Streetwise Professor

November 7, 2011

Peas in a Pod: Occupy, RT, and Zero Hedge

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 5:34 pm

The American and Western media have been fawning in their coverage of the Occupy movement, but for please-get-a-room Tiger Beat coverage they cannot hold a candle to the “News” Organization Formerly Known As Russia Today, which now goes by the more innocuous moniker RT: Gee, I wonder why they dropped the explicit Russia reference.  ‘Tis a puzzler.

RT is a creature of the Russian government, part of its widespread information operations.  It is widely recognized as a means by which the Russian government peddles outlandish, anti-Western, and particularly anti-American conspiracy theories; a haven for loons and wackos; a fine inheritor of the “in America they lynch negroes” school of journalism.

And RT’s current obsession is Occupy. You can test your gag reflexes by Googling “Russia Today OWS” and following a few links to RT stories about the Occupy movement.  RT could be OWS’s press agent: maybe it is.  This piece–done very early in the OWS protests–is gruesomely representative.

So just why would Russia Today–pardon me, RT–be so enamored with Occupy?  Do I need to draw you a map?

Vladimir Putin and the siloviki who run Russia are unrepentant Cold Warriors who harbor intense resentment at the fall of the Soviet Union: they ache for revenge, or at least a replay.  They were weaned on anti-Americanism, and subsist on it as they move into their senior years.  Putin and his most important minions were intelligence operatives who spent their formative years in dirty operations against the US.  It is in their DNA.

Putin’s intense hatred for the US seethes below the surface, and quite frequently bubbles over in tirades against the country.  Indeed, just today he ranted about the “arrogant powers.”

Of late, much of his vitriol has been directed precisely at the American financial system, which he refers to using a word often applied to enemies of the state during Soviet times–parasitical.  It is quite clear that he blames the western financial crisis for inflicting the existential economic plight that has plagued Russia since 2008.

So OWS and Putin/siloviki are a match made in heaven.  Both share a common enemy, and a common diagnosis of what is wrong in the world.  No surprise, then, that Putin is marshalling Russia’s propaganda apparatus to flack for OWS.

For those of a certain age, and who have a passing familiarity with the way the world worked before 1991, might also wonder what other Russian support is flowing to elements within OWS.  OWS, and the sheltering media fog that blankets it, brings to mind the various peace movements of the Cold War era, perhaps most notably the Nuclear Freeze movement.  Said movement was thoroughly penetrated by the Soviets and their allied intelligence services.  No, not everyone who marched was a commie: very few were, in fact.  But more than a few leading lights were Soviet assets.  Given the coalitional, fragmented nature of Occupy, it would strain credulity to believe that something similar is not going on today.  There are useful idiots and Leninist vanguards.  That’s the way these things work, and they no doubt work that way in Occupy.

Interestingly, RT is a favorite source for the conspiratorial/paranoid tribes of the polygot assemblage that claims the libertarian label.  This is an interesting historical phenomenon in itself: these tribes can trace their lineage to agrarian populists, Jacksonian anti-bankers, Jeffersonian agrarians, and Anti-Federalists.  They believe that finance is antithetical to liberty.  Hence their affinity for OWS–and RT.

Another favorite of these folks is the Zero Hedge website.  I have often mentioned that Zero Hedge is aptly named.  One hedges to reduce variance, and the extreme variability of the content on ZH makes it plain that they don’t hedge at all.

The site links quickly to breaking finance stories from major news sources, reports data on prices from sometimes obscure markets in response to breaking news, and often excerpts research from reputable analysts and firms. Hence, ZH can be useful as a de facto news aggregator.

When it comes to the editorial content spewed out under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden,” however—oi.  What a farrago of paranoid, conspiratorial nonsense.  ZH is obsessed with HFT—and utterly warped and delusional in its ravings on the subject.  Ditto for derivatives.  And the Fed.  And especially Goldman and Wall Street generally.  Look, I’ve been critical of all of the above at times, but ZH coverage of them is unhinged and indiscriminate.

ZH’s editorial line on the US and European economies parallels almost exactly that of RT.   Moreover, although ZH is unsparing in its criticism of virtually every Western government leader, it never whispers the slightest word of reproach about Vladimir Putin or Russia.   Indeed, a tweet mentioning that fact almost immediately drew a response from ZH: a link to a ZH piece spouting a common line of Russian propaganda argument about the superior fiscal foundation of Russia as compared to the US.

And like RT, ZH could be an OWS echo chamber.

Apropos the certain-kind-of-libertarian-RT-ZH nexus, a certain commenter on this site has been linking to ZH with some regularity in the comments, all with the intent of mocking my supposed shilling for The Banks and The Man.   A friend of mine remarked on this the other day, which led to a conversation about ZH generally.  We were trying to make sense of it, when a thought struck me: ZH is like a Soviet-bloc influence operation.  These operations would plant disinformation in publications around the world.  Most of the publications were obscure, often in Third World countries.  The disinformation would be mixed in with legitimate reporting.  The goal of these operations was to put disinformation into circulation via more obscure publications, knowing that more reputable publications higher up the media food chain would frequently pick up the planted stories and run them.  Some of the stories would work their way to the very top of the food chain, winding up in publications like the NYT and the WaPo and particularly in major European newspapers.

That comports perfectly with the ZH MO.   Provocative and poorly sourced allegations with a particular slant are scattered among legitimate news and data.  The solid news stories attract eyeballs that also views the agitprop.  And some of the ZH material has made it up the media food chain.

And it is also the RT MO.  RT is well-known for sprinkling its more outlandish “reporting” and commentary in a stream of legitimate news stories told in a relatively straightforward way.

So what is ZH, exactly? Its creator is Daniel Ivandjiiski, a native of Bulgaria.  Daniel has a very dodgy past, including losing a job and his securities license for insider trading.  None of this is hard to find out: it was covered in a New York Magazine piece that ran soon after ZH first gained notoriety.  Mr. Ivandjiiski’s checkered past perhaps explains his clearcut antipathy for Wall Street.   But there may be more to it than that.

In light of my flash analogy of ZH to a  Soviet disinformation operation, what is really interesting is the background of Daniel Ivandjiiski’s father.  Ivandjiiski pere (Kassimir) was a Bulgarian “journalist” and “envoy” during the Cold War.  A member of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Trade, in the COMECON and EU departments.  A journalist.  A “special envoy” (hence presumably with very useful diplomatic cover) in every proxy war in Central Asia and Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

That is an intel operative’s CV with probability 1.  Probability 1.  Every one of those jobs was a classic cover.  There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever—none—that Mr. Divandjiiski senior was a member of the Bulgarian Committee for State Security (Държавна сигурност or DS for short)—the Bulgarian equivalent of the KGB.  And remember that Bulgarian DS was the USSR KGB’s most reliable allied service during the Cold War.  It carried out wet work in western countries, notably the “umbrella murder” of Georgi Markov in London.  It was linked to the plot to assassinate the Pope; although in the topsy-turvy world of intelligence, it is also alleged that the CIA fabricated the case against the DS.  Regardless of the truth about the links to the attempt on John Paul II, it was a very, very, very nasty operation.  (The African stops in Ivandjiiski’s resume makes it highly likely that his path intersected that of another charmer, Igor Sechin, who was a “translator” in Africa.)

Perhaps it is just coincidence that the son of an obvious Warsaw Pact intelligence service agent with the “journalistic” and “diplomatic” background commonly used in influence and disinformation operations starts a website that employs classic influence and disinformation methods, and spouts an editorial line dripping with vitriol and hostility for American (and Western European) financial institutions and governments: a line that follows that of RT quite closely.  Perhaps.  But if it is, it is a fascinating one, no?  (It amazes me that although Kassimir’s background has been discussed in the context of Zero Hedge, I cannot find anyone in an English language source making the obvious connection with Bulgarian, and hence Soviet, intelligence.  It is as plain as the nose on one’s face.)

So it is clear that there is a strong correlation between OWS, RT, and ZH.  Of course, correlation does not imply causation.  A and B can be correlated not because A causes B, or vice versa, but because a common cause C influences both.  It is evident that this is at work here.  Occupy, RT, and ZH are all strongly committed to the longstanding leftist anti-capitalist critique.  That’s something they clearly have in common.

But a common agenda and a common ideology create the basis for more explicit cooperation and coordination.  With respect to Occupy, there is historical precedent for this.  With respect to ZH, there are even more reasons to wonder.  The employment of classic information operation methods are one.  But the biggest reason is the one degree of separation between the creator of ZH and an obvious Warsaw Pact intelligence operative.  I acknowledge the possibility of coincidence, but that pushes it pretty far.

So if you see a graph from Bloomberg on Italian bond yields or an excerpt from a brokerage report, you can believe it.  Anything else should be treated with extreme caution, and with an understanding of what ZH does, what its methods resemble, and especially its pedigree–literally.

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69 Comments »

  1. Mark Gongloff at WSJ is also reporting that 10 year Italian bond yields were for a time today at 6.66% as I read earlier on ZH. Just to be sure I checked Bloomberg and they have the same value. This should be a clear case for intercession by the Vatican.

    Really neat stuff about ZH thanks for the background details.

    Comment by pahoben — November 7, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

  2. Let’s maim more protesting veterans!

    Let’s arrest people for withdrawing their money from Citibank!

    Let’s give the banks more money while spouting libertarian rhetoric and locking up any Leninists who disagree!

    // SWP

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 7, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  3. S/O. Thanks for staying in character. Knew I could depend on you.

    Re Citibank, yeah, I’m sure that arrest was just the penalty for early withdrawal. I could probably make up the difference just by looking under my sofa cushions. Please.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 7, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  4. @Pahoben–they don’t have a prayer, so even the Vatican won’t be of much help in the battle against compounding.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 7, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  5. […] Streetwise Professor » Peas in a Pod: Occupy, RT, and Zero Hedge […]

    Pingback by Bulgarian way | Haloswat — November 7, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

  6. ZH is some kind of bizarro LaR, I gather. Your obsession with the sitz-chairman of the Russian colonial administration is hard to fathom.

    Comment by So? — November 7, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

  7. Hey Prof,

    guess who got sued by their client over natural gas pricing the other day – by Pilish PGNiG this time?

    Comment by Ivan — November 8, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  8. Wow, talk about conspiracy theory! Where is Ockham when you need him…

    Comment by Andrew — November 8, 2011 @ 3:22 am

  9. Before reading this article I thought the Prof has some interesting things to say about the markets — now I realise he is a deranged fantacist aboard the financialisation band wagon, probably because that’s how he gets to fly around the world speaking at conferences. This is seriously simplistic stuff – did we somehow get intellectually stuck at some adolescent political debate? Grow up prof – the reason the financial world is getting a bad press at the moment is because it lacks social purpose, and because the top 1 percent earns 25 percent of the income. Its not that tough to understand.

    Comment by D Riv — November 8, 2011 @ 5:50 am

  10. @Mr. X et al. Pavlov was right.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 8, 2011 @ 6:58 am

  11. Mr X-will we be allowed to watch NFL games on the telescreens-will they be HD?

    The Rubicon has already been crossed-alea iacta est. However, I personally have a hard time conceiving that a relatively small group of people could exercise global domination (that includes the population of the US) through overt military means. It certainly hasn’t worked for the US in smaller theaters.

    It really is difficult to herd cats and there are still lots of cats.

    Comment by pahoben — November 8, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  12. Wow, the prof suffers from serious paranoia. Get help quick before you randomly harm a stranger.

    Comment by Richard — November 8, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  13. … or, ZH and RT could just be riding on the wave of public outrage pointed at the financial system, monetizing the growth in traffic. There is obviously a huge demand for bankers-bashing content that is still missing from most media outlets who seem to be pretty friendly with the high-rolling financial messiahs of the day. So economic 101 for you SW – where there is demand, supply will follow ;)

    I also have a few issues with your highly hypothetical Russian-Държавна Сигурност-ZeroHedge connection. As a first hand witness of the Bulgarian transition from communism to market economy, I can tell you that ex-ДС agents were the first to embrace capitalism. They used their connections to get their hands on public assets for close to nothing, building monopolies in the process. Their game was and still is fleecing the gullible Bulgarians out of their savings and assets and in that they very much resemble the financial heroes of the West. However, embracing ideology or picking sides in geopolitical struggles is not part of their routine any more, and definitely not part of their aspirations for their heirs, who by now are very well off and in full support of property rights (for what once was a public property).

    My “street-wise” suggestion is that both ZH and RT are (successfully) trying to get a share of the US media market by being different to the mainstream media. If it so happens that their views differ from yours, then I guess you are not part of the audience they are chasing, but it seems that a lot of people are coming to the “hang the bankers” bandwagon and I could hardly blame them…

    Comment by G Pop — November 8, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  14. Well the asylum is getting aired out! The problem with many people is that they have forgotten Chesterton’s rule that a lunatic isn’t someone who has lost his reason, but someone who only has reason left. In other words, who has lost all sense of balance, prudent uncertainty, etc. All they have left with is logic, and some pretty screwy, unexamined premi. I will not comment on the particulars of any beliefs, so called objective facts, etc. It would be wasted pixels, but consider the follwoing.

    Plans, or if you prefer, conspiracies always exist, the question is why some succeed and others fail.

    Even if they succeed, the results are not usually what the planers envisaged.

    The idea of organized plots extending throughout the US government is laughable: it is for too disorganized and usually at each others throats( ex. DIA views the analysis groups at CIA as a collection of traitors). Instead parts can be influenced or co opted, but the results often blow up in the co-optors’ faces (see above)

    Think about the concept of imperfect information, particularly generated in a and affecting a stochastic process.

    Think about issues relating to sub optimization issues in complex, multi-part systems.

    Remember Tip O’Neal’s Dictate – money is the lifeblood of politics, no money, no politics. Use this as a guide as to why would be leaders are acting as they are.

    RT and perhaps Zero Hedge are follwoing a well used script from Goebbels, Dzerzhinsky and company. Failure to recognize this means that you are missing the key political sensory organ, a sense of smell.

    The hype and news cycle is driven primarily to provide entertainment or diversion. OWS and other groups lend supposed legitimacy to main stream media fantasies of revolution (safely away from the studio, it is true), but mostly they provide air time to fill the the endless appetite for PROGRAMING of the cable channels and assorted talking heads – It is best to view them as a low cost alternative to reruns of Jeopardy.

    Comment by Sotos — November 8, 2011 @ 9:11 am

  15. G Pop-I am sure your description of the events in Bulgaria are accurate but an essential pillar of Putinism is tweaking the nose of the US. This is pursued for any number of reasons not the least of which is that it is all Putin has known his entire life and so he is comfortable on that territory. Everything you said could be true and it could still be true that ZH is receiving support from the Russian security system.

    I haven’t seen him recently but throughout the Iraq war at the conclusion of the main Russian news program a Kremlin shill would provide an Op Ed piece that was pure BS propaganda.

    There was a coupple years ago a Russian talk show that often hosted academics that would decry the dollar as a reserve currency and suggest the Euro as a good replacement.

    I do not think it reasonable to conclude that the Russian security apparatus has completely abandoned international disinformation programs and that it is absolutely impossible that ZH is in someway connected to these efforts. I think the professor was pointing out that Russian ande Bulgarian intel security services traveled in the same circles and so there could well be ongoing communications between individuals in those circles.

    Comment by pahoben — November 8, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  16. “It is quite clear that he blames the western financial crisis for inflicting the existential economic plight that has plagued Russia since 2008″

    Our good Professor sees truly! Russia’s record-breaking budget deficit, threadbare foreign exchange reserves, massive current account deficit, towering unemployment rate, plummeting birth rate, and skyrocketing death rate all indicate that Putin’s economy is in dire straits indeed!

    And once the Russian economy collapses due to the effect of collapsing natural gas prices, We will step in to take Our rightful position of ownership of Russia’s energy sector. Then we will utilize Our new power to free Our junior colleague Mikhail and give his present place of residence to Our rebellious servant Vladimir. We will restore Russia’s tax legislation to what it was under Our dear departed assiduous servant Boris. Once more, the proper share of Russia’s national income will accrue to Capital (all of it), and Our first principle “All for Ourselves and nothing for other people.” will once again prevail in Russia, as it did during the halcyon days of Our dear departed assiduous servant Boris.

    Who knows, perhaps we can once again get the parasitic Russian population declining by a million a year! A good decimation would teach them not to aspire to more than their proper place in the natural order of things.

    Of course, any effort on GAZPROM’s part to resist market forces will prolong and deepen the present recession, just as FDR’s attacks against “malefactors of great wealth” contributed to the regime uncertainty that retarded recovery in the Great Depression.

    The duration of the Great Depression had nothing to do with the fact that the US GNP had declined from $103.6 billion to $56.4 billion between 1929 and 1933. Nothing at all.

    And the US economic growth rate from 1933-1937 was easily exceeded in the presidency of Our assiduous servant and fellow-Freidman follower Ronald Reagan. And in the presidency of Our assiduous servant G.W. Bush as well.

    Comment by a — November 8, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  17. @pahoben – You are correct, everything SP claims might indeed be true but it still is further out in conspiracy theory territory than ZH articles. RT is a different story but their name kind of spoils the propaganda element doesn’t it.

    The Reformed Broker recently had a post on ZH and described them as the counterweight to all the optimism coming from other business sources. I concur with that…

    Comment by G Pop — November 8, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  18. And look at how the price of North Sea Brent has collapsed, utterly collapsed, in the past week!

    http://www.offshore247.com/projects/oilprice.aspx

    The Russian economy is utterly doomed!

    Khodorkovsky will be out of jail, and Putin in jail, in a week, tops!

    Comment by a — November 8, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  19. Let’s see. Pretty much all the resident Kremlin agitpropers are scrambling to convince us SWP is wrong. Then there clearly must be some chance he is actually wrong.

    Comment by Ivan — November 8, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  20. Oh yes, Ivan, Our good Professor truly sees truly. We have listed his correct perceptions at some length.

    Comment by a — November 8, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  21. I think we all generally agree the status quo is broken and business as usual has run its course and who knows what lies ahead (as Sotos pointed out it is impossible to know do to the complexity).

    The obstetrician is my Rep in the House and I have voted for him in that capacity. However, I do not think any of the real problems will or can be positively addressed until things get much worse than they are now. I do have fits of optimism that are quickly destroyed by real events and so all I can do is prepare for even worse conditions. I do admit to sometimes being manipulated by the media-Iraqi WMD’s are a sad case in point. I therefore understand and appreciate appropriate counter weights to corporate media.

    Comment by pahoben — November 8, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  22. ” I do admit to sometimes being manipulated by the media-Iraqi WMD’s are a sad case in point.”

    What was sad about it? We profited handsomely from Our assiduous servant George’s little adventure there.

    “I therefore understand and appreciate appropriate counter weights to corporate media.”

    Perish the thought! We have… invested… vast sums to make the US media what it is today!

    Comment by a — November 8, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  23. @pahoben–no doubt the status quo is broken, and I’ve been pretty consistent on that both in the posts and the comments. I also agree that it things will have to get worse before real changes occur. Hell, look at Europe, which is staring at the abyss but fusses around the edges. Yeah. Berlusconi or G-Pap leaving will fix everything. Both will be just like Germany.

    I also agree that there is a need for counterweights to corporate media–this post was pretty critical of said media. But not all counterweights are created equal. Just being an aginner ain’t enough, even if what your agin is awful. ZH, RT, etc. are really nihilistic and undiscriminating. They are not constructive. They are exploiting (and stoking) legitimate dissatisfaction with the status quo, but what they have on offer–such as it is–is highly toxic. Things are bad. They could get worse.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 8, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  24. I never watch RT and just recently started reading ZH. It IS so much easier being critical or destructive rather than constructive. Constructive and construction is always the hard bit.

    Comment by pahoben — November 8, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  25. We certainly hope not! We simply adore the good Professor’s focus on Russia and the catastrophic, teetering-on-the-edgeregime of Our rebellious servant Vladimir.

    Besides, We like the way the spiraling depression is concentrating assets in Our hands.

    That is what depressions are for.

    Comment by a — November 8, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

  26. Well, I too don’t agree with a lot of things proposed on ZH and especially RT but at least they offer some criticism of the status quo and I don’t see much of that coming from the rest of the media. One of the things I like is the obvious endorsement of Ron Paul who seems to be the only anti establishment candidate from the bunch.

    And that by the way brings me to another thought – so the KGB is supporting a mainly libertarian, Austrian economics, R Paul supporting, gold peddling web site. WOW, that’s some paradigm shift.

    Anyway, my morning reading list usually starts with FT Alphaville and Deus Ex Macchiato and shifts to ZH when I get bored…

    Comment by G Pop — November 8, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  27. They are not constructive. They are exploiting (and stoking) legitimate dissatisfaction with the status quo, but what they have on offer–such as it is–is highly toxic.

    Well, SWP, welcome to the world of those Russians who read about their country in the Western media then!

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 8, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  28. I assure you service in the army would not be required. A couple of years as a common citizen in Siberia and S/O will be demanding to lead the Pledge of Alliegance at Berkely City Council meetings.

    Comment by pahoben — November 8, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  29. To all the malcontents complaining about my “fantastical” writings about Russia, could you please explain why, whenever they are translated, the reactions from ordinary Russians are overwhelmingly positive?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 8, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

  30. SWP, your blog is censoring me again. Please remove from spam filter.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 8, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

  31. I think you are dead on about RT and ZeroHedge being agitprop. RT’s bias and mission are quite obvious, but I has wondered about ZeroHedge. As much as I find the ZH website stimulating, I do think it is a source that cannot be trusted. Thanks for your write up. It’s about time that the curtains were opened on these operations.

    Comment by David — November 9, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  32. You’re special. The spam filter selected you, and you only, as our lucky winner. Have no idea why.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 9, 2011 @ 6:35 am

  33. Ordinary Russians? Oh you must mean the ordinary Russians that have Internet access and read political tracts. You do not have a clue.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  34. As an experiment why don’t you post a blanket offer to assist any interested party in obtaining US citizenship for them or their children and see if you get any takers.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  35. the ordinary Russians that have Internet access

    Which means 50% of them.

    read political tracts

    Which means the most politically interested and politically informed of them.

    Try again, pahoben.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  36. ITU puts it at 42.8% in their latest stats.

    Your logic escapes me

    1) You first described the positive comments as coming from ordinary Russians
    2) 42.8% of Russians have some internet access
    3) You then characterize your commenters as the most informed
    4) Ordinary Russians implies a near P50 individual
    5) How are Russians with Internet access and the most informed near P50 individuals Your characterization as the most informed in and off itself implies an extreme of some kind.

    I will look at your posts and the replies this evening.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  37. S/O. What you describe is confirmation bias–not just with you, but with the responses you describe (which is the gravamen of Tim’s comment). It is very seductive. We all succumb to it. But you need to be aware of it, and try to counter it, rather than revel in it. Easy advice, I know, because like I say we all fall prey to it.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 9, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  38. Yes, Mr. X, we know that due to the heavy police presence that Russia is a peaceful, crime free, idyllic place, with nothing–nothing–yob like going on.

    Hahahahaahahahahahaha. You’re killing me man!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 9, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  39. Mr. X. Any skinheads in Russia? Just wondering.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 9, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  40. Nothing yob-like about the “National Unity Day” marches. Nothing. Move along. Nothing to see here.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 9, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  41. S/O-nice site you put together there. I read your post-BRIC Stability:Why Occupy Wall Street Doesn’t Come To Moscow or Peking.

    I really liked some of the responses (96 in total). I will add some of them here-

    oleshka2588: Because Russia and Moscow are financing that project.

    Loker: To us that Wall Street affair is nothing, we will soon have a bigger show-an election it is called

    kvazar: In Russia and China people are pressured not like in the West (Novocherkassk 1962, Tyanemen 1989)and are not just sprayed with water (my note:water hoses for crowd control) like in the USA and therefore the people (my note:Russians and Chinese people)endure to the last.

    Sanya38: I would be specially and strongly suspicious of Mr Karlin and the newspaper Sublime Oblivion (if that is not one and the same). Read other articles by this author and understand under whose fife he sings. It comes to me that in Russia barks Navalny, Kasparov, Echo Matsi, etc and in USA Karlin and his ilk.

    Нахалёнок: Beat with batons and send to holding area. There-sit people and do not blather

    Truthteller: Because Moscow doesn’t have a Wall Street you moron (note: I think this was an American)

    custom: Up your @ss loafers walking with painted signs-we have to work. (note: having to work more in Russia was a common theme)

    I like the dynamics of your site and will read through more in the future.

    I saw on your English site that the one part of the constitution you support is the Second Amendment so this is one place we agree. I always thought if Russians had gun rights and concealed carry was common then driving conditions would improve. The worst drivers would be shot in the first couple years and others would begin driving more courteously. Have you ever thought about championing Russian gun rights on your site?

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  42. I should have said that not getting handouts and having to work more was a common theme.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  43. Also the first response should be-Because Russia and China are financing that project.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  44. Good, pahoben.

    You can cherry-pick six negative responses out of ninety six. I can do the same! But as I’m fairer, I’ll actually take a somewhat more representative sample: the first 6 responses.

    Прям бальзам на душу, как они такие слова через демократическую цензуру пропустили, не могу понять? / Like chocolate for the soul, I can barely understand how this came through [US] democratic censorship? – POSITIVE

    Бедный Маккейн,вероятно у него уже на ..опе волос не осталось… Революция начинается не в России как он недавно стращал нас,а наоборот у него в Америке…))) / Poor McCain, he is now completely bewildered, the revolution is beginning not in Russia as he claimed but instead in his own America. – POSITIVE

    Ну что же весьмa. трезвая статейка, суть правильно охватывают. Есть моменты, по которым можно поспорить, но в целом… / Well, a good article, captures the essence of things. One can debate a few points, but on the whole [good] – 75% POSITIVE

    Доводы автора не совсем очевидны
    Доводы о расколе молодежи по экономическим соображениям, теряются на показательной фотке, где седые “молодые” американцы протестуют против Wall Street. На самом деле революции заразные, вот на США арабские революции и перекинулись. А в России есть иммунитет, после 17 года. / Author’s arguments about intergenerational split not that evident, challenged by that photo, where bald “young” Americans protest against Wall Street. In fact revolutions are viral, now the Arab revolutions have come to the US. But Russia already has immunity, after 17 years. – POSITIVE (doesn’t agree with my details but does agree with the sentiment and general conclusion)

    БРИК стабильности: почему Occupy Wall Street не приходит в Москву или Пекин? / Потому что Россия и Китай финансируют этот проект:) / Because Russia and Moscow are financing that project. I note that your translation left out the :), which implies that the author actually has POSITIVE feelings about it.

    нам пофигу на Wall Street, у нас тут скоро шоу покруче будет – выборы называеться. / To us that Wall Street affair is nothing, we will soon have a bigger show-an election it is called/ The first NEGATIVE.

    So, let’s add up. That’s 4 POSITIVE’s, one largely POSITIVE (with a few quibbles), and one NEGATIVE.

    Not really the picture you tried to paint by cherry-picking all the negative responses, no?

    I would also note that Kvazar’s comment gets him roundly flamed with 35 responses.

    kvazar: In Russia and China people are pressured not like in the West (Novocherkassk 1962, Tyanemen 1989)and are not just sprayed with water (my note:water hoses for crowd control) like in the USA and therefore the people (my note:Russians and Chinese people)endure to the last.

    Responses:
    1. Ничего, что в США газом демонстрантов травили? / Its nothing that in the US police use gas against demonstrators?
    2. еще “прекрасное” будущее демонстрантам заготовили – полмиллиона пластиковых гробов! / Another great future that the protesters are being prepared for – half a million plastic tombs! (me: probably a reference to the FEMA conspiracy theories)
    3. Чёта как-то много у тебя соседей. Ты в бараке штоле живёшь? 4. Думаю, да. А виноват в том, понятно, лично Пу. И едросы. / You seem to have many members. Where do you live, a barracks? I think, yes. And Putin is personally responsible for it. As is United Russia. [clearly sarcasm]
    I could go on.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  45. I found that if you describe Nigeria as it is, i.e. a shithole, you’ll get half the country going bananas in the comments.

    I’ve read some of your pieces on Nigeria. I have little doubt that by and large it’s a pretty depressing and uncomfortable place to live in, but even so I found your writings to be uniformly negative (in an angry, mocking, non-constructive kind of way) and probably more than a bit exaggerated for effect. To be frank you come off as the limey version of the Ugly American.

    And Russians, on the whole, are masters at believing their own bullshit.

    If that’s the case, Americans must be buried in it. ;) #americanexceptionalism

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

  46. What you describe is confirmation bias–not just with you, but with the responses you describe (which is the gravamen of Tim’s comment). It is very seductive. We all succumb to it. But you need to be aware of it, and try to counter it, rather than revel in it. Easy advice, I know, because like I say we all fall prey to it.

    Thank you for admitting that confirmation bias is universal to everybody. That is very honest of you.

    But as you understand, it flows both ways, by definition. I don’t think you can deny that you favor information that, say, paints Russia or OWS or Obama in a bad light (corrupt, socialist, malevolent, deceiving, anti-American, etc), far more than you would favor, say, information that paints them as well-meaning, competent, etc.

    What grounds are there to believe that my confirmation bias is greater than yours?

    One way (maybe the only one) to objectively measure this is via the method of comparing falsifiable predictions, on which I’ve written quite a bit on my blog. So far you’ve had more success in Russia economic predictions. I had more on demographic predictions. You predicted the Tea Party. I did as well, but somewhat later and less-well defined than you did; however, I did predict something along the lines of OWS closely. Etc.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  47. Cherry pick? Actually I left out one that implied you are a traitor against your fellow citizens but I will reply more fully tomorrow.

    Comment by pahoben — November 9, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

  48. @pahoben,

    1) You first described the positive comments as coming from ordinary Russians. – They *are* a cross-section of ordinary Russians, the main difference being that Inosmi commentators take a special interest in politics, which implies that they care more about it and take greater efforts to inform themselves of it (even going to the extent of registering at a site devoted to translating articles from the “free” Western media).
    2) 42.8% of Russians have some internet access. – But notice that the ITU figure is from June 2010. It’s been more than a year since, and considering how fast Internet penetration is spreading in Russia, it is entirely realistic to estimate it at 50% today.
    3) You then characterize your commenters as the most informed – Politically informed. They’re almost certainly in the 90th percentile or higher on average.
    4) Ordinary Russians implies a near P50 individual
    5) How are Russians with Internet access and the most informed near P50 individuals Your characterization as the most informed in and off itself implies an extreme of some kind. – I over simplified it. Ordinary Russians who have Internet access and are politically motivated, but otherwise constitute a good cross-section of society with all major political viewpoints (patriot, pro-Kremlin, communist/socialist, and liberal) represented among Inosmi commentators.

    My point is that if the “West” was all that attractive, wouldn’t you logically expect it would be the politically motivated and Internet-savvy Russians to be the ones most audible about it? But if the comments at Inosmi are any barometer, (and taking aside the issue of confirmation bias for a moment), this entire narrative is hogwash.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

  49. Cherry pick? Actually I left out one that implied you are a traitor against your fellow citizens but I will reply more fully tomorrow.

    I don’t think you left it out. Aren’t you talking about the comment by Sanya38: “I would be specially and strongly suspicious of Mr Karlin and the newspaper Sublime Oblivion (if that is not one and the same. Read other articles by this author and understand under whose fife he sings. It comes to me that in Russia barks Navalny, Kasparov, Echo Matsi, etc and in USA Karlin and his ilk.”?

    He seems to dislike contrarians in general. You may not want to associate him, seeing as he hates your Russian liberal idols too! :)

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 9, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

  50. Mr X-you ignorantly slight the higher cultural and intellectual standards in England as evidenced by the sheep dog trials on TV every Friday evening.

    It’s funny-Russians I know can’t tell the difference between US and British accents. One of my Russian friends would complain about rude or ignorant behavior by that American guy and invariably I would respond he is British not American. It was like a rule of nature.

    I had a conversation once during the Yugoslavian operations when a Russian friend was telling me about the horrible propaganda about this on US television. I told him that the propaganda on the BBC was far far worse than on US news programs and he was very surprised. At the time the BBC was jingoistic in the extreme.

    On the libertarian plus side I believe they have always been more accommodating of eccentric/unusual behavior than in the US.

    Comment by pahoben — November 10, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  51. Sublime (if I may on a first name basis)-my entire point is that a good cross section of Russian society does not read your site. The majority of Russians do not live in Moscow and do not even have Internet access (maybe it is close now). The majority of Russians are fully engaged in far less theoretical pursuits.

    As for the traitor implication I was referring to-

    Shokolad:бла-бла-бла… пока от варваров у ворот уже нельзя будет легко отмахнуться…бла-бла-бла-There see the American establishment opinion of his fellow citizens. (note: the бла-бла-бла is used in Russia to denote endless BS)

    My point still stands-you have no clue about the ordinary Russian nor his thoughts on Putin. You have only visions and beliefs in this regard.

    I read only the first page of comments and I think there were only 26 comments on that page.

    Comment by pahoben — November 10, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

  52. Mr X-to clarify

    I agree that the UK has become a place like where evil libertarians go when they die.

    Comment by pahoben — November 10, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

  53. The majority of Russians do not live in Moscow and do not even have Internet access (maybe it is close now).

    The first point is irrelevant because Inosmi commentators are not geographically constrained within Moscow. And give or take, about half do have Internet access.

    So it’s a reasonable enough cross-section of society.

    It’s funny-Russians I know can’t tell the difference between US and British accents.

    How many Americans would be able to tell the difference between the Russian and Ukrainian languages? ;)

    Shokolad:бла-бла-бла… пока от варваров у ворот уже нельзя будет легко отмахнуться…бла-бла-бла-There see the American establishment opinion of his fellow citizens. (note: the бла-бла-бла is used in Russia to denote endless BS)

    I’m afraid you got this precisely back ass-wards. I used the term “barbarians at the gates”, and the above commentator, not understanding that it was meant in sarcasm, said, “There, see how the American establishment treats its fellow citizens on Wall Street.” (Вот как американский истеблишиент относится к своим согражданам на Wall Street) I.e., implying that because I adore the billionaires so much, I consider the 99% to be barbarians at the gates. Which describes me perfectly… LOL.

    Meaning that far from taking me to be a traitor, he actually took me for a member of the Establishment (The Man, so to speak), shilling for my masters at Wall Street.

    I read only the first page of comments and I think there were only 26 comments on that page.

    I don’t know how your Internet settings are set up, but when I view that page it shows there are 96 comments and they are all on the same page.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 10, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

  54. … but when I view that page it shows there are 96 comments and they are all on the same page.

    And yet if you actually count them there are only 25, go figure… You’re dumber than InoSMI commenters, and that’s really, really dumb. The comments on InoSMI are threaded, and the default view is collapsed.

    Comment by peter — November 11, 2011 @ 6:09 am

  55. So comments that are replies to other comments are not counted, O Really Wise One?

    Unfortunately, pretty much every comments counting system (WordPress, Disqus, etc) begs to differ with you.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 11, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  56. So comments that are replies to other comments are not counted, O Really Wise One?

    Ох. You cannot be this obtuse, can you? Okay, I’ll explain again. Slowly.

    “Comments that are replies to other comments” are counted, but you don’t see them when the page opens — they are hidden (collapsed) by default. For instance, in our case the counter says 96 comments, but you can only see the 25 top-level comments. To see follow-up comments, you have to click on the words “Раскрыть ветку” under the respective top-level comment. Are you still with me?

    Comment by peter — November 11, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  57. Well, if you absolutely insist on getting humiliated even further…

    Pahoben originally said “I think there were only 26 comments on that page.”

    That is patently wrong, because there are 96 comments on that page. That three quarters of them are collapsed, just like the links on the Blogroll at my blog, does NOT mean that they are not on that page.

    What would be accurate is to say something along the lines that there are 26 “primary” or “top level” comments. That was not however something that pahoben clarified.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 11, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  58. … three quarters of them are collapsed…

    Good good, we’re almost there. Now that we finally seem to be on the same page, let me ask you this. When you wrote that “when I view that page it shows there are 96 comments and they are all on the same page”, why didn’t you mention that “three quarters of them are collapsed”? Let’s make it multiple choice:

    a) I didn’t know that at the moment, thanks peter for elucidating me.

    b) I did know, but I didn’t connect the (two) dots. Stupid me.

    Comment by peter — November 11, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  59. c) It is blindingly obvious to me, and I assume anybody else who is minimally literate, that Inosmi comments are threaded, and collapsed by default.

    I was under the impression that either pahoben’s browser displayed it differently to mine for whatever reason (his mention of the “first page” of the comments was especially puzzling, as Inosmi comments are always contained within one and only one page), or that he was intentionally misleading and prevaricating.

    Now your turn. Do you ever get tired of trolling?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 11, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  60. So I gather your answer is b): you did know, but were “under the impression”. Unfortunately, this answer is inconsistent with your totally nonsensical comment #77 above. Once again, I can see two explanations:

    1. You’re lying, as usual. The honest answer is a).

    2. You’re a chaotic idiot, there’s no use looking for any coherent logic in your responses.

    Which is it, junior?

    Comment by peter — November 12, 2011 @ 5:22 am

  61. To update a popular expression: Don’t argue with a troll, for he would try to drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

    I have no interest in continuing to respond to your prevarications, which would in any case be obvious to any poor soul reading through this thread. Goodbye.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 12, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  62. “It is widely recognized as a means by which the Russian government peddles outlandish, anti-Western, and particularly anti-American conspiracy theories; a haven for loons and wackos; a fine inheritor of the “in America they lynch negroes” school of journalism.”

    Ahh, you mean like reading WSJ, NYT or watching CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BBC when it comes to anything dealing with Russia or Orthodox Christians…gotcha, but that’s ok, because, see, its all from the West and well, double standards aren’t something the West pays much attention to when it and its talking heads are the hypocrites.

    Just so we all know where we stand.

    By the way, smart guy, why does CNN go by CNN or MSNBC by MSNBC or the BBC not mention British? This is about as stupid an argument as one can make about RT going RT rather then Russia Today.

    Comment by Stanislav Mishin — November 12, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  63. “And Russians, on the whole, are masters at believing their own bullshit.”

    @Tim

    There are few people who are as delusional as Americans, as well as about as well informed as most third worlders.

    Almost every Russian has a cell phone (there are actually more sim card subscriptions then people, as many have more than 1), most have some internet by phone as well as at home or through dozens of internet cafes and tons of free wifi zones, in most cafes and restaurants. Russians are much more aware of what’s going on in the world then Americans of what’s going on in their own city. There is Russia24, a 24h news service, there are news services on almost all the channels. Each political party has its own paper and its own channel. When I go to a newstand, I don’t get the American (and I bloody well know what I speak of on both accounts) choice of one local paper, the NYT and WSJ, I get a choice of 20+ newspapers.

    So believe all the bullshit you like, its how most Yanks sleep at night, that or swallow tons of meds…the most doped up nation in the world.

    Comment by Stanislav Mishin — November 12, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  64. *****Vladimir Putin and the siloviki who run Russia are unrepentant Cold Warriors who harbor intense resentment at the fall of the Soviet Union: they ache for revenge, or at least a replay. They were weaned on anti-Americanism, and subsist on it as they move into their senior years. Putin and his most important minions were intelligence operatives who spent their formative years in dirty operations against the US. It is in their DNA.

    Putin’s intense hatred for the US seethes below the surface, and quite frequently bubbles over in tirades against the country. Indeed, just today he ranted about the “arrogant powers.”

    Of late, much of his vitriol has been directed precisely at the American financial system, which he refers to using a word often applied to enemies of the state during Soviet times–parasitical. It is quite clear that he blames the western financial crisis for inflicting the existential economic plight that has plagued Russia since 2008.*****

    God forbid we review all the evil that the US and NATO have done and the nations they’ve ruined (not to mention their own) and the millions murdered while committing war crime after war crime…nah, it must be just that those Russians are evil, that’s it….seems your mindset is that of either a 12 year old or a 62 year old, in both cases unable to grasp the reality of the world. Welp, last time I read your tripe and that is about all it is.

    Comment by Stanislav Mishin — November 12, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  65. BTW, I appeared at RT today to talk about the Occupy movement in the US.

    You may still be able to see it at http://rt.com/on-air/

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 12, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  66. Wow. A Kremlin stooge appeared at Kremlin agitprop outlet. What an extraordinary event.

    Comment by Ivan — November 13, 2011 @ 4:57 am

  67. So Ivan, how’s that Russian recession going that you were talking about a month ago?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 13, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  68. I can only comment on Zero Hedge, but as a fairly regular reader, Tyler Durden’s economics seem a confusing mix of conspiracy theory and bureaucratic ineptitude with a wistful longing for free markets. Ineptitude often wins out, but is often presented in a jumble that makes even conjoining posts mutually exclusive. To some extent, that is ok; the primary reason for the site’s popularity is pent-up frustration that the present system is structurally inviable in the long term, not ideological purity.

    His monetary theory seems similarly jumbled. But only a determined ideologue like Krugman would insist that crony capitalism driven by 30-40 times banking leverage and money printing that will inevitably require 20%+ of world GDP just to roll over government principal is not hurtling towards a cliff that will demand excruciating simplification.

    However as in all things, Occam’s Razor would suggest he is much more likely an imperfect integrator than a Soviet plant. Every sane person that has ever visited the real fallen Iron Curtain knows their economies are driven now by a Mafia style mentality which is adopted even by many local private ‘entrepreneurs’ in every small town and village. That our own federal government is to a great extent also a captured enterprise is also true. Midst the muddle, one of the enduring laments of Zero Hedge is that this is the case for too many of our world governments, including Russia. I must agree.

    Comment by Jim — November 18, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  69. SWP, let’s get one thing straight. The Bulgarians weren’t identical to the Soviets. They were meaner.

    Other than that, interesting food for thought.

    Comment by MamaImp — March 23, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

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