New York Fed to Take Propagandizing to New Level With More Intense Social Media Monitoring

We can all look forward to higher quality trolls in comments courtesy of the New York Fed (assuming we don’t have them already) thanks to a more thorough blogosphere/social media monitoring program the Fed is planing to launch (hat tip reader Tom via TPM):

New York Fed Social Media Request for Proposal

The idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow lacking in share of voice in academic and popular discourse is laughable. I’ve gotten estimates from credible sources that the Fed now funds a full 1/4 of all graduate school research in economics. Bernanke, FOMC Board members, and the various regional Fed presidents have ready access to the media and take frequent advantage of it. Fed staffers regularly publish papers, some of which are appallingly close to propaganda as it is (a recent one I did not have the energy to shred tried to argue that foreclosures didn’t result in lower living standards. Fortunately, a New York Times op ed, “Foreclosures are Killing Us” effectively debunked it).

The real issue is that the Fed plays an increasingly active political role and still tries to hide behind its claim of independence. Greenspan promoted Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security; Willem Buiter (a former central banker) has vehemently criticized the Fed for playing a likely-unconstitutional role by circumventing normal Congressional budgetary approvals via its use of bailout vehicles (the Maiden Lane series used for Bear Stearns and AIG). And blogs have eroded the control of the officialdom over discourse, and also provide independent analysis. Matt Stoller, in his days as a Congressional staffer, said blogs helped undermine the monopoly of lobbyists and government officials on information about the financial services industry.

One of the ways the powers that be push back against independent voices is via attacks in the comment section, either to undermine the credibility of the argument made of of the author. Readers have no doubt seen in happen here in post on unions and on libertarians (particularly when the Koch name is mentioned). There are too many comments early in the thread by first time commenters who are unnaturally persistent for this to be organic.

Now some of these may be ideologues rather than paid trolls. There is one regular commenter who is the employee of one of the financial services regulators who regularly takes issue with the political stance of this blog. He’ll also criticize posts that relate to his employer. Because he seems to be doing this out of his own personal interests, as opposed to at the behest of his employer, I’ve not asked him to say who he works for.

However, there have been other efforts out of the Fed that look to be deliberate. A colleague wrote a paper than had a less than Fed flattering set of comments in passing. The paper was featured on a very prominent academic blog. A persistent critic in comments turned out to be from the Fed (the author became suspicious and tracked the letter writer, who did not reveal his position). When the original author complained to the blog editor, the comments stopped. Mind you, there would be nothing wrong with someone from the Fed contacting either the person who ran the website or the author of the piece to try to dispute the derogatory observation, but to try to pretend that an independent party had come up with that view is just plain dishonest.

Ultimately, this effort is going to reduce, not enhance, the ability of groups like the Fed and the Koch Brothers to orchestrate disinformation campaigns. Regulars on NC are going to become increasingly suspicious of newbies with an axe to grind. In some ways, that’s bad because I use the comments section as a check in case I’ve overstated my case or missed something important. Unfortunately, the only smart response to someone who seeks to monopolize the conversation is to put your fingers in your ears.

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  1. Paul Tioxon

    Monitoring has already begun: From

    MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2011
    Corporate social-media engines track Occupy activists
    Corporations who grab marketing data from Twitter, Facebook and other social media posts are curious about who’s behind the Occupy Wall Street protests and the mobilizers of spin-off demonstrations in Boston, San Francisco, and (maybe) Philadelphia.

    Here’s how it looks to one veteran data miner: “We’ve been watching it for three weeks. Over the weekend, with the arrests in New York, it’s really taking off,” he told me. “The volumes have increased 20X, 30X. There are millions of communications.”

    What’s the message? “Politics this year, it’s going to be the workers against the rich.”

    Who’s behind it? Legacy socialists? College-town anarchists? Professors? The Democrats? “I don’t know if the Democrats are involved. I have no evidence of that. It really looks like labor,” he told me. “We’re picking up that there’s staff guys from the Transport Workers’ Union in New York, and people close to (Rich) Trumka,” the United Mine Workers president who heads the Change to Win union federation.

    1. R Foreman

      At some point we have to call Bernanke, Obama, and the rest what they really are… domestic terrorists, criminals, and traitors to the United States of America. I know, the truth sucks sometimes, and we’ll probably need the full 99% to oust these fucks from power.

      I hope they’re monitoring me. It’s the government staffers and facilitators who need to have their eyes opened concerning what their bosses really are.

      1. earnyermoney

        Registered republican here.

        At some point we have to call current Republican members of Congress domestic terrorists, criminals, and traitors to the United States of America.

        Ron Paul seems to be the lone exception.

        1. Peter T

          Yes, Ron Paul is an exception, and I like to hear his voice criticizing the powers to be. His political positions, however, make him a bad choice for most people, like his advocating the gold standard and his nearly total refutation of federal regulations.

    2. Rex

      “Who’s behind it? … It really looks like labor,”

      Sure, the corporations and others have their machines and run them well, so these demonstrations have to be cranked up by some kind of leftist pinko organization.

      Could it be that the rotting stench from the organized theft on top is becoming so obvious that it is hard for anyone to ignore. Since after several years, no one has done anything to rein in any of the perpetrators, couldn’t it be that the pent up anger and frustration of average Americans is finally trying to find a way to be heard and to reach out and link with others who feel the same way and try to throw some kind of a wrench into the machinery of the powers that be.

      Keep looking. You might eventually figure out this is not a game.

      1. citizendave

        Good insight.

        Because they are accustomed to thinking in terms of organizational hierarchy, they can only analyze in concepts they already understand. They find it difficult or impossible to imagine that inchoate feelings among millions of unconnected individuals could coalesce in one place and time without an organization behind it.

        Decades ago, living in Maine, someone (possibly me) said “how long would it take to drive to New York City?” That simple question led directly to a group of people dropping what they were doing and they drove to New York City (I was not among them). Adbusters and Anonymous talked about it, but they didn’t recruit busloads of people to show up. People showed up because it was already in their hearts and minds to want to do something, and all that was needed was somebody to suggest a place and time.

        Various observers of events in Madison last winter said that it was the unions that organized the demonstrations and the occupation of the Capitol. As a resident of Wisconsin, with one kid who spent several nights occupying the Capitol building, and with neighbors who made several trips to Madison to join those gathered there, it was most certainly not staged or the result of any organizations busing warm bodies to build a throng. It was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion, resentment, and frustration, and there were many more who sympathized who could not attend in person.

        I would also point out that the US is making the same mistake in the global war on terror, by trying to fight a conventional war against an idea. The pentagon thinks in terms of organization, and there doubtless is some of that, but they can’t come to grips with ideas that inspire individuals around the world to act.

        1. Procopius

          The MOTU think the proles are too stupid to get together without outside supervision. After all, that’s the way they created the Tea Party, so any group that looks “grass-roots” must have big money behind it. The same way back in the 60s when all the unrest was due to “outside agitators.”

    3. Nathanael

      Stupid stupid corporatists, wondering who’s “behind” OccupyWallStreet. Nobody is “behind” OccupyWallStreet. Or, if you prefer, everyone is behind it.

      They just can’t imagine a genuine grassroots mass movement, can they? 99% are furious at the criminal banks and want justice, that’s all there is to it. It’s gotten to the “spontaneously self-organizing” stage.

  2. CB

    And don’t engage. Non-response, as it’s called. Some months ago, a irate commenter jumped onto FDL to upbraid a diarist for misrepresentation. FDLers had a merry time with the diarist’s real name and went rollicking away with puns and non sequiturs and one liners, completely forgetting about the complainer, who slunk away for being ignored. I read the whole thread and early on saw that the man who raised the objection had disappeared. No point sticking around if you can’t get anyone’s attention.

  3. Namazu

    Some of us lower quality trolls just suffer from insomnia and the irresistable urge to tweak liberals by pointing out the obvious psychological need the Koch brothers fill. I save my really vicious stuff for the Fed and their apologists.

    1. Iolaus

      I could use another income stream right about now…anybody know what the going rate is for being a Fed troll? I can be quite Brechtian these days. You know, “First feed the face, and then come right and wrong
      For even pious men may act like sinners
      Unless they’ve had their customary dinners.”

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Hey, you’ve got something here. Are the trolls monitored? Who or what keeps them to the straight and narrow? Anyone? Gimme a job as a troll, let me praise and flatter the host and get paid for it.

        1. ambrit

          In Ye Olde Dayes such persons were clept courtiers. See thee Peter Cushings wonderful fop in the Olivier version of “Hamlet.”

      1. Namazu

        I slept worse when I was a registered Democrat. Having gone Independent, I don’t know which side of the bed to fall off of.

        1. ambrit

          As long as it isn’t the dreaded ‘Bed of Procrustes!’ (Last seen being employed at a DNC weekender.)

  4. LeeAnne

    Seriously Yves, this looks the best example of what not to take too seriously:

    Here’s how it looks to one veteran data miner: “We’ve been watching it for three weeks. Over the weekend, with the arrests in New York, it’s really taking off,” he told me. “The volumes have increased 20X, 30X. There are millions of communications.”

    Shouldn’t this ‘data miner’ be somethng other than anonymous if we’re to take the article seriously as per the conclusion:

    “”And then you have these activists who have learned to do social media. And some people mixed in who remember the 60s. And you have a tremedously heated rhetoric. And you have people who may do irrational things. There is the potential for bricks in windows. Man, you are playing with gasoline.”</b

    1. LeeAnne

      Sounds like the same orchestrated terrorist propaganda reported on the blog about demonstrators in other parts of the world: ‘These people are dangerous.’

      1. ambrit

        Dear LeeAnne;
        As someone who got teargassed at the ’72 Republican Convention, agents provocateuers and demonization are par for the course. Lest we forget, even with all of the ‘dirty tricks’ played back then, America did have a brief bright shining hour with the end of the Vietnam War. The banksters are analogous with the Vietnam War. An expensive, badly run operation trying to prop up a ‘friendly’ highly corrupt regieme. Numbers here do indeed matter. Get to a threshold level and anything can happen. Good movement ‘leaders’ don’t drive events, they take advantage of them. Events here look to be flowing from the fear and anxiety caused by a slow moving but ponderous financial collapse. We may not be at the threshold level yet, but it’s up ahead somewhere, waiting for us.

      2. Nathanael

        These demonstrators are completely nonviolent and peaceful.

        However, unjustifiable violent assaults against enough of them, and their relatives or friends — who didn’t show up to the protests — may not be peaceful any more. Thuggery is stupid, and the vicious thug behavior in NYC is only going to radicalize people — the people who *aren’t* protesting.

  5. Typing Monkey

    We can all look forward to higher quality trolls in comments courtesy of the New York Fed (assuming we don’t have them already) thanks to a more thorough blogosphere/social media monitoring program the Fed is planing to launch

    Wasted money and effort on the Fed’s part (although after blowing trillions, I guess this is peanuts). They’ve created way too many problems and have been far too arrogant in their handling of valid criticism (eg: refusing to say who they gave all that free money to while insisting that they had the right to do so unquestioned) to make any dent in their unpopularity. Add to it that they are getting treated like a pinata by both the left and the right and the fact that markets look like they’re going to crash despite all this crap that they’ve pulled, and this effort of theirs is really the equivalent of spitting into the wind.

    Regulars on NC are going to become increasingly suspicious of newbies with an axe to grind.

    This would be too bad. Your blog is likely to get *a lot*
    more popular, and much of these boards already come off as an echo chamber. Ignoring everyone who questions things like universal debt forgiveness or huge money printing or lending at interest or what have you will not improve the quality of comments, IMHO. Of course, what do I know?

    BTW, have you ever thought of writing up the state of finances of, say, Florida or Illinois? Kinda scary…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I know, I don’t want an echo chamber. Boring.

      But maybe the tell is the persistence, and how much the argument sounds like talking points. Maybe our collective paid disruptor detectors will get better over time.

      1. lambert strether

        Trolls have gotten a lot better over the years, in a sort of evolutionary arms race.
        IMNSHO, the tell is always to be found in the rhetorical stance; the key one is “any stick to beat a dog”-style argumentation. When you’ve got a commenter who loses an argument to their antagonist or interlocutor, drops it without any retraction or concession, and then picks up a new argument and keeps on going against the same antagonist, and repeats that cycle, you’ve got no true engagement, but a tendentious poster, ie a troll. I give them a chance to change their ways and then ban them.

      2. JasonRines

        Yves, Typing Monkey – The techs that could evolve social media to be far more interactive and entertaining have been crowded out, destroying the chance for not only the people but the leadership to dialogue with one another and diffuse a lot of tensions. Continuing Greenspan’s ‘just give me your life and assets but you dont get to debate’ is hubris of King George. Here is where Chairman Bernanke should have given Greenspan the finger. A bit of whistling past the graveyard I guess.

        I agree with you Typing Monkey in general about much of your commentary but it is only too late for dialogue once the bullets start flying. The RFP is for an MIS. I build them and the language of the request is for a similar side project I built for the people. Its communications platfom but foundational purpose is to detect, analyze underutilized pools of value that can be deployed immediatly. Outside the obvious need for dialogue (while possible) this data would be provided to Congress to develop industrial policy. This isn’t just the Fed attempting to build this MIS. If you are a coder or data person and struggling for work then Social Media/Industrial Production is the hot place to be.

        Now I myself have no problem excortiating the CB model for business and humanitarian reasons. However, alternative media’s analysis of the RFP was totally wrong this time.

        Project Echelon and Carnivore, ownership of major social media platforms, monitoring 90% of all transactions on earth, the FOMC has plenty of public, private and clandestine data without this MIS and no need to ask either. I say build it and if Chairman Bernanke is trying to do something useful on fiscal policy research, do it. We forget, Congress abdicated its fiscal responsibility to the Fed at least four decades ago. So even if America 2.0 sprang up tomorrow in glorious splendor, there would be a gap of year or two until a sound industrial policy was enacted. May as well get the data now. What took years to gather in research during the Great Depression on labor can be done in three months.

        Paid trolls do exist. Start-up alternate media competitors are ruthless trolling as well. The ad revenue market for digital publishing has been horrific unless your Google this last decade and even Google is now cannibilizing their affiliate downstream.

        1. Lew Glendenning

          “Sound Industrial Policy”.

          Who has one of those?

          What nation has been successful over a 50-year period managing its economy?

          What nation has been successful with Keynesian policy?

          The free market wins because it is a parallel search through the evolutionary state space. If you don’t grok that, you don’t have enough understanding to allow yourself an opinion.

    2. Lidia17

      “Ignoring everyone who questions things like universal debt forgiveness or huge money printing or lending at interest or what have you will not improve the quality of comments, IMHO.”

      You think that trolls paid by the Fed are going to stake out those positions, here or anywhere else? That’s quite interesting.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Trolls are always visibly stupid and always will be, but their job gets easier as general intelligence keeps getting lower and lower.

        There are, for example, organized groups of people promoting sterility who actually claim, with a straight face, that they have no free will. Every time I hear one of these manipulators, I want to vomit.

      2. ambrit

        Dear Dave;
        I must beg to differ a bit here. General intelligence isn’t dropping, (I hope someone doesn’t have a link to a real double blind experiment on this,) but applied intelligence seems to be, from this geezers viewpoint at least. What I’d like to see is a real debate on the value of different educational schemes. ‘No Child Left Behind’ is a deservedly derided effort, but absent that, what? The Federalization of Education has relentlessly narrowed the options, and, more importantly, limited the debate about Public Education.
        We homeschooled our children, and they turned out well. In fact, they turned out pretty much ‘Normal’ for their generation. Most importantly, they made their own decisions in myriad fields of endeavour. They applied their native intelligence. That’s what I’d like to see more of. When the Trolls take over the coments on the NC site, then I’ll start worrying.

  6. Pitchfork

    On the one hand, it’s scary to think that the Fed is monitoring what we say about them. On the other hand, this RFP is concrete evidence that we’re having real success on the hearts-and-minds front.

    However, on the third hand, only the Fed would be stupid enough to blow millions of dollars to come to the astounding conclusion that they are almost universally reviled.

  7. Arkadaba

    Has been going ongoing for a while. Remember putting in an RFP for Total Awareness in 2002. Thanks Yves for your articles! For some weird reason we think alike lol.:

  8. YankeeFrank

    The one problem I see with not responding to trolls is that their criticism, if it sounds at all reasonable, is left to stand without rebuttal. That’s the crux of the problem, and the reason people who know the deal respond to trolls anyway.

    I’d also like to point out that, unless a troll makes comments that are clearly idiotic, they do provide a service of sorts, in that they generally present what would be likely criticisms, and allow a chance for the author and commenters to debunk.

    I tend to agree with most of the positions taken on this blog as they tend towards more moral solutions to our economic woes than what we find in the mainstream. Most trolls take the stance that the officialdom know what they are doing so shutup, or that there is no point in trying to fix things as this is the best it can be and we may as well just submit to austerity (for the 99%) while the wealthy continue to loot. Aside from people arguing the finer points of some economic principle or other, that is what we tend to get. And that is why its important to respond, in order to make it clear that there are not just mildly better or worse solutions, but ones that can actually make a huge difference in the lives of the citizens of our country and of the world.

    1. CB

      Agree to a point. But trolls are often about disruption and engaging in a running argument not only cuts off clean discussion, it drives away people who get disgusted with the wrangling. Happens intermittently at DKOs. Some of these sword fights are interminable and that’s the troll’s triumph: monopolizing the conversation.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Which is to say they’re bullies. The no-free-will guys I obliquely mentioned above are classic bullies. I’d state their name, but if I did, you’d all seize up and march in lockstep to their chants, because so far as no free will goes, the bullies won, about 15 years ago.

  9. Hugh

    Echoing a comment above, one of the areas where libertarians and progressives agree is that the Fed is unconstitutional and should not exist. They are an integral part of the kleptocracy. Per the Fed audit, in reaction to the meltdown which they did not see coming, their special programs had some $28 trillion in activity shoring up and bailing out banksters and kleptocrats. Not only do they underwrite much of the looting that occurs but they are also a powerful instrument of class warfare. All the research they fund is basically to distract us from that looting. I mean how seriously can you take an organization that does all this research and has gotten virtually everything wrong in their pronouncements over the last 10 years: in the lead up to the housing bust, the slide to meltdown, the recession, the response to the meltdown. With all their resources they say they never saw any of this coming, which is strange because so many of us here, with few or no resources, did well in advance of these crises. I suppose the principal question is are they stupid or criminal. I think they are clearly the second.

    As I said earlier, they have been essential to the construction of kleptocracy. It was the Fed that has for 35 years waged war on the wage gains of workers treating them as inherently inflationary and effectively suppressed worker wages for those 35 years. The result has been a massive transfer of wealth to investors, i.e. the rich who reaped the benefit of the gain in profits over this period. That the wealthy used this money to blow a series of increasingly destructive bubbles was never seen as the problem that wages were.

    And then there was the disaster of the Fed’s failure to regulate, the belief of Greenspan and Bernanke that free markets would self-regulate, would punish bad actors. Not only did they allow free rein to moral hazard before the meltdown, after it Bernanke continued to incentivize it with the Bernanke put.

    It is just impossible to convey what murderous fuckups and crooks make up the Fed. The lot of them should spend the rest of their unnatural lives in prison for what they have done to us.

    1. Procopius

      I find myself wondering why I never see people commenting on the fact that Greenspan was one of the “Class of ’43,” the small core group that developed Ayn Rand’s cult. I stumbled across the information while following some links trying to find Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, so it isn’t a great secret. It seems that back in the 50s and 60s there was an actual profitable cult based on Ayn Rand, regarding her as the infallible savior of mankind. It seems to have had most of the characteristics associated with cults, especially authoritarian leadership and purges of heretics, mostly those who didn’t switch fast enough as the party line changed from day to day. This was evidently a large part of Rand’s income for a while. Anyway, Greenspan was not just a True Believer, he was one of the original disciples.

    2. Lew Glendenning

      “Failure to regulate”.

      Money buys power. Always has, always will.

      Thus, the most heavily regulated industries are the most profitable and treat their customers the worst, e.g. banking, drugs, telcos, military-industrial.

      It is much easier to be really profitable via reducing competition via a regulator than it is to compete in a free market.

      Glass-Steagall was repealed when the evolving econo-politico-social system opened up new opportunities for banks. Regulatees always get the regulations they need, because money buys power.

      Every power granted to the government will be abused against us, because “Money buys power”. That is the reason minimum government works.

      Instead, we have professionalized every sphere of life and moved the power to manage our affairs onto the elites, resulting in a system which is FUBARed, top to bottom.

      We need to unFUBAR the system by repealing all of the laws, implement a very few, very broad laws mandating honesty and ‘seller beware’, then wait for 20 or so years to see what problems actually need addressing.

      I do not view, btw, the occasional assassination of an corrupt politician or dishonest CEO as a problem. We have removed all other pushbacks and remedial measures available to the 99% by the ever-increasing complexification of the law and allowing lawyers to become legislators. A great shortcut for the people with money looking to buy power.

  10. SidFinster

    You want the Fed to do something about unemployment, work a little MMT magic? Well here it is!

    Further, the troll action combined with the regular readers’ responses will drive traffic, making NC more valuable as an advertising platform. *cha-ching!*

    Not to mention, there is nothing like a good opposition to sharpen one’s own thinking. Anyone who has suffered through academia will recognize that without diversity of opinion, arguments get lazy.

    So. Yves, what’s not to like?

    1. JTFaraday

      There’s a HUGE difference between reasonably thoughtful differences of opinion and talking points bots that trash the place. Anyone who has suffered through academia would know that.

      In this case, I think we’re talking about the bots, who ruin it for more thoughtful dissenters.

      That said, I think we are moving towards a point where we have to start digging in our heels that certain patterns of elite behavior, associated with certain institutions, have become sufficiently pernicious as to warrant outright opposition.

      Not only has the Fed has put itself on that growing list by virtue of its official functions, but it is also looking to surveil, profile, intimidate, and censor.

      What’s to defend?

  11. Jim3981

    You want to see “hired” posters in action? Just go to a health blog, or forum. Those places are crawling with people posting propaganda for Big Pharma, the shadow government or whoever they REALLY represent.

  12. frobn

    If much of the troll activity are Fed and far right talking points perhaps a daily brief article on the talking points would alert us not to get caught with those points and to use what CB calls a “Non-response.”

    1. lambert strether

      Ha! Counter-trolling! Then we could all just link to the talking point, instead of “refuting” it. Like Snopes, except in real-time and dynamic. I’m seeking funding…

      1. JTFaraday

        Actually, I was just looking at the “Blogroll” heading at the top of the site, and thinking “there should be a TrollBlog” where bloggers could post their trolling incidents and we could survey the trolls who are surveying us. “Talking Points Refutation” could be another feature of TrollBlog.

        Forget the Fed, there should be such a thing anyway.

        “How to Refute ‘Obama is a Socialist'” should be a particularly interesting entry. (Not that anyone ever bothers talking to Those People).

        1. JasonRines

          JT Faraday – Minimizing trolls with huge ego issues is techically easy to solve. The real issue is funding. Yves would know all about these struggles. I am sure Yves will be most handsomely rewarded for her public service. But try getting your users to fully fund the bills on a blog or meager ad stipends. In any event, the market is slowly overcoming wrinkles in social media to replace older MSM structures.

  13. Moopheus

    The proposal doesn’t seem to ask for trolling, just monitoring. Which is bad enough, but hardly surprising.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, but you don’t spend a lot of money gathering information just because it amuses you. The information is to serve as a foundation for action, at a minimum to counter Internet memes in public presentations.

      And given the history here, I can’t believe you won’t get more informal or formal trolling. As discussed in the post, we already have trolling by people who have taken in upon themselves to defend their employers without disclosing their connection.

      1. bluntobj

        Indeed, it’s a small step from information gathering to active management, and from there to character assassination and suppression.

        For the level of looting to increase, both propaganda and minimization of competing “mindshare?” “memes?” “opposing ideas?” etc. must occur, lest the majority of sheeple rediscover their inner wolf that has a taste for the elite.

        1. Nathanael

          They’re already doing all of that, of course.

          It’s too late now, though. They’ve gone too far. There’s only so much propaganda one can spread before the “who do you believe, me or your own lying eyes?” factor kicks in, and the Second Great Depression is quite effectively killing a very large number of decades-old propaganda operations.

  14. Woodrow Wilson

    “blogosphere/social media monitoring program the Fed is planing to launch” –

    This is last weeks news, Karl Denninger and Zero Hedge covered this already, of course with the obligatory “Fed Sucks” posts.

    Maybe if the Majority of Americans didn’t get their propaganda fill from MSM, and could read the law and do elementary school math, we might make some true progress. Until then, The Fed, and those that enable them through CONgress, Primary Dealers and The Clearing House and their respective lobby, the greatest fraud of our time will continue.

    Personally, I’d wish I could be long on rope & lampposts for all of them.

  15. Moneta

    I think most leaders and bankers are out of touch with reality. Just like Mare-Antoinette. Unless they wake up, they will only pour more oil on a fire. An accelerant if you ask me.

    Let them do the work for us.

  16. Norman

    For what its worth, I read Tuesday afternoon that ex-members of the U.S.M.C. are heading to New York to stand between the demonstrators & the N.Y.C. Police, due to the tactics they have been employing on the demonstrators. If this goes big time, that the vets are joining the crowd, we will see changes that nobody anticipated would ever take place again here in the U.S.A.

    1. Susan the other

      That would be so cool. The Marines have to keep it peaceful. Undoubtedly the Marines are far more level-headed than the police who have an unfortunate smattering of goofy old hot heads in their ranks. Just from the coverage so far, the anger explodes in the police ranks first; some stiff, awkward aging officer rushes forward shoving the protestors back or spraying pepper spray in the faces of young women…

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Erich Maria Remarque’s sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front was The Road Back, about what happened after WWI ended. There were several scenes of civilian protesters being put down by the police. Which changed when the vets arrived. They would tolerate no nonsense and had no fear of puny police tactics.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Dave;
          Unfortunately, a lot of the German vets became Brownshirts. Then there were the Spartacists in the Bavarian Experiment. Take your pick.

  17. Phil

    If the values of dialectic are respected in a forum, there is nothing to fear from trolls. (Aside from noise they might add, which is a manageable problem.) Sophists should be called out and ignored, whomever is paying them. People seriously engaging with a topic should be taken seriously, whomever is paying them.

    Calling out sophistry is key, IMO, and too little done in modern argumentation.

    1. Moneta

      If someone says let them eat cake when there is still cake, nothing happens. If there is no cake, that’s another matter.

      Cake is disappearing and the Marie-Antoinettes will get what they deserve.

    2. F. Beard

      People seriously engaging with a topic should be taken seriously, whomever is paying them. Phil

      That sounds right.

      But for the record, I am an unpaid amateur in the service of no one except hopefully the Truth.

    3. Lidia17

      …to a point. The problem is that “they” can spend billions swamping comment threads worldwide, while real people affected by neoliberal financial terrorism get their electricity and internet cut off.

      There are always people who can be swayed merely by sheer numbers. My newly born-again sister argues “if so many people believe it—”it” being Christianity—it must be true!” and she went to two very exclusive colleges (go figure). There’s something beyond measurable “intelligence” at work here: the propaganda power noted by Bernays.

      1. F. Beard

        There’s something beyond measurable “intelligence” at work here: Lidia17

        Where? I am mostly disgusted by TV evangelists. It is a credit to the Bible that as people believe as do.

  18. TC

    Bring it on, Billy boy! The incompetent fascists at the Fed will be eaten alive. When risk of sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff is high, you would think these folks might rather fathom how loose lips sink ships, particularly when the persons and policies of Greenspan and Bernanke are perfectly indefensible, and this no matter how much idiots are wont to cheer the criminal likes whose actions have egregiously impacted the lives of tens of millions and raised the risk of war (an outcome whose likelihood only grows as we move further into the “damned if you do [bailout], damned if you don’t” phase of the destruction of Adam Smith’s Leveraged Ponzi Scheme).

  19. Fraud Guy- Also

    The WSJ comments sectio is clearly a favorite of astroturf media flacks trying to control the spin on stories about their clients. You can figure out what’s really going on because the comments are automatically posted under the real name of the subscriber. When you see a reflexively shilling posture, try putting the poster’s name into Google. You may find that they work for a PR firm, or occassionally, that nobody by that name seems to exist in the U.S.

    1. rotter

      Ive seen that at quite a few blogs, and very much so recently. I think anyone concerned with the character and intergrity of thier blog will try to identify who these plants are and moderate them out.

  20. John Zelnicker

    Yves — I don’t know where else to put this, but the link in your e-mail on the St. Louis SWAT team protecting the BofA is broken. I get a 404 Not Found message. I’d really like to see it. Interestingly, another newsletter I get also has a broken link to the same video?????

  21. Guy Baker

    Question: interesting comment about the USMC heading to NYC and also have you seen the mass mailings is sending out? Also Yves if you would please write about the significance of the protests via a via the presidential elections I think readers would find interesting. And if you use comments like this as a sounding post here’s something to consider: what will the political landscape look like if Obama supporters in southern swing states start to protest in earnest. With that dynamic are you sure Obama will end up being a one-term president? That’s the key question in all this, not that the Fed (which we already know is an agent of industry not democracy) is monitoring blogs for foes. Of course that’s what the Fed is doing, more important is – what in particular are they afraid of?

      1. Nathanael

        That’s what they *should* be afraid of… but you know, if they were properly afraid of that they would have *enforced the laws* and sent the criminal bankers to prison.

        So they’re clearly not sufficiently afraid of anarchy and guillotines yet. The people at the Fed are still more afraid of their bankster buddies who call themselves the ‘masters of the world’.

  22. doom

    Whatever happened to disemvoweling? Do that with suspect comments and offer to undo it if the commenter verifies his affiliation. Publish the IPs if they won’t and let anonymous take it from there. It’s not like you have to play fair, this is war and you’re just the maquis.

    1. Darren Kenworthy

      I know that violent vengeance fantasies against the elites can be fun and entertaining, and that they have a long and proud history in the literature of dissent (the book of Isaiah for example) nevertheless I encourage folks to refrain. We need a nonviolent, democratic revolution. violence (coercion) is inimical to democratic process. Violent talk gives the “mitt makes right” folks a pretext to resort to real violence.

      1. JasonRines

        Darren, you are a wise man. The Founders knew we would all arrive full circle into tyranny. Their advice? First attempt to alter then abolish. Now we see if peaceful revolution (I like evolution better) is possible. JFK already knew and told us what happens when peaceful revolution is made impossible.

    2. doom

      It’s a little late to wave the bible around. You should have thought of that before you shredded the sacred right of property, reduced thousand pensioners to penury, and deprived masses of their right to housing.

  23. Peter Pan

    Wouldn’t it be oddly amusing if Aurora Advisors, Inc. were to make a proposal in response to this RFP.

    Imagine the upside, suddenly recognizing who this proposal is from, FRBNY personnel simultaneously vomit and gasp for air, causing them to choke on their own vomit.

    On the other hand, imagine the not-so-good downside, the Department of Homeland Security issuing a determination that Aurora Advisors, Inc. is a terrorist organization.

    (I hope my odd sense of humor doesn’t get me banned.)

  24. Jackrabbit

    I’d guess that a good part of JP Morgan’s recent $4.6m donation to the NYPD was for monitoring and manipulating social media in response to the success that OWS has had with social media.

    Seems to me that a good investigative journalist (Matt Taibbi?) should look into how that donation, and others like it (seems logical that JPM is not the only one) is being used.

  25. Susan the other

    This NYFed’s request for proposals to monitor the protest doesn’t make sense. Why would they even make this request public? Why do they want us to think they need to make their intentions public? They don’t. It’s PR. And since they and the government are already monitoring every word spoken or in text, it could be even more sinister. The NYFed might want to snare their enemies directly. I mean, how is the NYFed going to vet these proposals? Can Anonymous submit? I hope this farce turns out to be funny.

    1. citizendave

      The idea of universal communications intercept is interesting. The biggest problem faced by the intelligence gatherers, IMO, is sheer volume. Assuming they can develop the capability to gather every form of communication, consider the problems of analyzing and comprehending all the data they gather. They try to use machines, but that can only take them so far. Humans must examine the data stream and try to make sense of it. The practical approach must be to narrow the focus to known “people of interest”, buzzwords, and events. Maybe they have developed talking points analyzers, thematic phrase recognition, ways to recognize heretofore unknown words by analyzing context. Among their many talents they are code breakers.

      Maybe it’s helpful to the high-level spooks if organizations such as the NY Fed apply their, um, special knowledge to analysis of the chatter stream, thereby to help the spooks with arcane lingo and esoteric financial concepts. The spooks I’m thinking about would probably not engage in direct action, such as employing trolls — that subset of spooks (which must not be named, because there is no such agency) devotes all their energy and resources to trying to be omniscient. In the old days (prior to a decade ago) they would feed their analyses up to CIA, maybe still.

  26. Paul Walker

    One would hope that the capacity of those associated with the federal reserve could actually elevate their discourse beyond the petulant trollishness observed thus far. However, given the track record of the organization, those dependent upon it for their career progression and their supporters I remain less than hopeful that these folks can indeed engage in open debate within public spheres of discourse with honest intellectual vigor let alone alacrity.

  27. Barni

    Why expect morality from the amoral? Morality is the sum total of human and social values – none of which can be measured or described by dollars. Therefore all for whom dollars are the final or only value considered before decision/action are incapable of morality and are therefore amoral.
    Why would the amoral corporate wealthy elite clans et al want to monitor and manipulate any and all media which is or can be involved in supporting human and social values?
    Human and social values are anti-thetical to maximizing greed and are never considered nor supported by the right agenda ideologues; while, in a democracy, – regrettably the USA is not a democracy it is a republic (with a lot of elections) which is a form of government which was designed by Plato to be the antithesis of democracy – governments are elected to represent the human and social values of the majority of voters.
    This is why Republicans, conservatives and right agenda ideologues and their minions `hate`government and do everything they can to diminish and destroy the efficacy of government in forcing them to be moral.
    Right agenda ideologues are interested in controlling, diminishing, and if possible eliminating social discourse which may bring prominence to human or social values which are anathema to the conservative republican gang and which could only be guaranteed by a democratic federal government with the resources necessary to regulate the boom & bust economics of conservative and republican ideologues.
    In coordination with effective use of democratic government to create the conditions under which the amoral will be forced to satisfy human and social values, amoral corporations need to be regulated by government to assure voters will not be plundered by amoral corporations and amoral wealthy elites.

  28. Procopius

    OT: Your unreadable Recent Items section is driving me crazy. The HTML code causing the problem is easy to find:

    Recent Items

    It’s that opacity:0.25 that’s killing me. I’ve hated the awful orange on white links for a long time, because it’s already hard to read, but when you make it almost transparent too it’s too much. Don’t you have somebody who can fix this for you? I’ve seen one comment that Opera users don’t have a problem, because Opera simply doesn’t recognixe the “opacity” tag; I don’t know about Internet Explorer because even when I was using Windows I didn’t use IE; but Firefox, at least version 7.0.1 follows the standard and that opacity is ridiculous. Please find somebody who can change that.

    1. Procopius

      Oh, dear, this thing needs either a Preview feature or an Edit feature. The HTML I pasted is blocked. The offending line comes a few lines after a comment that says “End of Header.” It’s a span that specifies style=’filter:alpha(25); opacity: 0.25;’

    2. citizendave

      By coincidence I looked at this today as well. I usually use Firefox (current rev) in Win7 which displays the opacity effect under Recent Items. I got the same result in IE.

      I need high contrast due to my 63 year old eyes, one of which has been rendered useless for reading as a consequence of glaucoma (my advice is to develop a habit of looking at something familiar every day, through one eye, then the other, to watch for changes, and don’t wait to see an ophthalmologist if you notice a difference). I generally need optics, high contrast, or bright light — sometimes all three. I do like the normal text for the blog — it’s very comfortable, requiring no compensatory action on my part — unlike many other sources of valuable information, which seem to assume only young eyes will be reading.

  29. tz

    Strange. I agree with Ron Paul: End the Fed. You want to turn them into your machine. The Kochtopus is proto-banksrers, corporatist, yet you keep calling them libertarian.

    Insofar as OWS is really for bringing the corrupt fraudster 1% to justice and aren’t turning into a DNC wing (like the tea party has gone RNC), I’m all for them.

    If I have a message, it is this – you cannot win by becoming the 1% or part of it, or by supporting it. You must stand with the 99% and destroy and overthrow the structures and the corrupt 1%. Nor create another façade like the CFBP the 1%-ers (see motorcycle gangs) will simply corrupt sooner or later.

  30. High Quality Troll Wrangler

    What the Fed is willing to pay for is better troll wranglers who train the trolls to troll more effectively and then manage them.

    Trolls need training. Once they’re trained, we like to keep them on their toes: hiring them as temps, not giving them benefits, having a pay-scale that exploits them, laying them off if they aren’t having the desired effect. We work them hard, for low pay and no bennies. It doesn’t bother us if the training was wasted when we let them go because we think of it as brainwashing, which is always useful. And one other thing: there will never be a troll union. Ever.

    As a champion troll wrangler I just want to say “support your local trolls and fight back. They’re just trying to put food on the table like you.”

  31. Fiver

    The Fed already has very broad control of the discussion, even on the Internet, via its own huge alumni in the economics profession, along with its enormous network of allies, private and public professionals/players of all description.

    I have been under the operating assumption for years that it is essentially “Their” people I see as “regulars” on a number of sites. Similarly, I take as given that all electronic activity of anyone too harshly or persistently critical of status quo power in general is now monitored as a matter of routine – let’s remember there are literally hundreds of thousands of highly trained “spooks” deployed by various entities with an unlimited budget, the matching technologies and a legalized-by-criminals blank check.

    So maybe its a mere formalization of an existing informal approach – more a Fed toy for staff than anything else – or perhaps there’s a particularly nefarious purpose beyond tossing high yield (time consumptive) info bombs into comments sections as if their miserable record as first order F-ups was only about saving a Leaning Tower of macro theory not their locus at the very center as enabler-in-chief of completely corrupted power. Rule out nothing.

    I expect far more direct attacks on non-status-quo thinking on the Internet in future. My own view is that Power and its concentration are winning, that they are on the verge of making it irreversible, that we will not recognize the Internet or anything else, as really “democratic” or “free”, in even 10 years. In fact, I can imagine it being a crime NOT to be actively tracked 24/7 a decade or so down the road.

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