans are astonishingly stupid. What's more, given America's position in the world, they are both stupid and proud of it. They view their stupidity as a basic American right, and a source of pride. They're not ashamed to display their stupidity to anyone who will listen. In England you used to call them "village idiots". Here they're called the guy next door."

5:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I received 3 messages from you in the space of a few hrs. Pls be clear abt this: one post every 24, not anything more. Thank you.


Really, what can one do w/321 million horses' asses? Anyone w/half a brain knows what this Guardian reader says is abs. true.


Well, she *is* an American. And consider those who gave her a standing ovation.


8:58 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

I love this kind of stuff - when people practice at home what they do to others outside their home!

Did you notice that it is gradually coming out in the media that America is responsible for the civil war in Syria; that America created the refugee crisis in Syria because America wants to dethrone Bashar al-Assad and get complete control of Syria as a gateway to Iran and helping Israel. The Yankees have killed a lot of women and children in Syria. It is like this: do what we tell you or we kill your leaders and your people. This is what you see today everywhere in America: stop on our command or you are dead on the spot:

"Two Louisiana police officers were arrested after a car chase on Tuesday ended with the driver critically wounded and his 6-year-old son dead. Lt. Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse, Jr., 23, fired at least 18 rounds at an unarmed driver, Chris Few. Both face second-degree murder charges and attempted second-degree murder charges."

5:01 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

How can any of us look at a brain surgeon (any surgeon for that matter) the same after reading about or listening to all the lies, idiocy, crudeness and repugnant remarks that have come from Ben Carson during the last several weeks?

Robert Reich:

"He (Ben Carson) also doesn’t know American history, doesn’t know about the federal government, and doesn’t know the limits of his own ignorance."

I suppose that the same could be said about Donald Trump. Neither Carson nor Trump could beat Hillary. It wouldn't even be close.

On the subject of a functional substitute for religion (actually de Botton talks about a functional substitute for certain rituals and practices within religion):

Chris Hedges: What Can Atheists Learn from Religion? Interview with Alain de Botton (2012):

I listened to the interview 3 years ago or so. I had a rather tepid response. It is no easy matter injecting the sacred into atheism.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Anyone see the movie Stll Alice? It's about an upper-middle class woman developing Alzheimers at 50. It's a well acted movie but one wonders if her Alzheimers is, in some way, a result of her constant multitasking which the brain was never designed to do.
Anyway, yes, the stupidity in the US is nearly breathtaking and I still hope I will suddenly wake up and all of this was just a bad dream. I walk around a neighboring middle class high school every morning for exercise and it's nearly de rigueur for high school students to converse with each other while wearing ear plugs! How is that even possible? Then I listen to a talk by Turkle on her latest book, Reclaiming Conversation, in which she discovered that people deliberately keep conversations superficial so they can more easily switch to their phones. In addition she cites an experiment that people left alone for more than 6 minutes would rather give themselves an electric shock than to continue to be alone. So "let all the poisons of the earth hatch out" (I Claudius) and elect a Trump, Clinton, or Carson. The American people deserve no better.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


She says that even the presence of a cell phone, not being used, changes the nature of human interaction. In a review of Turkle, Jonathan Franzen called all of these electronic toys 'capitalism on steroids' (in so many words).


Check out election polls of Carson vs. Hillary: he wd win.


I'm assuming the cops will get off scot free, yes?


10:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill Maher once called her the queen of consumer spiritualism:

My favorite thing is a 6-pack of Bud Light, which wd then generate the rt response to Oprah.


10:34 AM  
Anonymous Quincy Adams Wagstaff said...


The real thanks goes to our illustrious blog host who recommended Auster in his WAF C-Span talk. I soon picked up one novel and was, as you say, a "fast fan." I devoured Auster's complete canon in a few months, fiction and non-fiction alike. I'm happy that my short mention sparked a flame for you. "Sunset Park," "Timbuktu," and "In the Country of Last Things" remain favorites, but all of his work might resonate deeply with fellow WAFers.

On another note, since MB suggested my previous handle, The Other Jeff, needed to be better, I'll adopt a Marxian moniker and stick with Quincy Adams Wagstaff from now on.


1:15 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...


If you're out of movies to watch, "The Gift" is highly recommended:

It really gave me a slap in the face. All progs should watch this. Maybe it will make them better understand that until shit *really* hits the fan, people won't change.


1:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's gd, but I think Wagstaff J. Quincy, DDS, might be a tad more distinctive. Your call.


3:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I shd give a shit dept.:

And I'm a guy w/a full bladder, eager to meet you.


3:59 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

Perhaps the beat-down Putin gave the US re Syria will be called Americas Suez moment?

-comrade simba

6:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cd be, tho it's hard to tell rt now. Shdn't be that difficult to generate such a moment as compared to the actual Suez, given the fact that Obama is a punk and little more than a bad joke, and Macmillan was a real statesman.


7:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Is a small fraction of the American public evolving toward Waferdom? Allow me to quote a letter to the editor of the NYTBR of Oct. 25, by one John Koppel of Bethesda. He speaks of the false values of Americans: "self-centered individualism gone mad, a win-at-all-costs (including cheating) mentality, uncritical exaltation of wealth and fame achieved by any means necessary, and a fervent belief in untrammeled free markets and turbocapitalism." He calls this a "toxic mix" that came together w/the election of Reagan (premiere douche bag of the Western world), and says it has poisoned the country ever since. He goes on to suggest that nations get the leaders they deserve, and thus that we are in for big trouble.

Amazing, to think that mainstream America might finally be catching up to this blog! The only thing Mr. Koppel needs in order to become a genuine Wafer is to refer to his fellow-countrymen as douche bags (morons will also do, in a pinch). Had he done this, he would have entered the hallowed halls of Waferdom. We wish him every success in making this crucial transition!


8:36 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Dr B - I was thinking a bit about that Common Dreams article you linked and its reference to just how many countries are currently coming apart at the seams while the rest of the world sits around with its thumbs up its collective ass, and how that relates to the Trump/Carson phenomena here in the U.S. It strikes me just how much worse things are now than they were four years ago. Back then the 2012 election cycle version of Carson--the execrable Herman Cain--was done in quickly when he was accused of having sexually harassed several women, while Trump's attempt to launch a presidential candidacy crashed and burned on the launching pad.

Now Trump and Carson are the Republican front runners with the latter seemingly immune from criticism despite there having been numerous revelations about him as bad as the ones that brought down Cain. Meanwhile, four more years of Obama douchebaggery have soured even more people on the left on sellout centrists (hence: Berniemania), meaning that Hillary IS in fact beatable, especially if there is another market crash in the next year. Overseas, things have rapidly worsened since 2011-2012 and America's credibility is now at an all time low.

I guess what I'm saying is that while on a day-to-day or even year-to-year basis it seems like we are stuck in a rut, if you look back just those four years you begin to realize how quickly things are unravelling. I don't think we're going to get 8 years of Hillary. Even if she does win in 2016, given that nearly half the electorate hates her and half of the other half tolerates her at best she isn't going to be able to hold down the rise of the demagogues for very long. I give her one term tops, and what follows her is going to be very unpleasant.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


While no one can know the future, there is no doubt that with or without Hillary, it's going to be very unpleasant; at least for the US.

Frankly, I miss ol' Herman, with his inane '999 plans' etc.; he was such a marvelous doofus.

What a different country we wd have, if it were infected by Bermania rather than Berniemania, eh? In fact, I have a 234 plan in mind...


12:05 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Last night I went to see the Pulitzer Prize winning play called Disgraced. Wow, what drama! A black, a wasp, a Pakistani, and a Jew have dinner at the Pakistani's home, they get drunk and begin throwing racial epitaphs at each other. I mean such a unique and inventive device. Just call the damn play In Vino Veritas. And this won the Pulizer Prize. Move over, Arthur Miller. The audience, made up of mostly white upper-middle class suburbanites whose only contact with people of color are as chambermaids or waiters, sat there shocked by the play's "rawness." By the way, budding playwrights, when your play has reached some potentially dramatic moment and there is an uncomfortable pause in the action, get the cell phone to ring-the modern day's version of deus ex machine. By the way, the play was 90 minutes long with no intermission. Great for an elderly audience with prostate issues. I suppose the management realized that if there was an intermission, half the audience would not come back to their seats.
Against my better judgment I decided to enter Phila's premier disco night club, Stratus. Major mistake. Not only was there nearly no interaction between the sexes, but most attendees were more concerned with their cell phones then even with the people they came with. The Russians and Chinese need not have a strong military to take over the US. All they have to do is promise free aps. Finally I get home and see Trump hosting SNL- a perfect night.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Xair113 said...

Last night while at a party a friend of mine gets to talking about Buenaventura Durruti and the Spanish anarchists, and how in many ways it was the last real chance Europe had for a revolution from the left. Some guy says, "don't know who this Durruti guy is and don't care, but this sounds like some communist bullshit that I don't care for. The level of ignorance in Americans no longer surprises me, but what is truly amazing his how proud they are of this ignorance. They are actually proud to be openly ignorant and anti intellectual. What I don't understand is how do they believe any of their opinions have any weight to them?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

The latest in American teenage douchebaggery:

"Students at the school described a competitive point system that classmates used to accrue photographs. Different point values were assigned to different students. Students who collected naked photographs gained points by adding these desirable children to their collections. Isaac Stringer, a junior interviewed outside the high school who said he did not participate in the photo-sharing, called the boy with the largest collection “the pimp of pictures.”

You can't make this stuff up.


11:52 AM  
Anonymous Roland said...

Debate on whether human progress is real or not, four panelists, feauturing Alain de Botton on the con side, Steven Pinker on the pro side (of course). I don't know about all his other books, but I actually liked de Botton's Religion For Atheists. I think Pinker's more measured debate style wins in persuasion, unfortunately.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous brainDecay said...

Other millennial wafers: Where are you guys based?

I don't know a single 25-year-old who isn't raving about the new Steve Jobs film. It's discouraging, to say the least.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Americans think emotions are ideas, and that opinions are arguments. They are a very stupid people.


6:37 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

brain -

Like MB says, 99.99% (approx) of the population are idiots, so don't expect to find many like minded people, no matter the city.

I'm in Seattle - it's basically what you get in any big US city (with the internet & travel, cities are all becoming very similar), though w/ a bit more of the liberal outdoorsy lifestyle. Don't expect much real different here or anywhere else, people here are fully onboard w/ the industrial way of life.

The biggest company here is a basically the world's biggest online shopping mall, so that should tell you all you need to know about this place.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

@ Marc L Bernstein: Thanks a lot for proving the video of Chris Hedges interviewing Alain de Botton. I must say that Alain de Botton is a devoted WAFER. If you doubt me, then listen to this entire video:

If you are ready to learn, then go here to his school of life:

Check out:

8:44 PM  
Anonymous VincentInAuvers said...


Materialists versus idealists; scientists versus philosophers; machine versus soul; if Alain had been in toga, it'd have been the sophists versus Socrates. Pinker and the arrogant jester adjacent him misconstrued every attempt by Botton to lift the debate out of the cold, mechanistic murk of data and heartless abstraction.

Take a look at this country to see where the belief in unrestrained material progress leads. Two-thirds waddling in superfluous flesh. Mental illness, addiction, and narcissism epidemic. Unchecked innovation has consequences.

Hardship breeds empathy. Remove the necessity for others and what you get is meaninglessness, anomie, self-absorption. I'd take a few decades cut short by the plague over a century in such a world.

Pinker and his fawning acolytes in the audience have never known spiritual agony. They cannot understand the consoling language of the poet or what those tiresome tome dwellers are all about. Alas, his ilk make up the majority of mankind. Thanks for sharing.

11:28 PM  
Blogger centralscrewtinizer said...

If only Trump would say, "Let's make the Universe great again".

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A few days ago I mentioned the country Niger using its French pronunciation. My interlocutor asked why I didn't pronounce it like "Roger"?
Brain Decay,
Needless to say, I have no intention of seeing the movie Jobs. I'm sure the movie doesn't mention that I-crap is made by 14 year old Chinese girls, working 14 hours a day, making 14 cents an hour or that Jobs discovered that his real father owned and operated a small luncheonette. Jobs often went there to eat but never told the man that he was his son. Doucbag non-parriel.
The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Turkle mentions that parents have literally forced I-crap on their children so that they (the parents) can justifiably use their I-crap. Then what did they think will happen when their curious, precocious, sex saturated children use it for sexting? OK, let's see them arrest the hundreds of kids involved. Love to see that.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Bill Hicks - I agree with you that Hillary is beatable and won't be president. My humble prediction? Marco Rubio - he's Bill Clinton 30 yrs ago, has a biography most American voters will love (Dad a bartender & Mom a maid)b/c it reinforces the American dream, he's Hispanic, in a swing state, has money problems (easy to manipulate this guy),and most important of all - does not appear to be overly burdened with a moral core and will do exactly as he's told by his billionaire backers. I watched him more closely in this last debate and he was well coached. He doesn't have the innate intelligence of Bill Clinton or Obama but he has sharp political instincts. He'll be the "new face" of the Republican party. On the debate stage with Hillary, she'll look every bit as dissipated, phony, corrupt and unpleasant as she actually is. He will look like everyone's favorite nephew.

Dawgzy - I believe at the core of most (if not all) mental illness is despair that can't be managed anymore. Middle aged white men with few skills and poor education have very little to look forward to and, if their family has deteriorated, little reason to do so. A follow-up article:

"The couple's study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, offered a number of possible reasons that this might be happening. And since its publication, other experts have weighed in on other trends that might explain this phenomenon. Below is a look at five of their theories. Many of them have to do more with psychological distress than traditional causes of death such as heart disease or lung cancer."

Here's the entire article:

You might be interested in reading two of Gabor Mate's books - When the Body Says No & In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (about addiction).

8:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


But why limit ourselves to the universe?


10:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What a shock:

10:50 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all Wafers worldwide,

Today, I cite fellow traveler Mr. James Kunstler for his usual spot on Monday morning comments.

Quoting Mr. Kunstler, "The world is bankrupt after thirty years of borrowing from the future to throw a party in the present, and the authorities can’t acknowledge that.,.....Instead of reality-based choices and decisions, the task at hand for the people in charge has been the ever more baroque elaboration of a Potemkin economic false-front, behind which lies a landscape of ruin scavenged by desperate racketeers. That this racketeering has moved so seamlessly into the once-sacred precincts of medicine and higher ed ought to inform us how desperate and perilous it has become."

Well put, Mr. Kunstler! It's all here :

1:29 PM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Thought I'd pass this along. You can now arrange to meet up and fight other Americans. There's an app or that!

2:49 PM  
Blogger Janus said...


Right now? Orange County. I trust no further explanation is needed.

I mentioned my layoff in an earlier post, so it's time to get out---looking forward to moving on to some higher plane of existence.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Roland said...

Roland and Chad in Chicago,

what did you think of the debate between de Button and Steven Pinker etc? I liked de Button's Religion For Atheists, and probably agree w/ his side more than Pinker's, but I thought he and his partner Malcom Gladwell were kind of awful debaters.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Futures said...

Somber dinner discussions. My GF's father, successful annoying stockbroker guy, had two meetings in the past year, with corporations expecting to sell medications (which the US government plans to stockpile) for the emergency treatment of citizens irradiated in a nuclear attack on an American city (National Response Scenario Number One). One of fifteen emergency scenarios developed by Homeland Security, and the one considered most likely. There are a number of less dramatic reasons why each family should discuss and formulate a Family Emergency Plan (as FEMA suggests), such as floods or hurricanes...

What are your thoughts on the dangers, or lack of them, from a U.S nuclear crisis, MB? Specifically relating to your collapse predictions, do you think we are becoming any more susceptible to that sort of major external aggression? Or do you think this kind of view is a more or less paranoid psychology w/ a 1950's type persecution complex, w/ the real bomb will be detinated by internal pathology/terrorism?

Book on the subject, "The Atomic Bazaar, The Rise of the Nuclear Poor"

7:31 PM  
Blogger jml said...


Yale students trying to get two professors fired b/c they suggested that students should be able to decide for themselves what costume they would like to wear for Halloween. (Fired over Halloween?!?! Really?)

Apparently some Yale students want guidelines and rules and punishment for those students who might offend them with their costumes.

I don't want to be living in the U.S. when this generation is running things. They are beyond hope.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

Any thoughts on the recent stats - jobs growth is at an all time high, but suicide among uneducated whites in middle America has been in the rise for 15 years.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Fiscal Rascal said...

WAFers: now that the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is publicly available, can you tell me why you don't support it, if you don't? I'd be really interested in a simple "it will cause X to happen, and here's a citation to the relevant section of the text." I've tried, but I just can't see what the problem is. While the text was classified, I heard a lot of old-school partisan speculative fear-mongering, and now that the text is out, I've read a couple pieces that have tried to concoct some heavy doom out of thin air. As an example of the latter, I recently read a piece (in Grist, titled "TPP is Just As Evil As You Think It Is") that sought to argue that TPP spelled devastation for the climate (the most important issue to me), but the evidence cited was this section: "Each Party shall strive to ensure that its environmental laws and policies provide for, and encourage, high levels of environmental protection." Seriously. The problem apparently was the word "strive." Yes, it's a vague statement of general principle (that's what international agreements look like), but... it's a good principle. Opposition to this makes zero sense. If it's as evil as I think it is, based on that evidence, then, good, we agree, it is 0% evil. Arguments like this make us look desperate, partisan, and stupid--and rightfully so. And nowhere have I seen it corroborated that corporations will be able to sue national governments for passing domestic environmental protection laws that might harm their future profits, the hypothetical source of much consternation in the Leftosphere, while the text was classified. If anything would cause me to oppose the package, it would be precisely such a provision, but there seems to be no such provision. Was that just... made up? In fact, the same section of TPP from which the above quote is drawn goes on to say: "The Parties recognize the sovereign right of each Party to establish its own levels of domestic environmental protection and its own environmental priorities" and "No Party shall fail to effectively enforce its environmental laws through a sustained or recurring course of action or inaction." What are we opposed to here?

I get resistance to capitalism, neoliberalism, and corporate power in general (I actually don't get opposition to globalization per se--national governments just need to do a better and more just job of funding a robust social safety net and public works programs when private-sector jobs inevitably move overseas/are automatized, as well as mandating that certain baseline work condition and environmental standards are adhered to by the global system that produces the goods sold at home--indeed, the latter is precisely one of the things global trade agreements like TPP are for), but why on earth is TPP in particular such a flagship issue for us? How much political capital is the left willing to spend on this, and why? I'm asking to be convinced.

MB any thoughts from you in particular would be a godsend, I really don't get what's happening. WAFers, your thoughts?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls try to keep yr posts to half a page max, thank you.


Why wd u want to be living in the US *now*?


I'm kinda busy rt now; perhaps you guys can respond to Roland et al. for me?


11:20 AM  
Anonymous COS said...


TPP is not a trade agreement. It is a regulatory framework which serves to supersede local (national) laws and regulation. Arbitration occurs via a panel of lawyers in new York. It robs nations of ability(sovereignty)to legal be involved in matters which include multinationals. So much asserted and wished for in your note. There has been scads of work on globalization--if you don't mind people in rich countries enjoying I-Pads and I junk built by slave workers earning 30 cents an hour I guess Globalization is just dandy. I or other wafers can't provide an precis of all the problems associated with TPP and Globalization (and you won't find it in the TPP text unless you are an economist or trade lawyer and there wount be a magic--this is bad because in the actual text) So advise you do some digging--I would suggest use google and find the following:

Interview of Sir James Goldsmith on Charley Rose--NAFTA the early version of TPP, prescient.

Much of the work of nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz--oppsed to TOO

Much of the work of Susan Webber aka Ives Smith at Naked Capitalism

Jeffrey Sachs, eminent economist at Colombia University is opposed to TPP

Even Chris Hedges while overwrought has a good summary of the problems with TPP.

As for Globalization, there has been scads of work on why its a scam and myth. Try on some of he great work of John Gray (False Dawn) on why globalization is problem and what it actually is.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Michael Le Flem said...


You've always been a real hero of mine. I think it took me until 29, when I finally discovered your works, to truly grasp how hopeless it all is. Before I join you in exile (Bahamas for me - family comes from there), I have to teach two final philosophy courses as an adjunct at a local university in Chicago. I wanted you to know that even though what you think I'm doing is probably futile, I hold some basic hope in the idea that maybe if I can get through to one or two of the kids, they too will get out while they can. Assigning some heavy Berman tomes. It's time to light the candle and turn off the cell phones and descend...into DARK AGES AMERICA (dramatic music).

Your friend,

5:27 PM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

jml -

That video was terrifying. PC witch hunts. Where's our Arthur Miller?

Wafers -

I was a victim of a hoax. No, apparently the Fight Club app isn't real. But I think if America tries hard enough they can make a Tinder-like app where everyone shows up and shoots one another. I think we still have it within us as a nation.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


I wish I could add more to the discussion, but I think you answered yr own questions regarding TPP in yr last paragraph, i.e. the left being generally resistant to corporate trade deals regardless of what kind of deal is on the table.


Personally, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that a nuclear strike could happen. I read a book about nuclear close calls, many of them were accidents even, in a pretty good book by Eric Schlosser called "Command and Control" aways back. Frankly, I'm surprised that jihadis or some dumbfuck in the military hasn't actually detonated a nuclear device of some kind yet.


5:56 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

What are your thoughts on the dangers, or lack of them, from a U.S nuclear crisis

Combine human fallibility with the proliferation of what is essentially WWII era technology and I would say that the prospect of nuclear war isn’t something that can be dismissed out of hand as a concern of a bygone era. Nuclear catastrophe is an ever present danger. That said, I worry more about environmental catastrophe as, imo, that scenario isn’t an if, It is a when, and I don’t see much evidence we will alter our present course. Fluorescent light bulbs, hybrid cars and carbon credits notwithstanding.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Many thanks, and congrats on escaping the US. Pls post only once every 24 hrs, thanks.


9:39 AM  
Anonymous Nixon said...

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it really make a sound?

If a Suez Moment occurred to America and no one could recognize that it happened, did it really happen?

12:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bishop Berkeley-

Sometimes it's recognized as a Suez moment only in retrospect.

Meanwhile, I ran across what cd be a perfect description of the American people in Karlfried Duerckheim's little bk, "The Japanese Cult of Tranquillity":

"When our sense of inner achievement becomes muted, we turn to the noise of the outside world and lose all sense of our living center. We are caught in the bondage of a hardened periphery; we are alienated from our spiritual powers, and we try to find fulfillment by protecting and indulging the ego, or in the excitement of cheap stimuli, or by satisfying instinctive desires, or we get lost in the sensations of the mind. We run from ourselves. We fly from life's calm rhythm to find refuge in the measured beat of organized existence, relinquishing contact with the indestructible within ourselves for security in the transitory world. We drown the quiet voices of being in the noise of worthless illusion."


5:43 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I have a question. Yesterday I heard two hosts on US TV programmes say "Happy Veterans Day."

Is this a common expression?

Maybe it just sounds weird to my ears, as we never say "Happy Remembrance Day." Then again, we don't say "God bless Canada" either.

Anyway, wishing others "happiness" on what ought to be a solemn day of reflection on the horrors of war and why we ought to learn from history doesn't seem appropriate to me.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is the kind of stuff Americans are concerned abt:

I think we may need a Happy Douche Bag Day.


10:56 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...


I watched a james bond film the other night (skyfall to be precise) and had a bit of a Wafer moment. I used to enjoy watching bond movies in the past, but this time I felt disgusted after 30 mins and switched the TV off. There are some themes in the movie that I never really paid attention to before, but that really repelled me this time. Notably:

a. The idea that Britain's and more generally Western foreign intelligence services are the greatest and that everyone should admire the work they do for democracy - even when it involves doing "necessary evil" in the process. When 007 is on a mission, it's "OK" for him to steal other people's cars, drive through markets and destroy stalls to complete his goal.
b. A fascination with technology - epitomized by the douchebag "Q" and his gadgets
c. A fascination for blowing things up. The new JB set a record in this matter:
d. Luxury is great - Aston Martins, designer suits and dresses, champagne, expensive hotels etc... are constantly paraded in the movies and implied to be desirable items.

I am sure there are many more but this is what comes to mind so far...

This is what this blog does to you!


11:51 AM  
Blogger librarian@play said...

Long-time follower, first-time commenter. I'm reading John D. Macdonald's The Deep Blue Good-By, and I think he may have been a hardboiled WAFer. Some quotations in support of his membership:

"I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess that we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it."

"A man with a credit card is in hock to his own image of himself."

"The flight took off with less than half the seats occupied. The whole country lay misty-bright, impersonal, under a summer high, and we went with the sun, making noon last a long time. The worst thing about having a hundred and eighty million people is looking down and seeing how much room there is for more."

12:06 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Roland, Chad,
Thanks for sharing the technology vs. philosophy debate. It was so much fun to watch their ideas on human progress. My take is that a pragmatist who is only concerned about facts- which might predict the future- will see that progress is linear and unstoppable. Alan and Gladwell had nowhere to go with the data- holics. Philosophers viewpoint of human progress is akin to religious hocus pocus to them. Only a few of us know that every time we introduce a technological advance with the idea of mitigating pain or suffering- minimize life's risks and the toil of labor thus enhancing leisure- we also force the planet and all inhabitants into adapting physically, biologically and psychically to the newest invention. Those who fail to adapt will suffer more than anyone else. That's why this blog's members detest having to use smart phones while folks Of a technologist blog think it is a blessing from the gods. Maybe the question that needs answer is Progress best measured by meaning or by a pain free existence? People who grew with conversation and face to face interaction will feel a new kind of poverty/or pain being forced down upon them- as most of us here can attest. People who will be growing up inside of that petri dish empty of humanity will probably fear interaction and intimacy itself, considering it too risky and painful, putting their sights instead in other measures of human happiness- like position amongst peers, displaying wealth, having virtual sex and unlimited access to cable TV movie streaming and video games. I posted recently about the poor from South Korea; how their only remaining connection with the living was TV, having lost all other connections- meaning, all human living and use of electronic devices. Which makes me rethink poverty. Is the poor who lives in a mainly agricultural rural setting or even a Third World slum more miserable or less miserable than the modern urbanite poor? I reckon that the loneliness factor - the high price tag of modernity and all of its accompanying maladies such as addiction, mental illness, personality disorders, nihilism etc- is not being considered in that measurement of progress.


1:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Always great when a lurker comes out. Welcome, and keep coming back.


3:27 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

Have you read this book? I just listened to the author on a podcast, I thought you might like him.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

librarian -- I read most of MacDonald's Travis McGee mysteries 30 years ago when I was in college, and indeed I recall him expressing (in Travis's voice) similar sentiments throughout the series. MacDonald was particularly distressed at what was becoming of Florida in the 1970s and 80s (just imagine what he would think were he still alive today).

Moving on--I had to chuckle at this oh-so-serious article about how so many white, college educated parents are feeling stressed out by the demands of balancing parenthood with their careers:

The article goes cites part of the problem being the parents' desire to make everything life an "epic" experience, which is described as: "whether it’s lunch (Pinterest-worthy lunch boxes), volunteering (I have to spend every Friday at school to help out or I’m a bad mother!), vacations (every three months!), holidays (Must. Be. Magical. Or. Else!), weekends (museums, parks, science center, multiple playdates, sometimes back to back, constant exposure to something cultured!), and of course, having “things”—nicer clothes, better toys, whatever everyone else has so they know we understand how to be middle class, too."

Better idea: get off the GD treadmill, one of you idiots stay home with the damn kids, live modestly and teach them to be self-sufficient--because heaven knows, they're gonna need it.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

More madness from the 6th grade class I visit everyday:
1. Teacher asks a question. Student raises his hand to answer and begins by saying "Hmm". This means, of course, he's preparing how best to answer the question. Teacher says, "Hmm is not a word. Can anyone else answer the question?"
2. Teacher accuses a girl of doing something. Girl answers in a kind of Valley-girl type of inflection typical of 12 year old girls."God, I didn't do anything." Teacher responds: "This isn't music class. Now say it again without the singing." Girl obviously had no idea what the teacher meant and said it again the same way. Teacher then says, "I'm going to call your father". Girl answers, " I never met my father." Heartbreaking on so many levels.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

A couple good essays at CP today:

"In a society where everything is done for you, where we suffer from historical amnesia, lose the ability to see connections between what we eat and where it was produced and under what conditions, believe what is presented to us, live in a confused fog day after day, where we are subjected to endless propaganda, it is easy to see how we remain deeply ignorant in the age of information."

and an American in Mexico:

8:55 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

Dear MB,

I came across this passage in the book ’Not Trivial: How Studying the Liberal Arts Can Set You Free’ by Laurie Endicott Thomas and was immediately reminded of your anecdote about trying to discuss ‘virtue' with former faculty colleagues:

‘I think that the suppression of the liberal arts and the humanities in our educational system has led to widespread dysfunction in the way people talk with one another. Many Americans seem to avoid talking about any serious topic at all. They think that it’s weird or socially inappropriate to talk about any subject that is actually important. They act bored or condescending if you even try to engage them in a serious conversation. Although such persons view themselves as normal or even “cool”, the autistic animal behaviorist Temple Grandin disparages them as “yak-yak social airheads”. Grandin argues that if a society had nothing but yak-yak social airheads, there would be no science or art. I’m afraid that we wouldn’t have democracy, either.’

I believe the author is still in pre-wafer mode and sees education as the fix; we know otherwise.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all Wafers worldwide,

It would take a foreign newspaper to do the story and here it is :

It's about a very poor town in Kentucky racked by drugs and cast aside by the coal industry. This is America today and it's future tomorrow. It would make a good site for a Presidential debate, you know when they speak about the shining city on a hill or how they will make America great again or how exceptional our country is.....

3:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There is no fix; all Wafers know this. But the fact that we are heading toward a national population of 100% assholes warms my heart. What kind of future cd such a nation possibly have? Even better that they think they're cool.


3:19 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Those who've all but abandoned hope that the two political parties can agree on anything must've been encouraged yesterday by news coming out of the Congress. The United States Senate passed HR 2262, the Space Act of 2015. The bill was returned to the House for approval of the Senate revisions (to the House-originated) bill. Approval is expected.

This bill contains provisions to encourage commercial companies that want to explore space amd exploit its resources. As the Guardian reporter (Alan Yuhas) noted, there is the matter of the 1967 international treaty known as the Outer Space Treaty, to which the United States is a signatory. That treaty states that no "celestial body" is subject to "national appropriation."

Recognizing the "seeming" conflict, Senate solons were quick to say that the bill is making no claim of sovereignty. A lawyer specialized in space issues, questioned on this point, said that the Congress was effectively saying to companies interested in pursuing such resources that they have that right, while at the same time saying that we're (USA) making no claim of ownership.

Details here:

And, taking a cue from ROOK's comment on the absence of serious conversation among the citizenry, I experienced the phenomenon first hand while seated in a booth next to four 20-somethings. Their exchanges consisted mainly of comments on how much alcohol they had consumed last evening. This conversation, men and women alike, was punctuated by liberal use of three words: "fuck"; "dude;" and "like."

The use of the last-named filler word is so pervasive in speech among this cohort that I can't bear to be anywhere nearby when they are talking to each other. I wolfed my food and left, (metaphorically) bleeding from the ears.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Multiple attacks in Paris:

Heartbreaking and horrifying...


7:20 PM  
Anonymous VincentInAuvers said...

brain- Millennial here in California. I don't even bother with people my age any more. The best conversations I've had are with people over 40, usually from other countries. Came across a Greek woman on the bus not too long ago, a scientist in town for a conference. We got to talking about the bailout there, and she was shocked that someone my age knew anything about it, complained that she can't talk about these things with her colleagues for fear of being branded a conspiracy theorist.

Juliet- It's not just older folks longing for intimacy and genuine connection. I'm back in college after a bit of a hiatus, now attending one of the country's prestigious research universities and having a hell of a time connecting with anyone here. The kids are glued to their phones and laptops. More than half of them are texting, taking pictures of themselves, or shopping online during lectures. These people are from another planet, and I'm not that much older than them. There is a strange fragility about them as well--not sure if it has to do with the PC atmosphere or just the fact that these are a bunch of smart kids who've had their self-worth crushed by a cretinous culture.

What do Wafers make of the attacks in Paris? Despicable to be sure, but this treacly outpouring ("We are all Parisians today") is nauseating. As if these extremists exist in a vacuum. Where were the cries of outrage when we slaughtered 150,000 innocent Iraqis or played Bomb-a-Muslim from our air-conditioned bedrooms in the Nevada desert? Jingoistic hypocrisy; rather grating.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Rook - thanks for that quote--it was spot on as far as my experiences in trying to have serious conversations with most people.

On another front--I am loving the television version of Fargo more and more with every episode that airs. At one point the butcher who is trying to buy the shop where he works is asked by the teenage girl who works there why he is trying so hard to do so. When he replies that it is so he can be his own boss, and that it's the American Dream, the girl (who has been reading Camus's "The Myth of Sisyphus") replies, "What's the point?" adding, "you're just going to die anyway."

Another scene features Ronald Reagan (played by the star of the old Evil Dead movies--probably NOT a coincidence) on the campaign trail in 1979 in a men's room talking to state trooper Lou. Reagan notices Lou's Vietnam veterans' pin and thanks him for his service before going on a ramble about when he made propaganda films for the military in 1942 while other Hollywood stars were actually off fighting the war. At one point Lou asks Reagan if he really thinks America can get out of the mess we're in. When Reagan says he believes any American capable of overcoming any problem, Lou asks him how, to which Reagan merely grins stupidly, pats him on the shoulder and walks away.

Great stuff--at least one of the writers HAS to be a secret WAFer.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...


This is a comment about the Paris' attacks yesterday.

"President Obama took a very short break from bombing Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia to express his grief over the attacks in France. 'This is an attack not just on Paris...this is an attack on all of humanity'" --Ward Reilly

That's as succinct as it gets on both the causes for Islamic extremists and the continuous denial and or total disdain towards the humanity and the suffering of middle easterners by westerners.

In the meantime, the GOP is salivating over gun laws in France and Obama's weak war on terror. Can we say that this particular event might just push paranoid Americans closer to voting a demagogue into the WH by next year?


2:17 PM  
Anonymous brainDecay said...

Tomorrow should be fun.

I'm taking part in a phone interview with a reporter surveying 100 men on Hillary Clinton.

Do we have an official statement denouncing Hillary? I'd like to be Wafer spokesperson.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Dig thru archives on this blog (abt 3 yrs ago) for a post entitled "A Farce Named Hillary." That might help.


Yes, Obama murders unarmed civilians in the Middle East every week. Then we wonder why they strike back. Shades of 9/11. Not that the slaughter of innocents is justified, but we seem to worry abt our innocents, never theirs. In addition, if the Paris attacks are not justified, they are, like 9/11, nevertheless explicable. Consider this quote from David Shulman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, that the Western powers just don’t get what they have done to the Middle and Far East, historically speaking:

"There was one experience that was shared by the Islamic world, India, China, and Japan in
the nineteenth century—that of predatory intrusion and sustained economic violation by the Western powers. The forms this intrusion took varied from place to place, but its traumatic effects were common to all the great Asian states and cultures….It is…necessary to remind ourselves today of the sheer dimensions of Western rapacity and greed active in huge parts of the planet throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries….Has any Western country truly come to terms with, or accepted responsibility for, the misery it inflicted, out of unadulterated, insatiable avarice, on peoples situated half a world away?"

He goes on to say that intellectuals from Marrakesh to Kyoto struggled to make sense of

"the military and economic disasters that overtook them with the arrival of the Europeans….Most of them are dominated…by a bottomless ressentiment. That, and the related hunger for revenge, may well be the true basis for a generalized 'Asian' response to the West."

How is it that neither France nor the US can understand this?


2:12 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


I just noticed that "Neurotic Beauty" is, once again, up on amazon. Congrats! This calls for another Wafer celebration.

MB, Wafers-

"Rather than putting out the fires of radicalism, we end up feeding them." This and more:

Also, here's a good film:

"Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict"

I watched the film last night. Highly recommended.


2:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, the West is up to its eyeballs in do-do, and the US is at the cutting edge.

Re: Neurotic Beauty: see next post.


3:03 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

"the military and economic disasters that overtook them with the arrival of the Europeans….Most of them are dominated…by a bottomless ressentiment. That, and the related hunger for revenge, may well be the true basis for a generalized 'Asian' response to the West."

This doesn't really work, though. There haven't been any Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese etc. suicide bombers or gunmen running amok. They all seem to come from one particular region, and belong to one particular religion.

Certainly the West has been avaricious, and certainly it hasn't come to terms with this. However, there is a religion, Islam, that was born in violence, by a violent prophet, Mohammed (who unlike Jesus or Buddha personally beheaded people in their hundreds) and which has a core sense of its own superiority.

I think the "blowback" narrative is simplistic - that non-Westerners are always "responding" to the actions of the West suggests that they have no agency, or if they do it is the agency of angry wasps; they are not capable of generating their own bad ideas, their own bad actions. I prefer to call this the "cue ball" version of history - the West is always the prime force in knocking the other balls around the table. Was Genghis Khan responding to the provocations of the West? Was Tamerlaine? To assume non-Westerners are inherently peaceable and incapable of evil is pure sentimentalism.

And, if Westerners are exploitative and avaricious, why is there the presumption that they, unlike seemingly everybody else, have the agency to stop themselves? Why are Westerners not seen as dumbly reactive, unable, like bees in pursuit of pollen, to resist milking the resource bounty that the rest of the world mercilessly tempts them with? Why is it even assumed that Westerners are capable of coming to any kind of realisation of the morality or the consequences of their actions?

Perhaps because the "blowback/cue ball" narrative is actually one of Western Superiority after all. It's a reversal of the "White man's burden", except in this version the White man is the burden. It is also provides the comforting thought that all this violence can stop - we can stop it ourselves, because only we have the power to get ourselves under control. I don't believe this is true. I think the West and Radical Islam are in a "dance of death" because neither have the reflexivity to come to a realisation about their behaviour.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Shawn McDowell said...

I think you guys will get a chuckle or two out of this

Unfortunately there's a good chance people will die over this on Friday(or Thursday depending o the store).

10:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Someone will get killed at Wal-Mart, 2b sure. Meanwhile, in future pls send messages to latest post, as no one reads the old stuff. Thanks.


11:08 AM  
Blogger JOHNNY-JAZZ said...

MB & Wafers, San Francisco news a Homeless Mentally Ill woman gave birth to a Baby, on Market Street, the Local News Station KRON, has Video....

“I look up, and I see there, like a baby, under a bus stop laying in blood,” said witness Eduardo, who only gave KRON his first name.

Eduardo, who did not want to go on camera, said he was walking with his friend, who took the video, at Sixth and Market streets at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The birth happened at the 5 and 21 Muni stop, where now a cardboard box covers the stains on the sidewalk.

“I just didn’t want to believe it, it’s just shocking,” Eduardo said.

I live only a few blocks from this Bus Stop.

3:29 AM  

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